When browsing among the goods in antique stores and the occasional junk store, one inevitably comes across an old painting bearing the likeness of person whose identity is unknown — perhaps obtained from the estate of the last person who could identify them, or deaccessioned by descendants in need of cash who don’t know or care who they are. If the shopkeeper has a sense of humor, he or she may label the painting “Instant Ancestor!” as an inducement to purchase. Not so this oil painting, still cherished by her descendants and gracing the parlor of one of the more substantial dwellings in Charlotte County, Virginia.
The style of dress suggests that the painting dates from the early 1830s, when exaggerated puffed sleeves were abandoned for a more streamlined look, and the bodice styled in a way to emphasize the shoulders, and dresses were belted at the natural waist. She appears to be dressed for a party; evening gowns of the time were off the shoulder and exposed more skin than what was worn during the day. The dress is surprisingly simple. The portrait is signed by one of the better known itinerant painters then active in the American South, C.R. Parker, whose career spanned the years 1825 to 1849.
In 1953 the painting was catalogued by staff of The Frick Collection in New York City, and then, as now, the subject was called “Mrs Seaborn Jones.” It’s a shame she is identified only by her husband’s name — but who is she, really? We do not doubt the provenance of the painting, but rather we will use the object as the nexus of an exploration of her family’s history. This story has absolutely nothing to do with Annefield Vineyards or the the wine business (apart from the fact that Annefield was once owned by members of the Read family in the 1770s — see How Most Courteously to Kill Them?), but serves to illuminate the currents that made the region what it is today. This lengthy post attempts to tell her story so we can better understand her, her time and her people, but more importantly, allow us to understand the character that informs her descendants now living in Charlotte County.
The proper time to influence the character of a child is about a hundred years before he is born.
— William R. Inge (1860-1954)
If you would civilize a man, begin with his grandmother.
— Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
The Artist: C.R. Parker
C.R. Parker was a prolific itinerant painter who traveled throughout the American South painting portraits of wealthy Southern planters. Itinerant painters remain a mysterious lot — little is known about many of them. Some learned the trade as apprentices; others were self-taught and copied the conventions of portraiture from engravings of European portraits. They relied on native ability and the skills they had acquired as sign, house or coach painters to depict what they saw. Yet despite their lack of formal training, they often captured the essence of the sitter’s personality.
C.R. Parker was one such painter, and was a painter of no small consequence; while many of his works remain in private hands, examples can be found in a number of museums, among them the Museum of Mississippi History in Jackson, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, the Louisiana State Museum, the Columbus Museum in Columbus, Georgia, and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art in Montgomery, Alabama. We found 11 of his paintings catalogued by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
Parker was born in 1799 in Connecticut, and by 1825 was working as an artist in Louisiana. While there, he received a commission to paint several large portraits for the Louisiana Capitol. Parker studied in England from 1828 to 1832, during which time he exhibited with the Free Society of Artists in London and became good friends with noted naturalist John James Audubon. After his return, Parker opened a studio in New Orleans.
For the next fifteen years, Parker made many tours throughout the Southeast seeking new clients. Parker formed an extensive network of friendships during his travels, which gained him additional clients in cities such as Savannah Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. He was in Columbus, Georgia in 1838 where he painted portraits of some of that city’s most prominent citizens. The curator of an exhibition that included Parker’s work in Columbus in 2007, Artists for Hire in Antebellum Columbus, found these notices in the The Columbus Enquirer that illustrate how the public reacted to these artists:
“Mr. Parker, a Portrait Painter of very considerable celebrity, has arrived in our city, and taken the rooms hitherto occupied by Mr. McClintock’s select school … Mr. P(arker) can make the pictures as nearly represent the splendor of some of our originals, as perhaps any other of his profession.”
— Columbus Enquirer, August 2, 1838
“Mr. Parker informs the public that he will remain sometime in Columbus for the purpose of painting Portraits…(He) would not be doing justice to his feelings, were he not to acknowledge the great pleasure it has given him to meet in this new portion of the State so many of his former friends and patrons…”
— Columbus Enquirer, September 6, 1838
“The admirers of the fine arts ought not to permit the remaining days of Mr. Parker’s stay in our city to pass without calling at his gallery. It will be many days before they will have the opportunity of looking upon such a collection of accurate likenesses.”
— Columbus Enquirer, June 5, 1839
This portrait remains in the hands of Mrs Jones’ descendants, having passed down through the female line of the family to the present owner. The record maintained by The Frick Collection describes its provenance this way: “Mrs. Seaborn Jones of Georgia. Her daughter Bessie married Dr. William Lawton. Their daughter Gulielma married Abram Carrington Read. Their daughter Anne Carrington Read married Dr. Thomas Jackson Charlton,” who was the owner of the portrait in 1953, the year the Frick documented the painting (and presumably the Frick knows nothing of its current whereabouts). The painting is signed on the chair at the right, “R. Parker.”
