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Collection Number: 05482

Collection Title: Harris and Foust Family Papers, 1838-1946

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 Members of the Harris and Foust families lived in Orange, Alamance, Chatham, Guilford, and Randolph counties, N.C. Thomas West Harris was graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1859. During the Civil War, he served in the 5th North Carolina Cavalry Regiment, after which he studied medicine in Paris and New York and then opened medical practices, first in eastern North Carolina, then in Chatham County, and later in Chapel Hill. He also served as the first dean and professor of anatomy, 1879-1885, of the University of North Carolina's medical school. He married Sallie Maria Foust in 1865, and with her had five children, including Elizabeth who married Thomas R. Foust, superintendent of Guilford County schools, 1904-1941. The collection consists of correspondence, other papers, and photographs chiefly documenting the Harris and Foust families. Antebellum correspondence is largely between Isaac Holt Foust and daughter Sallie Maria Foust about routine matters and offering fatherly advice to Sallie at school. Post Civil War letters report daily happenings among Foust and Harris family members and include information about student life at the University of North Carolina. Some antebellum letters mention slaves, including buying and selling; after the war, some letters discuss African Americans. There is also a series of love letters exchanged by Thomas West Harris and Sallie Maria Foust Harris while he studied medicine in Paris and New York. Other papers (some photocopies and digital surrogates of materials not included in this collection) provide information about members of the Harris, Foust, Holt, and Steele families. Original documents include school materials from the 1850s; receipts from Paris; the Harris's 1865 marriage license and related papers; an 1874 estate inventory; a scrapbook documenting the family history and career of Thomas R. Foust; and postcards and genealogical correspondence. Copied materials include letters with descriptions of camp life at Fort Fisher and Camp Lee; slave sales; mountain living near Asheville; attempted horse thievery by soldiers returning home in spring 1865; raising a regiment of black soldiers; and an 1899 Civil War reminiscence. Other copied materials concern Thomas West Harris's military service and medical career and Reverend Robert J. Graves, a Presbyterian minister who was accused of spying for the Union. Also included are photocopies of cartes de visite, chiefly of Confederate generals and other public figures, and photographs, including daguerreotypes, tintypes, and cartes de visite, of Foust and Harris family members.
Creator Harris family.

Foust family.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
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 Harris and Foust Family Papers #5482, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Anthony Scott Ashcraft in December 2010 (Acc. 101376).
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

Harris and Foust family members lived and owned property in Orange, Alamance, Chatham, Guilford, and Randolph counties, N.C. Thomas West Harris (1839-1888) was born to Nancy Clegg Harris and Thomas B. Harris, prosperous plantation owners in Chatham County, N.C. He was graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1859. During the Civil War, he served in Company E, 5th North Carolina Cavalry Regiment (later called the "Vance Troop," 63rd North Carolina Troops). After the war, Harris studied medicine in Paris and New York City. He received his medical license from New York University in 1868, then returned to North Carolina to practice medicine, first in the eastern part of the state and then in Chatham County. In 1877, Harris opened a practice to serve the village of Chapel Hill and the surrounding rural community. From 1879 until 1885, he also served as the first dean and professor of anatomy of the medical school at the University of North Carolina, after which he moved to Durham, N.C., where continued his medical practice until his death in 1888.

Thomas West Harris married Sallie Maria Foust (1842-1920), daughter of Isaac Holt Foust and Mary Jane Holt Foust of Reed Creek farm, Randolph County, N.C., in 1865. At the time of the Civil War, the Foust family at Reed Creek owned over 50 slaves. At some point before then, they were involved in the buying, selling, and transporting of slaves to the cotton belt, especially Mississippi and Louisiana. They also owned land in Tennessee and Alabama. Sallie Maria Foust, also known as "Danny," had at least three siblings: Henry Foust, William Holt Foust, and Lena Foust. Sallie attended the Oakland Female Institute in Norristown, Pa., until she was called home in September 1861 because of the war. William Foust attended Haw Creek Military Academy. Henry Foust attended the University of North Carolina and had at least one daughter, Mena Foust.

