Tom Hartley: Genealogy Expert

During our stays at Chickamauga and Kings Mountain, Tom became something of a genealogy expert.  He learned how to look up records of people who fought at Chickamauga.  At Kings Mountain he picked up another 100 years of looking up soldier records for people.

Dr. Bobby Gilmer Moss was the genealogy expert for Kings Mountain.  He spent his life researching the people who fought at Kings Mountain and at other battles in South Carolina.  He gathered pension records, notes from pension hearings, and family records.  He used these to compile a comprehensive list and descriptions of people who definitively fought at Kings Mountain.  He also maintained a shorter list of those he thought might have fought.  Those Overmountain men were so independent that many of them came, fought, and went home, never filing for a pension from the government for their military service.  Those are the ones on the second list.

51dYMLqmzBL._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_Bobby Gilmer Moss was an equal opportunity researcher:  he researched soldiers on the Loyalist and Patriot side.  Ultimately he published 26 books on the Patriots and Loyalists at Kings Mountain, in South Carolina, at Cowpens, Moores Creek, and Ninety Six, African American Patriots in South Carolina, and Loyalist Women in South Carolina.  His extensive research records are housed at the Bobby Gilmer Moss Research Room at the Southern Revolutionary War Institute in York, South Carolina.  Tom would have loved to meet Dr. Moss, but he died in 2015.  We did, however, get to meet his widow, Catherine Moss.

So, whenever anyone would come to Kings Mountain and mention that they had an ancestor who fought there, we would direct them to Bobby Gilmer Moss’ books and get Tom to talk to them.  Tom also had a couple of other books he liked to look in, including one that is out of print that he could grab out of the office and show to people.

As Tom was helping people with their genealogy, he found a few people who thought their relatives fought on the Patriot side but who actually fought on the Loyalist side.  Although this changed their family story a little, most of them responded favorably.  It makes sense that Loyalists who stayed in the United States after the war might have let people believe they were Patriots.  Loyalists who stayed needed to blend in.

Tom had 20 relatives that fought at Kings Mountain.  About half fought on the Loyalist side and half on the Patriot side.  Some of them changed sides during the war – starting off as Patriots and becoming Loyalists because of “atrocities committed by the Patriots.”  Isbell, Coleman, Chesney, Cook, Gibbs and White are the family names that come up in his genealogy at Kings Mountain.  All of them stayed in the United States after the war, but the Loyalists moved on to a fresh start west of the Appalachian mountains.

Tom and his Isbell relative
Tom and his Isbell relative

During our time at Kings Mountain, Tom found one family who shared a common ancestor with him.  An older woman came in whose great-great-(?) grandfather was Henry Isbell, the same as Tom.  So they caught up on the two family lines and enjoyed talking to a long-lost “cousin.”

Chickamauga and Kings Mountain were great places for Tom to become a genealogy expert.  He has enjoyed exploring his own roots and helping other people find out more about their own ancestry lines.