Three manuscript volumes, 1853-1867, 1860-1870, and 1869-1893, of D. Joseph Atkinson, a resident of a property known as Dunkley’s Mount in eastern Edgefield County, later Aiken County. Some entries suggest that Atkinson’s duty on the home front as an overseer and blacksmith enabled him to avoid military conscription during the Civil War. Atkinson acted as caretaker of the Vaucluse factory textile mill property after its destruction by fire in 1867.
The earliest volume, a daybook, 1853-1867, with cover title “Cash & Creddet: D.J. Atkinson’s Ac[coun]t Book, No. 5,” accounts for such expenses as “Twenty three palmetto buttons” and “pasige on the plank road” (28 April 1855) as well as purchases of tobacco, cloth, wheat, sugar, whiskey, rum, fodder, beef, powder, dry goods, watermelons, turpentine, varnish, medicinal items such as asafedita and laudanum, freight to Graniteville, and wagon parts. There are references to the Vaucluse Co[mpany] Store, Columbia & Hamburg Rail Road Company, and other businesses.
The volume evidences various paginations and a non-chronological arrangement during the time periods of use. Two entries dating to the Civil War era include an 1863 entry in which Atkinson records that he began “overseeing for Larance Miller 19 Jan. 1863 over 9 field hands and is to have the seventh of the cotton and the eighth of the corn, fodder, pease, and wheat” and another indicating that an unidentified male slave died 21 February 1863 following an illness. A later entry, an affidavit with signatures, 12 February 1864, of Atkinson’s neighbors certifies that he had been employed as a wheelwright and blacksmith “for the publick and country every day for the laste twelve months.” Endpapers include record of weather conditions, [1857?]-1858.
Another volume, 1860-1870, with cover title “A Letter, Bill, Note and Receipt Book, No. 1 of D. J. Atkinson, Dunkley’s Mount, S.C., January 1, 1869” consists of Atkinson’s incoming personal and business correspondence, 1860 and 1867-1870. Atkinson modified a Vaucluse factory ledger by pasting over or tipping-in to the stubs of pages that had been cut from the book. Several remaining pages from the ledger, ca. 1863-1864, list sacks and bagging shipped from Vaucluse during the Civil War.
The single antebellum item in this volume consists of a letter dated 3 December 1860 from G.W. Turner, Graniteville, in which he advised Atkinson that he was willing to take back Mary, presumably a slave woman, if Atkinson was dissatisfied with the transaction—“It Has Been Remarked That I New Just How To Work you.”
Many letters discuss aspects of Atkinson’s activities at the site of the Vaucluse factory. A series of letters written after the destruction of the Vaucluse factory by fire in 1867 document Atkinson’s job as a caretaker for the property and his acquaintance with James J. Gregg and William Gregg, Jr. (1817-1909), the sons of Graniteville founder William Gregg (1800-1867). Although not documented in this collection, it is interesting to note James J. Gregg's interest in Vaucluse as he was later murdered at the factory site in 1876.
In a letter, 30 June 1869, written on Graniteville letterhead, J.J. Gregg directed Atkinson to have the workers break up all the machinery at Vaucluse except what remained in the “long warehouse” and instructed him to keep all the wrought iron by itself locked away in the “big ware house.” A subsequent letter from Gregg, 24 July 1869, expresses concern at the ruinous conditions at the Vaucluse site which he described as “rapidly going to rack.” “You must look after it,” Gregg went on to say, “otherwise I will be obliged to put there another in charge who will prevent the people from burning fences and outhouses.” Other messages to Atkinson in his capacity as caretaker include an 1867 letter from B.F. Harlow, Warrenton, Ga., asking whether there was any prospect of getting a job at Vaucluse and whether the factory would be rebuilt that summer.
The volume also includes various printed advertising circulars from establishments in Charleston—among those represented are Kinsman and Howell, general commission merchants, and A.G. Goodwin & Co., a Charleston hat dealer— as well as from various establishments in New York and elsewhere for musical instruments, shirts, hats, and varieties of “white lead,” and from the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.
Non-business related papers from this period include letter, 29 Nov. 1867, “Darring,” [Darien?] Ga., from J.L. Loveday re building a railroad trestle and laying tracks, and a summons, for Atkinson to appear in court at Edgefield, 4 Sept. 1867, in regards to a dispute between plaintiff Abraham Noleher against the Columbia and Augusta Rail Road.
Other papers include Atkinson’s correspondence from family and personal friends, some of whose names appear in the earlier volume. Letters, ca. 1868-1869, from former neighbor Wade Buff discuss his job of planting strawberries, peas, and other products on John’s Island and Seabrook Island for export to the New York markets. Also included are letters from Samuel Overstreet, who is identified as a prisoner in a letter, 8 April 1869, from the Georgia Penitentiary in Milledgeville.
Letters from Mrs. M.A. Odell of Lincolnton, N.C., include that of 16 September 1868 telling that her husband was away working in Missouri for six months, possibly constructing a railroad trestle, and noting that she planned to “break up house keeping” and move into a boarding house since “the place is in so unsettled [a] state that I don’t feel quite safe all alone.” Several months later, Mrs. Odell wrote again with Christmas greetings, 15 December 1868, to “Lewis” and “Johnny” in hopes that they would enjoy a visit from “Sandy Claus” and that their stockings would be filled.
The third volume, 1869-1871 and 1885-1893, a farm account book, lists sharecroppers working for various members of the Atkinson family at Dunkley’s Mount. Its pages list lands planted in cotton, corn, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, and watermelons and also record the labor of sharecroppers in picking cotton, corn, and other crops and farm store accounts for the purchase of sundry goods. The final pages of the volume include a record of “The time it Rained Each Week in the year,” 1870-1871.
Later entries, 1885-1893, written in another hand, document labor accrued and goods purchased by sharecroppers. These accounts may document transactions on a different property that was leased by M.M. Dunkley, according to a signature inside the cover. In an agreement dated 21 October 1893 M.M Dunkley agreed to pay to T. Luther Getzen or his agent “for the Sullivan place” with “twelve hundred lbs of Lint Cotton...rent to be paid by the 15th of Oct. every year.”