When an Edward Smith was issued a crown grant for 300 acres on Rock Creek branch of Broad River on May 7, 1774, the official description noted that it was bounded on the north-west by “Lewis Bortner’s land” and on the southwest “by land belonging to Lewis Botner (sic).” On the accompanying survey, which had been made more than a year earlier (in January, 1773), the two indicated parcels are already attributed to Lewis Bortner.
These parcels were not crown grants to Ludwig. so we must conclude that he had acquired them by purchase or other means. Later, he also purchased Smith’s 300 acres. The date of the formal recording was 1783, when the courts re-opened after the war, but the actual transaction was probably earlier.
In all, Ludwig came to own more than 1,000 acres in Fairfield County, though the transactions cannot be traced. It is puzzling that his Fairfield requisitions were not properly recorded; this was very atypical of the man. Even the deeds when the property was sold two decades later contain only a garbled history of the land. All we can surmise is that he acquired four or more parcels, evidently over a span of years.
Fairfield County had had generally peaceful beginnings. The county’s only significant problem had been the riffraff after 1759, when soldiers of fortune began arriving at the end of the French and Indian War. This had led to the county’s active involvement in the Regulator Movement.
The friction in Fairfield between the Regulators and their opponents (the Moderators) did not reach the level of outright conflict that it did in Edgefield and Newberry. Still, the country divided about equally between Whig and Tory supporters who succeeded the former factions when the war began.
A few short skirmishes between the locals came to nothing; and unlike Newberry, Fairfield was never a major battleground. though it supplied many volunteers to the colonial army – among them Captain Richard Winn, Colonel John Winn, and Colonel Aromanus Lyles (Ludwig’s neighbor).
The troops from both sides did some marching back and forth across the county, and the ragged colonials were serviced free of charge by well to do citizens. After Cornwallis’ defeat at Kings Mountain in 1781, the English brigade did retreat to Winnsboro, where the general made his headquarters. But he caused no disturbance and did not even deprive the Whigs of their civil rights.
And so, although Ludwig may not have been acting with any foresight when he moved to Fairfield County, he certainly was fortunate to choose a more comfortable spot to endure the war than his Edgefield farm would have been.
His first months must have been busy ones. He very likely had to erect a dwelling house for his large family, which by 1778 included an unknown number of daughters and at least three sons less than ten years of age – Jacob, Solomon, and Samuel. As the older sons (Elias, John, and George) were not to be found in Edgefield, they may have been in the new household on Broad River for a time.
His principal seat of activity was apparently on the land northwest of Edward Smith’s tract. There is no clue as to how he came by this one hundred acre parcel, which had been originally patented to a Barbara Neustat. In later years, this parcel came to be known as Boltner’s (sic) Saw Mill tract.
In 1778 (according to a later deed), Ludwig bought 150 acres from John Winn, who had patented it in 1774. The sketchy description in the patent indicates that it lay below Edward Smith’s tract. As formal recording was often done after the feet, perhaps he had been leasing it from Winn at the time Smith was awarded his grant.
Ludwig’s Fairfield home was about a mile north of the wagon road which ran between Newberry Court House and Winnsboro (today’s Route 34). Robert Mills in 1825 described all the lands near the rivers in Fairfield County as “excellent and inexhaustible.” The lands on the creeks, including Rock (or Rocky) Creek, which ran through Ludwig’s property, were “of the finest quality, clay foundations covered with rich vegetable mould.”
Today, this part of the county is all protected as Sumter National Forest. Ludwig’s land is densely wooded and undeveloped; Rocky Creek is a rugged little stream which churns its way rapidly to the river after a rain. The land is about thirty feet above the Broad River, with a narrow low bank at the river’s edge. Somewhere on the tract and no longer accessible is a quarry site.
Just as there is no trace today of Ludwig’s presence on his land, so there is also none in the recollection of the natives. One ancient citizen, when questioned in recent years, was positive that “there’s never been nobody on this land ‘ceptin Lyleses and Means.” These were Ludwig’s neighbors two hundred years ago.
But if these families still populate the area, there is no trace of them either; their homes are tucked away in the dense woods As a result, the land looks much the way it did in Ludwig’s time.
Just when he moved to his new land we do not know. But as his in Jacob, born in 1771, evidently remembered it as his only home, we can speculate that it was in the early 1770’s. The requisition of several parcels over time and at his own
expense connotes some positive plan in Ludwig’s mind. And the mill operations which he established remained a local landmark for many years after his departure. (In an 1805 deed, there is a reference “to the road from Winn’s old place to Boltner’s mill.”)
