Over the past three decades, I have attempted to research the late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Gressett Family of the Cattle Creek section of what is now Orangeburg County, South Carolina, for I am certain that William Gressett (ca.1767-ca.1847) and his second wife Rachel Ratcliff (ca.1795-ca.1840) were my great-great-great-grandparents.Because of the burning of the Orangeburg Courthouse in 1865, compounded by the almost-surprising lack of Bible records and known graves, information on the Gressett Family is very hard to come by.While most of what I have uncovered is known by at least some other researchers, I thought I would write up and share what I have been able to find.
Anyone who researches the Gressetts must begin with Neil D. Thompson’s exemplary September 1978 article in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Southern Gressitt/Grissett Families (one of a four-part series on early Gressetts).In addition to much information and speculation about William’s ancestors (some of which will be discussed below), Dr. Thompson lists three known children that William had with his first wife Catherine Gavin (Catherine m. Christopher Tatum; William; and Charles G.) as well as six with Rachel (John Daniel; Susan Elizabeth m. Vincent Reeves; Samuel R.; Laurence F.; Tatum; and Marion Shieutt) – and adds that some of his “children have not been identified.”
Another noted genealogist who worked on this family was the late Bill Linder, who included Gressett information in his history of the Funchess family, as well as on his unfortunately-no-longer-available website, familyhistoryhouse.com.Bill Linder’s work, supplemented by additions from two other Gressett descendants, apparently constitutes the information on the Gressett children on the Orangeburgh German-Swiss Genealogical Society’s website (although, as noted below, it also lists a child, Bethiah Elizabeth, who apparently does not belong to this family, and the mother and birthdate of Susan Elizabeth also appear to be incorrect).
Finally, a major find was published in Brent Holcomb’s Marriage and Death Notices from Columbia, South Carolina, Newspapers, 1838-1850, wherein this notice from a partition suit in the January 21, 1848, issue of the Columbia South Carolinian appears: “State of South Carolina.Orangeburg District.Sam’l R. Gressett, applicant against Martha Gresset & others Def’ts.It appearing to my satisfaction that John Gressett, William Gressett, Charles Gressett, Christian Tatum and Catharine his Wife, ____ Wheeler and Clarissa his wife, seven of the Defendants, reside without this State.It is therefore ordered that they do appear and object to the division or sale of the real estate of William Gressett, deceased.S. Glover, Ordinary O.D.January 12th 1848.”
Given the partition suit notice, as well as my own research, I think we can identify three additional daughters of William Gressett.
The first of these daughters is Clarissa, who married a man named Wheeler and lived out of state as of 1848.In looking at the 1850 census, this Clarissa Wheeler can only be the “Clarissa H. Wheeler” of Jasper County, Mississippi, age 40, who was born in South Carolina and was the wife of a John A. Wheeler, with five children between the ages of 8 and 17.Clarissa, now 53, is also shown in the 1860 census for Jasper, with husband Dr. John A. Wheeler, Sr., and four children, and in 1870 the Wheelers are continuing to reside in Jasper, with “Clarisey H.” being shown as age 68.Upon further research, her husband can be identified as a Dr. John Artis Wheeler, a native of South Carolina, who was born 28 Mar 1805 and died on 7 Feb 1884.John and Clarissa may have been the John Wheeler and family who were in Monroe Co., MS, in 1830, and they were surely the “J.A. Wheeler” and family who were in Perry Co., MS, in 1840.They apparently had five children to survive into adulthood: John A. Wheeler, Jr. (b. ca. 1833); Susan A. (b. ca. 1836) m. ______ Johnson; Julia Anna (b. ca. 1838) m.1) Dr. J.A. Dillard and m.2) _____ Prescot(?); Erastus (b. ca. 1840); and Frances (b. ca. 1842) m. S.G. Graham.A message posted on a rootsweb message board in 2000 stated that Clarissa died in 1873, and is buried in a Wheeler Family Cemetery, six miles from Heidelberg, Jasper Co.Husband John remarried to an Elizabeth Hosey, and is buried in the County Line Cemetery in Jasper Co.According to his will, John had two additional “daughters,” although it seems clear that, at least the eldest, and possibly the youngest, too, were step-daughters – Martha A. Matilda(?) (b. 1865), who married a Ben Moss, and Mary Columbus (b. 23 Feb 1872) who married a Hollifield.Mary Columbus is also shown as John’s “daughter” in the 1880 census, although her father is shown as being born in Mississippi, not South Carolina.If Mary Columbus were John’s daughter and not step-daughter, this could conceivably push back Clarissa’s death to late 1870 or early 1871.One final note concerning Clarissa is that it makes perfect sense for her to be found in Jasper County, for not only did many of her Gavin relatives settle there, but so did her sister Catherine Tatum, and, at least for a little while, her brother Charles G. – and brother William first settled in Jones County, MS, which is just to the south.
A second previously unknown daughter, Martha Gressett, is also mentioned in the partition suit notice.I am quite certain that she was my great-great-grandmother, who married Richard Turner Riggs, died in childbirth around 1851, and left one daughter, Martha Mary Riggs.This Martha Mary Riggs, my great-grandmother, was born on September 26, 1849, near Ridgeville, in St. George, Dorchester, Parish, Colleton District, S.C.She was an only child, orphaned at a very early age, and was raised by various aunts and uncles.On December 26, 1871, she married Confederate veteran Andrew Jackson Hunter (1844-1929), and, over the next fifty years, lived in what is now Bamberg County, S.C. – first around the Hunter’s Chapel section, then for two-to-three decades at Woodlands Plantation near Midway (my great-grandfather renting the plantation from the Simms family), and finally for about a decade on a farm just outside of Bamberg.They had six children, four of whom survived infancy (although two daughters died in childbirth), and Martha Mary Riggs [Hunter] died at a daughter’s house in Charleston on April 13, 1937.
Because she lived to be nearly eighty-eight years old, all of “Mattie” Hunter’s grandchildren got to know her quite well.Thus, about thirty years ago, I began to ask my father (the youngest grandchild, born in 1927), his brothers, and his first cousins what they knew about their grandmother’s ancestry.To a one, they stated that she was descended from the Gressett[e] family, and my father mentioned that when growing up in Orangeburg, it was well understood that he was related to state Senator L. Marion Gressette of Calhoun Co. and the Senator’s brother “Toolie” Gressette of Orangeburg.Several of my father’s first cousins, who were older (with birthdates ranging from 1906 to 1917), added even more detail.
Over several conversations, cousin Annie Lou Stokes Chaplin of Charleston and her sister Jennie Marion Stokes Reaves of Lynchburg, Va., stated that their grandmother’s mother was a Gressett.She married a Riggs and died in childbirth, and her husband, grieving over the loss, drank himself to death, dying one year to the day after his wife’s death.Thus, their grandmother had been raised by various “old maid” aunts, as well as uncles named Cummings, Murray (Moorer?), and Gressett.Jennie also remembered that her grandmother had an uncle who was a “Dr. Gressett,” who took special care to visit when his niece was pregnant (since his sister had died in childbirth), and he delivered all of Martha Riggs Hunter’s children.She also recalled that one of the uncles was named “Tatum Gressett.”In addition, she showed me an old piece of paper on which her mother, apparently when young in the 1890s, had written that her mother was a Riggs, her grandmother was a Gressett, one of her great-grandmothers was a Turner, and a great-great-grandmother was a Furhox from Georgia.
The youngest brother of the above sisters was Jackson Joseph Stokes, M.D., of Atlanta, with whom I corresponded on several occasions, and for whose Henry Stokes of Colleton County, South Carolina I wrote drafts of two chapters on the Hunter family.In a letter of July 3, 1993, he wrote, “Grandma Hunter told me that her mother was a Gressette.In the late 1920s or early 1930s, Tatum Gressette was the Citadel football coach.Grandma talked about [an earlier Tatum Gressette] as she did about the Cummings family that raised her.Coach Tatum Gressette must have been junior or III.”On September 11, 1993, he noted that “[s]everal months ago I hired a genealogist to search for information on the Gressette family,” and that whatever information he uncovered would be listed in his upcoming book.Although no specific sources are cited, on page 198 of this book he states that his grandmother “was the daughter of Thomas Riggs and Martha Gressette; Martha Gressette was the sister of Tatum Gressette, of the Cattles Creek area of Orange District.”I never did find out what exact evidence Cousin Jack used in making this statement.
Finally, a first cousin to the above three (as well as to my father) was Iver Hunter Klein of Hartsville, S.C., who wrote on December 14, 1988, that his grandmother once mentioned that she was descended from the Radcliffe Family.He then added, “She was also related to the Gressetts.Tatum Gressett coached at the Citadel years ago, and may still be alive.Believe she was also kin to Marion Gressett, Senator for many years from Calhoun County.”
Other pieces of information I found included my great-grandmother’s death certificate from 1937, wherein her mother was listed as “______ Gressette,” and her father as “William Riggs.”In the 1850 census, a household in the St. George, Dorchester, Parish, section of Colleton County listed a household containing “Richard T. Riggs 37; Matilda Riggs 23; and Martha Riggs 1.”A couple of other things to note include that five years after my great-grandparents married, my great-grandfather Andrew Jackson Hunter’s younger brother George Martin Hunter married Florence Eleanor Reeves, granddaughter of William Gressett and Rachel Ratcliff through their daughter Susan Elizabeth.Also, my great-grandparents’ two eldest children were named William W. Hunter (1872-1873) and, my grandfather, John Marion Hunter (1874-1955).
