Archive for the ‘Historical Issues’ Category

Finally at Colonial Cemetery…

February 3, 2020

And here our story draws to a close.

After leaving Laurel Grove, we were able to head downtown and easily find a parking spot. We were here in Savannah a few weeks prior, and the city was packed with tourists and no parking was to be had.

Savannah has a system where you park, purchase a ticket from a kiosk, and put the ticket in your dashboard in plain sight. Ah, but it is Sunday, and parking is free.

We’re near the northeast entrance. I’m interested in finding Barbara Densler, but I can’t figure out the map.

It looks like we’ll just wander around.

In this cemetery many victims of the

Great Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1820

were buried.

Nearly 700 Savannahians died that year, including two local physicians who lost their lives caring for the stricken.

Several epidemics followed. In 1854 The Savannah Benevolent Association was organized to aid the families of the fever victims.


memory of


consort of

Mordecai Sheftall Jr.

who was born

on the 15th February


and departed this life

on the 10th November


In thee we lose a friend sincere,

A loving wife, and mother dear,

Securely rest, thy sleeping dust,

Till the last trump awakes the just.

I recognize the name Sheftall from the records I’ve been using to research the Denslers.

Leslie noticed the Odingsell marker so he is encouraging me to research that name. Personally I’m not interested in researching famous people. Perhaps you have noticed.


Here endured the fate of the ***

the earthly part of


during the Revolutionary war,

a Patriot Soldier


In each capacity

his conduct was such as justly acquired

him as much confidence and popularity

in this County, as any man in it

He died, on Skidaway Island

on the

2nd day of December 1816

Aged 56 Years.


SACRED to the last Remains of the

Children of Charles Odingsells, Edqr.

lie buried in this Tomb,

with the ashes of their Father.

Charles Spencer Odingsells,

departed this life October 17, 1817,

Aged 6 Years 7 Months & 6 days,

Mary Susannah Odingsells,

departed this life November 6, 1817.

Aged 9 Years & 7 days.

This is another large slab that is too big to photograph easily for transcription purposes, so I usually take a series of shots so that I can transcribe later.

This probably means we need to go to Skidaway Island.

Except there’s this guy Malbone, who is/was famous. I learned of him because of his cousin Robert Mackay.



Beneath this modest slab rest the remains of America’s foremost painter of miniatures.

Malbone, a native of Rhode Island, began his career in Providence at the age of seventeen. He pursued his calling in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston and in London, England.

Exacting and unceasing work undermined his constitution. Having sought in vain to recover his health in the island of Jamaica, he came to Savannah in fore-knowledge of death and died here in the home of his cousin, Robert Mackay, on May 7, 1807.

Though not yet thirty years of age when he died, he left no peer in his art. Time has justified the statements you may read here in his epitaph. Today Malbone is acknowledged to be the finest miniaturist his country has yet produced, and among the greatest of all time anywhere.


Sacred in the Memory of


the celebrated Painter

Son of the late Gen. John Malbone of Newport, R.I.

(the remainder is largely illegible)

We’re near the northwest entrance and are ready to call it a day. I skitter around the last few markers that are legible. No Barbara.

I snapped one of a Moravian marker. The stone was so dark that I had to edit the image in order to read it. The grass and foliage are not this ishy shade of greeny yellow.





JACOB FRANK     1736







Erected by






This cemetery, the second in Colonial Savannah, was the burying ground for the city from about 1750 until it was closed against burials in 1853.

Among the distinguished dead who rest here are Archibald Bullock, first President of Georgia; James Habersham, acting royal Governor of the Province, 1771-’73; Joseph Habersham, Postmaster General under three Presidents; Lachalan McIntosh, Major General, Continental Army; Samuel Elbert, Revolutionary soldier and Governor of Georgia; Capt. Denis L. Cottineau de Kerloguen who aided John Paul Jones in the engagement between the “Bon Homme Richard” and the “Serapis”; Hugh McCall, early historian of Georgia; Edward Greene Malbone, the noted miniaturist, and Colonel John S. McIntosh, a hero of the War with Mexico.

The remains of Major General Nathanael Greene who died in 1786 reposed in the Graham vault until they were reinterred in 1901 in Johnson Square.

The cemetery became a city park in 1896.


As usual, we have arrived at the front of the situation after going in and around through other avenues. This sign is at the main entrance, although you can enter and leave from any gateway. Isn’t that like life? There are many ways to approach a situation and perhaps none of them are wrong.

I think this ends the Densler saga. Who’s to say? Does research and poking about ever really end? Because who is William Densler, chairmaker? These images are from from a collection of the names of early artisans.

DenslerWilliam chairmaker 1806 note 2DenslerWilliam chairmaker 1806 note 1

Do you have a Densler chair? Was this a thing? And why don’t I find a newspaper ad for William Densler, like I do for Henry and Frederick Densler, and vice-versa.

Was a chairmaker an actual chair maker or were there specialists in the field? It appears that the Denslers were makers of riding chairs for horses and wagons, carriages, buggies, etc.


From the Columbia, 1797:

Columbian_Museum_&_Savannah_Advertiser_1797-04-07 DenslerHenry Chairmaker

The Subscriber,

Returns his most respectful thanks to his Friends and the Public in general, for the encouragement he has received, and is sorry he could not serve his customers since the fire of the 26th November last; but now offers his service with pleasure, at his shop in Bull Street, on Doctor Brickell’s Lot, where he formerly lived — where all kinds of Riding Chairs are made and repaired on the shortest notice, and in the neatest manner Orders from the country, will be strictly attended to and thankfully received, by their obedient humble servant.


April 7. 11-8T


Georgia_Gazette_1798-12-13 DenslerHenry chairmaker


BEGS leave to inform his friends, and the public in general, that he has removed his shop nearly opposite the Courthouse, where he still carries on the said business in the neatest manner.

N. B. Orders from the country will be strictly attended to, and executed on the shortest notice.

Work done cheap for cath.

Savannah, 3d Dec. 1798.

Savannah Republican, 1808:


Insley and Densler dissolved their partnership. Savannah Republican, 1810:

Savannah_Republican_1810-04-03 Densler partnership dissolved

9/24/1829, Georgian

Georgian_1829-09-24 Densler Ad

Frederick seems to be a salesperson in addition to a chairmaker. I suppose he was like a car salesman of that time, new and used.

So, the Denslers kept America rolling. Good-night, Densler people. It’s been an interesting ride.

Andrew Marshall, a Free Man of Color in Savannah

January 13, 2020


Chatham County

In the name of God, Amen: I Andrew Marshall a free man of color of the City of Savannah, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do make and publish this my last Will and Testament.

