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Elizabeth Waties Allston Pringle, 1845-1921 and Alice R. Huger Smith (Alice Ravenel Huger), b. 1876
A Woman Rice Planter
New York: The Macmillan Company, 1914, c1913.


Elizabeth Waties Allston Pringle, daughter of planter and politician Robert Francis Withers Allston, was born on Pawley's Island, South Carolina, in 1845. Her father owned one of the largest plantations in South Carolina and served in the state legislature for several years before becoming governor in 1856. Elizabeth Allston left home to attend boarding school in Charleston when she was nine years old. When the Civil War started, Elizabeth moved to Columbia and stayed there until 1863. She moved back to Charleston briefly before settling in Crowley Hill, where she endured a raid by Sherman's troops. Her father died in 1864, and all of his property was lost to creditors.

Pringle taught at her mother's boarding school in Charleston for three years before marrying John Julius Pringle in 1870. After his death in 1876, Mrs. Pringle bought their house and land, as well as her family's farm, Chicora Wood. She managed both farms herself, but was forced to find another source of income. Under the pseudonym Patience Pennington, Pringle began writing weekly letters for the New York Sun, which described her life on a southern rice plantation. Pringle later collected the letters and published them as a single volume under the title, A Woman Rice Planter, in 1914. Another volume, Chronicles of Chicora Wood (1922), a memoir about her parents, childhood, Civil War experiences, and memories of Reconstruction, was published after her death in 1921.

The letters in A Woman Rice Planter are written in the style of a personal diary. They begin after she purchased Chicora Wood and describe the struggles and challenges associated with rice farming. The letters contain accounts of her daily activities, interactions with the African American laborers and descriptions of their customs and lifestyle.

Work Consulted: Garraty, John A. and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Harris Henderson

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