Solomon Boatner’s descendants are fortunate to have documentation of their lineage in Lewis Bortner’s will, filed in Edgefield County on the first day of the year 1802. There is also some circumstantial evidence relating to his years in South Carolina, but much must be left to conjecture.
Solomon was probably the youngest or next youngest son of Ludwig Bottner. He was presumably one of the two boys under 16 in the 1790 census listing for the household in Fairfield County.
The given name which Ludwig bestowed on Solomon presents an intriguing mystery. In Edgefield County, there was a young man who gained prominence during the Revolutionary War named Solomon Pope. The Pope family had come from Virginia to live in the Cloud Creek area of Edgefield.
Solomon Pope is principally remembered for his feats of bravery against the Tories during Cunningham’s “Bloody Scout” of 1780-81. But he must have captured Ludwig’s attention at an earlier time, for Solomon was born before 1780.
Just what the attraction or connection was between Ludwig and the Pope family we do not know. It was not marriage, for the Pope line has been completely documented and there are no Boatners in it. But about 1803, Solomon Boatner would name one of his sons Samson, and this was a traditional name in the Pope family. (It was the name of Solomon Pope’s father, his nephew, and his son born in 1792). These similarities are too much to be dismissed as sheer coincidence.
What little evidence there is about Solomon Boatner suggests that he left his descendants a colorful story or two about the family. Two great grandchildren – who probably did not even know of each other’s existence – possessed similar stories of Tory violence involving Boatner victims.
Mrs. Augusta Boatner Bray (born in Texas, a grand-daughter of Solomon’s oldest son, Lewis) wrote in 1946 that a Lewis Boatner and his wife were beaten to death by Tories; and according to her version, this couple had no children. But another of Lewis’ grandchildren, an unidentified member of the household of Lewis’ youngest son, Marcus Boatner, living in Alabama, had a different version:
Great grandfather Solomon Boatner was hid in the drift on Saluda River from the Tories, who were hunting for him to kill him and get his money He had half (a) bushel of gold and silver which he hid somewhere. Later on the soldiers found him hid in a hogshead of cotton and killed him but did not get the money which was never found. Great grandmother Boatner hid the horses in the house and fed them with crumbs from the table and saved them from the Tories.
In spite of the discrepancies between these two versions – and it is clearly impossible for the very young Solomon to have been the victim – they still invite our interest. Both versions refer to violence done at or near the home site rather than in a pitched battle or guerrilla action. And both place the violence on the Saluda, even though, so far as we now know, the family had moved to Broad River before the war began.
Nevertheless, there seems to have occurred some traumatic incident which deeply affected Solomon, and versions of it remained in his family line – and that line alone – for more than 150 years.
Perhaps it was due to Solomon’s penchant for family stories that his descendants seem to have inherited more colorful versions of early history than the offspring of the other sons. Mrs. Bray claimed that the original Boatners were five brothers, who arrived in 1740; Elige, Jacob, Lewis, Solomon, and Mark. Of these names, three are sons of Ludwig; Lewis and Mark were in the next generation (although Lewis may also be considered a possible son as well).
But the descendant of Solomon’s grandson Marcus wrote in 1915 that the patriarch of the family was Samuel Boatner, who emigrated from Scotland about 1800, and that his children were named Gus, Andy, Tansey, Elizabeth, and Louis (this Louis being her own ancestor, Solomon’s oldest son).
The fact that these stories are garbled and easily disprovable is not as significant as the fact that they are evidence of the interest in the family’s origins which seems particularly characteristic of Solomon’s line.
Biographical data on the man himself is scant. We know that he returned with Ludwig in 1792 to the farm in Edgefield County, for he married soon afterwards, and by 1800 he was head of his own household there with his first born son, Lewis.
His wife’s name was Mary, surname unknown. Sampson Boatner was born about 1803 and Solomon Jr., about 1809. There were probably daughters, but their names have not been preserved for posterity.
After Ludwig’s death in 1801, Solomon and his brother Samuel inherited the home farm of 370 acres on the Saluda River. There is no record of how the brothers divided their inheritance or even what became of it.
In 1808, Solomon bought 78 acres of land in Pickens County to the west, on a branch of Twenty Three Mile Creek, which fed into the Savannah River. He was listed in the Pickens County census in 1830, although Mrs. Bray recalled in her old age that his grandson Ezekiel (her father, born in 1832) had memories of his boyhood on the Saluda property, which had a mill.
By 1840, Solomon – who was surely well past sixty – and his son Solomon Jr. had struck out for new land in Georgia (now Cobb County), territory recently acquired from the Cherokee Indians. Samson joined them there and married in 1842, settling in nearby Gilmer County.
THE DESTINATION OF SOLOMON BOATNER’S FAMILY
In 1832 the state of Georgia appropriated from the Cherokee nation half of its territory, forming one great county named Cherokee which covered much of present-day northwest Georgia.
The drawing of a lottery to give away land in the new county began in October of that year, and after that there was a steady stream of settlers. The earliest arrivals faced many rigors, for some Indians remained in the upper area for several more years. (Perhaps this was the reason that Solomon’s family delayed its move until the end of the decade.) But from the first, there were many settlers who came from Pickens District of South Carolina.
Although settlement had already occurred much further west in the Mississippi Territory – where Jacob and Elias had located by 1816 – still, Cherokee County in the 1830’s was also a primitive frontier. Ahead of the settlers lay pioneers’ tasks – the clearing of land, building of log cabins, and planting of first crops.
The road across the Chattahoochee, which hums ceaselessly now with motor traffic along its paved surface, heard the creaking of ox carts and heavy wagons that late winter and spring of 1833, the slow tread of cattle, the crowing and cackling of chickens in their crates fastened on the sides and rear of canvas-topped wagons; saw faces peering out from the canvas as the new arrivals took their first look at the new country. At only one other time in the county’s history were the roads to be so crowded with traveling families, and that was in 1864 when the tide turned out. . .
Women looked back for years afterward upon that arrival, and handed down the story of it to their children. For they were making history. They were the last of the pioneer settlers in the state of Georgia.
-From The First Hundred Years
A Short History of Cobb County
by Sarah Blackwell Gober Temple
Solomon’s oldest son, Lewis, remained in South Carolina until after 1840, and then he, too, moved his large family to Georgia. The descendants of the youngest of this brood, Marcus, today account for much of the Boatner population in southern Alabama. Elijah and Ezekiel, two other sons of Lewis, were early settlers in Texas. Many of Solomon’s descendants, however, have remained in Georgia.
Of Lewis’ children, Elizabeth, Ezekiel, John, and Marcus Boatner’s lines have been fairly well traced, but we have scant knowledge of the descendants of Samson Boatner. And the six children of Solomon Jr. have not been identified. Much fruitful research remains to be accomplished on the history of the Boatners of Georgia.