May 1860

May 1, 1860

In school. Going to have a May party & we let out early. Reading. My chum [Manget] is almost wild about the women. His thoughts dwell continuously almost on them & his highest ambition is to get married. He is affectionate & kind, but inclined to be sarcastic. I have not heard from Ward yet, and begin to doubt whether I can get the place. If I do not, I scarcely know what to do. But I think I shall start for Arkansas & try my luck. I do not like the way with the small amount of money I will be able to command. I would like the arrangement of going & hunting up a place to teach if I could only command about one hundred dollars, but that is out of the question & I must do the best I can hoping that Providence will be both my guide and counselor & protector. In thine, I shall implicitly trust & put my faith, that I may not be entirely useless in this life I hope & pray. I wish my education had been better, my manners more polished, that I had mingled more in society, [and] that I had cultivated my talking abilities more. But I am as I am & my improvement – if any – must necessarily be slow. I shall hereafter strive to cultivate both mind & body — mind for any emergency & body for any endurance.

There are aristocratic nigros here as well as those of the less clear water. It seems to be the highest ambition of the males & females to flock to church with a beaver that has lost some of its exquisite gloss & a bonnet fantastically trimmed. I hear today that most of the Southern members have withdrawn from the Charleston [Democratic] Convention. Lamentable!

May 2, 1860

No school today. At home all day. Cleaning house and everything was turned up. Mrs. McCandless is working washing windows &c. Reading & studying some. Transcribing. On Monday morning when the school had come together after the burial of Whittiker on the week before, we all assembled in one room for prayers. Mr. Mack arose before they were said & remarked that he could not say anything to them when his death was announced, but he could not let the opportunity pass without saying something. He spoke about half an hour in a eulogistic auditory style, flowery, & high fillutin’, and withal rather labored.

Miss Lucy Fisher is sick with the dysentery. She was in danger but is better this evening. She told me that there was no doubt that this place was the hardest to teach in the state and probably anywhere. Mr. Mack is hard, severe, & thorough. And he wants all to come up to him. I suppose the female teachers feel this incubus also. Miss Lucy is obliged to work hard and she has been failing of late considerably. No doubt her sickness is the result of severe labor and mental exertion. It is a sin to kill one’s self even in a good cause, but the worst. I’m for him who demands it, and acts it. Mr. Mack told me when after the first day’s trial that he was sorry I had come or he wished I had stayed at home – not only unflattering but unfeeling. I shall be glad if I can get a good place.

I can not leave any [hard feelings] behind for I have been treated too well. My treatment has been such at which I cannot take offence but in this cold, formality style which makes it a thousand times more oppressive. They all accuse me of drawling when speaking. I must correct myself. I must learn something everyday by heart, not only to improve my memory but to increase my vocabulary. To say something in such a way that it will be worth listening to. The May party is tonight and is a peculiar institution of the South. I would like to have gone, but could not alone.

May 3, 1860

Went to school. Only six boys there. Kept till about ten & left. Read & partly packed my trunk. Went down street with Mr. Manget. I am very tired, as much so as if I had been teaching. Received a letter from [Ex-Governor] Brown. Says he would not advise me to go to Florida unless I have a situation [to teach there]. Says my chance would be slim. I think I will go to Arkansas as soon as I hear if he does not want me. Something may possibly come up by which I can profit by & better my condition. It is bad now & if I can wish to better it, I must make some bold strikes, even if I go down in the attempt. It has been a delightful day — not too warm for comfort & just cool enough to make one happy. This evening the sky is of a deep blue & cloudless. The moon is shining full & clear, free from the inky vapors which betoken a storm. The trees are all in leaf. There is an ocean of leaves around us. The sky & the forest meet, no elevation to relieve the eye. Could the eye span the state at a glance, it would present the same aspect except the far northwest part, of rivers, and marsh, forests and plain. Mr. Manget is going to Columbia tomorrow. I have given him Kenilworth [to read]. I hate to leave him. I never will find a better friend than he.

May 4, 1860

Goodrich’s Sketch of Factory Pond, 4 May 1860

Manget went off this morning at 4 o’clock. I feel very lonesome today. Took a walk out to the Factory Pond & made two sketches.

It has been quite warm today. There is occasionally a cool breeze blowing & dies away into a dreamy softness.

Mr. Mack went away yesterday morning & did not get back until this afternoon. I waited on the table in the morning. I have nothing to read & am too dull to write, too lazy to study. I do not know what to do. I hope I will hear something favorably from Mr. Ward tonight. I fear I cannot get the place. I do hope I can.

