Writing the History of Kershaw County
Research Adventure #1 RUGELEY’S “CLERMONT”
(Originally published in Update, Newsletter of the Kershaw County Historical Society, Camden, SC, February 2002)
Update on “Research Adventure #1”: Thanks to several responses, we are adding more to our knowledge about Rugeley’s Clermont and the Granny’s Quarter area and its inhabitants–Loyalist and Tory. Since posting the information below, we have heard from researchers locally, in various states, and from places as far away as the United Kingdom and New Zealand!
Commissioned by the KC Historical Society to write a narrative history of Kershaw County, Joan and Glen Inabinet invite others to offer information on this and other topics.
By Joan Inabinet
“It was a super-mall of the Revolutionary backcountry!” Glen remarked as we studied the swirling ink on the old ledger which was placed in a special prop to support its fragile and crumbling binding.
We were in the South Caroliniana Library, examining a 1776-1778 account book for the country store at Clermont, estate of Tory colonel Henry Rugeley located at Flat Rock Creek and Granny’s Quarter Creek a few miles north of the site of the Battle of Camden.
The presence of Clermont, also known as “Rugeley’s Mill(s)” and as “Rugeley’s Fort” after British fortification in 1780, is well known among military historians and will be discussed at the upcoming Banastre Tarleton Symposium. However, the economic and social significance of this rural Kershaw County area has yet received little scholarly comment.
The Trading Post
The account book shows that Revolutionary-era Clermont offered “one-stop shopping”—and more. Beyond products expected in a “country store” were activities of banking, livestock trading, milling, shipping, and possibly repair work. Furthermore, the tavern would have provided refreshment and lodging, and served as a communications center for locals and travelers. (Robert Robinson is clearly identified in the ledger as “Tavern Keeper at Clermont.”)
Profit potential was lucrative in Clermont’s numerous endeavors. In just 1776, the store business alone totaled £14,541.8.9. (Dr. Walter Edgar’s A History of South Carolina equates one pound currency then to $12 today, and one pound sterling to nearly $81.) Proceeds steadily increased in the following two years.
The ledger also reported earnings at a branch “Store at Richmond”: £53,089.4.7 from March 1776 to December 1778. Prosperous Camden merchant Joseph Kershaw had various accounts at Clermont—one in his name, one with his name subtitled “Kershaw and Wyly.” Others were headed “Chesnutt & Kershaw” and “Messrs Kershaw, Chesnut & Co.”
“Charleston merchandise” was being ordered and delivered by Clermont wagons, possibly also carrying mail. “Sundries”—likely farm produce and manufactures—some from Clermont plantation, were bartered and sold.
The Clermont tanyard processed “Hides,” and trade in “beeves” suggests slaughtering also. Other entries show business in flax seed, rice, honey, Indian corn, wheat, tobacco, hemp, and tallow.
The saw and grist mills for which Clermont became known were especially active. Grinding wheat and Indian corn yielded several thousand pounds profit annually. Payments also cited earnings from labor of slaves, possibly porters or mechanics for repair tasks for farmers and travelers.
Located on a “great road” between Camden and Salisbury, N.C., Clermont was on a main transportation route with Philadelphia at one far end and Charleston at the other. Those who did not arrive to trade still required accommodations along the way. The “House” at Clermont was no mean dwelling. Its expenses totaled £1,120.10.10 in 1776 and £4,475.6.1 in 1777-1778.
Like a modern corporation, Clermont was more than an endeavor of a single man. Its backers also included Rugeley’s brother Rowland and investors in Charleston and in England. Attempts after the Revolution to help Rugeley regain his standing and to recoup his (and their) investments are a story for another time.
One curious aside is the account of “W. Faux, English Farmer,” author of an 1823 travel book Memorable Days in America (reprinted by our Society in Five Visitors to Kershaw District, ed. by Harvey S. Teal). Faux, who says he was Col. Rugeley’s nephew, relates sympathetic anecdotes showing a dual nature in his uncle’s Revolutionary allegiance. Is the Faux account the untold truth, or revisionist history, or a ploy to recoup some of the Clermont wealth? We don’t know.
Continuing to study the Clermont ledger, we realized that we were reading names of citizens whose lives and enterprises thereafter were drastically altered by the impending Revolution, many of those events swirling around Rugeley’s trading post itself. These were real-life subjects of The Patriot and of Dr. Walter Edgar’s Partisans and Redcoats.
Who were these individuals? Where did they come from? Who took what side? What happened to them? What roles did some of them play in our history before and after the Revolution?
We can’t answer all those questions, but hope that other researchers will help with answers. The current newsletter of the Catawba-Wateree Geneological Society lists all the names I alphabetized from the ledger. The list is now on our Historical Society webpage (see below), and copies have been placed at the Camden Archives and at Historic Camden. We hope to receive information from researchers in return.
