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Collection Number: 03149

Collection Title: Hairston and Wilson Family Papers, 1800-1906

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.


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Size 1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 500 items)
Abstract The family of George Hairston (1750-1827) of Beaver Creek Plantation, near Martinsville, Henry County, Va., and Elizabeth Perkins Letcher (died 1818) included their children Harden (1786-1862); John Adams (born 1799), who married and moved to Yalabusha County, Miss.; and Marshall (1802- 1882), who married his cousin, Ann Hairston. Marshall and Ann lived at Beaver Creek with their four children: John A., who was killed at Williamsburg, Va., in 1862; Elizabeth ("Bettie") Perkins, who married J. T. W. Hairston, son of Harden and Sallie (Staples) Hairston; Marshall, who never married; and Ruth Stoval, who married Robert Wilson of Danville, Va. The collection includes letters to Elizabeth ( "Bettie") Perkins (Hairston) Hairston from her mother, who wrote chiefly from Beaver Creek, the family plantation, 1850s-1890s; her sister, Ruth Stoval (Hairston) Wilson, who wrote from Danville, Va.; her brother, John A. Hairston, who wrote from school in Staunton, Va., 1855-1857; and her cousin, Jeb Stuart (1833- 1875), who wrote from West Point, 1853-1854, and while fighting against the Comanches in Texas, 1855. During the Civil War, Bettie lived with relatives in Yalabusha County, Miss., where she received letters from her family about life on the home front. There are also letters to Bettie, written after her marriage in 1873, from her husband, J. T. W. Hairston in Lowndes County, Miss., where he was trying to run a cotton plantation without slave labor. Other significant family correspondence documents the westward movement of various Hairston family members and includes some papers of George Hairston of Halifax County, Va., circa 1800-1820. In addition to correspondence, several account books document family life, including the involvement of family members in at least two stores in Henry County and Danville, Va., 1800-1829. A household account book, 1831-1869, gives detailed information about weaving, livestock raising, gardening, and other household production. There are also other financial and legal materials, including scattered bills, receipts, depositions, slave lists and other slave records, and labor contracts with freedmen.
Creator Hairston family.

Wilson family.
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 Hairston and Wilson Family Papers #3149, 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 Mrs. James E. Covington, daughter of Ann M. Wilson and R. A. James of Richmond and Martinsville, Va., in June 1955.
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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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Colonel George Hairston (1750-1827) built Beaver Creek Plantation in 1776 just outside Martinsville, Henry County, Va. In 1781, he married Elizabeth Perkins Letcher (died 1818), widow of William Letcher. They had twelve children: Robert (1783-1852), George (1784-1863), Harden (1786 1862), Samuel (born 1788), Nicholas Perkins (born 1791), Henry (born 1793), Peter (1796-1810), Constantine (born 1797), John Adams (born 1799), America (born 1801), Marshall (1802-1882), and Ruth Stovall (1804-1838). Elizabeth also had a daughter by her first husband. This daughter, Bethenia Letcher, married David Pannill and was the maternal grandmother of Jeb Stuart (1833-1864).

Marshall Hairston, eleventh child of George and Elizabeth, married his cousin, Ann Hairston, and they lived at Beaver Creek with their four children: John A., who was killed at Williamsburg in 1862; Elizabeth (Bettie) Perkins, who married J. T. W. Hairston, son of Harden and Sallie Staples Hairston, of Crawfordsville, Lowndes County, Miss.; Ann Marshall, who never married; and Ruth Stovall, who married Robert Wilson of Danville, Va. Robert Wilson was the son of Robert and Catherine Pannill Wilson. Beaver Creek descended to the children and grandchildren of Ruth Hairston Wilson.

Marshall's brother, John Adams Hairston, married Malinda Corn and lived with their five children in Yalabusha County, Miss. Bettie Perkins Hairston Hairston visited them often there.

J. T. W. Hairston was the seventh son of Harden and Sallie Staples Hairston. He was a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, a major in the Confederate Army, and a planter in Lowndes County, Miss. In 1873, he married his cousin Bettie. They had two children: Marshall, who died in infancy, and Watt H. Hairston (1876-1916), who never married.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The bulk of the collection consists of letters to Elizabeth (Bettie) Perkins Hairston Hairston; thus there is more information about her correspondents' lives than her own. These correspondents include her mother, Ann Hairston Hairston, who wrote chiefly from the family plantations near Martinsville, Va.; her sister, Ruth Stovall Wilson, who wrote from Danville, Va., where she lived with her husband, Robert Wilson; her brother, John A. Hairston, who wrote from school in Staunton, Va.; her cousin, Jeb Stuart, who wrote to her from West Point and Texas. After 1873, there are also letters from her husband, J. T. W. Hairston, who wrote to her often from Crawfordsville, Lowndes County, Miss.

