A HISTORY OF LIMESTONE SPRINGS, SOUTH CAROLINA
WITH GENEALOGICAL ABSTRACTS OF ITS OWNERS AND SETTLERS AND OTHER RELATED HISTORICAL MATERIALS FROM 1772 TO1882
BY ROBERT A. IVEY
FIRST OWNERS OF THE PROPERTY
THE CHEROKEE INDIANS
The Indians first owned the property and discovered the medicinal value of the mineral springs as they came into the area on their hunting trips.
COLONEL ADLAI OSBORN
The land often referred to as “the Limestone tract” was originally granted to Adlai Osborn of North Carolina on May 15, 1772. The book, North Carolina Land Grants in South Carolina, compiled by Brent Holcombe, gives the following information about this land: File no. 445, Grant no. 61, Bk. 22, pg. 16; Surveyed for Adlai Osborn 300 acres on a branch of Thicketty Creek near the road that leads from Vardry McBee’s to the Cherokee Ford on Broad River. William Sims was surveyor, and John Nuckolls and Richard Nuckolls were chain bearers.”
Adlai Osborn, son of Alexander and Agness McWhorter Osborn, was born June 4, 1744, in New Jersey. Hewent with Ephraim Brevard to Princeton and graduated from this school in 1768. He served as Clerk of Rowan County under the Royal Government.
On January 30, 1771, he married Margaret Lloyd, daughter of General Thomas Lloyd and his wife, Tabitha Campbell. His wife was born June 23, 1754, and resided in North Carolina.
Adlai sold the “Limestone tract” to Vardry McBee, Sr. in 1772.
He was a signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and was a patriot soldier with rank of lieutenant colonel during the Revolu tionary War, serving under Col. Thomas Wade in the Salisbury District.
He continued as Clerk of Court after independence until 1809. This couple had six boys and five girls. He died December 16, 1814, at Belmont Plantation near Charlotte, North Carolina, and his wife died September 23, 1830.
His father, Col. Alexander Osborn, was an ancestor to many leading politicians including a president, vice-president and to several minis ters ofthe gospel.
On February 8, 1774, Robert Looney, son of Adam and Hannah Wright Looney, was granted 150 acres of land that joined the 300 acre tract, which Vardry McBee, Sr. had purchased from Adlai Osborn. After sev eral months he sold this land to McBee.
In the 1760s, Adam Looney received a North Carolina land grant on the north side of Pacolet River in what is now South Carolina, and moved his family to this state. This land was in the Thicketty Creek area and joined land belonging to John Steen. Adam died on July 4, 1770, in what was then Tryon County, North Carolina.
Robert Looney, his son, was born March 4, 1749, at Looney’s Mill Creek in Botetourt, Virginia. He married Betsy Quinn, daughter of Hugh and Margaret Quinn, in South Carolina on June 2, 1774. She was born in 1760 in Granville County, North Carolina. The Quinn’s were from Ireland. In 1774, Robert sold his father’s land to George March banks and later acquired land in York County, South Carolina.
Robert and brothers, Adam, David, John, and Peter all fought as patriot soldiers in the Revolutionary War while residing in South Carolina. His brother, James, wasa resident of Tennessee and a patriot soldier from that state. Moses resided in North Carolina and was also a patriot soldier.
Robert kept the arms of Capt. Benjamin Tutt’s independent company of militia repaired during 1779 and 1780. When Fort Rutledge surren dered, he was captured. He and his brothers, David, John and Moses fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain under Col. Benjamin Cleveland.
His wife died in Pendleton District, South Carolina, on October 10, 1820, and he died there October 22, 1824. His land was on the Tugaloo River. They had ten sons and four daughters.
VARDRY MCBEE SR.
Vardry Sr., son of William and Susannah Vardry McBee, was born De cember 23, 1734, in Bristol Parish, Prince George County, Virginia. He was baptized April 19, 1735. In 1744, his father moved the family to Antrim Parish now Halifax County to a tract of 800 acres, which lay on both sides of Midway River and Little Creek (later called Burches Creek).
He and his older brother, Samuel, were members of a militia company from Halifax County, Virginia, and joined General Edward Braddock’s expedition to take Fort Duquesne. These forces also included a young wagoner &om North Carolina named Daniel Boone and one from west ern Virginia named Daniel Morgan. They fought under the leadership of their former neighbor, a twenty-three year old colonel, George Wash ington. This campaign of 1754 was later called Braddock’s Defeat.
Vardry Sr. and Samuel continued to fight in the French and Indian War until November 1758 when the French withdrew from Fort Duquesne and abandoned their effort to control the Ohio. Samuel died in 1759.
Vardry Sr. married Hannah Echols, daughter of William Echols and Sarah Turner, in December of 1758 at the Halifax Meeting of the Soci ety of Friends in Virginia. She was born in 1741. They settled in their cabin (raised with the help of neighbors) on Vardry McBee’s 310 acres on Jeremy’s Fork of Burches Creek.
Her brother, John Echols, served during the French and Indian Warin Captain Robert Wade’s Company of the Halifax County Militia. He was condemned by the Quakers for going with soldiers in pursuit of Indi ans, but later reinstated.
In 1850 Milner Echols wrote: “John was one of the largest men ever Raisd in Virginia…he was a Quaker preacher.” (He died unmarried in Bedford County, Virginia, and left his estate to the Quaker church and to his nieces.)
Vardry Sr. was Anglican but joined the Friends on December 16, 1758. The Friends excommunicated him on May15, 1762.
Sons, Samuel, Matthew, Mathias, and Silas, and daughters, Rhoda and Mary, were born in the cabin on Burches Creek in Halifax, Virginia. He was a planter, cattleman and surveyor while living in this state.
According to the pension application of his son, Silas McBee, he moved his family from Virginia to the Thicketty Creek area of what was then North Carolina, in 1767. He was appointed constable in Tryon County, North Carolina in 1770.
Vardry Sr.’s brother, James, received a 400 acre grant on May 24, 1770, from Gov. William Tryon in North Carolina. The land was later considered a part of Spartanburg County and was sold by James to Andrew Colley in 1799. At this time, James and his wife, Sarah, were living in Franklin County, Georgia. He died in 1814.
Vardry was granted 300 acres of land on Thicketty Creek (that in cluded Swofford’s Camp). He received the grant from North Carolina on November 25, 1771. It was adjacent to land belonging to John Steen.
The land was surveyed by Zachariah Bullock with chain bearers, John Nuckolls and William Marchbanks. (This land became a part of Ninety Six District, South Carolina, in 1772; Spartanburg County in 1785; and Cherokee County in 1897.)
His land was located three and one-half miles from the stockade and blockhouse built by settlers for refuge fom Indian attacks in the latter 1750s. It was called Fort Thicketty or Fort Anderson.
