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South Carolinians were Determined to Get Revenge

Cowpens The field where cows and horses grazed. Some of the most interesting events of the American Revolutionary War are found in pension records written by the soldiers themselves who fought in the battles and described the action. This presentation of events in the eye-of-the-beholder is truly invaluable. If we can envision, say, the Battle of Cowpens (Jan 17, 1781) when Brigadier General Daniel Morgan and Sir Banastre Tarleton engaged in fierce combat. The intensity and determination of the South Carolina Militia Companies to whip Colonel Tarleton played a vivid part in the American victory. Tarleton had "given no quarter" when during an earlier battle the militia had raised a flag of surrender and Tarleton cut them down! This riled up South Carolinians in the back country and help to rally more troops to form militia companies who joined Morgan near Spartanburg. In conclusion, it was the headstrong and brutal Tarleton himself who stirred up the hornet's nest!

"We cannot solve our problems wth the same thinking we used when we created them." Albert Einstein.

Be Friends to Molly

Betty Sparks Molly was a aunt whose christian name was Elizabeth. She was a cute little tyke who loved to cuddle her dolls and tell them bed-time stories. She had curly blonde hair the color of margarine and big blue eyes, after her grandfather, it was said. Only three years old, she would finger through a large box of the black and white pictures of the olden days (her reference). You see, inside the box she had access to relatives which she had never met. Oftentimes, no name was written on the back. But Molly had an idea. She wrote her favorite names on these photographs. From then on, they were real friends to her. And she imagined the sort of life which they enjoyed in the olden days. There were photos of farms and old tractors which represented their new homes and churches which her friends attended. Molly's imagination took her on a long voyage, one of loving kindness, where she spoke of people she did not know, and yearned to see them. One day, Molly went to Heaven. But before she left, she whispered: "Now I shall finally meet my friends, those whose names were forgotten."

The Jammie Seay House

Seay HouseThe Jammie Seay house was built ca 1790 for a Revolutionary War Soldier and still stands on its original site on Darby Road in Spartanburg. The single-story, L-shaped log building, covered with vertical siding and clapboards on the ell, is believed to be the oldest house in Spartanburg.

Old Plantation Days

" My Dear Granddaughter Dorothy:

Medway PlantationGrandmother is growing to be an old lady, and as you are still too young to remember all she has told you of her own and (the people of your mother), she is going to write down her recollections that you may thus gain a true knowledge of the old plantation days, now forever gone, from one whose life was spent amid those scenes. The South as I knew it has disappeared; the New South has risen from its ashes, filled with the energetic spirit of a new age. You can only know the New South, but there is a generation, now passing away, which holds in loving memory the South as it used to be. Those memories are a legacy to the new generation from the old, and it behooves the old to hand them down to the new. The spirit of those early days is what I chiefly desire to leave with you; the bare facts are history, but just as the days come back to my recollection I will write about them, and necessarily the record will be fitful memories woven together but imperfectly. My father, your great-grandfather, was a direct descendant on (the side of his mother) of Landgrave Smith, first Colonial Governor of South Carolina, his mother being (the granddaughter of) Landgrave Smith; his grandfather was Pierre Robert, a Huguenot minister who emigrated to America, after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and led the Huguenot colony to South Carolina. My father was born in 1791 in the old homestead situated forty miles up the river from Savannah. He had twelve children, and I was one of the younger members of his large family. After he left South Carolina College he made a trip through the North on horseback, as this was before the time of railroads. It took him a month to reach Pennsylvania and New York State, and as it was in the year of 1812, he happened to ride out of Baltimore as the British rode in. After father returned home he married a cousin, Miss Robert. He had one son by this marriage, at whose birth the young mother died. This son returning from a Northern college on the first steamboat ever run between Charleston and New York, was drowned; for the vessel foundered and was lost off the coast of North Carolina. Father's second wife was a descendant of the Mays of Virginia, who were descendants of the (younger brother) of the Earl of Stafford. This lady was my own dear mother and your great-grandmother. I must now tell you something about her grandmother, for my mother inherited much of her wonderful character from this stalwart Revolutionary character. (The eldest son of) my great-grandmother, at nineteen, was a captain in the Revolutionary War, and she was left alone, a widow on her plantation. When the British made a raid on her home, carrying off everything, she remained undaunted, and, mounting a horse, rode in hot haste to where the army was stationed, and asked to see the general in command. Her persistence gained admittance. She stated her case and the condition in which the British soldiers had left her home, and pleaded her cause with so much eloquence that the general ordered the spoils returned to her. This old lady, who was your great-great-great-grandmother, lived to be a hundred and six years old; her skin was like parchment and very wrinkled; she died at last from an accident. " Source: Old Plantation Days. Being Recollections of Southern Life before the Civil War by Mrs. N. B. De Saussur.

"Boys Get up. Benny's Coming!"

