David Gavin diary, 1855-1874.

October 12, 2009

Creator: Gavin, David, 1811-1874.
Collection number: 1103-z
View finding aid.

Abstract: David Gavin was a lawyer and owner of a plantation near St. George, S.C., which was probably in Dorchester County. The collection is one volume, consisting of Gavin’s diary, 1855-1871; personal accounts, 1856-1874; and about 150 brief entries giving vital dates and other information about family members, friends, and acquaintances. Diary entries discuss family members and neighbors, Gavin’s political views (he apparently was a member of the American Party), election results for Colleton District, S.C., Gavin’s legal work, his work as an appraiser of slaves in estates, his work as a surveyor, life on his plantation, and other matters. Included are notations on the daily tasks of slaves, their illnesses and the remedies used to treat them, and Gavin’s problems with a runaway slave. Social and legal experiences of women are also occasionally noted.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: The diary contains numerous references to slaves and free blacks, including the trial of men accused of murdering a slave (1856, 1857); slave sales (1859, 1860); a runaway slave whom Gavin originally bought because he owned the man’s wife and family (1855, 1856); free blacks and reactions to a neighbor who associated with them (1855, 1858); and the murder of a woman by two free blacks (1866).