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Plantations and Final Slaveholders, Colleton County, South Carolina

Map of South Carolina Counties

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands was established within the War Department by a Congressional Act on March 3, 1865. The same act authorized the appointment of Assistant Commissioners who were responsible for operations in specific Sub-Districts. One of the first tasks Freedmen's Bureau Assistant Commissioners (also called Sub-Agents) were charged with was visiting the plantations within their Sub-District, and giving an account of them in monthly land reports [1].

The monthly land reports are a rich source of information on conditions in each Sub-District in the earliest days of Reconstruction. They contain information on plantation owners, plantation names (in some cases), the number of freedmen on each plantation, number of acres cultivated, and whether or not the freedmen's communities on the plantations were self-supporting.

Marginal remarks often reveal much more about conditions in a given area in general - political organization among freedmen, race relations and labor struggles on particular plantations, movements of freed people to reunite with loved ones, general health and food security/insecurity among populations, and more. The Freedmen's Bureau land reports therefore offer surprisingly detailed glimpses of conditions at the close of the Civil War and the dawn of Emancipation.

The reports abstracted here were submitted from September to November of 1865 by Assistant Commissioners Daniel F. Towles, James C. Beecher and G.G. Batchelder. They list the plantation owners in Colleton County and comment upon general conditions on the plantations. The reports reveal that in 1865 the majority of the plantations in Colleton were still abandoned by landowners but occupied by freedmen.

They also record a great deal of movement among inhabitants of plantations as some families returned to their former homes. While freedmen were cultivating some of the plantations, subsistence crop production on others was yet at a standstill, or just beginning, and food shortages were widespread.

Remarks included with the reports suggest that smallpox was the most common health threat in the Colleton countryside in the fall of 1865. Along the Ashepoo and Combahee Rivers (an area encompassing both Colleton and Beaufort Counties) sickness from smallpox prohibited many from cultivating subsistence crops, which resulted in severe food shortages on those plantations [2].

These few, spare reports thus reveal a significant amount of information about Colleton County in 1865 and offer insights into conditions in Lowcountry South Carolina in 1865.

Freedmen's Bureau Land Reports, Colleton, SC, Sept. 1865

Report by Col. James C. Beecher, September 1865, St. Pauls Parish Colleton, Main Land and Toogoodoo Creek:
 
Owner
Location
Butler Grimble
Main Land
Ralf Swinton
" " "
George Morriss
" " "
Guerard Waring
" " "
Heyward Manigault
" " "
Morris Benton
" " "
Edward Barnwell
" " "
Edward Gibbs
" " "
James Marshall
" " "
John Fripp
" " "
Mrs. Sarah King
" " "
Ralph Elliot
" " "
Charles Beamings
" " "
Molton Clements
" " "
Hawkins King
" " "
Richard Laroach
" " "
Alfred Walker
" " "
William Megget
" " "
Dr. B. Smith
" " "
Col. Morriss
" " "
Joseph Wilkinson
" " "
S.N. Carroll
" " "
James Legare
" " "
James King
" " "
Col. John Ash
Toogoodoo Creek
Edward Laroach
" " "
Col. Joe Jenkins
" " "
Dr. Paul Jenkins
" " "
John Marshall
" " "
Calder Binyard [Baynard]
" " "
Seabrook Jenkins
" " "
Henry Swinton
" " "
Frances Wilkinson
" " "
Sidney King
" " "
Richard Laroach
" " "
Hawkins King
" " "
Daniel Wilkinson
" " "
 

Agent Beecher's Remarks:

"These are on Main Land Under control of Mr. Towles. I am of the opinion that not one can be held by the Bureau under provisions of circular ______ further than to secure the crop to Freedpersons making them - I Ernestly disapprove an attempted division into lots & assignment to freedpersons.

The report of Mr. Towles is very incomplete he promises that the next shall be filled out. I have had no offic[torn] whome [sic] I could send to get particulars. Shall detail one this week."

