Carolina Catastrophe

Written By: Leo Lawton

Winborn Wallace Lawton, always known as Wallace, was born January 31, 1837. He was the great grandson of William Lawton the first known Lawton in the South Carolina low country along the Atlantic Coast. Wallace’s father, Winborn, had established The Hundred Pines plantation on James Island, across the Ashley River from Charleston before the War of 1812.

As a part of his will, Winborn sold the plantation to his son Wallace in 1861. Wallace married a cousin, 16-year-old Cecilia Lawton, September 20, 1864, during the Civil War. After the war was over, the plantation was in financial trouble with the lack of slave labor. A year and a week after the wedding Wallace was in the process of selling a section of land to his sister Juliet’s husband, yet another cousin, Asa Waring Lawton born in 1831.

Wednesday, September 28, 1865 was the date set for the signing of the paperwork effecting the transfer of property. Asa’s brother Judson, and Wallace’s brother Josiah, always known as Powell, were there as witnesses to the signing. After the signing of the papers there was a dispute about taxes associated with the transfer of property ending with a brief scuffle between Wallace and Asa, with the much larger Asa getting the best of it.

Cecilia, knowing her husband’s propensity toward violence, gave Wallace’s pistol to Powell and told him to leave with it. Outside Wallace threatened to kill his brother if his pistol was not returned so Powell gave it to him. At that point, Wallace shot his cousin Asa killing him.As this was immediately after the Civil War Wallace was arrested and brought up on charges at a military proceeding. He was found guilty of the charge of murder, but with no malice aforethought, and therefore it was considered an excusable action. So ended another tragic sequence of events among the extended Lawton family members.