Records for the Assistant Commissioner for the State of South Carolina,
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1870
National Archives Microfilm Publication M869 Roll 34
"Reports of Conditions and Operations July 1865 - Dec. 1866"
Beaufort , S. C.
Aug. 1, 1865
Judd, H. G.
Submits report concerning Freedmen on Port Royal and adjacent Islands
Office for Freedmen
Beaufort, South Carolina
August 1, 1865
Bvt. Maj. Gen. R. Saxton
Asst. Com. Freedmens Affairs &c
In obedience to the requirements of Gen. Order republishing Circular no. 10 I have the honor to submit the following concerning Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands in the district comprising Port Royal and adjacent Islands and such portion of the abandoned land upon the main extending northwardly from the "Coosa River" as have been visited and inspected.
No census of the Freedmen in this district has been taken since November 1864 and any estimate of the population at any period since "Sherman's Refugees" began so largely to increase the number would necessarily have been unreliable and at best only approximate to fact. From January first to this date nearly seventeen thousand (17000) Freedmen have arrived at Beaufort of whom not exceeding one thousand (1000) now remain this side of the Coosa. 350 of these are staying in the town, more than one half of whom are paupers, with an uncommon proportion of very infirm and aged people. Upon the Island Plantations, sixty-seven (67) of which are being worked to a greater or less extent, the population is not far from five thousand (5000), embracing four hundred and fifty (450) infirm and orphans* who have until this time been subsisted by the government. Freedmen and Refugees in Beaufort number twenty two hundred (2200) and on abandoned estates above the "Coosa" six hundred (600) making a total of about seven thousand eight hundred (7800) in the district. The average arrivals of Freedmen in transit from all parts of the state, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina seeking their relatives and endeavoring to reach their homes have been fifty (50) per day, and twenty one thousand (21000) rations have been issued to such persons during June and July on the ground of absolute destitution and inability to proceed further without such aid; the whole number of rations issued in this district to Freedmen (the Provost Marshal has provided for white refugees) from June first until this date is eighty thousand (80000) of which the value of twenty five thousand seven hundred and fifty four (25.754) rations or five thousand one hundred and fifty dollars ($5150.00) has been charged against the consumers and a lien made upon the cotton crop for its payment;
it is proper to state that the ration has not included several of the articles enumerated in Circular No. 8, meal and meat being often the only subsistence asked for.
One hundred articles of clothing have been given to Freedmen since June first, the value of which was fifty dollars ($50.00). The whole of it was donated by the Agent of the Sanitary Commission and no supplies distributed from this office have apparently been more needed or better bestowed.
Concerning abandoned lands not yet formally taken possession of by any agent of the Bureau in the district this first report must necessarily be meagre, so little time being given for survey and the gathering of information; herewith is transmitted a sketch of such estates as have been visited and I append estimates of the area of each, with whatever facts have been procured relative to the former owners and a statement of the present condition of each; and I earnestly recommend that all needful steps be speedily taken to secure the entire control to the Bureau of these and still further outlying abandoned properties as they will be needed to furnish homesteads for very many families who will return hither as fast as the way is opened for them; the sketch bears numbers corresponding with those on the subjoined description notes.
No. 1 - Barnwell Island - property of William H. Trescott in the State Dept. at Washington D. C. during the administration of Mr. Buchanan; contains about one thousand (1000) acres of excellent land, two hundred (200) of which are cultivated the present year under the supervision of Miss. Graves who has a school for the children; colored population three hundred (300) mainly old residents or people from Port Royal; the mansion house and fifteen (15) first class cabins are standing and for situation and real value the Island is of importance. Trescott had a command at Hilton Head but his subsequent connexion with the war and his present whereabouts are not known.
No. 2 - Hall Island - comprise the two plantations of Jno. F. Chaplin and Hamilton Fripp, each of which contain six hundred (600) acres of arable land; they have been abandoned until this year when one of Chaplin's former slaves went back and has induced some twenty seven (27) Chaplin people in all to settle on the place, and on Fripps no dwelling whatever, but the Chaplin place has eighteen (18) cabins. Mr. Chaplin is if living an old man, was prominent in urging the state to "secede" but has not been personally engaged in the war. Fripp has been a private soldier in the Confederate army.
No. 3 to No. 8 - inclusive these six (6) deserted plantations lie along the "Coosa" river eastward from Port Royal ferry and are perfectly desolate, having neither an inhabitant nor a dwelling; they contain variously from three hundred (300) to eight hundred (800) acres each of good land most favorably situated for settlement; the owners were #3 John Chaplin, son of John F., Lieut. in the rebel service, #4 Widow of Edwd. Fripp, #5 Wm. Fripp, heirs unknown, #6 Wm. Adams whose three (3) sons were in the service of the rebel government, #7 John Webb connected in a civil capacity with the Confederate army, #8 Mary Terry present condition or heirs unknown.
No. 9 - Chisholm Island - owned by Robert Chisholm; the father and two (2) son were engaged during the rebellion as private soldiers in the service of the Confederate government. Forty of the old residents have returned to the farm and with thirty (30) strangers from beyond the "Combahee" are working two hundred (200) acres of fine looking crops; the plantation embraces one thousand five hundred acres including the marsh, a decent mansion house and twenty cabins remain but most of the valuable improvements were burned two (2) years ago by the owner.
No. 10 - Estate of T. H. Span - could not ascertain whether he took part in the rebellion though he is a middle aged man; this place embraces seven hundred (700) to one thousand (1000) acres but includes much marsh, some of which was reclaimed before the war and planted with Rice; the buildings except the mansion house remain and twenty (20) of the freed people are on the place with sixty (60) acres of good crops.
