The final line in my family tree is my maternal grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, affectionately known to me as Gan. Her ancestors were from the deep south, and among them were slave holders. Growing up I had no inkling of her southern heritage, although she exhibited some southern pride in her younger years. Her more immediate ancestors fled the south for Texas before the war, at least partially sparing us the madness of the sin of slavery.
The record begins at a settlement in the early 18th century at the 96th milepost on a trail used by traders and Indians in the colony of South Carolina. This settlement became known as Ninety-Six. A little store supplying traders with such essential items as rum, sugar and gunpowder, is on record as early as 1730.
Due to the expansion of white settlements, by 1769 Charleston could no longer serve as the only court house in the colony. Therefore, seven circuit court districts were established and courthouses were set up for each district. One courthouse was established in the village of Ninety-Six and the district was named Ninety-Six District, soon to be called the “Old” Ninety-Six as the boundaries changed.
Two branches of Gan’s family tree go back to the Ninety-Six District of South Carolina in the 1700s: the Kirkpatricks and Joneses in Abbeville and the Bryants and Tollesons in Spartanburg. The Kings, one of which married a Kirkpatrick, lived in Orangeburg. So Gan was a real Southern gal.
The town of Abbeville, South Carolina, home of the Kirkpatricks and Joneses, developed around a spring that was set aside by General Andrew Pickens for public use. Pickens had settled at what is now Abbeville proper, prior to the American Revolution. The name of the town and county were given by Dr. John de la Howe, a French Huguenot settler in Western South Carolina, in honor of his hometown in France. The city was officially incorporated as a municipality within the State of South Carolina on December 20, 1832.
Abbeville was settled by Scotch Irish and Huguenots. The Scotch Irish are descendants of early Protestant Scots who migrated from Scotland to Catholic Ireland to flee religious persecution by the English. The term Scotch Irish also serves as a euphemism for non-Catholic Irish. It was used by Protestant Irish immigrants to America to obtain jobs from employers who would not hire Irish Catholics. Of course, many employers had no compunctions about not hiring any Irish at all.
The earliest of my Jones ancestors that can be documented is Benjamin Jones. He was born around 1700 in Virginia. He had traveled to Abbeville, South Carolina and had joined a settlement along the frontier known as Long Cane near the Long Cane Creek. But clashes with the Cherokee were frequent. Long Cane Settlement was attacked by Cherokees on February 1, 1760. The following is an eye-witness account told by Mr. Aaron Price.
Yesterday se’n night the whole of the Long-Cane Settlers to the Number of 150 Souls, moved off with most of their Effects in Waggons; to go towards August in Georgia, and in a few Hours after their setting off, were surprized and attacked by about 100 Cherokees on Horseback, while they were getting their Waggons out of a boggy Place: They had amongst them 40 Gunmen, who might have made a very good Defence, but unfortunately their Guns were in the Waggons; the few that recovered theirs, fought the Indians Half an Hour, and were at last obliged to fly: In the action they lost 7 waggons, and 40 of their People killed or taken (including Women and Children) the Rest got safe to Augusta; whence an Express arrived here with the same Account, on Tuesday Morning … Mr. Patrick Calhoon, one of the unfortunate Settlers at Long-Canes, who were attacked by the Cherokees on the 1st instant, as they were removing their Wives, Children and best Effects, to Augusta in Georgia for Safety, is just come to Town, and informs us, ‘That the whole of those Settlers might be about 250 Souls, 55 or 60 of the fighting Men; that their Loss in that Affair amounted to about 50 Persons….Charles Town South-Carolina Gazette, Saturday, February 9, 1760
Patrick Calhoun had been instrumental in settling this area and to establish a Presbyterian Church there. His son, John C. Calhoun, became famous as a U. S. Congressman, Senator and Vice President and an outspoken supporter of slavery and secession. But also among those settlers were Benjamin Jones and his grown daughter. A somewhat more graphic account was given later.
