Friday, June 1, 2018

Old Plantation Days ..." to My Dear Granddaughter Dorothy"

Old Plantation Days

" My Dear Granddaughter Dorothy:

Medway PlantationGrandmother is growing to be an old lady, and as you are still too young to remember all she has told you of her own and (the people of your mother), she is going to write down her recollections that you may thus gain a true knowledge of the old plantation days, now forever gone, from one whose life was spent amid those scenes. The South as I knew it has disappeared; the New South has risen from its ashes, filled with the energetic spirit of a new age. You can only know the New South, but there is a generation, now passing away, which holds in loving memory the South as it used to be. Those memories are a legacy to the new generation from the old, and it behooves the old to hand them down to the new. The spirit of those early days is what I chiefly desire to leave with you; the bare facts are history, but just as the days come back to my recollection I will write about them, and necessarily the record will be fitful memories woven together but imperfectly. My father, your great-grandfather, was a direct descendant on (the side of his mother) of Landgrave Smith, first Colonial Governor of South Carolina, his mother being (the granddaughter of) Landgrave Smith; his grandfather was Pierre Robert, a Huguenot minister who emigrated to America, after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and led the Huguenot colony to South Carolina. My father was born in 1791 in the old homestead situated forty miles up the river from Savannah. He had twelve children, and I was one of the younger members of his large family. After he left South Carolina College he made a trip through the North on horseback, as this was before the time of railroads. It took him a month to reach Pennsylvania and New York State, and as it was in the year of 1812, he happened to ride out of Baltimore as the British rode in. After father returned home he married a cousin, Miss Robert. He had one son by this marriage, at whose birth the young mother died. This son returning from a Northern college on the first steamboat ever run between Charleston and New York, was drowned; for the vessel foundered and was lost off the coast of North Carolina. Father's second wife was a descendant of the Mays of Virginia, who were descendants of the (younger brother) of the Earl of Stafford. This lady was my own dear mother and your great-grandmother. I must now tell you something about her grandmother, for my mother inherited much of her wonderful character from this stalwart Revolutionary character. (The eldest son of) my great-grandmother, at nineteen, was a captain in the Revolutionary War, and she was left alone, a widow on her plantation. When the British made a raid on her home, carrying off everything, she remained undaunted, and, mounting a horse, rode in hot haste to where the army was stationed, and asked to see the general in command. Her persistence gained admittance. She stated her case and the condition in which the British soldiers had left her home, and pleaded her cause with so much eloquence that the general ordered the spoils returned to her. This old lady, who was your great-great-great-grandmother, lived to be a hundred and six years old; her skin was like parchment and very wrinkled; she died at last from an accident. " Source: Old Plantation Days. Being Recollections of Southern Life before the Civil War by Mrs. N. B. De Saussur.
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