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Moving Finger of Jasper Co. - People

Derry Gillison, Richard James Davant, E. M. Seabrbook, George Rhodes, Langdon Cheves, Jr., William F. Hutson, Strobhar Family, James W. Moore, Henry Martyn Robert, Abram Huguenin, Dr. William B. Ryan, Charles E. Perry, Sr., William J. Ellis, Samuel B. Owens, John Pat Wise, H. Klugh Purdy, Sr., Jacob Edward Smart

MOVING FINGER OF JASPER

BY

Copyright ©2001, GRACE Fox PERRY, her heirs and assigns, all rights reserved.  Used with permission by SCGenWeb, Jasper County web site.

SALUTE TO MEN OF HISTORY

DERRY GILLISON.

Resting upon a brick-enclosed mound a few yards east of the railroad in Coosawhatchie is a broken vault-top, inscribed to a long-ago industrialist who has been mentioned previously. He was born in 1743, and died in 1816.

Derry Gillison and his wife, Rebecca Bettison Gillison, came south from Massachusetts shortly after the Revolution. Coosawhatchie, coming into prominence as the court town, was the place he chose to establish a tannery and shoe factory. With him he brought a few Negro workmen, who knew the trade of converting leather into shoes.

The local planters were glad to patronize the Gillison factory, first of its kind in the parish. There were many slaves to be shod, and the making of shoes on the plantations was a tedious operation.

Derry Gillison amassed an impressive fortune, and purchased a number of plantations. He was an Irish Protesttant, devout and pious. He gave generously to the newly established churches of the district; his name being mentioned in records of Euhaw, Coosawhatchie, and Gillisonyule Baptist churches. His daughter, Anna Maria, married a descendant of the Purrysburg colonists, Abraham Huguenin, who also became wealthy as a builder of rice mills. The two are buried in the Huguenin cemetery at "Roseland."

Descendants bearing the Gillison name later moved to other states.

RICHARD JAMES DAVANT

Born on Hilton Head Island in 805, Richard James Davant was the scion of a rice-planting family. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1827, and began his legal practice in Gillisonville. The following year he married Evelina Cheney, daughter of John Cheney, a large landowner and sheriff of Beaufort District. After the death of his father-in-law, young Davant bought up his property, adding several adjoining lands until it became the large acreage known as Davant Plantation.

Active in the militia, Davant became a colonel of the Coosawhatchie Riflemen in 1832. He was widely known as an able and skillful lawyer; and served as commissioner in equity of Beaufort District for 30 years.

Sent as a delegate to the Secession Convention from St. Luke’s Parish, he was one of the signers of the Ordinance document. Twice, he was elected to take his seat in the state senate from St. Luke’s. His four sons all saw service in the Confederate Army .

For many years, Colonel Davant was a prominent deacon in the Coosawhatchie and Gillisonville churches. He held the office of president of the Port Royal Railroad all during the period of the War. His resourcefulness and courage are shown by his actions after hostilities ceased. When he surveyed the ashes of his Gillisonville home and the starkly lone outbuildings, he set to work immediately. On an adjoining farm owned by him was ____ an unpretentious but substantial residence which had escaped the vindictiveness of the invaders. Piece by piece this was transferred to the site formerly occupied by his Greek-revival home During succeeding years, this plain structure was to remain the abode of the Davant family. " His death occurred at Gillisonville in 1873

E. M. SEABROOK.

" E. M. Seabrook, a native of Edisto Island, owned and planted a large acreage of rice and Sea Island cotton between Hardeeville and Bluifton. He was active in public life, and signed the Secession Ordinance as a member of the Convention from St. Luke’s Parish. He was appointed a staff colonel during the Confederate War. For many years he held the office of Clerk of Court for Beaufort District. During Reconstruction he moved away from the state, and died in 1895.

GEORGE RHODES.

