Hughes' Views & News

The murder of Daniel Doughty: A skeleton in my family closet

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on October 8, 2013

I was quite surprised to learn this story while tracing the ancestry of my grandmother, Virginia Doughty Hughes (1896-1978).

In 1804, my grandmother’s direct line Doughty ancestors lived in the western part of the Pendleton District in South Carolina. The eldest was Joseph Doughty (1755-1815), who was my 4th great grandfather. His children included my 3rd great grandfather, Jeremiah Doughty Sr. (1777-1838) and Jeremiah’s older brother, Daniel.

Daniel Doughty's will

Daniel Doughty’s will, dated Nov. 24th, 1804.

Towards the end of November 1804, Daniel filed a will saying that he was “sick and weak in body but of sound & disposing mind memory and understanding.” In the will he bequeathed “unto my dearly beloved wife Rachel Doughty one feather Bed with the furniture belonging to the same and her wearing clothes and no other part of my Estates.” He left the rest of his estate to his sons, Joseph and Laban.

By the following February, Daniel was dead and his “dearly beloved wife” was in jail, accused of murdering him. A second suspect named John Andrews was also in jail but the alleged mastermind of the crime — Rachel’s father, Laban Oakley — had escaped from jail and was on the run.

South Carolina Gov. Paul Hamilton issued the following proclamation on Feb. 19, 1805:

State of So. Carolina. By His Excellency
Paul Hamilton Governor & Commander
in Chief in & over the State aforesaid.
A Proclamation. Whereas I have received
information that Daniel Doughty late
of the District of Pendleton has been
most barberously and wickedly destroyed
by his wife Rachel, his step-father Laban
Oakley, a certain John Andrews who dis
regarding all social, moral, & religious ties
did most treacherously & cruelly combine
and conspire together and did infuse
into the drink, food and medicine of the
said Daniel Doughty repeated doses
of ratsbane or arsenic of the effects of
which after the most excruting tortures
& lamentable suffering the said Daniel
Doughty did at last die. And whereas the
said Rachel the wife of the said Daniel
Doughty and the said John Andrews
have both been committed to Gaol
under strong evidence of their guilt
but Laban Oakley the step-father as above
said who is believed to have been the first
mover of this wicked conspiracy has
fled & eludes the pursuit of justice. There
fore I deem it proper to issue this my
Proclamation hereby offering a re
ward of $400 to any person or persons
who will apprehend & deliver to the cus
tody of the Sheriff of the District in
this State the said Laban Oakley to be paid
on his being convicted of the said offence.
And I hereby most earnestly call upon
& require all officers civil & military and
all other friends to the peace safety and
happiness of the Community to the
aiding & assisting to the utmost of their
power in apprehending & bringing to
answer with his accomplices to the
Laws the said Laban Oakley to the end
that this dreadful & wicked outrage on humanity
may be followed by the punishment
which is due to it and an example
made which may deter others from
the perpetration of crimes of a nature
so flagritious & detestable. Given under
my hand and with the seal of the State this
19th day of February A.D. 1805 and of
American Independence the 29th.
Paul (L.M.S.) Hamilton. By
the Governor Daniel Huges Secretary
of State. Recorded 19th February 1805.

S.C. Gov. Paul Hamilton offered a $400 reward for the capture of Laban Oakley

S.C. Gov. Paul Hamilton offered a $400 reward for the capture of Laban Oakley

A document from Gov. Hamilton dated Dec. 13, 1805, indicates that $400 had been paid “for apprehending Laban Oakley, a murderer under Proclamation who broke Gaol and fled in Tennessee.”

After the death of Daniel Doughty, his sons went to live with their grandfather, and Laban Doughty’s first name was changed to Daniel. By 1820 this Doughty family had moved from the Pendleton District to the area around Tuscaloosa, Ala. Several of them are buried at Big Creek Cemetery. (My grandparents would meet, almost a century later, when Virgie Doughty wrote a letter to Arley Hughes, on behalf of her father, James Harvey Doughty, inviting him to apply for a job as a school teacher in Pickens County, Ala.)

According to sources I found online, Daniel Doughty the younger (the murdered Daniel’s son) later changed the spelling of his last name to “Doty.” Why he did this, I don’t know, but it may have been an attempt on his part to stake a claim of descent from the Mayflower passenger Edward Doty.

He ultimately settled in Mississippi, where some say the community of Doty Springs was named after him.

An 1812 land sale in Caswell County, North Carolina

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on May 31, 2013
This deed was recorded in Caswell County July Court 1812.

