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Collection Number: 03374

Collection Title: Ferebee, Gregory, and McPherson Family Papers, 1816-1913

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. Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the encoding of this finding aid.

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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 185 items)
Abstract Family members included Francis Roger Gregory, merchant in Petersburg, Va.; medical student at the University of Pennsylvania; physician and planter in Mecklenburg County, Va., and Granville County, N.C. In the 1830s, he married Nancy Alexander, and they had at least three children: William H.; Francis Roger, Jr., who a surgeon with the 12th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, and Martha, who married Nelson McPherson Ferebee of Oxford, N.C., a physician in the U.S. Navy, serving aboard the U.S.S. Indiana and the U.S. Flagship New York during the Spanish-American War. The papers include family correspondence, business papers, and genealogical information of the Ferebee, Gregory, Howard, and McPherson families of southside Virginia and Granville County, N.C. The early papers are those of Francis Roger Gregory of Mecklenburg County, Va. Mingled with the Gregory papers is correspondence of the McPherson family of Camden County, N.C., including letters to Elizabeth McPherson Proctor during her school days in Brunswick County, Va., and at Georgetown, D.C. Postwar papers include those of George Howard of Tarboro, N.C., especially concerning the collection of pre-war debts owed by Northern creditors. The relationship of George Howard, a Tarboro lawyer, to the Gregory, McPherson, or Ferebee family is unclear. From 1872 through 1892, there are scattered papers of Nelson McPherson Ferebee (1849-1917) and of his wife, Martha Gregory Ferebee, including letters written from Hong Kong and Uruguay while Ferebee was ship's surgeon aboard the U.S.S. Indiana, and copies of bulletins and log abstracts for several ships in the Caribbean during the War of 1898. Miscellaneous items include scattered Civil War letters from women describing life on the Confederate home front; an account of a student rebellion, 1886, at the University of North Carolina; letters relating to theater in eastern U.S. cities; letters relating to antebellum sexual mores; and genealogical information.
Creator Ferebee family.



Gregory family.



McPherson Family.
Language English
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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 Ferebee, Gregory, and McPherson Family Papers #3374, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy available (University Publications of America, Series J.13.8).
Acquisitions Information
Gift of the Howard family of Tarboro, N.C., through Mary Howard, in August 1958.
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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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.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Francis Roger Gregory (fl. 1824-1850) was originally a merchant in Petersburg, Va. He left Petersburg to study medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 1827. After graduating in 1828, he settled in his native Mecklenburg County, Va., where he was a physician and tobacco planter until 1840. He moved in that year to Granville County, N.C., where he continued to practice medicine and plant tobacco throughout the 1840s-1850s. Gregory had at least three brothers, William O., James H., and Herbert, and a sister, Martha. William O. was a tobacco planter in Mecklenburg County and a partner in W. O. & R. H. Gregory, a general merchandising concern in Waterloo, N.C. R. H. Gregory was the ward of Francis Roger Gregory. James Gregory studied medicine with a private doctor in 1824 and, later, with his brother in Philadelphia in 1827. Herbert was a grocery merchant in Petersburg around 1831. Martha married James E. Bacon in 1825 and lived in Nottoway County, Va.

