This letter was written by Patience Wise Blackett Izard (1786-1860), the second wife of Major Abraham Eustis (1786-1843). She wrote the letter to her stepson, Frederic Augustus Eustis (1816-1871), who’s biological mother, Rebecca Sprague, died in 1820 when Frederic was 4 years old. Frederic married Mary Ruth Channing in June 1843. Frederic’s brother “Harry” (Henry Lawrence Eustis) is mentioned near the end of the letter. He married Sarah Augusta Eckley (1823-1853) in 1844 and the unnamed newborn child was Henry Sprague Eustis, born 13 March 1845 — less than two weeks before this letter was written.
Patience (Izard) Eustis wrote the letter from Tomotley – a plantation in Beaufort County that she inherited in 1830 from the Izard Family who first acquired it in 1755.
Patience Wise Blacket Izard, born in 1786, was the daughter of wealthy South Carolinian Ralph Izard and Elizabeth, nee Stead. On May 15, 1823, in Charleston, she married Gen. Abraham Eustis of the U.S. Army, a native of Massachusetts. Patience Izard brought to the marriage considerable property, including Tomotley Plantation, near Old Sheldon Church, and what became known as Eustis Plantation on Lady’s Island.
Gen. Abraham Eustis died in 1843; his wife survived him, dying May 21, 1860. An 1868 deed described the Eustis Plantation on Lady’s Island as “all that Plantation on Lady’s Island formerly the property of the late Mrs. Patience Wise B. Eustis, estimated on the Tax Book at six hundred (sic) 640 acres; about 350 fit for cultivation; 60 acres of this wood, the rest salt flats and marsh.”
There was a discrepancy in the deed, which mentioned both 600 and 640 acres. The deed described Eustis as “bounded on the North by creek; east by creek; that divides Ladies Island and Saint Helena Island; south and west by Distant Island and Hazel’s Inlet plantation … Also 200 acres of ‘Pine Barren’ situated on Port Royal Island, bounds unknown, used as an attachment to the Lady’s Island plantation for timber and stuff.”
Upon her death, Mrs. Patience Eustis left Lady’s Island Eustis Plantation to several South Carolina heirs and to one grandson, Frederick A. Eustis of Boston. Local executors managed Eustis Plantation until the Northern military occupation of the island, beginning Nov. 7, 1861.
The following spring, Frederick A. Eustis arrived at Port Royal or Hilton Head. Flag Officer Samuel DuPont wrote at the time that, “Mr. Eustis of Boston, the heir but not the only one, has taken his mother’s plantation … He went there; the slaves had all remained, recognized him and are delighted at having ‘master’ and to go to work. He, of course, is going to pay them certain amounts and meliorate their condition in many ways — yet some other heirs are rebels in arms.”
In November 1865, the war being over, the old executors appealed to Gen. Gillmore, commanding the local area, who ordered Eustis Plantation returned to them (the executors).
According to Sefton, in his book, “The United States Army and Reconstruction,” “Eustis protested and the case went to Gen. Oliver O. Howard, head of the Freedmen’s Bureau. He admitted he did not understand all the legal points, but he thought the crops and their revenues belonged properly to Eustis and the Negroes and recommended the revocation of Gillmore’s order.
“The Judge Advocate concurred, and Eustis regained possession. The ultimate solution of the title question was left to the federal courts.” In 1868, the U.S. Circuit Court ordered Eustis Plantation to be sold at public auction. Frederick A. Eustis was the successful bidder at $5,000 for the 640-acre tract as well as the 200 acres on Port Royal Island. The Southern heirs had been effectively dispossessed.
A new 1876 survey Frederick Eustis had the plantation surveyed in January 1876 by George Gage, Beaufort surveyor from Ohio, and subdivided into 10-and 20-acre tracts. Following the death of Eustis, his widow (the former Mary Channing, daughter of the Rev. William Ellery Channing) and the Eustis children sold the tracts to freedmen, some of whom had been in servitude on the same lands they acquired as yeomen farmers.
Addressed to Frederic A. Eustis, Esq., 83 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, Massachusetts
March 25, 1845
I have this moment received your letter from Charleston, dear Frederic. I am glad to hear of your safety so far. I had, like yourself, thought it would be better to ship _____, later in the season. Harry says to me, “Missis, can’t you find a better looking horse at the Island [referring to Lady’s Island] , for Master Frederic?” “Harry,” says I, “Master Frederic fancies this very horse and no other.” The said Harry brought me a packet of letters from Pocotaligo, whither he has to return to bring the glass & other boxes. One of the letters is from Mary to you. I know you prize all her letters too much to wish to have one destroyed. I will therefore keep it safe for you. Did you see the end of Mrs. P’s letter where she proposes we two old ladies should visit the Old World? I will think of it.
George is out with his gun. He was quite lucky on Saturday. I sent some snipes & partridges (Caffy’s) to Mrs. D. Heyward. He has also been doctoring Remus, & is in hopes he has cured him. At any rate, the child is much better for his treatment. He will, I have no doubt, take care of Charles Augustus. He asked me for a comb to smooth his flowing mane & tail. He objects to riding such a Rocinante. I am very much amused at his endeavors to turn all his defects into beauties by book. Long legs a sign of youth; Raw bones & high hip bones signs of strength & fleetness &c. &c. His horse’s back, he thinks, is still tender, & I believe that prevents him from exercising him. To be candid, Dear Mary, I have received your Mother’s kind invitation to proceed to Boston to be with you during her absence. As soon as I learn where a letter may find her, I will tell her how difficult it would be for me to leave home at present. Thank you for your portion of the letter. I read Frederic’s share also. Eldridge’s farm, I think will be the chosen spot.
Frederic carries you all the Charleston news. I have had no visitors since he left except Ann who was here on Saturday with her little flock.
I wrote to Harry this morning to congratulate him on the birth of his boy. Has he a name yet? Mr. & Mrs. Eckley must feel very happy at the event.
You did not mention Mrs. Townsend in your letter so we presume she is as well as usual.
My love to you both. Don’t forget to tell me how to direct to your Mother.
Yours with sincere affection, — P. W. Eustis