Sallie and Thomas West Harris had five children: Thomas West Harris Jr., Elizabeth Harris Foust, Mary Harris Robertson, Isaac Harris, and Frederick Harris. Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Harris married Thomas R. Foust, son of Thomas C. Foust and Mary Eliza Robbins Foust. Thomas R. Foust served as the superintendent of Guilford County schools from 1904 to 1941.

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The collection consists of correspondence, other papers, and photographs that document the Harris and Foust families of Orange, Alamance, Chatham, Guilford, and Randolph counties, N.C., between 1839 and the 1940s. Letters were written and received by many family members and friends, including Isaac Holt Foust, Sallie Maria Foust Harris, Thomas West Harris, William Holt Foust, Henry Foust, Pleasant Allen Holt, Henry Colton, Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Foust, Maria Foust, Lena Foust, and Mena Foust. Their correspondence discusses local events, news, and family affairs.

The antebellum letters chiefly consist of correspondence between Isaac Holt Foust and his daughter, Sallie Maria Foust, that includes observations on the weather; the health of family members; events at the farm at Reed Creek, N.C.; and fatherly advice to a daughter living away from home. Post Civil War letters suggest close relationships among the Foust and Harris siblings and cousins. Their letters report on the health of family members, visits, marriage plans, the lack of romantic prospects, lawlessness in postwar North Carolina, and student life at the University of North Carolina. There are also numerous loveletters exchanged by Thomas West Harris and Sallie Maria Foust Harris while he studied medicine in Paris and New York City. His letters describe excavations at the Louvre Palace, the solar eclipse of October 1866, and his studies; her letters, written from the farm at Reed Creek, N.C., and Shell Castle, N.C., concern local and family affairs.

Some antebellum letters mention slaves, including buying and selling; after the war, some letters discuss African Americans. An 1856 letter from Nancy Harris describes the accidental death of a female slave. In February 1859, Isaac Holt Foust wrote two letters in which he mentioned the death of a slave and the subsequent decision to adjust his workforce through buying and selling slaves. In a 4 September 1865 letter, Thomas West Harris mentioned the possibility of relocating to northwest Texas, in part to be "removed from the intolerable presence of the negros," but at the same time he feared that "Indians and the Jay hawkers seem to have things too much their own way out there just now." In a A 20 December 1866 letter, Sallie Maria Foust Harris described how her mother, Maria Foust, assisted with the birth of a baby by an African American woman.

Other materials chiefly provide biographical and other contextual information about members of the Harris, Foust, Holt, and Steele families. Some of the materials are original documents, while others are copies (photocopies and/or digital surrogates) of originals not included in this collection. Original documents include school materials from the 1850s; receipts from Paris; the Harris's 1865 marriage license and related papers; an 1874 estate inventory; a scrapbook of the family history and career of Thomas R. Foust as long-serving superintendent of Guilford County, N.C., schools; and postcards and genealogical correspondence. Copied materials include an 1857 letter describing slave sales and other financial matters; a 15 April 1862 letter with a description of Fort Fisher; a 30 October 1862 letter with a description of Camp Lee; a 1 August 1864 letter describing healthful mountain living in around Asheville; a 21 March 1865 letter advising against raising a regiment of black soldiers and reporting on western soldiers passing through on their way home in spring 1865, some of them attempting to steal horses; and an 1899 Civil War reminiscence. Other copied materials concern Thomas West Harris's military service and medical career; Reverend Robert J. Graves, a Presbyterian minister who had been accused of spying for the Union; and other incidents of family history. There are also photocopies of numerous cartes de visite of Confederate generals and other public figures.

Photographs, including daguerreotypes, tintypes, and cartes de visite, are chiefly portraits of Foust and Harris family members. There is also a portrait of the Guilford County Board of Education, 1915, and collected cartes de visite of people and European locations.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1838-1946 and undated.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated.

Arrangement: chronological

Folder 6

Student contract and commencement booklet, 1858-1859 #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 6

Folder 7

Chemistry notebook, 1858; 1866 #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 7

Thomas West Harris's notes on chemistry; also contains Elizabeth "Lizzie" Harris's school compositions on hope, twilight, and a trip to Salem, N.C.; drafts of Lizzie's letters to friends and love letters to "darling"; copies of verses and parts of a diary written by Lizzie in 1866.

