Archive for September, 2019

A Bit of Time to Think

September 18, 2019

Sometimes, I need time to think.

Sometimes my thinking time is in the car driving to and fro. I’m in the car a lot. One day at work I had announced that I practically lived in the car, and a new person was horrified. “You live in your car?!”  No, I don’t live in my car. Pay attention, new people. I have what I need in my car, and possibly I also have what you need. Once my daughter needed to stop at the store for dog food on the way home after she received her doctorate. I told her that I had dog food in the trunk, and that was a puzzle because I didn’t have a dog. There’s an explanation for that, but not a very interesting one, and it saved us a trip to the store. There’s cat food, and dish detergent, and sewing needles, and crackers.

My brain is a bit like my car. There’s important stuff in there, but you might not be able to tell it. Sometimes a thought congeals like a small dish of Jello. Where once you had an amorphous mix of ingredients, it slowly became a fully-formed thing, although it might wiggle around a bit.

This particular thought process has a definite beginning, middle, and end. The beginning was when I started viewing the Lawton collection at the South Caroliniana Library and found all those good plats and documents. The middle came when I was sorting through the images and researching the old names. The end was a crystal clear realization that things weren’t what I thought they were.

When we talk about the old days, the slavery times before Freedom, a lot of people talk about how their families were linked to the slave families. It’s hard to find records prior to the 1870 census that mentions the slave people by name. The American Loyalists had slaves, and the old documents named them. When I looked at Zephaniah Kingsley’s documentation of his losses, he mentions an area called Black Swamp that is near present-day Robertville, a plantation that had enough housing for 150 Negroes, but he only mentions a handful of slaves by name who appeared to be his property for his personal use, not farm labor. He had property in several towns up and down the coast of South Carolina. I would suspect that he didn’t live on the Black Swamp plantation in St. Peter’s Parish. When the thought clicked in my brain that the property at Black Swamp was a work camp, I got a different picture than the Gone With The Wind mentality. One hundred and fifty people lived and possibly died in a remote location. No niceties. No family atmosphere. No freedom. No one to mark their passing. This was a full 100 years before Freedom came.

A whole century that I can’t wrap my mind around.

Stopping at the Gates of Delta Plantation

September 15, 2019

It was on the way home from our outing to Red Bluff and Turnbridge. So here we are at the gates.

There is a lot of good info about the creation and ownership of Delta on the internet. If any of y’all get married there, be sure to invite us to the wedding. We’d love to see the grounds. Annnnd to celebrate your marriage, of course.

On the Way to Turnbridge

September 14, 2019

As we were leaving the entrance at Red Bluff, Leslie drove further along to show me another place where he used to deliver mail. The old way was literally driving on a grassway, not a driveway. The owners had put in a new drive and grand gateway entrance in another location. The old way drove in front of a church called Pilgrim Baptist with a graveyard and under the old oaks. You could see the roof of the house and daylight where the land opened up onto the marsh and the Savannah River beyond.

I didn’t take any photos of the church since I figured it was already on findagrave. There was no cell phone reception so I couldn’t confirm that. You guessed it. After returning back to civilization, the location isn’t listed at all so there’s another project for another day.

We left there, and Leslie followed a whim.

Leslie pulled in at a dirt road called Turnbridge Landing. We had seen it on the 1825 and 1873 maps as Tunbridge.

When we got to the dead-end at the landing, we found there was no dock. It looked like a good place to put in a kayak.

There was another car already there, but no one on sight. I figured someone had already put in with a small boat or kayak. Leslie noticed a man standing down in the river. You can see his head in the photo below. I didn’t realize he was there when I took the photo.

At any rate, he didn’t appear dangerous, but he acted like he was waiting on an assignation. He was wearing dress shorts and a neat shirt. What better spot to meet your lady friend or a drug dealer than at an abandoned landing on an early Sunday morning. Indeed, as we were preparing to leave, another vehicle pulled in, but no one got out of the car.

