Posts Tagged ‘Basil Cowper’

John Robert of Robertville, Part Two

November 14, 2019

Y’all remember that occasionally I bust out with some thinking, and I get wrapped up with research. (I hope you will forget about the experiment of dyeing yarn with food coloring.) This theory concerns John Robert and his early days. Why don’t we know more about his early days? We believe he was born about 1742. I found the plat in 1782 where he gets property in what became Robertville because of the confiscation act, that property being part of the forfeited estates of Zephaniah Kingsley and Basil Cowper, 2 Loyalists with property in St. Peter’s Parish.

Leslie and I were having a discussion about John Robert and his service to the Patriots during the Revolutionary War. I went to the DAR website to see what I could find out. There wasn’t much, just that his name was on a jury list. That didn’t seem like a lot of service for a young man of that era, so I went to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

But first I started a time line with info from “Our Family Circle” by Annie Miller. Then I added to what I found on the SCDAH site, and what a blockbuster that was.

  • 1766, Oct 7 – Royal Grant of 250 acres, Saltcatcher River, Colleton County
  • 1768, December 31 – John Robert of Saltcatcher’s enters caveat against William Coachman’s obtaining administration of Estate of William Gould late of St. Peter’s Parish 
  • 1769, January 20 – William Coachman did not appear; John Robert gets letters of administration on the Estate of William Gould
  • 1769, April 11 – 300 acres on Saltcatcher, Prince William Parish
  • 1769, July 4 – Colonial land grant (S213019, Vol 18, P 361 – from SCDAH online records)
  • 1769, September 18 – 300 acres at Saltcatcher (S111001, Vol 8, P 507, Item 4 – from SCDAH online records)
  • 1770, May – Col. Isaac Hayne records that John Robert & Elizabeth Dixon moved to Indian Lands (SC H M Vol II, pg 93)
  • 1771, May 18 – John Robert has royal grant of 250 acres in Prince William Parish
  • 1771, December 23 – John Robert has royal grant of 500 acres in St. Helena’s Parish
  • 1778, June 28 – John Robert is Rev. War soldier is Capt. Blake’s Co (SC H M, Vol 5, p 19)
  • 1779, September 16 – October 15 – served in SC Militia, private
  • 1779, 1780, 1781 & 1782 – Provided sundries for Continental militia
  • 1780, February 11 – 1780, May 12 – Footman in Capt. Joseph Darrell’s company
  • 1780, March 1 – May 12 – SC Militia, private
  • 1780, April 20 – Provided corn & bacon
  • 1780, May 12 – 1781, July 1 – Prisoner of War; General Lincoln surrenders at the Siege of Charleston
  • 1781, May 16 – Provided 1 steer
  • 1781, July 18 – Provided 1 three-year-old steer for use by Capt. James Cone’s detachment
  • 1781, September 20 – 1782, February 12 – military service
  • 1781, December 10 – Provided 4 four-year-old steers for use by General Greene’s army
  • 1782, June – 1782, July 4 – 30 days military service
  • 1782 & 1783 – Provided provisions & forage for Continental use. Hunting and driving cattle. Providing oats & rye
  • 1783, April 10 – Provided 7 beeves, beef, & clean rice

Y’all, he was a prisoner of war for over a year. I wondered why he was captured, and when I googled the date of May 12, 1780, I found that it was because of the Siege of Charleston. General Lincoln surrendered, and those people went to prison.

Go have a look at the file. It is 29 pages and an amazing time capsule.

Mary Smith Cowper of South Carolina

August 25, 2019

I’ve been looking at some old plats from the South Caroliniana Library for an area that was known as St. Peter’s Parish, Beaufort District, in the mid-1800s. Before it was St. Peter’s Parish, it was known as part of Granville County, Province of South Carolina.

There is a particular plat where John Smith deeds part of his land to his daughter Sarah Smith. 100 acres to be exact. It is a square shape which borders John’s land on one side, and vacant land on the other three sides.