Folder 8

Marriage license of Thomas West Harris and Sallie Maria Foust Harris, 8 November 1865 #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 8

Marriage license from Randolph County, N.C.; a note from Archibald Currie indicating that he would officiate at the wedding; and an "At Home" card for the newlywed couple.

Folder 9

Receipts and other materials from Thomas West Harris's studies in Paris, France, 1866-1867 #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 9

Folder 10

Estate inventory of Thomas B. Harris, 1874 #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 10

Personal property included farm animals and equipment, feed, and some household items.

Folder 11

North Carolina medical license of Thomas West Harris, 1880 #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 11

Folder 12

"Sketches of My Ancestors" scrapbook, 1900-1945 #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 12

Birth, marriage and death records of the Foust family, biographical sketches, and newspaper clippings.

Oversize Volume SV-5482/1

Thomas R. Foust scrapbook, 1920s-1940s #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." SV-5482/1

Newspaper clippings, letters, speeches, certificates and photographs, and other items documenting family history. A substantial amount of the material included in the scrapbook highlights the career of Thomas R. Foust, who served as superintendent of Guilford County, N.C., schools from 1904 to 1941. His activities and achievements include talks on education in the Guilford County schools, the Foust and Griffin Speller (1916) and creation of the teachers' retirement fund.

Folder 13-15

Folder 13

Folder 14

Folder 15

Thomas R. Foust scrapbook, 1920s-1940s: Enclosures #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 13-15

Clippings about marriages and Thomas R. Foust's career as superintendent of Guilford County schools and correspondence concerning investments, car repairs, and a deed, 1921, for land in Graham, Alamance County

Folder 16

Miscellaneous, undated #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 16

Calling cards, Thomas West Harris's business card, newspaper clipping about an upcoming cross country train tour to the Pacific coast by a group from North Carolina, booklet on Kenilworth castle, and a fill-in-the-blank story.

Folder 17

Copied documents #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 17

Note: the original documents that correspond to these copies are not included in this collection.

Photocopies and print-outs of digitized versions of letters, some with transcriptions and biographical information in which family relationships are explained. Of note are an 1857 letter describing slave sales and other financial matters; a 15 April 1862 letter with a description of Fort Fisher; a 30 October 1862 letter with a description of Camp Lee; a 1 August 1864 letter describing healthful mountain living near Asheville; a 21 March 1865 letter advising against raising a regiment of black soldiers and reporting on western soldiers passing through on their way home in spring 1865, some of them attempting to steal horses; and an 1899 Civil War reminiscence.

Digital Folder DF-5482/1

Digitized documents #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." DF-5482/1

Paper copies of some of the transcriptions and digitized images on this disc are filed in folder 17.

Selected emails, transcriptions, and images of letters, daguerreotypes, cartes de visite, and secondary source materials. Of note are an 1857 letter describing slave sales and other financial matters; a 15 April 1862 letter with a description of Fort Fisher; a 30 October 1862 letter with a description of Camp Lee; a 1 August 1864 letter describing healthful mountain living near Asheville; a 21 March 1865 letter advising against raising a regiment of black soldiers and reporting on western soldiers passing through on their way home in spring 1865, some of them attempting to steal horses; and an 1899 Civil War reminiscence.

Formerly DCD-5482/1.

Folder 18

Cartes de visite (photocopies) #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 18

Photocopies of Confederate generals and other 19th century public figures.

Folder 19

Thomas West Harris: Medicine #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 19

Contextual information about Harris's medical education in Paris and the medical school at the University of North Carolina.

Folder 20

Thomas West Harris: Military #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 20

Folder 21

Genealogy: Correspondence #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 21

Folder 22-23

Folder 22

Folder 23

Genealogy: Foust, Harris, Holt, and Steele families #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 22-23

Folder 24

Genealogy: Reverend Robert J. Graves #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 24

Includes a sketch about Reverend Graves, a Presbyterian minister who had been accused of spying for the Union.

Folder 25

Genealogy material: Foust and Harris #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 25

Includes an essay about the Foust and Harris families, incorporating letters and diary entries into the family and national timeline.

Folder 26

Postcards #05482, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1945 and undated." Folder 26

From Greensboro and Blowing Rock, N.C.; Washington, D.C.; Salisbury and Keswick, England; and other locations.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Images, 1850-1910.

