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Z 1610.000 S
BISLAND-SHIELDS FAMILY PAPERS

1773-1969

Biography/History:

The Natchez mansion, Edgewood; the plantation, Mount Repose, located on Pine Ridge near Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi; and the plantation, Hope Farm, located in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, were owned by various members or the Bisland and Shields families. A genealogical chart of these families is included in Appendix 1.

Scope and Content:

This collection consists of scattered papers of the Bisland, Shields, Pride, Stelle, Williams, and allied families of Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi, or Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. There are also papers and records concerning Hope Farm and Mount Repose plantations.

The family correspondence contains original and typescript copies of most letters. However, there are a few typescripts of original letters that are not present in the collection. The creator of the typescripts is unknown. The earliest original letter is dated April 4, 1799, and was written by J. Stiles (Stelle ?) from West Point, New York, to William Simmons, [s.l.], authorizing him to pay costs incurred "in pursuit of Deserters whilst recruiting at Trenton" (1:8). The correspondence of John Bisland begins in 1801, with letters from William Dunbar, as well as William Bryan of Alexander Creek, [Louisiana ?], who notes that his wife has problems with a slave family, "which this Government has by its late Order, strictly prohibited, from coming from the United States" (1:9). In an 1815 letter to John Bisland, Samuel Montgomery wrote that his slave was quite trustworthy as a money courier (1:11).

A number of letters concern the education of sons of John Bisland in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1817. Also included is a letter from Bisland's nephew, Alexander McAuley, at Mount Airwell in [Scotland ?] to John Bain in England, describing the opportunity and wealth of the new land (1:12). Peter Bisland and James Smylie returned to the Carolinas in 1819 to reclaim land of John Bisland. One letter contains an account of their travels through Alabama and Georgia (1:13). Rokeby was a Jefferson County plantation belonging to the Bisland family. A letter from A. E. Taylor to her cousin in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, provides details about the life of a female tutor on Rokeby Plantation in 1847 (1:16). In July of 1859, Jefferson College trustee B. L. C. Wailes wrote from New York to S. H. Lambdin, [s.l.], regarding the hiring of Professor Wisewell as president of Jefferson College and returning the school to the West Point plan (1:17).

There is correspondence relating to Hope Farm, a sugar plantation in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, which was owned by William A. Bisland. A May 24, 1833, letter provides observations on plantation healthcare, especially the treatment of cholera (1:15). Yellow fever and other illnesses are mentioned in an 1854 letter, as is the operation of the sugar mill at Hope Farm (1:17). In an 1839 letter from William A. Bisland in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William Ferriday, he advises that Ferriday’s orders for shoes had been filled and comments on northern opinions of Mississippi’s financial condition and of the Planters' Bank and the Vicksburg Commercial and Railroad Bank (1:15). Letters from William A. Bisland to family members between 1864 and 1867 reveal his despair over the possible loss of Hope Farm and his eventual return to prosperity (2:28-29). A November 1886 letter illustrates the domestic side of plantation life at Hope Farm (2:32). A May 24, 1897, letter mentions flooding in bayous and canals (2:33).

There is a series of letters from Confederate soldier William A. Bisland to Caroline (Carrie) Pride, whom he married after the war. He was a member of the Twenty-sixth Regiment, Louisiana Volunteers, and was stationed at Vicksburg in 1862 and 1863. In a May 21, 1862, letter, Bisland mentions arriving at Vicksburg after retreating from Chalmette, Louisiana, and relates news of Union activity in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana (3:18). In a March 11, 1863, letter, Bisland writes of the capture of the Union gunboats, Indianola and Queen of the West, and discusses various Union strategies for the capture of Vicksburg (3:24). The letters also describe military maneuvers at Vicksburg and include details of Bisland family domestic life.

Much of the twentieth-century family correspondence concerns the maintenance and preservation of Mount Repose. Mrs. Austin R. Baldwin (Dedee), a Bisland family member from New York, apparently inherited Mount Repose from "Uncle Doc." Her letters to her uncle and other family members primarily relate to the care of Mount Repose and its furnishings. Mrs. Baldwin often traveled abroad, and two of her letters contain commentary on national politics (2:34) and a French labor strike and the Spanish Civil War (3:36). A letter from Pressly, a cousin from Bronxville, New York, to Mrs. J. Dunbar Shields at Mount Repose includes childhood memories of the garden and grounds at Mount Repose.

Holiday celebrations are mentioned at least twice in the family correspondence. A November 28, 1847, letter from Edward Stelle of Brooklyn, New York, to Abner Pride of Potsdam, New York, concerns a Thanksgiving celebration (1:16). A December 29, 1885, letter recounts Christmas festivities on Hope Farm (2:31). Religious matters are discussed in a letter from B. H. Williams of Vicksburg, Mississippi, to Mr. McCaleb (?) at Mount Repose (?) (2:17).

