When Richard Rowser Jr. died in 1733, he left his wife, Susanna, his “grate Seader chest” along with “two Iron potts… all his puter and one Fether bed.” His son, also named Richard, received the house and plantation on Wakendaw Creek. His “dafter” [daughter] Mary and grandson, Richard, received eight heads of cattle each. Daughter Rebekah, wife of Oliver Spencer, received £5.
Richard’s name first shows in 1668 when he was baptized at St. Michael’s, Barbados, the son of Richard and Mary Rowser — once again proving the English have absolutely no creativity when it comes to naming their children. They were also amongst the earliest to settle Wando Neck, today’s Mount Pleasant.
The first Richard Rowser arrived in 1671 on the “John & Thomas” with Philip Jones, both listed as servants to John Maverick of Barbados. There might have been a kinship; listing family as servants was often done to get land under the headright system. Since Jones and Rowser both owned their own plantations by 1674, if there was an indenture it was short-lived.
Rowser eventually amassed 600-plus acres at the mouth of Wakendaw [Hobcaw] Creek where it meets the Wando. Now covered by the Wando Terminal, for centuries it was a beautiful, Oak-laden bluff that stood command over the river. For Richard Rowser it was an ideal plantation site, offering easy river access, acres of timber and grazing lands for livestock. The eradication of this historic area when the shipping terminal was built is one of the tragedies of modern progress.
Not surprisingly, Rowser’s next door neighbor was Philip Jones and soon he and his son, Francis, had over 1,000 acres on Wakendaw’s northern shore stretching all the way to Snee Farm — today’s residential areas of Belle Hall, Hobcaw Creek Plantation and Landings Run.
Philip Jones’s will and inventory (1682) reflect a hardworking, iron and pewter colonial lifestyle. We get a glimpse into personality through the names of his horses, Canter and Jolly Boy. The rest of his belongings are utilitarian — farm implements, a canoe, “casting” net and 16 head of cattle. Called “neat” or “black” cattle, these were beef, not dairy cows.
One of the earliest money-making endeavors in Carolina was exporting meat to the Caribbean and almost all original Wando Neck plantations raised cattle and/or sheep. Cows provided another commodity, leather made from their hides. Thus a common occupation of many early East Cooper landowners was “cordwainer,” or leather worker. The hides they tanned were shipped to England ready for the cobblers. It was a profitable and important trade.
With cows and land, Rowser and Jones are shining success stories of how taking a chance on Carolina could pay off. By 1682, Philip’s son, Francis, was listed as “gentleman” on a land grant, an important distinction at the time.
The Jones and Rowser families divided and multiplied and subsequent generations intermarried with the Bennett, Brown, Fowler, Simms, White, Brewton, Collins, Legare, Barksdale and other families. If your family is “old” Mount Pleasant, you likely have these people in your family tree.
Hobcaw Creek has also had many names. Originally the entire length was known as Wakendaw Creek but at some point the lower end became Hobcaw, an Indian word possibly meaning “between the waters.” When John White purchased 200 acres “formerly granted Richard Rowser” in 1703, it was described as bounding “Coinbow Creek alias Wakendaw.” So far, no translation of Coinbow is available and the name remains only as a street name at Hobcaw Point — a plantation owned in the early 1700s by Benjamin Quelch when the creek was known as Quelch’s Creek.
Next time we’ll explore the remarkable flexibility of 17th century people when it came to moving from one place to another. Families often boast how their ancestors came to Carolina from Barbados. My question is, “Where did they live before?” For an unusual number of Wando Neck families, the answer is Massachusetts.
Sources: Barbados (St. Michael’s) Church Records; Wills 1689-1710, Vol. 52, 83; Wills, 1731-1774, Vol. 3, 53; Journals of the Grand Council, 7; Salley, Warrants 1670: 211; Warrants 1672: 83, 167; Warrants 1680: 25, 136; McCrady plats 6018, 6194;, Bates/Leland, Proprietary Records II, 97; Waddell, Indians of S.C. Lowcountry, 255.