The Benenhaley, Buckner, Deas, Exum, Hood, Jolly, Oxendine, Pitts, Ray, and Scott families of Dalzell, South Carolina
Compiled by S. Pony Hill
Special honors to Claudia Benenhaley Gainey, Mandy Oxendine Chapman, Ralph J Oxendine, and Carrie L Scott Ardis, who worked tirelessly to extract these historical records.
1776………………..James Scott and David Scott enlist with North Carolina Continental Line.
1778………………..James Scott and David Scott arrive in High Hills of Santee for military training.
David Scott is transferred to the 5th South Carolina Regiment commanded by Colonel
Huger. James Scott is transferred to the South Carolina Militia commanded by Brigadier
1779………………..Colonial Map of South Carolina records an “Indian Town” in the High Hills of Santee.
1780………………..James Scott and David Scott participate in the relief of American forces during the
Siege of Charleston.
1781………………..James Scott is wounded during the Battle of Eutaw Springs. James Scott and
David Scott are both discharged from military service this year.
1790 census………..Aaron Oxendine, Wiley Deas, and James Scott recorded as living along Drowning
Creek in Robeson County, North Carolina, an area formerly identified as the
1794……………….On the 3rd of February a plat of 2,560 acres is surveyed in the High Hills of Santee,
“near Lynches Creek and Flat Creek”, and gifted by the South Carolina Legislature
to General Thomas Sumter for his service to the State during the Revolutionary War.
1800 census……….Aaron Oxendine and Wiley Deas residing in Robeson County, NC, recorded
as heads of households of “other free persons.”
James Scott and David Scott living on land of General Sumter recorded as
“other free persons” listed under household of General Thomas Sumter.
Joseph Benenhaley living in Charleston, SC, employed as a wheelwright.
1805………………Plat for 70 acres “surveyed by Adam McWillie” is deeded from General Sumter to
his son, Colonel Thomas Sumter, excepting “that parcel where Scott lives”.
1808………………Aaron Oxendine inherits land in Robeson County, NC, from the will of his father,
Charles Oxendine Sr.
1809………………Plat for 24 acres “surveyed by Hastin Jennings” is deeded from General Sumter
to James Scott.
1810 census………Aaron Oxendine, James Scott, and David Scott recorded as heads of households
of “other free persons” residing on James Scott’s land in Sumter County employed
Joseph Benenhaley recorded as head of household of “other free persons” residing
On General Thomas Sumter’s land in Sumter County employed in “manufacturing”
(as wheelwright for General Sumter’s manufacturing company).
1815………………Joseph Benenhaley deeded 33 acres by General Sumter.
1820 census………Aaron Oxendine, James Scott, and David Scott recorded as residing on James Scott’s
land in Sumter County as heads of households of “free persons of color”.
Joseph Benenhaley recorded as residing on his own land in Sumter County as head of
household of “free white persons”.
1821………………Aaron Oxendine sells his inherited Robeson County, NC, land to his brothers,
Charles Oxendine Jr and Jesse Oxendine.
1821……………...Colonel Thomas Sumter returns from Brazil where he had been serving as United States
Consul. General Sumter gives his son the house he had long resided in and moves to a
high hill called “Sumter’s Mount”. The General lives there by himself, except for his
servants, until his death on June 1st, 1832.
1826……………..James Scott dies.
1829……………..Joseph Benenhaley Sr dies.
1830 census……..Aaron Oxendine, Wiley Deas, and Elizabeth Benenhaley (widow of Joseph) recorded as
residing in Sumter County as heads of households of “free persons of color”.
David Scott recorded as residing in Kershaw County as head of household
of “free persons of color”.
1830……………..In November of 1830 a petition was submitted to the South Carolina Legislature from
“Inhabitants of Sumter District, Petition Requesting a release for the descendants of
David Scott from the tax placed on Free Blacks in view of David’s military service in
the American Revolution.”