Well established on his Fairfield property by the beginning of the Revolution, Ludwig may have remained apart from the growing tensions and divisions. But the war soon provided opportunities for an industrious entrepreneur.
With secession from English rule in 1776, the new congress authorized four regiments in South Carolina. The Third Regiment under Lt. Col. William Thomson took up quarters at Orangeburg. The soldiers’ duties were to protect the western
borders of the colony; they maintained posts at Fort Ninety Six and Augusta, went on patrols, and arrested those of their number who deserted.
This regiment was quartered near Orangeburg when Ludwig recorded the first of his services in April. 1778: “Hyre of 2 waggons & included 4 days for going home. Certified by Captain John Donaldson in 3d Regiment.” He received £|192 (£6
per day from March 29 through April 9), a highly profitable endeavor which may have enabled him to expand his Fairfield property, as he bought John Winn’s 150 acre tract about that time.
It is most likely that Ludwig had long range aspirations as a supplier of the colonial troops. But there was only one more such venture. In February, 1779, Governor Rutledge ordered a party of troops to Broad River to obtain necessary provisions. Ludwig prepared four wagons of flour and one of bacon.
His charges for the supplies were £6,252. (The price reflects the rampant inflation that overtook all the colonies in 1779.) He evidently purchased the supplies at his own expense, £and he owed Robert Hancock for the bacon. Ludwig also included a charge of £851 for the hire of the wagons for ten days, and a charge of £73 for fifteen days of his time.
What happened after the troops departed with their provisions is not entirely clear, but the story can be roughly pieced together from the papers in Ludwig’s file. (All papers quoted are from the Audited Acct. of Lewis Bortner, AA 625,
pp. 1ww – llww, S. C. Archives.) He owned at least one of the wagons and teams and it was impressed by a Captain Smith “for a considerable time.” Ludwig evidently visited the camp at Orangeburg in May and obtained a signed receipt from William Valentine for the provisions and services. But there is no evidence that he was paid. And there is no mention of the impressed team.
In an undated memo. Governor Rutledge himself noted, “Mr. Valentine must liquidate this acct. either pay Botner for it or give him a certificate of what is due to him & I will order payment immediately. J.R.”
Ludwig was also encountering complications in recovering his impressed wagon and team. On June 18. W. Fraser returned to Ludwig “a waggon and team duly discharged by the waggon master.” Evidently. however, one of the horses had died – “a blue roan, fourteen hands high. seven years old” – although there is no acknowledgement of this in the military papers.
On February 11, 1780, Ludwig appeared before Wade Hampton, Justice of the Peace for upper Richland County, to swear to his claims for the wagons and provisions.
Hampton noted on the bottom of the account: “Lewis Boatner makes oath that the within account is just and true.” This is the earliest recorded spelling of the name as Boatner.
The next day, probably acting on Hampton’s advice, Ludwig obtained an appraised value of his wagon and team from three witnesses. (The value of the horse matching Ludwig’s description was £800, reflecting the continued inflation. A later
appraisal contributed by Ludwig’s neighbor, Christopher Ederington, was that the horse was worth “twenty pounds sterling at the time,” which dramatically illustrates the near worthless value of colonial money.)
Having received no response and perhaps thinking the matter hopeless, Ludwig did nothing further for more than three years to advance either claim. But his worsening financial problems drove him to action at the end of the war.
In September, 1784, accompanied by Christopher Ederington, Ludwig went to see John Winn, now home from the war and a Justice of the Peace in Fairfield County. Here, he recorded an affidavit attesting to the loss of his horse.
As in his earlier law suits, Ludwig seemed to move slowly; but he persisted. In January, 1786, he hired Richard Winn as his lawyer, and in June, Winn drew up a detailed statement of claims. asking for compensation on three separate counts, for a total of £208, on which amount he also asked interest:
- -For the hiring of the two wagons on Ludwig’s first expedition in 1778, he claimed that Ludwig was still owed more than £8.
-For the wagon and team impressed, more than £108.
-On the unpaid recount for the 1779 provisions, more than £91.
It is not clear how Winn devised these figures. And changes in the value of currency (the inflation of 1779-80 having been brought under control) make it nearly impossible to relate these amounts to the original claims. Also, Winn did not
always tell exactly the same version of his client’s story.
By now, there were new complications; the statute of limitations had expired on debts owed for wartime services. But Ludwig stubbornly persisted, being viewed, perhaps, as a tiresome visitor by his attorney.
