The folllowing is the entire chapter
26 of John Belton O'Neall's The Annals of Newberry, the chapter
concerned with Judge O'Nealls father, Hugh O'Neall, and his
ancestors. This chapter is the principal source of information on
Hugh O'Neall, the immigrant, his wife, Anne Cox, and their children.
Errors of spelling and punctuation
have been retained as in the original, which was published in 1892 by
Aull and Houseal, Newberry, South Carolina. A reprint was
published by the Genealogical Publishing Company,Baltimore, in 1974.
and onward, America, ever,
Be thy bold Eagle's swift flight to the sun;
Wither the arm ever lifted to sever
Our golden link of the Thirty-and-One
Free as the breezes of heaven that fan her,
Long as eternity, mortals await,
May the bright folds of the star-spangled banner
Float at the stem of the old ship of State."
The duty now before me is to close this work, with the exception of addenda to some of the previous numbers, such as a biographical sketch of my early and late friend, Ker Boyce, Esq. This will, with those of Y. J. Harrington and John S. Carwile, Esqs., already published, take their places in No.8.
To-day I propose to sketch, imperfectly, I know, and perhaps too partially, the life and times of Hugh O'Neall, one of Newberry's oldest and best citizens.
He was born on Mudlick, Laurens district, at the place, late the property of John Armstrong, deceased, on the 10th of June, 1767. He was the second son of William O'Neall and his wife, Mary Frost. They removed after the birth of their two first children, Abijah and Sarah, to South Carolina. The family remained in Laurens until after the birth of Henry, the third son, who, I think, was born in '77; indeed I think they did not remove to Newberry until 1779. The family consisted of six sons; Abijah, Hugh, William, John, Henry and Thomas, and one daughter, Sarah, all of whom lived to rear families. Abijah removed in '99 to Ohio, near Waynesville, Warren county. Sarah married Elisha Ford, and removed to Shelby county, Kentucky. William died on Bush river; his body rests in the graveyard of Friends, near Mendenhall's Mills. John, Henry and Thomas removed to Indiana. They have all been gatherered [sic] to their rest, leaving families more or less numerous.
William O'Neall's father's name was Hugh; he was, I think, a midshipman in, or at any rate he belonged to, the English navy, and not liking his berth, while at anchor in the Delaware he jumped overboard, swam ashore, and landed near Wilming-
ton, as well as I remember, at the little Swedish town of Christiana; this took place about 1730; here he lived many years, and married Annie Cox. On landing, to escape detection, he altered the spelling of his name, either from O'Neill or O'Neale to O'Neall; the latter is the tradition. His family consisted of William, James, Hugh, Henry, John, Thomas, a daughter, Mary, and a posthumous son, George. In his life time he removed to the Susquehanna, and there he died; his family thence removed to Winchester, Virginia; there William married his wife, Mary Frost; and there, as already mentioned, his two eldest children were born.
The family, with the exception of James and George, removed about 1766 to South Carolina. Thomas died at Parkins (now Crofts) on Saluda, and was the first person buried in that graveyard. Hugh married a Parkins, and settled and died at Milton, Laurens district. Henry married a Chambers, lived in Laurens, and there remained till the close of the revolution, when he removed to Florida, and settled the place at the mouth of St. Mary's river (where his grandson, the Hon. James T. O'Neill, now resides); he (Henry O'Neall) was killed in an attempt to seize an outlaw soon after his removal; he left a large family-James, Eber, Thomas, William, Henry, Asa, Hugh and Margaret; all are dead except Margaret, now Mrs. King, of Georgia; none had families except Eber, William and Margaret.
William O'Neall was a Friend; when he joined that body of religionists is not known; his wife also belonged to the same; his brother, Hugh, inclined the same way; so did his wife and the entire Parkins family. In the revolution neither of these brothers took any part, except to bury the dead, heal the wounded, and do good wherever they could. James and George belonged to the American army; the former was a Major in the Virginia line, the latter a common soldier. Both served the entire war, and at its close, ignorantly supposing that the O' in their names was some aristocratic distinction, instead of meaning, as it really does, the "son of," struck it off and wrote their names Neall. James settled at, or near, Wheeling, Virginia; George in Jessamine county, near Nicholassville, Kentucky: they both have been dead many years; each left families surviving them. I should be proud if their descendants
would resume the O', which rightfully belongs to their name.
