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See also UPA microfilm: 5322, Series I


Mss. 29



Luana Henderson

Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections

Special Collections, Hill Memorial Library

Louisiana State University Libraries

Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University

Reformatted 2006


Biographical/Historical Note


Scope and Content Note


Index Terms


Container List


Use of manuscript materials. If you wish to examine items in the manuscript group, please fill out a call slip specifying the materials you wish to see. Consult the Container List for location information needed on the call slip.

Photocopying. Should you wish to request photocopies, please consult a staff member. The existing order and arrangement of unbound materials must be maintained.

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Permission to examine archival materials does not constitute permission to publish. Any publication of such materials beyond the limits of fair use requires specific prior written permission. Requests for permission to publish should be addressed in writing to the Head, Public Services, Special Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, LA, 70803-3300. When permission to publish is granted, two copies of the publication will be requested for the LLMVC.

Proper acknowledgement of LLMVC materials must be made in any resulting writing or publications. The correct form of citation for this manuscript group is given on the summary page. Copies of scholarly publications based on research in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections are welcomed.



1,161 items, 12 v.

Geographic locations.

New Orleans, La., Mississippi, Scotland;

Inclusive dates.


Bulk dates.





Personal and business papers include correspondence, financial papers, legal records, diaries and record books reflecting plantation operations and mercantile enterprises.


Arranged chronologically

Restrictions on access.

Items housed in the vault are restricted due to fragility. Surrogates are available within the collection and on microfilm.

Photocopies must be made from microfilm where available.


Copyright of the original materials is retained by descendants of the creators in accordance with U.S. copyright law.


John Bisland and Family Papers, Mss. 29, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, La.


Erroneously identified as Mss. 4, 6 in UPA microfilm

Stack location.

U:241-242; H:17; OS:B; Vault:1

Also available on.

UPA Microfilm 5322, Series I, part 4, reels 6-8


John Bisland (17421821), a native of Scotland, was a merchant and planter of Scotland, North Carolina and Mississippi. As a young man in Glasgow, Scotland, he was a dry goods merchant in partnership with John Muir. In 1774, he immigrated to Cross Creek, North Carolina where he operated a general store. At the onset of the Revolutionary War, Bisland left North Carolina for Jamaica, and later settled the Natchez, Miss. vicinity. John Bisland obtained five land grants amounting to approximately 3,770 acres between 1782 and 1795. He later bought additional acreage. Bisland family homes included Vendue, Mount Repose and Mount Airwell Plantations near Natchez, Miss., New Providence Plantation, Concordia Parish, La., and Hope Farm and Richland Plantation in Terrebonne Parish, La. John married Susannah Rucker, daughter of a British officer, Colonel Peter Rucker. Together they had nine children: Alexander, Peter, William, James, Katherine, Susanna, Sarah, Elizabeth and Jane. Several of Bisland children were educated in Scotland. William was also among the first class enrolled at Jefferson College, Washington, Miss.


Collection is comprised of papers and manuscript volumes related to the business and personal affairs of the John Bisland family and Samuel Hopkins Lambdin. Bisland business papers consist of financial and legal records reflecting financial activities of a cotton planter and slaveholder. They include correspondence, accounts, agreements with overseers and tradesmen, property assessments, freight charges, bills, tax bills, invoices, receipts, contracts and numerous slave bills of sale. Business papers record business transactions in Scotland and North Carolina, as well as Mississippi. They relate to the slave, cotton and tobacco trades, and the conveyance and leasing of land. Bisland discusses cotton shipments while traveling to Scotland In his letters (1803-1804) and plantation diary (1814-1818), Bisland discusses the cotton trade, and William Gardner in Glasgow, reports on the cotton market in Europe [photocopy] (Feb. 24, 1806). Bills, invoices and receipts also reflect expenses for education, personal and household items. They detail cost of food, supplies and services performed at the plantations. Also included are portions of Frederick Calvert's will (March 5, 1805).

Personal correspondence comprises a large part of the personal papers and pertains primarily to family matters, health, social events and activities. Other topics relate to the education of the Bisland children and immigration of friends and relatives to United States. In a letter to William Steele (v. 11-Aug. 30, 1817) John Bisland reports on the progress in establishing Jefferson College, Washington, Miss.

Papers of Samuel H. Lambdin begin with the mid-1840s. His papers contain several letters to John Rucker Bisland, of Richland Plantation, concerning family matters and business affairs. They include a court document showing the emancipation of Thomas S. Bisland (May 16, 1854), conveyance for Fairfax Plantation, St. Mary Parish, La. (1857) and bills for the ferriage of African Americans at Natchez and Vidalia, La. (Jan. 1, 1855). Correspondence also refers to cholera (undated, New York, William Bisland to Samuel Lambdin; undated, unsigned to Samuel Lambdin) and yellow fever (undated, William H. Holcombe to Samuel H. Lambdin).