Taking all of this information, it was easy to discover that Martha Mary Riggs’s father was a Richard Turner Riggs (b. 27 March 1813), who was the only surviving son of William Riggs, Jr. (1778-1845) and his first wife Jestine Martha Turner (1786-1829).William was a native of South Carolina who lived in Savannah, Ga., from 1801 through 1812, where he was a cabinetmaker as well as a city Alderman.While in Savannah, he married Jestine Turner, who was born on nearby Whitemarsh Island, Chatham Co., Ga.They returned to William’s native St. George, Dorchester, Parish, SC, just before Richard’s birth, and, with the exception of four years William spent on Whitemarsh Island and then Savannah from 1840-1844, William spent the rest of his life near what is now Ridgeville, S.C.Here, he planted approximately 800 acres, ran a tavern on a major Charleston-Columbia highway, and served in the S.C. House in 1819.William’s parents, William Riggs Sr. (1759-1818) and Elizabeth Owens (1758-1822) officially separated in 1785, and a few years later Elizabeth became the “wife” of a Joshua Fewox and lived with him until his death two decades later – and she was known as “Elizabeth Fewox,” although William Jr. did list his mother as Elizabeth Riggs on her tombstone.While Richard T. Riggs was William Jr. and Jestine’s only son to survive infancy, there were likewise five daughters, the eldest of whom was Louisa Jane Riggs, who married William Cummings.Two of these daughters, who lived with the Cummingses, were over twenty-five years of age and unmarried at the time of Martha Riggs’s birth in 1849 – although one would eventually marry (to a Moorer) – and could be considered “old maids.”
Thus, everything my father’s first cousins related that could pertain to their grandmother’s father checks out.A Martha Riggs, age 1, is shown in the 1850 census in the household of Richard T. Riggs.This Richard Turner Riggs had a mother who was a Turner, and a grandmother who was a Fewox – and one of these families was from Georgia.Likewise, Richard T. Riggs, who completely disappears from view after the 1850 census, had both a sister who married a Cummings, and two other sisters who were “old maids.”As for Martha Riggs Hunter’s death certificate listing her father as a “William” Riggs, this can likely be explained by her hearing much about her grandfather William Riggs from her aunts and relating such to her grandchildren – as seen in his obituaries in the Charleston Courier and Southern Christian Advocate, and other sources, William was a rather notable fellow in the neighborhood, while his son Richard was much more obscure and, because of his drinking, likely a bit disreputable.I have no idea why cousin Jack Stokes listed his grandmother’s father as “Thomas” Riggs, except, conceivably, that Richard was familiarly known by a diminutive ofhis middle name, and “Turn” was somehow misremembered as “Tom.”
This, then, brings us to the question of Martha Mary Riggs [Hunter]’s mother.There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that she was a Gressett, one of the heretofore unknown daughters of William Gressett and Rachel Ratcliff (and the 1830 and 1840 censuses show that they had three daughters born in the 1820s who have not been identified).Her death certificate states that her mother was a “Gressette,” and such was also remembered by all of her grandchildren.Also, how else to explain the multiple recollections that she was partially raised by her uncle Tatum Gressett, and that another uncle, “Dr. Gressett,” delivered all of her children – and, of course, William and Rachel had a son Tatum Gressett (1831-1864), and William and Rachel’s youngest son Dr. Marion S. Gressett lived just down the road from Martha Riggs Hunter in Branchville, S.C.Also, Martha Riggs Hunter named a son John Marion Hunter, and William and Rachel had sons named both John and Marion – and these were not names then used in the Hunter family.In addition, one grandchild also remembered that his grandmother was not only descended from the Gressett family, but the Radcliffes as well – and when several of William and Rachel’s granddaughters applied for membership in the DAR in the early Twentieth Century, they listed Rachel’s maiden name as “Radcliffe,” and not the actual Ratcliff.
For me, the bigger question is what was the first name of Martha Riggs’s mother?Jack Stokes wrote that it was “Martha,” and, as seen in the above partition suit notice, William and Rachel Gressett did have a daughter named Martha.Then again, the 1850 census lists the woman who was apparently the wife of Richard T. Riggs, and mother of Martha Riggs, as “Matilda.”Thus, I don’t know if there were two separate Gressett daughters, Martha and Matilda, or just one.Given that there is not a separate Martha Gressett listed in the 1850 census, I strongly lean towards the belief that Martha and Matilda are the same person.As noted above, Martha Riggs Hunter was familiarly known as “Mattie,” and this could have also been how her mother Martha was also known – and the census taker mistook “Mattie” to mean Matilda, and not Martha.Whatever the truth of the matter, however, William and Rachel Gressett did have a daughter named Martha, and Martha Mary Riggs [Hunter]’s mother was clearly a daughter of William and Rachel.
A third heretofore unknown daughter – and one that I have never seen anyone list or mention – was a Margaret Gressett.In the Old St. George Baptist Church Cemetery near St. George, S.C., there are not only monuments for Tatum Gressett (1831-1864) and wife Caroline Reeves (1832-1877), as well as two of their daughters, Caroline A. [Hutto] and Susan [Hill], but next to this family is also the grave of a “Miss Margaret Gressett,” with a birth date of 11 March 1827, and death date of 29 Sept. 1848.Obviously, this Margaret Gressett is somehow closely related to Tatum, and with no other Gressett families in the area at the time, and with William and Rachel having an unidentified daughter both between 1825 and 1830, the only logical conclusion that can be reached is that she was Tatum’s unmarried sister.Margaret’s estate was administered by David Gavin, a local attorney who was a nephew of William Gressett’s first wife, for the Charleston Courier of 23 March 1850 contained the following legal announcement: “Administrator’s Notice.—All persons having demands against the Estate of Miss MARGARET GRESSETT, late of St. George’s parish, deceased, will please present them to the subscriber, properly attested, on or before the 1st day of April next, and those indebted will please make payment.DAVID GAVIN, Adm’r.”Gavin, of course, is probably best known today for the diary which he kept, but, unfortunately, while he was keeping a diary in 1850, the part of the diary that has been saved and is now in the Southern Historical Collection at U.N.C. only dates from 1855.It is also unfortunate that, like for Orangeburgh District, the records for Colleton District were also burned in 1865, for otherwise we would likely have a complete listing of Margaret’s siblings.It seems reasonable to assume that this Margaret was named for an aunt who died shortly before her birth, for Rachel Ratcliff Gressett was almost surely the sister of a Margaret Ratcliffe (30 Sept 1793 – 2 June 1825), who was the first wife of a George Summers, Jr., of the Cattle Creek section of Orangeburgh District, and who is buried in Summers Cemetery near Rowesville, S.C.William and Rachel were definitely well acquainted with the Summers family, for on 15 Dec 1828, both “William Grissett” and “Rachael Grissett” witnessed a gift of eight slaves from William Somers of Orangeburgh to John Somers, Jr., of Wilcox Co., Alabama, with William then proving his signature to his nephew James Grimes, Jr., JP (Wilcox Deed Bk. H, p 121).
Besides Clarissa, Martha, and Margaret, William Gressett likely had two additional daughters, one each by his two wives.These are suggested by census records, for in William and first wife Catherine Gavin’s household in 1800, there were two females under the age of 10, and only one known daughter, Catherine [Tatum], fits this description.Because there are no daughters besides Catherine and Clarissa who are mentioned as living out of state in 1848, and all of William’s known children by Catherine moved to Mississippi, it is most likely that this daughter, if she existed, died young.There is always a possibility, however, that she remained in South Carolina.
I have done a very cursory census search for those families listed around William and his close relatives to see if there could be an unknown daughter lurking nearby.About the best possibility, although I doubt it’s a very good one, is the first wife of a Richard Thompson.In the 1820 census for Orangeburgh, the households are listed in this order: Liddy Grisset, Christopher Tatum, Richard Thomson, James Grimes, and William Grisits.We know that four of the five are definitely connected to William Gressett, the exception being Richard Thomson, who did have a female 16-26 in the family (one male 16-26, one female 16-26, one male 0-10, and five females 0-10).Upon further research, this Richard Thompson was born around 1794, died 17 Dec 1863, and is buried in a Thompson Cemetery near Branchville.He was married twice, with his first wife dying in the early 1840s, for by 1847 he was married to his second, younger, wife, Eliza Myers (1816-1888).By this first wife, he apparently (according to the 1820, 1830, and 1840 censuses) had six sons and five daughters, but extraordinary few can now be identified – a Richard C. Jesse Thompson (b. 1824), possibly a William Thompson (b. ca. 1826), a Thomas M. Thompson (b. ca.1834), and conceivably a Rachel Thompson (b. ca.1833), who is listed with Richard in 1850, but doesn’t correspond with his family in the 1840 census.The reason why I am almost completely discounting this family being related is that there is no proof of such other than being next to other family members in 1820, and even that evidence is dimmed by the fact that in 1840 Richard Thompson was not next to the households of William and Lydia, but eight/nine households away (unfortunately, households in 1830 were listed in rough alphabetical order).
Like the 1800 census, the 1830 census suggests another unknown daughter, for William and Rachel apparently had a currently unidentified daughter who was born in the 1820-1825 time frame.In the 1830 census, William’s household contains three daughters who are between five and ten years old, and two of the three are apparently Susan Elizabeth and Martha.In the 1840 census, there are only two females between 15 and 19, and at first – given that Susan Elizabeth’s daughter Florence Reeves Hunter listed on her DAR application that her parents were married in 1838 – I assumed that the two daughters were Martha and this unknown daughter who was seen in the 1830 census. Given that all of Rachel’s children except John Daniel stayed in South Carolina, I thought it entirely possible that she survived her parents, got married and had a family.I have since discovered, however, that Susan Elizabeth’s eventual husband Vincent Reeves was living alone at the time of the 1840 census.Thus, Susan and Vincent were apparently married a couple of years after her daughter thought, and the William and Rachel’s would-be unknown daughter in the 1840 census is actually Susan.If so, this strongly suggests that the unknown daughter in the 1830 census was dead by 1840 – and if this is true, this would also mean that the “Matilda” Riggs in the 1850 census was actually Martha Gressett, for there would be no other unknown daughters of the right age.Anyway, the identity of at least one (and probably two) of William Gressett’s daughters, one from each wife, will have to remain a mystery for now – and given that both likely died young, we may never know their names.
