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|Size||7.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 6600 items)|
|Abstract||The Singletons were cotton planters living near Sumter, S.C. Prominent family members include Richard Singleton (1776-1852), John Singleton (1754-1820), and Matthew R. Singleton (1817-1854). The collection includes correspondence, financial, legal, and other papers document the business affairs and, to a lesser extent, the personal lives of the Singleton family. The bulk of the papers belonged to Richard Singleton and date from 1815-1854. Correspondence consists primarily of business letters that document the trends of the cotton market in Charleston, S.C., and Liverpool, England, and reveal the working relationship of planter and commission merchant. Financial papers reveal the amounts and prices of cotton and other crops sold and indicate the expenses of a plantation family. Other topics documented in the collection include slavery in South Carolina and Alabama; a plantation near Claiborne, Ala.; horse breeding; and mental illness.|
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Matthew Singleton (1730-1787), a native of the Isle of Wight, England, immigrated to Virginia, circa 1745. Moving to South Carolina in 1752, he settled in the High Hills of Santee in what became Sumter County and established himself as a planter. Through grants he received 2,150 acres in the High Hills area, 300 acres on Shanks Creek in Sumter District, 250 acres on Beech Creek in Craven County, 200 acres on the Santee River, 200 acres in Berkeley County, and 4,000 acres at Cane Savannah, a branch of the Black River. His home plantation was Melrose in the High Hills. Before moving to South Carolina, Singleton married Mary James, daughter of Sherwood and Anne James. They were the parents of six children: Ann (married Isham Moore), John (1754-1820), Mary (married Thomas Benison), Robert, Alice, and Rebecca. The latter two children died in infancy.
Matthew Singleton's son, John Singleton (1754-1820), grew indigo, cotton, and peanuts on his Midway plantation near Stateburg. He also bred and raced horses, serving as treasurer of the Stateburgh Jockey Club. In 1774, John Singleton married Rebecca Richardson (1752-1834), daughter of General Richard Richardson. They had five children: John Peter (born 1775), Richard (1776-1852), Harriet Richardson (1779-1817), Matthew R. (1783-1793), and Mary Martha (1785-1863).
Harriet Richardson Singleton married Robert Broun in 1804. Broun died about 1809, leaving Harriet with three sons--John Peter, Henry Robert, and Charles Deas. Harriet married John Russell Spann in 1813. After her death in 1817, her sons lived with their grandparents, John and Rebecca Singleton.
Mary Martha Singleton married Powel McRa of Camden in 1812. They had two children--Powel (died 1843) and Arabella (died 1822). Mr. and Mrs. McRa lived separately beginning in 1817 and had a legal deed of separation drawn to settle their property. Mary Martha Singleton McRa retained custody of her children. She and they lived with her parents at Midway. After John Singleton died in 1820, Mary McRa and her children continued to live with Rebecca Singleton. Arabella McRa died in 1822. Powel McRa was committed to a mental institution in 1840. Mary McRa was declared a lunatic and committed to the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane in 1843.
Richard Singleton (1776-1852) accumulated land in the Sumter, Richland, and Orangeburgh Districts in South Carolina. On these plantations he grew cotton and peanuts. His residential plantation near Stateburg in Claremont County, Singleton called "Home." His other substantial plantations were the Fork, Headquarters, and True Blue (originally an indigo plantation). After his father's death in 1820, Richard Singleton managed, in addition to his own plantations, the trust estate created under his father's will. The major properties included as trust estates were Deer Pond, Cuddoes, and Big Lake plantations.
Most of Singleton's business was handled through his Charleston factors--first Dart and Spears, then Duke Goodman, followed by Ker Boyce; Martin and Walter; Martin, Starr, and Walter; Walters and Walker; and Starr and Walter. Most of the business of the trust estates was handled by James Harvey Merritt until his death and then by the firms who handled Richard Singleton's other business. Singleton also did business with Sollee and Warley in Charleston and with John Vaughan in Philadelphia.
Richard Singleton was known as a horse breeder and racer. At "Home." he had a mile long race track laid out near his house so that he could call orders to the trainers from his piazza. He sent his mares to breed with the famous stallion Sir Archie and later owned well known studs Crusader, Kosciusko, and Godolphin.