You could see the island of Daufuskie off on our left and the city of Savannah off on our right. We think that Cockspur Island was ahead of us, but we’ll have to check that again on the old maps.

There was a strong smell of the marsh, and a lot of trash including a microwave and a tire. Leslie has a project in mind that will possibly earn him a Good Citizen award.

When we were leaving, we stopped so I could snap another photo of the access road and a no trespassing sign for Turnbridge Plantation.

I popped back in the car, we started out along the lane, and twenty feet ahead, a bobcat leaped across the road ahead of us in 2 bounds. Leslie stopped the car as we stared ahead, then at each other, then back to the empty lane.

Tunbridge Landing, we’ll see you again.

Onward to Red Bluff Plantation

September 11, 2019

We’ve seen several references to Red Bluff in the wills of Elizabeth Williamson Smith, Mary Smith Cowper, and Mary Anne Cowper. We wondered where it was.

I convinced myself that it was on a small island near Beaufort surrounded by marsh and the Chechessee. Leslie pointed out that it just didn’t make sense. How could a small island be parceled out to several descendants? But where else was it, even though we couldn’t find it on the old maps.

Leslie looked at the map ONE MORE TIME, and found it. Do you remember that he used to be a rural postal carrier in the Hardlyville area? Can you imagine that he has blocked some of those stressful memories? Because he used to deliver to Red Bluff Plantation.

There was a long drive. Sometimes he had to drive miles down the winding drive to deliver important mail that required a signature. It has changed now because the property was sold a few years ago. There is a gate which is locked. It is supposed to be an event venue now.

If you could drive all the way to the house, you could see the Savannah River. Which we cannot do, so let’s imagine a lazy, marshy area of vast expanse.

The property once belonged to Elizabeth Williamson’s family which I have seen as living in Beaufort. This seems far-ish from Beaufort.

But it is a huge property that could easily have been parceled out. Perhaps someone can shed more light.

Catherine Maner Lawton and Her 1840 Plat

September 7, 2019

Let’s talk about Catherine Maner Lawton. She was the daughter of William Maner and Jane Aseneth May, and I have the dates of her birth as 1777 – 1842. She died at Black Swamp, South Carolina.

She married William Henry Lawton, the oldest child of Joseph Lawton and Sarah Robert Lawton. He died in 1827, so Catherine was a widow for about 15 years. Oral history says that the property didn’t start off as Lawton property, but was given to Catherine Maner by her father as a wedding present.

For some reason, in 1840 Catherine requested that a plat of her property be prepared. The following image come from the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. It is a thing of beauty.

from the Lawton Family Papers

Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S. C.

South Carolina

St. Peter’s Parish, B. D.

The above Plat represents a tract of land composed of various tracts and parts of tracts of land belonging to Mrs. Catharine Lawton by whose request I have resurveyed it and find it to contain in all Eleven Hundred & Eighty Eight Acres, & to be bounded North by lands of B. T. D. Lawton & J. J. Robert, East by Black Swamp, lands of R. G. Norton & B. Jaudon, South by Dr. Harris, Saml Maner & J. J. Robert, and West by J. J. Robert, and to have such natural & artificial marks as are here represented.

R. T. Lawton, Surveryor

December 16th 1840

Samuel Maner was her uncle.

J. J. Robert was James Jehu Robert, her husband William’s mother Sarah’s brother John Robert’s son.

B. T. D. Lawton was Benjamin Themistocles Dion Lawton, her husband William’s brother.

R. G. Norton was Robert Godfrey Norton, her husband William’s brother Alexander James’s wife Martha Mosse’s sister Sarah’s husband.

B. Jaudon was Benjamin Jaudon, and he is her husband William’s mother Sarah’s relative, somehow. Sarah is descended from a Jaudon.

The Audebert Tract had most probably belonged to John Audebert, another relation on Sarah Robert Lawton’s side.

The Allen Tract I might guess was, belonging to an Allen family that married into a Thomson family that married into a Lawton family.

The Grimball Tract is possibly belonging to her husband William’s father Joseph’s mother Mary Stone Grimball Lawton Fickling’s children by her first marriage. She was married 3 times.

