Agnes Nancy Craighead (1740_1790)
Nancy Craighead, born 17 March 1740 in Octarora Pennsylvania and died 9 November 1790, with a memorial in the Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Cemetery, Lancaster, Lancaster County, South Carolina. Nancy Craighead married her first husband, Rev. William Richardson (1729-1771), in 1759. Nancy Craighead married in 1772 to George Dunlap (1736-1796), shortly after Nancy was acquitted in the "Witchcraft trial" for the death of her first husband. The Witchcraft trill was an old Scottish Clans custom to determine the guilt or innocence of a person on trial.
George Dunlap and Agnes Nancy Craighead were married shortly after her acquittal, in 1772, Waxhaws, St. Marks Parish, Craven County, South Carolina. Agnes Nancy Craighead's virtues were numerous. Nancy was a nurse in the Revolutionary War. By reading the Women of the Revolution, Vol 2, pp. 154 and 155, you can get another view of Nancy's presence of mind during that time. While on a visit in 1781 to her sister Rachel, wife of Dr. Caldwell of Guilford, a band of armed Tories surrounded the Caldwell house in an attempt to capture Dr. Caldwell, an ardent patriot, and deliver him to the British. As they were about to leave with their captive, Nancy came from another room, stepped up behind her brother-in-law, leaned over his shoulder and whispered to him, as if intending the question for his ear only, asking him if it were not time for Gillespie and his men to be there. A soldier standing near heard the words, and demanded what she meant. Nancy replied she was merely speaking with her brother. The Tories knew well the patriotic ruthlessness of Jock Gillespie and his band. In a moment all was confusion, the whole raiding party were panic stricken at the prospect of facing Jock Gillespie and they fled.
George DUNLAP and Agnes Nancy CRAIGHEAD's children were: Agnes DUNLAP, born 26 Nov 1779, Waxhaws, St. Marks Parish, Craven County, South Carolina; d. 25 Jan 1846, Lancaster District, South Carolina; Dr. David DUNLAP, b. Abt. 1781; died Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina; Jane DUNLAP, born ca. 1783, married Edward CRAWFORD, ca. 1803; George Bryant DUNLAP II, born 4 March 1783 and died July 1859, Anson County, North Carolina; Rachel DUNLAP, born ca. 1785.
Nancy's other virtues were being considered a lively, high-spirited Virginia-born women and "A lady of great beauty, talent and to have possessed much of her father's spirit."
The Witchcraft Trial of Agnes Nancy Craighead
The Death of Rev. William Richardson occurred on the evening of 20 July 1771. William Boyd rode up from Rocky Creek, on the other side of the Catawba to solicit the guidance of Reverend Richardson. At the same time the minister's wife (Nancy Craighead), arrived at the house. Nancy was coming back home from a quilting party. Nancy showed Mr. Boyd to her husband's study where Dr. Richardson was found in what seemed like an attitude of prayer, but he was dead with a bridle twisted about his throat.
After a feverish consultation, the Waxhaw Church trustees announced that the minister had died during his devotions, but said nothing of the bridle. Everyone attended the funeral and Agnes Nancy Craighead Richardson ordered the finest tombstone that was to be seen in the Waxhaws for many years. The coat of arms of her husband's family was on it, with a bust in low relief and seventeen lines of carving to recount his virtues.
The widow of Richardson, Nancy Craighead, celebrated the arrival of her deceased husband's monument from Charlestown by marrying George Dunlap (a member of a large, wealthy local family whose sires had done almost as much as the Hutchinson sisters to populate the Waxhaws). The news about the bridle leaked and the swift consolation that Agnes Nancy Craighead found in the arms of George Dunlap gave to conjecture and rumors. The trustees (two of them DUNLAPs) insisted that their deletion of the story of the tragedy was designed to shield the good name of the church from the stain of suicide.
