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Collection Number: 02407-z

Collection Title: Robert Ruffin Barrow Papers, 1811-1858

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


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Size 4 items
Abstract Robert Ruffin Barrow (b. 1798) was a sugar planter and canal operator in Terrebonne Parish, La. Barrow was the son of Bartholomew Barrow (d. 1852), a merchant of Fishing Creek, Halifax County, N.C., and later a planter in West Feliciana Parish, La., where he settled on his estate, Afton Villa, in 1820. The younger Barrow owned six Terrebonne Parish plantations, including Residence, Myrtle Grove, and Caillou Grove, as well as plantations in Lafourche, Assumption, and Ascension parishes and in Texas. The collection consists of a daybook (microfilm only), 1811-1814, of Bartholomew Barrow in Fishing Creek, N.C., and a journal, 1857-1858, for Robert Ruffin Barrow's Residence Plantation in Terrebonne Parish, La. The daybook includes accounts with Fishing Creek residents, including several blacks. The plantation journal, kept by Residence manager Ephraim A. Knowlton and several overseers, including Robert P. Ford, George Bucknall, N.B. Holland, and Charles Lull, contains slave records, details of sugar production, records of daily operations, and reports of fugitive slaves and conflicts between slaves and overseers and between Barrow and his overseers. Records of enslaved people include slave lists, birth and death records, and notes on illnesses, tasks assigned, and supplies distributed.
Creator Barrow, Robert Ruffin, 1798-1875.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Robert Ruffin Barrow Papers #2407-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy of entire collection available; typed transcription of journal also available.
Additional microfilm: All or part of this collection also available from University Publications of America as part of the Records of ante-bellum southern plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series J.
Acquisitions Information
The plantation journal was received from Mrs. C. Grenes Cole of New Orleans in 1957. The typed transcription of the journal was produced by the Southern Historical Collection. The daybook of Bartholomew Barrow and the plantation journal were microfilmed in 1940-1941, apparently by Professor J. C. Sitterson. At that time, the two volumes were owned by Mrs. Robert Ruffin Barrow of New Orleans.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Robert Ruffin Barrow (b. 1798) was a sugar planter and canal operator in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. He was the oldest son of Bartholomew Barrow (d. 1852), a merchant at Fishing Creek, Halifax County, N.C., and Ascension Slatter Barrow. Bartholomew moved his family to West Feliciana Parish in 1820, where he settled on his estate, Afton Villa. Robert Barrow had two brothers, David Bennett and William Bennett Barrow, both of whom became planters. William lived with Robert until his death in 1842.

Barrow (usually referred to as R. R. rather than Robert) owned six Terrebonne Parish plantations: Residence, Caillou Grove, Honduras, Myrtle Grove, Crescent Farm, and Point Farm. In addition, he owned the Oak Grove Plantation in Lafourche Parish; the Locust Grove Plantation in Assumption Parish; the Donaldsonville Plantation in Ascension Parish; and several plantations in Texas. Barrow also operated the Barataria and Lafourche Canal Company Number 2.

In 1850 Barrow married Volumnia Washington Hunley, and they had two children, Volumnia Roberta (b. 1854) and Robert Ruffin Jr. (b. 1858).

[From Thomas Becnel's The Barrow Family and the Barataria and Lafourche Canal: The Transportation Revolution in Louisiana, 1829-1925 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1989).]

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The collection consists of a daybook (microfilm only), 1811-1814, of Bartholomew Barrow in Fishing Creek, N.C., and a journal, 1857-1858, for Robert Ruffin Barrow's Residence Plantation in Terrebonne Parish, La. The daybook provides little insight into Bartholomew Barrow's life outside of accounts he kept with customers, several of whom were black, at Fishing Creek, Halifax County, N.C. The plantation journal, kept by Residence manager Ephraim A. Knowlton and several overseers, including Robert P. Ford, George Bucknall, N.B. Holland, and Charles Lull, serves as an acount of the complex relationships between plantation owners and their overseers, as well as the relationships between overseers, field slaves, and slave drivers. The journal contains slave records, details of sugar production, records of daily operations, and reports of fugitive slaves and conflicts between slaves and overseers and between Barrow and his overseers. Records of enslaved people include slave lists, birth and death records, and notes on illnesses, tasks assigned, and supplies distributed. It contains limited information on Robert Ruffin Barrow's family life, with a few references to his children and friends.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Volumes, 1857-1858.

