Origins of the Gooch family in Kershaw & Lancaster Counties, SC




There are at least three William Gooches found in 18th century North Carolina records. One of these men is found in early North Carolina court documents as, "Billy Gosling Gooch." Little has been written on this Gooch line; however, Virginia Gooch Watson of Franklin, Tennessee initially collected some of the history of this family during her research on William Gooch of Caswell County who appears to be a kinsman of Billy Gosling Gooch. Watson found that in 1775, Billy purchases land in Bute County, NC, a now extinct county which bordered Granville County, North Carolina. Billy Gosling Gooch witnesses a deed for William and Frances (Rice) Gooch on the 25th of June 1778 in Granville [re: D.B. M, pg. 127]. This deed documents that the two men knew each other and suggests kinship between these two Gooch families, but Billy is clearly not Williamıs son and no document has been found that states their kinship. By 1784, Billy buys land in Caswell County and is listed in that county's tax list in the Gloucester District; this occurs about the same time that William Gooch Sr. settles in Caswell. Around 1800, Billy settles in Kershaw County, South Carolina.

Seventeen years earlier, Clayburn Gooch had been a resident of Kershaw County, South Carolina and his probate records indicate he died with no heirs, except his wife Nancy Ann Neely Gooch who by the 16th of May 1783 had remarried to William Bostick who applied for the administration of Clayburn Goochıs estate before removing his family to Kentucky. Clayburnıs relationship to Billy has not been established, but it seems unlikely that the appearance of these two men in the region is merely a coincidence. Clayburnıs name certainly suggests connections William & Ursula (Claiborne) Gouge of King William County, VA; who left no account of their children except for a son Clayborne who was alive in 1705 and who probably left a namesake who was running a ferry on the Pamunkey River in the mid-eighteen century. As speculated earlier, Billy Goslingıs relationship with William Gooch of Caswell County, NC, another Gooch family that uses Claiborne in their naming patterns, may indicate they all share a common ancestor in William Gouge & his wife Ursula.

Billy Gosling Gooch died between the 04th and the 19th of February 1803, when his will was proved in Kershaw County Court. Billy's only known spouse is Kerenhappuck "Keren", who was the widow of Jeremiah Hillard of New Kent, Virginia. Hillard appears to have relocated to North Carolina about the time of the Gooches. A marriage record for Billy and Keren has not been found, but they were married after 1777, probably in Bute County. Billy and Keren are mentioned first together in a deed in which Billy "replaces" a Negro belonging to the Hillard estate who died in his care [re: Bute Co., 11 Nov. 1777].

Another source of information on Billy G. Gooch is provided by Vila Caston Floyd of Lafayette, Georgia; however, her account conflicts with certain facts that we know about Billy, but certainly the "John and Kerenhappuch Hillard Gooch" of the sketch is is a reference to Billy Gosling Gooch,

"John Gooch was born in Goochland County, Virginia. He married Elizabeth (Nancy) Sleigh. This John Gooch was son of John and Karenhappuch Hillard Gooch of Goochland. John and Elizabeth Sleigh Gooch also named one of their sons, John. John, born January 9, 1780, married Elizabeth Riddlespurger, born November 17 1786. Whether he married before he migrated to South Carolina, or not, is not known. His will recorded in Chester County, South Carolina was probated in November, 1840. His son Henry H. Gooch was executor. According to Old Lancaster County Deeds, Book K, page 322, John Gooch was one of the trustees of the tract of land deeded to the Tolerant Church in 1821, said land being in Lancaster District on Singleton Creek."

There appears to be no records in Goochland County, Virginia of any Gooch family residing there, but the use of Goochland County as the place of origin for many Gooches is common among Gooch family histories due to the name of the County. We know that Billy Gosling Gooch did marry the widow Hillard and had a son John. John is mentioned in the above sketch as marrying Elizabeth "Nancy" Sleigh; however, other secondhand sources name her as "Polly." Therefore it is unclear if Polly is Elizabeth or if she is a second wife. Like so many family histories this particular one is undocument and it is unclear which sources were used and their credibility.

