|Caledonia Plantation was one of the profitable rice plantations in the 1800's. One
amazing fact about the Plantation is that in 1850 when it was being managed by Mary
Hamilton Nesbit, widow of Major Robert Nesbit and daughter of John Hamilton, it's rice
crop topped 540,000 pounds of rice. The plantation had a cash value fixed in the 1850
census at $80,000 one of the top 20 in the area. In 1860 and now managed by Robert
Hamilton Nesbit, the plantations yield had been increased to 720,000 pounds of rice.
Caledonia's name came from the ancient Roman name for Scotland. Major Robert Nesbit inherited the property from his uncle Dr. Robert Nesbit who was married to Elizabeth Pawley in 1797. (Dr. Nesbit's Account Book 1796-1804 is kept at the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC).
Major Robert Nesbit came to Caledonia in 1808 from his native Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Scotland where he was born on November 17, 1799. He was a respected member of the community and a popular member of the Hot and Hot Fish Club which passed a resolution comemorating this "practical planter" upon his death on October 17, 1848. He had lived for more than 30 years on the Waccamaw Neck. The plantation was eventually divided between Major Robert's two sons, Robert Hamilton Nesbit, and Colonel Ralph Nesbit.
Colonel Ralph Nesbit served with the Siege Train during the Civil War. He and his family were members of All Saints Parish, Waccamaw, where he served as a vestryman and warden.
During the reconstruction period in 1866 the Nesbit's were two of a group of planters who entered into a contract with their laborers sanctioned and approved by the US government. The contract stated that the planters would furnish implements, wagons, and mules. The laborers were to work the crops and keep the fences and ditches operational. One-half of the rice, corn, pea, and potato crops were to be given to the laborers after deducting 1/5 for plantation expenses. This effort to maintain the crops and their work force failed due to many of the laborers refusal to work the contract. The crop of 1866 was one of a string of failures which futher depressed the area planters. A letter from Benjamin Allston to a fellow plantation owner in Plantersville gave a prediction of the future, "From being one of the most wealthy Districts, I fear it will now rank as one of the most impoverished, and the vain attempts to cultivate rice under existing circumstances by many, will only complete the ruin." Even the US government's vain attempt to assist the crops success by having the US Army try and force the former slaves to work were unsuccessful. By 1867 the planters were on the verge of bankruptcy.
[Return to Nisbets of the USA] [Return to the Home Page]