Henry and John, unfortunately, sided with the tories. Henry, it is said, after his determination was made, and he had accepted a Major's commission in the British army, passed into Virginia to see his brother James, and proposed, if they should ever meet in battle, that they would treat each other as brothers; but the stern republican would accept no such amnesty; “in peace, brethren; in war, enemies,” was his reply. Fortunately, they never met in arms.
John married Grace Frost, the sister of his brother William's wife; he was a captain in the tory forces, and was killed in a skirmish with Colonel Roebuck, in Union district; he left two daughters, Sarah, and, I think, Rebecca; his widow married a well known citizen of Pendleton, Mr. Crosby. Mary married Frederick Jones. She had an only son, Marmaduke, who will be remembered as a resident of Laurens district, in the neighborhood of Milton.
Having thus stated his ancestral families, and his father's, I now propose to give a sketch of the life and times of Hugh O'Neall.
He went early to school, he learned rapidly: most of that which he learned was with a Virginian, Benj. Smith. In his school, in company with Major John Griffin, James C. Griffin, the Williams', Cress wells, Caldwells, he acquired the common elementary education, reading, ,writing and arithmetic. Reading, all his life, was his great delight; he began early and continued late. His memory was early developed and long retained; often in middle life, and even in old age, has he recited many passages in the tragedy called the Battle of the Boyne, which he had read when a boy among his uncle Henry's books. The poem called Sir James the Ross, was another read in the same way, which he often repeated. One of his early exercises was a riddle, propounded by his teacher, Mr. Smith, pretty much as follows, viz.:
Beneath the heaven, a creature once
As sacred writers unto us do tell;
He lived, he breathed in this lower world, it is true,
But never sinned, nor any evil knew;
He never shall be raised from the dead,
Nor at the day of judgment show his head;
He never shall in heaven dwell,
Nor yet be doomed to feel the pains of hell —
Yet in him, a soul there was, that must
Be lost, or live above, among the just.
This he solved by giving Jonah in the whale's belly, and often repeated it in manhood, and age. Benj. Smith was one of the Virginia troops on service in '76, perhaps against the Cherokee Indians, under Christie, or in Gen. Lee's projected invasion of Florida, and was either left, as unable to travel on the return march, or discharged. From the description given of him, he was both a man of talents and education. His Impress was to be seen on all his scholars.
In, I presume, the year '78 was the great May frost, which took place on the 4th, and utterly destroyed vegetation and the crops; a small crop of late wheat was saved by William O'Neall. In the same year was the total eclipse of the sun. The total darkness was so great that chickens went to roost. The upper part of South Carolina, as has been frequently and justly said, scarcely knew that there was war, until the siege of Charleston. The incursion of the Cherokees on the 30th of June, '76, drove the settlers nearest the frontiers from their homes. William O'Neall, with his family, fled from Mudlick to Benj. Pearson's, near Kelly's old store, now Springfield. Often has Hugh O'Neall pointed out the old field west of Dr. Wm. Harrington's attempted settlement, in Frost's old field, as being then in cultivation, and stated the fact, that he had swam in Pearson's Mill pond on Scott's creek, where Fernandes' pond lately was.
In 1780, when Charleston fell, William O'Neall and family lived at the place, about a mile west of Bobo's Mills, and on the southwest side of Bush river. He then owned the mill, known for thirty years as O'Neall's, now owned by Dr. J. E. Bobo, about one and a half miles below Mendenhall's. Hugh O'Neall, the subject of this memoir, was then thirteen years old; yet his services were so necessary to his father, that he either attended entirely to the mill, or was a constant assistant. In that way, although no actor in the revolution, yet he became fully informed of most of the events of that dark and bloody period. The mill was the most public place in that section of the country. Across Bush river, at that place, was
the most common thoroughfare from the Congaree and Charleston to pass south beyond Saluda, and west to Little river and Ninety-Six. There, were often halted the scouts, sometimes the armies; there, too, were provisions seized, as want, or power dictated. There, as he often afterwards said, did he learn to hate the proud, overbearing character of the British officers. There he heard narrated the accounts of the many deeds of violence and blood with which the country was overspread. The various sketches of men and events heretofore given are in a greater, or less degree, dependent upon his wonderful memory for their accuracy.