Rhodes was born on Callawassee Island, in i 8oz. He was twice married; the first and second wives being sisters, the Misses Robert, daughters of John Robert, of Robertville. Elected from St. Peter’s Parish as a delegate, he signed the Ordinance of Secession. And one of his sons was killed in the War. For many years, Rhodes was a deacon in Lawtonville Baptist Church, near Estill. He died in 1881.

LANGDON CHEVES, JR.

Cheves, born in 1814 in Philadelphia where his South Carolina family had moved, came back to the state with them as a boy. He was graduated from the South Carolina College and practiced law in Columbia, serving as a court official for a while. As he became older, he gave it up for residence in Savannah and on the family rice lands bordering the Savannah River in South Carolina. Having had experience in public life, he was elected to the Secession Convention from St. Peter’s Parish, and signed the Ordinance. A skilled designer and engineer, he was later a commander in charge of defense works upon the islands near Charleston. He was killed at Battery Wagner in 1863, by fire from the attacking Federal fleet.

WILLIAM F. HUTSON.

William F. Hutson was born at Jericho Plantation, his family’s lands on the Combahee River. After college, he engaged in the practice of law, opening an office at Pocotaligo. Following his election to the House from Prince William’s Parish, he was a signer of the Ordinance of Secession. During the War Between the States, he served as a reserve officer, training companies of local young men, since he was beyond the age of active service. He died McPhersonville in 1881.

STROBHAR FAMILY.

This branch of the family spelled the name without the final "t." The ones who are buried on Strawberry Hill Plantation east of Grahamville, although relatives, spelled the surname "Strobhart."

Henry Jacob Strobhar, born on the many-acred ancestral lands between Purrysburg and Arm Oak in 1823, was educated in Savannah. He served during the Confederate War as a captain of the Effingham Hussars, which company saw much battle action. Dr. John Cooper Morcock, who married Emily Ruth Strobhar, was a resident of Grahamville before the War Between the States. He served in Company A, 3rd South Carolina Cavalry, in the War.

A Douglass Strobhar, a business man of Savannah, reclaimed the old family cemetery in the early 1950’s. He is a grandson of Captain Henry Jacob Strobhar, and descended also from the Morcocks. At considerable expense, he repaired tombs, erected a monument beside some unmarked graves, and encircled the entire burial place with a concrete fence. This is part of the inscription upon the monument to his ancestors:

Strobhar 1736- 1887

This land owned by Strobhar family from time of settlement of Purysburg, 1732-1736, by Jean Pierre Pury of Neufchatel, Switzerland. Here was family burying ground, known as "Arm Oak." Some graves are unmarked, especially burials during Reconstruction period following War of 1861-1865....

JAMES W. MOORE.

Born at Coosawhatchie in 1837, James W. Moore attended school at the Gillisonville Academy. He became a graduate of the University of Georgia, and was admitted to the bar in i 859. At the outbreak of War he entered the Beaufort District Cavalry Troop as first sergeant; the next year he was elected lieutenant.

He participated in battles on the Potomac; around Yorktown, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Richmond, Manassas, Harper’s Ferry, Sharpsburg; and in the Shenandoah engagements. He was wounded at the battle of Brandy Station. Later in the War, Lieutenant Moore was stationed at James Island on the South Carolina coast. In North Carolina, he took part in the defense of Fort Fisher and of Town Creek.

After the War, he was elected to the legislature from Beaufort District. He moved his family to Hampton when it became a county seat, and was elected to the Senate, holding the post for 16 years. He was also chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee. Later, he was appointed Major General of the state militia.

For many years, General Moore’s law office remained standing in Gillisonville. His remains rest in the family plot of the Baptist church cemetery. His wife was Cornelia Elizabeth Tillinghast, herself a daughter of a distinguished Coosawhatchie lawyer and state senator.

HENRY MARTYN ROBERT.

It is singular that the name of General Henry Martyn Robert, a native of Robertville, has not received greater honor. It is certain that no other military officer or engineer ever left behind him a literary production so widely sold and used throughout the world. His book, RULES OF ORDER, is the authority on parliamentary procedure.

