Composition and account book, 1881-1933, and 1980-1990, consists chiefly of essays, ca. 1899 and 1924-1933, written or collected by Elizabeth “Bettie” Rebecca Thomas Sampson (1848-1938) and documenting genealogical and historical information about Marlboro County.
Sampson recorded her essays and recollections, complete with a table of contents, in an 1881 account book of Marlboro County merchant J.R. Sampson. The book originally documented purchases and cotton accounts for various customers during the 1881 season to which Bettie Sampson later added editorial observations—among them “a good fellow,” “paid his debts,” “a fine teacher,” “a rich neighbor with a good wife,” and “a fine Blacksmith and honest Negro.”
Historical essays relating to Sampson’s childhood and teenage years in Marlboro County include a seven-page account titled “A Partial History of Sherman’s Raid in S. Carolina.” The paper details events in March 1865 as Union troops passed through Marlboro County and recalls the uncertainty of days marked by more rumors than newspapers in circulation. Mrs. Sampson recalls that on the third of March she and her family received a visit from Colonel Dunlap, a Confederate officer who hoped to prepare them to meet the advancing the Union army. Dunlap warned that Federal troops were then fifteen miles away at Cheraw and recommended a polite demeanor in interactions with the advancing soldiers—“He told us to be of great cheer and act in our natural, lady-like manner, be civil to them, in answering their questions...in regard to our loved ones, who had volunteered in the Confederate Army...‘Be honest or true to your colors, but not daring or rude to them.’” The essay describes interactions with Union soldiers over subsequent days, protection by a guard as requested, feeding soldiers and playing the piano for them, loss of food and horses, and other details of the encampment of Union troops on their property.
Other topics discussed include Sampson’s childhood during the 1850s; the death of a favorite pet and resulting “cat funeral”; walking two miles to attend school; replacement of the strict “spanking teacher” with one more encouraging of her musical talents; “Big Snow of April 15, 1849,” transcribed from the Florence Times, 15 April 1916, followed by comments, 1933, noting the rarity of snow in the current day; poetry and “Song verses of olden days”; Welsh ancestry; and two Civil War stories attributed to Sampson’s sister, Mrs. D.D. McColl (Nellie Thomas McColl), “Little Billy’s Boots” and “Froddie’s Watch.”
Bettie Sampson was the daughter of the Rev. J.A.W. Thomas (1821-1896), whose biography appears along with genealogical information on various familes—Byron, Crosland, Easterling, Evans, Murray, Orrell, Sampson, Spears, Thomas, Wyatt, and others. Also included in the volume are letters, ca. 1980-1990, concerning genealogical information added by subsequent owners of the volume.