Item First. I commit my soul unto God, hoping for happiness in the world to come, and desire that my body be buried in my family vault in the graveyard in Savannah.

Item Second. I give devise and bequeath to my wife Sarah Marshall, the Southern half of lot number nineteen (19) Farm and Bryant Streets in the City of Savannah, with the improvements thereon; also my household and kitchen furniture, my four wheeled carriage and one horse to have and to hold the same for and during the term of her natural life, and after her death, to be equally divided between my sons Joseph and George , their heirs executors & administrators forever. (Grand children to represent their parents and take per Stirpes and not per Capita) and after the death of either of them without child or children, or representatives of children, then to the survivor his heirs, executors Administrators and assigns forever.

Item Third: I give devise and bequeath unto my son George Marshall the Northern Half of said lot number nineteen (19) containing a double stone building on Farm Street and a wooden building back of it in the lane, with all the improvements thereon to have and to hold the same to him his heirs executors Administrators and assigns forever. But should my said son George depart this life without leaving a child or children or representatives of children living at the time of his death, then immediately after his death to my wife Sarah Marshall, and to my son Joseph, so long as they both shall live, and after the death of my said wife Sarah, to my son, Joseph, his heirs executors Administrators and assigns forever —

Item Fourth – I give devise and bequeath to Georgiana the daughter of Cripy Houston Four shares of stock in the Marine and Fire Insurance Bank of the State of Georgia

Item Fifth – I give devise and bequeath unto my son Joseph Marshall Lot number Eleven (11) in that part of the City of Savannah, known as the village of St Gall with the improvements thereon, to have and to hold the same to him his heirs, executors Administrators and assigns forever.

Item Sixth. I give devise and bequeath  my silver watch, with all my wearing apparel unto my cousin Andrew, a slave now owned by Dr. Kollock.

Item Seventh. All the rest and residue of my property, not herein specifically bequeathed (and out of which I desire that all my debts may be paid) after the payment of my debts, I give devise and bequeath unto my wife Sarah, and to my sons Joseph and George to be equally divided between them their Heirs Executors Administrators and assigns forever, But should either of them die, without leaving a child or children or representatives of children, living at the time of their death then to the survivors or survivor of them, their and his heirs executors Administrators and assigns forever.

Item Eighth. I nominate constitute and appoint Frederick A. Tupper, John W. Anderson and Wylly Woodbrige Esqrs, Executors of this my last Will and Testament

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Thirtieth day of July in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and fifty two.

Andrew Marshall  L S

Joseph Felt and Wylly Woodbridge vouched that they were each witnesses to the signature of Andrew Marshall on the will on April 6, 1857.

His residence was at Perry and Whitaker Streets. He died of consumption.



Buried in Laurel Grove South


From New York

From GenealogyBank, Augusta Chronicle, December 17, 1856:


A Black Man’s Funeral.

We announced some days ago the death, at Richmond, Virginia, of Andrew Marshall, the colored preacher, who had been ministering in holy things to the slave population of Savannah for nearly forth years. His remains, encased in a neat metalic coffin, were brought from Richmond, at the expense of his congregation, and yesterday was set apart at the First African Baptist Church for the funeral ceremonies of the lamented dead. Long before the hour appointed for the services, an immense throng without respect to color or condition, collected at the Church, the floor, aisles, galleries, and even steps and windows of which were densely packed. Hundreds, unable to gain admittance, were assembled in front and around the Church, while the street was completely blocked up with vehicles of every description.

At the appointed hour the body was taken from the residence of the deceased to the Church, and placed in front of the altar. After prayer, singing, and the reading of appropriate lessons from the scriptures, an eloquent and impressive discourse was preached by the Rev. Mr. Rambaut, formerly of the First Baptist Church, now on a visit to the city.

The services in the church having been concluded the body was returned to the hearse and the immense congregation formed in procession, the deacons and other officers of the various churches in front; next came the remains of the deceased, followed by the Colored Benevolent and Temperance Societies, and after them a long line of carriages, some fifty in number, and a multitude of pedestrians. The procession was a most solemn and imposing spectacle, and attracted much attention as it passed through the city. It moved up West Broad street and thence to Laurel Grove Cemetery, where the body was deposited in the family vault, with the usual ceremonies of the Baptist Church.

Andrew Marshall was, in many respects, a remarkable man. We are but little informed as to his early history, but learn that he was originally a slave, and having accumulated a considerable amount of money — his earnings in his own time, as the more industrious of our slaves seldom fail to do, purchased his freedom. His secular pursuit was that of a drayman, which he followed with energy and thrift, and laid up a comfortable support for himself and family, in his old age. His chief employment, however, for nearly a half century, was the Christian ministry, in which he acquired a large fund of scriptural lore, and exercised almost unbounded influence among his race by the truth and power of his sermons, and the piety of his life. He was, as before stated, the Pastor of the First African Baptist Church in this city, and though over a century in age, he continued his labors among his flock with unabated zeal up to the day of his death. He was greatly respected by all our citizens, and an idol among the large congregation of his own color so long under his pastoral care — a fact which no one can double who witnessed the deep solemnity and unfeigned grief that characterized the obsequies of yesterday. — Savannah Republican.


Good night, Marshall family. We’re thinking of you.


FlowerFest 2019: Mary Cowper Stiles Low

December 25, 2019

I was a Girl Scout for a while. I started with the Brownies, then advanced to whatever level was next. I didn’t advance further, and I’m not sure why.


I’ve been following the Andrew Low House Facebook page, when this notification popped up. The name Cowper caught my eye.

Part of her online biography says that she was the mother-in-law of Juliette Gordon Low, which is true, but Mary died in 1863, and her son William Mackay Low married Juliette Gordon in 1886. So technically true, but Juliette was 3 years old when Mary Low died.

We got distracted at Laurel Grove and didn’t stop at the Low plot, even though it was the next lane over from the Mackay plot. We did remember to stop at the Andrew Low House.

We didn’t go in since the day was getting late and we had a bit of a drive home, but I snapped a few photos of the outside.

A nice French couple stopped me to ask if the house was closed. “But, is it closed?” I showed them the sign on the front gate that said they could enter the house from either side on Macon or Charlton Street. The front steps were blocked off with a rope.












It’s 1:03PM!

We head home for cats and Carolina, finished with the FlowerFest in Savannah. But there’s next week to finish up at the Robertville Baptist and the Robert Cemetery in Robertville, SC. See you then!

The Letters of ROBERT MACKAY to His Wife

November 14, 2019

Because I’ve gotten wrapped up in the family tree of Basil Cowper, I found this reference to Robert MacKay. Robert married Eliza McQueen, the niece of Basil’s wife Mary Smith Cowper.

I found this dandy volume on Amazon.

