Rurill Hill Plantation

OVERVIEW

Location: Perry Co., AL; Woodville, near Uniontown
Date Constructed/ Founded:
Associated Surnames: Pitts, Byrd, Davidson, Hudson, McLean, Yarbrough, Walker
Historical Notes: Philip Henry Pitts and his brothers Arthur B. L. and David W. Pitts were cotton planters of the Cane Break/ Black Belt region of Alabama. He was born in Virginia and migrated with his parents and siblings from Lloyds, Essex County, VA in 1833 to Oak Lawn, near Union Town (now Uniontown), Perry County, AL. Some of the Pitts family remained in Virginia, while others moved to Mecklenburg County, N.C. The Pitts family was related to several other prominent Uniontown families frequently mentioned in Philip Henry Pitts’s diaries: Davidson (of NC), Caldwell (of NC), and the Rennolds or Reynolds (of VA). P.H. Pitts’ estates were called “Rurill Hill” and “Kings.” He may have owned land in other areas of Alabama, perhaps including Choctaw County. After the Civil War, P.H. Pitts retained at least part of his holdings at Rurill Hill. In 1870, he bought a section of the Lodebo plantation adjoining Rurill Hill. He remained a cotton planter until his death on 22 April 1884. In Pitts’ account books, enslaved persons were assigned to harvest cotton from specific tracks of land on the plantation: House Filed, Burret Field, and Purkens Field.
Associated Pages: Kings Plantation (Perry Co., AL), Lodebo plantation (Perry Co., AL)


ASSOCIATED ENSLAVED PERSONS

Gillespie familyJulia (b.1824); Dovey (b.1848) – child of Julia

Information from Antebellum Census & Estate Records

1850: Assigned to House Field, Burret Field, and Purkens Field together – Willis, Nelson, McKinzie (McKin), Anna, Cyrus, Tabby, Andrew, Malinda, Muscoe, Franky, West, Thom, July, Lydia, Thornton, Henry, Joe, Jim, George, Mary [P.H. Pitts Papers Vol. 1]

1850: Group1 – Male age 38 (b.1812), Female age 38 (b.1812), Male age 19 (b.1831), Male age 15 (b.1835), Female age 10 (b.1840), Female age 4 (b.1846); Group2 – Male age 40 (b.1810), Female age 20 (b.1830), Female age 3 (b.1847), Female age 1 (b.1849); Group3 – Male age 40 (b.1810), Female age 47 (b.1803), Male age 13 (b.1837), Female age 11 (b.1839), Female age 3 (b.1847); Group4 – Male age 25 (b.1825), Female age 23 (b.1827), Female age 5 (b.1845), Female age 3 (b.1847), Female age 1 (b.1849); Group5 – Male age 60 (b.1790), Female age 50 (b.1800), Female age 17 (b.1833), Male age 14 (b.1836), Female age 12 (b.1838), Female age 21 (b.1829), Female age 16 (b.1834), Female age 22 (b.1828), Female age 6 (b.1844), Female age 1 (b.1849); Group6 – Male age 38 (b.1812), Female age 45 (b.1805), Male age 20 (b.1830), Male age 18 (b.1832), Female age 45 (b.1805), Female age 45 (b.1805), Male age 60 (b.1790), Male age 60 (b.1790) [1850 US Federal Census (Slave Schedule), Perry Co., AL, Phillip H. Pitts, 38 total, no houses]

1850: Group1 – Male age 60 (b.1790), Female age 55 (b.1795), Female age 50 (b.1800), Male age 47 (b.1803), Female age 45 (b.1805), Female age 47 (b.1803), Female age 40 (b.1810), Male age 45 (b.1805), Male age 35 (b.1815), Male age 33 (b.1817), Female age 39 (b.1811), Male age 20 (b.1830), Male age 17 (b.1833), Male age 26 (b.1824), Female age 19 (b.1831), Male age 18 (b.1832), Male age 30 (b.1820), Male age 21 (b.1829), Male age 25 (b.1825), Female age 19 (b.1831), Male age 18 (b.1832), Male age 16 (b.1834), Female age 30 (b.1820), Female age 31 (b.1819), Male age 12 (b.1838), Male age 11 (b.1839), Male age 13 (b.1837), Male age 7 (b.1843), Female age 6 (b.1844), Male age 7 (b.1843), Male age 8 (b.1842), Male age 6 (b.1844), Female age 9 (b.1841), Male age 6 (b.1844), Female age 6 (b.1844), Male age 1 (b.1849), Female age 43994 (b.1860), Female age 2 (b.1848); Group2 – Male age 40 (b.1810), Female age 21 (b.1829), Male age 22 (b.1828), Female age 40 (b.1810), Female age 30 (b.1820), Female age 22 (b.1828), Female age 12 (b.1838), Female age 10 (b.1840), Female age 6 (b.1844), Female age 2 (b.1848), Female age 1 (b.1849) [1850 US Federal Census (Slave Schedule), Perry Co., AL, Thomas D. Pitts, 49 total, no houses]

