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Collection Number: 00975-z

Collection Title: Margaret Ann Meta Morris Grimball Diary, 1860-1866

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 items
Abstract Margaret Ann Meta Morris Grimball was the wife of John Berkley Grimball (1800-1892), rice planter of Saint Paul's Parish in the Colleton District of South Carolina, with connections to the Manigault and Lowndes families of South Carolina and to the Morris family of Morrisania, N.Y. The collection is the manuscript diary, 1860-1866, of Margaret Ann ("Meta") Morris Grimball, with the greater part of the entries concentrated in 1861 and 1862. Mrs. Grimball wrote from the Grove Plantation (Colleton District, S.C.), primary Grimball residence until after the Civil War; from Charleston, where the family spent the summer months; and from Spartanburg, S.C., where they took refuge in May 1862 from anticipated Union attacks on the South Carolina coast. Topics include plantation life; slave management; the progress of the Civil War and its effects on the lives of those close to Mrs. Grimball, including the activities of her sons in the Confederate army and navy, and civilian relief efforts; sickness among the civilian and military population; the family's removal to the relative safety of Spartanburg, where they rented quarters at St. John's College; her husband's conversion from Presbyterianism to Episcopalianism; her daughters' teaching careers; and other family and community matters.
Creator Grimball, Margaret Ann Meta Morris, 1810-1881.
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 Ann Meta Morris Grimball Diary #975-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy available.
Alternate Form of Material
Full text of diary available from Documenting the American South website. See below for direct link.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Meta M. Grimball of Charleston, S.C., in May 1945.
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 Ann Meta Morris Grimball, 1810-1881, was a descendant of Lewis Morris, general in the Continental Army, member of the Continental Congress, and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Meta's father, also called Lewis Morris, married Elizabeth Manigault of South Carolina in 1807. Elizabeth was killed in a storm on Sullivan's Island, S.C., on 22 September 1822. In 1834, Lewis Morris married Aramintha Lowndes, who died in 1843. Through Meta's family, the Grimballs were, therefore, connected to the prominent Manigault and Lowndes families of South Carolina and to the Morris family of New York.

In 1830, Meta married John Berkley Grimball, 1800-1892, of Charleston, S.C. Grimball was the son of John and Eliza Berkley Grimball and a descendant of Paul Grimball (d. 1696). Paul Grimball came to South Carolina from England in 1682 and was secretary and receiver general of the province. The Grimballs were rice planters in Saint Paul's Parish in the Colleton District of South Carolina, but also spent much of the year in Charleston. They had nine children: Elizabeth (1831-1914), who married William Munro (d. 1900) and lived in Unionville, S.C.; Berkley (1833-1899), who studied law; Lewis (1835-1901), a physician who married Clementina Legge; William (d. 1864); John (d. 1922), who attended the United States Naval Academy and married Katie Moore; Arthur (d. 1894); Gabriella (d. 1924); Charlotte; and Harry, who married Helen E. Trenholm, daughter of Edward L. Trenholm, in 1876.

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The collection is the manuscript diary, 1860-1866, of Margaret Ann Meta Morris Grimball, with the greater part of the entries concentrated in 1861 and 1862. Mrs. Grimball wrote from the Grove Plantation (Colleton District, S.C.), primary Grimball residence until after the Civil War; from Charleston, S.C., where the family spent the summer months; and from Spartanburg, S.C., where they took refuge in May 1862 from anticipated Union attacks on the South Carolina coast. Topics include plantation life; slave management; the progress of the Civil War and its effects on the lives of those close to Mrs. Grimball, including the activities of her sons in the Confederate army and Confederate navy, and civilian relief efforts; sickness among the civilian and military population; the family's removal to the relative safety of Spartanburg, where they rented quarters at Saint John's College; her husband's conversion from Presbyterianism to Episcopalianism; her daughters' teaching careers; and other family and community matters.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Diary, 1860-1866.

Full text of diary

Documenting the American South

Diary, 210 pp., of Margaret Ann Meta Morris Grimball, containing entries, 1860-1866. The greatest number of diary entries were written in 1861 and 1862, but there are scattered entries from 1863 through 1865. The last entry, dated February 1866, summarizes the events that had taken place since the penultimate entry, which is dated "near the end of September [1865]."

The summary below shows some of the topics Grimball discussed in her diary. It is by no means an inclusive list of subjects, but gives only a general idea of how the narrative proceeds.

1860 A few entries for December only.
1861 Daily life on the plantation, including the duties of a mistress, children's activities, social events. Rumors of war.
1861 Building of a fort, using slave labor, at the mouth of the Edisto River.
1861 Five eldest sons going off to serve the Confederacy: John resigning from the Naval Academy and entering the Confederate navy; Lewis, a physician, signing up as an army surgeon; William, Berkley, and Arthur entering other branches of the service.
1861 Capture of Fort Sumter.
1861 Activities of relief societies and news of death of soldiers.
1861 Fever in Charleston and among the troops.
1861 Report of Northern fleet at Hilton Head and Bay Point, S.C., (October) and at Tybee on the Georgia coast. Fire in Charleston (19 December).
1862 Difficulties with slaves, including anxiety about their safety, which resulted in the removal of the Grimball slaves to Monck's Corner in the interior of the state.
1862 News of military engagements, deaths, illnesses.
1862 Move to Spartanburg to escape expected attacks on the South Carolina coast. In Spartanburg, the Grimballs and their entourage rented quarters at Saint John's College. They remained in Spartanburg until the end of the war.
1862 General hardships due to shortages of many items necessary to the health and well being of the family and servants.
1862 Note on letter received from son John in which he described fighting in Arkansas (19 August).
1862 Reports of duels in Charleston (19 August and 16 September).
1862 Visit of daughter Elizabeth to an iron mill.
1863 Increasing hardships and their influence on activities of family members and friends.
1863 Confirmation of John Berkley Grimball, formerly a Presbyterian, in the Episcopal Church to which his family subscribed (30 August).
1863 Account of the death of Lewis Morris (30 September).
1864 General sadness and despair relating to progress and probable outcome of the war.
1864 Daughter Elizabeth going to Unionville, S.C., to teach school; daughters Gabriella and Charlotte teaching school in Spartanburg (January).
1864 Receipt of parcel from son John (in the Confederate navy), who had gone to Nassau and then to England, and distribution of the parcel's contents among family and friends (April).
1864 Account of the death of son William in the military hospital in Charleston (30 July).
1865 Reluctance to write in diary, since all of the news is bad (breaks off writing in September).
1866 Summary of the events that had taken place since September 1865, almost exclusively documenting the whereabouts and activities of members of Grimball's immediate family.
Folder 1

Original diary #00975-z, Series: "Diary, 1860-1866." Folder 1

Folder 2

Typed transcription #00975-z, Series: "Diary, 1860-1866." Folder 2

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Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, July 1990

Encoded by: Eben Lehman, May 2006

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