The Kingsley Tract? It must be formerly belonging to Loyalist Zephaniah Kingsley, and the land was confiscated in 1782, a full 58 years earlier. Kingsley referred to the property as Black Swamp, which leads me to believe that the property didn’t really change in name, only in ownership. Sometimes we give directions based on where something used to be but is no more. “Do you know where the big tree used to be out by where so-and-so used to live?”

R. T. Lawton the surveyor is Catharine’s husband William’s brother Benjamin Themistocles Dion Lawton’s son Robert Themistocles Lawton, who owned Lawton Place in Savannah, Georgia, and Blockade Place in Screven County, Georgia.

I don’t know who Dr. Thomas Harris is.


Two points of great interest to me: the “Meeting House, Grave Yard, and Academy”, and the “Settlement” at Black Swamp.

The Meeting House was known as the Black Swamp Church and is the present-day Robertville Baptist Church. The Grave Yard is where we take poinsettias every Christmas. The Academy is the Black Swamp Academy which I wrote about earlier this year.

Now, the Settlement. We have been to the steps before, the remainder of the plantation house. But now I see that the plantation house is surrounded by outbuildings, 7 to be exact. What could they be? A kitchenhouse, a smokehouse, a barn, what else? Y’all have to help me here.

When we have been to Black Swamp before, there are large live oaks in front of the steps and to the south. To the right near the road are massive cedar trees. The first time I saw those trees, I said, “Something used to be there”. The undergrowth was such that we didn’t venture far. Now I see that in the general vicinity of those cedars are 8 small rectangles, most probably indicating slave housing.

Remember when we were looking for Lawton Cemetery? I wrote about that in September 2013. Leslie and I were sure that the Lawton Cemetery couldn’t be where Mama Florrie and her daughter Rose told us where it was, because we thought that was Robert land. The plat of 1840 proves that Mama Florrie knew what she was talking about, because the Black Swamp Plantation included land across the main road, exactly where the Lawton Cemetery is.

So now we have wound up our little local history lesson into a neat little package.

Or have we? There’s a summer house across the way from the main house. But that is not the location of The Pineland, which is said to be the summer house of William Henry Lawton. The summer house is going to have to wait. There are more plats to request.

John Smith of South Carolina, Georgia, and England

September 6, 2019

This title might be a stretch. I don’t know for a fact that John Smith came from England. I do know that his granddaughter Mary Anne Cowper said in her will that her grandfather came over with Oglethorpe on the second voyage. She was parceling out properties to family members, and mentioned several prime Savannah properties on the bay and in what would now be in the historic district. So I’m stretching that to say that the grandfather she means is John Smith, not the father of her father Basil Cowper. Basil was born in Scotland, and I can’t find who his father is nor proof that he ever came to the Americas. So today, that is my theory. That could change since I’m still out of work due to the Hurricane Dorian (which didn’t actually happen), plus I have the world edition of ancestry. Par-tay in the making.

I have found several newspaper items from the Georgia Gazette that mention John Smith. What a common name. I suppose there could be other John Smiths in the area, but in order to be sure that this is the John Smith that I’m researching, I need to find him in conjunction with family, associates, and/or neighbors.

Savannah, May 13, 1794

On Wednesday the 25th of June next, will be sold, at public auction, at Red Bluff, New River, South Carolina, at the plantation of the late Mr. John, deceased.

THE Personal Estate of the said John Smith, consisting of 14 Negroes, a stock of cattle, two chair horses, a riding chair, a sulky, two carts, and plantation tools, some household furniture, and a few books. The Negroes to be sold in families. Conditions of sale cash.

And on the usual day of sale at Coosawhatchie Courthouse, the first week in July, will be sold,

A few pieces of household furniture, a mill for grinding rice with quern stones, and a rice fan.


May 12, 1794.

We know that the aforementioned John Smith is our John Smith. His wife was Elizabeth who had inherited a plantation called Red Bluff, so the plantation is not for sale.

