We must now attempt to reach some conclusions about the members of Ludwig’s family, and especially about the first born child who was with Ludwig in Charleston in October, 1755.
Recent evidence has come to light – on a cemetery marker in Clinton. La. – that Elias Boatner was born in that year. Since we know that Elias was a given name used by more than one of Ludwig’s sons the case can be made that Elias might very well be Ludwig’s first born son and the namesake of his father. But this cannot be taken as fact. The marker was a memorial one, erected after Elias’ death; and birth
information was frequently approximated. (Some people did not know their own age.) Even if Elias’ birth year was 1755, he may have been born in the last quarter of the year and was not the child present in Charleston.
On the other hand, there should also have been a son named Ludwig or Lewis among our Ludwig’s children. And so the possibility of his existence as the child in Charleston must be considered, for if such a person lived to adulthood, it might have some bearing on our unanswered questions.
In 1948, General Haydon Boatner engaged Mr. Leonardo Andrea, a distinguished South Carolina genealogist, to investigate the colonial records for information on the Boatner family.
One of Mr. Andrea’s important discoveries was the request for a survey of 50 acres on Mill Creek on the Saluda River, some miles west of Amelia, made by Lewis Botner by letter to the South Carolina council in November, 1763.
Mr. Andrea pointed out several unusual things about this request. For one thing, it was for only 50 acres, when the head hi a household was entitled to 100 for himself. Andrea conjectured that this Lewis Botner may have been a minor and a dependent in his father’s household. If this was the case, then he was probably about 16 or 17 years old at the time, thus born about 1746 or 1747, when Ludwig would have been 23 or so.
Andrea was puzzled that this request was one of three submitted on the same petition, the other two being from Henry Witts and John Gartman of Orangeburg township adjoining Amelia. It should be noted that Andrea had no knowledge of our Ludwig’s 1755 land grant because it had been incorrectly spelled in the land plat book and was only later discovered.
Nevertheless, if we do follow through on Andrea’s premise – and there is some justification for doing so – then we must speculate on what happened to an older son named Lewis. There is a family story, handed down by descendants of Ludwig’s son Solomon, that a Boatner was murdered by the Tories during the Revolutionary War. There is more than one version, but Mrs. Augusta Boatner Bray (a great granddaughter of Solomon born in Texas in 1879) claimed that a Lewis Boatner and his wife were the victims.
The vicious murder of some settlers by Tory marauders did occur on the south side of the Saluda River – it happened in the winter of 1780-81. But the history of this period is written down in great detail for Edgefield County, and Lewis Botner is not listed as one of the victims. Moreover, there was no Lewis Botner (or any other Botner) residing in Edgefield County in 1779, when a census was taken of all males of jury age.
Still, the possibility of a Lewis’ existence elsewhere might be the means of identifying several Boatner men in the next generations who have not yet been successfully placed on the family tree. And so we will return to this subject when we deal with the history of the sons in Part II.
During the years that Ludwig lived in Amelia township, several more children were born to the family. When he applied for new land in 1766, he was eligible for 450 acres, indicating six dependents besides his wife. Among the sons who probably had been born by then were John, Elias, and George. Even counting the possible Lewis Jr., there was also by then at least one other child. And., of course during those years, other children may have been born who did not survive.
The later children, born after 1770, were Jacob, Solomon, and Samuel, and probably at least two daughters. Some say that one of Ludwig’s daughters was named Eleanor.
And what of Ludwig’s wives? Only one noteworthy version has been handed down (although some stories have confused the marital record of Ludwig with one of his grandsons, Lewis Boatner of Newberry County).
Jacob’s descendents, who carefully preserved through several generations the story of Ludwig’s brothers in Pennsylvania, also claimed that Jacob’s mother was a Mary Martin of French descent.
We can only show that the existence of such a person was a possibility. By 1755, two residents of Amelia and four from Saxe Gotha had received money for helping the English government relocate the displaced settlers of French Acadia.
And in 1741, there was a settler in Amelia named William Martin(s).
It is not, however, necessarily true or that she was the wife present in Charleston or Ludwig’s only wife. If the woman who accompanied him to Charleston had already produced one child – and certainly if that child was born before 1750 – she is not likely to have been the same person who produced Jacob
and his later brothers and sisters. (Even granting that some women in colonial times bore children over a span of 25 years or more.)
So Ludwig may have married again after settling in Amelia township. Or he may have married after Jacob’s birth in 1771. The last sons, Solomon and Samuel, seem somehow disassociated from the other brothers, and were certainly favored in their father’s will in a manner which set them apart.
