unc logo

Collection Number: 00204

Collection Title: Davidson Family Papers, 1813-1937.

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.


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.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Collection Overview

Size 2.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 72 items)
Abstract The collection includes family and business correspondence, chiefly 1835-1856, account books, ledgers, and day books of the Davidson family of Mecklenburg County, N.C., who lived at Rural Hill Plantation, 1833-1890; Ingleside Plantation, 1867-1875; and Dixon Plantation, Gaston County, N.C., 1872-1893. Among the correspondents are Adam Brevard Davidson (1808-1896); his wife Mary Laura (Springs) Davidson of York County, S.C.; her father, John Springs; John M. W. Davidson, a physician; Robert H. M. Davidson, a lawyer; and William S. M. Davidson. Also included is correspondence with members of the family in Florida. Volumes consist of ledgers and family business records, 1813-1874.
Creator Davidson family.
Language English
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

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 Davidson Family Papers #204, 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 E. L. Baxter Davidson, 1937-1958, and Chalmers Davidson, 1977.
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.
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

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.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Related Collections

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Adam Brevard Davidson (1808-1896), planter and developer, a son of John Davidson, Jr., and his wife Sarah Harper Brevard Davidson, was born at Rural Hill Plantation in Mecklenburg County, N.C., built by Adam Brevard's grandfather, John Davidson (d. 1832). Together with his father, Adam Brevard Davidson owned about five thousand acres and fifty or sixty slaves in the Hopewell section of Mecklenburg. When construction of Davidson College was begun in 1836, on land belonging to his cousin and uncle-in-law William Lee Davidson, Adam Brevard contracted for and supplied the lumber for the early buildings. All lumber was sawed at his own mills.

On 20 April 1836, in Springfield, York County, S.C., Adam Brevard Davidson married Mary Laura Springs (1813-1872), daughter of John Springs III. She had attended the Moravian Academy at Salem, N.C., and the select school of Madam Sarazin in Philadelphia. Adam Brevard and Mary had fifteen children. Mary died in 1872, and Davidson married Cornelia C. Elmore (1835-1921) of Columbia, S.C., daughter of U.S. Senator Franklin Harper Elmore, in 1876.

Davidson was elected trustee of Davidson College in 1844 and served with few interruptions until 1877. Two of his sons were educated at the college: Robert, who died as a result of mistreatment in a northern prison during the Civil War, and Baxter, who was, at his death, the largest single donor in the college's history.

Adam Brevard Davidson was a conspicuously successful planter. He was president of the Mecklenburg Agricultural Society for fifteen years before the Civil War and served the Society intermittently in various capacities until the organization society was disbanded after the Confederate defeat.

(Adapted from the entry on Adam Brevard Davidson by Chalmers G. Davidson in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, volume 2, 1986.)

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection includes family and business correspondence, chiefly 1835-1856, account books, ledgers, and day books of the Davidson family of Mecklenburg County, N.C., who lived at Rural Hill Plantation, 1833-1890; Ingleside Plantation, 1867-1875; and Dixon Plantation, Gaston County, N.C., 1872-1893. Among the correspondents are Adam Brevard Davidson (1808-1896); his wife Mary Laura (Springs) Davidson of York County, S.C.; her father, John Springs; John M. W. Davidson, a physician; Robert H. M. Davidson, a lawyer; and William S. M. Davidson. Also included is correspondence with members of the family in Florida. Volumes consist of ledgers and family business records, 1813-1874.

Back to Top

Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Loose Papers, 1827-1935.

About 80 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Family and business correspondence, chiefly 1835-1856, and a few financial and legal papers of members of the Davidson family of Mecklenburg and Gaston counties, N.C., who lived at Rural Hill Plantation, Mecklenburg County, 1833-1890; Ingleside Plantation, Mecklenburg County, 1867-1875; and Dixon Plantation, Gaston County, 1872-1893. Among the correspondents are Adam Brevard Davidson (1808-1896); his wife Mary Laura Springs Davidson (1813-1872) of York County, S.C.; and her father, John Springs. There are also letters to and from Adam Brevard Davidson's brothers John Matthew Winslow Davidson, a physician; Robert H. M. Davidson (d. 1841), a lawyer; and William S. M. Davidson, all of whom appear to have lived in Florida and tried repeatedly to get their brother to relocate there. There are also a few letters in the 1830s to and from relatives in Alabama and from E. Constantine Davidson, a student at Harvard Law School in the 1840s. Most letters are about family news, social life, travels, financial matters, plantation and slave affairs, and Presbyterian Church activities. Interfiled with the letters are a few financial and legal papers and two 1854 essays by Adam Brevard Davidson on innovative agricultural techniques.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1827-1864.

About 60 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Included are the following:

10 September 1827: William Davidson in Charlotte, N.C., to Isaac T. Avery in Morganton, N.C., about the Catawba Navigation Company.

29 September 1830: typed copy of letter from Mary Laura Springs (later Davidson) to her parents, describing a trip from her home in York County, S.C., to Salem, N.C., where she attended school, and then on to Washington, D.C., which she described in some detail, and, later, to Baltimore and Philadelphia, where she was a student at the Bethel Academy.

