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Collection Number: 05050

Collection Title: Nancy Avaline Jarrett Papers, 1852-1878, 1966-1997

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.


Funding from the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc., supported the microfilming of this collection.

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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 70 items)
Abstract Nancy Avaline Jarrett (1808-1880), the daughter of Hannah Brandon McKee (later Lowry) and James L. McKee, grew up in western North Carolina. She married Colonel Nimrod Simpson Jarrett (1799-1871) of Buncombe County, N.C., in December 1826. Jarrett acquired vast amounts of land in western North Carolina and was murdered in September 1871. The collection consists chiefly of letters written to Nancy Avaline Jarrett by her mother, Hannah Brandon Lowry, and her brother, James L. McKee, 1852-1878. Lowry's letters discuss the lives of women and family life in 19th-century North Carolina. The letters of James L. McKee discuss family affairs; his business in Yanceyville, N.C.; the town's preparations for the Civil War; and the economic effects of the war. Also included are a few letters written to Nancy Avaline by various aunts and cousins. A small number of letters written by J. L. Robinson to Nimrod Simpson Jarrett discuss North Carolina politics in the early 1870s. There are also several items concerning family history, among them a small family tree of the McKee and Jarrett families; several items relating to the murder of Nimrod Simpson Jarrett; and pictures of Nimrod Simpson Jarrett, Nancy Avaline Jarrett, and their daughter, Harriet Iowa Jarrett.
Creator Jarrett, Nancy Avaline, 1808-1880.
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 Nancy Avaline Jarrett Papers #5050, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy (filmed 2007) available.
  • Reel 1: Entire collection
Alternate Form of Material
Typed transcripts of letters are available.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Mary Jane Walburg of Seymour, Tenn., in March 2001 (Acc. 98883).
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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Nancy Avaline Jarrett (1808-1880), the daughter of Hannah Brandon McKee (later Lowry) and James L. McKee, grew up in western North Carolina. She married Colonel Nimrod Simpson Jarrett (1799-1871) of Buncombe County, N.C., on 14 December 1826, and they had thirteen children. Nimrod Simpson Jarrett purchased a farm in Haywood County, N.C., in 1830, and later purchased land in Franklin, Swain, and Macon counties. He became one of the largest landowners in western North Carolina, owning thousands of acres over the course of his lifetime. In addition to speculating in land, Jarrett farmed, traded ginseng, and owned mica and talc mines. He owned between six and twelve slaves. He also served in the Macon County militia, rising to the rank of colonel. Jarrett and his family resided in Aquone, Macon County, until their house caught fire in 1855; the youngest daughter perished in the flames. The family then moved to Appletree Farm in the Nantahala Valley. Nimrod Simpson Jarrett was murdered on 15 September 1871 while on his way from Apple Tree Farm to Franklin to conduct business. Balias Henderson was apprehended and found guilty of the crime.

Hannah Brandon Lowry (b. 1788) was the daughter of Colonel John Patton (1765-1834) and Ann Mallory Patton (1760-1855). On 23 August 1804, she married James L. McKee (1780-1849), the son of William McKee and Mary McHenry McKee. Hannah and James McKee resided in western North Carolina and reared ten children, including Nancy Avaline McKee and James L. McKee. Following her husband's death in 1849, Hannah married James Lowry and resided in Sandy Mush in Buncombe County, N.C.

James L. McKee (b. 1822) was the younger brother of Nancy Avaline Jarrett. He married a woman named Fannie. They resided in Yanceyville, N.C., and reared several children. McKee worked as a farmer and then as a businessman, and he owned at least one slave. He did not fight in the Civil War, but remained at home to tend his business, which was adversely affected by the war. In 1878, McKee and his family moved to Swannanoa in Buncombe County, following the ruin of his business in Yanceyville.

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Chiefly letters written to Nancy Avaline Jarrett by her mother, Hannah Brandon Lowry, and her brother, James L. McKee, 1852-1878. Lowry's letters discuss the lives of women and family life in nineteenth-century North Carolina, including household routines, health, church matters, weather, and visiting family and friends. The letters of James L. McKee discuss family affairs; his business in Yanceyville, N.C.; the town's preparations for the Civil War; and the economic effects of the war. Also included are a few letters written to Nancy Avaline by various aunts and cousins. A small number of letters written by J. L. Robinson to Nimrod Simpson Jarrett discuss North Carolina politics in the early 1870s.

Also included are several items concerning family history, including a small family tree of the McKee and Jarrett families and a paper entitled "The Historical Background of Apple Tree Campground." Several newspaper clippings and an excerpt from Dead and Gone: The Stories Behind Ten Famous Murders relate to the murder of Nimrod Simpson Jarrett.

The collection also contains pictures of Nimrod Simpson Jarrett, Nancy Avaline Jarrett, and their daughter, Harriet Iowa Jarrett.

Many of the letters have transcripts that were produced in 1997.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Papers, 1852-1878, 1966-1997.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Laura Capell, March 2002

Encoded by: Laura Capell, March 2002

Revisions: Finding aid updated in June 2005 by Nancy Kaiser.

Funding from the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc., supported the microfilming of this collection.

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