Goodrich’s Sketch of Factory Pond, 4 May 1860

Evening. Very lonesome & dull. Took a short walk.

Charles is going to a party tonight (a negro party) & he wanted my boots, which privilege I could not refuse him as [I] would not wear them that evening again. He was too modest to ask point blank for them. He came to my window & asked the time, but did not go away, occasionally looking in and gazing wistfully at me. At last I asked him if there was anything more he wanted. He said, “Yah, but I shame to ax you.” At last I got it out of him by asking him if its the boots he wanted. He was pleased to think I would let him have them & was very thankful after he got them on.

Received a letter tonight from [cousin] George Stratton. Just like him, I wish he had had a good education, then would have been something of him. Miss Lucy [Fisher] is getting much better. She can sit up & will, she says, be in school the first of the week.

Been reading in the old Blackwood about the Red River. I would like to go there. I may be obliged to if I cannot get the place in Florida. I planned out story — scene of Miss.

May 5, 1860

Warm & pleasant. Took a walk to Kirkwood. Saw a beetle in the road & watched him roll a large piece of manure to the side of the road & dig a hole under it & take it by piece meal into it. Received a paper from home. Afternoon, read & wrote. Manget came home in the evening.

After tea, heard that quite a number of the May party about eight miles away were drowned. Mr. Manget & I started to go down street. Mrs. Mack & Miss Carpenter wished to go to Lucy Fisher’s. We went up with them. Manget left. I stayed. Returned. Found Mr. Manget. A car load had started about two o’clock. 26 were drowned. Hocott, one of our scholars was one of the number. We went down street after awhile & when there Miss Morgan & Carpenter went down with Charles. I waited & come up with them. Then went down found Manget [and] went to the Depot. Between one & two, the train came up with 13 of the bodies. Came up with the waggons & stopped to Mr. LeGrand’s where they were four out [of] the family drowned. Helped dress the corpses. Came home about 1/2 [past] five. Learned that about 50 had got on a flat boat and shoved out into the pond. The boat broke when in the deep water about 100 yards from the shore. 26 of the number were drowned — the rest saved. 3 were men & the rest were girls. Oh what lamentations the night witnessed! It was sad. Truly in the midst of life we are in death. It deeply impressed my mind & the shock will not soon be removed. So teach me O God to number my days that I may apply my heart into wisdom. One mother exclaimed whose almost every child was gone, “& these too, & these too.” The grief could not be measured.

[Editor’s Note: See The Boykin Mill Pond Incident which is an account of the incident published in 2014 based upon Goodrich’s diary.]

May 6, 1860

Came home about half past five this morning, feeling sick & tired. I never want to witness such a scene again. It was heartrending. Only 24 were drowned. Attended church in the morning. Afternoon attended the funeral of 10 at the Methodist church. A great many were present [and there were] hundreds of carriages. Walked down to the burying ground. In lowering the coffin [of] one lady, the fastenings broke, & it fell & broke off the lid. The body nearly came out. It was solemn to see so many buried at once. So many people — so sad. There is a general lamentation. The loss almost entirely falls on the Methodist society. One young girl, a member of the Episcopalian denomination was amongst the number of the dead. She was the staff and comfort of her poor old mother. Mr. Manget worked very hard & is sick tonight. He went to bed early.

May 7, 1860

Rose rather late. Attended the funeral of Miss [Selina] Crosby at the Episcopal church. Quite a large number present. Read Hiawatha. Mr. Ancrum here to dinner. Afternoon attended funeral at the Baptist Church. A short time [after] the accident, one jocosely said if we are not careful, we all shall be drowned. Another when he found that he must go down, offered up prayer till the last. This occurrence has bound me closer to Camden & I will depart with far different feelings than I otherwise would & I hope with more Christian, religious feelings. Oh God, be with me in this trying moment. Pour into my heart the balm of salvation. Give me stronger faith. Guide me by thy counsel, so that I may secure a situation to teach. May the letters which I have sent.

May 8, 1860

Heard from Mr. [George] Ward, Tallahassee. Wants me to go on. Mr. McCandless paid me $62.50 — more than I expected. He only charged me $15.50 a month for board. He is a good man & clever – gave me some good advice in regard to teaching.

May 9, 1860

Fanny Coleman McCandless, ca. 1860

Wednesday. Did some trading this morning. Feel badly. I do not like to leave. I have become acquainted & the ties are hard to break. Left for Florida on the mid-day train. Mr. Mack and [Victor] Manget bid me good-by affectionately. So did the lady teachers. Mrs. [Fanny] Mack was very kind. She seemed like a mother. She gave me something to eat on the way. I shall always remember her with the kindest feelings, whatever I may have said to the contrary.

