Monday, February 23, 2015

Captain John Chambers - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 8, "Good Deeds"

"Good Deeds" is the theme for this week's #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, hosted by +Amy Johnson Crow of  I have chosen to write about my paternal 6th great-grandfather, Revolutionary War soldier John Chambers, for this post.  As I thought about whom would be a good ancestor about which to write, he rose to the forefront of my mind for a several reasons:
  1. He performed a great deed of service by fighting for American freedom in the Revolutionary War.
  2. Unknowingly, he did another great deed by being my patriot ancestor on which my acceptance into Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) was based.
  3. Again, not knowing the long-term ripple effect, my paternal great-great grandmother - Margaret Ida Spain Briggs (see pedigree below) - carried out a wonderful deed by becoming a member of DAR and, thus, laying the groundwork to make my DAR application process much easier.  (Plus, her DAR application gave me the opportunity to see her actual handwriting and signature!)
  4. And, last but not at all least, I personally experienced the kindness and good deeds of complete strangers while going through the DAR application process.  Two DAR members, in particular, were invaluable in making my goal of becoming a member happen.  I am so grateful for wonderful, selfless people like Betty Crockford of Texas (now of California) and Virginia Kracaw (of Colorado) who assisted me every step of the way with my application.  Without their generous help, I know I would still be staring at the incomplete and not-yet-submitted paperwork instead of being a DAR Colorado Member-at-Large.
Current DAR Logo

This shows my direct relationship to Capt. John Chambers.
My father (living) and I would be listed below Elizabeth Lee Henderson.
John Chambers was born in 1742 in Lynch's (a.k.a., Lynches) Creek near Camden, Kershaw County, South Carolina.  His father, John Chambers, was born circa 1699 in County Derry, Ireland (now Northern Ireland), immigrated to Pennsylvania, and then moved to Camden District, South Carolina.  (Reference clipping below from page 104 of Chambers Family from Genealogy: A Journal of American Ancestry, Volumes 8-10.)  His mother's name is unknown.

Red pin marks the approximate location of Lynches Creek in Kershaw County, SC.
(Courtesy of Google Maps.)

John married Elizabeth Rutter, daughter of Edmund and Ann Rutter, who was born circa 1741 in Maryland.  They settled in the York County area of South Carolina, and Elizabeth bore 6 children - 5 boys and 1 girl - between 1771 and 1799 in this order:

  1. James
  2. John
  3. Jane
  4. Benjamin
  5. Samuel
  6. Edmund

The Moultrie Flag designed in 1775 by Col. William Moultrie
to be flown by SC Troops during the Revolutionary War.

John - while residing in Bullock's Creek, South Carolina - served 35 days in the Revolutionary War militia, starting out as a private in the New Acquisition District Regiment, which was established in February 1775 under Captain John Steel and Colonel William Bratton.

Google Map showing the location of Bullock('s) Creek, South Carolina,
where John Chambers lived in the summer of 1780.

John Chambers on page 161 of the Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the
American Revolution, Volume I, A-J
by Bobby Gilmer Moss.

The earliest records I have found specific to John's service shows him fighting under Colonel William Bratton in Huck's Defeat, also known as the Battle of Williamson's Plantation and the Battle of Bratton(s)ville, on 12 July 1780.  This important battle took place near present day McConnells, York, South Carolina.  The York County Cultural and Heritage Commission quotes Louise Pettus' 1999 book, Huck's Defeat, saying (emphasis below is mine):

"At the same time British forces were moving through York County west of the Catawba River, Thomas Sumter had established the main rebel camp east of the Catawba in northern Lancaster County on Clem's Branch. Being informed that [Christian] Huck was at White's Mill, William Bratton and John McClure with their men set out from the rebel encampment to destroy the notorious Tory. Along the way Bratton and McClure were joined by others; Edward Lacey, William Hill, John Moffett, Andrew Love, Samuel Watson, James Moore, John Chambers, John Mills, Thomas Neal, James Mitchell, John Nixon, James Wallace and Richard Winn, along with their men. No other battle fought in the Carolina Backcountry, including Kings Mountain and Cowpens, would bring together such a concentration of local rebel leaders."