In a short time he had acquired ownership of 14,583 acres of land with investments in mining, farming, cattle, hogs, tanning and surveying.
Before the Revolutionary War he began the mining of limestone from the tract he had purchased from Osborn. He built kilns and produced lime which he probably sold to Daniel McClarin, William Henry Dray ton, William Wofford, Samuel Nesbitt, and William Hill who all owned small blast furnaces for the production of iron.
He was an ironmaster and had an iron furnace constructed on Thick etty Creek near his home and owned rich beds of iron ore on Doolittle and Thicketty creeks. A grist and fl.our mill was constructed near the furnace. (This mill may later have been called the Elijah Dawkins Mill.)
The mining of lead was also begun on the Limestone property. He furnished iron for the blacksmiths and lead for the farmers’ hunting trips.
He built an iron foundry on his Miller’s Fork property (later called Leo’s Foundry). (A dam on Miller’s Fork, now Limestone Creek, earthen flume, and rock foundation for an overshot wheel still marked the site in the early 1970s. The cornerstone was dated 1777.) A grist and fl.our mill was also constructed to make maximum use of the water power.
The lead was used for molding musket balls, and the foundry produced iron cannon balls for the War of Independence.
The spring on his Limestone property was first called Dogwood Springs and is mentioned in the book, Horseshoe Robinson, written by John Pendleton Kennedy in 1835. Mary Musgrove warned Horseshoe and Major Butler not to go by Dogwood Springs for Tories were waiting there to capture them.
The McBees also had cow-pens, called Hannah’s Cowpens. This bus i ness venture was near the Dogwood Springs on the Osborn grant. Writers have erroneously referred to the Battle of Cowpens as being fought at Hannah’s Cowpens. The cow-pens, where the battle was fought, belonged to an Englishman by the name of Saunders according to a statement by Silas McBee to Lyman C. Draper who interviewed him in Mississippi before he died. Silas, a patriot soldier, was at Saunders Cowpens for a meeting just before the Battle of Kings Mountain.
The following description of cow-pens can be found in J. H. Logan’s, History of Upper South Carolina: “At an earlier day a Cow-pen was quite an important institution. It was usually officered with a superintendent and a corps of sub-agents, all active men, experienced woodmen and unfailing shots, at long or short range with the rifle. For these a hamlet of cabins were erected besides the la,ye enclosure for the stock; all of which with a considerable plat of cleared land in the vicinity for the cultivation of cont, made quite an opening in the woods; and when all were at home and the cattle in the pens, it was a very noisy civilized scene in the midst of the savage wilderness.”
Four children were born to Vardry and Hannah at their Thicketty homestead, daughters, Elizabeth, Lucy, Rebecca and son, Vardry Jr.
Vardry Sr. drove cattle to Augusta and Charles Town and as a wagoner took produce, iron ware, lime and brought back manufactured goods, rice, salt and sugar to sell in his frontier general store.
According to Roy McBee Smith, Vardry McBee Sr. joined the Spartan Regiment under the command of Col. John Thomas on August 23, 1775, several days after a barbecue meal on Lawson’s Fork where William Henry Drayton addressed the settlers. He fought as a patriot soldier with this regiment in the Snow Campaign in December of 1775 under Col. Richard Richardson.
He enlisted in the Fifth Continental Regiment on March 26, 1776. His regiment was not engaged in the Battle of Fort Sullivan, but after the
Indian uprisings in South Carolina in 1776, General Charles Lee, com mander of the Southern Continental Forces, urged a joint punitive expedition, known as the Cherokee Campaign of 1776, and he fought under Col. Andrew Williamson. (They destroyed Indian villages and the stockade of the Tory, Richard Pearis, at the Reedy River falls in what is now the city of Greenville, S. C.)
Isaac Huger became a colonel in the fifth regiment on January 9, 1779, and Vardry Sr. probably fought in the Battle of Stono Ferry where Huger was wounded. His regiment also fought in the Siege of Savan nah, where his neighbor Sgt. William Jasper was killed.
The fifth regiment was merged with the First Continental Regiment on February 11, 1780, and fought under Colonel Charles Pinckney at the Siege of Charleston in Mayof 1780. This regiment was captured and imprisoned at Fort Moultrie. Vardry Sr.’s neighbor, James (Horseshoe) Robertson, and Col. Pinckney were captured at this time. The story of Robertson’s daring escape is recorded in Kennedy’s book, Horseshoe Robinson. Vardry Sr. had written and signed the will of David Robert son, James’ father, whodied in 1771.
He was elected captain on June 10, 1780, and fought with Col. Benjamin Roebuck through January 10, 1782. In July of 1780, He joined with the forces of Col. Joseph McDowell, Col. Elijah Clark and Col. Isaac Shelby and bivouacked with them at Cherokee Ford. (This area is now in Cherokee County.)
On July 20, 1780, he was with the forces of Cols. Elijah Clark and Isaac Shelby when they captured Fort Thicketty. This fort was under the command of Col. Patrick Moore. Ninety three Loyalists and one British Major were captured without iuing a shot. Hissons, Matthew, Mathias and Silas were with him at this time.
An old woman in the Thicketty Creek area was accused of concealing Tories and abetting the British cause. Colonel Henry White of the Spartan Regiment dispatched a troop of mounted riflemen, who were usually under the command of Capt. Vardry McBee, to terrorize and torture the old woman. He replaced Captain McBee for the mission ”reporting that McBee was not devil enough”.
From 1771 until 1773, Elijah Clark, son of John and Mary Gibson Clark, lived on his father’s Pacolet River plantation and was a neighbor of Vardry Sr. before he moved to Wilkes County, Georgia. Elijah received this plantation of 800 acres in his father’s will.
John Clark received a grant of 800 acres on Pacolet River “including the place where he now lives”, on March 26, 1754. He was the early settler not his son, Elijah.
In 1773, Benjamin and Nancy Hart and John and Dianna Dooly, who went with Elijah and Hannah Arrington Clark to Georgia, were neighbors of the McBees before leaving. (The Clark cabin was located close to the Fernandez cemetery in present day Union County, S. C.)
In Georgia, John Dooly served as a patriot soldier with rank of colonel and was in the battle of Kettle Creek. He was killed by Tories in 1780. Benjamin Hart was also a patriot officer and his wife, Nancy, was a heroine.
Vardry McBee Sr. fought with Cols. Clark and Shelby in the Battle of Wofford’s Iron Works on August 8, 1780, against the troops of Captain James Dunlap. Col. Clark received two saber wounds one on the back of his neck and one on the head. His stock buckle saved him. Clark’s brother, John, and several others were wounded in the battle.