I got into Kingsville [South Carolina] about half past three. Got into Branchville [South Carolina] about 6. At Augusta [Georgia], about 11 o’clock at night. Waited at Augusta about an hour.

May 10, 1860

Got into Millen [Georgia] about 4 in the morning. Stormy. The train was obliged to stop. On board was quite a witty man from Augusta.

Got into Macon [Georgia] about 9 in the morning. I like that portion of Georgia. It is not so sandy as some other portions of the south. In some places the oak & maple lands with seldom a pine stretched for miles. Macon is quite a beautiful place. There is a Female college [Wesleyan Female College] & an Academy for the Blind [Georgia Academy for the Blind] here. They look imposing – their tops just peering about the trees on the hills. Left Macon about 10:25 [and] arrived at Albany [Georgia], the terminus of the road about 4 in afternoon.

[Editor’s Note: Goodrich described this segment of his journey from South Carolina to Florida in a subsequent piece that he wrote for a Northern newspaper in 1861. It reads:]

Macon in Georgia is a beautiful place. As you approach it from the east on the cars, you behold the tops of the houses just peering above the trees. Everywhere are shrubbery, hemming in the houses. There is a line of demarcation as broad between the people of South Carolina and of the adjoining ones as distinctly drawn as the boundary lines. The people of Georgia are in some measure inferior to those of South Carolina. You meet there more often the rough, rowdy, and garrulous human species than in South Carolina. It was settled by a different race by a company of convicts under Oglethorpe. Yet it is called the empire state of the South. It is the real Yankee land of the South, tempered by milder skies and intensified by fierce and more fiery natures.

In the south and west of the Great Georgian Swamp extends a long range of the pine barrens. There are huge gigantic trees of centuries’ growth standing on a soil that can bear no grains. There is no thick underbrush and never that moss which sheds a funereal gloom over all scenery. Herds of cattle wander among them, barely gaining the rich and luxuriant vegetation which they seek. Farther to the south as you approach the Florida line, the scenery gradually changes. A more southern vegetation springs up, the ground is more broken with lagoons and hammocks, and the bay and magnolia, laden with a burden of dark, glistening green, or with white odorous flowers appear. Then we begin to get a taste of the gulf breezes, cool and fever-allaying. I can not speak of the scenes and the people of this region without kindly sentiments toward those with whom I came into contact and my heart beats quicker when I turn back to those happy faces which greeted me.

Fell in with a gentleman from Tallahassee & a young man from Monticello [Florida] by the name of Bailey who graduated of the Marietta Military School [the Georgia Military Academy] & was acquainted with [Victor] Manget’s father. Also fell in with a planter [named Edmund H. Perkins] from North Carolina on the Albemarle Sound that was going to Tallahassee. Had him as my companion the rest of the way. The stage line is 101 miles to Tallahassee. We had a rough time [during] the night. Only 3 of us [were] in the stage – the gent from North Carolina, young Bailey, [and me].

May 11, 1860

“City Hotel” in Tallahassee, Florida ca. 1860

Going through the pine forests of Georgia. [Found the] land poor [and] roads sometimes bad. Got at Thomasville [Georgia] near the Florida line in the forenoon. Then saw Robert Bonner of the New York Ledger. Arrived at Monticello [Florida] about 3.  Mr. [Edmund] Perkins wished me to write to him in a few weeks [and I] promised to do so. He is a kind man.

Got into Tallahassee about seven in the evening. Went to the Hotel & [they] said that Major [George] Ward had told them that when I came to send me down. Staid there all night.

[Editor’s Note: Goodrich described entering Florida on this journey in a subsequent piece that he wrote for a Northern newspaper. It read:]

When I entered Florida the summer had begun. Vegetation had advanced to its most luxuriant form. The peach was in bloom on which hung the glittering and fluttering hummingbird, the orange, and the pomegranate. Way to the south lay white, glistening clouds just above the horizon, rising as I thought from the great Mexican Gulf on whose winds are borne so many maladies, so many destroying pestilences. I longed to see that water whose breezes blow from the land of the Aztecs, and the palm groves of the Southern Isles. The sky has a deep blue and the dome seemed hanging just over the trees – a kinder sky than the cold, gray ones of ours.