Working backward from 1953, we know from the definitive genealogy of the Read family, The Reads and Their Relatives, by Alice Read Rouse (Cincinnati: Johnson & Hardin Press, 1930), that:
Abram Carrington Read (b. 1862 at Greenfield), A.B. Hampden-Sydney, LL.B. Columbia, the third President of the Read Phosphate Co., lives [in 1930] at Savannah, Ga. He married Gulielma Seabrook Lawton, and had two daughters: (1) Elizabeth Lawton Read, who died in childhood. (2) Anne Carrington Read, whose social career evokes memories of the almost fabulous successes of those beings of a now extinct species, the Belles of the South. She married 1930 Dr. Thomas Charlton, M.D. of Savannah.
Big, blonde and distinguished looking, Abram Read teeters along on the smallest feet in captivity. He has a delightful laugh, an excellent mind, an affectionate heart and a tremendous capacity for work, all of which attributes have contributed to making him a very successful man.
His wife Gulielma, called “Gulie,” Lawton, a woman of lovely nature an a beautiful speaking voice, was the daughter of Dr. Wm. Lawton of Savannah. (A footnote: “This voice was stilled Dec. 13, 1929.”)
A descendant informs us that Abram Carrington Read spent much of his life in Charleston and Savannah tending to the family business, the Read Phosphate Company. “Rumor has it the company was won in a poker game by one of his uncles who had been sent north to try a make some money after the civil war. There is another family story that when some of the Northern Army occupied Greenfield during the Civil War, some soldiers grabbed ACR as a baby and threatened to shoot him if the family did not turn over their silver to them. Supposedly, the patriarch, William Watkins Read, called their bluff told them to go ahead and shoot the child.”
His obituary appeared in The Record of the Hampden-Sydney Alumni Association (Vol. 16, No. 3 , April 1942):
The Savannah, Ga., papers of January 20th announced the passing, on January 19th, of Abram Carrington Read, who graduated with second honor at Hampden-Sydney in June, 1883. He had been ill but a short time, and was at Hampden-Sydney on a visit only a short while before his death. He was the son of Mr. William Watkins Read of “Greenfield,” Charlotte County, and his wife, Paulina Edmonia Carrington.
At college Mr. Read was universally popular because of his affability and courtesy. He was a member of Sigma Chi social fraternity. After graduating at Hampden-Sydney he studied law at Columbia University, New York, where he again showed his abilities, and graduated with the degree LL.B. He was then connected with the Read Phosphate Company of New York City. When a Southern Branch was established at Savannah, he was put in charge of it, and remained president until he retired in August, 1937, having sold his interests to the Davison Chemical Company.
In October, 1894, Mr. Read was married to Miss Gulielma Lawton, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. William Lawton. She died many years ago. Mr. Read is survived by his daughter, Mrs. Thomas J. Charlton, and by three grandchildren, Anne, Thomas and Read Charlton.
Funeral services were held at Christ Church, Savannah, on the afternoon of January 20th, and the body was taken to Charlotte Courthouse, where it was placed in the Read family plot.
The Savannah News says of Mr. Read:
He was a gracious man of simple tastes which made his whole life one of joy to his family and friends. He was a devoted churchman and to Christ Church, in which he was long a member of the board of vestrymen, and in which he gave loyal and continued service.
A man of fine education and literary tastes, he was an interesting conversationalist. He showed often his regard for his friends, and in their regard for him he filled an especial place.
Ms Rouse continues:
Dr. Lawton was descended from Joseph Lawton, who came from Wales circ. 1748, settled at Edisto Island, S.C., and married a Miss Ficklen. Dr. Lawton’s wife was Elizabeth Jones, daughter of Augustus Seaborn Jones and Mary Emily Robert, daughter of William Henry and Mary (Maner) Robert, son of John Robert, who married 1770 Elizabeth Dixon, son of Jacques Robert, who married 1735 Sarah _____, son of Pierre Robert, who married 1678 Mme. Jeanne Bayer (Broyé). Rev. Pierre Robert was the first Huguenot minister of the Province of South Carolina; he was born at St. Xavier, near Basle, Switzerland, in 1656 and died in Carolina in 1715. A man of influence and means, he brought over a large Huguenot contingent and was prominent in the colonial councils (citing McGradhy’s History of South Carolina 1670-1719).
Elizabeth Dixon, wife of John Robert, was the daughter of Thomas Dixon and Elizabeth Smith (b. 1722), daughter of Thomas Smith, jr. and Mary Hyrne (married 1713), son of Thomas Smith, sr., Landgrave, whose last will and testament was probated Aug. 30, 1738, leaves his property to his daughter, Elizabeth. Landgrave Thos. Smith was born in Exeter, Devonshire, England, in 1648; he came to South Carolina in 1687 and died 1694; he was a Member of Council 1691, Deputy-Governor Apr. 19, 1692, Landgrave 1691, Governor 1693.
