Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Beaufort Female Benevolent Society

Location of Records: Beaufort Public Library, Beaufort, South Carolina. (microfilm copies at the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia.)

Extent of Records: Manuscript Volume of Minutes of the Board 1814-1861

Extracts from the Records

'Original subscription 1814.

Being touched with sympathy and commiserating for the suffering and destitute condition of many young females who are often presented to our observation; and being under a confident persuasion that it is a solemn duty binding upon all who have the chance to extend practical beneficience to the helpless and needy, and desiring to fill up the space of time alloted to us with duty and usefulness, that at the close of a probationary state we may not appear to have lived altogether in vain. '

signed by 92 women, 12 of whom were unmarried. Females only were permitted as members according to article 2 of their constitution, tho men were allowed to contribute financially [art 7]

Article 9 'Those children who may come under the harbourage of the society shall be exclusively given up by their parents or guardians to the control and directions of the society.'

meeting were held sometimes at the Baptist or St Helena's church - more usually at someone's house

Minutes, 17th September 1816

'Mrs Edward Barnwell informed the Board that a child in circumstances of destitution had come under her observation. Mr Purcell, its father, an infirm and indigent old man, was unable to provide for it and Mrs B. therefore recommended it to the society. this child being considered a proper object it was agreed that it should be adopted..

Mrs Genl Barnwell proposed that a very promising child, who had been trained by its widowed mother, Mrs Murdoch, to habits of industry, but whose poverty precluded the possibility of education, should receive the patronage of the society. Whereupon it was resolved that the child should be adopted.

Mrs McKee proposed to allow to a poor widow, Mrs Barnett, two dollars a month for the maintenance of her youngest child, now at the age of two years; and that this child should be placed with the Governess employed by the society, when its age shall have enabled it to dispense with the more minute attention of the mother. Whereupon it was resolved that little Mary should receive the patronage of the society. Its mother then appeared before the Board and submitted it unreservedly to their control........

Jan 7th 1817. .....The mother of Polly Murdoch having expressed dissatisfaction in the surrender she had made of her child to the board, it was deemed best to allow her to take it away.

March 25th [1817] Agreed to take under the protection of the society, Mrs Jones and her child - and to board them with an old lady Mrs Nix at $20 per quarter. Mrs Jones is a woman in a distressed situation who had solicited the humanity of Mrs Tripp by whom she is recommended to the Board.

Agreed also to furnish to each child previously adopted, a pair of shoes......

May 3rd [1818]. .... It was also unanimously resolved to adopt into the society two orphan children, Mary Nix ten years old, and Elsy Nix at four years old these two little girls, by the death of their grandmother were left destitute and friendless...

May 12th [1818], Received of Mrs Edward Barnwell from the children’s society 64$ 4.25 cents which was immediately paid to Miss Barnwell treasurer...

June 12th [1818]...determined to write a letter of thanks to Mr Larry Main for the very acceptable present made to the Ladies Benevolent Society of Beaufort of a lot in the town of Beaufort. Determined also to have the act published in the Charleston Courier as a testimony of their gratitude to Mr Main for his benevolent and friendly notice of the society as an encouragement to others whom it is hoped will follow so good and laudable an example....

July 7th [1818]......Mrs John McKee and Mrs E. Barnwell were requested to enquire of Mrs Harrison, if she would take the three eldest children of the society a part of the day for the purpose of teaching then writing and arithmatic. This application proving unsuccessful Mr Delaveaux was applied to and he offered to teach the eldest girl gratis which offer was thankfully accepted by the society.....

Sept 20th [1818].....Mrs Fuller delivered a message from the commissioners of the Free School informing the society that the expense of education of the children of the society would be defrayed by them for the next quarter. the offer was gratefully accepted.....

Nov 8th [1818]....The business of this meeting related to the funds of the Beaufort Charitable Society which had been promised to the Beaufort Female Benevolent Society sometime previous - Mrs Porteous was requested to deliver a message to Mr Porteous requesting him to inform the Board as soon as he could obtain the signature of all of the members of the Beaufort Society to the transferring [of] the funds. [permission and signature obtained by 5/1/19]

Jany 28th [1819]....A letter was read by the First Directress, from Mr Thomas Talbird scry of the Board of Commissioners of Free Schools acquainting the society that a portion of the funds appropriated by the legislature for the free schools in the parish of St Helena could be applied to the payment [of] the expenses of education of the poor children under the patronage of the society. The society most willingly avail themselves of this offer, and desire that a letter to that effect should be written by their secry also tendering their thanks to MrTalbird for his obliging communication.....