No. 11 - Estate of Hal. Stewart - Lieutenant in the rebel army, the Negroes on his father's, Henry Stewart's, place say that young "mass Hal" was opposed to the war and only went when "he was scripted;" the place is deserted but several tenements are standing in good order, also cotton and gin houses; there are six hundred (600) acres of good land.
No. 12 - "Oak Point" - belonged to Henry Stewart, a "hard master" who promoted the rebellion in every possible way except to take up arms himself. His place is a fine peninsula bounded by Coosa and Bull river; contains six hundred (600) acres and has sufficient houses and other improvements for the present population of sixty (60) Freedmen, only 7 (7) are old residents and about fifty (50) acres are under cultivation.
No. 13 - Lands of Edward Barnwell - about four hundred (400) acres available, remainder marsh; has population of fifteen (15) all old occupants residing in the remaining cabins; they have twenty five (25) acres in provision crops.
No. 14 - Estate of ?Prowlus Chisholm
No. 15 - Estate of John Barnwell Jr.
No. 16 - Estate of ------- Porter
No. 17 - Estate of Bolles Barnwell
No. 18 - Estate of Robert Barnwell Jr.
The five plantations 14 to 18 are entirely deserted as they must have been for a long time and together embrace a territory of not less than twenty five hundred (2500) acres without any improvements, even the bridges over ditches and streams being decayed and broken. The arable lands however, are good and fine crops can be realized on them. The owners except Robert and John Barnwell, who in the Confederate army, are old men, present residence unknown.
No. 19 - Estate of Rafe Elliott - lies south east of Gardners Corners; has no houses or other improvements; comprises eight hundred (800) acres of first quality land. Elliott was a surgeon in the "C. S. A." and was killed early in the war.
No. 20 - Estate of Paul Hamilton - has nothing left upon it but a cotton house; comprises seven hundred (700) acres of good land.
No. 21 - Estate of Dr. Dessaussere - now of Charleston; Grand Master or head of the "Masonic Fraternity" of the state; has three (300) to four (400) hundred acres unimproved. The Doctor had a son in the "C. S. A."
No. 22 - The John Jenkins Place - lying directly on the "Combahee road" all gone to ruin and everything grown up to weeds - about five hundred (500) acres.
No. 23 - The large estate combining six (6) plantations of Walter Blake - has at least two thousand (2000) acres of arable land, much of it thoroughly reclaimed Rice land; the mansion and Rice mills were burned and only thirty five (35) Negro houses remained; they are now occupied by about one hundred and twenty five (125) of the former residents who have two hundred (200) acres under cultivation mainly corn and rice. Blake was a captain in the rebel army and at one time commanded the district from the Combahee to Pocatotige rivers.
No. 24 - Two Plantations of Henry Middleton - almost surrounded by a bend of the Combahee containing eleven hundred (1100) acres of which one hundred and fifty (150) are rice land. The improvements except a half dozen cabins are all destroyed. Middleton had two (2) sons in the "C. S. A."
No. 25, 26, 27 - "Green Point" "Clay Hall" and "Brantford" - all belonging to the estate of Henry Hayward - lie among the Combahee below the ferry and are fine plantations with an area of fifteen hundred (1500) acres; a few cabins are all that is left of very extensive improvements; these places will be valuable from their location for settlement; one son of Hayward's was in the rebel army.
No. 28 - Estate of Revd. Stephen Elliott - north of Combahee road and west of Walter Blake's place; contains five hundred (500) acres and contains a few Negro cabins - no cultivation - "Parson Elliott" had two (2) sons in the Confederate service, one of whom, Theodore, was Captain, and lost an arm; the other a surgeon who was killed.
No. 29 - Estate of Dr. Thomas Fuller - nearly one thousand (1000) acres; is entirely deserted, apparently for a long time; has a dozen good cabins and a gin house with new engine; cotton gin and corn mill, all in good condition; this place is very desirable, the land being all arable and high.
No. 30 - Estate of Barney, Son of Dr. Fuller - place has no improvements left upon it whatever; comprises seven hundred (700) acres. Barney was a lieutenant in the Confederate army.
No. 31 - Estate of John Chaplin, father of John F.---- contains eight hundred (800) acres without any remaining houses; the land mainly cleared of wood for rebel army use.
No. 32 - Estate of John Rhoades - lies west of Pocotaliga road, contains eleven hundred (1100) acres, everything destroyed, said to be by rebel soldiers two or three years since.
No. 33 - The Yates Plantation - purchased not long before the war by Henry Stewart, is very large and a fine place; seven Negro houses left and no people.
No. 34 - Periclear Place at Port Royal ferry - four hundred (400) acres; was owned by an old man and deserted January 1st, 1865 when the improvements were destroyed by Genl. Stevens.
The summary of the thirty four (34) estates above noted gives twenty five thousand seven hundred (25.800) acres of land or an estimated area of twenty two thousand (22.000) acres available for immediate use and ample in extent for division among six hundred (600) families; the boundaries between plantations are in most cases simple ditches and embankments on three sides, the fourth usually being a highway or river.
H. G. Judd
Act. Supt. 1st Div.
*Many of those who followed Genl. Sherman from Georgia, suffering from the toilsome march, exposure and insufficient clothing & food died soon after reaching Port Royal, leaving friendless and unprotected orphans; of this class a large number subsist we hardly know how, mainly in Beaufort & it seems an imperative duty to provide for them some place of refuge. The benevolence of northern associations will secure clothing &c but the Govt. should set apart from unsold property a building or buildings in which they can be properly cared for. I respectfully suggest that the late hospital #4 cor. of T & E streets could readily be converted to such use, and from its extent would be specially well adapted to the purpose. Doubtless a matron of the right stamp can be found to take charge of such an institution.