3 November 1833: from M. Brevard in Alabama about general conditions and land sales by the Cherokees.

1835 Letters from Rebecca E. Forney, a Davidson cousin in Tuscaloosa, Ala., about conditions there.

6 November 1836: from Robert H. M. Davidson in Florida to Adam Brevard Davidson, chiefly about the high price of slaves in Florida and suggesting that the brothers invest in North Carolina slaves to sell in Florida.

1837 Letters from Robert H. M. Davidson in Florida to Adam Brevard Davidson, mentioning the end of the Seminole War and anticipating growth in the region as a result of the cessation of hostilities.

1838 Letters to Adam Brevard Davidson from Robert H. M. Davidson en route to Niagara, N.Y., via West Point, where their brother Augustus was buried.

30 August 1841: from Robert H. M. Davidson in New York about his travels and ill health.

30 August: from E. Constantine Davidson at Harvard Law School, describing his activities.

22 October: from John Matthew Winslow Davidson to his mother about the death of Robert H. M. Davidson on 17 October.

1854 Two essays on agricultural innovations that Adam Brevard Davidson appears to have prepared for the Mecklenburg Agricultural Society. One is a discussion of deep plowing and the other is on clover planting.

There are only a few Civil War era items, and only one, a printed circular, is directly related to the war.

Folder 1

1827-1838 #00204, Subseries: "1.1. 1827-1864." Folder 1

Folder 2

1839-1840 #00204, Subseries: "1.1. 1827-1864." Folder 2

Folder 3

1841-1844 #00204, Subseries: "1.1. 1827-1864." Folder 3

Folder 4

1845-1857 #00204, Subseries: "1.1. 1827-1864." Folder 4

Folder 5

1854-1864 #00204, Subseries: "1.1. 1827-1864." Folder 5

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1868-1935.

About 20 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Materials from the 1880s are chiefly form letters transmitting annual Southern Railway passes to Adam Brevard Davidson; those dated after the turn of the century are routine letters from such organizations as the North Carolina Good Roads Association and the North Carolina Folk-lore Society to various family members.

Folder 6

Loose Papers, 1868-1935 #00204, Subseries: "1.2. 1868-1935." Folder 6

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Volumes, 1833-1911.

42 items.

Arrangement: roughly chronological.

Account books, ledgers, and day books of members of the Davidson family. Most of the volumes relate to the management of the family's plantations--Rural Hill and Ingleside in Mecklenburg County, and Dixon in Gaston County. Ingleside Plantation appears to have been home to William S. M. Davidson; Dixon Plantation was the property of Laura Springs Davidson, but managed by John Springs and Richard A. Davidson. Beginning in the 1870s, many of the volumes relate to the financial affairs of Adam Brevard Davidson's son Eli Leroy Baxter Davidson.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.1. 1833-1867.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.2. 1867-1911.

32 items.

Beginning in the 1870s, many of the volumes relate to the financial affairs of Adam Brevard Davidson's son Eli Leroy Baxter Davidson.

Folder 12

Volume 11: 1867-1875. Rural Hill farm ledger. #00204, Subseries: "2.2. 1867-1911." Folder 12

Folder 13

Volume 12: 1867-1876. Rural Hill day book. #00204, Subseries: "2.2. 1867-1911." Folder 13

Folder 14

Volume 13: 1872-1893. Dixon Plantation ledger. #00204, Subseries: "2.2. 1867-1911." Folder 14

Folder 15

Volume 14: 1868-1874. Ingleside Plantation farm accounts. Also included are medical fee records. #00204, Subseries: "2.2. 1867-1911." Folder 15

Folder 16-20

Folder 16

Folder 17

Folder 18

Folder 19

Folder 20

Volumes 15-19: 1876-1896. Records of daily expenses for Adam Brevard Davidson and his family. After Adam Brevard Davidson's death in 1896, Eli Leroy Baxter Davidson used parts of Volume 17 to track his father's estate. #00204, Subseries: "2.2. 1867-1911." Folder 16-20

Folder 21-27

Folder 21

Folder 22

Folder 23

Folder 24

Folder 25

Folder 26

Folder 27

Volumes 20-27: 1872-1911. Records of rent collections by Adam Brevard Davidson, Eli Leroy Baxter Davidson, and the firms of Davidson and Springs and Davidson and Beall, both located in Charlotte, N.C. #00204, Subseries: "2.2. 1867-1911." Folder 21-27

Folder 28-32

Folder 28

Folder 29

Folder 30

Folder 31

Folder 32

Volumes 28-40: 1872-1900. Bank books of Adam Brevard Davidson. Volume 40 also contains records of his estate. #00204, Subseries: "2.2. 1867-1911." Folder 28-32

Folder 33

Volume 41: 1895-1896. Account book with entries for the estate of Adam Brevard Davidson and records of labor and crops received from his tenants. #00204, Subseries: "2.2. 1867-1911." Folder 33

Folder 34

Volume 42: 1896-1904. Inventory and accounts relating to the estate of Adam Brevard Davidson, including the records of the final distribution of the estate. #00204, Subseries: "2.2. 1867-1911." Folder 34

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Pictures, 1872 and undated.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Back to Top

Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, September 1992

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.

Back to Top