Letter to Grandson

Introduction by Michael M. Gildea

The writer of the following letter was a son and grandson of Samuel Mavericks, all three of them born in Charleston. His great-grandfather was among the first settlers of Charlestown in 1670 and his grandfather owned a shipyard on James Island.

The family prospered as merchants and shipowners in Charleston until the Revolution, when the writer’s father was taken prisoner and transported north by Sir Henry Clinton’s forces. After his exchange in 1778, he is said to have walked from New York to Charleston, where he sold his holdings for Continental money and moved his family to his in-laws’ home in Rhode Island.

Young Samuel returned to Charleston and lived as a shop-boy with his uncle William Turpin, with whom he later was associated in the mercantile firm of Wadsworth, Turpin and Maverick. He eventually moved to Montpelier, his farm in the Pendleton District, S. C., and in his later days speculated in land in South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.

His son Samuel Augustus Maverick, father of this letter’s addressee, was born July 23, 1803, at Pendleton. He was the first of the family in Texas and served in the Texas Army, the Congress of the Republic of Texas and the legislature after it became a state. It was from his name that the term “maverick” was adopted for unbranded range cattle.

Montpelier, Pendleton, S. C.
July 4, 1846
No. 1
Saml. Maverick Jun.
My Dear Grandsone

You was born in my house at this place on 14 May 1837 and I was born in Charleston December 30th, 1772. You are now nine years old, and it will be soon necessary for you to turn your attention to some kind of business. I commenced to traffick when I was 10 years old in 1782, first at Providence in Rhode Island, as my father and mother and grandfather Joseph Turpin and my grandmother Many Turpin and my uncle, their son William who was my mother's brother, and myself travelled by land from Charleston to Providence and arrived there in the winter of 1779, and found my Great Grandmother, the widow of my Great Grandfather Joseph Turpin, who was then upwards of ninety years of age. (She was my grandfather's sister, and she, on a visit to my family, first turned my attention to trade, by making a skillet full of molasses candy and giving me five or six sticks of the candy on a plate and told me I might have it to sell. I went into the street and soon sold it at a coper a stick and runn home with the money delighted with the grand discovery. She then told me to go and purchase some sugar with the coppers, which I amediately done. She then led me into the secret of making sugar candy, and which I daly sold and doubled my money rapidly. But one day when I was selling candy on Providence Bridge, I went to a Jews Table standing on the bridge covered with a vast assortment of articles for sale, knives, sizzers, Jews harps, sleave buttons, garters, etc. He then told me he would let me have a great bargain of a pair of sleave buttons set with butifull red cut glass for 6-1/4 cents. I at once paid him down the cash and run home, with the buttons, and I recolect when I showed them to my mother and told her of the great purchase I had made, she heartily laughed at me and cryed out pewter links and pewter cups, but I insisted that they were silver, but I soon discovered that my mother was right for I had worn them but a few days, before one of the butefull glasses fell out and was lost.

But what I had lost in money I doubly gained by experience for it induced me to look better in future to my bargains, and again on embarking on board the ship John Brown, commanded by Captain Ambrose Page from Providence bound to Charleston, S.C., I had a Dollar of my own earning, with which I paid for a little Barrell of red apples, but we had a gail of win and run on near the brakers on Cape Hatterass, lay at anchor all night, and had to cut the cable at day light, vessel leaked and they pumped day and night. We had twenty-one days passage, and on landing at Charleston, the apples were damaged. However, I scooped out the rotten and washed and wiped them clean, and being one of the first arrivals after the evacuation of Charleston by the British, apples were in demand, and I got a Dollar for them and I had to spend the money. But my grandmother, Mary Turpin gave me 5 marvells [marbles] that was found in the pocket-book of their runn-away Boy Sam (he was never recovered he went to Boston, etc.) I sold these five marvells for five coppers (half penny, a copper coin of those times) and I purchased seven marvells and sold them for seven coppers and purchased ten marvells and sol them for ten coppers, and so I went on in trade and bought and sold empty bottles.

