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By James Rex Kersh
A Bit of Kersh History
Andrew Kersh came from Zuzenhausen, Germany to America with his parents, two sisters, and three brothers, leaving Rotterdam, Holland February 16, 1744 on board the passenger ship, the St. Andrew, and landing at Charleston, South Carolina, (from Council Journal of South Carolina, 1744). Andrew’s father was Hans (or John) George Kersh, and we believe his brothers were George (or John George), David and Conrad. We do not know the given names of his mother and two sisters. It is said that three of the boys were bound out to pay for their passage. The family was Lutheran, but since there were no Lutheran Churches in South Carolina at that time, they joined the Methodist Church.
In 1749 John George Kersh received a land grant from King George II of England for 250 acres, located in Saxe-Gotha (present day Lexington County, South Carolina). He deeded this land to his son Conrad, in 1751. This information is written on the bottom of the grant. Andrew Kersh received two land grants: 113 acres in Craven County, July 26, 1766 and 700 acres in Orangeburg District on Four Hole Swamp, June 5, 1805. [Note: In 1766 the whole northern half of South Carolina was included in Craven County. Andrew’s grant would have been in present day Richland County, the extreme southern part of which may have been considered Orangeburg District. At that time, county lines were so indefinite, it was difficult to tell where one county ended and another began.]
Andrew Kersh served in the Revolutionary War in the 6th South Carolina Regiment, enlisting June 23, 1777. He must have stayed during the whole war because he was still on the payroll in 1781. [From War Department]
In 1786, Joseph Kersh, “only son” of Andrew Kersh and his “lawful wife”, Roady, received 100 acres of land from his father, located on Cypress Creek in Orangeburg District (present day Berkeley County) one in Beaufort County, and one in Pendleton County. Since a small part of present day Berkeley County was supposed to be in Orangeburg District, this would seem to be the right location of the land given to Joseph. However, in a later census, Joseph was in Beaufort County. We do not know if Roady was still living when the land was given to Joseph. We believe Andrew and Roady may have had several daughters, one of whom married John Rhodes, who lived in the second house from Andrew.
On March 25, 1788, Andrew Kersh married Eva Margaretta Geysler, daughter of Jacob and Maria Catherine Geysler. [From the Bible of John Kersh]. Eva Margaretta Geysler at age of three, came from Germany with her mother, Maria Catherine, age thirty-five, and brother, Frederick, age twelve, on the ship, Belfast Paquet, landing at Charleston, South Carolina October 17, 1766. Her father, Jacob Geysler, was on board the passenger ship, Britannia. These two ships mush have traveled together, because Jacob petitioned for a land grant and Maria petitioned for bounty on the same day, October 17, 1766. Both petitions were granted. The bounty money was given to the ship’s captain for their passage, and Jacob was given a grant of 250 acres located on Cow Castle Creek, in Orangeburg District, South Carolina. [From Protestant Immigrants to South Carolina, 1763-1773.] Under the Act of July 25, 1761, immigrants to South Carolina were given land and a few pounds in money to induce them to settle there.
In the 1790 census (the first census taken), Andrew Kersh is shown living in the northern part of Orangeburg District with a family of : 1 male over 16; 2 males under 16; 3 females. In 1800, he has in his family: 2 males under 16; 1 male 16-20; 1 male 20-40; 2 females and they were in Orange County between Edisto River and Beaver Creek of the Four Holes. In the 1810 census, Andrew is not shown, so he must have died between 1805, when he received the 700 acre land grant and the 1810 census. His wife, Margaretta (or Margaret) was listed in the same place with a family of four males and two females besides herself and two slaves. Two of the boys were Jacob and William, who brought their families to Mississippi in 1833 and settled in Rankin County. We do not know the names of the other two boys, but think they were Andrew and Evan, who were living in Barnwell County in 1830. These two names have been brought down for several generations in the Kersh family. The other two females may have been daughters of Andrew and Roady. Their daughters would have been about the same age as Eva Margaretta. Eva was not in the 1820 census, so she either died during that time, left Orangeburg District, or remarried. We do not know where Andrew and Evan were after 1830. Maragretta could have been with them.
Hans (John) George Kersh had two sons after coming to America. They were William and Jacob, and must have been the ones who lived in Barnwell County and later changed their name to Kearse.
Jacob Kersh, the first child of Andrew and Eva Margaretta Geysler, was born in Orangeburg District, South Carolina, May 15, 1789. According to the record in the Bible of John Kersh, Jacob’s son, Jacob Kersh and Rachael Easterling were married Wednesday evening, November 4, 1812, by Isaac Bradwell, Esquire. Jacob and Rachael had twelve children, all born in South Carolina except for the last two, Ezra Thomas and Enos Richard, who were born in Rankin County, Mississippi.
Jacob was about five feet and ten inches tall and had a dark complexion, black hair and eyes. In the War of 1812, he was a private in a Company of South Carolina Militia commanded by Captain John Utsey and Colonel Rae. Jacob was honorably discharged. He did not receive a written discharge. (From application for a pension made by his wife, Rachael Kersh). His gun used to be in the Historical Museum in Jackson Mississippi, but when the Museum was moved to the Old Capitol, the gun was lost.
The families of Jacob Kersh and his brother, William Kersh, together with the families of Gray, Rhodes, Russell, Martin, Meyers and Crook, came to Mississippi in 1833 in covered wagons. Up to 1820 people were supposed to have passports to go through the Creek Nation of Indians in Georgia, but nothing was found of the Kersh family in the Georgia passports, so all Kersh families evidently came to Mississippi after 1820.
In the early 1850’s Jacob Kersh received a land grant of 50 acres, located in Rankin County, Mississippi for his services in the War of 1812. This grant was signed by President Millard Fillmore and was in existence until 1958, when it was lost. When Jacob died in 1853 his wife, Rachael, and his oldest son, John, were administrators of his estate. Everything was sold. He had only two salves, a boy valued at $800 and a girl valued at $600. According to records at the Rankin County courthouse in Brandon, Mississippi in Inventory Book B, pages 528-533 and in Inventory and Appraisements Book C, pages 542-546, the value of the estate was between six and seven thousand dollars, and was equally divided between his heirs.
Rachael Easterling Kersh was the daughter of Enos Easterling and Jean Bradwell Easterling Kersh, whose property joined that of her husband’s father, Andrew Kersh. In the 1860 census of Rankin County, Mississippi, Rachael was staying with her son, William Eli Kersh; in the 1870 census, with her son Andrew Frederick Kersh; and in the 1880 census, with her granddaughter, Annie Russell, (nee Minerva Apphira Drewanna Kersh, daughter of Frederick Kersh.
After Jacob’s death, Rachael received a warrant for 160 acres of land for his service in the War of 1812. This warrant was transferred to Jonathan Gore. She tried several times to get a pension, but failed because of the short period of Jacob’s service. Finally, in 1878, she got a pension of $8.00 per month, giving her family Bible record as proof of her marriage date and Jacob’s death date. Marriage licenses were not required in South Carolina until the early 1900’s. Her Bible was printed and published by M. Carey and Son in 1818. In her last application for a pension in 1878, Rachael gave her address as Polkvillle, Mississippi in Smith County in care of the Reverenced J D W Duckworth. Both Jacob and Rachael Kersh are buried in Shiloh Methodist Cemetery in Rankin County, Mississippi.
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