Lesson Plan: Overview

Kate Fowler: Tory Spy

Grade Level: 3rd
1773 Map of South Carolina by James Cook

Academic Standards

Standard 3-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Revolution and South Carolina’s role in the development of the new American nation.

3-3.2 Summarize the key conflicts and key leaders of the American Revolution in South Carolina and their effects on the state, including the occupation of Charleston by the British; the partisan warfare of Thomas Sumter, Andrew Pickens, and Francis Marion; and the battles of Cowpens and Kings Mountain. (H, P, G) .

Social Studies Literacy Elements

K. Use documents to observe and interpret social studies trends and relationships.

I. Use maps to observe and interpret geographic information and relationships.

O. Consider multiple perspectives of documents and stories.

Essential Questions
1. Why did some colonists remain loyal to the king?

2. How can we know if there were Tory spies during the American Revolution?

Historical Background Notes

In 1780, the British took over the town of Ninety-Six and fortified the town to make it one of the British major outposts during the American Revolution.  The British commander, Lord Cornwallis left the town under the command of Lt. Col. John Cruger. Gen. Nathanael Greene marched the Continental Army with Andrew Pickens’s militia to Ninety-Six to gain control of the fort in May of 1781.  Greene attacked the fort but Cruger and his men were able to withstand the siege.  Greene and Kosciusko decided to dig trenches and a mine in order to gain control of the fort.  However, Greene received the news that British reinforcements were on the way.  He was forced to attack again.  Cruger, cut off from supplies and facing losing the fort, was granted hope when a message was daringly delivered into the fort by a Tory spy.  British reinforcements were on the way.  Lord Rawdon and 2,000 British soldiers were soon to arrive and would force Greene to leave.  Who was the Tory spy? 

In Ninety Six, there is a stream called Kate Fowler’s Branch.  Here is where Kate Fowler grew up and lived with her father who raised excellent horses.  Her father and her brothers were known Tories.   When her father became too ill to work, Kate managed the farm for him.  She sold vegetables to Whigs and Tories alike, but was very frustrated that some would take food without paying.  She was happy when British soldiers arrived to provide some type of law and order.  Colonel Cruger and his men bought much of her produce, butter and eggs.  Through this endeavor, she met a Tory soldier and fell in love.    

Seeking to force the British out of SC, Nathanael Greene and his men arrived in May of 1781 and set up a picket around the fort, closing off the British form all communication.  Unable to take her goods to the British, Kate began to sell goods to the American soldiers.  Her frequent visits kept her apprised of the Patriot’s progress.  Kate began to grow uneasy as the patriot trenches drew closer to the fort and about the rumors of Kosciusko’s mine.  She feared for the life of her beloved Tory soldier as Greene looked more successful in his siege on the fort. 

Inside the fort, Colonel Cruger, facing surrender, sent a Tory to Lord Rawdon pleading for reinforcements.  The Tory made it past Greene’s men claiming to be one of General Pickens’s militiamen.  Knowing the reputation of the Fowler horses and that they were Tories, the man went to the Fowler’s and borrowed a horse.  He made it to Lord Rawdon who immediately sent him back with a reply telling Cruger that Rawdon was on his way with 2,000 British troops.  Upon returning to Ninety-Six, the Tory realized it was easier leaving the fort than it would be to return.  Determined to help the British and saving her true love, Kate volunteered to take the message to Cruger.   

Under the guise of selling produce and eggs to the Patriots surrounding Star Fort, Kate rode her horse into camp, making transactions and joking with the soldiers as was her normal routine.  When everyone seemed to relax and not second guess her motives, Kate spurred her horse, breaking through the picket, racing to the gate of the fort.  Waving the letter form Lord Rawdon, the British opened the gates while the shocked Patriots, with comprehension slowly dawning, began to fire.  Kate safely crossed into the confines of the fort and successfully delivered the important missive. (McCants 1927)

Interestingly, Nathanael Greene documents that a lady of Tory persuasion was involved in getting that important message to Cruger.  Reportedly, a young woman who was the daughter and sister of Tories came to the camp holding a white flag.  She dined at the general’s table.  Later, information was gained that she had stayed in the area at a nearby farmhouse for two days.  During that time period it was reported that a young loyalist rode a horse through the pickets and into the British fort with a message from Lord Rawdon. (Johnson 1822, 148)  Local legend also supports the story that Kate Fowler was responsible for Lord Rawdon’s message to Cruger.  In Ninety-Six today, Kate Fowler Road and Kate Fowler Branch commemorate her.


Primary Sources

Johnson, William.  Sketches of the Life and Correspondence of Nathanael Greene. Volume II.  Charleston, 1822.  p. 148.

Cook, James 1773 A Map Of The Province Of South Carolina With All The River, Creeks, Bays, Inletts, Islands, Inland Navigation, Soundings, Time Of High Water On The Sea Coast, Roads, Marshes, Ferrys, Bridges, Swamps, Parishes, Churches, Towns, Townships; County Parish District And Province Lines. South Caroliniana Collection, The University of South Carolina, S.C.

Richard Fowler Land grant from King George III in 1774. Richard Fowler, Land Grant for 100 Acres in Berkley County. 30 September 1774. S213019. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

Secondary Sources

"The Legend of Kate Fowler." Internet, Palmetto Roots.  Accessed July 17, 2008.

