Biographical and Critical Miscellanies - E. O. Barnwell

E. O. Barnwell


E. O. Barnwell (1820-1916)

Elizabeth Osborn Flanders was the seventh child born to Edward Barnwell (1785-1860) and Elizabeth Osborn (?-1824).

Edward and Elizabeth were married on 1 January 1808. They had nine children: Catherine Osborn (1809-1886), Mary Bower (1811-1871), Edward M. (1813-), Thomas Osborn (1815-1879), Robert (1817-1817), Martha Ann (1818-1895), Elizabeth Osborn (1820-1916), Margaret Harriet (1822-1900), and Esther Heyward (1824-1864).

Their mother, Elizabeth, died 28 days after baby Esther was born, leaving little Elizabeth motherless at the age of four.

Edward and Eliza Zubly Smith were married on 14 June 1832. This union resulted in seven half-siblings for Elizabeth: Archibald Smith Barnwell, John Smith Barnwell, Woodward Barnwell, Helen Barnwell, Charlotte Cuthbert Barnwell, Stephen Bull Barnwell, and Eliza Anne (“Leila”) Barnwell.

Elizabeth’s step-mother, Eliza, died in 1846, and in 1849 Edward married for a third, and final, time to Sarah Caroline Richardson. They had one child together, Sarah Caroline Barnwell.

All in all, Elizabeth had sixteen siblings.

Because her mother died so young, Elizabeth went to live, first, with her grandmother and aunts, and then with her oldest sister, Catherine, where she was raised.

From 1835-36, at around age 15, Elizabeth went to the relatively new and progressive women’s school, Abbot Academy, far from her family in Andover, Massachusetts.

It was in Massachusetts, where she met and married her husband, Henry. The year after her father married for a third time, Elizabeth married Henry Flanders; the marriage took place in Lawrence, Massachusetts on 14 November 1847.

Their first child, George Elliott Flanders, was born in May 1849 in either South Carolina or New York (records are divided). A daughter, Lillian [Lily] Flanders was born in New York, in 1856.

A letter written on Nov.18 and Dec. 5, 1858 (year is debatable), from Philadelphia, indicates that a third child was on it’s way, but no record of birth or existence is found. The 1910 United States Census indicates that Elizabeth had in her lifetime, given birth to five children but at that time only two survived (George and Lily Elliott).

In the 1858 letter, Elizabeth describes a terrible accident that affected her children:

My cook- hearing of the sickness of her child- left me at a moments notice. To get a girl to live in the country is no easy matter. This calamity however was trifling compared to one which the next day befel the children. They were both badly scalded! Such screaming you probably never heard. Lily’s bare legs were peeled almost entirely from the knees to the soles of her feet… They have suffered terribly. Elliott did not suffer so much as his thick clothes protected him. He is still however limping about on one foot, the other being bound up. They have given me less trouble however than you would suppose. Lily is certainly one of the best of children. Hardly utters a complaint except an occasional + momentary cry, while her wounds are being dressed. She has lost her appetite almost entirely + is growing quite thin. But worse than this is the nine months campaign upon which I have again entered! The prospect appals me though I try not to think of it.

Perhaps it is unfair to presume, but the notion that she is appalled by being pregnant “again” may indicate that other pregnancies did not fare well.

Two years after the letter, in 1860, Henry, Elizabeth, George and Lily were living in Philadelphia Ward 22. Henry was working as a lawyer.

While Elizabeth and Henry were living in Philadelphia, on the eve of the Civil War, danger was lurking around the family home in Beaufort, South Carolina.

In November 1861, almost two years after Elizabeth’s father passed away, the Union army attacked, won, and occupied Beaufort. Almost all of the plantation owners and their families evacuated the area on the evening of November 6 and the morning of November 7th. Kean’s Neck Plantation, and all the surrounding plantations were quickly abandoned. Many of the slaves were “freed” by default as a result of the fleeing plantation owners and their families. On the website The Battle for the Coastal Islands of South Carolina we read that, “Teddy Barnwell [Elizabeth’s brother] led a detachment of the Rutledge Mounted Rifles onto Port Royal Island the same day to gather military information. He reported that the town was ‘still as death’, but from the fourth floor of the Barnwell Castle on Bay Street he could see the Union gunboats steaming up the Beaufort River. When Thomas Elliott slipped into Beaufort on November 8, he found that the homes had already been ransacked by the slaves and that the debris of furniture and household goods cluttered the streets. When he arrived at his own home, Elliott found several plantation slaves reveling in the house.”