Banastre Tarleton The Battle of Cowpens. January 17, 1781. I think of this as the battle of the peavine because the field was full of the creeping peavines from old plowed gardens. But that chore had long since passed and the field was now a glorious pasture where cows roamed freely. Technically, it is referred to as the Battle of Cowpens. The battle is remembered as a victory of the patriots because it was fought in a cow pasture between the infamous Colonel Banastre Tarleton and General Daniel Morgan. Young Tarleton, only twenty six years of age, was both feared and hated by the rebels for his victory at the Waxhaws when it is said that he cut down the rebels while they were raising the white flag of surrender. The South Carolina militia companies were especially anxious for revenge and were assembling in the back country. Morgan had been positioned southwest of the Catawba River to cut supply lines and to hamper British operations. The stage for the Battle of Cowpens was set when Tarleton's scouts discovered the army of Morgan at Grindal Shoals on the Pacolet River. Despite heavy rains and flooded rivers, Tarleton gained ground as he drove his forces towards the flood-swollen Pacolet. And as the aggressive Tarleton grew nearer, Morgan retreated north to Burr's Mill on Thicketty Creek. On January 16, whenTarleton was reported to have crossed the Pacolet and was closer than expected, Morgan and his army made a hasty retreat, leaving their breakfast behind. Traveling west on the Green River Road , the flood-swollen Broad River was six miles to his back. Morgan decided to make a stand at the Cowpens, a well-known crossroads and pasturing ground where cattle and horses forage in spring time, eating the undergrowth of grass and peavines. The field itself was ideal for a European-style battle, being some 500 yards long and just as wide. Morgan spread the word to the militia to rendevous at Cowpens. It was bitterly cold as the dawn arose over the field on January 17th. When word came that Tarleton was approaching, Morgan moved among his men, shouting "Boys, get up! Benny's coming! " Morgan instinctively knew that Tarleon would employ his favorite type of fighting by attacking head on and so he prepared his troops into three lines. Hiding behind trees were the sharpshooters. At the onset of battle they picked off numbers of Tarleton's Dragoons, traditionally listed as fifteen, shooting especially at officers, and warding off an attempt to gain initial supremacy. With the Dragoons in retreat, and their initial part completed, the sharpshooters retreated 150 yards or more back to join the second line, the militia commanded by Andrew Pickens. Morgan used the militia well, asking them to get off two volleys and promised their retreat to the third line made up of John Eager Howard's Continentals, again close to 150 yards back. Some of the militia indeed got off two volleys as the British neared, but, as they retreated and reached the supposed safe ground behind the Continental line, Tarleton sent his Dragoons after them. However, as the militia dodged behind trees and parried saber slashes with their rifles, William Washington's Patriot cavalry thundered onto the field of battle, seemingly, out of nowhere. The surprised British Dragoons were already scattered and sensing a rout, were overwhelmed. They fled the field where the infantry on both sides was firing volley after volley. Meanwhile, the British advanced in a trot while beating drums, the shrill sounds of fifes and shouts of halloo. Morgan caused his men to give them the Indian halloo back and while leading the front, rallied the militia, crying out, "form, form, my brave fellows! Old Morgan was never beaten!" Tarleton's reserve unit of highlanders proceeded to charge the Continental line, but the wild wail of bagpipes added to the noise and confusion and the noise was misunderstood as a call to retreat. As other companies along the line followed the retreat, Morgan rode up to ask the commanding british officer if he were beaten. But the officer assured Morgan that they were instead retreating in an orderly fashion. Morgan then proceeded to order a firing in unison which took a heavy toll on the retreating british. Thus, the tide of battle was changed, and as the patriots reformed the miitia and cavalry and enveloped the British, the british infantry began surrendering. Tarleton and some of his army continued fighting, but most of their soldiers broke rank and ran. Finally, Tarleton, himself, saw the futility of continued battle, and with a handful of his men, fled down the Green River Road.

A Goal, Pillory, Whipping-Post and Stocks

PillorySomewhere around January of 1787, a 16-foot square jail was constructed in Spartanburg made of squared oak logs. The cells were three feet wide with casings and contained common-sized jail locks on each door, strengthened by iron bars. The pillory, whipping-post and stocks were finished the same year. The pillory, a device used for public humiliation, was built on a wooden or metal framework erected on a post with holes to secure the head and hands.


Map of Spartanburg County

Spartanburg County Probate Records


Spartanburg County and the city of Spartanburg were named for the Spartan Regiment, which was a local militia unit which fought in the Revolutionary War. The county itself was formed in 1785 and was part of Ninety Six District. It became part of the Pinckney District from 1791 to 1799. In 1897, part of Spartanburg County went to form Cherokee County. During the late 18th century, an influx of the Scotch-Irish moved into this area from Pennsylvania and Virginia. A famous resident was hymn writer and publisher William Walker (1809-1875) and Army general William C. Westmoreland (1914-2005).

Spartanburg County Records Available to Members of South Carolina Pioneers

  • Index to Spartanburg County Will Book A (1787-1820)
  • Index to Spartanburg County Will Book B (1821-1830)
  • Index to Spartanburg County Will Book C (1830-1835)

Transcripts of Spartanburg County Wills (1787-1816)

Testators:- John Arnold, James Ballenger, Andrew Barry, Robert Benson, Sally Bobo, Benjamin Bonner, George Brewton, David Bruton, William Cooper, Thomas Darby, Jesse Davis, Anthony Foster, Henry Foster, Isham Foster, Moses Foster, William Foster, Peter Frie, Amey Golightly, John Gowen, William Gowen, Edward Hering, John Hewiatt, Benjamin High, Thomas House, Charles James, Christopher Johnson, Margaret Jourdan, Samuel Lancaster, Absalom Lancaster, Zackariah Leatherwood, Joel Lewis, John Lewis, Edward Lipscomb, Samuel Lotts, George McCarter, Charles McClain, Thomas Meadows, William Menders, Michael Miller, Henry O'Neill, Sarah Penny, Thomas Penny, Reuben Perkins (deed), Joseph Price (estate), Richard Prince, Christopher Rhodes,Edward Smith, William Stone, Joel Traylor, John Turner, John Turner (estate), William Underwood, John Walker, Daniel Walling, Thomas Weaver, Osborn West, Thomas Williamson, Abner Wingo, James Wofford, John Wofford, Thomas Wright.

Miscellaneous Wills

  • Bearden, John
  • Langston, John
  • Langston, Nathan
  • West, James

Images of Deeds, Assignments, Leases, Gifts

  • Deed Book U, 1883 to 1884


  • List of Newspapers in Spartanburg and Greenville
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