Roy McBee Smith, in his book on Vardry McBee, stated: “Five -year old Vardry McBee Jr. watched from the porch of his father’s home on Thicketty Creek as a band of horsemen, led by his father, rounded the bend and headed towards the house. Several of the wounded patriots were being brought home by Captain McBee from the battle (Wofford’s Iron Works) for medical attention.
As the riders came close young Vardry could see three wounded soldiers, bloody and almost lifeless, carried in front of three horsemen and hanging across the pommels of the saddles. Young Vardry watched as they were lifted from the horses and as his mother and sisters hurried to attend their wounds. One of the wounded was John Clark, brother of Colonel Elijah Clark.”
When John Clark was able he left for other battles, but came back after the war and worked with Vardry, Sr.
In August of 1780, Col. Joseph McDowell moved his troops from Cherokee Ford to Smith’s Ford (in present day Cherokee and York counties.) From this bivouac, the men marched to the Battle of Mus grove’s Mill, which was fought on August 19, 1780. Capt. Vardry McBee, joined with Cols. Elijah Clark, Isaac Shelby and James Williams, to defeat the British forces under Lt. Col. Alexander Innes. His sons Mathias, Matthew and Silas were with him in this battle.
Vardry McBee and his son, Silas, attended a meeting at the Cowpens just before the Battle of Kings Mountain. When the battle began, they fought under Col. James Williams.
Alfred Nixon wrote: “In this famous engagement, Vardry was in the thickest of the fight; and his was one of the several Deckards fired at Colonel Ferguson, when that bold Briton in his dash down the rugged mountain side, Jell pierced by many bullets.” His son, Silas, in his pension statement wrote that he also fired a shot at Ferguson. There were nine or more bullet holes in his body.
Col. James Williams died from wounds received at this battle. (His remains were later disinterred and removed from the J.B. Mintz farm to Gaffney.)
General Daniel Morgan left the encampment at Smith’s Ford and moved his troops to Grindal Shoals on Christmas day, December 25, 1780. He pitched his camp on the east bank of Pacolet River at Grindal Shoals. Vardry Sr. was with Col. Benjamin Roebuck, whose troops were encamped near the shoals.
First called Carroll Shoals, for Richard Carroll, who received the first grant for the land in 1752, the property was sold to John Clark, but he lost it due to his failure to make improvements.
Vardry McBee Sr. and John Grindal moved their families to the area about the same time and were neighbors. The land at the shoals was re-granted to John Grindal in 1767, and the name changed to Grindal Shoals in 1773.
Morgan broke up the encampment on January 15th, 1781, and marched his men up the Green River road toward the Saunders cow-pens, stop ping first at Burr’s Mill (Byers Mill). He met with Col. WiJUam Washing ton’s cavalry at Gentleman William Thompson’s on the 16th • (This location was later called Thicketty or Thicketty Station.) McBee’s house was located where the Cherokee Ford Road crossed the Green River Road, and he passed his cabin in route to the cow-pens.
At the Battle of Cowpens, McBee fought in the second line in Col. Benjamin Roebuck’s battalion. Col. Andrew Pickens was the Brigade commander. The Pickens battalions were commanded by Col. John Thomas, Jr., Lt.Col. Benjamin Roebuck, Lt. Col. Joseph Hayes, and Col. Thomas Brandon.
Five year old Vardry McBee Jr. heard the firing of the guns from his father’s house and watched the American cavalry under Col. William Washington gallop by in pursuit of Tarleton after his defeat.
The chase ended at the Adam Goudelock cabin where Tarleton had kidnapped Adam and taken him to show them the wayto Hamilton’s Ford. Washington’s horse had been injured, and he could not pursue Tarleton any longer. The Goudelocks were neighbors of the McBees.
Col. Benjamin Roebuck, Lt. Col. Henry White, and Capt. John Mapp fought in several battles with Vardry Sr. He was probably with them at the Battle of Mudlick Creek in the summer of 1781. This skirmish was at Williams’ Fort in Newberry District.
Vardry McBee not only offered his services as a soldier in the fight for his country’s independence, but furnished products from his iron and lead mines as well as other supplies for militia use.
In 1850, Milner Echols wrote: “He(Vardry Sr.) was said to have done as tmlch Damage to the British and Tori.es in that part of the Country as any Captain.”
His sons, Mathias and Matthew, served under Col. Benjamin Roebuck. His son, Samuel, served under Col. John McDonald and Gen. Francis Marion. In one of their battles Samuel was shot by a musket ball that lodged in his spine and paralyzed him for life.
Roy McBee Smith wrote: “Into (Patrick) Ferguson’s camp on the South Pacolet River walked the fifteen year old boy, Silas McBee, with the demand to speak personally with the Colonel. He said his mission was for his mother, who demanded return of a fine horse, which some Tories had taken from the McBee plantation.
But his real assignment was to determine Ferguson’s strength and rue power. The Colonel refused the request and placed Silas under guard. He found a chance to escape from the camp, and the British guard could not overtake him in the woods and thickets he had known since childhood.”
Silas, enlisted on June 12, 1780, at a rally at Bullock’s Creek Presbyte rian Church in present York County, S. C.
In A History of Spartanburg County writers of the Work Projects Administration wrote: “They rallied here after Brandon’s Defeat. To these bewildered men, who were as sheep without a shepherd, John Thomas Jr., made an inspiring appeal whereupon all agreed to continue resistance.”
He entered the service as a volunteer in July 1780 near Tate’s Ferry under the Command of Col. Thomas Brandon and in the Company of Capt. John Thompson and Lt. Josiah Tanner. This was at the Cherokee Ford encampment of Col. Joseph McDowell. He also served in the Roebuck regiment under his father and Capt. John Mapp and later with Col. Andrew Pickens.
Vardry McBee Sr. ‘s future sons-in-law also fought with the patriots. Joseph Morris, a saddler from Thicketty, fought under Col. Benjamin Roebuck from 1781-1783, John Clark fought with his brother, Col, Elijah Clark and Jordan Gibson fought in the Militia.
After the war, credit was gone and Vardry Sr. could not continue his store operations. Roy McBee Smith wrote: ”A new state law prevented him from collecting any money due him until 1786, and after 1786 only a fifth of a debt could be sued for annually. Also, a property tender law was passed, forcing creditors to accept until 1787 any properly that debtors might offer in lieu of money, at two-thirds the value set by assessors.
The assessors conspired and debtors began to bring blind horses, yokes of oxen, crippled cows, and other worthless goods to force the settlement of their debts. The legislature repealed the legal tender of its pa.per money and offered redemption of the original issue at one four thousandth.”
The year 1785 was a disastrous crop year. Smith wrote: “A debtor, though willing to sell part of his land to pay his bills, found that he must pay four times the value. Never were so many planters ruined or forced to sell at extraordinary sacrifices.”