But who is John Smith, and why is this plat in the Lawton Family Collection? I don’t have real answers, but I am guessing that this plat of land later became part of a Lawton plantation.

When I look for answers as to whom John Smith was, I check the old newspapers on GenealogyBank. I find two marriage announcements: one where his daughter Sarah Smith is marrying Sir James Wright, a loyalist in Savannah, and another daughter Mary is marrying Basil Cowper. I found a good bit about Mary, so let’s start with her.

Here are some probate records from Savannah. Mary’s husband Basil was banished from the colony of South Carolina, and his estate was confiscated. He died in Jamaica in 1802, but it appears that Mary didn’t go with him. They had two daughters. Mary Anne and Margaret, who also stayed in what became the United States.

The first two images appear to be out of order, and the handwriting is smeary, like a rough draft. She sorts it all out, and the third image starts to make sense. Turns out, she wrote it in pencil, and then in a later court document after her death, her brother Archibald Smith certifies that it is her true handwriting and signature.

CowperMary Probate P1


1818 from James Cuthbert’s Estate. Settled as due to Mary Cowper by Mr. McQueen

Viz — $7225.89

1 Jany 1819 due to ditto.

From my mother’s Estate XXX etc ten Negroes — $3500

Interest thereon – 1680


This at my own disposal

I give to my niece Eliza Mackay out of the above sum four thousand Dollars said Money next XXX is my bequest to my Daughter Margaret McQueen.

I bequeath to Sidney Anderson out of this pound 200 Sterling if she is living and to be paid her as soon as maybe after my death free of all charges or deduction the sum of 200 pound Sterling aforesaid.

I bequeath to Jesse Lamont 200 pound Sterling likewise out of this fund under the same injunction of the sum entire base of diminution

As part of the portion XXX up to her of the half I have of the Jamaica property.

Whatever has accrued of Interest upon my said separate property to the time of my death I leave to Mary for her self & to go toward the Judgment or fulfilment of my said Will herein specifyed of which I constitute & appoint herself & Mrs. Eliza Mackay executors.

Mary Cowper

Jany 18th 1821

I intend to write this in Ink if I can best of time & ability herewith it XXX the Sense is clear enough & must stand.

To Mrs Margaret McQueen from my mother’s property, Maurice, Nancy, Lucinda, William, from Jane’s property to Mary Anne Cowper – Molly & her three sons viz. George, Sam, & Harry, My Tankard etc is for Mary viz Silver ware viz silver forks, spoons. Also my bed stead beddings & other household furniture & table & bed linnen for Mary as she may have occasion for it & is unprovided.

Jany 18th 1821 and Feb 22d 1821

When I now give & bequeath to Mary Anne Mackay the Sum of Sixty pounds Sterling for a watch or however she may please to dispose of it.

Mary Cowper

CowperMary Probate P2

To my daughter Margaret McQueen I give & bequeath one thousand dollars out of this oney accounted to me by John McQueen Esqr as executor of James Cuthbert’s estate & likewise my attorney to receive my mother’s legacy to me that is to say out of the said sum specified of $12,405.89 – over and above one thousand dollars from the land at Red Bluff left me by my mother or what ever sum it sold for be it more or less – which land I gave to her & them mentioned to confirm it.

I give and bequeath to my daughter Mary Anne Cowper the residue of the above mentioned property be it more or less to her to have and to hold at her own disposal – this day of Mrch the twentieth one thousand eight hundred and twenty.

Mary Cowper

Whereas the portion I am entitled to of my Husband’s Estate reverts at my death to my two daughters Mary Anne Cowper and Margaret McQueen equally divided between them but the interest accruing there on that is to say upon my said portion or third part what ever it may be at my death. I desire it may go towards the payment of my debt to Sidney Anderson and any deficiency to make up that Sum. Mary Anne will supply it to discharge the same out of the half to reverting to her and the half lot of land I leave to Mary desiring it may be taken

CowperMary Probate P3

1818 from Jams. Suthberts Estate Settled and due

to Mary Cowper (by Mr. McQueen) viz $7225.89.–

1st Jany 1819 Due to Ditto from my Mother’s

Estate (XXX the ten Negroes)  $3500.–.–

Interest Thereon  $1680.–.–

(This at my own disposal)  $12,405.89.