A DAR Lineage book also references his service in this battle against the "marauding Tories:"
From page 336 of the DAR Lineage Book, Vol. 28.

I next found him documented as fighting under Brigadier General Thomas Sumter in the 18 August 1780 Battle of Fishing Creek (also known as the Battle of Catawba Ford).  Though the exact location of the battle remains unknown, it was fought on the west side of the Catawba River and the north side of Fishing Creek, near the point where Fishing Creek flows into the Catawba.

Location of the Battle of Fishing Creek.
(Courtesy of Google Maps.)

In this battle, a 160-man British Legion troop, led by Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton, attacked Sumter’s 800-man camp by surprise.  When the attack occurred, Sumter's men were performing daily, in-camp tasks such as cooking, sleeping, and bathing and, thus, were completely unprepared to fight.  American losses for the Battle of Fishing Creek totaled 150 dead and 300 captured.  John Chambers was one of those captured and taken as a prisoner of war by the British.

South Carolina Historical Marker for the Battle of Fishing Creek.
(Photo courtesy of South Carolina Backcountry Revolutionary War Sites.)

Battle of Fishing Creek Granite Monument Erected by DAR in 1930.
(Photo courtesy of South Carolina Backcountry Revolutionary War Sites.)

John Chambers being taken prisoner - excerpt from
page 104 of Chambers Family from Genealogy: A Journal of American Ancestry, Volumes 8-10.

Page 3 of the Record of the Chambers Family from the genealogical files of the Georgia Department of Archives and History records this about John Chambers' escape from the British and the exposure he suffered in the process:

I have not been able to determine the exact date when John Chambers became a Captain during the Revolutionary War.  However, I found the below reference to him from which one can deduct that he became a Captain before or during 1781.  William Fowler served for one year, from 1781-1782, and served in Capt. John Chambers' Company:

Excerpt from page 51 of Randolph Co, Il Veterans by Turner Publishing Company.
Additionally, many Revolutionary War Pension Records, such as the one shown below, list John Chambers as a Captain.

Page 20 of Thomas Henderson's Revolutionary War Pension Record showing him enlisting
on 01 Jul 1780, serving 2 Years, and serving during that time under Capt. John Chambers.
(Image from

The U.S. Census Reconstructed Records, 1660-1820 - based on the 1778-1779 petite jury list for the New Acquisition for the District of Camden - lists John Chambers on the back of page 10 of the jurors list.  Genealogy Trails History Group states the following about the jury lists:  "These jury lists are the closest thing we have to a complete [South Carolina] state census before 1790. Except for the alphabetized lists, the names are probably grouped with others who lived nearby, which give close to neighbors and relatives. These names indicate who many of the residents of South Carolina were before the influx of settlers after the Revolution."  Therefore, he is recorded as living in Camden District, South Carolina, in 1780.  The map below shows the seven South Carolina districts, including Camden District, as of 1778:

Map courtesy of Genealogy Trails History Group.
The area that Camden District encompassed at that time aligns with John Chambers living in today's York County, South Carolina.

Despite the negative effects he suffered from exposure as a POW in 1780, Capt. Chambers lived over 19 years after the war ended.  He remained in York County, South Carolina, until the end of his life, which came at age 60 on 27 December 1802.  He was laid to rest in Beersheba Presbyterian Church Cemetery located in Clover, York, South Carolina.

Tombstone of Capt. John Chambers contributed to FindAGrave Memorial #50399418
by Greg Matthews, FindAGrave Member #47449255.