Richard Singleton travelled frequently to Charleston and to Richmond, Philadelphia, and New York. During the summers, Singleton often travelled to health resorts in the mountains of Virginia. In 1825, he invested $22,000 in a mortgage on White Sulphur Springs.
In 1802, Richard Singleton married Charlotte Videau Ashby, who died in 1809. Their only child who survived to adulthood, Mary Rebecca Singleton (died 1830), attended Mme. Greland's school in Philadelphia. She married George McDuffie (1790-1851) in 1829. McDuffie served in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1821 until 1834, as governor of South Carolina from 1834 until 1842, and as United States senator from 1842 until 1846. Mary Rebecca Singleton McDuffie died on 14 September 1830. A daughter, Mary Singleton McDuffie (born 1830), survived her.
Richard Singleton's second wife, Rebecca Travis Coles (died 1849), was one of a large family from Albemarle County, Virginia. Her brothers Walter, Isaac, and Tucker Coles owned plantations in Albemarle. Her brother Edward Coles lived in Illinois and then in Philadelphia. One sister, Sarah, married Andrew Stevenson, who became a member of the U. S. House of Representatives from Virginia, speaker of the House, and minister to Great Britain. Another sister married John Rutherford of Richmond, Va. Her sister Elizabeth (Betsy) Coles remained unmarried and lived primarily in Charlottesville, Va.
Richard and Rebecca Singleton had five children: John Coles, Videau Marion (married 1. Robert Deveaux, married 2. Augustus Converse), Sarah Angelica (married Abram Van Buren), and twins Richard (1817-1833) and Matthew R. (1817-1854).
Richard Singleton died on 26 November 1852, when a railroad trestle collapsed as his train was passing over a swamp on the Camden Branch of the South Carolina Railroad.
Richard Singleton's son, Matthew (1817-1854), survived his father by only two years. Matthew married Martha Rutledge Kinloch. They had three children: Cleland Kinloch, Helen Coles, and Richard. They spent their summers at Flat Rock in Henderson County, North Carolina. There Matthew Singleton died on 18 August 1854.Back to Top
This collection consists of correspondence, financial papers, legal papers, and other papers, that document the business affairs, and to a lesser extent the personal lives, of members of the Singleton family, cotton planters, near Sumter, South Carolina. The bulk of the papers belonged to Richard Singleton (1776-1852). Other prominent figures in the papers are Richard Singleton's father, John Singleton, and his son, Matthew Singleton. Most of the papers date from 1815-1854.
Correspondence, which comprises a little more than half of the collection, consists primarily of business letters which document the ups and downs of the cotton market and reveal the working relationship of planter and commission merchant. Financial papers, chiefly accounts, bills, and receipts, reveal the amounts and prices of cotton and other crops sold and indicate the expenses of a plantation family. Legal papers deal primarily with the purchase and sale of land. Material collected by members of the Singleton family includes a few early papers of the Stateburgh Jockey Club, a few recipes and remedies, and a few other papers.Back to Top
Chiefly correspondence of John Singleton, his son Richard Singleton, and his daughter, Mary Martha Singleton McRa. Letters addressed to John Singleton are mostly business letters sent to him at Midway, High Hills of the Santee, or Midway, near Stateburg. These include letters from his factor Isaac Motte Dart. Also included are business letters addressed to Richard Singleton near Stateburg or near Manchester, South Carolina. Topics of letters include sales of the Singletons' cotton, cotton prices, the English and French cotton markets, purchase of supplies for plantations, purchase and sale of slaves, and treatment of runaway slaves.
In addition to business letters, Richard Singleton received a few family letters, including several about his daughter's education at Madame Greland's in Philadelphia in 1819 and 1820. He also received letters about horse racing and horse breeding, including some from Allen J. Davie in 1810 and 1811 and some about Singleton's sending mares to Sir Archie.
Letters to Mary Singleton before her marriage in 1812 are mostly from Ann Simons in Charleston, giving news of family and friends there. Similar letters of 1813-1816, after her marriage to Powell McRa, include several from Mary E. Marion, who was the aunt of Mary's sister-in-law, Videau Ashby Singleton. Letters of Mary Singleton McRa in 1817-1820 mention, but do not explain, her separation from her husband and her struggle to retain custody of her children.