Duncan Wallace wrote: “On account of South Carolina’s having been the seat of far more devastating and widespread war than any other state, agriculture was crippled by the destruction of equipment, the neglect of fields, and the disorganization of labor.”
Lewis P. Jones wrote: “No state saw more war or suffered more from war than did South Carolina during the military phase of the American Revolution.”
Vardry Sr. borrowed money from officer friends in his Revolutionary War days: Francis Bremar, Jr. of Charleston, S. C., Col. Adlai Osborn of Charlotte, N. C., Col. William Wofford (former owner of Wofford’s Iron Works at Lawson’s Fork), Lt. Col. John Lindsey of Union, S. C. and Lt. Moses Cherry of Chester, S. C.
He transferred ownership to 11,049 acres and mortgaged the remaining properties. A total of 7,354 acres were used as collateral for loans, and 5,047 acres were lost through foreclosure.
Roy McBee Smith wrote: “Vardry Jr., with the blunt judgment of youth, held his father to be a poor manager of his affairs and was critical of him for mortgaging his lands and never recovering.”
In 1786, Captain Vardry Sr. brought a Mr. Gaper, a teacher from Charleston, to his plantation for the purpose of teaching his youngest children. The school lasted all day for six days a week with only an hour or two at noon time for lunch and play.
He was left without means to educate his children in 1787, and Vardry Jr. was taken from school at the age of twelve and sent to their lime quarry, where he worked for the next six years.
On March 10, 1787, an article of agreement was signed between Robert Evans, Tabez Evans (Rutherford County, N. C.), Vardry McBee Sr. and William Young (Spartanburg County, S. C.). The above agreed to be joint partners and to have Robert Evans secure a title to a survey of 402 acres on Shoals Creek of North Pacolet River. The land was sup posed to be a cooper mine”.
He sold his iron ore lands and home place on Thicketty Creek (5,000 acres) in 1788 to a new partnership: Francis Bremar (Charleston), Daniel Bourdeaux (Barnwell Dist.), Col. David Hopkins (Chester Dist.), and Major John Vanderhorst (Charleston), and they employed his ore specialist, David Cooper, to work with them in discovering new ore banks for their iron manufacturing company.
Vardry Sr. and one of his partners, William Tate, were sued for debts by Sarah Guess in 1787 and by Col. John Lindsey in 1789.
William Tate, owned two ferries that crossed the Broad River, and was a lieutenant and captain in the Fifth Regiment with Vardry Sr. Tate was imprisoned after the Fall of Charleston and exchanged in October of 1780. He also owned a grist mill on Cherokee Creek.
Col. John Lindsey of Union County, S. C. brought a judgment against McBee to the September Court of 1789, and his iron ore tract of 2,557 acres on Dolittle Creek in York County was seized and sold by Adam Meek, Sheri.ff, on August 27, 1790, to William Tate.
The York County Court also seized 300 acres of McBee’s land on the north side of Broad River and west side of Buffalo Creek and sold it to Peter Quinn on the above date.
Col. John Lindsey, son of John and Alice Crosson Lindsey, married Elizabeth Humphries, and they lived for a number of years in Union County, S. C. He served as a lieutenant and captain under Cols. Tho mas Brandon and Col. Waters. The latter part of the war he served as Lt. Colonel. His brothers James, Samuel and Thomas were patriot soldiers and served as officers in the militia in South Carolina.
In 1788, Vardry Sr. gave Joseph Morris power of attorney to collect debts owed him and called him ‘my trusty and loving friend”. Vardry moved his family from the Thicketty location to the “Limestone tract” during this year.
They probably lived in one of the cabins built for the Hannah’s Cow pens operation. While living here, he applied for a license to “keep a Public House of Entertainment’. He gave as his sureties Thomas Warren and James Morris for his “Lawful Performance”.
The official report of the debts of states in 1789, showed that South Carolina had more indebtedness than any other state. Duncan Wallace wrote that South Carolina was bleeding at every pore.
General William Moultrie, shortly after finishing his term as Governor of the state, wass eized and lodged in the Charleston jail because he could not pay for the notes he had signed during the Revolutionary War to secure provisions for his soldiers.
James Morris worked with Vardry Sr. from 1787-1788, John Clark worked with him from 1787-1789, and Jordan Gibson worked with him from 1787 into the 1790s.
De Bow in his writings in 1852 stated: “He(Vardry Sr.) was fond of social company and confiding in his nature, with habits not improved by his military life. The consequence was, his utter ruin in fortune, and the foreclosure of his mortgages.” Three of his daughters had children born out of wedlock during this period.
It is interesting to note that only one of his soldier friends (Lt. Col. John Lindsey) sued to have his property confiscated. It was only after Moses Cherry had died that his widow, her brother, Samuel Talbert, and her new husband, Thomas Weir, foreclosed and forced sales of some of his other land.
On December 5, 1796, His “limestone tract” of 300 acres which in cluded the Lime Quarry and Hanna’s Cowpens was sold at public auc tion by Sheriff William Bratton (Pinckney District). It was sold to settle Vardry Sr.’s indebtedness to the Moses Cherry estate and purchased by William Lipscomb.
Lipscomb sold 280 acres of the property to Francis Bremar. He re served one lot with limestone on it and let Capt. James Martin have the other two. Capt. James Martin and Lipscomb became owners of three lots with limestone. When Lipscomb and William Thomson be came partners, they purchased Martin’s lots.
Bremar allowed McBee to stay on the property and supervise the work at the quarry until Vardey moved to another state.
David Cooper had worked for Vardry Sr. in discovering new ore and had been given the use of 365 acres of land on which to construct a cabin. He continued to work for Francis Bremar and his partners after McBee sold them a part of his iron ore property.
David died on May 7, 1792, before receiving title to the land, and Var dry Sr. encouraged Bremar to give the property to his widow. On May 20, 1797, a deed was presented to her as an appreciation for services rendered the two companies by her husband, and McBee witnessed the transaction.
Sheriff William Bratton on August 6, 1798, sold at public auction Var dry McBee Sr.’s 1,740 acres of land on Miller’s Fork and the 150 acres purchased from Robert Looney next to the “limestone tract”. Proceeds were dispersed to help settle the debt owed the Moses Cherry estate. The land was purchased by Elizabeth Talbert Cherry Weir, who had married Thomas Weir after the death of her husband, Moses.
Vardry Sr. and his wife moved to Kentucky, and he was listed on the Tax List for Logan County, Kentucky, in 1799, and on August 26, 1800. In Kentucky land was granted after the legal requirements for homesteading, all free from auditors and mortgagees, creditors and past taxes. They conf”umed the lines of Certificate No.3,786 for two hundred acres on the north fork of Cedar Creek.
