Plantation Records of Lemuel P. Conner and Family
By Matthew Arrington
The Lemuel P. Conner and Family Papers, 1818-1865, Adams County, Mississippi and Concordia Parish, Louisiana are a collection of personal and business papers of a prominent Natchez planter family. The Conner family relocated from South Carolina to Adams County, Mississippi around 1790. Lemuel P. Conner (1827-1891) attended Yale University and later returned to Natchez to study law under John T. McMurran. In 1848, Conner married Elizabeth Francis Turner, the daughter of a prominent Natchez judge. Conner took great interest in his family's planting interest in Missisippi and Louisiana until the Civil War. He was a delegate from Louisiana for the constitutional convention of the Confederate States of America. During the Civil War, he served as a lietenant colonel in the Army of Tennessee under the leadership of General Braxton Bragg.
The collection consists of letters passed among the Conner brothers and their associates, which discuss plantation management, the purchase of slaves, and plantations. Several of their vast real estate holdings, many of which were accumulated through marriages, were Lake St. John Place, later known as Innisfail Plantation (the home of Lemuel P. Conner), Killarney, Linden and Recard plantations. His brother William G. Conner resided at the Grove Plantation and later at the Rifle Point Plantation in Natchez. Brother Farar B. Conner lived at Melrose Plantation until erecting a second Rifle Point Plantation in Waco, Texas during the Civil War. Family members also owned the Franklin Place, Northhampton and Buena Vista plantations.
There are miscellaneous papers in the collection that include slave documents, 1844-1862, which include inventories with slave lists showing the ages and family groupings of slaves. There is correspondence that documents the purchase of slaves, and slave deeds. Many of the slaves from the Louisiana and Mississippi area plantations were taken to Texas during the Civil War. The collection has a folder that transcribes slave testimony at a trial in Adams County, Mississippi in 1861. The trial dealt with the planned uprising of the slaves on several plantations, their sheltering of runaway slaves and plan to join in abolitionists' fight to end slavery.
Plantations along the Lower Mississippi River specialized in crops of cotton, sugar cane, tobacco, corn and rice. Natchez was the hub city for King Cotton. Many of these plantations had fifty or fewer slaves but there were a few that had several hundred. Cotton was the chief crop in most of the Lower Mississippi, therefore most slaves were held on plantations that produced cotton. In Louisiana alone, cotton accounted for one-sixth of the cotton grown in the United States and sugar accounted for one-quarter to one-half of all sugar consumed in the United States.
Linden Plantation was established in 1827 by John Wesley Vick in Vicksburg, Mississippi and consisted of 1,100 acres. Killarney Plantation, located in Concordia Parish, Louisiana was owned by Farar B. Conner and had 97 slaves on its inventory. The Melrose Plantation was constructed in 1847 in Natchez, Mississippi and was owned by the McMurran family. Former slaves Jane Johnson and Alice Sims would later inherit this plantation. William Conner owned the first Rifke Point Plantation, which was located in present day Ferriday, Concordia Parish, Louisiana and held 271 slaves. Innisfail Plantation's inventory showed 134 slaves.
Slave auctions were held throughout the Natchez District but the most influential was the Forks of the Road Slave Market. This market was distinct in that slaves were not sold in groups but were sold individually. This market also offered what was known as the "Louisiana Guarantee," a liberal buyer protection warranty. At its peak in 1861, the market sold slaves at prices as high as $1,600 to $1,650. The traders at Forks of the Road Market ceased slave trading activities in 1863 when Union troops occupied the city of Natchez.
The Conner Family Papers contain lists of slave names, but some lists do not specify which of the Conner family plantations the slaves were held on. Other lists do not contain the names of all of the slaves of a given plantation. Below are the records that are contained in the family's correspondence:
Slaves Held by the Conner Family of LA on an unknown plantation. The list was witnessed and attested to on December 27, 1859 by Vidalia, Concordia Parish, Louisiana Recorder Granville P. Williams.
Conner, Farar B., Killarney Plantation Slaves: Women and Children Taken to Texas during the Civil War
Slaves Held by the Conner Family of MS, LA and TX on an unknown plantation.
Conner, Farar B., Slaves Held at Lake St. John Place (Innisfail), Concordia Parish, LA, 1845
Slaves Sold with Lake St. John Place (Innisfail) Plantation to L. P. Conner, Concordia Parish, LA, 1849
Stampp, Kenneth M.
1989 Records of Antebellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War: Series I, Part 3, Lemuel P. Conner and Family Papers, 1818-1865, Adams County, MS and Concordia Parish, LA.
Warren County Historical Markers, Linden Plantation. http://www.ssrc.msstate.edu/grr/warhm.htm#Linden
Antebellum Louisiana-Agrarian Life. http://lsm.crt.state.la.us/cabildo/cab9.htm
Nile of the New World, Mississippi River Plantations. http://www.cr.nps.gov/delta/plantation/plantation.htm
Concordia Parish Louisiana 1860 Slave Holders and 1870 African Americans. Tom Blake. 1999 http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~ajac/laconcordia.htm
1999 Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Barnett, Jim and H. Clark Burkett
2001 "The Forks of the Road Slave Market at Natchez." The Journal of Mississippi History 63:3
This article may be printed and freely shared for nonprofit purposes, as long as this notice and citation appear with the article:
This article was prepared for The USF Africana Heritage Project (www.africanaheritage.com) by Matthew Arrington.
2003 "The Lemuel P. Conner and Family Papers, 1818-1865, Adams County, Mississippi and Concordia Parish, Louisiana: Abstract and Lists of Slaves." The USF Africana Heritage Project, http://www.africanaheritage.com/connerslaves.asp
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