Darrington Plantation

Brazosport Archaeological Society

Contact the author of this article.

            In the northern part of  Brazoria County, Texas lands from a major portion of the David Tally League were purchased to form the Darrington Plantation. Initially owned by David Tally, a member of Stephen F. Austin’s Original 300 Families, acreage on the east side of the Brazos River along Oyster Creek was eventually acquired by Attorney John Darrington of  Clark County, Alabama. Though Darrington never came to Texas the plantation would forever assume his name. Passing through several owners, including Sterling McNeel [1], the Darrington Plantation remained in the Abner Jackson Estate [2] through the Civil War. Robert Mills, part owner of R. & D. G. Mills of  Galveston, gained control of the property shortly after the Civil War. Convict labor leased from the Texas Prison Commission supplanted the original slave labor and freedmen as the plantation continued to produce cotton and sugar under several different owners. Acreage was added to the plantation property from both the Achilles McFarland [3] and Francis Bingham Leagues. Basset and Bonnie Blakely of  Fort Bend County acquired the property in 1917 and  January 1, 1918 sold 6747 acres to the Texas Prison Commission for $337,340. The Texas Department of Corrections has operated the Darrington Prison Farm since that time.

 

Map August 19, 1947 General Land Office Austin, Texas

            David Tally and his wife Polly along with 2 sons are listed in the 1826 Census of Stephen F. Austin’s colony.[4] His occupation given as a farmer and stock raiser, Tally must have come to Brazoria County early in the colonial period.  He had received his league of land Aug 19, 1824 from the Mexican Government. The firm of McKinney & Williams bought the league of land for $3028 to be held in trust for John Darrington[5] of Clark County, Alabama on March 24, 1835. A reservation of 1400 acres from the southeast corner was held for Tally and Thomas Barnet[6]. This included 400 acres that he previously sold to Thomas Barnet, 1000 acres held for himself and a quarter acre to include a grave yard [Deed B: 19 & Deed B: 22/23]. These deeds indicate that he had a different wife, Mary K. Bradley[7]. The 1838 Tax Records list Tally with 1000 acres of land, 2 oxen, 1 horse, and 100 head of cattle with no slaves.

 Indicating that the payments for the land may not been kept up, in 1841 David Tally attempted to sell the league less 400 acres to William Barrett [Deed A: 423/24]. This deed indicates that Tally lived close by since he again reserved “a certain piece of ground say forty feet square of said tract used by said Tally as a burying ground”.[8] William Barrett acknowledged John Darrington’s previous ownership and gave up his right to the land.[9] Tally evidently gave up all ownership to the league shortly thereafter as the 1841 tax record lists him with no land.

John Darrington continued to be the absentee landlord through the mid 1840’s:

 

Year

Acreage

Slaves

Horses

Cattle

1841

4428

20

 

 

1842

4428

68

 

 

1847

3928

70

18

130

 

4428[10]

 

 

 

1848

3928

71

25

150

 

4428

 

 

 

1849

3928

80

25

150

 

4428

 

 

 

 

In 1847, Darrington was sued by one of the heirs of the William Matherson Estate[11] for having removed slaves belonging to the estate in Alabama to his property in Texas; this would account for the sudden increase in slaves in 1842. These slaves[12], the league of land, and 2 labors of land in Matagorda County were sold to Ira Randle Lewis of Matagorda County August 7, 1847 for $40,000 [Deed D: 447/50]. The tax records for 1847 listed Darrington with 3928 acres out of the Tally League and owning all 4428 acres of E. R. Bradley’s League along with 70 slaves, 18 horses, and 130 head of cattle. The next year Lewis, who had moved his family to the plantation, had to convey the property back to Darrington in return for his promissory notes [Deed D: 557/59].

Another Texas land speculator, Nathaniel Newton Wilkinson of New Orleans, Louisiana bought the property from John Darrington April 7, 1848. The league with “plantation in full operation”, slaves, and “ all the horses, twenty mules, eight yoke of cattle with chains and yokes, about two hundred head of cattle, about one hundred hogs and all the brick wagons, carts and tools” was conveyed for $40,000 again [Deed D: 597/600]. Although John Darrington would no longer be the owner of the property it retained the name Darrington Plantation.

Sterling McNeel[13] sold out his interest in most of his family’s land in southern Brazoria County to his brothers and purchased the Darrington Plantation June 23, 1849 from Nathaniel N. Wilkinson [Deed E: 254/58]. The tax records for Sterling McNeel list:

 

Year

Acreage

Slaves

Horses

Cattle

1850

4428

84

33

300

 

1050[14]

 

 

 

1851

4428

117

60

400

 

1050

 

 

 

1852

4400

120

41

500

1853

4400

120

48

600

1854

4400

120

48

600

 

The production of cotton was mentioned in earlier deed references and sugar cane was produced during Sterling McNeel’s ownership. The 1850 Agricultural Census lists 500 acres improved with $15,000 value of the plantation with only $1375 worth of farm machinery. Livestock listed were 20 horses, 25 mules, 80 milk cows, 24 oxen, 300 head of cattle, and 300 hogs. The 1849 crop is listed as 5000 bushels of corn, 300 of Irish potatoes, 2000 of sweet potatoes, 624 pounds of butter, 5 tons of hay, and 296 bales of cotton. Using steam powered equipment and additional slaves the Darrington Plantation[15] produced 235 hogsheads of sugar in 1852, 430 hhds in 1853, and 405 hhds in 1854 making it one of the top producers in the county. Sterling McNeel passed away late 1854-1855 and his estate recorded 452 hhds produced in 1855. The total inventory for his estate was valued at $128,244 with the plantation acreage itself valued at $35000. Additional property listed on the Darrington Plantation:

 

Farming utensils, such as cane carts, wagons, ploughs & c.                                                       $1250

46 Mules & 9 Work Horses                                                                                                                   3025

Household & Kitchen Furniture                                                                                                            200

11 Cow Ponies                                                                                                                                          330

12 Mares & Colts  9 Jacks & Jennies                                                                                                    420

1 Buggy & Harness                                                                                                                                 200

Stock of Cattle, supposed to be seven hundred head                                                                    4200

10 Yoke of Oxen                                                                                                                                       400

Stock of Hogs                                                                                                                                           200

The crop of sugar and molasses made in 1854

Consisting of 307 Hogsheads                                                                                                            12000

& 600 Barrels of Molasses                                                                                                                   3000[16]

 

The sole heir to the Sterling McNeel Estate was Sterling McNeel Junior. Born Sterling Blackwell to Sally Ann and Thomas Blackwell who divorced; Blackwell later declared that Sterling was not his child.[17] At Sally Ann Blackwell’s request, Sterling McNeel adopted the child.[18] At age seven he is listed in the 1850 Census on his father’s plantation.

 David G. Mills[19] became the administrator of his estate and continued to operate the plantation 1855-1857. Bales of cotton, hogsheads of sugar, barrels of molasses were sold through several firms during this period bringing in a good revenue for the estate (See Appendix F & G). Different families of slaves were also leased out to several neighboring plantations “for ordinary plantation work and not to be employed on works of internal improvement such as railroads cleaning out rivers & c.” earning almost $2500 in 1857.[20]

Abner Jackson Courtesy of the Lake Jackson Historical Museum, Lake Jackson, Texas

 

Abner Jackson, looking to increase his holdings in addition to the Lake Jackson Plantation and half ownership of the Retrieve Plantation, convinced his children, whose mother had recently passed away, not to seek their inheritance from their mother’s half of his properties so that he could finance the purchase of the Darrington Plantation. For $116,200 Jackson acquired the Darrington Plantation complete with “ all the improvements thereon and farming utensils and stock consisting of 1000 head of cattle about fifty mules eight horses seven Jacks and Jennies fifteen yoke of oxen and stock of hogs” and 97 slaves, May 27, 1857 [Deed H: 159/60]. This was the one of the most expensive piece of property sold in the county before the Civil War. Jackson produced 395 hogsheads of sugar in 1858 and continued to improve the property until his death, August 1861. According to the 1860 Agricultural census there were 800 improved acres with the plantation valued at $69,024 with another $25,000 worth of farm machinery on the plantation. Livestock were listed as 20 horses, 70 mules, 50 milk cows, 30 oxen, 1900 head of cattle, and 200 hogs. The produce for 1849 was 8000 bushels of corn, 50 of Irish potatoes, 1000 of sweet potatoes, 150 pounds butter, 40 tons of hay, 217 bales of cotton, 280 hogsheads of sugar, and 18,000 gallons of molasses. The 1860 Slave Census lists 101 slaves and 25 slave dwellings on the property. The administrator inventoried the following property in addition to the land and slaves:

 

51 Mules                                                                                                $3315

20 Horses & Mares                                                                                 800

18 Jennies                                                                                                180

12 Carts 3 Wagons & one Cary Log                                   950

83 Bales of Cotton                                                                               4150

Supposed to be 138 Bales not ginned                                              6900

About 400 Head of Hogs                                                                   1200

            50 Stacks of Fodder                                                    750

            20 Bales of Fodder                                                                       90

About 1300 bushels of Corn                                                              6500

             8 yoke of oxen                                                                           320

About 2000 head of cattle                                                                  12000[21]

 

John C. Jackson became the administrator of Abner Jackson’s estate and operated the Darrington Plantation through the Civil War. Though many friends of the family had reservations about John’s character he held the estate together producing cotton and sugar sold through agents in Galveston and Houston.

            A written report to the Probate Court on the condition of the Jackson Estate, filed by the County Clerk on May 3, 1867 relates what a poor year 1866 had been:

 

“He [John C. Jackson] shows that the year 1866 was one of unprecedented disaster to the cropping interest of this county. That he had a great many hands employed off and on during said year on the Darrington plantation but that he only succeeded in saving about 75 hogsheads of sugar and 125 barrels of molasses and syrup and a very little cotton, 25 bales of much he has shipped and sold and credited in his accounts… and estimates there are 30 bales remaining.”[22]

 

John C. Jackson was shot and killed by his brother George W. in December 1867.The plantation was then handled by the new administrators of Abner Jackson’s estate, William and Thomas W. Masterson. In order to satisfy a court order they auctioned off the major part of the league less 350 acres to John Robert Mills for $5000 January 5, 1869 [Deed L: 574/75]. The 350 acre portion out of the south east corner of the league was owned by John C. Jackons’s estate and was sold to John R. Mills in June of 1869 [Deed L: 520/21]. Mills conveyed the whole property to Sterling Blackwell for $40,000 in August 1869. Sterling Blackwell did not assume Sterling McNeel’s name as he again gained control of the plantation. The household listed in the 1870 Census:

Sterling Blackwell         28        Farmer                         Texas

Sugar Turner                70        Farm Manager              Virginia

Frank Turner                12                                            Texas

Wade Turner                10                                            Louisiana

Several of the slave families from the Darrington Plantation can be identified in the 1870 Federal Census as residing in the same Sandy Point area. Many would be assumed to work on the Darrington Plantation as freedmen.

Sterling Blackwell held the property for only a short time before his death in the last months of 1870. In his last will and testament he stated: I Sterling Blackwell being of sound mind and disposing memory but conscious of approaching death indicating an illness that was affecting his health.[23] Three thousand five hundred dollars was bequeathed to Kate E. McNeel[24] colored daughter of Emily (See Appendixes for slave listings) who is the wife of Dick French.[25] There is the indication that Kate may be the half sister of Sterling Blackwell and daughter of Sterling McNeel. The rest of his estate he left to his cousins Mary E., Sally B., Susie, Ella, (Clara) Lula, and William Robinson the six children of Mrs. Clara Robinson of Gerard County, Kentucky.[26] These are the children of his mother’s sister.