Is it MacKay or is it Mackay? Is it pronounced M’Kay or is it Makkie? I seriously don’t know.

Inside my book is a newspaper article from 1949. It has been in the book so long that it has left a shadow on the pages.

July 21 – 1949

Around Town


SCORES OF LOVE LETTERS WRITTEN DURING thrilling times, all tied with blue bows, now turning dark with age, and packages of other romantic letters with bright red ribbons, they too turning dark with the coming and going of generations, will be the interesting highlight for Colonial Dames in the early Fall…..


THE AUGUSTA CHAPTER OFF Colonial Dames is particularly interested in the letters of long ago, and so will we, when we find that an Augusta man wrote them.

They will take book form and will be rolling off the press early this fall. They are being published under the auspices of the Georgia Society of the Colonial Dames of America.

“The letter of Robert Mackay to His Wife”, is taken from letters written by Robert Mackay, who was born in Augusta in 1772, son of an enterprising Scottish merchant and a New England mother. Robert lived here in Augusta until about 1795, then moved to Savannah, where he became a prominent merchant, member of the city council and a figure of importance in social life in the community.

The first part of the book centers on the romantic courtship, followed by interesting accounts of Savannah, telling of the period when Savannah was the seaport and commercial center of the state and was a city of about five thousand persons and the fourteenth largest city in the nation.

In this period he tells of the gradual emerging of an influential group of merchants and factors who lived in opulence, in the fine old Regency dwelling, now landmarks in the coastal town.


OTHER LETTERS WERE written from England and other South Atlantic ports and also some from the extreme north.

The famous collection of his letters were given to the Georgia Society of Colonial Dames by the late Mrs. Frank B. Screven and the late Miss Phoebe Elliott. Those who have had the thrill of reading a few of his letters, tell us they are particularly significant in their portrayal of the thoughts and the very way of life led by a true Southern gentleman of the early nineteenth century.


He mentions Oatland Island, a Smith property near Savannah, which means a field trip is in order. Eliza’s mother Anne Smith McQueen died at Oatland Island in 1809 at the home of her sister Jane Smith Bourke (Mrs. Thomas Bourke).

The book mentions the death of their firstborn child Robert in 1804 at age 4. None of the online family trees on ancestry show this child, so I’ve added him to the one I made.

Robert died young while in New York. Eliza didn’t remarry. Good night, friends, we’re thinking of you.

Zephaniah Kingsley, a Loyalist in South Carolina

August 17, 2019

Because one thing leads to another…

I’m reviewing some of the old plats in the Lawton Family collection in the South Caroliniana Library in Columbia, SC. You can take photos for free if you use your cellphone or camera without a flash. The last time I was able to view this collection was in September of 2017. I didn’t take photos then but planned to take advantage of that on my latest visit.

I started with the beginning of the oversized documents that went back to the 1700s. Much of it confused me. There were names I didn’t know, like where John Smith deeds land to Sarah Smith, but I took photos of the documents anyway. Eventually there were names I knew: Joseph Lawton, Elias Robert, then John Robert which was a happy bonus for me. I didn’t expect him in this collection, even though his sister Sarah married Joseph Lawton. I took about 30 photos all total. I would have taken more but the parking meter would be running out of time across campus.

Once I got home, I spent a bit of time reviewing my photos. The earliest for John Robert was a plat of his land in 1782 which was part of the confiscated estate of Basil Cowper, and bordering on the land of Zephaniah Kingsley. Confiscated estate? What could this mean?

from the Lawton Family Papers

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

I found reference to South Carolina Estate Confiscation Lists. I was being sucked into a black hole of history.

I found several kinds of documentation on

One was a summarization of Kingsley’s case.

KingsleyZephaniah - FLHG_AmericanMigrations1765-1799-0722

Kingsley, Zephaniah. Memorials: Charleston, SC, 1782; London 1784; now of St. John, NB, merchant, sworn London 1787; by attorney, London, 1788. The claimant made a handsome fortune as a trader by importing British goods. He obtained permission to remain in Charleston with his family until the town surrendered to the Army in 1780 but, at the evacuation, was obliged to leave with them. Before he came away he sold a plantation for 5,000 pound sterling. Claim for a house and lot in Broad St; a house and lot in King St; two lots in Beaufort; 554 acres on Port Royal Island; 1,800 acres known as Black Swamp in St. Peter’s Parish, Granville Co; a house and lot in Frederica, St. James’s Parish, GA; a store at Indian Land; 1,000 acres on Long Came Road, Berkley Co. Conveyance of March 1778 from John Cox of SC, planter, t the claimant of 20 acres in Prince William Parish. Supporting memorial by John Shoolbred of London, merchant, 1788. Letter to the Commission from the claimant, London 1784: he has a large family in England and intends to sail shortly for NS. (12/46/314, 92/1a, 99/260, 109/184; 13/104/103, 130/256-292, 137/418-419).

He was a Quaker, and was affiliated with a group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This document is from 1780, courtesy of ancestryDOTcom.

KingsleyZephaniah 1780 Charles Town SC

On the 14th: of the 12th: mo: 1780 Present 17 Members, our Friends David Brook & Seth Coffin from No. Carolina, and John Forman.

Two Letters from Isaac Peace & Zephaniah Kingsley of Charles Town So: Carolina, dated 5th: 9th: mo: & 18th: 10th: mo: past having lately come to hand, giving some account of their Care of Friends Meeting House & Ground, and the Papers relative thereto, were now read & refer’d to be considered at our next monthly meeting.


I also found 44 pages of his claim. There are several different accounts of the description of the Black Swamp property, in addition to every single thing that he owned. Scroll on down to the 39th page for a description of the Blackswamp property if you can’t read cursive, because I have transcribed the property description. At some point I’ll possibly transcribe the other descriptions of his properties, because this guy had some money, influence, power, and property. These images are also from ancestryDOTcom.

LoyalistClaims P01

To the Hon. the Commissioners Appointed by Act of Parliament for enquiring into the Losses and Levies of the American Loyalists.

The memorial of Zeph. Kingsley late of So. Carolina

Humbly Sheweth.

That your Memorialist had for many Years previous to the commencement of the late unhappy war resided in Charlestown & carried on an extensive Trade there being concerned in the Importation of British Goods whereby he had accumulated a very liberal & handsome fortune.

That during the time of the Usurp’d Government he met with much persecution from the Rebels, being three different times imprisioned & otherwise ill treated both in person & property on account of his attachment to the British Government, but being anxious at least to preserve Sufficient of his Effects to enable him to discharge his just Debts; Your Memorialist with great difficulty gained permission to remain with the Family in Charles town till the Town Surrendered to the King’s Army in the Year One thousand Seven hundred & Eighty.