Interestingly, however, William is sometimes (on the OGSGS website, for instance, as well as various on-line trees) given credit for another daughter, one who appears to actually not be his.This is a Bethiah E[lizabeth?], who was born on 17 Jan 1799 in South Carolina, married a John D[aniel?] Ratcliff (25 Sept 1796 – 12 Oct 1863), removed to Jasper Co., Mississippi, and supposedly died there on 7 Aug 1887.Their children include Samuel S. Ratcliff (1821-1878); Mary Elizabeth Ratcliff (1823-1906) m. James William Risher; Catherine Caroline Ratcliff (1828-1913) m. W.L. Lyon; Rufus King Ratcliff (1834-1860); Americus Vespucius Ratcliff (1836-1862); and Clarissa V. Ratcliff (1842-1887).While various listings show this Bethiah as the daughter of William Gressett and first wife Catherine Gavin, even more show her to be Catherine Gavin Gressett’s younger sister, the daughter of Charles Gavin and wife Bathiah Byrd.Given that Bethiah Ratcliff and husband John D. Ratcliff lived out of South Carolina in 1848 yet are not listed as out-of-state heirs of William Gressett in the partition suit notice, I feel certain that she was a Gavin and not a Gressett.I am also fairly certain, however, that John D. Ratcliff was Rachel Ratcliff’s brother – thus, Bethiah was a sister to William Gressett’s first wife, while Bethiah’s husband was a brother to William Gressett’s second wife – and all of William’s children would be first cousins of the above listed Ratcliff children.
With the three new Gressett daughters identified – but Bethiah discounted – we can now safely say that William had at least thirteen children by his two wives, twelve of whom can be identified – and if other area families are any guide, it is also highly likely that there were even a few more who were either stillborn, or died at a young age before they could be enumerated in a census.Below, I will list all thirteen, with whatever general information we know about them, including spouses and children.I have only given the exact birthdates and deathdates (if known) for the children, and just the years of birth and death for the spouses and children.Also, for the children, I have listed any known spouses for the females, but not listed spouses for the males.For this information, in addition to the sources mentioned above (especially the Thompson article), I have primarily consulted census records, but have also relied on gravestones, probate records, death certificates, contemporary newspaper articles, and well-sourced on-line narratives and trees – although a lot of this latter information must be taken with more than a grain of salt.Although every care has been taken to correctly identify these two generations, there may certainly be mistakes, and it is without doubt that much information is missing.
Children of William Gressett (ca.1767-ca.1847)
By First Wife Catherine Gavin (ca.1779-ca.1810):
1. Catherine Gressett (ca.1797 – AFT 1880), m. Christopher Tatum (1795-1870).They removed to Mississippi, living first in Greene and then Jasper Co. – where they died.He was listed as a “Mechanic” in the 1850 census, at which time he possessed 17 slaves.Children: Thomas M. Tatum (1821-1857); Berthea (Bethia) Tatum (b. ca.1825); William Tatum (1827-1863); Catherine Gavin Tatum (1831-1864) m. Lewis Linder; Charles Wesley Tatum (1837-1908); Eliza[beth] Anne Tatum (1840-1890) m. James Paul Abney; plus four unidentified children from census records, some of whom undoubtedly died young.
2. William Gressett (ca.1803 – ca.1875) m.1) Cynthia Carter(?) (ca. 1806 – BTW 1860-65), m.2)(3 Apr 1865) Martha Sims (ca.1839-AFT 1898).William removed to Mississippi by 1827, where he is first found in Greene Co., then Jones Co., possibly Perrry Co., and, by 1846, Lauderdale Co., where he apparently dies.Most list his birthyear as 1801, interpreting the 1850 census to show that he was then 49, but this number can easily be read as 47, and such would be in line with the other census records (56 in 1860, and 67 in 1870).Mississippi marriage records, as well as census records, show that his second wife was Martha Sims, and not Martha Bush, as Thompson states.A few persons give William the middle name of “Van,” but no records show this.Children by Cynthia Carter: 1. [prob.] (Rev.) Alvin Gressett (1829-1903); 2. Charles Gavin Gressett (ca.1831-1903); 3. William Franklin Gressett (1834-1910); 4. (Dr.) Allen Ulysses Gressett (1836-1918); 5. Aaron Alfred Gressett (b. 1837); 6. Sarah Catherine Gressett (b. ca. 1839) m. William Jackson Harris; 7. Martha Elizabeth Gressett (ca.1841-BEF 1865) m. James Monroe Harris; 8. John P. Gressett (ca.1843-1864; d. CSA); 9. (Rev.) Andrew Jackson Gressett (1845-1917); 10. South Carolina Gressett (1846-1849); 11. Clarissa H. Gressett (1849-1849).Children by Martha Sims: 12. Martha Elizabeth Gressett (b. 1868); 13. John Griffin Gressett (1871-1946).
3. Clarissa H. Gressett (ca.1807 – ca.1873) m. Dr. John Artis Wheeler (1805-1884).They removed to Mississippi, and were possibly in Monroe Co. in 1830, definitely in Perry Co., in 1840, and then in the 1840s moved to Jasper Co., where both died.He was a medical doctor and farmer.Her birthdate, according to census records, varies a good bit (40 in 1850; 53 in 1860; and 68 in 1870), so, given that brother Charles was apparently born in 1810, a date of around 1807 has been assigned.She is supposedly buried in a Wheeler Family Cemetery, six miles from Heidelberg, Jasper Co.Children:John A. Wheeler, Jr. (b. ca. 1833); Susan A. (b. ca. 1836) m. ______ Johnson; Julia Anna (b. ca. 1838) m.1) Dr. J.A. Dillard, m.2) _____ Prescot(?); Erastus (b. ca. 1840); and Frances (b. ca. 1842) m. S.G. Graham.
4. Charles G[avin?] Gressett (ca.1810 – Jan 1876?) m.1) ______ Ryan, m.2) Elizabeth Mary Robertson (1823-1912).Like his full siblings, he removed to Mississippi, residing in Perry County, Jasper Co., Lauderdale Co. (1840), and Newton Co. (1850).According to the birthplaces of his children as recorded in census records, he moved to Texas around 1851, eventually settling (by 1860) in Grimes Co.A death date of 1864 is given him by some researchers, although others just state that he died after 1864.Although the family cannot be found in the 1870 census, a possible answer to when he died may conceivably be taken from a short notice in the Galveston Daily News of 11 Jan 1876, which states, “An old man named Grissett, in Grimes county, attempted to swim a swollen creek, a few days ago, and he and his horse were both drowned.” Children by [FNU] Ryan: 1. Anna Rebecca Gressett (1835-1925); 2. Esther Clarissa Gressett (1840-1902) m. James W. Turner.Children by Elizabeth Mary Robertson: 3. William Joseph Gressett (1843-1924); 4. Mary Rachel Gressett (b. ca.1845); 5. Catherine Berthier Gressett (1847-1915) m. George Patrick Black; 6. John Biset Gressett (1848-1926); 7. Elvira Hassentine Gressett (1850-1942) m. James Henry Cobb; 8. C. Louis Gressett (b. ca.1852); 9. J.B. (or L.B.) Gressett (b. ca. 1854); 10. Mary Elizabeth Gressett (b. 1856) m. William A. Berry; 11. Christopher Columbus Gressett (1859-1914); 12. James Henry Gressett (1861-1901); 13. Edward Prue Gressett (1863-1953).
By Second Wife Rachel Ratcliff (ca.1795-ca.1840)
5. John Daniel Gressett (11 Jan 1818 – 16 Jan 1901) m. Nancy Elizabeth Mabry (1820-1884).He had likely removed to Mississippi by 1840, and resided in Newton Co., MS, by 1850.Around 1859, he removed to Caldwell Parish, Louisiana, where he can found in the 1860 and 1870 censuses.From there, he served in a Louisiana regiment during the Civil War.In the 1870s, he moved to Texas, and lived in Runnels and Comanche county – which is where he died.Children: 1. Rebecca Gressett (ca.1841-ca.1859) m. _____ Gilbert; 2. Rachel Elizabeth Gressett (1842-1902) m.1) ____ Goodwin, m.2) Thomas Bolivar Tunstall; 3. (Rev.) William Walter Gressett (1847-1916); 4. John Tatum Gressett (1849-1919); 5. Vastine Gressett (b. ca.1851); 6. Lawrence Frank Gressett (1853-1938); 7. Philip Napier Gressett (1858-1907); 8. Josephine Gressett (b. ca.1864).
6. Susan Elizabeth Gressett (10 July 1819 – 18 Apr 1877), m.(ca. 1840) Vincent Reeves (1807-1868).They resided in the Reevesville area of St. George, Dorchester, Parish, Colleton District.Vincent was the uncle to both Unity Reeves, who married Lawrence F. Gressett, and Caroline Reeves, who married Tatum Gressett (Unity and Caroline being first cousins).For some reason, various persons (including the OGSGS listing) give Susan a birth year of 1809 and list her as a daughter of William’s first wife Catherine and not second wife Rachel, despite the fact that Susan’s youngest daughter Florence Hunter on her DAR application states that her mother was born in 1819 and her grandmother was “Rachel Radcliffe.”The specific birth and death dates come from a monument Florence and her two surviving siblings (Dr. William L. and A.M. Reeves) erected to their mother around 1892 in the Hunter’s Chapel Baptist Church Cemetery, in what is now Bamberg Co., S.C.; they likewise erected a similar monument, on 15 Dec 1892, to their father and three deceased siblings in the Bryant-Reeves Cemetery, Reevesville, Dorchester Co., S.C.Susan’s birthdate may have been a year or two later than 1819, however, for she was listed as 28 in the 1850 census (oddly, I cannot find her in 1860 or 1870), and according to the 1830 census, William and Rachel had three girls in their family between ages 5 and 10, but none between 10 and 15.Also, Susan and Vincent were apparently not married in 1838, as Florence Hunter listed on her DAR application, but a couple of years later, for “Vencin” Reeves, 30-40, was living alone (well, also with five slaves) in the 1840 census for Colleton District.When Florence’s surviving child, Wilson Gressett[e] Hunter, joined the SAR in 1925, he listed his grandmother’s name as “Susan L.E. Gressett,” and her grandmother as “Lydia Elizabeth Funchess” – thus possibly suggesting that Susan was actually “Susan Lydia Elizabeth,” rather than just “Susan Elizabeth”; and in the 1850 census, she is listed as “Susanna.”Children: 1. James Reeves (b. ca.1842); 2. (Dr.) William L. Reeves (1846-1899); 3. Thomas Reeves (b. ca.1849); 4. Americus Meritt Reeves (1856-1936); 5. Elizabeth Reeves; 6. Florence Eleanor Reeves (1860-1936) m. George Martin Hunter.
