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Collection Number: 01735

Collection Title: James Hervey Greenlee Diary, 1837; 1847-1902

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.


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Size 2.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 8 items)
Abstract James Hervey Greenlee was a planter and Presbyterian evangelical of Burke and McDowell counties, N.C. From 1845 to 1886, Greenlee served as an elder at the Marion Presbyterian Church. Greenlee was a delegate to the North Carolina state convention in May 1861 when it voted to secede from the Union. The collection includes original and partial typed transcription of James Hervey Greenlee's diary, chiefly documenting the weather, farming and business activities, his family's social visits to neighbors and relatives, and his personal and religious thoughts. Greenlee also recorded the daily tasks assigned to his slaves, some of whom apparently were skilled as coopers, cobblers, and tanners. Also included are expense accounts and notes from various journeys through South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Kentucky, where the Greenlees visited the Lexington Exposition in 1883. There is little information on Greenlee's experiences at the 1861 North Carolina state convention or the Civil War in North Carolina. In May 1865, however, he did briefly record his and his slaves' reactions to their emancipation. Greenlee's religious life and spiritual well-being are extensively documented, including numerous references to sermons, reading from the Bible and various religious tracts, camp meetings, circuit riders, religious organizations, and his service as a delegate to the Old School Presbyterian Synod at Charleston, S.C., in 1859. In 1848, Greenlee expressed his guarded views on the eventual emancipation of slaves and his hopes for their recolonization in Africa. He also recorded his grief over the deaths of his first wife in 1857, of his baby son in 1854, and of his adult daughter in 1866. The diary includes scattered entries written by his first and second wives, and an extract from an 1882 Richmond and Danville Railroad prospectus. His second wife wrote brief accounts of a February 1883 trip through Florida and an October 1883 trip through Kentucky in Greenlee's diary. The transcription covers the diary through 1867, and contains two photographs, one of James H. Greenlee, circa 1861, and one of Turkey Cove, his family home at Marion, N.C.
Creator Greenlee, James Hervey, 1811-1902.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
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 James Hervey Greenlee Diary #1735, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
All or part of this collection available on microfilm. Additional microfilm: All or part of this collection is also 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 Mrs. B. F. Pollard of Marion, N.C., in June 1950 and from J. Harvey Greenlee of Morganton, N.C., in June 1950.
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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James Hervey Greenlee (1811-1902) was a planter, slave holder, and Presbyterian evangelical of Burke and McDowell counties, N.C. Sometime in the 1830s or early 1840s, he assumed control of Turkey Cove, his father's Burke County farm (in present-day McDowell County), on which he raised wheat, corn, cotton, oats, and a variety of other crops, and hogs and cattle. According to U.S. census records, the 38-year-old Greenlee owned 26 slaves and more than $16,000 of real property in 1850.

Sometime before 1843 Greenlee married his first cousin, Mary Jane Greenlee (1822?-1857). The couple had at least four children, two boys and two girls, between 1844 and 1850. In 1845, Greenlee and his wife changed their membership from the Morganton Presbyterian Church to the newly established Marion Presbyterian Church of which he and his wife were charter members. He also served as a church elder between 1845 and 1886.

After his first wife's death in June 1857, Greenlee married a woman named whose last name was Morrison. In 1859, Greenlee served as a delegate to the Old School Presbyterian Synod in Charleston, S.C., and, two years later, he served as a delegate to the North Carolina convention that voted to secede from the Union in May 1861.

He died in 1902.

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Series 1 consists of the manuscript of James Hervey Greenlee's diary, which he kept on a daily basis for nearly 55 years. The diary comments chiefly on the weather, a variety of his farming and business activities, his family's social visits to neighbors and relatives, and his personal and religious thoughts. He recorded the daily tasks that he assigned to his slaves, some of whom apparently were skilled as coopers, cobblers, and tanners. He discussed his guarded support for abolition and the religious instruction of slaves. Also included are expense accounts and notes from various journeys through South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Kentucky, where the Greenlees visited the Lexington Exposition in 1883. In addition, shorter trips to nearby Salem, Salisbury, Statesville, Charlotte, Morganton, and Marion are mentioned.