That your Memorialist happy in that event & flattered with the pleasing prospect of being again restored to the Blessings of that Government under which he was born & had lived in Ease & affluence, till those unfortunate disputes took place; exerted every influence he had in endeavouring to reconcile the needs of the disaffected in those parts to Yield Submission to the Government of their lawfull King, that he thereby incurred the resentment of the Americans to Such a degree, that a Sentence of Banishment accompanied with the confiscation of the whole of his property were passed against him.

LoyalistClaims P02

That your Memorialist’s Wife & Family of Six Children are now remaining in America, bereft of every species of support save what the Mercy of the Ending may afford them.

That your Memorialist’s property amounted to Twenty thousand pounds Sterling & upwards, as by the annexed Schedule appears, & the Americans had before he came away Sold a Principal well Settled plantation belonging to your Memorialist for Five thousand pounds Sterling & upwards; These unhappy & distressfull circumstances have not only rendered your Memorialist incapable of satisfying his Creditors To whom he now stands justly indebted to the Amount of full Ten thousand pounds (Duly at an Interest of Five pounds percent per Annum) but have (illegible) left him totally destitute of any present means of (illegible).

Zeph: Kingsley

LoyalistClaims P03LoyalistClaims P04LoyalistClaims P05LoyalistClaims P06LoyalistClaims P07LoyalistClaims P08

LoyalistClaims P09LoyalistClaims P10LoyalistClaims P11LoyalistClaims P12LoyalistClaims P13LoyalistClaims P14LoyalistClaims P15LoyalistClaims P16LoyalistClaims P17LoyalistClaims P18

LoyalistClaims P19LoyalistClaims P20LoyalistClaims P21LoyalistClaims P22LoyalistClaims P23LoyalistClaims P24LoyalistClaims P25LoyalistClaims P26LoyalistClaims P27LoyalistClaims P28LoyalistClaims P29LoyalistClaims P30LoyalistClaims P31LoyalistClaims P32LoyalistClaims P33LoyalistClaims P34LoyalistClaims P35LoyalistClaims P36LoyalistClaims P37LoyalistClaims P38LoyalistClaims P39

A Tract of Land known by the name of Black Swamp in Saint Peters Parish Granvil County near Savannah River formerly John Smith Esqs on which he lived many years. Contains about 1800 acres of which about 1100 acres are rich Rice swamp and the remainder good high land, an exceeding good Garden and Orchard, Containing a great number of good fruit Trees, a tolerable good dwelling house, an exceeding good Kitchen, a Saw mill, a large Compleat rice machine which is worked with water, a Black smiths and a Carpenters Shop. A very large and almost new Barn, some Stables, and overseers house and negro houses for at least 150 Negroes and several other buildings. I sold this place for 4500 pound Sterling but the Purchaser on account of the Destructive war was obliged to give it up the title Deeds which he returned are now in the hands of Lieutenant Governor Bull. This Tract of Land with the Buildings &c were (as I was informed by one of the Purchasors) sold before I left Charles Town by the Americans for upwards of 5000 pound Sterling now valued by the appraisers at 4000 pound Sterling.


LoyalistClaims P40LoyalistClaims P41

Bristol a good cooper
Kelsey a good carpenter
Jack a waiting man
Flora a cook
Fanny ditto
Jennett a house maid
Lucie an (?) good washer
One Mulatto girl
One Negro do

LoyalistClaims P42LoyalistClaims P43LoyalistClaims P44

By 1782, Basil Cowper’s estate is confiscated, and Zephaniah Kingsley’s is in the process.

I’m actually surprised about this. There’s also another name on the plat, that of Thomas Patterson, and it stands to reason that he is most probably a Loyalist also.

I found a marriage announcement of John Smith’s daughter Sarah Smith who married a Loyalist, Major James Wright, which was announced in the Royal Georgia Gazette, Savannah, Georgia, on January 18, 1781.

SmithJohnAndSarah Royal_Georgia_Gazette_1781-01-18_[3]

Kingsley’s account says that John Smith lived on the property for many years, and looking at the extent of the development of a rich rice plantation and all the outbuildings, the place was well-developed, and that doesn’t happen quickly. Could we guess that John Smith was there for at least 10 years?

The oral history of the area says that the Maner brothers served with Francis Marion, and while in the area, they hid horses and slaves in the swamps – hid them from the British. They liked the area so much that they settled there after the war, and are noted as some of the earliest settlers. But it looks to me that the British were already there, the Loyalist Americans.

Why would I say that?

Because there’s yet another historical document in the Lawton Family papers at Caroliniana Library that states that Samuel Maner, a farmer of Coosawhatchie, purchased a portion of the Kingsley property.

What a fascinating story! And it’s right in my backyard.

John Robert of Robertville

August 17, 2019

We’ve talked about John Robert before. He is a descendant from that ancient migration of French Huguenots because of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. His families settled in the Upper Santee Parish of South Carolina, and he eventually lived and died in the Beaufort District in an area that was named for his family.

If you search google books, you can find early references where he and other Robertville families supported their church. I was searching for Elizabeth Graham, and found other Robertville people as a bonus.

We’ve also taken poinsettias at Christmas time to John Robert and his wife Elizabeth Dixon over at the Robert Cemetery.

Lately, we had an opportunity to visit the Cotton Hill Plantation. We met the current owners and had a tour of the house and immediate grounds. It was fabulous. We even went in the attic and saw the construction of the house with the joinery of the rafters completed by long wooden pegs. The history is that shipbuilders from New England rebuilt the house as contracted by the new owners who located the new house on the footprint of the old house. The original house was burned by Sherman’s troops in 1865.


The next time we went to Robertville, it was to meet with Dr. and Dr. Leonard Young. Leonard is writing a biography of Henry Martyn Robert, and it is said that H. M. Robert was born on his grandfather’s plantation. But, I ask you, which grandfather? James Jehu Robert or Alexander James Lawton? At any rate, perhaps you and I can solve this mystery.

Leonard wanted to get a feel for the Robertville vicinity. There’s not much there now to see to the uninitiated. The Robertville Church, the convenience store, and a club for drinking where local guys hang out comprise the immediate crossroads. Nearby are the Black Swamp Plantation steps, a reminder of another plantation that was burned by Sherman.

We met at the Blackswamp Baptist Church, now known as the Robertville Baptist Church. I’ve blogged other photos of this church before.


Several people were working on the lawn and grounds, and a nice lady named Brenda offered to open up the church so that we could see inside.

She also opened the educational building, and pointed out this photo which is said to be the only known photo of the Blackswamp Church before it was burned by Sherman. It was said to have an upper galley for slaves, and indeed you can see upstairs windows on the side of the photo.