7. Unknown Daughter (born between 1820 and 1825).Was alive as of 1830, but likely dead by 1840; if she did survive she must have been residing in South Carolina in 1848.
8. Samuel R[atcliff?] Gressett (ca.1824 – 27 May 1850).According to the 1850 Mortality Schedule for Orangeburgh District, for “between the River Road from Orangeburg C.H. to Branchville, to the Four Hole Swamp,” enumerated by his first cousin James Grimes, Jr., Samuel was 26 (might be read as 24), a laborer, and died of consumption.Apparently unmarried.
9. Martha Gressett (ca.1825 – ca.1851) m.(ca. 1848) Richard Turner Riggs (1813 – ca. 1852).After marriage, lived near Ridgeville, St. George, Dorchester, Parish, Colleton District.While “Matilda” Riggs is shown as being 23 in the 1850 census, she was likely a couple years older, given that, according to the 1830 and 1840 censuses, William and Rachel had multiple daughters born between 1820 and 1825, but only one from 1825-1830 – who would have to be Margaret.Child: Martha Mary Riggs (1849-1937) m. Andrew Jackson Hunter.
10. Margaret Gressett (11 Mar 1827 – 29 Sept 1848).Never married.Buried, Old St. George Baptist Church Cemetery, Dorchester Co., S.C.
11. Lawrence F[unchess?] Gressett (ca.1828 – 10 Feb 1892) m. Unity Reeves (b. ca.1830).They were residing in the Reevesville section of St. George, Dorchester, Parish, Colleton District, S.C., in 1850, although they had moved to the nearby Kozer area of Colleton County, S.C., by 1880.Unity was the niece of Susan’s husband Vincent Reeves, and the first cousin of Tatum’s wife Caroline Reeves.Children: 1. Elizabeth Gressett (b. ca.1849); 2. Frances Gressett (b. ca.1850) m. George W. Metts; 3. Sophronia Gressett (1851-1932) m. Bellenger Garner; 4. Mary I. Gressett (b. ca.1854); 5. Ada Gressett (ca.1856–1935) m. Joseph Walters; 6. Carey Gressett[e] (1862–1937); 7. Eleanor/Ella Eugenia Gressett (1864-1919) m. Angus Mason Heaton; 8. Rachel Gressett (1867-1923) m. William Johnson Barrs; 9. Lawrence William Gressett (1872-1928).
12. Tatum Gressett (13 Mar 1831 – 22 July 1864) m. Caroline Reeves (1832–1877).Given that Tatum was shown as 21 in the 1850 census, and that William had only one son 5-10 in 1840 (and an “extra” son 0-5 in 1830), it is quite likely that Tatum was born in 1829 or 1830, rather than 1831.Lived in the Reevesville section of St. George, Dorchester, Parish, Colleton District, S.C.Corporal, 24th S.C. Infantry; killed in Battle of Atlanta.Buried in Atlanta, although (modern) military gravestone in the Old St. George Baptist Church Cemteery, Dorchester Co., SC – which is where his wife, sister Margaret, and two daughters are also buried.His son John Thomas, who was the largest landowner in Calhoun Co., S.C., apparently began the modern trend of spelling the last name with a final “e,” i.e. Gressette, and he was the father of long-time state Senator L. Marion Gressette, Citadel football coach Tatum Gressette, et al. Children: 1. Susan Gressett (1854-1877) m. J.P. Hill; 2. William F. Gressett (b. ca.1857); 3. Rachel Alice Gressett (1858-1931) m. Francis Mellichamp Weeks; 4. John Thomas Gressett[e] (1860-1944); 5. Caroline A. Gressett (1863-1906) m. J.W. Hutto.
13. Marion Shecut[t] Gressett (ca.1833 – 19 May 1908) m.1)(1870) Isabel Margaret Ott [Edwards] ( -1880), m.2)(1882) Margaret K. Halford (1852-1909).Prior to the Civil War, he attended college for a term in York County, S.C., as well as taught school around the Branchville area, and may have begun the study of medicine.During the War, he served as a 1st Sergeant in the 1st S.C. Cavalry, and then received an M.D. degree from the Medical College of South Carolina in 1869.He thereafter was a physician in Branchville, S.C., as well as operating a drug store.Thompson and most others show his middle name as “Shieutt,” but Marion’s daughter Viola Dukes in her (Ott) DAR application lists it as “Shecutt,” and a descendant today lists it as Shecut.It seems fairly certain that in his middle name, Marion was named for noted Charleston physician, author, and botanist John Linnaeus Edward Whitridge Shecut (1770-1836).Shecut, who went by John L.E.W. Shecut (and because of such is many times incorrectly listed in modern sources as “John Lewis Shecut”), was a Huguenot descendant who was born in Beaufort (on Shecut, see his Dictionary of American Biography entry, as well as the Charleston County Public Library’s website and numerous other sources).While he is mainly known for his life and work in Charleston, from 1792 to 1804 Shecut lived at least part of the time in southern Orangeburgh District – likely because his first wife was closely related to the Cannon Family of the Cattle Creek area.Besides practicing medicine, among his many other talents Shecut was also a surveyor, and between 1792 and 1804 he made at least 63 surveys of land in the Cattle Creek area, including plats for William Grissett, Richard Ratcliffe, Lewis Ratcliffe, and James Grimes.Undoubtedly, William Gressett was much impressed by this part-time resident of the area who was a near contemporary, and he surely followed his career as Shecut rose to prominence in Charleston – and they may, at least conceivably, have also found connection through being Huguenot descendants.It seems only appropriate that Marion Gressett eventually became a physician, given that he was (surely) partially named for Shecut.Children: by Isabel Margaret Ott, Viola Isabel Gressett[e] (1873-1963) m. William Asbury Dukes; by Maggie Halford, Elizabeth Gressett (1883-1884).
Finally, I will add some paragraphs below on what other information I have found about William Gressett and his near relatives.
Birth and death dates, and place of burial.As noted by Thompson, the birth and death dates for William given on the two DAR applications of his granddaughters (Viola Dukes and Florence Hunter), i.e., born in 1778 and died in 1850, are obviously incorrect.I completely agree with Thompson that a birth date between 1765 and 1770 seems most appropriate – his father John was apparently single when he received 100 acres upon emigrating to South Carolina in 1765, William himself received a 200-acre grant in 1788, and the 1830 census shows him between the ages of 60 and 70 – and I have assigned a birth year of approximately 1767.As for when he died, Thompson notes that it could not be 1850 because he was not listed in the census or mortality census of that year, and he wondered if it was even before 1840 since the William in the 1840 census was shown as being significantly younger (as noted below, I believe this was just an error in the census record).Coming to light since the Thompson article, of course, is the partition suit notice, which shows that William was definitely dead by January 1848.Some have interpreted this to mean that he must have died very shortly before this, but unlike for the filing and proving of a will, it could be that William had been dead for several years.I have given him a death date of around 1847, but it could definitely be somewhat earlier.In other places around the state, not to mention in much of the nation, one might expect to find a newspaper obituary, but it is quite unfortunately that lower Orangeburg was somewhat of a dead spot for newspaper coverage; Orangeburg did not have its first paper until 1854 and neither Barnwell nor Walterboro had one until the 1850s either, so the closest papers would have been in Charleston and Columbia.In addition, because the two granddaughters got both the birth and death dates wrong, it is abundantly clear that they did not have Bible records at hand.Unless, say, there had been a fire, this is a bit puzzling, for the two cousins were gathering information only seventy years after William’s death.Also, Viola’s father had lived until 1908, so it is a bit surprising that less than a decade later she did not know the year her grandfather died.
It is also a bit surprising that there was not a known gravestone for William on which his granddaughters could have gotten correct information.William’s daughter Margaret had a very nice stone erected for her in 1848, so one would naturally assume that her parents had likewise been so honored.Then again, maybe cypress monuments were erected, and they were either weathered by time or destroyed by fire – and a ferocious fire destroyed the Cattle Creek Methodist Church/Campground/cemetery around 1898.An interesting “miscellaneous wants” advertisement was placed by one of these granddaughters, Viola Gressett Dukes, in the Charleston Sunday News on 20 Aug 1916: “Gressett.—Can anyone tell where Col William Gressett, who fought in the Revolution from the Orangeburg District, is buried?Also who he married?Mrs. W.A. Dukes, Branchville, S.C.”Given that Viola Dukes did not know where her great-grandfather Col. John (not William) Gressett was buried, it makes one wonder if she knew where her grandparents William and Rachel were buried.Obviously, her father would have known, but did he ever take his daughter there?Thus, it is unclear if whatever markers were initially put were rather quickly destroyed, or if, somewhere out in a field or forest in the Cattle Creek area, there still exists gravestones for William and Rachel.
Census Records.Dr. Thompson notes that for William, “Census records are less confusing than simply inadequate,” and this contains much truth – although there is certainly confusion added to the inadequacy.In 1800, William is shown heading a household of males 26.-45, 16-26, and 10-16, and females 16-26, 0-10, and 0-10.William is surely the male 26.45, his first wife Catherine Gavin the female 16-26, and daughter Catherine one of the females under 10.The second female under 10 is also likely another daughter, who either died young or remained in South Carolina.As for the males 16-26 and 10-16, they are currently a mystery.Possibly they could be brothers of William, for we know that he had at least one brother, John.Maybe one or both were Gavin brothers-in-law.Then again, I suppose it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that William had fathered a child when he was in his early twenties, maybe even with another, unidentified earlier wife, although given both the partition suit notice and the lack of any other Gressett males in future South Carolina censuses, such a son would have surely had to die without issue prior to 1848.Anyway, the two males in William’s household in 1800 remain a mystery.