Aspects of Greenlee's religious and spiritual life are extensively documented, including numerous references to church sermons, reading from the Bible and various religious tracts, camp meetings, religious instruction for his slaves, his contributions to religious organizations, circuit riders, and confronting a fellow church member, John H. Greenlee (perhaps his brother), in 1853 about his excessive drinking. In addition, he recorded his grief over the deaths of his first wife in 1857, of his baby son in June 1854, and of his adult daughter in July 1866. The diary, however, only briefly comments on Greenlee's service as a delegate to the Old School Presbyterian Synod at Charleston, S.C. in 1859, and later as a delegate to the North Carolina state convention that voted to secede from the Union in 1861. Similarly, there is disappointingly little information in the diary about the Civil War. In May 1865, however, he did briefly record his and his slaves' reactions to their emancipation.

Greenlee's diary also includes scattered entries written by his first and second wives, an extract from an 1882 Richmond & Danville Railroad prospectus, and his second wife's accounts of travel throughout the South in 1883. Her accounts are fuller than those of her husband. Folder 20 contains three items, consisting of diary notes for late 1858 and expense accounts for 1858, 1859, and 1862; and two enclosures, one from March 1879 and another undated, which had been inserted in the diary.

Series 2 consists of seven volumes of typed transcription of the diary through 1867. Volume 7 contains two plates of photographs, of James H. Greenlee, circa 1861, and of Turkey Cove, his family home at Marion, N.C.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902.

1 item.

Arrangement: chronological.

The James Hervey Greenlee diary covers a period of nearly 55 years, with some gaps. Greenlee commented chiefly on the weather, a variety of farming and business activities, social visits to neighbors and relatives, his personal and religious thoughts, and travels throughout the South. Also included are scattered diary entries written by his first and second wives. These are generally longer and richer in detail than those of James H. Greenlee. Beginning in 1847, entries are daily, with few exceptions, and are approximately 50 to 250 words in length, although some are considerably longer. Almost all of the daily entries conclude with a short prayer. The years 1855, 1860, and 1893 are missing, as well as considerable portions of 1861, 1862, 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1899, 1892, 1894, 1899, and 1900. There are two pagination schemes in the diary. The first scheme, covering the first half of the diary up through 1867, indicates both the year and the page number [e.g., 1847/25]. Pages are numbered within each year, and begin again at page one on January 1st of the next year. In the second scheme, covering the period 1868 to 1902, pages are simply numbered from 1 to 2139

The diary for 1837 is an expense account and notes of a journey from Burke County, N.C., through South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, some areas of which had recently been evacuated by the Cherokee Indians. Greenlee primarily described the weather, the geography and people of the region, and new settlements in Alabama. Beginning in 1847 Greenlee's entries mention a variety of business and farming activities, including planting and harvesting crops, butchering and dressing out hogs, branding horses and mules, and building a mill and a lime kiln. He also recorded the daily tasks assigned to his slaves, some of whom apparently were skilled as coopers, cobblers, and tanners. Greenlee frequently mentioned short trips to nearby Salem, Salisbury, Statesville, Charlotte, Morganton, and Marion, as well as more extended ones to Columbia and Charleston, S.C. In the spring of 1861, he served as a delegate to the North Carolina state convention that voted to secede from the Union, but diary entries for those days make little mention of the event, other than to comment briefly on a law that the convention enacted. Likewise, Greenlee had little to say in his diary about the Civil War. In May 1865, however, he did briefly record his and his slaves reaction to their emancipation.

Greenlee devoted extensive space to writing about his religious life and spiritual well-being. The diary includes numerous references to church sermons, Sunday afternoon reading from the Bible and various religious tracts, camp meetings, religious instruction for his slaves, his contributions to religious organizations, circuit riders, confronting John H. Greenlee, a fellow church member and perhaps his brother, in 1853 about excessive drinking, and his service as a delegate to the Old School Presbyterian Synod at Charleston, S.C., in 1859. In late December 1848, Greenlee disclosed his guarded views about the eventual abolition of slavery. In addition, he expressed his support for proselytizing among slaves in order to free them and send them back to the African continent "as lights to their long-benighted brethren and in civalizing [sic] & Christianize [sic] them and place them under the guidance of the great author of all things among the Christians of the world." In 1857, Greenlee wrote extensively about his wife's lingering illness and her death and funeral in early June. He reflected on his grief and sorrow at "the loss of my dear wife" and asked the Lord to "sanctify this sore bereavement to a poor disconsolate husband & children...." He also recorded his feelings about the deaths of at least two of his children, an infant son in June 1854 and an adult daughter in July 1866.