2 items.

Original and typed transcription of a plantation journal for Robert Ruffin Barrow's Residence Plantation in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. A note at the top of the first page indicates that this journal is "continued from old Plantation Book of 1856..and Page of said Book 240". The "old Plantation Book" referred to here is not in this collection and its whereabouts are unknown to the staff of the Southern Historical Collection in 1990.

The pages of the original of this volume were at some point numbered 25-277. This suggests that the volume is missing pages 1-24, but it seems impossible to conclude with certainty that this is the case. The volume's front cover is missing.

The journal was kept primarily by Ephraim A. Knowlton, who managed the plantation, and by several overseers, principally Robert P. Ford, George Bucknall, N. B. Holland, and Charles Lull. It discusses daily work on the plantation, including planting, harvesting, sugar grinding, land clearing, and building. Other topics are the weather, crop conditions, work on the sugar house, equipment and hands exchanged between Residence and other plantations owned by Barrow, and relations between the overseers and Mr. Barrow. Though the journal pertains primarily to the Residence Plantation, information on Barrow's Point Farm, Caillou Grove, Oak Grove, and Myrtle Grove Plantations can be culled from the entries. The last few pages contain accounts with Orange Grove Sawmill, William Meadux & Co. (ditchers), and others, a cure for fistula in horses, and slave records.

Extensive information appears in the journal on enslaved people, and includes records of births, deaths, and illnesses (see especially page 270); slave lists, including lists of new slaves arriving (pages 107, 213, 217); articles distributed for their use; and incidents of resistance. (Note that the list of new slaves on page 107 records family relations.) Several entries provide information on the relationship between slaves and overseers on the plantation. Of note is an entry for 25 July 1857 describing the refusal of a slave, John Smith, to work for the overseer and the fight that resulted. Another entry, made by Robert P. Ford upon the death of a slave, Andrew, on 21 April 1858, gives Ford's account of Andrew's final hours. He praised Andrew for his work as a driver on the plantation. Frequent mentions of fugitive slaves also appear.

Note: All page numbers appearing in this description refer to the original of the plantation journal, and numbers will differ from those found in the typed transcription. The transcription is paginated consecutively, beginning with page 1, whereas pages in the original are numbered 25-277.

This plantation journal is also available on microfilm (see Series 2).

Folder 1

Volume 1. Plantation journal (original) #02407-z, Series: "1. Volumes, 1857-1858." Folder 1

Folder 2

Volume 2. Plantation journal (typed transcription) #02407-z, Series: "1. Volumes, 1857-1858." Folder 2

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Microfilm, 1811-1814 and 1857-1858.

2 items.

Two reels of microfilm, one picturing a daybook, 1811-1814, belonging to Bartholomew Barrow and the second picturing the Residence Plantation journal described in Series 1. The daybook (approximately 172 pages) details the sale of numerous items at Fishing Creek, Halifax County, N.C. Accounts are tallied in English pounds. Scattered entries refer to purchases made by blacks. Names of purchasers include members of the Merritt, Pittman, Tunnel, Whitaker, Whitehead, and other families. Receipts found within record payments made by Bartholomew Barrow to Thomas Pittman and payments made by various persons to Bartholomew Barrow.

Reel M-2407/1

Reel 1. Daybook, 1811-1814. #02407-z, Series: "2. Microfilm, 1811-1814 and 1857-1858." Reel M-2407/1

Reel M-2407/2

Reel 2. Residence plantation journal, 1857-1858. #02407-z, Series: "2. Microfilm, 1811-1814 and 1857-1858." Reel M-2407/2

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Processing Information

Processed by: Jill Snider, September 1990

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, January 2010

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