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A Message from the Mutts: Please be aware that this file, much like our brain matter, is in a state of continual transition. If you don't find what you're looking for on the current page, click on the link at the bottom of the page and use your "FIND" feature to locate the surname or individual about which/whom you're seeking information. Happy Hunting!

Late 1700's

THOMAS GARDNER according to one source, was born ca.1768 in North Carolina. However, the local historian, Cleveland Gardner, insists that "Thomas Garner belonged to a family of 21 children...and came to America sometime before the Revolutionary War. He and Olive Martin settled in what is now No. 9 twp. on the East side of First Broad River."

Wherever...among his papers are documents signed Thomas Garneur. (Now, Garneur sounds French, no matter how hard the Princess, who does not wish to be French, tries to worm out of it.) It's possible our Gardner-Garner ancestors were either Huguenots who migrated to Scotland from France or Jacobites who migrated to France from Scotland. (The latter pleases the Princess who does wish to be Scottish; in fact, insists that we be regardless of any documentation that might prove otherwise!) The truth is we don't yet know the Gardner point of origin, and are open to any and all suggestions, theories and/or weighty preponderances.

We do know that Thomas owned a lot of property in North Carolina which included "Gardener's Ford", a crossing for the stage coach from Rutherford. The route ran through what is now Lawndale and Fallston all the way to Lincolnton. He and Olivia raised a dozen children, and from what we can determine, all were outstanding citizens. (That's very boring, we know, but we do have some cads and creeps further down the line.) A few of their children later moved to Georgia with other families from the area.

Olive Martin Gardner was a midwife and a monied midwife to boot. She and her husband, Thomas, owned land from the Broad River at Lawndale, North Carolina, down to what is now Fallston. At her death, she left all of this land to Elizabeth and Rebecca, and when Rebecca died, Elizabeth took over.


ELIZABETH (BETTY) GARDNER never married. She and her sister Rebecca lived on the old Gardner homestead all of their lives. We know little about Rebecca, but Elizabeth was a very outstanding character. There are notes about her that describe her as a beautiful, striking woman, (typical Gardner) who entertained a good deal, and like her brother, James, loved to debate. Knowing the Gardner family, as only a Gardner does, she undoubtedly took the opposing view just for the heck of it.

From the notes of Cleve Gardner we are told that "Thomas Gardner and his wife purchased at auction a Negro woman brought from Virginia, probably about 1800. This woman had a child named Flora." When Thomas died, Flora was, of course, willed to Ollie and on Ollie's death, to their daughter Elizabeth. Now here's where the plot thickens...

When Rufus Gardner became engaged to Sarah Elam, Elizabeth became enraged. We're not sure why because she's not here to tell us. But we suspect that having raised Rufus, she considered him HER child. As such, it is believed she intended to leave him all her property/worldy belongings to include the family farm that adjoined Colonel Grigg's plantation and of course, Flora! Her displeasure with her nephew, however, prompted her to make a few minor changes in her will and all of her land was left instead to her ex-slaves and their families. (It did not do to cross Aunt Elizabeth!) And it's Flora's descendants that now live in neat little brick homes throughout much of the area.


Flora Garner

Bill Schenck         Emma

Flora's Son-in-Law, Bill Schenck and Eldest Daughter, Emma Lilly Garner Schenck

[A note of thanks to Dorcas Ross of Lawndale, NC for allowing us to display these photographs]

JAMES LAFAYETTE GARDNER, born 1816 in Rutherford County, NC, was 5'9 1/2" tall with fair skin, blue eyes, and black hair. James married first Elvirah Cornwell. There was trouble between James and the Cornwell family, but alas (!) we've yet to discover the juicy details. Elvirah died in 1854, two years after the birth of their daughter, Katherine. Rufus was sent to live with his Aunt Betty, and Katharine was raised by her aunt, Carrie Gardner Grigg. Elvirah is buried behind the old Frank Cornwell place in a family cemetery which we're told is no longer accessible.

James was a teacher as well as a farmer, and it is probably in the teaching environment where he met his second wife, Anna Lovelace, also a teacher. James was also famous as a debater, lending credence to the supposition that all Gardners were, (and still are), mouthy!

On March 18, 1862, at the age of 45, James Gardner joined the Confederate Army. According to the Cobb Family History by R. Henderson, "Before the Civil War, the citizens of North Carolina were reluctant to leave the Union, but enthusiastically supported the cause after President Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to put down the Southern rebellion. In 1861, Cleveland County raised a company of volunteers known as the Cleveland Blues. The county would have provided a second company but there were not enough weapons available. James served with the second company of men raised in Cleveland County, many of whom were from White Plains. They were company G, 49th Regiment and known as the Kings Mountain Tigers. Private James Lafayette Gardner...fought at King's Schoolhouse and Malvern Hill where he was wounded on July 1, 1862." He died shortly thereafter at the Peace Institute Hospital in Raleigh. Three of his sons, --Rufus, Duffy and Amos Kendall-- also enlisted. The DUFUS Brothers survived the war relatively unscathed. Unfortunately, Amos Kendall did not. He, too fought at the battle at Malvern Hill and died in Richmond, Virginia, 8 Jul 1862. It was not a good year for the Gardner's of Cleveland County.