To give a true sketch of the bloody partisan war from 1780 to 1783, would be a most Herculean task; much of it has been already done in the different biographical sketches and anecdotes already published. Blood and plunder were the watchwords of many of the different parties who swept over old Ninety-Six. "Each party," (as Gen. Moultrie, in his Memoirs, vol. 2d, p. 301, appropriately says,) "oppressed the other as much as they possibly could, which raised their inveteracy to so great a height that they carried on the war with savage cruelty; although they had been friends, neighbors and brothers, they had no feelings for each other, and no principles of humanity left." At page 303 he says: "The conduct of these two parties, (whigs and tories,) was a disgrace to human nature, and it may, with safety, be said that they destroyed more property, shed more American blood, than the whole British army." The pictures thus given in a few words, are, unfortunately, too true, and ought to teach us to beware of the tendencies to civil war, which I sometimes fear are too much encouraged.
Having in the Random Recollections of the Revolution, published in 1838, given most of these atrocious scenes, as narrated by Hugh O'Neall, I shall not again repeat them. If ever these matters should see the light in book form, I shall take pleasure in revising and adding to them.
I may here mention an incident as occurring in the immediate vicinage of the quiet meeting house of Friends, on Bush river. One of the marauding parties had captured a man, whom they deemed worthy of death. Meeting with a young Quaker, Richard Thomson, between the meeting house and
his father's, Tanner Joe Thomson, (as he was usually called,) they compelled the youth with a sword to slay the captive. How much of Richard Thomson's subsequent misfortunes, (for his life was one of misfortune,) are to be ascribed to this involuntary deed of blood, it is not for me to say. Though 1 can say, "1 have been young, and now am old, yet never saw, I the man," whose hands were stained with blood, who prospered, (or if prosperity attended him,) who went to his grave in peace.
This single scene is enough to show, that fiends, not men, were too often engaged in the prosecution of the partisan war.
The desolation of the country was
equal to what fancy may well depict, as an accompaniment of such a
fiendlike scene as that which 1 have just related.
The march of the British army was marked by wasting and ruin. When Greene passed, with his ragged Americans, forbearance and pity for the people marked his course; plunder, cruelty and oppression, he sternly forbade. When a battalion of Tarlton's command, in his attempt to strike Morgan, as he supposed, in the neighborhood of Ninety-Six, (as is stated in a note to No.5,) encamped at William O'Neall's, everything was seized and treated as if it all belonged to them, the fences were burned to make camp fires, the cattle were butchered for beef, the officers billeted themselves on the unpretending Quaker family, without money and without price. When a part of Greene's army, on their retreat from Ninety-Six, passed the mill, everything needed was paid for, and perfect order prevailed.
The marauding scouts entered every dwelling, and carried off everything which suited them, bedding, clothes, provisions; often were families left without food or raiment; sometimes the houses were burned, and women and children turned out with no covering, save the forest and the heavens.
These scenes passed before the eyes of the youthful Quaker, Hugh O'Neall; his brave ancestral blood often boiled almost over at the wrongs and oppression which he witnessed, and to which he was called to submit. Yet the teachings of his parents, peace, peace, kept him quiet, and day after day he was seen at the mill, providing for his father's family and the neighborhood's necessities, as well as he could, until, at last,
peace, smiling peace, and glorious liberty came to bless South Carolina with law and order.