Sept 7th 1819...Mrs McKee informed the ladies that Dr Verdier had offered to supply the children of the Institution with medicines, this offer was readily accepted, and the secry was desired to write the thanks of the Board to Dr Verdier for his donation......

Mrs Cuthbert proposed that one of the ministers should be requested to preach a sermon in aid of the funds of the society. it was therefore resolved that the Rev.d Mr Campbell be requested to deliver a sermon in aid of the funds.....

May 20th 1820. At an extra meeting of the Board called at request of Miss Bull's, she invited the attention of the society to the situation of two small girls (daughters of Mr McNull, an overseer on Mr Richardson's plantation) who had been recently left by the death of their mother, quite destitute of female care and attention. Mr McNull was represented to be in ill health & much concerned at the neglected condition of his children. the funds, scarcely equal to the present expenses of the institution prohibited the adoption of any new members, but the Board determined to offer at least an asylum to the two children. Whereupon, resolved to offer Mr McNull an asylum for his daughters in the institution provided he should be willing to pay their expenses there.

July 23rd [1820] an extra meeting of the board was called for the purpose of considering an application made by Mrs Jenkins Senr of St Helena for one of the girls under the direction of the society. The board sensible of the advantages such a situation offer'd readily agreed to the proposal & May Ann Purcell was selected for this purpose, as she was well qualified, both from her being accustomed to live in the country & from the advanced state of her education, for such a situation. The Directress informed the board that Mrs Irvine, a milliner of respectable character had also made application for two of the girls under the patronage of the society, for the purpose of assisting her in her business. She proposed to instruct them in millining and to maintain them for 2 years. Mrs Hugenia, though she had long obtained permission to remove Mary Nix from the society had never sent for her. The board felt themselves at liberty to place her in any eligible situation that offered. Mrs Bell was therefore requested to consult with Mrs Irvine on this subject, to propose that she should receive Mary Nix alone into her service as Fanny Williams [the next in size] was not sufficiently advanced in her education to be removed from school.

August 22nd [1820].....the Directress informed the ladies that Mrs Irvine had agreed to take Mary Nix into her employment provided the society would furnish her with bedding and clothing. This arrangement was approved of & the requisite articles being immediately purchased, the girl was consigned to the protection of Mrs Irvine.

Mrs Bull then proposed that the daughters of Mr McNull should again be offered the patronage of the society, as she understood that they were ill in the country & required more than ever the countenance and assistance of the benevolent. The Board convinced of their ability to maintain the two girls in lieu of those they had disposed of so much to their satisfaction, agreed without hesitation to the proposal & Mrs McKee kindly offered to write to Mr McNull on the subject.

23 July [1822] A meeting of the subscribers was held at the Baptist church - only fourteen ladies attended. The first directress stated the proposal of the Board, namely that the society should endeavor to build a house as a residence for the children supported by their bounty and that subscription should be opened for this object. as the Ladies present acquiesced in this arrangement, the secretary was desired to provide a short address to accompany the subscription proper explaining the views of the society.....

July 31st [1822] An extra meeting of the Board was called to consider a request from Mr Wm Grayson that the protection of the society should be extended to an orphan called Kennedy. This was accompanied by a promise that her expenses including an attendant should be paid for one year from the Town fund for the relief of the transient poor.

The Ladies unanimously agrees to give the little girl the protection of their institution.....

June 3rd [1823]....The Board received also $466.66 through Mr.Buckman, in consideration of expenses formerly incurred to support the children from Saint Luke's parish........

[June] 20th [1823]' lists accounts for 1822 - totaling $893.66, of which $466.66 came from St Luke's parish

Augt 8th [1823] offer from Mr James Verdier to relieve the society from the care and expense of Fanny Williams offering to take charge of her. This was instantly agreed to with much satisfaction as Fanny was now of an age that rendered it very expedient she should be placed in a way of support.'

1st June 1824 accounts for 1823 income =$365

May 2nd [1825].....Mrs Screven also informed the bd that on making an application to the Masonic lodge in Beaufort for assistance in the support of the orphan children of a deceased mason; now under the protection of the society, she received fifteen dollars and a promise of future assistance. It was determined at this meeting that in future, the children of the society should when in public be dressed alike in the homespun frocks and white aprons.....

June 28th [1825]...The children of the society were present and examined with respect for their progress in reading and writing - and much satisfaction was expressed at their improvement...