The children of Billy Gosling & Karenhappuck Gooch are found listed in Billy's will as follows: Betsey (m:Britain), Polly (m:Britain), Rebecka (m:Bird), Mildred (m:Bird,Hugh), Nancy, Patsey (m:Bennett), Henry, John, & Mehalah. Keren dies in 1840 near Montgomery, Alabama at a place called "Highland Home." Family history in the Bird family, recalls that she emigrating to Alabama along with her daughter Mildred Bird. Billy's son John settles in Chester County, South Carolina, where he raised a large family and died in 1840 left a will.

The John Gooch line is also documented by an extraordinary account by their escaped slave named Moses Roper who wrote in 1838 a book titled "A Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper, from American Slaver." Moses' dramatic and horrific tale of his treatment in slavery provides us with a glimps into the Gooch family of Kershaw County, SC and into the institution of slaver itself. Though Roper's story is quite shocking, the detailed account of the Gooch family provides both important family information, as well as, a horrific portrait of slavery at its worse. It is not clear if the tale that Roper encounts to Dr. Morison, an abolitionist, is entirely accurate or is influenced for abolisionist propaganda; however, we know the incidences in the story Moses tells is not beyond the practices of the times and is likely to be accurate. This account also casts a dark light on the Caswell deed regarding Billy Gosling Gooch's "replacement" of a slave to the Hillard estate. Moses Roper is the son of Caswell County, NC planter identified only as "Mr. Roper" and an enslaved woman owned by Roper. Moses and his mother became the target of the hatred of Mrs. Roper who in an insane fit tried to kill the new born child. Moses was transfered among the Roper kin until he was sold to a trader and for a time was left him with a "Mr. Sneed" who ran a boarding house in Washington, Georgia. This Mr. Sneed is certainly connected to the Caswell County Gooch family, as Mary Gooch married John Sneed and their descendants moved to South Carolina and Georgia. Eventually, Moses was sold in Liberty, SC to a "Mr. Gooch" of Cashaw (sic) County, SC. Moses writes,
"Mr. Gooch bought me for his son-in-law, Mr. Hammans ... Mr. Hammans was a very severe and cruel master, and his wife still worse; she use to tie me up and flog me while naked.² After Mr. Hammans saw that I was determined to die in the woods, and not live with him, he tried to obtain a piece of land from his father-in-law, Mr. Gooch; not having the means of purchasing it, he exchanged me for the land. As soon as Mr. Gooch had possession of me again, knowing that I was averse to going back to him, he chained me by the neck to his chaise. In this manner he took me to his home at MacDanielıs Ferry, in the county of Chester, a distance of fifteen mile. After which he put me into a swamp, to cut trees, the heaviest work which men of twenty-five or thirty years of age have to do, I being but sixteen.² ³My masterıs cruelty was not confined to me, it was his general conduct to all his slaves ... Mr. Gooch ... was a member of a Baptist church, called Black Jack Meeting-House, in Cashaw county, which church I attended for several years, but was never inside ... Mr. Gooch had a slave named Phil, who was a member of a Methodist Church. This man was between seventy and eighty years of age; he was so feeble that he could not accomplish this tasks, for which his master used to chain him round the neck, and run him down a steep hill; this treatment he never relinquished to the time of his death. Another case was that of a slave named Peter, who for not doing his task, he flogged nearly to death, and afterwards pulled out his pistol to shoot him, but his (Mr. Goochıs) daughter snatched the pistol from his hand. Another mode of punishment which this man adopted was, that of using iron horns, with bells, attached to the back of the slaveıs neck. This instrument he used to prevent the Negroes running away, being a very ponderous machine, seven feet in height, and the cross pieces being two feet four and six feet in length."

The Gooch family that Mr. Roper refers to is certainly that of Billy Gosling Gooch himself, rather the "Mr. Gooch" of the Roper account is probably Billy's son John Gooch whose daugther Nancy Robinson Gooch married Leroy Hammond (Hamman in the sketch). Leroy Hammond (04 Dec 1801 - c1881) lived in Kershaw Co., SC and married Nancy Gooch in 1822. Leroy Hammond is the son of Philip Terrell Hamond (1800-1864) of Kershaw and his wife Delilah Gilliam [ref: Hammond family history; Hammond family Bible, SC Historical Society Publication; & Hammond family graveyard, near Beaver Creek Baptist Church, Kershaw]. A review of abstracts of SC records certainly corroborate much of Roper's detailed inforamtion on the Gooch family of that area, suggesting again that his accounts of brutality are probably accurate as well.


İ 1999