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Collection Number: 00119

Collection Title: William M. Byrd Papers, 1832-1914.

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 section for more information.


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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 140 items)
Abstract William M. Byrd of Linden, Ala., was a lawyer, state legislator, and state supreme court judge. The collection is chiefly deeds, indentures, and land grants for sales of land in Marengo County, Ala. Also included is some personal correspondence of William Byrd on plantation affairs, and some of his political correspondence with Millard Fillmore, Edwin Ewing of the Constitutional Union Party, and Horace Greely of the New York Tribune. Some of the letters and many of the deeds, indentures, and land grants relate to his law practice.
Creator Byrd, William M., 1817-1894.
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 William M. Byrd Papers #119, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
All or part of this collection is available on microfilm 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
Received from Maude Pitts of Selma, Alabama, before 1940.
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. ยง 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. ยง 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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William M. Byrd (1817-1874) was the son of William H. Byrd of Richland, Mississippi. He was born on 6 December 1817 in Perry County, Mississippi. He attended La Grange College and, after his graduation, settled at Holly Springs, Mississippi. He later moved to Linden, Alabama, where he began the practice of law and soon became prominent in the political life of his state. In 1851, he was elected to the state legislature. In 1865, he was elected to a seat on the bench of the state supreme court, which he held until displaced by the reconstruction measures of Congress. At the Methodist Conference of 1870, he advocated the establishment of a Methodist university which later became Vanderbilt University. He died on 24 September 1874.

William Byrd married Maria Hawkins Massie (b. 1818) on 14 June 1838.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

This collection consists chiefly of deeds, indentures, and land grants for sales of land in Marengo County, Alabama. There is also scattered political, business, and personal correspondence of William Byrd, and certificates presented to various members of the Byrd family.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1838-1882.

About 40 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Scattered correspondence of William Byrd and his family between the years 1838 and 1914.

Included is some personal correspondence to Byrd from his father, William H. Byrd, in Richland, Mississippi. His father wrote about family news, including the death of one of his brothers, and plantation affairs. There are a few letters from Byrd to his wife when he was away on business. He gave her instructions for the servants who were tending the crops. Other scattered personal letters include one from Byrd's son William when he was studying at the University of Virginia, and a letter from a teacher of his two daughters when they were away at school.

Also included is some business correspondence to Byrd, chiefly about legal cases. There are also a few letters and telegrams from other lawyers referring cases to Byrd for collection. In 1856, he received a letter from John W. S. Napier regarding Napier's business problems, with which Byrd was apparently helping.

Byrd received some letters from political figures. In 1860, Millard Fillmore wrote to Byrd denying that he had pledged himself to support the nominees of the Chicago Convention. Also in 1860, Byrd received a letter from Edwin H. Ewing, chairman of the Union Executive Committee in Tennessee, answering questions Byrd had posed about their presidential candidate, John Bell. He received a letter from Horace Greely of the New York Tribune in 1871, in which Greely seems to have clarified his stance on a political issue.

During the Civil War, Byrd received a letter from N. H. R. Dawson at Camp Jones, defending his conduct in the first battle of Manassas.

At the end of this series, there is a letter of condolence to Maria Byrd after the death of William Byrd in 1874. The final two letters were probably to Byrd's daughters.

Folder 1

1838-1855 #00119, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1838-1882." Folder 1

Folder 2

1856-1882 #00119, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1838-1882." Folder 2

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Deeds and Indentures, 1832-1907.

About 70 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly deeds and indentures for land in Marengo County, Alabama. Most of the deeds relate to people other than William Byrd and were possibly part of his law practice. Also included are a number of land grants signed during the presidential terms of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. A few of the deeds and indentures were apparently part of estate cases.

Also included in this series are receipts for payment made on lands at the Receiver's Office in Demopolis, Alabama.

Folder 3

1832-1836 #00119, Series: "2. Deeds and Indentures, 1832-1907." Folder 3

Folder 4

1837 #00119, Series: "2. Deeds and Indentures, 1832-1907." Folder 4

Folder 5

1838 #00119, Series: "2. Deeds and Indentures, 1832-1907." Folder 5

Folder 6

1840-1849 #00119, Series: "2. Deeds and Indentures, 1832-1907." Folder 6

Folder 7

1850-1854 #00119, Series: "2. Deeds and Indentures, 1832-1907." Folder 7

Folder 8

1858-1859 #00119, Series: "2. Deeds and Indentures, 1832-1907." Folder 8

Folder 9

1860-1907 #00119, Series: "2. Deeds and Indentures, 1832-1907." Folder 9

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Papers, 1839-1914 and undated.

About 40 items.

Included is William Byrd's will and other papers relating to his estate, some biographical information on Byrd, and some genealogical information on his family. Also included are a number of certificates, such as an official pardon signed by Andrew Johnson for John T. Morgan dated 1865; a document certifying that William Byrd had taken the oath prescribed by the President's Proclamation of 20 May 1865; Byrd's appointment by Ulysses S. Grant as a commissioner on the commission to provide for celebrating the 100th anniversary of American independence to be held at Philadelphia; a license for William Byrd to practice law in Alabama; a certificate of life membership for Sallie Byrd in the Woman's Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church South; and a document certifying that P. H. Pitts had become a qualified elector for the state of Alabama. Also included are some miscellaneous writings.

Folder 10

1839-1873 #00119, Series: "3. Other Papers, 1839-1914 and undated." Folder 10

Folder 11

1882-1914 and undated #00119, Series: "3. Other Papers, 1839-1914 and undated." Folder 11

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Processing Information

Processed by: Shonra Newman, May 1991

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

This inventory is based in part on an inventory previously compiled by a member of the Southern Historical Collection staff. This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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