Friday, June 28, 2013

Stumbling upon things and wondering...

Yesterday, Vince and I headed back to the Archives to renew our search. I promised a look at the research room where we sit so here it is!!

There are two tables in this room plus a desk with a computer and about six chairs. Those books back there have an index of wills, some records of land sales, and other interesting things!
Another view of the file vault! My favorite place! It's very cold in here to protect the documents. Had I known about this place as a teenager, I'd have spent my summers in here! All of these white boxes are Estate files....thousands upon thousands of them.

Very neatly organized and just waiting for me to have a spare moment...or lifetime! go through them.
Vince working with one of the big plat books. These things are massive. You can see the vault door back there open a bit and some of the file cabinets in the research area.

This week, I started with Sophia Boatwright's will. Now, Mrs. Sophia had 6 children. Their names in order of age from oldest to youngest were James, Elijah, Benjamin, Sarah, Faust, and Sumpter. I knew that my property had been sold to the DuBose family long before Mrs. Sophia departed this life, but I had hoped to....well, I don't know....learn something else about Ms. Sophia, I guess. I really am starting to feel like I know those people, at least a little bit. Sometimes, in reading all of these documents, I stumble upon something and wonder if that person never thought, "Gee, someone 100 years from now is going to see this..." That happened to me yesterday as I was looking over Ms. Sophia's will which was filed on 10/27/1890. I read the first part of the document which stated, "My beloved children Benjamin Boatwright, Sarah Boatwright, and Sumpter Boatwright." I knew she had more than 3 kids so I continued reading to find this....
Ouch, Ms. Sophia!
I'll transcribe that for you:
"The names of my three beloved children Faust Boatwright, James Boatwright, and Elijah Boatwright are purposely omitted as (something I can't decipher) under this my last will and testament it being my intention that they shall not share in my estate real and personal."
I'm not sure why they were cut out of the will. Obviously, as a mother, she loved those children. They were all grown adults when she passed. I'm sure she never thought 123 years after her death that some stranger would be reading her will and wondering what they did to upset their mother so. Other than that tidbit, I didn't learn anything I didn't already know.
The will signed with Mrs. Sophia's beautiful signature.
The plat idea for the one land purchase by BT that we thought may be our land was a bust. The plat was not done for BT, nor was it done for John Autrey when he bought the land from Mary Autrey. They were going by a plat that was done....get 1770!!! That plat is located in Columbia at the South Carolina Archives and History department in "Colonial Plats". Yes, a lot of those are available online but they sure are hard to search that way!!! We're hoping someone up there may be able to help us out.
Wonderful Ms. Trisha shows Vince the online archives. She is a fount of knowledge!! I think she's almost as interested in our research as we are!
Because I had run up on a block in my mental map of this whole thing, I just kind of wandered aimlessly around the vault to see what was there and to maybe spark an idea of another avenue to explore. I was wondering down a center aisle when.....
Hammond murder??? Coroners Reports??? DO NOT TOUCH??
But WHY???
OK, so I peeked. Yes, I did....right into the box that says "Hammond Murder and Culbreath Lynching". The report right on top.....

From the Augusta Chronicle dated September 23, 1885.
A murder mystery!! Oh well. I will dive into that box another day! I glanced in one or two of the Chattel Mortgage books, more for curiosity's sake than anything else. They look like this....

Ancient loan paperwork for the win!
What did people mortgage??
In this case,

"One (1) black horse mule named George, about 10 years old,
 One (1) dark jersey milch (sp) cow not named about 12 years old,
 One (1) one horse wagon, make unknown, in good repair,
 All my crops of cotton, cotton seed, corn, peas, hay, fodder grown or raised or to be grown or raised by me and for me during the current year 1948 upon about 24 acres of cleared land owned by me in the county of Edgefield in the state of South Carolina, the said 24 acres being a part of a tract of land containing 130 acres and is bounded by land of....."

