The Sample Family of Saluda, South Carolina

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1720 to 1879
Location: Saluda, Abbeville, South Carolina, United Statesmap
Surnames/tags: Sample Neely
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Transcription of an article in “The Abbeville Press And Banner” (Abbeville, South Carolina) 24 Sep 1879 Page 2

Transcript of letter written 1879

“A MOST INTERESTING LETTER. Reminiscences of the time… Our Scotch-Irish forefathers… Their Religion, Education, High Character and Peculiarities. THE SAMPLE FAMILY. Among the first settlers of the lower battalion of the Saluda regiment, were Alex Sample and John Neely. Both were Irishmen, the former born in County Antrim in the year 1720, the birth place of the latter not remembered. The impression on my mind is, that Sample first settled in Virginia, near the Cunninghams about the year 1750 and removed with them, or by himself through their influence, to South Carolina; and when it is known, the attachment between classes and Presbyterians in those days, the facts stated are not hard to believe. But whether they come together, or first met on Saluda, they were neighbours, and a friendship existed that ended only with death, and which was not alienated wholly by the issues of the war or the revolution, on which they differed,. There is a tradition in the Sample family that one of the younger Sample’s and Swansea (an ancestor of the Blakes, I believe,) of the Whig forces being caught on furlough or foraging, by the command of Major William or “Bloody Bill” Cunningham, were beaten before the Major knew it, when he only detained Sample a short time and released him, but offered no protection to the other, who was further beaten and left for dead; but he was taken up by other comrade, and recovered. The elder Sample was an invalid prior to the revolution from a rupture produced by the kick of a horse and added to his age was unfitted for a soldier, and took no active part in the war. His settlement was on the west side of Saluda, opposite the Cunningham estate and divided by the river. He owned a fine tract of land, which prior to his death in 1819 (in his 99th year) passed into the possession of her son Alexander and whose death occurred in 1824, when it was purchased by ten of the sons of the latter, and after the death of one of them was owned entirely by the other, who sold it about 1837 and removed west. I will remark here that a dense brake of vines and cane on Samples land was one of the retreats of Major Cunningham and men, and many years after the war this discovery was made in clearing for cultivation, and the table (of walnut) found on which he and others ate and drank. It was possession of by the Samples, and in 1889 belonged to John N Sample a son of Alex, who had it reduced in size to obtain soundness of wood, being rotten in part, and much worm-eaten. When found it was said to have been long and narrow and in a bad condition from the damp air and lack of sun which had befallen its improvement. When I last saw it 41 years ago it had been reduced to the size of an ordinary dressing-table. On the removal of the owner from the State many years ago he gave it I think to his friend and neighbor James McCracken, and it is probably now in the vicinity of Ninety-Six. It would be regarded by many as a valuable relic of dark and early days.

A. Sample sr., left 4 sons and a daughter or two, but I do not propose to follow the females as such if they remain single leave no record, and if they marry they lose their identity, except as connecting links. The boys were William, James, Robert and Alexander. William, I think, or his family, emigrated early to Indians Territory. Of James I can tell nothing. Robert was drowned in Wilson’s Creek, having fallen in a fit of apoplexy, as supposed, if my recollection is not at fault. Robert and Alexander only left sods who remained among you, the sons of Robert being John and Daniel. The latter removed many years ago to the Greene County, Alabama, where he was living at an advanced age in 1863 - is now dead perhaps. John died in Abbeville many years ago, leaving one son and several daughters who are still among you.