Francis Roger Gregory married Nancy Alexander in late 1831 or early 1832. They had at least three children: William H., Francis Roger, Jr., and Martha. Francis Roger, Jr., was a surgeon in the 12th, 23d, and 38th North Carolina regiments during the Civil War. In 1872, Martha married Nelson McPherson Ferebee (1849-1917), a physician in the U.S. Navy, who made his home in Oxford, N.C. Ferebee, the son of Dennis Dozier Ferebee and Sarah R. McPherson of Camden County, served aboard the U.S.S. Indiana and the U.S. Flagship New York during the Spanish American War. His mother was possibly the sister of Elizabeth McPherson and James N. McPherson of Camden County. The relationship of George Howard, a Tarboro lawyer, to the Gregory, McPherson, or Ferebee family is unclear.Elizabeth married Albert G. Proctor of Norfolk.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection is primarily family correspondence and business papers, 1824-1865, of the Gregory family, most relating to Francis Roger Gregory, Sr., with scattered antebellum papers, 1835-1844, of the McPherson family; Civil War letters from an army surgeon and unidentified women on the Confederate home front; postwar papers for George Howard, 1866-1870, concerning the collection of prewar debts owed to northern creditors; and late 19th century naval, personal, and business papers, 1872-1913, of Nelson Ferebee (1849-1917) and Martha G. Ferebee. The papers document family and social affairs; courtship; boarding school life in Brunswick, Va., and Georgetown, D.C.; medical studies; North Carolina and national politics; and business and personal finances. Information also appears on theater in eastern United States cities, especially Philadelphia, Pa.; antebellum sexual mores; women's activities during the Civil War; and naval service in Hong Kong and Uruguay and in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Letters to Francis Roger Gregory from schoolmates and friends in the 1820s contain unusually frank discussions of sex and venereal disease. Business papers include correspondence, accounts, deeds, receipts, legal agreements, and loan notes. Miscellaneous items include bulletins and logs for several ships during the Spanish-American War; a diary of a Granville County, N.C., tobacco planter, 1856; an account of a student rebellion, 1886, at the University of North Carolina; and genealogical materials on the Ferebee, Dauge, and Moore families.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Loose Papers, 1816-1913.

About 185 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Antebellum correspondence and business papers of the Gregory family of Mecklenburg County, Va., and Granville County, N.C., mostly relating to Francis R. Gregory, Sr., and of the McPherson family of Camden County, N.C., and postwar business papers of George Howard of Tarboro, N.C., and naval, personal, and business papers of Navy surgeon Nelson McPherson Ferebee and his wife Martha.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1816-1822.

3 items.

Two letters exchanged by Willie McPherson of Camden County, N.C., and his son Joshua at school in Edenton, N.C., concerning Joshua's unhappiness with his teacher and boarding situation, and a carriage tax receipt, dated 21 January 1816, for a Herbert Gregory of Dinwiddie County, Va.

Folder 1

1816-1822 #03374, Subseries: "1.1. 1816-1822." Folder 1

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1824-1831.

About 45 items.

Letters received by Francis Roger Gregory before his marriage and scattered business items. Gregory received letters in Petersburg and Dinwiddie and Brunswick counties, Va., during the early 1820s, in Philadelphia between 1827-1828, and in Mecklenburg County between 1828-1831. These include several from his brothers, William O. in Mecklenburg County, Herbert in Mecklenburg County and Petersburg, and James H. Other family letters are from Gregory's uncle and guardian Thomas Thweatt of Petersburg; his brother in law James E. Bacon of Nottoway County, Va.; and his cousins Maria E. Meade and Archibald Thweatt of Brunswick. A number of friends wrote Gregory from Petersburg, Norfolk, and Philadelphia, and one wrote while traveling with a theater company touring eastern U.S. cities. Family letters discuss mostly social and family life; boarding school (see letters of Archibald Thweatt and Herbert Gregory); the study and practice of medicine; general merchandising and tobacco sales in Petersburg; and the sale of thoroughbred horses (see letters of Thomas Thweatt). Thomas Thweatt's letters also discuss financial arrangements for the Gregory brothers. Letters from friends discuss mostly travel, courtship, venereal disease, a paternity suit (see 7 September 1827), theater (see letters of Walter Puckett and Charles Barton), and mutual acquaintances. Of note is a letter of 4 July 1828 in which J. E. N. Bacon gave Francis rather graphic advice on how to choose a wife.

Business items for Gregory include a dry goods account, 1824; a receipt for goods, 1828; a loan note, 1828; a deed, 29 March 1826, for land in Mecklenburg County sold by Thomas and Mary Goode to David H. Abernathy; and an account settlement, 1831, for Nancy Alexander with Charles Baskervill.

Folder 2

1824-1825 #03374, Subseries: "1.2. 1824-1831." Folder 2

Folder 3

1826 #03374, Subseries: "1.2. 1824-1831." Folder 3

Folder 4

1827 #03374, Subseries: "1.2. 1824-1831." Folder 4

Folder 5

1828-1831 #03374, Subseries: "1.2. 1824-1831." Folder 5

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. 1832-1859 and Antebellum Undated.

