Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A bit more about Charlotte (Campbell) Cobb

     While scanning through the First-Person Narratives of the American South Collection found at Documenting the American South website sponsored by the University Library at the University of North Carolina, I came across an entry for On the Old Plantation: Reminiscences of His Childhood by J. G. Clinkscales of South Carolina. The name Clinkscales ran a bell. It's not one of those names that one forgets. My Cobb ancestors had lived near some Clinkscales families in Abbeville District, South Carolina. Was J. G. Clinkscales one of those Clinkscales?  Indeed he was.
     John George Clinkscales was born in 1885 to George and Eliza Clinkscales. He and his family lived on a plantation in the Diamond Hill area of Abbeville County. I scanned through his book looking for familiar names, and there she was--"Old Mrs. Cobb".
     Old Mrs Cobb was almost certainly Charlotte (Campbell) Cobb, my great-great-great-grandmother. She, too, lived in the Diamond Hill area of Abbeville County when John Clinkscales was a child. In 1860, Charlotte was living with Nancy Botts, who was listed as dwelling 1475 on the 1860 US Census. Listed on the next page of that census, in dwelling 1484, lived the Clinkscales family. And listed next to the Clinkscales? Mary F. (Cobb) Cunningham, Charlotte's daughter, in dwelling 1485. Charlotte would have been in her late 60s during the early 1860s during the time period of John Clinkscales' story. Old indeed, especially at that time period and even more so to a child.
   This particular story recounted by John Clinkscales tells about the time one of his young sisters had gone missing. His mother was understandably very upset while awaiting news from the men who had gone off to search for his sister and the two other girls that had gone missing with her. John's father was ill (he died in 1864), and so his mother had the extra burden of worrying about him, as well. It was getting late into the evening, and there had still been no word from the searchers. Here on page 112 is where Old Mrs. Cobb makes her entrance into the story.
     Left in the home besides my mother and me were my sister Ida and Old Mrs. Cobb. Mrs. Cobb was a neighbor, a very old lady, and lived three miles up Penny's Creek. The old soul was a privileged character. Everybody knew her and respected her and humored her. When she felt like it, she came to our home and remained as long as she pleased, sometimes several days.
     That night she was a veritable Job's comforter. Soon after my father had gone, while Mother was walking the floor and wringing her hands, the old lady refilled her pipe, raked it in the ashes, and said:
     Yes, that thar Penny's Crick is a mighty dangerous crick; ef the baby goes in thar, she'll sholy git drownded. You know, 'Liza, Joe Spence's little gal was drownded in that same crick three years ago. Hit was up, and the little gal tried to walk a foot-log and hit turned with her. Yes, hit's a dangerous crick, hit is.'
     Mother made no reply, but continued to pace the floor....After the old visitor had smoke her pipe of tobacco, she knocked out the ashes and said: 'Well, 'Liza, I'll lay down; I can't do no good a-settin' here.'
     She did lie down, and in two minutes was snoring quite lustily.
     So, there you have her, my great-great-great grandmother Charlotte (Campbell) Cobb. I have to say, I was not expecting the tobacco pipe. But given what she had to go through being married to my great-great-great grandfather James Cobb, she probably started smoking to calm her nerves.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Jaques "James" Fontaine (1658-1728): In Ireland

     This post is a continuation of my previous post: Jaques "James" Fontaine (1658-1728): In England. This is my twelfth post on this Fontaine family. Links to previous posts on this James Fontaine's ancestors and family history can be found on the Sadler Family Chart page of this blog. All quotes in this post are taken from Memoirs of the Reverend Jaques Fontaine, 1658-1728, The complete English text prepared, edited, and annotated by Dianne W. Ressinger, published by The Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland in 1992. The page number on which the quote can be found is shown in parentheses.

    James Fontaine spent the autumn of 1694 preparing to move his family to Cork, a city in southeast Ireland. By the time of their move, James and his wife Anne had six children. James sent their two oldest sons (James Jr., age 8, and Aaron, age 6) to stay and study with his brother-in-law Leon Testard in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He did this because he did not want his entire family on the same ship when they made the crossing from England to Ireland. The loss of his sister Elisabeth's entire family when the ship on which they were immigrating to America sank obviously had made a lasting impression on James. The Fontaines sailed from Bristol, England and, thankfully, safely made the trip across the Celtic Sea. James, Anne, their four youngest children (Mary Anne, age 4; Peter, age 3; John, age 1; and Moses, age 2 months), and 12 horse-loads of household furnishings and supplies arrived at Cork, Ireland on December 24, 1694.
