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Before the William Thompson Chapter, D. A. R., invaded this neck of the moral vineyard and put its delicate, historical fingers upon the tendrils of local happenings, there was no blare of trumpets over a foul and bloody deed which occurred near the "Metts Cross-Roads," in this county, during the Revolutionary war. But the gruesome case was never without intense interest to those concerned in the episodes of a past age. The strange and mysterious always throws an additional halo over our heroes. This feeling is intensified, in this case, by virtue of the fact that the same blood which ran in the veins of the victim of the "cross-roads plot," now pulsates in the arteries of many lineal, living descendants who are part and parcel of Calhoun County's sturdy citizenship.

 

The malignant, cruel and cowardly feature of this dastardly crime, garbed in a plausible and hypocritical cloak, make it unique, even in the gory annals of criminal warfare and harks our memories back to the murder of Duncan, King of Scotland. Here, as there, we have no doubt, but that souls grew faint over the details of the foul conspiracy and "their seated hearts knocked at their ribs" until spurred to the "sticking place" by the evil eloquence of some overpowering and unnatural genius, like unto Lady Macbeth. John Adams Treutlen (for that was the name of our hero) is in his grave.

    "After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well, Treason has done his worst; nor steel nor poison, Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing, Can touch him further."

That is true. The cold pen of a true chronicler, however, must again allude to the utter negligence and gross indifference of an earlier age to a proper appreciation of significant events. That a noted Governor of Georgia should be brutally done to death by revengeful Tories because of the intense Whig fires which consumed his very soul; that children, and children's children, should grow up around the scene of his untimely taking-off, and still his home and his grave should be, today, unidentified spots on the map of Calhoun County force us to exclaim with Mark Antony: "But yesterday the word of Caesar might have stood against the world. Now lies he there and none so poor to do him reverence."

The salient facts in the life of Treutlen are interesting. Born in Berectsgaden, 1726, as a German Salzburger, he was brought to this country in a boat load of Salzburgers that landed at Savannah in 1734. If early impressions count for anything, there is no wonder that the spirit of liberty and independence sank deep into the very inmost recesses of his soul. His father, along with thousands of other German Protestants, was exiled by a fanatical decree of Archbishop Leopold, which drove out from his domain all who would not accept the Catholic faith. It was this Salzburger strain and religion which was unterrified and unwashed, amid the raging tempests of an angry sea, while others aboard, including John Wesley, trembled for life, and confessed to a livelier awakening to the rejuvenating and sustaining power of God upon frail humanity.

Some 25 miles from Savannah these brave and devout pilgrims, after singing a psalm "set up a rock and in the spirit of the pious Samuel, named the place Ebenezer (stone of help) 'for hitherto hath the Lord helped us.'" Amid these crude but inspiring surroundings the young Treutlen received a splendid education, for that day, under the strict tutelage of his scholarly Lutheran pastors, Bolzius and Gronau. Thus it was that, when the red gloom of impending war was already visible on the distant horizon, and the Provincials had gathered at Savannah to take steps against the high-handed measures of England, John Adam Treutlen answered the roll-call from the Ebenezer country and was one of its leading and most aggressive spirits. Thus it was that, in the teeth of strong Tory influence and friends he espoused the patriot cause with all the ardor of a Knight Templar, thus becoming the chief object of Loyalist hatred and vengeance, his property being confiscated, and his home, with many of its treasures, burned to ashes.

Elected first Governor of Georgia under an independent Constitution by the Legislature, in 1777, there was not as yet the fearful carnage and bloody battles which were still to come, and which were to make the South and its manhood a synonym for courage and endurance the world over. It is true that the immortal conflict on Sullivan's Island had been fought and won, but Clinton and Parker, still hopeful under drooping plumes, had shifted the scene to the North.

