Finding Your Folks: William Tidwell of South Carolina

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

Continuing with the story of the descendants of John Tidwell of Virginia, we pick up this week with his grandson, William Tidwell, son of John (Jr.), who moved to Craven County, S.C. with his parents in 1772. William was born about 1765 in Westmoreland County, Va.

Material for this series is based on the book, “McCall-Tidwell and Allied Families,” written by Ettie Tidwell McCall of Atlanta in 1931. We will cover many allied families connected to the Tidwells, all of whom lived in the Fayette, Coweta, Meriwether, Pike and Spalding county area.

William Tidwell married Mary de Graffenried of Chester County, S.C. in 1779. Mary was the daughter of Baker de Graffenried, of Lunenburg County, Va., and his wife, Sarah Vass.

Baker, who was from a very wealthy Swiss family, was disinherited by his father, Tscharner de Graffenried, because of his youthful marriage.

Quoting from Mrs. Tidwell’s book, page 36, “The record of (William’s) life was told to the writer by his great-grandson, Reuben William Tidwell. The touching story of the death of William Tidwell and his young wife during the Revolutionary War, and of the two orphan boys, had been handed down to each succeeding generation.

“After the fall of Charleston, South Carolina, William Tidwell hastened to join the force commanded by General Francis Marion. As a Lieutenant of Scouts, he was killed in 1782, while on a scouting expedition.

“When the news of his death reached his young wife, her feeble constitution gave way under the burden and she dropped dead on hearing the news, leaving two babies, William (b. 1780) and Benjamin (b. 1782) — the two pioneers to Georgia.

“These two brothers never separated. They came with relatives from South Carolina to Greene County, Georgia, married and settled in Baldwin (now Putnam) County. They drew land in Cherokee* (sic) Land Lottery in 1825 and moved to Coweta County, then bought adjoining plantations in Meriwether County, where they resided until their death.”

*Although there was a land lottery in 1827 (land ceded in 1825) which formed Coweta County, among others, the “Cherokee” Land Lottery was not held until 1832 when the uppermost northwest corner of Georgia was ceded by the Indians and lots were distributed there.

Continuing from Mrs. Tidwell’s book, page 37, Pioneer to Georgia (she tells such a beautiful story), “William Tidwell ... was brought to Greene County by his guardian when very young, accompanied by his brother, Benjamin. Their early years were passed on a plantation in Greene County, amid the constant alarms of Indian warfare (as the New England pioneers of 150 years before). At this time the white settlements in Georgia extended no further west than the Oconee River. After 1784, the Creeks kept up a series of depredations along the Georgia frontier. Every neighborhood had its fort or blockhouse, which frequently became the permanent abode of the women and children, while the men toiled in the field and forest with the trusty rifle always in reach. Until the cessation of the Oconee War there was always trouble. Reared in these turbulent times following the Revolutionary War and during the Oconee War, there was little chance in this frontier for an education.

“In 1803, William Tidwell married Mary Amelia Jones, born in 1785 in South Carolina. They settled in Baldwin County and in 1807, when Putnam County was laid off from Baldwin and the land distributed by lottery, he drew 202 1/2 acres of land in Putnam County. His name appears often in land records in Baldwin, Putnam, Coweta, Troup and Meriwether as he became a wealthy and influential planter of Meriwether County later.

“In 1814, he volunteered from Putnam County as a Soldier of the War of 1812. He never held any public office. In the census of 1820, he was living on a large plantation in Putnam County with his wife and children.”

Mrs. Tidwell states that William then drew land in the 1825 (1827) land lottery in Coweta County and his brother, Benjamin, drew the adjacent lot. However, there is no record of the brothers having drawn land in Coweta. Also, if William had successfully drawn land in Putnam, he would be ineligible to draw again. Perhaps they purchased adjacent land in Coweta.

William Tidwell and Mary Amelia Jones had nine children, all born in Putnam County except the last two who were born in Meriwether: (1) Emily or Amelia (Milly), b. 1808, m. James Boyd (Bethany Boyds); (2) John J., b. abt 1810, m. first Unknown Byram, second Martha Westmoreland; (3) Mark, b. abt 1813, m. Frances (Fanny) Boyd (my 4th great-aunt); (4) William de Graffenried, b. 1818, m. Angelina Westmoreland; (5) Julia, b. 1820, d. 1837; (6) Benjamin, b. 1820, m. first Permelia Unknown, second Martha Moody; (7) Pleasant Madden, b. 1822, m. Emily Glass; (8) Littleberry, b. 1827, m. Martha Westmoreland; (9) Grace, m. Henry Orrick.

Some of these children stayed in the area, others moved west. We’ll uncover more Tidwells next week.

Although time does not permit me to do personal research for others, I welcome all letters and e-mails about genealogy and info on south metro Atlanta families. Send them to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214; e-mail or Any letters and/or e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

Until next week, happy hunting!

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