Harriet Williman was the youngest daughter of Christopher Williman (sr.) and Mary Walther of Charleston, SC. Her parents, various in-laws, and other members of her family are buried in the all- but-forgotten JeJongh-Williman Cemetery in North Charleston, about which I have written before.
It is unclear whether she herself was laid to rest here, as one 2nd hand source indicates, but I have my doubts. For one thing, there is evidence that she was still alive in the 1850s, decades after the plantation on which the private cemetery is situated passed out of the ownership of the family. For another, she had long been absent herself from South Carolina, and from her family, Therein lies a story that I have been piecing together with the help of my friend Grant Mishoe and the records we uncovered last week in the South Carolina Room of the Charleston Public Library.
Prior to this genealogical expedition to Charleston, about all we knew about Harriet Williman was that she was born on March 4th, 1784 and later married Joseph De Jongh, whose grave marker is among the 9 surviving stones in the old family cemetery in North Charleston. They were married on July 23, 1810 in New York City. Mr. De Jongh was from Ostend, Flanders, and subsequently established himself in Charleston as a merchant and planter. He died of "country fever", most likely malaria, on June 15th, 1823.
The grave marker at the head of this post is actually a detail from that of their first child, Margaret De Jongh, who died April 24th, 1812. Perhaps it was this death that so deeply affected Harriet (Williman) DeJongh that she had to leave the state, for it was clear in her father Christopher's will that she was away. He made provision for her and any children she might have in his will (proved on January 12, 1814), and in the codicil authorized that 1,000 pounds Sterling from his estate be provided as quickly as possible to allow her to return to South Carolina. But where was she?
Another clue is found in the will of her husband, Joseph DeJongh, which was drafted on June 10th, five days before his death, and which was proved on June 26, 1823, the day after another of Joseph and Harriet De Jongh's children died (6 yr old Ernest Augustine De Jongh). Both father and son DeJongh and Gilbert Davidson, married to another Williman daughter, died of country fever during this terrible month, and all three are buried in the family cemetery. Joseph DeJongh's will makes no mention whatever of his wife Harriet, though he does leave funds for his children's nurse, Eliza Hall. He names his sisters-in-law Margaret (Williman) Bethune and Mary (Williman) Peters executrixes of his estate, which they surely would not have done if he had abandoned his wife Harriet.
Several court cases related to funds held in trust from the DeJongh estate in 1825 and 1827 make the matter plain. Harriet de Jongh was in a lunatic asylum in New York. She had four children in all between 1811 and 1817, and one of these, Mary Ann DeJongh, died in New York at age 14 on October 21, 1827. Only their son William F. De Jongh survived to adulthood and was still living in 1850. There are apparently appeals court documents that indicate that she was still alive at that time as well.
Did she become mentally unhinged after the death of their first child? She seems to have returned to South Carolina and dutifully conceived three more children, but sometime after 1817 when Ernest DeJongh was born, she was institutionalized as a lunatic. Her sister Margaret Bethune later moved to New York, as did her niece Elizabeth Davidson Bethune, my gr-gr-great grandmother (1807-1864). I find it very unlikely that Harriet DeJongh was buried in the old family cemetery in the mid 19th century, and in any case the stone, if it ever was there, is nowhere to be found today. Still, stranger things have happened, so the case is not yet closed on this sad chapter in the life of a southern family from the low country of South Carolina.