1830…………….In December of 1830 the South Carolina Legislature released a committee report entitled:
“Committee of Ways & Means: Report on the Petition of David Scott & Sundry Citizens
of Sumpter Dist asking that the Descendants of David Scott may be exempted from paying
the tax on Free Persons of Color.”
1832……………..General Thomas Sumter dies.
1840 census……..Aaron Oxendine, David Scott, Elizabeth Benenhaley (widow of Joseph),
Lysender “Lon” Benenhaley (son of Joseph), and Joseph Benenhaley Jr
(son of Joseph) recorded as residing in Sumter County as heads of households
of “free persons of color”.
1840……………..Colonel Thomas Sumter (son of General Sumter) dies. His widow dies in 1841.
1850 census……..Martha Scott, Jane Oxendine, Elizabeth Oxendine, Washington Oxendine, Francis
Benenhaley, Joseph Benenhaley Jr, Catherine Scott, James Ray, Jane Oxendine,
Henry Scott, Wiley Deas, Richard Oxendine, Jane Oxendine recorded as residing in
Sumter County as heads of households of “Mulatto” families.
1858……………..Sumter District tax collector and Sumter legislative representative submit
“Resolution Imposing Capitation Tax on Egyptians and Indians as now on
Free Blacks, Mulattoes, and Mestizoes.”
1861-64………….Charles Oxendine (youngest son of Aaron Oxendine and Jane Scott) taxed as
“Indian” in Sumter tax district.
1861……………..Sumter Court affidavit of John Pollard, aged 73 years, states that James Scott was a
“…Revolutionary soldier who came into this county from Virginia when I was
very young.” Pollard describes that James Scott’s wife, Charity was “mixed with
Indian”, that their daughter, Jane Scott had married Aaron Oxendine, and that “the
general striking physiognomial traits of appearance of the Scott family in general,
and relatives, is deeply set with European and Indian blood.”
1861…………….Sumter Court affidavit of Mary Nickles: “She has known Margaret & Isham Scott The
parents of John N Scott and Fleming T Scott for a length of time and that Margaret Scott
was a White woman and always had the Character of being White and that Isham Scott’s
ancestors was of Egyptian and Indian blood.”
1862……………..Calhoun County, Florida Court case of State V. Francis Hill. Testimony of Thomas
Strickland: “knew Isham Scott and Margaret parents of Eliza in Sumter South Carolina.
Isham was a man of large amount Indian blood. Margaret was an Oxendine woman of
clean complexion nearly white the Indian still apparent. The grandfather, one Jacob, was
said to be a Chief among the Catawba Indians. The Scott family, in general, are regarded
as free of negro blood.” Testimony of Francis Hill: “Only briefly met Isham and Margaret
Scott the parents of Eliza. Isham appeared to be mostly Indian. Margaret appeared to be
mostly white. Neither appeared to have negro blood or considered Mulatto.”
1870……………..F. Kinloch Bull, in his memoir entitled “Random Recollections of a long Life”
writes that his father came to Sumter County in 1870 and met John W Buckner
whom Bull considered to be “…almost pure Indian.”
1870’s……………series of letters written by Matilda Ellison (wife of Lawrence Benenhaley) states
that Joseph Benenhaley Sr was an “Ottoman”, had learned the craft of wheelwright in
the West Indies before coming to Charleston, had worked as a manufacturer for General
Sumter, and that Lawrence had learned the craft of wheelwright from his father.
1889……………..Responding to an inquiry from McDonald Furman regarding the origin of the “Turks”,
Sebastian D’Amblemont Sumter (son of Colonel Thomas Sumter, grandson of the General)
wrote of Joseph Benenhaley “As to the original Benenhaley, I know nothing having seen
him only once or twice in my early boyhood nearly sixty years ago. I am very certain that
General Sumter had no hand in his importation and do not think that he made his
appearance here until after the first decade of the present century.” (i.e. Joseph Benenhaley
did not arrive in Sumter until around 1810).
(Sebastian D Sumter, born 1821 was only eleven years old when his grandfather, General Sumter, died,
and he would have been less than ten years old when Joseph Benenhaley and James Scott died.)
