City Directories and History: The W.M. Lawton Co., of factors included: W.M. Lawton, R. Wainwright Bacot, W.M. Taylor, and Joseph T. Dill.
The enterprising planters of upper St. Peter’s Parish, however, did not confine their activities to agriculture. They branched out into commerce and industry. In 1819, Alexander and William Lawton opened their store in Robertville. In the 1820s, J. B. Lawton and Company of Robertville had become a major cotton factor in Savannah. By the 1830s, the Lawton family had opened a cotton brokerage house in Charleston known as Taylor and Lawton that dealt with many Beaufort District cotton planters.
Information from: A History of Beaufort County, Vol. I, Rowland, Moore and G.C. Rogers, Jr. – Un. of S.C. Press, 1996
The importance of Charleston’s factors can not be over emphasized. They provided extremely important functions as agents for farmers and individuals all across South Carolina. As a farmer’s agent, the factor would provide information on crop pricing, sales and shipments. As their factor, the firm also insured and often sold cotton and other agricultural commodities as directed by the local farmer. Often the agent was also asked to extend financial credits to their clients as well as make suitable purchases of finished goods for shipment to their clients.
Anne H. White of Rock Hill, S.C., often directed her factor to purchase furniture and other household goods and ship them to her home. Factors were not only found in Charleston but in nearly every town across the state. In some cases, the factors and cotton buyers worked in conjunction with one another, providing services for their clients which would have otherwise been prohibitive due to travel difficulties and geographic barriers.
Other sources of interest: Charleston Tax Payers of Charleston, SC in 1860-61 and the Dwelling Houses of Charleston by Alice R.H. Smith – 1917
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