With this deep blue sky overhanging, I entered the land of flowers, then in its beauty and intensity. The country is beautifully dotted with ponds and bayous, the banks of which are lined with majestic trees covered with hanging moss and the flowers of the thick undergrowth vying with the blossoms of the numerous vines that twine around them. The magnolias excelled all others.

The capitol on one of many hills that rise several hundred feet above the gulf, which is only sixteen miles distant, shaded with lofty live oak, presents a prospect of plantations glistening with cotton and corn, and the level sandy plains of pine that stretch away to the ocean.

Five miles from Tallahassee is a small summer resort [called Bel Air] in which I spent most of my stay – a place in which had gathered the neighboring planters to pass the summer months. It is in the midst of a sparsely scattered pine woods, on a sand hill rising higher than others. Here is nothing to be seen but sky, trees, and sand – and the railroad which is the only feature of improvement of which this ancient town can boast. Melons grow beyond the utmost limits of credulity, peaches, and grapes sufficient to satisfy the most irrevocable vegetarian, though they come from the farmers of the vicinity. There are innumerable little lakes near it, though on a smaller scale they will represent the larger lagoons in which Florida abounds.

May 12, 1860

Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, ca 1845

Came down to Bel Air about 9. The capitol at Tallahassee is not a very magnificent building. Bel Air is situated on a sand hill [a few miles south of Tallahassee and] is a place of resort in summer for health. A small place. Kindly received by Major [George] Ward and family. Remained at his house all day. Pleasant day.

May 13, 1860

Sunday. Beautiful morning. Did not go to church. Family went. I feel lonely & homesick but not as much as when I came to Camden. Mr. [George] Ward is a kind man, but fear I shall have to work hard here. Some of them can scarcely read decently. I hope & trust that I shall succeed. At least I shall try. Remained at home all day. In the evening accompanied the young ladies to the church here. Major Ward told me a good deal about the South. In forenoon went over to Mr. [Green] Chaires’ [plantation]. Rice is principally along the banks of the river so that the high tides will overflow the lane. It must be perfectly level. The rice is planted in drills & has a head similar to wheat. The fields are overflowed with water soon after planting & often during the growth. It is planted in the spring. When it heads, water is put on nearly as high as the head & stands till ready to cut when the water is let off. The fields are separated by embankments. The sea island cotton is fine & with a smooth black seed. It is used in silk fabrics. Took a short walk on the railroad with Miss [Annie] Ward.

May 14, 1860

Ex-Governor Thomas Brown

Warm. Miss Lucy Brodie from New York has gone up to Tallahassee. Been walking. Feel miserably. Have not got settled yet. Before tea, Major [Ward] & I called on Mr. [Thomas] Brown, ex-governor of the state. Was [governor] in 1849 & 1851. He is a fine old Virginia man. After tea, we made several other calls & lastly went to a house where there was a party. Spent a pleasant evening ushered into a “free and easy society” – the memory of which I cannot write though it was bawdy somewhat. Tallahassee is about 225 feet above the level of the sea.

May 15, 1860

Warm. Read & slept. Evening called on Mr. Denham. I had a trustee meeting. I am to be hampered by a board of trustees who have the rule. I hope I may succeed. God only knows. In Him I will put my trust. I pray that I may succeed & give satisfaction.

May 16, 1860

Bel Air near Tallahassee, Florida.  Beautiful day. Afternoon, thunder & storming. Commenced school with eleven scholars. Some can scarcely read. Some are in Latin that cannot write. I expect to have 22 or 25 soon. I do not know what kind of satisfaction I will give. I hope it will be good. I shall be hampered & my operations clogged by a disagreeing & exacting board of trustees to whose advice I must always look. They continually talk of starting a great academy right away. They said last night that they would try me for 6 weeks or a month they would dismiss me. I am to board at Mrs. [Caroline] Adams’s. Called on her this morning. Went to Mrs. Adams’s to tea. Went to church with her and daughter. Took quarters in room; not comfortable.

May 17, 1860

Cloudy. In school. Got along quite well. Afternoon called on Governor Brown. My room miserable. Saw a sick negro. Wrote a letter home & one to [Victor E.] Manget.  Mr. Ward says he will break up the trustees and take it into his hands. He told me that it was between himself & me.

May 18, 1860

Very warm day. In school. Got along well. In evening Mr. [Edward] Footman called on me. Went over to Major Ward’s after tea. Stayed till nearly eleven. Had a pleasant talk with him and the children on the back porch.

May 19, 1860

Rainy in the morning. Went up to Tallahassee with Mrs. Adams’s boy [Wes] in the buggy and old lean horse – a cast off from the plantation. Sent letters home & to [Victor E.] Manget. Got some things & lost one dollar.