 
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Freedmen's Bureau Land Reports, Colleton, SC, Sept. 1865

Report by Daniel F. Towles, September 1865, St. Pauls Parish, Wadmalaw Island, Young's Island, Main Land and Toogoodoo Creek:
 
Owner
Location
Charles Wilkason Wadmalaw Island
Benjamin Bailey " " "
Joseph Whaley " " "
Hugh Wilson " " "
William Sims " " "
George Rivers " " "
Joe Mike " " "
Richard Jenkins " " "
William Wescoat Young's Island
Calden Whaley " " "
Hamilton Warring " " "
William Simmons " " "
Isaac Wilson " " "
James Megget " " "
Dr. Clements " " "
George Rivers " " "
Dr. Scott " " "
Col. Warring " " "
Joe Seabrook " " "
Benjamin Bailey " " "
Samuel King " " "
Richard Chaplin " " "
Butler Grimble On the Main
Ralf Swinton " " "
George Moriss " " "
Guerard Warring " " "
Heyward Manigault " " "
Masore? Benton " " "
Edward Barnwell " " "
Edward Gibbs " " "
James Marshall " " "
John Fripp " " "
Mrs. Sarah King " " "
Ralph Elliot " " "
Charles Beamings " " "
Molten Clements " " "
Hawkins King " " "
Richard Laroach " " "
Alfred Walter " " "
William Megget " " "
Dr. B. Smith " " "
Col. Morriss " " "
Joseph Wilkason " " "
S.N. Carroll " " "
James Legare " " "
James King " " "
Col. John Ash Toogoodoo Creek
Edward Laroach " " "
Col. Joe Jenkins " " "
Dr. Paul Jenkins " " "
John Marshall " " "
Calder Binyard " " "
Seabrook Jenkins " " "
Henry Swinton " " "
Francis Wilkinson " " "
Sidney King " " "
Richard Laroach " " "
John Laroach " " "
Hawkins King " " "
Col. John Ash " " "
Daniel Wilkinson " " "
 

Agent Towles' Remarks:

"There are several of these plantation [sic] which are yet in an abandoned state. Others have been located upon, by freedmen and are in cultivation. A few have been returned to their former owners by order of the President of the U.S.

Some plantations (although abandoned during the rebellion) have since been taken possession of and held by self installed owners."

 
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Freedmen's Bureau Land Reports, Colleton/Beaufort, SC, Sept. 1865

Report by G.G. Batchelder, September 1865, Combahee Ferry: [some of the lands reported from the Combahee Ferry office were in Colleton County, others in Beaufort County] [3]
 
Owner
Acres Cultivated
Total Acres
Buildings
Remarks
Charles Lowndes
15
1000
Mansion, overseers & negro houses stable & kitchen
20 people Freedmen on the place, mostly old men & women, who have small crops of corn & c, but will need help before spring
Saxby Chaplin
25
800
Negro Houses
25 Freedmen on the plantation, who are self-supporting, crop corn & rice
Wm. Kirklin
00
1000
Negro houses stable & c [etc]
No people on the place
Nichols
00
700
Negro houses, barns, stables & c
No people on the plantation
James Paul
00
700
Negro houses, kitchen, stable & other outbuildings
No people on the plantation
Wm. Andrw. Burnett
25
1000
Negro house, stable, barn &c
20 Freedmen, crop corn, rice & cotton, self-supporting
Oliver Middleton
25
1000
Negro houses, barns & c
15 Freedmen here, crops corn, cotton & rice, 5 old people here who need help
Paul Fripp
00
700
None of any kind
No people on plantation
Saxby Chaplin
00
900
Mansion in poor condition, negro houses & c
No people on plantation
Chas. R. Farmer
10
800
Mansion, negro & cotton houses, barns & c
5 Freedmen & 1 family white refugees - crops corn, cotton & rice, self-supporting
James Whaley
10
700
Negro houses & cotton houses, stables & c
5 Freedmen, crops corn, cotton, rice self-supporting apparently
Minot
20
900
Negro houses, stable, kitchen & other out buildings
15 Freedmen
Dr. Gerardo
50
1000
Negro & overseers houses, barns, stables & c
25 Freedmen, crops cotton, corn & rice, self-supporting
Thos. Elliot
10
700
Negro houses & barns
4 Freedmen, crops corn, cotton & rice, self-supporting
Wm. H. Trescot
00
1000
Negro houses & barns
No people on the plantation
Thos. Rhett
00
1000
None of any kind
No people on the plantation
Robt. Chisolm
100
1200
Overseers, negro houses, barn, cotton & gin house & c
50 Freedmen, crop corn, cotton & rice, self-supporting
Dr. John Warren
10
300
Negro houses & stables
3 Freedmen, crop corn, cotton & rice, probably self-supporting
Elliot
00
1200
Negro houses, barns & c in poor condition
No people on the plantation
Jno. D. Warren
00
900
Mansion in poor repair, negro houses in same condition
No people on the plantation
Hanklin
00
1000
Negro houses, barns & c
No people on the plantation
Dr. Thos. Linning
00
400
Negro houses, stable, barns, Dr's office & c
No people on the planation
Edwd. Means
150
1500
Overseers & negro houses, stables, barns & c
50 Freedmen, crops corn, cotton & rice, self-supporting
Wm. Godfrey
50
1000
Negro houses, stables, barns & other outbuildings
25 Freedmen, crops corn, cotton & rice, apparently self-supporting
Thos. Rhett
25
900
Negro houses & barns, stables & c
15 Freedmen, crops cotton, corn & rice, self-supporting thus far
Barnwell Rhett
00
800
Mansion, negro houses, barns, stables & c
No people on the plantation
Alfred Rhett
25
900
Negro houses, stables, barns & other outbuildings
15 Freedmen, crops cotton, corn & rice, self-supporting thus far
Nathl. Hayward [Heyward]
100
1000
Overseers & negro houses cotton houses, stables, barns &c
50 Freedmen, crops corn, cotton & rice, self-supporting thus far
Wm. Means
100
1100
Negro & cotton houses, stables, barns & c
45 Freedmen, crops cotton, corn & rice, self-supporting