November 1st [1825]..The Board received the gratifing intelligence that a donation of two thousand dollars had been recently left the society by Mr Thos.Gillison....[they spend the money buying the adjoining lot next to their town lot 15/11/25]

February 2nd [1826]....The Board were informed that Mr Holmes has become so inattentive to the duties of his school that his pupils had all been taken away, with the exception of the children under our care, who were then suffering from his neglect it was thereupon necessary to select a new teacher for them. Several applications for the situation were laid before the board & Mrs Farmen having obtained the preference, it was determined to place the children with her until the end of the current quarter.....[extended to Dec 17/3/26]

March 17th [1826] ...The Board was informed that Mrs Dathwaite had solicited the protection of the society for her niece offering to pay $35 per annum towards her support. Resolved that Mary Greaves be taken into the institution for four years on the conditions proposed by Mrs Dathwaite, & that she shall be returned to her friends at the end of that period......

May 2nd 1826 accounts for 1825 show that they received $2586 and spent $3439.75 [$1500 on house, 1300 loaned out, 365 to matron to keep children, 62.75 for supplies and repairs.]......

March 30th [1827]...An application was received for Eliza Cooler from Capt. John Dennis of Savannah who was anxious to adopt her. As he was reported to be a person of respectable character & Mrs Cooler expressed herself extremely desirous to have her daughter so comfortably settled. The Board agreed very readily to relinquish their claim on the child in favor of Capt. Dennis. It was thought prudent however, as her education was incomplete, to regard a written assurance from Capt. Dennis that she should be sent to school until 14 years of age 7 be further taught some suitable business. .......

20/4/27 complains of poor attendance [see also Dec 1829 & 20/03/30; 7/1/35]

2/6/27 accounts say income = $491 no record of expenditures.

11/9/27...'the 1st directress informed the board that reports highly injurous to the character of the matron were abroad respecting the treatment of the child, Martha Hood, who lately died under her care. a note was then read which had been sent to one of the members of the Board, stating that it was said that the child had marks of violence on its body after death and had been hardly treated during its illness. The 1st Directress informed the society that she did not receive the note in time to examine the child’s body before its burial but she twice saw the coffin, and had waited on the lady (Mrs Chaplin) who was present when the body was laid out. She saw no mark of violence whatever, and with regard to her treatment during the illness - she had been visited by four ladies of the society, was attended by a physician and so frequently visited by Mrs Chaplin that there could remain no doubt upon their minds respecting the unfocussed nature of the charges. The board therefore resolved to sign a paper individually exonerating the matron from all blame and also appointed a committee to enquire from the ladies who wrote the note [and] her authority for the report...

Jan 9th 1828......the board was informed that Mrs Dathwiate had taken away her niece from the care of the society, not being very pleased with the matron - she promised to pay the money due by her which was $40....

June 15th [1828] accounts for year income = $487

Aug 11th [1828] .... Mrs Fickling stated the Mr Rose, an overseer on Mr P.Givens plantation, was anxious to place his grand child under the protection of the society, as he could not afford to give her an education. Resolved to receive the little girl on the bounty of the society for four years...

Dec 6th [1828]......The board then proceeded to elect a matron & Mrs Wilkins was unanimously chosen for the coming year. it was then mentioned that Mrs Salinas would esteem it a favor if the board would state, whether their reason for parting with her was disapprobation of her conduct. The following resolution was agreed to:- The Board of the Beaufort Female Benevolent Society in dismissing Mrs Salinas from her situation of matron state, that their reason for parting with her, is not the disapprobation they themselves feel with her, but that the public mind has been so much prejudiced against her, that the board could not consistently with their duty to the society continue her in office.

January 1829....Applications were received for the admission of two children into the asylum, called Slowman & Smith. It was decided that as the little girl by the mane of Slowman had both parents living and one of them with a trade, the society could not consistently with their object, which was to assist the orphan and destitute child, receive her - the other little girl was received.

June 2nd[1829]...the Directress informed the board that since their last meeting Mary Greaves (whose Aunt had withdrawn her from the asylum for fourteen months past) had been situated in such destitute circumstances that she received her again on her own responsibility feeling assured that the measure would meet the approbation of the board.

June 27th [1829] collection at Episcopal church raised $61.56 1/4 'their church'.....income for year = $388.56 1/4

January 8th 1830.....Resolved that $400 be transmitted to Charleston for the purchase of shares in the planters and mechanics bank. Resolved that all the surplus funds of the society be invested in Bank stock, in preference to private loans in future.