This deed was recorded in Caswell County July Court 1812.

My 4th great grandfather, Andrew Hughes (1755-1843) lived in Orange County, North Carolina, at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. He lived in this part of North Carolina until 1787, when he settled in the old Pendleton District of South Carolina, on land about 5 miles outside of where the city of Easley is now. He then lived most of the rest of his life in that area.

Some genealogists who have researched this Hughes line believe that a man named John Hughes, who died in Caswell County, North Carolina, circa 1799, was the eldest son of “my” Andrew Hughes, and that he stayed in North Carolina when his father moved to South Carolina.

I am researching that question now.  At this point I don’t have enough evidence in hand to say for sure whether or not the John Hughes who died in Caswell County circa 1799 was Andrew’s son. But this much I can say with great certainty:  When John Hughes died, he left behind a will and an estate file, which showed that he owned 200 acres of land on Stony Creek. He also left behind a widow named Mary and five children:  Andrew (“Andy”), John, Obedience (“Bidzy” or “Biddy”), Mary (“Polly”) and Gilson (a son whose name is sometimes reported as “Gibson”).

Some think that Andrew, the son of John, was also the grandson of “my” Andrew Hughes. At this point I can’t prove that. But I can prove that in 1812, Andrew (son of John) was living in Pendleton, South Carolina (where “my” Andrew Hughes lived), and in that year he sold 36 acres of land in Caswell County, North Carolina, that was his portion of the 200 acres left by his father (John).

That fact is recorded in this deed, which I obtained from the State Archives of North Carolina. Click on the image above to see a scan of the original. My transcription of it is below:

This Indenture made and entered into this day of June in the year of
our lord one thousand eight hundred and twelve between Andrew Hughs of the
County of Pendleton & State of South Carolina & Elizabeth
Hornbuckle of the County of Caswell & State of North Carolina of the other
part witnesseth that the said Andy Hughs for and in consideration of the sum
of sixty five dollars to him in kind paid & made safe before the signing
& sealing of these presents by the sd. Elizabeth Hornbuckle then might
whereof he the said Andy Hughs doth acknowledge himself fully
and amply Satisfied & paid for a certain Lot of land being the fifth
part of a certain tract of land left by his Father John Hughs Decd.
to the Sd. Andy Hughs being the fourth lot containing by estima-
tion thirty six acres lying and bounding as following ___________
Beginning at a black (stake?) Bidzy Hughs line running South with
her line twenty four chains to her corner stake (adjoining?) then
With the old line fifteen chains and fifty four links to a Stake
Thence North twenty four chains to a Stake Polly Hughs Corner
Thence East fifteen chains and fifty four links to the first
Station Containing the above mentioned thirty six acres
which tract of land with every advantage thereunto belonging
whith the sd. Andy Hughs do Warrant and forever defend from
the right Title Claim or Claims of all and every other person
or persons Whatsoever claiming the same I bind myself my
Heirs Executors Administrators or assigns to the sd. Elizabeth
Hornbuckle her Heirs Executors Administrators firmly by
these presents as witness thereof & the sd. Andy Hughs
have hereunto set my hand and fixed my seal this day
& date within written ___________________________

Signed Seal’d & acknowledged
In presence of us                                            Andrew Hughs (Seal)
Simpson Hornbuckle
James Adams
State of North Carolina
Caswell County | July Court 1812

The Execution of this deed was duly
presented in Open Court by the oath of Simpson Hornbuckle
one of the Subscribing witnesses thereunto and on motion
Ordered to be registered. ______
Archibald Murphey (signature)

What in the world happened to Elisha Hughes?

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on March 13, 2013
This petition, filed June 9th, 1848, asks for guardianship of the orphans of Elisha and Margaret Hughes to Margaret's brother, William M. Willson.

This petition, dated June 9th, 1848, seeks guardianship of the orphans of Elisha and Margaret Hughes for Margaret’s brother, William M. Willson.

Nation, I need your help to solve a mystery that’s more than 174 years old.

By now, readers of this blog (yes, both of you!) know that I am very keen on researching my Hughes family history. (I also plan to write about my mother’s line, the Brelands, but that will come later.)

One of the great unsolved mysteries in my Hughes line is this:  What in the world happened to my 3rd great grandather, Elisha Hughes?

The facts of his life, as I currently know them, are fairly sparse. He was born about 1800 (exact date unknown) in the old Pendleton District of South Carolina. His parents were Andrew Hughes (1755-1843) and Obedience Sumner (1765-1829).