John R. Mills, the executor of the estate, employed A. Mussa sugar maker, C. Vissenau engineer, John Barnes overseer, and laborers to keep the plantation running during the fall of 1871. In 1872 credits to the estate still indicated that hogsheads of sugar and barrels of molasses along with cattle sales were the main sources of income for the estate.[27]  Mary E. and her husband John A. Hann moved to the plantation. They sold their 1/6th interest in the property along with their personal property: One set of Blacksmith tools. 6 cane carts, two cane or ox wagons, farming implements…six cows and calves, one ox 60 empty hogsheads and one bell and our household and kitchen furniture for $6000 to A. U. Wright and B. H. Epperson in 1875. Similar purchases were made by Wright and Epperson from Susie and Joseph Garnett and Sallie and James Campbell to control one half of the estate. After a law suit within the family the other half of the league was sold at auction in March 1876 to Wright and Epperson for $30,000 with payments made to Lula, Ella, and William Robinson.[28]

B. H. Epperson & Co. located in Jefferson, Marion County, Texas controlled the Darrington Plantation through several years. Politician, entrepreneur, and railroad executive, Benjamin H. Epperson[29] knew the ins and outs of working with the political establishment in Austin, Texas. With his health failing Benjamin made an agreement with his son E. S. Epperson for a ¼ interest in the plantation to be manager of the Darrington July 1878 [Deed Record R: 406/08]. Epperson had expended sixty thousand dollars on the purchase and with improvements on the property another fifty thousand dollars. Epperson & Co. was able to contract 36 convicts annually to work on the plantation 1878-1880.[30] With the death of his father in September 1878 R. S. Epperson became the executor of his father’s estate and mortgaged the property to P. J. Willis & Brother of Galveston, Texas[31] [Deed Record R: 364/66]. This deed stated that cane was being produced on 335 acres, 7000 bushels of corn were already gathered, and cotton amounting to 60 bales was still in the field.

Several suits were brought against the estate of B. H. Epperson which forced the sale of the property in 1881 [Deed Record T: 346/350, 561/62, 563/65]. As quickly as most of these decrees were written R. S. Willis of Galveston was in position to acquire the property. P. J. Willis & Co. continued to operate the plantation with convict labor. R. S. Willis had 60 convicts leased 1881-1882 with 28 listed on the Darrington Plantation,[32] The lease continued until the end of 1884 with 53 convicts listed on Darrington at the time of inspection and an additional 25 added at harvest time.[33] The property continued to be the hands of the Willis family until after the turn of the century. Thousands of acres were added to their holdings from the Achilles McFarland League just north of the Tally League and a few hundred acres from the Francis Bingham League. The estate passed down to Narcissa Willis and after her death 6747 acres were sold to R. E. Sears in 1908 for $70,548.

R. E. Sears from Marshall County Iowa did not live on the plantation and there are no records of his management of the property. Bassett and Bonnie Blakely purchased the property for a total of $50,000 in July 1917. January 1, 1918 they turned the property over to the Texas Prison Commission for $337,340. Bassett Blakely had been President of the Chenango Corporation and involved with the purchase of the Ramsey Prison Farm. His inside contacts netted a very handsome profit. The Darrington Prison Farm is still in operation.

According to Abner Strobel the “old slave time improvements have long since disappeared. The sugar house, an immense brick structure, was burned down many years ago, and it is operated as a cotton plantation mainly” indicating most of the plantation structures are gone[34].

 

 


 

Appendix A

Darrington Slaves Listed August 6, 1847

 

1st Catherine or Katy a woman aged about 36 years old

Pete a boy aged about 10 years

Charly a man aged about 18 years old

Sarah a girl aged about 8 years

Ritter a girl aged about 17 years old

8th Deborah a woman aged about 50 years

Emily a girl aged about 12 years old

Tom a man aged about 22 years

Rody Girl aged about 10 years old

Narcissa a girl aged about 5 years

Tom a boy aged 6 years

Lydia a girl aged about 1 year

2nd Armstead a man aged about 40 years

9th Jack a man aged about 40 years

Lucy his wife aged about 39 years

Jinney his wife aged about 36 years

Young Armstead a man aged about 22 years

Bill a boy aged about 18 or 19 years

Viney a woman aged about 19 years

Lucy a girl aged about 16 or 17 years

Gilbert a boy aged about 16 or 17 years

Walton a boy aged about 12 years

Joseph or Joe a boy aged about 15 years

Washington a boy aged about 10 years

Mandy a Girl aged about 12 years

Mary a girl aged about 8 years

Caroline a girl aged about 10 years

10th Harry a man aged about 36 years (blacksmith)

Augeline a girl aged about 8 years

Sally his wife aged about 27 years

3rd Charlotte a woman aged about 35 years

Ben a boy aged about 8 years

Ellen a woman aged about 22 years

Francis a girl aged about 6 years

Delia a girl aged about 4 years

Adam aged about 1 year

4th Patsy a woman aged about 30 years

11th Abraham a man aged about 40 years

Wise a boy about 12 years old

Cilvia his wife aged about 35 years (Cilero)

Dan a boy aged about 10 years

Moses a boy aged about 14 years

Adaline a girl aged about 8 years

12th William a man aged about 35 years

Polly a girl aged about 1 year old

Emma his wife aged about 31 years

5th Lucy a woman aged about 40 years

Ellen a girl aged about 14 years

Mariah a woman aged about 21 years

13th Levin a man aged about 45 years

Chany a girl aged about 1 year

Peggy his wife aged about 40 years

6th Hampton a man aged about 40 years

14th Fanny a woman aged about 37 years

Tillah his wife aged about 38 years

Debby a girl aged about 10 years

Doss a man aged about 22 years

Charles a man aged about 50 years

Henry a boy aged about 14 years

York a man aged about 60 years

7th Rhody a woman aged about 39 years

Tom a man aged about 50 years

Hiram a man aged about 20 years

Simson a man aged about 54 years

Elizabeth a woman aged about 19 years

Rose a woman aged about 38 years

Margarett a woman aged about 18 years

Borton a man aged about 40

James a boy aged about 5 years

Solomon a man aged about 45 years

Rebecca a Girl aged about 1 year

Hannah a woman aged about 30 years

Felix a boy aged about 1 year

Lewis a boy aged 10 years

James a boy aged about 15 years

 