Initial observations on the names include these facts: There are 288 individuals named as having accounts at Clermont. Of these, we found some information that may relate to 66 of the persons, but we have no information at all on 222 persons.
Determining Revolutionary allegiance becomes tricky because of similarity of names and of incomplete records, but tentative research yields 17 names possibly of Tory alliance and 19 names possibly partisans.
Please join the search for a more complete and accurate story!
LOCAL REVOLUTIONARY KIN?
SEARCH A LIST FROM “CLERMONT” (RUGELEY’S)
(Originally published in Jan. 2002 Newsletter of the Catawba-Wateree Genealogical Society, Camden, SC)
Joan A. Inabinet
Researchers studying Revolutionary-era Kershaw/Lancaster County kin and connections will find interest in the following list of names I have recently extracted and alphabetized from the fragile ledger of accounts, 1776-1778, at the busy backcountry trading post “Clermont.”
In the area of the fork of Flat Rock Creek and Granny’s Quarter Creek in upper Kershaw County, north of the site of the Battle of Camden, Clermont was the estate of Henry Rugeley, the Charleston and backcountry merchant who became a Tory colonel in the Revolution. The site was also referred to as “Rugeley’s Mill(s)” and after British fortification in 1780 as “Rugeley’s Fort.” The ledger also refers to another connected “Store at Richmond,” apparently also in the backcountry, and to accounts on a “ledger of RJ Marshall.”
My husband Glen and I, researching a history of Kershaw County commissioned by the Kershaw County Historical Society, earnestly request that researchers with information about persons on this list pass that information to us to aid in our study. Our initial examination of the 288 account names reveals some that may match with persons about whom we know some bit of information, but leaves 222 names about whom we personally know nothing!
Kirkland and Kennedy’s Historic Camden and other publications of the KC Historical Society include references to Clermont (Rugeley’s), and some further observations will be made in an article underway for that organization’s quarterly Update. The original journal is in the South Caroliniana Library, Columbia, SC, which we thank for being allowed its use.
Those who have researched the history of the area, or who have seen the movie The Patriot, or who have read Dr. Walter Edgar’s new book Partisans and Redcoats are aware that shortly after the time period covered by this ledger neighbors and kinfolk on this list were hotly engaged in the Revolutionary civil war that erupted here.
Who were these folk? Where did they come from? Who took what side? What happened to them? Who is left today as descendants?
If you can help with these answers, many thanks for providing information!
The Inabinets may be contacted directly (PO Box 734, Camden, SC 29021), or through the Catawba-Wateree Genealogical Society or the Kershaw County Historical Society, both of which organizations will forward information to them.
Names of Individuals with Accounts
At “Clermont” (Rugeley’s)
From a Ledger mostly 1776-1778
[Camden District, South Carolina]
Extracted & alphabetized by Joan A. Inabinet
Adamson, James (“Wateree River”)
Barkley, “Capt. John”
Brisbane, Adam Fowler
Burnside, Joseph (“Flat Rock Creek”)
Callwell, William (“in Camden”)
Chesnutt in “Chesnutt & Kershaw” [also, in “Messrs Kershaw, Chesnut & Co.”]
Cockran, “Capt. Robert”
Cooke, John, Jr.
Coward, Joshua (“near Clermont”)
Crossby, Aaron (“Granny’s Quarter”)
DaCosta, Isaac, Jr.
Dawson, Mrs. Christian
Dixon, John 
Farmer, Thomas, Jr. (“Hillsborough NC”)
Fletcher, John (“Beaver Creek”)
Frizell, John Gale
Gallagher, John (“near Camden”)
Halzendorf, John 
Hickman, William [2 entries]
Hill, Thomas (“Taylor” [occupation])
Kershaw, Joseph [2 entries with his name, one noted “Kershaw & Wyly”; another entry, “Messrs Kershaw, Chesnut & Co.”]
Kimball, Benjamin, Sr.
Kimble, John (“Lynches Creek”)
Marshall, “Capt. John”
McClannon, Mrs. (“widow Beaver Creek”)
McKee, William [2 entries]
Milhouse, [first name blank]
Moore, Israel [3 entries, one spelled “More”]]
O Daniel, John
Pressly, Andrew, Jr.
Pressly, Andrew, Sr.
Reynolds, William (“Sanders Creek”)
Robertson, Robert (“Sawneys Creek”)
Robinson, Robert (“Tavern Keeper at Clermont”)
Sanders, Sarah (“Granny’s Quarter”)
Saunders, George, Jr.
Saunders, George, Sr.
Scott, John, Sr.
Shey, Simeon (“Blacksmith in Camden”)
Summervell, George [2 entries]
Terrell, Mrs. (“widow”)
Thompson, James [2 entries]
Toland, James [2 entries]
Troublefield, [no first name]
Ward, Elizabeth (“widow Grannys Quarter”) 
Whitaker, William, Sr.
Wyly in “Kershaw & Wyly”