Joint Robert & Lawton & Allied Families Association Annual Reunion, June 7 & 8, 2013

Now that was a mouthful.

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These Lawton folks have some kind of serious reunion planning mojo.  There’s a gathering with a dinner, a concert, a breakfast, introductions, a business meeting, a presentation, a luncheon, a group photo, and a tour.  Most southern reunions involve a bar-be-que, some cold drinks, and perhaps fireworks.  I mean to tell you, Lawtons are the undisputed champions at the family reunion business.  If their family reunion were an actual business, they’d be listed up near the top on Dun & Bradstreet.

This year, the reunion was a combined one with the Robert (Roe-BARE) families, and some of those folks came from Louisiana.  The scene opens at beautiful downtown Robertville, which was burned by Sherman.

The dinner took place at the old J. C. Richardson house.

Richardson001 Richardson002 Richardson003 Richardson004 Richardson005 Richardson006

JAMES C.

RICHARDSON

HOUSE

(CA. 1890)

The James C. Richardson House was

built circa 1890 as the principal

residence of James Clarence Richardson

(1852-1931), a significant local

merchant and planter with business

interests throughout Hampton County

and, ultimately, Jasper County.  For

many years, he was the operator of a

general store located close to the house

and fronting on Gillison Branch Road.

As his business expanded, Richardson

also opened a location at Garnett near

the rail depot with J. W. Chisolm, a

prominent Hampton County merchant.

Prior to Jasper County’s founding,

Richardson was a major figure in

Hampton County politics, serving on the

board of control, board of equalization,

and the dispensary board, as well as in

numerous other capacities for the

county.  He was also a Hampton County

commissioner in 1906.  As the first

elected state senator from Jasper

County, Richardson served for two

terms from 1913 to 1916.  After a brief

absence from politics, he held a post on

the Jasper County Board of Education

from 1923 to 1925.  After 1925,

Richardson lived primarily at Garnett.

He was also superintendent of the Pine

Land Club immediately prior to his

death.  He is buried in Black Swamp

Methodist Cemetery.

Following the death of Cora H. (Riley)

Richardson, the widow of James C.

Richardson who lived for many years

following his death in the old family

homestead at Robertville, the

Richardson heirs sold the house and

300 acres of land to C. H. Warnock, Sr.,

in December 1945.  By 1946, Warnock

developed a scheme to subdivide most of

the acreage fronting on Gillison Branch

Road into seventeen long, narrow

parcels, while dividing the land near the

center of Robertville, including the main

house area, into five separate plots.

Warnock in turn sold three of these

latter parcels, including the main house

tract of 19.7 acres, to William Joseph

Langford for $5,000 in November 1946.

William was married to Mildred

Blakewood Langford, a resident of

Scotia, SC, and moved from Pineland to

Robertville in 1947.  As residents of

Robertville, William and Mildred built

two grocery stores.  Once building no

longer exists and the other is still in

operation as Brenda’s Country Store.,

though not in the original building built

by Langford.  Mr. and Mrs. Langford

eventually added an antique

furniture store to the back of their

grocery store and became well known

for the fine antique pieces that they

acquired and sold.  They, along with

other residents in Pineland and

Robertville, were instrumental in re-

opening the nearby Robertville Baptist

Church in the early 1950s, and it

remains an active, full-time ministry to

this day.

Mrs. Langford was very much a

historian and did a lot of research on

the Robertville Baptist Church.  She was

instrumental in getting the Church

listed on the National Register of

Historic Places in 1972.  Mr. and Mrs.

Langford loved Robertville, its culture,

its history, and its people, choosing it as

the place to raise their three children:

Margie Langford Malphrus who resides

with her husband Frankie, in Ridgeland,

SC; Gloria Langford Tuten, who resides

with her husband, Redden Tuten, Jr., in

Estill, SC; and William Joseph Langford,

Jr. (1948-1976).

Following Mr. Langford’s death in 1983,

the house and remaining land passed to

his widow, Mildred, and upon her death

in 1990, the property passed to their

daughters.  Gloria and her husband

Redden subsequently bought Margie’s

interest and are now the owners of the

house and property.  In 1997, the Tutens

used the house to establish a Christian

hunt club – The Black Swamp Hunting

Club – which is currently inactive.  In

2010, Redden and Gloria purchased the

swampland behind the house, and the

property now includes the house and

approximately 50 acres of land.  The

house has been restored, adhering as

closely as possible to the Victorian era

in which it was built, and has been

affectionately named “Magnolia

Moments” by Gloria.

