To Main page
From News and Herald, Winnsboro, S.C. Friday May 3, 1901
To the present and succeeding generations of Fairfield County, I respectfully dedicate this little volume as a duty I owe to them in perpetuating the memories of a few of their ancestors, and as a token of my love for my native county.
"Old people tell of what they have seen
children of what they are doing,
and fools, of what they intend to do."
As I am now perhaps the only one alive who knew some of the first settlers in Western Fairfield and a few of their immediate descendants, I may be pardoned for undertaking the arduous task of preserving for posterity the meagre knowledge I have retained of them from memory, besides what I can glean from "Mills Statistics of South Carolina" and "Woodward's Reminiscences."
I am well aware of the fact that my homely phraseology will not bear the inspection of the hypercritic, but as I write for the masses, I shall be well compensated if I can please them. The time has past to compile a complete historical biography of Fairfield District, as important material has been lost by the death of the old settlers and no record kept of important facts. The reader will pardon the meager account given of some men and families, as my knowledge of them being limited personally and historically. Where I have given full biographies, my correspondents furnished the material, or I knew them personally, or received my information from history.
As I was born in the extreme Western portion of Fairfield, and my correspondence limited in the middle and eastern portion of it, the reader will pardon the omission in this work, of any mention being made of persons fully entitled to a record in history. The author will take pleasure in yet giving them a place in an appendix to the little work. But for urgent solicitations from friends I should not have undertaken this book at my advanced state of life, and hope the readers of it will pardon any errors or omissions.
The friends to the work have been very kind in furnishing material for it. I will here state that during my illness I was greatly indebted to a young friend, a descendant of two prominent families spoken of in this work, for the interest manifested in copying my reminiscences, and letters from correspondents, relative to my book.
"When I remember all
The friends, so linked together,
I've seen around me fall
Like leaves in wintry weather,
I feel like one
who treads alone
Some banquet hall deserted
When lights are fled
Whole garlands dead,
And all but me, departed!"
I shall begin by giving a few extracts from Simm's Geography of South Carolina.
"Fairfield was first settled by emigrants from Virginia and North Carolina. It derived its name most probably from the grateful appearance which it made in the eyes of the wanderers, weary with long looking for a resting place. It is bounded on the north by Chester District, on the south by Richland, on the west and northwest by Broad River, which divides it from Union, Newberry and Lexington, and on the northeast by the Wateree and Catawba Rivers, which separate if from a part of Lancaster and Kershaw.
Fairfield is on an average 32 miles in length and 23 in width.
"The soil is very various, combining the best and the worst of the up-country. The lands on the water courses are rich and inexhaustible, cotton of the short staple variety, is much cultivated. The small grains grow well in Fairfield, wheat and oats in particular. The main rivers are the Broad and the Wateree, both of them containing fertile islands, some of the in cultivation."
Fairfield has an inexhaustible supply of the finest granite for building, several quarries are now in successful operation. A branch railroad has been built from Rockton, a station three and one half miles below Winnsboro, on the C.C. &A. Railroad, running about five miles in a westerly direction, to the quarries owned by Major T.W. Woodward, Col. James Rion, and Col. A.C. Haskell.
There is a remarkable rock not far from the railroad to Columbia, four miles below Winnsboro, called from its appearance, "Anvil Rock."
The population of Fairfield County in 1880 was 27,765 and the number of acres was 454,757.
Winnsboro is the seat of justice and the town of most importance in the county. It is a healthy and pleasant stop, thirty miles from Columbia, and one hundred and fifty miles from Charleston. It is on the dividing ridge between the Broad and Wateree Rivers. The town stands on an elevation of more than five hundred feet above the ocean. The lands around are fertile, undulating and greatly improved.
By an Act of the General Assembly, 8 March, 1784, John Winn, Richard Winn, and John Vanderhorst were authorized to have it laid out as a town. It was incorporated December 20, 1832. Tarleton says that Lord Cornwallis, after learning of the defeat of Ferguson at Kings Mountain, selected Winnsboro as a place of encampment in October, 1780. It presented good advantages for supplies from the surrounding country. He remained there until January 1781. His marquee was near the oak in front of Mt. Zion College. After inquiry, General Sherman, in February 1865 placed his marquee on the same spot. During the Revolutionary War, a large military hospital was located on the premises now occupied by George McMaster and was used by both armies in turn. The British dead are buried at what is now the front yard, and the Americans in the rear. Mt. Zion College had its origin before the Revolutionary War. It was granted a charter on the 13th of February, 1777, by the General Assembly then in session in Charleston, to John Wynn,Robert Ellison, William Strother, and others. The school was discontinued when Cornwallis occupied the town in 1780-81. In 1784, Rev. T.R. McCaule, of Salisbury, N.C. took charge of the school and a new charter was obtained in 1785 . ... ... the foundation was laid for a large brick building, 44 X 54 feet, and two stories high, and cabins were built for the accommodation of boarders. Afterward, during the administration of JW. Hudson, under whom, from 1834 to 1838, the institution acquired a reputation so extensive within the limits of the Southern States, the building was greatly enlarged. First, a three-story brick building was added to the rear and then similar additions were made to the north and south sides of the main building. The splendid structure was destroyed in May 1867 by an accidental fire, greatly to the grief of the community.
