Pickens History


The following information was compiled by Mrs. Wendell Pickens

The old, old story of Robert Pickens I, was handed down to us by tradition, tells us that in the last half of the seventeenth century there was a man in France, probably of Scottish birth, by the name of Robert Pickens, who, it is said, held an official position as Chief Justice of the Court, and who was probably a Protestant of the Presbyterian Church. In this account of the Pickens family, he will be known to us as Robert Pickens I.

The name of his wife has been handed down to us as Esther Jane Bonneau, who, it is said, was a widow, possessing unusual beauty and was of the Huguenot faith.

When the Edict of Nantes was unwisely and unjustly revoked 22 October 1685, the persecution of the Protestants in France became so intense that large numbers of useful, as well as rich inhabitants of France, were forced to leave their native land and seek a place of safety in other countries where their industry, wealth and skill found a hearty reception. Robert Pickens I, and his wife, with a large number of other refugees, fled to Scotland leaving France by way of La Rochelle, a fortified city of about eighteen thousand people, on the west coast of France.

We do not know how long Robert Pickens I, lived in Scotland; but, after a short time, we find his living at Limerick, Ireland, where he was living at the end of the seventeenth century.

We have no record of how many children Robert Pickens I, had; but tradition tells us that at least three sons came to America to seek their fortunes in the New World, which at that time was being settled.

The names of the three sons of Robert Pickens I, who, we were told came to America, were: Andrew Pickens, John Pickens, Robert Pickens II. We do not know the dates of birth of Andrew and John Pickens, but Robert Pickens II was born at Limerick, Ireland, in 1697. It is known that these three brothers came to America; but is believed they did not come at the same time, because they did not settle at the same place in the New World. Robert Pickens I, and his wife, it is said, were buried at Limerick, Ireland.

Robert Pickens II was born in Ireland, probably at Limerick, in the parish of Killedaugh, Limerick County, in 1697. We do not known anything of his childhood days, nor do we know when he, with several of his brothers, came to America. When he came to America, it is said that he settled at, or near, Frederick, Maryland. The name of his wife has not been preserved for us, nor do we know the names of all his children; but tradition gives us the following names: Isreal, Robert III, Annie, David, Andrew, Samuel, Margaret, and Elizabeth.

Robert III, and Annie were twins and were born in, or near, Frederick, Maryland, 26 November 1747. About 1755, Robert Pickens II moved to South Carolina; and, after a short sojourn in the Waxhaw District near the Catawba River in the upper part of the state, went to the Long Cane Creek section of what is now Abbeville County. Soon after the close of the Revolutionary War his son, Robert Pickens III, settled on the waters of the Three and Twenty Creek, in what is now Anderson County, moved his father with him and cared for him until his death in 1787.

A simple tombstone marks the spot where Robert Pickens II lies buried and shows the year of his birth and year of his death. He was the first to be buried in the Pickens graveyard. The old time slaves who knew Robert Pickens II, in their childhood days, left the impression that he was almost blind in his old age and that he was cared for by his loved ones. This story does not tell us anything about this man's childhood days in troubled Ireland, nor does it give us any idea of wht must have been his wonderful experiences in the settlement of the New World.

Some traditional history: We wish to preserve the following traditional history of the children of Robert Pickens II, which at some future day may be of value to us. Annie Pickens married a man by the name of Simmons. He was a silversmith and moved to Tennessee in 1800. David Pickens moved to Tennessee and was drowned in the Duck River. He left a daughter, probably in her teens. Andrew Pickens moved from South Carolina to Tennessee. We have not yet learned anything about what became of Samuel Pickens, but it is understood that he moved to Tennesee. Margaret Pickens married George Bowie. Elizabeth Pickens married man by the name of Couch.

It is said that there was a James Pickens who paid taxes in Tennessee in 1783. We have not been able to locate what Pickens family he was a member of.

There was an Indian Massacre at Long Cane Creek settlement in 1760, and the settlers there fled to the Waxhaw settlement for protection. Quiet was restored in 1761, and the settlers returned in 1763. It is believed that Robert Pickens II moved from the Waxhaw settlement to Long Cane Creek at this time.

Robert Pickens III was born in, or near, Frederick, Maryland 26 November 1747; and, when he was about eight years old, his father, Robert Pickens II, moved to South Carolina and settled in Waxhaw District. About 1763 he moved to the Long Cane Creek section. He served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War; and, at the time of the Battle of Cowpens, was on the personal staff of General Andrew Pickens, ranking as a captain. In 1784 he moved to the Three and Twenty Creek settlement in what is now Anderson County, South Carolina.

Andrew Pickens, son of Robert Pickens I, came to American and first settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. After living there for a time, he moved to Augusta County, Virginia, where he is said to be buried. The name of his wife is unknown. Their children were: Andrew born 13 September 1739, Joseph, John, James, and Jane. These children were brought to South Carolina by their uncle, Robert Pickens II, in 1755.

Andrew Pickens, born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania 13 September 1739 became the famous General Andrew Pickens of the Revolutionary War. On 19 March 1765, he married Rebecca Calhoun. They had five daughters and three sons. (See http://politicalgraveyard.com/families/1943.html) One of their sons, Andrew Pickens Jr, was governor of South Carolina. (See http://www.sciway.net/hist/governors/apickens.html)

Joseph Pickens was burned at the stake by the Indians about the year 1761. John and James were lost in the siege of 1796.

Present information indicates, as before stated, that Israel Pickens died in 1749; but an inventory of this estate is shown on record at Anson County Courthouse, North Carolina, the nearest date being 1758, and it is signed by Martha Pickens and William Pickens. The inventory (Ed. note: an Israel Pickens was governor of Alabama in 1834) of Israel Pickens shows that he owned personal property of about the same amount as Col. Andrew Pickens Sr. A note attached to the inventory says: "We will render anything that belongs to said estate at the time of praisern that may be at this time forgot in this inventory which at this time possibly may be forgotten by us as we have not the opportunity at this time to take avvice of said estate." This might indicate that Israel Pickens had passed away before this time, and that the estate had become scattered around at different places among, possibly, his children.

It is believed that Martha Pickens was the wife of Israel Pickens and that William Pickens was a son. From data picked up from different sources, it appears that Israel Pickens had among his children the following: William, Joseph, Margaret, Mary, Nancy, and Unknown daughter.

We have a record of a William Pickens, who judging from the lapse of time, must have been born about 1730. He settled in that part of Mecklenburg District, North Carolina, which has been cut off to form Cabarrus County, in 1767, and received a grant of land consisting of one hundred and one acres. In his will dated 1804 and codicil dated 1810, he mentions his sons Alexander and Samuel, some married daughters and single daughters but does not give the names of the daughters. He gave his son Alexander a plantation of one hundred acres of land. In the codicil he gives son Samuel thirty-nine acres. (Have copy of entire will in records in source book).

Alexander Pickens, son of the above William Pickens, moved from Cabarrus County, North Carolina, to Tennessee. Married, had five sons and three daughters: William McKinnie born 1835, Archie, John, Samuel Alexander, Cyrus, Martha, Margaret, Nancy.

Samuel Alexander Pickens, son of Alexander Pickens Sr, moved from middle Tennessee to Pea Ridge, Arkansas, in 1856 and died the same year. He had two sons: Cyrus L born 1841 and Robert.

Cyrus L Pickens, son of Samuel Alexander Pickens, was born in 1841 and died in 1929. He was a Captain the Confederate Army. He married Fanny Morrison in about 1868. They had five children: Ida, Mae, Pearl, Everett, and Lula.