I give to my Niece Eliza Mackay out of the above Sum four thousand Dollars of Said Money XXX XXX is my bequest to my Daughter M. McQueen

I bequeath to Sidney Anderson out of this fund 200 pound Sterling – if she is living, & to be paid her as soon as may be after my death, free of all charges or deductions of the sum of two hundred pounds Sterling aforesaid.

I bequeath to Jess. Lamont two hundred pounds Sterling likewise out of this fund, under the same injunction of the sum entire free of diminution.

To my Daughter Margaret McQueen I give & bequeath one thousand Dollars out of the money accounted to me by Jno. McQueen Esqr as Executor of Jno. Cuthberts Estate – and likewise my attorney to receive my Mother’s Legacy to me – that is to say out of the same sum specified of $12405.89.– over & above one Thousand Dollars from the Land at Red Bluff left me by my Mother – or whatever Sum it sold for, be it more or less – which Land I gave to her & this is mentioned to confirm it —

CowperMary Probate P4

I give and bequeath to my Daughter Mary Anne Cowper the residue of the abovementioned property be it more or less, to her to have and to hold at her own disposal. This day of March the twentieth, one Thousand Eight hundred & twenty


Mary Cowper

Whereas the portion I am entitled to of my Husbands Estate, reverts at my death to my two Daughters Mary Anne Cowper & Margaret McQueen equally divided between them – but the interest accruing thereon – that is to say, upon any said portion or third part whatever it may be at my death, I desire it may go towards the payment of my debt to Sidney Anderson – & any deficiency to make XXX Sum Mary Anne will supply it to discharge the same out of the half so reverting to her – and the half Lott of Land I have to Mary – desiring it may be taken as part of the portion reverting to her, of the part I have of the Jamaica property.

Whatever has accrued of Interest upon any said separate property to the time of my death I leave to Mary for herself and to go towards the payment as fulfilment of my said will herein specified of which I constitute & appoint herself and Mrs. Eliza Mackay Executors.


Mary Cowper

January 18th 1821

I intend to write this in Ink if I can, but if time and ability permits it not – the sense is clear enough, and must Stand.

To Mrs. Margaret McQueen – Maurice from my Mothers property – Nancy, Lucinda, William from Jama. Property.

To Mary Anne Cowper – Molly, and her three Sons, viz, George, Sam, and Harry. My Tankard etc is for Mary – viz Silver Forks and Spoons – Bedsteads – Bedding and other Household furniture and Table & Bed Linens also for Mary, as she may have occasions for it & is unprovided.

Jany 18th 1821 and Feby 22d 1821  Where I now give and bequeath to Mary Anne Mackay the Sum of Sixty pounds Sterling for a watch or however She may please to dispose of it.


Mary Cowper

A true Copy Errors Excepted

CowperMary Probate P5

State of Georgia

Chatham County

In the Court of Ordinary Chambers. 24 April 1823.

Present the honorable Thomas N. Moul & Edward Harden Justices of the Inferior Court of Chatham County sitting for ordinary purposes. Personally appeared Archibald Smith of Savannah Esquire, who being duly sworn doth depose declare and say that the annexed paper written with pencil and signed “Mary Cowper”, purporting to be the last will and testament of the said Mary Cowper, late of Savannah widow deceased bearing date the twentieth day of March one thousand eight hundred and twenty, also an addition to the same, also in pencil writing, signed “Mary Cowper”, & dated the Eighteenth day of January one thousand eight hundred and twenty one – and a further addition to the same signed “Mary Cowper” also in pencil writing, dated the last mentioned day, and also on the twenty-second day of February one thousand eight hundred and twenty one, is and are, all in the handwriting, and of the signature of the said Mary Cowper, well known to him the deponent for years past, as the deceased was the sister of this deponent. And further the said Archibald Smith, saith, that the Transcript of the said will hereto annexed and written with ink is a true and litteral copy of the said will written in pencil

CowperMary Probate P6

And has been copied by and is in the hand writing of Mary Ann Cowper, daughter of the said Mary Cowper one of the Executrixes named in the will aforesaid, and further that at the time of the several dates of the said will and long afterwards and until the death of the said Mary Cowper which took place on the XXX day of XXX, Eighteen hundred and twenty one the said Mary Cowper was & continued to be in her perfect senses and of sound, disposing & intelligent mind.

