Rice to Ruin
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The saga of the precipitous rise and ultimate fall of the Jonathan Lucas family's rice-mill dynasty

In the 1780s Jonathan Lucas, on a journey from his native England, shipwrecked near the Santee Delta of South Carolina, about forty miles north of Charleston. Lucas, the son of English mill owners and builders, found himself, fortuitously, near vast acres of swamp and marshland devoted to rice cultivation. When the labor-intensive milling process could not keep pace with high crop yields, Lucas was asked by planters to build a machine to speed the process. In 1787 he introduced the first highly successful water-pounding rice mill—creating the foundation of an international rice mill dynasty. In Rice to Ruin, Roy Williams III and Alexander Lucas Lofton recount the saga of the precipitous rise and ultimate fall of that empire.

Lucas's invention did for rice, South Carolina's first great agricultural staple, what Eli Whitney did for cotton with his cotton gin. With his sons Jonathan Lucas II and William Lucas, Lucas built rice mills throughout the lowcountry. Eventually the rice kingdom extended to India, Egypt, and Europe after the younger Jonathan Lucas moved to London to be at the center of the international rice trade.

Their lives were grand until the American Civil War and its aftermath. The end of slave labor changed the family's fortunes. The capital tied up in slaves evaporated; the plantations and town houses had to be sold off one by one; and the rice fields once described as "the gold mines of South Carolina" often failed or were no longer planted. Disease and debt took its toll on the Lucas clan, and, in the decades that followed, efforts to regain the lost fortune proved futile. In the end the once-glorious Carolina gold rice fields that had brought riches left the family in ruin.



Publié par
Date de parution 26 mars 2018
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9781611178357
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 4 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,3150€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Roy Williams III and Alexander Lucas Lofton

2018 University of South Carolina
Published by the University of South Carolina Press
Columbia, South Carolina 29208
27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
can be found at http://catalog.loc.gov/
ISBN: 978-1-61117-834-0 (cloth)
ISBN: 978-1-61117-835-7 (ebook)
To the memory of Harriett Gadsden Lucas Lofton
1 Shipwreck at Cape Romain
2 First Tidal Rice Mill
3 First Rice Toll Mill
4 Mill Builder, Troubleshooter
5 Jonathan Lucas II
6 William Lucas
7 Death of the Patriarch
8 Rice Planter Extraordinaire
9 William Lucas s Charleston Villa
10 Ann Lucas Pearce Venning
11 William Lucas s Expanding Empire
12 Jonathan Lucas II and His Family in England
13 The Children of Jonathan Lucas II
14 Jonathan Lucas III and J. J. Lucas
15 Thomas Bennett Lucas
16 William Lucas s Children
17 Secession-Before and After
18 Benjamin Simons Lucas s Sons-War and Aftermath
19 William Lucas s Progeny at War-Prelude
20 Alexander Lucas into Action
21 Comrades in Arms
22 Beginning of the End and the Fall
23 Attempts to Regain a Lost World
24 Engagement and Courtship of Alexander Lucas
25 Marriage, Rice, and Domestic Concerns
26 Robert Lucas in California
27 Death of Charles Lucas
28 The Frustrations of Robert Lucas
29 Settling a Depleted Estate
30 Pitfalls of the Lucas Genealogy
31 An Heiress Without Her Fortune
32 Robert s Hopes for Janie
33 Brothers Across the Continent
34 Defeat after Defeat
35 A Closing Circle
36 Contrasts within the Family
37 Death, Depression, Decline
38 Into the Abyss
39 Heir Disputes, Final Settlement
Appendix 1
Appendix 2
The authors wish to thank those who had a role in making the publication of this book possible: Harriett Lucas Lofton (daughter of Alexander Hume Lucas I and Elizabeth Doar Lucas) and her brother Alexander Hume Lucas II saved a large collection of Lucas documents and letters dating back to the post-Revolutionary era deposited at their Wedge Plantation home. These documents and letters were passed on to their children and became the basis for writing this book.
Special appreciation is due to relatives and friends of Alexander Lucas Lofton who gave their support. They include his widow, Sara Morrison Lofton; sisters Elizabeth Lofton and Amy Lofton Moore; daughter Marianne Lofton Allen and her husband, Clyde Allen; daughter Dr. Cathy Lofton Day; daughter-in-law Mrs. Deborah Lofton and her husband, A. L. (Sandy) Lofton Jr.; granddaughter Alexis Bednar; and cousins Thomas Smith Lucas and Beth Fogleman.
Special friends of the Lofton family who gave encouragement for this book include Mary Julia Royall, Agnes Leland Baldwin, Mary Wilcox Horlbeck, Adm. Arthur Manigault Wilcox, William R. Judd, Priestly C. Coker III, Selden B. Hill, Edith Mitchell, Anne Leland Bridges, and Phil and Bambi Werner.
Roy Williams III owes his wife, Bonnie A. Williams, especial thanks for her patience with a recalcitrant computer as she labored over several years to prepare this book for publication in addition to boosting his spirits. His nephew Mark Aaron Williams lent his expertise with computer problems, over and over again helping him solve seemingly intractable problems. Without his considerable help, the book would not have been brought to fruition. To Williams s sister, Mrs. Clark W. Waring, and brother, Dr. R. Michael Williams, he is very grateful for their unfailing support, as he is to Ruth Anne Jonathan Hood for her assistance with the photography.
Williams also offers his appreciation to the many librarians and archivists who assisted him in his search to elaborate, elucidate, and validate the materials in the Lucas Collection. D. Carol Jones, Janice L. Knight, Debbie Fenn, and Robert Salvo of the Charleston Library Society were especially helpful, and the entire staff in the South Carolina Room at the Main Charleston County Public Library were always supportive.
Thanks to Alexander Moore, acquisitions editor at the University of South Carolina Press, who realized the historical importance of the Lucas Family Collections and encouraged this work to be published.
Alexander Humes Lucas, letter written 5-21-1883 in Lucas Family Collections
Alexander Lucas Lofton, The Lucases of Haddrells Point (book 1)
Alexander Lucas Lofton, The Lucases of Haddrells Point (book 2)
David Doar, Sketch of the Agriculture Society of St. James Santee
Debow s Review , April 1, 1846
Edward Ball, Slaves in the Family
George Rogers, History of Georgetown County
Jonathan (John) Lucas, 1880s list of rice mills his grandfather built, South Carolina Historical Society
J. S. Glennie, The Particulars of and Sketches Taken during a Voyage to and Journey over the United States of America and Back, 1810-1811
Charleston (S.C.) News and Courier Map of Charleston Harbor, markings by Jonathan (John) Lucas
Petrona McIver, History of Mount Pleasant
South Carolina Historical Magazine
Suzanne Cameron Linder and Marta Leslie Thacker, Historical Atlas of the Rice Plantations of Georgetown County and the Santee River
William D. Lucas, A Lucas Memorandum

