unc logo

Collection Number: 03954

Collection Title: Benjamin Franklin Little Papers, 1806-1935

This collection has access restrictions. For details, please see the restrictions.

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.


This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Collection Overview

Size 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 320 items)
Abstract Benjamin Franklin Little was a planter of Carlisle plantation, Richmond County, N.C.; Confederate Army officer with the 52nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment; state legislator, 1864-1865; dry goods merchant; and delegate to the 1876 National Democratic Convention in Saint Louis, Mo. In 1856, he married Mary Jane Reid of Iredell County, N.C., daughter of Rufus Reid. The collection includes correspondence, financial and legal materials, writings, volumes, photographs, and other papers. Many letters were written by Benjamin Franklin Little to Mary Jane Reid Little as one or the other traveled on business or family visits, 1857-1860, and after 1865. Civil War letters, 1862-1864, were written by Benjamin Franklin Little from Camp Mangum near Raleigh, N.C., and from the North Carolina and Virginia-Pennsylvania theaters. They include accounts of battles, his feelings about the war, his daily activities, conditions in camp, and other information. Little frequently mentioned Wiley, the slave who accompanied him throughout the war, and sent instructions to Henry, the slave who managed Carlisle in Little's absence. After Gettysburg, there are letters Benjamin Franklin Little's army associates and from L. M. Oakley, Little's Union surgeon who appears to have amputated Little's arm in 1863, as well as from Little himself in hospitals and prisons in Maryland and Pennsylvania. In 1864 and 1865, there are a few letters relating to Little's service in the North Carolina state legislature, and, in 1876, letters from Little serving as a delegate to the Democratic Convention in Saint Louis, Mo. Beginning in 1877, there are a number of letters to Rufus Little, a student at Davidson College, Mecklenburg County, N.C.; most post-1879 letters are to Rufus Little about his horse breeding and racing interests. Financial and legal materials, 1833-1878, chiefly relate to Benjamin Franklin Little and his father, Thomas Little. They include a deed, 1833, conveying slaves; valuation and division of slaves to settle an estate, 1853; agreements, 1871, relating to Little's dry goods business; an undated contract with "freedmen and women" tenant farmers and set of plantation rules and regulations; and other items. Writings include speeches by Little, chiefly at educational institutions, and notes for poems and other writings. Volumes include a school notebook of Thomas Little with a short journal of his 1806 voyage as an immigrant from England to the United States; account books detailing cotton production with names of pickers and amounts of cotton picked by each slave; account books listing slave birth dates and clothing allotments; a Civil War journal with details of the movements of the 52nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment, April 1862 to July 1863, and Benjamin Franklin Little's personal narrative as a Federal prisoner, 1863; a Carlisle plantation weather log, 1867-1879; household inventories; tenant accounts, 1885-1886; an account book for Benjamin Franklin Little's estate; and other volumes. Also included are a few family photographs; a photograph of General James Johnston Pettigrew; Confederate Army muster rolls, 1862, for Company E, 52nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment; clippings; recipes for horse remedies; and other items.
Creator Little, Benjamin Franklin, 1830-1879.
Language English
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
This collection contains additional materials that are not processed and are currently not available to researchers. For information about access to these materials, contact Research and Instructional Services staff. Please be advised that preparing unprocessed materials for access can be a lengthy process.
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 Benjamin Franklin Little Papers #3954, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy available.
All or part of this collection is also 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 Jean McAlister in 1972.
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.
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

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.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Related Collections

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Benjamin Franklin Little (1830-1879), planter, of Carlisle Plantation in Richmond County, N.C., was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Little. In 1858, he married Mary Jane Reid (knowns as "Flax"), the daughter of Rufus Reid of Mount Mourne, Iredell County, N.C., and his first wife Nancy Latta, who was the daughter of James and Jane Latta of Mecklenburg County, N.C. Children of Benjamin and Mary Jane included sons Rufus (b. 1860), Lacy, and Tom, and daughters Nancy and Sallie. Two others, Homer and Jennie, died of diphtheria about 1864.

