SOUTH CAROLINIANA LIBRARY
UNIVERSITY SOUTH CAROLINIANA SOCIETY
MANUSCRIPTS DIVISION 2001
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Bacot Family Papers, 1746-1932, 1961-1997 [Addition]
An addition of three hundred fifteen manuscripts, four volumes, a photograph album, three ambrotypes, and twenty-two photographs to the papers of Peter Samuel Bacot (1810-1864) provides information about Richard (d. 1843) and Mary Hart Brockinton (1775-1853), who reared Peter Bacot and his brother and sister after the deaths of their parents in 1810 and 1811. The Brockintons had no children of their own. Richard Brockinton moved to Darlington District from Williamsburg District. Land papers document his acquisition of large tracts of land bordering on Lowther's Lake and Black Swamp, waters of the Great Pee Dee River. The Brockinton's plantation home, Roseville, was located on one of the tracts of land that Brockinton acquired.
Many of the earliest letters in the collection are addressed to Mary Hart Brockinton from her Hart relatives in Mississippi. Religion, illness and death, family concerns, and crops are discussed in the letters. Sarah White, Pleasant Grove, 10 April 1813, thanked Mrs. Brockinton for a book by a Mrs. Osborn-"She has laid down some very good Lessons for the unexperienced and I shall endeavour by them to prepare myself for my Future happiness in a better World, for there is little to partake of in this." She complained on this occasion, as she did on others, of her stepmother's treatment of her and related that her newborn lived only two months. Two months later, 4 June 1813, she anticipated that her husband's regiment would be sent to the North and mentioned the extensive damage caused by floods on the Mississippi River. Widowed and having recently lost two of her three children, 7 February 1821, she lamented-"I have almost been in a state of insanity, but thank God, I am again reconciled to this life and the trials that Providence has thought proper to send me....we are not born to live forever here and yet we poor blind creatures are seldom or ever reconciled to attend Death's call." She informed her aunt of her daughter's progress in sewing, knitting, and writing, and mentioned problems in settling her husband's estate-"it is a very troublesome business to settle in this Country, there are so many dishonest people to deal with."
Sarah's situation had improved a year and a half later, 2 June 1822-"providence has again blessed me with a kind and affectionate Husband." Mr. Shaw came to Woodville, Miss., from Massachusetts with the intention of preaching, "but finding his tennets were not received with approbation by his hearers he declined preaching altogether" and accepted a position as headmaster of Wilkinson Academy. She viewed the world differently since her marriage and the birth of a daughter. She acknowledged Mrs. Brockinton's request for papers and a bed from her father's estate but expected no cooperation from her stepmother. Her brother Benjamin disposed of all the Negroes and land that he received from the estate and departed for Maryland to buy more Negroes-"I dislike his choice of business very much but there is no help for it."
In March 1823 Mrs. Shaw brought her aunt up to date on family affairs, Anna Jane's progress in school, and her wish to visit relatives in South Carolina. Her husband and brother were planning to use the thirty-five slaves from Mr. White's estate to plant cotton and were anticipating a crop of one hundred bales. She also mentioned that she took comfort from a Baptist minister residing within two hundred yards of their house- "Though I have never yet joined any [denomination], I trust and feel that I may soon feel that true gift of grace from God, which will enable me to join the happy souls that are travelling to another and 'better world.'" Mrs. Shaw died some time between 1823 and 26 August 1828, when her husband wrote Mrs. Brockinton from Bridgewater, Mass., to inform her that Anna Jane was with her uncle Benjamin in Mississippi and that he was planning to return there for a visit over the winter.
Correspondence in the 1840s is chiefly between Peter S. Bacot, who married Mrs. Brockinton's niece Anna Jane White, and family and friends. Peter's cousin Henry Harramond Bacot, a medical student in Charleston in 1839, commented on the heat of summer in the city-"This city is as dull and hot as a Southern town exposed to the intense heat of a Summer Sun can possibly be-especially when his rays are reflected from Streets covered with Lime-whose minute particles fill both the eyes and lungs-with their irritating influence." He mentioned the approaching marriage of another relative, Charles Bacot, and characterized the nuptial state-"when a man tired of Liberty voluntarily delivers himself up to chains and servitude." Henry Bacot solicited Peter's advice about locating his medical practice in the Darlington area. He had done so by September 1840 for he wrote Peter at Mars Bluff from Society Hill "that a 'Sawbones' is not master of his time he is the slave of the community & must not be out of sight long else some may want his place."
Upon the death of Peter's wife, Anna Jane, Mary H. Brockinton assumed responsibility for the children of Peter Bacot as she and her husband had done for Peter in 1811. Several deeds in 1841 concern the transfer by Mrs. Brockinton of slaves to the Bacot children. Mrs. Brockinton may have been in failing health, for in March 1851 she wrote her will; however, her death did not occur until two years later. The appraisal of her estate in July lists by name 132 slaves. Another list of slaves, 1 May 1854, has sixty-nine names ranging in age from three months to fifty-seven years.
Receipts for sales of cotton shipped on the steamer Pee Dee and purchases of plantation and household supplies constitute the bulk of the collection in the 1850s. Among the accounts are ones with machinist F.A. Taylor and blacksmith A.W. Thomson. Bacot paid $10 to J.N. Tuttle for a state map, subscribed to the "Country Mercury," and purchased ice from A.H. Van Bakkelen, of Wilmington, N.C. Two of the more intriguing items for this period are a receipt for payment of $150 to artist George W. Flagg as "half payment for three cabinet pictures" and a letter, 19 August 1854, from artist W.H. Scarborough concerning portraits.
There is very little manuscript material for the period of the Civil War. Peter Bacot's estate filled out a Confederate tax-in-kind return in February 1865 and P.B. Bacot signed the oath of allegiance in September. Peter's son Richard H. Bacot apparently sought promotion in the Confederate Navy in 1863. G.H. Bier, serving on the steamer Chicora, informed Bacot in a letter of 12 May 1863 that the naval board was not considering him for promotion and that he should contact the department.
Business activities resumed shortly after the war. A circular letter (August 1865) from the Charleston firm of G.W. Williams & Co. announced the resumption of their business. Dr. Peter Bacot returned from the army in which he served as a surgeon and resumed the practice of medicine and farming. He also administered his father's estate which was sold in February 1866. Peter B. Bacot apparently diversified his farming activities after the war for there are letters in 1867 from two Pennsylvania breeders concerning their stock of pigs. Dr. Peter Bacot moved from Florence County in 1875 to become secretary of the board of health in Charleston. He returned to Florence in 1882 to practice medicine.
The bulk of the documents for the final three decades of the nineteenth century concern the farming activities of Dr. Bacot's son, A.J.W. Bacot, who resided at Mars Bluff. The accounts include receipts for the payment of dues to Hampton Lodge #204, A[ncient] F[ree] M[asons], bills from the Charleston mercantile firm of Klinck, Wickenberg & Co. and other Charleston firms, receipts for payment of the Knights of Honor death assessment, and bills from local firms and the North Eastern Rail Road Co.
Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century land papers document the acquisition of property by the Brockinton and Bacot families, and genealogical materials provide information about these and related families.
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