Inside UPEI’s Provenance collection book, Biographical and Critical Miscellanies, by William H. Prescott is written the inscription:

Meta H. Barnwell from her affec. Sister E.O. Barnwell

Tucked between the pages, in the middle of the book, was a journal clipping from the 18 January 1862 edition of Harper’s Weekly: A Journal of Civilization. The clipping was a sketch depicting slaves having a party. Captioned under the picture is Scene in the Parlor of Mr. Barnwell’s House at Beaufort, South Carolina- [Sketched by our Special Artist]. Written on the side of the sketch are the following words:

This sketch as you will perceive coincides with the description given by Tom when his party entered it and conveys in eloquent terms the old establishment and horrors entailed upon may who once enjoyed the belongings of home with all its mere refining influences

Tom could be Elizabeth and Meta’s brother, Thomas Osborn Barnwell, or it could be the Thomas Elliott mentioned above, as he was a friend of the family and distant relative.

There is a distinct possibility, that the writing on the clipping could be that of Elizabeth Barnwell’s, as it is found tucked inside the book that she inscribed to her younger sister, Meta.

In the 1910 US Census, Elizabeth is living with her daughter Lillian Flanders in Gardena, Los Angeles, California, even though her husband was still alive, living in Philadelphia. In fact, it is known they were living apart as early as 1909, as indicated in Henry’s will (explaining that his wife lives with his daughter in California).

Henry Flanders died on 3 April 1911, age 85.

Elizabeth died on 17 August 1916, age 96, in Los Angeles, California.

Of their two children, Lilly never married and remained childless. George, and his wife, Cynthia Weaver, had 13 children in total. According to the 1910 United States Census, only 9 out of the 13 were still living. Nine names of George and Cynthia's children have been traced: Lily B., Henry, Elizabeth B., Cynthia A., Grace, Frances C., George E., William N., and Charles M. Most, if not all, of Elizabeth’s grandchildren were born in Kansas, and the four youngest listed were born within Indian Territory (according to the 1900 US Census).

At the time of Elizabeth’s death, she was the earliest living alumnae of Abbot Academy. The January 1917 edition of the Abbot Courant, tells an enduring story of the last days of Elizabeth Barnwell Flanders:

A little blue ribbon badge was sent to Elizabeth (Barnwell) Flanders with the suggestion that she wear it on June 6, the day of the alumnae meeting, when mention would surely be made of the earliest living alumne, of the eighty year class. Early in the fall her daughter wrote: “Your kind note of May 27 came in time to give my mother much pleasure, and I thank you for it. On June 5, I pinned the little badge to her pillow, for we did not think she would live until the following day. She evidently enjoyed her physician’s comments upon it, and I think that was the last of this earth’s memories that penetrated to her tired brain. She lingered until August 17, but in spirit lived wholly in the other world. The end was peaceful and without pain. She was ninety-six years and four months old.”


1860 United States Census Census Place: Philadelphia Ward 22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: M653_1173; Page: 305; Image: 311; Family History Library Film: 805173

1900 United States Census Census Place: Elm Grove, Labette, Kansas; Roll: 485; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0108; FHL microfilm: 1240485

1910 United States Census Census Place: Elm Grove, Labette, Kansas; Roll: T624_444; Page 13A; EnumeratioDistrict: 0129; FHL microfilm: 1374457

1910 United States Census Census Place: Census Place: Gardena, Los Angeles, California; Roll: T624_85; Page: 11B; Enumeration District:0031; FHL microfilm: 1374098

Abbot Courant, v. 37, no. 1, published by Abbot Academy, Andover, MA, January 1911, p.36. Accessed 21 October 2016.

Abbot Courant, v. 43, no. 1, published by Abbot Academy, Andover, MA, January 1917, p.39.

“Abbot Inaugural Exercises”, The Andover Townsman, Friday, October 18, 1912, p. 4, accessed 26 October 2016.

“Barwell Family Papers”, Lowcounty Digital Library, accessed 20 October 2016.

“California Death Index, 1905-1939," database with images, FamilySearch (5 June 2015), Elizabeth B Flanders, 17 Aug 1916; citing 25399, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.

Lawrence Marriages. Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).

Pennsylvania State Death Certificates, 1906-1963. Series 11.90. Records of the Pennsylvania Deparatment of Health Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993 for Henry Flanders Probate Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Wills, No 986-1012, 1911 Probate date 6 April 1911, Case #998

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