South Carolina families in and around the counties of Bamberg, Barnwell and Orangeburg

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Hairs, Hares, and Herrs?

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I have never found what ship my Keefe/O'Keefe progenitor was a passenger on to America. However, I have been luckier with my mother's side. Peter HERR was in the group of reformed Swiss-German Protestants who came to Charleston, South Carolina on 16 October, 1749 aboard the ship Griffin. He had traveled with his wife and one small child, but alas his wife died shortly after arrival.

Peter Herr wrote a letter on behalf of himself and the others of those whom had immigrated on the ship Griffin. The letter was translated from the German and read before the Royal English Council of South Carolina on November 30, 1749:

"The humble address of Peter Herr and the rest of his countrymen came in the Griffin from Germany. ... This petition is intended to acquaint you gentlemen the many hardships we have met with since our arrival here and the many untruths that Ramensperger has made us believe in Germany to get us over to South Carolina where he told us that the King and Parliament had provided to pay our passage from London on here to South Carolina and that there would be a contribution made in London to pay our passage there and such a contribution was made as we hear, but Ramensperger has kept all the money and applied it to his own use. ... We were not only obliged to pay our own passage to London, but likewise here and an extravagant price too. We say such a price as was never given before. Not only that, but I, Peter Herr, had the misfortune to lose my wife since my arrival here and find that I am liable to pay her passage which is £42. I have one little child and no body will buy me. Likewise the doctor has brought me in a bill for tending my deceased wife in her illness £12.15 and don't know what to do to get out of my misfortunes. Therefore, we doubt not, gentlemen, but you will ease us all of our burden and put us in away of getting our livelihood for which we shall ever pray.

After the Council investigated this matter, it was decided that the complaints were frivolous and that Ramensperger had not acted any ways unfairly to the Swiss-German immigrants. This decision did not stop Peter Herr from owning at least some property as he did manage a farm of about 100 acres in Saxe-Gothe (present day Cayce).

About 1754 Peter Herr married for a second time to Anna Marie Harmon or Herman (also a passenger on the ship Griffin). Peter and Anna Herr had two sons, John and Mathias; and seven daughters: Mary, Anna, Rachel, Agnes, Margaret, Molly, and Barbara. As for the sons, Mathias settled and raised a family near Newberry; while John, who served in the Revolutionary War, brought up his own family in the Barnwell area not far from a Peter Herr/Hair, Jr, who was probably Peter Sr's son from first marriage.

Peter Jr, appears to have been married himself at least twice with children from both wives. The children from Peter, Jr's first marriage, with those of half brother Mathias Hair, became the progenitors for the family descendants in Newberry and Edgefield counties; while Peter, Jr appears to have bought a large tract of land in Orangeburg District (later Barnwell area) around 1790 and left descendants from a second marriage there along with those of his other half brother John Hair.

Henry Hair, a son of Peter Jr, was one of the first in this family line to migrate out of the state of South Carolina. He headed west and took up roots in Louisiana in the 1820s.

Note that by second and third SC generations,the surname HERR, was anglinized to HAIR and HARE by various family members.

A Johann Peter Herr and his wife Anna Elizabeth from Steinweiler/Pfatz, Germany are possible (unproven) candidates for parents of the immigrant, Peter Herr. There was also a Herr family early on in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The colonial pioneer for the PA group appears to have been a Abraham Herr, from Zurick Switzerland, who settled in Pennsylvania in early 1700s, but I do not know if this Abraham Herr has any relationship to the SC progenitor.

If you would like to share or exchange information on the Hairs or related surnames, please use my email on the main page.

My Father's Line

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Last Updated: 1/12/2005


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