Hugh O'Neall attended the mill,
drove his father's wagon, or labored in the farm until his father's
death in 1789. He and his elder brother Abijah were the executors of his
father's will. and upon them devolved the care of a large real estate,
their mother and a family of young boys. The elder brother, Abijah,
being married, much of the burden devolved on Hugh. For three years he
devoted himself untiringly to the discharge of his duties. Many of his
adventures in wagoning between Newberry and Charleston, and in
Charleston, would, if I had time or space, be interesting. I may state
two: He and his brother Abijah were in Charleston when the old State
House, now the Court House, corner of Broad and Meeting streets, and
all that section of Charleston was burned. They had one or more wagons,
and were employed to haul goods from the burning district to places of
safety. Having made several successful trips, as Hugh was returning,
and about to pass again into the circle of fire, his leader's bridle
was seized by a policeman on duty, and he was told: The houses near you
will be instantly blown up! He turned his team, quick as thought, in
the crowded streets, and was soon in the wagon yard and safety. Neither
the persuasions of his brother nor the tempting wages could again tempt
him into such peril.
Roads, bridges and ferries were then, not as they are now, (though now bad enough.) Mud holes, crazy bridges, streams in flood, and badly managed ferries had to be encountered. He and his brother-in-law, Ford, were on their return from Charleston, with separate teams. Ford was in front. He struck the Four Hole swamp, covered with water. When he reached the bridge it was floating; he thought he could, however, pass it, and with the bold, adventurous spirit of a backwoods man, well tried in the revolution, he made the attempt. The plank gave way under his horses, and into the stream they went. To cut them (except one) loose, and to swim them out was but a few minutes' work for him and his equally daring companion, Hugh. One horse, the old and favorite leader, was patiently lying across the sleepers of the bridge; to relieve him it was necessary to roll him over into the water. This was done by seizing his legs and literally turning him over. As
he went, with one strong movement of his hind leg he threw Hugh twenty feet, into ten-feet water. This was, however, no serious matter, for he and the horse were soon on terra firma.
During this period, and for years after, tobacco rolling was a common mode of carrying tobacco from the upper country to Charleston. A tobacco hogshead was rimmed, so as to keep the bulge from the ground; a cross piece was made fast to each end; in them were inserted wooden gudgeons, which worked into a square frame, embracing within it the whole hogshead. To this were fixed single-trees and a tongue, and, thus prepared, the owner mounted on one of two horses geared to it, and leading the other, with his fodder and corn stowed between the frame and hogshead, moved on a free and independent roller to Charleston; and there leaving his hogshead, with his money for it, or a tobacco certificate, he returned, the sauciest mortal ever seen. Some rollers from Long Cane, Abbeville, and, therefore, called Long Canaans, met with an Edgefield man, (Clarke Spraggins,) and a companion, between Orangeburg and the Four Holes, attacked them first with words, and then were about to try blows. Numbers prevailed, and Spraggins, (though one of Butler's old soldiers,) and his companion had to fly. In his flight Spraggins sprang off his horse, picked up a lightwood knot, and knocked down senseless the foremost pursuer. The rest halted, and supposing their companion slain, desired to know who and whence was the slayer. Spraggins swore he was from "killman," and was going to "killmore."
In 1792 Hugh O'Neall married Anne Kelly, the third and youngest daughter of Samuel and Hannah Kelly, of Springfield, Newberry. He settled about a mile below the mill which, by his father’s will, was devised to him. Subsequently he made an exchange with brother, William, and fixed his residence in about two hundred yards of the mill, on a hill northeast of the same, From 1792 to 1800 he attended to his own mill, and by untiring industry created the means to rebuild it and to lay up a sum sufficient to embark in the mercantile business with Capt. Daniel Parkins. During this period was the great Yazoo freshet, in January, 1796, which has never been equalled or surpassed, unless the disastrous freshet of August, 1852, did so. Often has Hugh O’Neall described that
freshet to the writer. In two respects it resembled the freshet of August, 1852: it was a freshet upon a freshet, and, like the latter, it spread ruin everywhere. Mills, dams and bridges went before it. Compte's bridge across Broad river, three miles above Columbia, just finished in apparently the most secure way, went. It is said the owner, a Frenchman, was upon the bridge, looking at the raging torrent, and impiously exclaimed: "Aha, God Almighty does think we build bridges out of corn-stalks." Scarcely were the words uttered, until the cracking timbers gave notice that its end was at hand. With difficulty the owner reached the land. Hampton's bridges across the Savannah at Augusta and Saluda, were swept away. Fortunately, O'Neall's mill, which was just rebuilt, with its dam, escaped uninjured. Would that some certain memorial of that flood had been preserved. We would then compare it with that of '52, and thus learn a lesson of wisdom.
