Posts Tagged ‘Mama Florrie’

Catherine Maner Lawton and Her 1840 Plat

September 7, 2019

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

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

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

from the Lawton Family Papers

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

South Carolina

St. Peter’s Parish, B. D.

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

R. T. Lawton, Surveryor

December 16th 1840

Samuel Maner was her uncle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Which Mama Florrie Says Good-Bye

January 14, 2017

2016 was a brutal year. 

It was a year of Loss, and Anger, and Sadness, and Change. It was a year of New Beginning, and Hope, and Improvement, and Relief. That was my year; I don’t know about yours. 

Just when I thought the end was in sight, I got a call on December 3, 2016, from Mama Florrie’s daughter Rose that Mama Florrie wasn’t doing well. 

The call came on a Saturday, and Sugar and I were planning our annual FlowerFest for the following day. We decided we’d go see Mama Florrie the following weekend. 

Later that afternoon, Sugar decided we needed to see her the next day. 


On Sunday, December 4, 2016, Sugar and I drove to the little town of Estill to the nursing home where Mama Florrie had been living for several months. 

The Stiles M. Harper Building

The Estill Convalescent Center. There was a nice gentleman standing in front of the sign having a conversation with himself. I didn’t ask him to move so that I could get a better angle of the sign.


We found two of Mama Florrie’s children in the room with her. Rose and Harold were happy to see us. 

Mama Florrie was curled up in the bed. She couldn’t speak, but she knew that we were there. In the past, when we were having a conversation, she might nod her head and say, Ooooh, yeah, in a soft, high coo. Today all she could manage was a small faraway coo when I talked to her, and I knew that she was there. 

Two of her grandchildren called using video chat. Have you used it? It was a small act of closure for that day, although at that point we couldn’t know how much longer she had. I could hold the iPhone so that they could see her, and she could hear them. She responded to their voices with more soft coos and by squeezing my hand. 

Her adopted daughter came in with a tabletop Christmas tree and little stockings to hang. The whole time, we were having conversations around her bed, and Harold would check to make sure she was tucked in properly. 

Before we left, a nurse came in with Mama Florrie’s medicine. The nurse asked her if she wanted the medicine, and she gave a small, vigorous nod, and she swallowed the liquid painkiller that she was offered. 

When we left, she was resting. 

The next morning, I got two calls at work from Rose. One was to say that Mama Florrie wasn’t doing well and it wouldn’t be long. The second call was to say that she was gone.

(To be continued)

A Visit with Mama Florrie

December 4, 2015

I went for a visit with my Mama Florrie.

She’s 102!

I showed her photos of her family on FaceBook by way of my iPhone. She oohed and aahed over photos of her great-great-granddaughter. I was proud that I could give her that moment.

She’s always a good sport when I want to make selfies.

Her son Harold agreed that I could photograph him. Years ago, he looked at a photo I took of him and left the room, saying “Old. Look old.” Today he was much more pleased with the results, even though he’s visibly grayer than 2 years ago.

Here’s to 103 years in February!