This part of Florida is rolling. Some places quite elevated with sand hills covered with small growth of oak & large pine. Our road lay through such woods, the oaks often brushing our wheels, sinking a foot into the white sand. Some of the soil is the red sand clay.

Tallahassee is a small place. I would not live here in Florida.  I don’t think I could make it like home. I am feeling badly today – more like crying than I have in a long time. Called on Major [Ward] in evening.

May 20, 1860

Sunday. Beautiful day – quite a heavy fog in the morning. I did not go to church. There must be something the matter or else Major Ward would have asked me to go with his family. It has been a day of reading & of thought for me. I really have a roving disposition when I once get started. I would like to go to California & I think I can do well there if I decide to continue in the law.  I do not think Florida is the place for me – at least this portion of it. It may in the eastern part. I want someone to love & I think I could be contented anywhere. I wish I could do something while teaching to better my situation & prepare me for my work. Florida is subject to the chill & fever & [p]neumonia. The last is very destructive.

The South & especially Florida is the land of rank vegetation, of hoe-cakes & hominy, waffles & rice, gigantic pines & oaks [that] lift their heads on lands which will barely yield a harvest. We have the beautiful slender leaf willow oak, the ever-moving Pride of India or China tree, the mulberry, the magnolia, the odorous Cape Jasmine, & the stately Gum [tree]. The last is similar to the soft maple. The China tree is similar to the locust. The Crape Myrtle, Cactus, [and] Century [are here].

Attended the Sunday school (Episcopal)…

May 21, 1860

Beautiful day. In school. It is hard to get any kind of order out of the classes. Rose about half [past] five. Begin school at 8.  Some are ignorant, stupid, & lazy nor are Major Ward’s children exempt. Some were never instructed in manners at home.

In afternoon, went to a place nearby called a sink. It is a hollow place about 15 feet in circumference, sloping banks about 30 foot high covered with trees & under growth & poison oak. This is a vine resembling the ivy. It is picturesque. It is very clear bottom – has not been found. There are many of these in Florida, which rise & fall with the tide. They are connected with the gulf by subterranean passages. There are no perceivable inlet or outlet.

[Editor’s Note: Goodrich described this sink in a piece he wrote for a Northern newspaper a year later. It reads:]

Nearby was one of those holes, which are called sinks, in which the boys often bathe in spite of the snakes and alligators. This one — smaller than many – is a good representation of those larger ones, which are all over this land. It is about fifty feet in diameter with nearly perpendicular sides, which extend above the water’s edge thirty feet or more. Its depth is immeasurable. Down in the depths of the water until you see nothing but blackness, smooth sides of rock appear, or jutting out and pierced with holes. The sides are covered with thick bush and vines and some very poisonous. Many of these are supposed to rise and fall with the tide, being in some way connected with the water of the gulf, but I have never found that to be the fact as the water does not contain any saline ingredients.

Andrew and Adeline Denham, ca 1860

Called on Mr. Denham. Everyone wants their children in advanced classes & are provoked if they are not put there.

My boarding place [with Mrs. Adams] is becoming intolerable. They do not seem to think that I am here or care anything about my comfort [which] is neglected. And if I was not in debt, I would not be so imposed upon.

Evening home p.m. school. Worn out. I have no easy chair to rest myself in. I think my engagement is broken on the part of Major Ward in not getting me a suitable boarding place. I have to work all the time. I have no leisure to read or study. Have not had any washing done since I left Camden [South Carolina] & if I stay in this miserable hole I don’t know that I ever shall. I think Major Ward did a mean thing yesterday in not taking me to church. I cannot forget it. All the family did not go & therefore that could not be an excuse for neglecting me.

May 22, 1860

Pleasant; not very warm though the perspiration rolled off me. In school. Settled on some better arrangements in the classes. I do not feel as tired as I did when in Camden [South Carolina] for this reason. I have more interest and there is not so much noise.

Took a walk with Jane Adams & Miss Denham. Went home with Miss Annie Ward. Went to church at the Episcopal. Mr. [William J.] Ellis preached. Introduced to him. Went home with Mrs. [Mariah E.] Black & Sallie and Annie [Ward]. Sat with Major Ward till eleven talking on geology & natural history. He is intelligent and entertaining. Said he had made arrangements to take me to church with him.

May 23, 1860

Rather warm. In school. Kept George Ward’s Latin class in after school. Mattie [Ward] was very mad. Evening studying botany. A Miss Taylor here at tea. [She] laughed [at me when] asking the blessing. She is no lady. There are many rude girls here – no manners & little common sense. Attended prayer meeting with [Mrs.] Adams.

