Mary Elizabeth Brookman Beaty was born in Bucksport, Maine April 5, 1824. She was one of nine children of Henry Brookman, a rigger, and his wife, Elizabeth Bowels. In the 1840's she came to Bucksport, South Carolina as a "Yankee school-marm", the governess to the children of Mr. Buck, a shipbuilder from Main. Here she met and married, in 1851, Thomas Wilson Beaty whose family were pioneer residents of Horry County. In her long lifetime (she died in November, 1901), she became one of the most respected and influential women in the county. The home life at the Beatys was quite proper. A reminiscence from her great-niece, Freddie Cushman Charlotte, in 1967: "When the judge would come to hold court in Conway, he always stayed with the Beatys. This meant big meals and I can close my eyes and be sitting on the steps behind the dining room with Moll, the cook, and taste the sweetness of the cold cabbage. Everything at the Beatys was just so, and as children, the Cushman brood would much prefer being out in the country with the Gillespies to being in town with Aunt Mary and having to dress up in stockings and gloves to go to church, but this was expected and done." The kitchen was out behind the dining room with a latticed breezeway between.
The big front yard of the Beaty house, which is now covered with commercial buildings, was the scene in bygone days of many picnics and May Day festivals.
There is a popular and well known story around Conway that when the Wade Hampton oak was threatened with destruction in order to widen the street to make way for the railroad, Mrs. Beaty stood in front of it with shotgun in hand and threatened,dire consequences to the first man to use an ax or saw on the tree.
Whether the story is fact of fiction one can't be sure. Suffice it to say that the beautiful oak still stands in front of the museum on the corner of Fifth and Main and the railroad took another route through Conway.
Mary and Thomas had five children and their home was what is now known at the Beaty- Spivey house on Kingston Lake. They lost all five children tragically. Two of the girls drowned in the lake behind their home, two girls died young of diptheria, and the youngest child and only son, Brookie, is the subject of what has become a Conway ghost story. I heard this story as a child and still hear it -- that Aunt Mary was sitting in the parlor with a sick Brookie upstairs when she heard beautiful music. Angels, who were her deceased daughters, appeared. A discordant tote was struck and she asked the meaning. The girls replied that they had come for their brother. Mary went to the child's room and found that he had died. Mrs. Beaty repeated her experience often to the people of Conway and her story was accepted as true, since she was such an intelligent, well-informed and highly respected lady in the town. All five children are buried in the Kingston Pres- byterian churchyard in the section known as the "Beaty Burying Ground". Over the graves of the two girls who drowned is a marble carving, encased in glass, attributed to the renowned sculptor, Hiram Powers.
Thomas Beaty fought in the Civil War and left his wife, who was an energetic woman of great ability and high intelligence, to supervise his business interests which at that time included an extensive mercantile and naval stores business and the running of a local newspaper. All of this she handled with great competence and skill.
Mary Beaty died in 1901. As a young man, Mr. C.P. Quattlebaum lived in her home before he married. His daughter, Marjorie Quattlebaum Langston, wrote in the April, 1967 Independent Republic Quarterly an account of this as he told it to her.
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