Robert was descended from the Huguenot emigrant, Rev. Pierre Robert. The son of Rev. Joseph T. Robert and Adeline Lawton Robert, both of wealthy plantation families around Robertville, the boy’s upbringing was quite different from that of his Carolina cousins. Taken to the midwest to live as a small boy, it was natural to adopt the ways and sympathies of his surrounding area.

The young man was graduated from the United States Academy at West Point in 1857. For a year, he taught Philosophy at the Academy. In 1860, as a young lieutenant, he took charge of a route-exploring trip in the Northwest, ordered for military purposes.

His record in the Civil War on the Northern side includes these tours of duty: defense engineer in Washington in 1861, in Philadelphia in 1862; and in New Bedford, Massachusetts, for the War’s duration. As a captain during the ten years following the War, he served as an engineering officer in the Military Division of the Pacific; and later was in charge of rivers, harbors, and fortifications.

In the early years, Major, then Colonel, Robert was sometimes called upon to preside at various meetings and discussions. When he sought written helps, or rules, to follow in moderating, he discovered there were none to be had. He decided to undertake the writing of such a guide, using inventiveness and common sense. When he had finished the work, a job printer in the city of Milwaukee produced the first, modest edition of RULES OF ORDER. This was in 1876. Later on, Colonel Robert engaged a Chicago publisher to get out 1000 copies of the book, again at his own expense.

After serving as engineer commissioner of the District of Columbia, the versatile army officer received in 1901 his promotion to Brigadier General. Shortly afterward, General Robert’s specialized duties included heading the army board which designed the sea wall at Galveston, Texas. In 1911, he improved ports in Mexico.

In 1915, General Robert revised his now-popular RULES OF ORDER, making the revision so painstaking and complete that a new copyright was secured. After that, the officer-writer authored "Parliamentary Practice," and "Parliamentary Law."

The general was married twice, and had four children. His death occurred in New York state, in 1923, and he was interred in Arlington cemetery. Today, his papers, correspondence, and original material are preserved in the Library of Congress. Robert’s RULES OF ORDER has run through many editions, and sales usually average 5o,ooo copies a year. He left the work to the management of his daughter-in-law.

Not fighting, but the constructive feats of engineering and writing brought fame to General Robert. Therefore, his Carolina kinsmen must have forgiven him long since for his deployment on the Federal side.

ABRAM HUGUENIN.

A family record remarkable in its completeness was penned by Captain Abram Huguenin, who was born in 1838. He was a grandson of the Abraham Huguenin who was married to Miss Gillison. Interesting tales of every generation, some hardly complimentary, are told in the old document left to his descendants by the captain.

"Roseland" was (and still is) the family home. The property was "confiscated from the Tory, Baron Rose," after the Revolution.

Prepared by private tutoring, young Abram attended the South Carolina College, studied law in Charleston, and was admitted to the bar in Columbia, at the age of 22. But this was 1860. Here are his words: "Behold me now, full of life, health, and joy, heir to wealth, well educated . . . and say if I had not reason to think that the world was paradise for me."

War and upheaval were to darken all his brilliant prospects. He joined Beaufort District troops, then was put in charge of cutting timber to block up Coosawhatchie River against invasion. Later, he became a captain in the First Battalion, South Carolina Sharpshooters, then in the 27th Volunteers. Impatient for action, he asked for an appointment as his counsin’s aide.

"My relative, General (Major) Lafayette McLaws appointed me on his staff and I joined him in Savannah, Ga. Was at the siege of Savannah and retreat" (Elsewhere in the chronicle he tells of the evacuation of Savannah by pontoon bridges) "battles of Rivers and Broxton Bridges, and at the evacuation of Charleston." .

Other battles are mentioned, and at the War’s end he describes his return to Hopkins, the family’s refugee haven in the Upcountry.