During this same period, or possibly in '93, certainly before April, he and Mercer Babb visited the quarry of Georgia burr millstones, in Burke county. He did not contract for a pair, but Mercer Babb bought, and started in his mills, now Mendenhall's, the first pair of burr stones ever run in the district. They were there used for many years, and when Dr. Mendenhall, in '27, started his merchant mills at the same place, the old Georgia burrs were refitted and again started, to manufacture flour.
Hugh O'Neall always affirmed that,
with a good pair of Cloud's creek stones, he could make as good, if not
better, flour than could be made with the best pair of burr
On this trip he and his friend encountered a flood in the Savannah and Saluda rivers, then considered a great freshet, but not to compare with the subsequent one of '96.
In 1800 Hugh O'Neall embarked in the mercantile business, as the partner of Daniel Parkins, and most successfully pursued it until the death of the latter, October, 1802. It may be well here to pause and look over the statistics of the country at that time, (if I can use such a word in reference to the means and commerce of that period.) Cotton, in 1800, was beginning to be cultivated for market. In 1801 Hugh O'Neall started a water cotton-gin, made by William Barret. The plates for the saws were made at William Coate's shop. No machine
ever ran with greater power or more success, although the first person, Joseph Wright, who attended to it had his hand tom all to pieces by the saws. Remittances were then made to Charleston in specie. Dollars were carefully packed in a box and put on board a wagon owned and driven by a careful, responsible man. The writer recollects aiding in counting, at Capt. Parkins', a large amount of silver, to be sent by Isaac Mills' wagon. Up to the year 1806 the upper country, and particularly Newberry, furnished flour, bacon, beef, cattle, butter, beeswax, skins, (raccoon, fox, rabbit, mink and muskrat,) for the Charleston market. In the same time boxes of screw-augers, invented and made by Benj. Evans, (at the place now owned by John G. Davenport,) and, after Evans' removal to Ohio, made by Joseph Smith and John Edmunson, were frequently sent. Cotton began to be sent by the load, in round bales, about the year 1801. After the Quakers left Bush river, (say after 1806,) very little floor, butter, beeswax or skins found their way to Charleston. I often recur to that period -- when Newberry was covered with small farms, when each homestead furnished pretty much the means of food and raiment -- and fancy that the people were then happier than they ever have been since.
A recollection of an incident in the beginning of 1802, I may, perhaps, be pardoned in repeating. A very large poplar tree lay at the mouth of the first branch, north of Hugh O'Neall's mills. Bush river was in flood; the water had entirely submerged the mill-dam. Hugh O'Neall, William Barret and Levi Hilburn concluded that, with a common batteau and a rope, after the tree was cut loose, they could tow it down to the sawmill of the latter, opposite to O'Neall's mill. Accordingly, they succeeded in getting the tree loose, and in towing it, until they neared the dam. Then the force of the water carried them beyond their point; the tree, batteau and all passed into an eddy below the sawmill. To get it above the sawmill was the object. Hilburn was persuaded to get out on the log, and with a pole force it along; the other two were to manage the batteau and tow. Having accomplished the most difficult part of the ascent, and reached a point where the water was deep, but comparatively still, the boatmen were continually calling out, "Pole, Levi; pole, Levi!" He, straining every muscle,
made a mislick with his pole, and fell into water more than ten feet deep. Rising, he essayed to mount the log, but, it rolling under his hands, he received another ducking. At last he succeeded in mounting astride. Then again he was called on to "pole," but he swore one of his biggest oaths, (and anybody who ever heard Levi Hilburn swear must know it could hardly be excelled,) "that he would pole no more." Just then Barret, looking around at him, dripping, and with his usually large lips much swelled, said to Hugh O'Neall, "Did you ever see anyone look so much like Tom Lindsey's Nero?" The. name thus given adhered to him ever after. The poplar tree thus obtained was sawed into planks, and out of them were made the coffins for the two sons, the wife of, and Capt. Daniel Parkins himself, who died in the great epidemic of 1802, as detailed in No. 11.
