Friday, October 30, 2009

Malcom Clark Appointed Justice in 1783

This week I found yet another reference to Malcom Clark that I had not seen before. It was published in the South Carolina Weekly Gazette on 29 Mar 1783 and 12 Apr 1783.

"In the House of Representatives. March 18,1783.
O R D E R E D,
That the List of Justices for the State of
South Carolina, be published in the Gazettes.
By Order of the House,
John-Sandford Dart, C. H. R.
A List of JUSTICES for the State
of South Carolina"

Justices of the Quorum and Justices of the Peace are then listed by district.

Under the Heading "Justices of the Peace for Orangeburgh District" is the name "Malcome Clarke."

Also listed under Orangeburgh is Charles Myddleton, the executor of Malcom Clark's will who advertised in the Columbian Herald the sale of Malcom's estate held April 6, 1786.

The gap between Malcom's listing on the 1778 census and the sale of his estate in 1786 just narrowed by 5 years!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tour of the Samuel Reed Home - Part II

The Interior
(Click on images to enlarge.)

The front doors are original and have original locks and keys.  These “box locks” are very significant to the dating of this house. They were very prominent in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Of the two original keys, one locks the outer doors, and the other locks the inside doors.  The hinged key on the left, also very old and rare, is for an outbuilding.

Hinges stamped "T & C Clarks Patent" are found on the interior and exterior doors.

As you walk in the front door, the staircase rises to the right. The wide heart pine boards of the floors, the heart cypress walls and ceilings (seamless), stairs, banisters, and finials in the hallway are all original.

In the closet under the stairs, you can see the original, unfinished cedar walls and shelves.
Chet showed where newspaper had been used to line the walls, and to this day, there remains a scrap of the Augusta Chronicle with a date of 1815.
Repairs were required to some of the doors where rodents had tried to find food.  Chet left this one on the hall closet door as an example (above). 

On the right of the entry is a dining room that was once apparently a parlor. There was originally only one door into this room. Chet has added a door (from the period) into the new kitchen at the back of the house. Beside that door is an original window, complete with working shutters, looking into the den.

On the left of the entry is a sitting room. The floor in this room is not original due to the significant wear on the original floor. Obviously, this was the room where most of the living was done. Chet wanted to refinish it as the others but was advised not to do so. There were so many worn places in the floor from decades of use, sanding it down would produce some very thin, shaky boards. The new wood was laid perpendicular to the old for added stability.

The finials on the stairs are quite impressive. Chet told us about seeing how such things were made at Colonial Williamsburg on lathes. Sticks of wood were turned on a human powered lathe – an arrangement of wheels and pulleys reminiscent of a bicycle. The carpenter craftsman used various sized and shaped sharp gouging instruments against the turning piece of wood to make the design.

The light fixture hanging in the upstairs hallway is from First Baptist Church of Blackville (initially known as Blackville Baptist). Chet was able to obtain several of these fixtures when the church was being remodeled. They have special significance in that this house was the first meeting place Blackville Baptist Church.

Chet told about a 19-inch heart cypress board in the upstairs hall. “In order to get a 19-inch heart cypress board, the tree had to be 300 to 400 years old and was probably older than that since it was virgin timber that was cut. If you assume the tree was at least 300 years old when cut, then that makes it a young sapling tree growing in the swamp when Columbus founded America in 1492 (since the house was constructed around 1790).”

On the left is another very wide cypress board used for attic access.  On the right, the original cypress wainscoting upstairs was too beautiful to paint.

The new, roomy back porch is inviting. This area was particularly damaged, so new windows and doors were installed. The siding on the back is all new, cedar on the porch and cypress on the upstairs siding.

Some of you know enough about me to be aware that I am rarely at a loss for words. Well, have a good look now, for this is the case! I feel my writing skills failing me as I try to find the right words to express my appreciation to Chet and Cindy Matthews for the time they took to show Ian and me all the details on this remarkable house.

Chet and Cindy, you have my deepest appreciation for providing a day that Ian and I will never forget and for allowing me to share it with the world. It was quite a day – from the first greeting to the best BLT I think I’ve ever had.

On behalf of all of the descendants of Samuel and Mary Clark Reed, I thank you for the love and care you have bestowed on this house and for your willingness to share it with us.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tour of The Samuel Reed Home - Part I


Chet Matthews had dreamed of restoring this house since he was eight years old.  When he inherited the house and land from his father in 1997, the dream held, and he poured a lot of love into the restoration. 

Chet asserts that the house did not go to Samuel and Mary’s son Samuel as was stipulated in Samuel’s will, because the son Samuel died (in 1847) before he probated the will.  (It is believed that his mother Mary had died the previous year.) 

