Note from RAW:  The following is material written by Mary Wilma Wham Monroe over the course of many years and submitted to the Laurens County, SC Library April 18, 1996.  These several pages are from the introduction to the Wham sections from her entire work entitled "Wilma's Book".  The original is on file at the Laurens County Library.   All of the Wham relatives are indeed truly grateful for the work that Mary Wilma has performed!


Joseph Wham Son of Benjamin
William Wham Son of Benjamin

Benjamin Wham was born in County Derry, Ireland in the year 1750. His two sons with their families and with their two half brothers, Thomas and James Woodside, came to the United States circa 1806. Mrs. J. M. Wham, 318 N. Elm Street, Centralia, Illinois, 62081, stated that their family record shows that Benjamin died in South Carolina in 1819.

Our family tradition is that the Whams, Gaults and Colemans came over on the same ship. On the way over from Ireland, they were shipwrecked and were forced to stay on either the island of Cuba or the island of Barbados long enough to raise a crop of potatoes.

The John S. Wham family Bible was at one time in the possession of F. F. Wham, Sr., 8 St. Theresa Drive, Westwood, Charleston, S. C. and an entry in that Bible stated that Benjamin Wham settled in Chester in 1797.

The obituary notice of Ellen E. Gault Wham, wife of Joseph Wham, Jr., states that she was born in Ireland, and that she had lived in Chester, S. C., before removing to Laurens or Greeenville Counties, S. C. The two brothers, Joseph and William Wham, after the death of their father left Chester and moved to the Fairview section of Greenville County near Fountain Inn, S.C.

CIRCA 1933 Mrs. Edith Louella McMachin and her son Carl McMachin, who were from Illinois, came to this area gathering information on the Wham family. They said that the first Wham to come to America was named Joseph William. That was in error. Chester county records reveal that Joseph and William inherited land from Benjamin Wham.

Joseph Wham, Jr. and his brother, William Wham, married sisters, Ellen and Barbara Gault. In the "Anderson Listing", James Woodside, Sr. is listed as having died March 15, 1858. Captain James Gault died May 4, 1859. Mrs. Jane Woodside died June 14, 1671 and Mrs. Louisa Wham died January 21, 1873.

Mrs. Joseph E. Wham, Route 3, Gray Court, S. C. had in her possession an old Joseph Wham, Sr. family Bible and also a poem written by Joseph about the voyage to America.

Joseph Wham's Poem

1806 we left on a board
on 11 of November we taken to the road
Biden a due to relashins and friends
We steared our course for america land.
Where Washington panted the liberty tree
That our noble desentand might all be free
We came to Belfast it was late in night
We stade at old Cilton till morning lite.
We got on the Ship of Parmaro
To lay the Couty dow
Along with with Capten Seeborg (Seebary)
for Carolina Bounds.
We sold all worth all land thee
Irish shore saying to old Irelante
I never see you any more.

In WHAM BOOK I history, we shall endeavor to trace the descendants of Joseph Wham of South Carolina, who was the son of Benjamin Wham.

BOOK No. 2 is devoted to William Wham and his descendants. This William was the grandson of Benjamin and the brother of Joseph Sr.

Book No. 3 is the history of William Wham, son of Benjamin Wham, who moved from Chester, S. C. to Greenville County Fairview area and then to Lincoln County, Tennessee.

WHAM is an unusual name. In my lifetime, I have been thought to be Chinese, Spanish or Indian. However, the Wham family originally was from Scotland. On account of religious persecution, they removed from Durmant, Dumfries, Scotland to County Antrim, in northern part of Ireland so that they might have religious freedom. However, the family jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

Religious intolerance in Scotland was very bad. The Whams were staunch Presbyterians, and to be a staunch Presbyterian in those days would be an impossibility to present day Americans. The Presbyterians in Scotland lived a VERY VERY STRICT life. They strictly observed the Sabbath - no cooking, no frolicking, no dancing, no working - only praying, reading the Bible and singing hymns.

And so these Whams (Scot word for SWAMP), went to Ireland either voluntarily or involuntarily, found themselves to be in the same situation they had been in Scotland. To them, freedom meant everything and they were determined that they would be free. My Whams, and all those others descended from the Whams who immigrated to South Carolina came from County Derry, Ireland - Londonderry to be exact, and according to the poem written by Joseph Wham, sold all their possessions, and they walked to old Cilton Town, spent the night there and walked on to Belfast. I know that when they reached Belfast and could look down on the harbor and saw the ships there, they must have had both misgivings about leaving Ireland, and hopes for a better life in America.

