Ludwig Bottner’s First South Carolina Land

On October 6, 1755, one “Lewis Botner” appeared before the South Carolina Council in Charleston with his wife and child and stated that he “desired to settle himself in Amelia Township.” This is the first firm evidence of our Ludwig Bottner’s whereabouts. He would have been at that time about 32 years of age.

Lewis Botner requested a warrant (authorization) for 150 acres, though with two dependents, he should have been eligible for 200 acres. He does not seem to have been associated with any of the other petitioners appearing before the Council, none of whom requested land in Amelia. (The predominant custom by now was to request land on one of the colony’s rivers.)

But Ludwig was quite specific about his preferred location. Perhaps he assumed that it was still necessary to request land in a township to receive a free grant. A new act of settlement had been passed in 1752 to attract more European immigrants; and like the first act of 1730, this also provided for land grants only in the townships. In practice, this regulation had not been strictly observed. But Ludwig might have had no way of knowing this if he was new to the colony.

Some settlers visited their prospective site to choose a particular parcel, which they then went to Charleston to request.  But Ludwig gave no indication that he had specific had in mind.

We are left to conjecture that Ludwig chose Amelia township by hearsay recommendation or because he knew other Germans who lived there. In either ease, his arrival in the colony had evidently only just occurred and Charleston was probably his first stop.

The passenger lists from Europe to Charleston for this period are very incomplete. But, as family legends seem to agree that Ludwig came to America as a boy or younger man, then he must have been elsewhere in the colonies for some years. And so his arrival in Charleston in 1755 was probably by land or by local ship.

One remote possibility was that he had come down the Great Wagon Road through the Shenandoah Valley, but this road had not yet reached the South Carolina border. A few settlers from Pennsylvania and Virginia had evidently reached the interior of South Carolina by the early 1750’s, but they would have had to travel by Indian paths.

In any case, once his warrant for a survey was issued, Ludwig probably wasted no time in setting off for Amelia. On the south side of the Congaree River, the Cherokee Path was now a well established east-west wagon road, so his travel with his family would not have been difficult. (The wagon road on the plat of Ludwig property probably linked up with the Cherokee Path.)

Amelia township (today’s Calhoun County) was an area of 150 square mites, a large rectangular tract which already had a considerable number of settlers, Mrs. Mary Russell, widow of the commandant

of the old Congaree garrison, had been a long time resident. Her home on the Cherokee Path was the center of religious and other activities. A few families were reportedly from Pennsylvania, and there were one or two Huguenot families.

A number of passengers from the shiploads of German Swiss arriving in 1733, 1735, and 1737 had also chosen Amelia.

By 1740, about three dozen land warrants had been issued.
Following a colony-wide depression, land activity in the townships picked up again in 1749. Over the next ten years, more than 200 warrants were requested for land in Amelia. Ludwig’s was among these.

According to the South Carolina authority Robert Meriwether, however, many of these warrants were requested by speculators. By the time Ludwig brought his family to settle on High Hill Creek, the township probably had a population of about 650 whites and 100 slaves.

Most of the early settlers’ houses were in the southeastern part the township tract, the reason for the preference being the fine sandy loam and good clay subsoil.

Ludwig’s land was in the northwest corner. His property was a square, one half mile on each side, bounded by vacant land. This area was not popular with the new arrivals for some years; but in 1825, Robert Mills in his Statistics of South Carolina noted that “the German settlers are mostly located there.

Though it lay at the edge of the sand hill region, Ludwig’s land on High Hill Creek had on it oak and hickory as well as pine. Of the land bordering the Congaree River, Mills wrote, “In one place it displays the appearance of a primitive region; the streams being transparent, and free from swamp; the country broken into considerable hills; the soil a stiff, red clay; the timber mostly oak and hickory; and the bunks bluffing high on the river. . . ”

There is also a hint of what may have happened to Ludwig’s land over time. ”They who plant oak and swamplands depend so much on the present strength of the soil, that they continue to crowd crop upon crop, till the fertility is exhausted; while those who occupy the pine land, from a knowledge of its poverty are induced to supply by art and industry what is natural to the other.”

We cannot be sure of Ludwig’s knowledge of farming, but he remained on this land less than a decade. (Also, we have later evidence that he did not rely on farming alone as his livelihood.)

In any case, Ludwig’s property had another important feature which was characteristic of his later acquisitions – it as on the water. Sites on a stream or creek were considered very desirable locations; and Ludwig may have had a particular reason for choosing one, for on his later properties, he built mills. A map of Amelia township made twenty years after his ownership shows two mills on High Hill Creek (today Bates Creek), so we know that it was an excellent spot for one.

Life seems to have gone on fairly peaceably in Amelia township in the decade of the 40’s. The Indians traveled through on the Cherokee Path on their way to and from Charleston conferences and on three occasions, Mrs. Russell presented bills for her hospitality to the provincial government.

The area to the west was never wholly free of Indian troubles. The peace continued to be marred by perennial hostilities between the Cherokees and the Creeks, and by the Indian’s growing resentment of the unscrupulous behavior of the English traders, which negated Most of the government’s good will efforts.

