IS THAT YOU, GRANDPA?
Part 3 of 3
Part 1 – Two sisters meet once more to find a Mighty Tough Ancestor
Part 11 – Two sisters are lost in a Battle on King’s Mountain
Part 111 – Grandpa is lost on Tyger River. We return home.
John Campbell, our ancestor who had been conscripted into the British army, then escaped to join the Carolina Militia, drawled out his story to us.
He began speaking easy and in no hurry. “You got the word out that you wanted to talk to some ancissor, so you got me. I’ll tell you how it really was, what this shootin’ today means.”
We settled on the ground, two old ladies who didn’t know if they were in 1780 or 2014, but waited eagerly to hear what this young man had to tell us.
“You see, my family, friends came down to these hills so we could do our farmin’, the land treats us good. The huntin’ is mighty good, all sizes from turkeys to bears. All we asked, just let us alone, any fightin’ we gotta do will be to keep the Injuns out of our corn.”
Nancy knew about the anti-war views of our Quaker forefathers and she answered his declarations. “And besides you didn’t drink tea anyway.”
“Yep, those hi-faluting folk up east wasn’t doing nothing for us and we didn’t want their squabbles. Then that dumb Briter Ferguson began putting up posters, ‘Join the Loyalists’ or else -- and this is what showed he had no brains a tall, -- he wrote out, ‘Join or the British flag will march over the mountain and lay waste with fire and sword.’”
Nancy and I both nodded showing our understanding. John continued, “Pardon the language, ladies, but he told us we would be pissed on by a set of mongrels. Well, we just decided we would save him the trouble of crossing the mountain and so we come right to him, right here on Kings Mountain. And us Patriots caught those stoop Tories by surprise. We screamed up that hill and the dumb stoops were still asleep.”
Nancy added, “We had to hide behind those trees when you guys came streaming around us.”
“You almost got caught in their charge. They came after us with bayonets aiming at anything that moved. We had our long rifles but couldn’t handle stickers and had to get out of the way. Back and forth and we got a lot more of them than they did of us.”
I noticed the quiet and told him, “Seems like it’s all over now.”
“Yep, took about an hour. That stoop Ferguson got a lot of bullets shot into him when he pranced around on top of the hill, That finished it.”
Nancy rose to her feet. “I need to tell you what future generations said about you. Theodore Roosevelt wrote ‘This brilliant victory marked the turning point of the American Revolution.’”
John had a smile when he answered. “Well, I never heard of him in my battles but I’ll tell you that you got a lot of kinfolk in this fight. I heard you saw the Sherrill boys and Dickie Perkins. The Martindell folk wrote all this up so maybe you read it. Then some other names right here in these hills – Belew (Belue), Sailors, Perkins, Clark, Osborne, Lollar - all good solid folk living around here. I’m going to get this fightin’ finished up and head for my sweetie and home.”
Then he was gone, just disappeared, the well-used tourist trail now in front of us. The sun was July strong. I asked Nancy, “Can you smell it?”
“Same smell as when we hang the wet leather jackets in the closet. Were they really here?”
“Probably not,” I told her, “We just saw that fantastic film at the Kings Mountain Auditorium. The battle was dramatized so strong it kept us on seat’s edge and then we brought it out doors on our walk.”
She answered, “I wish we had a souvenir to prove it.”
Actually we came home with two souvenirs. Nancy took home a bad case of poison ivy itches. Mariam brought home a story that would not go away.
Third day and it was time for the search for the Tyger River. The description was rather vague: ‘John Campbell received a grant of 150 acres on a branch of the Tyger River called Padgett Creek . . . ‘
Another clue we had:
‘Col. Thomas Brandon’s, (3rd SC Regiment), home is on the way from the town of Union out to the old Friend’s Church on Padgett Creek.’
When we checked google we saw a pretty picture of the Padgett’s Creek Baptist Church. We didn’t expect a sign which said “John Campbell lived here” but we have had such good fortune in all of our historic searches that a signal should come to lead the way. Our luck had been good so far on this trip. A stop we almost missed at a Branch Library led the way to find our Sherrills. A rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ film led the way to a visit with John Campbell. Now there should be another clue.
One can’t visit the Carolinas without enjoying the sights of a southern mansion. The Rose Hill Historic Plantation was the perfect choice. It still had a taste of the southern charm plus a path to follow for scenery. Wherever possible we asked questions concerning the history of 1780 residents. We got one tip: “Go back a few miles and there is a turn off for the Rose Hill boat ramp on Tyger River.”
Our confidence returned. We set out again on a narrow rough road leading to a river. When we came to the end of the tracks, a few cars were parked and canoes were pulling in to the shore. This was obviously a fun loving afternoon for this group.
As we walked to the river. Nancy asked Mariam, “Are you going to take your shoes off and wade around a bit?” She was kidding. Mariam wasn’t. I bent down to get a handful of the water that someplace on this river had been flowing past John Campbell’s tract of land. I asked those who were pulling their canoes out of the water, “Do you go swimming in the Tyger?” Her answer: “It’s warm enough for swimming but not allowed.” I shivered. This water was cold.
Again we asked the questions. “Sure, the Padgett’s Creek Baptist Church is just a couple of miles down the road. You can’t miss it.”
We returned to the main road and were hopeful for the first couple of miles. Then a few more miles and we began to wonder where we had gone wrong. We drove over ten miles deeper into the Sumter National Forest before the driver of our chariot declared, “That’s enough. That church isn’t here.”
Our ancestor hunt was over. We had found the reasons that our grandpa’s and grandma’s had fought for this land. We knew that we had breathed the same clear air and that our eyes had enjoyed feasting on the same beauty.
We still had three more days until returning home. We spread out our maps and used a pink highlighter to circle our choices in the brochures. We enjoyed a variety of places that could have been found only in the Carolinas. Our feet were tired but our faces were happy after we visited the Botanical Garden and the Geology Museum at Clemson University. The Estatoe Double Falls were written to have the easiest climb, but we found them almost to find.
We took some neat photos in historic Pendleton and had mouthwatering Crab Cakes at the 1826 On the Green. Oh yes, plus spending a few dollars in the antique (souvenir) shops.
Another place, not on our maps but found by luck: The Wesley Chapel UMC on the edge of Greenville had marvelous singing and gave us the warmest of welcomes. We will not forget them.
A wonderful trip and two sisters spent quality time together. It had been 16 years since we had given our hugs in the Munich Hotel and said, “We will do it again, just the two of us.” Now we could cross one more item off of the Bucket List and look forward to the next one.
We made a little joke that Grandpa Campbell had let us down in our search for his homestead footsteps. “Just a couple of miles” was the clue and we went deeper into the forest searching. Sorry, grandpa, I just found out that it was our mistake, not yours. As I type, there is a map in front of me which shows the Old Buncombe Road. We went the couple of miles in the wrong direction. If we had taken the road out of the forest instead of into the forest we would have found you. However, you sent me a handful of cold water from a warm river. Thank you.
Mariam Lewis Heiny Cheshire
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