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James Jonathan Lucas Papers, [Addition], 1851-1938
Two hundred two manuscripts, 1851-1938, added to the papers of James Jonathan Lucas (1831-1914) shed further light upon the life and statewide interests of this prominent Society Hill farmer, corporate director, educational supporter, churchman, and family man.
Letters pertaining to his association with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company as a member of its board of directors, a few having to do with the South Carolina Military Academy, and several from the Rev. Albert Sidney Thomas, rector of St. Matthews [Episcopal] Church in Darlington, corroborate his commitment to those particular institutions during the first decade of the twentieth century.
Two small bound volumes provide an early glimpse into his world of business and agriculture. The first of these, labeled "Tax Returns," is an account, cash, and estate book covering the period 1861-1913. The other, 1866-1874, documents the purchase of a plantation, presumably near Society Hill, for $6,000 in 1866. It contains domestic accounts and entries of sales, wages, and receipts?and concludes with a "List of hands employed at Devonald Plantation." A unit of material from the Bureau of Statistics, United States Department of Agriculture, 1909-1911, reveals that Lucas functioned as a statistical correspondent for Darlington County during this period, forwarding to the agency data on local farm production, including amount of acreage under cultivation, and the condition and prices of the crops. Another item reflecting Lucas' agricultural interests is a note, 7 July 1884, handwritten on the back of a South Carolina State Horticultural Society form letter promoting an upcoming meeting of the society in Columbia, in which president R.M. Sims solicits Lucas' assistance in collecting and preserving specimens to be forwarded to the North Carolina Exposition. Sims urges him in particular "to get us up a full collection of your wine."
Family correspondence reflects the extended worlds of domestic routine, preoccupation, and crisis. Four of his children are represented in this addition to Lucas' papers. His oldest child, Thomas Smith Lucas (1863-1939), writes during 1906-1907 from Savannah, where he was a high school principal at the time. "Make haste and finish your memoirs as they...will be welcomed by the public," Thomas urged his father on 31 March 1907. Nine letters from Lucas' next oldest child, daughter Fannie (1864-1944), written between 1903 and 1910 from Charlotte, are filled with observations on her life there and about family and friends elsewhere as well. "The town was horrified last Sunday by the death of young Hamilton Witherspoon," she informed her father on 4 March 1907. "He suicided at Hot Spngs Ark. His dear mother was a Witherspoon of Mayesville." Also included are a few letters from or about Lucas' two other daughters, Bessie and Melita, both of whom died young?Melita on 20 July 1907 from the effects of emergency surgery while visiting relatives in Summerville.
Three letters survive, written between 1902 and 1906, from Lucas' younger brother, Benjamin Simons Lucas (1833-1915), who lived in Laurens, where apparently he was associated with the Laurens Cotton Mills. On 19 May 1902 he reported?"I have just heard that a young married woman at the Laurens mill, committed suicide this morning, by shooting herself in the head. She leaves two small children, and a mean husband. His treatment, they say, drove her to commit the deed. She was said to be very young and comely." On 10 May he had written?"This is a most glorious day, for all of the old Confederates, seeing the resting places of our old Comrades, being honored every year, by decorations with the lovely flowers of our native heath, by the hands of our devoted, and consecrated women, of this, our beloved Southland. They must have a monument erected, for their constancy, and devotion to our glorious cause, during the War for `Southern Independence.' We will all have answered to the last `Roll Call,' before many decades have passed, but our memory will be kept fresh by the beloved and fair ladies of our dear Southland."
A letter of special interest is one written on 10 May 1900 to Lucas from John H. Averill, secretary of the executive committee in charge of planning the South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition in Charleston, asking him to "serve as a member of the Executive Committee for your County; not necessarily to solicit subscriptions, but to be ready to receive such, when offered, and to take charge of such books and information as we will be glad to furnish you." Also included is an early prospectus of the exposition.
Other items of note are a one-day pass signed by South Carolina Representative Robert B. Scarborough and issued to Lucas for a visit to the House of Representatives in Washington on 3 April 1902; a printed notice from Darlington attorneys J. Monroe Spears and Edward C. Dennis, 8 April 1902, announcing their move "from our former offices on Exchange Street to more commodious rooms in the new City Hall and Theatre Building"; and an invitation to attend the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of Winthrop Training School for Teachers, to be held in Rock Hill on 3 May 1912.
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