But now came a season of dreadful trial to these devoted people. The Indian tribes, which almost surrounded them, became incensed against the whites, and rose in arms to destroy them. The inhabitants of Long Canes, in Abbeville, fled for refuge to the older and more settled parts of the country. A party, of whom Patrick Calhoun was one, who were removing their wives and children and more valuable effects to Augusta, were attacked by the Cherokees, on February 1st, 1760, and, according to contemporary journals, some fifty persons–according to other accounts, twenty-two persons–mostly women and children, were slain, and fourteen carried into captivity. After the massacre, many children were found wandering in the woods. One man brought fourteen of these young fugitives into Augusta, some of whom had been cut with tomahawks and left for dead. Others were found on the bloody field, scalped, but living still. Patrick Calhoun, who returned to the spot to bury the dead, found twenty dead bodies, inhumanly mangled. The Indians had set fire to the woods, and had rifled the carts and wagons, thirteen in number.
One of those slaughtered was Benjamin’s daughter. The bodies found were buried on the site of the massacre. The location of the massacre and the graves is identified by this historical marker. The site is near Troy, just south of the town of Abbeville.
Benjamin died later that year. The rest of his family stayed in Abbeville. His family included his wife Elizabeth Crain, and four sons. There was also a daughter Betsy, who would have been thirty two at the time of the massacre and may have been the one that was killed. I have no marriage or death record for her.
Fifteen years later, the first land battle of the Revolutionary War in the South was fought there on November 19-21, 1775. About 500 Patriots hastily built a rustic fort, dug a well inside and fought an attack from a much larger force of Tories (loyal colonials). There were no British forces involved. The battle ended in a formal truce. At that battle, under the command of Col. Andrew Williamson, was Captain Adam Crain Jones, one of Benjamin’s five sons.
In 1788, after the War of Independence, Adam Crain Jones, as a representative in the South Carolina legislature, was called upon to vote on whether the legislature would meet in Convention on May 12th to consider ratifying the new Constitution of the United States. Adam Crain Jones, as a representative of the Ninety-Sixth, voted “aye” but the vote was only 76 “ayes” and 75 “nayes”. So South Carolina came very close to not even having a Convention to consider the ratification of the Constitution. However, on May 27, 1788, South Carolina became the eighth state to ratify the Constitution of the United States.
In the first U. S. Census in 1790, Adam Crain Jones, (now “Esq.”) was living in Abbeville, South Carolina with 25 slaves. This is many more than any other household on the census page. Slave populations were counted because of the “Three-fifths Compromise” of 1787 that proclaimed that each slave was worth three fifths of one white male for the purpose of determining how many representatives each state would have in Congress. This gave southern states more Representatives than they would otherwise have had.
Captain Jones’ son, Benjamin Franklin Jones, continued to live in Abbeville, South Carolina, as a slaveholder. He owned or controlled hundreds of acres of land upon the death of his father in 1815, as specified in his will in which he divided his slaves among his children and grandchildren. There are a lot of confusing legal negotiations between Benjamin’s brother, Henry Alexander Jones, and his many debtors, including Benjamin, in which Henry seems to have borrowed a great deal from many people and then went into bankruptcy. Hundreds of acres of land and many slaves were involved in paying off these debts.
However, Ninety-Six District itself did not have as high a percentage of slaves in the population as the rest of the state. This 1861 map of South Carolina shows that the Ninety-Six District in the far northwest corner of the state has a lower density of slave populations (lighter shading). It may have been that the land was unsuitable for large plantations or just thinly settled.
In 1828, fifty years after that battle at Ninety-Six, Katherine Obedience Jones, daughter of Benjamin and Mary Townes Jones, married William Hawthorn Kirkpatrick in Abbeville.
