Posts Tagged ‘Simpson’s Hill’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.