Daniel Island African American History

Daniel Island’s history is entwined with her land. The land that nourished her residents but also the land that cultivated businesses such as: Rice, Indigo, Sea Island Cotton, Cattle Ranching, and Shipbuilding.

Those trades were successful because of the labor of generations of enslaved and free Black workers.

Unfortunately, archives on those that worked in fields and in homes is limited and what we do know comes from the wills of those that owned the land and from city/county property records.  

Below is a list of landowners and names of those that were enslaved or worked on their properties. In some cases, the slave names are unknown. As we uncover more of this lost history, this page will be updated.

Lesesne Plantation:

Isaac Lesesne, original owner, (1674-1736)

6 enslaved

Adults: Cato, Carolina and Ben

Girl: Luce

Boy: Pompey

Boy, Native American: Cupid

Isaac Lesesne Jr.

Owned 67 slaves on Daniel Island in 1772

Lesesne Jr. would die and leave the plantation to his wife.  His wife died in 1775 and at that time, she owned 18 enslaved people.  

Thomas Cochran (1794- 1808 owned the land)

20 enslaved

Joshua Leavitt: (1808-1810)

16 enslaved

  • Jack
  • Bason
  • Tom
  • Friday
  • Abraham
  • Josson
  • Rose and child Tom
  • Sylvia and child John
  • Mary and child Nanny
  • Phillis and Amelia
  • Nancy
  • Peggy

Horatio Leavitt: (1810- somewhere between 1814-1817)

15 enslaved people

Grove Plantation (formerly part of the Lesesne Plantation)

John Farr: (1814-1817 to 1823)

1820 Census of St. Thomas and St. Denis:

42 enslaved people; 28 field hands, 1 cotton ginner

5 free Black children under the age of 14.

1830 Census: (At this time the land was owned by John Farr’s 2 nephews, William and Thomas Capers)

43 enslaved people

1 free Black

Charlotte Cordes Keith(1840-1859)

29 people enslaved (1850)

42 people enslaved (1860)

The Mitchell family: (1799 – 1877)

12-23 enslaved people

From an inventory of the Mitchell property in June of 1864:

“Negros of Mrs. Charlotte Mitchell deceased at Daniels Island, June 20, 1864”

  • Colin (70 years)
  • Mary (70 years)
  • Abigail (50 years)
  • Zinetta (20 years)
  • Joe (60 years)
  • Jim (26 years)
  • Jane (36 years with 2 children)
  • Hester (50 years)

Fairbanks Plantation:

Ann Delahowe (1762-1796)

1790 Census of St. Thomas & St. Dennis:

9 enslaved people

Paul Pritchard(1803-1821)

            34 slaves: 7 were skilled craftsmen and 15 were field hands.

He bequeathed to his wife Lydia in his will of July 15, 1814

the following Negroes, To Wit, Gray, Cyrus, Tom, Mamoda, Dick, (ship-Carpenters)

“and my ship joiner, Sam, also my Blacksmith York with his wife Salley and her children Alexander & Philip, also my wench Betty & Dick the House Servant, likewise my boy Bob and John Price, together with the following Negroes that are my field Negroes”………”To Wit, Jangarra and his wife Vizano with their children Binah, Albert, & Hannah. Also my wench Mary and her child Pompey, as well as my fellow called Isaac. It is my request that the residue of the Negroes as follows may be sold in order to pay my just and lawful debts should there by any at the time of my decease.”

“ To Wit, the following Negroes, Mamoody field hand and his wife Jackway, with her child Jenny, Moses, Thomas, Jum, Plum, August, Sandy, Oyo, Peter and Tartar, twelve in number.”

R.  Irvine K. Furman: (Fairbank was divided by his father, Richard Furman, into 2 tracts for his 2 sons.  

Both sons From United States Census Bureau (1850-1860)

29 and 39 enslaved

R. I. K.  section was called Hazlehurst

            1860 Slave Schedule:

36 enslaved people

Moonham Plantation (Other Furman son; previous owner)

Richard Fordham, Jr. 1813-1835

26 enslaved (1826-1840) From South Carolina Slave Sales

46 enslaved (1835)

Rhoden Island (Captain’s Island today) 1819-1849 and then 1852-1859

Richard Fordham JR.

  • 29 enslaved (from 1840 Federal Census)
  • 24 enslaved (1857 death inventory)
  • Dick (age 70)
  • Mary (age 70)
  • Richard (age 35)
  • Montey (age 30)

Charles, Louisa, Francis, Essay, Samuel, James, Phillis, Billy, Panse, Creten (?),      Charlotte, Ann, Molly, Thomas, Rebecca, Amanda, Patsey, Bella and Henry.

Barnard Roddin 1859-1868

African American tenant farmers (1868)

Nathaniel Williams (Free Black slave owner) Not sure where he lived on Daniel Island.

Joseph (Freed in 1729)

After the Civil War, the main industries on Daniel Island were:  Sea Island Cotton, Cattle Ranching and Truck Farming.  The work was primarily handled by black laborers.

Some of those names have been documented.

George Cunningham: (1876-1905)

16 laborers

  • John Pickens
  • Sam Brown
  • William Kinloch
  • Nat Kinloch
  • Frank Campbell
  • John Campbell
  • Richard Pickens
  • Ben Bellinger
  • Wittey Simmons
  • James Dennis
  • Issac Bellinger
  • Lawrence McCoy

Truck Farming(1908-1945)

  • Reverend Benjamin Dennis
  • Saul
  • Jim and Rosa Sanders, son Isaac
  • Arthur and Julia McNeil Alston, children: jack, Henry, Arthur, Freddie, Edward, James, Etta and Leanora.
  • Philip Simmons (Renowned Blacksmith.  Worked: 8 -13 years old)

Guggenheim (1946-1992)

  • Johnnie Rivers
  • Paul Alston (lived and worked on the island for 59 years)
  • Julius Foy
  • Willie Brown
  • Peter Washington

To learn more about those enslaved and the history of the Black community on Daniel Island, please click on the links below and visit Smythe Park to see the historical markers about “Slave Life on Daniel Island” and “Tenants and Truck Farms”.  

You can also read “Daniel Island” by Michael K. Dahlman and Michael K. Dahlman Jr. and “Behind God’s Back; Gullah Memories Cainhoy, Wando, Huger, Daniel Island, ST. Thomas Island” by Herb Frazier.

Alston Cemetery

Grove Cemetery

Simmons Cemetery

Want to learn more about Private David Sparkman who is buried in Simmons Cemetery? Please see “Daniel Island” by Michael K. Dahlman and Michael K. Dahlman Jr. pages 73 and 74.

Bellinger Island

Codner Planation

George Cunningham

Mitchell Pier

Pritchard Shipyard


“Daniel Island” by Michael K. Dahlman and Michael K. Dahlman Jr.

“Behind God’s Back; Gullah Memories Cainhoy, Wando, Huger, Daniel Island, ST. Thomas Island” by Herb Frazier

Home Upriver; Rural Life on Daniel’s Island, Berkeley County, South Carolina by Martha A. Zierden, Lesley M. Drucker, Jeanne Calhoun (archaeological report)

Archaeological Reports of Daniel Island by Brockington and Associates

Other Helpful Resources on African American History:

Avery Research Center