Brownlee Letters

(Addressed to Mr. John Brownlee, Ridgeville, SC)

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April 20, 1839

Walterboro April 20th 1839 -

To Thomas M. & John Brownlee

Exers. of John Brownlee's sons

The following directions I send you at your request. First have a regular appraisement of the Personal property and return the same to the Ordinary. Then divide the Estate according to the Will I make a regular return of the same. If there is any property left besides that mentioned in the Will - you will sell the same, having obtained an order and divide it among the heirs according to Law. First having collected in all sums due the Estate and paid off the debts - if there are any minors have guardians appointed for them -

I. Henderson
Atty at Law

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April 21, 1849

Spartanburg Dist. P.O., April 21st 1849

Dear brother, 

I received your letter this morning which gave us great satisfaction. Hear that you were all well and can inform that we are tolerable well and Mother is as well as usual. Also that Capt. Stroble and family are well. I will thank you very much if you will get those persons to sign the notes left for them to sign. Also happy to inform you that I am entirely a temperate man. I find your corn ale [?] was good, and that Spartanburg water is good enough without liquer, we have a very cold spring. Last Sunday the snow fell near Hrin [?] Creek. Nearly everything is hills. Wheat much injured. I will be glad to hear from you at any time and hope to have you with us next summer to drink some good cool water with me. I am badly fixed but am in a good settlement and dine among gentlemen of first grit. I perhaps will never see the low country gain [again?] but shall depend on you to do my business as I would if there. Please remember us to all our friends. Tell them to come and see this land of health and good water. 

J. H. Brownlee [? initials]

P.S. I send the land papers which you will arrange right. They are all ready to record and you can send Mr. Wacker his fees when a good chance offers.

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January 25, 1868

Clarendon Jan. 25/68

Dear sister & brother,

I had a letter from you last Saturday re-questing me to rent out the place. Also one sometime ago. In reply I would say that I had but two applications - one from Hilliard [Sp.], the other from George who formerly belonged to me. Neither had a horse nor any thing to plow [?] with if they had, and both in debt to me already. So you see the prospect was gloomy under the circumstances. I concluded to furnish a horse and let George attend the place and give him a part of the crop and become responsible for the rent myself, an experiment which you know I tried once before with another negro to my sad disappointment and what little was made Mr. Hudson's hogs eat a considerable part and the same old sow that tore the fence down is still alive. He promises to shut her up but don't know what he will do. They nearly eat up his little crop that he made last year. They did not have mine to eat as I did not have the place planted as years before. I think under circumstances the fence being to repair fifteen dollars would do very well for the rent. George offered twenty and Hilliard [Sp.] did not say what he would give, that is promise. If I knew I would make a good crop, or knew Mr. Hudson's hogs would not eat it I would know what to say but the risk is to run. I made a light crop last year and cotton went down, consequently got in debt. I hired by the month at high rates. I expect to try to pay the tax if possible. If the above is not satisfactory write me immediately directing me what to do.

Some person ought to be on the place. Someone stole one of the windows of the negro house and hinge of corn house door last year which I had not found out till George moved. We have hard times in this country. If it don't get better I want to leave next winter If I can sell out - if I live. But little sell for land and a great deal of land laid out last year and may this, and the prospect gloomy so far as provisions are concerned. Direct your letters to Sandy Grove, Clarendon. We unite in sending our love to you all.

A. M. Rush

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November 21, 1868

(in envelope addressed to Mrs. Addie Brownlee, Ridgeville, SC)
Clarendon, Nov 21/68