1889……………...Letter from K.E.L. Peebles to McDonald Furman: “All I know of the Scotts of this
township is that of Dave Scott, some 60 years ago, the progenitor of the Scotts here,
was living and subsequently died in Kershaw County – he living on a portion of that
vast domain granted by the State of South Carolina to Gen Sumter for Revolutionary
services. Dave Scott was quite old when I knew him and he was said to be one of Gen
Sumter’s soldiers of the Revolution and had been brought down or induced to come
down from North Carolina to settle upon his land. As to the other families of Red Bones
I have never heard anything said concerning them but I presume they came down under
the same circumstances that Dave Scott did and they all settled on Gen Sumter’s land.”
1890……………..Hamilton McMillon writes letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs regarding
the Indian families of Robeson County, NC, and mentions that “At one time the [Robeson
Indians] were known as ‘Redbones.’ And there is a street in Fayettville so called because
some of them once lived on it. They are known by this name in Sumter County, SC,
where they are quiet and peaceable, and have a church of their own. They are proud and
high spirited, and caste is strong among them.”
1894……………..McDonald Furman, a Sumter historian, writes numerous letters and articles regarding
the Oxendines and others of Sumter, which he states are called “Red Bones.” Furman
states “…their features and color as a race show unmistakable evidence of White or
Indian blood, or both.”
1904……………..Long Branch Baptist Church established by 44 members of the Benenhaley, Buckner,
Hood, Oxendine, and Ray family members. The land on which the church is built is
donated by Herbert Ray Sr, son of John Ray and Jane Oxendine.
1908…………….Majority of Chavis/Gibbs/Goins/Smiling/Sweat families of Privateer move to Robeson
County, NC. Local Sumter whites gradually stop using the term “Red Bones” in favor
of the slur “Turks”.
1914…………….Secretary of the Interior releases a report entitled “A Report on the Condition and Tribal
Rights of the Indians of Robeson and Adjoining Counties.” The report includes that
“…a branch of the Indians is located in Sumter, South Carolina”, and that at one time
the Robeson Indians “…were known as Red Bones…they are known by this name in
Sumter County, South Carolina.”
1914…………….Thomas Sebastian Sumter (born 1852, son of Sebastian D’Amblemont Sumter mentioned above,
great-grandson of General Sumter) wrote in an article appearing in the Sumter Herald, “I was
born and raised at the ‘Home House’, near where the Benenhaleys and Scotts and their
families lived. They got to be called ‘Turks’ by the country people. I got to knowing them
by name during the War and since the War of Secession and just before the War. The
Benenhaleys and Scotts are now prosperous farmers, and all good citizens, as their
ancestors have always been. They have their own schoolhouse, their own church.
Tom Benenhaley, who is now living and drawing his Confederate pension, they
furnished at least six soldiers to the Confederate Army…I got some information myself,
as a boy, from old Sallie Scott…and also from Benenhaley’s wife, but they were so old
and feeble that it was all disconnected and incoherent. I could not get much information
of the past… I know that if they ever wanted advice or anything they would come to my
father (Sebastian D’Amblemont Sumter) or uncles or some of the family as their ancestors did
to my ancestors and as they have done with me in regard to the present war of the
United States (i.e. World War One).” (Interesting to note that T S Sumter’s father claimed to have almost
no information regarding the origins of the ‘Turks’, and T S Sumter himself admits to not having much
information at all regarding their origins here in 1914, yet by the time he publishes his book “Some Old
Stateburg Homes” in 1934 he has become an expert on the details of the ‘Turk’ origins. Unfortunately
every single article or publication regarding the origins of the ‘Turks’ published since 1935 have used
T S Sumter’s horribly flawed history as their primary source.)
1917…………….Roy Oxendine, Samuel Scott, Jesse Scott, Jimmie Scott, and George Scott enlisted as
“Indian” in World War One. Other members of the Benenhaley, Oxendine, Buckner,
Hood and Ray families are enlisted as either “Turk” or “Mongolian”.