About 80 items.

Mostly business papers and correspondence of Francis Roger Gregory after his marriage, with a number of letters received by Elizabeth McPherson (later Proctor) and her brother James McPherson of Camden County, and scattered business items for Gregory and McPherson family members. Correspondence, much of it undated, also appears for Gregory's wife Nancy.

Business papers are principally blacksmith, postal, grocery, dry goods, and hardware accounts; letters received by Gregory from Petersburg commission merchants concerning tobacco sales and from others concerning the purchase of lands and finances; and deeds and receipts. Several items pertain to debts owed by Gregory's ward, Richard H. Gregory. One letter, dated 10 January 1838, from W. O. & R. H. Gregory Company, general merchants of Waterloo, N.C., to E. James & Company of Petersburg, promises to pay overdue charges for goods purchased.

Gregory's most frequent personal correspondent was Amos B. Little of Washington, D.C., a former tutor for Gregory's children, who wrote between 1845 and 1850 from Newport, N.H., and Washington, D.C., discussing national politics, including Democratic party affairs; Abolitionism; the Texas question; the Wilmot Proviso; and his hopes to study law. Letters from Herbert and William O. Gregory and Thomas Thweatt pertain mostly to financial arrangements. Of note is a letter from Herbert, dated 9 February 1832, mentioning going to New Orleans to look for a position. Letters on occasion discuss family, local politics (see 10 February 1832), and the sale of slaves (see 3 February and 2 March 1837). Scattered letters from friends discuss politics and the milling business (see May 1850). Of note is a letter of 1 April 1840 from Nathaniel Alexander, stating his views on a national bank and the Van Buren administration. Two letters in 1855 and 1857, discussing mostly school and mutual friends, appear for Francis Roger Gregory's sons, William (Billy) and Francis Roger, Jr. (Roger).

McPherson family letters appear between 1835 and 1844. Letters to Elizabeth McPherson before her marriage are addressed to her at school in Brunswick County and Georgetown, D.C., between 1835 and 1837, at home in Camden in 1839, and, after her marriage, in Norfolk and Elizabeth City, N.C. Her father W. McPherson, brother James N., and sisters Courtney, Sarah, and Sallie wrote her from home and other locations discussing schoolwork, courtships, weddings, and family news. Letters to James N. in Camden appear from his father in Raleigh in 1835 and describe the North Carolina Convention and giving farm instructions, and from Samuel T. Sawyer on 5 August 1837 discussing his campaign for Congress. One business item, a deed registered 9 May 1854, appears for Camden County land sold by Edward McPherson to Dennis D. Ferebee.

Undated items are mostly letters to Nancy A. Gregory from her sisters, sisters in law, and a friend named L., and discuss family illnesses, local weddings, births, courtships, and lands for sale. Her sister Lucy F. wrote mentioning making clothes for the "town negroes". One letter to Francis Roger Gregory is from his cousin Elvira Meade and discusses weddings and family. Undated business items are a dry goods account for Gregory and a legal agreement between William O. Gregory and Richard H. Hamme for work on a mill on Mile's Creek owned by William's ward, Sally W. Gregory.

Folder 6

1832-1836 #03374, Subseries: "1.3. 1832-1859 and Antebellum Undated." Folder 6

Folder 7

1837-1840 #03374, Subseries: "1.3. 1832-1859 and Antebellum Undated." Folder 7

Folder 8

1841-1847 #03374, Subseries: "1.3. 1832-1859 and Antebellum Undated." Folder 8

Folder 9

1848-1850, 1854-1855, 1857, 1859 #03374, Subseries: "1.3. 1832-1859 and Antebellum Undated." Folder 9

Folder 10

Antebellum undated #03374, Subseries: "1.3. 1832-1859 and Antebellum Undated." Folder 10

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.4. 1862-1865.

8 items.

Mostly letters from women on the Confederate home front and two letters from army surgeon Francis Roger Gregory, Jr.

