The History of the Dabbs Family

This is an online supplement to Everything Happens at the Crossroads, a bound narrative history of Eugene Whitefield Dabbs and Maude McBride and their descendents, assembled and written by Brenda Bevan Remmes.

This volume was issued privately in 2008. Its material and the material on this site are protected by copyright.  The book is available in selected libraries throughout South Carolina.

There is no information on this site concerning any living member of the Dabbs family.  Fifty-five pages of the book are not published here.  For additional information on the133 decendants of this one couple, please contact the author.

We invite family, friends, and passers by to browse these pages freely.


One of my cousins once told me that every week he would call his sister in New York City and ask her “What’s happening?” and she would always reply, “Nothing.” He then would call his children in Washington, DC, and ask them “What’s happening?” and they also would reply, “Nothing.” Finally, he would call his father at the Crossroads and ask him “What’s happening?” at which point his father would take a deep breath and proceed, “Ah, you’re not gonna believe everything that’s happening here this week.” His conclusion was that everything happens at the Crossroads.

At 52 years of age, I returned to my roots, the Crossroads of Highways 378 and 527; 12 miles east of Sumter, South Carolina, and about seven miles south of the small community known as Mayesville. This rather non-descript Crossroads holds years of history and family lore. In the 1750’s early Scottish- Irish settlers founded a small settlement in the area and called it Salem. At the center of the settlement was built a log structure called Salem Black River Meeting House, which was established in 1759. Since the Anglican Church of England did not acknowledge that Protestants were entitled to name a church, the phrase Meeting House continued to be used until 1768, when it first was referred to as a Presbyterian Church.

On January 1, 1800, the State Legislature of South Carolina united Salem, Claremont and Clarendon Counties into a new district called Sumterville. The particular intersection east of Sumterville, on the other side of the Black River Swamp, became known by the family who owned the land as McBride’s Corner. When Maude McBride married Eugene Whitefield Dabbs, and the Dabbs lineage multiplied throughout the community, it became more accurate to call it Dabbs Crossroads, although many local maps still list it as McBride’s.

The Crossroads is where Eugene Whitefield Dabbs and Alice Maude McBride Dabbs raised six children. Nestled back in the trees are four homes that have been passed down to subsequent generations. Each of these homes has a name: Rip Raps, Fern Park, Road’s End in-the-Pines, and Whitfield. The Dabbs family has a strong belief that the personality of every home is enhanced by giving it a name. While the homes have created places, it is the people who have created the stories and they are what this book is about – the stories.

My grandmother, Stella Glascock Dabbs, strongly felt that each individual who sat at her dinner table had an obligation to provide conversational entertainment that merited the trouble of preparing the meal. Around that table, hundreds of hours of stories continued to be told as younger generations each learned the Dabbs-art of storytelling. The rule of thumb has always been that the entertainment value outweighs the need for fact. Thus, the oral history that follows is from stories that have been told and retold. I believe that there is factual truth to most of it. Great time has been put into documentation. Should you think, however, that one or more of the stories are a little far fetched, don’t be too sure. There is at least a smattering of truth to it all.

From the time I was a child vacationing at the Crossroads, I have sat and listened as relatives have told these stories about one another and repeated bits of family history. The older I became, the more I realized what a unique collection of tales they had to tell, and I wanted to record much of what I had heard for future generations.

As I began to write, more and more information appeared. I found old letters and pictures that had been packed away for decades. A few relatives had already done significant research into the genealogy of the family, and had information that was invaluable.

Eugene Whitefield Dabbs: Heritage I

Eugene Whitefield Dabbs
The history of the Dabbs family (perhaps spelled “Dobbs”) has been passed down in stories from one generation to another. We believe the first ancestor to arrive in this country emigrated from England to Maryland, and was a descendent of Sir Richard Dabbs, Lord Mayor of London. 

We are told that he was not very well received, since he was not a Catholic and may have been a preacher of a different faith. From there, he and his family moved to Virginia, where he had two sons. One son settled in Henrico County (Richmond) and then Halifax County (southern Virginia bordering North Carolina). To date, there is no confirmation of these stories. While court records in Virginia make a reference to a Robert Dabbs in York County in 1670, and then in Henrico County in 1679, and to a Richard Dabbs in Lower Norfolk County in 1687, we have not been able to make a direct link to the Eugene Whitefield Dabbs family.