After Vardry Sr. had moved to Kentucky, Francis Bremar purchased the 150 acres on Miller’s Creek adjoining the “limestone tract!’ and the 1,740 acres on Miller’s fork on the North side of Thicketty Creek. It was purchased from Elizabeth Cherry Weir of Chester District on No vember 7, 1800. (Thomas Mccartan, the partner of Michael Gaffney, purchased McBee’s 1,740 tract on Miller’s Fork from Francis Bremar on July 12, 1803.)
Roy McBee Smith wrote: “In 1801, Captain Vardry plunged into a wintry Kentucky lake when a neighbor was thrown from a tipped canoe. The seventy-one year old Captain had been fishing on the shore. He swam to the spot where the neighbor had gone down and dove for him. Others on shore extended a tree limb and helped the Captain bring the man to shore. After several days in bed, the Captain got up and was sitting before the fire when he collapsed. Several days later he died. They buried him not far from the cabin in a tim ber clearing.”
Following the Revolutionary war, he surrendered his earthly possessions, partly through his effort to free his country from British rule, and then lost his life seeking to save his neighbor.
Roy McBee Smith wrote: “When the homestead requirements were completed in 1806, Governor Christopher Greenup delivered the deed to Hannah McBee.”
On November 9, 1807, Hannah, received a grant for 150 acres on Green River (Hickory Camp Creek) in Kentucky.
CHILDREN OF VARDRY SR. AND HANNAH ECHOLS MCBEE
He was paralyzed from the spinal wound he acquired while fighting with Col. Francis Marion. He moved with his family to Kentucky.
Matthew McBee left home after the war and probably worked for Poole’s Iron Works.
Matthew McBee married Fanny Lee, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Watts Lee, from the Lawson’s Fork area in 1783. She was born circa 1757, and he was born in 1761.
Robert, son of James and Mary Mitchell Lee, was born in 1720 at Se neca Creek, Prince George County, Maryland, and his wife, Elizabeth Watts, daughter of Richard and Susanna Northcraft Watts, was born circa 1732. He and his wife had three sons and six daughters.
Robert died at Lawson’s Fork on November 29, 1797. He left his daughters Fanny, Elizabeth, Susannah and Dorcas a partnership in 3,000 acres of land.
Matthew McBee purchased 200 acres on the south side of Pacolet River from William Aldridge and his wife, Hannah, on January 18, 1787. Purchase price was fifty pounds sterling.
Their son, Elijah, married Martha Patsy Crocker, daughter of Solomon and Susannah Crocker, in January 1805.
Solomon Crocker enlisted for five years on March 29, 1776, under Capt. Frank Prince in the Fifth Regiment. He was a carpenter and was sent under Col. Roebuck to help construct Fort Seneca.
He also served under Capt. Robert McWhirter and was in the battle at Watkins’s. He was married in 1780 to Susannah in the home of Col. John Thomas with the colonel performing the ceremony.
He was one of the heroes in the battle of Cowpens. His brothers William, Anthony and James were also patriot soldiers.
Elijah was born in 1789, and Patsy was born February 14, 1787. He was a soldier in Thomas White’s Militia and died December 20, 1814, in Charleston, S. C. during the Warof 1812. They had three sons.
She married David Robertson in 1831. He was also in the War of 1812. Patsy and David moved to Greene County, Tennessee.
Matthew and Fanny spent the remainder of their lives at Lawson’s Fork. He died October 25, 1817, and she died some time after this. They had five sons and two daughters.
He moved with his sister, Rebecca, and her husband, John Clark, to Franklin County, Georgia, in 1789. Mathias McBee was a member of the Georgia Militia from 1793-1796.
Silas McBee and his sisters, Elizabeth and Lucy, were living in Sumner County, Tennessee, in 1792. Silas was a scout of Col. James Winchester’s militia and was engaged with him in a few skirmishes.
When Zeigler’s Station was attacked on June 26, 1792, by a large party of Indians, Zeigler was killed and Mrs. Zeigler and some of her children were taken prisoners. Col. James Winchester raised a company of men and Silas was one of the volunteers. They pursued the Indians and Mrs. Zeigler and her children were exchanged.
Silas McBee and his sisters, Elizabeth and Lucy were living in Ken tucky by 1794. He married Catherine Cates, daughter of Joseph and Margaret Bell Cates, in Logan County, Kentucky, in 1797. He was born November 24, 1765, and she was born in South Carolina in 1769.
Her father was a patriot soldier in the American Revolution and fought in Capt. Nathaniel Bacon’s company. Her brother, Joshua Cates, fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain under Col. Isaac Shelby, and three days after the battle traveled with his good friend, Daniel Boone, to Kentucky.
Silas served as a justice of the peace in Logan County, Kentucky.
In 1798-1799, cousins, William and Joshua Harp, (Big and Little Harp) murdered at least 40 men, women and children on the frontier. The father of one of the Harps was a Tory and fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain.
On one occasion they traveled to Squire Silas McBee’s cabin apparently planning to kill him because of his activity in fighting outlaws. Luckily McBee had a half-dozen dogs trained to hunt bear and deer and after a fierce fight with the dogs the Harps left.
John Belt wrote: “It seems that McBee always had a premonition to go a different way each time when they (the Harps) were watching for a chance to kill him. McBee, organized a posse and one of their members was Stegall” (husband of the slain wife and father of the baby murdered by the Harps). The posse caught up with Big Harp and shot him on August 24, 1799. Stegall cut off his head. Little Harp was captured and hung in Mississippi in 1804, and was also beheaded.
By 1818, Silas McBee had moved his family and his mother to Monroe County, Mississippi, thought then to be a part of Alabama. In 1819, he was elected to represent Monroe County in the first Alabama Legisla ture, defeating Colonel William Cocke by seven or eight votes. Healso served as a Justice of the Peace while living in Mississippi.
Silas and his son-in-law, Thomas Sampson (husband of Matilda), were elected members of the committee that laid out Possum Town (the Tombigee Settlement). Silas suggested the name, Columbus, and it was adopted. The creek near his place of residence was named McBee Creek.
Vardry McBee, Jr. journeyed from North Carolina to Monroe County, Mississippi, in 1823 and visited his mother, Hannah, at Christmas time. On December 25, 1823, she gave her power of attorney to her son, Vardry, to recover her dower rights to the ”lime kiln tract” and to other land that her husband, Vardry McBee, Sr. had once owned. Witnesses were Bartlet Sims, Silas L. McBee and John Roberts.
She died in 1824-1825 and was buried on Silas’ land near the McBee Creek.
In 1830, the name, Monroe County, was changed to Lowndes County, Mississippi. Here he received his pension in 1831 for service rendered as a patriot soldier in the American Revolution.
His wife, Catherine, died in the 1830s and was buried next to his mother. She was the mother of all of his children. They had three sons and five daughters.