Augustus Seaborn Jones was the son of Seaborn Jones and Sarah Wilkinson, son of Abraham Jones, son of Peter Jones, jr., son of Peter Jones (who is mentioned as a fellow explorer by Col. Byrd in his History of the Dividing Line) and his wife Mary Wood. He established the first trading post and Swat House (whatever that may be*) in Virginia in 1746; was commissioned captain in defense of the outpost of Fort Henry during the French and Indian Wars and was one of the Peters from whom it is said Petersburg was named. His descendants emigrated to Georgia and Seaborn Jones was Speaker of the First General Assembly in Georgia under the new Constitution.
*This is likely a mis-spelling of “Sweat House:” The ‘Sweating-houses,’ little huts built with wattles, were also tribal survivals. Heated by red-hot pebbles, they were used by sick Indians to sweat out maladies, ‘a remedy . . . for all distempers.’ (according to Virginia’s First People).
A descendant informs us that “the Lawtons came into SC in the early 1700s. The “progenitor,” William Lawton, owned a plantation in Edisto Island. He is buried there close by to a well known plantation house that was built by a related family, the Seabrooks. By coincidence (or perhaps not, we don’t know), later owners of the house, the Dodge Family, were friends of my Father’s parents, and in the 1960s, my father spent some nights there as a guest to some shooting events, never knowing that he was within a hundred or so yards of some mouldering ancestors. It was used as the headquarters for Federal troops when they occupied the Island and my Father remembers seeing the hand written notes they left on the wall upstairs, which the family had preserved.”
The Family of Augustus Seaborn Jones.
Tracing a family name like “Jones,” is, if nothing else, an exercise in frustration. Compound that with the Early American tradition of repeating forenames down through the ages. This sketch of the Jones family that describes a Seaborn Augustus Jones, no doubt a cousin of the Augustus Seaborn Jones that married the subject of our portrait, touches on that tendency, and does a splendid job of recounting the origins of the Jones’ family of Georgia. This excerpt is from A Lost Arcadia: Or, The Story of My Old Community, by Walter A. Clark (Chronicle Job Print: Augusta, Georgia: 1909):
Seaborn Augustus Jones
The blood of the Jones tribe tinged so thoroughly the strain and lineage of our community that Jonesville might properly have been added as an “alias” to its title. Four of its old time homes were presided over by charming matrons, who had borne before their marriage the name of Jones. One of its clever residents married a widow Jones. My grandmother, Martha Jones Walker, one of its earliest settlers, was the grand child of William Jones who married Mary Jones, and in the early ’50s the family of Seaborn Augustus Jones purchased the home of Moses P. Green and became residents of the village.
In 1725 there died in Petersburg, Va., a Peter Jones, who was the ancient sire of all this goodly tribe. He must have been a man of some note, for Petersburg was named in his honor. He had the further distinction of being known as “Sweat House Peter,” having acquired that title by reason of the fact that he builded and owned the only “sweat house” in his community for the curing of his own and his neighbors’ crops of tobacco. He was also somewhat as to lineage, his father Abram being the son of Richard Jones of Wales, who married lady Jeffries.
This Peter of Petersburg and sweat house fame had a son bearing the same name and Peter the Second had three sons, Abram, Henry, and William, who migrated to Georgia in ante Revolutionary days, located in Burke County and became the progenitors of the numerous Jones contingent in this and other sections of the State. William Jones lived near the present site of Story’s Mill and was its original builder and owner. The Jones tribe before or after their advent in Georgia developed two marked characteristics, first for marrying their kinsfold and second for giving their male progeny the name of Seaborn. I have been informed that the original owner of the name was born at sea – was literally sea-born, but it he was a scion of this particular Jones tree he must have lived, as the rural preacher said of Moses, “away back in the fu-char,” for this section failed to hold a sea among its material assets.
But the Seaborns came all the same and came with the variations. Sometimes it was Seaborn Augustus and then Augustus Seaborn, sometimes Seaborn Henry and sometimes Henry Seaborn, as in the case of the present Col. Henry Seaborn Jones of Hephzibah, who will receive further notice in these records as the untiring, unexcelled and unpaid agent of the Hephzibah Express.And they married and intermarried. Abram Jones married Martha Jones and James, their son, married another Jones, and Seaborn son of James married Margaret Jones. William, brother of Abram married Mary Jones and their daughter Mary, my great grandmother, not finding a Jones exactly to her taste, married a relative, Daniel Evans, for the Jones and Evans blood had mingled in Virginia. William, Jr., son of William, married two sisters for Daniel Evans, and Thomas, son of William married another sister of Daniel.
In evidence of this general family tendency, Col. Henry S. Jones is descended from two of the brothers, Abram and Henry, and his bright little son, Willie Henry Jones includes in his ancestral lineage the full trio, Abram, Henry and William, as do also the children of my two brothers Samuel and Edward. In further evidence of the Jones strain in the community, Nancy Jones, daughter of William, Jr., and Mary and granddaughter of William, SR., who married Samuel Bugg and afterwards Alexander Kennedy lived at “Goshen,” which while not known as a Brothersville home was only a mile away.
