Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Cost of Slavery- the Hutchinsons of St. Bartholomew's Parish (Colleton County, S.C.)

Hercules- $750. Hector- $700. Marlborough- $350. Molly- $600. Mary- $300. Betsy- $50.

These "Negroes" were slaves belonging to planter and lawyer Leger Hutchinson, Esq. And these were the values placed on each of them. A document like this truly brings slavery to life and light.



Leger died in 1815 at the young age of 24. He was part of a line of Hutchinsons who owned large rice plantations and hundreds of slaves in South Carolina's Lowcountry. Specifically, Leger was from what was then called St. Bartholomew Parish. Today it is Colleton County.

I was shown this powerful document (above) at the Charleston County Public Library on Calhoun Street. On the second floor is the wonderful South Carolina Room, home to vast resources for research and genealogy, and a first-rate, knowledgeable and helpful staff.

When Leger died, perhaps from the "prevailing (yellow) fever" of the time, an inventory of his belongings was done. I was not previously aware of such legal documents that, to this day, are part of the probate process. The inventory lists all of someone's personal belongings when he or she died.  It doesn't include homes or property, from what I can tell in seeing a few others from this era. But as you see if lists slaves. And Leger had many. By my count, there are 120 names on this list of slaves.

His inventory also lists "household furniture" ($1,000), an "one old carriage" ($300), "field horses" ($100), two male mules called "jacks" ($50) and five female mules called "jennies" ($30). Other types of horses, oxen and cattle are also on this list. Amanda and Lish at the library's South Carolina Room were of great help to me. Lish even knew what jacks and jennies were!


Much of the information to follow in this post comes from a Facebook post I did a couple days ago on the site, "Charleston History Before 1945." This is the link to that post. You probably have to log in to Facebook to see it. This posting, and one I published on the same topic a few days prior (seeking assistance), received many likes and comments.  

Adam Parker at the Charleston Post and Courier did a wonderful article about the "Charleston History Before 1945" Facebook site on December 15, 2019. Check it out here. 

From my Jan. 7 Facebook post: A few hours today on Calhoun Street at the Charleston County Public Library’s South Carolina Room uncovered a gold mine of information about a remote unmarked family cemetery deep in the ACE Basin off Highway 17 south of Charleston at the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area. I also learned about the wealthy Hutchinson plantation family represented in this burial site. This post is a tribute to the fine staff and high-quality resources CCPL has to help people like me and you. 
Grave marker of Leger Hutchinson, Esq. after I cleaned it up and could slowly make out the inscription. See the link below to my 2018 post for what the inscription revealed.
The above ledger stone is what put me on the research trail. During a July 2018 visit to Donnelley, I was finally able to locate the small cemetery lost in the woods in the Boynton Trail part of the vast wildlife management area. See this post from 2018 about my adventure finding this and researching Leger Hutchinson, Esq. (1791-1815).
Also, this January 4, 2020 post gives additional information after I revisited the site. 

Research revealed that this marker belongs to Mrs. Rebecca Hutchinson Price. She died May 25, 1810 at age 55. There was some visible writing on this stone but I was unable to read it. I thought I would come back with paper and an etching pencil or chalk. But this publication (below) saved me the trouble.

A couple days ago I found a reference to this publication that included a “Hutchinson Cemetery” and it said the publication is at CCPL’s South Carolina Room. That’s the main reason I went there today.

I was pleased to see this photo and brief write up. The Colleton County gravesites publication came out in 1998.

Leger’s marker I was previously able to read myself. Rebecca Hutchinson Price is a revelation. I could make out only a few words on her box tomb. This helps a lot. I suspect she was an aunt to Leger.

The three other tombs there remain mysteries. "Illegible" it says about them. The identities must be known somewhere, somehow, by someone!  

SC Room staffer Amanda told me about a drawer with large maps like this. This Colleton District map is from 1820.

Toward the top left on this 1820 map you see homesites, possibly plantation houses, of Hutchinson and Marchants. This confirmed Hutchinsons in the area of the cemetery near the Combahee River. The Stocks name is also on this map. Today, Stocks Creek Road borders and goes around behind the Donnelley WMA.  By the Donnelley back gate off this road is the best place to park if going to the cemetery because it saves a lot of walking if you park at the entrance to the Boynton Trail. 

This is where I parked to access the Donnelley WMA from the back

Other Finds in the South Carolina Room at the Charleston County Public Library

The above document (second paragraph) records the marriage of Leger Hutchinson, Esq. to Miss Anna Nathaniel Farr, daughter of the late Nathaniel Farr, Esq. The young couple was married by Rev. Dr. Dehone.

This piece from the S.C Historical and Genealogical Magazine reports, in the middle, the 1817 death of the late Leger Hutchinson’s only daughter, 3-year 10-month old Elizabeth. She died of the “prevailing fever”- yellow fever no doubt. “Prevailing fever” is mentioned several times on this page from the years between 1816-18. Her father died in 1815. I was not able to find Leger’s cause of death at 24. But the “prevailing fever” is probably a good bet.

This is the will of Leger’s mother, Elizabeth Love Hutchinson (1763-1822). Her wealth is evident in the Sullivan’s Island home and $1,000 she leaves her grandsons, one of whom would become a mayor of Charleston. She leaves to her grandsons her pew at Charleston's St. Michael's Church. She is protective about her slave Sylvia who is left to her family (see 10 lines from the bottom for that).

Researcher Amanda in the SC Room also found this from 1824. It is a Charleston City Gazette and Commercial Daily Advertiser ad for a plantation for sale near the estate of the late Leger Hutchinson.

Finally from 1910, this Colonial Dames of America “Ancestral Records and Portraits” story about how the Hutchinsons came over from England as one of the large land grant recipients from the king and his lord proprietors who included Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper. 

Thanks to the wonderful SC Room staff for all the great help today. Do go there for your research!

So, more is known about the Hutchinsons of what was then called St. Bartholomew's Parish. Mysteries remain, such as who is buried in the three illegible gravestones. 

One finding that really struck me was how in the early 1800s, the population of this parish (again today called Colleton County) was nearly 85 percent black, i.e. slaves. It was truly the province of plantations, especially rice ones. 

I look forward to returning in the spring or summer to this remote cemetery. Maybe another secret or two will be revealed. After all, there was supposedly a house, probably a Hutchinson house, in this vicinity. Why would the family have a cemetery here in the middle of nowhere!  There had to be a home nearby!  Stay tuned!  

No comments: