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Your Ancestors Left the Answer. Did you Find it?

Tips by Jeannette Holland Austin

Genealogy Books by Jeannette Holland Austin If you did not locate a will or estate which spelled everything out for you, then next place to look is in county minute books. The reason is to search for personal notations of activities occurring in the community. Typically, the last will and testament itself was not copied into the minute book; however, frequent entries appear announcing that it was filed with the clerk. If there is a notation, that proves that one existed. Court houses kept original wills in the record room, or vault, or even the basement along with other other documents. It is nice to have both the original and the copy which the clerk made in the will book. However, most originals were lost. We reply upon the clerk's copy (in his own hand-writing, with misspelled words, etc.). Unfortunatley, later on, a fire may have destroyed the clerk's records. One is inclined to think that triviality does not cook the "meat" of the genealogy, but it does insomuch as it is the finer details which fill in the gaps. We all have questions concerning dates, places and why. Despite the fact of court houses fires and such losses, there are other means in discovering facts from family traditions. Did you notice the odd first names of some children? These usually appeared after the first child was named and were the maiden names of the mother or grandmother. Traditionally, the first child was given the name of both grandparents of the couple. After that, the names of aunts and uncles were included. Oftentimes, certain names make us suspicious that a child belongs to a particularly family. I have one family of five children where all of the boys were given family (surnames) names. After much frustration, I used those names to the families with those surnames (in the same county). The result was very interesting. One family name was a Revolutionary soldier who resided in Abbeville, S. C. simultaneously with my kin, later traveling to Georgia and settling in the same county as my ancestor. Another family name given a child (in this same family) belonged to another family from Abbeville. And those families also came to Georgia. Some states such as South Carolina are practically devoid of marriage records. That is because there was no legislation requiring that marriages be put into the public records. My conclusion was that two of my (likely) ancestors married into these families, and were probably the missing maiden names of the grandmothers. The point being that each family had its own family ties, and stories. It is up to us to find them.

James Dunklin House

James Dunklin HouseThe beautiful James Dunklin House was built ca 1812 as a two-story home with five bays. At the time, it was a typical upcountry frame house with Federal elements. It features informally spaced columns and two pipe-stem chimneys. A wing was removed in 1845 to make modern structural improvements.

The Scotch Settlement of Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church

Duncan Creek Church About 1758 John Duncan of Aberdeen, Scotland, going first to Pennsylvania, then removing to the fork of the Saluda and Broad Rivers, settled in South Carolina on the Enoree River. His nearest neighbor at the time was Jacob Pennington who lived below him on the Enoree River. About 1764 several families viz: Joseph Adair, Thomas Erving, William Hannah, Andrew McCrory and his brothers, built a house of worship and became elders of the church. These first settlers were known to be primitive, as they wore hunting shirts, leggins and moccasins. The hair was clubbed and tied up in a little deerskin or silk bag. Trade was carried on in skins and furs because deer and beaver skins were a lawful tender in payment of debts. A marble tablet was placed by the DAR on the front inside wall of the Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church of those who served during the Revolutionary War, namely: Joseh Adair, Sr., Joseph Adair Jr, James Adair Sr. Leonard Beasley, J. Bell, John Copeland, John Craig, James Craig, Robert Hanna, Thomas Holland, Robert Long Thomas Logan, Thomas McCrary Joseph Ramage, William Underwood and George Young Sr.

The Revenge of "Bloody Bill" Cunningham at Duncans Creek

Battle of Duncan's Creek After Lord Cornwallis surrendered in Virginia, Major William "Bloody Bill" Cunningham and a large force of Loyalist militia attacked a group of patriot militia that were resting in the home of their commander, Colonel Joseph Hayes. The Tories torched the home and the Patriots surrendered. However, "Bloody Bill" continued on, personally killing every prisoner in cold blood. Joseph Hayes owned a tavern adjacent to Edgehill Station, which was a stop along the local stage coach line. As he and his men sat down to a meal, Captain John Owens rode up and informed the men that smoke was coming out of the nearby plantation house of the widow of the late Brigadier General James Williams. Colonel Hayes promptly followed Owens out of the tavern and up a small hill to meet at an old Cherokee War Block House. From that vantage, they had a view of the home of the widow. But they found themselves surrounded by "Bloody Bill" and about 300 Loyalists. Colonel Hayes and his men ran into the small block house, but it was soon torched, so they threw down their arms and surrendered. But "Bloody Bill" forced them back inside the block house where their hands were tied behind them and attached to a long rope. However, as soon as the last man was attached to the long rope, Cunningham started hanging them, and then his men dismembered fourteen of them. Cunningham then rode off, leaving scattered body parts. James Tinsley had fought with Captain Hayes and General Sumter in 1780 and fought at Blackstocks and Ninety-Six. Originally, he volunteered in behalf of another soldier, but as the war wore on, was more active in soldiering. He was with Captain Hayes in November of 1781 at Edgehill Station (or Hayes Station) where he was taken prisoner. That evening, before the massacre, he managed to escape and went on an expedition into Cherokee country. His brother was killed in the conflict, and Tinsley was promoted to captain. After the massacre at Hayes Station "Bloody Bill" Cunningham rode to the southern portion of what is now Union County to the house of John Boyce who had just returned home after ensuring the battles of King's Mountain, Cowpens and Eutaw Springs. As Boyce sat down to dinner he heard the approach of horses and rushed to the door and recognized "Bloody Bill" and his gang. Boyce knew that he had to escape, so running towards the Loyalists waved his hat to cause the horses to shy away. And he kept on running. "Bloody Bill" pursued the chase, getting near enough to strike at Boyce with his sword, but Boyce warded off the blow with his hand, almost severing three fingers. Then, running into the thick woods where Cunningham could not follow on horseback, observed Cunningham and his men ride off. Afterwards, Boyce mounted his horse and rode to the house of his militia commander, Capt. Christopher Casey who rounded up fifteen men to ride after the Loyalists. They intercepted Cunningham at Duncan Creek on the Enoree River and captured a few stragglers. Capt. Casey took them to the intersection of Charlestown Road and Ninety-Six Road and hanged them from a hickory tree. The Loyalists were buried at the foot of the tree. "Bloody Bill" Cunningham, however, continued his reign of terror and rode to the house of Lieutenant-Governor James Wood on Lawsons Fork of the Pacolet River. Wood was a prominent Patriot and the Commissioner of Sequestered Property. Major Cunningham dragged Woods out of his house and shot him. As he lay there wounded his wife begged for the life of Wood. In response Cunningham and his men hanged Woods from a dogwood tree. The pension records are replete with interesting stories and tales. Actually, the pensions, combined with research from census and county records, assembles great stories to be passed down throughout the ages and remembered.