Benjamin Franklin Little served in North Carolina and Virginia as a captain in the 52nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment, 1862-1863; was wounded and captured at Gettysburg (arm amputated in July 1863), where he received a field promotion to colonel; and was imprisoned at Fort McHenry, Md., until March 1864. After the Civil War, he continued farming and became a partner with James A. Liles of Anson County, N.C., in a dry goods business. He was also a trustee of Deshler Female Institute, Tuscumbia, Ala., and a director of the Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherford Railroad. He represented Richmond County in the North Carolina legislature, 1864-1865, and was a delegate to the 1876 Democratic National Convention in Saint Louis, Mo. He died at Carlisle, Little's Mill, Richmond County, N.C., in 1879.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The papers of plantation owner, merchant, Confederate States of America army officer, and North Carolina state legislator Benjamin Franklin Little of Carlisle plantation, Richmond County, N.C., include correspondence, financial and legal materials, writings, volumes, photographs, and other papers. Many letters were written by Benjamin Franklin Little to Mary Jane Reid Little as one or the other traveled on business or family visits, 1857-1860, and after 1865. Civil War letters, 1862-1864, were written by Benjamin Franklin Little from Camp Mangum near Raleigh, N.C., and from the North Carolina and Virginia-Pennsylvania theaters. They include accounts of battles, his feelings about the war, his daily activities, conditions in camp, and other information. Little frequently mentioned Wiley, the slave who accompanied him throughout the war, and sent instructions to Henry, the slave who managed Carlisle in Little's absence. After Gettysburg, there are letters Benjamin Franklin Little's army associates and from L. M. Oakley, Little's Union surgeon who appears to have amputated Little's arm in 1863, as well as from Little himself in hospitals and prisons in Maryland and Pennsylvania. In 1864 and 1865, there are a few letters relating to Little's service in the North Carolina state legislature, and, in 1876, letters from Little serving as a delegate to the Democratic Convention in Saint Louis, Mo. Beginning in 1877, there are a number of letters to Rufus Little, a student at Davidson College, Mecklenburg County, N.C.; most post-1879 letters are to Rufus Little about his horse breeding and horse racing interests. Financial and legal materials, 1833-1878, chiefly relate to Benjamin Franklin Little and his father, Thomas Little. They include a deed, 1833, conveying slaves; valuation and division of slaves to settle an estate, 1853; agreements, 1871, relating to Little's dry goods business; an undated contract with "freedmen and women" tenant farmers and set of plantation rules and regulations; and other items. Writings include speeches by Little, chiefly at educational institutions, and notes for poems and other writings. Volumes include a school notebook of Thomas Little with a short journal of his 1806 voyage as an immigrant from England to the United States; account books detailing cotton production with names of pickers and amounts of cotton picked by each slave; account books listing slave birth dates and slave clothing allotments; a Civil War journal with details of the movements of the 52nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment, April 1862 to July 1863, and Benjamin Franklin Little's personal narrative as a Federal prisoner, 1863; a Carlisle plantation weather log, 1867-1879; household inventories; tenant accounts, 1885-1886; an account book for Benjamin Franklin Little's estate; and other volumes. Also included are a few family photographs; a photograph of General James Johnston Pettigrew; Confederate Army muster rolls, 1862, for Company E, 52nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment; clippings; recipes for horse remedies; and other items.

Back to Top

Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated.

About 220 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Letters from around the time of the Littles' marriage in 1858 are between Benjamin Franklin Little at Little's Mill, Richmond County, N.C., and at Red and White Sulphur Springs, Va., and Mary Jane Reid Little ("Flax"), visiting in Marion, Ala., and at her home in Mount Mourne, Iredell County, N.C. Letters from 1859 were written by Benjamin Franklin Little during his visits to Philadelphia, Pa., and Wilson's Springs, Cleveland County, N.C., and describe medical treatments, new acquaintances, and places visited.

