Waldeck Plantation

By: Diana J. Kleiner

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: April 1, 2021

Waldeck Plantation, three or four miles from the site of present-day West Columbia, was named for Count Ludwig von Boos-Waldeck, who came to Texas originally as a representative of the Adelsverein. The plantation was operated jointly by local merchants John Adriance and Morgan L. Smith from May 1842 to about 1847, when Adriance withdrew from the partnership. The two merchants held the plantation both as an investment and to provide a place where they could send animals and implements taken for debt. Smith owned a three-fourths interest; his investment, including mill, land, and slaves, was $114,000. The plantation's annual crop sold for as much as $70,000. Smith developed the enterprise into what was known as the largest and most efficient sugar plantation in Texas. He continued the operation until November 1859, when he sold Waldeck at a loss and left the state. The two-story brick house had black marble fireplaces and was surrounded by a park containing statuary that cost $25,000. The plantation had a smokehouse, double kettles, and a refinery for making white, cut loaf sugar; Waldeck may be the first producer of sugar in Texas. Smith had his servants improve the grounds by paving the stream and establishing reservoirs for fish and water. He prompted the building of a brick church for the slaves in 1856. Sources differ about the later ownership of the plantation. According to some, Count Boos-Waldeck, who was believed to be a cousin of Queen Victoria, visited the Smith plantation, purchased it, and subsequently owned and operated it through Spofford and Company of New York. Other sources indicate that Smith sold the plantation to Hamblin Bass, but Bass may simply have served as plantation manager. By 1860, however, Bass was listed as having real property valued at $163,830, personal property valued at $97,705, and 213 slaves on 1,450 acres of land. In that year the plantation produced 8,000 bushels of corn, 200 hogsheads of cane sugar, and slaughtered animals valued at $9,700. In antebellum Texas a White minister conducted services at the plantation church. Bass provided brick cabins for his slaves and bought two dozen spinning wheels and four looms to enable them to make clothing. He successfully raised vegetables but lost two plantings for lack of water in 1862. During the Reconstruction period Waldeck was considered a good speculation, and a half interest in it sold for $50,000. In 1926 the plantation belonged to the Texas Company and was used for pastureland.

James A. Creighton, A Narrative History of Brazoria County (Angleton, Texas: Brazoria County Historical Commission, 1975). Abigail Curlee, A Study of Texas Slave Plantations, 1822–1865 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1932). Abigail Curlee Holbrook, "A Glimpse of Life on Antebellum Slave Plantations in Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 76 (April 1973). Andrew Phelps McCormick, Scotch-Irish in Ireland and America (1897). Abner J. Strobel, The Old Plantations and Their Owners of Brazoria County (Houston, 1926; rev. ed., Houston: Bowman and Ross, 1930; rpt., Austin: Shelby, 1980). Moritz Tiling, History of the German Element in Texas (Houston: Rein and Sons, 1913). Ralph A. Wooster, "Notes on Texas' Largest Slaveholders, 1860," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 65 (July 1961).

  • Agriculture
  • Plantations
  • Architecture
  • Houses, Mansions, and Plantations
  • Peoples
  • Germans
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Diana J. Kleiner, “Waldeck Plantation,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/waldeck-plantation.

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April 1, 2021