The parents of William Hawthorn Kirkpatrick migrated from Scotland. Thomas and Margaret McConkey Kirkpatrick, were married in Scotland and arrived in Charles Town, South Carolina in 1767 as part of the wave of Protestant Irish attracted by bounty land warrants under the Bounty Act of 1761. They settled in Abbeville, South Carolina, where their son, William Hawthorn was born in 1797. He and Katherine Obedience Jones had six children, three sons and three daughters, all in Abbeville. Little is known about William Hawthorn’s life in Abbeville except that in 1843, as the President of the Board of Trustees of the Methodist Protestant Mount Zion Church, he and his father petitioned the South Carolina Legislature for incorporation of the church.
In 1846, William Hawthorn packed up all the kids and 6 “Negroes” in a 6 mule wagon and headed west, via Arkansas, to Hill County, Texas. William Hawthorn’s son, Addison, later wrote a book about this trip, The Early Settlers’ Life in Texas, and the Organization of Hill County, suggests a link to Scotland and a second explanation for my daughter’s red hair (the other is John Lattimore and Isabelle Frazier).
My grandfather, Thos. Kirkpatrick, came to the United States from Scotland before the War of 1812, and participated with conspicuous valor in same.” After leaving SC in 1846 and stopping in AR for three years they resumed the trip and, “In 1849 we resumed our journey to Texas and landed in what is now Hill Co. territory that same year; our family being as follows: W. H. Kirkpatrick, my father; two brothers — W. P. and J. R. Kirkpatrick — both older than I, and three sisters, namely: Mary, Antoinette and Alleen. There were seven of us in the family with six negroes. … We stopped for the night at a little log school house and found that the old time preacher, Elder Byers, was to preach there that night. Our crowd composed the greater part of the congregation. My father [WHK] made himself known to the preacher and told him that we were looking for the best country in Texas. Elder Byers told him to go on until he came in sight of the cross timbers on the east side of the Brazos River to a valley known as the Aquilla Valley, and he would find this the garden spot of Texas. So here we landed in 1849 and have been here ever since, and have seen all the changes as they came, transforming this section from a perfect wilderness into a civilized country with all the modern improvements.The Early Settlers’ Life in Texas, and the Organization of Hill County, by Addison Kirkpatrick
William Hawthorn’s move to Texas with his family takes place in the very earliest days of the settlement of the state. Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1837 and became an independent republic. However, it turned out that Texans were not as independent as they thought they were. All hat and no cattle. In 1845 Texas joined the union and became the 28th state. Hill County was first settled around 1848, when Fort Graham was constructed. So the Kirkpatricks were among its first settlers. But “settled” is misleading. This was still Indian territory. The forts that were built throughout the West were meant to precede and protect settlers as they arrived. In this map, Falls County is just south of Waco at the edge of the frontier in 1849.
William Hawthorn took his family west long before the outbreak of the Civil War. Abbeville, however, would become known as the birthplace and deathbed of the Confederacy. It was in Abbeville that the first meeting leading to the secession of South Carolina was held in 1860 and the place where Jefferson Davis officially acknowledged the dissolution of the Confederacy in 1865.
William Hawthorn died in 1863 but he had his funeral preached before his death so he could censor it. Given that he was a Methodist minister, it’s a puzzle what he wanted censured. It may have been that he wanted to hide his slave-holding past. My father has a note saying “Milton Kirkpatrick, [former] slave of William, visited Lizzie in Chilton in about 1898”. Lizzie is probably William Hawthorn’s daughter-in-law, who we’ll get to later. In 1840, back in South Carolina, William Hawthorn claimed 14 slaves. In 1850 when the family was stuck in the mud in Arkansas, he claimed 5 slaves. But in 1860 in Texas, he claimed no slaves. If he brought six slaves with him to Texas, he must have emancipated them, as the Civil War had not yet begun and Texas was a slave state.