©Amy Wood Kelly, 2015 - I am happy to share my genealogical research and writing with others, as well as to help others with their research efforts.  However, please do not reprint this post in full or in part or use excerpts from this post without giving full credit to me, Amy Wood Kelly, as the researcher and author as well as providing the permalink to this post.  Thank you, in advance, for showing respect for my request and the work I put into creating this post.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Reverend Newton Pinckney Walker, Esq. - 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 7, "Love"

Week 7's theme in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small, is "Love."  I have selected the Reverend Newton Pinckney Walker, Esq. - my paternal 4th great-grandfather - as the subject of this week's post.  Rev. Walker came to mind when contemplating this week's "Love" theme, because he consistently showed a strong love of humankind, especially for some of those people often shunned by mainstream society, as well as a lifelong love of education.  In the research I have done on him, I learned that his peers used words and phrases such as "compassionate," "beloved," "dear friend," and "true philanthropist" to describe him.  He certainly expressed love in many facets of his life.

Portrait from page 89 of History of Spartanburg County by John B. O. Oldham
(Google Books)
My relationship to Newton Pinckney Walker.  My father (living) and I
would be listed below Elizabeth Lee Henderson.

Newton Pinckney Walker was born in November 1816 in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, to Absalom Abraham Walker and Susan (Susannah) Jackson.  On 20 April 1837, he married fellow South Carolina native, Martha Louise Hughston, daughter of Elisha Hughston and Margaret Norman.  They had seven children - four daughters and three sons - between the years 1838 and 1859.

Martha, Rev. Walker's wife, had three siblings who were deaf and who did not have the opportunity to pursue education in South Carolina.  Connecticut housed the closest school for deaf education, and many families were hesitant to send their children so far from home to be educated.  Knowing this, Rev. Walker developed an interest in learning the best methods to instruct and educate the Deaf in hopes of bringing such educational opportunities to South Carolina.

In 1848, he traveled to the Cave Spring, Georgia, where a school for the Deaf had opened on 15 May 1846.  (Reference historical marker photo below.)  At that time, a small log cabin, four pupils, and one teacher made up the school that has grown into today's Georgia School for the Deaf.  He observed O. P. Fannin, teacher at the Cave Spring school, and learned successful techniques for teaching deaf students.

Georgia School for the Deaf Historical Marker
(Photo courtesy of GeorigaInfo, an online Georgia almanac.)

Rev. Walker returned home with the knowledge he gained at the Cave Spring school.  He purchased a hotel by the Cedar Springs, renovated it, and - on 22 January 1849 - opened his private school for the Deaf and Dumb in Cedar Spring, four miles south of Spartanburg, South Carolina, which is the town where I went to college.  (Reference article below.)  The first class had five deaf students, three of which were his wife's relatives, along with a small group of speaking and hearing students.

31 January 1849 Edgefield Advertiser article about N. P. Walker
opening a school for Mutes
(Article from
Word of the new school quickly spread throughout the State, and articles such as those shown below began to appear in newspapers all over South Carolina.  In the first article below, Governor Whitemarsh B. Seabrook and Commissioner T. N. (incorrectly shown below as "P. N.") Dawkins wrote this about Rev. Walker's school:  "We recently visited the school and were much gratified at the progress made by the pupils, and have no hesitation in saying, that their proficiency would compare most favorably with the pupils in any of the common schools of the country; and so far as we are competent to judge, we regard the principal as fully competent to instruct Mutes in the primary branches of their education."  By mid-summer of 1851, South Carolina Governor John Hugh Means had visited the school, and his positive thoughts about it were relayed in his Governor's Message, the transcription of which is shown in the 04 December 1851 Edgefield Advertiser article included here.

20 August 1849 Charleston Courier article about
the opening of the Cedar Springs school.

(Article from
05 December 1849 Sumter Banner article about N. P. Walker's
School for the Deaf an Dumb at Cedar Spring
(Article from
04 December 1851 Edgefield Advertiser's printing of the
"Governor's Message" with the above passage about the
School for the Deaf and Dumb
(Article from