Archd. Smith

Sworn to in open court

This 24th April 1823

S M Bond

Clk Co Ord

24th April 1823. Then appeared Mary Ann Cowper & was duly qualified Executrix of the annexed will of Mrs. Mary Cowper decd by taking the oath presented by Law recds letters Testamentary etc accordingly.

Bond CCO


Let’s go to Savannah! And wander through Colonial Park Cemetery looking for the grave of Mary Cowper.

There is spotty cell service in the Cemetery. When I try to find the memorial on, I have zero service. We walk a bit a look at the flat stones, because I remember that Mary has a flat stone, not an upright marker or a box grave. Finally the cell service gives me enough of a signal that I can access the website on the cellphone, and I see in one of the photos that there is a corner of another flat stone next to Mary, so let’s look for at least two stones side by side.


U. S. Corps of Topographical Engineers

Died May 31st 1818

Aged 42 years

In the Blessed Hope

of Salvation through Christ.






BORN IN 1773;

DIED IN 1822.

Here may the treasured dust repose,

Till God shall bid the dead arise.

And then, with kindred spirits, round

Obtain a mansion in the skies.

To the dear memory of

an Excellent and most beloved Mother


widow of


Daughter of

Jno. & Elizabeth Smith

Born in South Carolina

Died the 10th April 1821,

aged 69 years.

This stone is place by her children

Nature mourns! but Faith rejoices!

The perishable marble will but a little

while endure to record her name or worth

here, and those who read it, and those who

inscribe, shall also be mouldered  into dust.

Happy they who have, “Their names

written in the book of life,” whose hope

like hers, is fixed on high.

Should aught beguile us on the road.

When we are walking back to God,

For strangers into life we come,

And dying is but going home.

Welcome, sweet hour of full discharge

That sets our longing souls at large,

Unbind our chains, breaks up our cell

And gives us with our God to dwell.


to the Memory of


who departed this life 24 March 1809

Thrice welcome death!

Which after many a painful bleeding step

Conducts us to our home.

And lands us safe on the long wished-for-shore.

Prodigious change! Our bane turned to a blessing

Death disarm’d, loses its terror quite

All thanks to Him who scourg’d the venom out.

The happy Soul anticipating Heaven

Freed from the thraldom of encumbering clay

Spring into Liberty, and Light, and Life.


by his sorrowing Family

Whose only consolation is their trust

that their loss is his gain.

This XXX

Sacred to the memory of


who died XXX

aged 21 years 11 months & 18 days


(The rest is illegible)

Sacred to the memory of a Sister

Here lie the remains of


Daughter of John Morel Esq. dec.

who was kill’d by a fall from a horse

the 5th of April 1790

Aged 11 years 11 months & 15 days.

Fair was the flower; soft the vernal sky,

Elate with hope we deem’d no tempest nigh;

When lo! A whirlwind’s instantaneous gust

Left all its beauties withering in the dust.


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.

Would you like to find these folks? They are across the sidewalk from the marker of Edward Greene Malbone.

Where is Mary’s mother Elizabeth Williamson? Her father John Smith is here, along with other family members.

I’m going to poke around the internet. I’ll be back.

Basil Cowper, a Loyalist in South Carolina and Georgia

August 20, 2019

I’m looking at several old plats that I received from the South Caroliniana Library. These are in reference to the Lawton Family Collection.

One plat created in 1809 for John Robert mentions the confiscated estate of Basil Cowper. Another plat mentions that John Smith has deeded 100 acres to Sarah Smith on January 5, 1770.

