Origins of Maverick Label


A Pendleton native son’s name is the origin of a word used to describe someone who refuses to conform to standards and practices.

The American Standard College Dictionary says the word “maverick” refers “to unbranded cattle or a dissenter; named for Samuel Augustus Maverick.” 

Newspaper clippings and other information from the the Central Heritage Society provide a glimpse into Maverick’s life.

Born in 1803, he was the son of Pendleton landowner Samuel Maverick, who at one time was said to be the richest man in South Carolina. Maverick Jr., known as “Gus," attended Yale law school and traveled to Texas after becoming a lawyer. He was elected a representative for the new territory of Texas and participated in the war with Mexico, but left the Alamo just before Santa Anna overran the mission in 1836.

His friend, Pendleton resident James Butler Bonham — for whom Bonham, Texas, is named — died at the Alamo.

The younger Maverick’s ambitions lay in the West, and to his father’s regret he took his new wife and headed to Texas for good in 1837. Historical accounts document the family’s wealth and enormous land holdings. As they traveled from South Carolina to Texas the Mavericks camped only on land they owned, according to legend.

Maverick once accepted 400 head of cattle as partial payment for a business deal. Not being a cattleman, he allowed the cattle to roam free. As the herd multiplied, yearlings that were found unbranded became known as “mavericks,” and that is said to be the origin of the word.

The elder Maverick built a plantation house, Montpelier, in Pendleton, which still stands along S.C. 88. He married Elizabeth Anderson, widow of Robert Anderson, for whom the city of Anderson and Anderson County are named.

Maverick Sr. is remembered by Pendleton resident Sarah Broyles Williams in a written account from 1926: “As I saw and knew Mr. Maverick in my childhood there is not a recollection in childhood more vivid and positive. My father’s land joined that of Samuel Maverick, who lived a mile farther on in another big white house with piazzas and arches between the tall columns.”

Williams wrote that Maverick always wore a pale-colored coat and broad-brimmed white hat. He drove a buggy pulled by a gray horse and passed her house every day. He was very methodical, according to Williams.

“He passed at seven and now it is 12, because Mr. Maverick is passing to dinner,” she wrote.

About 1846 Maverick suffered a stroke and never spoke or walked again.

“He used his hands and made signs that were understood,” Williams wrote.

The original Montpelier burned several years later and was rebuilt across the road, according to Pendleton historian Tim Drake.

“During the Civil War one of the large iron balconies was removed and sent off to be made into cannon balls or cannon,” Drake said.

The elder Maverick died in 1852 and is buried about a mile from his former home on a ridge overlooking S.C. 88 and Eighteen Mile Road between Central and Pendleton. A large monument marks the location.

At the time of his death, the elder Maverick owned 4,400 acres at Montpelier, 4,300 acres in Anderson County, 33,000 acres in Pickens County and properties in 11 adjoining counties. Additionally, he owned a large amount of property in Charleston at King and Meeting streets, according to historical records.

The Mavericks knew notable South Carolina politician John C. Calhoun. Calhoun resigned the office of Vice President of the United States, and his Fort Hill plantation is now the home of Clemson University. The Mavericks did not subscribe to Calhoun’s state’s rights thinking. While they opposed the unequal tariffs imposed on the South, the Mavericks favored keeping the Union together. The younger Maverick on occasion spoke against Calhoun in written accounts in the newspaper The Pendleton Messenger.

Bridge to bear the Maverick brand

Historians and business leaders in Central have received approval to name the bridge spanning U.S. 123 at Eighteen Mile Road in honor of a famous resident.

Anne Sheriff of the Central Heritage Society said the Pickens County Historical Society, Central Business Council and local historians have been told the bridge soon will have the designation Maverick Crossing, as approved by the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

Samuel Maverick, who died in 1852, may have been the richest man in South Carolina at one time, according to historical records. Sheriff said it is appropriate that the bridge be named for the man who owned so much property in the area near Eighteen Mile Creek.

Pendleton historian Tim Drake said Maverick is an underappreciated name in local history, considering his importance in the early history of South Carolina.

Maverick is frequently confused with his son Samuel Augustus Maverick, Sheriff said. 

“Many times when you read about Samuel Maverick, you are reading about Samuel Jr.,” she said.

The younger Maverick went to Texas and was involved in the founding of San Antonio as the area was taken from Mexico in 1836. He left the Alamo before it fell to seek reinforcements for the embattled mission station, returning too late to help Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and others killed during the famous battle.

The elder Maverick was a Pendleton plantation owner and a neighbor of John C. Calhoun, considered by many South Carolina’s most notable politician. Calhoun was a former United States vice president.

The Mavericks did not agree with Calhoun’s stand on states rights, or later, secession. They instead supported Andrew Jackson on matters regarding states rights in the 1830s, when Calhoun was Jackson’s vice president. Maverick corresponded with Thomas Jefferson about grapes and fruit he grew at his Pendleton plantation. Legend says a large oak tree on the property was a gift from Jefferson.

The elder Maverick is buried on a hill he once owned overlooking parts of Anderson and Pickens counties. Today the land belongs to Dee Cross, a local veterinarian. Maverick’s old plantation house still stands and is visible along S.C. 88 just outside Pendleton.

Vince Jackson, Anderson Independent Mail

No comments:

Post a Comment