In February, 1803, was the greatest snow ever seen in this State, unless it may be that that of 1851 equalled it.
In 1804 Hugh O'Neall, alone, began the mercantile business, and continued it until 1809. Until the close of 1806 it was manifest that he was doing an excellent business. But the two dread enemies of a mere merchant, universal credit and the use of intoxicating drink by the merchant and his customers, were sapping the foundation of prosperity, reason and happiness.
I may be permitted here to say, that then, for many years previous, and for the fourth of a century since, every merchant sold, with groceries and dry goods, intoxicating drink by the "small." Everyone drank more or less; the morning bitters. the dinner dram, and the evening night cap were universal. Rum, (Jamaica, West India and New England,) was then almost entirely sold and drunk in stores. Whiskey belonged to the distilleries.
Often has the writer stood behind the counter until midnight, waiting on the maudlin talk and drinks of half pint customers. He hated the business then, and he pronounces it now, not fit to be pursued by any decent man, or boy. The use of intoxicating drink grew upon Hugh O'Neall, until, like Nebuchadnezzer, the judgment of God was upon him, and he was deprived of that which distinguishes a man from a brute, his reason.. This sad result, however, was not the work. of an instant; his
habit of drink had made him negligent of his business and over-confident in cotton speculation. When the embargo of 1808 came upon the country he had in store with the Messrs. Bulow more than two hundred bales of cotton. He was largely their debtor, and he had authorized them to sell as they saw fit. Frequent attacks of mania a-potu foreshadowed the event. His son, a stripling of sixteen in 1809, ventured to ask him to abandon the cup. He made the attempt, but too late. Madness had already laid its iron hand upon him. He was a maniac. His cotton was sold at an immense sacrifice, his debtors were, many of them, insolvent, his creditors pressed their debts into judgments, his property was sold, and his wife and children turned out to shift for themselves.
Often has the writer seen his honored father caged like a wild beast; often has he seen him when it was dangerous for anyone to approach him. For four years this was his unfortunate state.
Reader, stop and think! Has not the writer cause to hate the traffic in intoxicating drink? Ought he not to pursue it to its destruction? May not his case be yours? May not you suffer as he has done? Let me entreat you -- let the truth teach you -- let others' sorrows learn you wisdom.
In 1813, July, Hugh O'Neall was restored to his reason, and, like Nebuchadnezzer, he gave God all the glory! Not a shade was left upon his mind; his memory, wonderful as it was before his insanity, was just as perfect after his recovery. He became a Friend in reality, as he had been raised in profession. No humbler, better Christian ever stood before his Master.
He set himself most diligently about repairing the wreck of his fortune. He gathered up much that was apparently lost, and paid many of his creditors, those who most needed it. He made three trips to Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. His descriptions of the countries which he visited, the people whom he saw, and especially his accounts of his visits to his relations, were most felicitous.
In 1815 he determined never to drink intoxicating drink, and to his death, in 1848, he faithfully maintained his resolution. In August, 1820, he became a member of his son's family, and there, as a father, he remained until his Father called him home.
He never desired or sought office. He was a Commissioner of Public Buildings from '99 for many years; he was a Commissioner of Free Schools from 1822 until he. declined to serve longer.
In the unfortunate political schism, called Nullification, he was against it, and openly maintained the principles of the Union party. Like the venerable mother of Senator Butler, he could have said, as she did when secession was the prevailing sentiment of South Carolina, "I have seen two wars. and I never want to see another."
Hugh O'Neall's family consisted of one son, John Belton, four daughters, Abigail, (now Mrs. Caldwell,) Rebecca, who died in 1854, Hannah, who died in 1815, and Sarah Ford O'Neall.
Hugh O'Neall was not only gifted with a most superhuman memory, but he also possessed an excellent judgment and a clear and easy elocution. He was one of the kindest and most benevolent of men, and yet his sense of justice and right was such, he never, (after his recovery,) suffered his feelings to lead him astray.
