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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday~The Death of John Sellers

Most of the “Sellers” of Chesterfield County, South Carolina are descendants of Hardy Sellers and Mary Cook.

Among the list is a John M. Sellers son of Phillip Sellers and Mary, his wife. This makes John M. Sellers the grandson of Hardy Sellers. John’s father Phillip Sellers, Sr. is my 4th great Grandfather thus John M. Sellers is my 3rd Great grand uncle.

Many say that the “M” in John’s name is Matthew but I have found no proof that this is so. It is known that John M. Sellers married Jerusha Ann Smith, daughter of Rilah Smith and Timmey Spencer. Based on the age of their first born Riley Sellers in 1831 it is believed that John and Jerusha were married shortly before the 1830 Chesterfield County census was taken because they are enumerated in that census.

1830 CENSUS: Chesterfield County, South Carolina; Series: M19; Roll: 172; Family History Library Film: 0022506, Page: 262; Line 14, Household of Jno. Sellers, male, age 20-29 and his wife [Jerusha], age 15-19.

John and Jerusha had 8 children the last born in 1843-44. In 1850 he is missing from the home and Jerusha is listed as a widow.  I have heard many stories about the demise of John over the past 40 years with the most prevalent one being that he was stabbed to death sometime shortly before 1850.
Recently I found an newspaper article that I think is the reality of what killed John Sellers husband of Jerusha Ann Smith and it wasn’t a knife.

The below document shows that John Sellers died on 23 August 1845 after blacking out and falling backwards into the family well. 

John Sellers Death
Melancholy Accident. –It has been our unpleasant duty to record more painful occurrences within the last few weeks, than usually falls to the lot of a country newspaper, and still we have another to lay before our readers. On Saturday Inst, Mr. John Sellers, a worthy and respectable citizen of this District residing within about four miles of Chesterfield C. H. , was called suddenly from this world to appear before his Maker. The particulars of this melancholy event which terminated his existence, have been related to us, and are, in substance, as follows: the well on Mr. Sellers’ premises had for some time required cleaning out, but it having been ascertained that there was much foul air in it, none were willing to risk the descent. Yet aware of this fact, on Saturday evening last, Mr. S. very imprudently made the attempt, and has paid for his temerity with his life. Calling to his aid only his little son, about ten or twelve years of age, and a negro girl, he went down with a basket, which he filled either once or twice with rotten wood, &c., which being hauled up, he attempted to ascend by climbing up the sides of the well. This he had nearly effected, having reached within a few feet of the upper curb, when he called for the rope. At this moment his little son looked down the well, and saw his father in the act of falling backwards, having let go his hold with his hands, his feet being still braced against the sides of the well. There is little doubt that he was over-come by the foul air, and fainted immediately after calling for the rope. His death was almost instantaneous, he never have spoken after the fall. A Coroner’s inquest was held on the body, but no surgical examination took place. Mr. S. was about 40 years of age, in very moderate circumstances, and has left behind him a wife and seven or eight children. He was an economical, industrious man, a consistent member of the Baptist Church, and possessed the confidence and respect of his neighbors. His loss will be felt in the community, but to his family it is irreparable. To his wife, the shock of his death came with peculiar severity in her present delicate situation. But a few hours before, he left her to attend to his farming operations, full of health and vigor, she was not aware of his return until he brought to her a corpse! Let the eye of pity shed one sympathizing tear for the lone one in her distress.------Ibid.
Charleston Courier, 28 August 1845, Page 2, Column 7

Mr. S. was about 40 years of age, in very moderate circumstances, and has left behind him a wife and seven or eight children.

The age of John Sellers in the article matched the approximate age of the husband of Jerusha Ann Smith Sellers.

The number of children in the family, seven or eight, matched the number of children belonging to John and Jerusha Sellers.

The little son in the family matches either his first born Riley (age 14) or his 2nd son, Samuel Joseph (age 10).  I think Samuel Joseph witnessed the death of his father.

John Sellers died 23 August 1845 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina.

John Sellers is my 3rd Great Grand Uncle.

"Melancholy Accident.–," Accidental Death, The Charleston Courier, Charleston, SC, 28 August 1845, Page 2, Column 7, Accidental Death of John SellersJohn Sellers died on 23 August 1845 in a Well.


  1. This is a fascinating post. Great find (the newspaper article) and I really enjoy the clear way you put it all together.

  2. Thank you Lisa, glad you stopped by my blog.