Other significant family correspondence documents the westward movement of various Hairston family members and includes some papers of Colonel George Hairston, who established the family plantations in Virginia. Scattered papers of Robert Wilson contain information about his business interests.

In addition to correspondence, several account books document Hairston family involvement in at least two stores in Virginia from 1800 to 1829; and a household account book, 1831-1869, gives detailed information about weaving, livestock raising, gardening, and other household production. Other financial and legal materials include scattered bills, receipts, depositions, slave lists, and labor contracts between Robert Wilson and various freedmen. These materials chiefly document family business in Virginia.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1806-1906 and undated.

About 400 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly letters to Elizabeth (Bettie) Perkins Hairston Hairston from her mother, Ann Hairston Hairston; her sister, Ruth Stovall Wilson; her husband, J. T. W. Hairston; and various other family members, including her cousin, Jeb Stuart. There are very few letters written by Bettie herself. Early letters include those of Bettie's grandfather, Colonel George Hairston, and later letters include those of her son, Watt H. Hairston.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1806-1846.

About 20 items.

Correspondence of Colonel George Hairston with various business associates and family members, and correspondence of Marshall and Ann Hairston at Beaver Creek near Martinsville, Henry County, Va. Subjects are chiefly land and slaves, problems of farming, kinds of crops raised, and the westward migration of various family members.

Folder 1

Colonel George Hairston correspondence #03149, Subseries: "1.1. 1806-1846." Folder 1

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1847-1873.

About 150 items.

Chiefly letters to Elizabeth (Bettie) Perkins Hairston Hairston. These include an 1853 letter offering motherly advice from Ann Hairston Hairston at Sassafras Grove, near Martinsville, Va., while Bettie attended school in Salem, N.C.; affectionate and descriptive letters from her cousin Jeb Stuart at West Point, 1853-1854, and fighting Comanches in Texas, 1855; news from her brother, Jack A. Hairston, at Eastwood School near Staunton, Va., 1855-1857; and letters, 1866, from Danville, Va., where her sister, Ruth Stovall Wilson lived with husband, Robert Wilson.

After 1854, Bettie spent much time at her Uncle John Adams Hairston's in Yalabusha County, Miss. There she received letters from a few family members fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War, but most correspondence concerns civilian issues--family news, war hopes and fears, accounts of contacts with troops, and problems of refugees--especially in Virginia and Mississippi. Letters after the war were written chiefly by Ann Hairston Hairston and Ruth Stovall Wilson, focusing on labor issues and adjustments to new political and economic realities with the end of slavery. Letters indicate that Ann apparently worked closely with a man named Townes to operate the Virginia plantations. Bettie continued to live alternately with family in Yalabusha County, Miss., and in Martinsville, Va. There are no courtship letters from J. T. W. Hairston, whom Bettie married in 1873.

Folder 2

1847-1848 #03149, Subseries: "1.2. 1847-1873." Folder 2

Folder 3

1852 #03149, Subseries: "1.2. 1847-1873." Folder 3

Folder 4

1853 January-March #03149, Subseries: "1.2. 1847-1873." Folder 4

Folder 5

1853 April-December #03149, Subseries: "1.2. 1847-1873." Folder 5

Folder 6

1854-1855 #03149, Subseries: "1.2. 1847-1873." Folder 6

Folder 7

1856-1857 #03149, Subseries: "1.2. 1847-1873." Folder 7

Folder 8

1858-1859 #03149, Subseries: "1.2. 1847-1873." Folder 8

Folder 9

1860-1862 #03149, Subseries: "1.2. 1847-1873." Folder 9

Folder 10

1863-1865 #03149, Subseries: "1.2. 1847-1873." Folder 10

Folder 11

1866-1868 #03149, Subseries: "1.2. 1847-1873." Folder 11

Folder 12

1869 #03149, Subseries: "1.2. 1847-1873." Folder 12

Folder 13

1870-1873 #03149, Subseries: "1.2. 1847-1873." Folder 13

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. 1874-1906.

About 200 items.