Winn renewed his efforts, however, in a letter to Governor Thomas Pinckney in January, 1788. He asked that Ludwig’s case be given special consideration because “his account was regularly made out & sent down by Colonel Henry
Hampton but through neglect was not returned until the law elapsed. Mr. Bortner being ignorant of the same, besides he is a poor man with a house full of children & far advanced in years, therefore I hope his beet. will not be thrown by as they were by the hurry of the last Assembly.”
At last, success was achieved. Payment to Lewis Bortner was authorized on October 3, 1788, but without interest. The clerk noted that the request had been received in July, but that the legislature had passed an act in February excluding interest from such claims.
Ludwig persisted. On January 26, 1789, his adviser Winn countered with a “Petition to the Honorable the President and Members of the Senate,” ornately inscribed in behalf of and over the obviously forged signature of “Lewis Boltner.” (A calligrapher must surely have been hired for the occasion.)
The petition summarized in the most patriotic terms the events relating to the claim and described Ludwig as “upwards of 65 years of age, with a large family, unable to work, and reduced to great distress by his losses during the War and since.” The Assembly relented. Ludwig received his total request for £282.
Even making allowances for the dramatic embellishments, it was clear that Ludwig was on hard times. And he was not even able to keep all the money he was awarded, for he was being sued himself to repay the supplier of the bacon.
What he did next, in view of these circumstances, resists explanation and raises serious doubts about his mental capabilities. For after struggling nearly a decade to win compensation of a few hundred pounds the following year – in
December, 1790 – the old man borrowed £5,000 sterling on a 30-day note!
The creditor was one James Blair of Chester County, who came down with a witness to execute the transaction. The witness later sent a certified affidavit of his presence, which was recorded with the bond at Fairfield court on April 31, 1791, when the thirty days would have long since expired.
As collateral, Ludwig put up 500 acres of his land, “where the said Boulter (sic) now lives with a geerd (geared) mill on the River likewise a saw mill & tub mill on said premises.” The language of this document certainly suggests that the Saw Mill Tract was included in the mortgaged property.
Perhaps Ludwig’s bizarre behavior was a childish ploy to ward off some looming debt – though it is hard to see how he could have acquired such a huge obligation, even on his substantial acreage. The due date of the loan came and went, but there was no further reference to it and the Saw Mill Tract was evidently not forfeited.
Two months after he signed James Blair’s note, Ludwig sold to his neighbor, John Means, the 150 acre tract he had purchased from John Winn. The price was £100. This figure certainly suggests that the land was unimproved, when compared with the 500 acres that were collateral for the mortgage.
Ludwig’s deed to Means was full of assurances that he owned the land outright and that it was free of “judgments, executions or encumbrances of what name or nature soever that might in any measure or degree obstruct or make void this present deed.” Perhaps it was a bargain conveyed out of personal affection; he noted that “I do acknowledge of myself herewith fully satisfyed and contented.”
Whether an ambitious scheme had failed or whether he simply feared bankruptcy, Ludwig from that time on was clearly preparing to dispose of his Fairfield holdings.
A year later, on February 2, 1792, he had John Winn re-survey most of his remaining land as a tract of 925 acres This survey was evidently made to support an application for a patent on the tract to insure his legal ownership. (Later deeds cite the April, 1792 patent but give no earlier history of the tract except for Edward Smith’s 300 acres.)
The following month (March 21, 1792), Ludwig sold to Minor Winn for £100 sterling “one Negroe man named Nero one other Negroe named Ceasar (sic) also twenty head of cattle and ten head of horses. . .” In contrast to the deed to John
Means this document was short and succinct. But once again, the prices seem inordinately low.
On the same day, he gave Winn his power of attorney to sell his “several tracts . . . for the best price he can get for the same, not less than one hundred fifty pounds sterling. . .” (William Ederington later bought 570 acres of this tract for
£200; John Means bought the western 177 acres and the Saw Mill Tract; and Walter Poole bought 178 acres on the eastern end. The total value of the sales was just over £290.)
It is difficult to think of an explanation which recounts for Ludwig’s activities during these months. Perhaps he had indeed lost assets of value to James Blair. Or perhaps, with his grown sons now departed, he no longer had the necessary help to continue his mill operations.
But at his advanced age, and having resided in Fairfield County for two decades, why did he subject himself to relocating his household and children? Why did he dispose of his slaves and cattle and horses, which were moveable assets? And
why at such apparently low prices, when he was impoverished?
We can only conclude that Ludwig was in a hurry to be on his way. But we may never learn whether his chief motive was to return to Edgefield or merely to be gone from Fairfield.