Sunday, February 5, 2012

More history of the Boykin Tragedy

Yesterday I was at the Archieves all day...I got carried away trying to read microfilm...omg I get carsick watching that stuff whiz by...ugh-the elderly gentleman spoke so softly I barely heard him when he cleared his throat and whispered right by my left ear,
"Miss we are closing in 4 minutes."
WHAT?  I found some interesting facts concerning my research project--the mass drowning from 1860- each time I dig I come up with more pieces of the puzzle. History is only life gone by so each day that we live its history!! DO the next generation a big favor KEEP RECORDS of your life events...and family history.

WELL this time it was a BIGGIE...see there were 24 dead-
mind you this is PRE-CIVIL WAR in South Carolina---slavery was the way of life here.  So it was that the old newspaper article that I first read declared it such a horrid tragedy...the news was relayed by telegraph and old Mr Whitherspoon took down the names of the dead and that list was published, 24 people DROWNED...the grisly list saddened every heart as it was read.  Listed were the 22 sir names of the young dead girls and boys and at the end of the list was stated ....and 2 negroes! DAMN-how inhumane is that?

OKAY---now that makes my goal VERY HARD--see Im searching for the burial locations of these long ago victims, a peaceful sunny afternoon in May around the old Mill Pond, picnicing, playing games, girls in gay dresses and young masters in their was told to me by the broom maker in Boykin that it was a birthday party. So many of the party goers crowded onto a flat bottom boat and intended to cross the pond and then back again, just to add to the frolic of the day...and they shoved off.  One of the "negroes" was poling the boat along with one of the "gentlemen" and they hit a snag about 100 feet from shore in 25 feet of water...and was firmly stuck!  They rocked the boat back and forth in hopes of freeing it but instead of it gaining freedom a huge hole ripped thru the planking and water rushed in...
The old article May 7th, 1860 stated that most went into a frenzied panic at this point yelling to be saved and yet they were not...many jumped overboard! One can only imagine the young ladies in their dresses of silk or cotton skirts with hoops and layers of ruffles and petticoats and buttons and bows, sinking into the murky depths of the black waters of the Swift Creek now held high and wide by the dam of the Boykin Mill Pond....a
Men from the shore jumped in and rushed to save as many as they could, Mr James Jones a fireman on the train that waited nearby rushed in and saved three himself...the number of boaters varies from one source to the next so Ill go with between 35-50 persons were onboard...and 24 very healthy bodies lay drowned at the bottom of the lake when it was all said and done...
They opened the flood gates  to lower the dept in hopes of finding the bodies, but only 13 were brought by train back to our town of Camden on that night, and the tragic news moved swiftly through the community...the rest were brought out when the water level finally dropped.
Mr Ralph Leland Goodrich an educator from NY working at McCandless school (YES the very same McCandless of from my previous T-Tragics Post) on Laurens St recorded  details of the accident in his diary, and he attended many of the funerals, I quote:
Truly in the midst of life we are in death. It deeply impressed my mind & the shock will not soon be removed. So teach me O God to number my days that I may apply my heart into wisdom. One mother exclaimed whose almost every child was gone, “& these too, & these too.” The grief could not be measured.
So what had me so excited you ask?? I was given a book called the Historic Camden and In it I found a page about the drownings, and a list of the dead..WHOA--and at the end of that list:
Dorcas Page- a free negro, 
Pender Ciples - a negro slave

HIGH FIVES ALL ROUND!!! Just having those names is I have to try and document where the author of this book got those names!! There was an inquest and Mr Jones and a E E Sill testified so thats my next clue!!

I DO NOT know where Dorcas and Pender are buied, and I may never know...just getting their NAMES is a small miracle.  I have found the burial locations of 13 of the dead so far...

I have created a Virtual Cemetery on Find a Grave for the Victims.  For the ones Im unable to find I have created a Cemetery called the BMP Tragedy, when I find the grave sites I delete them from my imaginary cemetery and then add them and the little headstone shows the photo of their graves. SOME were already listed in Find a Grave..LAST week I found yet another and today I got a good lead so Ive sent off an email to the Wofford College hoping for a copy of the obit in the Southern Christian Advocate from June of 1860!


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