This was going to cause me to tumble down a rabbit hole in search of answers.


From GenealogyBank, Georgia Gazette, February 23, 1769.

MARRIED.] Mr. Basil Cowper, merchant, to Miss Polly Smith, daughter of John Smith, Esq. a beautiful and accomplished young lady.

Surely this is the same John Smith marrying away his daughter. But Polly? I remembered that is a nickname for Mary, and this would serve me well to remember, because she isn’t referred to as Polly again.

The following screenshot from the Georgia Historical Society’s website show a collection referring to Cowper. He was in business in Savannah with the Telfair brothers , Edward and William. For a while he was a Patriot, then a Loyalist, which didn’t change even when he was banished and his lands confiscated.



Imagine that you congratulated Cornwallis on his victory at Camden and got blacklisted. The Rebel forces apparently kept a grudge. Below is another screenshot. Basil Cowper is is Class IV, #2.


This report is from ancestry regarding the Cornwallis Papers of the Virginia Colonial Records Project.


So what else can we find out about Basil Cowper? Using the newspapers alone for the year 1769, I find numerous references. He was a merchant, a real estate agent, and a slave holder. I’m using the year 1769 because that was the year he married Mary Smith, and we can get a snapshot of that colonial time period.


From the Georgia Gazette, March 1, 1769.


A RICE PLANTATION, consisting of 1050 acres of River Swamp, on the Carolina side of Savannah river, nearly opposite the town of Savannah, formerly belonging to Mr. John Smith, having a spacious barn 120 feet long, including a walk of 40 feet square for the cattle that work the machine, which is of the best kind and quite new, with a wharf before the door. The land has 100 acres cleared and under good dams, which has produced a plentiful crop of rice this year. It may be taken possession of in February next. Enquire of Basil Cowper or Cowper and Telfairs in Savannah.


April 19, 1769

RUN AWAY, on Monday the 27th ult. A NEGROE FELLOW, named JACK, about five feet nine inches high, of a yellowish complexion, has a large scar on the left side of his head cut by a hanger, and a scar upon his ear by the same stroke, and several cuts upon his body; he speaks good English, and will endeavour to pass as a free man. A reward of ten shillings, if taken within ten miles of Savannah, and twenty shillings, if a further distance, on a delivery to


Savannah April 4, 1769.


July 12, 1769


WHEREAS the Provost Marshal of this province, by virtue of a writ of attachment to him directed, did attach the lands, tenements, goods, chattels, monies, debts, and books of account, of Thomas Little, who is absent from and without the limits of the said province, in the hands and possession of Basil Cowper, at the suit of William Moore; AND WHEREAS the said Basil Cowper , as a creditor in possession, hath, agreeable to the direction of the Attachment Law, filed his declaration in his Majesty’s General Court of Pleas against the said Thomas Little, and hath obtained the following rule, viz.

Cowper, Creditor in possession,



30th July, 1768.

ORDERED, that the defendant do appear and plead within a year and a day, otherwise judgment.

By the court,


Notice is therefore hereby given, That, unless the said Thomas Little do appear and plead agreeable to the aforesaid rule or order, judgment will be entered against him accordingly.

GREY ELLIOTT, Attorney for the creditor in possession.


September 20, 1769

JUST IMPORTED, in the ship Polly and Betsey,


And to be sold on the most reasonable terms at their store on the Bay,

A NEAT ASSORTMENT of EUROPEAN  and EAST-INDIA GOODS, suitable for the season.


How did Cowper get property in Black Swamp in the province of South Carolina? From his father-in-law John Smith? In 1770 John Smith deeds 100 acres to his daughter Sarah Smith, so why not to his other daughter?


I also found a bill of sale at this website for a Negro man named Sam.

It is also dated in 1769 on February 24.