There is a journal that Leonora Bisland kept while attending Pine Ridge Female High School in 1856 and 1857. Daily life can also be traced through the legal and financial papers, which document many routine transactions.

Series Identification:

  1. Correspondence. [1775; 1797]; 1799; 1801; 1804-1806; 1815; 1817; 1819; 1821; 1825; 1832-1833; 1836-1839; 1841; 1843; 1847-1848; 1853-1855; 1859; 1862-1865; 1867; 1871; 1873; 1875; 1877; 1880-1881; 1883; 1885-1886; 1888-1889; 1891; 1894; 1897; 1908; 1912; 1927; 1934; 1936-1940; 1944; 1946-1947; 1951; 1955; 1959-1960; n.d.

    Box 1, folders 8-17: 1775-1859.

    Box 2, folders 18-34: 1862-1927.

    Box 3, folders 35-42: 1934-1960; n.d.

  2. Diary. 1856-1857. 1 volume.

    School journal kept by Leonora Bisland as part of her studies at Pine Ridge Female High School. Beginning on October 6, 1856, daily entries are made regarding schoolwork and weather, until November 26, when there "being a great sameness" in the entries, the students began writing short essays on abstract topics. These essays continue through June 4, 1857. Study notes are contained in the final pages of the volume.

    Box 4, folder 71.

  3. Receipts. 1773; 1785-1786; 1799-1805; 1810-1813; 1815; 1817; 1820; 1856-1868; 1876-1888; 1901-1934; n.d.

    Box 4, folders 54-70.

  4. Receipt Books. 1858-1866; 1880-1881. 2 volumes.

    Primarily receipts of T. S. Bisland and Louisiana businesses.

    Box 5.

  5. Hope Farm Account Books. 1859-1894. 2 volumes.

    Box 8.

  6. Mount Repose Account Books. 1879-1880; 1882-1885; 1897-1909; 1918-1930. 5 volumes.

    Box 6: 1879-1980; 1882-1885; 1897-1904.

    Box 7: 1901-1909; 1918-1930.

  7. Legal Papers. 1775; 1778; 1787; 1806; 1825; 1838; 1840; 1842; 1844; 1855; 1869; 1879; 1882; 1894; 1900; 1917; 1925-1926; 1930; 1933; 1940; n.d.

    Bill of sale (slave), bills of sale, indenture, lease (3:44); plats (3:45); Bisland-Shields v. Ruffin (3:46); cemetery deeds, wills (3:47); Samuel H. Lambdin bankruptcy (3:48); Shields-Winston (3:49-51); indentures (4:52); deeds and leases (4:53).

    Boxes 3 and 4.

  8. Civil War Papers. 1862-1863. 2 items.

    Pass of William A. Bisland to New Orleans, April 15, 1862; oath of allegiance of Caroline Pride (Bisland), May 25, 1863.

    Box 1, folder 4.

  9. Photographs. 1878; n.d. 5 items.

    Photograph of F. E. Bass, H. P. Berger, R. E. Fletcher, J. H. Shields, n.d.; photograph of Caroline Shields, Laura Belle Smith, Lou B. Smith, n.d.; photograph of Hope Farm sugar mill, n.d.; photograph of William B. Williams, Mary Williams (wife), and Dedee Williams Baldwin (daughter), inscribed "to Cousin Matt," 1878 (see correspondence, series 1, box 1, folder 17); photograph of Bishop Bratton, n.d.

    Box 1, folder 5.

  10. Genealogical Materials. 1893; 1924; 1942; n.d. 10 items.

    Data on the Bisland, Shields, Lambdin, Watts, and Witherspoon families.

    Box 1, folder 1.

  11. Memoir. n.d. 1 item.

    Photocopy of typescript memoir of Dr. Joseph Dunbar Shields.

    Box 1, folder 2.

  12. Miscellany. 1888; 1919; 1946; n.d. 8 items.

    Christmas card, 1888; J. D. Shields bankbook, 1919; "Outstanding Events of the Year in Retrospect as of November 1, 1946"; notebook, n.d.; poem entitled "You," n.d.; postcard, n.d.; word game entitled "Jumbled Vegetables, n.d."

    Box 1, folder 7.

  13. Literary Papers. n.d. 4 items.

    Typescript of a historical article on Gayoso, including transcripts of his letters and excerpts of letters; editorial comments; and fragments of a holographic draft.

    Box 1, folder 3.

  14. Newspaper Clippings. n.d. 16 items.

    Photocopies of items clipped from various newspapers.

    Box 1, folder 6.

  15. Patrons of Husbandry. 1874-1875. 3 items.

    Papers of the Pine Ridge Grange, No. 448.

    Box 3, folder 43.

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