The marriage of Bettie and J. T. W. Hairston marks a definite shift in correspondence. Thereafter, letters are chiefly from J. T. W. Hairston, of Crawfordville, Miss., to Bettie (usually in Martinsville, Va.) and their son, Watt. Hairston typically wrote about local events around Crawfordville and the Lowndes County seat, Columbus, Miss. He was preoccupied with farming and the problems of raising cotton without slaves. Letters suggest that he supplemented the family income by working as a land agent renting out property. His letters continue through 1906. Also of note are 1885 letters from Ann Hairston Hairston at the World's Fair in New Orleans and from Europe. Although most of the letters from Europe are undated, Ann seems to have spent an extended period there, perhaps from about 1888 to about 1898.

Folder 14

1874 #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 14

Folder 15

1875 #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 15

Folder 16

1876 #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 16

Folder 17

1877 #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 17

Folder 18

1879 #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 18

Folder 19

1882-1884 #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 19

Folder 20

1885-1886 #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 20

Folder 21

1887-1888 #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 21

Folder 22

1889 January-March #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 22

Folder 23

1889 April-December #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 23

Folder 24

1893 #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 24

Folder 25

1894-1898 #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 25

Folder 26

1904-1906 #03149, Subseries: "1.3. 1874-1906." Folder 26

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.4. Undated

About 30 items.

Letters from J. T. W. Hairston in Hairston, Miss., to his wife, and letters of other family members spanning the various generations represented throughout this collection.

Folder 27-28

Folder 27

Folder 28

J. T. W. Hairston #03149, Subseries: "1.4. Undated" Folder 27-28

Folder 29

Other family members #03149, Subseries: "1.4. Undated" Folder 29

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Financial and Legal Materials, 1800-1895 and undated.

About 70 items.

Arrangement: chronological by type of document.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.1 Loose Papers

About 60 items.

Slave lists, bills, receipts, agreements, depositions, and other documents. Of note are Robert Wilson's labor contracts with freedmen on his plantations, Danshill and Sandy River, 1865-1871.

Folder 30

1810-1849 #03149, Subseries: "2.1 Loose Papers" Folder 30

Folder 31

1851-1864 #03149, Subseries: "2.1 Loose Papers" Folder 31

Folder 32

1865-1871 #03149, Subseries: "2.1 Loose Papers" Folder 32

Folder 33

1872-1895 and undated #03149, Subseries: "2.1 Loose Papers" Folder 33

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.2. Account Books, 1800-1869.

6 items.
Folder 34

Volume 1. 1800-1804. Accounts with individuals for liquor, merchandise, and labor, perhaps at Beaver Creek. The volume was also used as a scrapbook, and many pages have been pasted over with newspaper clippings and poems. #03149, Subseries: "2.2. Account Books, 1800-1869." Folder 34

Folder 35

Volume 2. 1803-1807. Accounts with individuals showing labor performed and miscellaneous purchases. Also included is a "Cash account Halifax County," 1804-1805, and an "Inventory of the plantation utensils, household and kitchen furniture, and Stock of all kind delivd. to Washington Rowland by Parrish Green at Booker's ferry on the 19th day December 1804." #03149, Subseries: "2.2. Account Books, 1800-1869." Folder 35

Folder 36

Volume 3. 1804-1807. Halifax County. Accounts with individuals for liquor, merchandise, and labor. #03149, Subseries: "2.2. Account Books, 1800-1869." Folder 36

Folder 37

Volume 4. 1804-1816. "G. H. Ledger, Halifax." Entries made by George Hairston and Henry Hairston. In addition to ledger accounts with individuals with few itemized charges, the volume also contains "A statement of weights Tobo. made by James Elder at Bookers ferry in the year 1806" and "A Statement of Crop Tobo. made by Daniel Perkins in the year 1806." #03149, Subseries: "2.2. Account Books, 1800-1869." Folder 37

Folder 38

Volume S-5. 1811-1829. Account, 1811-1812, for Caswell County showing merchandize purchased and labor performed and daily accounts, 1818-1829, for the Goblen Town Store, Danville, Va. #03149, Subseries: "2.2. Account Books, 1800-1869." Folder 38

Folder 39

Volume S-6. 1831-1869. Household accounts for Beaver Creek and other plantations, possibly kept by Ann Hairston Hairston. A wide variety of entries document spinning and weaving, sewing, care of livestock, vegetable gardening, recipes, candle and butter making, and miscellaneous items purchased for the household. There is much information about slaves on the two plantations, including work performed, birth records, and clothing distributed. Many entries describe provisions lent or bartered to neighbors. #03149, Subseries: "2.2. Account Books, 1800-1869." Folder 39

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Processing Information

Processed by: Lisa Tolbert, January 1992

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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