Monday, June 26, 2017

South Carolina Dugans in the American Revolution

Painting of the Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina, January 17, 1781
 This is a story about the South Carolina branch of the Dougan family, the first cousins of our 5th great-grandfather James Dougan of North Carolina. These three male cousins also served in the American Revolution and their experience as a family demonstrates that it wasn't a gentleman's war, but a vicious hate-filled conflict that pitted neighbor against neighbor - no more so than in the Carolinas.

When Thomas and Eleanor Dougan (our 7th great-grandparents) came from Donegal, Ireland, to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in the first half of the 18th century, they brought sons Robert, Joseph, and Thomas (our 6th great-grandfather), and a daughter.  Before the family moved down to North Carolina Colony about 1763, the oldest son Robert, who spelled his name Dugan, had already moved to South Carolina Colony with a group of Scots-Irish from Lancaster County, his wife Mary and three sons, James, Robert and Thomas (there will continue to be duplicate first names in Dougan/Dugan descent).

 This branch settled in the Fairforest Creek area, now in Union County. On 9 December 1754, Robert Dugan purchased 497 acres on the south side of Fairforest Creek, "including the little river path." The deed was filed in Anson County, North Carolina. In fact, the settlers believed they were living in North Carolina at the time. They discovered their mistake a few months later when Dugan and 62 other settlers petitioned the Governor General of North Carolina Colony to protect them from the Indians, who had attacked, robbed and killed cattle, horses and some settlers. They wanted a fort built between the Enoree River and the headwaters of Thickety Creek (which still bears this lovely quaint name).  In 1756 he made a complaint that the Cherokee had broken into his cabin and stolen bedding and 9 bells worth over 4 pounds sterling. When he made his sworn statement, he signed his name Robt O Dugan (the word 'of' is written under the O - he still used Irish signage. You'll recall he was born in northeast Ireland).

Anson County, North Carolina

The Dugans helped to establish the Fairforest Presbyterian Church in Union County in 1765, the first Presbyterian church in South Carolina. They didn't have a pastor until the 1790s, but an occasional preacher was sent from Pennsylvania and New York for a visit through the south, which must have been quite an undertaking.

Present-day Union County, South Carolina

According to The Annals of Newberry County by John Belton O'Neall, by the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, some of the family, in particular Thomas Dugan (Robert's son), settled in the Enoree and Duncan Creek settlement area of what became Newberry County.

Newberry County, South Carolina
 The author declared that all the families in the area were Whigs (pro-independence).  According to O'Neall, Robert's son Thomas (1748-1822), who supplied forage and provisions to the American forces, became a captain in the Revolution, commanding a company of militia, who were scouts and, the author believed, fought at King's Mountain. After the organization of the Upper Regiment (of militia,) of Newberry County,  he had its command as its colonel. He and his wife Mary Johnston Dugan had eight sons. They and their families are buried at King's Creek Cemetery.
Colonel Thomas  and Mary Dugan's Tombstone
The colonel's brother Robert, Jr. served from the Newberry District -  1779, as a lieutenant under Capt. Levi Casey and Col. James Williams; 1780-1781, as a lieutenant under Maj. Samuel Taylor and possibly as a captain.  The third son, John also served.

Apparently Col. Thomas, Robert, Jr. and John Dugan were at the Battle of Cowpens, which after numerous American defeats was the battle instrumental in turning the tide against the British. By October, 1781, the war ended with Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown.  Battle of Cowpens HERE

 After the battle the brothers Robert and John went home for a "sly" visit to their mother. "Sly" because the Up Country of South Carolina was rife with American Tories. In the middle of the night, their mother heard knocking on the door and a dozen or more voices demanding entrance. She thrust one of the brothers into the fireplace opening. The other threw himself from the upper window, hoping to escape under cover of darkness, but "shivered" a bone in his leg, which caused his capture. The Dugans' Tory neighbors fired a small house in the yard and by its light proceeded to hang Robert and John from the limb of a nearby oak. With broadswords, they hewed off their victims' limbs, flesh and heads before their mother's eyes. After they left, she gathered the remains of her murdered boys and buried them on a hillside (probably with the help of a trusted neighbor). O'Neill in his book claims that the Turner boys were the culprits, in retribution for the death of a brother.  It appears that Colonel Thomas later hanged some of the murderers at the crossroads.  In September 1785, Colonel Thomas signed a receipt for pay on behalf of his dead brother Robert and perhaps for his dead brother John.

So prevalent in Scots-Irish history in Britain and Ireland, blood feuds continued in the United States. I just wanted you to think on your first cousins, 7 times removed, and the dangers of being an American patriot.

As a footnote, it appears Mariah Dugan, a granddaughter of Colonel Thomas Dugan, married a William Turner, who was born after the war, so perhaps that feud came to an end.

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