Cotton record book, v. 1 (1800-1820) contains entries for cotton production and trade 1802-1820. It includes notations regarding the loss of cotton shipped on the Neptune, sale of mahogany, cotton produced at Mount Airwell Plantation (1806-1806, 1815), and an account of the cotton crop of 1819 sold to G. Ralston (March 26, 1820). This volume contains daybook entries for sales and purchase of carpentry services, food, household and personal items (1800-1809). It also contains copies of correspondence, bills and legal documents concerning the cotton trade (1802-1807, 1816), the shipment of mahogany on ship Neptune (1803) and small pox inoculation (1802, page 34). William Bisland is amazed at the abundance of vegetables and fish in New Orleans markets (May 9, 1816) and the activity at the Port of New Orleans (May 3, 1816). He comments on the extensive amount of gambling and dancing, even on Sundays, taking place in New Orleans (May 9, 1816). Manuscript volume also contains miscellaneous notations concerning taxable property (September 12, 1805), clothing given to slaves at Mount Airwell Plantation (1808), stores for the ships Neptune and “Lady Nelson (1802-1803) and a list

of personal and household items needed at Natchez (1801). One entry (May 3, 1803-p. 11) states that John Bisland left North Carolina Aug. 7, 1775, for Jamaica at the onset of the Revolutionary War

Daybooks, v. 2-5, (1770-1820) kept by John Bisland record business activities at his merchandise store in jointly owned with John Muir in Glasgow Scotland, and his store in Natchez, Miss. Additional notations in volume two relate to the construction of a mill, educational expenses for Susan Bisland (1817), death of Margret Kemp in Natchez (1818), money sent to relatives in Scotland by William (1812), and corn, cotton and tobacco trades. Personal entries note the marriage of daughter, Jean to John Ross, (v. 3, March 7, 1816), death of Jean Bisland Ross (v. 3, July 30, 1816), marriage of son, James, to the daughter of Colonel Ross (v. 3, March 14, 1817), and the marriage of son, William, to (Louise) Witherspoon (v. 3, Oct. 19, 1820). Entries also reflect John Bisland's religious activities (v. 3, 1818, 1820). Other notations include the will of Frederick Calvert (v. 4, undated) a thunder and lightning storm in Glasgow (v. 4, 1804), the cost of leaving Cross Creek, N. C. (v. 4, undated) and a list of letters he left at the Washington post office (1817).

Diaries, v. 6 (1802-1804) and v. 7 (1804, 1808, 1814-1818), discuss travel and plantation operations. Entries relate to a trip to Scotland on board the Neptune (v. 6, 1804), and Alexander Bisland comments on his education in Scotland. A copy of a letter (v. 6, 1804), probably written by Alexander Bisland, mentions his stay in Scotland and his plans to return home on the Howard. Alexander gives a detailed account of weather conditions on his passage homeward from Grenoch on the Howard (v. 7, 1804). Diary also contains notes (v. 6, 1802-1803) relating to laundry, books and miscellaneous items and a copy of an arrest warrant (v.7, 1808), signed by Alexander Bisland, Adams County, for the arrest of James Martin for failure to pay his debts. Personal notes include the deaths of Stephen Minor (Nov. 29, 1815), James Fitzgerald (May 17, 1816) and General Claiborne (March 22, 1815). Other personal notes include Susan Bisland attending school (Oct. 31, 1814), the burial of John Bisland, Jr. on November 2, 1814 and the marriage of daughter, Jean (March 7, 1816). Additional notes made by William Bisland while in Scotland concern British troops leaving and treaty ratification (v. 7, March 11, 1815). Plantation entries (v. 7, 1814-1818) record statistics kept on crop production, sheep shorn and hogs killed.

Frederick Calvert estate inventory book (v. 8, 1790-1800) records legal fees and the value of slaves and horses. Journals, v. 9 (1767-1773), v. 10 (1774-[1778], 1810-1811) concern the operations of Bisland store in Glasgow, Scotland (v. 9) and his stores (v. 10, 1774-1775) at Cross Creek, Cumberland County, N. C., Natchez region (v. 10, 1776-1778). The volume also contains a few memoranda, 1810-1811, concerning clothing given to slaves, crops and Bisland's residence in Mississippi.

Letter copy book, v. 11 (1817), contains letters by John Bisland, Mount Airwell Plantation, to his son, William, in Scotland, offering paternal advice and reporting on the severity of yellow fever in New Orleans and Natchez. He attributes the lack of cotton sales to the epidemic, and he states that cotton rot will destroy half of his crop (Oct. 9, 1817). Other correspondents include Peter Duncan, James Ure, William Steele and the Dennistown, Hill and Co. In a letter to Peter Duncan, Bisland comments on the severity of yellow fever in Natchez and remarks that great numbers of the people remaining in Natchez continue to die each day. He mentions the court's relocation to Washington, Miss., and his lack of business is due to everyone seeking safety (Oct.

