Writing the History of Kershaw County
Research Adventure #1
(Originally published in Update, Newsletter of the Kershaw County
Historical Society, Camden, SC, February 2002)
Update on "Research Adventure #1": Thanks to several responses, we are adding
more to our knowledge about Rugeley's Clermont and the Granny's Quarter area and its
inhabitants--Loyalist and Tory. Since posting the information below, we have heard
from researchers locally, in various states, and from places as far away as the United
Kingdom and New Zealand!
Commissioned by the KC
Historical Society to write a narrative history of Kershaw County, Joan and Glen Inabinet
invite others to offer information on this and other topics.
It was a super-mall of the
Revolutionary backcountry! Glen remarked as we studied the swirling ink on the old
ledger which was placed in a special prop to support its fragile and crumbling binding.
We were in the South Caroliniana Library, examining a 1776-1778 account book for
the country store at Clermont, estate of Tory colonel Henry Rugeley located at Flat Rock
Creek and Grannys Quarter Creek a few miles north of the site of the Battle of
The presence of Clermont, also known as Rugeleys Mill(s) and as
Rugeleys Fort after British fortification in 1780, is well known among
military historians and will be discussed at the upcoming Banastre Tarleton Symposium.
However, the economic and social significance of this rural Kershaw County area has yet
received little scholarly comment.
The Trading Post
The account book shows that Revolutionary-era Clermont offered one-stop
shoppingand more. Beyond products
expected in a country store were
activities of banking, livestock trading, milling, shipping, and possibly repair work.
Furthermore, the tavern would have provided refreshment and lodging, and served as a
communications center for locals and travelers. (Robert Robinson is clearly identified in
the ledger as Tavern Keeper at Clermont.)
Profit potential was lucrative in Clermonts numerous endeavors. In just 1776,
the store business alone totaled £14,541.8.9. (Dr. Walter Edgars A History of
South Carolina equates one pound currency then to
$12 today, and one pound sterling to nearly $81.) Proceeds steadily increased in
the following two years.
The ledger also reported earnings at a branch Store at Richmond:
£53,089.4.7 from March 1776 to December 1778. Prosperous Camden merchant Joseph Kershaw
had various accounts at Clermontone in his name, one with his name subtitled
Kershaw and Wyly. Others were headed Chesnutt & Kershaw and
Messrs Kershaw, Chesnut & Co.
Charleston merchandise was being ordered and
delivered by Clermont wagons, possibly also carrying mail.
Sundrieslikely farm produce and manufacturessome from Clermont
plantation, were bartered and sold.
The Clermont tanyard processed
Hides, and trade in beeves suggests slaughtering also. Other
entries show business in flax seed, rice, honey, Indian corn, wheat, tobacco, hemp, and
The saw and grist mills for which Clermont
became known were especially active. Grinding wheat and Indian corn yielded several
thousand pounds profit annually. Payments also cited earnings from labor of slaves,
possibly porters or mechanics for repair tasks for farmers and travelers.
Located on a great road between
Camden and Salisbury, N.C., Clermont was on a main transportation route with Philadelphia
at one far end and Charleston at the other. Those who did not arrive to trade still
required accommodations along the way. The House at Clermont was no mean
dwelling. Its expenses totaled £1,120.10.10 in 1776 and £4,475.6.1 in 1777-1778.
Like a modern corporation, Clermont was more
than an endeavor of a single man. Its backers also included Rugeleys brother Rowland
and investors in Charleston and in England. Attempts after the Revolution to help Rugeley
regain his standing and to recoup his (and their) investments are a story for another
One curious aside is the account of W.
Faux, English Farmer, author of an 1823 travel book Memorable Days in America
(reprinted by our Society in Five Visitors to Kershaw District, ed. by Harvey S.
Teal). Faux, who says he was Col. Rugeleys nephew, relates sympathetic anecdotes
showing a dual nature in his uncles Revolutionary allegiance. Is the Faux account
the untold truth, or revisionist history, or a ploy to recoup some of the Clermont wealth?
We dont know.
Continuing to study the Clermont ledger, we
realized that we were reading names of citizens whose lives and enterprises thereafter
were drastically altered by the impending Revolution, many of those events swirling around
Rugeleys trading post itself. These were real-life subjects of The Patriot
and of Dr. Walter Edgars Partisans and Redcoats.
Who were these individuals? Where did they
come from? Who took what side? What happened
to them? What roles did some of them play in our history before and after the Revolution?
We cant answer all those questions, but hope that other researchers will help with
answers. The current newsletter of the
Catawba-Wateree Geneological Society lists all the names I alphabetized from the ledger.
The list is now on our Historical Society webpage (see below), and copies have been placed
at the Camden Archives and at Historic Camden. We
hope to receive information from researchers in return.
