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News & Herald, Friday, July 5, 1901
SOME PROMINENT FAIRFIELD FAMILIES
The Kirklands were Scotch, and lived on Cedar Creek, Fairfield County. They were gallant supporters of the cause of American Independence. This anecdote is related: "Once old Mr. Kirkland (grandfather of Colonel William J. Alston and his sister, Mrs. Dr. Pearson) and another male member of his family, probably a son, were on a visit to their home during the war. A party of Tories found it out and undertook to capture them. They heard of it and left to rejoin their command. When they arrived at some stream, they had to cross, it was night and they found the enemy encamped on the other side. They determined to make a dash for it and surprise them. Knowing the clatter of their horses' feet on the bridge would sound as though there were more than two riders, they put spurs to their horses and calling to some imaginary followers to come on, they charged the enemy's camp and carried it. The latter taking to their heels."
Although it was a large family, there is not one left of the name in Fairfield.
Frances Kirkland, one of the daughters, was born August 18, 1777. She married James Alston; one of their children was Elizabeth M. Alston, who married Dr. George B. Pearson on December 29, 1814. Mrs. Pearson was a woman of marked characteristics, being generous and charitable to an unusual degree. She was born in Cedar Creek in Fairfield on December 9, 1799.
William Kirkland, a grandson of Joseph Kirkland, a prominent physician years ago in Charleston, died in Virginia in June 1862, from wounds received in battle, he was the last of the name of this family of Kirklands, except his own young children. He was a member of the Charleston Light Dragoons, and was a rice planter of Colleton District. He married a daughter of Judge Withers; I think he still lives in Camden, S.C.
Col. William J. Alston, son of James Alston and Frances Kirkland, was born July 21, 1802. He was a man of wealth, education and intelligence, and was a member of the Legislature from this county from 1840 to 1846. When a vacancy occurred in the Secession Convention, caused by the death of John Buchanan and William S. Lyles, members of that body from this county, he and William R. Robertson were elected to fill the vacancies.
Col. Alston had built a fine large house a short time before the Civil War; Sherman's "fleur de chevalerie" burnt it, although his family and other ladies were in it when fired. Mrs. Alston and her little children took refuge in another house on the place and were again driven forth and that house burned. I suppose those who applied the torch soothed their consciences, if not too scared to feel, by saying that they were turning women and children out of doors in winter, "to preserve the Union!" The peculiar atrocities perpetrated on this place and that of Mrs. William S. Lyles were ascribed to the fact that the owners had been members of the Secession Convention.
Colonel Alston died on the 4th of July, 1868. He had a presentment of his death, and the message came not unexpected. He had been for years a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and contributed largely to the building of the church in Monticello. He was twice married; his first wife was Miss Marianna Brownough he had several. The daughters were Jemima, who married John R. Harrison of Longtown; Sallie Strother who married Jesse Owens and after his death, Dr. John Cook of Marshalville, Georgia;
Lucy, who married Thomas Heath, then David Mobley, then Keller; Rebecca, the wife of Dr. B. A. Buchanan; and Regina who married Christopher Gadsden. He was a large and successful planter, represented the District in the Legislature and was universally beloved and respected by all who knew him. He was a consistent member of the Blackstock Baptist Church, near to Furman's Institute. No truer friend to the poor ever lived. He died during the war, and his remains lie in an unmarked grave in the family burial ground near Simpson's Turnout.
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