The James C. Richardson House is an

outstanding example of late nineteenth-

century Folk Victorian architecture,

with many of its original architectural

flourishes still in place.  The house also

sits on land that served as the campsite

on January 29, 185, for the First

Division of the 20th Corps of the Union

Army during Sherman’s Campaign of

the Carolinas.  This remarkable Jasper

County home is presently going through

the nomination process for the National

Register of Historic Places.

James C. Richardson House

Gloria and Redden Tuten, owners

67 Gillison Branch Rd., Robertville, SC

PO Box 714, Estill, SC  29918

(803) 625-2238

*****

After dinner at the J. C. Richardson house, we sojourned across the highway to the Robertville Baptist Church for a piano and organ concert.

Robertville001 Robertville002 Robertville003 Robertville004 Robertville005 Robertville006

Historic

Robertville

Baptist

Church

Established in 1781

Twenty-six Robertville Drive

Robertville, S. C.

Mailing address:

Post Office Box 506

Estill, South Carolina  29918

THE ROBERTVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH

The Robertville Baptist Church was

first organized as The Black Swamp Baptis

Church sometime between 1781 and 1788.

Different historical accounts give different

dates, and all are between 1781 and 1788.

The church derived its name from the geo-

graphically defined area known as The

Black Swamp.  The first building was locat-

ed NNE of Robertville on the Robert Cemetery,

and served as a place of worship during the

Revolutionary War era.  It has been stated

that it was a building of little significance.

The members eventually moved the

congregation to the village of Robertville,

and in 1824, constructed the Black Swamp

Baptist Church.  The magnificent two story

structure was said to be one of the most

beautiful churches in the state of South Car-

olina and was reportedly constructed for

the sum of $4,000.00  History records that

the Rev. Richard Furman, for whom Furman

University is named, visited and preached

at the Church and that the membership

played a significant part in establishing the

South Carolina Baptist Convention in the state.

The church was used as a place of

worship until January 30, 1865, when Union

soldiers came through Robertville and de-

stroyed it, along with a small Episcopal

Church, a private school known as The

Robertville Avademy, and all the homes

and businesses that were a part of the ac-

tive community.  Robertville, at the time of

the war, was a major crossroads between

Savannah, Orangeburg, Augusta, and

Charleston, because of its location near the

Savannah River.

The present church  building was

constructed in the then Beaufor Couty

seat of Gillisonville, S.C., thirteen miles from

Robertville in 1848 as the Episcopal Church

of the Ascesion.  It was spared the fires

of Sherman’s soldiers, and after the Civil

War, was obtained from the Episcopal con-

gregation who left Gillisonville and went to

Beaufort.  In 1871, this building was moved

from Gillisonville to Robertville.  How it was

moved remains a mystery.  Upon close ex-

amination, Roman numerals can be found

on the frame of the windows, indicating that

the windows were numbered before they

were removed to be replaced when the

church building was re-established on its

present site.  It has remained a Baptist

place of worship since that time.  The name

was changed from Black Swamp Baptist

Church to the Robertville Baptist Church in

1934 to honor the Robert family of John

Robert (1742-1826) who was the owner of

Cotton Hill Plantation, a Revolutionary War

Soldier, and the founder of Robertville.  The

Robert family that settled in the3 area around

Robertville were all descendants of the Rev.

Pierre Robert, a Huguenot minister who

came from Switzerland to the Carolinas in

1690 and settled in the Santee area.  Some

of his descendants moved to the Black Swamp

area that eventually became Robertville.

Also, Revolutionary War officer, Joseph

Lawton, who was a Justice of the Peace,

was buried inn Robertville Baptist Church

Cemetery in 1815.

In 1951, the Church was closed and

not having regular services.  A group of peo-

ple living in the Robertvillwe and Pineland

area opened the Church for part time ser-

vices.  Robertville Baptist Church and Till-

man Baptist Church shared the same pas-

tor for a few years until 1972, when both

churches became full time ministries and

remain so at the present time.  Extensive

remodeling was done in in 1964.  The solid

heart pine pews were replaced and used to

construct the present choir loft and pulpit

area.  The baptistry was added in the

1980’s.  In August, 2010, the Church re-

ceived a gift of the pews and pulpit furniture

from the Anderson Mill Baptist Church in

Spartanburg, S.C., and that began another

extensive remodeling which included re-

storing the heart pine and plaster walls,

heart pine floors, new wiring and adding

wall lights.  The only thing not yet completed

to bring the Church back to its original

décor as much as possible, is the tongue

and groove ceilinlg which is hidden under

the present suspended ceiling.  The Church

also received the gift of a Steinway grand

piano in December 2009, and a sidewalk in

front of the Church was added in October

2012.  The Church was listed on the Nation-

al Register of Historic Places in 1972 as sig-

nified by the medallion on the front of the

Church and by the historical marker adja-

cent to Highway 321.  The Church was rec-

ognized by the South Carolina Baptist Con-

vention in 2010 as one of the few churches

in the state over 200 years old that still has

an active ministry.  Robertville Baptist

Church is also one of four ante-bellum

churches that remain in Jasper County.