It goes on to give a fairly accurate description of where the land was located. Interesting stuff in the historical sense. Absolutely boring in the "I work in a bank and see loan paperwork all the time" sense!

That's pretty much it for today folks! Tune in next week when I take a day off and hit this research thing a bit harder! Also, some actual work may get done on the house and maybe some more projects done. Oh! And we'll go over chimney capping: how it should NOT be done. This one will make you laugh....or cry....or both. Personally, I did both. Laughed because luckily, I did not pay the so-and-so who did this and cried because he did this and he ruined the parlor floor in my house. This is the home repair version of the old saying, "It takes thousands of bolts and screws to hold a car together and only one nut to scatter it all over the road."

I'll leave you with a photo of Chief enjoying a sunset graze with the Guest House in the background.

Have a WONDEFUL weekend!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Actual house work!

Yes, this weekend the weather cooperated! No rain! It looked like this on Saturday:

Downtown Ridge Spring on a fairly quiet Saturday morning....

So, since we had no more excuses and the yard work was briefly caught up, we decided in the afternoon to tackle a job we'd bought the supplies for 8 months ago! When we bought the house, the attached one car garage did not have a garage door. One had been there at some point in the house's history, but like most things with an old house, who knew when and why it had been removed. In it's place was this:
Pardon our mess. As part of the process, we cleaned out the garage a bit!
What you see is three (well,technically 2 1/3!) sheets of barn board that were framed out, nailed up, lined with insulation, then had plastic taped over that. While effective in keeping out the weather, I believe that for what they spent in time and supplies to do this, they could have bought and installed a new garage door and been better off. This is at the start of the demolition process that involved Vince and his trusty 10 pound sledge hammer, known affectionately as "The Motivator" removing all this in record time. I don't have a shot available of the area before we cleaned and began demo! Sorry!
The inside looked like this...
Sorry for the dark photo. This garage was added in 1960 or so and is just a basic framed out wood construction garage with one single light bulb that does not shed much light at all. Our goal is to insulate the entire garage, drywall and paint it, and add fluorescent lighting. One step at a time! You can see the tracks for the previous garage door here. Looking at them, it appears that someone smacked into the door and damaged the tracks. We're assuming that's why the door was removed initially. 
Basically, all we got done was the demo part before I started dinner and we stopped for the night. Working inside the garage makes for a very hot, close job so we take it in short stints! I will post more photos as we go along with the install.
In other news, I piddled this weekend and worked on my bird plate project for my dining room wall. Nope, it's still not finished but it is closer! I need to get some plate hangers that I trust will not drop my ironstone to the floor and break it and I need to remove two immense bolts that are currently located in the area where I want to hang the plates. 
I saw this idea on another blog and on Pinterest and I LOVED it! Hers was done much better then mine but you get the idea! The file box there in the background is part of the whole clean-up-the-garage-so-we-can-install-the-new-door carnival of fun.
I monogrammed one glass just to see if I could do it. 3 more to do! This one did not turn out perfectly but it was my first shot using glass etching cream so it was a learning experience! Why, yes, I do have the attention span of a yellow lab! And Pinterest is evil! Just kidding!
The "before" and "after"...well, technically, the "after" then the "before"!
And I dragged this chair out of storage to stare at and debate whether I want to strip it completely and repaint it with milk paint or leave it as is. I don't mind chippy but this has reached a level of chippiness where there is barely any paint left on the bottom and legs! On the good side, the chair is nice and strong and sturdy and sits well so I want to incorporate it into my kitchen. I love it's lines. The hose there was my weapon of choice to remove the HUGE spider that was apparently using the chair in it's kitchen! I also washed off approximately 32 pounds of pine pollen...which is about 4 years worth. Pine pollen is the bane of the South in the Spring!
I have a ton of furniture to use milk paint on for practice purposes. I need space and time for these projects which, right now, I don't have. One day, I will take an entire week off and work on these things....that week will occur in approximately 2052.
This is Hobbes. He's helping. He's guarding the porch....or the chair....or something. Looks an awful lot like a nap to me, but he thinks he works very hard so we just go with it! He showed up as a gangly skinny 6 month old kitten last June 1 (our first night in this house) and stayed on. As you can tell, skinny he did not stay! His nickname is Jabba the Hobbes. He is on a diet....but don't tell him that!