11, 1817). Letter to James Ure mentions his purchase of 100 acres of land adjoining the plantation, and his expectation of earning $500 from 17 acres planted in cotton. He expresses a need for all classes of tradesmen and laborers in the area, stating that carpenters earn 9 to 18 shillings daily plus room, board and washing (Oct. 25, 1817). Bisland writes to William Steele about William Montgomery's refusal of $1500 for teaching and $500 preaching in Louisiana. He also tells of the $800 salary offered to teachers at the teaching academy and mentions that the establishment of Jefferson College, Washington, Miss., was proceeding well; they obtained teachers and administrators for the school (Aug. 30, 1817). Letters to Dennistown, Hill and Co., New Orleans merchant, request the sale of a runaway slave (Oct. 28, 1817, undated). Additionally, a letter written by William McAulay (nephew to John Bisland) to John Bain discusses terms offered by Bisland to tradesmen, mentioning the demand for millwrights, carpenters and laborers (Oct. 28, 1817).

Account book, v. 12 (1812-1820) records loans to his to children, building repairs made to the mill, wages paid, and the purchase of a gold watch, cotton, hides and bagging.



Description of relevant documents

Calvert, Frederick.

Last will and testament, v. 4 (undated); inventory estate book, v. 8 (1817)

Cargo ships.

Diaries, v. 6 (1802 ); v. 7 (1804).


Letter (undated: William Bisland to Samuel Lambdin);

unsigned letter (undated: to Samuel Lambdin).

Claiborne, Ferdinand Leigh, d. 1814.

Diary, v. 7 (March 22, 1814), death of Gen. Claiborne.

Cross Creek (S.C.)--History.

v. 4 (undated); v. 10 (1776-1778).

Education--History--19th century.


Fairfax Plantation (La.)

Land conveyance (1857).

Harbors--Louisiana--New Orleans.

Cotton record book, v. 1 (May 3, 1816).

Inheritance and succession.

Last will and testament, v. 4 (undated) and inventory estate book, v. 8 (1817) of Frederick Calvert.

Jefferson College (Washington, Miss.)

Letter copy book, v.11 (Aug. 30, 1817).


Cotton record book, v. 1 (1803).

Markets--Louisiana--New Orleans.

Cotton record book, v. 1, letter (May 3, 1816).

Minor, Stephen.

Letter (Nov. 29, 1815). Death of Stephen Minor.

Mississippi--Adams County--Social life and customs.

Papers and manuscript volumes concerning household furnishings, education, family matters and religious activities (ca. 1800-1821).

Montgomery, William.

Letter copy book, v. 11 (Aug. 30, 1817).


Description of relevant documents

Mount Airwell Plantation (Miss.)

Papers and manuscript volumes concern slave sales, purchase of cottonseed, crop production, livestock, plantation operations taxes and property assessments, household furnishings (ca. 1800-1821).

New Orleans (La.)--Social life and customs--19th century.

Cotton record book, v. 1 (May 9, 1816).

Plantation lifeMississippi--Adams County.

Papers and manuscript volumes concern slave sales, purchase of seed cotton, crop production, livestock, plantation operations, taxes , property assessments, household furnishings, health of family members and slaves (ca. 1800-1821). Will of Frederick Calvert, v. 4; Frederick Calvert estate inventory book, v. 8, (1790-1800).

Scotland--Description and travel.

Diaries, v. 6 (1802 ); v. 7 (1804).

Skilled labor--Mississippi--Adams County.

Letter copybook, v. 11 (Oct. 25, 28, 1817).

Slave bills of sale.

Papers and manuscript volumes concerning slave sales, and slaves (ca. 1800-1821).


Papers and manuscript volumes concerning slave sales, and slaves (ca. 1800-1821).


Cotton record book v. 1, p. 34 (1804).

War of 1812.

Diary, v 7 (March 11, 1815).

Yellow fever.

Letter (undated: William H. Holcombe to Samuel H. Lambdin); letter copy book, v. 11 (Oct. 9, 11, 1817).


Stack Location







Papers (1773-1811).



Papers (1813-1817).




Papers (1818- 1877, 1884, undated).



Manuscript volumes (1767-1820).

v. 1 Cotton record book (1800-1820)

v. 2 Daybook (1770-1787, 1808-1819).

v. 3 Daybook (1774, 1787-1820).

v. 4 Daybook (1776-1790, 1804, 1817, undated).

v. 5 Daybook (1802-1803).

v. 6 Daybook (1802-1804).

v. 7 Diary (1804-1818), plantation diary (1814-1814).

v. 8 Frederick Calvert estate inventory book (1790-1800).

v. 10 Journal (1774-1778, 1810-1811).

v. 11 Letter copybook (1817).




v. 9 Journal (1767-1773) unbound pages.

v. 12 Account book (1812-1820).



Cotton account (May 25, 1802; shipping account with Wilson Hunt (1802-1803); account sheets (Feb. 12, 1947; Jan. 3, 1857)