Aside from the characteristics named above, this goodly race has been notable in other ways. John J. Jones, descendant of Abram, served as a member of Congress in the later ’50s, and for long years was the foremost citizen of his county. Col. A. C. Walker and Gen. Reuben W. Carswell, descendants of William Jones, were both tendered Congressional honors and both declined. John A. Jones served for one or more terms as State Treasurer. Seaborn Jones of Columbus was one of its leading lawyers, and Seaborn Jones of Augusta is named by its historian, Col. C. C. Jones, as one of its most prominent and influential citizens. Many of them have gone to the Legislature some of them possibly to jail or other place of equal honor and distinction, but according to the statement of a prominent member of the tribe made in the presence of the writer, “only one of the name has ever gone to the dogs.”
The Seaborn Augustus Jones of this sketch was the son of Thomas and grandson of Abram Jones. He was never himself a resident of Brothersville save for a year or less as an inmate of the home of James Madison Reynolds, but his family soon after his death in the early ’50s, purchased and occupied the Moses P. Green home and remained there for some years after the war. He was married to Maria Las and as a result of their marriage there were two daughters, Mary, who became the wife of Wm. H. Chew, and Ida, who married Philip Jones. There were also two sons, Thomas and Seaborn Augustus, both of whon died in early manhood unmarried. The oldest daughter, Mary, or Mollie as she was more generally known, died some years ago leaving two sons, Benjamin and Hull, and a daughter, Ruth, who is living with her husband in New Jersey. Ida and her children, George, Seaborn, Sydney (Renfroe) and Ruth, are living in Burke County. . . .
The Seaborn Jones (1759-1815), mentioned in the sketch above was an attorney from Augusta, Georgia and the father of Augustus Seaborn Jones (1796-1869).
According to a genealogy of the Wilkinson family, Genealogy of Wilkinson and Kindred Families, by M. M. Wilkinson (Shelby, Miss.: Shelby Book Store, 1949), Seaborn Jones was born in Halifax, North Carolina on 15 June 1759; went with his parents in 1769 to East Florida, and moved thence in 1773 with his widowed mother to St. George’s Parish (later Burke and Jenkins County). He served Virginia in the Continental Line during the Revolution, and was taken prisoner at the fall of Charleston in 1780. In 1782, at the age of 23, he was elected Clerk of the Executive Council of Georgia. His fame as a lawyer was nationwide. Among the offices he held were: Clerk of the Board of Trustees of Richmond Academy; appointed on a commission to clear the upper Savannah River of obstructions to navigation; elected to the General Assembly of Georgia; Speaker of the House at 30 years of age; was one of a committee of five to welcome George Washington to Augusta, Georgia, and the same year he was a presidential elector. In 1795, he was engaged apparently as attorney for the Georgia-Mississippi Company which bought from the State a large tract of Western lands. For these services he received 112,000 acres of land running westward from the Tombigbee River. In 1798 he was made a Trustee of the University of Georgia. In 1813-14 he was Intendant (Mayor) of Augusta. “So highly was he esteemed that all over Georgia fathers named their sons for him.”
Another source (an unverified article on Wikipedia) reports that he and his first wife Sarah H. Wilkinson (who he married 20 May 1790; she died 1806) became the owners of a plantation called Mill Haven in Screven County, Georgia. He began acquiring land in 1794 and by the time of his death in 1815 he had acquired 16,300 acres. Before his death, Jones appointed his brother-in-law, Reuben Wilkinson, as manager. In 1819, the tract was allotted to his son Augustus Seaborn Jones.
Seaborn Jones married twice. His first wife was Sarah Hartwood Wilkinson, who bore three children who survived to adulthood: Augustus Seaborn, born circa 1796; Martha Milledge, born circa 1806 (no issue), and Sarah Seaborn Rebecca, born circa 1806 (no issue). He had one child with his second wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Harris, named Elizabeth Seaborn, who was born in 1816.
Augustus Seaborn Jones
Augustus Seaborn Jones is known to have been a Colonel in the 4th Regiment for Screven County in 1823, and served in the Georgia legislature. He represented Chatham County at the Georgia Convention on Secession in 1860. One unverified source reports that Augustus and Mary Emily Robert had two children, Mary Jones, born circa 1830, who died unmarried, and Elizabeth E., born circa 1834, who later married William S. Lawton (the 1850 Federal Census lists a Mary Jones, age 20 (born circa 1830), and Eliza E., age 17, who would have been born circa 1834). Presumably that writer relied exclusively on records available online, because other sources name additional children, namely: Mary, who died unmarried; Seaborn, born in 1826, who married Jane Acena Bostick of Robertville, South Carolina and had 10 children; reportedly he resided at Mill Haven, and died 26 February 1891; and Elizabeth (“Bessie”), born in 1834, who married Dr William Lawton (Peter Jones and Richard Jones Genealogies, by Augusta B. Fothergill (Richmond: Old Dominion Press, 1924)). We know he left a last will and testament from reference to it in legal cases found online mentioning the testimony of William S. Lawton and Seaborn Jones regarding matters affecting Mill Haven.
