Author Topic: Berryman H Compton - genealogy  (Read 7171 times)

Arnie Dowd

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Berryman H Compton - genealogy
« on: February 08, 2010, 08:46:43 PM »
This research was begun last Fall and much credit must be given to Katy & Lemuel Compton (cousins and Berryman's gr gr Grand children as well as the family genealogists), Donald W. Reneau (another descendent), Dan Wallace, Jerry Noble Wayne Elliott and the Columbia SC Genealogy Society.

I apologize in advance for how this may format and be more difficult to read due to all the editing, inserting and deleting I have done !!

First we must accept that we are dealing with three families - the Smith's, the Compton's and the Bearden's all who migrated from Virginia circa 1770 to the area just south Spartanburg, South Carolina
in the old 96 District.

William (d. 1802) and Sanford (d. 1822) Smith had a gunsmithing business inc a boring mill on Reedy Fork of Dutchman Creek, 1&1/2 miles south of the Philladelphia Baptist Church.  This location can be found today about 8 miles south of Spartanburg near the town of Pauline at the junction of SC state highways 56 & 150.  Remnants of the original @!*% are supposadely still visible.  Basil Compton (1776-1846) son of Thomas Compton the immigrant and grandfather of BHC WAS a gunsmith attested to by family records, so it is assumed that he trained and worked for a time in the Smith shop.  

William Smith's son, William Frankin Smith (1802-1862) a gunsmith who apprenticed to Basil Compton, married Elizabeth Bearden.
William Smith's daughter, Elizabeth married Giles Bearden who was the brother of Elizabeth Bearden.
William Smith's daughter, Barbara, married Isaac Compton (1797-1875) father of BHC.  There is no evidence that Isaac was a gunsmith.
Pleasant Bearden (1799-?) married Margaret Compton who was Isaac Compton's cousin and Basil's neice.
We already know that Pleaseant was a gunsmith and I believe he too, lilkely aprenticed to Basil Compton.
Sanford Smith's daughter Amanda Harriet married Berryman H. Bearden (yes that name is corredt) nephew of Pleasant
Bearden and 1st Cousin of Alfred Bearden (1811 - 1888), gunsmith.

From birth records now available we know that the Compton's (positively), Smith's, Moore's (Smith in-laws) and the Beardens which made up the gunsmithing families of Tennessee, which we are discussing, migrated to Southern Tennessee in 1820, most likely together.  It would appear so as not to be directly competeing with each other they spread out a bit while staying in the same geographical area.  W. Franklin Smith settled in Marshall County Just north of Giles and Lincoln counties, the Beardens settled in Lincoln County while the Comptons settled in the adjacent county west, Giles county.

The Comptons are found in both the 1836 and the 1848 tax lists in District 16 in Giles County which is in the north-central area of the county.  The 1840 US census shows Basil(Gr-Grandfather and gunsmith), Isaac (father) AND BHC living basically next door to each other in seperate households.  BHC was born 7/28/1819 in the area south of Spartanburg, SC discussed above and moved with the family as a baby.  BHC married Elizabeth Jane Hamerich 10/1/1839 in or near Campbellsvile in Giles county.  Together they had eleven children before BHC' death in late 1860.

It is my opinion and it seems logical that both BHC and his older brother William J Compton (also a gunsmith) were apprenticed to their Grandfather, Basil who had been trained in SC. and who came with the family in 1820 to Giles county. In the mid 1830's when these two grandsons would have been of age to learn a trade Basil would have been in his mid/late 50's and well set in the style he learned and practiced in SC; and as stated earlier I believe that it is most likely that Pleasant Bearden and W. Franklin Smith apprenticed to Basil Compton as well while the families were still living in SC prior to moving to Tenn.

Alfred Bearden (1811-1888) was apprenticed to his uncle Pleasant Bearden in Lincoln county circa 1825-1830 , before Pleasant Bearden moved to Mississippi in the 1840's.

BHC lived and worked in the area of Campbellsville, Giles county during the 1840's and 1850's as a gunsmith.  For some reason BHC in 1860 is listed as living and woking (I believe temporarily helping his son, Edward A, who had already moved there and is listed as a farmer) in Lawrence county immediately west of Giles county.  Family records state that BHC died in Giles county in late 1860 and is buried between Waco and Campbellsville in Giles county. William J Compton, gunsmith (BHC's older brother) moved on to Richland, Greene county, MO in the 1850's and is listed there as a gunsmith in 1860.

Thus it would seem that BHC did make the "Whale Box" Longrifle in the 1840's in a earlier architectural
style complete with an earlier style flintlock and fine incised carving in the style of his Grandfather, Basil
who would have been working in SC circa 1800-1810+.  It is quite possible that the rifle was made under the tutelage of Basil and perhaps as a tribute to Basil.  Although both unique and symbolic in design the patchbox is not early in concept of design nor is the lack of a lockbolt plate or the rear sight which is adjustable for elevation.  The entire rifle is symbolic and even personal. A theory can be presented that the two bone inlays represent -  the egg equates to birth or the beginning of life while the heart represents faith and love.  There is a Christian fish engraved on the toe plate and a very legitimate argument can be made that the whale represents Resurection in terms of Jona in the belly of the whale three days.  Something else that is not visible in any publishede photos and only on close physical examination is the very fine engraving on heel of the buttplate, the entire trigger guard outer surface and the rear, ramrod pipe finial, plus even the heads of the lockbolt screws.  The lockplate edging is engraved in the same style as the trigger-guard.