I'll leave you with a shot from Juniper at lunchtime on Saturday. It is a lovely, unique place and well worth the drive to Ridge Spring. I recommend the Triple Decker sandwich!

Aren't they pretty?

 Tomorrow: We're off the the Edgefield Archives for some more research fun!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A goldmine.....literally!

Work has been slow on the house for the last few weeks due to rain. Seriously, I'm beginning to believe that right about the time I decide to move furniture or plan to do work outside in the yard or on the outside of the house, we get rain. Not that I'm complaining too loudly since we've been in a drought for years! It does seem like sometimes we don't get anything done, but truly, even if it's just getting one more box emptied, we get something accomplished every week. Yes, we are still unpacking after a year. We've got boxes of stuff we have just shifted from house to house without opening it. I'm now going through the purge process. Open the box, sort through it, decide what to toss, what to donate, what to sell, and what to keep. It's going to take a while but it's worth it to see the stuff going out! Back on topic!

Yesterday, Vince and I once again ate a quick lunch at Subway and headed on down to see Trisha at the Edgefield County Archives. I really love this place! I meant to get photos of the room where we sit to go through files but forgot. I did get a couple of photos from the top of the file vault ladder so you could see the wealth of information at our fingertips.

This is along the back wall of the vault. It's a large room with shelves all the way around the wall and two shelving systems back to back in the middle.
The shelves to my left as I'm standing on the ladder. The door to the vault is just to the right of these shelves. It looks kind of puny from here until you realize just how large those books are.
That's an iPhone 4S placed for size reference. Literally, anything you would want to view about Edgefield County all the way back to.....well, a long way....can be found in this room. These are the regular mortgages for land and houses. This is just a very very very small selection of these HUGE books.
And these are a small representation of Chattel Mortgages. "Chattel" is an item of tangible movable or unmovable property except for houses and land. Chattel items during the period Scarlett was built would have been barns, wagons, carriages, horses, cattle, other livestock, and yes, slaves. Often slaves were lumped in with the livestock of a plantation. 
See what I mean about finding information on anything and everything here? These are executions. Yep. Executions...and these big books only cover a few years each.
They are thick.....which is scary!
And there are LOTS of them...which is scarier! The stack starts on the lower shelf and rises all the way to the top shelf. If stacked on the floor, I would imagine the pile of books would be 8 or 9 feet tall.
The vault also includes journals, court case records, coroners inquests, photos; it's AMAZING.
The history geek in me was screaming "READ ALL THE THINGS!!!" the whole time I was strolling through the vault, but I had work to do. Last week, my husband, the intrepid Land Nav expert, was strolling through plats and figuring out land marks and measuring devices, and yes, finding the occasional laugh among the serious work! I think he is pretty soon going to have an 1850s map of Ridge Spring with all the home owners laid out in that head of his! While roaming through some titles, he discovered the January 13, 1873 sale of our place by BT Boatwright to Dr. John DuBose.
Gorgeous handwriting, huh?
This week, we really sat down and read the document in detail. While we did not manage to get a price or and exact amount of acreage, we did discover that this transfer mentions the house already being there. Not directly, but old land transfers are pretty easy to decipher if you know the lingo. If it's just land, the title will only state "land". If there are buildings, the title will list "property" and "appurtenances" which this one did. Just below this entry in the title transfer book, there is also a notation made that Sophia Boatwright, wife of BT Boatwright, is giving up "all her right and Claim of Dower" to the premises. Dower is different from Dowry because a dower is a present given to the bride by the groom the day after to wedding. It is meant to sustain the wife in the event of her being widowed. The husband cannot use this property for any reason unless the wife signs a release. If this property was part of her dower, the house would be at least 20 years older as BT and Sophia married on November 15, 1831. Interesting. Another avenue to explore!
The top of the page is BT's sale to Dr. John. The second entry (middle of the page) is Ms. Boatwright's relinquishment of "Right to Dower".
Vince had also discovered last week a title transfer where BT Boatwright had purchased a 120 acre plantation....meaning a working plantation with a house and more than likely a barn and several other outbuildings. We initially thought that this might possibly be what is now our place. Now, BT had no use for another house. He already had his 8,000 square foot mansion not 1/4 of a mile down the road, but he certainly could use the land. BT was very well off and was a slave owner. He grew cotton from what I've learned but I'm sure there were other crops involved. At the time of the purchase of the 120 acre plantation, BT already owned at least 890 + acres. That's a lot of land! While doing the research, we try to think like the person we are researching. So, for a few minutes and using this train of thought, we're BT Boatwright. We're a wealthy land owner, with a large family (6 children!), and we have purchased a plantation right down the road with a house we don't need. A doctor is interested in purchasing that house. What do we do? We section off some small acreage with the house and sell! Then we have a doctor within walking distance in case of emergencies. No hitching up a wagon and loading a sick person up for a drive into town. Nope! The doctor is within a 10 minute walking distance for a human or about a 3 minute trot on horseback. That works out well! This sale took place in 1854, so we're thinking that that is a different piece of property.
My job this week was this....
Court cases.....yay?
I grabbed the listing of all court cases in Edgefield County from the 1830's to the middle of the Civil War to see if I recognized any names. Sometimes, these cases supplied plats of property. None of my principal characters had sued or been sued in this time frame. Bummer. Since I'd been told that some of the cases were quite a hoot to read through, I just grabbed one at random (1242) and decided to see what it was all about. In the vault, each of these cases (and it's accompanying evidence) is in a neatly labeled file folder in a neatly labeled box. Some of these cases take up a whole file box, while most are a few pages. The one I chose was a woman named Miranda suing a relative over some property. She said she'd paid it off as agreed. He said she still owed on it. In the end, she won. In the folder was her evidence she'd paid....
Long division...1858 style! And I had math teachers complain about my messy work!!!

