In 1784, the state of South Carolina granted Captain Robert Pickens Jr. 890 acres of land, which he named “Three and Twenty.” Captain Pickens is my fourth great-grandfather. He was born in 1747 in Frederick County, Maryland, to Robert Pike Pickens and Miriam Davis. The family later moved to Anderson County, South Carolina, where in 1773 Robert Jr. married Dorcas Hallam.
He served with distinction in the Revolutionary War as an aide-de-camp to his cousin General Andrew Pickens. Several years after the war ended, President George Washington requested that Captain Pickens meet him for a social visit in Augusta, Georgia. The entire Pickens family made the trip and for many years, the children recounted with great pride their meeting with President Washington.
Development of Three and Twenty began with the building of a small picturesque church (Pickens Chapel) and an adjacent cemetery. Family members, friends, and local soldiers are buried there. In fact, the Pickens Chapel Cemetery has the distinction of including more soldiers that fought in the Revolutionary War than any cemetery in South Carolina.
Three years ago my husband, Fred, and I found ourselves in Anderson County, and we made a day trip to Three and Twenty to find the graves of our ancestors, Robert Pickens Jr., Dorcas Hallam, Miriam Davis, and Robert Pickens Sr. We searched for hours among hundreds of headstones before the sun set on our day and our unsuccessful visit.
In May of this year, we were driving through Anderson County and decided to try again to find these family graves. Before we left for the cemetery, we offered a silent prayer that we might find them.
We pulled into the familiar driveway of Pickens Chapel, and as I was getting out of the car, I noticed a man in a pickup truck. The man was driving slowly and watching us carefully. He then stopped and asked if we were having trouble.
I answered, “No, we are here to visit the graves of my fourth great-grandparents, Captain Robert Pickens and Dorcas Hallum Pickens.”
“Oh,” he said. “Would you like for me to show you their graves?”
“That would be wonderful!” I replied.
“Fourth great-granddaughter,” he said softly as he reached to the back of the truck and picked up a pronged two-pocket folder. He showed me the folder, which had a list of all the people that were buried in the cemetery, and an identifying number beside each name. An accompanying map made it easy to find each name and number on the list. The booklet also contained a history of Pickens Chapel and short biographies of many of the people that were buried in the cemetery.
He very generously gave the booklet to me with the details of not only the locations of the four family graves we were seeking in the cemetery, but others as well.
The man in the truck was the caretaker of the cemetery and was literally the answer to our prayer. He helped us quickly find the graves we were looking for and gave us a detailed printed record of the Pickens Chapel Cemetery that has become invaluable in our family history efforts.
This story was submitted by Lynell Moss who is a descendant of Captain Robert Pickens Jr.