Barnwell Island Plantation - Beaufort County South Carolina SC

Barnwell Island Plantation – Beaufort County

Basic Information

  • Location – Broad River, near Burton, Beaufort County

  • Origin of name – Named for Captain John Barnwell, the plantation's founder

  • Other names – ?

  • Current status – ?


  • Late 1700s – Earliest known date of existence (2)

    Captain John Barnwell ("Tuscarara Jack") owned the plantation (2).

  • 1724 – Captain Barnwell died and the plantation was left to son Major Nathaniel Barnwell (2).

  • 1798 – Major Barnwell died and the plantation was left either to his wife, Eliza Natalia Barnwell, or his daughter, Eliza Natalia Barnwell Cuthbert (2) (4).

  • Mid-1800s – William Henry Trescott acquired Barnwell Island Plantation when he wed Eliza Natalia Barnwell Cuthbert (3, p. 436).

  • 1850s – House built (2)

    The house was constructed by William Henry Trescott, the Under Secretary of State for President Buchanan's administration. Most of the work on the construction of the house was done by Trescott's slaves and his head carpenter. The window sashes, doors and paneling was constructed in Charleston (2).

  • 1861 – Trescott was away on business when Union soldiers took possession of the plantation (1).

  • 1867 – Trescott petitioned for the plantation and ownership was restored to him (1).

  • 1876 – Colonel William Elliott moved the house from Barnwell Island, transporting it by boat to Beaufort where he erected it at 1011 Bay Street. The house was in threat of demolition in 1976 when Dr. Black purchased it and had it moved to 500 Washington Street, Beaufort. The Blacks restored the house (2).

  • Early 1940s – Albert West Bissell of Evanston, IL purchased the plantation which had been used as a hunting lodge by the previous owner. Mr. and Mrs. Bissell spent several months each spring and fall at Barnwell Island. Cattle was raised on the plantation with moderate success under the management of Hoyt McCaskill (2).

  • 1949 – Albert West Bissell passed away (2).

  • 1950 – Mrs. Bissell sold the plantation to two doctors from Buffalo, NY, who proceeded to cut most of the trees to sell as timber (2).


  • Number of acres – 926 in 1798; 1,800 in early 1940s (2)

  • Primary crop – Cotton (1); Rice (2)


  • Number of slaves – 131 in 1860 (1)

References & Resources

  1. Sankofa's Plantation Data Collection

  2. Information contributed by Julia Bissell Baillet whose father owned Barnwell Island Plantation in the 1940s with some of the information from:
    Guion Griffis Johnson, A Social History of the Sea Islands (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1930)
     Order A Social History of the Sea Islands

  3. Lawrence S. Rowland, Alexander Moore, and George C. Rogers, Jr. The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina: Volume 1, 1514-1861 (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1996)
     Order The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina: Volume 1, 1514-1861

  4. Major John Barnwell - Find A Grave

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