A little loan paperwork from 1848.
After striking out with the court case documents, I decided to try looking at Wills. I knew Sarah had died in 1886 and that Dr. John had survived her about 9 years, so I also knew he inherited the property, but I was hoping there would be a list containing the house. No such luck...but I did find her signature...
Stunning. I love the flowy letters!

At this point, we'd run out of time. We had gotten to talking to Trisha about her gorgeous Greek Revival and just completely lost the rest of our day. Next Wednesday, we dive deeper into this dower mystery. Could there be a listing in the archives of Sophia's dower? Or possibly her dowry? Was this house in existance in 1831? Stay tuned!!
I'll leave you with another gem we found this week.
There they go again marking boundaries with things that are not permanent! A "pine stump" this time. Why yes, that does say "Gold mine in operation!" How cool is that? This site gives more information about this mine.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

More research and the little finds....

The sun finally peeked out a dried up all the rain we've gotten the last week or so.
The storm rolling out....

Since the rain has been....well, to the point you almost needed a boat to get out of the house, we've been stalled on doing any real work outside in the yard. I mean, who wants to try to mow the grass or anything in this?
A shot down DuBose Street. This wasn't even the worst of the rain!

Research continues to find the names of the original owners of our home and verify the build date we were given as 1850. This time I grabbed the book of sellers and checked out the Boatwrights to see who they were selling land to.

There's Sarah and Dr. John buying land...but what land?
Vince was at the other table researching deeds and surveys of properties. We learned a few things. First off, in the surveys and in some of the property records, there were these weird looking numbers that sort of looked like coordinates but....not. Here's an example:
                                                                See those numbers?