Julia a girl aged about 13 years

76 Slaves Listed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix B

Slaves Listed Sterling McNeel Purchase June 23, 1849

 

Katey 35

Peyton 12

Charles 17

Sarah 10

Ritter  16

8th Deborah a woman aged about 50 years

Emily  14

Tom Debly 25

Rody 11

Narcissa 8

Toney 5 1/2

Lucinda 2

Old Armstead  55

Jack 50

Lucy Armstd 55

Jane 36

Young Armstead 25

Bill 19

Viney 20

Lucy 17

Gilbert 18

Walton 12

Joseph or Joe 13

Wash 10

Amanda 11

Mary 7

Caroline 10

Harry Blacksmith 40

Angey 7

Sally 26

Charlotte 25

Ben 9

Big Ellen 23

Frances 6

Delia 4

Adam 3

Patsy 28

Abram 50

Wise  12

Sylvia 40

Dan 10

Moses 15

Adaline 8

Big Bill 35

Parthenia 3

Emma 50

Lucy Harry 38

Ellen 15

Maria 20

Leven 50

Chancy 3

Peggy 50

Hampton 48

Fanny 30

Tillah 45

Debley 10

Doss 37

Old Charles 70

Henry 12

Yok 70

Old Rhody 50

Old Tom 60

Hiram 23

Serning 70

Elizabeth 22

Rose 40

Margaret 20

Boston 50

Jim Ray 6

Solomon 60

Beckey 3

Hannah 30

Felix 3

Lewis 7

Jim 15

Edy 1

Julia 14

Louisa 1

 

Infant 1

 

Infant Hamp 6M

 

Infant 6M

 

Infant 6M

 

Gracey 3M

 

Infant 2M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix C

List of Slaves According to Sterling McNeel Probate Listing May 1, 1855

 

York                88                  $100

Hiram           28                    $900

Rose          50                   $100

Armstead         35                     900

Mariah          29                     800

Hannah      40                     400

Margaret          26                    800

Chancy          8                       400

Madison     45                     400

Felix                  8                     200

Rhody            5                       200

Minea         40                    500

Edy                    6                     300

Abram          65                      400

Ben (Cooper)    34             1000

Dennis               5                     200

Sylvia           60                       100

Zo                      25              800

Hiram                2                     100

Moses           24                     1000

Anderson           6                300

Sam Tucker     35                     900

Rhody           55                      500

Lemmon            2                 100

Lucy                 22                    900

Jim                24                     900

Henry               50                700

Lavinia              4                      200

Peyton           20                     900

Ellen                 48                500

Lyddy             Infant                100

Sarah             17                     500

Tom                  18                800

Jane                  60                    200

Elizabeth        28                    700

William             14                600

Bill Jack           20                    900

Jim Ray         11                     500

Martha              12                 500

Walton              17                    800

Becky             9                      400

Virgil                 8                  400

Washington       15                    700

Betsy              2                      150

Patsy                  4                  300

Mary                 13                    400

Fanny            40                      400

Priscilla             2                   100

Armstead           8                      300

Louisa             6                       300

Levi                  36                 800

Doss                 45                     800

John                3                       200

Lisey                 48                 400

Malvinia           28                     700

Charlotte        35                     500

Butch                45                 700

Barbara             9                       400

Delia               10                     400

Deva                45                  400

Hampton           7                       300

Lucinda           8                       300

Attala               40                  700

Doss                 5                        200

Ang                  3                       200

Willis               50                 1000

Armstead         68                      500

Jove (African) 35                     800

Dorcas             45                    500

Lucy                 66                      100

Debly              18                     800

Abram             15                    700

Gilbert              26                    1000

Milton              25                    800

Dennis             12                    400

Jasper               22                      900

Ellen                20                     600

Paulina            7                      300

Amanda            16                     700

Pinky                4                      300

Charles            25                  1000

Caroline            15                     700

Sophy               2                       100

Jane                 19                    800

Angeline           13                     400

Foster              24                     900

Willis                2                     200

Harry                50                     500

Ellen                20                     800

Emily             Infant                100

Sally                 35                     500

Alexander     Infant                   100

Granville          27                    800

Ben                   16                     500

William           50                      500

Caty                  50                   600

Francis              14                     500

Emma             50                       100

Emily               19                     800

Adam                 9                      500

Eleven            57                       200

Anthony           45                   1000

Harry                 7                      400

Peggy             45                       300

Rhody               15                    800

Pallis                 5                       200

Patsy               37                      500

Toney                10                     300

Cristiana            1                     100

Wise               19                      900

 

Tilly                 60                     300

Dan                 17                      800

 

Henry               20                   1000

Adeline           15                      500

 

Sam                  16                     500

Earnest              6                      300

 

Narcissa            14                    600

Boston             63                      100

Slaves not in original purchase

Tom Delby       28                     900

Tom                80                       100

 

Joe                    35                     700

Solomon         95                       100

 

Writta               21                     200

Sammony       90                       100

 

Elley                 4                       200

Charles           80                       100

 

 

Inventory Appraisal, May 1, 1855, Record of Wills Book B: pp. 349-53.