Mill Haven stayed in the Jones family for three generations, but was sold in 1890. Today (now called Millhaven) the property is comprised of 25,000 acres and is one of the largest farms east of the Mississippi River. Millhaven is across the Savannah River from the town called Robertville, South Carolina. Robertville was home to the Robert family and branches of the Lawton family. Robertville was named in honor of the Robert family, who are all lineal descendants of Pierre Robert (1655/6-1715), a Huguenot minister who emigrated to America after the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685.
The Robert Family of Robertville, South Carolina.
Much of what follows below was found on the website of The Rev. Pierre Robert Family Association, which in turn was obtained from an out of print genealogy, Three Pioneer Rapides Families, by George Mason Graham Stafford (New Orleans: Pelican Publishing Company, 1946). The author notes that much of the information about the Robert family came from the pen of Rev. William Henry Robert, the son of James Jehu Robert (born 1781). We outline here only the ancestry of Mary Emily Robert. The family tree is fairly comprehensive, and those with an interest should consult the pages of the family association linked above.
REV. PIERRE ROBERT
The founder of the family in America, Rev. Pierre Robert (1655-1715), was born 30 December 1655 St. Imier, Switzerland, baptized 3 February 1656, St. Imier, Switzerland, and died 1715 in French Santee, Charleston, SC. In 1674 he graduated at St Etienne as a physican; attended the University of Basil, 1682 ordained on 19 February 1682.
He was a pastor of a Waldensian church in the Piedmont Valley in Switzerland. It is claimed that the Waldenses were the ancestors of the present day Baptists. In 1686 he immigrated to South Carolinia under the leadership of Captain Phillpe Gendron, and served as the first minister of the Huguenot (later the Anglican, now Episcopal ) church at St. James Parish, South Carolina, continuing his ministry until prior to 1 January 1710. He was the first Huguenot minister in America. Records in Basle, Switerland, verifies his ordination: “Ce Dimanche, 19, Fevrier, 1682, le St. Pierre Robert de St . Imie a recul’ imposition de s mains.”
The first Huguenot church built in Charleston is still standing. On one of its inner walls is a tablet placed there by descendants of Pierre Robert with this inscription: Pasteur Pierre Robert – French Santee, So. Carolinia – 1656 – 1715.
He married circa 1674 Jeanne Braye (born 1660) in Basle, Switzerland, and had issue:
1 PIERRE PETER, born before 9 May 1675 in Basle, Switzerland.
2 Jean (John), born after 1686 in French Santee, Charleston, South Carolina.
3 Elias, born after 1686 in French Santee, Charleston, South Carolina, died without issue.
4 Jeanne, born after 1686 in French Santee, Charleston, South Carolina, died without issue.
1 PIERRE PETER ROBERT
Pierre Peter Robert, born before 9 May 1675, baptized 9 May 1675 at St. Imier Parish, Basle, Switzerland, died 1 May 1731, Jamestown, French Santee, South Carolina. In 1686, came to the Carolinas with his parents. A 1701 record in the Probate Court in Charleston, South Carolina (written in French) 25 January 1701, settled property on Pierre Robert, upon his marriage with Anne Marie Louise le Grand, a native of Normandie, France, daughter of Mr. Louis le Grand, “ecuyer, sieur, d e la Fresnaye.” In 1706 Pierre Robert was a commissioner at St Jamestown. In 1721, he served as Justice of Peace.In 1731, he was a Church Warden. On his death that year, he left large unappraised landholdings, as well as a personal estate appraised at almost five thousand pounds, inclusive of books, furniture, tools, cattle, hogs, sheep, horses, and 16,100 pounds,”neet river rice.”
He married (1) Anne Marie Louise Le Grand (born 1680 in Switzerland) on 10 September 1701. The marriage settlement was signed in the home of the bride’s uncle and witnessed by Isaac le Grand and Jacques le Grand. They had one child:
1.1 Pierre Peter Robert, born 1704 in Santee, Beaufort County, South Carolina, and had issue
He married (2) Judith de Bordeaux (both circa 1685) in Grenoble, Dalphine, France; married 26 February 1709 in St. James, Santee, Charleston, South Carolina, and had issue:
1.2 JACQUES (JAMES) DE BORDEAUX, b: 3 Apr 1711 in French Santee (Jamestown), Berkey, South Carolina.
1.3 Elizabeth, born b: 1716 in French Santee, Charleston, South Carolina, and had issue.
1.4 Magdalene b: 23 Sep 1719 in French Santee, Charleston, South Carolina, and had issue.
1.2 JACQUES (JAMES) DE BORDEAUX ROBERT
Jacques (James) de Bordeaux Robert, born 3 April 1711 in French Santee (Jamestown), Berkey, South Carolina, died November 1774 in Prince William Parish, Granville County, South Carolina; buried 1774 Stoney Creek Churchyard, Yamasee, South Carolina.
