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Collection Number: 00192-z

Collection Title: Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916.

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.


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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Size 83 items
Abstract Crenshaw and Miller families were mostly tobacco planters in Hanover, Pittsylvania, and Halifax counties, Va. Charles Crenshaw (fl. 1775-1794) and Sarah Bacon Crenshaw (d. 1818?) of Hanover County had six children: Agnes (d. 185?), who married William Miller of Halifax County; Susanna (fl. 1790-1818); Temperance (d. 180?), who married William Rice; Nathaniel (d. 1818), a major in the Virginia militia; John (f. 1801); and Charles Jr. (d. 1825). The Crenshaws' grandchildren included John Rice Miller (fl. 1838) and Nathaniel C. Miller (1816-1888), sons of Agnes and William Miller; Sarah B. Rice (m. Walter Crew), Samuel B. Rice, Mary B. Rice (m. Samuel P. Hargrave), and Izard Bacon Rice, all children of Temerpance and William Rice; and Nathaniel C. Crenshaw (fl. 1812-1831) and Edmund B. Crenshaw (fl. 1826, brothers who probably were children of John Crenshaw. William Miller also had a son, Geroge Y.M. Miller (fl. 1826-1863), by a previous marriage. John Rice Miller had at least one son, Charles Edwin Miller (1839-1906). The collection is chiefly legal papers useful for study of 19th century Virginia estates. Many papers relate to the estates of Major Nathaniel Crenshaw of Pittsylvania County and Charles Crenshaw Jr. of Hanover County. Included are deeds, wills, bonds, writs of summons, legal correspondence, contracts, slave bills of sale, land plats, court orders, articles of agreement, broadsides, and work contracts. Most of the Crenshaw family materials are dated between 1751 and 1839. Almost no information appears on day-to-day operations of the Crenshaw and Miller plantations. Significant, but limited, information appears on slave revolts and manumitting of slaves in the early 1800s and contracting work with freedmen in 1865. There are only a few financial items. A very small amount of material relates to politics at the turn of the 19th century.
Creator Crenshaw family.



Miller family.
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 Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers #192-z, 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
Gift of Thomas Frederick Davis, great-grandson of Agnes and William Miller, in 1939.
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

Charles and Sarah Crenshaw, their daughter Agnes, and her husband, William Miller, and their descendants lived on various plantations in Hanover, Pittsylvania, and Halifax counties, Va. They appear to have been planters, cultivating mostly tobacco.

Charles Crenshaw (fl. 1775-1794) married Sarah Bacon (d. 1818) and lived in Hanover County. Charles and Sarah had six children: Susanna (fl. 1790-1818), who never married; Agnes (d. 185?), who married William Miller of Halifax County; Temperance (d. 180?), who married William Rice; Nathaniel Crenshaw (d. 1818), who served as a major in the Virginia militia and lived on a plantation left him by his father in Pittsylvania County; John (fl. 1801); and Charles, Jr. (d. 1825). Charles and Sarah had at least eight grandchildren, including John Rice Miller and Nathaniel C. Miller (1816-1888), both children of Agnes and William Miller; Sarah B. Rice (m. Walter Crew), Samuel B. Rice, Mary B. Rice (m. Samuel P. Hargrave), and Izard Bacon Rice, all children of Temperance and William Rice; and Nathaniel C. Crenshaw (fl. 1812-1831) and Edmund B. Crenshaw (fl. 1826), brothers who probably were the children of John Crenshaw.

William Miller also had another son, George Y.M. Miller (fl. 1826-1863), by a previous marriage. Agnes and William's son, Nathaniel C. Miller, remained a bachelor, as did their grandson, Charles Edwin Miller (1839-1906). Nathaniel C. Miller left his Pittsylvania County estate, Sharswood, to Charles Edwin Miller.

There are other family members whose relationship to those noted above is unclear. They include: Charles Edwin Miller (d. 1851?); William B. Miller of Calhoun County, Tex., (fl. 185?); Crenshaw Miller (fl. 1826); and Charles Grenshaw Gent, possibly an uncle or other relation of Charles Crenshaw.

Several individuals served as executors of wills for family members. John Crenshaw was the executor for the estate of his father, Charles Crenshaw; Charles Crenshaw Jr. was executor for the estate of his mother, Sarah Bacon Crenshaw, and for the estate of his brother, Major Nathaniel Crenshaw; and William Miller was executor for the estate of Charles Crenshaw Jr.