The bulk of what I find about John Smith is in Savannah, Georgia. I haven’t found a will, but I do suppose that there was a will, since Elizabeth Smith is called his Executrix, and the assignment of a person as an executor or executrix seems to be a feature of a will.

The first mention that I found of John Smith, which started me down this Smith road, was a plat in the Lawton Family collection in the South Caroliniana Library. I have no definitive answer as to why this plat is in the Lawton collection unless it is because the property because part of a Lawton plantation.

John Smith deeds 100 acres to Sarah Smith.

South Carolina

Pursuant to an Order of Council to me directed Dated this day XXX hereby Certify for Sarah Smith a Tract of (Svrd for her the 28th of Augt 1769) Containing One Hundred Acres Situate near Black Swamp Bounded So ward by John Smith’s Land, all other sides by vacant Land, and hath such shape, form and marks as above Plat represents.

Given under my Hand this 5th Day of Jany, 1770.

John Bremar

D. Sur. Genl.

John Linder

Dep. Survr

John Bremar is the Deputy Surveyor General, and John Linder is the Deputy Surveyor.

When we went to Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah, Leslie found the grave of John Smith.



the memory of


who died

November 1793

Aged 75 years

Blessed are the dead

Who die in the Lord;

they rest from their labors,

and their works do follow them.

So now we have gone full circle-ish from the beginning of finding John Smith owning property in St. Peter’s Parish to the end at Colonial Park Cemetery.

I’ve traced John’s wife, his children, and some of his grandchildren. This could go on for days and weeks, but I draw this to a close. Of course, if I find more about John and his family, I’ll take up the subject again.

As for now, there are Robertville stories in the making. Leslie has been asking when we can return to Robertville, figuratively. He wanted to sort out some stories about John Robert, and so I sat down with the South Carolina Department of Archives and History online records, and my goodness, what rich records. But first, I want to wind up the chapter on the plats and records that I requested from Caroliniana most recently, and that means a side trip to Catherine Maner Lawton’s plat in 1840.

This just goes to show that there is never an end to this hobby, this obsession, called genealogy research.

Archibald Smith of Georgia

September 4, 2019

Here we are again with these Smith people. The subject of today’s post is Archibald Smith, the son of John and Elizabeth Smith. I’ve already written about Archibald’s mother Elizabeth, his sister Mary “Polly” who married Basil Cowper, and his sister Sarah who married Sir James Wright. There are two other sisters, Jane and Elizabeth, and I can’t find out anything about them yet. So we’ll wind up today with Archibald’s will, and then later I’ll post about the father, John Smith.

SmithArchibald Will 1829

In the name of God Amen I Archibald Smith resident of the City of Savannah, State of Georgia being of sound and disposing mind, memory, and understanding; praised be God for the same. Do make this my last will and Testament in the manner and form following — (First) I resign my soul into the hands of Almighty God my Creator humbly hoping for a blessed immortality through the merits and mediation of my blessed Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ and my body I desire may be decently buried — (Secondly) I will and devise that all my just and lawful debts be first paid And it is my will that my son Archibald Smith (Planter) should have that half lot known by No seven (7) and Lot and buildings No (9) Nine Trustees Garden also (Thirdly) that my daughter Eliza Zubly Smith shall have that Lott :& Buildings No (7) Seven Reynolds Ward and that Lot and buildings to eleven (11) Trustees Gardens — (Fourthly) One Hundred acres of lands (which adjoins Mayor John Screvens tract which I sold to him and others in 1815) was purchased by my son John Joyner Smith and is now owned by him, which constitutes the settlement where I now plant, and the land given to my daughter Mary Gibbes Smith wife of my son John lies immediately adjoining to and just below the settlement tract (Fifthly) I will and desire that the rest and residue of my Estate be equally divided between my son Archd Smith and my daughter Eliza Z. Smith share & share alike in all my estate (Sixthly) And I do hereby constitute and appoint my son Archd Smith my Executor and my daughter Eliza Z. Smith my Execurix to this my last will and Testament. In witness whereof I the said Archd Smith have hereunto set my hand and seal this the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty nine and the (21) Twentyfirst day of July in the City of Savannah State of Georgia

Archd Smith

In presence of

Ralph King

Jacob Cohen

W. T. Williams


Filed this 10 May 1830 Robert N Pooler C. C. O. C. C.

