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Papers of the DeSaussure, Gamewell, Lang, and Parrish Families

One hundred ninety-four items, 1757-1925, documenting the interrelationship between the DeSaussure, Gamewell, Lang, and Parrish families consist principally of personal and family correspondence, legal documents, and sermons of Methodist minister Whatcoat Asbury Gamewell (1814-1869).

Particularly noteworthy is Gamewell's account of an October 1835 visit to a Charleston synagogue--"I have frequently passed this place of worship while they were at service but through some cause or other had never entered, though I have determined to do so at some time before I left this place. A friend and myself were passing on one of their feast days and concluded to walk in and witness their proceedings so far as we could. It was quite a commodious house with a galery; in the centre of the lower floor was something like an alter which was used as a pulpit or desk. The males occupied the seats in the lower floor and the females the galery so that it would seem they were in some measure excluded from the immediate service. The males had each a scarf about his shoulders and retained their hats on their heads. One of the number who was not in any respects distinguished from the others ascended the desk and commenced reading when all rose to their feet; at intervals the whole assembly would respond or rather join the reader. After having read and sung for some time, the reader took up something resembling a small bunch of green branches bound closely together, and shook them in a variety of ways during which he seemed to be quite animated, though himself and audience throughout preserved a considerable degree of solemnity. They had proceeded probably half an hour when one of the company opened a closet in one end of the house and took out something which when shaken would make a tinkling sound which I took to be a cymbal, and ascended the alter followed by several others where they continued to read and sing with apparent fervency after which the instrument was replaced and the officiating person addressed several individuals as though he was interrogating or Chatechising them which closed the services the whole of which was performed in hebrew."

A 30 December 1861 letter from S[allie] E. D[eSaussure] to her sister, "my beloved Tay," questions whether leeches applied in a medical procedure had proven beneficial. Civil War and Reconstruction items include a 25 March 1866 letter from W.A. Gamewell detailing the "awful calamity," an arson fire which destroyed the public square in Darlington--"The entire public square including the court house is in ashes except Wood's & McCall's....the devouring element had nothing to do but to leap from one building to another until some 25 houses were gone....The community seemed to be gathering some heart and were really beginning to feel that they could live but now all is prostrate....Threats have been made for a continuation of the ruin tonight, and the military are to have out a double guard, and I suppose every man will guard his own premises. I expect to watch myself."

An 1866 pocket diary of W.A. Gamewell gives an account of his ministerial activities and struggle to balance those duties with farming in order to provide for his family. Included too are observations on the difficulties faced in reuniting the Northern and Southern churches, as well as comments concerning race relations and relations between occupying Federal forces and white Southerners. A revealing entry, 4 May, notes--"sent for...in the P.M. to be present at prayer meeting in our church to pay respect to the Confederate dead. If that be treason let our enemies make the best of it." Another, 4 July, records--"This is independance day: but alas what independance for us whites of the South! We are more the Slaves of the North than our fathers were to the crown of Great Brittain....The freed people have a great dinner and invite us to it....a goodly number of our men attended it of which I am glad."

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