1920……………. Thomas Sebastian Sumter (born 1852, son of Sebastian D’Amblemont Sumter mentioned above,
great-grandson of General Sumter) wrote in an article appearing in the Sumter Herald regarding
James Scott, a.k.a. “the bugler”, “…for years he was bugler for the Claremont Troop
commanded by Colonel Thomas Sumter, only son of General Sumter, and at their muster
parades he acted in that capacity. The late Colonel James Blanding and others remembered
seeing him, an old man, in that capacity.” (By the time he wrote Some Old Stateburg Homes” in
1934, TS Sumter would change this account to state that James Scott had been a scout and bugler for
General Sumter, neither of which is accurate.)
1928…………….Article from The State newspaper entitled “Sumter County Colony Locally Called Turks”:
“…the oldest living member of the tribe, Mary Ann Benenhaley Oxendine, 85, daughter of
Joseph Benenhaley the second, and granddaughter of the first Joseph, has blue eyes, dark
skin, and straight white hair. She says her grandmother, wife of the first Joseph, was a white
woman named Miller, and her own mother was a Scott, daughter of the Scott who was bugler.
She married a man named Oxendine (Charles Oxendine, son of Aaron Oxendine and Jane Scott), her
first cousin, whose mother was also a Scott. Oxendine’s father, she says, came from
1939…………….Letters between Sumter School Superintendent, a Florida School Superintendent, and
the Dean of the Indian Normal School in Robeson County, NC, mentions that “the names
of Scott and Goings are known to him and they are generally believed in that county to be
of Indian blood.” Letters also mention that “…a school was maintained for the Indian race
in that county,” and specifically mention a “…Mr. Benenholy, an old Indian of that county.”
1949…………….Article entitled “Turks Seeking Educational Opportunities for Children” states that
“…many of them look like American Indians,” and “…Professor Henry H. Turney-Hugh,
an anthropologist on the faculty of the University of South Carolina, says that there is a
strong similarity between the purer strain of Turks and a number of American Indian types.”
1950…………….”Turks of Sumter” file suit in Federal District Court requesting their children be allowed
to attend the white Hillcrest High School after graduating from the Dalzell grade school.
The Sumter School District contested the case, claiming that certain bloodline of the Turks
“…bore the disability of a negro ancestor.” The plaintiffs claimed that the Oxendine
bloodline was exclusively Native American, and this was stipulated by the defendants.
The “Turks” adequately proved that they had no known negro ancestry and the Court ruled
that the “Turk” children were to be thereafter admitted to any white schools in the State.
1956…………….Indians of Robeson County, NC (which included many Oxendines, Deas, and Scotts as well as the
Chavis/Gibbs/Goins/Smiling/Sweat descendants who had moved from Sumter) are recognized by the
United States government as an federally recognized tribe. Their official title is the
“Cheraw Tribe of the Lumber River.”
1961…………….The Dalzell “Special School” closes.
1963…………….Noted ethnologist Brewton Berry publishes the book “Almost White”. He writes,
“Near Sumter, South Carolina, there is a community of some three hundred brown-skinned
people known locally as “Turks”…They have been there nearly two hundred years…In
1780 General Thomas Sumter was scouring the colony in search of recruits. He came upon
a community of mestizos (i.e. White and Indian mixed) and persuaded a few to join him…In
any case, a colony of brown people flourished in the hilly country around Statesburg in the
eighteenth century. They were joined by others. A man by the name of Oxendine, of the
Lumbees, came down from North Carolina, took himself a wife, and planted the surname
which is still common among the Turks. And the family name Chavis, which is found in
many mestizo groups, was doubtless introduced in similar manner.”
1975…………….Report to the Smithsonian Institution: “Julius Benenhaley, about 80 years old…long
thought of by the white neighbors as the head man, or King, of the Turks…stated
he ‘knew nothing of Turkish ancestry’ yet explained ‘we probably have Indian blood’.”
Analysis of Pre-1850 “Turk” Family Structure by Census Data