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Collection Number: 02334

Collection Title: Houmas Plantations and William Porcher Miles Materials Collection, 1760-1927

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


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Size 2.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately Items:1200 items)
Abstract Secretary-treasurer of the Miles Planting and Manufacturing Company, which controlled 13 large sugar plantations; developer of a subdivision of New Orleans; and business representative of William Porcher Miles. Business papers and correspondence passed down to Gaudet, arranged in two series: 1) Financial and legal Papers, 1760-1927, about 800 items, relating chiefly to the ownership of Houmas Plantations in Ascension Parish and other Louisiana property, including deeds, mortgages, wills, claims, notes, receipts, agreements, and some correspondence among successive title holders and their legal and business agents. There are also lists of slaves and freedmen, agreements with Chinese laborers, plans for land drainage, and memoranda of cotton sales, sugar crops, and plantation stores. 2) Letters from William Porcher Miles at Houmas Plantations to Henry Eustis at New Orleans, 1894-1896, about 400 items, concerning cultivation and sales of sugar, his opposition to national legislation relating to the sugar market, Miles Planting and Manufacturing Company activities, state and national politics, civic and social events, and family and personal affairs.
Creator Gaudet, James Amedee, 1861-1939.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Houmas Plantations and William Porcher Miles Materials Collection #2334, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Bessie M. Gaudet of New Orleans, La., in April 1941 and April 1946.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

James Amedee Gaudet (1861-1939) was the son of Amedee Michel Gaudet and Louis Ilsley. His father was a sugar planter and a member of the Louisiana state legislature. His mother was the daughter of John H. Ilsley, a justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Gaudet was secretary-treasurer of the Miles Planting and Manufacturing Company; secretary-treasurer of the Miles Timber Company; and developer of Ingleside Heights, a subdivision of New Orleans. He was a business representative for William Porcher Miles and the Houmas Plantations.

William Porcher Miles (1822-1899) was born in Waterboro, S.C. He attended the Willington Academy in Abbeville District and the College of Charleston from which he was graduated in 1842. He first studied law, but then changed to the teaching profession and become assistant professor of mathematics at the College of Charleston, 1843-1855. He was elected mayor of Charleston in 1855, running against Know-Nothingism. In 1857, he was elected to Congress and championed slavery and succession until his withdrawal in 1860. During the Civil War, he served as representative from the Charleston District to the Confederate Congress. In 1863, Miles married Betty Beirne, daughter of Oliver Beirne, a wealthy planter in Virginia and Louisiana. After the Civil war, Beirne made him manager of the Houmas Plantations in Louisiana, which he had inherited from his friend John Burnside (d. 1881). Miles managed these plantations until his death in 1899.

John Burnside acquired the Houmas Plantation in 1858. It had been purchased by General Wade Hampton (1751?-1835) of South Carolina in 1812. His daughter and son-in-law, Caroline Martha and John Smith Preston (1809-1881), were sent out to manage the property and built Houmas House in 1840. They sold it to John Burnside in 1858, and Burnside bought several other plantations in the area. It is believed that he owned a total of 13 plantations in Ascension and Saint James parishes, including Houmas, Orange Grove, Conway, Clark, Riverton, Donaldson, Saint James, White Castle, and Armant. The term "Houmas Plantations" is sometimes used to refer to these plantations as a group. Houmas Plantation and Houmas House are located on the Mississippi River, near Burnside in Ascension Parish. Burnside managed to retain his plantations after the Civil War because he was a British subject.

(The section on William Porcher Miles is adapted from a sketch by Francis Butler Simkins in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Vol. 12.)

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

This collection consists of two distinct sections. The first contains financial and legal documents, 1785-1927. The bulk of these documents fail are dated 1840-1882. From 1785 to 1848, documents are chiefly deeds and land grants relating to the Houmas Plantations. From 1849 to 1881, documents are chiefly promissory notes, acts of protest, or other items relating to the business affairs of John Burnside. Documents at the end of the series belonged to Oliver Beirne and William Porcher Miles and are chiefly tax returns and tax receipts.

The second series consists of letters, 1893-1896, from William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, a business associate, about the Houmas Plantations and the Miles Planting and Manufacturing Company, politics, and family activities.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Financial and Legal Papers, 1785-1927 and undated.

About 800 items.

Arrangement: roughly chronological.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1785-1848.

About 150 items.

