Rarely do researchers equate Quakers having been an important part of the S.C. antebellum economic and social structure. Not only were they artisans but highly influential citizens, who were asked to give up their slaves or their Quaker affiliation. In most instances, their faith won out and hundreds of prosperous artisans and farmers moved west as well as to areas such as Ohio and Indiana. The S.C. Encyclopedia states, “A group of Irish Quakers settled along the Wateree River near Camden about 1750. Also in the mid-seventeenth century, Friends from Quaker communities elsewhere in the American colonies migrated to the areas of Marlboro and Newberry Counties. Bush River was by far the largest and most influential of the Piedmont South Carolina meetings, with attendance reportedly as high as five hundred. The Quaker population in South Carolina peaked by 1800, however, and suffered dramatic decline due to out-migration to slave-free Ohio. By 1822 only a weak Charleston Meeting remained, and it too ceased to exist by the time of the Civil War.”
The Quaker Cemetery in Camden, S.C. is indeed an important reminder of their vital role in S.C. history as is the old Bush River Church in Newberry County. But there are numerous other links and vital records associated with the Carolina Quakers that need researching and recording. Former Camden Museum Director and Archivist, Risher R. Fairey expressed his amazement at the number of individual researchers coming into the facility, looking for their family roots and discovering for the first time, they were descendents of S.C. Quakers. Who among R&R’s audience can add information on this important and overlooked history?
Recently, while conducting research on a beautiful home in Union Co., S.C., we communicated with a family member in Ohio. One of his first notes was to make sure we were aware of the Quaker community of Sedalia in Union County. He went on to inform us, Dr. Bobo who lived among a large group of Quakers, had moved west and left Sedalia in part, due to the antislavery sentiment of his neighbors. In researching the Bobo house, Roots and Recall did find ample evidence of Quakers having lived in the area. See the map this page, of the Sedalia Quaker Meeting House.
“In 1770 a committee appointed by Western Quarterly Meeting to visit Friends at Bush River Meeting in South Carolina recommended that a monthly meeting be settled there. This recommendation was approved by the Quarterly Meeting in 11th month, 1770, but the records seem to indicate that the new monthly meeting was not actually held until 4th month, 1772. Meetings for worship which are mentioned as reporting to Bush River Monthly Meeting include Bush River, Rabun’s Creek, Tiger (Tyger) River, Padgett’s Creek, Mud Lick, Allwoods’, White Lick, Edisto, Charleston and Rocky Springs.
Early members of Bush River Meeting (names taken from the first pages of the minutes), in addition to those mentioned by Dr. Weeks, included Jacob Chandler, Samuel Chapman, Eli Cook, Isaac Cook, William Cooper, Enos Elleman, Moses Embree, Robert Evans, Armil Fincher, Nathan Hawkins, James Haworth, Richard Henderson, Elias Hollingsworth, Isaac Hollingsworth, William Hollingsworth, John Jones, Robert Merrick, Henry Millhouse, David Mote, David Mote, Jr., William Neal, John Nelson, Samuel Nelson, Enoch Pearson, Samuel Pearson, William Pemberton, Peter Ruble, David Smith, Henry Stedham, Jonathan Taylor, William Wright.
About 1802, moved by a desire to live in a country where no slaves were held, Friends of Bush River began a migration to Ohio. Between 1802 and 1807 more than one hundred certificates of removal were issued, most of them being for families. This so depleted the membership that the monthly meeting seems to have been all but abandoned in 1808, though not formally laid down until 1822. A minute of Bush River Monthly Meeting, 1806,6,28, states that the Yearly Meeting “advises the Trustees, James Brooks, Samuel Brown, Isaac Kirk and John O’Neal, to sell or lease Bush River meeting house and lot, Rocky Spring meeting house and lot, and a meeting house lot at Camden.” Information courtesy of the Bush River Quakers -Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, 1936
Click on the following links to enjoy a view of local S.C. Quaker history:
R&R NOTES: We would be remiss, in not profusely thanking several individuals for having invited R&R into their private antebellum homes, across S.C., in the past few weeks. Two of these include the historic Seabrook Plantation at Edisto Island as well as the Zimmerman House at Glenn Springs. These visits routinely provide invaluable details of historic data to both R&R as well as to the long term owners. Both of these outstanding pieces of architecture are available for visits on the pages of Roots and Recall. Invariably, these one on one site visits also open opportunities to add invaluable information and previously unidentified links.
What can you share about Quakers in S.C. history? Were members of your own family members of the faith? And remember to visit Roots and Recall’s homepage for the new Feature Article on the Fennell Home restoration project.