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Papers of the Douglass, Thorn, and Moores Families, 1822-1997

Three hundred forty-five manuscripts, 1822, 1845, 1854-1922, 1997 and undated, of the Douglass, Thorn, and Moores families are comprised chiefly of letters to and from members of the John Douglass family of Blackstock. Dr. John Douglass (1795-1870) studied medicine at Philadelphia, served as a delegate to the Nullification convention of 1832-1833, and later was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate. He married Mary Letherd Lunsford in 1817 and had ten children, including four sons who became physicians. John Lunsford Douglass, the eldest son, died in 1855. Dr. Douglass and his remaining sons entered military service shortly after South Carolina seceded from the Union, and several letters permit a fragmented tracking of their activities. James Rion, who organized and commanded a unit, described for son Swanson Wade Douglass what his uniform and insignia as a captain should be (8 May 1861). A subsequent letter in September to Wade's wife, Susan, discusses reorganization of the unit after volunteers were deployed to Virginia, which resulted in the replacement of Rion by election. A letter from Wade to the Chester newspaper refutes charges that he quit because his patron was ousted. As he explained to Susan, "When my patriotic motives fail, it will be when the Yankees have killed me." Wade, captain, Co. B, Seventh South Carolina Battalion, Hagood's Brigade, died of wounds sustained in a charge near Wilcox Station on the Weldon and Petersburg Railroad in Virginia in 1864. A poignant tribute written by a comrade, 21 November 1864, and printed in The Chester Standard eulogizes Capt. Douglass. Thomas James Holden Douglass, who was imprisoned at Johnson Island, Ohio, and brother Lawrence Sylvester ("Ves") Douglass survived the war and came home to struggle through Reconstruction, with Ves operating a dry goods store in Blackstock. Tom apparently had some run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan as referenced in a letter from a friend in Warrenton, Va., 21 November 1871.

An interesting postcript to the war is a letter from Henry West to Ves Douglass in 1883. West claims to be the Yankee soldier who protected the Douglass women and their household from Sherman's troops in 1865. He relates a long, adventurous tale that concludes with his awaiting trial for a crime he claims he never committed and needing money to hire a defense attorney.

Dr. John Douglass' daughter Mary Lunsford Douglass married William Henry Harrison Moores and moved to Texas. Her niece and namesake, Mary Lunsford Thorn, married William Henry Harrison Moores, Jr., the elder Moores' son by a previous marriage and also moved to Texarkana. A substantial share of the correspondence present in the collection consists of letters from these two Marys to their kinfolk in Blackstock. Most of the letters relate family, farming, and social news such as a New Year's eve "Dutch masquerade ball"-"Mr. Moores and Willie were masked as old women...they presented so ludicrous and frightful an appearance, that I was as silly as the children" (8 January 1883).

The bulk of the correspondence relates to John Douglass' daughter, Frances Petrena Porcher Douglass, or "Pete" as she was called by her siblings. She married William Thorn in 1866 and had six daughters. Much of the correspondence relates to her daughters-trying to find good schools for them and the girls writing from school or their teaching positions around the state. On 21 November 1882, Fannie's friend Celestine Lowndes in Charleston wrote that the "Confederate Home is preferred by many for its more economical terms & more inexpensive dressing of its inmates." The daughters went to different schools, including Columbia Female College, Virginia Female Institute, Williamston Female College, and Clifford Seminary in Union. Daughter Adalize wrote her mother on 22 December 1889 that "Converse College is being built with the idea of being superior to any other college in the South."

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