Agent G.G. Batchelder's Remarks:

"The lands included in this report are plantations lying South of the Combahee Road (East of the Ferry) & along the Combahee, Chehaw, & a portion of Ashepoo Rivers. The numbers of people are constantly increasing and the new-comers generally come empty handed & the crops will not sustain the people through the year. There is but one place mentioned in this report, where there will be anything to spare; viz: that of Edwd. Means on Ashepoo River.

There are a great many old people on these plantations who have raised but very little themselves from their being unable to work the land to the same advantage as younger people might have done, and it will be among them that the greatest amount of suffering will fall unless assistance is ordered to a greater extent than is at present allowed. Upon some of the plantations the smallpox has raged during the summer which was a cause of short crops in many cases."

G.G. Batchelder
Agt Bureau of Refugees & c
Combahee Ferry, So Car.
9th Oct. 1865

Freedmen's Bureau Land Reports, Colleton, SC, Oct. 1865

Report by Col. James C. Beecher, October 1865, St. Pauls Parish Colleton, Main Land and Toogoodoo Creek:
 
Owner
Location
Acres
Cultivated
Total
Acres
Remarks
Butler Grimble Main Land 300 500
Ralph Swinton
" " "
300 450
George Morris
" " "
150 450
Geurard Waring
" " "
300 500
Heyward Manigault
" " "
100 300 owner living on land
Morse Benton
" " "
500 1000 " " " " " " "
Edward Barnwell
" " "
150 450
Edward Gibbs
" " "
300 600
James Marshal
" " "
150 350
John Fripp
" " "
300 700
Ralph Elliott
" " "
200 350
Mrs. Sarah King
" " "
300 500
Molton Clements
" " "
200 600 owner living on land
Richard Laroach
" " "
300 700
Alfred Walter
" " "
250 550
William Megget
" " "
illegible 4?5
Dr. B. Smith
" " "
100 500
Joe Morriss
" " "
100 600 owner living on land
Joseph Wilkerson
" " "
300 450
S.N. Carrol
" " "
150 450
James Lagare
" " "
100 300
James King
" " "
1000 1150
Col. John Ash Toogoodoo Creek
Edward Laroach
" " "
Col. Joe Jenkins
" " "
200 500
Dr. Paul Jenkins
" " "
200 500
John Marsheet
" " "
200 500
Calder Binyard
" " "
300 450
Seabrook Jenkins
" " "
150 550
Henry Swinton
" " "
250 650
Francis Wilkinson
" " "
300 450
Sidney King
" " "
200 300
John Laroach
" " "
250 350
Daniel Wilkason
" " "
150 250
William Westcoat Main Land
Caldwell Whaley
" " "
500 1000
Hamilton Wearing
" " "
300 800
James Meggett Est.
" " "
300 500
Drch. Clements
" " "
300 illegible
Benjamin Bailey
" " "
200 500
Samuel King
" " "
200 600
Richard Chapman
" " "
200 500
Osene? Waine
" " "
200 600
Mrs. Alston
" " "
150 450
 