Since all of Ludwig’s children were born during a time when there were no official records kept or family censuses taken, and in a place where there were no church registers or birth records, we should perhaps consider ourselves fortunate to be able to reconstruct his family size and the identity of most of the members who survived to adulthood.
The lifestyle of Ludwig and his family was undoubtedly primitive. Farming the wooded land was demanding and difficult, for crops were cultivated only with the hoe. Still, food was plentiful; and almost every household had a horse, and a gun for hunting. Deer were plentiful. Cattle raising for profit was not widely practiced except for the sale of butter, which was preserved with salt and saltpeter; but it was useful for subsistence. (In Fairfield County, Ludwig was to have at least twenty head of cattle.)
A very early settler in Orangeburg township wrote of his youth on Briar creek, where his parents had moved from Virginia:
Having cleared a piece of land, we planted, and found the soil to be exceeding fertile in the river swamp, producing abundant crops. The country was literally infested with wild beasts – killing the stock and destroying the crops – and were so bold, daring, and ravenous, that they would come into our yards, and before our doors take our sheep and poultry. Indeed, it was dangerous to venture out at night beyond the precincts of our yard unarmed. . . The forest abounded with all kinds of game, particularly the deer and turkeys – the former were as gentle as cattle. I have seen fifty together, in a day’s ride in the woods. The latter were innumerable, and so very fat that I have often run them down on horseback.
From History of Orangeburg County by A. S. Salley published 1898.
It is difficult for us to realize today that this same frontier living – which is now so remote from our twentieth century lifestyles – pertained in this country for another 150 years and was experienced by Ludwig’s sons and grandsons as they moved westward. Here is an excerpt from the journal of Charles L. Boatner, Ludwig’s great, great, great grandson, who moved in his youth with his parents from northern Mississippi to the Guadalupe River in Texas in 1885:
We all stayed in the field early and late until we finished one week before Xmas. Yes, those were happy days after the cotton was picked. I stayed in the woods from daylight until dark with my new gun. And did we eat ducks, geese, quail, curlew and wild turkey. Boy it was grand! They were easy killed as there were so many.
With a wealth of game and the variety of produce that came from German gardens, the food placed on the table in Ludwig’s cabin was probably quite palatable. There were some homes in the back country where an entire supper might consist of “mush and hog’s lard,” but there was no need for such a meager diet, which probably reflected only the standards of the householder. The longevity of Ludwig and his sons would indicate that they ate wholesomely.
Still, the living was no doubt at the subsistence level, with almost everything either grown or made on the premises. If a surplus was realized or sold, the few shillings profit would be spent on such necessities as salt or ammunition.
Luxuries such as table utensils had a very low priority, for these could be improvised or crudely made. The simplest way of taking meals was with a “general dish,” where diners dipped directly with long wooden spoons. Wooden trenchers were a later refinement and tankards made of gourds or leather, passed around with a communal supply of beverage. The Reverend Woodmason was forced to carry his own supplies and utensils when he traveled, “For in many places they have nought but a Gourd to drink out off (sic). Not a Plate Knive or Spoon, a Glass, Cup or any thing – it is well it they can get some Body Linen, and some have not even that. . . . There’s not a Cabbin but has 10 or 12 young children in it”.
Ludwig’s family was not so large, nor his subsistence so meager, as Woodmason described. He had, after all, earned a substantial some of real money. And on his trips to Charleston, he probably bought a few pewter or earthenware plates or bowls.
In the more affluent homes in Amelia township, there could be found such amenities as feather beds, pillows, linen sheets, and even some china. When Mrs. Russell died in 1754, her inventory also included eight table cloths, a well fitted kitchen, and even books. Ludwig undoubtedly never achieved this level of comfort in his life. But his family’s existence, though harsh, was not unpleasant.
“. . . life was simple and usually hard,” according to Robert Meriwether, “but nature was bountiful. . . . The climate and every creek and wood were a continual invitation to outdoor sports, and winter evenings by firelight or occasional candle were not without resources, even though spinning, carding, and other tasks required much time.”
There were, unfortunately, no opportunities for schooling for the children, and this was to have sad results. Ludwig could at least sign his name; his children could not even do that. The colonial government was regrettably inattentive to the need for an educational system.
Some fathers taught their children to read and write, but Ludwig claimed to be illiterate. Perhaps his sons learned after they left South Carolina; they would have had no opportunity to do so while they lived there.
Still, they undoubtedly acquired a very practical education at a very early age – helping with weeding the garden, milking, caring for the stock, making candles and soap, cleaning fowl, and many other backwoods chores. And it stood them in good stead for the lives they were to lead.