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Boggs Family Papers, 1824-1998
Thomas Gilliland Boggs, son of Joseph and Jean (or Jane) Rennick Boggs, was born in 1795 in York District. Following the death of Thomas' father, his mother married David Hamilton, and some time around 1800 the family moved to an area of Pendleton District served by Richland, later Carmel, Presbyterian Church. In turn Thomas Boggs married Eleanor Hamilton, daughter of Thomas and Ann Kennedy Hamilton. Eleanor's father, Thomas Hamilton, was the brother of David Hamilton, Thomas Boggs' stepfather. This collection of four hundred ninety-nine manuscripts, primarily family correspondence, documents four generations of the Thomas Gilliland Boggs family, plus a complex network of Stewart and Templeton family relations throughout upstate South Carolina.
A considerable portion of the collection hinges on one of Thomas and Eleanor Boggs' children, Joseph Addison Boggs (1825-1894), who married first Jane Sabema Templeton (1829-1855), daughter of John and Katherine Fairburne Templeton. Following the death of his first wife, Addison Boggs married Eunice Pauline Stewart (1828-1900), daughter of Walter (1799-1842) and Sarah ("Sallie") Templeton Stewart (1799-1842). Sallie was the daughter of David and Massie Laird Templeton and sister to John Templeton, father of Addison Boggs' first wife. Thereby, Addison Boggs' wives were first cousins. To further complicate this kinship pattern, Pauline Stewart Boggs' brother, Samuel Dixon Stewart, married his first cousin and younger sister of Addison Boggs' first wife. Thus, Addison Bogg's sister-in-law by his first wife married his brother-in-law by his second wife. The intricacies of these family connections are essential to an understanding of the collection since the bulk of the Stewart family correspondence was written by brothers and sisters who were reared, after the death in 1842 of their parents, Walter and Sallie Stewart, by their Templeton grandparents in the Bethany community of eastern Laurens District. Moreover, it was a portion of the property belonging to Katherine Fairburne Templeton, sister-in-law to Sallie Templeton Stewart, that became the core of the town of Liberty which developed in the early 1870s along the Air Line (later the Southern) Railroad. This town was home to several members of the Boggs and Stewart families.
Roughly a third of the collection is made up of letters from siblings and cousins of Pauline Stewart Boggs. Another third is courtship correspondence between Maggie Neely and Walter Boggs, son of Addison and Pauline Stewart Boggs. The remainder consists in large part of antebellum papers of the grandfather, parents, brothers and sisters, and extended family of Addison Boggs.
Of particular note among the letters received by Thomas Gilliland Boggs is a small group from his brother, the Rev. George Washington Boggs. One such letter, bearing date 17 May 1832, was mailed as George prepared to sail from Salem, Mass., to India as a Presbyterian missionary. Apparently George had raised the money necessary to purchase Celia, a family slave, and the letter asks that Celia be sent to Charleston, if she so desired, to embark for Liberia as a participant in the African Colonization Society efforts. George also asked that twenty dollars he had forwarded to Thomas?or whatever remained thereof after expenses had been paid?be given to Celia to help her begin a new life in Africa. The letter indicates that George W. Boggs was unable to raise the money to purchase Celia's husband. Celia apparently accepted the offer, for a contemporaneous temperance list thought to be associated with Carmel Presbyterian Church has a note beside her name?"gone to Africa."
The collection also includes specimen letters from the Presbyterian minister sons of G.W. Boggs: Samuel Davis and William Ellison Boggs. Mentioned in a letter from the latter, but without significant detail, is the James Woodrow controversy at Columbia Theological Seminary.