Alexander Sample junior died on Saluda as heretofore stated, in the year 1824, leaving five sons and five daughters, the sons being named respectively, John N. James, Isaac, Washington and Samuel. Washington was killed at Lod’s in Abbeville, July 4th 1834, while charging a cannon. The occasion was a celebration, and Wm. L. Yancheng, then a college student was the orator. Salutes were being fired, which ceased at the wrong time, when Sample ran up and ascertained the cause to be that the gun had become so hit that the gunner had become frightened and refused to act. Sample rebuked his cowardice, seized the cartridge and applied the rod, but ere it reached its position an explosion occurred which


He died in a few hours. Samuel the youngest, studied medicine, and on receiving his degree practised at White Hall in 1830 and the year preceding or following, when he removed to Holmes Co., Miss., and in less than a decade all his surviving brothers and sisters followed him where they became again a power in the land. A more substantial family was never raised in Abbeville. They knew the questions of the day, and, though, no office seekers, they were early sought by such, who had to have answered for them, if they did not know, the Jeffersonian test, before they would listen to him. All of the men, except Washington, who was tall and slender, we are large and portly, as also their sisters, and the four men in their western home was above the average of the Hancock Co., Geo. Jerry of 240, avoirdupois. James, at one time, reached nearly or quite 300 pounds, and was active withal. While living near Stoney Point, he was without his knowledge elected Justice of the peace, and it being a high duty of the citizen to neither seek nor decline office, he qualified at once. Soon after at a public gathering an array occurred in his presence in which a number were engaged, and, as in duty bound, he commanded the peace in the name of the State, and by virtue of his office which, not being instant,y obeyed, he enforced the peace by strewing them right and left. After his removal to Mississippi, he was in a ware house at Yazoo City attending to the sale of his cotton, and some offensive language being given him by a sampler, in consequence of his objection to the manner of cutting, he slapped the sampler on the face with the back of his hand. The sampler went off and was seen soon after by the ware houseman returning with fifteen others around with


and supposing their object to be to attack Samples the keeper locked them out. They demanded admittance which Sample insisted should be given them, but the ware houseman refused. Sample then proposed that if they would lay down their pistols, knives and sticks and divide themselves into fours he would fight them in the same number of parcels - and this they declined. The intervention of parties, however, brought about a settlement without bloodshed. They were all most substantial farmers, including the Doctor, who also, while attending to a large practice, planted largely. All accumulated means largely and died between 1850 and 1860. James Sample purchased on a credit a large tract of land at $30 per acre in 1837, which the crash reduced to $5, and he had to pay out in cotton at five cents. Another ex-Abbevillian named Sims, an old Seceder, was caught in the same fix, and though scores of others were alike caught, they stood their ground and paid out - while “G.T.T.” or “G.T.H.” were marked in the door foots of all, or nearly so, of others. I learned this in their vicinity and from their neighbors 37 years ago. Indeed, from the accounts, the recent negro exodus from the same locality was a small circumstance compared with the hegira of the debtor class toward the closing scenes of the “laws delay” in Mississippi. The demoralization and dispersion following the financial crash of 1837 was equal to that produced by and succeeding the late war. The Sampkes with their robust frames, healthy looks, and temperate habits, were a short-lived “race.” all died between 35 and 55 years but one, John N.m who died at 68. The men were live and warm politicians, as in every thing else, and were anti-Nullifiers in South Carolina, but in the west ultra democrats, and subsequently secessions, and in whose shoulders stood Quitman and Davis. Dr. Sample was a leading politician, mover and marker and the last political act of his life was as a representative of Mississipi, in the Baltimore Convention of 1856 which nominated james Buchanan for President.