Of particular note in this subseries is a letter from John Singleton to Richard Singleton, 8 October 1807, describing the first part of his trip to New Orleans looking for land. Also notable is a letter from John D. Broun to Mrs. Broun [Harriet Singleton Broun], dated 10 May 1812, expressing his fear that there would be rioting in Charleston and saying that letters from Savannah reported tarring and feathering Federalist editors there.
Business correspondence of Richard Singleton, letters to Mary McRa and Rebecca Singleton (Mrs. John Singleton), and other correspondence. The majority of the letters in this subseries are letters from Duke Goodman to Richard Singleton. Goodman, Singleton's factor in Charleston during these years, wrote to Singleton about once a week. The major topics of the letters are the price of cotton and sales of Singleton's cotton crop, sales of crops of groundnuts (peanuts), purchase and sale of slaves, purchase and sale of U. S. Bank shares, purchases of supplies for plantations, and purchases of land. Goodman's letters sometimes addressed other business matters which he handled for Singleton, such as having a new boat built or hiring a teacher for the Singletons' daughters. Accounts and receipts which were enclosed with the correspondence are also filed here. Goodman's letters occasionally included personal news and news of epidemics in Charleston. Goodman went bankrupt in 1825 but continued to do business in the name of his son-in-law, James A Miller Junior, until he could reestablish his business in his own name. Goodman moved to Mobile, Alabama, in 1832.
Other correspondence of Richard Singleton in this subseries includes letters from James Harvey Merritt about sales of cotton and peanuts of the Deer Pond and Cuddoes plantations belonging to the estate of John Singleton, letters from Sollee and Worley about sales of cotton, and letters from John Vaughan in Philadelphia about Singleton's business there. Also included are letters asking Singleton to lend money, letters about horse breeding and racing, letters about purchasing a mortgage on White Sulphur Springs, and letters about searching for runaway slaves. Of particular note are letters of 1823-1825 from Richard Singleton's cousin, John Moore, who had moved to Alabama, describing his plantation, his life, and his work near Claiborne, Alabama.
A letter of 11 March 1827 to Richard Singleton from his son, John Coles Singleton, describes John's school and the weather at Hyde Park, New York. A letter dated 16 March 1828 from Benjamin Allen to Richard Singleton further describes John's education and remarks on the increasing opposition to the tariff in New York.
Correspondence of Mrs. John Singleton and Mrs. Mary McRa in this subseries chiefly concerns the health and education of the children in their care--Arabella McRa, Powel McRa, John Peter Broun, Henry Robert Broun, and Charles Deas Broun. Also included are business letters from John Kirkpatrick to Mrs. McRa and Mrs. Singleton about sale of the cotton and peanuts from Midway plantation, about their purchase of a house in Hyde Park, New York, in 1825, and about purchases of household supplies. With his letter of 27 July 1826, Kirkpatrick forwarded a letter from Charles B. Richardson reporting on their plantations, crops, and slaves. Mrs. McRa also received business correspondence from Stewart Lee of New York.
Business and personal correspondence of Richard Singleton, Mary Singleton McRa, John Peter Broun, Matthew R. Singleton, John Coles Singleton, and others. As in Subseries 1.2, the majority of the correspondence in this subseries is business correspondence of Richard Singleton. After Duke Goodman moved to Mobile, Singleton continued for several years to receive a few letters from him each year about the cotton market and sales of cotton. The majority of Singleton's business, however, was handled by other firms: James Butler Clough, 1833-1835; Boyce, Henry, & Walter, 1833-1836; Ker Boyce, 1837; Martin, Walter, & Walker, 1837; Martin & Walter, 1837-1842; Martin, Starr & Walter, 1843-1849; Walters & Walker, 1850-1851; and Starr & Walter, 1850-1852. The business of the estate of John Singleton continued to be handled by James Harvey Merritt until his death, circa 1835, after which time John Fisher took over for a brief period, and then Richard Singleton's factors handled the estate business as well as the business of his plantations. Letters from these firms chiefly concern the receipt and shipping of cotton, the price of cotton, and the purchase of supplies for Singleton's household and plantations. Letters from William Forde & Co. in Liverpool in 1836, 1837 and 1839 deal with the English cotton market and the sale of Singleton's cotton in Liverpool.