State of Georgia

Chatham County

In the Court of Ordinary

July Term 1830

Present the Honorable Elias Fort, Alexander Telfair, and Patrick Houstoun Justices of the Inferior Court sitting for Ordinary purposes Personally appeared Ralph King one of the subscribing witnesses to the within instrument of writing purporting to be the last will and Testament of Archibald Smith late of the City of Savannah deceased, who being duly sworn deposeth and saith that he was present and did see the said Archibald Smith deceased sign and heard him pronounce publish and declare the said instrument of writing to be and contain his last will and Testament that the said Archibald Smith deceased was at the time of executing the same of sound and disposing mind and memory to the best of this deponents knowledge. That he the deponent and Jacob Cohen and W. T. Williams did subscribe their names as witnesses at the request of the Testator in his presence and in the presence of each other.

Ralph King

Sworn to in Open Court

This 8th July 1830

Robert N. Pooler Clk

July 8th 1830 Then appeared Archibald Smith Executor named in the foregoing last will and Testament of Archd Smith deceased and qualified as such by taking the oath of an Executor as presribed by Law.

Recorded July 30th 1830

Archibald’s son John Joyner Smith was in Beaufort, South Carolina. So I suppose after Hurricane Dorian passes, we’ll head over Beaufort way and poke around.

Because these people will not let me be.

Sarah Smith Wright of Georgia, South Carolina, and Britain

September 3, 2019

There’s a method when you are researching families. It is called FAN. You research FRIENDS, ACQUAINTANCES, and NEIGHBORS. I have loosely used this method for years, not knowing that it was a thing. I skip around to people that are mentioned in conjunction with my main research topic, like a frog leaping from lilypad to lilypad. Sometimes I fall in the pond and become immersed.

So I started out 2 months ago by viewing the Lawton Family collection in the South Caroliniana Library. I requested 4 documents and/or plats. I haven’t gotten past the first 3 because I have discovered a whole area of research that hasn’t been discussed in my world. I am anxious to get back on track, but these people are pulling at me.

Take Sarah Smith. There is an early plat where John Smith deeds 100 acres to Sarah Smith.

South Carolina

Pursuant to an Order of Council to me directed Dated this day XXX hereby Certify for Sarah Smith a Tract of (Svrd for her the 28th of Augt 1769) Containing One Hundred Acres Situate near Black Swamp Bounded So ward by John Smith’s Land, all other sides by vacant Land, and hath such shape, form and marks as above Plat represents.

Given under my Hand this 5th Day of Jany, 1770.

John Bremar

D. Sur. Genl.

John Linder

Dep. Survr

In the Georgia Gazette, Savannah, Georgia, on January 18, 1781, the newspaper announced the marriage of Sarah Smith for Major James Wright. That explains the relationship regarding the land survey.

SmithJohnAndSarah Royal_Georgia_Gazette_1781-01-18_[3]


Sir James Wright isn’t just anybody. Google him. (Insert lilypad for stability.)

Once I had established that I should also be looking for John Smith in Georgia, there were lots of lilypads to leap onto. He had other children. He died in 1793.

Let’s jump back to Sarah Smith Wright, who died in Little Ealing, County of Middlesex, near London, England. Why is she in Britain, you ask? Because she married a Loyalist.

If you are a slave researcher, you can trace the slaves that she inherited from her mother Elizabeth Williamson Smith on through her will to other family members.

WrightSarahSmith Will P1

Little Ealing — 

County of Middlesex 

In the name of God Amen I Sarah Wright Wife of Sir James Wright Baronet of LIttle Ealing & County aforesaid being of sound mind and memory do make this my last Will and Testament. 