We proceeded to Pleasant Hill Plantation which was owned by John Hancock Robert, then we went to the Robert Cemetery off Tye Branch Road. I’ve posted lots of photos of that cemetery, especially those when we take poinsettias at Christmastime.

Then we finished up at the Cotton Hill Plantation. The owners had given us permission to drive onto the property, and we basically walked a bit on the driveway in front of the house. Leonard and his wife Peggy took some photos of us at this historic spot, and all seemed finished.

That was until a month later when I went to the South Caroliniana Library in Columbia, South Carolina, to view the Lawton Family Papers. I had been there before in September 2017 on the way to a church reunion in my hometown, and had spotted some items in the oversized document section which I wanted to view again and make better notes and photos. You can make photos with your cell phone or digital camera as long as you sign the permission sheet and don’t use a flash.

The items are in chronological order, and the first is a document by Jacob Kettle about a land transaction. Then there is a John Smith deeding property to Sarah Smith. I know none of these people.

Then I struck pay dirt.

Remember that I am viewing the Lawton collection, not the Robert collection, if there is even such a thing. Remember that Joseph Lawton married Sarah Robert, and that her brother is John Robert who married Elizabeth Dixon.

I have obtained this plat from the South Caroliniana Library with permission to publish on the blog.


from the Lawton Family Papers

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

Plat of Mr. John Robert’s Land On Blackswamp

South Carolina

The above delineated plat represents three hundred and ninety six acres being part of the confiscated estate of Basil Cowper, situate on Blackswamp in St. Peter’s Parish, Granville County and state aforesaid, Butting and bounding with such stakes and marks as are above set forth.

Certified the 15th day of Aug 1782

John Fenwick Surveyor

Then will Certify that the above is a true Copy taken from Mr. Fenwick’s works this 3d January 1787

Elias Robert

Deputy Surveyor

There is a sheet of newsprint attached to the backside of the plat. None of it seems relevant to the actual plat, and I wonder about the purpose of it. Does it help strengthen the paper that the actual plat is drawn on?

from the Lawton Family Papers

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

My goodness. So much to talk about.

Is Elias Robert the brother of John Robert?

Why is 1782 such an important year?

Who is Basil Cowper, and why were his lands confiscated? (See question about 1782)

Who are property owners John Audebert, Thomas Patterson, and Zephaniah Kingsley?

How much length is 20 chains per inch?

Why is there a floodgate?

What is Simpson’s Hill Settlement in the middle of the acreage? And who is Simpson?

These questions and so many more can perhaps be answered with two words: American Revolution.

Keep in mind that the first “C” I ever made in school was in American History in high school. Every time I see my history teacher, I tell him that.

But that was before I knew about Robertville before it was Robertville.

Here’s a bonus plat. It’s the 27 June1809 plat for John Robert.

from the Lawton Family Papers

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

South Carolina

At the request of Mr. John Robert Senr. I have resurveyed for the said Mr. John Robert Thirteen Hundred acres of Land, inclosing the Buildings and improvements of the said Mr. John Robert whereon he now resides & the buildings and improvements of Mr. Jehu J. Robert, Situate on Big Black Swamp, waters of Savannah river in St. Peter’s Parish, the same including Seven small tracts, and one small angle of Mr. Richard Bostick’s Land near a Branch that XXX in the tract purchased by Mr. Robert from Capt. Saml Maner, the said Angle is conveyed by Mr. Richd. Bostick & John Robert Jr. which said plats I have connected part by resurveying the old lines and part  by the orriginal works that hath Such Shape & form as the above Plat represents. Given under my hand this 27 Jun 1809.

Philip Lamar

D. Surveyor

The said Mr. Jehu J. Robert has been traditionally known as James Jehu Robert.

If you find the floodgate that is on the 1782 plat, it looks like the 1782 plat fits neatly into the land in the 1809 plat, and that the Robert landholdings have increased to an unbelievable size and shape by 1809.

Do you see Mr. John Robert’s dwelling house right in the middle? You should also be able to find Mr. Jehu Robert’s dwelling house. In the southwest quadrant is Mr. Cater’s dwelling house.

All this land was populated at a very early date, much earlier than the family stories told us. Soon I’m going to move on to Zachariah Kingsley and Basil Cowper and right into a hotbed of British Loyalist activity, right here in Robertville before it was Robertville.

Seriously, I can’t stop thinking about this. These people have moved into my brain.

Robert G. Norton, the Sheriff of Beaufort District

June 22, 2019

We’ve talked about Robert G. Norton before. He married Sarah Mosse, whose sister Martha married Alexander James Lawton. I’ve written about A. J. and Martha a fair bit. As nearly as I can reconstruct, he was born in 1788 and died in 1868.

Now that I’m going through the old newspapers, I find that Robert G. Norton was the sheriff of Beaufort District. This was back in the day before it was called Beaufort County.


To Coosawatchie Gaol on the 1st inst. a Negro Man about 20 or 25 years of age, 5 feet 1 inch high, who says his name is DANIEL, and that he was sold in April last by Mr. Reuben Roberts, to Mr. Minor Wooler, of the up country. Daniel has on a brown woolie jacket, Vest and Pantaloons, and professes to be a Shoe Maker. The owner is requested to come forward, prove his property, pay charges and take him away.

Robert G. Norton.

Sept 4


Sheriff Beaufort District.


In 1849, this document was presented regarding the renewal of the charter of the Blackswamp Academy. A body of men signed, including Robert G. Norton. His brother-in-law Alexander James Lawton signed; they were brothers-in-law because they married Mosse sisters. William John Lawton signed; he was the son of William Henry Lawton which made him the nephew of Alexander James Lawton. John Seth Maner’s family intermarried with the Lawtons and others. James Jehu Robert was a cousin to many of these because of his descent from John Robert, the brother of Alexander James Lawton’s mother Sarah Robert Lawton. I can probably find other family connections with the few remaining signers, but I need documentation, and I’m only using my brain power right now.

Blackswamp Academy 1818-1849 P2Blackswamp Academy 1818-1849 P1Blackswamp Academy 1818-1849 P3

Charleston Courier, February 22, 1853.



Charleston Courier, November 27, 1860



Public Meeting at Robertville.

