Sunday, 22 May 2016

Memoir of Robert Witherspoon. 1730.

 Memoir of  Robert Witherspoon, A Scots-Irish family settles
in South Carolina in the 1730s.

 We were then put on board an open boat with tools and a years provision and one still mill for each family. They allowed each person over sixteen one ax, a broad ax, one narrow hoe. Our provisions consisted of indian corn, rice, wheaten flour, beef,  pork, rum and salt we were much distressed in this part of our passage as it was the dead of winter and we were exposed to the inclemency of the weather day and night and what added to the grief of all pious persons on board was the Atheistical blasphemous mouths of our patrons they brought us up as far as Potatoe Ferry on Black River, about twenty miles from Georgetown and turned us on shore where we lay in Samuel Commander’s barn for some time while the boat wrought her way up as far as the king’s tree with the goods and provision.
The boat that brought up the goods arrived at the Kingstree. The people were much oppressed in bringing their things as there was no horse there, they were obliged to toil hard, as they had no other way but to carry them on their back. The goods consisted of their bed-clothing chests provision tools post &c. [etc. At that time there were no roads every family had to travel the best they could, which was double distance to some for their only guides were swamps and branches. After a time the men got sufficient knowledge of the woods as to blaze paths, so the people learned to follow blazes from place to place.
As the winter season advanced there was but a short time for preparing land for planting — but the people were strong and healthy All that could do anything wrought diligently and continued clearing and planting as long as the season would admit. So they made provisions for that year. Their beasts were few and as the range was good there was no need of feeding creatures for some time to come.
The first thing my father brought from the boat was the gun[,] one of queen Anne’s muskets,  loaded with swan shot. One morning while we were at breakfast a travelling oppossum on his way passed the door. My mother screamed out there is a great bear we hid behind some barrels at the other end of our hut Father got his gun and steedied it on the fork that held up the end of the hut and shot him about the hinder parts which caused poor opossum to grin and open his mouth in a frightful manner. Father having mislaid his shot could not give it a second bout, but at last ventured out and killed it with a pail.
Another thing which gave us great alarm was the Indians when they came to hunt in the spring they were great in numbers and in all places like the Egyptian locast but they were not hurtful. Besides these things we had a great deal of trouble and hardships in our first settling, but the few inhabitants were favored with health and strength. We were also much oppressed with fear on divers other accounts, especially of being massacred by the Indians, or bit by snakes, or torn by wild beasts, or of being lost and perishing in the woods, of whom there were three persons who were never found.

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