Finding proof of Revolutionary War service is a challenge for SC patriot researchers. As Bobby Gilmer Moss wrote, “through ignorance of the law or because of pride” patriots often did not apply for a pension. Recently I had the opportunity to explore the records in Moss’s abstraction of SC patriot records, “Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution”.
Moss, in his book, studied the SC records that provide information about service in the Revolutionary War. He provides a list of sources but they include: audited accounts, federal pensions, bounty land warrants, stub indents.
My research was to find proof of service for a James Adams. Moss’s book lists 5 James Adams who served with these units: 3rd regiment, horseman with Capt. Dunlap, Marion’s brigade, St. Tilles expedition, and the Waxhaw expedition. None of the 5 had federal pensions or land warrants (however, one was referenced in another pension). All of the records came from the Audited Accounts at the SC Department of Archives and History (SCDAH). I visited the SCDAH to look at the original records. They are not digitized.
I learned from the archivist that 5 listings does not mean 5 different James Adams’ because they may have served with more than one unit. For example, someone serving in the Waxhaw expedition could also have been with Marion’s brigade.
First I located the Audited Account series information from the SCDAH database search. Because the common name I limited the search to the Combined index to records, 1675-1929. I found the Audited Account file # (31) that led me to the right microfilm reel. The microfilm is in good shape. I was able to find the file right away and could read every image.
All of the files referenced in the Moss book were in the file (except the reference to the federal pension mentioned above which I found in HeritageQuest). However, genealogical information was poorly indexed. For example, only one wife was listed in the Moss book. Her name was Mary and she was identified as the wife of the James Adams who served as a horseman to Capt. Dunlap.
However, my interpretation of the file was that the wife was Deborah and Mary was either a daughter or sister to James. There was also another file that listed a wife named Elizabeth.When the wives were mentioned it was because that James Adams was deceased and the pension was part of the estate.
The Moss book also doesn’t indicate if the file is part of a probate. It’s important information! If the Audited Account is part of an estate dated 1785 and you are looking for a James Adams who died in 1820 then he can be eliminated.
Out of those five listings I could only identify 2 different James Adams though the genealogical information. The genealogical information is the only way to distinguish individuals in the Audited Accounts unless you know the unit they served with.
As usual, the lesson is to check the primary document! Moss’s purpose was to identify SC patriots not to get someone into the DAR or extend a family tree. I would also recommend taking your iPad. It makes it much easier to copy images. If you can’t visit the archive you can request a search. The archives will contact you about the cost before they undertake the request.