Starting in 1854, Rev. Walker pursued legislation to have his school become state-sponsored and, thus, state-funded.  In April 1855, Rev. Walker opened a department for education of the Blind, and my 3rd great-grandfather and the Reverend's son-in-law, James Simmons Henderson, was appointed Principal of the new department.  On 28 November 1855, then Governor James Hopkins Adams was quoted in the Charleston Courier as recommending "the propriety of authorizing the commissioners of the deaf, dumb, and blind, to purchase the establishment, and to place upon it such additional conveniences and buildings as will make it efficient for the number of inmates who are likely to occupy the same."  Though it is hard to imagine that the school's students were viewed by the Governor and others as "inmates," I have learned during my research that - in the mid-1800s - the Deaf, Mute, and Blind were often lumped in with those who were then referred to as "lunatics."  The term "asylum" was typically used for the separate facilities in which these groups of people resided.  Regardless, this recommendation by Governor Adams put the school on the path to surviving financially and then flourishing into the specialized education powerhouse it is today.

Part of the Governor Adams' First Annual Message
as printed in the 28 Nov 1855 edition of the Charleston Courier.

In 1856, the State purchased Cedar Springs Asylum, along with 157 acres of land, and renamed it the South Carolina Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb and Blind.  The State also allocated money to build Walker Hall, which remains the school's showcase building, as well as to supplement the per-pupil costs of educating students.
An 1886 engraving of Walker Hall, part of the South Carolina Institution for the
Education of the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind.
Building designed by architect Edward C. Jones and built in 1859.

(Photo courtesy of the Museum of the American Printing
House for the Blind.)
The school thrived and continued to grow after being acquired by the State.  Less than one month before his death, Rev. Walker asked the Charleston Courier to publish the following unusual note about corn brooms made by blind students at the Institution:

Letter from N. P. Walker published in the
12 Oct 1861 edition of the Charleston Courier.
( From

From that note, it seems he tired new ways to challenge and educate his students right up until the time of his death.

On 13 November 1861, the Rev. Newton Pinckney Walker, Esq. passed away suddenly from the measles.  He was laid to rest in Cedar Springs Baptist Cemetery, behind the School for the Deaf and Blind, in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

Photo of the upper part of Rev. N. Pinckney Walker's tombstone
added to memorial #43720834 by FindAGrave member David ~ Effie.
(Note the sign language across the top of his tombstone says, "Heaven."  Thank you to my 

Aunt Anna for translating!)
Photo of the lower part of Rev. N. Pinckney Walker's tombstone.

Of course, Rev. Walker's legacy has lived on long after his death and inspired continued growth of deaf and blind education in South Carolina.  The South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind (SCSDB), celebrating its 166th anniversary this year, is still the "...state’s only specialized school for students who are deaf or blind...[and] serves students throughout the state through its campus and outreach programs."  Since the mid-1900s, new programs have been incorporated into the institution, such as the aphasiac program developed in 1961 to serve students with multiple handicaps or brain injuries.  In 1978, the United States federal government began to require public schools to “assume responsibility of educating all handicapped students,” and many SCSDB students moved to their home school districts for schooling.  That legislation marked a significant advancement in educational opportunities for deaf and blind students.  A year later, in 1979, The Walker Foundation – which “strives to support SCSDB in every way possible to ensure that its students achieve maximum success through high-quality educational programs, outreach services and partnerships” – was established as a private, non-profit fundraising arm for The South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind.  And, in the late 1980s, SCSDB established a Postsecondary Program, as well as its first permanent Outreach Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

I imagine that Rev. Walker and his family members that helped start the school would be immensely overjoyed to know the far-reaching benefits their early efforts produced on behalf of a population that an 1846 Westminster Review article referred to being " an 'animal state' and...not even possess[ing] 'the dignity of man'."  Surely, the Victorians would be shocked by the many, many highly successful deaf and blind people that have excelled in all walks of life since the mid-1800s.  (I would enjoy being the one to tell them about it.)

©Amy Wood Kelly, 2015 - I am happy to share my genealogical research and writing with others, as well as to help others with their research efforts.  However, please do not reprint this post in full or in part or use excerpts from this post without giving full credit to me, Amy Wood Kelly, as the researcher and author as well as providing the permalink to this post.  Thank you, in advance, for showing respect for my request and the work I put into creating this post.