According to Chet, in the situation that followed the junior Samuel’s death, Samuel and Mary’s son Hugh obtained ownership of the house.  When Hugh died 10 May 1854 and his sizeable estate was partitioned and sold (proceedings filed 20 Sep 1854), his son Samuel attained the property. 

From this Samuel, ownership went in 1887 to his daughter Ellen F. Reed who had married Benjamin Franklin Rice.

John Calhoun Matthews was a neighbor to our Reeds, and his home, which was very near the Reed house, was destroyed by fire.  He approached Ellen Reed Rice about buying the house.  The sale was completed in 1907. 

John C. Matthews owned it until he decided to move to Blackville in 1911.  His son (and Chet’s grandfather) John Gideon Matthews, Sr. took it over until his death in 1946.  Chet’s father, Smith Gideon Matthews owned it and farmed the land from 1946 to his death in 1997.  Chet inherited it and soon began following through on his dream. 

(Click on pictures to enlarge.)

The house is built in typical symmetrical colonial style with four rooms below and two above.  The entrance opens into a stairway hall/foyer which leads back to what was originally a porch.  This porch was enclosed on three sides, open only at the back of the house. 

Chet related that homes like this were built with no closets because British taxes were levied by the number of rooms, and closets were counted as rooms.  Instead of closets, armoires and chests were used to avoid higher taxes.  Even though British taxation was a thing of the past when this home was built, people apparently didn’t feel the need for closets.  They continued to build their homes without closets.  The only original closet here is under the stairs. 

I was amazed at how much of the original house was able to be retained.  As you can see from the “before” pictures, it was in sad shape.  It was covered in kudzu vines and bushes and was barely visible from the road.  The original porch railings and finials and the original mantelpieces had been stolen. 

Chet was extremely fortunate to find a contractor who was a true artisan and became very interested in the restoration, desiring to maintain as much of the original as possible and introduce new materials in a way that interfered the least with the history. 

The corner porch column pictured in a previous post was not an original column.  Chet’s father replaced a rotting column with a rough planed sill from under house.  Surely the original carpenter never expected it to show! 

All of the other columns are original and are perfectly square solid pieces of heart pine.  

Both the heart pine and cypress are virtually petrified.  Driving a nail is impossible without splitting the wood.  Drilling a starter hole is even difficult. 

The carpentry is incredible.  The original house was made of heart pine and heart cypress cut from virgin timber.

The seamless boards of the walls, floors, and exterior really impressed me.  Original boards extend from the front of the house to the back of the house outside.  The original exterior siding on the sides of the house is mostly heart pine.  The original exterior front porch siding is heart cypress in tongue and groove with a more finished look.  The upstairs front siding is new cypress. 

Inside, the wallboards are all seamless, tongue and groove cypress as on the front porch.  Chet pointed out that on the porch, care was taken to make the boards all even in width.  Not so in the interior where the width of the boards varied. 

The original supports are huge square chunks of heart pine. 

All of the shutters (cedar), hinges, and hardware are original.  You can see many original nails that were handcrafted by a blacksmith.  Chet maintained as many original wavy, rippled glass panes as possible, especially around the front door.  Modern storm windows and guttering have been installed as matters of necessity, but are not distractions to the history of this amazing house.

The front porch and steps finials were stolen before Chet’s father died.  Thieves simply sawed the top banister and lifted it out with the finials, leaving the bottom support.  One finial remains from the porch, but all remain on the inside staircase.  On the porch, Chet used the bottoms of the original banister railings as the top and added pressure treated plain wooden finials. 

Flooring on the porch is original except for a section in the middle.  Chet shifted salvageable originals to each side and added pressure treated boards in the center, providing symmetry as well as strength. 

The two taller chimneys are original while the smaller one towards the left rear, although very old, is not.  The style in which the bricks of the original chimneys were laid is indicative of the colonial era.  On most rows, the bricks are laid end to end.  Every 10 to 12 rows, the bricks are laid side by side.  This arrangement, known as American bond or Scottish bond, provided greater stability. 

Behind the house is the original well, now dry.  Chet laid newer brick around the damaged original outer brickwork.  Looking inside, we noticed that the inside brickwork was in the same style as the chimneys. 

Chet and my son Ian had to use both hands to lift the massive well cover. 
Coming soon:  features of the inside in Part II.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Barnwell Visit with Photography Lessons

My son Ian and I went to Barnwell again last Friday to see Brenda White from Alabama, Myrtle Quattlebaum from Blackville, and Will Miller from Ninety-Six, SC.  Brenda and Myrtle are descendants of Samuel & Mary Reed, and you’ve already met Will in this post.

The fellowship was wonderful, to say the least.  I could have stayed and talked until we all fell asleep.  We shared and learned a lot from each other. 