Limestone is in the formation of  Florida. Have not received any news from anybody since coming here. I am getting anxious. I have been doing just nothing since coming here.

May 24, 1860

Warm day. In school. Nothing happened of note. Pressed some flowers. Hard studying over the arrangement of class.

May 25, 1860

Rainy in the morning. In school. Hard day’s work. Composition & speaking day. The other day I saw a flat headed viper. Touched it with a stick & enraged it. It withdrew & in its rage bit itself & died. The children are very ignorant even in the simplest branches.

May 26, 1860

Cloudy in the morning. Read some & took a tramp out into the country. Quite warm. Gathered some flowers.

May 27, 1860

Warm Went to church on horseback. I can ride I guess very well after a time. Wrote 4 letters. Went to Sunday school. Evening went to prayer meeting.

May 28, 1860

Very warm. In school. Mattie Ward is lazy, dull & obstinate. She knows nothing at all about arithmetic. I expected more from her. I think I am failing in the estimation of the people & if I am now, it will be a blast to my hope of remaining here. But I hope I can give satisfaction enough to remain here at least a year. Commenced today with two sessions. Feel tired and worn out. Sent off 4 letters this morning to Lucy Fiddis, Lucy Stratton, J. Belknap, [and] Austin. This afternoon when Annie & Sallie Ward were returning from school, [their 11 year-old brother] George was out as they passed & shot off his pop gun. I looked out & saw Annie sitting flat on the ground. I do not know whether it was serious or not. I am sorry I did not go out and see her. But it cannot be helped. Studying law, botany, & geology.

May 29, 1860

Rather warm. In school. Some new ones. Got along pleasantly today. There are some really smart ones in the school; then again some dull ones. Mattie [Ward] is one of the latter. I hope she will change & I think she will for she has perseverance but she [is] inattentive.  Evening, helping the [Adams] girls get their lessons. Read some botany & geology & some law.

May 30, 1860

Forgotten what occurred.

May 31, 1860

Forgotten what occurred.


The 1860 Democratic National Convention was initially held in Charleston, South Carolina from April 23 to May 3, 1860. While in Charleston, the convention was torn apart by sectionalism within the Democratic Party, being firmly divided on the issue of slavery. The southern wing of the part insisted upon the adoption of a platform protecting slavery while the northern wing refused to acquiesce. When the northern wing’s platform was adopted by a narrow margin, the southern delegates walked out of the hall, effectively ending the convention. The convention had to be reconvened in Baltimore a month later at which time Stephen Douglas received the party’s nomination.

[Editor’s Note: Ralph Goodrich’s diary contains a brief description of the accident that resulted in the drowning of 24 South Carolinians, many of them children from Camden, on May 5, 1860. The following description was telegraphed to nearby Kingsville on May 7:]

On Saturday morning last, a most happy company, composed of young ladies and gentlemen, children and parents, left their homes in Camden for a day of recreative pleasure and amusement at Boykin’s Mill Pond, about ten miles this side of that place, and upon the line of the railroad. These were joined by others from the neighborhood, forming a party of considerable size. The fore part of the day (the distressing accident occurred late in the afternoon), was spent happily and pleasantly by the excursionists. The picnic and fishing excursion for such it was, had fully met, thus far, the buoyant anticipations of those concerned. But what a finale! The heart drops and is weighed down by the most pungent sorrow at its recital.

A flat boat of considerable size had, a short time previous, been built and placed upon the pond for purposes of pleasure. A goodly number (thirty or more) of the company embarked upon this boat, intending to pass over and around the pond. These consisted chiefly of young ladies, there being but a sufficient number of gentlemen, as was supposed, to manage the boat and afford company and protection for the ladies.

They had been out some time and were near the centre of the pond, when the boat ran on a snag. This excited little or no fears, as it was supposed that a speedy extrication could be effected. All was life and spirit – all was hope and happiness! Soon it was perceived that the great pressure of the boat upon the snag (in consequence of the number it contained) was puncturing its bottom and that the water was making its way inside. Now the excitement began. Now fear began to picture its sad traces upon those just now happy countenances. Now the tender and timid ladies called upon their protectors for that assistance and deliverance which painful to say they were unable to afford. Momentarily the danger became greater, and momentarily the excitement of those on board, as well as those on shore, became more intense. It seems that deliverance would have come, and that the boat would have probably been pushed off and run near enough to the shore for many if not all to have escaped. Had it not been that those who stood at each end, (a white man and a negro) with their poles, laboring with all their power, shoved each in the same direction, thus mutually destroying the effect of their efforts. Soon, in a few moments, she began to sink! When this was seen, and the face that she could not be moved became too apparent, the scene became frightful indeed.