Messrs, Editors:–At a large and enthusiastic meeting of the citizens of St. Peter’s Parish, and other portions of the State, held at Robertville, on Monday, the 19th of November, ROBERT G. NORTON, Esq., was called to the Chair, and EDWARD BOSTICK, Esp., appointed Secretary. The following preamble and resolution were introduced by Col. S. LARTIGUE in a few well-times and pointed remarks:

Whereas, the Federal Government, which was instituted by our fathers, for the protection and security of our citizens, having passed into the hands of a sectional majority, which, by all of its antecedents, and in its present covert or avowed purposed, is pledged to the overthrow of our institutions and the destruction of our equal rights in the Union; and, whereas, the Legislature of South Carolina having unanimously provided for the call of a Convention to disrupt our connection with that Government and establish independence out of it: Be it

Resolved, That the people of St. Peter’s Parish, and other portions of the State here assembled, send to their brothers from the mountains to the seaboard, their congratulations in the auspicious signs of the times, and pledge themselves, heart and soul, in the glorious movement which has been inaugurated, looking to the early organization of a Southern Confederacy.

Mr. A. P. Aldrich, of Barnwell, having been then introduced to the audience, made on of his best efforts in support of the resolution. His speech was at once spirited, bold, defiant, counselling resistance by the State to Abolition rule, “at every hazard, and to the last extremity.” Mr. Aldrich was listened to with wrapt attention and applauded to the echo.

Mr. DeBow, the able editor of the Review, which bears his name, being present, yielded to a very general call to address the meeting. His address was received with most marked attention. Mr. DeBow said that it had been his proud fortune to be present in Charleston when the first Palmetto banner was flung to the breeze, and was received with shouts for a “Southern Confederation,” which went up from a thousand hearts. The time has come indeed, for such a Confederation, if we were worthy of our glorious ancestry; and the eyes of the whole country were now upon South Carolina. If she faltered the day was lost. She was earliest in the field and had never struck her flag.

Had her counsels prevailed, the day of retribution would not have been delayed so long. It had been fashionable to revile South Carolina, and he, one of her sons, had felt in other quarters, what it was to be proscribed on that account; but that day was passed. The glorious services of the old Commonwealth began now to be recognized, and it was perceived that her warnings had been, as it were, an inspiration from heaven. She it was that perceived early in the day the poison that was concealed under the wings of the Federal Government, as Mr. Randolph expressed it. When South Carolina moved, her sisters at the South would which could not even frighten children. With the resources in their hands, which had made this a great nation, a Southern Confederation would, in all of the elements of wealth and power and security, be unmatched in ancient and modern times. We have the Cotton bale, which makes the treaties and determines the diplomacy of the world. Interest, and not sentiment, governed nations; and by that relation of interest we have the world bound hand and foot. The fleets and navies of Britain are ours, if we want them, for without our Cotton, it might be said of them, “Othello’s occupation’s gone.”

Mr. DeBow continued this course of reasoning at considerable length, and closed with an eulogium upon the men of 1776, who knew how to defend their liberties, and who were not represented in 1860, thank Heaven, by descendants who would prove unworthy of them. Better this quick death, if that be needful, of the brave man, than the gradual sapping of our life-blood, which could only be the result of further adhesion to a Government which had now fallen into the hands of those who have given every evidence of vindinctive hostility to us, greater than ever before was felt by one people for another.

At the conclusion of Mr. DeBow’s remarks, it is scarcely necessary to say the resolution was unanimously adopted.

A resolution was then passed requesting the Charleston Courier, Mercury, and Beaufort Enterprise, to publish the proceedings.



Many daughters of Carolina graced the occasion with their presence, and lent inspiration not to the speakers only, but to all around them.

It appears that Robert G. Norton was a man of local and national politics. Leslie and I had not heard that he was the Sheriff of Beaufort District. At that time, Beaufort District would have covered a large territory. The Coosawhatchie jail is not near Beaufort or Robertville, so our best guess is that Robert Norton did not attend to the daily business of running the jail. Presumably a jailer did that, although I don’t have proof of that.

The people of old Robertville continue to surprise me.


June 16, 2019

My friend Lynda makes amazing jewelry designs. Her Etsy shop is DivaDesignsInc. The basis of her items is Scottish tartan-based pieces. If you are immersed in watching or reading Outlander, as I am lately, you will be especially interested where you might not have been so inclined before falling in love with 18th century Scottish history.

Lynda also make specialty pieces, and she has a theme revolving around Women in History. I bought several of these Harriet Tubman pieces for some of my researcher friends.

It occurred to me that, if Lynda can create these, can’t she create a custom order for me? So I asked her, and I sent her 2 photos of my grandmother Ruth.


About age 16 perhaps, in 1910


My grandmother Ruth holding my mother Evelyn, about 1918, at Old Gray Cemetery in Knoxville, Tennessee

Here’s what Lynda created for me…

These made me absolutely weepy with delight. I’m not an emotional sort, but there are things, several things that are unrelated except that I am in the center watching things unfold, happening beyond my control that have conspired to make me melancholy.

These brooches cheer me up. Thank you, Lynda!

Perhaps you need cheering up, too. Get in touch with Lynda. Click on her Etsy link at the top of the post.

Henry Taylor of England and Robertville, Part 2

May 27, 2019

The newspapers hold more news of Henry Taylor.

In the Savannah Republican, July 11, 1807, he became a United States citizen.

In the Columbian Museum, Savannah, Georgia, July 15, 1808. He was the manager of a grist and rice mill at Drakie’s Plantation.


In 1810, he is mentioned in an ad about a sorrel horse.



Savannah Republican, October 9, 1813, he is appointed a commissioner of the Augusta Road, first district, along with Thomas Young and William R. Harden.




I don’t find anything else about him until 1827, where you’ll remember that he listed his Laurel Hill property for sale in January. Perhaps he returned to England, and I might be able to find newspaper and court accounts back home.




In 1839, the marriage announcement between himself and Mary C. Robert. The minister that performed the ceremony was Peyton Lisbey Wade who had gotten married three days previously. He is an ancestor of the author and compiler Annie Miller, who compiled “Our Family Circle” almost 100 years ago.

Marriage announcement

His will was written in 1840.

TaylorHenry WillTaylorHenry Will P2 and P3TaylorHenry Will P4

After his death, his will was resolved according to this account in the Savannah Republican, March 2, 1849.

An interesting case was pending before the Superior Court of this county in Chancery at its recent session, involving the doctrine in Equity of election and the extent of that doctrine as embracing compensation or forteiture. The case arose upon the will of the late HENRY TAYLOR; which not having been executed according to the law of South Carolina, was set aside in that State, by which a large real and personal estate descended to, and became distributable between, his widow and only child. The will was established in Georgia, however, and the property in this State being insufficient to discharge all the legacies and respond to the provisions for the widow and child, it sought to compel these last to elect between the descended estate in Carolina and the provisions under the will. We were disappointed, however, in not hearing the discussion of this interesting question of Chancery law, by the yet more interesting conduct of the widow and her present husband, who declared through their Solicitor in Court their wish that no legatee under the will should be disappointed, and that they only desired the benefits of the provision under the will to the extent of what might remain after full payment and satisfaction of all the legatees. As my be supposed, this very handsome course on their part led to an immediate and very satisfactory adjustment of the whole case.