Hayes Station

Laurens County Governor's Mansion Laurens County Governor's Mansion Laurens County SC octagon house

Names of Families in Laurens County Probate Records

Laurens County SC Court House Laurens County was established in 1785 as part of the Ninety Six District. It was named for Revolutionary War leader Henry Laurens (1724-1792). Settlers were Scotch-Irish and English immigrants who came in the early eighteenth century. When Revolutionary War battles such as the battle of Musgroves Mill on August 18 of 1780 were fought in the county, it was discovered that many of its residents were loyalists.

Early Settlers: McCain, Drew, Kellett, Miller, Millwee, Hellans, Allison, Prather, McNight, Logan, Cunningham, Ferguson, Adair, Baugh, Lewis, Starnes, Musgrove, Fowler, Arnall, Armstrong, Walker, Akins, Fowler, Garner, Dunlap, Simmons, Bailey, Griffin, Montgomery, Mahaffy, Coker, McCrary, Green, East, Crage, Stevens, Johnson, Goodman, Pollock, Garrot, Holcomb, Day and Middleton.

Laurens County Wills and Estates Available to Members of South Carolina Pioneers

Abstracts of Last Wills and Testaments

  • Laurens County Will Book A (1787-1789), abstracts
  • Laurens County Will Book C (1797-1807), abstracts
  • Laurens County Will Book D (1799-1817), abstracts
  • Laurens County Will Book E (1819-1825), abstracts
  • Index to Laurens County Will Book A (1766-1802)
  • Index to Laurens County Will Book F (1826-1834)

Digital Images of Wills, Book E, 1836-1839

Names of Testators: Allen, Sally ; Anderson, David ; Beal, Even ; Bell, David ; Blakely, James ; Calhoun, John ; Cheek, Ellis ; Cole, Mary ; Cummings, John ; Dunlap, Matthew ; Goodwin, William ; Hamilton, Jane ; Jones, Edward ; Leek, Bryant ; Leeman, Hugh ; McClintock, Martha ; McCoy, John ; McMeese, Robert ; Middlesperger, Abraham ; Pool, James ; Poole, Seth ; Potts, William ; Reece, William ; Robeson, Bennet ; Simpson, Sarah; Swan, Rebecca ; Wait, John ; Watson, Elijah

Misc. Laurens County, South Carolina Wills and Estates (images and transcripts)

  • Bailey, James, LWT, 1825, transcript
  • Bennett Richard, LWT, 1820
  • Brazeale, Enoch, LWT, 1825, transcript
  • Brown, Roger, LWT, 1825, transcript
  • Burnside, Thomas, 1825, transcript
  • Burnside, William, 1825, transcript
  • Carter, Robert, LWT, 1825, transcript
  • Cason, John, Sr., LWT
  • Garey, Charles, LWT, 1805
  • Garrett, Ambrose, LWT, 1840
  • Garrett, Hannah, LWT, 1821
  • Garrett, Jesse, LWT, 1853
  • Garrett, John, LWT, 1806
  • Garrot, Edward, LWT, 1794
  • Glenn, Alexander, LWT, 1825, transcript
  • Gordon, Ann, LWT, 1825, transcript
  • Holcombe, Richard, LWT, 1804
  • Jones, Joseph, 1825, transcript
  • Knight, Ephraim, 1825, transcript
  • Man, Susannah, LWT, 1797, transcript
  • Mathews, John, 1825, transcript
  • McCurley, John, 1825, transcript
  • McDaniel, Archibald, 1825, transcript
  • McGrady, William, 1825, transcript
  • Meadors, Susannah, 1825, transcript
  • Mitchel, Judith, 1825, transcript
  • Nickle, Chortis, 1825, transcript
  • Osborne, Daniel, 1825, transcript
  • Owings, Robert, LWT, 1840
  • Pinson, Aaron, LWT, transcript, 1803
  • Teague, Elijah, 1825, transcript
  • Wilson, John, 1825, transcript


  • Map of Laurens County


  • Veterans of Laurens District in 1818 and 1832