"I found our mules and horses, silver, etc., stolen, Negroes freed, and from wealth I was brought to poverty, and absolutely for many days lived on dry hominy and that too without a murmur."

Reverses seemed destined to be his lot. He married, his young wife died, and caterpillars ruined his first cotton crop. He left the Lowcountry to reside near Gadsden. He remarried, and lost this wife. Heartbroken, his words here show a despair akin to that of Job’s: "I have buried one and all who loved me in a human shape, and here unloved and alone, I for the present, maybe forever, with these lines close this sketch."

The next year, however, the record continues. "The darkest hour of the night is just before the morning! A new day appears to have opened to Carolina, Prostrate State, and to me. June 1, 1877, I was appointed trial justice by Governor Hampton." But grief, misfortunes, and ill health had taken their toll. After a brief seven years of a marriage with his cousin, Captain Abram Huguenin died, at the age of 46. He left several small children, whose names he had entered in the old record. His widow remarried, and lived until the 1920’S. After her death, her son, E. P. Huguenin and his family came to settle at Roseland. Today, the seventh generation of the Huguenin family resides there.

TRIBUTE TO THIS-CENTURY NOTABLES

(The writer recognizes the impossibility of paying tribute to all those who have made contributions of note to Jasper County in various ways during the past 50 years. Therefore, this accolade is limited to those citizens remembered by mature persons for these things: Success in the arts and professions; achievement in the field of finance; deeds of public service and benevolence; and fame in the military realm.)

DR. WILLIAM B. RYAN.

Dr. Ryan, a native of Charleston, practiced his profession of medicine there for a brief time before coming to Ridgeland in 1893, while in his twenties. At first, he and his family made their home in Grahamville. He received an appointment as physician and surgeon for the railroad when the old Plant Railway system established its Relief and Hospital Department. He succeeded himself in that position, with the Atlantic Coast Line. Also, he was for many years consulting physician for local clubs and plantations.

Although not a seeker of public office, Dr. Ryan was credited with considerable political influence. He served for some years as a member of the State Highway Commission; once as a school trustee; and later, on the Water Commission of the Town of Ridgeland. Keenly interested in progress, he was a large investor in Jasper Development Corporation, which sponsored construction of the local dress factory.

Upon his retirement after 52 years of medical practice in the community, Dr. Ryan told the writer he had in his possession the clinical records of all those years. One could guess that access to them would have provided interesting reading matter: since the country doctor of 50 years ago had to be druggist, nurse, and improviser of surgical rooms, sometimes on very short notice. He could and did relate many colorful incidents pertaining to the early days of his career.

Five Sons followed his profession by becoming physicians. After several years of declining health, Dr. Ryan died in 1951. Besides his sons, two daughters survive.

CHARLES E. PERRY.

Since he was born near the present town of Ridgeland in 1862, C. E. Perry’s growing years spanned the difficult aftermath of a devastating War. Educational opportunities were scarce in what is now the county of Jasper, and his formal schooling was quite limited.

By dint of application, frugality, and natural business acumen, he managed to launch a business career that included many phases. Success rewarded his efforts in merchandising, farming; in naval stores and lumbering operations.

His part in inaugurating the establishment of Jasper County has already been told. He was also a leader in organizing the Bank of Ridgeland, subscribing half the issued stock to get the institution launched. For several years he was president of the Bank, and remained a director until his death.

C. E. Perry served his church for many years as a deacon; and gave of his time and means to two churchbuilding programs. His donations of land for church purposes have not been widely publicized; he seldom mentioned gifts, though they were large. The new structure of Ridgeland Baptist Church stands upon land donated by him.

He was mayor of the town once, and a trustee of the school. The following story was told the writer by a trustee who served with him. The first school building of brick was being planned. A choice piece of property owned by Mr. Perry was selected by the other two trustees as a suitable site for the new building. Being on the board, Mr. Perry refused to set a price for the land, generously permitting the other two to do so. And the figure named by them was the amount that was paid in the purchase.