Will, Marilyn, Brenda, Myrtle at Anthony's Restaurant

Sad to say, the picture record of this event left a lot to be desired.  Ian and I learned some important lessons regarding photography.  First lesson:  Take a LOT more pictures in hopes that a few will turn out well.  Second lesson:  If at all possible, prop your elbows on a table or counter for stability.  (I have put a unipod on my Christmas wish list.  Google it.  Cool tool.)  Lesson three:  Never, but never, take a picture of Mom from the side!!!  (Take my word for it!)

 Marilyn, Will, Brenda at the Barnwell Library

Luckily, the pictures of the visit to the Samuel Reed home turned out much better.   The final draft is almost done.  It's very important to me to have it just right!  Thank you for your patience. 

Friday, October 09, 2009

Preview of Visit to Samuel Reed's Home

Chet Matthews, the owner of the Samuel Reed Home, contacted me recently.  Today, my son Ian and I are going to Blackville to meet Chet, tour the home, and learn all we can. 

Here are some pictures Chet has sent already of before and after the restoration done in 1997-98.  More pictures and info coming soon!


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Some Good Questions About Subscribing to this Blog

I received an e-mail this morning from a new-to-me cousin who recently found this blog.  He is thinking of subscribing, but he had a few very good questions first.  I thought it would be a good idea share with everyone his questions and my response. 

His questions:
1. What is FeedBurner?
2. What does it cost to subscribe?
3. What information is needed to subscribe?

My response:
For my purposes, FeedBurner is simply a way for readers of this blog to get an e-mail every time I post rather than having to check periodically to see if I've posted anything new.  FeedBurner is used by some bloggers and websites to scrutinize and analyze their readers - usually for commercial purposes.  Since there are no "commercial purposes" connected to my blog, my use of FeedBurner is quite simple.

It is 100% free for you and me both.  (Good thing these days!)

The only information required from you is your e-mail address.  Simply type your e-mail address in the slot provided and click on "Subscribe."  A "Email Subscription Request" screen will open that asks you to letters or numbers in the image shown (spam prevention device).  Click here to see what this screen looks like. Once you successfully type in the letters/numbers, you will see this screen.

Next, you will get an e-mail from Feedburner asking you to verify your e-mail address.  Click on the appropriate link in the e-mail, and that's all there is to it!  (This step is required for the process to work at all.) When you see this screen, you're in!

After that, every time I post a new article, you will receive an e-mail with a link to the post.  Click here to see an example of such an e-mail. 

Since the e-mail comes from Samuel Reed’s Gmail account, it is recommended that you add that address to your address book so that the notices do not get caught in your spam filter.  His address is:  samuelreedfamily AT gmail DOT com.  (Remember, of course, to replace the AT with @, the DOT with a period, and include no spaces.  I’m trying to avoid spam trolls, too!)

I hope that having a little more knowledge about the process will encourage more subscribers!  Many thanks to our cousin for asking these questions and inspiring this post.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

On My Mind Lately: Sources and Verifications

The blog has been quiet lately, but don't think for a second that I'm lagging. I'm working on several posts that are taking some time to gather and get just right. Meeting my own standard for assuring that every word I write is as dead correct as possible does tend to slow me down sometimes! I have no plans for lowering that standard, but I do find myself feeling the need to interject phrases such as "according to so-and-so," or words like "purported" or “supposed” more and more often. 

This brings me to a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately:  Sources versus Verifications.  Surely there are tons of articles out there on the subject, but I want to share with you what I’ve been pondering.  If you read this blog, it’s important to me that you know how I think about such things.

Sources – To me, the word “source” is a widely collective term simply for where you got a piece of information.  We like to show sources for our info, because we don’t want folks to think we just made it up!  Sources include everything from actual verifications (see below) to published trees to newspaper articles and obits, to what your grandmother told you on the back porch one afternoon in 1978 … to name just a few.  Some sources you can take to the bank, some need to be listed as “unverified,”  and some you know have errors when you see them. 

Verifications – For my purposes, verifications are primary sources that prove (or come as close as possible to proving) a name, date, place, or event, etc.  Verifications include, but are not limited to, certificates of birth, marriage, death, census images (or transcriptions if images unavailable). 

While these sorts of documents are very good verifications, even they are not always 100% correct.  The only such documents I can claim are ab-so-lute-ly, po-si-tive-ly (read that syllable by syllable with the best Southern drawl you can muster) 100% correct are my two sons’ birth certificates.  I was there!  I filled out the form with the info, and I verified it before they took it to file (removed the “p” they wanted to insert in my last name – both times).  But even so, you have to take my word for it.  With such documents, we have to take the word of the person responsible for the information thereon.  Sometimes I know what I see on some of these is incorrect (such as my great-grandmother’s death certificate where my great-uncle didn’t get her father’s name correct). 

