George McCullough and the American Revolution in South Carolina
{ posted: Tuesday, 20 March, 2018 at 3:45pm // views: 91 // words: 1,033 }

Through a contemporary family history of the Boozers of South Carolina, we know that a Nancy McCullough, wife of Frederick Boozer of Newberry, South Carolina, was born in 1783 to George McCullough and Margaret Hair. It is from this source alone that we can assume that the Margaret McCullough in the census records of Newberry was born Margaret Hair, and was, at least in 1783, married to George McCullough.

A 1786 land record for Henry Summers listing the neighbors Peter Hare (Margaret’s brother), George McCollock, and others, seems to offer further corroboration of the link. As an aside, this is presently the final mention of George McCullough that I have found. As I think I wrote previously, there is no sign of him or his family in the 1790 census, and from 1800 onward, his presumed wife is listed as the head of household.

Since the George McCullough previously documented as immigrating from Ireland in 1772 seems to have no other land records, it is perhaps fortunate that one of the best documented events of the period followed soon after–namely, the American Revolution. But here again, more questions are raised than answered.

In the varied annals of South Carolina in the Revolution, we find three service records for a George McCullough: the first, listed in Heitman’s “Historical register of officers of the Continental Army during the war of the revolution, April 1775, to December, 1783”, was “Captain South Carolina Militia in 1776.” J.D. Lewis’ meticulous and invaluable seems to refer to the same man when it cites the service of a George McCulloch who served as a Captain under Col. Thomas Neel in the New Acquisition District Regiment from 1776-1779. This gives me pause as the great grandson of my George McCullough forebear named his second son Thomas Neal McCullough, but it seems too common a name to be a clear memorial.

The second service record comes from the pay rolls of the Loyalist Ninety Six Brigade, in which George McCullough is listed as a private under Col. Daniel Clary from 14 June through 13 December, 1780, and the same date range 1781.

This seems almost certainly to be the George McCullough who married Margaret Hair based on neighbors also named in the roll and the known geography of the regiment.

The final revolutionary record is perhaps the most scant. It comes from a book called History of the Old Cheraws by Alexander Gregg in which the author offers “the names of not a few others on the Pedee, who took part in the war”, among them (on page 410), a captain in Marion’s Brigade in 1782. I have found no further details about this service, but was inclined to assume that it must represent a different George McCullough than the Loyalist. While switching sides in South Carolina during the revolution was very common as the American position waxed and waned, to have been made a Captain after serving in the Loyalist forces seemed highly unlikely.

Until, that is, I recently read Robert Stansbury Lambert’s invaluable South Carolina Loyalists in the American Revolution, which states that “Early in January” of 1782 (read: one month after George McCullough’s last appearance in the Loyalist records) “100 of the recently surrendered Tories” had been accepted into the Patriot ranks and “had chosen their own officers and… were performing satisfactory service in a number of ways.

Not convincing proof, but it certainly makes it less improbable that the Loyalist Private and Patriot Captain might have been the same man.

As for the first mentioned record of a George McCullough, the fact that his service as a Patriot Captain 1776-1779 also fails to overlap with either other record makes it incredibly tempting to say that all three were in fact one man, respected enough to have been a Captain, but forced during the lowest point of the War to submit to service in the British cause to protect his family and property. But again, the scarcity of source documents makes it currently impossible to verify this with certainty.

The biggest opponent to this view comes from looking at a map of South Carolina from around that time. As stated before, there appear to have been two George McCulloughs that arrived in South Carolina from Ireland only a few years apart. One of whom received land in the immediate area from which the Ninety Six Loyalist Regiment was raised, and the other in the area of “the Cheraws” from which Marion’s Captain is supposed to have hailed from.

And while the George McCullough who appeared in 1786 (and is most likely our man) seems to be a fair distance from both spots, a number of the fellow passengers of the George McCullough who received his land grant in Ninety Six a bit later than the one in the Cheraws also appear to have wound up in the same area we find George in 1786.

That pretty well ties up what I have been able to document at this point, but plotting this all out has helped me figure out where to focus my next efforts and I will post when new information arises.

As a last little tidbit to dangle, but which–like so much else–is currently unprovable if intriguing, I seem to have found my first possible lead across the Atlantic, via a recent search of Northern Ireland baptism records. While there were a fair number of George McCulloughs listed, they were mostly in the 1800s, long after my ancestor had sailed to South Carolina. With one exception: a George McCollock, baptized December 19th, 1754 at the Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church in Belfast–a church which still stands. The only other information provided by the record is that his father’s name was Samuel. It would have made him about 18 at the time of his emigration, which would jibe with the apparent fact that he came without wife or child, if making him a tad bit young.

Not only was this the only George McCullough listed anywhere near the right age in the records, but the spelling, with the concluding -CK, was very unusual in the records, as it was when it was often used in the South Carolina records…

Again, pure circumstantial evidence, but something to start with, and exciting after years of nothing!

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