The "blue bloods" of the Palmetto State--with the exception of Charleston's brave firebrand, Christopher Gadsden, were still praying for that peace, borne of wealth, intelligence and luxurious ease. Georgia, now perched upon the top-most round of empire--pre-eminence--was then weak in its swaddling clothes and viewed only as a promising child to be brought up in the aristocratic South Carolina Sunday School. With a cool and calculating diplomacy which smacked somewhat suggestively of the rising Talleyrand, we are told that the gentle ripples on the waters little betokened the torpedoes which were being laid beneath. Bludgeons, not the velvety hand of artful diplomacy, were calculated to narcotize the grim-visaged ruler of the satrapy across the Savannah, as all accounts agree that Treutlen was a somewhat "stormy petrel," a sort of pocket edition of Oliver Cromwell, the greatest civilized dictator that the world has ever produced--who could rout a parliament of sitting members, lock the door and put the key in his pocket.

And so it came to pass that, when the Governor heard of the so-called "Machiavellian scheme" to annex his little kingdom to the great Palmetto Commonwealth, by a coup d'etat, he pounded the floor viciously with his "condemnatory hoof" and shot a fiery proclamation over the official mahogany, denouncing the conspiracy in bitter vein and offering a heavy reward for the chief emissary--Drayton. When the Georgia patriot Government fell in 1779, Treutlen, along with hundreds of others, took British protection and fled to St. Matthews Parish, in the present County of Calhoun; and the road he travelled was a thornier path than that from Jerusalem to Jerico with

    "Injuns on the upper way, And death upon the lower."

It is not for me to split fine hairs over the principle involved in conditional agreements during the days of war, when every man is showing his teeth and reaching at the throat of his enemy. Suffice to say, that he chafed under the Tory bit and would have none of it. A born fighter and a man of rugged individuality, it was impossible for him to hug both sides of any fence. A dictator by instinct (and by Georgia statute,) well educated, and fresh from the Gubernatorial eiderdown he would naturally bring around his head swarms of bitter enemies, in times of war, and he was a marked man. He met his doom on a dreary night in 1780 under peculiarly atrocious conditions.

It is said that a small band of vindictive Tories went to his home during that fateful evening, and enticed him out, on a treacherous plea of surrender on certain plausible conditions. As he emerged from his door, he was seized, and not only brutally butchered, but, (all traditions agree,) literally hacked to pieces. The exact spot where the fragments of his dismembered body were buried will probably never be known. But there is every reason to believe that his bones rest in the vicinity of his home, from the fact that his tenure of life in this section was short; that he was without relatives beyond his family circle, and those relatives continued to live in the neighborhood. The mere fact that a Governor of Georgia could come here and be brutally and foully murdered by Tories, in the heat of war passions, and not a line recorded about it, in any South Carolina history or newspaper bearing upon that period, should open our eyes to the danger of swallowing the spurious pill offered to us by the Emily Geiger exterminators.

But for the Georgia records and a straight line of descendants, hereabouts, the Treutlen individuality and tradition would be tabooed as a "myth" and fabrication from beginning to end. Through the laudable efforts of the local D. A. R.--and particularly its regent, Mrs. F. C. Cain--a "marker" has been promised from the quartermaster general's office, Washington, D. C. It will stand in the vicinity of the "Metts Crossroads" and will remind the passerby of as true and loyal a Whig as lived during those perilous days.

Treutlen's general appearance, even in repose, as exhibited in an old photograph now in the possession of a descendant, is interesting. The orthodox military coat, unbuttoned and spread abroad over his shoulders, brings into bold relief a "dicky" shirt front, emerging into a high and ferocious collar, which nestles snugly and smugly under his lower jaws. There is a profuse shock of hair, futilely bombarding an obstinate "cow-lick," the whole showing little or no subserviency to comb and brush. His large, piercing eyes, fringed by shaggy brows, with a drooping upper lid, produces a sad, if not sinister, aspect. The nose has a Roman slant, which meets a bold, intellectual forehead in an almost unbroken line. Marked cheek bones and a thin face ease down, more or less hastily, to a sharp and angular chin. A pair of thin lips, closely plastered to each other, bespeak firm determination; and his whole contour impresses one, forcibly, that he was not a safe man to take too many liberties with.