THOMAS T. BARNES, The elusive Thomas T. was a farmer and millwright by trade. He married twice and sired six children (that we know of). According to the 1870 NC Census, Thomas was born in South Carolina, as were his parents, and at an age yet to be determined, moved to North Carolina, settling in McDowell and Rutherford Counties. Thomas died one fine spring day --quite by accident and his own hand. Before, during, or upon impact with Ground Zero, he inadvertantly shot himself in a fall from his wagon. An 1880 Rutherford County NC Mortality Schedule cites the cause of death as "accidental suicide," which occurred --(are you ready for this!?!) --on April Fool's Day in the Year of Our Lord Eighteen Hundred Eighty.

RUFUS WEBB GARDNER was short with swarthy complexion, black hair, and blue eyes. He was a teacher, merchant, farmer, Squire, who married well and raised a family of diverse children. He was also a debater. (This must have been a favored form of entertainment in those days.) Cleve Gardner describes him as "a remarkable man whose mother died while he was yet a young boy, leaving him and a number of other small childen to be raised by their father. Rufus spent much of his time with his Aunt Betty Gardner. By sheer force of will, courage and energy, Rufus became one of Cleveland County's foremost citizens

As justice of the Peace he was called upon to draft many wills, deeds, mortgages, and other legal instruments. He was a leader in the community and his church and took an active interest in all matters afecting the betterment and welfare of his community and county.

Rufus married Sarah Elam, the daughter of one of the two doctors in what was then Cleveland/Rutherford County. [The other physician, Dr. O.P Gardner, lived in Shelby, and descended from Thomas Gardner as well.]

Rufus was instrumental in helping to establish the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church still situated near his home on what is Highway 18, near Fallston. He was Church Clerk for 45 years, and delighted in scolding the church for spending too much money on unnecessary things.

Rufus was 23 when he joined the forces against the government, and soon after enlistment was made a Sergeant. He went home without leave, however, when his wife had a miscarriage. He was cited for being AWOL and immediately demoted to private. However, he later received a Field promotion to Captain. Years later, he would reminisce about sitting on the steps of the capitol building at Richmond in his bare feet. It was Christmas day and it was snowing. He said if his troops needed water and they were on one side of the stream with the Yanks on the other, they'd holler "Coming for water!" and the Yanks would hold their fire. They also sang songs together, north and south. He was with Lee at the surrender and spoke of Grant as a real gentleman. When Lee relinquished his sword, Grant returned it to him. They broke off a branch from a peach tree as a souvenir and the family kept that branch for years.

Rufus also talked to himself a lot, (a prevailing family trait). When asked "why", his answer was typical Gardner: "Because I am the only intelligent person I can find to converse with." When asked by a cousin why he was so swarthy, he replied "I'm Italian." (He wasn't.) He told his grandson, Dewey, there was no Santa Claus. "It's just your mammy and pappy." Upon hearing this, Dewey ran all the way home bawling. When asked by his daughter, Marilynn, how old he was at the time he received this devastating news, Dewey replied, "Oh, about 17."

On occasion, Duffy would visit his brother. This didn't happen very often, Gastonia being over 20 miles away. But the cousins insisted you couldn't tell one brother from the other. "If you saw Rufus, you saw Duffy."

PINKNEY MCDUFFY GARDNER was a sergeant with Company C, 1st South Carolina Artillery during the Civil War. He served along side John Harmon Cobb who would later marry his sister, Viannah Gardner. Below are Duffy's recollections of those years:

P.M. Gardner, 1908, A Native of N.C. Being in Greenville S.C. in 1861 when the call for troops was mad i volunterd in the 1st S.C. Artilery and went to Charleston and then James island, and Belonged to Co. C, 1st S.C. Artillery Cap James Co and on the 12th of April 61 we fired the 1st Shot fired at fort Sumpter and captured it afer 36 hours continwal fireng without any Loss on the Confederate Side.

Our Regiment taken command of the fort. Our Co was Sint Back to Sesesionvilw on James Island the Enemy there attacked us & captured our Battery the Louisanna tigers came to our Rescue & Recaptured the Battery with considerably loss on Both Sides we were then moved Back to Fort Sumpter and had good time till 1863 when the Ironsides & Monitors attacked the fort for 2 1/2 hours we drove them off and Sunk one Monitor in Augus 63 the yankees captured Moris Island and opened fire on fort Sumpter and wh had 100 guns and in ten days the kocked every gun down we had & wall was a pile of Brick Bats we had good Burn Proofs for Protection

