Tag Archives: Susan Richardson Abbott

Susan Richardson Abbott – Part 2 – 1867-1909

This is the 2nd and final post about the life of Susan Richardson Abbott. You can read part one here Part 1 Susan Richardson Abbott 1829 to 1866. Click on any image to enlarge in a different window.

Loyalty oath Randolph Abbott signed with his X in order to be able to vote. Found on ancestry.com.

In 1869 The First African Baptist church put up a new building. The women raised the money and fed the construction workers while the building was constructed. The The leader, Rev. Andrew Neal (Nyle), served as pastor for 28 years. Under his leadership in 1869, the beautiful framed, front gabled church building was artfully constructed with round arch windows, and an off center, pyramidal roof steeple by former slaves of the St. Simons plantations. First African Baptist church website.

1870 Census

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In the 1870 Census, Susan and Randolph Abbott and their six children lived in Glynn County Georgia. The parents and two oldest children worked on the farm. Neither of the parents could read or write. The four children over age nine had attended school during the past year and were literate.

Randolph and Susan Abbott were both listed as 36 years old.  Lizzie Abbot, 15 and Eliza, 13 both worked on the farm, attended school and were able to read. Bristol, 12 and Louis 11 were not working and attended school they could also read.

Thomas, 9 and Joseph, 7 were at home and not yet attending school.

Susan’s brother Richard Richardson and his wife Dorcus lived in the next house with their four children.

Freedman’s Bank Records 1871 and 1873

Record from the Freedman’s Bank for Randolph Abbott. FamilySearch.com

On January 26, 1871, Randolph Abbott opened an account with the Freedman’s Bank. He was described as 40 years old with a dark complexion. His wife was Susan, age 41. Their six children were named. Betsey, 19; Lewis, 17; Eliza, 15; Bristol 13; Joseph 11 and Thomas 10. His father’s name was Tom. He died on the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad during the Civil war. His mother’s name was Betty.

He was formerly of CO A 33c, United States Colored Troops. He had received a bounty of $62.  $50 was deposited. . The pastor of their church, First African Baptist Church, Rev. Andrew Neyle identified them. First African Baptist Church was founded in 1859 by enslaved people who wanted their own church. Randolph Abbott died later that year.

United States, Freedman’s Bank Records, 1865-1874
(Familysearch.com)

On March 12, 1873 Susan Abbott, now widowed, signed up for an account at the Freedman’s Bank. She states she was born in Charleston, South Carolina and now resides on St Simons Island. She was 41 years old and had a dark complexion. Her husband, Randolph, was deceased.  The children are again listed. Betsy 29; Lewis 18; Eliza 15; Briston 13; Joseph 11; and Thomas 10.  Her father’s name was Thomas Richardson and her mother was Chloe. Both were deceased. She had eight sisters and brothers. One, Maria, was deceased. The others were Daniel, Stephen, Thomas, Richard, Sarah Kennon and Charlotte

United States, Freedman’s Bank Records, 1865-1874
(Familysearch.com)

The ages on various records are inconsistent because people often did not know exactly when they were born or how old they were.

United States, Freedman’s Bank Records, 1865-1874 (Familysearch.com)

Freedmen’s Bank Fails, Devastating Black Community
The Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company, more commonly referred to as The Freedmen’s Bank, failed in June 1874, taking with it millions of dollars in Black wealth. The bank was first incorporated on March 3, 1865, the same day the Freedmen’s Bureau was created, and formed to help previously enslaved people economically transition to freedom.

During the next several years, Rev. Nyle of First African Baptist Church, officiated at the marriages of Susan Abbott’s children.

Susan Abbott filed for her widow’s pension in 1890

Susan Abbott was eligible for a pension as the widow of a soldier who fought in the Civil War.  She filed for her widow’s pension in in 1890. Apparently she received it, according to her obituary. When the National Archives reopens after the pandemic, I will be able to order a copy of the pension file. There is usually a wealth of information available in the files that contain the transcribed words of the person applying and their witnesses. Some of the people who were enslaved on the Hazzard plantation with her should have testimony swearing that she and Randolph were married and if there was a ceremony or celebration and about the birth of the children. Ancestry.com

In the 1900 census Susan Abbott was enumerated twice.  On June1, 1900 she was enumerated next door to her Son Thomas and his family on St Simons Island.  She was listed as 65, living in a house (as opposed to a farm). She had given birth to six children and four were still living. Her daughter Betsey and her family and son Joe and his family lived on the same road.  She was still unable to read or write but her children and grandchildren were literate and the grandchildren of school age attended school. They owned their own farms free of mortgage.

She was also enumerated as housekeeper living with the white Crovatt family in the city of Brunswick, on June 2, 1900. A. J. Crovatt was 41, his wife Mary was 40. There were two sons, William 18 and Alfred 17 and one daughter Mary L. who was 14. All of the children were in school.

Susan Abbott was about 80 years old when she died in 1909. She lived a long life and came from slavery to freedom and saw her children and grandchildren grow up to become literate property owners.