     James was not to receive any income from his ministerial duties in Cork. The French families to whom he was going to minister "were eager to have a minister, but did not have the means to pay for one". (p. 147) James needed to arrange a source of income. For this reason he had brought his cloth production equipment and supplies to Cork with him, and he established a cloth manufactory and dying business there. He chose to produce broadcloth rather than the baize that was generally manufactured in the area. Once again he produced his cloth in a variety of colors, rather than just in white as was more common. Anne was in charge of the day to day running of the business, which freed James up to attend his ministerial duties.
     In late 1695, Anne became very ill with dysentery. "Nothing would cure her but boar's dung steeped in water and strained through a cloth. As it was disgusting, she would not drink it. I [James] drank a glass of it to encourage her." Anne was so moved by James's action that she drank the concoction, and James's "dear and tender spouse" was cured. (p. 153) A little later James himself developed dysentery and became so ill that his doctor said he was beyond treatment. James did survive, but he had physical problems for the rest of his life as a result of his severe case of dysentery.
     The year 1696 and the first half of 1697 were very happy ones for James. He loved his ministerial duties, and his congregation loved him. He held church services in a large room on the first floor of his house that he had fitted up with a pulpit and benches. Anne was running the manufactory and making enough money to support the family. Therefore, James had "the satisfaction of serving God who had blessed me, with no other profit than an open heart and good will." (p. 148)
Picture found at

     On September 16, 1697, Anne Fontaine gave birth to Francis, her and James's youngest son. James himself served as Francis's godfather, "for I did not like to make people promise what I knew they had no intention of doing." (p. 148) This cynical remark seems to indicate that James's honeymoon period with the people of Cork was over by this time. If it was not, it soon would be.
     In late 1697 or early 1698, James inadvertently angered one of Cork's influential merchants. Unknown to James, the merchant and his son were involved in shady business dealings. The merchant became convinced that James had something to do with the discovery of his and his son's unscrupulous activities and so set out to alienate everyone in the church against James. The merchant's campaign against James was successful. The situation became so heated that Henri de Massue, the Earl of Galway and Lord Justice of Ireland was brought into the fray. Finally, on May 30, 1698, James wrote a letter to the elders of his church asking to be released from his position as pastor there. His request was granted "with regret" on June 5, 1698. (p. 151)
     The loss of his church was not the only blow James suffered at this time.  Parliament passed an act "forbidding the export of woollen [sic] made in Ireland. This entirely destroyed my manufacture. My broadcloth was more suitable for foreign countries than for Ireland. I stayed some months longer at Cork and preached to the Presbyterians in English, but I was extremely disgusted with Cork. I could not forget the wrong that they had done me. I sought a place to settle and live on what I had invested."(p. 155) James did find a place to settle. It was called Bantry Bay. He planned to go into the fishing industry there.
From Cork to Bear Haven in green
Detail of A New Map of Ireland by Daniel A. Beaufort (2nd ed., 1797)
Original found at Library of Congress website.

     Bantry Bay was a large bay on the southwestern coast of County Cork in Ireland. James chose to live on the north shore of the bay, a few miles to the east of Bear [Bere] Island. The land there was hilly and rocky, but the herring fishing was reported to be good. James sold all of his manufacturing equipment and went into partnership with some relatives and merchants. He took his son James Jr. (James Jr. and Aaron had joined the rest of the family in Cork by this time) with him to the Bear Haven area of Bantry Bay. There James and his son rented some land, procured ships and fishing equipment, and built a large building in which to process the fish. These activities occupied several months during 1699 and 1700.
     While James was at Bear Haven in 1699, "God took my second son Aaron from me. This was the worst blow I had ever felt." Aaron died of consumption, which he had had for about a year. He was about 11 years old.
     Anne and the five younger children moved to Bear Haven in 1700. The family moved into one end of the herring processing/store house. The fishing was poor that year, but James put this ships to use by sending them on trading runs to Spain, Madeira, Barbados and Virginia.
     The fishing was much better in 1701. The herring store house was filled to the brim with fish. So much so that when Anne gave birth to Elizabeth, her and James's youngest child, on August 3, 1701, "the herring were piled almost against the door where my wife was confined."