Some of the problems had been temporarily eased by an elaborate conference with Cherokee dignitaries, who had been invited to Charleston in the summer of 1753. After concluding this conference with much ceremony and bestowing elaborate gifts of clothing upon the chiefs, Governor Glen personally accompanied them as far as “the Congarees” – the fork of the Congaree River and Congaree Creek just west of Saxe Gotha.

But this conference did not hold the peace. The Indians remained dissatisfied with the way in which the governor fulfilled his commitments; the trouble with the English traders continued; and with the French and Indian War breaking out to the north, the Cherokees were now being wooed to break off their English alliance.

The hostilities seem not to have affected Amelia township. There is only one instance recorded of Indians penetrating Amelia township and murdering a white settler. This was in 1751, before Ludwig arrived.

When Governor Glen visited the township in 1754, he found it ”very thriving.” He particularly admired the achievements of the industrious Germans, some of whom, because of land grabbing, now had only “a miserable pine barren.”

But Cherokee hostilities were mounting to the west just as Ludwig arrived. A second conference was held at Saluda O1d Town, an important Indian meeting place on the Cherokee Path, in June, 1755. The Charleston delegation passed near, or even through, Ludwig’s land on its way to the meeting site some miles beyond the Congarees.

Governor Glen and (Emperor) Old Hop sat grandly beneath a specially constructed arbor.
Around them were ranged extravagantly dressed soldiers of Charles Town garrison who here confronted “five hundred wildly clad Cherokees” who “sat or squatted on the ground in a great crescent.” (From South Carolina, A Synoptic History for Laymen, by Lewis P. Jones)

The settlers of Orangeburg and Amelia were now experiencing considerable anxiety. There was a garrison and palisaded fort at the Congarees. But by now, the sparse but growing population even farther west needed protection. This mostly consisted of traders who were important to the colony’s trade, for deerskins comprised one fourth of all exports. But there were also a handful of settlers. In the 1740’s, an important trading post had developed at an early western settlement called Ninety Six (because it was estimated by the traders to be ninety six miles from the nearest Indian town).

Governor Glen at last succeeded in raising the fort he had promised the Indians in Cherokee country on the Keowee River. (The Indians, as well as the white men, sought the Crown’s protection in this instance, for they feared the French and their Indian allies.) For a time after the construction of Fort Prince George, it seemed that local hostilities would abate.

But this was not to be, and Cherokee outbreaks reached new heights in the spring and summer of 1759. On the first of October, William Lyttleton, the new governor of the province who had replaced Glen, announced his intention of calling up the three regiments of middle and back country militia. He also announced that he would not impress or impound supplies for his troops but would rather make speedy payments to expedite arrangements.

One who answered the call immediately was Ludwig Bottner. Although the militia was to rendezvous at the Congarees, the arrangements for provisions were apparently being made directly under the governor’s supervision at Charleston. By the fifth of October, less than a week after the governor had announced his plans, Ludwig was in Charleston. There he was hired by Lt. Lachlan Shaw, who was evidently the governor’s emissary, together with his wagon and five horses.

For Ludwig, the assignment was a profitable one. He was to be paid at the rate of |5 a day, while the colonels in the militia received a mere six shillings. The governor and 1,100 men, together with a baggage train of one hundred wagons besides carts and pack horses, reached Ninety Six on the 21st day of November.

Ludwig’s duties were finished when he unloaded his cargo. He was paid ₤50 in cash by Lt. Shaw on the 22nd and was on his way home, with a written pledge for the balance due of ₤190 for service of 48 days.

The hapless military expedition then went forward on a tour of the frontier, but it was soon decimated by epidemics of small pox and measles. One of these illnesses evidently carried off Lt. Shaw, who died without fulfilling his pledge.

Although Ludwig may have been inexperienced in the procedures for recovering his compensation, he nonetheless exhibited the tenacity he would show on later occasions. In February, 1762, he went to Charleston and engaged a lawyer, William Burrows, to bring suit against Shaw’s estate.

Colonial court proceedings were time consuming, and the only court in the colony was still in Charleston. After the suit was officially announced on February 9, and the defendant’s executor given notice, Ludwig had to return for the summer court term. His suit was filed on July 20, but ten days passed before it was heard. He was awarded ₤165 and costs, which was less than the ₤190 pounds due him according to his receipt and considerably less than the ₤400 pounds he sought in damages, but was nevertheless a very large sum of money indeed.

Ludwig then returned to his farm and family, for there is no record of militia service. But the Cherokee War had erupted in full force in the back country. It did not come as far east as Amelia, though there were attacks on Saxe Gotha (near present day Columbia).

The horror stories coming from the west were sufficiently alarming that Amelia residents built forts and block houses, and some of the men served in the provincial forces that patrolled the area where the Congaree River forked to become the Broad and Saluda Rivers.

The War finally ended violently in 1761, when a large expedition of Redcoats and province militia stormed westward, burning towns and crops. The Cherokees gave up their land as far east as present day Greenville and Spartanburg. And the settlement of the back country began in earnest.


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