Jacques and his family were in Prince William Parish, on the Salkehatchie River as early as 1763. He died in November 1774 in Prince William Parish, Beaufort District, South Carolina. He is buried in Stony Creek Cemetery, in an unmarked grave. After his death, the family moved to Robertville (Black Swamp) in St. Peter’s Parish.
According to Mr Stafford, “Jacques (James) Robert, a son of Pierre II, was a large man, six feet tall and quite fleshy, a man of scientific education. He became wealthy and at one time owned four plantations in Santee, South Carolina, and at the same time operated a store. By imprudence in trace and by loaning the use of his name as security to his friends, he lost most of his property and had to resort to the school room for a living. He went to North Carolina and took his eldest son James with him. Unfortunately James the younger was killed when a cyclone caused a house to collapse on him. James, Sr soon after returned to South Carolina and moved his family to Colleton District. He died and was buried at Stone Creek Church in 1774, leaving three sons, Peter, Elias, and John, and three daughters, Elizabeth, Judith and Sarah. In 1775 his wife, Sarah Jaudon Robert, with her brother Thomas Jaudon, her sons Peter and Elias, and her daughters, Elizabeth Grimball and Judith Cheney moved to Black Swamp and established the village, Robertville, which was a place of considerable importance until the late War Between the States when Sherman had it thoroughly destroyed.”
“The third generation in American of this old Huguenot family is represented by Jacques Robert (mentioned in his father’s Will as James Robert), eldest child of Pierre Robert II, and his second wife, Judith Videaul (de Bordeaux). He was born in Franch Santee, South Carolina, on April 2, 1711. This date is verified by a definite statement in his father’s will which says that he would be twenty-one years of age on April 3, 1732, and that the time of his birth is given in a Baptismal Certificate furnished by the Rev. Pierre Robert. The only specific data we possess of Jacques Robert as a citizen and business man is from the article written by Rev. William Henry Robert. He married Sarah Jaudon on August 26,1745. She was a sister of Elias Jaudon who married Jacques’ sister Elizabeth Robert, and was a daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth Jaudon of Craven County, South Carolina, early Huguenot pioneers.”
‘After meeting with severe financial reverses Jacques Robert left French Santee with his family and moved to what is now Colleton County, near the Combahee River. This move was made about 1770. There he endeavored to retrieve his lost fortune but died in November 1774. He was buried in the Stoney Creek Churchyard, near Yamasee. The following year his widow, Sarah (Jaudon) Robert, moved with most of her children and other members of her family to Black Swamp, near the Savannah River, and there they founded the town of Robertville. She died there on April 26, 1779, and was buried in the vicinity. Seven children were born of this marriage, six of who reached maturity, married and left numerous descendants.’
He married on 26 August 1735 in French Santee, Berkey, South Carolina, Sarah Jaudon, who was born 24 September 1719 in St. Thomas & St. Dennis, Craven, South Carolina, and had issue:
1.2.1 James De Bordeaux Jaudon, born 1736 in South Carolina, and left issue.
1.2.2 Peter, born 19 August 1740 in French Santee (Jamestown), Berkey, South Carolina, and left issue.
1.2.3 JOHN “PATRIOT”, born 15 July 1742 in French Santee (Jamestown), Berkey, South Carolina.
1.2.4 Elias S., born 13 July 1748 in French Santee, Charleston, South Carolina, and died without issue.
1.2.5 Elizabeth, born 1750 in French Santee (Jamestown), Berkey, South Carolina, and left issue.
1.2.6 Sarah, born 6 February 1755 in St. James, Santee, South Carolina, and left issue. She married Joseph Lawton (1753-1815), who was born at Edisto Island, South Carolina, and later of Mulberry Grove Plantation, Beaufort District, Jasper County, South Carolina, and had 11 children.
1.2.7 Judith De Bordeaux, born 1757 in French Santee (Jamestown), Berkey, South Carolina, and left issue.
1.2.3 JOHN “PATRIOT” ROBERT
John “Patriot” Robert was born 15 July 1742 in French Santee (Jamestown), Berkey, South Carolina, died 24 February 1826 in Robertville, Beaufort, South Carolina. He is buried in the Robert Cemetery at Robertville, South Carolina.
John Robert served in the Revolutionary War, being in Capt. Blake’s company 28 June 1778. He received pay for 103 days duty, serving from 16 September 1779 to 15 October 1779 and 11 February 1780 to 12 May 1780 in Capt. Joseph Darrell’s company. For 414 days he was Prisoner of War, from 12 May 1780 to 1 July 1781, and for 118 days duty 20 Sept. 1 781 to 12 February 1782.
John Robert died 24 February 1826 at age 83, born on Santee, South Carolina in July 1742. He was a citizen of Black Swamp and a member of the Baptist Church since 1789. He was a deacon of the church and owner of a plantation called Cotton Hill. John Robert received a grant on the Saltkehatchie River in Colleton County 7 October 1766 and settled there; on 20 Jan. 1769 he was “of Salt Catchers” when he was granted administration of the estate of William Gould, late of St. Peter’s Parish.
