Three Valuable Sawmills for Sale

Here is something interesting that I found regarding a third great-grandfather on my mother’s side. His name was Evan Prothro (1788-1864), a.k.a. Evan the Planter, grandson of Evan the Patriot, and father of my great-great-grandmother, Martha Josephine Prothro. He was a plantation owner and slaveholder who lived in the upcountry in South Carolina near Aiken and across from Augusta on the Georgia side of the Savannah River. He acquired much of his land through land grants from the state of South Carolina, and apparently, he held the mortgage on large tracts of land that were owned by one of his sons and two of his sons-in-law.

While searching and reading newspapers at, I came across an advertisement in the Augusta Weekly Georgia Constitutionalist & Republic dated January 18, 1854. It was titled Three Valuable Sawmills for Sale, and it opens by saying:

“Two of the subscribers wishing to remove from the state, and the other desirous of changing his investment have mutually agreed to sell at Aiken, on the fourth Monday, 27 February next, to the highest bidder without any reserve.”

Following a lengthy description of the properties, the advert refers the reader for “further particulars” to Evan Prothro Esq., at Aiken or to the subscribers on the places.

It lists those subscribers as J. E. Prothro, Patrick Corbett, and Edward Wimberly. The first subscriber was Joseph Edmund Prothro (1819-1902), the second eldest son of Evan Prothro. The second subscriber listed may be a son-in-law and husband of Evan’s daughter Rosina Prothro. The third subscriber was another son-in-law and was the husband of Lavina E Prothro. It’s not clear which subscribers were “wishing to remove from the state”.

The two sons-in-law appear to have remained in South Carolina for the rest of their lives, and Joseph Edmund Prothro does not appear to have left South Carolina until after the Civil War. According to the 1870 census he was in Louisiana then, and afterward went to Texas where he is found in the 1900 census in Longview, Texas where he raised cotton.

The  advertisement describes the land as “valuable property known as Cedar Creek, containing 11,000 acres, more or less.” This matches the description of the land that Evan Prothro acquired through a land grant from the state of South Carolina in 1848 for 11,270 acres on the South Edisto River and Cedar Creek in the Lexington district. (See blog post titled Where It All Started)

It almost goes without saying, that in order to keep the land granted by the state, the land was required to be improved by clearing the land, raising crops, and adding structures – most, if not all, of that work was done by slave labor.

Here is the full text of the advertisement:

All of that valuable property known as Cedar Creek, containing 11,000 acres, more or less, which we have divided into three tracts, viz.:

The first and lower tract contains 1642 acres, more or less, with about 400 acres cleared, and under fence, with about 60 acres sowed in wheat and rye. This tract contains some of the best swampland and is easily reclaimed. The balance is well timbered with a good vertical mill on it, a good two-story dwelling, and all necessary outbuildings.

The second and middle tract contains 4013 acres, more or less, about 250 acres cleared, and under fence. The balance is heavily timbered with pine. With a new circular sawmill in full operation, which cuts 5000 feet of lumber per day, and two log carts can keep the mill well supplied with logs. With a good comfortable dwelling and necessary outbuildings.

The third or upper tract contains 4949 acres, more or less, with about 200 acres cleared land under fence, with about 50 acres sowed in wheat. The cleared land is perfectly fresh and very productive. The balance is the best-timbered land in the state, with a new circular sawmill in full operation, which cuts 6000 feet of lumber per day, with a new two-story dwelling and all necessary outbuildings.

The land to each of these mills extends about 2 miles on each side of the creek.


A tract known as Plantation Tract containing 1900 acres more or less lying on South Edisto River, and in reach of each three mills, with about 200 acres cleared; the balance very heavily timbered with pine.


A tract known as the Jernigan Tract containing 207 acres, more or less, with about 70 acres cleared, and 10 acres sowed with wheat and rye. This tract is heavily timbered with pine and near the third or upper mill.


A tract is known as the Hydrake Tract, containing 100 acres, more or less, all heavily timbered with pine, and about 2 miles from the upper mill.

These lands are all in Lexington District, South Carolina, about 15 miles from Aiken about seven or eight miles from the South Carolina railroad. And as regards health, they are as healthy as Aiken or any other portion of the state.

The upper mill shall pay $50 yearly to each of the Lower Mills, and the second or middle mill shall pay the first or lower mill $50 yearly for passing through their wasteway, with a sufficiency of water to take their rafts to the river, and in consideration of which serve each of the lower Mills shall keep their wasteway and in good passable order.

Terms of sale, one-fourth cash, the balance on a credit of one, two, and three years, with interest from date. Purchaser to give bond, with good security, and a mortgage of the premises to secure the payment of the purchase money.

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