One reality of this sugar plantation was its isolation. When owner John Marshall asked for help against the Seminoles, an army commander in St. Augustine offered muskets and a lecture: "I need scarcely add," he warned, "that the best reliance of the inhabitants ought to be upon their own efforts."
Even the Marshalls' best efforts could go awry. Hired workers strained accommodations and nerves at this remote site. Dunlawton's supply ship - a link to the outside - grounded and broke up in Mosquito Inlet. And, worst of all, cane crops continued to be spotty. By 1851, one Marshall son wondered if the family could even make enough sugar for home consumption. "It would be bad," he mused, "to be obliged to buy sugar along with everything else."
Mrs. Marshall wanted out. Faced with endless factory repairs (and workers in her house), concerned about her children's education, and troubled by the poor cane crops, she put her faith in a relative's upcoming visit. "I hope he may take a fancy to Dunlawton and give your father a good price for it," she told a son. "I shall then hope to leave Florida." But that was not to be. On November 20, 1852, Maria Marshall died in childbirth at Dunlawton - far from the settled South Carolina community of her youth.
[ Postcard ]
One last visit to Dunlawton? Tradition has it (without proof) that this photo's lone figure is Benjamin Marshall - son of Maria and John. Decades after his mother's sudden death here, Ben Marshall returned from Louisiana to help sell the old sugar plantation.
Early twentieth-century postcard (from a nineteenth-century photo) courtesy of Tom Baskett, Jr.
[ Photo ]
A memorial stone in Louisiana for Maria Hawes Marshall (1812-1852). She probably was buried on the Dunlawton plantation (with twins who died at birth), but the Red River country became her surviving family's new home.
Marker in the All Saints Episcopal Church cemetery, DeSoto Parish. Photo courtesy of Audrey M. Blagg and Marshall Juergens.