Chiefly papers concerning the ownership of Houmas Plantation and other Louisiana plantations. Included are deeds, bills of sale for land and slaves, and wills executed by Wade Hampton, William Conway, John Conway, Caroline M. Preston (daughter of Wade Hampton), and many others. Many of the documents are copies made at a later date; they are filed by the date of the original document. Burnside left his property to Oliver Beirne, who was the father-in-law of William Porcher Miles. Below is a chronological listing of some of the documents included.

1785:Deed, Alexander and John Anderson to Joseph Saumier.

1797:Deed, J. Maurice Conway to William Conway.

1805:Agreement among William Conway, David Clark, and Jean Ramiers Joachim.

1807:Will of William Conway.

1809:Copy of deed, William Conway to his son John.

1811:Deed, John Mills to Wade Hampton.

1817:Deed, John Mills to Wade Hampton.

1824:Deed of sale of Houmas Plantation by Wade Hampton to John Sims.

1825:Deed of sale of land, Mrs. Robert (Elizabeth Conway) Laws to Benjamin Winchester.

1827:Deed of sale of land, James Conway to M. D. Bringier.

1829:Mortgage against property of William Donaldson.

1832-1835:Deed, John Henderson to M. D. Bringier. Deed, Elizabeth Ann Conway Righton to Benjamin Winchester. Deed of sale, Charles de Armas to Wade Hampton. Deed of sale of a tract of land by Wade Hampton to William C. Kenner. Deed of sale, John Conway and Dominique Lamoux to Augustus S. Phelps. Copy of document concerning settlement of Wade Hampton's estate.

1836:Extract from will of William Conway, filed in case of Millandon v. McDonough. Other documents used in the same case.

1840-1841:Deed of sale by Laurent Millandon to Phillipson Millandon. Deed of sale of land and slaves from John Slidell to Laurent Millandon. Copy of deed of sale of land by Laurent Millandon to Manuel Julian de Lizardi. Copy of deed of sale of land by Jean Francois Saville to Abraham Francis Righter.

1842:Deed of sale of land, Joachim Kohn to Laurent Millandon (Orange Grove). Deed of sale of property by Laurent Millandon to Henry Phillipson.

1843:Document about sale of land by Henry Godfrey Schmidt to Elizabeth A. Conway, later involved in a law suit. Sale by H. B. Commack, assignee of Kohn, Daron and Company, bankrupts, to J. F. Preston.

1844:Deed of sale of interest in plantation and slaves, Alexander Gordon to Manuel Julian de Lizardi. Rectification of an error and deposit of documents by Victor Burthe, Charles Casimer Gardennes, and Millardon.

1846:Deed of sale of plantation and slaves by C. C. Gardennes to Manuel J. de Lizardi, and release of mortgage to L. Millandon (incomplete).

1847:Deed of sale of land, C. C. Gardennes to Philip Millandon. Sale of White Hall Plantation, Mr. and Mrs. John Penny to John S. Preston and John L. Manning.

1848:Deed of sale of land and slaves, Mary Hampton to John and Caroline Preston.

Folder 1

1785-1809 #02334, Subseries: "1.1. 1785-1848." Folder 1

Folder 2

1811-1827 #02334, Subseries: "1.1. 1785-1848." Folder 2

Folder 3

1829-1839 #02334, Subseries: "1.1. 1785-1848." Folder 3

Folder 4

1840 #02334, Subseries: "1.1. 1785-1848." Folder 4

Folder 5

1841 #02334, Subseries: "1.1. 1785-1848." Folder 5

Folder 6

1842 #02334, Subseries: "1.1. 1785-1848." Folder 6

Folder 7

1843-1844 #02334, Subseries: "1.1. 1785-1848." Folder 7

Folder 8

1846 #02334, Subseries: "1.1. 1785-1848." Folder 8

Folder 9

1847 #02334, Subseries: "1.1. 1785-1848." Folder 9

Folder 10

1848 #02334, Subseries: "1.1. 1785-1848." Folder 10

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1849-1881.

About 500 items.

Beginning in 1849, John Burnside played a conspicuous part in the business transactions documented here. Many of the papers in this subseries relate to John Burnside and Company Some of these documents relate to Burnside's friend Oliver Beirne, and include several powers of attorney from Beirne to Burnside, who was to act for his friend in land purchase deals.

Another company that frequently appears in these papers is McStea, Value and Company, of which Nelson McStea was the principal figure. Both John Burnside and Company and McStea, Value and Company appear to have been involved in lending money to various individuals; many papers relate to suits ("protests") brought by the companies to collect money from defaulting debtors. Also included are numerous promissory notes. Below is a chronological listing of some of the documents included.