The censuses of 1810 and 1820 will only get a whole lot more confusing – and definitely inadequate.In 1810, William is not listed as head of a household.Lydia Gressett (shown as “L. Gresset”), who may or may not be William’s mother (see below for much more on this), is listed, specifically in a household that contained one female over 45, one male 26-44, one male 10-15, and four slaves.Thus, it could be that the census taker just inadvertently skipped over William’s household, and that none of his immediate family members for that year are listed.Then again, the male 26-44 in L. Gresset’s household could be William.If Catherine Gavin Gressett had died in childbirth at son Charles’s birth in early 1810 (or even 1809) – which I think is very possible -- it’s entirely conceivable that the Gressett children – Catherine, William, Clarissa, and Charles Gavin – would be taken in by either their Gavin grandparents, or an aunt and uncle.Thus, maybe this had happened, and William was then living with his mother along with a 10-15-year-old male (who could be William [Jr.], although he would have been only 7-9 and not over 10).
The census for 1820 adds even more to the confusion.That year does show a William “Grisits” household for Orangeburgh, although it is a household consisting just of one female over 45, one male 16-26, one male 0-10, one female 0-10, and one slave.I can think of two main scenarios to explain this census, although there can certainly be other explanations.First, maybe this is William and Rachel’s household, but William and his wife were not there at the time the census was recorded – for instance, maybe they were on their way to Mississippi to scout out the possibility of moving there.If so, and if most of William’s children by Catherine were living with other relatives (see the discussion of 1810 above),the male 16-26 could be William [Jr.], the male 0-10 John D., the female 0-10 Susan Elizabeth, and the female over 45 Rachel’s mother who was looking after the children.Then again, maybe William and his immediate family with Rachel were either inadvertently omitted (as might have happened in 1810) or were travelling, and the William Grissett household of 1820 was actually the William Gressett [Jr.] household: William [Jr.] is the male between 16-26, Charles G. the male under 10, Clarissa the female under 10, and female over 45 being their grandmother Gavin (Lydia Gressett is listed separately) or another relative.
Fortunately, things become much easier with the 1830 and 1840 censuses.In 1830, William’s household contained males 60-70, 10-15, 5-10, and 0-5(2), females 40-50, 5-10(3), and 0-5, and three slaves.William is clearly the male 60-70, while the one 10-15 is John D.The male 5-10 is surely Samuel R., while Lawrence F. and Tatum are quite likely the males under five.Rachel is surely the female 40-50 (although she was likely in her 30s), while the females 5-10 are probably Susan Elizabeth, Martha, and an unidentified daughter, and Margaret is the female under five.
In 1840, William’s household contained males 40-49, 15-19(2), 10-14, and 5-9, females 40-49, 15-19(2), and 10-14, and three slaves.Because the head of the household is shown as being only 40-49, Thompson states that this was apparently a “younger” William Gressett, one who shows up in 1820 but not 1830.It would be passing strange, however, to have, at the same location, two William Gressetts, an older one who shows up only when the younger one doesn’t, and a younger one who shows up only when the older one doesn’t.Given that everything else basically matches with both the 1830 census and what we know about William and Rachel’s family, I am certain that the 1840 William is our William, only that the census taker marked the wrong category for his age – which should be 70-80.The two males 15-19 would be Samuel R. and Lawrence F. (although he was likely a couple years younger), the male 10-14 Tatum, and the male 5-9, Marion.The female 40-49 was undoubtedly Rachel, although this would mean that the death date of 1837 given by the two granddaughters on their DAR application was off by several years – which, given everything else, is no surprise.The females 15-19 are surely Susan Elizabeth (who would shortly be married) and Martha, and the one 10-14, Margaret.
Land Grants.As noted by Thompson, William Gressett received five land grants between 1788 and 1819.These totaled 1006 acres, specifically: 1. 200 acres on Cattle Creek, Dervins Branch, Edisto River, Orangeburgh District, on 31 Mar 1788, surveyed by Henry Smith, and bordering George Renerson and Christopher Tatum. 2. 58 acres on Cattle Creek, Durbin Bay, Orangeburgh District, on 17 May 1794, bordering Richard Berry, John Creel, and George Renerson.3. 38 acres on Felders or Skindoe Bay, Edisto River, Orangeburgh District, on 11 Jan 1798, surveyed by John Lewis Shecut, bordering Lydia Grisett, Gavin, Nathaniel Byrd, John Cannon and Muling.4. 676.5 acres on Edisto River, Orangeburgh District, on 3 Apr 1818, surveyed by William Murray, bordering Hezekiah Byrd, James Grimes, John Cannon, and William Parsons (note: James Grimes at this same time received a bordering 676.5 acres).5. 33.5 acres on Durvins Bay, Orangeburgh District on 30 July 1819, surveyed by William Murray, bordering Hezekiah Byrd, James Grimes, and Lydia Gressett.
School Teaching.As shown in Daniel Marchant Collier’s Orangeburgh District, 1768-1868: History and Records, “William Grissett” on at least four occasions taught a neighborhood school.In 1822, on Cattle Creek, for three months, five students; in 1825 near Cattle Creek, seven students; in 1834, on Cattle Creek, for three months, five students; and in 1839, near Branchville, for one quarter, five students.William’s youngest son Marion was also be shown teaching in the 1850s.
Father of William Gressett: Col. John Gressett.Given that there appear to be no other male Gressetts roaming around Orangeburg, especially none who would be Colonels in the Revolution, I completely agree with Neil Thompson that William Gressett’s father was not, as is listed on every DAR and SAR application, a Colonel William Gressett, but instead, the actually-existed Col. John Gressett.Thompson then goes on to posit that this John Gressett surely came from Lancaster Co., Virginia, the son of Thomas Gressett and second wife Winifred King.Thompson makes an exceptionally strong circumstantial case for this relationship, and the only reservation I ever had about it is that names Thomas and Winifred were apparently not passed down in the family – especially that none of William’s known children were given these names.Coming to light in the last fifteen years, however, is information that another of Col. John Gressett’s daughters, a Mary Gressett (1770-1849) who married Zachariah Blackledge, has been identified (see below), and that she had children named Thomas (first born son) and “Winaford.”This, then, helped seal my conviction that Thompson was correct in positing John’s birthplace and parentage.
While not that much has been discovered about Col. John since the writing of Thompson’s article, two additional facts are now known.One is that John was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, for he represented St. Matthew Parish in the Sixth General Assembly in 1785.He has a very short biography in the Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives, Vol. 3: 1775-1790 which doesn’t add to what we already know, except that John died in 1785, between 21 Mar 1785 when he was appointed a Justice of the Peace, and 7 Nov 1785, when an election was held to choose his successor.
Mother of William Gressett.When William and Rachel’s two granddaughters, Viola Gressett Dukes and Florence Reeves Hunter, were applying for DAR membership in the 1910s, they listed the name of the wife of their great-grandfather Col. Gressett as “Elizabeth Funchess.”Over the next six decades, nothing new was discovered, so when Dr. Thompson wrote his article, he stated that “Family tradition (i.e. the DAR applications), and that source alone, provides the name of [the Colonel’s] wife as Elizabeth Funchess.”He then goes on to state that there were members of the Fontius/Fonses/Fontious/Fuchess/etc. family in the area, including a Hans Adam and a Sebastian, and that either might have been Elizabeth’s father.
Building on the research of Don Yoder on German immigrants, Bill Linder became aware of a widow, Anna Catharina Herdel [Funtius], (b. 3 Oct 1707) and her children – with whom she had had with her late husband Johann Vaentin Funtius (christened 5 Mar 1699/1700, died 3 Sept 1749) – of Dossenheim, Germany, who emigrated to South Carolina aboard the ship Cunliffe, arriving in Charleston in 1752.While Yoder incorrectly states that Johann also made the voyage along with all eight of his youngest children, Brent Holcombe in his Petitions for Land from the South Carolina Council Journals (Vol. III, 1997) shows that the widow Catharina came to South Carolina with six children, and successfully petitioned for 350 acres of bounty land.Based on both German church records and Catharina’s land application, the six children were: Sybilla (chr. 23 Jan 1730; shown as Swella, 23, in the application); Susanna Elisabetha (b. 27 Jan 1733; Elizabeta 18); Maria Catharina (b. 11 Nov 1735; Cahherin 21); Johann Adam (b. 2 June 1738; Adam 16); Sebastian (b. 7 Jan 1741; Pastean 12); and Elisabetha Catharina (b. 22 Apr 1748; Eliza’th 4).
Based on the Yoder information, Linder declared that the Elizabeth Funchess who supposedly married Col. John Gressett was the Susanna Elisabetha Funtius, who was born on 27 Jan 1733.He made this identification in a short (69 pg.) booklet he penned, The German Ancestry of the Orangeburg, South Carolina, Funchess Family (1997), and it was also listed on his now-defunct familyhistoryhouse.com website.Since then, every Gressett researcher has followed Linder’s lead and listed Susanna Elisabetha as Col. John Gressett’s wife.I had also accepted this, although I found it a bit odd that Susanna Elisaebtha would have been nine-or-so years older than John, and that she was apparently unmarried and without children, until marrying John and having at least four children after her thirty-fifth birthday.Looking at this family anew, I am now wondering why the youngest daughter, Elisabetha Catharina, was not picked as a more likely candidate than Susanna Elisabetha?Linder was a fine genealogist – in fact, like Neil Thompson, a leader in the field – and he may have had exceptionally good reasons for picking the elder daughter.Perhaps there was evidence that I do not know of showing that John married a Susan/Susannah, or that Elisabetha Catharina either died young or married someone else.Despite finding various excerpts on-line, I don’t think I have ever seen Linder’s Funchess book; my notes show that over a decade ago, I searched for it in the collections of the South Caroliniana library, but it was not there, and a WorldCat search shows that only three known libraries currently possess a copy: the Library of Congress, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the Mormon Family History Library in Salt Lake City.Thus, there may be information in the book that I just don’t know about.Also, while I certainly remember searching through Linder’s website, right now I can’t recall why one sister was picked over the other – and the Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine” has saved some pages from Linder’s site, including the Funchess page, but not the page on John Gressett.