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Freedmen's Bureau Land Reports, Colleton, SC, Nov. 1865

Report by Daniel F. Towles, November 1865, St. Pauls Parish, Wadmalaw Island, Young's Island, Main Land and Toogoodoo Creek:
 
Owner
Location
Buildings
Remarks
Calder Binyard
On Edisto River
Buildings Gone
33 Freedmen Cultivating
Seabrook Jenkins
Do [ditto] "
Bad Condition
6 " Do [ditto]
Hawkins King
Pon Pon "
Good
38 " "
Francis Wilkerson
Toogoodoo "
Do [ditto]
24 " "
John Laroach
Do [ditto] "
"
No any
Sidney King
Do [ditto] "
"
Do "
Richard Laroach
Do [ditto] "
"
Do "
William Wescoat
Do [ditto] "
"
184 Freedmen Cultivating
Calder Whaley
Wadmalaw "
"
28 " "
Hamilton Waring
Do [ditto] "
Bad Condition
78 " "
William Simmons
Do [ditto] "
Good
48 " "
Isaac Wilson
Do [ditto] "
Do [ditto]
123 " "
James Megget
Do [ditto] "
"
68 " "
Dr. Clemmens
Do [ditto] "
Bad
12 " "
George Rivers
Do [ditto] "
Do [ditto]
6 Refugees Nothing
Dr. Scott
Do [ditto] "
"
3 " "
Col Warring
Do [ditto] "
Good
20 Freedmen Cultivating
George Seabrook
Do [ditto] "
Do
26 Freedmen 15 Refugees
Ben Bailey
Do [ditto] "
"
74 Do Cultivating
Samuel King
Do [ditto] "
"
7 " 1 Refugee
Richard Chaplin
Do [ditto] "
"
23 " 7 "
Boulten Grimble
Do [ditto] "
"
80 Freedmen Cultivating
Robert Fishburn
Rantole
"
112 " "
Ralph Swinton
Toogoodoo
"
20 " "
James King
Little Britten
"
72 " "
George Morissy
Edisto
"
20 " "
Hary Swinton
Toogoodoo
"
None "
Gennal Warring
Do [ditto]
"
120 " Just Arrived
Heyward Manigault
Do [ditto]
"
30 " Do "
Morse Benton
Pon Pon
"
12 " Cultivating
Edward Barnwell
Edisto
"
250 " Just Arrived
Edward Gibbs
Do [ditto]
"
60 " Cultivating
James Marshall
Edisto River
"
___
Mrs. Allston
Do "
"
40 Freedmen Cultivating
John Fripp
Do "
"
20 Do [ditto] Do [diito]
Mrs. Sarah King
Pon Pon "
"
30 " "
Ralph Elliot
Do "
"
65 " "
Charles Bearring
Edisto "
"
80 " "
Moulton Clemmens
Pon Pon "
"
30 " "
Hawkins King
Do " "
"
15 " "
Richard Laroach
Do " "
"
40 " "
Alfred Walter
Do " "
Bad Condition
65 " "
William Megget
Do " "
Good
70 " "
Dr. B. Smith
Toogoodoo "
"
4 Refugees Planting
Col. Morriss
Edisto "
No Buildings
None at all
Joe Wilkerson
Toogoodoo "
Good
30 Freedmen Cultivating
S.N. Carroll
Pon Pon "
"
None at all
James Lagare
Edisto Willtown
"
300 " 6 Plantations
John Ash
Do "
"
192 2 plantations
Edward Laroach
Toogoodoo "
"
None
Joseph Jenkins
Do [ditto]
"
Do [ditto]
Pane Jenkins
Do [ditto]
"
10 Freedmen Cultivating
John Marshall
Pon Pon "
"
125 " "
Belonging to Edward Barnard John Ash and Daniel Wilkerson a small village in St. Pauls Parish
Adams Run
Bad Condition
 