John Robert had moved further west and was, according to l. Isaac Hayne’s records,”of Indian Lands” when he married on 19 April 1770 Elizabeth Dixson, a granddaughter of the Second Landgrave Thomas Smith. Her father, Capt. Thomas Dixson, planter, of Long Island Plantation, James Island, was also an ordained Baptist minister which probably accounts for their founding the Robertville Baptist Church.
According to Mr Stafford, “The site of Cotton Hill, the plantation whereon John Robert seems chiefly to have resided, was south-east of present Robertville at what has been known in recent decades as Pineland Club. Both John and Elizabeth Robert are buried in the Robert Cemetery, northeast of the town of Robertville, near the tomb of their eldest son, John Hancock Robert (1775-1835) whose residence was the 3,528-acre Pleasant Hill Plantation northwest of Robertville. Robertville grew and flourished in the era just prior to the Revolutionary War on the ridge east of Black Swamp at the junction of the road from the crossing of the Savannah River at Sisters’ Ferry with the Savannah-Augusta Stagecoach Road, with still another road leading eastward past Joseph Lawton’s Mulberry Grove Plantation to Gihisonville, site of the Court House of old Beaufort District. It reached its zenith in the period prior to the War Between the States, never completely recovering from its destruction in 1865.”
He married 19 April 1770 Elizabeth Smith Dixson, who was born 7 June 1750 in James Island, Charleston, South Carolina, and had issue:
126.96.36.199 Mary Harriett, born 5 March 1771 in South Carolina, and left issue.
188.8.131.52.Anne, born 15 April 1772 in South Carolina, and left issue.
184.108.40.206.John Hancock, born 10 December 1775 in South Carolina, and left issue.
220.127.116.11.Thomas Smith, born circa 1777 in South Carolina, died without issue.
18.104.22.168 WILLIAM HENRY, born 2 January 1780 in French Santee, South Carolina, and left issue.
22.214.171.124 James Jehu, born 4 November 1781 at Cotton Hill Plantation, Robertville, South Carolina, and left issue.
126.96.36.199 Benjamin Nathaniel, born 18 May 1787 in South Carolina.
188.8.131.52 Sarah Dixson, died without issue.
184.108.40.206 Lucia, died without issue.
220.127.116.11 WILLIAM HENRY ROBERT, born 2 January 1780 in French Santee, South Carolina, died 26 August 1835 in South Carolina. He married c. 1802 Mary Maner, who was born 25 January 1785 in Beaufort, South Carolina, and had issue:
18.104.22.168.1.Ulysses Maner, born 1804 in Robertvile, Beaufort, South Carolina, died without issue.
22.214.171.124.2 Sarah Ann Elizabeth, born 16 March 1807 in Robertville, Jasper, South Carolina, and had issue.
126.96.36.199.3 MARY EMILY (“EMALINE”), born circa 1808/10 in Robertville, Beaufort, South Carolina. According to the Robert genealogy (where she is called “Emaline”), no children or marriages are documented. Secondary sources, including The Reads and Their Relatives, Peter Jones and Richard Jones Genealogies and other print and online genealogies identify her as Mary Emily Robert, the wife of Augustus Seaborn Jones.
188.8.131.52.4 Julia Caroline, born 4 November 1812 in Robertville, Beaufort, South Carolina, and had issue.
184.108.40.206.5 Elizabeth, born 7 November 1817 in Robertville, Beaufort, South Carolina, and had issue.
220.127.116.11.6 Rosaline, born circa 1815 in Robertville, Beaufort, South Carolina, died without issue.
Is This Lineage Correct?
Anyone who has studied family history knows the at times bewildering assertions and conclusions presented in print and online. There is an assumption by some researchers that simply because something makes it into print, there is some veracity to it, but that is often not the case. Even fairly reliable genealogies, such as Alice Read Rouse’s The Reads and Their Relatives have the occasional error.
First, we attempted to corroborate the information with records available to us. A look on Ancestry for primary sources (those records created contemporaneously with the event) revealed the following about Mr and Mrs Augustus Seaborn Jones. Again, working backwards in time:
- Augustus Seaborn Jones died on 13 November 1869, age 74 (cause of death: Bronchitis), and was interred at Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah on 16 November 1869 in the Jones and Lawton Family Mausoleum. Cemetery Records show he was interred in Lot 1530. Incidentally, his son, Seaborn Jones, who died 26 February 1891, aged 64 years, 3 months, 4 days, is interred in Lot 1532, which may be outside the mausoleum. There is a cenotaph placed before the entrance, a plinth and urn bearing the names of William Seabrook Lawton (1824-1893) and Elizabeth Jones Lawton (1834-1899) and a dedication: Their children shall arise up and call them blessed. The cemetery records show Dr W. S. Lawton is interred in “Vault 1530;” we have not found a cemetery record for Elizabeth Jones Lawton, but no doubt she is interred beside her husband. Georgia Vital Records show that she died 9 January 1899 in Savannah, and a report of her funeral that was published in the Atlanta Constitution describes how the funeral took place at her home on Abercorn Street, followed by internment at Laurel Grove Cemetery. Sources: Savannah Georgia Cemetery and Burial Records. Savannah, Georgia: Research Library & Municipal Archives, City of Savannah, Georgia; Georgia Vital Records, 1803-1966; “Funeral of Mrs Lawton,” Atlanta Constitution, Tuesday, 10 January 1899, p. 3.