Anyway, if I am not missing any information, I would think that given her age – and maybe the fact that her FIRST name was Elisabetha – the Elisabetha Catharina who was born in 1748 would be a much stronger candidate for John’s wife than Susannah Elisabetha.Then again, at least a small part of me wonders whether John’s wife was actually even a Funchess.As far as I know, the only evidence that she was is the “family tradition” as shown in the two first cousins’ DAR applications.It is curious, however, that this “family tradition” was not so strong as to preclude one of these cousins, Viola Dukes, from asking in the Charleston News whether any reader knew the identity of Col. Gressett’s wife – thus showing that the cousins themselves were not all that sure.
It could very well be that the cousins had heard that a great-grandmother had been a Funchess, but that this had been the maiden name of Rachel Ratcliff’s mother, not William Gressett’s.I have no idea if this is the case, but it is interesting that other than the very common Catherine, Susan, and Elizabeth, the names of this Funtius family were not passed down through the next two Gressett generations – as of now, there is not a known Valentin, Anna, Hans Georg, Maria Eva, Johann Adam, Sebastian, or Jeremiah among the early Gressetts.One of the Funtius brothers, either Johann Adam or Sebastian (an on-line tree says Sebastian, but a modern gravestone in the Cattle Creek Methodist Church Cemetery says it was “John”), had a son John Daniel Funchess (1760-1845), and one of Rachel Ratcliff’s presumed brothers was a John Daniel Ratcliff (1796-1863) who married Bathiah Elizabeth Gavin (for whom John Daniel Gressett was undoubtedly named) – then again, John Daniel appears to be a not-all-that-uncommon name, for instance, in the area there was an earlier German immigrant Johann Daniel Shuler (1735-1774).
Also, it is unclear how John Gressett would have met a Funchess.The only land grant that we know John received, for which he applied upon coming from Virginia in 1765 but did not receive until 1769, was on Tom’s Creek, in the fork between the Congaree and Wateree Rivers.Travelling up Tom’s creek from where it empties into the Congaree, it runs through the Congaree National Park before heading north.Thus, it is a good thirty miles or more above the Cattle Creek area.If John settled on Tom’s Creek, how did he quickly meet a Funchess – that family having settled in the Cattle Creek region – marry, and have a child within three or four years?Did he later move down to the Cattle Creek area, or did he live the rest of his life up on Tom’s Creek?If he did, initially, or at least early on, settle in the Cattle Creek vicinity, why did he petition for land on Tom’s Creek, but not closer to where he would live?None of these questions are “deal breakers” in and of themselves, but they do raise at least slight suspicions about the identity of Col. John’s wife.
It is also noteworthy that when Florence Reeves Hunter’s son Wilson Gressett[e] Hunter applied for membership to the SAR in 1925 (when his mother was still alive and, I think, lived with him), he listed Col. “William” Gressett’s wife as “Lydia Elizabeth Funchess.”All of the dates used by his mother in her DAR application were again listed, but in addition to the longer name for his great-great-grandmother, Wilson also used the name “Susan L.E. Gressett” for his grandmother, and “Rachel L. Radcliffe” for his great-grandmother.I don’t know if census records or state land grants would have then been available for searching, for if so the name Lydia might have come from those; if it came from some other source, however, that would be quite important.Anyway, this brings up the topic of the Lydia Gressett who lived next to William Gressett, and who appears in various records from 1790 through 1840.
At first blush, even without the SAR application, this Lydia appears to be an excellent candidate for Col. John’s wife.Thompson, however, discounts this possibility apparently for three reasons: a Lydia Gassett petitioned for bounty land on 4 Mar 1767, and the following year was granted 200 acres; the “family tradition,” as seen in the DAR applications, of the wife being an “Elizabeth Funchess”; and the fact that when John sold land to a John Simmerman in 1784, no wife relinquished dower.Thus, because of these these “problems in identification and relationship,” most especially the land grant, Thompson states that “they seem best solved by postulating [Lydia as] an unmarried sister or childless widowed sister-in-law to Col. John Gressett.”
As for the land grant to “Lydia Gassett,” Thompson notes that it was “located northwest of the Saxe-Gotha settlement at a considerable distance from that of John Gressett,” and this is quite true, for it was on Second Creek, between the Broad and Saluda rivers, in what would now be Newberry County.In researching land on Second Creek, one finds that two persons received grants for land that bordered a Lediah/Ledia Gossett, and that in 1784, a John Sparks purchased 32 acres in what became Newberry Co., on “Second Creek and Gossett’s Creek.”In the last Eighteenth and early Nineteenth centures, there were Gassetts/Gossetts throughout the South Carolina upcountry, including grants to a Francis Gasset and an Isaac Gasset, and a well-known Methodist minister, Rev. John Gossett (who would move to Tennessee in 1798).Thus, because of these records, and that her name was not spelled with a “Gr” but only a “G,” I think it clear the Lydia Gassett who received the land grant in 1768 up in Newberry was actually a “Gossett,” and in no way connected with our Gressett family.
As for the non-relinquishment of dower in 1784, one possible explanation is that John was then a widower, but that over the following year he would marry a woman named Lydia as his second wife.Or, it could be that the relinquishment was not recorded, or, because the land was in St. Johns, Berkeley, parish, that John made the sale while away from home and never bothered with the relinquishment.I guess one would need to know the approximate percentage of married sellers of land who failed to get their spouse to relinquish dower, to know whether this was all that unusual.
As for “family tradition,” this is all based off of the two DAR applications in the 1910s, yet less than ten years later, one of those applying had a son who listed the Colonel’s wife as “Lydia Elizabeth,” and not just “Elizabeth.”This, apparently, was unknown by Neil Thompson, and given both this and the fact that the Lydia in Newberry was a Gossett and not a Gressett, I wonder if he would have been as quick to write off Lydia as a possible spouse to Col. John.
The problem I have with assigning Lydia as a possible unmarried sister of John’s is that Lydia was known to possess both land and slaves of her own, yet, as Thompson states, John’s “fortune at home [i.e. Virginia] obviously left much to be desired.”Since she did not receive a land grant, how did an unmarried spinster from a relatively poor background (who did not receive any inheritance from Thomas Gressett) have enough money to buy her own land – or, for that matter, three or four slaves?Also, a land grant in 1819 listed neighboring property as belonging to “Mrs. Lydia Gressett.”Likewise, if she were a widowed sister-in-law, who was her husband?No other Gressett received a land grant other than John, and neither the records of Lancaster Co., Virginia, or those in South Carolina suggest that there was another male Gressett running around who could be Thomas and Winifred’s son.
Finally, whatever little evidence there is seems to suggest, at least to me, that, more likely than not, Lydia was John’s widow.Now that we know the 1768-grant Lydia was a Gossett, the first mention of our Lydia in any records is from 1790 – five years after John’s death – and she regularly appears until after 1840.Lydia lived next door to John’s son William, and she was approximately twenty years older than William.Being born in the 1740s, as is suggested in the 1830 census, would make Lydia the right age to have children from the late 1760s into the 1780s, which is when John’s children were born.Also, John’s daughter Mary named a daughter Lydia.
As for specifically what we know about Lydia, in the 1790 census, she is shown as the head of a household consisting of one male over 16, five females, and one slave.In 1800: one female over 45, one male 10-16, and three slaves.In 1810 (as “L. Gresset”): one female over 45, one male 26-45, one male 10-16; and four slaves.In 1820 (as “Liddy Grissett”): one female over 45 and three slaves.In 1830: one female 80-90, one female 50-60, and four slaves.In 1840, one female 70-80 and four slaves.In addition, as noted above, when William Gressett received a land grant for 38 acres in 1798 it bordered land owned by Lydia Grissett, and when William received a grant for 33.5 acres in 1819, it was likewise bordered by Lydia Grissett’s land.
Thus, as Thompson states, it appears that Lydia was born between 1740 and 1750.She was definitely alive as of 1830, and maybe as of 1840.Because the age of the 1840 Lydia does not match up to either of the females in the Lydia household of 1830, it is unknown which of the two women is the 1840 Lydia.If it is the younger, as Thompson surmises, this would mean that there would be two Lydias.Given that William’s age in 1840 is also off by several decades (with William being shown considerably younger than he was), I lean towards the opinion that there was only one Lydia, and that the 1840 census Lydia is the same Lydia who appears between 1790 and 1830 -- and was actually twenty years older than shown.
If this Lydia, who does not appear before Col. John’s death but then make an appearance for the next 40-50 years (owning land and slaves), is in fact Col. John’s widow, the question returns, was she a Funchess?Given that she was a decade or more younger, Lydia could not be the Susanna Elisabetha Funtius who was born in 1733.Of course, the Colonel could have been married twice, first to Elizabeth Funchess and then to a Lydia (although his likely first daughter Mary named a daughter Lydia).This Lydia, however, could be the younger Funtius, Elisabetha Catharina, who was born in 1748.What about the difference in names, though?This does throw up a seeming roadblock to this theory, but, as seen in the 1820 census, Lydia was apparently known as “Liddy,” and it is at least conceivable that Liddy was a nickname for Elizabeth – witness, for instance, a recent U.S. Senator from North Carolina.Given that she had an older sister who also went by Elisabetha, it could very well be that the family gave the youngest Funtius a nickname to differentiate her from her sister.Also, it may be noteworthy that in 1839, when a Frederick Syfrett received 1000 acres on Pen Branch in Orangeburgh District, others mentioned on the plat included not only James Grimes, a Ratcliff, and John Cannon, but also “E. Grissett.”
Overall, we may never have concrete proof as to Col. John Gressett’s wife.Bill Linder may have been entirely correct that she was the Susanna Elisabetha Funtius who was born in 1733.Then again, if I had to hazard a guess – which I do extraordinarily reluctantly – I would probably land of the side of saying that John was married to the Lydia Gressett who makes an appearance between 1790 and 1840, and who may have conceivably been Susanna Elisabetha’s youngest sister, Elisabetha Catharina Funtius.
