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Collection Number: 00185-z

Collection Title: J. Hamilton Couper Plantation Records, 1818-1854

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 James Hamilton Couper was manager and part owner of Hopeton, Altama, and Elizafield plantations in Glynn County, Ga., and a noted scientific agriculturist. This collection consists of four volumes from Hopeton Plantation, Glynn County, Ga.: a ledger, 1826-1853, of personal and plantation accounts; a journal, 1838-1854, of similar accounts; crop records, 1818-1831, chiefly for cotton, rice, sugar cane, corn, and peas; and "Notes on Agricultural and Rural Economy," containing extracts from agricultural journals, information from friends, and notes of Couper's own experiences. Among additional subjects noted or discussed in these volumes are expenses for slaves, the estate of James Hamilton (d. ca. 1837), orchards, canal excavation, and voltaic batteries.
Creator Couper, J. Hamilton (James Hamilton), 1794-1866.
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 J. Hamilton Couper Plantation Records #185-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Available on microfilm from University Publications of America as part of the Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations series.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Mrs. W. S. Lovell of Birmingham, Ala., prior to 1960.
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

James Hamilton Couper was born 4 March 1794, the son of John and Rebecca Maxwell Couper. His father emigrated from Scotland to Georgia and established Hopeton Plantation along the Altamaha River in Glynn County in 1804.

James Hamilton Couper graduated from Yale University in 1814, and then studied methods of water control and land reclamation in Holland. He returned to Hopeton in 1827 and took over the management of that plantation, as well as of Altama and Elizafield plantations, which he either added to or carved from Hopeton.

James Hamiton Couper was a prominent seaboard planter, but is primarily remembered for his application of the scientific method to agriculture. He studied the culture of a number of crops that he wished to introduce to the area or improve. These ranged from such Southern staples as cotton and rice to more exotic possibilities like olives. He was apparently among the first producers of cottonseed oil.

Hopeton was all but destroyed during the Civil War, when lack of attention to the plantation's dikes lead to major flooding. Couper died 3 June 1866.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

This collection consists of plantation owner and scientific agriculturalist  James Hamilton Couper's four volumes from Hopeton Plantation, Glynn County, Ga.: a ledger, 1826-1853, of personal and plantation accounts; a journal, 1838-1854, of similar accounts; crop records, 1818-1831, chiefly for cotton, rice, sugar cane, corn, and peas; and "Notes on Agricultural and Rural Economy," containing extracts from agricultural journals, information from friends, and notes of Couper's own experiences. Among additional subjects noted or discussed in these volumes are expenses for slaves, the estate of James Hamilton (d. ca. 1837), orchards, canal excavation, and voltaic batteries.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Plantation Records, 1818-1854.

4 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Note that original volume titles have been retained.

Oversize Volume SV-0185/1

Ledger A, 1826-1853, a record of accounts relating to Hopeton plantation James Hamilton Couper's household, and other interests of Hamilton, 420 pages. #00185-z, Series: "Plantation Records, 1818-1854." SV-0185/1

Among accounts listed are "Household Expenses", various periodical subscriptions, James Hamilton, estate of James Hamilton, Richard Carnochan, R & W King, "Negro Acct" (pp. 166, 288, and 368), Bellevue Mill (Natchez), John Couper, Mitchell and Mure, William Audley Couper, and Francis P. Corbin (Trustee of Isabella H. Corbin).

Oversize Volume SV-0185/2

Journal No. 2, 1838 1854, a daybook of Hopeton plantation also relating to plantation and personal accounts, 534 pages. #00185-z, Series: "Plantation Records, 1818-1854." SV-0185/2

Two loose items are filed at the back of the volume: Stock a/c (26 June 1850)/Balance Sheet (26 June 1850) and a page relating to the estate of "J. Hamilton."

Folder 1

Folder number not used #00185-z, Series: "Plantation Records, 1818-1854." Folder 1

Folder 2

Volume 3: Account of Cotton Picked at Hopeton, 1818-1831 #00185-z, Series: "Plantation Records, 1818-1854." Folder 2

This volume consists of yearly records for cotton, rice, sugar cane, corn, peas, and other crops; notes about weather, pests, quality of crops and other matters; and a color coded crop plan map for each year, 1820-1831. The final page carries information on Altama plantation for 1874 and 1876.

Folder 3

Volume 4: Notes on Agricultural and Rural Economy, No. 1, Feb. 1824, 87 pages. #00185-z, Series: "Plantation Records, 1818-1854." Folder 3

This volume contains notes taken from agricultural journals and books, from friends, and from Couper's own experience. Information relates especially to crops which Couper was trying to introduce to the area. Other topics addressed include such matters as gates, curing of bacon, ploughing, canal excavation, and "Virgines? Voltaic Batteries." Some data on Hopeton in the 1840s is included as is (on the final pages) "Plan of Orchard at Lodge, Oct. 1827".

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Oversize volumes (SV-185/1-2)

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Processing Information

Processed by: Buck Beasley and Tim West, June 1990

Encoded by: Eben Lehman, February 2006

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, December 2009

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