Dear brother & sister Brownlee,

I embrace this opportunity of ad-dressing [?] you and inform you that we are in usual health except colds. Trusting you are all well and doing well. I recon [Sp.] you have been looking for a letter from me for some time but I have delayed. Pardon me when I tell you I have written but one or two letters to my brother in Fla. and now to my sister in Orangeburg. This year perhaps I have been too negligent in this matter but sometime I had no stamps and sometimes no paper and you know it is hard times and worse may be coming but we have something to eat and wear and should be thankful. We have a good deal of fever this year. My wife had a good many attacks. I expect to go today to look at a place which a gentleman proposed to trade me for mine but don't think we can trade. No chance to sell at what seems to be a fair price. Land is cheap here. Please inform me what you expect to do with the place I have rented, whether you expect to sell or rent. Also the price and whether either or both will come over or not this winter. I have let it be known that you spoke of selling it, and one gentleman came to see me who said he would give $1.50 per acre if there were only one hundred acres but did not want as much as there is. He had a chance of selling his at the time. Another wanted to know what you asked, thought he might sell his and buy it but from what he said he expected to get it for about .50 cts. per acre. He said the Smith place below here was sold for that. I told him before it should be sold at that I would buy it myself. Both poor men. Mr. Hudson's place was sold at Sheriff Sale for tax and judgment and brought one hundred and thirteen dollars. The Sheriff told me it was bought in by somebody as Mr. Hudson [?] still stays on it. I don't know how to advise you whether to sell or not as you could not get much for it now. What is in the future I know not. It did not pay me well. I had to give the freedman half. He was to pay half the rent and half the blacksmith work. I got about five two-horse loads nubbins [?] and corn, about a bank slips with a few potatoes mixed among them as Mr. Hudson's hog eat the potatoes nearly all and had to plant slips two hundred weight, seed cotton with his part as he let me have his. Not much in the hatch and not much picked out undivided. Not much rice not thrashed, nor peas. So you see how it paid me to find horse and feed it. I have not heard from Dr. Miller. I think he is in Darlington. I think I sent him the word you told me to send. I have a due bill on Dr. Miller for six dollars which I wish you to take in part pay for rent. My cotton crop is light. I shall not get entirely out of debt this winter. Please write soon. Let me know your intention in regard to the place as the freedman wants to stay on it. Thinks he can do better another year but you know that is common. I may rent or buy if I can make arrangements as I may move my buildings if I do not trade or buy another place. I am in the market only if I can do better than any one else can do for you. I don't wish to be in the way of any other. Do the best you can with it. Mr. Hudson has been talking of cutting saw timber off of our land from an old reserve my father made. When he goes off the land he may bother us a little. Don't know whether the law will give him any knowledge or not. Alvin's and Elizabeth's all well. Brother Emery's had fever but better last heard from. Write soon. Direct to Sandy Grove, Clarendon. Rebecca sends her love to all. Remain as ever yours

A. M. Rush

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July 30, 1869

Dear brother and sister,

after a long delay I write you a few lines which I wish will be acceptable and my negligence excused. I would have written sooner but was waiting the conclusion of a gentleman who spoke of buying the place. I understood he had declined taking it. The taxes are so high that there is not much chance of selling land. Indeed I don't think I would sell now if I could manage to pay tax on land as we have to sacrifice it to sell it. If we sell and buy again while land is low it might pay. I paid the tax. Ten dollars and eighty-two cts. $10.82 I think was the amount. I concluded to rent the place myself and let the freedman stay on it the present year. I don't expect to do it another year. Don't think it pays but I recon [Sp.] I can rent it to the freedman who is on it for another year. If you do not sell it he wants to rent it. I concluded to take it at the same I gave last year which was all I thought I could afford to give. No one applied to rent it but freedman George and his.... Hilliard [Sp.]. George thought he could do better than last year and wanted me to furnish a horse but I don't think his crop will pay me well. If you could get along without selling it unless the tax rise, I can rent it for more than enough to pay it. George says he will give twenty another year as he don't want to move. There may be a chance toward Fall to sell it so be sure of the money. You could sell it at any time for more than you ask to freedman but there would be a risk in the pay. We are in usual health and trust you enjoy the same blessings. Crops not very good on account of corn drought. No news of importance in this part of the country. I would like to come see you all but don't know as I shall ever get over there. I would like to see my relations in Orangeburg and Fla. but I never hear from Orangeburg, occasionally from Fla. Brother Emery and wife was out but gone back. She had the fever so much. She came to see if she could get clear of it. I heard she had not had it since she went back. Bro. E. wants me to go but my folks don't want to go. I was sent after to see a young lady who had been struck by lightning Wednesday. Left her more rational but suffering intense pain. Recovery doubtful. How soon may we be gone. Let us be ready.