The wildest excitement and fear seemed to seize every heart, and but few if any were sufficiently collected to enable them to employee their effort for rescue advantageously. In a few moments, now, she sank. When the scene may be better imagined than described.

Piercing cries and shrieks, and calls for help, both from those on shore and those on the unfortunate boat, filled the air. Sisters and brothers, parents and children, relatives and friends, whose hearts were bound together by the nearest and dearest of earthly ties, and animated by the warmest and most tender affection, were there – some on the sinking boat and some on the shore. Oh how rudely were those confiding hearts torn asunder and ravished with wild and aching grief!

The boat seems to have committed them to the bosom of the water, huddled together, mainly, in a mass. The water is supposed to have been about twenty feet in depth, thus thrown together in one clinging to the other, with that grasp which belongs only to those in a drowning condition, there was little opportunity for the males in the company to rescue the ladies or even to save themselves.

But a few, we have not been apprised of the exact number, were saved, of those upon the boat. One act of daring, manly and gallant bravery which has been reported to us, and which we believe true, demands especial notice at our hands, and should be rewarded by the lifetime gratitude of those immediately concerned, as well as the relatives and friends of the same. Mr. Jones, a fireman upon the Camden train (this train was, as well as we can learn, at the time of the awful occurrence, near the spot), rushed to the spot, and by almost super-human efforts, coupled with most cool and manly courage, brought three of the drowning persons to the shore. We have not learned the names of these.

The following are the names of those telegraphed to us from Camden [note: this is not the complete listing from the article, since part of the paper was unreadable]: Miss Lizzie McKagen, a lovely sister of Mr. Isaac McKagen, of our town, Willie McKagen, a young brother of the same; Luke (Lucius) and William LeGrand, brothers, one of them a brother-in-law of Mr. McKagen above mentioned. Miss Sarah Nettles, two Misses McCowns, Miss Minnie Alexander (daughter of Mr. Isaac Alexander, of Camden). Miss Howell, Miss Crosby, Miss Henson, two Misses Yound and one brother, Miss Mary Jenkins, Mr. Hocott, Mr. Huggins, Mr. Jerry McLeod, Mr. John Oaks, Miss Kelly, little Alice Robinson (a sweet little girl), Mr. S.S. Richburg (surveyor, formerly of this place). Mr. Richburg, with noble devotion, lost his life as we understand attempting to save another. These, with two negroes, complete the melancholy list.

Efforts to rescue the bodies of the unfortunate drowned were immediately employed. Some were taken from the waters. Others could not be found. The flood-gates of the pond were soon hoisted, but the body of water was great and could not be soon run off. It was thought that it would be sufficiently dry on Saturday night to admit of all the bodies being found. We have not learned the number that had been found, when our dispatch was sent. Camden is shrouded in gloom, and many of its citizens overwhelmed by the most severe affliction and bereavement. At half past three yesterday, eight bodies were at the Methodist Church, where funeral ceremonies were being performed, to the presence of a large congregation. Almost every eye was moistened by the tear of sympathy or bereavement.

Edmund H. Perkins, a native of North Carolina born about 1794, was a wealthy plantation owner who held many slaves. His plantation was adjacent to north shore of the Albemarle Sound. According to the U.S. Census of 1860, his land holdings were worth as much as $35,500 and his other property (including his slaves) was valued at $40,540.

Robert Bonner was born in northern Ireland about 1824. He came to the U.S. as a small boy and learned the printer’s trade in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1844, he moved to New York City and worked in advertising for various newspapers. While there, he occasionally submitted compositions for the editorial columns of newspapers which were well received and this eventually lead to his acquiring the New York Ledger which was a purely literary journal.

It is presumed Goodrich stayed at former Governor Brown’s “City Hotel” in Tallahassee.

In May 1860, Major George Taliaferro Ward’s family consisted of 15 year-old Anna [or “Annie”], 13 year-old Sarah [or “Sallie”], 11 year-old George, 9 year-old Martha [or “Mattie”], and 4 year-old Mary. George’s wife, Mrs. Sarah [Chaires] Ward, had died the previous year. In 1860, Mrs. Mariah Black, a native of Philadelphia, lived in the household and served as the “housekeeper.” Major Ward’s land holdings were valued (in 1860) at $70,000, and his personal property (including slaves) was valued at $130,650, making him one of the wealthiest planters in Leon County.