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Consisting almost entirely of legal papers, this collection is especially useful for the study of early 19-century Virginia estates. Receiving the most attention are the estates of Major Nathaniel Crenshaw of Pittsylvania County and Charles Crenshaw Jr. of Hanover County. The papers are deeds, wills, bonds, writs of summons, legal correspondence, contracts, land plats, court orders, and articles of agreement. Only a few financial items, mostly household accounts and county tax receipts, appear.

Significant, though limited, information can be found in the papers on slaves and freedmen, including the locations of early revolts in Virginia and North Carolina; documentation of an extended celebration among slaves on a Hanover County plantation in 1812; several wills providing for the manumission of slaves; slave bills of sale; and a work contract with freedmen signed in 1865.

Limited information, contained in reports to constituents of acts passed in the Virginia legislature and a broadside, pertains to politics between 1802 and 1805.

The legal and public affairs of the Crenshaw family are best documented between 1751 and 1839. All the papers after that date pertain to their Miller relatives. Almost no details of family life emerge in the documents.

Legal papers of the Crenshaw and Miller families of Hanover, Halifax, and Pittsylvania counties, Virginia. The collection includes estate papers of Major Nathaniel Crenshaw, Charles Crenshaw, Jr., and Sarah Bacon Crenshaw, miscellaneous legal and financial items belonging to William Miller and his family, as well as a few broadsides and clippings.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916.

Folder 1

1751-1794 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." Folder 1

Mostly the legal papers of Major Nathaniel Crenshaw of Pittsylvania County and of his father, Charles Crenshaw of Hanover County. Papers include plats and deeds for tracts of land in Pittsylvania and Halifax counties, bonds, indentures, and other legal items. Of note are Charles Crenshaw's will, dated 9 February 1790, and a bill of sale, dated 5 January 1789, for four slaves Nathaniel Crenshaw purchased from Charles Thompson.

Folder 2

1800-1819 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." Folder 2

Principally papers of Nathaniel Crenshaw; his mother, Sarah Bacon Crenshaw; and his brother, Charles Crenshaw, Jr. One item appears for his brother, John Crenshaw, and one for his nephew, Nathaniel C. Crenshaw of Hanover County. Nathaniel Crenshaw's papers include his commission as a captain in the Virginia militia, dated 22 May 1800; three printed letters sent him in 1803 and 1805 by state legislators reporting acts passed; a broadside entitled "Fourth March," sent to him advertising an upcoming celebration over Thomas Jefferson's election and success as president (1802?); an 1810 call to militia duty from John Tyler to help suppress slave revolts in North Carolina and Virginia; and several items related to the settlement of his estate. Copies of wills drawn up in 1803, 1805, and 1813 appear for Sarah Crenshaw. She expressed a desire in her will that her slaves be emancipated should it become legal in Virginia to do so. Charles Crenshaw, Jr.'s, will, dated 23 February 1808, also stipulated that his slaves be freed upon it becoming legal. Only two other items appear for Charles. One of these is a broadside he had printed in July 1812 pertaining to his breaking up of a "[N]egro frolic" on a neighboring plantation and a fight that ensued between himself, his nephew Nathaniel C. Crenshaw, and the plantation owner's son, Chiswell Dabney. The final item is a deed of trust he signed with Micajah and Margaret Crew of Hanover County concerning money owed him as executor of Sarah Crenshaw's estate. A broadside publicizing the theft of a horse from his stable, printed 6 April 1801, is the only item pertaining to John Crenshaw. A bill of sale for slaves he sold William Miller of Halifax County appears for Nathaniel C. Crenshaw.