Information learned from the family descendents has led me to wonder if the rifle was ever meant to leave the family.  Oral history in the collecting fraternity says that the rifle was found in New Orleans in the early mid 20th century.  Interestingly, BHC's grandson Robert Brown Compton and his new wife, Netho,  moved to New Orleans in 1910 and lived there most all of their lives and so perhaps let the rifle get away at sometime.

Of secondary interest is that 8 Compton boys served in the 3rd Tenn Infantry during the CW. Two of
Berryman (then deceased) and Elizabeth's sons (Franklin S and Willis C) both died following POW internment and a   nephew and a cousin were KIA. The others made it home inc their oldest son, Edward A who served in the 54th Tenn which was formed mostly in Lawrence county where he had moved as previously stated.  Also Alfred Bearden's son, Napolean, was KIA at Stones River

Well, this has gone on far to long but hopefully a few found the info of interest.  I welcome any additions as well as corrections, please.
Arnie Dowd
  









Offline G-Man

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Re: Berryman H Compton - genealogy
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2010, 10:24:58 PM »
Arnie - that is great information and thank you for sharing it. 

Trying to find out solid information about these great southern guns is challenging - the gunsmiths moved around so much, and once styles were established they were used over extremely long timeframes.  Getting to read a thorough summary of one family's, and one rifle's, history - who, what, when and where, is a rare treat for those of us interested in these guns.

Guy

Offline WElliott

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Re: Berryman H Compton - genealogy
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2010, 01:01:21 AM »
Wow!  Arnie, you are the consummate researcher.  What a great family tradition BHC was following.  That all makes sense as I have hypothesized that Berryman Compton made the rifle in the style of his master, perhaps as his "masterpiece" to complete his apprenticeship.  Great work, my friend.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2010, 06:02:03 AM by WElliott »
Wayne Elliott

eagle24

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Re: Berryman H Compton - genealogy
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2010, 01:54:27 AM »
Thanks for sharing your research Arnie.

Arnie Dowd

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Re: Berryman H Compton - genealogy
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2010, 04:16:07 AM »
In reviewing my notes and what I wrote I noticed that I left out a marriage detail that adds to the understanding of the close relationship of the Compton and the Bearden families.   Basil Compton (the gunsmith and grandfather of BHC) married
Sarah Winn Bearden (1778-1866) in 1796.  Isaac Compton (father of BHC) was their first child.
Also I have learned the birth dates and location of Sanford (b. 1768) and William
(b. 1760) Smith, the brothers who owned the gun factory south of Spartanburg.
They came from Bull Run, VA with their parents to the area circa 1770 +/-.
Thank You,
Arnie

Offline Hurricane ( of Virginia)

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Re: Berryman H Compton - genealogy
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2010, 07:25:05 PM »
On behalf of the Library and Museum Committee, I wish to thank Arnie and team for this fine work and the privilege of having it "published " on the ALR site. This type of work done by Arnie and other s and published here is exactly what we envisioned for the Library and Museum, a open access repository of important information that needs and will be now be available to any scholar or collector in search of information related to the Kentucky Longrifle. I hope others will continue to follow this and the examples of other who have and continue to do similar research. PLease note also that the Museum has almost 300 guns presented through similar fine contributions of many.
Thank you.
The Museum and Library Committee

Offline Topknot

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Re: Berryman H Compton - genealogy
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2013, 03:07:50 AM »
HI,I just read this thread and was literally blown away. Iam a member or ALR. My name is tim compton, but on this forum I go by topknot. My dad , Bobby gene compton was from lawrencberg tenn. lawrence county. my grandad was born and raised in giles co. tenn.  His name was Willie gid compton. he was born in 1903 or 1905. MY dad went to a compton family reunion in the late 80s or early 90s in or near his home town of lawrenceburg, and met a man that had written a book of the compton family geneology and he retuned by home with 3 of them. I am also a decendant of Basil Compton . I am truly proud that one of my ancestors was a gun builder and am proud that my ancestors fought in the civil war.  Any more information on this subject of berryman compton or the comptons of giles county tenn would be greatly appreciated.

                                                                                          thank you all,

                                                                                                      topknot
TIM COMPTON, SR.

    layover to catch meddlers!

Offline Hurricane ( of Virginia)

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Re: Berryman H Compton - genealogy
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2013, 02:50:43 AM »
Added to the "Original Research" section of the ALR Virtual Library
Hurricane

Offline Topknot

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Re: Berryman H Compton - genealogy
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2013, 09:09:50 PM »
Thanks HURRICANE,
 I have found out my grandads fathers name was Willie Smith Compton. I havent been able to find out willie smith comptons fathers   name , but im thinking it was William. I need more info , but for now im at a standstill. Im hoping that some one here might possibly have more information .

                                              thanks again,

                                                                  topknot
TIM COMPTON, SR.

    layover to catch meddlers!