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Collection Number: 00201-z

Collection Title: Cornelius Dabney Diary, 1863-1869.

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 1 volume
Abstract Cornelius Dabney, University of Virginia student and school teacher, was the son of William Winton (b. 1816) and Martha Ann Bosher Dabney of Richmond, and later Enfield, King William County, Va. The collection is a diary kept by Dabney between 1863 and 1869, documenting a summer spent at home in 1863, his attendance at the University of Virginia in 1863 and 1864, the disruption of his life by the Civil War, and his attempts to support himself as a school teacher after the war. Dabney described farm work at home, including the production of wheat, and the family's social activities. At the University of Virginia, he wrote about his attendance at lectures, his studies of Latin and other subjects, and his professors, including Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve (1831-1924) and Maximilian Schele De Vere (1820-1898). He also wrote about participating in Baptist Church activities, including forming a young men's prayer meeting in Charlottesville, and the Albemarle Mutial Relief Association, which was formed to combat the high prices of goods during the war. A few diary entries relate to Dabney's teaching career in Virginia and Mississippi.
Creator Dabney, Cornelius, 1844-1874.
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 Cornelius Dabney Diary #201-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Typed transcription, 44 p., available.
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
Unknown.
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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Cornelius Dabney (1844-1874) was the son of William Winton Dabney (b. 1816) and Martha Ann Bosher Dabney (fl. 1863-1865) of Richmond, and later Enfield, King William County, Va. He married Mary Nicol of New Orleans, La., and had two children, Cornelius, Jr., and Katherine Nicol.

Cornelius Dabney attended the University of Virginia in 1863. He operated a school near his home in Enfield from 1866 to 1868, and later worked with his brother-in-law, Dr. Tucker, at a school in Magnolia, Miss.

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This collection consists of a diary, kept between 1863 and 1869. The diary was chiefly kept by Cornelius Dabney; there is one entry written by his father in April 1863, on the date of his birthday. Cornelius began his diary on 10 August 1863 while he was spending his summer at his parents' home in King William County, Va. He wrote about his daily activities and the activities of his family, including work on the farm as well as social activities. One of the Dabneys's major crops was wheat, and Cornelius wrote about their taking the wheat to the mill. He and his brothers would occasionally help Mr. Harris, the miller, with his work. Other crops mentioned are corn, potatoes, and oats.

Cornelius also occasionally mentioned his Uncle James White, his Uncle Bushrod and Aunt Jennie who lived close by at Oakwood, and other relatives. Cornelius noted playing many games of chess.

Cornelius was a member of the Baptist Church, and he recorded his attendance at prayer meetings and Sunday school at churches in Beulah and Hebron, Va. On 19 September, he mentioned attending a meeting of the "Association" in Beulah.

There are scattered references in the diary to the Civil War and its effects. On 15 August, Cornelius mentioned that a friend of his had been killed at Gettysburg. While on an expedition to Richmond, he noted the high prices of some articles he purchased. He also mentioned meeting with Lt. Roane and his squad, who were searching for deserters and conscripts.

On 30 September 1863, Cornelius left for the University of Virginia with his friend, Josie Gwathmey, who was perhaps a cousin. They boarded with two other young men, Luther Broaddus and Joe Clarke, at the home of Dr. William F. Broaddus, a Baptist preacher. Cornelius described matriculating at the University, attending lectures, and studying Latin and other subjects. He commented on his professors, including Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve (1831-1924) and Maximilian Schele De Vere (1820-1898), who taught Latin. Cornelius frequently mentioned visiting Kate Fife and other young ladies. He was involved with organizing a young men's Baptist prayer meeting and conducted one of the sessions.

On 31 October, Cornelius noting attending a meeting of the Albemarle Mutual Relief Association. This organization was formed to try to combat the high prices brought about by the war, by buying in bulk at good prices and selling the items to shareholders.

After December 1863, the diary entries are less frequent. In April 1864, Cornelius described some of the events of the previous months, including Christmas, which was pleasant in spite of the war and the absence of slaves, who had fled to the protection of the Northern troops. The next entry is dated 7 October 1864. In the preceding six months, his brother Alfred had been wounded and his Uncle Bushrod was taken prisoner.

On 19 January 1865, Cornelius was back at the University of Virginia boarding with Dr. Broaddus. The next entry is dated 7 April 1865. In it, Cornelius described his return to his home in February and being forced to walk back to the University of Virginia. He had just heard that Richmond had been evacuated and was debating whether to return home or remain where he was.

Cornelius did not write again until August 1868. His remaining three entries--dated 5 August 1868, 12 November 1868, and 9 February 1869-- relate to his efforts after the war to support himself by teaching school. He taught for a time at his parent's home in King William County, and later went to teach in association with his brother-in-law, Dr. Tucker, in Magnolia, Miss.

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Contents list

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Processing Information

Processed by: Shonra Newman, July 1991

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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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