The ARDIS and ZINN Families

of Beech Island, South Carolina

by Donna Shumbris Mason

Special recognition to:

Four Centuries & More, Nov – Dec 2018, A Publication of the Beech Island Historical Society. 

Remnants of the Ardis Family in Beech Island

            A few graves hidden in the woods, a couple of headstones in Hammond and Zubly Cemeteries, an old map you can purchase at Old Edgefield Genealogical Society, a name on the First Baptist Church marker, and maybe even some remnants from an old homestead are all reminders that the Ardis Family once lived in Edgefield District, in an area called “New Windsor Township.”
Where Did the Ardises come from?

            According to several sources, the Ardises came from Switzerland.  Although no immigration records have yet been found; a family history, written by Lavinia Hartwell Egan (granddaughter of Matthias Ardis born 1791), gives the best clues to this family’s origin.1

     “We are a Swiss family, sir, without any claim of greatness,” Matthias Ardis explained with his usual modesty and simplicity.  “We are from the Canton of Zell, and our home, as

I have understood, was near Schaffhausen at the Falls of the Rhine.  That would make us,

I think, German-speaking Swiss.  My grandfather spoke German.  I know, and there was a trace of that language on my father’s tongue.  The Ardises, and my wife’s family, the Nails, are a part of the Swiss Colony brought to America in 1731, by John Peter Pury, who made the settlement of Purysburg on the Savannah River.  Gradually the colonists drifted inland, my family and my wife’s family settling in Edgefield District, South Carolina.”


     Schaffhausen is a historic town and is the capital of the Schaffhausen Canton.  It is a 12-minute bus ride to the Falls of the Rhine; the largest waterfall in Switzerland.  The Falls of the Rhine divides the Canton of Zurich and the Canton of Schaffhausen.  Unfortunately, there is no Canton of Zell.  There is a municipality named Zell that is a little over an hour train ride from the Falls.  There is also an Appenzell, home of several Swiss Immigrants to Edgefield. 

    The Matthias Ardis, who tells of his family coming from Schaffhausen, is the grandson of the original Matthias Ardis Sr. (1724-1781) who lived in Beech Island.  If Matthias Ardis Sr. arrived in the New World in 1731, he would only be seven years old.  Articles about Purysburg indicate that a better date for the Ardises arrival would be about 1737 when Matthias Sr. was thirteen.   A child traveling at those ages probably came to Purysburg with his parents. 

      Three Ardises Marry Three Zinns

…somewhere between Virginia and South Carolina

Matthias Ardis Sr. (1724-1781) married Christina Zinn (1725-1785)

Valentine Zinn (1726-1791) married Elizabeth Ardis (1722-1793)

Hieronymus Zinn (1730 -1788) married Christine Ardis (1730-1799)

            1 Egan, Lavinia. If There Be Any Praise, Egan Collection 548, #99, Box 6, Noel Memorial Library, Louisiana State University., Shreveport, p11.

Where Did the Zinns Come from?

     The Zinns were emigrants from the Palatinate or Pfalz as it is called on a map of Germany.  They married in Meckenheim, Pfalz, Bavaria on 02 May 1725.  Their marriage record indicates that they were “EVANGELISCH” which is protestant.  In Ephrata, PA, the Zinns lived with the Seventh-Day Adventists.  They later moved south to New River, VA where they lived with the Dunkards.  Dunkards were a pietistic sect similar to the Mennonites.  They were called Dunkards because they believed in baptism by immersion.  When Margaretha was injured, the family spent time with the Moravians.  Here Margaretha heard the preaching of the Moravians and was impressed with their devotion and core beliefs. 

The Ardises Meet the Zinns along the Great Wagon Road

Lancaster, PA to Augusta, GA

Gerhardt Zinn brought his family from Germany to Pennsylvania in the 1730s.  The Zinns lived a few years near Lancaster, PA, and then spent about 15 years in New River, VA with the Dunkards.  In 1755, their community was attacked by Indians and their son, Henry was killed.  Gerhardt’s wife, Margaretha Guth was injured.  Gerhardt took his family to Bethabara, NC where he heard that he could get medical help for his wife from the Moravians.   After receiving medical help, the Zinns moved on to Craven County, SC.  However, Gerhardt (1705-1765) and Margaretha (1702-1773) returned to Bethabara in 1763 and lived with the Moravians until their deaths.

Matthias Ardis Sr. was working for Isaac Hite in Frederick Co, VA in 1747.  Instead of getting paid the 2 shillings he is owed, he received bread and butter, meat, corn, liquor, nails, flax seed, salt, wheat, a cow and a calf, and
one mare.  In 1750, Matthias was in St. Mark’s Parish, Craven Co, SC.  Matthias probably married Christina Zinn in Craven Co in late 1755, since in 1756; he and Christina Zinn have their first child, Mary.  In 1758, Matthias Ardis is granted 300 acres on Lynches Creek in Craven Co and in 1762, Matthias sells 100 acres to Valentine Zinn.  Craven Co (now extinct) was in the northernmost part of South Carolina. 

