Mary Elizabeth Epting Barron, daughter of Sylvian and Helen Clary Epting and granddaughter of George and Eula Long Epting, is an excellent artist and teacher. She has created a number of wonderful pen and ink drawings throughout her career. Many of them have been used as illustrations on note cards. One of the family favorites is her illustration of The Epting Homeplace. We are all so proud of her work, and I offer my thanks to her for allowing me to present this cherished piece in our book.
This book is more like a scrapbook of letters, stories, drawings, photographs, and a few court house records. The stories were written by and about the descendants of Jacob and Mary Ann Chapman Epting, who raised their own children in the Dutch Fork section of South Carolina in the second half of the 19th century. More than 180 black and white photographs of Jacob and Mary Ann’s descendants and some of their actual children and their spouses have been gathered for this volume. For instance, there is a photograph of Jacob and Mary Ann’s son Joe Epting, his second wife Isadora; his sister Emma Epting Summer and her husband Jim; and their brother James Robert "Uncle Jim" and his wife Corrie.
There are photographs of Kell and Colie Epting, sons of Joe’s brother Isaiah; Maude Epting Shealy, a daughter of Joe’s brother David Eddie Epting; Joe’s daughter Nina Epting Shealy, her husband Ernest, and two of their children, Lois and Grace; Joe’s son Dewey Epting and his wife Helen and family; Jake Epting (Dewey’s son as child and adult); Jo Epting Harrison (Dewey’s daughter as child and adult) and family; Joe’s son George and Eula Elizabeth Epting and family…. Ruth Epting Shealy (as child and adult) and family; Hugh M. Epting (as child and adult) and family; George Herman Epting (as child and adult) and family; Myrtle Epting Floyd (as child and adult) and family; Lula Mae Epting (as child and adult); Blanche Epting Ballentine (as child and adult) and family; Sylvian W. Epting (as child and adult) and family; Marguerite (as child and adult) and her husband Ethan Amick; Bill (William Mayes) Epting (as child and adult) and family; and several photos of Eula Elizabeth Long Epting’s brothers and sisters who departed this world many years past..
Some of the photos are as clear as a bell, and others are very worn…but most of the images are good enough to tell what our "aunts and uncles" looked like.
The letters and poems in the first part of the book were written by Mary M. Stoudemayer and her teenaged friends about 1876. They are full of joyful banter about their friends and their "sweethearts" in Lexington and Edgefield Counties (S.C.) Mary became the first wife of Joseph Warren "Joe" Epting in 1877. She lived a very short, but undoubtedly happy life, which ended far too soon in 1880.
There are photos of the houses of some of the S.C. descendants, and there are several newspaper articles and creative writings and drawings that have revealed the talent that abounds in this extended family. The treasure chests of keepsakes have been cracked open just wide enough for us to realize there is more to share. As the readers "get into this book", memories will be sparked that will certainly bring smiles to their faces, and ultimately, there will be a desire to see more of our relatives…or meet many of them for the first time. There is so much we have to learn about each other. We have been scattered far and wide, and perhaps this "scrapbook" will make us feel like we are "home" even if it is for an instant.
It goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) that I am so grateful to everyone who has shared stories and cherished family photographs for this "scrapbook."
The list includes almost all of you who are reading this right now and others who have passed from our midst. It has taken a long time to find all of the pictures included in these pages, especially those of the Epting brothers and sisters as children, so I appreciate your patience. A partial collection in a scrapbook on display at our 2001 reunion in Charleston, S.C. created such interest and smiles that I was encouraged to renew the effort to make a whole collection available to anyone who wants it. Many of you stopped what you were doing to search in your attics or treasure chests, and some of the most interesting items came by way of preserved postcards and letters. To the careful guardians of these treasures, I extend a special thank-you.
It has been wonderful to discover how much fun our ancestors were – by their own writings or those of their friends with whom they corresponded. Some treasures still await our discovery, and others await their proper identification. If there are those of you who have photographs in your treasure chests that need identification, now is the time to bring copies to our reunions and seek the help of our wise elders.
Many of you have shared family stories and genealogical data with me over the last fifteen years, and without those, I would not have been able to piece this book together. Much of the extensive genealogical data was published in 1990 and was not duplicated here. Copies of that compilation The Epting Family and Their Descendants can be found at the Newberry –Saluda Regional Library in Newberry, S.C. and the Caroliniana Library in Columbia, S.C. The genealogical information, of course, is in constant need of updating. Had I tackled all of the updates for this book, I may never have completed it, so I now pass that baton to all future family historians.
My biggest regret, as always, will be that some very wonderful items have been inadvertently omitted or discovered too late to find their way into this particular book. If that is the case, let us all make an effort to bring what we discover (or copies of the items) to share at all our future reunions.
We have a family of which we can be very proud. While writing the individual stories in preparation for this publication, one thing was apparent – the Epting siblings have made good use of the God-given talents loaned to each during his or her life time here.
Thank you, everyone, for your help!
Jean Epting Blackmon
© Jean E. Blackmon, 2004 All rights reserved.