James Joseph

Francis Marion McMeekin

1830-1889

 

    Francis McMeekin was named after the Revolutionary War hero known as the "Swamp Fox."   His brother was named for Robert Young Hayne who dominated South Carolina politics and was famous for his oratory.  Francis's father was named after the general and first US president, Thomas George Washington McMeekin.  Likewise Francis was to give political significance to his first son, honoring him with the moniker of Jefferson Davis McMeekin.

Francis was born in Union District of South Carolina 14 Jan 1830.  He was orphaned as a three year old boy.  He and his siblings were cared for by friends.  Morgan Huson became his guardian and added two years to his 1832 birth  to do so legally.   Francis also attended Charleston Medical College matriculating in 1854.  The 1850 US Census shows Francis (19) and Hayne (17) as students living in the household of William (32) and Mary A. Boyd (23).  William's occupation is listed as a clerk.  They had a 2 month old son at the time named William L.  See the account of Francis' father for other residents in the home. 

Although Francis became a doctor, he did not practice long.  A family story relates that during that time period, whiskey was used widely for medicinal purposes.  He quit doctoring because he became his own best patient.  His next occupation was to be farmer.

On 18 Sept 1856 Francis married

Harriet Margaret Glenn Johnson,

the daughter of wealthy plantation owner of Fairfield, SC, Adna Johnson.   They were wed at home in Fairfield by the Reverend Dann. 

James Joseph Francis Marion McMeekin

Harriet Margaret Glenn Johnson McMeekin in her wedding dress

Harriet had lost her mother, Mary Ann Harriet Thompson Johnson, as an infant and was raised by her father and his third wife, Margaret.  Harriet was born 29 July 1839 in Monticello, Fairfield District, South Carolina.  Her mother died two months later on 30 Sept 1839 at 30 years of age. 

When they married, Harriet was a young bride of 17 and Francis was 24.  The young Harriet must have been a favorite of her father for he gave the newlyweds as many as 11 slaves.  Harriet's father moved to Florida and settled in Putnam County.  Soon after their marriage, they too moved with their first child, Mary Margaret Thompson McMeekin, whom they called Molly.  They built a log cabin and set up housekeeping not too far from Harriet's father.  Their original property was located on the south side of Little McMeekin and McMeekin lakes.  There they cleared a field with the help of their slaves and probably grew cotton.  The McMeekin homestead had a blacksmith forge on the property as well. 

Not long after arriving in Florida, Harriet joined the Ochwilla Baptist Church to which her father had become a member earlier.  The church had a balcony for slave seating.  Francis never did join the church. 

Harriet and Francis's children were:

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Mary Margaret Thompson McMeekin (Molly)  b. 31 May 1858 in Fairfield County, SC

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Jefferson Davis McMeekin                                b. 07 Aug 1860 in Putnam County, FL

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Francis Elizabeth (Lizzie) McMeekin                b. 08 Mar 1866 in Putnam County, FL

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Eliza Florence McMeekin                                   b. 13 Feb 1870 in Putnam County, FL

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Thomas J. McMeekin                                          b. 27 Jan 1872 in Putnam County, FL

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Harriet Estelle McMeekin                                    b. 24 Jan 1878 in Putnam County, FL                   

Jefferson was the first child born in Florida and was named after the Confederate president.  At the outbreak of the civil war, Francis took his bride and two young children back to Fairfield for the duration of the war.  He enlisted as a Lieutenant Second Class for the Confederacy in Joseph Finnegan's Brigade, Company B, Florida's 9th Infantry Regiment.   He fought in the Battle of Olustee, 20 Feb 1864.  The company moved North and became part of the Army of Northern Virginia.  He was Wounded on 03 June 1864 at Cold Harbor, VA.  He returned to service and surrendered on 09 April 1865 at Appomattox Court House, VA.  Family history tells that war weary Francis was given a gun and horse by sympathetic Federals after the surrender to help with his trip back home.  [To learn more about a walking trip from Appomattox, read "After the War Was Over," the diary of Lewis H. Andrews from the Atlanta Journal May 21, 1904 pp. 6, 15.]

He and Harriet returned to Florida where they built a two story house on the north side of the two lakes in 1872.  Francis then turned to raising orange groves.  When they returned home, all their slaves were still there.  Francis gave each family 40 acres of land, giving 80 acres to one particular male whose loyalty and service he had most enjoyed.  After receiving the land, the freed men and women, were perplexed as to staying or going.  Francis sternly said, "If you don't make up your mind right away, I'll just take back the land."  The group quickly agreed to accept the land.   

Francis continued to tend his groves and died suddenly of a heart attack 05 August 1889 [see obituary].    Harriet attempted to continue the grove, until the Great Freeze of 1894 and 1895.  She moved into Jefferson's home and later lived with her daughter Estelle in Jacksonville.  She died 27 Jan 1913 at age 74.  Both Francis and Harriet are buried in Ochwilla Cemetery outside her church near Melrose, Florida, in Putnam County. 

Family Tree  Family Group Data

Written Genealogy from Florence McMeekin Gladwin