As intimated at the outset, there is an interesting ramification of descendants from the Treutlen family, many of whom are still living in Calhoun County. Some have gained prominence in Alabama, Washington, D. C., and other places, but I will note only those of local (and some, at least, of state-wide) interest. There were three sons and three daughters: John Adam Treutlen, Jr., Christian, Depew, Mary, Elizabeth and Hannah. Mary married Edward Dudley. From this union was born Mary Dudley, who married Adam Amaker, February 10, 1820, and from the latter was born Adam Perry Amaker, who married Augusta Zimmerman, and they, in turn, were the parents of Perry and T. A. Amaker, now living--the former of Denver, Col., and the latter a leading businessman of St. Matthews. Amanda Amaker (alive) married Major Whitmarsh Seabrook Murray, of Edisto Island, who recently died here. They moved to this place after the war and leave many descendants.

Elizabeth Treutlen, another daughter, married William Kennedy and from them descended John W. Kennedy, who resided here for years, and now at Tyron, N. C. His only daughter, Vernon, married Dr. A. McQueen Salley, originally of Orangeburg, and a son of the present sheriff of that county, now of Saluda, N. C. John Adam Treutlen, Jr., married Margaret Miller. Their son, Gabriel, married Ann Connor and to them was born Caroline Treutlen, who married Jacob Dantzler. Their son, Col. O. M. Dantzler, of Confederate war fame, was the father of O. M. Dantzler, the popular sheriff of Calhoun County, who recently died; Fred and Thos. W., of St. Matthews; Mortimer O., of Orangeburg and Charles G., an eminent jurist (deceased.)

Rachael Treutlen, daughter of John Adam Treutlen, Jr., married the Rev. J. J. Wannamaker, of St. Matthews. From this union were born Mary Ann (who first married Joel Butler and later William Reeves) and W. W. Wannamaker, deceased, who for many years was a leading physician of this community, and who married Adelia Keitt. To the last couple was born Agelina, who married the Rev. Artemus B. Watson, a well known minister of the Methodist Church, who died recently. Their son, Whitfield W. Watson, married May, daughter of the Hon. Samuel J. Dibble, and a daughter Adele Watson, deceased, married A. C. Hane, Fort Motte. Other children of Dr. W. W. Wannamaker were: John Keitt, who married Chloe Watson, both dead. He bequeathed $20,000 for a Methodist Church here. W. W. Wannamaker, a successful farmer of this community, who married Lou Banks, deceased. A son bears the honored patronymic of "Treutlen." Mary B. Wannamaker, deceased, who married Dr. W. T. C. Bates, of St. Matthews, the well known ex-State Treasurer.

Emma C., a daughter of Rev. J. J. Wannamaker, married Dr. W. L. Pou, an eminent physician of St. Matthews, now 84 years old, and who has been actively practicing his profession for over 60 years. A daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Pou, Emma, deceased, married A. K. Smoke, a prominent and influential citizen of this town, while Blanche, another daughter, is living, and the joy and pride of her aged parents. A son of Rev. J. J. Wannamaker and Rachael Treutlen, his wife, was Capt. Francis M., deceased, a noted lawyer in his day, who married Eleanor Bellinger, of Bamberg. From the last couple were born the following: Jennie B., who married J. B. Tyler, of Georgia, both dead; Mary B., deceased, who married J. H. Henagan, of St. Matthews; Rachael Treutlen, who married H. A. Raysor, a successful merchant and prominent citizen of St. Matthews; J. S. Kottowe, a leading banker and merchant of St. Matthews, who married Lillian Salley, of Orangeburg; Francis M., who married the writer; William H., professor of German in Trinity College, N. C., who married Isabella Stringfellow, of Chester, and Olin M., professor of English in the Alabama Polytechnic College at Auburn, who married Katherine Hume, of New Haven, Conn.