Wednesday, February 26, 2014

John William Blakely - Revolutionary soldier, father-in-law of John Copeland

Family Lineage: 1 Margaret Blakely; 2 George Copeland; 3 Robert Hatten Copeland; 4 Charles Mabry Copeland;5 Charles Thomas Copeland Sr; 6 Charles Thomas Copeland, Jr.

1718 – 1798

( National flag of Ireland)

John William Blakely (or Blakeslee, as the name appears in a number of DAR applications) was born in Antrim, Ireland. His wife, Rachael Orr, was born in England.  Records show that his family traveled with the Copelands and Adairs from Pennsylvaia to South Carolina and it is believed that they first settled in York County and then Craven County, SC

 They had seven sons and three daughters, one of whom (Margaret) married their neighbor and friend, John Copeland. He and his wife both died at age 80. According to historical records only one of their 9 children died before the age of 80 and that son left guardianship of his daughter to his brother-in-law and sister, John and Margaret Copeland.

There is no specific information about John's service during the Revolution except that he was a private in the South Carolina Militia under a Colonel Anderson and drew full pay for services in the Revolutionary War.  At the time he served, he would have been in his early 60s.

A search of historical records shows there were only two Colonel Andersons fighting in South Carolina at that time, and it is probable that John reported to one of them. They were:

  • Glenn Anderson, who served as a colonel in the militia and was in the battle of Cowpens.
  •  Robert Anderson, who served as a captain in Picken's Brigade, after which he was made a colonel in the Upper Ninety Six Regiment, which he commanded until March 30, 1783. .He fought at Kings Mountain, Musgrove Mill, Eutaw Springs and Cowpens.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

John Copeland - A Soldier in the Revolution

   1748 – 1826

Family Lineage: John Copeland; 2 George Copeland; Robert Hatten Copeland; Charles Mabry Copeland;                        Charles Thomas Copeland Sr; Charles Thomas Copeland, Jr.

Although it might seem that most of the battles fought during the Revolutionary War took place in the Northeast, records from that time reveal that there were actually over 250 battles occurring in South Carolina - more than almost any other state. Eleven of them were in Laurens County, South Carolina where two of the men featured below (John Copeland and John William Blakely) lived, fought and died.

Most of these battles were fought under the leadership of Colonel William Bratton, one of the better known warriors in South Carolina . He brought about one of the very (first acts of rebel defiance following the devastating surrender by the top echelon of patriot commanders in Charleston, SC, and went on to become one of General Sumter's regimental commanders. ( Record.pdf

17 high ranking American officers were taken prisoner during, and immediately after, the fall of Charleston on May 12, 1780.  As a result, the overarching brigades and regiments of militia were disbanded and left to their own devices. 

After this devastating defeat, the militia leadership realized that the best way to combat the British was to create more mobile units - on horseback. Their reasoning was that militia infantries simply could not face the British regulars, so why bother establishing more units of infantry within the militia regiments which would probably be mauled at every skirmish or battle? Therefore, virtually all new units of militia were Light Dragoons - mounted infantry. 
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  . . . And born in Ireland
A marble tablet was installed  on the inside front wall of the Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church in Clinton, Laurens County, SC by two local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1928. It reads: "Memorial to men of this congregation who served their country 1775 – 1781: Joseph Adair, Sr., Joseph Adair, Jr., James Adair, Sr., Leonard Beasley, J. Bell, John Copeland*, John Craig, James Craig, Robert Hanna, Thomas Holland, Robert Long, Thomas Logan, Thomas McCrary, Joseph Ramage, William Underwood, George Young, Sr".

John Copeland was born in County Down in the Ulster Providence of Ireland and died in Laurens County, SC. After immigrating to America with his father and siblings, the family settled in Pennsylvania. When John was still quite young, he and his father traveled with a band of Scots-Irish immigrants which included the Blakelys (one of whom was John's future wife, Margaret Blakely) to South Carolina where they settled on land near the Enoree and Tiger Rivers in Craven County (eventually re-named District Ninety-Six and then Laurens County, SC).

After their marriage, Margaret and John Copeland acquired large tracts of land through purchases, grants and a gift from John's father, George, who eventually decided to return to Pennsylvania to join the rest of his family. John was often listed as a surveyor on land transactions in the area. The Copelands had seven children, all too young to have fought in the war, although one is thought to have been born in a fort after the war started.  His first child, George, was the direct ancestor of this Copeland line.

In 1780, at age 32, John joined the local militia as a private in the "New Acquisition District Regiment" and was later promoted to lieutenant .  His service is documented as a lieutenant in the "Roster of South Carolina Patriots of South Carolina in the American Revolution"  and served as a lieutenant under:   ( _lieutenants.htm
  1. Captain William Jenkins who, while residing in the York District, enlisted in 1780 under his uncle, Captain Thomas Jenkins, and Col. William Bratton. He served as a sergeant in the battle of Huck's Defeat where he was captured by Tories who imprisoned him. After he was released, he was appointed first a lieutenant and then captain. 
  2. John Burton ( available records do not mention specific battles)
  3. James Wilson (available records do not mention specific battles)
  4. William Copeland, who also immigrated from County Down, Ireland when he was about 16 years old and is believed to have been John's relative. In 1780, while residing in the neighboring York District of South Carolina, he enlisted and served under Capt. Matthew Kendall, Maj. Ross and Col William Bratton as a ranger, first as a captain in the mounted militia and then as a captain of militia in a foot company. He was assigned by General Morgan several times to spy on Cornwallis. He participated in the battle of Briar Creek, was assigned to guard the jail and prisoners at the Orangeburg Fort and then assisted in taking Friday's Fort.
John was paid the sum of 2, 10 shillings sterling for services rendered in Col. Bratton's Regiment, which was documented in the records of the State of South Carolina, His service during that time has been confirmed by both the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and the Daughters of the Revolution (DAR).

Headstone of John and Margaret Copeland
John died in Laurens County, SC.  He and his wife, Margaret are buried in the Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery.  The original broken grave markers were replaced by one large stone  in 1956 at a Copeland homecoming ceremony, and the names of their children were engraved on the back of the new marker. The headstone reads: "Sacred to the memory of John Copeland, Senior, who departed this life September 7, 1826, age about 78 years." and "Sacred to the memory of Margaret Copeland, consort of John Copeland, Sr., who departed this life February 27th AD 1844.  Age about 86 years." There is also the inscription "Served in the Revolutionary War in Col. William Bratton's Regiment".

The original church was burned to the ground but re-built in 1843 and its membership still includes Copelands.