1851: Sally (b.1836) – age 15, purchased from Mr. Williams; Julia (b.1824) – age 27, purchased from Mr. Gillespie; Dovey (b.1848) – age 3, child of Julia, purchased from Mr. Gillespie; Ben (b.1840) – age 11, purchased from Mr. Gillespie; Cansas (b.1844) – age 7, purchased from Mr. Gillespie [P.H. Pitts Papers Vol. 1]

1860: Group1 – Male age 22 (b.1838), Female age 19 (b.1841), Female age 45 (b.1815), Female age 34 (b.1826), Female age 16 (b.1844), Female age 12 (b.1848), Female age 22 (b.1838), Female age 9/12 (b.1860); Group2 – Male age 25 (b.1835), Female age 26 (b.1834), Male age 40 (b.1820), Male age 26 (b.1834), Female age 60 (b.1800), Female age 30 (b.1830), Female age 13 (b.1847); Group3 – Male age 55 (b.1805), Female age 50 (b.1810), Male age 10 (b.1850), Female age 8 (b.1852), Female age 14 (b.1846), Female age 12 (b.1848), Male age 10 (b.1850), Male age 8 (b.1852); Group4 – Male age 44 (b.1816), Male age 48 (b.1812), Female age 50 (b.1810), Female age 17 (b.1843), Female age 1/12 (b.1860); Group5 – Male age 24 (b.1836), Female age 23 (b.1837), Female age 6 (b.1854), Male age 4 (b.1856), Female age 6/12 (b.1860); Group6 – Female age 30 (b.1830), Female age 7 (b.1853), Female age 6 (b.1854), Male age 4 (b.1856); Group7 – Male age 50 (b.1810), Female age 40 (b.1820), Female age 26 (b.1834), Male age 14 (b.1846), Male age 8 (b.1852), Male age 7 (b.1853), Male age 6 (b.1854), Male age 5 (b.1855); Group8 – Female age 34 (b.1826), Female age 17 (b.1843), Female age 13 (b.1847), Male age 10 (b.1850), Female age 8 (b.1852), Female age 6 (b.1854), Male age 2 (b.1858); Group9 – Male age 22 (b.1838), Female age 6/12 (b.1860), Female age 23 (b.1837), Male age 25 (b.1835), Female age 45 (b.1815), Male age 22 (b.1838), Female age 20 (b.1840), Female age 3 (b.1857), Male age 1 (b.1859), Male age 10 (b.1850); Group10 – Male age 40 (b.1820), Female age 30 (b.1830), Female age 10 (b.1850), Male age 6 (b.1854), Female age 4 (b.1856), Female age 1 (b.1859); Group11 – Male age 50 (b.1810), Female age 48 (b.1812), Male age 19 (b.1841), Female age 25 (b.1835), Female age 3/12 (b.1860), Female age 13 (b.1847), Female age 8 (b.1852) [1860 US Federal Census (Slave Schedule), Perry Co., AL, Phillip H. Pitts, 75 total, 14 houses]

ASSOCIATED FREE PERSONS

Pitts family (Virginia): Thomas Daniel Pitts (b.1787-d.1851); Mary “Polly” Mildred Gray Pitts (b.1796-d.1839) – wife (m.?); Phillip Henry Pitts (b.1814-d.1884) – son; Arthur B. L. Pitts (b.1828-d.1853) – son; David William Pitts (b.?-d.1861) – son

