Caroline Elizabeth Burgwin Clitherall diaries, 1751-1860.

Creator: Clitherall, Caroline Elizabeth Burgwin, 1784-1863.
Collection number: 158
View finding aid.

Abstract: Caroline Elizabeth Burgwin Clitherall was a plantation owner’s wife and school teacher who lived in Belleville and Walterboro, S.C., at Thornbury Plantation in North Carolina, and in Greensboro, Tuscaloosa, and Mobile, Ala. Her husband George Campbell Clitherall (d. 1829) was a planter and physician. Her children Eliza Inglis Clitherall Moore (1802 1886), Harriet A. Clitherall Spotts (1808 1834), George Bush Burgwin Clitherall (1814 1889), Frances King Clitherall Battle (1817 1849), Madeleine Clitherall Battle (b. 1818), and Alexander Baron Clitherall (1820 1869). She was the daughter of John Burgwin (fl. 1751 1800) and Eliza Bush Burgwin (d. 1787) of the Hermitage near Wilmington, N.C. Diaries containing narratives on family history and daily diary entries of Caroline Elizabeth Burgwin Clitherall, in which she wrote about events in her life and the lives of her friends and family. In the first eight volumes, she described her father’s arrival in America from Wales in 1751, his marriage to her mother, a Quaker from Bristol, England; her own childhood with her Quaker relatives in England, including her attendance at Belmont House school; and her eventual return to the United States. The next nine volumes cover her marriage to George Campbell Clitherall; their children; orphans and abused children they adopted; plantation life in North and South Carolina; their summer home in Walterboro, S.C.; relations with slaves; and financial difficulties. To earn money, Caroline began to teach school and George became a physician attached to an army garrison near Smithville, N.C. There are frequent references to North Carolina governor Gen. Benjamin Smith and his wife, who were her neighbors. The later volumes contain daily entries written when Caroline lived in Mobile and Montgomery, Ala., to be with her children. Among other topics, she wrote about the devastation wrought by the yellow fever epidemics in Alabama.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Entries detail the reception of Clitherall’s mother by family slaves in North Carolina (1784); the loss of slaves because of financial problems (1813); and Clitherall’s attempts to instill religious beliefs in her slave Eliza (1853). Microfilm available.