Folder 3

1820-1839 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." Folder 3

Primarily estate papers of Nathaniel Crenshaw and his brother, Charles Crenshaw Jr., and legal papers of William Miller. The papers include deeds, indentures, writs of summons, land plats, legal correspondence, bills and receipts, articles of agreement, and court orders. Of note are a draft of Charles Crenshaw's will, dated 1 May 1820, and a power of attorney William Miller gave his son, George Y.M. Miller, on 19 May 1827, authorizing him to retrieve a runaway slave, Armistead, who belonged to Nathaniel Crenshaw's estate. Items pertaining to William Miller's affairs include several deeds; Pittsylvania County tax receipts for 1837 and 1838; and accounts for 1830 with Weir and Smith and for 1838 with William Smith for dry goods, stationery supplies, groceries, and hardware items. Of interest is a contract he signed with Uriah Fisher on 20 September 1828, employing Fisher as an overseer. Legal correspondence consists of a letter from C. Anthony of Lynchburg to Charles Crenshaw in Richmond, dated 12 February 1824, concerning a debt Anthony owed him; a letter, dated 15 April 1831, from Nathaniel C. Crenshaw in Hanover County to his uncle William Miller in Halifax County, concerning a case to be filed in the Court of Appeals, involving Robert C. Penn; and a letter, dated 12 November 1839, from attorney James Lyon in Richmond to attorney Lewis W. Minor in Washington City, concerning a case Dr. (William?) Miller was involved in federal court in Richmond. Three items, including an indenture and a Pittsylvania County tax receipt for 1828, appear for George Y.M. Miller. A final item for Miller is a copy of resolutions passed by a committee of the citizens of Hanover County on 26 August 1831 in regard to putting down possible slave revolts in the county. Fears of an insurrection had been sparked by an uprising in nearby Southampton County. Miller served on the committee in some capacity.

Folder 4

1851-1916 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." Folder 4

Papers of the Miller family of Halifax and Pittsylvania counties, Va., and Calhoun County, Tex., including William Miller; his sons George and Nathaniel C. Miller; his grandson, Charles Edwin Miller; and other family members, including Charles E. Miller (d. 1851?), William B. Miller (fl. 1851) of Texas, and Crenshaw Miller (fl. 1826). Items include deeds, court opinions, writs of summons, work contracts, and articles of agreement. Most of the papers are those of Nathaniel C. Miller. Of interest are a plat for 1859 of Sharswood, Nathaniel C. Miller's Pittsylvania County estate; William B. Miller's will, made in Calhoun County, Tex., and dated 19 March 1856; contracts, dated 6 Sept 1859 and 12 February 1860, concerning the swapping of slaves; a work contract, dated 9 August 1865, between Nathaniel C. Miller and several freedmen on his plantation; and Charles E. Miller's commission in the Virginia militia, dated 15 August 1866. One item, a clipping of a letter sent to The Metropolis of Jacksonville, Fla., in 1916 by William Miller's great-grandson, Theodore Frederick Davis, concerns Miller's close friendship with Patrick Henry and Davis's inheritance of a table that had belonged to Henry.

Folder 5

Undated #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." Folder 5

An undated plat showing land owned by Major Nathaniel Crenshaw's heirs in Pittsylvania County; an undated plat showing land owned by Charles Grenshaw Gent, Joseph Roberts, John Hawkins, and John Smith, probably in Pittsylvania County circa the mid-1700s; and a letter from George Y.M. Miller to his father concerning a plantation employee, Owin.

Extra Oversize Paper Folder XOPF-192/1

Extra-oversize papers: #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." XOPF-192/1

OP-192/1: Deed, 24 June 1766 #00192-z, Xopaperfolder XOPF-192/1

Deed for land granted by Joseph Eckhols Sr. of Halifax County, Va., to his son, Joseph Eckhols Jr.

OP-192/2: Deed, 16 September 1784 #00192-z, Xopaperfolder XOPF-192/1

Deed for land sold to Charles Grenshaw Gent by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

OP-192/3: Letter, 28 January 1805 #00192-z, Xopaperfolder XOPF-192/1

Printed letter from state legislators Thomas H. Wooding and Daniel Coleman to their constituents, regarding legislative acts passed.

OP-192/4: Broadside, 7 July 1812 #00192-z, Xopaperfolder XOPF-192/1

Broadside, "To The Public," regarding Charles Crenshaw Jr.'s breaking up of a Christmastime "negro frolic" and an ensuing fight between the son of the slaves' mistress and Charles and Nathaniel C. Crenshaw.

OP-192/5: Land plat, 28 March 1859 #00192-z, Xopaperfolder XOPF-192/1

Land plat of tract in Pittsylvania County, Va., surveyed by Richard Parker for N.C. Miller.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Jill Snider, July 1991

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, December 2009

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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