 

 

Appendix D

Slaves Listed in Abner Jackson Purchase May 26, 1857

 

Katy 50

Peyton 22

Charles 27

Sarah 19

Ritta  22

Tom Derby  30

Silvey  22

Narcissa 16

Rody 18

Lucinda 10

Toney 12

Jack 50

Armstead  61

Jane 60

Lucy 66

Bill Jack 22

Armstead 37

Lucy 24

Melvinia 28

Walton 19

Gilbert 28

Washinton 17

Joseph or Joe 24

Mary 15

Amanda 18

Harry 50

Caroline 17

Sally 37

Angeline  15

Ben 18

Charlotte 37

Francis 16

Ellen 32

Adam 12

Delia 12

Abram 66

Patsy 38

Sylvia 40

Wise  21

Moses 26

Daniel 19

William 52

Adaline 18

Emma 50

Parthenia 12

Ellen 22

Lucy  50

Eleven 59

Maria 30

Peggy 46

Chancy 10

Fanny 42

Hampton 48

Deby 20

Tillah 62

Charles 80

Doss 46

York 90

Henry 22

Tom 80

Rhody 56

Simmony 70

Hiram 30

Rose 50

Elizabeth 30

Boston 66

Old Margaret 28

Solomon 90

Jim Ray 13

Hanna 42

Becka 12

Sam 18

Felix 10

Edy 8

Jim 26

Louisa 9

Julia 24

Hampton 10

 

 

Children Since 1849 List,  although  5 were listed as Infant at that time

 

Andrew 11

Liddy 3

Harry Jr. 10

St. Anna 3

Betsy 9

Emaluel 1

Doss Jr. 8

Dicey 1

Pallas 8

Peyton 1

Rodey 8

Virginia 1

Earnest 8

Lewis Infant

Dennis 7

 

Pinky 6

 

Levinia 6

 

Elsey 6

 

John 5

 

Ary 5

 

Sophy 4

 

Hiram 4

 

 

 

 

Appendix E

List of Slaves According to Abner Jackson Probate Listing November 10,1861

 

Little Peyt     7        $500

Viney       32         $1000

York     90           $         0

Hiram           7          500

Charlotte   45             750

Ben Harry (one leg) 20   0

Virginia        7          500

Caroline    20           1400

Tilla      70                     0

Alex             4           250

Chancy     14           1100

Emma    60                  100

Soth             2           200

Deby        26            1200

Peggy     60                 300

Alsey           8           500

Delba        14             500

Rhody     60                400

Dicey           5           350

Rose         70                 0

Silvy(one leg) 55          50

Martha         3           350

Jane          50                50

Patsy      40                 800

Betsy           7           500

Parthenia   14           1000

Patsy       70                300

Sophy        9           500

Pallais       10            1000

Andrew   14              1000

John            8           550

Felix          14             800

Little Rhody 10          750

Arie             8           500

Felix           12           1000

Pinkey      10              700

Ellen 24 + Infant Emma         1250

Boston      80                  0

Lavinia       8              700

Margaret  27 + Infant Andy   1250

Armstead    34          1250

Harry        50            1000

Julia  26 + Infant Marshall     1250

Gilbert       30           1500

Charles     100                0

Narcissa 18 + Infant Lidy      1350

Adams       14           1250

Soloman   100                0

Ritta 27 + Infant Charles       1350

Bill Jack     28          1300

Armstead    65            300

Rhody 24 + Infant Katy         1350

Jim Mitchel  26        1500

 

May            16          1200

Jim Ray       19         1400

 

Amanda      24          1200

Mose           24         1500

 

Maria          32          1000

Peyt            22          1500

 

Big Ellen    36            900

Joe              25          1500

 

Elizabeth    39            900

Wise           23          1500

 

Eda             12           1000

Walton       23           1500

 

Francis        17           1250

Wash          21           1400

 

Fanny          60                0

Sam            19           1200

 

Hanah         46             500

Henry         24           1500

 

Sally           40             300

Little Henry 14         1000

 

Sarah           18          1000

Hamp          12          1000

 

Angeline      17          1400

Dan             21          1500

 

Adaline        18          1200

Hiram          40         1000

 

Becky          14          1200

Dennis         10           800

 

Louisa          14          1200

Dosse            10           800

 

Lucy Ira       65            500

Big Dosse     46          1000

 

Little Lucy   28          1000

Toney (Blind) 15        300

 

Lucinda        12          1000

Charles         29         1500

 

 

 

 

 

Inventory Appraisal, November 10, 1861, Record of Wills Book C: pp. 440-447.


 

Appendix F

 

1855

By amt received from sale of (122) Hogsheads of sugar by Hennings, Muller & Gosling

$5147.73

1855

By amt received from sale of (39 barrels of Molasses) by D. Colden Murray

$325.32

1855

By amt received from sale of (65) Hogsheads of sugar by Hennings, Muller & Gosling

$3701.73

1855

By amt received from sale of (30) Hogsheads of sugar by D. Colden Murray

$1852.91

1855

By amt received from sale of (54) Hogsheads of sugar by Hennings, Muller & Gosling

$3185.59

1855

By amt received from sale of (100) barrels of Molasses  by D. Colden Murray

$931.40

1855

By amt received from sale of (120) barrels of Molasses  by D. Colden Murray

$1257.34

1855

By amt received from sale of (69) barrels of Molasses by H. Martin

$743.75

1855

By amt received from sale of (93) barrels of Molasses by John Dickenson & Co.

$640.82

1855

By amt received from sale of (82) barrels of Molasses by D. Colden Murray

$929.06

1855

By amt received from sale of (62) barrels of Molasses by D. Colden Murray

$696.98

1855

By amt received from sale of (15) barrels of Molasses by D. Colden Murray

$169.75

1855

By amt received from sale of (16) barrels of Molasses by D. Colden Murray

$128.81

1856

By amt received from sale of (67) barrels of Molasses by J. Dickenson & Co.