Captain L.L. Tilden an old respected acquaintance of my grandfather Joseph Turpin, who continually come to our house in Tradd Street, Charleston, on his way to Burdeaux in France, and used to return to Charleston, to sell his cargoes, for he owned ship and cargo and was a rich man in those days. He seeing that I was a trading character as well as himself, he told [me] Sammey that he would carry a venture for me to Burdeaux and I sent five French Crowns by him the first voige, and afterwards more, and directed him to purchase ostrich feathers, Ladys Fans, Umbrales, which he did and I made a handsum proffitt—sold them for more than double the cost. There was no duty on importing goods in those days or very little, and my Uncle William Turpin, with whom I lived as a shop boy, allowed me to sell tarr by retail to the waggoners to grease their waggons, and in December 1792 I sent an adventure to Burdeaux of 65 French Crowns, but this I lost by the French revolution. The merchants property was confiscated, and on I January 1793, I took stock, as you will see by referring to my little ledger kept at that time.

I had gained after losses and paying for schooling, and clothing £12.0.1 and Wadsworth and Turpin then owed me for nine months wages £25.8.0 so that when I was (20) twenty years old I was worth clear of the world and by my own exertion £37.8.1 which is $161.31, fair and square, and I well recolect that I was delighted with the future prospect, and altho, I have met with sad accidents in trade since, and by loss of stock in the National Bank, yet the idea of independence is the thing; by ones own industry, no matter how small or how great; and to trust in the providence of God is a kingdom of itself. I wonder if you could send by some safe person to New Orleans and purchase several hundred prime 1st quality Korbey fish hooks of the proper size for fishing and keep them for sale at Port Cavallo. If you set on trading, I can introduce you to Stewart Steam Candy factory where best candy can be had at twenty-five to thirty cents a pound, but if you should go into the marvell trade you must be sure to take the advice my uncle Turpin gave me, to be sure never to play marvells for winning, as that is gambling, and that will never do, it would spoil your money if you mix it with good honest trading money. Best love to your mother and father, Lewis, Agatha, Augusta and Master George and yourself.
Sam Maverick
P.S. Tell your father I received his last 27 May, come 15 June, and that I wrote L.W. Nechols to see Mr. W. Ward and inquire into what he told him about my land by adv. to be sold for taxes and right him to write to any of my agents that the land is near to I.S. Morton Marshall County, part of Blunt, Alsworth Byron Ashula, W.H. Terrell, Tuskaloosa, W.S. Mudd, Elston, Jefferson Co. I sent him in N. Paper 4 seeds of Boor Critian Plumb and some good Chickasaw seed plumb. They and peach seed must be planted soon as eaten or they will get dry and spoil and acorns must be planted as they drop from the tree. Tie a string around this letter as I have folded it and commence to file your papers from and copy of letters to anybody. I have fine lemons, Colo. figs now ripe that way 2 oz. 5—and a great abundance peaches, plumbs, cherries and grapes, none ripe but the plumb kind and had an abundance strawberries and raspberries now over. How much does your figs weigh? It's too cold here for black figs. I heard from Mrs. Van Wyck 2nd June. Aug. M. Weyman had arrived safely N.Y. on the way to West Point. Your aunt Lydia Van Wyck was unwell—pain in her side, but Sam, William, Zaruah, and Aug. are all well.

How many houses in the town you live in and what is the name of the town? How wide is the land between the Gulph and Matagorda Bay, how many stores in the town and warehouses? Has your father or anybody got a raft of logs chained together floating to runn vessels against to stop their way and to lay planks across to load and unload, or does the tide water runn to swift? Does your father plant corn in drills 2 feet apart and two or three bushell to the row to make corn hay for your cows in winter; let it fully ripen upon the stalk. I have some say six foot high, fine for cattle in winter. Tell your mother that the drought last summer killed every plant that came up from that she sent me. Does oranges and dates grow and ripen in Texas, or pine apples, does wheat rice, barley or oats grow well in Texas, or rye and how much to the acre is there?

The South Carolina Historical Magazine, Jul., 1974


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