Ceremony held to honor Revolutionary War soldier

DAR members, local residents and descendants of Benjamin Barton were present for a ceremony dedicating new tombstones for the Revolutionary War soldier and his wife, Dorcas, at Mountain Grove Baptist Church in Pickens recently.

PICKENS — The cannon boomed, the bagpipes wailed and the muskets roared. The JROTC cadets from Pickens High School presented the colors.

Friends and family waited in hushed silence in the small cemetery at Mountain Grove Baptist Church in Pickens.

Kenneth Nabors, president of the Pickens Historical Society, dressed as a soldier in the Upcountry Militia, gently lifted the black cloth covering the tombstone of revolutionary war patriot Benjamin Barton, while Una Welborn and Dorothy Lind looked on.

Barton relatives came from as far away as Texas, Georgia and Arkansas to attend the dedication.

“Barton was my five-times great-grandfather,” Harold Welborn said.

Harold worked as a health inspector for Pickens County and owned a meat processing company, where he sold wholesale and retail meat.

Barton had been buried in the cemetery at Mountain Grove Baptist Church in Pickens, but over time his tombstone had deteriorated and his grave, and the grave of his wife, Dorcas, lay unmarked.

“He had such an interesting life and was significant in settling Pickens County,” said Una Welborn. “He deserved a new tombstone.”

Una also ordered a tombstone to mark the grave of his wife.

Lind, South Carolina State Regent of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), laid a wreath at the dedication.

“It is a privilege to honor Benjamin Barton — in remembering the past, we honor the men and women who gave their lives for the preservation of our freedom and our future,” she said.

One year after the Constitution was signed, on Oct. 28, 1788, Barton acquired 4,000 acres on the headwaters of the Twelve Mile River in the Pendleton District, now known as Pickens County.

Some of the original land is still owned by the Welborn family.

“Some is planted in pine trees, while some of it is in timberland,” Harold Welborn said.

Elihu Griffin, a grandson of Barton, sold the town 94 acres for $270. The land where the Pickens County Courthouse now sits was part of that land.

Harold “Pat” Welborn Jr. is a direct descendent of Barton and the son of Harold and Una Welborn. He now serves as Clerk of Court of Pickens County in that same courthouse.

Pat Welborn recently planted 15 acres of corn on some of the land originally owned by Barton.

“A horse and four goats share the pasture,” he said. “The land has been passed through our family, and we plan to keep it in the family.”

Barton joined the South Carolina Militia on May 12, 1780. He served as a private under Maj. Parsons in Col. Roebuck’s Battalion. He fought in the Battle of Musgrove Mill, the Battle of King’s Mountain and the Battle of Cowpens.

While Barton was serving at Earl’s Fort in Landrum, he met Dorcas Anderson, his future wife. She and her family were under the protection of Earl’s Fort at the time.

“Dorcas lost both her father and her brother in the Revolutionary War,” Una said.

She married Benjamin Barton on Sept. 24, 1783, at the home of her mother near the Pacolet River. They were married for 35 years and had 14 children.

“One of their children, Bailey Barton, was a representative in the South Carolina Legislature for several years,” Una said.

Una, a long-time history enthusiast, is a member of the Fort Prince George Chapter of DAR.

“I can’t believe how everyone came together to help me get this done,” she said.

Daniel K. Woodruff, president of the South Carolina Society Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) laid a wreath on the grave and said “a simple grave marking in itself is a small gesture. We honor and thank Patriot Benjamin Barton for his service that ultimately gave us our nation.”