Few letters in this collection discuss political issues. In this subseries, however, there are some notable letters about politics. In a letter of 6 February 1836, R. I. Manning described to Richard Singleton the debate in Congress about petitions to emancipate slaves in the District of Columbia and his fear that the excitement of southern members of Congress would be dangerous to the cause of slavery. Two years later, in a letter dated 23 February 1838, John P. Richardson wrote to Richard Singleton that the subject of abolition was every day assuming a more dangerous aspect, that the debate in Congress on the currency question had taken on an unpleasant personal character between Clay and Calhoun, and that the North was disposed to interfere in the concerns of Canada and embroil the United States in a war with England.
Richard Singleton's nephew John Peter Broun moved to Alabama in 1833 and wrote from there about his financial situation, his purchase of a plantation, and his life in Alabama. Broun wrote at first from Montgomery and then from the plantation he had purchased near Church Hill in Lowndes County, Alabama. A letter of 29 January 1844 from William B. Shields in Perry County, Alabama, describes the plantation of another transplanted South Carolinian.
When he travelled to White Sulphur Springs, to Albemarle County, Virginia, or to the northern states, Richard Singleton received reports on his plantations from his overseers, from his son-in-law Robert Marion DeVeaux, or from his sons, John and Matthew Singleton. A few such letters may be found in every year from the late 1830s through the 1840s. In 1850 and 1851, Singleton received reports from B. M. Cheatham, the overseer at George McDuffie's Flatwoods plantation. He also received a few letters reporting business and family news from his son-in-law, Abraham Van Buren.
Correspondence of and concerning Mary McRa and her son Powel McRa in this subseries documents incompletely their struggle with mental illness. Powel McRa was institutionalized in Boston in 1840. A letter of 13 December 1841 from James Lee to Richard Singleton suggests that McRa might be better in an asylum in New York and encloses a printed circular of James Macdonald describing his philosophy of treatment in his "Private Institution for the treatment of Nervous Diseases, at Murray Hill, New York." A letter of 22 March 1842 from C. F. Cantey to Richard Singleton describes Mary McRa's condition and says that she ought to be in an asylum. Letters of John Kirkpatrick about Mary McRa's business affairs are addressed to Richard Singleton rather than to Mrs. McRa beginning in 1842. Mary McRa was placed in 1843 in the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane in Philadelphia. Legal papers concerning the commitment of Mary McRa may be found in Series 3. A few additional letters about Mrs. McRa's financial affairs and her mental condition appear in this subseries. Of particular interest are reports from Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, dated 31 May 1847, 5 March 1848, and 25 September 1849, to Richard Singleton about Mrs. McRa.
Personal and business correspondence of Matthew R. Singleton and other members of the Singleton family, including a few letters of Richard Singleton in 1852. Correspondence of Matthew Singleton includes letters from his factors, Walter & Walker, about sale of his cotton, letters about the estate of Richard Singleton, letters about construction of his Wateree residence, and letters about work on his property at Flat Rock, North Carolina. Of particular interest is a letter from J. Dyson to Matthew Singleton, dated 9 August 1853, warning Singleton that Dyson had heard that a driver on Singleton's place was selling provisions for whiskey with the connivance of the overseer.
Scattered correspondence of Martha Rutledge Kinloch Singleton, widow of Matthew R. Singleton, and her son Cleland Kinloch Singleton, and others. Most letters concern legal cases involving Singleton family members, particularly disputes about the estate of Richard Singleton.
Arrangement: alphabetical by recipient.
Undated letters and fragments addressed to members of the Singleton family. The letters to "Mrs. Kinloch" appear to be directed to the mother of Martha Rutledge Kinloch Singleton. A few of these letters and some letters addressed to Martha Rutledge Kinloch Singleton are from H[arriett] L[owndes] Aiken.