$650.00

1856

By amt received from sale of (10) Hogsheads of sugar by D. Colden Murray

$776.21

1856

By amt received from sale of (6) Hogsheads of sugar by D. Colden Murray

$471.13

1856

By amt received from sale of (20) Hogsheads of sugar by D. Colden Murray

$2129.39

1856

By amt received from sale of (51) Hogsheads of sugar by D. Colden Murray

$3744.05

1856

By amt received from sale of (39) Hogsheads of sugar by D. Colden Murray

$2863.12

 

 

 

 

Statement of Administrator David Mills, July 2, 1856, Record of Wills Book B: pp. 506-510.

 

Appendix G

 

1856

 

 

 

Oct

31

By Proceeds 29 Hhds Sugar Pr. South

$1629.92

Nov

5

By Proceeds 31 Hhds Sugar

$1814.57

Dec

10

                  45 Hhds  Pr. North

$2778.60

 

12

                   25 Bbls Molasses

$362.30

 

21

                   18 Hhds Pr S. Clark

$1070.41

 

22

                   5 Hhds Pr. Kenough

$302.25

 

24

                   1 Hhds Pr. J City

$70.64

July

12

                   16 Bbls Molasses sold in Galv.

$173.13

Nov

13

                   85 Bbls Mols. Pr E. V.

$1213.81

July

22

                    8 Bbls Mols. Sold in Galv.

$90.84

 

4

                    2 Bbls Mols. Sold in Galv.

$22.26

 

7

                    91 Bbls Pr. Eonvest (?)

$5501.54

 

7

                    80 Pr. East

$5331.28

June

30

                    19 Beef Hides

$35.88

Sept

27

                    16 Bales Cotton

$956.51

Oct

14

                    22 Beef Hides

$86.85

 

22

                    24 Bales Cotton

$1412.85

 

17

                    4 Bbls of Mols sold in Galv.

$58.80

 

21

                     2 Hhds sugar sold in Galv.

$178.66

 

25

                     4 Hhds sugar sold by P & B

$326.23

 

27

                     250 Bbls Mols. Pr. Francis

$3923.52

Nov

6

                     45 Bales Cotton sold in Galv.

$2501.02

 

22

                     24 Bales Cotton sold in Galv.

$1365.34

 

28

                      3 Bbls Mols sold in Galv.

$51.39

 

16

                      142 Bbls Mols Pr. Robinson

$2213.61

 

16

                      13  Bbls Mols Pr. J City

$208.52

 

16

                      41 Bbls Mols Pr. Nuacus

$649.69

 

16

                      139 Bbls Mols Pr. Gutavia

$2122.60

Dec

8

                       1 Hhds sugar Pr. East

$56.07

 

8

                       32 Bales of Cotton

$1718.41

Jan/57

1

                       39 Bales of Cotton

$1990.27

 

27

                       21 Bales of Cotton

$1053.12

 

27

                        14 Beef Hides

$76.58

 

Statement of Administrator David G. Mills, February 27, 1857 Record of Wills Book B: pp. 602-605.


Appendix H

Chain of Title

 

GRANTORS

GRANTEES

Kind of Instrument

Book

Page

Month

Day

Year

Acres

Survey

Mexican Gov.

David Tally

Deed

1

28

Aug

19

1824

4028

David Tally League

David Tally

John Darrington

Deed

B

19

Mar

24

1835

4028

$3028 for league less 1400 acres SE corner containing 400 already sold to Thomas Barnett

David Tally

Samuel May Williams & Thomas McKinney for John Darrington

Deed

B

22/23

Mar

24

1835

4028

24 March 1835 League had been conveyed to McKinney and Williams for use by John Darrington/reserved 1400acres for himself and Thomas Barnett formal deed filed Mar 1,1841

David Tally

William Barrett

Deed

A

423/24

Feb

16

1841

4028

Less 400 acres previously sold Thomas Barnett and 40 foot square used as family cemetery

William Barrett

John Darrington

Deed

A

425

Feb

25

1841

4028

$1.00 His interest to Darrington

John Darrington

Ira Randal Lewis Matagorda County

Mortgage

D

447/50

Aug

7

1847

4028

League less 400 acres now  owned by John Stamps & list of all the slaves & 2 labors of land in Matagorda Co. $40000

Ira R. Lewis

John Darrington

Deed

D

557/59

April

3

1848

4028

League and all the slaves/by mutual consent

John Darrington

Nathaniel Newton Wilkinson of New Orleans

Deed

D

597/600

April

7

1848

4028

League less 400 acres & list all the slaves $40000/$25000 mortgage

Nathaniel N. Wilkinson

Sterling McNeel

Deed

E

254/58

June

23

1849

4028

League less 400 acres and list all slaves $42500/ $27500 mortgage

John & Henrietta Stamps

Sterling McNeel

Deed

E

396/98

Jan

1

1850

506

$2000 506 Acres

B. F. & A. J. Terry

Sterling McNeel

Deed

E

398/99

Mar

1

1850

506

$200 Their interest in same

Estate Sterling McNeel

Abner Jackson

Deed

H

159/60

May

5

1857

4028

League and slaves $116200

A. S. Lanthrop

John C. Jackson

Deed

 

 

 

 

1860

 

350 Acres

Abner Jackson

Robert Mills

Mortgage

J

388/89

Feb

7

1869

4028

$59,730

Estate Abner Jackson

Robert Mills

Deed

L

574/75

Jan

5

1869

4428

$5000 David Tally League less 350 Acres


 

Estate John C. Jackson

John R. Mills

Deed

L

520/21

June

9

1869

350

350 Acres $200

Robert Mills

Sterling Blackwell

Deed

L

638/39

Aug

7

1869

 

$40000 Tally League less 350 acres

John R. Mills

Sterling Blackwell

Deed

L

639/40

Aug

7

1869

 

350 Acres

James B. & Sallie B. Campbell

Cooke County

B. H. Epperson & A. U. Wright

Deed

P

119/21

Sept

29

1875

 

1/6 Interest  for 2 notes of $1666.67(These notes filed in Harris County don't match sums from Brazoria County