In addition to the papers of Thomas and Eleanor Boggs are letters to and from their children. Of particular historical significance is that written by Addison Boggs to his sister-in-law, Louisa Jane Stewart, on 1 March 1860 and telling of area thievery by a gang of African-American slaves and whites in the vicinity of Six and Twenty (or Twenty Six Mile) Creek. It describes how the patrol searched slave houses and discovered stolen goods, the whipping of the slaves according to the law, and the resulting plans of the slaves and their accomplices to retaliate against nearby whites?"the negroes...got to stealing so strong that they formed a large patroll and searched their houses and found stolen property among a good many of them and took them & had them whiped by law... that has raised the old boy in the negroes & one or two white niggers & they made a plot to burn out some that they suppos[e]d to belong to the crowd but fortunately the leader among the negroes was w[h]iped so bad he could not travel the nite they ware to do the work and it was put of[f] a fiew nights when they sent one to commence the work he set one mans barn and stable....It so hap[p]ened thare came a verry hard rain about the time and stopped it without burning the dwelling....they tracked him home took him up and he confessed the hole affair." Several other slaves had been apprehended and jailed and, Boggs concluded, he "would not be surprised if the white men ware mob[b]ed & hung or shot."
Most, though not all, of the letters dating between 1859 and 1863 are from the Boggs family's Stewart cousins. Many are addressed to Louisa Jane Stewart, sister of Pauline Stewart Boggs. In late 1860 Pauline urged her sister to come for a visit. Jane apparently accepted the invitation in 1861 and lived out the remaining three years of her life in the home of her sister and brother-in-law. The highlight of the Stewart papers is a series of letters written by Louisa's brother, William Clark Stewart, a saddler by trade, from Huntington, a post office in western Laurens District. His letters give details of daily life in the Bethany Presbyterian Church community of Laurens District immediately prior to and during the early years of the Civil War.
Although W.C. Stewart's 31 December 1860 letter does not mention the secession of South Carolina directly, it concludes that the "past year has wrought many changes and great confusion throughout our land" and prays?"May God direct the councils of our nation and calm the troubled waters once more &c." By January 1861, however, he was naming men who had volunteered for military duty. Soon thereafter, Stewart relocated to Clinton where his trade kept him busy outfitting the volunteers and their horses. In a letter of 1 September 1861 he notes?"I am tolerable well...but am powerful busy working for the souldiers for the last 3 weeks I thought I was about thrugh but recd orders for 2 more saddles from the camp yesterday evening I have done some of the hardest work I ever did do some days I would work 18 or 19 hours right strait a long hardly taking time to eat."
"Wars and Rumors of wars is all the talk," Stewart wrote on 19 November 1861. He had not volunteered for fear that he was not "stout enough to stand the winter campaign." Yet he mused, "our own state is invaded and I think every free man...that can go ought to feel it his duty to go." The same letter notes that "Maj. R.L. Wier was Brought home a corpse...the other day from Virginia." Concern over whether or not to enlist persisted. "I have not gon[e] to the army yet," he wrote on 26 May 1862, "and I do not know whether I can or not as a man has to be verry stout to go now and besides that the conscript does not reach me as I am a few days over the age." By May 1862 prices for leather goods had risen dramatically, crop prospects seemed bleak, and the salt shortage was making itself felt?"some people...are dig[g]ing up the dirt in their Smoke Houses and draining it like making lye and boiling it down after the brine comes thr[o]ugh the dirt they get clean sand and drain it thr[o]ugh that and make as nice salt as you would want."
In addition to war news and talk of economizing and planting extra provision crops, the letters voice concern for family and friends fighting in distant places. Writing to Jane on 29 July 1862, Stewart lamented?"I fear we will never be permitted to meet all our Brothers again in this world but let us try to prepare ourselv[e]s to hear any thing that may happen." Ironically, their brothers?James, John, and Samuel, all three in Confederate service?would survive the war, while William Clark and Louisa Jane died in 1863 and 1864 respectively.
Details of W.C. Stewart's military service are confusing at best. A letter of 23 November 1862 indicates that he belonged to a unit of reserve troops. Another, 15 December 1862, reveals he had been in camp at Charleston but was "again Discharged from the army" due to his health. "I Volunteered for the Gist Rifles," he wrote on 7 August 1863, but the enrolling officer thought he would be exempted. Had he not volunteered, Stewart noted ten days later, he would have been reported as an absentee.
Official records indicate that William Clark Stewart enlisted on 1 August 1863 as a member of Co. D, Twentieth Regiment, South Carolina Infantry, also known as Hampton's Legion, and that he was discharged thirty days later as unfit for duty due to consumption. However, a letter that Stewart wrote from Columbia on 18 September 1863 notes that he would be leaving shortly thereafter for an unknown destination and voices disdain for his fellow soldiers?"if all the troops in the confederate service is like the legion I think we might as well give up for I never saw so much wickedness in my life their is nothing two Bad for them to do."
