Joseph Buffington
by Ken Freeman

Joseph Buffington was born the 20th of July 1737, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the Quaker Colony of William Penn.  He was a second generation American, the youngest son of Richard Buffington, Jr. and Phoebe Grubb.

The only things know of his youth are that he lived in West Bradford, Pennsylvania, and that he became an ironworker.  His father died in 1741, when Joseph was only five years old.

Joseph married Mary Aston Few on the 1st of August, 1759.  Mary was also a second generation American, the eldest daughter of Joseph Few and Mary Aston, of Kennet, Chester County Pennsylvania.  Joseph was 22 and Mary 18 years old when they married.

Their first child was Mary, born the 1st of November 1760 in Chester County. She married Thomas Gordon in Spartanburg County, South Carolina in 1777.  Mary died in Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia, the 2nd of August 1837.

Mary Aston Few’s father and mother drowned in a boating accident while sailing the Delaware River on the 15th of November 1762. Joseph Buffington was sailing with them and managed to escape their fate.

In a letter from Ignatius Few to Mary Few (cousins) in May 1837, Ignatius wrote that, “the Few family held dark suspicions that their son-in-law, Joseph Buffington, who was sailing with them and survived, had caused their deaths.This suspicion was brought about by Joseph Buffington’s and Mary Few’s clandestine marriage.

That “dark suspicion” does not seem well founded.Joseph and Mary had been married three years and already had one child, two years old.Further, Joseph and Mary were administrators of the Few’s will, probated on the 30th of November 1762.They were also legatees, receiving 151 acres on the Brandywine River near Bradford, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Their second child was Hannah, born on the 1st of April 1763. She lived only five years, until the 4th of September 1768.

Their third child was Phoebe, born on the 29th of September 1764. She married John White in January 1785. Phoebe died on the 13th of October 1790.

Their fourth child was Matilde, born on the 9th of January 1766. She married James Wood in 1801. Nothing more is know of her.

Joseph was “cast out” by the Quakers in 1766. The cause is not known. Being “cast out” is more than excommunication, it also means being “shunned”. A person cast out is persona non grata, no one speaks to him or of him, and he does not exist in the community. His social and business life is ended.

Joseph and Mary left Pennsylvania that year. They moved to North Carolina where Joseph established the Speedwell Iron Works, which became a town in itself.

Hannah (the second) was Joseph and Mary’s fifth child, born on the 13th of May 1767 at Speedwell Iron Works. Nothing more is know of her.

Joseph’s mother died on the 4th of March 1769 in Bradford, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Their sixth child was Frances, born in September 1774. She married Thomas Friend.

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War in 1776, Joseph’s Speedwell Iron Works was destroyed by Tory Irregulars (British sympathizers) and the British Army under General Tarleton. All iron works were considered to be an industry essential to the American war effort.

Joseph immediately moved his family to Wofford Fort, South Carolina. There he joined Colonel John Hannum’s Regiment where he served as a private under Captains Draige and Underwood. He was stationed at Wofford Fort and Lawson’s Fort throughout the war.

Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary’s seventh child, was born at Wofford Fort on the 20th of July 1776 sixteen days after the Declaration of Independence.She married Henry Stovall on the 15th of June 1805.

Their eighth child was Samuel, born at Lawson’s Fort.He married Mary Ayers on the 27th of October 1807.

Their ninth child was Joseph.He died at Fair Forrest, South Carolina on the 15th of April 1782.

Joseph established a foundry and iron works in Fair Forrest near the end of the war.The family lived in that area, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, for a number of years.

Joseph Buffington died in Washington County, Pennsylvania, on the 12th of August 1796.

Mary Aston Few died in Georgia on the 22nd of November 1807.

Joseph and Mary were my great, great, great, great grandparents.

1987-2003 Kenneth Allen Freeman
All Rights Reserved. Please do not use without permission.
National Archives Genealogy labs: Atlanta, Georgia and Fort Worth, Texas
Buffington/Few Archives

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