Around 1746 to 1747, and perhaps due to failing health, Joseph Dabbs began to sell his property holdings in Goochland County, and moved his family south to Lunenburg County, to a section that eventually became Charlotte County, Virginia. In late 1748 or early 1749, Joseph Dabbs died, leaving a wife, Nancy, and a number of young children. The administration of the estate of Joseph Dabbs was concluded in 1754, and can be found in Lunenburg County, Will Book 1, 1746-1762, beginning on page 172. Although recorded in a Will Book, these court records indicate that Joseph Dabbs died without a will, which caused his property to pass in share to his widow and children. Of note, his estate included at least seven slaves.

What we know about the children of Joseph Dabbs, Sr.

By 1754, Nancy Hoggett Dabbs had remarried to a man named James Webb. James and Nancy, along with her daughters and youngest son, Joseph, moved to Wake County (Raleigh) North Carolina, and then to Anson County (Wadesboro), North Carolina, which borders South Carolina. Court records provide the following information about the children. 

  • William Dabbs remained in Charlotte County, Virginia. He died in 1804, and his estate administration can be found in Will Book 2, page 297. 
  • Eleanor Dabbs died an infant.
  • In 1760, Mary Dabbs married Patrick Boggan (1731-1816), an immigrant from Ireland, in Anson County, and died in that county in 1816. They had at least one child, Mary Boggan (1763-1830), who married John May (1756-1819). A deed involving the transfer of ownership of several slaves owned by William Dabbs (received from his deceased sister, Eleanor and who had been received from the estate of her father, Joseph Dabbs) to Mary Dabbs Boggan has been used to verify the lineage of William, Mary and Eleanor as Joseph Dabbs’ children. (Deed Book B2, page 342, Anson County, recorded November 13, 1790).
  • Richard Dabbs remained and became a prosperous and prominent citizen of Charlotte County, Virginia. After the death of his first wife (name unknown), he married Anna Hanna. Richard died in 1809, and his will, proven in Charlotte County in September 1809 (Will Book 3, page 11 , Charlotte County), contains bequests to a number of children, including sons Joseph (the eldest), George, Richard, William, Josiah, and James; and daughters Polly Dabbs Lumpkin, Nancy Dabbs Gill, Sally Vaughn, and Elizabeth Dabbs Mitchell (wife of William Mitchell).
  • The third child from this family, Richard Dabbs, Jr., entered the Baptist ministry, establishing and leading several churches in Charlotte County. He was eventually called to serve as pastor of the first Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee, overseeing the building of that church and serving as its pastor until his death in 1825. Many Dabbs descendants from this family can now be found in Tennessee, Mississippi and Texas. In 1923, a letter found at fern Park addressed to Eugene Whitefield Dabbs from E.C. Dargan in Nashville, Tennessee, indicated that Mr. Dargan had spoken with a Dr. Dabbs, a descendent of Richard Dabbs, and had visited the old family home, which still incorporated the original log cabin of the Rev. Richard Dabbs, five miles outside of Nashville.
Below is the Eugene Whitefield Dabbs family line (Click to Enlarge).
(Click the "Back" button on your browser to return)

EWD: Heritage II

Captain Joseph Dabbs
Son of Joseph Dabbs and Nancy Hoggett Dabbs, Great-grandfather to Eugene Whitefield Dabbs

Young Joseph Dabbs moved with his mother and step- father, James Webb, to Anson County. Noted Darlington County Historian, Horace Rudisill, reports seeing records that indicate Joseph Dabbs and another brother were boatmen on the Great Pee Dee River. They would have been responsible for ferrying people and their possessions down or across this river. Joseph Dabbs eventually settled in the Cheraw District of South Carolina, which includes present-day Chesterfield, Marlboro, and Darlington Counties, known as Craven District prior to 1769. (Land areas that we call “Counties” today were called “Districts” in South Carolina prior to 1868.) 

EWD: Heritage III

Joseph William Dabbs 
Older brother to John Quincy Dabbs

Joseph William Dabbs became a successful cotton trader working out of Yazoo City, Mississippi, and kept up a written correspondence with his family in South Carolina, frequently enclosing money to help out with the farm expenses. 