Financial papers, including accounts, bills, receipts, tax returns, and other papers, of Singleton family members. Included are letters that are essentially receipts or confirmations of purchase orders. Other business letters are filed in Series 1. Accounts or other financial papers that were enclosed with letters are filed with those letters in Series 1.
Accounts, bills, receipts, tax returns on land and slaves of John Singleton. Pages from an account book of 1796 document amounts owed to Singleton by others and by Singleton to his overseers. Accounts with Dart and Spears and other Charleston firms and with Maury & Latham in Liverpool document Singleton's sales of indigo, cotton, peas, and groundnuts (peanuts). Accounts for sales of corn to individuals are also included. Other accounts document Singleton's purchases of slaves, of supplies for his household and plantation, of fancy foods and spices, of chemicals and drugs, of furniture, and of a carriage (1813 account with John Vaughan of Philadelphia). Also filed here are receipts from Singleton's overseers for their wages and for the hire of slaves.
Accounts, bills, receipts, and tax returns of the estate of John Singleton. Richard Singleton acted as trustee of his father's estate, which owned the Deer Pond plantation in the Richland district, Cuddoes plantation in the Clarendon district, and later the Big Lake plantation in the Richland district. Financial papers in the name of Richard Singleton are filed here if they indicate that they are for the trust estate or if they are for Deer Pond, Cuddoes, or Big Lake plantations. In the few cases in which accounts or bills mix Richard Singleton's business with that of the trust estate, those papers are filed in Subseries 2.2.1.
The financial papers of the estate of John Singleton document the sales of cotton and groundnuts, the purchase of supplies, purchase of livestock, payments to doctors for medical attendance on plantations, and payment of wages to overseers. Of particular interest are bills of William Ellison, a free black craftsman, for repairing saw gins in the 1820s and 1830s. (Other bills and receipts from William Ellison may be found in Series 2.1.3. and Series 2.2.1.)
Accounts, bills, receipts, and other financial papers of Mrs. John Singleton for the Midway plantation. Most of these papers are accounts for sales of cotton or for purchases of supplies or household goods.
Accounts, bills, receipts, tax returns, and other financial papers of Richard Singleton. These papers document Richard Singleton's plantation business and other business interests, including his purchases of shares in the U. S. Bank and stock in the Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad Company (22 October 1836).
Papers in this subseries document Richard Singleton's sales of cotton and peas, his sales of horses, and payments to Singleton for board of mares sent to breed with his stallions. Printed circulars from commission merchants in Charleston and Liverpool showing prices current for cotton may be found in this subseries. Beginning in 1834, some accounts with merchants in Columbia appear although the preponderance of business was still done in Charleston. Accounts of 1834, for example, show that nine bales of cotton from Headquarters and nine bales from the Fork plantation were sold to Alexander Campbell in Columbia and some dry goods were bought from G. T. Snowden in Columbia.
Financial papers in this subseries also document Richard Singleton's purchases of land, slaves, horses, supplies, tools, hardware and cutlery, wines and fine foods, and drugs and chemicals. Receipts for wages paid to overseers appear here as do receipts for hire of slaves. Also documented here are expenses for the education of the Singleton children, including tuition and books. Bills and receipts are included for medical treatment of the family and slaves, for room and board at the Virginia springs, for mailing letters, for stabling horses, and for subscriptions to newspapers.
Tax receipts in 1828 reveal that Richard Singleton's Home plantation was located in Claremont county, his Fork plantation and Croft place were in Richland, and True Blue was in Orangeburgh county.
Slave material in this subseries includes a bill and receipt dated 14 March 1827 from a jailer for apprehending and keeping a runaway slave, an advertisement of 10 March 1838 for sale of 150 slaves at the courthouse in Sumter, a slave list of 1849 giving the number of slaves in each house on True Blue plantation, other lists of slaves, and bills for medical treatment of slaves, among other papers.
Accounts for sales of cotton, bills and receipts from doctors and craftsmen, bills for supplies, a tax receipt, a certification of payment for services of a midwife on Fulton plantation, a list of horses sold in 1853, and other financial papers of the estate of Richard Singleton.
Accounts, bills, receipts, and other financial papers of Matthew R. Singleton. Included are accounts for sales of cotton with Starr and Walter and with Walters and Walker, receipts for livestock, a bill for lumber for a residence on the Wateree River, and bills and receipts for clothing, cloth, newspapers, tools, and other items.