1849:A few promissory notes of John Burnside and Company.

1850-1853:Copies of papers in the United States Land Office, a number of promissory notes, and other items relating to John Burnside and Company. Original act of donation from Mary Hampton to Caroline Preston involving a gift of land.

1854:Business Papers, notes, and other items of John Burnside and Company. Succession from H. F. Williams to Aglae Duborg, widow of M. D. Bringier. Protest for non-payment, S. Condit and Company on Siddall Greene and Company to John Burnside and Company. Protest for non-payment, Dowling and Young to John Burnside.

1855:Deed of sale of land and slaves, John S. Preston to Caroline M. Preston. Andrew Beirne's instrument granting power of attorney to John Burnside. Deed of sale of property and slaves, Philip Millandon to L. Millandon. Various protests and promissory notes.

1856-1857:Manuel Julian de Lizardi's document granting power of attorney to Juan Y. de Egana. Protests, promissory notes, and other documents. Transcripts from the case of John Burnside v. Jesse R. Kirkland.

1858:Promissory notes and deeds of sales of land and slaves. Power of attorney of Oliver Beirne to John Burnside. Deed of sale of Houmas Plantation, Caroline M. Preston to John Burnside. Letter from Louis Janin to "Benjamin," discussing the Houmas and other titles.

1859:Notes, acknowledgements, receipts, and other papers. Notice of an assignee's sale.

1860-1862:Memoranda of bales of cotton on J. M. Gillespie's plantation. John M. Andrews's protest against the burning of cotton and a press by armed troops for the Planters Cotton Press. Other protests; vouchers; deeds of sales of property; papers documenting transactions of John Burnside, Nelson McStea, and others.

1863-1864:Document executed by Nelson McStea, a British subject, leasing captured or abandoned property from the U. S. government. A protest executed by John Burnside, also a British subject, against Confederate officers who burned cotton on his land.

1865-1866:Notes, vouchers, and protests of John Burnside, Nelson McStea, McFarland and Bucksdale, and Beverley L. Holcomb. John Burnside's tax return.

1868-1870:Receipt of Gilmore and Sons for fee in Burnside legal case and other papers relating to Burnside, including tax return. Power of attorney granted by Richard I. Manning, Wade Hampton Manning, and Mary Hampton Manning to their father, John L. Manning. Deed of purchase by Arthur W. Foley of part of the Houmas grant, formerly owned by Wade Hampton. Bill for lumber for sugar house and cane shed. Power of attorney granted by Caroline M. Preston to Randell L. Gibson. John Burnside tax return.

1871-1873:Claim of Nelson McStea against the United States for bales of cotton burned during the Civil War. New Orleans tax receipts. Agreement between John S. Swann and McStea and Value. Contract of George E. Payne, who was to go to China to hire Chinese laborers to work for Burnside in Louisiana. Receipt for sale of cotton by firm of Burnside and McFarland to Nelson McStea. Notice of election of Nelson McStea to the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce. List of documents relating to Wade Hampton's property. Agreement between John Burnside and 80 Chinese laborers to work on the Armant Plantation. Bills and receipts of McStea and Value.

1874:Notes, receipts, New Orleans tax receipts.

1875:Bills and receipts relating to stores at Houmas, Armant, Orange Grove, Saint James, Riverton, White Castle, and other plantations. Receipts for purchase of 3,000 barrels of molasses for Ascension store. Promissory notes. Agreement of Lucien Granderry to deliver bricks to John Burnside at Saint James Refinery Plantation.

1876-1879:Copy of an act of mortgage from Benjamin E. Story to Hugh D. Hopkins. Many bills, receipts, and notes.

Folder 11

1849-1850 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 11

Folder 12

1851-1852 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 12

Folder 13

1853 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 13

Folder 14

1854 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 14

Folder 15

1855 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 15

Folder 16

1856-1857 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 16

Folder 17

1858 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 17

Folder 18

1859 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 18

Folder 19

1860 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 19

Folder 20

1861 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 20

Folder 21

1862 January-March #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 21

Folder 22

1862 April-November #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 22

Folder 23

1863 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 23

Folder 24

1864 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 24

Folder 25

1865 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 25

Folder 26

1866 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 26

Folder 27

1867 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 27

Folder 28

1868 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 28

Folder 29

1869 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 29

Folder 30

1870 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 30

Folder 31

1871 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 31

Folder 32

1872 January-May #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 32

Folder 33

1872 June-December #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 33

Folder 34

1873 January-April #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 34

Folder 35

1873 May-December #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 35

Folder 36

1874 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 36

Folder 37

1875 January-June #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 37

Folder 38

1875 July-December #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 38

Folder 39

1876-1879 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 39

Folder 40

1880-1881 #02334, Subseries: "1.2. 1849-1881." Folder 40

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. 1882-1900.