Pitts family (Perry Co., AL): Phillip Henry Pitts (b.1814-d.1884) – founder of Rurill Hill Plantation, son of T.D. and P. Pitts; Margaret Mary Davidson Pitts (b.1824-d.1910) – wife (m.bef.1841); Mary Grey Pitts (b.1841-d.?) – dau.; John Pitts (b.1843-d.1862) – son; Sarah E. “Kittey” Pitts (b.1846-d.1873) – dau.; Thomas Daniel Pitts (b.1847-d.1865) – son; Phillip Henry “Harry” Pitts Jr. (b.1849-d.1918) – son; Alexander Pitts (b.1851-d.?) – son; D. W. Pitts (b.1853-d.?) – son; Arthur D. Pitts (b.1855-d.?) – son; Martha Caldwell “Pattie” Pitts (b.1858-d.1939) – dau.; Ellic Pitts (b?-d.?) – son

Pitts family (Selma, AL): Phillip Henry “Harry” Pitts Jr. (b.1849-d.1918) – son of P.H. and M.M.D. Pitts, co-founder of the law firm Dawson & Pitts (1889); Amanda McLean Pitts (b.?-d.1889) – wife (m.1872); Marie Byrd Pitts (b.?-d.?) – wife (m.1890)

Walker family: Mary Grey Pitts Walker (b.1841-d.?) – dau. of P.H. and M.M.D. Pitts

Hudson family: Thomas Hudson (b.1841-d.1923); Sarah E. “Kittey” Pitts Hudson (b.1846-d.1873) – wife (m.?), dau. of P.H. and M.M.D. Pitts; Alexander Davidson Hudson (b.1873-d.1956) – son

Yarbrough family (Oklahoma): Edward Tennent Yarbrough (b.?-d.?); Martha Caldwell “Pattie” Pitts (b.1858-d.1939) – wife (m.?), dau. of P.H. and M.M.D. Pitts


RESEARCH LEADS AND RECORDS

  • None

MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION

  • Pitts’ Folly (1853) – A historic antebellum Greek Revival house located in Uniontown, Alabama. It was designed by architect B. F. Parsons and was used as P.H. Pitt’s main home. The people of Uniontown believed it to be folly, or foolishness, that Pitts was building such a large house since he already owned two other mansions, Rurill Hill and Kings. The house is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places (ID: 77000212).
  • Davidson College, NC – P.H. Pitt’s wife Margaret Davidson was the sister of Alexander C. Davidson. They were descendants of William Lee Davidson, a general during the American Revolutionary War and founder of Davidson College in North Carolina. Pitts was a large contributor to the college within his lifetime and his plantation diaries were later donated to the college for preservation.
  • Phillip Henry Pitts Papers – Scanned documents are available online. Names of and information about enslaved persons is in Series 2. Diaries and Account Books, 1850-1884:
    • Volume 1: September 1850-February 1853 – “Entries include notices of births and deaths of slaves as well as whites; planting records for cotton, corn, potatoes, and oats; the purchasing and hiring of slaves from other planters, runaway slaves in the county, and a case of slaves murdering their master.” [Philip Henry Pitts Papers, 1814-1884. UNC]
    • Volume 2: Accounts, January 1856-1865; July 1884; diary/accounts, August 1882-March 1884 – “doctor’s bills for his family and slaves; the purchase of marriage licenses from a judge (“20 marriage licenses for freedmen + 10 marriage licenses for whites”); The diary on pages 106-186 was written in the back of the older account book. It covers the last two years of Philip H. Pitts’s life. At this time, he was still a cotton planter, although now hiring blacks to work in crews in place of slave labor.” [Philip Henry Pitts Papers, 1814-1884. UNC]
    • Volume 3: January 1860-January 1863 – he discussed the hiring of slaves from other planters and his relationships with his overseers. He also discussed the financial panic of 1861. In 1860, he took part in the Census, giving his total worth as $175,300. [Philip Henry Pitts Papers, 1814-1884. UNC]
    • Volume 4: 1 January 1870-28 December 1870; 1 May 1874 – “At this time, Pitts retained his Rurill Hill plantation, although he had apparently lost his Kings estate after the Civil War. Frequent themes are the problem of hiring and getting freedmen to work, local politics of the Republican (Radical) Party, and the enfranchisement of blacks. He also wrote about his purchase of a section of the Lodebo plantation adjoining Rurill Hill.” [Philip Henry Pitts Papers, 1814-1884. UNC]

REFERENCES

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