Civil War letters, 1862-1864, were written by Benjamin Franklin Little from Camp Mangum near Raleigh, N.C., and from the North Carolina and Virginia-Pennsylvania theaters. They include full accounts of the fighting in which Little participated, his feelings about the war, his daily activities, the conditions in camp (especially regarding health and food supplies), news and rumors from other sectors, and meetings with friends from home. He frequently mentioned Wiley, the slave who accompanied him throughout the war, and sent instructions to Henry, the slave who managed Carlisle in Little's absence. In the period after Gettysburg, there are several letters to Mary Jane Reid Little from Benjamin Franklin Little's army associates and from L. M. Oakley, Little's Union surgeon. There are also letters from Benjamin Franklin Little himself written from hospitals and prisons in Maryland and Pennsylvania. In 1864 and 1865, there are a few letters to Mary Jane Reid Little written while Benjamin Franklin Little was serving in the North Carolina state legislature.

Letters after 1865 are sporadic, written to and from Benjamin Franklin Little, Mary Jane Reid Little, and their children while Benjamin Franklin Little was on business trips, visiting various North Carolina and Virginia health resorts, and serving as a delegate to the Democratic Convention in Saint Louis, Mo., in 1876. Beginning in 1877, there are a number of letters to Rufus Little, a student at Davidson College, Mecklenburg County, N.C. There are also a few scattered letters from L. M. Oakley, Parthenia Stafford, and other friends. Most of the post-1879 letters were written to Rufus Little and relate to his interest in breeding and racing trotting horses.

Folder 1

1857-1858 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1859-1860 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

March-June 1862 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 3

Folder 4

July-August 1862 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 4

Folder 5

September-October 1862 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 5

Folder 6

1863 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 6

Folder 7

1864 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 7

Folder 8

1865-1869 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 8

Folder 9

1872-1873 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 9

Folder 10

1874-1875 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 10

Folder 11

1876 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 11

Folder 12

1877 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 12

Folder 13

January-August 1878 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 13

Folder 14

September-December 1878 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 14

Folder 15

1879-1881, 1888 #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 15

Folder 16

1890-1894 and undated #03954, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1857-1894 and undated." Folder 16

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Financial and Legal Materials, 1833-1878 and undated.

About 25 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Financial and legal papers chiefly of Benjamin Franklin Little and his father, Thomas Little, including a deed, 1833, conveying slaves from James J. Latta to Rufus Reid as trustee for Nancy Latta; valuation and division of slaves among the heirs of Thomas Little, 1853; scattered receipts of Benjamin Franklin Little, 1857 and 1865-1868; a certificate, 1871, of Benjamin Franklin Little's election as a director of the Wilmington, Charlotte, and Rutherford Railroad; a petition, 1871, by Benjamin Franklin Little on behalf of his ward, Samuel W. LeGrand; agreements, 1871, between Little and James A. Liles of Anson County, N.C., concerning their partnership in a dry goods business; "Cotton made at The Mountain," 1873; "Classification of Negroes," undated; an undated contract with "freedmen and women" tenant farmers and set of "Plantation Rules and Regulations"; and other items.

Folder 17

Financial and legal materials #03954, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials, 1833-1878 and undated." Folder 17

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Writings, 1858-1866 and undated.

About 20 items.

Arrangement: by type.

Speeches given by Benjamin Franklin Little at commencement at Rockingham Academy, 1858; to the Philanthropic Society of Davidson College, 1858; to the Richmond County Agricultural Society, 1859; and to "the young ladies of Floral College," 1866. Also included are notes used in preparing various speeches, Little's notes as a law student, and drafts of poems and articles for publication in newspapers.

Folder 18

Speeches, 1858-1866 #03954, Series: "3. Writings, 1858-1866 and undated." Folder 18

Folder 19

General notes #03954, Series: "3. Writings, 1858-1866 and undated." Folder 19

Folder 20

Law student notes #03954, Series: "3. Writings, 1858-1866 and undated." Folder 20

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated.