Initial observations on the names include
these facts: There are 288 individuals named
as having accounts at Clermont. Of these, we found some information that may
relate to 66 of the persons, but we have no information at all on 222 persons.
Determining Revolutionary allegiance becomes
tricky because of similarity of names and of incomplete
records, but tentative research yields 17 names possibly of Tory alliance and 19
names possibly partisans.
Please join the search for a more complete and accurate story!
SEARCH A LIST
FROM CLERMONT (RUGELEYS)
(Originally published in Jan. 2002 Newsletter of the
Catawba-Wateree Genealogical Society,
Joan A. Inabinet
Researchers studying Revolutionary-era
Kershaw/Lancaster County kin and connections will find interest in the following list of
names I have recently extracted and alphabetized from the fragile ledger of accounts,
1776-1778, at the busy backcountry trading post Clermont.
In the area of the fork of Flat Rock Creek and Grannys Quarter Creek in upper
Kershaw County, north of the site of the Battle of Camden, Clermont was the estate of
Henry Rugeley, the Charleston and backcountry merchant who became a Tory colonel in the
Revolution. The site was also referred to as Rugeleys Mill(s) and after
British fortification in 1780 as Rugeleys Fort. The ledger also refers
to another connected Store at Richmond, apparently also in the backcountry,
and to accounts on a ledger of RJ Marshall.
My husband Glen and I, researching a history of Kershaw County commissioned by
the Kershaw County Historical Society, earnestly request that researchers with information
about persons on this list pass that information to us to aid in our study. Our
initial examination of the 288 account names reveals some that may match with
persons about whom we know some bit of information, but leaves 222 names about whom
we personally know nothing!
Kirkland and Kennedys Historic Camden and other publications of the KC
Historical Society include references to Clermont (Rugeleys), and some further
observations will be made in an article underway for that organizations quarterly Update.
The original journal is in the South Caroliniana Library, Columbia, SC, which we thank for
being allowed its use.
Those who have researched the history of the area, or who have seen the movie The
Patriot, or who have read Dr. Walter Edgars new book Partisans and Redcoats
are aware that shortly after the time period covered by this ledger neighbors and kinfolk
on this list were hotly engaged in the Revolutionary civil war that erupted here.
Who were these folk? Where did they come from? Who took what side? What happened to them? Who is left today as
you can help with these answers, many thanks for providing information!
The Inabinets may be contacted directly (PO
Box 734, Camden, SC 29021), or through the Catawba-Wateree Genealogical Society
or the Kershaw County Historical Society,
both of which organizations will forward information to them.
of Individuals with Accounts
From a Ledger mostly
District, South Carolina]
alphabetized by Joan A. Inabinet
Adamson, James (Wateree River)
Barkley, Capt. John
Brisbane, Adam Fowler
Burnside, Joseph (Flat Rock Creek)
Callwell, William (in Camden)
Chesnutt in Chesnutt
& Kershaw [also, in Messrs Kershaw, Chesnut & Co.]
Cockran, Capt. Robert
Cooke, John, Jr.
Coward, Joshua (near Clermont)
Crossby, Aaron (Grannys Quarter)
DaCosta, Isaac, Jr.
Dawson, Mrs. Christian
Dixon, John 
Farmer, Thomas, Jr. (Hillsborough NC)
Fletcher, John (Beaver Creek)
Frizell, John Gale
Gallagher, John (near Camden)
Halzendorf, John 
Hickman, William [2 entries]
Hill, Thomas (Taylor [occupation])
Kershaw, Joseph [2 entries with his name, one noted
Kershaw & Wyly; another entry, Messrs Kershaw, Chesnut &
Kimball, Benjamin, Sr.
Kimble, John (Lynches Creek)
Marshall, Capt. John
McClannon, Mrs. (widow Beaver Creek)
McKee, William [2 entries]
Milhouse, [first name blank]
Moore, Israel [3 entries, one spelled More]]
O Daniel, John
Pressly, Andrew, Jr.
Pressly, Andrew, Sr.
Reynolds, William (Sanders Creek)
Robertson, Robert (Sawneys Creek)
Robinson, Robert (Tavern Keeper at Clermont)
Sanders, Sarah (Grannys Quarter)
Saunders, George, Jr.
Saunders, George, Sr.
Scott, John, Sr.
Shey, Simeon (Blacksmith in Camden)
Summervell, George [2 entries]
Terrell, Mrs. (widow)
Thompson, James [2 entries]
Toland, James [2 entries]
Troublefield, [no first name]
Ward, Elizabeth (widow Grannys Quarter) 
Whitaker, William, Sr.
Wyly in Kershaw & Wyly