     James now had plenty of fish to sell, but he had no ship with which to transport them. His partners had sent all the ships elsewhere on other business. They finally sent James a ship in late January 1702. That ship was not in good condition, though, and sprang a leak. Between the damage to the fish as a result of the leak and the perfidy of the people involved with the shipment, "All, all the fish was lost. Behold me entirely ruined."(p. 160) James's partners abandoned him, and he was left in great debt to them. James continued on with the fishery and was somewhat successful with it.
     The War of Spanish Succession had begun in 1701. England and France were on opposite sides during this war, which meant that French privateers considered English and Irish merchant ships fair game to seize and plunder. Unfortunately for James, Bantry Bay was one of the areas frequented by the French privateers. He had a stone house with towers and a slate room built for his family to live in and give them a measure of protection.
Bantry Bay
By Raphael Tuck & Sons -, Public Domain, 
     James was appointed Justice of the Peace for his district on November 7, 1702. He "loved doing strict justice" to the people in the area who did business with the French privateers that frequented Bantry Bay. (p. 162) Irish informants would guide the privateers to merchant ships in the area that were loaded with goods for them to steal. Not unsurprisingly, the privateers, their Irish cohorts, and any other men who profited from the pirated goods all bitterly resented James's interference in their activities.
     On June 1, 1704, a French privateer and his Irish cohorts set about to rid themselves of James and his interfering ways. The privateer sailed his ship up Bantry Bay and anchored "a long musket shot" from James's house. (p. 165) James saw the ship approaching. He along with three soldiers, four other men, and James's wife and children prepared to defend their home against the 80 men and 10 cannons carried by the ship. Men came off the ship and began to shoot at the house with their muskets and some of the cannons which they had brought on-shore for that purpose. Others stayed on the ship and shot at the house using the cannons on board. The stone walls of James's house held firm against the onslaught of cannon and gun fire. The privateers also tried to shoot through the windows. James and the rest fired back at their attackers from about 8:00 am until 4:00 pm. Finally, the privateer's men retreated back to their ship and sailed off. James and his men had killed three and wounded seven of the pirates. On James's side, one of his children received a mild thumb wound from flying debris, and one of the men was hit by a ricocheting ball.
     After the attack, James notified the authorities of the event. He sent a personal letter to James Butler, the 2nd Duke of Ormonde and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whom he had met when the Duke and the Chancellor of Ireland were visiting the Bantry Bay area a few months earlier. James had told the Duke at that time that their harbor needed a fort to help protect them from the privateers. The Duke had told James, "Pray to God for us and we will defend you." (p. 168) James, ever outspoken, reminded the Duke of his promise by writing to him, "I have not failed to obey the order you gave me to pray for you. But my lord, allow me to complain that although you promised at that time to defend me, you have not kept your word." (p. 169) James built himself a sod fort and equipped it with five cannons. The Duke arranged for James to be supplied with gunpowder, musket balls, cannon balls and matches. The Duke also arranged for Queen Anne to grant James a pension of 5 shillings a day ".... in consideration of his good service in his defense against a French privateer and the great charge he is at in securing the remote port he lives in against the insults of the French....and that by continuance of the said fort he hath protected several merchant ships..." (pp. 170-1)
James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde
Painting by Michael Dahl; public domain picture found at Wikipedia.
    For the next few years, James and his family lived in relative peace in their stone house backed by the sod fort. French privateers would occasionally sail by, but the presence of James's cannons prevented them from attacking. That peace was destroyed, however, in October 1708.
     On the night of October 7, a French privateer anchored his ship about five miles from James's house. The ship sent three boatloads of armed men led by local Irishmen to advance upon the Fontaine home and take the household by surprise. The three boats landed near their destination at daybreak and began to march toward the house. Fortunately for James, one of his cowherds saw the attackers and ran back to the house to warn everyone there. This included James, Anne, James Jr. (age 21), Peter (age 16), John (age 15), Moses (age 13), Francis (age 11), Elizabeth (age 7) and three other servants. (Mary Anne Fontaine was in Kilkenny at the time.)
      The Fontaines and their servants shut themselves in the house and gathered up firearms and ammunition. The privateer's men surrounded the property and set fire to the out buildings and hay stacks. "In less than an hour we were surrounded on three sides with terrible flames and we could not see the enemy because of the fire and smoke which was between us." (p. 176) The Fontaines shot blindly out of the windows toward their attackers to keep them at bay. They hung dampened animal skins in the windows to help keep the smoke out. The house was made of stone, and thus did not catch fire. The privateers were able to start some small roof fires under the slate roof tiles, but the household members were able to put the fires out before they spread.
