Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Wednesday's Child: "Baby Andrew"
While I am on the topic of Sarah Wallace, I thought I would share one of my favorite "ah-hah" moments. Before I begin, let me start off by saying that my husband and I joined Washington Street United Methodist Church (WSUMC) in Columbia, South Carolina 11 years before this story takes place. We had no family connections at the church, but felt (and still feel) as if it was where we were supposed to be.
One cold Sunday morning after the choir had finished practicing, I dressed in my robe to wait for the service to begin. The choir room was very warm, so I decided to cool off by walking around the small courtyard right outside, reading some of the names on the grave headstones. If you have ever been to Columbia, you will realize that there is no such thing as 6 degrees of separation - you will be lucky to get to 3 degrees! There are many family names that tend to pop up all over the place (just like being in a small, old town!). Because of this, reading headstones is always fun for me! While reading the names, I turned to a smaller headstone that was located right next to the stairs and read "Sacred to the memory of Andrew, the infant son of Andrew and Sarah Wallace who departed this life May 26, 1830, aged 7 months."
I FROZE! My 4th great-grandfather's name was Andrew Wallace and my grandmother's name was Sarah. My wheels started turning..... how many people named Andrew Wallace could there have been in Columbia in the early 1800s? I immediately took a picture of the headstone (gotta love smartphones!!!!!) and went back inside. The second I got home I went straight to my genealogy file and looked up Andrew's information. There, RIGHT THERE, was Andrew and Sarah's 8th child, a little boy names Andrew, that died May 26, 1830. HOLY COW!!! I had located his long lost grave! And then my mind REALLY began to go 100 miles a minute - Why was he buried there? Why wasn't he buried with the rest of the family? Why would they have buried him there if it wasn't their church home? Wait - their church home! Could this have been their church home? I was about to POP at this point! The only problem was that our church was burned by Sherman when he came through Columbia during the Civil War (LONG story - they thought it was First Baptist) and so all of our church records were gone. My heart sank. The only hope I had to a possible answer was a church history book that had been written in 1975 called Tried By Fire by Archie Vernon Huff, Junior. And really - what was the likelihood that MY great-great-great-great grandfather would be mentioned in it? He wasn't a pastor or associate pastor and I had never heard or read his name before at the church and there are names of people all over the church.
So, just to say I had done all I could, the next Sunday I went looking for and found a copy of the book. (I will never forget the generosity of Arlette and Alex Raley for giving me a copy of the book to keep! It was a gift that meant more than they will ever know!) I turned to the index and hunted for the "W" section..... Walker, Walker, WALLACE!!!!!!! There, in print, was Andrew Wallace's name. Not only was his name listed, but it had 4 different entries (pages 11-12, 26-27, 31, and 90). I turned to the first entry and read......
"Prominent among the leaders of the Washington Street congregation, and somewhat typical of them, was Andrew Wallace, a native of Scotland, who left his homeland 'on the deliberate conclusion that it was no place for one to rise in the world without capital or influential friends.' He migrated to Charleston, and seeking his fortune in the upcountry, he hired himself out to a wagon train belonging to Colonel Thomas Taylor and headed for Columbia. Described by a younger contemporary as 'canny, cautious, clear-headed, painstaking, honest, and thrifty,' Wallace opened a mercantile business. It grew into a 'large dry goods, grocery, and cotton house' on Richardson (later Main) Street, which Wallace owned in partnership with a fellow Scotsman, MacFie. They soon amassed a large fortune, but MacFie's speculative nature was too adventurous for the cautious Wallace, and he dissolved the partnership. At one time Wallace led the formation of the Columbia insurance Company but sold his interest when it proved 'too hazardous to suite his taste.' He married Sarah Patrick, the daughter of a wealthy Richland planter, reared a large family, and devoted his time in his later years to watching his large investments in 'banks, railroads, and other corporations.' Like members of the low country aristocracy, he spent his summers in the mountains, at a home south of Ashville. From the early years of the nineteenth century until his death in 1863, Andrew Wallace was a faithful and highly esteemed member of Washington Street Church. He kept up a friendly rivalry in church financial matters with Mrs. Elizabeth McGowen, who operated McGowen's Ferry across the Broad River Bridge. When funds were needed for the church, one or the other would say: 'Well, if Sister McGowen can go a hundred, I reckon I can; or if Brother Wallace will put up fifty dollars, I will.'"
I know the dates and locations for many of my ancestors, but I know very little about who they were and fear that unfortunately, that will be the norm rather than the exception. BUT..... with this one entry, not only did I now know that my family had been members of my church long ago, but I knew what "Gramps" was like. I was floating on cloud nine! The author did a great job of showing where he got all of his information, and I can't wait to go hunt down those books to see if there is anything else I can learn about Andrew.
Andrew Wallace's grave, along with the graves of most of the other family members, were moved to Elmwood Memorial Gardens when the church built a new building, but the extended family chose to leave "Baby Andrew's" grave at the church. The part of the family that made the decision to leave him by himself at the church had their reasons, I am sure, but I will forever be grateful, for that one decision has given me a gift I will treasure forever. I love each Sunday morning that I walk through the breezeway to the choir room. I smile as I look at the church that my family helped build and say "Good Morning, Baby Andrew" knowing that he is no longer alone. Our family has come back to worship where we belong.