There were those of the congregation that were too ready to believe ill of Nancy. Rumors of whispered sentiment were passed along that other hands than Rev. Richardson had twisted the fatal bridle about his neck. Rumors multiplied. Passions mounted with a year passing the internment of Richardson. The citizens of the Waxhaws met at the church to determine according to the ancient wisdom of the Scottish clans the innocence or guilt of Elizabeth Jackson's friend, Agnes Nancy Craighead. The grave was opened; the coffin was exhumed; and the skeleton of the late William Richardson of Glasgow was bared to view. Nancy Craighead's brother-in-law, Archibald Davie, who lived off of the late Reverend Richardson, seized Nancy's fingers and thrust them cruelly against the skull of the deceased. Nancy to sob hysterically. Nancy raised her hand triumphantly to show there was no blood. According to old Scottish clan customs, if the finger bled she had murdered her husband. Nancy touched but the finger did not bleed. This was the "Witchcraft Trial" that Agnes Nancy Craighead was acquitted in Waxhaw, South Carolina.
Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church 1755-1976
Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church has the distinction of being the oldest church in Mecklenburg County being established in 1755. The first settled minister of Sugar Creek and Rocky River was Rev. Alexander Craighead, who came permanently to North Carolina in 1758 and lived there until his death in 1766. The Indian War of 1755 had driven Rev. Craighead from Virginia to North Carolina. He periodically preached in various Presbyterian churches for a period of three years. Before going to Virginia Rev. Craighead had been suspended from the Donegal Presbytery in Pennsylvania for "Revivalism" and intruding into affairs of other Presbyteries.
Although they lived within the orbit of Sugar Creek's influence, the Andrew Jacksons did not attend the Sugar Creek Church, but drove some twelve miles southwest to Waxhaw Church to worship with Elizabeth Jackson's relations. The congregation of Waxhaw Church had been on the point of discouragement in its quest for a preacher when there descended from the Cherokee country over the mountains a slender, quite-spoken young man on horseback, distressed by his failure to win the Indians from the creed of their fathers. That man was Rev. William Richardson.
In 1771, Nancy Craighead's husband had made a name for himself as he organized the "Academy" at Waxhaw Church and imparted instructions in Greek and Latin. He went on long wilderness journeys, building churches and rejuvenating congregations. These enterprises were profitable to Doctor William Richardson. The clergyman acquired a plantation that prospered under the toil of ten slaves. His two-story "manse" was one of the sights of the Waxhaws, his library was his pride. Rev. Richardson held "literary evenings" that were mentioned with awe on the frontier where the social tone was otherwise fixed by cock-fights, log-rolling and funerals. No children blessed his union with Agnes Nancy Craighead, but Dr. Richardson brought from England a nephew, William Richardson Davie, whom he reared as his son and sent to college at Princeton, New Jersey.
William Richardson was an English-born patrician and a Master of Arts of the University of Glasgow. The missionary accepted the pulpit, and by virtue of his ecclesiastical standing, Waxhaw Church became the only pastorate in the Back-Country enjoying full Gospel ordinances. If anything more were needed to complete the recurrence of Waxhaw Church, it was supplied when Doctor Richardson rode to Sugar Creek with his wife, Agnes Nancy Craighead, from the household of the celebrated Reverend Alexander Craighead. This was viewed in different lights as it smacked a trifle too much of the liberal ways of the Low-Country aristocracy. Although the new minister continued to be perfection, a sentiment developed that some of Mrs. Richardson's fine qualities were unsuited to her husband's station. Elizabeth Jackson, Andrew Jackson Jr.'s mother, liked the high-spirited Nancy and they became friends.
Nancy was a lot like her father, Rev. Alexander Craighead. There is no more controversial figure in the annals of Presbyterianism than the Rev. Alexander Craighead. Even though he died before Mecklenburg declared her independence of Great Britain, he is known as the "Father of Independence in Mecklenburg County." From Sugar Creek church rode two elders, Abraham and Hezekiah Alexander, to sign the Mecklenburg Declaration on May 20, 1775. That Rev. Alexander Craighead and Sugar Creek Presbytarian Church were important figures in Mecklenburg history was widely known. Alexander Craighead lies buried in the first Sugar Creek cemetery. His is the oldest marked grave. The fact that Sugar Creek had loved Craighead was evident.
Sources for the above are: Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church from brochures printed by them. Information on the Jackson's (Elizabeth, mother of Andrew Jackson) and Nancy Craighead are from THE LIFE OF ANDREW JACKSON, written by Marquis James.
View/Write Comments (count 0)
updates (0 subscribers) |
Create Your Badge