     By early afternoon, the smoke was beginning to clear some. The marauders had made a hole in one of the tower walls. James shot at them with his blunderbuss, but felt it was not being as effective as it should, so he loaded it with a double dose of gunpowder. This was a mistake. The blunderbuss exploded with the next shot. The brass barrel from the gun flew back and struck James breaking his collar bone and three upper ribs on his right side. His right hand was also injured. Anne helped her husband to lie down on a bed "to catch his breath". (p. 177) A short while later the invaders were about to come through the hole in the wall. James took a pistol in his left hand and went to stand with his sons and said, "Now, my dear children, I see that we will be defeated, because of the number of our enemy, but at least we won't let them kill us like dogs; let us die like lions." James and his sons then began to exchange shots with the invaders and kept them from advancing into the house.
A blunderbuss

     The invaders finally decided to call for a cease fire and agreed that in exchange for all the contents of the property, they would allow life and liberty for James and those with him. The privateer and his men could not believe that there was only James, his family and four servants who had held them off. The commander of the attackers asked were where James's men, "What...have these children done all this firing?" (p. 179)
     The marauders took everything they could from the house--six boat loads worth. They also took as hostages James, James Jr., Peter and two of the Fontaine servants, thus breaking the terms of surrender. The French told James that his "name had become so notorious among the pirates at Saint-Malo, that their captain had commanded them not to return without me, dead or alive." (p. 180) James had to be hoisted onto the ship "like a piece of timber" because of his injuries. (p. 180) Once on board, pugnacious in spite of his circumstances and injuries, James complained bitterly to the captain about this breach of the agreed upon terms of surrender. His complaints were to no avail. He and the rest were held prisoner overnight on the ship.
     The next morning, October 9, the pirates released James's sons and servants. They kept James as prisoner and then set sail. Anne followed the ship on shore and signaled to it by waving a stick to which she had tied her apron. She used a speaking trumpet (megaphone) to shout to the privateers. After some bargaining, it was agreed that the privateers would release James for £100. Anne asked everyone she could, but she was only able to collect £30. She and the older sons discussed what to do. Peter insisted that he be offered as a hostage in exchange for his father in addition to the £30. This offer was made to the privateers, and they accepted it. On October 11, 1708, Peter and the £30 went sailing off with the privateers, and James was returned to his family.
     As soon as he was physically able, James went and reported to the authorities all that had occurred. The English and Irish authorities were angered by what they heard, and they made their displeasure known at home and in France. The ship's captain was forced to forfeit the remaining ransom money and return Peter to his family.
Locations of Fontaine family in Ireland. Cork (green arrow); Bear Haven (blue arrow); and Dublin (pink arrow)
Original map by Louis Brion de la Tour in 1766
Found at Library of Congress website.
     Much disheartened, the Fontaines decided to move to Dublin. The Irish government saw to it that James was reimbursed several hundred pounds for his losses. He used the majority of this money to lease and renovate a large, dilapidated house on St. Stephen's Green in Dublin. In order to earn income, James took in boarders and established a school, which he opened in the summer of 1709. James ran the following advertisement on page 2 of the Dublin Gazette on August 6, 1709.

    Transcription of the above ad:
James Fontaine, French Minister, who is now come to settle in the City of Dublin, will Board Gentlemen's Sons in his House, that he hath taken for that purpose, in Stephen's Green; and will Teach them the French, Latin, and Greek Tongue; also History, Geography and other parts of the Mathematicks, and especially Piety; for Twenty Pounds a Year, to be paid Quarterly, and giving Two Guineas Entrance. They will be also Taught Writing, Common Arithmetick, Drawing, Dancing and Fencing, paying for the Masters a reasonable rate.    J. Fontaine.
     A year later, James placed another add in attempt to obtain more students. The following advertisement appeared on page 2 of the Dublin Intelligence on November 25, 1710.