Imprimis after paying the Debts if any there are against my property — 

I give & bequeath to my nephew John McQueen of Georgia, North America, my Lot and Houses in Savannah bequeathed to me by my mother’s Will and likewise to the said John McQueen my part of Red Bluff left me by my mother — 

2dly I give to my Neice Margaret McQueen the following Slaves viz: Ishmael & Minty his Wife and Son Adam — 

3dly I give to my Neice Mary Anne Cowper the Slaves Diana and all her children likewise June and his Wife Hagar and their Children viz Jack Paul and Jacob their Daughter Tenah I shall hearafter mention 

4thly I give to my Neice Eliza Mackay, the Slave Jesse, son of June and Hagar. 

5thly and to Mary Anne Mackay My great Neice I give the Negro girl Tenah for her waiting maid. 

6thly I bequeath to my Neice Sarah Williamson the Slaves Joe and Jessey sons of Ishmael & Minty. The Silver Cup left me by my Mother I likewise give to her — 

And I desire before the Property is divided it shall furnish the Sum of fifty guineas for a Watch and likewise the Sum of Ten guineas /or a Seal I give to my Nephew James Wright 

WrightSarahSmith Will P2

As a small token of my affection for him 

I leave to my Friend Mrs Heron five guineas for a Mourning Ring. 

My own Watch I give to my Neice Catharine Bourke as her Sister has one – and to my Neice Elizabeth Bourke my gold chain and Locket with my Fathers & Mothers Hair in it 

All my other Toilets I leave to Mary Anne Cowper — 

To Mary Anne Mackay I give a Bible at 10 guineas value 

But in case these my Slaves are already Disposed of by my Attorney John McQueen which I gave him full power to do if he saw fit 

I do, then hereby give the value of each Slave before named – agreeable to the average sum they sold for viz. 

To Margaret McQueen I give the value of Two Slaves — 

To Sarah Williamson I give the value of Three Slaves 

To Eliza Mackay the value of one Slave and to Mary Anne Mackay the value of One slave 

To Mary Anne Cowper the value of the six Slaves left to her – making in all together the number of Thirteen Slaves mentioned in my Mother’s Will, except Diana and her Family which remains the same to her Mary Anne Cowper — 

In case of any Deficiency to supply these bequests to the value of one Salve less – that must be taken out of the number I left to Mary Anne Cowper from Hagars children. 

All the above mentioned property being bequeathed to me by my Mother’s Will under the restriction of leaving the same to some one or more of her own Family is the  

Reason of my not mentioning my Husband herein this my Last Will and Testament is made conforma There-to – Written with my own hand the year of our Lord one Thousand eight Hundred and Thirteen; the twenty sixth day of August – and I do here by nominate and appoint John McQueen Esqr of Georgia North America my sole Executor of the same — 

Sarah Wright 



In the Court of Ordinary Chambers 

26 April 1816 

Present the honourable John P. Williamson & Oliver Sturges Justices of the Inferior Court 

Personally appeared Archibald Smith of Savannah merchant, when being duly sworn saith he is well acquainted with the hand writing of Lady Wright decd who has signed the foregoing instrument of writing purporting to be her will, having frequently saw her write and been for many years a correspondent with her – that the said instrument purporting to be the will of the said Sarah Wright is in her own hand writing & the signature “Sarah Wright” thereto subscribed is the proper hand writing & signature of the said Sarah Wright. 

Archd Smith 

Sworn in open Court 

26 April 1816 

Saml M Bond 

Clk Co Ordy  

WrightSarahSmith Will P3

May 1816 Appeared John McQueen Esquire one of the executors named in the will of Sarah Wright deceased and qualified as such by taking the required by law.

S M Bond

Clk Co Ordy

No. 114

Will of Mrs. Sarah Wright

Filed 25 March 1816.

Bond clk

Recorded Book

  1. folio 348.–


Researching this family has made me order 2 books. Y’all, I don’t order books. I downsize. I give away. I recycle. I reuse. I blog and archive old photos and documents.

But now?? This family is making me achieve a new FAN level of lilypad behavior.