Financial papers of individuals other than John, Richard, or Matthew Singleton, and papers identified only as those of Mr. Singleton. Included are accounts, bills, receipts, and other papers of Mary E. Marion, Mary McRa, Harriet Richardson Singleton Broun, George McDuffie, John Coles Singleton, Mrs. M. R. Singleton, and others.
Legal papers of John Singleton, Richard Singleton, Mary Singleton McRa, Rebecca Singleton, Martha R. Singleton, and others. The earliest papers are plats and leases for land; their connection to the Singletons is not clear. Papers of 1796-1820 are almost entirely papers of John Singleton. They include an agreement between John Singleton and Isham Moore to build a boat, 1796; documents relating to borrowing and lending money; papers relating to John Singleton's dispute with John Rees about the building of a road, 1813-1819; slave bills of sale; an agreement of William Davis to operate a tailor business in Charleston for John Singleton, 1818; a fragment of John Singleton's will, 1820; and a "pass for Jesse to Mr. Cotten's in Ga. on horse and to return with led horse," dated 12 November 1820.
Items of 1822-1853 are mostly papers of Richard Singleton. Earlier papers relate to Richard Singleton's buying and selling land. Other papers of particular interest include an agreement between Richard Singleton and Jeptha Dyson for Singleton to purchase Fulton Factory, land, and slaves which previously belonged to Dyson and Dyson to manage the factory, land, and slaves, 1843, and other papers relating to this agreement; and a petition of the Commissioners of Roads against Richard Singleton for not sending slaves to work on roads, 1845.
Papers of Mary McRa include a legal opinion about custody of children, 1817; and papers relating to her commitment to a mental institution, 1843-1845.
Only a few legal papers of Rebecca Singleton are found here. These include an agreement to employ a coachman, 1827; and a document which indicates that three slaves belonging to the estate of John Singleton were charged with the murder of Daniel McCaskill, an overseer, 1843.
Papers of Martha R. Singleton include the order in the case of Martha R. Singleton vs. James P. Earle, 1867; a mortgage from Cleland Kinloch Singleton to Martha R. Singleton, 1868; and plaintiff's and defendant's exceptions to the referee's report in the case of Martha R. Singleton vs. Charles Lowndes, 1872.
Records of the Stateburgh Jockey Club and pedigrees of horses. The Stateburgh Jockey Club records include a list of members, 1786; a list of defaulters, 1786-1787-1788; lists of horses; and orders to John Singleton, treasurer. Typed transcriptions of some of these papers are interfiled with the papers. These transcriptions are of variable accuracy and should be used only as guides to reading the originals.
Recipes; remedies for heartburn, dysentery, deafness from hard wax in the ear; and instructions for making and fixing household needs.
Newspaper clippings and issues of newspapers. The relationship of the clippings to the Singletons is unclear except in the case of one undated clipping from an unidentified newspaper: an article copied from the Columbia Times describes the legal case of Converse and Converse, in which the plaintiff, Marion Singleton Deveaux Converse, alleged cruelty and her husband denied it. The arguments on each side of the case are described in the article but no decision had yet been reached. The issues of The Cotton Plant filed here are dated 1887 and 1888 and have the name C. R. Singleton stamped at the top.
Rules to be observed in a cock fight; route from Philadelphia to Camden, S.C., giving mileage and comments on inns; route from Camden, S.C., to Warm Springs and Sweet Springs, with mileage and comments on inns; a printed letter from C. H. Wiley, superintendent of Common Schools of North Carolina to the Board of Superintendents of Common Schools for the several counties of the State, 5 March 1857, about division of counties into school districts; copy of inscriptions on the tomb of George McDuffie and description of McDuffie-Cumming duels; fragment of printed program, including lyrics of temperance songs; pages 355-358 of Harper's New Monthly Magazine, undated; and report, 1822?, of the president of the Bank of South Carolina, Stephen Elliott, to the state legislature on the feasibility of moving the bank from Charleston to Columbia, and the effect such a move would have on the trade and currency of the interior of the state.
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