Green H. Chaires, born about 1817, was Major George T. Ward’s brother-in-law whose plantation was nearby. Green raised cotton and rice on his plantation which was valued (in 1860) at $25,600 and his personal property (including his 22 slaves) was valued at $49,450. Green’s father, whose name was Green A. Chaires, once held as many as 20,000 acres in Leon County, but during the 2nd Seminole War of 1835-1842, his wife and two of his children along with several slaves were massacred and his home was destroyed.

Perhaps Ralph was introduced to Miss Sarah Oliver, Miss Elizabeth Shepard, or Miss Mary Harrison of Tallahassee who were each enumerated in the 1860 U.S. Census with occupations given simply as “One of Pleasure.”

Goodrich boarded with Mrs. Caroline Adams, born about 1819 in Georgia, who lived in Bel-Air south of Tallahassee in 1860 while her husband John W. Adams lived on his plantation near St. Marks, Wakulla County, Florida. Caroline and John Adams had four children – 17 year-old Jane, 15 year-old Caroline, 12 year-old Drucilla, and 10 year-old John Wesley [“Wes”].

Edward Footman, born about 1792 in Pennsylvania, was a Leon County, Florida planter in 1860 whose land was valued at $500 and whose personal property was valued at $6,500. Edward and his wife Mary had three sons, Tom (age 19), George (age 17), and Richard (age 15).

According to U.S. Census data, the 1860 Leon County population included 3,194 whiles, 60 “free colored” and 9, 089 slaves. It is estimated that Tallahassee had only a little more than 1,000 white inhabitants in 1860.

According to the book, Recollections of Slavery Times by Allen Parker, published in 1895, hoe-cakes were a large part of the slave’s bill of fare. They were made of “Indian meal and water, with a little salt and sometimes a quantity of pork fat was added.”  They were called “hoe-cakes” according to the author because when a skillet was not available, a “nigger hoe” (a hoe used by the slave in the field) “was placed handle down upon the floor so that the under side of the hoe would be next to the fire…and make a  resting place for the cake” to be cooked.

Andrew Denham, born about 1808 in Scotland, who with his wife Adaline were the parents of nine Denham children ranging in ages from 2 to 22 years of age.

Probably 18 year-old Eliza Denham, the daughter of Andrew and Adaline Denham. She was the Denham daughter closest in age to Jane Adams.

William J. Ellis became the rector of St. John ’s Episcopal Church in Tallahassee in 1858. In 1860, he delivered a sermon defending the institution of slavery by attempting to draw a parallel between the hostility and prejudice against early Christians to the contemporary national movement against slavery. He is reported to have concluded his sermon with a prayer in which he asked God to enlighten the Northern brethren by enabling them “to perceive the truth and turn themselves from the course of folly and ruin.”   See Floridian and Journal, December 5, 1860.

Mrs. Mariah E. Black was Major Ward’s resident housekeeper.

4 responses to “May 1860

  • Sondra

    I live in Camden SC and recently while photographing headstones in Quaker Cemetery I came across the one of Lucas LeGrand….May 5, 1860 drowned in Boykin Mill Pond. That prompted me to research that drowning and found out it was a mass drowning….I wanted to see how many of the victims graves I could find. So far I have found 11- and did find a better list of the names. The early confusion of there being 27 dead was clarified to me with the reading of this page in Mr. Goodrich’s diary…to being only 24. So now I have 13 victims to find. I don’t even know if all were recovered…and assume the #24 includes the 2 slaves that probably have never been named in records. Here is the virtual Cemetery I’ve created of the victims I have found so far.

  • Helen

    Caroline Powell was the daughter of Jeremiah Powell. She married Dr. John Wesley Adams. They are my 2nd Great Grandparents. Thank you for providing me with a description of them, their children, especially John Wesley Adams who married Julia Walker Crawford, daughter of John Lovic Crawford (Florida Secretary of State during Reconstruction), Wes and Julia were my great grandparents.

    • Griff

      Helen, you don’t happen to have any pictures of the Powell family — together or as individuals, do you? Ralph gives a good description of his boarding arrangements with the Powell family during the summer of 1860 at Bel-Air.

  • Remembering the Boykin Mill Pond tragedy, 150+ years later | The Cotton Boll Conspiracy

    […] Leland Goodrich, a New Yorker teaching in Camden in the early months of 1860, detailed the events in his diary: “No immediate danger was apprehended, but then the boat began to take on water. Watching from […]

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