If I could sell a piece of land Rebecca got from her father I might buy yours myself. I might buy it otherwise but want to have the ... land sold and may buy that as I don't think I can pay tax on it longer. Our love to you all. Write soon Sandy Grove. Come and see us if you can.

A. M. Rush

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September 16, 1870

Bethlehem, Clarendon County, Sept. 16/70

Dear brother & sister,

We are not well. I am suffering so much what with boils and one of the children has had fever today but better. All of us have had it but mine was from cold. Fever has prevailed extensively in this part of the country, but generally mild. I received a letter from you requesting me to write . I had written two letters prior. Thought if you had not would get them but fearing you have failed I would state that I paid the tax. Also rented the place to a freedman George Rush for twenty dollars he being the only applicant. He has made very little and Mr. Hudson's hogs hid fare [?] to get a good share. I might buy the place were it not for them. I should meet the meet the required payments. George promised to pay the rent out of his son's wages whom he hired out. I don't know how I shall come out about it. I was requested by two to write you to find out your price and payments required for the place. I told them you did ask one dollar and twenty-five cts. but did not know what now. Both seemed willing to give it if they could meet the payments. Perhaps might give something more. Both is doubtful about paying for it. Both on rented land, Samuel Robinson and Sons and William Price's son. Price hopes to get assistance from an uncle, whether he can or not I cannot tell. One of Robinson's sons got a little piece of land by his wife which he hopes to sell. The difference in the prospects seem in my judgment about like the difference between half dozen and six. Perhaps as both want it the test plan will be if you let either have it to let the one who will give the most, but be certain to secure it so that you can get the place without difficulty if a failure is made to pay for it. I think you would be apt to get it improved more to sell it than to rent as it seems impossible to rent it to one who will improve it. Both promises a part cash. Price told me he thought he could pay half cash. I think he will borrow it if he pay it which I think doubtful. Please write soon and let them know what to depend on as they seem anxious to know. I expect to attend to paying tax and as usual if you do not sell it.

Direct your letters to Bethlehem. Sandy Grove is closed up. Come and see us if convenient. Our love to you all.

A. M. Rush

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November 11, 1870

Bethlehem, SC, Nov 11.1870

Dear brother and sister,

I received your letter and was glad to hear from you and we are all up this evening but can't stay up long. It seems as we have had a great deal of fever this Fall. I have used over an ounce of quinine this year and have come to the conclusion to get out of the house we are in if I have to build on the same acre I am on but as I have no place to build suitable off from the house and can't sell any place I have concluded to buy your place if you can allow me a chance to pay for it. As cotton is down and I had to pay for quinine and other debts I had made and tax will be heavy, I may not be able to pay any this winter. Also shall have to build, move out the buildings near the bay and make additions as they are not sufficient unless I take it. There will be no sale this winter. I suppose land enough for sale but money lacking. A gentleman came to see me the other day to sell me his place and one tried me this evening but I could not buy theirs unless I could sell and too far from my place. One on Lynch's [Sp.] Creek, the other below here. I have a piece of land on the other side of the swamp, 256 acres Rebecca got from her father. I have been trying to sell but have not succeeded, as yet no improvement on it. If I could sell that it would help me out in paying for yours. I would not like to sell the place I am living on as I could do better farming on it than yours. If I buy I would like as much time as you can give and I would pay it as soon as I could. The title I would like secured as I would expect to improve it. I would like to know immediately if I have to build, here or there. I ought to be at it before long. Do as you prefer. I expect to attend to paying tax and renting as usual if you wish while I stay here. If you prefer selling on the conditions specified please write me and state the payments required. I did not conclude till today but believe it best to move my family as the fever seems to visit us too often and I am disgusted, and write while I am in the notion to leave. I have seen two of the men since I got the letter. No chance for them to get their money. One I have not seen and no use, I think. There were three wanted it. One applied after I wrote to you but none of them have the money and those I have seen say they can't get it.

