Mary Barr Pressley

(1783 - 1849)

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Pressley Family Cemetery, Williamsburg County, South Carolina


memory of
Consort of
John Pressley,
who departed this life
on the 10th day of
August A. D. 1849,
aged 66 years 6 months
and 26 days.

She lived a constant
member of the Methodist
Episcopal Church
for many years,
and died rejoicing in a
Saviour's pardoning love


M.B.P. 1849

John Gotea Pressley wrote of his grandmother:

[Mary Barr Brockinton] married John Pressley [on April 10, 1804.] Neither of them, at the date of their marriage, owned much property, indeed so little, that when my grandfather, John Pressley, died [on 14 May 1821] leaving a widow and five small children, it required close economy and prudent management on the part of my grandmother to maintain her family.

She was not able to give her boys and girls much education. They had to content themselves with such knowledge of books as could be got in the schools taught in the neighborhood....

My grandmother and her husband settled on Turkey Creek. The house which they first lived in was gone before my day, and the place where it had stood was known as the “Old House Field” and was marked by a large mulberry tree of the white variety.

The house which I remember so well, and in which I spent so many happy days, and some very unhappy nights, was then built of a better class than most of their neighbors.

My grandmother’s slaves increased, being well treated and taken care of, so that at my earliest recollection, she was considered as being what people called “well off.” She was in very easy circumstances.

In 1839 my father settled on the same plantation on the East side of Turkey Creek, and took charge of my grandmother's business. They united forces and farmed together, dividing the crop in proportion to their slaves cultivating it. Their cattle which were also numerous were kept together, and the proceeds of the stock divided.

It became my especial business to look after this stock as soon as I was old enough, and many a day have I spent in the saddle, as the western men would call a “Cowboy.” I was very proud of it when the weather was not too hot, and water too scarce; then I suffered a great deal from the sun and thirst.

I was very fond of visiting my grandmother in the day and time, and managed to dine there at least once a week. I have a feeling recollection even at this day of the nice chicken and toothsome bread which I was acquainted to eat at her house. I have in my mind as ineffaceable picture of the old lady sitting in her great armchair, on her piazza in summer and by her fireside in the winter, giving directions to Hester, the cook or Amy the house servant.

As fond as I was of my old grandmother and as much as I liked to visit her in the day, I never stayed in her house at night if I could help it, unless I had other boys for company. Amy, the house girl, who was a great favorite with children, would fill our minds with Ghost Stories.
My grandmother was in the habit of retiring almost as soon as the chickens, and when she sent me to bed, Amy’s ghost stories could come so vividly to my mind, that I could almost see the Goblins which she had painted, in such horrible colors. I invariably covered my head for fear I would see them. Upon Amy’s authority I was afraid of seeing John Cooper’s ghost any night. He was one of my cousins who died in my grandmother’s company room.

Grandma was very fond of her grandchildren and they of her. We enjoyed meeting at her house and spending a day (or a night when two or three of us could sleep together and have Amy for a protector to exorcise the spirits which we almost believed she could call up). The children were too polite, and loved the old lady too much, to remind her that she was getting in the habit of telling the same story two or three times. We would affect intense interest in her story just as much as if we had never heard it, and when she came to the end, would exclaim, “Why, Grandma,” and laughed heartily if the story was intended to amuse.

Headstone of Mary Barr Pressley

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