EWD: Life II

Euphrasia and John Quincy struggled during the Civil War and Reconstruction. At the end of the war, and following John Quincy’s death, finances were in such shambles that Eugene writes that her friends and neighbors advised Euphrasia to put the youngest son in an orphanage and send the eldest out of town to work so that she might seek a housekeeper’s position. 

In response to this advice, he quotes her as saying: “No, to the limits of my strength I will keep a home for those whom God has given me.” This she did, until her son was able to provide a home for her and a life that was ultimately filled with grandchildren and less worry.
Eugene was studying journalism at the University of South Carolina. With the sudden death of his father, he was unable to continue his education and returned home to help support his mother, grandmother, and younger brother. Sometime around 1882 , the family moved to the Privateer Section of South Carolina to try farming there. Specifics about this move are not clear. Most probably, there was some land available for them to rent with a satisfactory dwelling on it and they made the move.

A letter written by Euphrasia on January 13 , 1882 , is postmarked, Sumter, South Carolina, and refers to her mother (Elizabeth Stanley Hoole) as being fretful and “never seems very happy or contented.”

She continues to say, however, “We have the most comfortable house I have ever lived in. We have plenty of room indoors but the outbuildings are in a very dilapidated condition. Then we are so far from church and any Depot. If Mother is well enough for me to leave her and the weather permits Eugene and I propose going to Wedgefield church next Sunday. It is 8 or 10 miles but Sumter will be our church for the next two years, I think.” 

In her obituary, it states that Euphrasia Hoole Dabbs was a member of Wedgefield Church for 11 years and a member of Salem Black River Presbyterian for 25 years. E.W. Dabbs would have been 18 years at this time. Eleven years later, he would marry Alice
Maude McBride. 

Consequently, there were several years of farming that occurred between his first arrival in the Sumter area and his first marriage. During this time, his brother James would die in 1885. His grandmother Hoole would die in 1887. He would court Sudie Furman. He would move from the Privateer section to McBride’s Corner, where he would work for the Witherspoons as an overseer. Then for a short time, he would go to Alabama (perhaps on the advice of his Hoole relatives living there) and try to make some money in the steel factories. 

Dr. Richard Furman
Great-grandfather to Susan Miller Furman
President of the First Baptist Convention in America.
Laid the groundwork for Furman University, named in his honor.
Uncle Stin (Euphrasia’s youngest brother) would join Eugene and his mother in their home on Highway 527 in 1895, after Eugene’s marriage to Maude McBride. It was while he was in the Privateer section that Eugene Whitefield Dabbs met Susan (Sudie) Miller Furman, the daughter of Dr. John Furman and Susan Miller Furman. Her great-grandfather was Dr. Richard Furman of Charleston, a prominent minister and president of the first Baptist convention in America, who laid the groundwork for the establishment of Furman Theological university. 

It was there that her grandfather, Dr. Samuel Furman, became a professor. In 1859, Sudie’s father moved from Georgia to the Privateer Section, where he practiced medicine and oversaw farming operations at Cornhill Plantation.

Eugene Whitefield Dabbs courted Susan (Sudie) Miller Furman and asked her to be his wife. Sudie’s father felt that Eugene had little to offer his daughter financially or socially and refused to approve of the marriage. (This was not the first time that a suitor was rejected by Sudie’s family. Over 5 letters to John B. Miller, the first Master of Equity in Sumterville, dating from 182 1 to 184 9, were found in the attic at Fern Park. John B. Miller was Sudie’s grandfather on her mother’s side of the family. In one of these letters, a cousin begs her uncle John to intercede on her behalf and speak kindly of a music teacher she wishes to marry despite her parents’ refusal to approve of the marriage.)

Sudie Furman dutifully obeyed her parents’ wishes and remained at home taking care of them until their deaths. She traveled extensively to visit friends and became involved with the Mary Hanley Society of Bethel, a Women’s Mission Society located at Society Hill. Through them, she began a running correspondence with missionaries in various locations. After her father’s death in 190 3, she left the country for Cuba for a year, before returning to South Carolina and traveling north to Richmond and New York City where she worked as a nurse. On the back of an old picture of farmland from Egypt farms is written “Miss Sudie Furman, Merry Christmas Happy New Year -- 50,000 lbs. Hay of finest quality, peanuts & grass from 30 acres. Can Cuba or Cornhill beat ‘Egypt’? E.W.D.” Since there is no date, it is not known when Eugene Whitefield Dabbs sent this picture-card, although one would expect it was after the death of his first wife, and obviously after Sudie returned from Cuba. Regardless, Sudie kept the card and would later bring it back with her to the Crossroads.

After his proposal to Sudie was rejected and his farming efforts failed, Eugene accepted a job as an overseer for Hammie Witherspoon on the Coldstream Plantation south of Salem Black River Presbyterian Church near McBride’s Corner. Here, he began courting Alice “Maude” McBride, the daughter of the deceased James McBride and his widow, Sophronia Warren McBride. 

The James McBride home, better known as Rip Raps, is the oldest and best known of the homes at the Crossroads. from Alice Maude McBride and other members of the McBride family, Eugene Whitefield Dabbs and his children inherited considerable land holdings. Due to the significance of this land, it seems appropriate to focus the story of the Dabbs-McBride marriage on the family of his (first) wife, Maude McBride.
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