In person, he was remarkable for a strong, vigorous, compact frame. He was five feet ten inches high; his head was a fine one; his hair receded on each side, leaving a high, intellectual forehead fully developed; his hair was thin, soft and silky, and perfectly black in his manhood; in age it was sprinkled with gray, still, however, leaving the black predominant. His eyes were blue, his nose long and Roman, his mouth was full and well formed. He died Wednesday, 18th October, 1848, about 2 P. M., having lived two months and eight days beyond eighty. one. He left surviving him his wife Anne, who on Friday, the 5th October, 1850, at ten minutes after 10 A. M., followed him to the silent house, having lived two months, wanting seven days, beyond eighty-three. His son and two daughters still remain.
Reader, my work is ended. The annals, historical, biographical and anecdotical, of Newberry, are closed. They have been to me both labor and pleasure. May they be the means of honor and good to my native district.
A dark December day recalls the past, and tempts the soli
tary to give the remembrances which stir within him, to his
In the progress of the war of 1812 everything became exceedingly high. When I use the word "high," I would not have you suppose that I use it in the sense of "tall," but in the meaning of "dear," or "costly."
Flour was a scarce article, selling readily at ten dollars to twelve dollars per barrel. The ladies at that time made cakes thin, and rather a holiday affair. Such a thing as using a whole barrel of flour in pound-cakes would have been regarded then as an astounding act of extravagance. I remember well, in 1816, bearing an old lady, who was seated at a table soon to be graced by a bridal party, as she was treated to a bit of pound-cake, say to the lady of the house, "It is mighty good, but mighty costly, though."
Near forty years of peace and prosperity have seen what was then a straggling village become a town, along whose western limbs daily speeds the iron horse, fed upon wood and fire, and drinking naught but cold water, bearing by his superhuman strength the trade and travel of our backwoods, and outstripping the wind in his flight from point to point, and have made us forget the use and wholesome economy of our ancestral homes.
As illustrative of the past, I recall an incident which occasioned much merriment when it occurred
It will be remembered by those who know anything of the history of South Carolina, (though I confess there are few who can penetrate the dark veil of the lack of information which hangs over her history,) that General Joseph Alston was the Governor from December, 1812, to December, 1814, two dark years of the war.
In that time it frequently became necessary for orders to be borne to the militia. The post, now commonly called the mail, came then slowly dragging itself along on horseback. The great Western mail passed then once a week on horseback, under the riding of the late Mr. Waddell, of Greenville. The orders of the Commander-in-Chief could not be allowed thus tardily to travel He sometimes sent an aid. The person who acted on the occasion to which I am about to allude was a Dominie Sampson sort of man, though not at all of his size,
nor of his ungainly deportment. He was, or rather had been, however, a schoolmaster, private tutor -- tutor pro tempore in college, and thus his fitness for private secretary and aid, or anything e1se in the shape of man of business for the Governor is shown.
General Samuel Mays, of Edgefield, then commanded the first brigade. For some cause (perhaps in the absence of the Major General, Butler,) he was waited upon by the gentleman whom I have described. The General was not at home when he called. His kind, excellent lady invited him to stay until he returned. In the mean time, (as the family dinner had passed,) a dinner was provided for the traveler. Flour had of course to be put in requisition for the Governor's aid, but, guided by the precious character of the article, the cook made the biscuits small, very small. Dinner was announced. The hungry guest was paying his respects to the real good Carolina dinner, over which the General's lady, with hospitable intent, presided. A little black boy waited; his was the duty to hand the biscuits. The famished aid devoured a biscuit at a mouthful, and called to the waiter: "Biscuit, boy!" The little negro could not bear such wholesale destruction of his mistress' good things, and addressed himself at once to her. "La, Misses," said he, "he has had six already; shall I give him another?"
THE LAST QUAKER MEETING.
