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.) 

A deed executed in July 1770, from Joseph Dabbs of Craven County, South Carolina, to James Webb, Jr., and others, reflects the transfer of ownership a number of farm animals. It states that this property is now the possession of James Webb, Sr., believed to be Nancy Dabbs’ second husband. (Book 7, page 321; Anson County, North Carolina.)

Around 1768, Joseph Dabbs married Mary Hannah Kolb, sister of Colonel Abel Kolb, distinguished for his service to our nation during the American Revolution. Hannah and Abel Kolb’s father, Johannas Kolb, arrived in American in 1707 from Germany, and settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania, before moving to the Cheraw section of South Carolina in 1739.

Joseph and Hannah Kolb Dabbs established a home on Crooked Creek in the Welch Neck community. They had three children between 1769 and 1780: Nancy Dabbs, who married Benjamin Williams); Samuel Dabbs (grandfather to Eugene Whitefield Dabbs), who married Sarah Grove (this may have been spelled “Graves”); and William Dabbs, who married Martha Ellison. On May 8, 1771, Tillman Kolb deeded 650 acres of his land to Joseph Dabbs. 

During the Revolutionary War, Joseph Dabbs fought
on the side of the Patriot forces (Whigs), eventually advancing to the rank of Captain under the command of his brother-in- law, Colonel Abel Kolb. The exploits of Colonel Kolb and other revolutionary fighters in the Cheraw region of South Carolina are described in great detail in an historical book regarding the region entitled History of the Old Cheraws. Reprints of this book can be obtained at a nominal cost from the Southern Historical Press in Greenville, South Carolina.

In this book, the deaths of Colonel Abel Kolb and Captain Joseph Dabbs are described in some detail. On April 8, 1781, a large group of South Carolinians loyal to the British cause (Tories), under the command of Captain Jones, secretly assembled near the Marlboro County seat with the object of surprising and capturing Colonel Kolb and capturing and destroying other Whig forces. This group of Tories was successful in surrounding the residence of Colonel Kolb, who eventually surrendered to the Tories in hopes of saving the lives of his wife and daughter who were present at his home. As Colonel Kolb was surrendering and contrary to orders, he was shot by a member of lower rank of the Tory forces. Several other adult males present were also shot and killed, and the home of Colonel Kolb was burned to the ground. It is reported that his wife and daughter, who were spared, dragged his body away from the home so that it would not be consumed by fire.

After killing Colonel Kolb, Tories moved on to attack forces of Colonel Murphy that were stationed at Brown’s Mill, which was located near the home of Captain Joseph Dabbs on Muddy Creek. Upon arriving, the Tories found that most of Colonel Murphy’s forces had left several days earlier. Captain Joseph Dabbs had remained behind with a small group of men. Surprised and overwhelmed by the superior numbers, Joseph Dabbs and his men were also killed. Thus, on that same day in April, Hannah Kolb Dabbs lost both her husband and her brother in the battle for Independence.

Colonel Abel Kolb is buried on the banks of the Great Pee Dee River in a family cemetery that is located on the left, just across the Great Pee Dee River as one would cross into Marlboro County from Society Hill on Highways 401 and 15. The Welch Neck community and Crooked Creek are located roughly two miles north, by taking County Road 912 to the left. Most likely, Captain Joseph Dabbs was buried in the same cemetery, due to his relationship to the Kolb family and because he died on the same date.

All original cemetery markers in this family cemetery have been lost to time, and the only marker which presently exists is a newer stone in honor of Colonel Kolb. In the History of the Old Cheraws, Joseph Dabbs is described as a “useful citizen and well-tried Whig.”

Following the untimely death of Captain Joseph Dabbs, Hannah Kolb Dabbs is reported to have remarried and conceived three more children. Little is known of Nancy Dabbs Williams or William Dabbs and their families. Samuel Dabbs moved to Darlington, South Carolina. Mills Atlas of 1820 shows a S. Dabbs, most likely Samuel, living roughly four miles due south of the city.

Samuel Dabbs
Son of Captain Joseph Dabbs Grandfather to Eugene Whitefield Dabbs

Samuel Dabbs was a farmer, and deed records in Darlington District (County) reflect his acquisition of several large land tracts, including 50 acres north of Hell (sic) Hill Creek surveyed in 1814, and 419 acres south of Black Creek surveyed in 1818. Family stories say that Samuel Dabbs lost a large tract of land located near the present Fibre Industries plant in Darlington. This is significant, because the Dabbses have struggled with the cost of homes and taxes on land for generations. While outwardly prosperous, every generation has labored to hold onto the property that they owned.

Darlington Historian Rudisill states that there was a family cemetery in a large tract of land believed to have been owned and farmed by Samuel Dabbs, but any evidence of that cemetery no longer exists. Because of the loss of those cemetery records, we are unable to confirm the dates of birth and death of Samuel Dabbs, his wife, and most of the members of his family.

Samuel and Sarah Grove Dabbs had six children. There were: Joseph William Dabbs (b. January , 1813); Hannah E. Dabbs (never married); Samuel Richard; Benjamin William; Anna Elizabeth (never married); and John Quincy Adams (the father of Eugene Whitefield Dabbs). Much of what we know about this family is attributed to three dozen letters that were found in the attic of Road’s End in-the-Pines written from Joseph Dabbs to his brother, John Quincy Adams Dabbs and his two sisters. In addition, John Quincy wrote numerous letters to his wife while he was serving in the Confederacy. These letters are now housed at the Caroliniana Library in Columbia. Carolyn Dabbs Moore spent considerable time creating typed versions of these letters.