The Community of Mount Willing - Both South Carolina and Alabama

By Brenda Laney

Edgefield District, South Carolina

“Just before the Revolutionary War Jacob Smith built a tavern in the woods on the east side of Richland Creek. Soon afterwards a large number of men met at the tavern to see about opening some roads through the country. When they were through with the business of the meeting and all had agreed upon the location of the roads to be cut—the same, by the way, that cross there now—the Chairman or President of the meeting called out: "Let's Mount!" to which was replied: "Willing!" Mr. Smith, who was present, caught the words, and gave the place the name of Mount Willing, which name it has borne ever since.” From the History of Edgefield County by John A. Chapman, 1897.

Courtesy of "Where Our Paths Crossed" Bela Padgette Herlong, Carol Hardy Bryan and Charles Reneau Andrews, 2011.


"When the State seceded, December 20th, 1860, the cannon of rejoicing that were fired at Hamburg were heard as far as Mount Willing, and even beyond. The cannon fired at Charleston, during the bombardment of that city by the Federals, were heard very nearly as far as Ninety-Six; but they were of much larger calibre than those at Hamburg. A few days after the passage of the Ordinance of Secession, the lower battalion of the Tenth Regiment was assembled at Mount Willing and a company of volunteers was formed to go into service. David Denny, the same man who commanded a company during the Seminole war, was elected captain. This day will always be remembered in the history of that battalion. A beautiful flag, attached to a rope stretched from the top of the storehouse to the limb of a large oak, was waving in the air. The ladies, carried away by the enthusiasm of the time, waved their handkerchiefs and cheered their friends and relatives as they volunteered; while the band kept up a continual strain of music; and the militia officers paraded and swore at a fearful rate, as fully as terribly as ever our army did in Flanders. Aunt Fannie Smith, a free colored woman, who sold ginger-cakes and beer at musters, did a great business that day. Thomas L. Smith was the Colonel of the Tenth Regiment of militia. When a hundred men had enlisted and enrolled themselves, Miss Lizzie Dozier, who, after the close of the war, married Captain Charlton, presented them their flag.  J. C. McElroy received it and assured the ladies that he would carry it from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, if necessary. He did his best during the war. He carried it beyond the Potomac, and his heroic dust now lies beneath the soil, or mingled with it, of one of the famous battle fields of Maryland. Several other companies were formed and went to the front. The names, as far as it is possible to procure them, of all, both officers and men, who went from the county, with the casualties, will be given before I close. " From the History of Edgefield County by John A. Chapman, 1897.

Courtesy of Brenda Laney, 4 March 2012.

Although this picture may not be in front of the Mount Willing store, it tells the story very well. This is Nancy Ann Berry, daughter of Claiborne Berry and Lydia McCarty with Robert Tucker Corley, son of Burdette Corley and Elizabeth Jones. Our thanks to Brenda Laney who is a Corley, Matthews and a Whittle through William Garret Mathews / Richard Furman Matthews / Mary Haseltine Matthews / William Furman Whittle / Frances Ruth Whittle. Brenda's parents were Frances Ruth Whittle and Thomas Eugene Strickland.

Lowndes County, Alabama

"Seems like when he was heading out back ova’ heah ‘round the first of March, he found about ten wagonloads of folks wandering ‘round in circles as he said, trying to find the right trail to Alabama. They was a buncha farmers from ova’ close to y’all. A place called Mt. Willing, somewhere close to the Saluda River. Seems they didn’t have no leader a’tall. They were trying to get ova’ to the land they’d bought from the Alabama Company of South Ca’lina. When Theo Y. told them he’d made the trip there and back and knew where their land was, they offered to pay him ten dollars a wagon to take charge and lead ‘em ova’ heah. Well, Theo Y. had ‘em settled ova’ on the other side’n the river ‘fore May in 1820. They named their new settlement ‘Mt. Willing’ after their old village in South Ca’lina. We sho’ was a bunch a’ happy folks when he came a’ ridin’ back in the yard on May 1st."

"Oh, I forgot to mention, I had a man come up from Mobile to set up one a’ them cotton gins for me. It takes four Negroes and two oxen to operate it, but with what it was costing me to drive that bulk cotton twenty-five miles to get it ginned, I figgered it paid for itself the first year."

"Now, all we gotta do is pick it, gin it, float it down to tha’ mouth a’ tha’ creek and load it on one a’ them big paddle wheel steamboats headed for Mobile. They’s a boat going up the river one’st a week now and headed back to mobile one'st a week. Theo, I ain’t never seen such a big boat in all a’ my born days. Last year, in September 1821, I got a hankering to ride that thing, so I rode down to Mobile with a load a’ my cotton. They put me in a fancy room and fed me like a king all the way down there and back. Talking ‘bout that trip reminds me, on the way back up the river, we stopped at a place called Ft. Claiborne to pick up some folks headed upriver. I met one of ‘em, called hisself Dan Sullivan. He had a young wife with ‘im. She looked to be ‘round seventeen or eighteen, at least ten years younger than him. Said they just got married. His wife was Jennie Griffin ‘fore they got married there in Ft. Claiborne. The subject got ‘round to South Ca’lina. Said he was from up ‘round Abbeville. Said he was born and raised along Cuffeetown Creek. He told me he and his brother, James, came ova’ here in 1815, but his brother died from the fever ‘bout a year ago. When I told him I had kinfolk ova’ ‘round Edgefield, he said ‘Wouldn’t be a man named Theophilus, would it?’ Well, when I heard that, I liked a’ dropped my teeth. He proceeded to tell me ‘bout y’all’s cheese and cracker dinner at the blacksmith’s place back in 1815. He said if I eva’ wrote to you, to tell you ‘bout our meeting. He and Jennie bought two hundred forty acres ova’ ‘round that new settlement called Mt. Willing."

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