Ij

JOHN BISLAND AND FAMILY PAPERS
Mss. 29
Inventory
By Luana Henderson
Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections
Special Collections, Hill Memorial Library
Louisiana State University Libraries
Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University
Reformatted 2006
(See also UPA microfilm: 5322, Series I)
JOHN BISLAND AND FAMILY PAPERS, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, LSU LIBRARIES
Mss. 29
1762-1884
SUMMARY
1,161 items, 12 v.
Size.
New Orleans, La., Mississippi, Scotland, North Carolina
Geographic
locations.
1762-1884
Inclusive dates.
1800-1859
Bulk dates.
English
Language.
Personal and business papers include correspondence,
Summary.
financial papers, legal records, diaries and record books
reflecting plantation operations and mercantile enterprises of
John Bisland and family.
Arranged chronologically
Organization.
on Photocopies must be made from microfilm where available.
Restrictions
access.
Copyright of the original materials is retained by descendants
Copyright.
of the creators in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
John Bisland and Family Papers, Mss. 29, Louisiana and
Citation.
Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton
Rouge, La.
Erroneously identified as Mss. 4, 6 in UPA microfilm
Note.
U:241-242; Microfilm 5322, Series I, part 4, reels 6-8.
Stack location.
2
JOHN BISLAND AND FAMILY PAPERS, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, LSU LIBRARIES
Mss. 29
1762-1884
BIOGRAPHICAL / HISTORICAL NOTE
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 in the
Natchez, Miss., vicinity. He 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. Bisland married Susannah Rucker, daughter of
British officer, Colonel Peter Rucker.  Together they had nine children: Alexander,
Peter, William, James, Katherine, Susanna, Sarah, Elizabeth and Jane. Several of the
children were educated in Scotland. William was also among the first class enrolled at
Jefferson College, Washington, Miss. Jane Married Samuel H. Lamdin.
3
JOHN BISLAND AND FAMILY PAPERS, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, LSU LIBRARIES
Mss. 29
1762-1884
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
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.
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, husband of Jane Bisland, 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
also contains daybook entries for 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
4
JOHN BISLAND AND FAMILY PAPERS, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, LSU LIBRARIES
Mss. 29
1762-1884
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 the
merchandise store he 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) kept by Alexander Bisland,
discuss travel and plantation operations. Entries relate to a trip to Scotland on board
the Neptune (v. 6, 1804), with 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.  He 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) and 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. and 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
5
JOHN BISLAND AND FAMILY PAPERS, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, LSU LIBRARIES
Mss. 29
1762-1884
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 (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.
6
JOHN BISLAND AND FAMILY PAPERS, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, LSU LIBRARIES
Mss. 29
1762-1884
INDEX TERMS
Subject
Description of relevant documents
Bisland family.
Entire collection.
Bisland, Alexander.
Diaries, v. 2 (1812), v. 6 (1802-1804) and v. 7
(1804, 1808, 1814-1818)
Bisland, John.
1806-1821.
Bisland, William.
Cotton record book, v. 1 (May 3, 9, 1816) (undated:
William Bisland to Samuel Lambdin); daybook, v. 3
(Oct. 19, 1820); diary, v. 7 (March 11, 1815); letter
copy book, v. 11 (1817)
Calvert, Frederick.
Last will and testament, v. 4 (undated); inventory
estate book, v. 8 (1817)
Cargo ships.
Diaries, v. 6 (1802 ); v. 7 (1804).
Cholera.
Letter  (undated:  William  Bisland  to  Samuel
Lambdin);  unsigned letter (undated: to Samuel
Lambdin).
Claiborne,
Ferdinand
Leigh,
d. Diary, v. 7 (March 22, 1814), death of Gen.
1814.
Claiborne.
Cross Creek (S.C.)--History.
v. 4 (undated); v. 10 (1776-1778).
Education--History--19th century.
1804-1818.
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, Letter copy book, v.11 (Aug. 30, 1817).
Miss.)
Mahogany.
Cotton record book, v. 1 (1803).
7
JOHN BISLAND AND FAMILY PAPERS, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, LSU LIBRARIES
Mss. 29
1762-1884
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 Papers  and  manuscript  volumes  concerning
life and customs.
household furnishings, education, family matters
and religious activities (ca. 1800-1821).
Montgomery, William.
Letter copy book, v. 11 (Aug. 30, 1817).
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 Cotton record book, v. 1 (May 9, 1816).
customs--19th century.
Plantation life--Mississippi--Adams Papers and manuscript volumes concern slave
County.
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 Letter copybook, v. 11 (Oct. 25, 28, 1817).
County.
Slave bills of sale.
Papers and manuscript volumes concerning slave
sales, and slaves (ca. 1800-1821).
Slavery--Mississippi.
Papers and manuscript volumes concerning slave
sales, and slaves (ca. 1800-1821).
Smallpox--Vaccination--Mississippi.
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).
8
JOHN BISLAND AND FAMILY PAPERS, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, LSU LIBRARIES
Mss. 29
1762-1884
CONTAINER LIST
Stack
Box
Folder
Contents
Location
s
1
1-15
Papers (1773-1811).
U:241
2
16-30
Papers (1813-1817).
3
31-48
Papers (1818- 1877, 1884, undated).
U:242
4
49-60
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. 9  Journal (1767-1773) unbound pages.
v. 10 Journal (1774-1778, 1810-1811).
v. 11 Letter copybook (1817).
v. 9  Journal (1767-1773).
H:17
v. 12 Account book (1812-1820).
9