Field Trip

 I took a field trip to the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens on Wednesday with my friend Hunter.   He is in town for spring break and we wanted to do something outside and a little educational.  Since I have never really visited any of the tourist attractions around the city, a plantation seemed like a lot of fun.  Hunter and I both grew up in Rock Hill, near where Historic Brattonsville  is located.  As children, we visited this historic site many times, and I think Hunter was even a “costume interpreter” once upon a time.  I remember women churning butter in historic dress, touring the blacksmith’s cabin, watching the sheep sheerer, and walking out onto the battle field of Huck’s Defeat.  Needless to say we were not prepared for the Amusement Park that is the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. 

I enjoyed our visit though because it was so crazy.  There were all sorts of animals running around in a petting zoo, a crowded tour of the big house, a brief, but amusing boat tour, and then acres and acres of camellias.  The camellias, I’m guessing, are the reason tourist flock to this plantation.   The swamp walk is really cool, and we were some of the last tourists of the day and had the entire swamp to ourselves.  I think that the swamp walk is free to the public because the entrance is before the ticket booth, so I recommend taking an afternoon to walk it.  I should have done a little more research  though before we spent our $36 each.

It was a great experience for me.  I live in a city full of history, but
I really don’t take advantage of the attractions.  I am just now learning to appreciate the local history and how the city of Charleston promotes itself.  I guess I’m pretty lucky to have lived once in house that was over 150 years old, even though it lacked all modern amenities. 


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My Favorite Articles

I thought it would be fun to continue to share some of the more interesting articles that I’ve found along the way.   

 I think one of my favorite articles found so far is this list of Books for Sale

Anyone that knows me, knows that I drink a lot of coffee.  I’ll shamelessly admit that I probably spend more time at Kudu Coffee than anywhere else in this city!  Anyway, one of the ideas that I cannot shake when thinking about various avenues that this project could possibly take is the idea that Saint Dominguan refugees might have attempted to plant coffee in South Carolina.  I am eager to find anything that might suggest this happened or did not happen.  What gives me hope is this article that I found on growing Indigo, which I know they grew in South Carolina prior to the Haitian Revolution, but is proof that Saint Dominguan planters attempted to transplant their Caribbean crops and methods to their new homes.

 This advertisement posted by a French Gentleman, is exemplary evidence of the position of a lot of  Saint Dominguan refugees once they arrived in Charleston.   There was a demand for French language tutors and music teachers, and these French expatriates were well-positioned to fill these positions. 

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Recent Activity

My most recent activity was fixing the roadblock that I made for myself at the very beginning.  The database that I posted a month ago was on a Quattro Pro spreadsheet that I created and organized to my specific needs.  I liked working with the spreadsheet format, or I thought.  This was the first of my two major problems.  It never occurred to me that one should create a text-based database in a word document.  Then I realized my second unfortunate mistake, I’d created my database in an incompatible software to the rest of the world.  I could not open the file in any other computer outside of my own desktop because my five year old computer with Quattro Pro is antiquated already.  So for three sunny 70° Charleston days, I retyped my database into a Works Word Processor table.  It still baffles me that software created and produced under the Microsoft name cannot be opened in all Microsoft computers.  It’s crazy, right?

Now that I’ve had a chance to rant about the technical stuff, on to the important stuff.   My list of relevant newspaper articles is growing daily.  At times it is a little overwhelming, but I’ve received great advice from Dr. Butler at our weekly meetings.  In searching names and places, there are so many avenues to take, so many terms to search, names and cross-references.  I start in one direction and find myself running in another.  This really is an exercise in organization.  Dr. Butler urged me to create a list of search terms that I can strikeout and add to indefinitely.  That way I keep myself a little grounded when it comes to new ideas for a search or new names. 