Siblings of William Gressett.Regardless of the identity of his wife, Col. John Gressett was father to at least four children – and possibly several more.In addition to William, one of these siblings was an Elizabeth Gressett, who married James Grimes and resided in the Cattle Creek area.Descendants list Elizabeth’s birth year as 1779 or 1780, although in the 1850 census she is listed as 79 – so the birth year would be around 1771.At the time of the 1850 census, she was living with her son James Grimes, Jr., and his family – along with nephew Marion S. Gressett – and this son James Jr. happened to be the local census taker, thus giving great credibility to the 1771 date.As is the case throughout this family, however, other census records are not as clear, for she was listed as between 16 and 26 in 1800, but over 45 in 1820.In the DAR application of her descendant Maurine Ligon, James is given the dates (1774-1837) and Elizabeth (1780-1848), with an exact marriage date of 20 Apr 1797.Elizabeth, of course, was likely born earlier, and she was alive as of 1850, but it is refreshing to see an actual specific date for their wedding.In 1810, they are shown as having one female 10-15, two females under 10, and three males under 10.In 1820, their would-be children are shown as: one male 16-18, two males 10-16, and two females 10-16.With the birthdates of children ranging from the late 1790s to just before 1810, Elizabeth could have been born in 1771, or 1779, or anywhere in between.Of the six likely children shown in these census records, only one has been identified, that being James Grimes, Jr. (9 Dec 1802 – 29 Sept 1882), who married Emeline McMillan (1825-22 July 1885), and, among other positions, was the “express agent” at Branchville for the South Carolina Railroad.
Another sibling is a John Gressett, for in a January 1832 case in the Court of Equity for Orangeburgh District, Elizabeth Byrd v. Joseph Ratcliffe, William Gressett testified and stated that, in contradiction to the testimony of a plaintiff’s witness that a John Gressett was present at the time a contract was made for the sale of a slave in 1810, such could not have been true, for “John Gresset (who is witness’ brother) was not in the State at the date of the bill of sale.”See Holcomb, ed., Orangeburgh District South Carolina Returns in Partition from the Court of Equity, 1824-1837.It is unknown what became of this John Gressett [Jr.]A John Grissett, age between 26 and 45, was in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, in 1820.A James Grissett, over 45, is in the same parish (although four census pages away), and Thompson suggests that they were likely brothers and that they “give indication of being derived” from the Gressett family of Gloucester Co., Virginia.It is interesting to note, though, that, as another Gressett researcher has discovered, a Thomas Grissett, who was born in Louisiana about 1826, stated on the 1880 census (when he was in Coryell Co., Texas) that his parents were born in South Carolina.There is also a John Gressett, age 74 and born in South Carolina, in the 1860 census for Madison Co., Florida – and as long as his then wife wasn’t the Susanna Elisabetha who was born in 1733, Col. John could have had a child born (maybe even posthumously) as late as 1785 or even 1786.
Another sibling is a Mary Gressett Blackledge, who apparently came to light to Gressett researchers in the late 1990s – and, for once, there are complete bible records.The second edition of Blackledges in America, pp. 1726-28, has the listing for Zachariah Blackledge, who was born on 28 July 1767, was listed in the census for Orangeburgh for 1790 through 1810, and then between 1815 and 1822, removed to Jones Co., Mississippi – where he died between 1830 and 1840.On 2 Feb 1787, he married Mary Gressett – who was born on 18 Jan 1770 and died (of dropsy) in Jones Co. in July 1849 – and they had the following eleven children: Thomas (b. 23 Jan 1788); Ann (b. 29 Nov. 1789); Mary (b. 23 Dec 1791); John (b. 9 May 1793); Lydia (b. 2 Apr 1795); Elizabeth (b. 14 Apr 1797); Winaford (b. 6 Sept 1799); Sarah (b. 7 Oct 1803); Zachariah (b. 27 Aug 1806); Rachel (b. 9 Aug 1809); and William (b. 13 May 1814).
As seen in the 1790 census when Lydia Gressett was listed in a household containing one male over 16 and five females, there is very good reason to suspect that Col. John had at least three additional daughters – two of the five listed females being Lydia herself and Elizabeth.One excellent possibility for one or even two of these daughters comes from Thompson, when he mentions an 1813 deed of gift from William Owens, of St. James Goose Creek Parish, Charleston District, to his “sister Winifred Gressett.”Thompson wonders if this Winifred could be John Jr.’s wife, but in a footnote, he gives what I think is a more likely scenario when he states, “’Winifred Gressett’ of course calls to mind the mother of Col. John, and one wonders if the lady might have been sister of the wife of William Owens and daughter of Col. John.”If so, this would help identify an additional two of the females in Lydia’s household in 1790 – a daughter of Col. John who married William Owens, and another daughter who was named Winifred Gressett.
This William Owens lived in the Wassamassaw area of upper St. James Goose Creek, and his family was somehow connected to the Cannon family, in that William was the executor of the estate of a George Cannon in 1812, and two years earlier a son or grandson had been named George Cannon Owens.Of course, a John Cannon owned land in the Cattle Creek area that bordered William and Lydia, so one wonders if George were somehow related to this John Cannon.To me, what is even more telling is that this William Owens was either the uncle or first cousin of William Riggs Jr. – Riggs’s mother being an Elizabeth Owens (1758-1822), daughter of the first Owens in the Wassamassaw area, an emigrant from Virginia, Lansford Owens – and they not only lived near each other (just across the Charleston-Colleton border) but also had various land transactions together.As mentioned earlier, this William Riggs Jr. was the father of Richard Turner Riggs, who married William Gressett’s daughter Martha.Thus, it would make perfect sense for Martha to get to know her future husband while visiting an aunt who had married William Owens.
Ancestors of Col John Gressett.Much additional research needs to be done in Virginia to see if the ancestors of Col. John can be proved to any extent.Thanks mainly to the information provided in Thompson’s article, as well as what else can be found on-line, the following ancestors are known.John was apparently born in Lancaster Co., Virginia, the son of a landless, and probably illiterate, Thomas Gressit, who died in Northumberland Co., Va., in early 1767 – will dated 13 Dec 1766 and proved 9 Feb 1767.Nothing is known about Thomas’s parentage, although he did administer the estate of a James Gressits in Charles City Co., Va., in 1740 – who may have been his father.
Thomas Gressett was married twice, with his second wife – the mother of Col. John – being Winifred King [Chilton/Shelton].Winifred, was likely born around 1705, and was the daughter of a William King who died in 1716 (will dated 25 Jan 1715/6, proved 11 Apr 1716) in Lancaster Co., and who apparently received a patent for 720 acres in Lancaster.William King’s wife, and Winifred’s mother, was a Lycia/Elisia/Elesbee, who, after William’s death, remarried on 6 Feb 1718, to a Jerome Pasquet; Jerome Pasquet died in early 1729, for his will was written on 24 Oct 1728 and recorded on 12 Feb 1728/9.Winifred King first married a Thomas Chilton/Shelton on 14 Jan 1723/4 (date of license bond), while she was still a minor, and they had various issue, including a son Ezekiel, who died in Lancaster in 1754.Thomas Chilton died intestate shortly before 8 Dec 1738, and after this, Winifred remarried to Thomas Gressett and had additional children – including Col. John.Winifred’s mother is also somehow closely related to the Saunders family, for on 16 Jan 1719 in Northumberland, Edward Saunders and wife Winifred transferred fifty acres to Eliz. Paskquett, while in Lancaster in March 1744, Edward Sanders gives “100 acres of Pasquet’s land” to his sons Thomas and Edward.For some reason, some on-line trees list Thomas’s mother as “Winifred Pasquet King,” but she was definitely the daughter of William King, and only the stepdaughter of Jerome Pasquet.
A few persons on-line have tried to make a connection from Thomas Gressett to the much better known French Huguenot Augustus Grassett, who went from France to London, and then New York – where he was killed in a slave riot on 19 Apr 1712.Augustus apparently had a son Samuel (14 Sept 1676-25 May 1729) who married a Martha Paupain and removed to Charleston, and this son had a son Samuel [Jr.], who married a Jane Dupuy and died in Charleston in May 1733.This Samuel Jr. and Jane Dupuy (1705-1735) had five children, including a Lydia Gressett (1724-1767), who married James Vouloux and then Robert Rawlins.The family of Samuel Jr. of Charleston is well known – Henry Laurens was a descendant – but they did not have any male Gressetts to live as late as 1754 (see the division of property left by Jane Dupuy Gressett’s brother Andrew Dupuy, shown in the South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 1).Thus, various persons have tried to connect the Thomas Gressett of Lancaster Co., Va., to this family through other means.Some, for instance, have tried to turn Samuel [Sr.] into a James Gressett, or a Samuel James Gressett, and state that he was the father of Thomas (given that Thomas administered on the estate of a James in Charles City County, Va., in 1740) – and at least one person on-line has gone ahead and stated that this James was married to a “Miss Carter.”Others speculate that Augustus not only had the son Samuel who went to Charleston, but another son James, who became the father of our Thomas.So far, however, I have not seen a shred of proof that any of this is correct, and, to me, it smacks of the “making-things-fit” school of genealogy.As of now, we know that Thomas administered the estate of a James Grissits in Charles City Co., Va., in 1740, and that a member of the well-known, and wealthy, Carter family (Hon. John Carter, Esq.) was surety on the bond.Other than this, however, I don’t believe anyone has found proof of Thomas’s ancestry, and it is important to note again that he was landless and apparently illiterate – which would militate against familial connection to both the Augustus Gressett family and, especially, the Carter family.Anyway, additional research in Virginia needs to be conducted to discover if there is anything else to be found.
First Wife, Catherine Gavin.William’s first wife Catherine Gavin was the daughter of Charles Gavin (IV) and wife Bathiah Byrd.Some give her a birth date of around 1773, but she was listed in the 1800 census as being between 16 and 26.Given that she has known siblings who were born in July 1775, Sept 1777, and June 1780, and that she apparently had two daughters before 1800, I am thinking that a birth date of around 1779 might be appropriate.She died sometime around 1810, and I would not be surprised if it was at son Charles G.’s birth.Her parents, as well as many of her siblings and her own four surviving children, moved to Mississippi, most of these making the move in the late 1810s.According to David Gavin, Catherine, as well as her father – who died while on a return trip to South Carolina in 1824 – were buried in a family cemetery on property that was owned, in the 1860s, by a John Berry.
