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Collection Number: 05186

Collection Title: Humphreys Family Papers, 1840-1918

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 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 200 items items)
Abstract Joshua Humphreys (1813-1873) was the grandson of Joshua Humphreys (1751-1838), the architect of the first line of warships commissioned by the United States Navy, and was the son of Samuel Humphreys (1778-1846), chief constructor of the United States Navy, 1826-1846. The younger Joshua Humphreys was a naval officer for the United States Navy and the Confederate Navy during the Civil War. After the war, he settled in Fredericksburg, Va., where he pursued various business interests. He was married to Mary Ann Humphreys. Their children included Mary Chandler Humphreys (1844-1918), Margaret R. ("Meta") Humphreys (1849-1892), Charles Humphreys (b. 1853), and Laurence Murray Humphreys (b. 1863). Joshua's siblings included Jane Murray McCrabb (1813-1897); Mary Yonge (1823-1866); William Humphreys (1828-1897); and Andrew Atkinson Humphreys (1810-1883), an engineer and United States Army general during the Civil War. The collection includes general correspondence, 1865-1892; business materials, 1866-1869; financial and legal materials, 1840-1892; diaries and copied poetry, 1866-1873; and genealogical documents relating to the Humphreys family. Items focus on the family of Joshua Humphreys (1813-1873). Some of the correspondence deals with business ventures undertaken by Joshua Humphreys following the Civil War, one a general store in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., and the other the General Southern Land Agency, which bought and sold real estate, furnished labor, and negotiated loans for southern companies. The remainder of the correspondence relates to the activities of individual family members. Also included are wills, accounts, contracts, and other legal and financial materials, 1840-1892; diaries containing details of the domestic life of Joshua Humphreys and his family after the Civil War; genealogical records containing biographical information about the Humphreys family; copies of poems; and other items.
Creator Humphreys family.
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 Humphreys Family Papers #5186, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Charles Apfelbaum of Watchung, N.J., in 4 November 2004 (Acc. 99933).
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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Joshua Humphreys was born 3 June 1813 to Samuel and Letitia Humphreys. Samuel Humphreys (1778-1846) was Chief Constructor for the United States Navy from 1826 to 1846, and his father, Joshua Humphreys (1751-1838), had designed the first ships of the United States Navy, including the USS Constitution and the USS Congress. The younger Joshua Humphreys joined the United States Navy in February 1829 and served until the onset of the United States Civil War, when he joined the Confederate Navy. After the war, he settled in Fredericksburg, Va., where he pursued various business interests until his death on 19 November 1873.

Joshua Humphreys married Margaret Ann Humphreys on 29 November 1842. They had four children: Mary Chandler Humphreys (1844-1918), Margaret R. ("Meta") Humphreys (1849-1892), Charles Humphreys (b. 1853), and Laurence Murray Humphreys (b. 1863). Joshua Humphreys's brother, Andrew Atkinson Humphreys (1810-1883), was a civil engineer and a general in the United States Army during the Civil War. Other siblings of Joshua Humphreys included Jane Murray McCrabb (1813-1897), Mary Yonge (1823-1866), and William Humphreys (1828-1897).

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The Humphreys family papers include general correspondence, 1865-1892; business materials, 1866-1869; financial and legal materials, 1840-1892; diaries and copied poetry, 1866-1873; and genealogical documents. Items focus on the family of Joshua Humphreys (1813-1873), who served in the Confederate Navy during the Civil War and later settled in Fredericksburg, Va. Some of the correspondence deals with business ventures undertaken by Humphreys following the Civil War, one a general store in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., and the other the General Southern Land Agency, which bought and sold real estate, furnished labor, and negotiated loans for southern companies. The remainder of the correspondence relates to the activities of individual family members. Also included are wills, accounts, contracts, and other legal and financial materials, 1840-1892; diaries containing details of the domestic life of Joshua Humphreys and his family after the Civil War; genealogical records containing biographical information about the Humphreys family; copies of poems; and other items.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Papers, 1840-1918.

About 200 items.

Arrangement: by type.

Folder 1

General correspondence, 12 May 1865-21 July 1892 #05186, Series: "Papers, 1840-1918." Folder 1

Correspondence between members of the Humphreys family and various correspondents, largely residing in Fredericksburg, Va. and Washington, D.C. The letters deal with illnesses and deaths of family members, legal and financial affairs, requests for monetary assistance, and general family news. Correspondents include Joshua Humphreys, Margaret Ann Humphreys, Jane Murray McCrabb, Margaret R. Humphreys, Mary Chandler Humphreys, and Charles Humphreys.

Folder 2

John F. Garing letters, 3 May 1866-23 November 1869 #05186, Series: "Papers, 1840-1918." Folder 2

Letters from John F. Garing to Joshua Humphreys, concerning their involvement in a mercantile store in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. It appears from the letters that John F. Garing was in charge of the operation of the store, while Joshua Humphreys was an absentee investor. In the letters, Garing provides Humphreys with updates on sales and business transactions, and refers to checks being sent to Humphreys containing his share of the store's profits. Later letters deal with the store's closing, and the subsequent settling of accounts and debts.

Folder 3

General Southern Land Agency letters and documents, 11 December 1865-6 November 1866 #05186, Series: "Papers, 1840-1918." Folder 3

Letters and other items relating to Joshua Humphreys's involvement in the General Southern Land Agency, a company that bought and sold real estate, furnished labor, and negotiated loans for southern companies. Materials refer to various land transactions and loans brokered by the company. Later records deal with the purchase of the General Southern Land Agency by the American Emigrant Aid and Homestead Company, a transaction for which Joshua Humphreys was hired as an attorney.

Folder 4

Financial and legal materials, 6 April 1840-1 November 1892 #05186, Series: "Papers, 1840-1918." Folder 4

Deeds, contracts, wills, and other legal documents, as well as receipts and expense accounts, relating to financial and legal actions of the Humphreys family. Actions documented include the lending of over $3,000 from Jane Murray McCrabb to Joshua Humphreys and the financial dealings of Mary Chandler Humphreys and Margaret R. Humphreys as administrators of the estate of Margaret Ann Humphreys. Also included is a copy of a letter to the Secretary of the Navy recommending that Samuel Humphreys be appointed Chief Naval Constructor.

Folder 5

Diaries and poetry, 26 July 1866-9 December 1873 #05186, Series: "Papers, 1840-1918." Folder 5

Diary entries and pages of hand-copied poetry. The diary entries are unsigned, but appear to have been written by Mary Chandler Humphreys, and describe domestic events in the Humphreys household. The poetry was copied from various authors and sources. Although some of the poems are signed "Julie," the identity of the copier cannot be determined. Many of the poems have Christian themes, and others express sympathy for the South and the Confederacy.

Folder 6

Genealogical materials #05186, Series: "Papers, 1840-1918." Folder 6

Birth notices, obituaries, marriage notices, family trees, and some letters relating to genealogical research on Humphreys family history reaching to the 1910s. It is unclear who compiled these documents.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Jesse Brown, November 2004

Encoded by: Jesse Brown, November 2004

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