Greenlee's diary also includes scattered entries written by his first and second wives. The 1848 diary contains some brief entries written in mid-February and early March by his wife and first cousin, Mary Jane Greenlee. The second Mrs. Greenlee described a February 1883 trip through South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and an October 1883 trip to Kentucky, where the Greenlees visited the Lexington Exposition. Also included is an extract from an 1882 Richmond & Danville Railroad prospectus. Folder 20 contains three items. One item is a series of notes for the diary from September and November 1858, which Greenlee apparently drew from to write the longer entries for those dates. These notes also include expense accounts for 1858, 1859, and 1862. The other two items are enclosures, one from March 1879 and another undated, which had been inserted in the diary.

Folder 1

1837 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 1

Folder 2

1847 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 2

Folder 3

1848 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 3

Folder 4

1849 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 4

Folder 5

1 January 1850-5 November 1851 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 5

Folder 6

November 1851-18 January 1853 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 6

Folder 7

19 January 1853-10 November 1854 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 7

Folder 8

3 March 1856-11 July 1858 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 8

Folder 9

12 July 1858-7 November 1859; 1861; 1862; 1863-8 February 1865 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 9

Folder 10

9 February 1865-5 November 1867 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 10

Folder 11

6 November 1867-14 July 1870 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 11

Folder 12

15 July 1870-8 December 1875 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 12

Folder 13

9 December 1875-24 May 1880 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 13

Folder 14

25 May 1880-6 February 1884 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 14

Folder 15

7 February 1884-4 October 1887 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 15

Folder 16

6 May 1888-30 June 1891 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 16

Folder 17

1 July 1891-26 May 1895 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 17

Folder 18

27 May 1895-9 March 1898 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 18

Folder 19

13 March 1898-5 January 1902 #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 19

Folder 20

Enclosures #01735, Series: "1. Diary, 1837; 1847-1902. " Folder 20

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Typed Transcription of Diary, 1837; 1847-1867.

7 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

The seven volumes cover the James Hervey Greenlee diary for 1837 and 1847 to 1867. The copies appear to be fairly accurate transcriptions of the diary's original content, spelling, and punctuation, although several small, portions of the original were not entirely reproduced in the volumes. This appears to be true for only a handful of the irregular entries for the period 1858 to 1862. Volume 7 includes two plates of photographs, of James H. Greenlee, circa 1861, and of Turkey Cove, his family home at Marion, N.C.

Folder 21

Volume 1. 1837; 1847-1849 #01735, Series: "2. Typed Transcription of Diary, 1837; 1847-1867." Folder 21

Folder 22

Volume 2. 1850-1851 #01735, Series: "2. Typed Transcription of Diary, 1837; 1847-1867." Folder 22

Folder 23

Volume 3. 1852-1853 #01735, Series: "2. Typed Transcription of Diary, 1837; 1847-1867." Folder 23

Folder 24

Volume 4. 1854; 1856 #01735, Series: "2. Typed Transcription of Diary, 1837; 1847-1867." Folder 24

Folder 25

Volume 5. 1857-1858 #01735, Series: "2. Typed Transcription of Diary, 1837; 1847-1867." Folder 25

Folder 26

Volume 6. 1859-1864 #01735, Series: "2. Typed Transcription of Diary, 1837; 1847-1867." Folder 26

Folder 27

Volume 7. 1865-1867 #01735, Series: "2. Typed Transcription of Diary, 1837; 1847-1867." Folder 27

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Processing Information

Processed by: Patrick Huber, with the assistance of Angela Dickerson, Julia Smith, Doug Stenberg, and Tim West, October 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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