James Weeks - Son of Silas Weeks and Zillah Hunter

Move to Sumter County, South Carolina circa 1794
Compiled by Robert Weeks
"Settlers'" Houses - Sumter County Museum
Silas Weeks, a son of Theophilus Weeks and Grace Green, married Zillah Hunter.  This marriage produced a son named James Weeks (born before 1755), a son named Theophilus (born October 21, 1760 - died July 20, 1839 - married to Ann O’Steen), and a daughter named Ada (born about 1765 - died after 1850 - married to John A, O’Steen Sr.).  James married a lady named Rebecca (possibly Rebecca Osteen). 

Sometime about 1794, James Weeks moved his family to Sumter-Clarendon section of South Carolina and bought 150 acres from Joseph Corbett of Orangeburg District.  This move on the part of James and Rebecca actually allowed them to join an Osteen Family who were living in the Sumter District.  Coming from Carteret County, North Carolina, with their parents were four sons, William, Philip, Chosel (also known as Joseph) [born March 30, 1780 - died December 22, 1852], and James Weeks Jr.  According to oral history, James, Sr., and his son, William, came to Sumter County ahead of the rest of the family.  

Again, according to oral history, Philip, James, Jr., and Chosel, came from Carteret County via the Atlantic Ocean accompanying their families household effects and heavy equipment.  It is not known just what route was traveled inland from the ocean to Sumter County by the brothers.  Jean Brunson was aware of this oral history and indicates that the descendants of Joseph (Chosel) Weeks (July 7, 1808 - March 10, 1846) might have been the ones who have passed down a story that Chosel and his brothers landed at Port Royal. 

The Port Royal mentioned is the site of the first French settlement in South Carolina and is located approximately ten miles south of Beaufort, South Carolina.  It is highly improbable that the boys would have detoured so far south with the heavy equipment they were transporting.  Although Philip originally joined his family in the Sumter settlement, he later left and moved to the Beaufort District.  In the 1800 Sumter Census, Philip is listed in the Clarendon section next to James Weeks, Sr., and James Weeks Jr.

I am not convinced that the above stated oral history is correct in reporting that Philip was a brother of James and Chosel.  My research, rather, concludes that Philip was a cousin of James and Chosel.  It happens that brothers Levi, Stephen, and Philip Weeks had moved to South Carolina.  Records indicate that Philip (a cousin of James and Chosel) settled in Sumter County for a period of time before moving to the Beaufort District where Levi and Stephen had settled.

The Weeks Family came to South Carolina when "Things were really bursting loose."  The best documented records on the lands occupied by this family are the records reference the land grant for James, Jr., who received a 1000 acre State Land Grant about 1802 on a location near Sammy Swamp about two miles north of Pinewood, South Carolina.  This 1000 acre State Land Grant includes 298 acres surveyed for his brother Chosel Weeks, and 455 acres surveyed for his brother William Weeks.  It is from Chosel Weeks, the brother of James, Jr., that our family line comes.

The Weeks Lands in Sumter District

The area of land known as the old Sumter District was made up of the present-day Sumter, Lee and Clarendon counties.

White settlement in this area was initially hampered by the difficulty of traveling through it.  Heavily wooded, there were, of course no roads and the numerous rivers and creeks were generally swampy and often flooded,making them not only unreliable for transportation, but difficult to cross.

In the 1750s steps were taken to alleviate these problems and settlement began in earnest.  Many of the historically prominent families in the area arrived in these early years.  However, prior to the American Revolution this area remained sparsely populated with only a few pockets of settlements, such as in the High Hills of the Santee and along the rivers.

The disruption of the Revolution further slowed settlement and development in the area. After the Revolution, inland settlement attained new vigor, spurred on no doubt by the fact that in 1784 the General Assembly passed “An Act for Establishing the Mode and Conditions of surveying and Granting the Vacant lands within this State” which created a land grant system to replace previous systems under the Lords Proprietors and royal governments.  This act, with subsequent amendments, provided for the purchase of vacant lands for $10 per 100 acres and allowed holders of indents to purchase land.  Another act provided the granting of bounty lands to the soldiers of the South Carolina Line that had been promised them by the Continental Congress and S. C. General Assembly.  These bounty lands were free and office fees were waived.

Fearing that lands in the interior would remain unclaimed, the General Assembly further encouraged settlement by abolishing the purchase price for land in 1791.  Thereafter, obtaining a land grant only required the payment of office fees.  The act of 1784 prohibited grants of over 640 acres, but this provision was repealed the next year and a speculative mania ensued. Efforts to control speculation were ineffective.  The repeal of the purchase price for land only added fuel to the fire and many very large tracts were granted.  Procedures for processing land grants were also decentralized by the act of 1784, thus removing the burden of traveling to Charleston to complete the process.

At the end of the 1700s the growing population led to the relocation of the state government from Charleston to Columbia, and the reorganization and expansion of the circuit court system.  This expansion included the creation of Sumter District in 1800, comprising Salem, Claremont, and Clarendon counties previously part of Camden District, and soon thereafter the site for the location of public buildings was designated and named Sumterville.

During these early years, the daring settlers would often build what were called Settlers’ Houses on their allotted tracts of land.  Usually, these houses had only one room.  In one end of the building was a fire place for cooking and keeping the building warm.  In the other end of the building, one might expect to find a "rope bed" used by the head of the household and his spouse.  Ladders were provided for the children to reach the attic where they slept.  Upon a visit to the Sumter County Museum, I learned that one such settlement house has been moved to the backyard of the museum as an Early Settlement Display. "This house was originally located near present-day Pinewood near the border between Sumter and Clarendon counties.  The land on which it was built was part of a 1000 acre tract granted to a man named James Weeks, Jr., (brother of Chosel) in 1802 under the state grant system." [Ardila, Early Settlement in Old Sumter District]