Sometimes I have seen his name written as Elisha “Lish” Hughes, and sometimes his middle name is given as “Mattison” or “Madison.” But I have not seen any evidence myself that proves beyond doubt he had any names other than Elisha Hughes.

By 1820, Elisha had married Margaret “Peggy” Willson and his household of two was listed in the 1820 U.S. Census for Pendleton, S.C. But by 1830, Elisha and Peggy were living in Habersham County, Ga. They had eight children together, including my great-great grandfather, James Thompson “Thomps” Hughes (1831-1919).

But by 1839, Elisha had disappeared, and no one seems to know for sure what happened to him. Some have speculated that he may have abandoned his family and traveled west. Others have speculated that he may have died while participating in “Indian removal” from Georgia. The one thing that no one has offered, in what I have read about him so far, is an explanation for his disappearance that’s backed up by evidence.

We know what happened to Peggy — she died sometime before June 1848. We know what happened to the children who were left orphaned when Peggy died — custody of the orphans was awarded to Peggy’s brother in Anderson, S.C. in June 1848, and by 1850 they were living in Pickens County, Ala. We know where both Thomps Hughes and his younger brother, William McMurray Hughes, are buried.

But we still don’t know what happened to Elisha. However, I’m willing to bet that someone out there has evidence in hand that may help me answer that question.

With that in mind, it’s time to put crowdsourcing to work for me. Do you know what happened to “my” Elisha Hughes? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at

South Carolina pension application of Andrew Hughes, 1826

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on February 18, 2013

In my last post, I mentioned both the federal and South Carolina pension applications filed by my 4th great grandfather Andrew Hughes (1755-1843) for his service as a militia soldier in the American Revolutionary War.

Partial transcripts of his federal pension application are available online in at least two different locations that I know of, and there may be others. However, I have never seen a transcript of his South Carolina pension application online anywhere. So, below I am posting my transcription of a photocopy of the document. (I purchased my copy of the document from the S.C. Department of Archives and History.)

To the President and other members
of the Senate and to the Speaker
and other members of the House of
Representatives of the State of
South Carolina.

The Petition of Andrew Hughes
Humbly Showeth
That your petitioner
was a volunteer and turned out to defend
his Country against the British Tories
and Indians during the Revolutionary
War. He went a tour of duty against
the Cherokee Indians. The next tour
of duty he went a volunteer in Capt.
Waddy Tate troops of light horse to
Cross Creek where the Scotch were
defeated. The next he was at the
Battle of Camden under the same
Capt. Tate. The next tour of duty he
did was a tour of 9 months. He was
at Charleston, from there to Purysburg
Capn. Jameson. He went from there
up to Augusta and pursued the British
to Briar Creek where he was in
the Battle there. He did four tour,
One of six months, one of nine months
and two of three months each.
He was out from the time he was three
and twenty years of age until the
close of the war. Was in the
Minute Service during the whole
time. Always was ready & went
when called on. Was almost constantly
out on duty. He found himself most of
the time. Found his own horse and
equipage. He says he never received
any pay or anything for his services.
He says he is now seventy one years of
age last April. He has a wife aged
about sixty one years. He says he is poor
and now needs the assistance of his country
for support.

He therefore prays your Honorable
Body to grant him a pension or such
other relief as shall to your
Honorable body seem need.
And he will ever pray.
Andrew Hughes (signature)
11th Nov. 1826

The State of South Carolina        Before me personally
Pendleton District                         came Andrew Hughs

a very respectable citizen of
the District and made oath that
he has resided in the District
constantly for the last thirty-
nine years. That all the
facts stated in the annexed
petition are substantially true.

Sworn to 11th Nov. 1826 Andrew Hughes (signature)

Before (?) Grisham
Not. Pub.
Ex Off
G.W. 2

State of South Carolina     Personally came John
Pendleton District              Wilson before me the

subscribing justice, and being sworn in due form of
law, and on his oath saith, that he knew Andrew
Hughs to serve a tour of duty in the Revolutionary War
of six month, under General Rutherford, and that he
himself served with him; and at another time, he
served another tour of duty of nine months with the
said Hughs, under General Aash, and was with
him in the battle at the mouth of Brier Creek.
And that he knew the said Andrew Hughs to
serve in two other campains in the same war.