Four letters, 1864-1865, are from an unidentified woman in Oxford, N.C., to her sister in Camden County. They discuss high prices, attempts to obtain cloth and groceries, the difficulties of living with the enemy nearby, sewing activities, children, and news of family and relatives in the war. An additional item is a letter of 16 May 1864 from Laura in Camden, N.C., to her cousin Martha, Francis Roger Gregory's daughter, concerning her teaching and boarding situation in Camden, Martha's schoolwork, and news of relatives in the war.

Two letters appear in 1862 from Francis Roger Gregory, surgeon with the 12th, 23d, and 38th North Carolina regiments. He wrote to his brother on 29 March from Sewell's Point, Va., describing preparations for a sea battle between the Union ironclad Monitor and the Confederate ironclad Merrimac, and from camp near Fredericksburg on 9 December discussing his brother's broken leg, his hopes for promotion, and camp conditions.

Folder 11

1862-1865 #03374, Subseries: "1.4. 1862-1865." Folder 11

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.5. 1866-1870.

14 items.

Correspondence, bills, and business papers of George Howard, lawyer of Tarboro, N.C., including papers related to the collection of prewar debts by northern creditors, and Howard's claim against the U.S. Post Office on behalf of the estate of George Howard, late postmaster of Tarboro. One item, dated 15 February 1868, addresses Howard as "Judge Howard". An item of particular note is a handwritten copy of "The Legend of Chapel Hill", dated 1866, which relates the story of a group of students placing dynamite beneath the lectern of Professor Hilliard Smith of the University of North Carolina.

Folder 12

1866-1870 #03374, Subseries: "1.5. 1866-1870." Folder 12

Digital version: "Legend of Chapel Hill, 1866"

Documenting the American South

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.6. 1872-1913 and Postbellum Undated.

26 items.

Personal correspondence and military and business papers of Navy physician Nelson McPherson Ferebee, including several letters to his wife Martha G. Ferebee in Oxford, N.C., and genealogical materials.

Correspondence is dated 1885 1912, and includes letters he wrote Martha from Hong Kong, 1885; Uruguay, 1891; Atlanta, 1892; aboard the U.S.S. Indiana, 1897; and Key West, 1898; and a few letters he received from fellow officers, friends, and relatives. Letters to Martha describe his recreation, hunting, and social life, and give advice about family, home, money, and children. Of note in the letters to Ferebee is one of 28 March 1887 from F. N. Mullen in South Mills, N.C., concerning his management of Ferebee's "Culpeper" farm. Naval papers are mostly for 1898, when Ferebee served aboard the U.S.S. Indiana and U.S. Flagship New York in Santiago de Cuba from May to August. Papers include commendations, squadron bulletins, a printed abstract of the ship's log of the Cristobal Colon, a Spanish ship, between April July 1898, and an undated ship's log, probably for the New York. Miscellaneous items for Ferebee include a deed, dated 25 March 1881, for mining properties in Alaksa, and a will, dated 21 April 1884, for his father, Dennis D. Ferebee of Camden County.

Besides letters from her husband, items of interests addressed to Martha Ferebee are a letter from her aunt in South Mills in 1872 and one from Ella A. Gregory in Stovall, N.C., in 1899, discussing family, church affairs, and neighborhood news.

Materials 1912 1913 and undated items include correspondence and family history materials.

Folder 13

1872-1897 #03374, Subseries: "1.6. 1872-1913 and Postbellum Undated." Folder 13

Folder 14

1898 #03374, Subseries: "1.6. 1872-1913 and Postbellum Undated." Folder 14

Folder 15

1899-1913 and postbellum undated #03374, Subseries: "1.6. 1872-1913 and Postbellum Undated." Folder 15

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Tobacco Planter Diary, 1856.

1 item.

A line a day diary kept by an unidentified tobacco planter in Granville County, N.C., between 20 January and 19 August 1856. The diary, probably kept by a Gregory family relative, mentions family visits, the weather, trips to nearby towns, and work done on the farm.

Folder 16

Tobacco planter diary #03374, Series: "2. Tobacco Planter Diary, 1856." Folder 16

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Processing Information

Processed by: Jill Snider, August 1992

Encoded by: Peter Hymas, October 2004

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.

Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the encoding of this finding aid.

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