You know what this means? It’s time for a field trip.

Framed by three massive live oak trees, this grassy knoll was a home site on Laurel Hill Plantation before the Civil War. Savannah National Wildlife Refuge includes portions of 13 former rive plantations. Ten, including Laurel Hill, were located in South Carolina. Laurel Hill was nearly 400 acres in size and belonged to several owners during the years of rice cultivation in the Savannah area (1750-1860). The most prominent owner was Daniel Heyward (1810-1888). He was a nephew of Thomas Heyward, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and of Nathaniel Heyward, the greatest rice planter of his day, who once owned 10 South Carolina plantations and 2,000 slaves.

Laurel Hill is bordered by the Little Back River, which is a channel of the Savannah River. Rice was grown in fields that were flooded with freshwater from the river. In 1825, the plantation had a house, rice mill, winnowing house, barns, and dwellings for 150 slaves. Facing three life oaks on this knoll, the two-story clapboard house probably was home for the plantation overseer. A rice mill operated by tidal power was once located on Little Back River. It was replaced by a steam-powered facility built near this location.

The Laurel Hill steam-powered mill operated from 1833 until 1880. Later, the mill was converted into a tavern, rumored to have been a hotbed of drunken and disorderly activity. The infamous Rice Mill Tavern was abandoned by 1934, when the Laurel Hill tract was added to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.


LaurelHil 3 lives oaks on knoll

The 3 live oaks on the knoll

LaurelHill info sign

LaurelHill magnolia blooming

There is an enormous magnolia across the parking lot from the 3 live oaks.

LaurelHill magnolia budLaurelHill magnolia from aboveLaurelHill magnolia

LaurelHill Marker and 2nd tree

The marker with the middle tree in the background and the rice fields beyond.

LaurelHill Marker and 3rd tree vista

The live oak closest to the rice fields in the distance.

LaurelHill Marker info hut and 2 trees

There’s an information kiosk to the far left.

LaurelHill marker

LaurelHill old brick foundation

Leslie found old bricks embedded in the grassy area near the magnolia.

It was unbelievably hot. We were there mid-day when most birds and animals have retreated from the heat, but we did hear a few bird calls from the buffer by the magnolia. The temperature was in the upper 90s, and it’s only the end of May.

That seems to be the end of the story of Henry Taylor. There are some court documents that I will attempt to transcribe, but for now, good-night, Henry Taylor. We’re thinking of you.

Back to the Past: Robert’s Rules of Order

May 18, 2019

My first year at college, back in the day, found me joining a committee called the Concert Committee. Since I had some musical background, I thought this was a good choice for me.

I had no idea what these people were talking about. This committee was in charge of arranging for bands to perform on campus. Not garage bands, not marching bands, but musical groups of the day, like Little Feat, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Miller Band, the Eagles. This seemed way over my head that a group of college kids would be in charge of entertainment for a university. How would we even know who to contact? How do we know what to say?

The chair of the committee was a guy named John who had the most amazing head of hair, long wavy blondish hair parted in the middle. He wore wire-rimmed glasses and was very intense. Imagine your prototypical 1970’s radical; that might be a photo of John. He was going to do things right.

I think it was probably at the first meeting that it was brought up that we were going to follow Robert’s Rules of Order. I bought a paperback copy at the campus bookstore. I didn’t know who Robert was. I didn’t know that someday through strange twists of time and fate that I would live near his birthplace.

From GenealogyBank, the State newspaper, Columbia, SC, Sunday, May 05, 1985, Page: 223.


Author of Robert’s Rules

Hundreds of South Carolinians abide by his rules, but not many people except history buffs know that Henry Martyn Robert, author of Robert’s Rules of Order, was a South Carolina native. Even fewer know anything about the man himself.

Anyone who has gaveled a meeting to order knows the value of Robert’s little brown pocket volume of rules. First published more than 100 years ago, it is recognized as America’s highest authority on parliamentary law.

The author fully realized the importance of his project as he labored over it through the years, but little did he know how far-reaching his efforts would be, The publishers, Scott, Foresman and Company of Glenview, Ill., have received orders from Argentina, China, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Syria and South Africa. The publishers also have distribution points in Great Britain, Canada and the Philippines. And the blind have a Braille edition of Robert’s Rules of Order.

To date 3.4 million copies have been printed, the latest edition carrying a 1981 copyright.

Henry Martyn Robert, the man who started this groundswell of interest in parliamentary procedure, was born May 2, 1837, on his grandfather’s flourishing plantation near Robertville, in what is now Jasper County. He was the second of the four children of Dr. Joseph T. Robert and his wife Adeline, “a lady of remarkable intellectual ability,” whose family, the Lawtons, lived on a neighboring plantation.

Six years earlier, Robert’s father had given up a successful medical practice in the Robertville area to enter the Baptist ministry. Dr. Robert’s extensive education incuded a degree from Brown University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa; two years of graduate study at Yale and a medical degree from Charleston Medical College (now the Medical University of South Carolina). Already perhaps one of the best educated ministers in the denomination, Dr. Robert, nevertheless, buckled down to study for a degree in theology from Furman Theological Seminary. There he became known as “a very correct, critical and thorough scholar.”

Dr. Robert was ordained pastor of the Black Swamp Baptist Church in his home community. The beautiful, tall-steepled church, carpeted throughout and boasting an organ, was considered the finest country church in the state. It is easy to imagine baby Henry starting Sunday School here, dressed in the starched white apron and little black hightop button-up shoes of the times, following in the footsteps of his pious ancestors.

Robert’s religious heritage went back several generations. He was the sixth lineal descendant of Pasteur Pierre Robert, who had led a band of brave Huguenots into the New World in 1686 in search of religious peace. Pierre Robert, whose homeland was Switzerland, was the first pastor of the colony which settled in the lush quiet of St. James, Santee. His descendants later moved south and acquired lands close to the Savannah River and founded the village of Robertville.

Dr. Robert’s early schooling was at Robertville Academy, at that time considered one of the best in state. But before young Henry was old enough to start school there, his family moved to Kentucky, where his father had accepted the pastorate of the First Baptist Church at Covington. Later the family moved to Lebanon, Ohio, where Dr. Robert became pastor of “one of the oldest, wealthiest and most influential churches in the state.”

When Robert was nine years old, in 1846, the family came home again to Robertville. Soon afterward Dr. Robert accepted the pastorate of the First Baptist Church of Savannah. As often as possible he accepted invitations to fill the pulpit of his old home church, Black Swamp. Baptist history shows that he baptized young Henry at 13, along with his brother, a year older, while the congregation gathered under a magnificent moss-draped magnolia nearby. This must have been at Black Swamp, though records are incomplete because the church was burned by marauders from Sherman’s army in its march from Savannah to Columbia in early 1865.