     Transcription of the above ad, which was written in a style typical of James:
James Fontaine, a French Minister, who Boards Gentlemens Children at Stephen's-Green, Dublin, having a very Convenient House for that Purpose, Instructeth them with good Success in Piety, and in the French, Latin and Greek Tongues, & also in History and Fortification; for Twenty Pounds ster[ling]. a Year, to be paid Quarterly, and giving two Guineas Entrance: They will also be Taught Musick, Writing, Common-Arithmetick, Drawing, Dancing and Fencing, paying for the several Masters that attends them, at reasonable Rates. The said Fontaine having given Sufficient Proof of his Capacity and Carefulness, by the Proficiency of them who have been with him, should not need to Print any more Papers, having already Fourteen Boarders, were it not that some Persons were pleased to insinuate of late, that his House was wholly taken up, and that he could Receive no more Boarders, the which is a Mistake, having yet Conveniency for Six Gentlemen more, as good as any that are now taken up; and beside that 3 or 4 of his present Boarders, being Young Officers, will soon make Place for others, as soon as they will have Learned the Theorik part of Fortification; So he Desires, that Gentlemen may not be Discouraged from sending their Children to him.  James Fontaine.
     Despite all his troubles in Bear Haven, James was grateful to God for them. The reimbursement money allowed him to pay his debts, establish his school and, most importantly, give his own children "an education equal to that of the children of the leading nobles of Ireland." (p. 187)
     During the next 11 years, James continued to operate his school in Dublin. His six oldest living children all left home and established themselves. James Jr., Peter, Mary Anne and France all immigrated to Virginia. John went there for a time, as well, and became friends with Alexander Spotswood, the governor of Virginia. John told the governor all about his father and his school. The governor was so impressed by what he heard that in 1716 he sent a letter to James in Dublin and invited James to come to Virginia and serve as Professor of Philosophy and Mathematics at the College of William and Mary. James declined the offer, but I imagine he was honored to receive it.
     Anne Fontaine developed severe rheumatism in 1717. The diseased progressed until she became bedridden with it in 1720. That December she developed dropsy. She died on January 29, 1721 in Dublin.
     James was greatly saddened by the loss of his "dear companion". (p. 195) His youngest daughter Elizabeth lived with him, took care of him and was a great comfort to him. His own health was very poor throughout 1721 and the early part of 1722. On March 26, 1722, well aware of his own mortality, he began to write his memoirs for his children. He finished the original memoirs on May 8, 1722. He wrote out a second copy and completed it on June 21, 1722. He gave one copy to his children who were in England, and he sent the other copy to his children in Virginia.
Section of a page from James Fontaine's memoirs, part of the original manuscript he sent to his children in Virginia. "Memoirs of a Huguenot Family, 1721-1722," by Jacques Fontaine, part of Minor Family Papers 1721-1957 collection at University of Virginia Library.
     James Fontaine lived for six more years. He died on May 20, 1728. He was buried next to his wife Anne in the Huguenot cemetery on Merrian Row near St. Stephen's Green in Dublin, Ireland.
     My transcription of James's will is below. A digital image of the record of his will may be seen at Ireland Diocesan and Prerogative Wills & Administrations indexes 1595-1858.
This is the last Will of me James Fontaine of Dublin Clark and therefore I appoint my good Friend James Boursiquot and my beloved daughter Elisabeth Fontaine my Executor and Executrice, and as to my worldly Goods after payment of my just debts, I leave the same as follows having long before now given to all my other Children, James, Peter, Jhon [John], Moses, and Francis Fontaine my beloved sons and to Marianna Fontaine the wife to Mathew Mory my other beloved Daughter, every things [sic] I was able and Willing to give them. I NOW leave all my Worldly goods and Effects whatsoever to my above named and Beloved daughter Elisabeth ffontaine for her own use Witness my hand and seale this Seventeenth day of November one thousand seven hundred twenty seven.  James Fontaine
Signed sealed and Published in the presence of John De Durant, Minister
     I am so glad that I finally read James Fontaine's memoirs. What an amazing man he was--intelligent, innovative, enterprising, tenacious, pugnacious, passionate and caring. He was also outspoken to a fault, a bit arrogant, and often impatient. He was a loving and devoted husband and father. Overarching all, of course, was his unwavering faith in God.
      James ended his memoirs with these two sentences: "I hope by the Grace of God that what is included herein may encourage you and your descendants to continue a strict union in true reciprocal love, one to the others and all to God. If the Lord, whose blessing I ask upon my work, grant that it produce this effect, I will think myself more than rewarded for all my trouble."(p. 196)
     I think James would feel most rewarded to know that his hope is being fulfilled by The Fontaine-Maury Society "whose mission is to strengthen the family bonds of the Fontaine and Maury families". The society holds annual meetings and many of its members and other Fontaine descendants are in contact via the society's Facebook page. All done to fulfill the wishes of our ancestor, Jaques "James" Fontaine.