Robertville’s only claim to fame lies

in the fact that Henry Martyn Robert, author

of “Robert’s Rules of Order for Parlimentary

Procedure” was born in Robertville on May

3, 1837.  His father, the Rev. Joseph Thom-

as Robert, moved the family to Ohio to min-

ister there when Henry Martyn was thirteen

years old.  Henry Martyn went to West Point

Academy, where he graduated fourth in his

class in 1857 and became a military engi-

neer.  He became one of the country’s

leading parliamentarians after writing

“Robert’s Rules of Order” which first pub-

lished in 1876.  He eventually became  Briga-

dier General Henry Martyn Robert.  He died

in Hornell, N.Y. on May 11, 1923, and is

buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

On February 20, 2013, Robertville

Baptist Church hosted a visit from Henry

Martyn Robert III, the grandson of Gen.

Henry Martyn Robert who came to Rob-

ertville to visit the home of his ancestors.

Mr. Robert at 92 years old, is still an active

Parliamentarian.  He bears a remarkale re-

semblance to his grandfather, Henry Martyn

Robert.  He resides in Annapolis, Maryland

and has recently co-authored “Robert’s

Rules of Order” (11th edition).

The history of the small community of

Robertville is as rich and deep as the mag-

nificent oaks that grace the Church yard,

and the present members of Robertville

Baptist Church are committed to keeping

the doors open and the history alive with

the belief that God has established it as Ho-

ly Ground.

*****

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Right about here, we were heading to our respective vehicles to head over to the Robert Cemetery.  We had been exchanging pleasantries with some of Sugar’s cousins, who commented that they were not going to the Robert Cemetery.  They were going to see if they could find Mistletoe Grove, and they produced a printout about Mistletoe Grove.  I took one look, and realized, it was a printout of my post about Mistletoe Grove, and I burst out, in surprise as well as shock, THAT’S ME!  The women looked at my nametag for confirmation that I was indeed ruthrawls.  It was a weird moment.  It almost felt like I had an instant fan club, until they asked if the blog post had directions there, and I had to say that it did not.  Poof.  Fan club gone, but in a gracious Southern way.  On to bigger and better things.

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We watched a woman use a powderpuff and cornstarch to dust over and into the cracks and crevices on a reclining headstone.  It’s natural and gentle and washes away with the rain.

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This stump was part of several trees that were removed because they were encroaching on headstones.

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And it’s over.  Just like that.  Another Lawton Family Reunion has come and gone.  See you next year!

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6 Responses to “Joint Robert & Lawton & Allied Families Association Annual Reunion, June 7 & 8, 2013”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Another enjoyable read, thanks, Ruth!

    Like

    • ruthrawls Says:

      That post needs to be edited a bit more, Sharon, but thanks! I transcribed the two pamphlets, which seems like a bit of repetition, but I’m thinking that search engines won’t be able to search a picture of text, and that I need to provide actual keyed words. ‘Cause everybody’s looking for Lawton stuff.
      Those misspelled words are mine, all mine. I suppose I’ll get around to fixing them later. Or not.

      Like

  2. Robin Says:

    This is such a wonderful page – I was so excited to find it! My family also descends from the Robert family. Could we be included in the 2014 gathering? My grandfather is 89 and he would enjoy this so much. My email address is in the comments if anyone could write me back. We would love to attend and to do anything we could to help. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ruthrawls Says:

      Hello Robin, and welcome to the blog! Last year’s reunion was a combined reunion of the Lawton and Robert families. Generally it is a Lawton reunion, and I don’t know anything about the Robert reunions, but really, if you wanted to come to the Lawton reunion, many of these folks are also Robert descendants, so why not.
      I just set up the scanner last night, so I’ll scan and post the details.
      Your grandfather is 89?! That is fabulous!

      Like

  3. Caren Jones Says:

    Ruth, I have so enjoyed your writing and the information on the Robertville area. I am very interested in my ancestors that lived in the area. My second great grandparents were Lawrence and Sarah Margaret Rose McKenzie. Lawrence’s siblings also lived in the area: John H McKenzie, Edward Archibald McKenzie and Jane McKenzie Davis. Their parents were Archibald and Harriet Francis Hutchison McKenzie. Can you help me with any information on these McKenzie’s? Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ruthrawls Says:

      I’ll ask Sugar about your people! Perhaps Patrick McKenzie was the progenitor in this area – we’re talking Revolutionary times.
      Welcome to the blog!

      Like

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