The Neely’s who are placed along side the Samples in this account, are justly so for their co-settlement, their nativity, and their similarity in faith and politics, coupled with the marrying and cross-marrying in the families. The wife of Alex. Sample jr., was a daughter of the original Neely, and one of the latter’ s grand sons, Major Charles Neely, married his cousin, a daughter of Alexander Sample, Jr. The original Neely had several sons, one of whom was Joseph, who settled and lived to old age and died in Laureus, about 1830, near the junction of Reedy and Saluda Rivers, where he owned the ferry. He left one son, Young Neely, and a daughter who married Dr. Joseph Anderson of Lauren’s; a respectable practitioner, but more noted as a local Methodist preacher, sui generis. William Neely, another son, was one early settler of Alabama, living and dying in Shelby County, leaving a number of children. Another son was John, James or Robert, or something else, who lived and died on the original homestead near a place called Cork, where the roads from Ninety-Six to Stoney Point and from Greenwood to Neely’s ferry intersect. He was the father of William, Jubal, Charles, Catlett and Oswald, all of whom attained manhood in Abbeville. They were the same in number as the Samples, their cousins, and just like them except that the Neely’s were less corpulent and were of more sprightly intellect. All of them received common school education, the best in their day, except Samuel Sample and Oswald Neely, the younger of each family, who obtained the benefit of the Rev. Dr. Beaman after he came among them. Dr. Sample was a classmate of Judge Thomas Thomson at Beaman’s school, and for whom he formed a most ardent attachment, and predicted nearly 50 years ago that he would come to the very end and fate that has befallen him - a sentence to the bench for his acts. If the Neely brothers, William settled early in Louisiana and died many years ago, a large sugar and cotton planter; Jubal, I think, died in Mississippi, after a life of success, measured by human standards, Catlett wrestled early and often with John Barleycorn and John whipped him, in the east side of 40 in Mississippi or Louisiana, is my account. He possessed a remarkable talent for the production of doggerel poetry, and which, when under the spiritual influence of his patron Saint, he let off in caricature of his own family and others, much to their discomfort. But there was no remedy, and they had to endure what they could not cure. Charles, who was the eldest, or second, in the order of births, remained many years in Abbeville. He was a local political leader and hostile to Nullification. He talked on many occasions and took the stamp, perhaps. He was a brave man and feared nothing. He commanded, I think, during the excitement of Nullification, the lower battalion of the Saluda regiment, and during the latter part of it, when his number of “Union men,” “subs” or “sopetails” had become thinned out to a heavy minority, from conversions under the political preaching of notably, David L. Ward law and others, and hearing that the Nullifiers would be around at a battalion drill, gave secret orders to his political men to come well around. Or, it may have been that Wardlaw was to speak and that some threats had been made by the Nullifiers if the Union men appeared for disputation, and Neely was only meeting the demands of a threat. I am stating independently, as I, a boy then, remember at the time, and Will be glad if in error that old citizen, notably Dr. E. r. Calhoon, will correct it. For some criticism, in this connexion, by S. A. Townes, then editor of the Abbeville Whig and South Nullifier, Neely, after giving him notice, attempted to cane him in his office. Townes drew a pistol as Neely was deliberately advancing with only a small cane, and as he was in the act of striking, two law students, one named Vance, a nephew of Gov. McDuffie, seized his coat-tail and drew him back, and as he struck, (short of his mark), Townes fired and wounded Neely in the breast, and with a spring Dirk attached inflicted several stabs. Just then the powerful John Allen intervened and separated them. Neely had to be hauled home and always complained of foul play. Townes on retiring as editor gave the pistol as a present to John Allen, and it was inherited by Chas. H. Allen, editor. It was an indifferent weapon flint and steel fireworks, compared with the improvement in weapons of then and more so of to-day. I had often seen it, but I remembered soon after the Banner opened some one took offence at the editor, for refusing to publish, I believe, of which he informed me confidentially and showed me that same old pistol as his means of defense. I suggested and told him where to borrow a better one, and thought to myself, if that old rake had been any account it would have killed Neely, and you may not find a brace of law students and a man like your father at the right time and place.


Major Neely was a candidate for Sheriff during the Nullification period, and was defeated. His party was in the minority, but his manly traits and noble qualities drew to him scores of friends, who would, perhaps have carried him through, but, in the hat of the canvass he fell into the most intemperate habits, and the effect of stimulants was to craze him. He never mistreated his wife and children, and they had not the least fear of him; but the Sample brothers did, and took them away vi et armis. He remained in his castle and invested a large sum in powder, and soon was heard a sound resounds of explosions. He employed masons to blast the huge rock in his vicinity, as may be plainly seen to this day, with which he purposed to build around him a fort, to be called Fort Neely, for the purpose, as he stated, of “keeping the damned Sampkes away from him.” He converted his house into an armoury of defence, and for a while would let none of the family connexions enter, except B. Bane Posey, his brother-in-law, (their wives being sisters.) The Samples’ would not let his family return; and Neely recovering somewhat became thoroughly disgusted with himself a d put off to Arkansas, where he reformed as he claimed and returned in a year or two and spirited off his family with their consent, but bitterly opposed by her relatives. He did, however, become a sober man again, and was said to be prominently spoken of for Congress at the time of his death, about 1840. One of his sons is said to have become a distinguished lawyer in Arkansas.