As a member of the Georgia-South Carolina Bridge Commission, Savannah newspapers gave Mr. Perry credit for selecting the specific location of the first causeway and bridge constructed over the Savannah River from Jasper County. His death occurred in 1932; he was survived by his wife, five sons and four daughters.

WILLIAM J. ELLIS.

Born in Jasper County (then Hampton County) in I 879, W. J. Ellis as the eldest of his family knew responsibility early. He received his business education in Savannah. While a young man, he was engaged in the naval stores business near Gillisonville, and prospered.

When Jasper County was formed, he was elected as its first clerk of court. Later, he moved to Ridgeland and continued his public life by serving two terms as state senator from the county. He was elected five times as mayor of Ridgeland. During this time, for a number of years he was engaged in lumber manufacturing. Even after his retirement from active business he never lost his keen interest in politics.

Mr. Ellis was best known throughout the state as a devout Methodist churchman, having served as a steward and official for more than 50 years. He has been called a "builder of churches." The beautiful brick building of St. Paul’s is a monument to him; since the entire building, complete with organ and carillon system, was a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Ellis in 1949. Not only St. Paul’s, but Southside Methodist Church in Bamberg, Gillisonville Baptist, Euhaw Baptist, Holy Trinity Episcopal, and other local churches were recipients of his generous contributions to their building program.

This outstanding citizen died in 1961, leaving a widow who was the former Miss Ivey Langford; a daughter and three granddaughters.

SAMUEL B. OWENS.

Mr. Owens was born in Dooly County, Georgia, in 1880. As a young man, he started out upon a railroad career. However, in a few years he gave it up to learn the banking business.

When a fledgling bank was organized in Ridgeland in 1910 as part of a small banking chain, S. B. Owens came to Ridgeland as the bank’s initial cashier. Because of his acumen as an executive, his enterprise and wise advice, the president and board of directors decided that the bank was able to stand alone in its operations.

Recognized by his fellow-townsmen as a man of high honor and integrity, he was persuaded to enter public life. He was elected to the office of mayor; and also as county superintendent of education. A man of many talents, he was for several years engaged in the automobile business.

He was later a chairman of the Ridgeland school board when the largest building program up to that time was launched. The project resulted in a combined auditorium and gymnasium which he did not live to see completed.

Mr. Owens was for many years a deacon and trustee of Ridgeland Baptist Church, a member of its building committee, and one of its most generous financial supporters. He was also active in the local Masonic order. Several years before he died in 1934, he had been made president of the Bank of Ridgeland.

His wife, the former Miss Lillian Cannon, one son, and two daughters survive him.

JOHN PAT WISE.

John Pat Wise was born at Prosperity in Newberry County in 1888. He received his law degree at the University of South Carolina. He came to Ridgeland in 1912, while the new county was in process of formation. Here, he made corporation law his specialty, and received statewide recognition in a successful practice. He served as counselor for many clubs and plantations during his life.

Mr. Wise is remembered with an especial tenderness and gratitude by several local parents of crippled and handicapped children. Special drives to help such children had not then been organized. His membership and his interest enabled these children to be accepted in the Shriners’ Hospital for successful treatment.

He held the post of chairman of the Board of Education for a time; he was vice-president of the Bank of Ridgeland for a number of years; and was serving as attorney for Jasper County at the time of his death in 1935.

Mr. Wise was married twice. His first wife, whom he married in 1913, was Miss Miriam Perry. He was married to Miss Margie Williams in 1929. An ardent horticulturist, he was devoted to his garden and flowers; and enjoyed the sport of fishing. His wife and three daughters survive him.

H. KLUGH PURDY.

With the passing of H. Klugh Purdy in 1949, Jasper County lost a colorful political figure, as well as an intrepid fighter for principles he embraced.

