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Collection Number: 02492-z

Collection Title: Margaret Mordecai Devereux Papers, 1837-1856

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.

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Size 60 items
Abstract The collection includes letters between half-sisters Margaret Mordecai, later Mrs. John Devereux, and Ellen Mordecai (1820-1916), later Mrs. Samuel Fox Mordecai, daughters of Moses Mordecai of Raleigh, N.C., and scattered letters of other family members. Margaret's and Ellen's letters were written while they were attending schools in Philadelphia, Pa., and Petersburg, Va., and after their respective marriages. After her marriage, Margaret Mordecai Devereux split her time between her husband's Bertie County, N.C., plantation, Runiroi, and her family home in Raleigh. Ellen and her two children lived in Raleigh after her husband's death in 1854. Letters relate to experiences at school in Philadelphia, books the sisters were reading, social life and daily activities at Runiroi, and other family matters.
Creator Devereux, Margaret Mordecai, 1824-1910.
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 Margaret Mordecai Devereux Papers #2492-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
Loan from Mrs. Margaret Mackay Jones of Mebane, N.C., 1943.
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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Margaret Lane Mordecai (1824-1910) was the daughter of Moses Mordecai (1785-1824) and his second wife, Ann Willis Lane Mordecai (1794-1854). Margaret married John Devereux, Jr., (1819-1893) in 1842. The young couple divided their time between the Devereux plantation of Runiroi, near Palmyra in Bertie County, N.C., and Wills Forest, a Lane family home near Raleigh. They had eight children, including daughters Anne, Katherine and Ellen and sons Thomas and John.

Judith Ellen Mordecai (1820-1916) was the daughter of Moses Mordecai and his first wife, Margaret Lane (1786-1821). In 1850, Ellen married her first cousin Samuel Fox Mordecai (1828-1852), the son of Moses Mordecai's brother Solomon (1792-1869). They had two children, Margaret Lane Mordecai and Samuel Fox Mordecai II.

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Chiefly correspondence between Margaret Mordecai, later Mrs. John Devereux, and her half-sister Judith Ellen Mordecai, later Mrs. Samuel Fox Mordecai. Letters, 1837-1841, describe Margaret's daily life, her nostalgia for her home, and her activities at school in Philadelphia, Pa., and in Petersburg, Va., where she spent the winter with her father's sister Ellen. Letters, 1842-1856, concern Margaret's married life at Runiroi plantation and at Wills Forest near Raleigh and describe the activities of her children. In one letter, 1844, Margaret described her activities as a young married woman, giving details of housekeeping and an account of one day's routine at Runiroi; in another, 1848, she describes her family's preparations for Christmas. Letters from both sisters note books they were reading.

Also included are a few letters, 1839, from Margaret to her mother, Ann Lane Mordecai, describing Margaret's daily life at school, and an undated letter, probably written in 1842, describing Margaret's wedding trip and arrival at Runiroi Plantation; letters, 1837-1839, between George Washington Mordecai and his nieces Ellen and Margaret, concerning routine family news; and letters, 1841-1844, to Ellen from Margaret's husband John Devereux, Jr., giving amusing descriptions of daily life at Runiroi.

The collection also includes one photograph, a picture of the plantation house at Runiroi taken in 1981.

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Contents list

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Processing Information

Processed by: Rebecca Hollingsworth, April 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.

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