Memorial Day 2023
Last week I did something that I haven’t done in quite a while. Regrettably, I had not visited the grave of one my ancestors in almost a decade. The perfect opportunity to pay my Fourth Great Grandfather a visit arose when fellow TrueSouth Properties agent, Stewart Robbins, and I were scouting a property in Chambers County, AL for a customer of Stewarts. Our travels took us within a mile of the Sweet Home Methodist Church Cemetery. The cemetery has some of the oldest grave sites that I know of in Alabama. Several date back to the 1700’s.
My Fourth Great Grandfather is Stephen Nolen III. He was born in Frederick County, Virginia near the current day border with West Virgina and Maryland. The area is a short distance northwest of Washington D.C. In his early years, this area would have been considered frontier, country. Stephen the III’s Grandfather (my Sixth Great Grandfather), Stephen Noland I (later spelling was changed to Nolen), was the first of my male ancestors born in the land that was later to become the United States of America. Stephen Noland I was born in Maryland in 1682. My family has been on this side of the Atlantic a little while!
Stephen Nolen III moved, with his family, from Frederick County, Virginia to Fairfield County, South Carolina (not formed until 1785). It is located northwest of current day Columbia. When Stephen III was 22 years old, he married Mary Smith. The year was 1775. As all know, the United States of America declared independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776. Around 1780 some major changes happened around the Nolen farm near the forks of the Little River. Stephen III’s father Stephen II passed away that year. British General, Lord Cornwallis (the commanding general of the British forces) had just completed some successful battles in the north. He then decided to shift his focus to the south. Cornwallis set up his headquarters in the future Fairfield County Seat of Winnsboro. The town was a short distance to the east of the Nolen farm.
Around the time that Cornwallis and the British Army set up headquarters in South Carolina, the backcountry locals of Scots-Irish decent were becoming alarmed and were arming themselves to defend their land and homes against the British. Sometime during all of this, Stephen Nolen III joined the South Carolina Militia as a private. I don’t know much of the story about his involvement in the Revolutionary War. However, Francis Marion (the famous, American, Brigadier General known as the “Swamp Fox”) must have had a profound influence on Stephen Nolen III and his family. My Father, Uncle, Great Grandfather and Great, Great Grandfather all have part of the name Francis Marion in their names. The earlier two were named Francis Marion Nolen.
Following the war and a move from South Carolina through Georgia and eventually into Alabama, Stephen Nolen III passed away at the old age of 93 and was laid to rest in the Sweet Home Cemetery. It would be amazing if I could somehow find out the details of his travels and adventurous life.
I am thankful for a lot of things this Memorial Day. Thankful for the sacrifices of Stephen Nolen III, many other millions of Veterans and especially the Veterans that sacrificed their lives for this great nation. This is a great nation. I feel incredibly blessed to live here. We have some great challenges, as we’ve had throughout our history. Remembering the incredible sacrifices our veterans have made energizes me to stand firm on the solid ideals and principles that have made the United States of America a great nation. Micah 6:8 comes to mind. Auburn alums should recognize this verse. Take a minute to look it up today.