A one-story brick building was soon after erected on the original foundation, at a cost of about $3,500. In 1878, a public graded school was established by consent of the Mt. Zion Society, under the able management of R. Means Davis. This has been continued under his successors to the present time. In 1885, just one hundred years from the granting of the original charter, it was determined, if possible, to revive the collegiate feature of the institute and in connection with the graded school to furnish to the youth of our county the opportunity of obtaining a complete, practical education at home at a minimal cost. After various plans had been discussed and abandoned, a joint meeting of the Mt. Zion Society and the citizens of the town was held, at which it was determined to issue bonds of the town to the amount of $75,000, for the purpose of erecting such additional buildings as were needed. Accordingly, on the 25th of May 1886, ground was broken for the foundation of the large and well arranged brick building. This is just completed August 1886, and contains eight large well lighted and well ventilated school rooms, furnished throughout with improved seats, desks and all necessary apparatus. The Board of Trustees has recently elected Professor W.H. Witherow, of Chester, principal of the school. He was still principal in 1898.
As the Ordinance of Nullification which was passed by a convention in Columbia, SC, in November 1832, is a matter of history, I speak of it. It is said that there never was such an aray of talent in our State before as was assembled in that body. James Hamilton, Jr. was then Governor of our State. Some of the members of the convention were Robert Y. Hayne, Chancellor Harper, Job Johnston, George McDuffie, Robert J. Turnbull, F.H. Wardlaw, Armistead Burt, Stephen D. Miller, John L. Wilson, Daniel E. Huger, John B. O'Neal, C.J. Colcock, John S. Richardson, R.W. Barnwell, R.B. Rhett, B.F. Perry, R.J. Manning and F.H. Elmore. The ordinance was to go into effect March 1, 1833.
There was wild excitement all over the State. The Buckhead troop of calvary , of which I was a member, commanded by Capt. Thomas Lyles, who was afterward promoted to the rank of Major, was ordered to be in readiness at a moment's warning, to aid in carrying out the provisions of that ordinance. President Jackson issued what was called his "Bloody Proclamation" for the purpose of forcing our State into submission. Governor Hayne issued one in defiance, declaring the State a sovereignty and calling on all good patriots to sustain him. It was fortunate for us that Henry Clay offered in Congress a compromise of the tariff act, which was accepted, reducing gradually for ten years the duties on all imports to 20 percent ad valorem. It was violated, and remained so ever since. The delegates to the Nullification Convention elected from Fairfield Co., SC, November 1832, were William Harper, J.B. McCall, E.G. Palmer, D. H. Means, and William Smith. The reader will naturally feel a deep interest in all that pertains to the late great Civil
War. I will give a brief account of the Secession Convention and a record of the names of the members from Fairfield County who signed the ordinance. The Secession Convention met in Columbia Early in December 1860, but smallpox appearing in the city, it adjourned to Charleston. The Convention passed the Ordinance of Secession December 20, 1860. The delegates to it from Fairfield were William S. Lyles, John Buchanan, David H. Means, and Henry C. Davis. Men of firmness, sound sense and tried fidelity to the interests of their State. The first mentioned died April 1862, the second, the same year. Col. John H. Means was killed at the Second Battle of Manassas, and Col. Henry C. Davis died of heart disease, August 27, 1886, near Ridgeway.
There was a meeting in Columbia of the Secession Convention in September 1862, and in the election held to full the vacancies occasioned by the deaths of William W. Lyles and John Buchanan, William J. Alston andWilliam R. Robertson were elected. The latter introduced in that body resolutions of regret, saying, "Since you all met together, General John Buchanan, Major William S. Lyles, and Colonel John H. Means have paid the last debt of nature and passed to the Great Beyond. The two former in beds of languishing, the last only a few days since on the plains of Manassas, on the field of battle, at the head of his command. All three of the deceased were natives of Fairfield District, and gentlemen of marked character. Each of them filled posts of honor and distinction and had contributed to the social, moral, and political prestige of Fairfield." Col. Means had been killed so short a time before the meeting of the convention that there was no one sent to fill his place.
The reader will pardon me for saying I was a Nullifier and a Secessionist from principle. I was a strict adherent to the doctrine set forth by Mr. Jefferson in his Kentucky resolutions and an adherent of Madison's and John C. Calhoun's States-Rights Doctrines. We fought, and fought in vain, and though our banner may never again be unfurled,
"He that complies against his will
Is of his own opinion, still."
Fairfield is now entitled to three representatives in the Legislature and one Senator. This county has furnished the State with one governor, John Hugh Means.
The congressmen from this county have been Richard Winn, William Woodward,
and W. W. Boyce. They served before the War. In 1884, Gen. John Bratton was elected to fill the unexpired tern of John H. Evins, of Spartanburg, who died whilst a member from this congressional district.
MEMBERS OF THE STATE SENATE
S. Johnson, Samuel Alston, David R. Evans, A. F. Peay, John Buchanan, N. A. Peay, E. G. Palmer, John Bratton, Henry A. Gailard, and Thomas W. Woodward.