New River, VA

Ardis &  Zinns 1750s-60s

Being Part of History

     The American Revolution took place between 1765 and 1783 beginning with the Stamp Act of 1765.  Although the colonies declared themselves free and independent in 1776, it wasn’t until September of 1783, when George III and representatives of the colonies signed the Treaty of Paris specifying that the war

was truly ended.   South Carolina became the 8th state in 1788, and George Washington became the first President in 1789.  What an exciting, and scary time in history this must have been.

     The Ardises and Zinn's fought in the Revolutionary War.  Matthias Ardis Sr. (1724-1781) died onboard a British Prison Ship off the coast of Georgia.  The history of British Prisoner of War Ships is brutal; most prisoners being starved to death in deplorable conditions.  The American general, Jeremiah Johnson, described the British technique for keeping these prison ships from overcrowding: “death made room for all.”2

     Matthias Ardis Sr. also lost at least 2 sons in the Revolutionary War.  The Zinns fought in the Revolutionary War as well.  Jacob and Henry Zinn were documented, Patriots.  Henry Zinn is buried in Augusta Cemetery.  His monument memorializes his patriotism.

When Grandma dies, the Kids move on….

     Records indicate that the Ardis and Zinn families were in the Beech Island area almost 90 years; from the 1760s to the 1850s.  Their families grew and flourished until the death of their parents…the kids sold their lands and moved on.  Most of the Ardises moved to Louisiana or Alabama with a few traveling on to California.  The Zinns moved first to Georgia, then Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, and a few went on to California as well.  Descendants of the Ardis family can still be found in California while the Zinn surname endured best in Texas.  Matthias Ardis (1791-1860), the grandson of Matthias Ardis Sr., moved his family to Mt. Lebanon, Louisiana with a group who called themselves “The Carolina Colony.”  His brother, Henry Zubly Ardis, later joined Matthias in Louisiana, and a nephew, Milledge Galphin, spent time with Matthias and his wife, Louisa Nail, at their home in Mt. Lebanon, LA before returning to make his home in South Carolina.


A Group called “The South Carolina Colony”3

leave Edgefield District and move west.

     In 1835, Martin Canfield, a young Edgefield District citizen ventures west to visit a brother in Mississippi.  A group of his friends and relatives asked young Canfield to keep his eye out for productive, fertile land that would be good to cultivate.  These friends were educated, cultured, of substantial means, and most of them were slave owners.  Martin Canfield came back to Edgefield with a glowing account of a region in North Louisiana that was a suitable place with a good climate.  The following men and their families left the Edgefield District settling in Mt. Lebanon, Bienville Parish, Louisiana. (near where Bonnie and Clyde were killed).

Martin Canfield

Reuben Drake

Mathias Ardis

Jeremiah Burnett

L.E. Burnett

R.H Burnett

W. D. Burnett

D. W. Canfield

James Canfield

Tandy Alfred Key

William Key

Hillary Logan

Ezekiel Prothro

Mrs. Martha Prothro

William B. Prothro

Samuel Quarles

Covington Hardy

Martin W. Key

John Hill

William Logan

J. M Canfield

Joseph Canfield

Marian Canfield

W. D. B Edins

Elizabeth Gibbs

Hiram Gibbs

Dr. Jasper Gibbs

Triplet Cason

Col. George W. Rogers

Catlett G. Thurmond

Charles A. Thurmond

Mrs. Elizabeth KeyThurmond

Herbert Walker

Mary Walker

Joseph V. White

Mrs. Charlotte Lesterjette

Rev. Henry Adams

(Free Man of Color)

Eldred Hardy

J.D. Canfield

John Q. Burnett


2North, Gary. British Prison Ships, 1776-1783, (2000 Jul 17). Retrieved at  

3Egan Collection, Cammie G. Henry Research, Watson Mem. Lib., NSU, Natchitoches, LA, Folder 188

….of Local Interest…


     Henry Zubly Ardis was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina in 1811 and died in Louisiana in 1881.  He was the son of Abram Ardis (1767-1817) and Sarah Rose Mary Zubly Bender Ardis. His paternal grandparents were Matthias Ardis Sr. and Christina Zinn and his maternal grandparents were David Zubly and Ann Meyer.

     A History of the Baptists of Louisiana from the Earliest Times to the Present

by W.E. Paxton says the following about Henry Z. Ardis’ family:  “The family came from Zell Canton, Switzerland, about the middle of the last century, and settled where the subject of this sketch was born.  They were of the Presbyterian faith.  His maternal grand-uncle planted Presbyterian(ism) in Georgia. “4

   Henry Zubly Ardis(great grandfather to the 2nd of Herbert Thurmond Newman)

     Although Henry grew up in the Presbyterian Faith, his beliefs lead him to become a Baptist Minister.  Henry Ardis was ordained in 1835 and served at the Union Church in the Barnwell District of South Carolina for nine years.