 
 
Do [ditto]
10 Freed Persons 20 Refugees scarcely self supporting
 
 
"
 
 
 
"
 
 
 
"
 
 
 
"
 
 
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Freedmen's Bureau Land Reports, Colleton/Beaufort, SC Oct. 1865

 
Report by G.G. Batchelder, October 1865, Combahee Ferry: [some of the lands reported from the Combahee Ferry office were in Colleton County, others in Beaufort County] [4]
 
Owner
Acres Cultivated
Total Acres
Buildings
Remarks
Charles Lowndes
15
1000
Dwelling house, negro houses & c [etc]
20 people (Freedmen), not self-supporting
Saxby Chaplin No. 1
25
800
Negro houses & c
25 Freedmen, partly self-supporting
Wm. Kirklin
00
1000
Negro houses & c
No people or crops
Wm. Nichols
00
700
Negro houses & c
No people or crops
James Paul
00
700
Negro houses & c
No people or crops
Wm. Andrw. Burnett
25
1000
Negro houses & c
25 Freedmen, self-supporting thus far
Oliver Middleton
25
1000
Negro houses & c
15 Freedmen, partly self-supporting
Paul Fripp
00
700
None
No people or crops
Saxby Chaplin no. 2
00
900
Negro houses
No people or crops
Chas. R. Farmer
10
800
Dwelling house, negro houses & c
5 Freedpeople, self-supporting
James Whaley
10
700
Negro houses & c
5 Freedmen, self-supporting
Charles Minot
20
900
Negro houses & c
15 Freedmen, mostly self-supporting
Dr. Thomas Gerardo
50
1000
Negro houses & c
25 Freedmen, self-supporting
Thos. Elliot
10
700
Negro houses & c
4 Freedmen, self-supporting thus far
Wm. H. Trescot
00
1000
Negro houses
No people or crops
Thos. Rhett No. 1
00
1000
None
No people or crops
Robt. Chisolm
100
1200
Overseers houses, negro houses & c
50 Freedmen, self-supporting
Dr. John Warren
10
300
Negro houses & c
3 Freedmen, self-supporting
Wm. Elliot
00
1200
Negro houses & c
No people or crops
Jno. D. Warren
00
900
Negro houses & c
No people or crops
Hanklin
00
1000
Negro houses & c
No people or crops
Dr. Thos. Linning
00
400
Negro houses & c
No people or crops
Edwd. Means
150
1500
Negro houses & c
50 Freedmen, entirely self-supporting
Wm. Godfrey
50
1000
Negro houses & c
25 Freedmen, self-supporting
Thos. Rhett No. 2
25
900
Negro houses & c
15 Freedmen, self-supporting
Barnwell Rhett
00
800
Dwelling house, negro houses & c
No people or crops
Alfred Rhett
25
900
Negro houses & c
15 Freedmen, self-supporting
Nathl. Hayward [Heyward]
100
1000
Overseers & negro houses, stables & c
50 Freedmen, self-supporting
Wm. Means
110
1100
Negro houses & c
45 Freedmen, self-supporting
 

Related Articles, Colleton County, SC

 
Who Lived This History? The Combahee Raid, Colleton and Beaufort Counties, South Carolina
ColletonCounty, SC Labor Contracts A-G
Colleton County, SC Labor Contracts H-J
Colleton County, SC Labor Contracts K-L
Colleton County, SC Labor Contracts M-P
Colleton County, SC Labor Contracts R-T
Colleton County, SC Labor Contracts W
 

References Cited

[1] National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). 2005 Records of the Field Offices for the State of South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872. Micropublication M1910, Reel 103, Reel Guide. Washington, D.C.: NARA.

[2] National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). 2005 Records of the Field Offices for the State of South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872. Micropublication M1910, Reel 103, Target 2, Frames 178-197. Washington, D.C.: NARA.

[3] and [4] National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). 2005 Records of the Field Offices for the State of South Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872. Micropublication M1910, Reel 71. Washington, D.C.: NARA.

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