Document giving Thomas Abbott, Susan and Randolph’s son the duty of making a list of her worldly goods in the absence of a Will. Peter Joseph was an emigrant from Barbados, W.I. who was a merchant/shopkeeper on St. Simons. He was identified on records as “mulatto”. I did not find any listing of the goods or their distribution.

Georgia Glynn County

Know all men by these presents that we Thomas Abbott principal and Peter Joseph security are held and firmly bound into the Ordinary for said county, and his successors in office and assigns, in the just and full sum of the fifteen hundred dollars full sum of fifteen hundred dollars for the payment of which sum to the said Ordinary, and his successors in office, we bond ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators in the whole, and for the whole sum, jointly and severally and firmly by these presents.

Sealed with our seals and dated this 3rd day of May 1909.

The condition of the above obligation is such, that if the above bound Thomas Abbott do make a time and perfect inventory of the goods, chattels, rights, credits , lands tenements of Susan Abbot late of Glynn County, deceased, which have or shall come into the hands, possessions of the said Thomas Abbott, or the hands of any person or persons for him and the same so made, do exhibit into the said Ordinary, when he shall be here until required; and such good chattels, credits, lands and tenements, do well and truly administer, according to the law, and to make a great and true account of his doings and acting there in when he shall thereunto be required by the court: Shall deliver and pay to such person or persons, respectively, as they may be entitled to the same by law, and if it shall here after appear that my last will and testament was made by the deceased, and the same proven before the court of ordinary, and the executor obtain a certificate of the probate there of and Thomas Abbott in such case, if required, render and deliver up said letters of administration, the this obligation to be void else to remain in full force signed, sealed and acknowledge in open court.

Thomas Abbot
Peter Joseph

Horace Dart Ordinary
Glynn County Georgia

Click to read Part 1 Susan Richardson Abbott 1829-1909

Susan Richardson Abbott – Part 1 – 1829-1866

Earlier this year my daughter shared this photograph of Susan Richardson Abbott and her obituary from a newspaper in 1909. I decided to see what I could learn about her in addition to the stereotypical “good old mammy” obituary. This is what I found.

Click any image to enlarge in another window.

Susan Richardson Abbott 1830-1909
©Hambidge Center for the Arts

Obituary

ABBOTT, Susan
The Brunswick Journal; Monday 18 January 1909

SUDDEN DEATH OF OLD SERVANT—For Many Years a Faithful Servant in Family of Judge Crovatt.
There will be genuine sorrow expressed by a very large number of white people when they learn of the death of “Mammy Sue,” who has been faithful servant in the family of Judge A.J. Crovatt for the past thirty years.
Everybody knew “Mammy Sue”; she had been so identified with the family of “her people” as to be one of them.
Born in Charleston, a slave, Susan Abbot [sic], as she was known, was brought to St. Simons Island and was the servant of the Hazzard family there.
At the close of the war, Susan became a member of the family of Col. C.L. Schlatter, the father of Mrs. A.J. Crovatt. After the marriage of Miss Mary Lee Schlatter to Mr. A.J. Crovatt, “Mammy Sue” went with her young mistress and was the nurse of three children of Judge and Mrs. Crovatt.
As the widow of a soldier in the Federal Army during the war, Mammy Sue was awarded a pension by the government. Though her husband fought on the Federal side, Mammy Sue staid [sic] with her “own people.”
Famous as a cook, devoted to the interests of those with whom she had been so many years, the death of Mammy Sue removes another of the rare ante-bellum negroes.
Her illness was of only a few hours duration; the young daughter of the house, Mary Lee Crovatt, had gone to see the old woman at ten o’clock to give her a cup of tea; Mammy did not complain of being ill, and had been about her usual duties all day yesterday. Though eighty years of age, Mammy Sue was remarkably active, and was in full control of all her faculties. At one o’clock another of the servants heard the old woman calling, and Miss Crovatt and her brother went to the room in the servant’s house. When the door was opened, Mammy Sue was unconscious and died with(in) a few minutes.
Four children survive, Thomas and Joseph Abbot and Eliza Cuyler, all of whom live on St. Simons. Another son, Randolph Abbot, being in Charleston (note: no Randolph found). The body will be carried to St. Simons where it will be interred tomorrow.

FUNERAL OF MAMMY SUE HELD ON ST. SIMONS
The body of Susan Abbott, or “Mammy Sue” the aged servant of Judge A.J. Crovatt, was carried to St. Simons this morning for interment.
Services were held last night in the First African Baptist Church, of which church, Mammy Sue had long been a member. The Brunswick Journal; Tuesday 19 January 1909; pg. 1

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Almost two hundred years ago Susan Richardson Abbot was born into slavery on the plantation of Thomas Boone in Charleston, SC. After Boone died 28 October, 1831, his wife began selling off land and people.

The Charleston Mercury Charleston, South Carolina 16 Dec 1831, Fri  •  Page 1

On 13 December, 1831, Mary Boone sold eleven people, including Susan, her mother Chloe and her brother Richard, from her husband’s estate in Charleston S. C. to William W. & Mary Hazzard.