We spent quite a bit of time trying to make sense of them. It took a bit of research to try to figure out their system of measurement at that time also. We kept seeing things like this....
See where it says "727 chains"? Chain is a unit of measurement. 1 chain = 66 feet. 10 square chains = 1 acre. That was helpful! In these new land purchases, we discovered that 630 acres of Carwite property was purchased by the DuBoses for the whopping sum of $297.46. Wow.

While doing all this research, we ran across some interesting drawings on plots...
Surveyors would draw an actual arrow to indicate North!
I love the little house. I'm praying that says, "Cultivated Land" and not "Cultivated Sand!"
Dwelling house...wonder where in the county this was.....
Magnetic Meridian....also referred to Magnetic North.
There's that "chains" reference again! "Laid down by a scale of 10 chains per inch". I love their markers...."small pine", "black jack". Bet that "small pine" isn't small anymore if it's even still there! I believe the "black jack" reference is a Black Jack Oak....more commonly referred to around here as scrub oak. Scrub Oak is a small twisted tree that grows in poor sandy soil. It usually doesn't get very tall. Seems an odd thing to use as a marker!
This caught my eye because of the "Stage Road to Augusta" reference and the notation "Mount Vintage". I knew I recognized the name Mount Vintage. It is now a golf course and housing development in North Augusta. According to their website, the original home is in ruins but still there. I might have to see if I can visit it. I wonder if the roads are still there.....
Here's a closer look at the house and the "spring woods"....


And also, an interesting little tidbit....well, we're not sure exactly what to make of this! It's an admission of guilt, but we're not sure whether there was a land transfer as compensation or what. I'll translate that tiny writing...
The entry states:

"Jefferson Vansant                                    Certificate South Carolina       
        to                                                                         Edgefield District
 William Boatwright

I, Jefferson Vansant, of the District and State aforesaid, do hereby certify unto all whom it may concern, that at my house in the District aforesaid, on, or about the eighteenth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand, eight hundred, and forty, in a fight with William Boatwright, of the District aforesaid, I bit off the left ear of said William Boatwright. This certificate is given to protect him from the imputation of losing his ear in the course of legal punishment October 9, 1840. Sworn to before me the above date.
Geo. Pope c.c.p."

Yeah. We laughed! Folks couldn't behave themselves even in the 1840's! I'll leave you with a photo of Mac, one of our kitties. Mac just sort of showed up one day and decided he lives here. Now, he demands breakfast promptly at 6:00 AM every morning and he "preaches" at us....and occasionally the horses! He stands on top of a vehicle and yowls incredibly loudly for extended periods of time. Then, suddenly, he gets off the vehicle and walks away as if he's said what he needed to say!
Here he is watching us relocate a black snake from the middle of the parking area. He thinks my time would be better spent getting him a can of food.....

Friday, June 7, 2013

More research on the house....because I am a glutton for punishment....

On Wednesday afternoon, Vince and I loaded up and headed over to the Edgefield Court House to see if we could find out any more information about our home. Armed with what we already knew, we were prepared to trace back as far as the records would take us. When I left the Saluda Courthouse with their earliest record, I was back to April 15th, 1897 with 161.3/20 acres of land and the title being in the names of Miranda D. Asbill and W. D. Barnwell. I soon figured out the Miranda and W.D.  were the daughters (Miranda and Wilhelmina) of Dr. and Mrs. DuBose. I assumed that this was the point were they must have inherited the home. Doing a little research lead me to find out that Ms. DuBose had passed away in 1886 leaving her husband a widower. I believe 15 year old Miranda was the only child still in the home at that time. Dr. DuBose passed away February 15, 1895 in Baltimore, MD. I am unsure if he had moved to Baltimore or was there visiting when he passed. Miranda married Dr. Fletcher Gladstone Asbill in 1895. I haven't yet narrowed day what date that marriage occurred. So, we had Dr. John Boyd DuBose and Ms. Sarah Elizabeth DuBose as the names we felt we needed to start with.