No news of importance. Some excitement about Lynchburg between whites and colloured [Sp.]. It is reported Ku Klux whipped colloured [Sp.] merchant for buying seed cotton and Hosea Willson was suspected of being with them or being one of them and had his corn house burned, too [Sp.] bushels corn also fodder. I don't know when it will end. Nothing very special in the churches. If we trade I shall have to go unless you can come to fix papers. Write soon. Rebecca joins me in sending our love - to you all

A. M. Rush

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April 1, 1871

Bethlehem, S.C.

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May 27, 1871

John Brownlee

My dear brother, I have of late been thinking of making a pulp at your place up here if will be reasonable and suit the price to the hard times. I might be induced to purchase in view of its being and [Sp.-"an"] old family burying ground or I may buy if will put it at a reasonable price. You know that the times is uncommonly hard and money is very tight and taxes on land very high. In view of all these things I will expect you to put it at the lowest possible figure you can afford, another great drawback on your place is it has no timber now. Please write me the very lowest amount. Will buy it if the money to be paid or the most of it on or before the first of Jan., 1872.

Remember kindly to the family and to Reevesville.
Very respectfully yours,
D. L. Conner

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July 19, 1871

Clarendon County July the 19th. 1871

Mr. John Brownlee,

Dear Uncle, I have seated myself this morning to write you a few lines which leaves me and family all well. Hoping these few lines may reach you safe and hail you and your family in the enjoyment of the same blessing. It was requested by Aunt Rebecca to write to you concerning your business out here. Uncle Aburry [Sp.] died the 29th of June with the congestive fiber. He never lived long after he was taken. His family has moved to her brother's about 8 miles. So you will have to come and take charge of your place yourself or get someone else to attend to it for your Uncle Aburry tried to sell it but failed to do so. Uncle Alvin died the 17th of May. They are a great deal of sickness in our neighborhood at this time. Sister Annie has been very sick but is getting better. The rest of mother's family is well. Aunt Rebecca was advised by the doctor that tended Uncle Aburry to move as soon as she could get away. She was sick and two of her children was sick with the fever also. I must bring my letter to a close so I have nothing much to write. Crops is very good in this neighborhood. We have had very pretty seasons on our crops until the last two weeks. We had a lite [Sp. -"light"] rain last night. Will do a great deal of good though it never wet the ground through. The moist first corn was needing rain very much. Please let me hear from you soon. I remain as ever

Your nephew
John J. Johnson

Direct your letters to New Zion P.O. to me and also to Aunt Rebecca Rush, Clarendon County. Aunt Rebecca sends her love to you and Aunt Addie.

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September 1, 1871

Clarendon, S.C. September 1, 1971

Mr. Brownlee

Dear Sir, By the request of Sister Rebekah Rush I have undertook to send you a letter but do not know whether it will reach you or not as she has sent one before receiving yours sometime. This will inform you that her and family are well at present. Brother Asbery [Sp.] is dead. He died in June last with congestive chill. Her and family has moved, staying with me now seven or eight miles from her place. She wishes you to come and take charge of your place as she do not know whether she will move back or not as yet. No news of mutch [Sp.-"much"] importance. Crops sorry, especially cotton. Sister send her love and respects to you all, so I will close.

Yours respectfully,
W. E. Lavender

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March 3, 1915


J. A. Brownlee.

I, J. A. Brownlee of Dorchester County, and State of South Carolina, being of sound mind and memory, and understanding, do make my last Will and Testament, in manner and form following;

FIRST. I GIVE AND DEVISE AND BEQUEATH to my four children M.G. Brownlee, Carrie Brownlee, Lavenia Brownlee, and John Brownlee, all of my personal property, consisting of Household and Kitchen Furniture, Mules, Cows, Hogs, and all moneys in Bank, or otherwise. All my land to be divided equally between them, TO share alike in the division. In case they want to sell or dispose of any of their property they can do so to the best advantage.

SECOND. I hereby appoint my son M.. G .Brownlee, executor of this my last Will and testament.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, J. A. Brownlee, the testator have to this my last Will and testament, set my hand and Seal this the third day of March.A.D.1915. Signed J. A. Brownlee.

Usual attestation Clause.

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