The Goldmine in the Closet: William Basinger Lawton, 6/28/1905-2/16/1981

We’re back in the Goldmine in the Closet, thanks to Sugar’s CousinEmily.


Emily did a bit of sleuthing of her own, and found some Find-A-Grave memorials for Sugar’s Uncle Bill, more formally known as William Basinger Lawton.  Uncle Bill married twice, but Find-A-Grave doesn’t know about that. They only know about Uncle Bill’s wife Josephine.

There’s also an obit that Emily found.

Here’s the link, and here’s the image that I cropped out of the online image.

Josephine Obit

Josephine Besselieu Lawton, 77, of River Drive, Chimney Rock, died Thursday in a Saluda nursing center after a long illness.

She was a native of Savannah, Ga., and had lived in Rutherford County of 12 years. She was a daughter of the late William and Kate Sweat Besselieu.

Surviving are a stepdaughter, Mrs. Edward Hubbard of Coral Gables, Fla., and a sister, Virgie Hall of Statesville.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Friday in the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Saluda. The Rev. Charles C. Covell will officiate.

Memorials may be made to the church.

Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors is in charge.

There are those of you who noticed that Josephine’s mother’s maiden name was Sweat, and you will remember that I photographed a memorial for a Robert E. Sweat in the graveyard at Robertville just last week.

Right now I don’t know the link between Robert E. Sweat and Kate Sweat Besselieu, but y’all know me well enough to guess that this post will be derailed a bit away from Sugar’s Uncle Bill.

I showed Sugar the links that Emily found, and he mumbled something about his great-grandfather William Starr Basinger taking in some children named Sweat. He produced his g-grandfather’s “Reminiscences”, and made copies of two pages.

Kate Sweat0001Kate Sweat0002

About Sept 1, 1887, we received two new inmates into the family — the daughters of my deceased friend and fellow-soldier, Francis Ripon Sweat, commonly called by his friends Rip Sweat. He was a member of the Guards when the war began — served with us all thro it — was 1st Sgt of Company C at its close — was elected 1st Lieut of his company when we re-organized after the war — was detailed by me to the post of Adjutant, and held that post for some time. He was always a staunch and devoted friend of mine. He married, after the war, a Miss Hardee, of Hardeeville, So Ca — an exceedingly nice lady, whom your mother and I respected and liked very much. They had two children, Kate H. and Arabella V. He had, at the time of his death, two policies of insurance payable, one to each of these children As Mrs. Sweat had to administer on his estate, she exhausted her credit in giving bond, and could find no one to be her surety on the bond she would have to give as guardian of the children — an office to which it was necessary that some one should be appointed in order to secure the insurance money for them. In this strait, she and some of her friends appealed to me, and volunteered to go on my bond if I would consent to be appointed. I did consent, and was appointed. This was in 1880. I received their money, and invested it and, as Mrs Sweat contrived to get on without calling on me for the income, I invested that as fast as I could. And I may say now that by the time the children came to us, their property in my hands had doubled. Mrs Sweat died in the early Summer of 1887. None of her relatives nor Rip’s were in a position to take the children, and they were in great trouble to know what to do with them. Mr W P Hardee, their uncle, wrote to me to ask my advice. It occurred to your mother and me that, as Leslie had no suitable companions of her own age in Dahlonega, and as we inferred from our knowledge of Mrs Sweat that her little girls were probably nice children, we would take them ourselves and let them attend the college. After much consultation and hesitation about it, we decided to do so, and they were sent up to us at the time above stated. Kate was sent to the College, and Belle, for a time, to a private school. These girls remained with us till Sept, 1890, or thereabouts. I then thought it best for Kate that she should go to a regular girl’s school; and, as it was not considered well to separate them, it was settled that Belle should go with her. They were sent, accordingly, as their parents had been Baptist, to quite a famous Baptist school for girls at La Grange, Ga. And then I proceeded to be dismissed from my office of guardian — Mr W P Hardee was appointed in my place, and I turned over everything to him. Kate has since been married to a young man named Besselieu, and is living in Savannah. Belle died a year or two ago. I am writing now on August 14, 1896.

He couldn’t possibly have known that his grandson – his namesake – would marry the daughter of one of the little girls that his family took in.

And I’m completely off-track about Uncle Bill and his photos in the Gold Mine…

2 Responses to “The Goldmine in the Closet: William Basinger Lawton, 6/28/1905-2/16/1981”

  1. Emily Garrard Says:

    Thanks for writing about this. Fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

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