About 60 items.

After John Burnside died in 1881 and left his property to his friend Oliver Beirne, the volume of materials decreases. Most of these papers relate to Beirne's business affairs. Below is a chronological listing of some of the documents included.

1882:New Orleans tax receipts and other business papers of Oliver Beirne.

1884-1889:Agreement among Oliver Beirne, William Greene, and J. B. Quimby for Greene and Quimby to sink wells at Riverton Plantation. List of expenditures of J. L. Bradford on a contract with Oliver Beirne and D. F. Kenner. New Orleans tax receipts.

1890-1899:State and city tax receipts. Share of stock in the Davis Land Company and in the Louisiana State Fair Association.

Folder 41

1882 #02334, Subseries: "1.3. 1882-1900." Folder 41

Folder 42

1884-1889 #02334, Subseries: "1.3. 1882-1900." Folder 42

Folder 43

1890-1894 #02334, Subseries: "1.3. 1882-1900." Folder 43

Folder 44

1895-1899 #02334, Subseries: "1.3. 1882-1900." Folder 44

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.4. 1900-1927.

About 60 items.

Papers after 1900 deal chiefly with the Miles Planting and Manufacturing Company for which William Porcher Miles served as president and James Amedee Gaudet as secretary. The majority of these documents are the Company's city and state tax receipts. Included are the following: bill for publishing the Miles Planting and Manufacturing Company's charter; deed of sale passing the property of Miles Planting and Manufacturing Company, Ltd., to the Miles Planting and Manufacturing Company; state, city, and federal tax receipts; deed of sale by Miles Planting and Manufacturing Company for Riverton Plantation; map of Riverton Plantation, dated 1920.

Folder 45

1900-1906 #02334, Subseries: "1.4. 1900-1927." Folder 45

Folder 46

1907-1914 #02334, Subseries: "1.4. 1900-1927." Folder 46

Folder 47

1915-1927 #02334, Subseries: "1.4. 1900-1927." Folder 47

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896.

About 250 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Note that a more extensive description of the material in this series is available on request (see control file).

Almost entirely letters from William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1897, when Miles was managing the Houmas Plantations for his father-in-law, Oliver Beirne. The connection between Miles and Eustis is not clear. Eustis seems to have managed business affairs for Miles and was connected with the Miles Planting and Manufacturing Company. However, Eustis was more than a business associate, since Miles frequently discussed politics and family affairs in his letters. For example, Miles's 1894 letters frequently include references to the tariff debate in Congress. Miles vigorously opposed high tariffs and argued against Southerners who joined the Republicans on the issue.

Miles discussed the management of Houmas Plantations and the progress of his sugar crop in letters to Eustis, including references in 1894 to carelessness on the part of some of his overseers, lack of rainfall, and low sugar prices. Miles also referred several times to letters sent him by Eustis, which apparently contained information on expenses and profits at the plantations.

Also included are several letters from early 1895 with news of Miles's family's activities during the holiday season and Miles's fear that the sugar cane stubble and seed would be damaged by the very cold weather. In March 1895, Miles referred to having obtained a fair portion of the sugar bounty, apparently as a result of a long legal fight. Controversy over payment of this bounty continued throughout the year.

In 1896, Miles wrote to Eustis about sugar, his plantations, the Miles Planting and Manufacturing Company, family news, and politics.

Folder 48

1893 December #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 48

1894 January-February #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 48

Folder 49

1894 March-April #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 49

Folder 50

1894 May-August #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 50

Folder 51

1894 September-December #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 51

Folder 52

1895 January-March #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 52

Folder 53

1895 April-June #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 53

Folder 54

1895 July-August #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 54

Folder 55

1895 September-December #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 55

Folder 56

1896 January-February #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 56

Folder 57

1896 March #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 57

Folder 58

1896 April-May #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 58

Folder 59

1896 June-September #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 59

Folder 60

1896 October-December #02334, Series: "2. Letters of William Porcher Miles to Henry C. Eustis, 1893-1896." Folder 60

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Processing Information

Processed by: Shonra Newman, September 1990

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Series 1 description is based on an original inventory compiled by Elizabeth H. Cotten around 1946.

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