On the right page is the bill of sale for eleven enslaved people, including Susan, her mother Chloe and her brother Richard. Mary S. Boone, widow of Thomas Boone sold them to William Wigg Hazzard and his wife Mary Hazzard.
State of South-Carolina

KNOW ALL MEN by these Presents, that Mary S Boone executrix of Thomas Boone for and in consideration of the sum of three thousand three hundred and eighty dollars to me in hand paid, at and before the sealing and delivery of these Presents by John Halsett & Corro B Lining trustees of Wm W Hazard & Mary Blake Hazard his wife (the receipt whereof do hereby acknowledge) have bargained and sold and by these Presents, do bargain, sell and deliver to the said Mr. Hazlett and Corro B Lining trustees aforesaid the following negro slaves – viz Sue – Chloe, Richard, Sue, Margaret, Maria, Hannah, Limas, Celia, Cyrus, Abe, Mily & Venus

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD, THE SAID above named negro slaves with the future issue and increase of the said females-unto the said John Haslett & Corro B Lining trustees aforesaid them…

In Witness thereof, have herunto set my Hand and Seal
Dated at Charleston – on the twenty sixth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty three and in the fifty seventh year of the Independence of the United States of America.

Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of J. H. Peters, South Carolina

Mary J Boone executrix of Thomas Boone by her atty H A Devaussure

Recorded 26 Feb 1833.

West Point (on the left side of the map) was the name of William Wigg Hazzard’s plantation.

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Ruins of tabby houses in the slave quarters. on William Wigg Hazzard’s West Point plantation.

William Wigg Hazzard was one of fourteen large slave holders on St. Simons Island. The much prized Sea Island Cotton, was grown on their plantations. Long staple-cotton had a different culture than the cotton grown inland. It required more hand work. In 1810 Hazzard enslaved 53 people. By 1860, he enslaved 93. They were housed in 16 slave dwellings, making a little over 5 people per dwelling.

The housing was built using tabby, composed of the lime from burned oyster shells mixed with sand, water, ash, and other shells. The buildings, about 18 ft x 18 ft, consisted of one room. A fireplace at one end, was used for cooking and heat in cool weather.

Furnishings would have been minimal. Blankets were given out once every few years. Food and clothing rations were sparingly distributed. They may have been supplemented by gardening, hunting and fishing in the time not taken up by work.

Susan Richardson Abbott’s husband, Randolph Abbott, was enslaved on the plantation of Captain Charles Stephens, located next to the Hazzard’s plantations.  Stevens made his money through shipping.

Randolph and Susan’s oldest child, was born in 1855, She was named Betsy. Over the next eight years five more children were born. Daughter Eliza was born in 1857. Son Bristol was born in 1858. Son Lewis was born in 1859. Son Thomas in 1861.

Susan Abbott and her husband were probably among the founders of the First African Baptist Church which was organized by enslaved people in their quarters below is the description From the church website.

The First African Baptist Church was organized at Pike’s Bluff Plantation in the year 1859. Members of this African American congregation traveled from all around the island to attend worship services every Sunday. The early pioneers worshiped in a little tabby church located near their quarters at West Point Plantation…

In December 1862, Susan Abbot’s husband, Randolph Abbott, joined the United States Colored Troops on St. Simon’s Island. At that time she was pregnant with the sixth child.  Joseph, who was born in January of 1863, the same month his father was mustered into the USCT. He served for three years. On January 31, 1866 he was mustered out in Charleston, SC.

Records from Randolph Abbott’s Military File

Civil War and Beyond

from the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

“The Escaped Slave in the Union Army,” Harper’s Weekly, July 2, 1864, p. 428. (Courtesy of the House Divided Project)

The outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 put a sudden end to St. Simons’s lucrative plantation era. In January of that year, Confederate troops were stationed at the south end of the island to guard the entrance to Brunswick Harbor. Slaves from Retreat Plantation, owned by Thomas Butler King, built earthworks and batteries. Plantation residents were scattered—the men joined the Confederate army and their families moved to the mainland. Cannon fire was heard on the island in December 1861, and Confederate troops retreated in February 1862, after dynamiting the lighthouse to keep its beacon from aiding Union troops. Soon thereafter, Union troops occupied the island, which was used as a camp for the formerly enslaved. By August 1862 more than 500 former slaves lived on St. Simons, including Susie King Taylor, who organized a school for freed slave children. But in November the ex-slaves were taken to Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Fernandina, Florida, leaving the island abandoned. After the Civil War the island never returned to its status as an agricultural community. The plantations lay dormant because there were no slaves to work the fields. After Union general William T. Sherman’s January 1865 Special Field Order No. 15 —a demand that former plantations be divided and distributed to former slaves—was overturned by U.S. president Andrew Johnson less than a year later, freedmen and women were forced to work as sharecroppers on the small farms that dotted the land previously occupied by the sprawling plantations.

Part 2 Susan Richardson Abbott 1867-1909