Joseph H. & Susie R. Garnett

Cooke County

B. H. Epperson & A. U. Wright

Deed

P

121/23

Sept

29

1875

 

1/6 Interest  for 2 notes of $1666.67(These notes filed in Harris County don't match sums from Brazoria County

John A. & Mary E. Hann

 Brazoria County

B. H. Epperson & A. U. Wright

Deed

P

179/80

Oct

1

1875

 

1/6 of Darrington Plantation $6000

Joseph H. & Susie R. Garnett

Cooke County

B. H. Epperson & A. U. Wright

Deed

P

285/87

Sept

29

1875

 

1/6 of Darrington Plantation $5000 less 3 acres in SW corner residence of H.J.B.Cash

James W. & Sallie B. Campbell

Cooke County

B. H. Epperson & A. U. Wright

Deed

P

287/88

Sept

29

1875

 

1/6 of Darrington Plantation $5000 less 3 acres in SW corner residence of H.J.B.Cash

Lula, William & Clara E. Robinson

B. H. Epperson & A. U. Wright

Deed

S

691/95

Mar

7

1876

 

1/2 of Darrington $30000

A. U. Wright

B.H. Epperson

Deed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purchased A. U. Wright's share by 31July1878

B. H. Epperson

E. S. Epperson

Agree

R

406/08

Jul

31

1878

 

Agreement for his son to manage Darrington Plantation

E. S. Epperson

P. J. Willis & Brother of Galveston

Mortgage

R

364/66

Oct

15

1878

 

Crops & land deed of trust

 

 

Decree

T

346/50

May

24

1881

 

Suit 2750 Marion County Texas

E. H. Campbell

R. S. Willis

Deed

T

561/62

May

24

1881

 

E. H. Campbell $10441 his interest in judgement

W. D. Crawford

R. S. Willis

Deed

T

563/65

Nov

14

1881

 

All interest of W. D. Crawford for $100

Estate of Narcissa Willis

R. E. Sears

Deed

75

581/88

Feb

19

1908

 

$70,548.47 Darrington Plantation

R. E, Sears

Basset & Bonnie Blakely

Deed

146

137/41

Jul

26

1917

 

$10000 for 212 acres/ paid off 4 notes of $6000 each & 1 note $16000 on plantation

Basset & Bonnie Blakely

Texas Prison Commission

Deed

146

136/37

Jan

1

1918

6746.8

 6747 acres total 2522 & 205 acres David Tally tracts $337,340

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

 

UNPUBLISHED PAPERS

 

Archives Division-Texas State Library, Austin, Texas

Governor’s Records

Federal 1850 Agricultural Census

Federal 1860 Agricultural Census

 

Manuscript Files Brazoria County Historical Museum Library

Genealogical Files Old 300: John McNeel Family

 

 

NEWSPAPERS AND PERIODICALS

Democrat and Planter, Columbia, Texas

 

GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS

Deed Records Brazoria County Courthouse, Angleton, Texas

 

Probate Cases and Records of Wills Brazoria County Courthouse, Angleton, Texas

Abner Jackson                         August 22, 1861                       CaseNo.  756

John C. Jackson                       December 8, 1867                                   867

Sterling McNeel                                                                                       576

Sterling Blackwell(Minor)                                                                        687

Sterling Blackwell                                 1870                                            915

 

Brazoria County Tax Records on microfilm Brazoria County Historical Museum Library, Angleton, Texas.

 

Federal Population Schedule, Seventh Census of the United States.

1850        The State of Texas, Brazoria County

“Schedule 2—Slave Inhabitants in the County of Brazoria, Texas

 

Federal Population Schedule, Eighth Census of the United States.

1860      The State of Texas, Brazoria County

“Schedule 2—Slave Inhabitants in the County of Brazoria, Texas

 

Federal Population Schedule, Eighth Census of the United States.

1870    The State of Texas, Brazoria and Galveston Counties

 


 

Secondary Sources

 

BOOKS, ESSAYS, THESES, AND DISSERTATIONS

 

 

Freeman, Martha Doty, An Overview of the Development of an Historic Landscape on the San Bernard River, Brazoria County, Texas, and a History of the Levi Jordon Plantation, TBG Partners, Inc. Austin, Texas,

 

Glenn, Lon Bennett, The Largest Hotel Chain in Texas, Eakin Press, Austin, Texas, 2001.

 

Strobel, Abner J., The Old Plantations and Their Owners of Brazoria County Texas, Revised Edition, The Union National Bank, Houston, Texas, 1930.

 

Tyler, Ron ed., Sterling McNeel. The New Handbook of Texas, Volume 4, The Texas State Historical Association, Austin, Texas.

 

Walker, Donald R., Penology For Profit-A History of the Texas Prison System 1867-1912, Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas 1988.

 

White, Gifford, The 1840 Census of the Republic of Texas, Pemberton Press, Austin, Texas.

 

Williams, Charles R., ed., The Diary and Letters of Rutherford B. Hayes, Nineteenth President of the United States, Vol. I, Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio, 1922.

 

 



[1] Sterling McNeel’s brothers John Greenville, Leander H., and Pleasant Duke McNeel all owned plantations in the southern part of Brazoria County.

[2] Abner Jackson also owned the Lake Jackson Plantation and was part owner of the Retrieve Plantation.

[3] His name is spelled Archilles McFarlan in many Brazoria County documents.

[4] The First Census of Texas, 1829-1836, Compiled by Marion Day Mullins, National Genealogical Society, Washington D. C., 1959, p. 51.

[5] Born April 29, 1786 in Sumter County, South Carolina and died September 12, 1853 Clark County, Alabama.

Wife Rebecca aged 57, daughter Mariah aged 18 and son Robert aged 13 all born South Carolina listed 1850 Federal Census.

[6] No record of the 400 acre sale has been located.

[7]Brazoria County Deed Record B: 22/23 records that Mary K. Bradley was only able to make her mark “X” and not able to sign her name; her father may have been Edward R. Bradley, the overseer of the plantation for John Darrington.