After serving the Savannah church a little more than four years, Dr. Robert returned with his family to the North “to further the college education of his children,” three sons and a daughter. He taught at Burlington University in Iowa


and later became president. After his wife died, he returned South, where his “kin and friends” were.

At 16, Robert entered West Point, graduating with honors four years later. After teaching philosophy at his alma mater for a year, he was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the Corps of Engineers. His first assignment was to survey a route in the Pacific Northwest for military purposes.

While going through the Panama Canal to his West Coast duty station, Robert contracted malaria. When his condition worsened the following year, he was called back East and assigned as a defense engineer in Washington. War was imminent — a war that saw Lt. Henry Martyn Robert on the opposite side from his mother’s brother, Gen. Alexander Lawtonn, and many others of his South Carolina kin. Gen. Lawton, also a West Point graduate, served the Confederate as a quarter-master-general.

Robert was on duty at Philadelphia and at New Bedford, Massachusetts, and for 10 years following the war, he headed engineering projects in the Military Division of the Pacific. His work involved coastal fortifications specifically harbors and lighthouses, and he met people from all over the world.

It was while on duty in the San Francisco area that Robert recognized the need for some form of standardized parliamentary procedure, but New Bedford has been the scene, some years earlier, of his “first encounter with the problems of parliamentary law.”

Looking impressive in his officer’s gold-trimmed uniform, Robert had found himself elected spontaneously to take charge of a chaotic town meeting. New Bedford citizens, gathered in a Baptist church, were supposed to be discussing how to protect their harbor against a possible attack from the Confederate Navy, but a shouting match had ensued.

In his later writings, Robert doesn’t tell exactly how he brought the noisy mob to order except to say he “plunged in, trusting to Providence that the assembly would behave itself.” “My embarrassment was supreme” he admitted, vowing he would never again try to preside without knowing how.

This disconcerting incident led him to the project which became a consuming passion the rest of his life.

He immediately set out to find the instruction he needed As the only two known treatises on the subject were unavailable, he had to be content with the meager suggestions offered in the familiar one-volume encyclopedia of the day. He jotted down notes on a scrap of paper which he tucked away in his wallet for an emergency.

Later he located Thomas Jefferson’s rules for Congress, but realized they were much too complicated and undemocratic for the average church meeting or town council. Proving even less practical was Massachusetts legislative clerk Luther E. Cushing’s Manual of Parliamentary Practice.

Robert’s duty in California didn’t leave him much time for delving into his favorite topic, but it was constantly on his mind. Logical engineer that he was, he thought through every conceivable parliamentary question to a strong conclusion, trying to anticipate any problem that might arise along the way. California’s diversified population’s suggestions of “That’s the way we did it back home” gave him much to ponder.

By 1869, Robert had written a practical 15-page manual of basic parliamentary procedure. this he had printed at his own expense for his personal use and for close friends.

It was in California, too, that Robert, ever active in the work of his church, took on a personal home missions project. Seeing the plight of the hundreds of discouraged and destitute Chinese who had looked to America in vain for a better life, he found a special Chinese Rescue Mission.

In 1873, he was assigned to the Great Lakes area, where he spent 10 years. There in the cold winters when darkness came early, he at last found time for writing, and his real book of rules began to develop.

By late spring of 1874, more than a dozen years after Robert’s interest in parliamentary law had been kindled and after much writing and revising, he was ready to go to press, but he couldn’t find a publisher. D. Appleton and Company of New York, for example, turned him down in one polite sentence.

Undaunted, Robert decided to pay for printing the book himself. Working with two Milwaukee printing partners, Burdik and Armitage, he selected top quality paper and even paid for new type faces. After months of painstaking indexing, cross-referencing and proofreading every single line himself, Robert rushed home, finished sheets in hand, to share his triumph with his devoted wife Helen, who had encourage him through the years.

Robert shared the outcome of this moment in a letter to a friend years later. It was Helen, he admitted, who suggested a major change in the book after the type had all been set: Why not add examples of exactly how the rules would work? This would make it easier to understand. So back to his writing desk he went.

Next came a search for a publisher to bind the printed pages for 4,000 books, because Robert recognized that he needed a well-known name for promotion if his book were to reach the public. His approach to Chicago publishers S. C. Griggs and Company ended with a response as cold as the February day: He was an unknown author who had written about an unpopular subject, and what could an Army officer possibly know about parliamentary law?

At this, the young major firmly set his jaw and offered the publishers a contract they couldn’t turn down. He would pay for binding the books, an he himself would conduct a promotion campaign with the first thousand copies, sending samples with a questionnaire to legal authorities, legislators, colleges and presidents of church groups and fraternal organizations. This he did, and the response was overwhelming.

On February 19, 1876, Robert’s little nook was offered to the public, and orders could not be filled fast enough. In less than three months the presses has to start rolling again. Robert’s Rules of Order, its title chosen by the publisher, was on its way. Scott, Foresman and Company acquired publication rights shortly thereafter.

Grateful officers of governing bodies and fraternal orders from Maine to California wrote to Robert congratulating him. College presidents and state governors commended him. Even the United Presbyterian Church adopted his rules as standard authority, a form still followed in the Presbyterian Book of Order today.

Besides being practical, Robert’s rule book had the unselfish theme of fairness he so often quoted: “The will of the assembly.” The author held from the beginning that in as assembly (1) the majority must rule; (2) the minority must be heard; (3) the rights of the individuals must be guarded and (4) just and courtesy must prevail.

Robert, who earned the rank of brigadier general, retired from the Army on his birthday in 1901. He spent the rest of his life writing new rules and revising old ones, answering questions on points of order and accepting suggestions, which he incorporated in the later editions of his book. since his death, his family has kept up the revisions and published new editions at the same time retaining his basic principles and the same pocket-sized format he chose so long ago. Only the color has changed. the little brown book is now also available in maroon.

Robert was married twice. Some years after Helen’s death, he married Isabel Hoagland, who also aided him tremendously in his work. He and Helen were the parents of four children. Grandchildren still survive. He died at Oswego, N.Y., May 11, 1923, and was buried with full military honors in Arlington Cemetery.
Robert was described as deeply religious genial, friendly, gracious, quiet, intelligent and efficient. Perhaps a description written of his father more than 50 years earlier would also be fitting: “He combined the courteousness of a Southern gentleman with the indomitable energy of a Yankee.”

Ms. Law is on the journalism faculty of the University of South Carolina-Aiken.

Good night, Mr. Robert. We’re thinking of you.