Image Folder PF-05482/1

Sallie Maria Foust Harris, circa 1850s-1919 #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-05482/1

Includes formal portraits and snapshot of Sallie Maria Foust Harris in front of a house with chickens.

Special Format Image SF-P-5482/1

Daguerreotype of Isaac Holt Foust and Sallie Maria Foust Harris, circa 1850s #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." SF-P-5482/1

Special Format Image SF-P-5482/2

Daguerreotype of Sallie Maria Foust Harris, circa 1850 #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." SF-P-5482/2

Special Format Image SF-P-5482/4

Tintype of Sallie Maria Foust Harris #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." SF-P-5482/4

Image Folder PF-05482/2

Thomas West Harris, circa 1865 and undated. #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-05482/2

Cartes des visite and a cabinet card

Image Folder PF-05482/3

Thomas West Harris Jr., Elizabeth Harris Foust, and Mary Harris Robertson, circa 1870 #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-05482/3

Formal portrait of Harris children.

Image Folder PF-05482/4

Sallie Maria Foust Harris and her children, circa 1919 #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-05482/4

Reprint of a photograph of Sallie Maria Foust Harris with Issac Harris, Elizabeth Harris Foust, Mary Harris Robertson, and Thomas West Harris Jr.

Image Folder PF-05482/5

Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Harris Foust, 1878 and undated #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-05482/5

Carte des visite and photograph of Elizabeth Harris Foust on horseback with unidentifed men and women.

Photograph Album PA-5482/1

Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Harris Foust photograph album #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PA-5482/1

Contains a section titled "Chapel Hill Friends."

Image Folder PF-5482/6

Thomas West Harris Jr. family portraits, circa 1905-1909 and undated #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-5482/6

Portraits of Thomas West Harris Jr. with his wife, Alese Jeffries Harris, and their children.

Special Format Image SF-P-5482/5

Tintype of brother of Thomas West Harris #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." SF-P-5482/5

Image Folder PF-5482/7

Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Harris Battle and children, 1880 and undated #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-5482/7

Tintype and cartes des visite of Lizzie Harris Battle and cartes des visite of her children.

Image Folder PF-5482/8

Frederick Harris, 1890s #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-5482/8

Portraits of Frederick Harris alone and with an unidentifed man and dog.

Oversize Image Folder OP-PF-5482/1

Frederick Harris, 1890s #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." OP-PF-5482/1

Portrait of Frederick Harris (duplicate of image PF-5482/16) and a group portrait of the 1898 University of North Carolina freshman class, including Frederick Harris.

Special Format Image SF-P-5482/3

Tintype of Mary Jane Holt Foust, circa 1850 #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." SF-P-5482/3

Image Folder PF-5482/9

Foust family, circa 1864-1896 #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-5482/9

Includes portraits of Issac Holt Foust, Thomas Carbray Foust, Emily Foust, and a group photograph including Mena Foust, Henry Foust, and unidentified others.

Image Folder PF-5482/10

Guilford County Board of Education, 1915 #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-5482/10

Formal portrait of Thomas R. Foust and board members.

Image Folder PF-5482/11

Thomas West Harris's house in Chapel Hill, N.C, undated #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-5482/11

Image Folder PF-5482/12

Bridal portaits, 1908 and undated #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-5482/12

Eugenia Harris Holt, Mena Foust, and Mary Harris.

Image Folder PF-5482/13

Children, 1860s-1900s #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-5482/13

Portraits of identified and unidentified children.

Special Format Image SF-P-5482/6

Tintype of unidentified man #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." SF-P-5482/6

Image Folder PF-5482/14

Other photographs, 1860s-1930s #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-5482/14

Identified and unidentified portraits and a photograph of a horse's trophies and ribbons.

Image Folder PF-5482/15

Cartes des visite: People, 1860s #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-5482/15

Some have inscriptions on verso.

Image Folder PF-5482/16

Cartes des visite: Places, 1860s #05482, Series: "3. Images, 1850-1910." PF-5482/16

Souvenir photograph cards from Europe.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Allison Moore, Jackie Dean, and Nancy Kaiser, January 2011

Encoded by: Allison Moore, January 2011

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