[8] This family graveyard may contain his first wife, Polly and possibly children by his first marriage. Due to the limited surveying that took place in the early years of the Republic of Texas this cemetery may be the Sandy Point Cemetery just south on the Chester S. Gorbet League.

[9] Brazoria County Deed Record A: 425.

[10] Edward R. Bradley League, Brazoria County

[11] In 1836, William Matherson of Clark County, Alabama died. His attorney, John Darrington, was appointed administrator of his estate. According to Matherson’s will, his real estate and personal property (including slaves) were to be divided among his four children.[Brazoria County Museum File Darrington Plantation]

[12] See Appendix A for slave listing.

[13] The only personal description of Sterling McNeel we have at this time is by Rutherford B. Hayes: “A shrewd, intelligent, cynical old bachelor “full of wise saws and modern incidents”; very fond of his own experience and talking of his own affairs. Living alone, he has come to think he is “the be-all and end-all here.” The haughty and imperious part of a man develops rapidly on one of these lonely sugar plantations, where the owner rarely meets with any except his slaves and minions.” January 30, 1849, The Diary and Letters of Rutherford B. Hayes, Nineteenth President of the United States, Vol. I., Charles R. Williams, ed., Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio, 1922, p. 254. Another vignette by Abner Strobel: “In an early day Sterling McNeel was traveling in his carriage through Fort Bend County and applied to a settler there for accommodations for the night. It was pouring down rain and he had a lady with him in his carriage. He told his driver to tell the man of the house the situation and asked him for his hospitality for the night. He was refused. The following winter the same gentleman of Fort Bend County came down to Brazoria County on some business, and it was bitter cold, and he applied to Sterling McNeel for the privilege of staying all night and gave his name. McNeel met him cordially, had the best of meals prepared, a good warm fire, the best of liquor to drink; his horse well fed and groomed. He had the servant shine his guest’s boots, and in fact spread himself as a generous host. The guest on leaving next morning wanted to know what the charges were for his accommodations. McNeel told him, “Nothing, Sir, except this—the next time a gentleman, especially with a lady, asks accommodations for the night on such a night as he made application, never turn them off.” The roads were in such a condition when McNeel made the trip in Fort Bend County that it took him until midnight to travel the distance of five miles to the next house, where he was taken in and cared for, as was the custom in those days.” Strobel, Abner J., The Old Plantations and Their Owners of Brazoria County Texas, Revised Edition, The Union National Bank, Houston, Texas, 1930, p.41.

[14] John W. Hall League

[15] An additional ~30 slaves are listed in the Probate Case which were not on the original purchase list from John Darrington which may have come from his original holdings with his brothers. [See Appendix C]

[16] Record of Wills Book B: pp. 349-352, Brazoria County Courthouse, Angleton, Texas.

[17] “I declare…hereby that Sterling Blackwell is not my child, and I hereby disinherit him. This written by my own hand this 1st May 1850.” Last Will and Testament of Thomas Blackwell, Record of Wills, Vol. A. p. 629, Brazoria County Courthouse, Angleton, Texas.

[18] Freeman, Martha Doty, An Overview of the Development of an Historic Landscape on the San Bernard River, Brazoria County, Texas, and a History of the Levi Jordan Plantation, TBG Partners, Inc. Austin, Texas, p.101. “…appoint Mr. Sterling McNeel executor of my estate and guardian of my son until he arrives at the age of twenty one” June 19, 1849, Last Will and Testament of Sally A. Blackwell, Record of Wills, Vol. A. p. 625, Brazoria County Courthouse, Angleton, Texas.

[19] Robert and David G. Mills operated R. & D. G. Mills of Galveston with David overseeing operations in Brazoria County while living on Lowood Plantation in the southern part of the county.

[20] Record of Wills Book B: pp. 629-30, Brazoria County Courthouse, Angleton, Texas.

[21] Record of Wills Book C: pp. 440-447, Brazoria County Courthouse, Angleton, Texas.

               [22] Abner Jackson Probate Case 764, Brazoria County Courthouse, Angleton, Texas

[23] Record of Wills Book E: p. 184, Brazoria County Courthouse, Angleton, Texas.

[24] 1876 Kate McNeel now Katie E. Davis wife of John L. Davis received payment from the other heirs. Record of Wills Book F: p. 166-67, Brazoria County Courthouse, Angleton, Texas.

[25] 1870 Federal Census lists Emily French black aged 34 born in Alabama and Kate aged 17 mulatto born in Texas living in Galveston, Texas.

[26] Record of Wills Book E: p. 185, Brazoria County Courthouse, Angleton, Texas.

[27] Ibid. pp. 188 & 441-442.

[28] James W. Campbell & wife et al vs. John A. Hann & wife Suit No.3372 Brazoria County District Court, Angleton, Texas

[29] Home in Jefferson, Texas called the House of the Seasons, B. H. Epperson died September 6, 1878.

[30] Governor’s Records, State Archives, “Biennial Reports of the Directors and Superintendent of the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, Texas with the Report of the Prison Physician, 1878-1880”, p.51.

[31] Peter J. Willis died in 1873 and R. S. Willis assumed full control of the partnership. R. S. Willis served as president of the Galveston National Bank, The Texas Guarantee and Trust Company, and was one of the founders of the Gulf, Colorado, and Sante Fe Railroad.

[32] Governor’s Records, State Archives, “Biennial Reports of the Directors and Superintendent of the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, Texas with the Report of the Prison Physician, 1880-1882”, p.8 & 36.

[33] Governor’s Records, State Archives, “Reports of the Superintendent and Financial Agent of the Texas State Penitentiary Years Ending 1884”, p.29& 41.

[34] Strobel, Abner J., The Old Plantations and Their Owners of Brazoria County Texas, Revised Edition, The Union National Bank, Houston, Texas, 1930, p.41.