Creator: Witherspoon and McDowall family papers, 1826-1959 [manuscript].
Collection number: 799
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Abstract: Witherspoon family was of Hillsboro, N.C., and McDowall family was of Camden, S.C. Principal Witherspoon family members include John Witherspoon (1790-1853), Presbyterian clergyman, teacher, and planter, and his wife Susan Davis Kollock Witherspoon (fl. 1790s-1850s). McDowall family members include the Witherspoons’ daugther, Susan Witherspoon McDowall (fl. 1830s-1850s), and her husband, William D. McDowall (fl. 1820s-1850s), partner in the firm of Shannon and McDowall of Charleston, S.C. The McDowalls made their permanent home in Camden, S.C. The collection is chiefly letters from John and Susan Davis Witherspoon to their daughter, Susan Witherspoon McDowall, and her husband, William D. McDowall. Topics relate to family matters, particularly the health of various family members and the precarious financial situation the Witherspoons faced in balancing John’s desire for a better position within the Presbyterian Church, his teaching ambitions, and his planting endeavors. Discussions of the latter topic include management of slaves on Tusculum, the family plantation, and the sale of these slaves when the family decided to leave Hillsboro, N.C. Also documented are journeys of John to Greensboro, Ala., and of Susan Witherspoon and her sickly daughter, Mary, to consult with doctors in Philadelphia. On the McDowall side, the chief topics relate to the raising of their young family in Camden, S.C. Also included is a small amount of information about William McDowall’s business endeavors, notably with the Charleston firm of Shannon and McDowall, which seems to have handled cotton sales, and a few letters from other of the McDowalls’ relatives and friends.
Repository: Southern Historical Collection
Collection Highlights: Letters discuss the management of enslaved persons on “Tusclum,” the family plantation, and the sale of these individuals in 1852 (Folder 12).