What takes the most time and method are all the different ways I can search for a specific name and place.   For example: if I search the name “Benoist,” there are three Benoists currently known to have a connection with Saint Domingue.  I then either restrict the search to South Carolina newspapers after 1791.  Or, I type in another keyword, like Saint Domingue, Haiti, Hayti, unfortunate sufferer(s), refugee(s), Charleston, French family, and/or French gentleman/lady.   I could potentially find dozens of articles or nothing at all for each of the three Benoist.  

I got my hands on the 150th Anniversary pamplet of La Société  Française de Charleston.  In this pamphlet, published in 1966 by the Société Française, there is a brief history of the French presence in Charleston, a list of the founding members, and a list of subsequent members and their date of joining.  Through these two lists, I have a tons of names to search to figure out their place of origin and if there is a Saint Domingue connection.  So these searches have become my current focus. 

COMING SOON: Haitian Literature page

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Searching the Internet

For the past week my days have consisted of searching the America’s Historical Newspapers database for anything Saint Domingue and Charleston, SC related.  It is a slow process, but at times rewarding.  I have found some interesting articles, a lot in French, and I have to say the f=s thing is tougher in French than English. 

One of the more interesting articles lists the Market Prices for a barrel of wine, flour, oil and the price of soap at Cape Francois in June of 1799.  I find it fascinating, it’s an economical indication of what is happening on the ground in the midst of it all. 

So when I find an article that is relevant I put it on a spreadsheet that I created.  I’ve included it in an altered form for the curious.  Keep in mind that the list is growing everyday.  newspaper.pdf 

I also found this:  This website has tons of maps from the 18th century.   There are three of Saint Domingue/Haiti.

Outside of sitting at my computer, I’m reading a book by Nathalie Dessens, From Saint-Domingue to New Orleans: Migration and Influences.  It is a parallel study of refugees who ended up in New Orleans. 

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Struck Gold!

I found this link today.  A bibliography on the Haitian Revolution.  It is not a complete list for the purposes of my project and it is a little outdated- from 1991, nonetheless it is a great addition to my growing bibliography.

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Hello world!

This is my official first time blogging or keeping a personal web space. Primarily I will be documenting my experiences as a Special Collections research intern at the Charleston County Public Library. Under the auspices of Dr. Nic Butler, I am researching the migrations of Saint Domingue refugees to Charleston, SC.

More precisely the migrations of the French colonial planters, Creoles, freed blacks, etc. living in Saint Domingue around the start of the slave rebellion in the 1780s to the 1800s when they were forced out of the newly independent black republic. They fled all over the Atlantic world, to U.S. port cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Charleston, where they were welcomed at some places and feared at others. So what happened to those who fled to Charleston, SC? They either were absorbed into the pre-established French Huguenot society or moved to other places. We really do not know, so insert me and this project.

The first step is to design a bibliography of what is already known on the subject. There are innumerable sources on the Revolution itself and a few on its effects on the Atlantic world. The Charleston County Public Library has the potential sources to uncover the whereabouts of these missing refugees, but they are stored away in the Special Collections department until someone finds the time to catalog and database them. Again, insert me and my empty schedule. So this is the beginning of the project and hopefully we will uncover something new and change the face of Franco-Haitian-Charleston history as we know it.

You may wonder what has possessed me to undertake such a task, well here is your answer. I, Lee Frances Roueche, a recent graduate of the College of Charleston with a B.A. in History and minors in African studies and French, am bored. I took a year off to decide what I really want to do with the rest of my life. So I, as my friend Will called it, “played school” for another semester, and took two additional courses as an adult student in the fall. Alas, I still yearned for more direction in life; as opposed to falling headfirst into a graduate program for history, (I just could not bring myself to devote two more years to plain old History). So I harassed Dr. Butler for several months about an independent internship to keep me focused on a career path, and JACKPOT, he introduced me to Public History, amazingly practical and career-oriented Public History. Nine months later an idea is finally slowly forming, and I am filling out Graduate school applications and thinking to the future while staying busy at the library and at work.

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