Second Wife, Rachel Ratcliff.According to her two granddaughters’ DAR applications, William’s second wife Rachel Ratcliff was born in 1795, and, given that her known children were born between 1818 and 1833/4, sometime around this date seems appropriate – although she could have been born as late as 1800.The applications also state that William and Rachel married in 1813, and that she died in 1837.Given that her first known child was born in 1818, the marriage date may have been several years later – unless Rachel had other unknown children who died quite young, or she suffered stillbirths/miscarriages – and given that she was apparently listed in the 1840 census, her death date is likely several years too early.Like with her husband William, it is unknown where she was buried.
Unlike for Catherine Gavin, no one, at least to my knowledge, has ever attempted to identify her parents.I have found, however, much circumstantial evidence to suggest that her father was a Samuel Ratcliff of the Cattle Creek area.This Samuel was a brother to a William Ratcliff, who died in Orangeburgh on 6 Feb 1795.This William’s family was quite litigious, which is actually a good thing, for much information about William’s family can be gleaned from court records preserved in Mississippi, and even in the one equity journal from Orangeburgh that somehow survived destruction.Just to show a taste of this litigiousness: William’s son James Shelton sued his mother Agga Byrd Ratcliff over slave property, and she countersued and won; William’s son Joseph was involved in a suit with his aunt Elizabeth Byrd over a contract her husband had made to sell slaves; and upon Agga’s death in 1840, James Shelton Ratcliff sued his brother Joseph over the administration of her estate, a suit which made it to the Mississippi Supreme Court – Ratcliff v. Ratcliff, 20 Miss. 134 (1849).While I won’t go into great detail about what these records show, and I would still like to do some searching in Mississippi, according to these records, William’s will (written 17 Jan 1795, probated 10 Oct 1795) mentions his wife Agga and six sons – Joseph, William, James Shelton, Samuel, Richard, and John – with his named executors being his wife and his brothers Samuel and Lewis.Other records show that there were additional brothers James and Richard, and that all five of these brothers were apparently sons of a Richard Ratcliff.While many persons on-line list William as the son of a Joseph Harrison Ratcliff, who was also father of an Isaiah Ratcliff who settled in a different section of Orangeburgh, this Joseph was either an uncle or, what I think is most likely, a cousin to the Cattle Creek Ratcliffs.
All of these Ratcliffs are descended from a Richard Ratcliff (29 July 1661-1 June 1721), a Quaker from Lancashire, England, who came to America in 1682 aboard the SUBMISSION, and settled in what is now Talbot Co., Maryland.On 13 May 1691, Richard married Mary Caterne, and among their various children they had five known sons: Richard (b. 5 Mar 1692); James (b. 5 May 1693); John (b. 15 Sept 1694); William (b. 15 Sept 1696); and Samuel (b. 31 Mar 1700).The above-named Joseph Harrison Ratcliff was supposedly a son of John, but I think that, more likely than not, Rachel Ratcliff Gressett’s line descends from the Samuel.This Samuel married a Racheal/Rachel Warner, daughter of a William Warner and Magdalene Gary, and widow of a Richard Fairbrother, and by 1756 they had left Talbot Co., Maryland, and gone to Duplin Co., North Carolina.There, Samuel and his family became closely connected with the Byrd, King, Bell, Daniel, and, apparently, Gavin, families – many of whose descendants would eventually end up in the Cattle Creek area of Orangeburg.By 1764, Samuel Ratcliff had moved further south, to the Lynches Creek area of what is now probably Sumter Co., S.C., and here, he died between 29 July 1772 (date of will) and 27 Jan 1778 (grandson sells property inherited from will).Samuel and Rachel had various children, including, supposedly, sons named Samuel, Jr., Richard, and James.
Samuel’s son Richard apparently married a King, and little is mentioned about him on-line, except that some state that he had sons Samuel, Henry, Peter, James, and Benjamin.While I don’t know about all of these children, I tend to believe that this is the Richard Ratcliff who is listed in the 1790 census for Orangeburg, with a household consisting of 4 males over 16, 2 males under 16, six females, and 17 slaves.As noted above, five of his sons were William (d. 1795), Samuel, Lewis, James, and Richard.The first two are also listed in the 1790 census, with William having a household of one male over 16, five males under 16, one female, and four slaves, and Samuel listing one male over 16 and two females.Richard Ratcliff may have died by 1800, for he is not found in the census for Orangeburg that year, and this would make sense, given that he was likely born around 1730; then again, there is a land grant for a Richard Ratcliff in 1801.In 1800, only two Ratcliffs are mentioned in Orangeburg: William’s widow Agga (shown as Hagah), with a household of one female 26-45, one male 16-25, one male 10-15 two males under 10, one female under 10, and five slaves; and Samuel Ratcliff, with one male 26-45, one female 26-45, one female 16-25, one female 10-15, one female under 10, two males under 10, and three slaves.On the same page as Samuel are both Byrds and Gavins.In 1810, Agga is apparently listed with her son William, while Samuel’s household consisted of one male over 44, one male 16-25, one male 10-15, one female 16-25, three females 10-15, one female under 10, and eleven slaves.Samuel is not shown in the 1820 census, so he was apparently dead by this point – unless he had moved to Mississippi.Most if not all of Samuel and William’s brothers apparently moved to Georgia, but, unfortunately, the 1800 and 1810 census for Georgia have not survived.
Only four Ratcliffs, Richard, Samuel, William, and Lewis, received land grants in the region around the Cattle Creek area (Isaiah was further away along the south Edisto).Samuel received six grants there in 1784 and 1785, all surveyed by George Renerson, as well as additional grants in 1797, 1808, and 1812; all together, they totaled 1023 acres.Lewis received grants in 1785, 1791, and 1793, but he thereafter moved to Georgia, dying in Camden Co. just prior to 8 Jan 1806, when a Mary Ratcliff was appointed the administratrix of his estate.William received one grant, for 895 acres in 1793, and as noted above, he died in February 1795.George Renerson surveyed 1400 acres for Richard Ratcliff in 1786, but in 1791 this land went to Lewis.A Richard Ratcliff did receive a grant of 426 acres in 1792, as well as 560 acres in 1801 (bordering Samuel and William’s grants), but given that Richard does not appear in the 1800 census, it is unknown if one or both are for the father Richard, or for his son.
Of Richard Ratcliff’s sons, it appears that only the families of William and Samuel remained in the Cattle Creek area after 1800 (although not appearing in 1800, there is another Orangeburg Ratcliff in 1810 whose first name is unclear but may be Isaiah, but he did not have any daughters under 16).Thus, these two would be our best choices for Rachel Ratcliff’s father.As noted above, when William wrote his will in January 1795 he only had six sons but no daughters, but census records from both 1800 and 1810 suggest that there might have been a daughter born posthumously (female under ten in Hagah’s household in 1800, and female between 10 and 16 in William’s in 1810).The various Mississippi court records need to be carefully checked to see if it can be determined if this daughter survived and what was her name – from the court records, for instance, it is known that three of William’s six sons (Samuel, Richard, and John) were dead by 1828.It appears, however, that there is a greater probability that Rachel’s father was Samuel.
Samuel may or may not have been the Samuel Ratcliff who served as a Sergeant in Capt. Field Farrar’s company of the South Carolina militia during the Revolution.As noted above, he appears in the censuses for Orangeburg between 1790 and 1810, including having daughters Rachel’s age in both 1800 and 1810.The census records for this Samuel also generally fit the two other Ratcliffs mentioned above who are very likely Rachel’s siblings, but could not be William’s children.These would be a Margaret Ratcliff, who was born 30 Sept 1793 in the Cattle Creek area and married George Summers, Jr. (in 1800, Samuel is shown as having only one daughter under 10, but another 10-15, while in 1810 he apparently had one 16-25 and three 10-15, and one under 10), and the John Daniel Ratcliff, born 25 Sept 1796, who married Bethiah Gavin and moved to Mississippi (William died nineteenth months previous to John’s birth and his own son John was dead by 1828, while Samuel had two sons under 10 in 1800, and a son 10-15 in 1810).It has been suggested that Samuel Ratcliff is also the father of a Lydia Ratcliff (1779-1849), who married William Walker and lived in the Walker Station area of Barnwell Co.Anyway, if I had to hazard a guess, I would say that Rachel could very well be the daughter of Samuel Ratcliff and an unknown wife; the granddaughter of Richard Ratcliff and a King (thus, probably making her a cousin to the Byrds and Gavins); the great-granddaughter of Samuel Ratcliff (b. 1700) and Rachel Warner; and the great-great-granddaughter of the Quaker immigrant Richard Ratcliff (1661-1721) and Mary Caterne.
Picture of William Gressett.Finally, attached to various Gressett trees posted on a major genealogical website is a picture of someone who is said to be the William Gressett who was born in the late 1760s and died in Orangeburgh District around 1847.I have known of this picture for a while, for a copy was graciously sent to me by a descendant of William’s son William (ca.1803-ca.1875) in late 1998 or early 1999.The picture shows a fellow with long, unruly white hair and a long white beard.I have often wondered about its authenticity, for at the time that he could have had a picture taken of himself (after 1840), William would have been over seventy years old, and this person, despite the white hair, doesn’t look that old to me (his skin, for instance, looks especially smooth and unwrinkled).Unfortunately, the original of the picture has apparently been lost, and what we now have a picture of the original that was taken much later, for it would be vital to know what sort of picture the original was – when William died, only daguerreotypes were in existence, and ambrotypes, tintypes, carte de visits, etc., all came later.Because of its provenance, I have always wondered if it might show William Gressett [Jr.], instead of his father, but who knows.It just adds one more to the huge number of mysteries surrounding this Gressett family.
Anyway, that is all that I have discovered about the Gressetts.Were it not for the wholesale destruction of records in 1865, many of these mysteries could be easily cleared up.Unfortunately, we may never have concrete evidence to prove many of the facts about this family. As it is, while my above conclusions are not set in stone and could easily contain various errors, I believe that the above discussion fits with the facts that are now know.Should anyone have any questions or comments at all, please do not hesitate to get in contact.
thunter at westga dot edu
1 May 2014