His daughter, Sarah Ford McBee, married Tilghman Mayfield Tucker of Lowndes County, who became governor of Mississippi. They were the first residents of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion. His daughter, Eustacia Ann, married Thomas Hickman Williams, who became a United States Senator and was known as “the father of the State University”.
Silas married Leodica Nail on February 2, 1837. She was the widow of Benjamin Nail, son of Julian and Mary Nail, and was first married to a Rea. This marriage was not successful and Silas was sued for “alienation of affection,,. (She died in Itwamba County, Mississippi in 1855.)
He moved circa 1840 to Pontotoc County, Mississippi, and lived until his death with his daughter, Eustacia Ann, and her husband, Thomas. While living with his daughter, he gave three interviews to Lyman Draper.
He died at his daughters on January 6, 1845, and was buried in the Williams Family Cemetery located to the right of the Pontotoc and Houston Road, about 10 miles south of Pontotoc. (The house built in Columbus, Mississippi, by Silas McBee, was still standing in 1947.)
On January 29, 1887, Jordan Gibson purchased a wagon and harness for four horses from John Sanders. From 1787 through the 1790s, he hauled &eight for Vardry, Sr. He was the son of Gideon Gibson, Jr. and Mary Martha O’Connell Gibson. He moved to Spartanburg County in 1787 and his brothers, William and Gideon, moved to Spartanburg County in the 1790s. They all owned land on Cherokee Creek.
Gideon Sr. moved to North Carolina in 1720. Hewas a British subject of African origin. In 1728 he married a white woman, Mary Ann Brown. Gideon, Sr. was a carpenter and owned several slaves. His sons Gideon and David were patriot soldiers in the Revolutionary War. He was killed by his nephew, Col. Maurice Murphy, in 1781 over an argu ment about Murphy’s mistreatment of an elderly Tory.
British Major Wemys, after capturing Charleston, burned Jordan Gib son’s house. It was located on the banks of the Great Pee Dee River, near Catfish Creek, and in present day Marion County, South Carolina. He was the son of Gideon Sr.
Gideon, Jr., a mulatto, was a militia captain in the ”regulator” move ment, whose purpose was to protect settlers’ property from criminals. He helped instigate the Mars Bluff Affair in which he and a few other men held a British militia captain hostage and defeated other militia men.
He was sometimes referred to as “Gibeon”, and on June 25, 1777, enlisted in the Rangers under Capt. Robert Goodwyn. Gideon, Jr. and Mary Martha had fourteen children. Their son, Randal, was a minister in the Methodist Church and was active in establishing Jefferson Col lege in Washington, Miss iss ippi.
Tobias Gibson, nephew of Gideon Jr. and son of Jordan, was a Method st preacher and was sent by Francis Asbury to the Mississippi Terri tory, where he became known as father of Mississippi Methodists.
In 1792, Gideon Gibson Jr. died at Woodville in Wilkerson County, Mississippi. His brother, Jordan, died in Liberty (Marion) County, S. C. in 1799.
Rhoda, Vardry Sr.’s daughter, and Jordan Gibson had two children before they were married. They were both charged by the court for having a child out of wedlock in 1788. They married in 1792. Rhoda Gibson obtained custody of her child, Durrel McBee, from the court, at this time. Jordan wasborn circa 1747 and Rhoda was born circa 1766.
Brothers, Jordan and Gideon, witnessed a transaction between John Lefever and Sarah Wooten on October 10, 1797, in Spartanburg County.
Jordan helped to transport Vardry Sr. and his wife to Logan County, Kentucky, in 1799, and also moved his family to Kentucky. He came back to South Carolina on September 29, 1801, and sold his property on the waters of Cherokee Creek to Robert Stacey. Amos and Samuel Austell witnessed the transaction.
His brother, Gideon, married Lydia Godbold, daughter of John Godbold, Jr. and his wife, Priscilla Jones. They married in what is now Marion County, S. C. in 1790. He sold 250 acres of land on Cherokee Creek to Michael Gaffney on March 9, 1805. He and his family were living in Knox County, Tennessee, at this time.
Gideon may have later married Lydia Callender in Claiborne County, Mississippi, in 1806. She was the daughter of Alexander and Mary Coleman Callender.
His brother, William, sold Abraham Green (York County) 142 acres of land on Cherokee Creek on March 17, 1807. Michael Gaffney and Smith Lipscomb witnessed the transaction.
Jordan and Rhoda were possibly living in Marion County, South Caro lina, when the 1810 federal census was taken. They probably died sometime in the 1830s.
Joseph Morris worked for Vardry, Sr. for several years and married his daughter, Mary, in 1788. They had one child born out of wedlock. Joseph Morris, son of Edmund William Morris and his wife, Eleanor Morrow, was a saddler. His parents moved their family from Pennsyl vania to the Thicketty Creek area before the Revolutionary War.
Joseph wasborn in 1761 and Mary was born in 1767. They moved to Lincolnton, North Carolina, in 1789, where Joseph continued to work as a saddler. They also ran a hotel. She died there on April 10, 1825, and he died on August 6, 1846. They were buried in the Old White Church cemetery.
Vardry Sr.’s daughter, Elizabeth, married John Archer Gardner, son of John Gardner, in 1802. They were married in Logan County, Ken tucky. She was born circa 1769 and he was born in 1765. He died before 1850 in Butler County, Kentucky, and she died there in 1852. They had three sons and one of their sons was named Vardry.
Lucy, born circa 1771, married Henry Glisson, son of Henry and Char ity O’Quin Glisson, on October 13, 1795, in Logan County, Kentucky. He was f”ust married circa 1790 in Bertie County, North Carolina. Name of his f”ust wife is unknown. Lucy, his second wife, had two children born out of wedlock and was deceased by 1798. Polly Glisson was their daughter.
He married Elizabeth Fike, daughter of Malachiah and Anne Davis Fike, on August 9, 1798. After 1810, he and his wife moved to Robertson County, Tennessee, where he died circa 1815. He had two children by his f”ust wife, one by his second and five by his third.
While working with Vardry, Sr., John Clark, brother of Col. Elijah Clark, began to court Rebecca. They were married in 1788. She was born in 1773 and was Vardry’s youngest daughter. John wasborn circa 1732, and was 40 years older than Rebecca. They moved to Franklin County, Georgia, and her brother, Mathias, traveled with them. They received a bounty land grant in 1795 for Clark’s services as a patriot soldier.
VARDRY MCBEE, JR.
Vardry, Jr. was born on June 19, 1775, in what is now Cherokee County, S. C. He moved to Lincolnton, N. C. in 1793, where he worked as an apprentice to his brother-in-law, Joseph Morris, as a saddler.
