Description of Charleston and a slave plantation


Date Written

Feb. 14, 1838

Louisa Davis Minot was 50 years old when this was written.
Louisa Davis Minot died 19 years, 11 months, 7 days after writing it.
It was written 185 years, 7 months, 9 days ago.
It was a Wednesday.

Charlestown, 14, 1838

Dear Mary,

We had the pleasure to receive a letter from your Father today of the 3rd Feb (the day we arrived in Charlestown) & one from you, dated the 8th which was only five days in coming. It was a great thing to us to have a letter if so late a date as yrs. It came by the steamboat “New York”, & if you send your letters to go by the steamboat mail from N. Y. & find out the days it goes we shall get them much earlier. We think that yr. Father’s letter & yours are very entertaining. I am exceedingly obliged to him for writing such long ones & wonder how you can find so many events to relate but everything that occurs at home interests us. The misfortune of the china is lamentable indeed, just awful, but I hope you will repair it & then you will think no more about it. I bought the bowl at the corner of School & Wash. Sts. This is one of Wm’s good days. He slept well last night, went to bed at 10:00 o’ clock & slept with one or two short interruptions till 6—he had no bad dreams & felt strong and well when he got up. It was a cloudy day but had not rained much till evening. M. P. Parker called in her carriage & took us to ride around the city, & we made several calls (no one at home by this means). Wm. was out two hours , he saw many gardens, the flowers in bloom & some large handsome houses, no two alike in form or colors every shade of stone, some from the red sandstone to [?] & white matte—all plastered & painted in imitation of these stones with balconies & piazzas & bow fronts--& grounds all around them. The view of the harbor is very fine & from the battery where no ships tie, it is un interrupted & you walk a quarter of a mile on the water’s edge as on the battery of N. York but it is only one walk like the side walk around the mall, no grass or trees, the present city council have taken up the opinion that trees on the street are unhealthy as they prevent the sun from drying up the moisture.

The principle sts. were lined with a beautiful sort of trees called the “Pride of India”. They stood about 20 feet apart & the leaves were out in March & remains till Dec. the blossom is like a lilac & very beautiful & fragrant. The city government have ordered them all to be cut down & a few days since this distressing mandate was executed on those in front of Mrs. Courtney’s. We all rushed to the crime & begged them to spare our trees but they went on cutting without heeding our requests, & the trees on the opposite side shared the same fate. In a few days these rows of trees sometimes half a mile long will be no more seen. Most persons think they do not impair the health of the city & that the next year another council will set them out again. I cannot give you much out of the society here as I have seen nothing of it, except the day I passed at Mr. Kings. This is the only invitation I have had out. Several of the persons to whom I have bro’t letters are out of the city & others have satisfied themselves with calling. It has rained more than half the time. This is very unfortunate for Wm. But they say we should be as liable to rain at Augusta or Savannah as here & not as comfortably lodged. We shall probably try it the first of next week. I wrote your father last Monday 12” & sent my letter to the P. O. before. Wm. returned from his ride. He had a delightful ride to a plantation near the city, called Belvedere and was so much refreshed on his return, that he got into Mrs. Dehon’s carriage which she had sent for us to take a drive in and we drove to the Lowndes place. It was a very warm fine day & we enjoyed it [?]. In the afternoon we took a walk, called on Mr. Barns, a friend of N. C. Derby’s (H. Summer gave me a letter to her) she is an old maid in delicate health, a little deaf, refined, benevolent & sensible. She invited us to come & see her at any time. Her house from a picture looks like a nobleman’s of the last cent., large hall, spacious staircase, piazza, gardens, & etc.

Yesterday, Tuesday it rained all the morning. I took a view of the houses opposite, which are quite characteristic of the place by which I gave Wm. a sketching upon. It cleared up & we went to ride in the afternoon to Belvidere. It was a lovely afternoon & I was delighted with the pine wood & moss covered trees, thru which we drove & the little river view & cottages of the plantation. I saw peas 4 inches high & flowers in plenty, wherever there are pine trees, it is healthy, the signal of malaria is rarely seen on them. It covers the live oak wild orange & other trees. We saw an avenue to a plantation a half a mile long, of live oak, covered with moss as with a fog waving to the breeze [?] willow trees in the song of the Earl King, a large plantation & spacious but deserted mansion. W[?] negro huts are alive with population but the slaves cannot pass a night there after May. We saw no horses or oxen working in the field. They were manuring the ground and preparing it to plant (they use horses with the plough). They carry all the manure from the heap in shallow baskets which holds about a peck on their heads, they balance them exactly without the aid of their hands. When they have emptied the basket, spread it with their hands, go back after [?] to get another. There are grounds near the city where they raise vegetables for market.
After tea this evening I went to pass an hour with Miss Baron M. Davis was so kind as to go with me as Wm. would not & I found Mrs. Erestes there (she tires opposite) Mrs. B & had quite an agreeable evening. I saw there Mrs. Heims her niece, whose husband has called on Wm. This morning, Wednesday, Mr. Lowndes called. (I took a letter to Mr. L. from Mr. Appleton & one to Mrs. L. from Mrs. Dwight, (I think). He said he had just arrived in town from his plantation where Mrs. L still was. Said he should be happy to have us make them a visit on their plantation, 50 miles off—the stage goes within 15 miles & he would send his carriage there. I hope to accomplish this as soon as the weather is settled. Mr. & Mrs. Willies called this afternoon. M. W. must come for his horse every morning & if he was going to use him he would say so otherwise we should have him. It would not do us a greater favor, as he is a good and sage horse. Wm. tried a stable horse this afternoon, he was refreshed by the ride but said he was too gay for his strength. Wm.’s digestion has improved very little & I see some signs that a part of his food is comested [sic] into nourishment but not near enough to supply the waste of the system. He is losing flesh and when the rain keeps him in the house, he is out of spirits, he wants a companion of his carriage. I often wish for you or French & Margaret—he is very patient and never unreasonable. He has learned____& he took quite a good stretch yesterday. We had a very agreeable letter from Mrs. Bell today.
Thursday morning. Wm. did not sleep well last night but he is as well as usual this morning & gone to ride altho it is cloudy & looks like rain. M. Wilkes sent the horse & he thought he would try it. He could return if it rained. My health is good accepting a cold which has been quite bad but is now better & does not trouble me except in damp weather of which we have had a great deal. I am much concerned about yr. foot. I wish you could be here in my place a month hence, at present it would not benefit you.
Friday 16th Wm. Took a long ride yesterday, 4 miles out, got caught in a violent thunder showers, stopped at a plantation where he was very hospitably entertained, stayed to dinner & got home at 4 P.M. I was not very anxious as I know he could get shelter, he rode on all 8 miles & does not appear fatigued, gave an animated account of his adventures which he depends on relating himself on a letter –he did not sleep well as he eat something that disagreed with at the plantation but is as well as usual this morning. It is fair, warm, high s. wind, he is going to ride on M. W.’s horse
I hope Julia continues to take good care of her health. How is your father’s arm? Tell Frank to be careful not to study too much & to come visit two times a week & to walk every day. I am glad Margaret is with you & hope you will make yourselves as happy as you can. It is a comfort to me to know that you escape
a great deal of anxiety & pain in not [?] Wm.’s suffering. I write you literally just what occurs & how he is from day to day. Best love to all. My thoughts are ever with you & affection to Mother.

L. Minot

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