The Representatives in the Lower House of the Legislature before the War were P.E. Pearson, James Barkley, William Bratton, John B. McCall, A. F. Peay, William Brown, J. Havis, Thomas Lyles, David Montgomery, I. Bonner, G.H. Hunter, B. B. Cook,
J. Buchanan, J.D. Kirkland, J. A. Woodward, D. McDowell, D.H. Means, J.J. Meyers, E.G. Palmer, J.D. Strother, W.J. Alston, O. Woodward, J.B. Means, J.R. Aiken, S.H. Owens, W.W. Boyce, J.T. Owens, W. R. Robertson, D. Crosby, H. H. Clarke, J.N. Shedd, R. B. Boylston, W.M. Bratton, J.B. McCants, Henry C. Davis, and T. W. Woodward.
At the session of the Legislature in 1860 which called the Secession Convention, Edward G. Palmer was in the Senate and R. B. Boylston, T.W. Woodward and James B. McCants in the House of Representatives. Of the Senators and Representatives who served beforeand during the Civil War, there are now but three alive: W. W. Boyce, ow of Virginia, S. H. Owens, of Marion County, Florida, and T. W. Woodward, who is now Senator from Fairfield.
During and since the Civil War Thomas McKinstry, Bayliss E. Elkin, W. J. Alston, J.R.Aiken, H.A. Gaillard, T.S. Brice, R. C. Clowney, A.S. Douglas, G.H. McMaster, John W. Lyles, C. E. Thomas, Charles A. Douglas, Hayne McMeekin and S. R. Rutland have served in the House of Representatives.
After the war, in 1876, Gen. John Bratton was elected to the Senate; in 1880, Mr. Henry A. Gaillard, and in 1884, Major T. W. Woodward.
These three have also been consecutively county chairman of the Democratic Party since 1876; Major Woodward succeeding General Bratton in 1878. They have also been delegates to numerous State conventions. Major T.W. Woodward was for several years president of the State Agricultural and Mechanical Society; He was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention of 1872. Also, to the Taxpayers Convention, which made an ineffectual appeal to President Grant to relieve the State in her hour of dire distress.
CLERKS OF THE COURT AS GIVEN FROM THE RECORD
John Milling, from 1785 to 1793, 8 years
David Evans, from 1793 to 1797, 4 years
Samuel W. Yongue, from 1797 to 1818, 31 years
James M. Elliott, from 1828 to 1846, 18 years
A.W. Yongue, from 1846 to 1850, 4 years
O.R. Thompson from 1850 to 1858, 8 years
G.W. Woodward, from 1858 to 1865, 7 years
B. Clowney, from 1865 to 1877, 12 years
W.H. Kerr, from 1877 to 1886 (present date)
ORDINARIES AND PROBATE JUDGES
D. Evans, from as far back as 1789, then John Buchanan from
about 1800 to 1825
then J. R. Buchanan, James S. Steward, G. W. Woodward and James Johnson. William Nelson was made Probate Judge in 1870, then J. J. Neil. O.R.Thompson was elected in 1876. J. R. Boyles was elected in 1878 and still holds the office.
ohn Milling is supposed to have preceeded James Muse as sheriff, then John Barkley, James Barkley, Hugh Barkley, Archibald Beatty from 1820 to 1824, William Moore to 1828, A.W. Yongue to 1834, Hugh Barkley (sic) to 1838, D. G. Wylie to 1842, J. Cockrell to 1848, Richard Woodward to 1852, R. E. Ellison to 1856, Richard Woodward to 1860, E. F. Lyles to 1864, E. W. Oliver to 1868, L.W. Duval to 1875, Silas W. Ruff to 1879, J. B. Davis from August 1879 to December 1880, John D. McCarley from 1880, now in office.
It may not be amiss here to mention the hanging of Shadrach Jacobs. In the year 1809 or 1810, Ezekiel Wooley, a constable, had a state warrant to arrest Shadrach Jacobs, and while riding with Capt. Andrew Feaster towards and near Jacob's residence, Capt. Feaster was killed by a rifle ball fired by Jacobs. The account given and proved in court in 1829 or 1830, twenty years afterwards, when Jacobs was tried and convicted of the murder, was that Jacobs had shot Feaster thinking he was Wooley. It seems that Wooley asked Feaster to change horses not long before the latter was shot, and it being near dusk in the evening, Jacobs could not discriminate between them, Feaster being on Wooley's horse. Jacobs absconded to the wilds of Georgia soon after the act was committed, and his whereabouts was discovered twenty years after and he was arrested and brought to Winnsboro, convicted of murder, and hanged in 1829 by Sheriff Moore. In this instance was verified the truth of the lines from the German:
"Though the mills of God grind slowly,
Yet they grind exceedingly small,
And patiently he stands waiting,
Til with exactness grinds he all."
Although it was evident that Jacobs killed Capt. Feaster through mistake, yet his purpose was murder, and besides, his general character was that of a villain. And at the time of trial there was a requisition for his body from the Governor of Georgia.
To Main page