Letters of two other brothers, John Preston Stewart and James Lewers Stewart, both living in Arkansas in the 1860s, offer information about happenings in that area during the Civil War. John Preston Stewart returned to South Carolina and died in 1871. Also included are letters of brother Samuel Dixon Stewart, who would later live in Liberty as an adult.
A substantial body of courtship correspondence exchanged between Walter Lewers Boggs (1862-1935), son of Addison and Pauline Stewart Boggs, and Maggie Eloise Nealy (1872-1965) yields glimpses of Liberty, greater Pickens County, and the locales where Maggie taught school prior to their marriage. Moreover, the letters reflect the social mores of late nineteenth-century extended courtships?beginning their correspondence in 1890, Walter and Maggie were not married until 27 December 1892. In an early letter, 12 August 1890, Walter described for Maggie a visit to Fort Hill, the "J.C. Calhoun old place" that had been "willed to the state for commercial College by Mr. Clemson"?"The lady that keeps the house showed us through the rooms that contains some of Calhoun's furniture. The paintings of the family, chairs and sofa." He had seen convicts at work and commented?"it makes a body feel badly to see them in striped suits with their chains on. I think if any one could picture themselves in that condition they would shun all appearances of evil, and evil association."
Letters from the fall of 1890 mention the Twelve Mile camp meeting, which Walter hoped Maggie would attend. Disappointed that she could not be there, he wistfully voiced his sentiments in a 14 October 1890 letter?"The crowd is said to be the largest that has attended the Campmeeting in many years. As to the preaching I cannot say anything much as I did not hear but very little of it. Although I was among a large crowd, and saw many things to attract my attention and occupy my thoughts. They would not dwell on the thing that could be seen and heard but they soared, (as it were), on the wings of a Dove across the Mountains, and dwelt upon the one with whom I long to be and they would not be called back."
A letter from Maggie, 26 January 1891, describes her teaching position at Marietta in upper Greenville County?"I am enjoying my schoolwork very much. Have forty some odd enrolled who come regularly. My boarding place is about 300 yds from the schoolroom, in sight, a very very nice place everything comfortable, convenient and pleasant: A room upstairs with fireplace, where the children never annoy me....the lady of the house is just as kind to me as a mother or anyone else could be. She promised to be my councellor as to my company, etc." Two months later, on 25 March, Walter quipped that his visit to Marietta had "created quite a sensation in that little town" on account of "the little walk we took in the afternoon and the ring you wore to school on Monday." Nineteen-year-old Maggie had to give up teaching for a while in 1891 due to ill-health, and in a letter to Walter on 4 June from Brevard, N.C., she confided?"I am fearful I will not have as many privileges at my (engaged) school as my former one. The trustee insinuated or rather told his reason for not employing their former teach. It was this. `She had too many male callers.' I fear that he will object to your calling on me while teaching...but if he does, perhaps we may meet in Greenville."
Throughout their courtship, as Maggie wrote to Walter about her teaching, he reported on events in Liberty and the surrounding countryside. A letter of 27 April 1892 notes that he had attended a temperance lecture and was a charter member of the lodge. Another, 30 August 1892, gives a humorous account of his return from a trip to the mountains?"We arrived here...about ten o'clock last eve. We got to the foot of the mountain on this side at 2:30 P.M. Stopped to feed and dinner until 3:15 P.M. then we resumed our journey for this place; but we had gone over a quarter of a mile ere we had a very serious breakdown in the creek just this side of the mountain. Going out of the creek we had to cross a small branch which the mule did not wish to cross: so she jumped it, and threw the four [sic] wheel on the Horses sid[e] around and struck an old log and broke both singltree, and Tongue or pole. So I had to make some temporary singletrees and fix the pole. We were detained some over an hour there; and as I did not get tongue sufficiently; we were detained for some time about two miles from there. So we were delayed about two hours altogether. We were fourteen and a half hours on the road....I must say we done some reckless driving last night. I must confess I was very tired when we got here. My hands were getting rather sore. We found the road very rough down the mountain. The girls walked three or four miles down the mountain."
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