In 1798, Vardry, Jr. spent several months in Charleston, S. C., as a clerk in a grocery store. Hereturned to Lincolnton, N. C. in December of 1798, and in the spring of 1799, traveled to S. C. and accompanied his parents in their removal to the state of Kentucky, where they stayed with his brother, Silas, for several months.
Vardry, Jr. in the spring of 1800 moved to Sumner County, Tennessee, and established a saddlery business.
Roy McBee Smith wrote: “Early in l 802, the stagecoach brought a letter from Vardrg Jr.’s former employer in Charleston. James Campbell had sent it nearly Jive hundred miles, offering him a part nership in a dry goods store to be opened in Lincolnton and managed by him. So He packed his wagon and began the journey to North Carolina.”
Vardry Jr., married Jane Alexander, daughter of Col. Elias and Agnes McCall Alexander, on August 16, 1804. During the American Revolu tion her father was commissioned Colonel by Gen. Nathaniel Greene. He was engaged in battles at Ramsour’s Mill, Kings Mountain, Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse.
Jane lived with her family in Rutherford County, N. C. where she was born May 1, 1783.
Vardry, Jr. was appointed the f”lrst Postmaster of Lincolnton on April 1, 1806. During this year, he was thrown by his giant gray gelding and his leg broken. He was ‘lame ever after” so much so that he could not walk any distance and was compelled to ride.
In 1812, he was elected clerk of the county court, a position he held for twenty-one years.
In 1815, Vardry, Jr. for $27,550.00 purchased 11,806 acres of land from Lemuel Alston, which for a century afterwards composed the major part of the village and later city of Greenville, S. C. Lemuel and Vardry, Jr. were neighbors when they lived in the Grindal Shoals area.
Lemuel was the son of Solomon and Sarah Hinton Alston and was living in Granville County, N. C. when his father died in 1771. His mother was re-married to John Henderson, and they moved to Grindal Shoals before the Revolutionary War ended. John served as a Lieutenant Colonel and was wounded at the Battle of Eutaw Springs on September 8, 1781.
After his graduation from William and Mary College in Virginia, Lemuel lived at Grindal for several years and moved to what became Greenville, S. C. in 1788. He f”irst purchased 400 acres, a portion of the former plantation of Richard Pearls and ‘including his mill seat”.
He married Elisabeth Williams, daughter of Col. Joseph John and Elisabeth (Alston) Williams, circa 1790. They built the house on Pros pect Hill in 1792. In1797, Alston laid out a village called Pleasantburg. Edward Hooker, who visited Pleasantburg in 1806 stated: ”We…arrived at Col. Alston’s home, which is the most beautiful I have seen in South Carolina. The mansion is on a commanding eminence which he calls Prospect Hill. From the village six hundred yards distant, there is a spacious avenue formed by two handsome rows of sycamore trees.”
John and Theodosia Alston from Georgetown, S.C. spent several sum mers at Alston’s house as paying guests. She may have met with her father, Aaron Burr, on at least one of these trips.
After selling his land to Vardry McBee, Jr., Col. Lemuel Alston prom ised to deliver possession of his mansion by November 1, 1815. (Lemuel Alston died in Clark County, Alabama, in 1836.)
Smith wrote: “In Greenville Vardry first built a sawmill and then an ‘iron works’ at the ‘lower falls of the Reedy River to supp1.y the lumber, nails and implements to carry out his other plans. He started a brick yard and stone quarry.” He constructed a fl.our mill on the Reedy River in 1817.
He gave 30 acres of land “beginning at a Persimmon near a branch, running thence to a Red Oak bush” on the Buncombe Road at the northern edge of the village in August of 1820 for a Male and Female Academy.
McBee was one of the founders of the Pleasant Retreat Academy for male students in Lincolnton, N. C., established in 1821.
In 1824, Vardry signed the deed donating land on Avenue Street (now McBee Avenue) to the Baptist denomination. A brick church building was constructed on this lot in 1826. This was the beginning of First Baptist Church of Greenville. (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary utilized the old church building from 1859 until 1877 for class rooms.)
He was president of the Greenville Agriculture Society and for years was awarded the premium for the best managed farm in the district. Hehelped to organize that society in 1824.
On September 2, 1825, he gave a deed to Edward Croft, as trustee, donating four acres for the construction of an Episcopal Church. In 1826, they began the erection of a building on Church Street, which though unfinished, was dedicated in 1828 as Christ Church.
In 1829, he built his second mill (constructed ofs t o n e ). Then along with men he recruited from Lincoln County, N. C., he built a third mill, a paper mill, a cotton mill and a woolen mill. He also had a tannery.
He owned two gold mines in Greenville and may have mined for gold on a track of 465 acres in York District. He acquired this property on March 12, 1831, from Jacob Sterns. He also had a partnership with John Bomar in Spartanburg and there are surviving gold receipts from this venture.
On October 11, 1832, he donated land for the construction of a Meth odist Church. The Buncombe Street Methodist Church was established in 1834 and stood at the corner of Church and Coffee Streets on the lot given by McBee.
In 1834, Vardry Jr., Simpson Bobo, Gabriel Cannon, and William Clark purchased stock in the South Carolina Manufacturing Company, an iron works then in Spartanburg County.
He used the mansion as a hotel and summer resort until he moved his family from Lincolnton, N. C. to the house on Prospect Hill in 1836. He owned a chain of saddlery shops at this time.
De Bow wrote: ”When the project of the Louisville and Cincinnati Railroad was on the tapis in South Carolina, Mr. McBee subscribed liberally to it, and on the death of General Hayne (1839), who had been elected the first President of the company, Mr. McBee, without any solicitation on his part, or the part of his friends, was elected to preside over the company, with a salary of three or four thousand dollars a year. In order to discharge the duties of his office he had to spend the greater part of his time in Charleston.”
He resigned the presidency of the railroad on March 16, 1840, due to possible litigation against him. His friend, Col. Gadsden, was elected president in his place. Vardry stated: ”I have so acted through life, that there is not a fact or circumstance which my enemies can pro duce against me, to affect my character in a court of justice.” When the case was heard, he was exonerated.
In 1841, at the request of his son, Alexander, Vardry had an octagonal church called McBee’s Chapel built in Conestee, S. C. Plans for the church were drawn by his millwright, John Adams.
Wilson Nesbitt borrowed $1000.00 from McBee on October 16, 1843, and mortgaged 100 shares of his stock in the South Carolina Manufac turing Company to him.
In 1844, Vardry served as president of the South Carolina Manufactur ing Company. (After McBee resigned, Simpson Bobo was elected to f”ill the position. He served in that capacity until the company went out of business circa 1870.)
McBee subscribed $10,000.00 to the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad in 1847. He took twelve thousand dollars of stock in the Greenville and Columbia Railroad and afterward increased it to fifty thousand dollars thus saving the company from extinction.