Edgefield is a lovely little town and the Courthouse is located right in the heart of it! It was easy to find and the folks there let us know that their records started in 1913, but that right next door was the Archives and they would have the information that we needed. In the back of this brick building is a place I think I could have set up camp for weeks!! TONS of photos and records. They even have plats and personal letters! I'm already in love with this place! We arrived a bit after 3:00 and they close shop at 4:30 so Vince and I knew we had to work quickly. We started with a 1871 Surveyor's map. Once we nailed down the area where we knew the house stood, the Archivist was nice enough to  make us a photocopy of that area and a good bit of the surrounding area. We already knew the names of some of the big landowners in that general area and houses around us are named for their original owners luckily! Except ours. Yes, we're confused too!

Here is what Vince and I were working with....
You'll see my notes and color coding as I try to get my bearings. Now what we're basing our location off are those train tracks, which, if they have not been moved, run right passed my house. I've always believed that DuBose Street which runs straight to my front door from 23 was the original driveway to our home., The fact that it's called "DuBose Street"? Well, I just figured!
We then grabbed a BIG book of purchasers of property in Edgefield County for certain years since we knew we probably needed to start in the 1890's and work our way back. When I say this is a big book, I can't even express the size of it! It was HUGE! Anywho, we started with the name "DuBose" and managed to locate 5 land purchases right off the bat. Surprisingly enough, 4 of those land purchases were made by Ms. Sarah DuBose!! Yes, Ms. Sarah in the early 1870's had purchased land. In the South, this was a pretty big deal. Ms. Sarah was a married woman, and therefore faced many limitations in property ownership. Her husband was considered the Head of the Household, therefore he would control the property, the children, and any labor on the place. This is called "coverture." I'm not quite sure when SC adopted the Married Women's Property Act, but I feel it was probably shortly after the Civil War. More research on that to come!! Just as a side note, Mississippi was the first state to pass that act in 1839. Go Mississippi!
Here is what we have so far...
1/8/1874 - Sumter Boatwright sold Ms. Sarah some land (we didn't see how much) for $140.00
7/13/1873 - B.T. Boatwright sold John B. DuBose some land (again, we missed it!) for $75.00
3/1/1872 - B.T. Boatwright sold Ms. Sarah 2 1/2 acres for $75.00
2/17/1872 - Sumter Boatwright sold Ms. Sarah 3 3/5 acres
4/28/1870 - William Edward Carwile sold Ms. Sarah 2 acres

So, as early as 1870, Ms. Sarah was purchasing land in her own name, almost always with her husband as a witness. Now, just so you know we weren't trying to do a half-baked job, let me explain why in some cases we missed the amount of land or sale price. The writing looked like this....

This is gorgeous, but difficult to read sometimes!
In defense of the original writers, they started out lovely and clear, but like me, after a bit, their handwriting suffered! Here's the beginning of a document...

We also discovered that what we REALLY needed was some time to see the plats because the way they laid out exactly what parcel they were selling was by what bordered it. For example, the document may say, "bordered on the west by lands of BT Boatwright, bordered on the north by the Charleston-Columbia-Augusta railroad and Columbia Road, bordered on the east by lands of Sumter Boatwright and Aiken Road, bordered on the south by lands of....." and so on. I'm a visual person (and also my father's child!) so I did this.....
I then used the houses that I knew were in the neighborhood when all this was happening. This isn't to scale (of course) but is a rough estimate of how everything was situated. Once I can view the plats for BT and Sumter (if they exist), I think I'll have a better handle on exactly what little bits of acreage the DuBoses were purchasing. This will be a long process with weeks invested but it is kind of like solving a mystery for us! We know what our destination is, but I expect the trip to get there is going to be the REAL fun!! I'll leave you with a few of the books I'm currently reading on the Civil War South:

"The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution the transformed the South"
by Bruce Levine

"Scarlett Doesn't Live Here Anymore: Southern Women in the Civil War Era" by Laura F. Edwards

"Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States: South Carolina" by the United States Work Projects Administration

Have a great weekend, y'all!!