Sworn and subscribed to
before me this 11th day of (Belden?) 1826
John Wilson (signature)

A. Douthit Qu.

South Carolina               We the undersigned have
Pendleton District         for a number of years

been acquainted with Andrew Hughes of this
Dist. and know him to be an honest
endusterous good citizen, now far advanced
in life and not in circumstances to procure
a livelihood without hard labour and
as we believe he rendered important services
in the American Revolution we think
he aught of right to be placed on the pen-
sion list. Sept. 20th 1826

(Signed)      Ja. Osborn
William Wilson
James Douthit
John Wilson
Andrew Hamilton

The committee on pensions to whom was reported
the petition of Andrew Hughes praying for
a pension, respectfully report
that they have considered the same, and
recommend to this house that the prayer
of the petitioner be granted and that the said
Andrew Hughes be allowed a pension.

December 1826
John McComb

My earliest Hughes ancestor, Andrew Hughes (1755-1843)

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on February 16, 2013

In 1787, 600 acres of land in SC were surveyed for my ancestor, Andrew Hughes.

The earliest Hughes ancestor that I can claim with a reasonable level of confidence is a fellow named Andrew Hughes, who was born near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on April 4, 1755, and died on or about Sept. 1, 1843, in Pickens County, South Carolina.

Much of what I know about Andrew Hughes, including the locations and dates of his birth and death, is recorded in documents related to two separate pension applications he filed for his service as a militia soldier in the American Revolutionary War.  He applied for a pension from the state of South Carolina in 1826 and received payments from the state until 1834, when he applied for and was awarded a federal pension.

According to his federal pension application, Andrew was living in Orange County, North Carolina, when he joined a North Carolina militia unit that formed in Caswell County soon after the Declaration of Independence was signed in July 1776. Some of the campaigns and battles that he took part in were the Rutherford Expedition, Cross Creek (I believe this refers to the battle at Moore’s Creek Bridge), Camden, and Brier Creek.

By 1787, Andrew had settled in the Ninety-Six District (later called the Pendleton District) of South Carolina and he then lived in that area for most of the rest of his life. A land grant record shows that 600 acres of land along “the south fork of Brush Creek” (now known as Brushy Creek) were surveyed for him in September 1787. I believe that this land was probably located somewhere between the present-day town of Easley, S.C. and the Saluda River.

Andrew and his first wife, Obedience Sumner, had several children together; I’m not sure of the exact number. (I do know that I am descended from one of his sons, Elisha, who was born in the Pendleton District about 1800.) Obedience died in 1829. Then in 1835, when Andrew was 75 years old, he married Nancy Mauldin, who was 63.  It was a second marriage for her as well.

Andrew and Nancy moved from the Pendleton District to Gwinnett County, Georgia, in 1835, apparently so they could live closer to her children. But the move to Georgia created a problem for Andrew:  In 1836 he had to travel back to South Carolina to collect his annual pension payment because there was no other way for him to get it. But while there, he was injured in a fall from a horse. After that, he never returned to his second wife in Georgia. He died in South Carolina seven years later, in the house of one of his sons, Charles Hughes.

Twelve years after Andrew’s death, Nancy filed an application seeking both pension benefits and bounty land as Andrew’s widow. Her application was contested and was the subject of much legal wrangling for more than a year before she was awarded a small pension of $40 a year.

A letter written on her behalf in February 1856 by her attorney, Thomas S. May, provides one possible explanation for why Andrew never returned to Nancy in Georgia. I advise taking this with a grain of salt:

Andrew Hughes returned to South Carolina in the forepart of the next Summer Sometime in June; his Hughes sons all living there in S Carolina Kept the Old man there he being very feeble and old & injured by a fall was not able to return to his family without help which his sons would not afford him, being a drunken set, & perhaps kept him there in order to git his pension money; he being very anxious all the time to return (???) Nancy Hughes then with her children & being very old & infirm could not go back to him in consequence of Bad Health and for want of means.

Note: The above is from my own transcription of the letter. (???) means I could not decipher what was written in that space.

There is still a lot that I don’t know about Andrew Hughes. For example, I don’t know who his parents were, and I have never seen a portrait, drawing or any other likeness of him, so I have no idea what he looked like.

But this much I do know. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of descendants of Andrew Hughes, myself included, are alive today. I personally know of Hughes families in upstate South Carolina, northeast Georgia, the area between Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Columbus, Miss., and in Jacksonville, Fla. that can trace their lineage to him. There are probably many other Hughes families descended from Andrew that I am not aware of.

Perhaps one day we will be able to trace the line back to Andrew’s parents and even farther. I certainly hope so!