photo of Christopher Roberson Rowland and Isabella Blakeley Rowland about 1880


Who Were the Parents of Christopher Roberson Rowland?


For the past few years, a beautifully framed old photograph has hung in the home of my parents, Eudora Virginia Williams and the late Rev. Reuben L. Leslie, Sr.   For as long as I can remember before that, it hung in the front bedroom of the home of my grandparents, William Samuel Leslie and Margaret Gertrude Ramage Leslie, where the ancient couple in the photograph were probably identified to me many times before I understood by my aunt, Eva Leslie Hosey, who cared for my grandparents.  These two serene faces belong to my great-great-grandparents, Christopher Roberson Rowland  and Isabella Blakely Rowland. 

Family Bible records of Aunt Eva provided a wealth of detail about the couple and their descendants, and much has been discovered about their lives and female side ancestors.  C.R. was born 14 Sept. 1813 and died 2 December 1887.  Isabella was born 8 October 1811 and died 7 December 1881.  The couple married in 1836, and they had nine children:  Elizabeth Catherine (b. 1837), Nancy Mary (b. 1839), Aurelia Jane (b. 1840), Margaret Isabella (b. 2 May 1842, d. 8 June 1920), William Lowers (b. 1844), Rosanna Florella (b. 1846), Melissa Ophelia (b. 1848), Robert Thomas (b. 1850), and Elbert Calhoun (b. 1853).  Isabella Blakely was daughter of William Blakeley, Sr., (b. 12 May 1760, d. 1845 in Laurens, SC) and Nancy Boyd (b. 12 February 1781, d. 12 May 1844).  Isabella’s father William was son of John Blakeley (1718-1798) and his wife (m. 1742) Rachel Orr (1725-1814).  Isabella’s father’s will named nine children including Isabella.  C.R. Rowland left many documents with details about his life.  He was born, lived (entirely as far as I can tell) and died in South Carolina, apparently residing only in Laurens County where he is buried.  Some time before 1858 he was made an elder in the Rocky Springs Presbyterian Church near Laurens, where his wife’s father and brothers were among the first elders, and he and his wife are buried in the churchyard.  He is named in US Census for Laurens County from 1840 (as Roberson) to1880, and his estate settlement in 1889 was occasion for a return from “exile” in Arkansas by daughter, Isabella (see more below).

But where did Christopher Roberson Rowland come from?  Who were his parents?  Was C.R. Rowland’s mother the 65-year-old Elizabeth who lived in his household in 1850?  Was C.R. Rowland’s mother’s maiden name Roberson/Robertson/Robison?  Was C.R. known by his initials because his father’s name was also Christopher Roberson Rowland?  Was C.R. the grandson of the Christopher Rowland (1-1-4-0-0 in 1790 US Census, Laurens Co., SC) whose will was probated in 1806 in Livingston County, KY (wife: Anna, children Lewis, John B., Henry, Reuben Jr., Micajah, Mary Bush and Lydia)?  Was he the grandson of or otherwise related to either Reuben Rowland (3-3-7-0-4 in 1790 US Census, Laurens Co., SC) or John Rowland, preacher candidates at nearby Lower Duncan’s Creek Church in 1792 (Pope, p. 87)?  How was he kin, if at all, to the Rowland/Roland/Rolin households in US Census, Laurens Co., SC:  in 1800, Ezekiel, Henry B., Rev. John, Lewis, and Mary; in 1810, E.S., Mary and Henry; in 1820, Robert, Matthew and Ezekiel; in 1830, James, Doc. E.L., Henry B., Robert, and John B.; and in 1840, James, Joseph, Harriett, Ezekiel, Letttison, and William?  Did C.R. Rowland have siblings, and if so, who were they?  Was Martha Rowland, wife of George F. Wolff, the founder of Bingen, AR, C.R.’s sister?  How did C.R. and his wife Isabella cope with the turbulent times of Reconstruction and “Redemption” in Laurens County that saw the new husband of their daughter Margaret Isabella, John Washington Watts Ramage, flee for his life in 1872 to near Bingen, Arkansas (later sending for his family pictured below in about 1890 with Margaret Gertrude Ramage, at back left and her brother John Roland in front of her), when falsely accused of and hunted by federal troops for murder in the infamous Laurens Riot of 1870 (Bell, p. 38)?  Corrections, questions, clues and answers (!) are eagerly awaited.


Some Sources:  Bell, William Watts.  1932.  The State That Forgot:  South Carolina’s Surrender to Democracy.   Indianapolis:  Bobbs-Merrill.  ***  Jones, F.D. and W.H. Mills, ed.  1926.   History of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina Since 1850.   Columbia, SC.   ***  Pope, Thomas H.  1973.   The History of Newberry County, South Carolina, Volume I, 1749-1860.   Columbia, SC.:  University of South Carolina Press. ***  US Census (1790-1880), probate and property records for Laurens Co., SC, and Livingston Co., KY. ***  W.S. and Gertrude Leslie Family Bible records.  ***  Interviews, letters and emails with dozens of cousins and other kin.


photo of family of John Washington Watts Ramage and Margaret Isabella Rowland Ramage about 1890


Submitted 6 May 2001 by:  Reuben Lloyd Leslie, Jr.

12203 Antoinette Place, Austin, Texas 78727-5334

512 837-6181 (that’s RLSD@IO.COM) and