I looked at the census and found a Milton Kirkpatrick, a former slave born in about 1835 in South Carolina, and living in Falls County, Texas in 1870, where he lived until his death in 1912. If he had come to that very sparsely settled area in the late 1840s with William Hawthorn, he would have been only a teenager at the time. In 1870 he was living with his wife Melissa, also born in South Carolina, and their one year old son. In 1873 Milton married Julia Ann Harding, a native of Texas, and had 12 more children. One of his descendants was among the Tuskegee Airmen. Maybe Milton was one of the six slaves that William Hawthorn took with him from South Carolina to Texas, and wanted to keep the family’s slave-holding history a secret. Or, maybe, some of those former slaves he brought from South Carolina were actually his children. I have been in touch with Milton’s great great grandson, Cary Bible. He lists William Hawthorn as the father of Milton. Of course, there wouldn’t have been any documentation for this. But this is how I learned about the Tuskegee airman.
We will never know the answer to the mystery of why William Hawthorn Kirkpatrick wanted to censor his own funeral. But he probably had some forewarning of his demise. He traveled to Mexico in 1863 to buy some supplies and fell ill of Bright’s disease (kidney disease) on the way home and died in New Braunfels, Texas. If he had chronic kidney disease, then he could have had symptoms warning him that he was not well and not improving.
William Hawthorn and Katherine’s three sons lived to raise families of their own, including James Richard Kirkpatrick, my gr-gr-grandfather. But their three daughters died before the age of thirty. Life and childbirth on the frontier were very hard on women.
I found some interesting information in the the second volume of my mother’s baby book kept by her mother, Sarah Elizabeth Kirkpatrick, my Gan. In it, on about the tenth page, Gan throws a monkey wrench into the history of her family, but only on the maternal branches. She writes that my mother’s “great grandfather – JR Kirkpatrick, [was the] son of Wm Hawthorn and O. A. Kirkpatrick”, no maiden name given, not Katherine Obedience Jones. But she then says that “his mother was a Jones”, apparently referring to JR, whose mother was a Jones. Then she says “his maternal grandmother was a Calhoun” and “she” was cousin of John C. Calhoun, the fire-brand, pro-slavery, vice-president under Andrew Jackson (Gan didn’t write that, I did). Now I have no idea who she is referring to. There is no Calhoun in Gan’s family that I can find. THEN she says that my mother’s great grandmother, who would be JR’s wife, was “Sarah Elizabeth Kirkpatrick”, not Elizabeth Eller (King) Kirkpatrick.
We can’t chalk this up to old age, because Gan was young when she wrote this. Anyway, Gan’s name was Sarah Elizabeth Kirkpatrick! On the next page of the scrapbook she seems to be copying from a bible record, because she provides dates of the births, marriages and deaths of the Kirkpatricks, all of which match those that I have, even when the initials are wrong, except that NOW she says that J R had two wives, “E. A.” and “S. E.”. The marriage date of JR to “S. E.” and the date of death of “S. E.” match those of Elizabeth Eller King. Since Gan never knew her, and JR died when she was ten, the confusion in the first name is understandable. Gan gives the death of “E. A.” the “first wife” as 1857, which is possible, since JR married Elizabeth Eller King in 1864. Unfortunately, J R does not appear in the 1850 census, probably because he was on the road to Texas. If he were, then we might see the name, or initials of a first wife. We’ll get back to all this in the next essay, as though you hadn’t already had enough.
Remember Milton Kirkpatrick? The black friend of the family who came to visit “Lizzie”? The family tree for Milton lists an earlier wife for JR named Sarah Allen Elizabeth Moore and four additional children. Even her name doesn’t match up with the initials provided by Gan, but it’s close enough. Milton’s tree also lists a second “wife” of William Hawthorn, an unknown slave, as the mother of seven children, one being Milton. Could she be the Calhoun that Gan was so proud of? The Calhouns were slaveholders.
So, let this be a lesson in the dilemma of even first or second hand accounts. They are usually taken as sacrosanct, especially if the source is a bible record. I will keep pursuing this until I give up.