Born in Abbeville County in 1886, Mr. Purdy was educated at the College of Charleston, Georgetown University, and George Washington University. He came as a young attorney to Jasper County in 1912, a few months after the county’s formation. He was married to Miss Mary Augusta Ryan the following year. Through the years, his clientele included both rich and poor.

His political offices embraced: service as state senator, two terms; membership in the House; State Highway Commissioner; Jasper County attorney for 14 years; chairman of the local Board of Public Welfare; and chairman of the Jasper County Democratic Executive Committee for 27 years.

H. Klugh Purdy broke all the usual rules of politicians. He was somewhat blunt in manner, having no store of small talk, as such. He was not religious in the accepted fashion--admitting sometimes a tendency to agnosticism. Yet the churches received his support, verbal and financial. But many times he declared: "I’m no back-slapper, no baby-kisser, and no election-year church-goer!"

Long and zealously he hammered away at New Dealism and its resulting socialistic trends. Perhaps by this he sacrificed further public attainments for himself, at a time when the Roosevelt popularity was in its heyday. When Jasper County, under his leadership, voted to withdraw from the National Democratic Party, his satisfaction knew no bounds. "The grass roots people are waking up. They’re on the way to common sense. Watch the politicians jump on the band-wagon."

He was correct. The States Rights movement gained momentum, and the name of H. Klugh Purdy appeared in national magazines and New York newspapers. His little county had shown the first revolt.

Mr. Purdy’s sense of humor was genuine; he was the type who could enjoy a joke at his own expense. Once, he told the writer, "You know, there’s a lady in town with a list of persons whose funerals, she says, would benefit the community. I’ve just learned I’m on that list." Chuckling, he added, "The tough part about it is, she might be right!"

A heart attack ended his life, suddenly, and he was laid to rest in Grahamville cemetery. Even his severest critics admitted that few communities have known the privilege of being led by a person of H. Klugh Purdy’s caliber.

His wife survives; a son, and grandchildren.

GENERAL JACOB EDWARD SMART. (Living)

Jacob Edward Smart, born in Ridgeland in 1909, was graduated from the U. S. Military Academy in 1931. After taking training and winning his wings as a pilot, he was transferred to the U. S. Air Corps. Tours of duty took him to the Canal Zone, to Texas as a flying instructor, and to Washington. In 1940, he was promoted to captain, and the next year, to major.

At Air Corps headquarters in Washington in 1942, Lieutenant Colonel Smart was made a member of the Advisory Council. While thus serving, he performed special missions with the commanding general of the Army Air Forces to the various Conferences. In early 1944, he was graduated from the Army and Navy Staff College.

As staff officer for the commanding general of the Fifth Bomb Wing in the Mediterranean theater, Lieutenant Colonel Smart went overseas. He was given immediate command of the 97th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force in Italy. Shot down and captured in May, 1944, he was held as a prisoner of war in central Germany.

He and other officers were released in April, 1945, by the American forces.

After the war, Colonel Smart joined the Air Defense Command, holding positions as assistant to the commanding general and as deputy chief of staff. He received his advancement to colonel in 1948.

Graduating from the National War College in 1950, he assumed command of the 32nd Air Division at Stewart A.F.B. in New York. In that year he was promoted to Brigadier General. Since then, he has held commands in Tokyo, in Texas and Virginia. As lieutenant general he served as vice-commander of the Tactical Air Command.

On a visit to his home town of Ridgeland in 1955, General Smart was honored by being made a "Master Mason at Sight." The Occasional Lodge was convened by Grand Master J. Ansel Eaddy, in the Ridgeland school gymnasium. Many dignitaries of the Masonic Order were present at the ceremonies.

The widest street in Ridgeland has been re-named Smart Boulevard; the general’s home town only wishing it possible to render him far greater honor. General Smart is stationed once more in Tokyo.


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Copyright ©2001, GRACE Fox PERRY, her heirs and assigns, all rights reserved.  Used with permission by SCGenWeb, Jasper County web site.