S hortly after the American Revolution, an Englishman in his early thirties, Jonathan Lucas, * was shipwrecked at Cape Romain near the Santee Delta of South Carolina. Nature s fury could not have brought together more auspiciously on those sandy shoals a problem and its solution, for the young Englishman was destined to transform the rice industry in America.
The shifting sands at Cape Romain are barrier islands, behind which lay acre after acre of cypress river swamps and marsh lands devoted to the cultivation of rice for sale on such a scale that Robert Mills (1781-1855), Charleston native and Washington Monument architect, called them gold mines of the state. After the Revolution the tidal method of rice culture supplanted the inland swamp method, but the extremely successful yields produced a processing bottleneck that Lucas, a millwright, observed as he made his way through the delta.
Lucas pondered the question of how to process the rice speedily as an agricultural predicament needing an industrial solution. The planters confronted a dilemma in which increasingly successful rice crops were hampered by counterproductive, nonmechanical preparation. This son of generations of successful mill owners and builders in western England watched how the grain was milled partly by hand, partly by animal power. The milling processes were tedious, destructive to the laborers, and exhausting to animal power. Lucas identified a problem in the separating of the husks from the grain: planters told him that a slave was lucky to pound out by hand, in wooden mortars with pestles, a bushel to a bushel and a half a day.
He viewed primitive rustic mills turned by animals, which revolved around pecker machines, so named because the pecker struck somewhat like a woodpecker pecking a tree. This was the simplest and probably the earliest type of rice mill used in South Carolina. The cog mill, in which upright pestles were driven by a horizontal cog wheel, was the second type. Lucas calculated that three to six barrels of rice per day was the maximum yield from these two types of animal-powered mills. *

FIG . 1. Cape Romain, St. James Santee Parish, South Carolina, where Jonathan Lucas was shipwrecked. Lucas Family Collections. Map adapted by Lynne Parker.

FIG . 2. Mortar and pestle. From Blakes Plantation, St. James Santee Parish. Photograph courtesy of the Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina.

FIG . 3. Cog mill drawings by William Robert Judd
In both these types of wooden mills, the rice was ground to separate the chaff from the grain. Hand-powered wind fans then blew the chaff away. Next the rice was beaten in the mills until sufficiently polished and cleaned from the flour. Afterward it sifted through different-sized wire sieves before being packed in barrels. Both the pecker and cog mills were operated by human, horse, or oxen power, with oxen preferred. No matter which system of power was utilized, milling was agonizingly slow, labor intensive, and anything but cost efficient. It was obvious that the rice planters were hampered from truly efficient crop preparation and marketing by an antiquated production process.

FIG . 4. Pecker mill drawings by William Robert Judd
John Bowman, an innovative but eccentric South Santee River rice planter, had come to the United States from Glasgow, Scotland, to speculate in Florida land but instead settled on a Georgia plantation. He later moved to St. James Santee Parish, where he married Sabina Lynch Cattell, daughter of Thomas Lynch and Elizabeth Allston and the widow of William Cattell. Through this marriage Bowman came into possession of Peachtree Plantation and the Lynch lands on the South Santee, which his wife inherited when her brother, Thomas Lynch Jr., signer of the Declaration of Independence, was lost at sea. Bowman

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