- The Savannah, Georgia City Directory of 1867 gives Mr Jones’ residence as the North East side of Lafayette Square at Abercorn Street — certainly a very fashionable address.
- Mary E. Jones died on 4 May 1865, age 55 (cause of death: Consumption), and was interred at Laurel Grove Cemetery on 5 May 1865 in Lot 1530, confirming that this is indeed the death record of Mary E. Jones.
- The 1860 Federal Census for Savannah, Georgia lists Augustus S. Jones, Planter, age 65, from Richmond County, Georgia (Augusta is in Richmond County); Mary E. Jones, age 50, from Barnwell District, South Carolina, and Elizabeth G. Jones, age 53, from Screven County, Georgia (Elizabeth G. Jones is likely Augustus’ sister). 1860 Federal Census: Savannah District 4, Chatham, Georgia; Roll: M653_115; Page: 354; Image: 354; Family History Library Film: 803115. This confirms the year of her birth as 1810.
- The 1850 Federal Census for Screven County, Georgia lists A. S. Jones, Farmer, age 54; Mary E. Jones, age 42; Mary Jones, age 20; Eliza E. Jones, age 17. The enumerator erroneously gave the place of birth for all of them as Georgia. 1850 Federal Census: District 74, Screven, Georgia; Roll: M432_82; Page: 33B; Image: 73. We often see a slight variation in dates of birth in census records; this does not concern us — it could be a scrivener error, for example. The quality of the information is only as good as the skill of the enumerator.
The 1850 Federal Census was the first to provide the names of everyone in a household (except slaves), so recounting what appears in earlier enumerations does not help us. Additional evidence exists, such as wills, deeds, tax records, bible records and other documents that would provide additional data to help tell the story, but that would require exhaustive research in repositories in Georgia and South Carolina.
Of secondary sources (i.e., those sources created using primary information, but a step removed from the primary sources), the Robert family history recounted by Ms Rouse in 1930 is a good example. The Reads and Their Relatives described the lineage of Elizabeth Jones, the daughter of Augustus Seaborn Jones and Mary Emily Robert, she being the daughter of William Henry Robert and Mary Maner. Absent one omission (the maiden name of Jacques Robert’s wife, Sarah Jaudon), it is congruent with the history provided by Mr Stafford in Three Pioneer Rapides Families, but this latter volume does not cover the later generations. Where did she get her information?
Mr Stafford’s work could not be the source, because his book was published 16 years after The Reads and Their Relatives. Fothergill’s Peter Jones and Richard Jones Genealogies, published in 1924, named Mary Emily Robert but contained nothing on her background. Mr Stafford had an excellent source: he noted that he was indebted to Rev. William Henry Robert, who had chronicled the three earliest generations of his family in America. Rev. Robert was the son of John Jehu Robert (who was William Henry Robert’s brother), making Rev. William Henry Robert and Mary Emily Robert first cousins. Very likely this same information was passed down to Gulielma Seabrook Lawton, just like this portrait, and she shared it with Ms Rouse before her death in 1929.
I feel very strongly that I am under the influence of things or questions which were left incomplete and unanswered by my parents and grandparents and more distant ancestors. It often seems as if there were an impersonal karma within a family which is passed on from parents to children. It has always seemed to me that I had to answer questions which fate had posed to my forefathers, and which had not yet been answered, or as if I had to complete, or perhaps continue, things which previous ages had left unfinished.
— Carl Jung (1875-1961)
Knowing about the families behind the portrait certainly enriches our appreciation of it. The achievements of some of these illustrious ancestors would leave anyone humbled, and having this portrait in the family is a tangible reminder of them (leaving aside the unfortunate business of slavery that supported their way of life). Although the provenance of the painting was never in doubt, this compiler concludes that the lineage outlined in The Reads and Their Relatives is correct, and our research confirms that the Mary Emily Robert Jones of Savannah and Mill Haven, Georgia, who descended from Rev. Pierre Robert of South Carolina is Mrs Augustus Seaborn Jones, the subject of the painting by C.R. Parker. One wonders how the scholars from The Frick Collection overlooked the name “Augustus,” but perhaps the owner in 1953 did not know all of the details of his late wife’s family history (Anne Carrington Read died in 1948; Dr Thomas J. Charlton died in 1955). Perhaps if the family is so inclined, they might reach out to the Frick and ask them to correct their records.
Many thanks to the descendant of Mrs Jones who brought this painting our attention.