Town has interesting history

Published 9:17am Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Let me tell you of another town in South Carolina. It is Orangeburg, the county seat of Orangeburg County. It is also one of the oldest settled towns in the state. I have done some rather extensive research in this area as it was the place that several of my ancestors left to come to Alabama.
Orangeburg has an interesting history. During 1730, the General Assembly of the Province of South Carolina made the area into a township. Word went out that anyone who would settle in the area would receive a town lot as well as acreage within the county. In 1735, a large group of German and Swiss-German people were talked into taking advantage of what they could find in the new land. With great anticipation they boarded several ships and arrived in the port of Charleston.
The names of some of those were the Ottos (Hutto), Schnells, Tshudi, Gissendanner and many others.
They settled on their land and through the Gissendanner postings of the Luthern church, many of these names were recorded in early Orangeburg records.
I was mainly interested in the family of Schnell, who would later become Snell. They arrived in 1735 in the ship “Oliver” (I believe that is the name of their ship).
I was on a journey to see if I could find anything on my ancestors that descended from the original immigrant, Henry Schnell. He arrived on the ship along with his wife Barbara and their sons. Over the next years, much was entered into Gissendanner’s records about this family. It was only at the death of the author that the recording of marriages, births and deaths stopped.
I pick up on my ancestor, Elias Snell, in about 1785 or 90. I can document what happened to the family after that, but I am missing a generation. To which four sons of Henry, does my Elias belong?
My hope was to find something in Orangeburg that would connect Elias to the original Henry Snell. I had guessed that Elias belonged to Henry Snell Jr. and his wife Julianna. What I found only asked more questions and I still don’t know the answers. I had thought that I found Elias, at least he was the right age, living in the household of Frederick Snell as a little boy in 1800. The trip to Orangeburg gave me a chance to go to a great little library run by an odd little man. It was in that library that I saw a Bible record for Frederick and there was no Elias on it. I have been looking elsewhere ever since but still no luck. But, the little library building was next to the oldest cemetery in the area and I strolled through it looking at some of the early settlers’s graves. I spotted one that turned out to be the final resting place for Henry Schnell’s wife, Barbara. I got so excited. I wish I had taken a photograph of it but I didn’t. Oh well, maybe next time.
Next week I want to tell you more about my research in Orangeburg. Until then … Happy Hunting.

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