Family tradition says that the same ship brought the Whams, Gaults and Colemans and that they were shipwrecked and spent either a year in Cuba or in Barbados, long enough to grow a crop of potatoes, before they entered the United States.

In my search, I have found nothing that would tell me the port of entry for the Whams. My grandfather's Bible had the entry about one Benjamin Wham settling in Chester in 1797. If he was in the United Sates in 1800, the Census of South Carolina does not record either his name or his son William's name. I have not checked the Census Records of other states. But this I do KNOW for a fact: in the book, "British Aliens in the U. S. During War of 1812" by Kenneth Scott, on page 356, the following is recorded: "Wham, Benjamin, age 68, 14 years in the U. S., 1 in family, Chester District, farmer, (31 Aug.-8 Sept. 1812)", and there is also recorded on the same page the following: "Wham, William, age 35, 14 years in the U. S., 8 in family, Chester District, wheelwright (31 Aug- 8 Sept. 1812)". And considering the fact that in 1812, Benjamin gave his age as 68, we can subtract 68 from 1812,and derive his date of birth which would be 1744. Further, subtracting 14 from 1812 would give 1798. (Our Bible record says 1797).

Furthermore, it is evident that Benjamin along with William and probably William's family came to America at the same time. And on that same page, there is this entry: "Woodside, James, age 47, 5 years in the United States Irishman, 2 in family, Greenville, shoemaker, married in the U. S. (10 Sept - 17 Oct., 1812)." This man was the step-son of Benjamin Wham. And again subtracting 5 from 1812 would give 1807 as his date of entry. This would roughly agree with the date in the poem.

I have found no evidence to tell me where my great- great-great-grandfather, Joseph, entered the U. S. The poem says they left Ireland in 1806. James Woodside says he entered the U. S. in 1807. The dates are in the same neighborhood. But I still do not know where Joseph first settled. Joseph, his wife, Margaret, his sons and grandsons are all buried at Fairview Presbyterian Church in Greenville County - (A Church his grandson and my great grandfather, Robert Wham, constructed). And in the adjoining plot is the grave of James Woodside and his wife and also the grave of Jane Gault. Joseph is not listed as an alien in 1812. Maybe he had become a citizen by that time.

In my early notes on the Wham family, I relied heavily on the work of Mrs. Edith Lauella McMachin and her son Carl. I remember that a Mr. Posey Wham came from Abbeville, S. C. over to our house one Sunday afternoon and told us that Mrs. McMachin and Carl would come by our house on a certain day to collect information he requested me to obtain. I was only a kid then, but did my best. And sure enough they did come by. Somewhere, they had found that the first Wham's name was Joseph William and years later when I typed up an outline of the family I used the name Joseph William and so did dear old Mrs. Laura Ligon, a wonderful person. When I contacted Mrs. Ligon in Greenville, S. C., she was well up into her nineties, with an alert mind and a very big heart to put up with me.

Joseph and William Wham, upon the death of their father, Benjamin, in 1819, inherited his land. Evidently, they sold this and moved to higher ground. Land in that area at that time was swampy and was noted for its cane breaks and its tendency to inflict the inhabitants with chills and fever from which many died.

The family graveyard is still in existence, minus the iron fence and the iron gate and all but two tomb rocks. I have a picture of the cemetery as it looks today. The land is now owned by Mr. George Moore, Chester, S. C. Since I am now 77 years of age and can not possibly walk 11/2 miles over rough terrain, I persuaded a young man I knew to go in and take a picture for me - (1994).

I have been lucky enough to make photocopies and pictures of the original poem written by Joseph Wham and have taken pictures of the Bible where the Whams recorded the history of births, marriages and deaths. The original poem is no longer in existence and the Bible has deteriorated to a great extent. It is my plan to purchase a scanner for my computer, so that for posterity, I may leave a record for my children and grandchildren of all the notes and pictures I have collected during my life.

AND SPEAKING OF COMPUTERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Of all the things I have ever tried to do in my life, learning to use a computer at age 77 was the worst. My notes were in disarray and I wanted some way of reproducing my notes after getting them in order and photocopying was not the answer. So, I purchased a computer, monitor and a printer. My next purchase will be a scanner for the computer - IF.

Now my typing is more or less a hunt and peck system. My forty-three years in professional management with Uncle Sam provided me with secretaries - and could some of them slay the English language! So, if you see a typing error, I AM THE culprit. I also hope that the dates are correct. Numbers are very hard for me. SO GOOD READING TO YOU AND GOD BLESS. Mary W. Monroe, 1-15-96