The cold, gray sunshine of an October Sabbath morning, preceding the bright gorgeousness of the Indian summer, seemed appropriate to the invitation I received to accompany a dear lady friend to the last meeting which has been held by her sect at the Quaker church at Bush river, Newberry district, South Carolina. Two Friends, an aged lady and gentleman, had come from a distant land on a visit to the few who remained of their persuasion, and to look upon the graves of all who had so peacefully departed to the blessed home of rest. The venerable Hugh O'Neall, whose striking biography appeared last week in the local district newspaper, and his aged companion and youngest living daughter, were all who remained of that people who once, with the olive branch of peace and industry
in their hands, made the rich lands of that section of the district smile with their examples of thrift and economy. As we rode gently along, I had ample leisure to reflect upon the many social mutations which have already swept over our land in her brief period of national. infancy. We overtook the good old Father O'Neall a short distance from the church, mounted on his drab-colored pony, and looking like Old Mortality striving to defy time -- that silently moving power which carries every thing into nothing. Whosoever looked on that good man, in ,the over-ripe maturity of a virtuous old age, loved him. With. a cheerful word and a heart-illuminating smile for all, he was the practical example of purity and elevated virtue. Rest there, old fathers, in thy quiet graves. The roaring winds of this wintry storm disturb not thy slumbers to-night, for thou wast with peace, beloved by God and by man.
The plain Quaker carriage of the visiting friends stood before the churchyard, and they were walking in silent meditation amongst the carefully heaped-up mounds which pious devotion had preserved from common disorder and neglect. It was a picture which, since then, has dwelt with me, and one which I have often thought I would pen-paint, that others might receive the satisfaction which the touching spectacle afforded. I was a boy then -- ambitious of the future -- with the world spread out before me; and since, its trials, its disappointments, its vexing cares have beset my path. But that day, and its impressions, have dwelt in the chambers of memory -- pure as a strain of music floating over distant waters. The gray old church, with its plain exterior, the singular garb of the pious Friends, the neatness of all the mounds -- even those of nearly a hundred years -- the bright colors of the dying leaves, already tinted by the autumnal frosts, were grouped into the picture, whilst the now mellow sunshine, reflected from the blue sky, draped it with beauty beyond the achievement of the pencil of art. The glory of that day's sunshine was God's smile upon the remnant of his children of peace. Silently, and one by one, as messengers from another land, they entered the church, and I felt at first that my presence might be an intrusion, where all was love and holiness; but the youngest, my lady friend, quietly bade me enter. We sat long and in meditation. Patience and meekness and long-serving and
humility were thus silently taught to the hundreds who lay around in the peaceful slumbers of death; and the reflections which arose from the shrines of the past told the history of bygone years more eloquently than living words could have done. A cardinal red bird came and twittered among the delicate boughs of a red-fruited tree which grew over a grave, and its scarlet garb and shrill electric notes frequently, and for a long time repeated, were strangely contrasted with the quiet scene around.
Note after note he poured forth from his full-throated beak, whilst his swelling crest, and gay out-stretched wing, and voice of song, plainly told that he too was praising God in the bird recitative of nature's music. The aged mother arose, and the prose-voice of song in the mellow cadences, uttered in unison with the feelings of her heart, spoke of those who had passed away to light and peaceful glory in heaven. Whilst her words of love were poured out to the living and the dead, I fancied that one from another world, and from a long past age, was speaking. The old gentleman, with a clear, singing, mellow tone, then asked the empty seats and silent walls where those were who once peopled them. He bewailed the desolation in Israel, whose glory had departed, and whose land was peopled with strangers to the faith of their fathers. To me his words were as the lamentations of a second Jeremiah, saying: "Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our house to aliens." Again a brief silence: then the stillness is broken, and the voice of Hugh O'Neall, tremulous with emotion, tells the sad story of that faith by which he lived, and which, since then, made his dying bed a pathway of blessed ease, going home to God. The red mounds told the fates of many-over the blue mountains, beyond the broad Ohio -- others had fixed their homes in the wilderness, nearer to the setting sun. He and his alone remained -- here he had lived, and here he would lay down to rest in the grave. He said, still the seed of the faith was alive, for "Thou,OLord, remainest forever; thy throne from generation to generation. Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old." I believe these words of eloquent lamentation from my
aged friend were the last uttered in that silent house of God. Angels led out that little band of the true and faithful, and the sacred doors were closed forever. As we departed, the red-bird glanced through the tree-tops and chirped us a good-bye.
Death has since claimed all of those beloved Quakers save one, and may she long be spared to reflect the virtues of her heart in that social sphere in which she is a blessed and blessing visitant.
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