John Peyre Thomas (1796–1859), the oldest son of Thomas Hasell Thomas (1767–1804) and Ann Peyre Walter (1778–1818), was born at Betaw Plantation in present-day Berkeley County, South Carolina. He graduated from South Carolina College (present-day University of South Carolina) in 1818, and earned his medical degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons (now part of Columbia University) in New York in 1820.

In 1821 he returned to Berkeley County to practice medicine, and after his marriage to Harriet Jane Couturier (1810–1835) began planting near the present town of Bonneau at Oak Grove plantation. In 1832 he acquired Buckpond plantation in Upper St. Johns, Berkeley Parish. Following the death of his wife, he married her younger sister Charlotte Henrietta Couturier (1817–1892) in 1836. Two years later he acquired property near Ridgeway in Fairfield County close to where his younger brother Samuel Peyre Thomas (1804–1854) had lived since 1826 and began construction of Mt. Hope plantation. He and his family would occupy this house in 1840, and by 1850 he had amassed real estate worth $7,500 and owned an enslaved workforce of forty-eight men, women, and children. John Peyre Thomas and his two wives would eventually have eighteen children, fourteen of whom would survive to adulthood. Thomas died on 1 January 1859 and was buried at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Ridgeway.

This sixteen volume “Diary of Weather and Occurrences,” contains nearly daily entries written by Thomas between 1827 and 1857 describing common and exceptional weather events, plantation management, and interactions with his enslaved work force, as well as reporting family news.


View the Diaries