They then attacked the fort Small Boats one moon lite nite we captured 100 of them we still held the fort till 1865. Enemy firing on us all the time on the 16th day of Feb. 1865 we Evacuate all the fortes commanded by General Hardee Col. Alfred comanding our Division and marched day & nite till we got in front of General Shermans Army at Cheraw S.C. & crossed the Great Pedee he opend fire on us as we crosed the Bridge we Burnt it to Keep him Back

he overtaken us then we Joined Johnsons Army we marched on through fayetvile N.C. Just Above there at Grenesboro we fough them all day, and and lost heavly on Both Sides i was Shot through one thigh and half through the other and taken Prisoner By Shermans Army with all due Respects to Yankys they treated me well considering the times

we left Charleston 16 Feb i was wonded 16 March i landed home in Cleaveland Coty on June the 16th 1865

So Ends my war Record. --P.M.Gardner

i had Some good tims and Some Exceedling Rough A Confederate Soldier for 4 years and 1 month

[Source: Reminiscences of P.M. Gardner for Gastonia Chapter U.D.C.; Filed by C.A. Leazar, Historian. N.C. Division of U.D.C. Civil War Records]

Yesterday's Heroes

MARY ELLEN BARNES GARDNER w/o Duffy Gardner was the daughter of Thomas T. and Sarah Bobbitt Barnes. It is suspected that Sarah died either in childbirth or shortly after the birth of her third child, Mary Ellen. An 1870 McDowell County NC census cites a Mary J. Unknown as Thomas' wife. Since Mary Ellen's marriage to P. McDuffy Gardner took place in 1869, she doesn't appear on this census with her three younger siblings, --Sarah A, Robert H. and James Logan Barnes. Mary Ellen preceded her husband in death by ten years and is buried next to him in Oakwood Cemetery, Gastonia North Carolina.

COSMOS PHILOTUS GARDNER. (How would you like to be saddled with a name like that?) Alas, his grandfather, Dr.Anderson Elam, delivered him, and thus claimed the right to name him. Since Anderson was a lover of the classics he got real flowery (pun intended) at times. Cosmos was raised in what was the Beam's Mills area of the vicinity of Fallston, north of Shelby. The house he was born in (no longer in Gardner hands), is still standing and has been remodeled into a more modern home.

His family called him "Lotie." Dewey called him C.P. and in later life he changed his name to Charles Payson until his granddaughter, Marilynn, gave birth to her son, Patrick, and then he he took to calling himself Charles Patrick when he wasn't calling himself Charles Payson.

He was quite a lady's man, with the tall slim figure, the black hair and blue eyes so common to the Gardner family. When he began to court Willie Shuford, her brothers objected to the point where the couple eloped. They then lived with, and later near, Rufus Gardner.

Willie Shuford was a very, very beautiful, talented petite woman who sewed like a tailor, dressing in the latest fashions and wearing make-up when it was frowned upon by most LADIES.

C.P. became a music teacher, teaching singing all over the Cleveland area and even spending time teaching in Cuba. He attended what was the conservatory of music in Cincinnati, Ohio. He wrote songs and had them published. He also put on what was then a popular type of show, a minstrel show. Relatives say he was born years before his time. He was a born entertainer and could have been another Bob Hope. He was utterly charming, loudly opinionated (as are most Gardners), and also lived up to his surname--he was a true Gardener and grew beautiful gardens with fruit trees and flowers. If he didn't know how to do something, he got a book at the library and learned how. That is how he put in a striking sunken garden for some people in Gloversville New York. He also built a Japanese type bridge over a little stream on his property in Shelby.

He dressed like a dandy, with white suits and shoes and always wore a white straw hat in the summer. His granddaughter[Marilynn] remembers him well because in 1921, after both of their children married, Lotie and Willie split up. She lived with her daughter, Vivienne, sometimes, and C.P. lived with his granddaughter's family... sometimes.

I loved him because he played all kinds of games with me, made shadow pictures on the wall, took me fishing and taught me how to chew tobacco. My tobacco was the heart of a cabbage which I carried in my pocket. When Grandpa took a chew, I took a chew of cabbage. (No, I never pursued the habit.) I remember a time when I was having trouble learning how to print the letter "c". I turned it into "u". I wasn't yet in school as I was but 4 years old, but my mother said I couldn't go to the fair until I made a whole page of "c's". Grandpa made them for me and I got to go to the fair!

In 1935 Grandpa remarried, this time a music teacher,Gertrude Street, in Shelby. Evidence of a divorce was never found so it seems likely that Grandpa circumvented the law a bit here. He died in 1955. He suffered a series of strokes and had to be sent to the mental hospital in Morganton where his cousin, Nell Gardner, spent all of her adult life.

Cosmos Philotus Gardner

Grandpa, you were something else. Making me sing "Away in a Manger" at the age of 5, all alone in front of the whole First Baptist Church in Florida. I was scared to death until you pulled up a chair and held me on your lap while I sang. I'll never forget the security I felt, just having your arms around me. You told me to be proud I was a Gardner because being a Gardner was special. You were right Grandpa, we ARE special.

Your loving Granddaughter --Marilynn


[Aw, go for it!]

Recollections of a Gardner Cousin