In a series of letters written to his family from 1839 to 1855, Joseph describes the fluctuation of cotton prices as they pertain to what’s happening around the world. He advises his brother on what to plant and when to sell. He suggests that his brother, Richard, is having problems “brought on by drink” and recommends he return home to Darlington, which he does seven years later.

Joseph bemoans the fact that he hasn’t found a wife, despite a number of reference to meeting beautiful women, and he encourages his family to help find a Darlington woman who might put up with an old man of 42. According to Billy Dabbs, the story doesn’t end there. Ultimately, he says he was told that when Joseph died, his family learned, much to their dismay, that he had not only a wife, but also several children whom he’d never mentioned in any of his letters. Reports are that there are numerous individuals in Mississippi today bearing the Dabbs name. We do not know how much Joseph and Richard contributed to that lineage.

EWD: Heritage IV

John Quincy Adams Dabbs
Son of Samuel Dabbs Father of Eugene Whitefield Dabbs

Eugene Whitefield Dabbs was born in Darlington County, South Carolina, on April 15, 1864. His parents were John Quincy Adams Dabbs and Elizabeth Euphrasia Hoole. John Quincy Adams Dabbs settled in the Black Creek Community in Dovesville, Darlington County, perhaps on the tract of land referenced earlier that was owned by his father, Samuel. 

John Quincy was a farmer and a member of the Black Creek Baptist Church. Records from that church prior to the Civil War are reported to contain numerous oratories given by John Quincy Adams Dabbs in support of slavery. Of note, the members of the Dabbs family both past and present have always been known for their strong opinions on a variety of controversial subjects, which they are willing to share at a moment’s notice with anyone who will listen.

John Quincy Adams Dabbs married late, at the age of 37. He was very good friends with Axalla John Hoole and, in correspondence between them, Axalla asks John Quincy to check regularly on the welfare of his mother, brothers and sisters while he is in Kansas. John Quincy does better than that. He marries Axalla’s sister, Euphrasia Hoole (May 20, 1826 – July 15,1919).

In the Kansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 3 , #2 , there is a series of letters that Lt. Col. A.J. Hoole wrote regarding “A Southerner’s Viewpoint of the Kansas Situation.” He left Darlington with his wife, Elizabeth (Betsie) G. Brunson, on his wedding day, March 20, 1856, to go to Kansas to try to help with the efforts to defeat the Abolitionists. He was a strong supporter of states’ rights, and firmly believed that Kansas should be allowed to become a slave-holding state. He writes to his good friend, John Quincy Adams Dabbs, on June 15, 1856:

“I have made only $51 since I have been here and I fear that I shall be hardly able to make money enough to keep soul and body together while I stay in this Territory, but here I am resolved to remain until the difficulties are settled. This would be a great country for one who wishes for nothing except to have a plenty to eat, but it don’t suit me at all. The fertility of the soil does not compensate one for other inconveniences. I saw some of the finest wheat yesterday that I ever saw; it has just headed out and about as high as my shoulder. If you could see the quantity of nice rich milk which one of the most ordinary cows give here you would never bragg [sic] on your little cow. One of my neighbors has a small, trifling looking cow that gives over a peck of milk at one milking and I believe they always leave half for the calf. We can get as much milk and butter as we want for the trouble of going about 150 yards. This is truly a great place to live so far as eating is concerned."

“We live in a very small uncomfortable little loghouse but it is about on par with the rest of the houses in this territory. Betsie and I get on finely, she is a pretty good cook but not so good as you as she has had but little practice, but she is improving every day. Cooking is about all that she does and that is no small task as I have such an appetite since I came here. . . Tell your dear Mother that I am trying to reform my evil ways but old Satan has still a strong hold upon me. - AJH”

On September 6, 1856, he writes a moving letter to “my ever dear friend, Quince... who has always been as a brother to me."