     Henry moved to Madison Co, Florida in 1846 and lived there for more than 20 years.  His first wife,

Anna Williamson Beggs, the mother of his eleven children, died in Florida in 1870.  Henry visited his brother

(Matthias Ardis) and sister-in-law (Louisa Nail) in Mt. Lebanon, LA and moved his family there in 1871. 

In 1872, Henry married a second time to Elizabeth Cooksey.  Henry was a pastor in the North Louisiana area

until his death in 1881.  He is buried in Mt. Lebanon Cemetery, Bienville Parish, Gibsland, Louisiana.

4Paxton, W.E. A History of the Baptists of Louisiana from the Earliest Times to the Present. P 574, St. Louis, C. R. Barns Publishing Co., 1888

5 Picture from Special Collections, Archives and Manuscripts, Prescott Mem Library, Louisiana Tech Univ, Ruston, LA


Sarah Zinn’s Toy Shop

     In 1854, on the North Side of Broad Street in Augusta, Georgia, Sarah Jane Zinn’s father, John W. Zinn, opened his yearly Zinn’s Soda Water Wagon serving ice cream, custard pies, and confectionaries.  This wagon was a few doors below the Eagle and Phoenix Hotels and near the Saratoga Garden.  Sarah Zinn’s mother, Rosella C. Leon, created sugary confectionaries shaped like little boys and girls, dogs, parrots, cats, and chickens, which could be eaten when children tired of playing with them.

     In 1858, when John and Rosella divorced, her father removed to Florida and her mother was left to tend five children.   To make matters worse, the War Between the States began and Rosella’s son, Henry Lewis Zinn enlisted.  Henry Lewis, a member of the 48th GA Regiment, was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg in Jul 1863. 

     About a year after the War Between the States ended, Sarah and her mother opened the first toy store in Augusta, GA.  This shop was at 439 Broad Street; supposedly the same house where Sarah was born.   For 60 years, Sarah stood behind the counter of her little shop surrounded by wagons, drums, bugles, tin soldiers, China toys, all sorts of dolls, hoops, pianos, shoo flies, fireworks, nuts, and confectionaries.  This little toy shop put smiles on the faces of the children that Sarah loved so much. 

     The Cyclone in 1878 made a mess of a nearby Market, but The Zinn Toy Shop went untouched.

However, the Flood of 1908 was devastating.  Sarah’s store and home were no longer inhabitable and Sarah was not sure how she could reopen the Toy Store.  Because Sarah Zinn was a philanthropist, most of her profits over the years had been given to educate poor boys.  When the flood of 1908 took Sarah’s livelihood, a group of women with childhood memories set out to raise money to restore the Zinn Toy Store.  Quarters came in from everywhere!  Unfortunately, Sarah received internal injuries while moving to the new store, and she passed away a few weeks later.   The money was used for her headstone in Magnolia Cemetery, Augusta. 

     Sarah Jane Zinn (1840-1908) was the great-granddaughter of Valentine Zinn and Elizabeth Ardis


Starbuck, Richard W. Lebenslauf of Gerhardt Zinn, 1705-1765, Bethabara Church Register, p 168, Moravian Archives, Winston-Salem, NC., 1987
Starbuck, Richard W. Lebenslauf of Margaretha Zinn, 1702-1773, Bethabara Church Register, p 174, Moravian Archives, Winston-Salem, NC., 1987
The Church of the Latter Day Saints. Germany Marriages, 1558-1929, Individual Record: Johann Gerhard Zinn, at
Immigrant Ship Transcribers Guild.  Ship Thistle.  Rotterdam to Philadelphia.  29 Aug 1730
Kegley, Mary B.  Early Adventures on the Western Waters: The New River of Virginia in Pioneer Days 1745-1800, pp286-288, Green Publishers, 1980
Hoffstra, Warren R.  The Planting of New Virginia.  The John Hopkins University Press.  Baltimore and London.  2004
Egan, Lavinia. If There Be Any Praise, Egan Collection 548, #99, Box 6, Noel Memorial Library,  Louisiana State University., Shreveport
North, Gary. British Prison Ships, 1776-1783, (2000 Jul 17). Retrieved at  
Egan Collection, Cammie G. Henry Research Center, Watson Memorial Library, Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, La 

Paxton, W.E. A History of the Baptists of Louisiana from the Earliest Times to the Present. P 574,  St. Louis, C. R. Barns Publishing Co., 1888

Saratoga Garden-Ice Cream.  (1854, May 09) Augusta Chronicle. Advertisement
Georgia Writer’s Project. An Aide to Santa Clause. Augusta GA City Council, Tidwell Print Supply Co., 1938
The Famous Zinn Toy Shop To Save It To The Children.  (1908, Sep 13)  Augusta Chronicle, Page 1
Little Zinn Toy Store Has Closed Up Forever. (1908, Oct 23) Augusta Chronicle, p.7
From Far and Near Come the Quarters. (1908, Sep 20 Sep) Augusta Chronicle, p.?

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