Do we ignore the sources we see that have errors?  No, I don’t think so.  I feel a responsibility to acknowledge a faulty source and point out what I see there – the accurate along with the inaccurate – as politely as I possibly can.  (Always, always politely.  Who knows, this person just might have that one piece of the puzzle you need to firm up your great-grandmother’s parentage!)  Of course, I need to back up my interpretations with some pretty darn good verification, or it becomes simply my opinion.  If my opinion is all that I have, then I am compelled say so. 

Consider the Manning Files – volumes and volumes and volumes of data with very little sourcing.  They accepted reams of information from many people and simply published it.  It was a gigantic task to do no more than that.  There’s absolutely no way they could have verified every name, event, date, and place.  But they make sure to tell you just that.

Publications such as this, along with sources such as published or online trees, become a  “Jumping Off Point” for verifying information.  Do I quote them?  Maybe – but always simply as a source, not necessarily a verification.  I use such information as a guide for where to start seeking actual verification. 

Recently I was reading about a distant, long ago cousin (let’s call her Clara) in a tome compiled by someone whose data I hold in high esteem.  I noticed that he had listed a death date for Clara as four years before the date he listed for her marriage to a particular man (let’s call him Jack J.).  This set off a few hours of looking around (I love this sort of stuff!).  First thing I found was Jack on the 1900 and 1910 censuses with Clara and the children that were listed in the book.  The 1910 census showed them married precisely the number of years that verified the marriage date in the book.  Then I found Jack’s death certificate that showed him as widower of “late Clara J.”  Seeking further confirmation, I found an obituary on for Clara that named Jack and all four children that had been listed in the book.  Bingo!  She was buried in the same cemetery as her husband.  I ended up with her life verifiable by four censuses and one obituary.  Good enough for me! 

Am I going to tell you who these people really were?  Not here.  Am I going to tell the writer of the book what I found?  Absolutely – but as graciously as I possibly can!  The Golden Rule applies here in a big way.  I would certainly want someone to point out my glitches to me privately, giving me the opportunity to amend and acknowledge my own mistakes.   

Oftentimes I list conflicting information as “alternate” information, providing sources, of course.  Case in point is the birthdate of James Henry Reed, my 2gGF.  His tombstone has his birthdate as 18 Feb 1825.  The family Bible of his uncle Benjamin Odom, Jr., has his birthdate as 17 Feb 1826.  I list both dates and their sources on my tree. 

So then, at some point, with some things, we have to simply choose what we’re going to believe.  Once we’ve gathered all the data we can find and it doesn’t all necessarily agree, we have to decide what we’re going to go with. For example, after considering all the information I've been able to find regarding Hugh Reed, I chose to go with Hugh’s tombstone for his birth and death dates and the 1850 census along with his wife Jane’s tombstone for his birthplace.  This decision has several implications, not the least of which is the fact that Samuel Reed could not have served in the Revolutionary War if his first son was born in Ireland in 1783.  (I realize this disappoints quite a few dear DAR ladies, but that’s a story for a different post – one of the ones I’ve been working on.)

Bottom line:  I will verify as much as I can with the most impeccable sources I can find.  If I cannot, I will state plainly the source, acknowledging it as simply a source, not necessarily a verification.

I am not perfect; no one is.  If you see a mistake I have made or if you disagree with any of my conclusions, please (gently) let me know. 

Another thing I want you to know is that when I publish articles such as the ones from Henry Singer, Byron Reed, and Will Miller, a great deal of back and forth e-mailing goes on before you ever see the article.  It’s very important to me that I not misquote these wonderful contributors to our story, that I put it out there precisely as they intended. 

I would love to know what you think about these musings.  How do you handle it when you find that a piece of information doesn’t ring true?  Are there times that you have had to make a decision as to what to believe?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Samuel Reed is now on Facebook!

It's fun to imagine what our ancestors would think of the technology we use today.  I feel sure Samuel and Mary had no inkling that their great-great-great-great (and more greats) grandchildren would be communicating with each other in real time from all over the world.

Today I began a group on Facebook titled "Samuel Reed Family."  If you are already on Facebook, please come join us.  Then spread the word to your family about the group.  If you're not on Facebook already, please consider signing up. 

We can meet more kinfolk this way, and that should be a lot of fun. It will be an easier way for us to share pictures and stories.  I hope you will join.  Then I hope you will participate!  Share! 

Hope to see you there!

EDITED TO ADD:  As of 7:30 pm on Sunday, 10/4/09, we have 13 people who have joined the group!