Dunkerly, Robert M. and Eric K. Williams. Old Ninety Six: A History GuideCharleston:  The History Press, 2006.

McCants, E.C.  Histories, Stories and Legends of South Carolina.  Dallas, Texas:  The Southern Publishing Company, 1927.


Lesson Plans

1. Show students the land grant and discuss how British colonists who had received land would be more loyal to the King.

2. Students would be provided with a copy of "The Legend of Kate Fowler" by McCants.  Read the story with the class or give them time to read the story on their own.

3. Summarize the major events of the legend using a flow chart.

4. Following discussion, explain that this story is a legend because it has not been proved to be historical fact.

5. Read quote from Nathanael Greene’s memoirs and display Cook’s map of South Carolina.  Students will act as history detectives, using the given information to determine if some colonists were Tories.

Teacher Reflections

After this summer’s institute, I found myself looking at teaching South Carolina history in a refreshed way. I have used primary resources to teach each third grade standard. In my classroom, I have created flipcharts for the Promethean board that include text and pictures of primary resources. As a result, I have a class that consists of many history enthusiasts. One of the first times I used a primary source was to use the Thibou letter to teach about what other people besides the British settled in South Carolina and why they wanted to settle here. I showed the class the original letter and while that was on the board I gave them excerpts from the transcription. From these they listed reasons Thibou gave for settling in South Carolina. My students even made comments about how they would have settled like Thibou and if they had been his family, they would have come on over.

When I taught events leading to the American Revolution, I created flipcharts that contained photos ( ex. tea pot protesting the Stamp Act), political cartoons, and a photo of a list of those who signed the oath of loyalty. My students realized these were real events that happened to real people that shaped our nation. Many spouted off about how they would have refused to sign the oath of loyalty until I explained what happened if one refused. For every standard, I have tried to pull in some primary resource. As a result, my students beg for history time. I use the textbook only as useful place to find information on their level while the real meat comes from the primary sources.

Paul’s lectures were always energetic, interesting, and provoking. I appreciated and have used the concept of using three terms to teach, explore and make connections to concepts the students are required to learn.  I look at what I need to teach and think of the three main concepts.  This organizes my thoughts and breaks concepts down to manageable chunks.  His approaches and enthusiasm for history were catching and I have adopted some of that exuberance.  Students marching around the room chanting “No taxation without representation,” for example, is definitely a much more exciting approach. 

The Master teacher portion of the workshop demonstrated to me that using primary sources need not become a major project, but as simple and eye-opening as a photograph.  I also realized that the best use of primary sources is encouraging student reaction and interest in the topic.  This year when I have not had a primary source, some of my students will ask why not.  I would have liked to have more time to explore ways to use primary resources in the classroom during the Master teacher time.  Being a teacher often requires fast thinking and planning because we have so many other duties.  So thinking outside the box, and using primary sources creatively can be a challenge.

Going to cultural institutions everyday was one reason I took this course.  I wanted to see or revisit places that tell me more about history.  What I found informative was how helpful everyone at the cultural institutions was.  Sadly, I didn’t realize that some of the institutions had teaching packets or would visit the classroom.   While I found searching for documents to be interesting, as a classroom teacher that was a luxury.  In elementary school, we teach so many subjects that we don’t have time to go to an institution to search for primary documents.  What was helpful was that at some of the institutions they are willing to share documents with a request by phone or email.  No matter the institution, I learned information or gathered photos that I have used in my classroom.  I have talked to my class about visiting for example, Cowpens, or Hopewell Farm and Old Stone Church.  I’ve shown them pictures that I took and explained what they see are what we are learning.  Some of my students and parents have been visiting different places on the weekends.  Last week one of my students brought his pictures that his family took at Cowpens and shared his interpretation of what he had seen.  His dad had never been there and was surprised at his son’s interest and how much he learned.  I had another student visit Oconee Station.  One of my students was in Clemson with family and had her mom find Old Stone Church because she wanted to see Andrew Pickens’ grave.  What has been most beneficial about the cultural institutions?  I have a list of contacts and I have students enthusiastic!

As far as my lesson is concerned, I feel that is was successful in that my children showed thinking.  They made connections and formed opinions which are a main objective.  I had to change my focus of the lesson because by the time I taught this, they knew what sources were primary and secondary and I felt it was tricky to have them form a conclusion of myth versus fact.  However, this was a decision based on knowing my class and what would interest them as well as knowing there capabilities.  I changed my focus of my lesson because the students began to form the misconception that everyone in the colonies was Patriots.  By modifying the lesson, I used primary sources to show that there were people in the colonies that were loyal to the king and had good reason for doing so.  The student’s work showed understanding of this concept as did the questions and comments that ensued.  Since one of my primary sources was an ancestor’s land grant from King George, I was even accused of being a Tory!!  However, I used another source that showed another ancestor who was part of the Spartan militia and fought at Cowpens.  For me, effective instruction was shown through the opinions and provoking discussion by my students. Even better….their ownership and enthusiasm for history.

Student Assessment

Students will construct a Venn diagram to list what they know are facts and what is legend.  Students will analyze the historical accuracy and significance of characters that played a role in the American Revolution.

Examples of Students Work

Student Venn Diagram

Student Venn Diagram 2

Student Venn Diagram 3

Student Venn Diagram 4


Mandy Spitzmiller
East End Elementary, Easley, South Carolina