May 20th [1831] income for year = $859.37 1/2 [$500 legacy - used to buy bank stock]

May 29th [1832] legacy received of $810.59 from Mr DeTreville, $500 of which was lent 'to some individual in Beaufort, who would be likely to pay the interest punctually' rest of the money was used to current funds including the adoption of Sarah Channels 'the daughter of an industrious widow in St Bartholomew’s Parish who had a large family dependent upon personnel excertions'.

June [1832] board resolves to sell its bank stock and loan its money as it found out it was losing about $25 a year interest otherwise.

June 12th [1832] income for year $1130.59 including debt for $810.59 paid by Mr Lawrence

August 13th [1833]....As the education of the children was found, on enquiry to have been very much neglected, Mrs Fuller was requested to remonstrate with the teacher on the subject - it was also resolved that in case the remonstrance of the Directress failed in producing any improvement that the children should be removed at the commencement of the next quarter

Sept 27th [1833]...information of a most painful nature was laid before the board respecting the misconduct of a girl formerly in the society, but who for some time back had been in the employment of the matron, the circumstances also implicating the children now under the direction of the society.' resolutions passed controlling clothing of children, presents they receive, and more emphasis on work and skills.

1834 January 20th Mrs Wilkins leaves office of matron, board presented her with $30 'in consideration of Mrs Wilkins age & long service as matron of the asylum'

Aug 26th [1834] ... the directress informed the board that a child had been placed under the charge of the matron since their last meeting, called Rebecca Larissy whose parents were too indigent to afford her any instruction. As there were but 2 children at this time on the bounty of the society, the board agreed unanimously to receive the child.

June 2nd [1835] Y for year = $429.25 [only $185 from subs]

August 18th [1835] ...Rebecca Larissy who had been permitted to go in a visit to her mother some weeks since had never returned to the asylum & that it was well understood that her parents did not intend to send her back - no written agreement having been made with the society

May 36th 1836.....The directress also informed the board that a child called Catherine Williams had been recommended to the charity of the society, she was fatherless, & and her mother was not permitted by her present husband to give her the shelter of her roof' [adopted by the society]

May 12th 1837...letter of Mr Thomas Gillison’s executors asking the society to resign its claim in $5000 which it would receive if the Beaufort District Society failed to hold meetings for two years. The 'Board of the Beaufort Female Benevolent Society do not feel authorised to resign the reversionary right of the society to Mr Gillisons legacy.

May 7th [1838] income for year = $300

April [1839] income for year = $433

July 4th 1840 income for the year = $450.50

June 30th [1841] income Y for year = $326.50

10th Sept [1841] board gives notice to another matron Mrs Ike as she 'had become so negligent in her duties to the children placed under her care, & was so much involved in debt ( although her salary had been regularly paid in advance by the treasurer) that the children were in danger of suffering from want of suitable and sufficient nourishment.'

April 1842. income for year = $338.50

May 24th [1843] income for year = $448.50

March 1844. A meeting of the society to consider an application from a Mrs Smith, a widow from the neighborhood of Gillisonville who requested admission for her four daughters. The party had no appearance of being among the indigent but the children were growing up in ignorance from their distance from any school, and the mother earnestly requested the board to take them all as she did not wish to separate them. As there was no vacancy in the asylum at this time the board would have been under the necessity of declining had not Mrs McKee informed the board that she was authorised to say that Mr Reynolds the guardian of Margaret and Mary Jones would pay board at the asylum for them & thus enable the society to give the two vacant places to the strangers. This difficulty having been removed the board determined to take charge of the two younger daughters of Mrs Smith, the others having passed the age of admission according to the rules of the society.

July 4th 1843 income for year $294

June 16th 1846. Finances weak, they appeal to minister of Catholic church to preach a sermon for them. income for year $482.12 1/2

July 4th 1848. income for year = $456.25 [records brief here, often just records of the AGM]

July 4th 1849. income for year = $424.50

July 4th 1851. income for year = $502.50

July 4th 1852. income for year = $760.10

January 20th 1853 lists 5 girls on the charity [records full of receipts now too for gifts]

July 4th 1853. income for year = $406.18 3/4

July 4th 1854. income for year = $454.50 [tho $3300 in capital which they have loaned out]

July 4th 1855. income for year = $432

July 4th 1856. income for year = $290.50

July 4th 1857. income for year = $556

July 4th 1858. income for year = $335.93

July 4th 1859. income for year = $560.30

July 4th 1860. income for year = $469.50

July 4th 1861. income for year = $386