(Robert) Michael Gaffney was born about 1775 in Granard, Co. Longford. About 1804 he established a tavern and lodging house at the crossroads of a road from North Carolina to Charleston and another from Charlotte to Georgia. This became known as Gaffney's Crossroads. From these humble beginnings, Gaffney (City) became the county seat of Cherokee County when it was formed in 1897. Cherokee County was formed from parts of York, Union and Spartanburg Counties.
In 1850, the U.S. Federal Census recorded M Gaffny, living in the household of his son, H G Gafney (Henry Green Gafney). The 1850 Slave Schedule recorded Michael Gaffney as the owner of 32 enslaved people, ranging in age from 60 to a newborn baby.
A marker at his graveside records him as a man who had 'a life of many trials, considerable worldly success and long continuous struggles with the sins and evils of the world.'
It has not been possible to access a copy of Gaffney's journal at this time, The Journal and Genealogy of Michael Gaffney: From Ireland to the Backwoods of South Carolina : the Travels, Adventures, Trials, Quaint Observations and Economic Conquests of the "Father of Gaffney" from 1797 to 1845 published by Scotia-Hibernia Press, 2004.
Sources (all accessed 3 Jan. 2022)
1850 US Federal Census (www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8Q2-PLM).
1850 Slave Schedule (www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:HRWZ-2VT2).
Mitchell, Arthur, South Carolina Irish (Charleston, South Carolina 2011), pp 60-1.
Martine Brennan (Curator)
Enslavement to citizenship: African Americans in Irish Slaveholder records by Martine Brennan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.