11 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Folder 21

V-3954/1: School notebook of Thomas Little, undated #03954, Series: "4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated." Folder 21

School notebook of Thomas Little, father of Benjamin Franklin Little, with a one-page journal of his voyage in 1806 as an immigrant from England to the United States.

Folder 22

V-3954/2: Thomas Little's bank accounts, 1840-1853 #03954, Series: "4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated." Folder 22

Thomas Little's accounts with the Merchant's Bank, Cheraw, S.C., 1840-1844, 1848-1850, and with the Bank of Wadesboro, N.C., 1852-1853.

Folder 23

V-3954/S-3: Cotton account book, 1853-1860 (housed in OP-3954/1) #03954, Series: "4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated." Folder 23

Cotton account book with entries by date and names of pickers with amounts of cotton picked by each slave and total amount picked each day.

Oversize Paper OP-3954/1

Cotton account book, 1853-1860 #03954, Series: "4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated." OP-3954/1

Folder 24

V-3954/4A: Account book, 1856-1867 #03954, Series: "4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated." Folder 24

Account book with brief expense summaries for 1860-1861 and 1866-1867; a record of amounts and prices of crops (mainly corn) sold in 1863 and January-March 1864; and a list of buyers, amounts, and prices of cotton sold, 1856-1860.

Folder 25

V-3954/4B: Account book leaves, 1842-1865 #03954, Series: "4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated." Folder 25

Loose sheets from V-3954/4A, including cotton records, 1852-1855; a list of the weights of hogs slaughtered, 1842-1865; and a list of the births of slaves, 1850-1864.

Folder 26

V-3954/5: Account book, circa 1861 #03954, Series: "4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated." Folder 26

Account book with itemized expenses for building a house.

Folder 27

V-3954/6: Account book, 1861-1862 #03954, Series: "4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated." Folder 27

Account book listing clothing allotted to slaves.

Folder 28

V-3954/7: Civil War journal, 1862-1863 #03954, Series: "4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated." Folder 28

Journal of the movements of the 52nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment, April 1862 to July 1863, and Benjamin Franklin Little's personal narrative as a Federal prisoner in 1863.

Folder 29

V-3954/8: Weather log, 1867-1879 #03954, Series: "4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated." Folder 29

Log with scattered entries recording temperature and weather at Carlisle plantation, near Little's Mill, Richmond County, N.C., 1867-1869, 1871-1879.

Folder 30

V-3954/9: Account book, 1885-1887 #03954, Series: "4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated." Folder 30

Account book with tenant accounts, 1885-1886; accounts for the estate of Benjamin Franklin Little, 1887; and an inventory of household linens, 1886.

Folder 31

V-3954/10: Account book, 1890 #03954, Series: "4. Volumes, 1806-1890 and undated." Folder 31

Account book of Mary Jane Reid Little and Rufus Little as executors of the estate of Benjamin Franklin Little.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 5. Pictures, 1870s-1935.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 6. Other Papers, 1857-1880 and undated.

About 35 items.

Arrangement: by type.

Newspaper clippings realting to Benjamin Franklin Little, including obituaries for him and for other family members; Confederate Army muster rolls, 1862, for Company E, 52nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment; household inventories, circa 1859; complimentary rail passes presented to Little in 1872 and 1873; recipes for horse remedies; and other items.

Folder 32

Clippings #03954, Series: "6. Other Papers, 1857-1880 and undated." Folder 32

Folder 33

Confederate muster rolls #03954, Series: "6. Other Papers, 1857-1880 and undated." Folder 33

Folder 34

Inventory lists #03954, Series: "6. Other Papers, 1857-1880 and undated." Folder 34

Folder 35

Miscellaneous #03954, Series: "6. Other Papers, 1857-1880 and undated." Folder 35

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Back to Top

Processing Information

Processed by: Rebecca Hollingsworth, September 1992

Encoded by: Roslyn Holdzkom, April 2006

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, November 2009

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

Back to Top