I found a court document on ancestry that has that format with a party of the first part, party of the second part, and party of the third part. It seems similar to another document that I found in the Lawton collection that lists the marriage of Joseph Lawton and Martha Stoney Barksdale Lawton, except theirs list all the slaves on two different plantations on Hilton Head. First I found the index page, and because the entire documents are not transcribed online, I scrolled through multiple pages until I came to the right case.

CowperBasil 1767-1771 will and probate book

CowperBasil wills and probate

Of course I got sidetracked by other cases. See the ones where Negroes were granted Manumission? I really need to go back and look at those. Which is an entirely different rabbit hole.

I’ve transcribed some excerpts.


IN WITNESS whereof the said parties to these presents have hereunto and to a Duplicate thereof set their Hands and Seals the day & year first above written

Sealed & Delivered (being first duly exempt)

By the within named Basil Cowper & Mary

His wife & Daniel Blake in the presence of

John Ranier  James Wilson

Basil Cowper  LS

Mary Cowper  LS

Henry Middleton  LS

Daniel Blake  LS

Benj Smith LS

Sealed & Delivered by the within named Henry Middleton & Benjamin Smith Esq. Of in Chas Town, So Carolina in the presence of us John Ranier  James Wilson

South Carolina:  Before me John Remington Esquire one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for Berkley County Personally appeared John Ranier & James Wilson the two subscribing Witnesses this Deed who being Duly sworn upon the holy Evangelists of Almighty God make oath and say that they were present in London & said the oath in named Basil Cowper & Mary his wife & Danl Blake Surety Sign Seal & as their act & Deed deliver the within Deed of Land for a Year that they were also present in Chas. Town South Carolina and saw the within named Henry Middleton and Benjamin Smith Esquires severally sign Seal & as their act of Deed XXX the said Lease and that they the Deponents subscribed their names as XXX Thereto.

John Ranier

James Wilson

Signed & Sworn the 28d day

Of May 1770 Before me 

John Remington JP.


KNOW ALL THEN BY THESE PRESENTS that we Basil Cowper late of the Town of Savannah in the Province of Georgia but now in the City of London, Merchant, John Smith of the Town of Savannah Aforesaid Planter are held and firmly bound to the XXX Henry Middleton, Daniel Blake & Benjamin Smith all of Charles Town in the province of South Carolina Esqs in the Sum of Seenteen Thousand and Thirty one pounds good and lawfull money of the said province of South Carolina to be paid to the said Henry Middleton, Danl Blake & Benj Smith, etc. Etc.


….. To Hold the same unto the said Henry Middleton Daniel Blake and Benjamin Smith the Trustees aforesaid and the Survivors and Survivor of them of the Heirs and assigns of such Survivor for Ever, In Trust for the use benefit & XXX of the said Lord William Campbell and Lady Sarah Campbell his wife and their issue according to the Several Tracts, Limitations, Settlements and Estates mentioned and set forth in the marriage Bond & Bonds Indemity recited in the said Indenture of Release and according to the spirit & intent and meaning of the same And whereas the said Mary Cowper, the said wife of the said Basil Cowper, being a Minor at the Time of Executing the said Indentures of Lease and Release could not make any conveyances and assurances in the Law to Bar or preclude herself from her Right of Dower… 


Lord William Campbell is marrying Sarah Izard, and they are referred to in the document as Lord and Lady Campbell. She is the daughter of Ralph Izard, deceased.

The newspapers also note the event of the death for Basil Cowper as dying in Jamaica in 1802.

From the Georgia Gazette, August 12, 1802.

Died on the 28th of June last, in the island of Jamaica, Basil Cowper, Esq. formerly a respectable merchant in this place, and a worthy man.


After poking around a bit more on the internet, I find some court documents on regarding Mary. She will be the subject of the next blog post.

Mary lived for a long time after Basil’s death. Since she was listed as a minor when she married Basil Cowper, does this mean that it was an arranged marriage? Perhaps her father and Basil were business associates since their names are in conjunction in court documents and in the newspapers.

Mary Cowper’s memorial is on findagrave. She’s buried in Savannah at Colonial Park Cemetery.

You know what this means…

We’re going to Savannah.


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.