What he had found was simply extraordinary. He is an historian working in part of the greater Charleston area, who was contacted by a utility company which had found old grave markers in one of its rights of way. The images which appear in this post were taken by him, but out of respect for the sensitivity of the site which he is trying to document and preserve I will refrain from revealing either his name or its location.
Suffice it to say that in a tucked away corner of wooded land are the remains of three of my direct ancestors and several of their relations by marriage. There are eight grave markers, most of which were installed as horizontal slabs and all of which are now on the ground, as well as clear evidence of more graves that either lacked permanent markers (possibly those of tenants, servants or slaves) or where such markers are now missing. The eight remaining markers appear with identifying numbers in the image at right.
My new friend in South Carolina was lead to me by my post that concerned Christopher Williman (1746-1813). Being a good researcher he also found my cellphone and home telephone numbers - thank heavens I didn't treat him like a telemarketer calling bright and early on MLK Day! Christopher Williman is buried in the grave in the picture at the top of this post. The grave is also marked at right with the number seven, and at #8 is his wife Mary (Walther) Williman,who died in 1804 at age 40. These are my 5th Great Grandparents.
I was told that another of my relatives mentioned in that blog post, Angus Bethune (more on him, below), was also buried here, but did not receive the pictures until later that evening. In the meantime, I spent the day doing my own research, greatly facilitated by a propensity of at Google to scan anything that isn't nailed down and post it at Google Books. Under various copywrite agreements, a great deal can be viewed and even more can be queried using this tool, and by the end of the day I had reconstructed the names and marriages of all of the Williman children and some of the grandchildren. Then I received the photographs, and discovered that I had identified three more of the names on the graves as well!
My Great Aunt Margie, whose family archive of genealogical material I inherited in 2003, would have been utterly captivated by these new finds. She knew the bare bones of the Christopher Williman line, but Angus Bethune was listed simply as the husband of one of the daughters: Margaret (Williman) Bethune. Now, thanks to the surviving top half of his gravestone, I know that my 4th Great Grandfather, Angus Bethune, was 46 years old when he died on December 20, 1813. I also found several court cases in which he was involved, and details of his house on Broad St. in Charleston from a city inventory. He was a prosperous merchant, like the Gracie family into which his grand-daughter, Elizabeth Davidson Bethune, subsequently married.
And speaking of "Davidson". I now know the origin of that middle name. Grave #1. belongs to Gilbert Davidson, the second husband of another Williman daughter, Eliza. She married Gilbert Davidson on Jan 15, 1801, the same day as her sister (my 4th Great Grandmother) married Angus Bethune! This double wedding suggests a close relationship between these siblings - at least until the family estate was divided - and six years later my 3rd Great Grandmother was given Davidson as her middle name.
There is an Eliza Williman associated with Grave 6, but she was
Eliza (Merritt) Williman, daughter of James Merritt and 1st wife of
Christopher Williman, Jr. She lived just 26 years (1789-1814). Grave 4
belongs to Sarah Cleiland Williman, a three year old child who died in 1819,
suggesting a second marriage for Christopher Williman, Jr. who I
believe was the only male child of his parents to have issue.
Grave 2 belongs to Joseph de Jongh (sometimes appearing in court records as Jough). His stone (at right) reveals that he was a native of Ostend, Flanders, and died on June 15th, 1823 in the 46th year of his age. Gilbert Davidson died that same month, which may indicate an outbreak of one of the malignant fevers at that time. I found a snippet reference at Google Books from a Liverpool business and Market journal of his marriage in 1810 to a "Miss Harriet Williams (sic), daughter of Christopher Williams (sic), esq., of South Carolina." Harriet Williman (b. 3/4/1784) was yet another Williman daughter, bringing to 4 the number of spouses of Williman children buried here.
Grave 3 (at left) is broken where the name was originally inscribed and will require more study to determine whose grave is marked by the slab. There is also a grave in the space between stones 1 and 6 that probably once had a marker.
The information which has been unearthed in South Carolina and in the electronic ether will help document and hopefully preserve this 200 year old family burial ground. It is amazing that it has survived, unremarked and unremembered, for as long as it has. It is more amazing, still, that so much evidence exists to document the lives of the principle remains, though we may never know the identifies of those at the lowest rungs of their society who are buried here as well. I am deeply grateful to my new friend in Charleston who has taken on this project with the sort of passion and dedication that I can only hope I would show to his ancestors had our roles been reversed.
For the Record:
Johan Christof (Christopher) Williman) (1746-1813) (Grave 7) and Maria Rumpf (Walther/Walter) Williman (abt. 1764-1804) (Grave 8) had the following known descendants:
1. George Williman (b. 1/18/1772 - not still living as of his father's will of 12/26/1813)
2. John Jakob Williman (b. 9/4/1774 - d. 1804) married but no issue
3. Maria (Mary) Williman (b. 12/7/1776) m. 11/7/1795 William Peter(s), esq. of PonPon, St. Paul's Parish - d. before 12/26/1813
4. Eliza Williman m. 1) 11/20/1793 Dr. George F. Habnbaum, 2) 1/15/1801 Gilbert Davidson (Grave 1) d. June 1823
5. Margaret A Williman (b. 4/14/1782) m. 1/15/1801 Angus Bethune (Grave 5) d. Dec 20, 1813 age 46 They had children, including Elizabeth Davidson Bethune (1807-1864) m. Archibald Gracie, Jr. (d. 1865) of NYC, Elizabeth, NJ and Mobile, AL. Their daughter, Esther Gracie, married Dayton Ogden, whose son Archibald Gracie Ogden married Margaret Stearns Olmsted, and whose daughter Athalia (Ogden) Barker (1911-2007) was my maternal grandmother.
6. Christopher Henry Williman (d. young abt 1783)
7. Harriet Williman (b. 3/4/1784) m. 1810 Joseph de Jongh/Jough(d. June 15, 1823 age 46.) They had a sole male heir, William F. D. Jongh/Jough (Grave 2) , still living in 1850.
8. Christopher Williman, Jr. (b. 4/23/1786 - 1864) m. 1) Eliza (Merritt) Williman (Grave 6) (1789-1814) They had two daughters who survived to adulthood:
a. Maria Williman (b. 9/5/1810 - d. 9/19/1877 in GA) appears to have had three marriages. The first was apparently to a Mr. Johnston. The second was on 8/19/1826 to Wilbrandt Schmidt esq. The thrid was on 7/27/1838 to Alexander Inglis. Their son, Alexander Inglis, Jr., served in the Confederate Army from Georgia.
b. Harriet Eliza Williman, who in May 1838 married in New York Bvt. Maj. James Alex Ashby of the 2nd Dragoons who fought and was severely wounded in the Second Seminole War and died in Charleston 7/30/46, supposedly of complications from wounds suffered 10 years before.
Amazing, amazing stuff.