Oswald Yancey Neely, the youngest brother, whose grandmother was a YANCEY and probably a relative of Wm. L. Yancey, lived to manhood in Abbeville and removed to Alabama, from thence to Kemper county, Mississippi, where he lived the greater part of his life and died some ten years ago. He resembled much in appearance Wm. L. Yancey and possessed not a little of his vim and power as an orator. But he was a scientific, devoted and successful planter, and so was absorbed. He lived near Scooba in a magnificent residence with grounds, fruits and flowers, arranged by his taste most exquisite, and owned several plantations, one of them on the Yazoo River, from which the Yankees took 800 bales of cotton. The war with all its losses left him rich, and just before his death he was robbed of $30,000 in cash. He took great interest in politics and represented his County in the State Senate during and before the war.

The account here given of the Samples and Neely’s has nothing of special remark or interest, but what might be stated of numerous families who once lived and exercised a marked influence for good or evil among you, and whose names have become extinct in Abbeville. The name of Neely disappeared over 40 [or 10] years ago, and a single Sample can be found, Capt. John B. of Greenwood vicinity who is a great grandson of the original Alexander (or “Dan-San” as he was better known among his descendants.)...”

The Abbeville Press And Banner (Abbeville, South Carolina) 24 Sep 1879 Page 2

Transcript of Robert Sample’s Will from 1813

“In the name of God amen, I Robert Sample of Abbeville District and State of South Carolina being under some bodily affliction but of sound and disposing mind, memory, and understanding, Blessed be to God (___). For the same do make this my last will and testament in the manner and form following. I recommend my soul to God who gave it, and my body to the earth to be buried in a decent Christian manner in hopes of a blessed Resurrection at the last day. As to my worldly goods, which it hath please God to bless me with, I will and bequeath as follows. First of all that all my just debts shall be paid out of my estate.
Item 1 whereas in _____ last I have given unto my daughter Polly Pulliam one Negro girl named Nell, one bed, and furniture which I value with some other articles of household furniture at $400, which is all that I intend for her until all my other children are made equal with her.
Item 2 whereas I have let my son John Sample have $173 in cash and do by these presents give to my said son John one Negro boy named Jack, one feather bed, and furniture which said property I value at $280 making with the cash of force said $453 which is all that I intend for him except he should wish to settle himself until all my other children are made equal with him and in that case he shall have the use of the tract of land I purchased of William Grubs to live in until it shall be in the power of my executor to make a final division of my estate, unless that should not happen until after 10 years after the date hereof.
Item 3 it is my will and desire that my beloved wife Barbary Sample should have the use and benefit of all the remainder of my estate for the purpose of support of herself and raising and educating my children in common English areas giving until my sons Darrell Sample, William Sample and my daughters Permelia Sample, Catherine Sample, and Jemima Sample as much of my estate as they come of age or marry as will make them all equal with my daughter Polly or in case my wife can spare as much to make her and the youngest children share equal to my son John’s. It is to be understood that in case my wife should not be able to spare as much of my estate as will make all my children shares equal, as above directed, that the deduction must be made proportionately on them under the direction of my executors here after named.
Item 4 it is my wish and desire that after the death of my wife that all the remainder of my estate both real and personal be equally divided amongst all my children in such manner as to make all their shares alike equal, the division to be conducted by my executors as may be best for the interest of the legatees.
Last of all I do here by constitute and appoint my dearly beloved wife Barbary Sample, my beloved brother Alex Sample, and my son John sample executrix and executors of this, my last will and testament. In witness where of I have hereunto to set my hand and affixed my seal this sixth day of October 1813 the presence of Joel Lipscomb, Benj Cains, Geo Heard”

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