For a change of scenery I am taking my family to South Carolina – Richland County, to be specific. Most of my maternal ancestors were born, lived, and died in Richland County. It should be an easy task to round them all up and get their stats….but some of them are difficult. Take my great grandfather, for instance. Oh, I know a lot about him after he was born; but, who are his parents?! There is speculation, of course, from many people who are researching him, but no concrete records so far.
This mystery man is Rev Thomas H Wilson, my mother’s grandfather and my great grandfather. As far as I know, Thomas was born in South Carolina 8 October 1820 and died in Richland County SC 17 May 1909. All of the censuses I have checked state he was born in South Carolina.
1880 Census: Self Thomas Wilson M 60 South Carolina, United States (birthplace)
1900 Census: Head Thomas Wilson M 78 South Carolina (birthplace)
So I am pretty sure he was born in South Carolina.
He married Elizabeth “Betsy” Gulledge (some say Phillips) and together they had 13 children, of whom, my grandfather, Elisha Alexander Wilson was the youngest. Thomas bought a large tract of land on or near Colonel’s Creek in Lower Richland county. He raised all his children there and bit by bit divided his land up amongst them. All of them were engaged in farming.
Thomas was a Christian man who needed a place for his family to worship. He founded Oak Grove Free Will Baptist church, a quaint white wooden structure, which is located on Congress Road just off of Hwy 76/378. Many of his sons and daughters and their families and their families’ families are buried in the graveyard at the church.
Oak Grove Baptist Church
WPA Survey of State and Local Historical Records: 1936
Worker: Anna L Sinkler
State: South Carolina
1. County Richland City or Town Wilson Mill
2. Name of Church Oak Grove Street Address None
3. Denomination Original Free Will Date Organized About 1897
4. Date of lapse, if now defunct No Lapse
5. Information as to previous building No Previous Building
6. Date present building dedicated or consecrated 1897 (“consecrated” struck through) Rebuilt 1897 (“Re” struck through)
7. Architecture, bells, inscriptions, special features of building Small rectangular frame building painted white 30’x20’, no porch or belfry, a cross on the gate
8. First settled clergyman Rev Thomas Wilson Tenure 1897-1910
Educational background Grammar school Richland County
9. Minute books 1930—1 volume custodian Rev I W Wilson, Eastover
10. Register books of baptisms, confirmations, marriages, members, deaths
In the minutes, members, deaths, discipline
present membership charter members
Handwritten entries underlined
Transcription of typed document:
Oak Grove-Free Will Baptist in Richland Co. near Wilson’s Mill on country road: W of Hwy #26 – 2 M. Organized 1888 on a 3 acre prot given by Rev Thomas B Wilson. A bush arbor preceded it for some time.
Ch. is a frame bldg 20’x30’, with cross on the gable (“l” struck through), rough inside, home-made seats, seats 150, painted white, no bell or belfry or special features, cemetery near. Value of all property $1,000.00, Charter members 20. First pastor T H Wilson – tenure 1888-1918, education unknown. Present membership 37. Present pastor L W Wilson education fair, Eastover. Old records extinct. Possibly in conference books at Florence may be found scanty records.
Rev L W Wilson, local pastor has records from 1930-38. Eastover, S C
There is no ch Clk.
Source: USC Libraries - Inventory of S C Church Archives
Name: Thomas Wilson
Side Served: Confederacy
State Served: South Carolina
Service Record: Enlisted as a Sergeant.
Enlisted in Company D, 7th Battn Infantry Regiment South Carolina.
Source:Historical Data Systems, comp.. American Civil War Soldiers [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999. Ancestry.com
Rev Thomas H Wilson Will
In the Name of God Amen!
1. I Thomas H Wilson of the county of Richland
2. and state of South Carolina, being of sound
3. mind and disposing memory, and being
4. mindful of the uncertainty of human life, do hereby
5. make ordain and declare this my last will
6. and testament, hereby revoking any former
7. will by me made. That after my deceased
8. my estate may be settled without strife. I hereby
9. direct: that my debts and funeral expenses
10. be paid by my executor hereinafter named as
11. soon as practicable.
12. I give and bequeath to my wife Elizabeth
13. Wilson all personal property of which I may
14. die possessed, for her benefit, use and enjoyment
15. and subject to her disposal during her lifetime.
16. Should any of said personal property remain at
17. the death of my said wife Elizabeth Wilson, I
18. direct that my executors hereinafter named, so
19. soon as possible after her decease, shall such
20. personal property cause to be duly appraised
21. shall sell the same and divide the proceeds of
22. said sale share and share alike between my
23. sons, Roach W Wilson and Elisha A Wilson,
24 and my daughters Pensacola Haithcock and
25. Theodosia Haithcock.
26. I hereby nominate, constitute and appoint
27. my sons Roach W Wilson and Elish A Wilson
28. to be exors of my last will and testament.
29. In witness whereof I have to this my last will and
30. testament placed my hand and seal this sixteenth
31. day of April A D 1906
32. Thomas H Wilson LS
33.Signed sealed and declared
34. by the said Thomas H Wilson as
35. and for his last will & testament
36. in the presence of us, who at his
37. request and in his presents and in
38. presence of each other have subscribed our names as
39. witnesses thereto R L Henry
40. Willie Drawdery
41. Jesse H Taylor
1. In the Court of Probate
2. The will of Thomas H Wilson deceased was
3. this 22nd day of May admitted to probate in
4. common form
5. Witness my hand and seal this 22nd day of May
6. A D 1909 John T Gaston JPRC
7. State South Carolina
8. County of Richland
9. By John T Gaston Probate Judge for said county
10. personally appears R L Henry who being
11. duly sound says: that he saw Thos H Wilson sign seal
12. publish and declare the annexed instrument of writing
13. bearing the day 16th day of April A D 1906 to be and
14. contain the last will and testament and that the said
15. Thos H Wilson was then of sound and disposing mind
16. memory and understanding according to the best of
17. deposents knowledge and belief and that the said
18. R L Henry at the request of the testator and in his presence
19. and in the presence of each other witnessed the due
20. execution thereof
21. Sworn to before me this 22. day
22. of May A D 1909
23. John T Gaston R L Henry
24. Judge Probate
25. R C
Source: South Carolina, Probate Reports... Bound Volumes, 1671-1977>Richland Vol P p. 175-176
Obituary: 17 September 1909 in Richland County SC, The State Newspaper, Columbia SC page 10
Death of Aged Citizen
Rev Thos H Wilson, Lifelong Resident of Lower Part of this County
In the death of Rev Thomas H Wilson, which recently occurred at his home about 10 miles north of Eastover, near Cook's Mountain, Richland County has lost one of her oldest citizens. In many respects Mr Wilson was a remarkable man. He served in the Florida and Indian War and in the War Between the States and at the time of his death was in his 69th year, being born on October 8, 1820. Many years ago he bought a large tract of land on or near Colonel's Creek, this county, where he settled and reared a large family, to whom he gave farms from the original section. They, with their children and grandchildren, still live in that part of the county, being engaged mostly in agricultural pursuits. Rev Mr Wilson was a man who lived mostly at home where he preached principally to his own children and grandchildren, the church itself was erected by the Wilson family.
Mr Wilson was a good neighbor, an honest and upright citizen, and is greatly missed by the community in which he lived.