Archive for the ‘Charleston’ Category

“we passed Christmas day very agreeably”

Henrietta and Robert Liston were genuinely curious about the New World. (See previous posts here and here.) In her journals, Henrietta noted facts that she found interesting, described the foods they ate, and was astounded at the natural beauties, particularly the flora, of the countryside. Traveling on the east coast of North America was a challenge but one that the 45-year-old Mrs. Liston and her 55-year-old husband met with aplomb, courage, and even laughter.

The first night after leaving Mr. Jones’s Hospitable roof, we were obliged to take up our quarters, in what was called an Inn, Consisting of one room containing two Beds, one for the family, the other for Strangers; there were two young Men travelling on Horseback, besides several Inferior Guests, & I found that all the Party, except our Servants who were in a ruinous outKitchen, must lodge in this Chamber. . . .
One of the Group around the fire appearing intoxicated, & seemingly disposed to amuse himself with a Pistol, I took the Daughter of the House aside, & declared our readiness to be contented with any place, in order to Sleep in a separate apartment from these Men. She regretted that there was nothing but an empty Garrat, used for keeping Corn, without fire or door, & an open window. it was frost & snow, but we had taken our resolution, & we repaired to an old flat Bed, that happened to be in this miserable Place &, indeed, we were within a very little of being frozen to Death, notwithstanding an Eddadown [Eiderdown] Green silk Bedcover with which we travelled, & it was with some difficulty the Girl, next morning, could prevail on the Savages to let me approach the fire so as to thaw my fingers.

On Christmas eve, the Listons reached Fayetteville:

it is a flourishing Town, upon a Branch of the Capefear River & nearly at the head of the navigation—before the [Revolutionary] War it was called Cross Creek. We were visited by a Scotch Gentleman, named [Robert] Donaldson, with whose family we passed Christmas day very agreeably.

No doubt they were happy to spend the day with a fellow Scot, but Mrs. Liston does not give any details of the festivities. On New Year’s Eve, they arrived in Charleston, South Carolina. Two hundred years ago, Christmas and New Year’s Day—unlike today with its frenzied gift buying—were spent quietly at home or in paying social visits to friends; special foods for the occasion would have been served. Perhaps the Donaldsons prepared one of Mrs. Liston’s newly discovered favorites:

our most frequent food, & infinitely the best of its kind, was Pork & Corn bread . . . it was fresh & most excellent meat, . . . always broiled upon the Coals, & when we happened to get a few fryed Eggs to it, it was the best food possible & with Corn bread (no other is known) baked upon a hoe, in general, & call[ed] hoe cake.

(More about the Listons’ travels in the next post.)

Excerpts are taken from “1797. Tour to the Southern States—Virginia, North & South Carolina” in The Travel Journals of Henrietta Marchant Liston: North America and Lower Canada, 1796-1800, published in hardcover and eBook.

posted December 11th, 2014 by Louise, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Charleston,Food,Holidays,Liston, Henrietta Marchant,The South,Travel

“the heavy Cloud that hangs over us”

Harriott Pinckney Horry, the daughter of Charles Pinckney and Eliza Lucas, and wife of Daniel Huger Horry, was preparing in late 1775 to flee her native Charleston, South Carolina. Two British warships had been lying offshore since the summer; in early November the president of the Provincial Congress gave orders to the commanding officer at nearby Fort Johnson to take action should the ships attempt to pass. The city, threatened with bombardment was practically defenseless. Harriott wrote the following letter expressing her feelings of unease and anxiety to a cousin in Georgetown, some fifty miles to the north.

28th Novr. 1775At about this Season of the year I used to flatter myself with the pleasure of seeing my dear Cousin, and enjoying that free & unreserved conversation so pleasing to the social mind. . . . But alas! how uncertain is the prospect of this felicity now! how uncertain ’tis when we shall meet again! My Mother, Daniel [her young son] and myself intend to go to a little Plantation House at Ashepoo in search of safety, when we can stay no longer here; but think with what reluctance I must leave the place of my nativity, this poor unhappy Town, devoted to the Flames, when I leave in it my Husband, Brothers, and every known male relation I have, (infants excepted,) exposed to every danger that can befall it. . . .

[Your husband] will inform you of affairs here and of the Mortifying truth of the number of disaffected in our Province to ye. American cause. I really believe tho’ the Gaiety and levity reported of our Sex in Town is very unjust. I have seen very little of the first, and nothing of the last for many months, indeed I think rather an universal dejection appears at present, the heavy Cloud that hangs over us ready to burst upon our heads calls for all our Fortitude to meet the Awful Event with that decency and resignation becoming Xtians [Christians]; the Scandalous conduct of many among us, leaves us not much to hope, a most humiliating Circumstance to all true lovers of their Country. Almost all the Women, and many hundred Men have left Town. In a few days I imagine we shall hardly have a female acquaintance to speak to. . . . My Brother [Charles C. Pinckney] is at ye Fort. Tom [Thomas Pinckney] at present recruiting. Mr Horry goes to ye Fort next Friday to stay a month.
Adieu my dear Cousin, be assured of the most sincere attachment &c —

Most of the above letter can be found on page 141 of In the Words of Women. The remainder can be found in Eliza Pinckney by Harriott Horry Ravenel (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1896), pages 248-249, taken from the facsimile copy held by the Library of Congress, available online.

posted December 1st, 2014 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Charleston,Horry, Harriet Pinckney,The South

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