Saturday, October 27, 2007

Col. Samuel Watson (1731-1810)

From the "Nearby History" column of historian Louise Pettus in South Carolina's York Observer:

    "On the 6th of April 1765 [Samuel] Watson registered two plots of land totalling 760 acres , whereon Watson now liveth, in Mecklenburg on Rockey Allison's Creek . . ."
    At this time much of present-day York County was claimed by Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Watson's house, like his Pennsylvania home, was constructed of brick. The house was located about half way between the town of York and the Catawba River on Highway 49. Whatever the date of his arrival, the Allison Creek land grant places Watson in the heart of the Bethel congregation, which was located in the northeastern area of the part of York County west of the Catawba. The Bethel congregation covered 10 miles in every direction. As a Bethel elder, Watson became an influential member of the church as well as highly respected in the community.
    The Lyman Draper papers at the University of Wisconsin describe Watson as a man 5 ft, 5 in. in height, of compact build, and genial in disposition. However, like most Scotch-Irishmen of his time, he had no love for the English. When talk of rebellion became general, Watson quickly rose to the cause.
    Watson was elected to the South Carolina Provinicial Congress of 1775-1776, one of 46 delegates from the back country. In February of 1776 Watson participated in the framing of South Carolinas first written constitution. The British, naturally, saw this constitution as defiance of their sovereignty. Watson volunteered his services to the South Carolina Regulars. It was not long before the S. C. troops were made a part of the Continental Army of the newly-formed Continental Congress.
    By 1778 Watson was a lieut-colonel in Col. Thomas Neel's New Acquisition District Regiment of Horsemen, a part of Thomson's Regiment of Rangers. He went with Neel in what is called the Charleston Expedition in the summer of 1779. Neel was killed at Stono Ferry on June 20, 1779 and Watson took his place.
    In June 1780 nearby Hill's Ironworks were burned by the British. The terrified workers fled to Watson's plantation which quickly became a center of resistance. A commissary was set up there to issue supplies to any Whigs who would carry a musket against the British.
    At the Battle of Hanging Rock in lower Lancaster County, a musket ball hit Watson's sword, breaking his ribs and knocking him off his horse. The grandson wrote Draper that the family kept the prized sword with the ball half buried in its metal along with Watson's giant musket which kicked mightily.
    Watson was also at the skirmish at Williamson Plantation near Brattonsville. The encounter is also called the Battle of Hucks Defeat in some of the literature. Other battles in which Watson participated were Rocky Mount, Sumter's Defeat and Biggin Church....
    In his old age Samuel Watson was paralyzed. He died November 25, 1810 at the age of 79 and is buried in Bethel Cemetery in York County.