“I was almost in one [a skirmish] so near that I drew sight on a man several times, but was commanded not to shoot by my Capt. who was behind me. This was on the 5th just when Lane came to attack Lecompton. I have always thought that I would be very much agitated under such circumstances, but I was surprised at myself. I was much less excited than if I were going to shoot a beef. My company was posted in the edge of a ravine as skirmishes came
almost in common gunshot, it was near enough for the rifles we had. An account of this you will see in The Flag. What I commenced to tell you was my feelings. When I was taking aim at the man before me, and expecting every minute on the word fire, I was cool enough to commune with myself in this way. Now, if I hit that fellow I will be sending a poor soul, perhaps unprepared, to Eternity. I hate to do it, but it can’t be helped. If I don’t kill him, he may kill me, but I did not feel the least apprehensive of being killed myself. I thought, however, if I am killed, May God have mercy on my soul. As it was, neither shot. Lane drew off his men.
I saw the man that I had been aiming at march away and I felt glad that I escaped having to shoot at him.”

Axalla John Hoole returned to Darlington on December 5, 1857, with his wife and children, Ada Constantia, William Brunson, and Axalla John Hoole, II. He was initially the captain of the Darlington, South Carolina, Riflemen and then Lt. Col. of the Eighth South Carolina Volunteer Regiment Kershaw’s Brigade. In D. Augustus Dickert’s History of Kershaw’s Brigade, tribute is paid to Axalla John Hoole for his bravery and leadership abilities. Included is a beautiful letter he wrote to his wife, Betsie, two days before he died. He died on Sept. 20, 1863, at the Battle of Chickamauga. He is buried at the Brunson graveyard near Darlington. It is said that his wife struggled considerably following his death, and carried a pistol with her daily as she worked as a seamstress. A monument to Axalla has been put in place at the Grove Hill Cemetery near Darlington, where many of the Hooles are also buried.

John Quincy Adams Dabbs was a member of the Pee Dee Artillery and served during the Civil War in the 2nd Company C, Manigualt’s Battalion South Carolina Artillery. Later, he served in other battalions headed by Pegram, Walker & Manly.

In 1912, J.W. Brunson, a civil engineer (possible brother of Betsie Brunson Hoole), writes from Florence to Euphrasia
about the memories of “your old house near the mineral springs, Zella and Stin [Zella was short for Axalla], and his chickens and the horse which stepped when told....[Stin was reported to have been quite the horse-trainer]. Of the pitcher stained by the minerals in the water.”

He talks of firing side-by-side with John Q. [sic] in Fredericksburg and how he thought they would both die for sure. He takes great pleasure in the fact that he assisted to get the cross which John Quincy Dabbs so gallantly and respectfully wore. Euphrasia’s youngest brother, Stanislaus (Uncle Stin), would also receive the cross indicating courage and honor during the war. It now hangs in Fern Park in Martha Dabbs Greenway’s kitchen.

EWD: Life I

John Quincy Dabbs and Euphrasia Hoole had two sons: Eugene Whitefield Dabbs, born April 15,1864; and his brother, James Hoole Dabbs, born in 1865.

Eugene’s first name was probably after his mother’s brother, Eugene Samuel Hoole, who moved to Eufaula, Alabama, and became a doctor. One reference gives 1856 as his year of death; however, reference is made in his brother Stin’s obituary that he had one brother living in Alabama who died in 1901.

Eugene’s middle name, Whitefield, was in honor of George Whitefield, a traveling evangelist whose religious views were part of the Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s. This evangelist traveled throughout eastern portions of the United States during the late 1700s and early 1800s and was renowned for his oratory skills. The name is pronounced as Whit-field and not White-field. In later spellings the “e” was sometimes eliminated to coincide with the pronunciation. Since it has become a common name within the Dabbs family, it is not unusual to see it spelled both ways. Eugene’s brother, James Hoole Dabbs, was named after his grandfather Hoole. James died at the age of 20 and never had any children.

John Quincy Adams died in 1880, and his second son, James, died five years later. A marker that jointly bears the names of James Hoole Dabbs and John Quincy Adams Dabbs with their years of birth and death can be found in the cemetery of the Darlington first Presbyterian Church. The inscription for the elder reads “Mark the perfect man; and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace.” For the younger it reads “Safe in the arms of Jesus.” Due to the fact that Euphrasia had very little money at the time of her husband’s and son’s deaths, it would be safe to guess that Eugene Whitefield Dabbs had the marker placed in the cemetery in memory of his father and brother at a later date.