In 1848, he donated a lot at the corner of Washington and Richardson Streets for construction of the First Presbyterian Church. Through the years the church has remained at this location.
In 1849, Vardry and others began to correspond with leaders of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, encouraging them to consider moving the Furman Theological Institute from Fairfield to Greenville. He visited with some of the convention leaders and when the decision was made to move the school to Greenville, he contributed to the statewide effort to raise at least $100,000.00 for its endowment.
He offered the use of McBee Hall, located at the corner of Main and McBee streets, and this benevolent act enabled the school to start classes in 1851.
He sold the school twenty-five acres on June 18, 1851, for $3,750.00 and on this land the campus was established. The next year he deeded an additional 25.1 acres to Furman for $3,765.00. Roy McBee Smith wrote: “with his civil engineer son, Pinkney, and Alexander, acting as chain’bearer, he surveyed the property to be set off for Furman.” He
offered to sell the land between the campus and Reedy River for $125.00 per acre, but the State Baptist Convention turned down his proposition.
Smith states that there were receipts for payments to the faculty from McBee for the f”ust year and from time to time in future years. He furnished several scholarships for Furman students in the early years.
In 1852, Vardry’s son, William Pinkney McBee, gave land for the estab lishment of a Catholic Church in Greenville.
Smith wrote: “Vardry McBee maintained a lively interest in Furman and attended its lectures, May Day exercises and graduations. Furman commencements lasted several days. He wrote his son in Lincolnton (N. C.) in 1856 that he attended the commencement exercises that spring and that the Baptist convention is as imposing an assemblage of gentlemen as I have seen in a long time. The Furman Commencement address by Judge O’Neal was excellent and inspiring.'”
After failing to secure a Methodist Female College for Greenville, Var dry joined with others to secure a Baptist Female College. He and his lawyer, Benjamin Perry, sought and won election to the Board of Trus tees of the Greenville Male and Female Academies.
Following the election, Vardry McBee, Ben Perry and William Pinckney McBee (son of Vardry and already serving as a trustee), and four other trustees voted seven to three to authorize the transfer of the land and buildings to the State Baptist Convention for the establishment of the Greenville Female College. After a legal battle with two of the trustees, the Court of Appeals confirmed the legality of the transfer in December of 1854.
The Board of Trustees of the Academies called for a meeting of citi zens, and McBee made one of the f”ust pledges to assist in raising $20,000.00 for the Female College.
On December 25, 1854, the trustees of the Male and Female Academies gave a deed for twenty-two and a half acres of their land to the Trus tees of Furman University in trust to “maintain a male and female school in the village of Greenville.”
John Bomar Jr. and McBee were partners in a merchantable store in Spartanburg in the 1850s. He had partnerships in f”ums in Greenville, Lincolnton, Shelby and Rutherfordton. The items carried by Bomar and McBee were unique.
One advertisement announced availability of “combs, shovel handles, nails, disks (farm implements), wash pans, bagging, cord, paper goods, tin ware, cotton ‘and other’ seed, socks, shoes and tallow.”
Other merchandise sold by their store included “clothing, hardware and cutlery, drugs, medicine, paint, oils, dye stuff, perfumery, sugar (both brown and ‘loaf), molasses, cheese, almonds, raisins, ladies’ corsets, skirts, overcoats, pantaloons, print fabrics, rope, twine, red clover seed and McBee’s own brand of yarn, made in his cotton mill on Reedy River in Greenville.”
John Bomar, Vardry McBee Jr., Simpson Bobo, John C. Zimmerman, S.N. Evins and D. E. Converse became the new owners of the Bivingsville Cotton Mill in 1856. McBee was eighty-one years old when this transaction occurred, but is said never to have missed a meeting of the investors.
A resident and teacher of Bivingsville, Emily Jenkins Tew, wrote the following in her diary: “Mr. McBee of Greenville, one of the owners, was a rich and eccentric old man whoalways dressed in Quaker style, and when he drove over to Spartanburg for meetings, he always brought with him his valet and a feather bed.”
The Southern Enterprise on March 15, 1858, printed a notice of the selection of a committee of twenty-five, with Vardry McBee as Chair man, to raise $24,000.00 for the Greenville Female College.
Benjamin Perry wrote: “Vardry never engaged in an enterprise that did not succeed”. He was called by some the “Father of Greenville”. Wil liam Sherrill wrote: “Headhered to a high standard and was always strictly temperate.”
On November 26, 1861, he became a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Greenville. He was then in his eighty-sixth year.
Smith wrote: “Heturned McBee Hall over to the Greenville ladies to use as a hospital and collection point for blankets, clothes, food, bandages, medicine and linens, which would be forwarded to the front for soldiers from the Greenville District. Its inviting colonnade would never again welcome guests to balls and parties and recep tions, as in happier days.” (McBee Hall, used as a place of instruction the f”irst year that Furman was moved to Greenville, burned in 1866.)
Smith wrote: “Greenville was chosen for the State Military Works, because Vardrg McBee gave the state twenty acres of land on the railroad on what is now Green Avenue.”
The Southern Enterprise announced on May 15, 1862, that Vardry had sold his Reedy River Manufacturing Company to the firm of Grady, Hawthorne and Perry. The new owners placed it in full production for the Confederate Quartermaster Department.
He owned $43,400.00 in Confederate bonds when he died in 1864. One student scholarship to Furman University was also listed in the inventory of his estate.
He was undoubtedly the greatest industrialist and philanthropist that Cherokee County has ever produced. De Bow wrote: &&Jn morality, and all the proprieties of life, Mr. McBee, has no superior.
Vardry and his wife, Jane, had six sons and three daughters. He died at the age of 89 on January 23, 1864, and she died on March 13, 1864. They were buried in Christ Episcopal Church cemetery in Greenville, N.C., where he was a member for many years.
(McBee, South Carolina, was named for Vardry Echols (Bunch) McBee, a railroad executive. He was the son of William Pinkney McBee, and grandson of Vardry McBee, Jr.)
William Lipscomb, Sr. was born in Hanover County, Virginia, on March 28, 1731. He was the son of Thomas and Sarah (MackGehee) Lip scomb. Sarah was the daughter of Thomas MackGehee of King William County, Virginia.
James Wilkes Lipscomb wrote: “Thomas MackGehee was from Scot land, the son of James MacGregor, Chief of the Gregor Clan, who fled the country to save his life, and assumed the name Thomas MackGehee.”
William Sr. married Elizabeth Smith, daughter of David and Elizabeth Smith in 1752. She was born September 12, 1735.
They lived in Louisa County, Virginia, during the Revolutionary War. He was appointed a member of the Committee of Safety on May 19, 1775. Donald Wise wrote: “He provided the Virginia Militia with 410 pounds of bacon, 50 pounds of beef, and corn and fodder for the Dra goons during the war.”