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Collection Number: 00478

Collection Title: John Burgwyn MacRae Papers, 1866- 1916, 1974

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Size 1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 50 items)
Abstract John Burgwyn MacRae of Jackson, Northampton County, N.C., son of Episcopal rector Cameron F. MacRae and Julia Burgwyn MacRae, was a lawyer, owner of a large Roanoke River plantation, and diarist. The collection includes MacRae's nine-volume daily diary, 1883-1916; letterpress copy books, 1886-1896, of MacRae; speeches by MacRae; and miscellaneous volumes and papers. The diary describes day-to-day life and events in Jackson, including including MacRae's long-term relationship with a local African-American woman, his fishing expeditions, and his work as a steward in the State Penitentiary in Raleigh, N.C. Among others discussed in the diary are various members of the Burgwyn family and Matt Whitaker Ransom (1826-1904). Also included are letters, 1869-1870, from Kate MacRae to her father Cameron MacRae describing her travels in Europe; class notes from the University of North Carolina, 1886; a baseball club treasurer's book and constitution, 1883; an account book, 1880-1889, containing accounts for meat, corn, cotton, and other goods; and political speeches and addresses given by MacRae at Confederate reunions and Masonic, Episcopal Church, and other organization meetings. The Addition of March 2008 contains letters and related materials concerning the Scottish heritage of John Burgwyn MacRae as well as his land ownership in Northampton County, N.C.
Creator MacRae, John Burgwyn, 1845-1916.
Language English
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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 John Burgwyn MacRae Papers #478, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Henry and Pollock Burgwyn prior to 1941. Additions given by the children of Mrs. T. W. M. Long (nee Maria Burgwyn) in 1959, 1977, and 1978, by John E. Tyler II in December 1993 (volumes 16-25), and Mrs. John H. Randolph Jr. in 2007 (Acc. 100739).
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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NOTE: This essay, with an accompanying annotated list of names, was written in 1980 by Henry W. Lewis, grandson of Dr. Henry Lewis, a Jackson contemporary of John B. MacRae, as an introduction and guide to MacRae's diary (see Series 2). It provides biographical detail on many persons as well as MacRae.

About 1840, the children of John Fanning Burgwyn of New Bern (Henry King, Thomas Pollok, Emily, John Collinson, and Julia--wife of the Reverend Cameron F. MacRae) shared with their Devereaux kin in inheriting (but not without litigation) the extensive Roanoke River plantation lands of George Pollok (sometimes written "Pollock"). The shares allotted to the Burgwyns lay on the north side of the river in Northampton County, specifically in the great bend of the river known as Occoneechee Neck.

Mrs. Cameron MacRae, whose husband was at various times rector of Episcopal Churches in Warrenton, in Maryland, in Philadelphia, and in Savannah, never lived in Northampton County, but her brothers, Henry, Thomas, and John Collinson Burgwyn, moved to their Roanoke River holdings. John died young and unmarried; Thomas married a New Yorker, but she did not remain long in the area; Henry King, who had attended Harvard College, married Anna Greenough of Boston. After a brief residence in the village of Jackson, the Henry Burgwyns went to live in a house they had built on Thornbury plantation--long known as Bull Hill before the Burgwyns renamed it for an English town near their ancestral seat. (U.B. Phillips was impressed with the American Farmer's account of agricultural operations on this plantation, not to mention the elaborate facilities erected there for its slave population--chapel, hospital, etc.--and made much of it in his Life and Labor in the Old South.)

Not long after the Burgwyns settled in Northampton County, perhaps before 1845, the Rev. Mr. MacRae became assistant minister of Christ Church, Philadelphia. He and his Burgwyn wife had two children--John Burgwyn (the diarist) and Kate, a daughter who never married and who lived most of her life in Philadelphia with her mother's unmarried sister Emily Burgwyn (called "dear Emmie" in the diary).

John Burgwyn MacRae was born in 1845. His mother died in Philadelphia before the Civil War, and his father cared for the two young children at the boarding house of a Mrs. Scheetz on Portico Row in that city. Although the sequence of events is not entirely clear, it appears that the Rev. Mr. MacRae accepted a call to St. John's Church, Savannah, and it was from that city that young John entered the University of North Carolina in 1862. John remained in Chapel Hill until 1863; then at age 18 he became a soldier in the Confederate Army and saw service in eastern North Carolina. In 1865 he returned to the University but did not graduate; he received the A.B. degree along with other members of the "war classes" in 1911.

Upon leaving Chapel Hill, MacRae seems to have gone to Fayetteville, his father's birthplace, to read law. How long he remained there is undetermined, but, having completed his legal studies, it was not long before he settled in Jackson. In the division of the Pollok lands, Mrs. MacRae had obtained two large Occoneechee Neck plantations, one of which had been inherited by John, the other by his sister Kate. Thus, it was not surprising that the young lawyer should have decided to establish himself near these plantations.

When John MacRae arrived in Jackson, he found two of his Burgwyn cousins well established in the community: Alveston, a bachelor, and his brother, George Pollok. In 1869, George Burgwyn had married Emma, daughter of Colonel Thomas and Margaret Jordan Ridley of Bonnie Doon plantation in Southampton County, Virginia, some 40 miles from Jackson. The plat of the Town of Jackson (see Folder 28, Series 4) indicates where the George Burgwyns were living (Number 24) when the diary opens; to the east is situated The Elms (Number 22), the old Calvert residence in which Alveston Burgwyn was keeping bachelor's quarters. Later the Burgwyn brothers exchanged houses.

MacRae seems to have been genuinely devoted to "Cousin Emma," his name for Mrs. George Burgwyn, and to his cousin Alveston. His feelings for his cousin George blew hot and cold.

Living in Richmond, but always hovering in the background, was the widowed Mrs. Henry King Burgwyn--MacRae's "Aunt Anna"--mother of the Burgwyn men in Jackson and of their redoubtable sister, Mrs. Thomas R. Baker, usually called "Madame Baker" by MacRae. (Mrs. Baker also lived in Richmond.)

The affairs of the Episcopal church, especially of the Church of the Saviour in Jackson, were important to MacRae, and its activities are given substantial space in the diary. In the early years of the journal, the Jackson church was served by the Rev. Gilbert Higgs, who lived in Warrenton and also served the church there. Higgs and his two sisters endeared themselves to MacRae by their devotion to good music and impeccable churchmanship. In Jackson, the Rev. Mr. Higgs was assisted by William T. Picard, a livery stable operator and harness maker who served first as lay reader and later as a perpetual deacon. MacRae's views of "Old Pic" or "Old Whiskers" constitute one of the most amusing themes in the diary. Mrs. Picard, a native of Hull, England, was a village tyrant, and her views and actions are important to the chronicle. Their daughter Mabel, a bit young for much notice in the opening volumes of the diary, was a saintly person.

Adjoining the courthouse square in Jackson stood the hotel that since 1808 had been acknowledged center of town life. Here MacRae took his meals and joined those he called the "village senators and solons" in discussing the news and latest gossip. On the town plat, adjoining Number 7 on the eastern side of the square, was a small two-room office (indicated by a cross mark) in which MacRae was living in the early years covered by the diary. He made a number of moves through the years, but he rarely strayed far from the center of town life.

Facing the courthouse square on the west and attached to the hotel was a small building in which Dr. H. W. Lewis maintained a drug store, called a "pill and poison shop" by MacRae, and just north of that stood the building in which Dr. Lewis established his office a few years after the diary opens. To MacRae, Dr. Lewis, eleven years his junior, was always "Physic." As a bachelor, Dr. Lewis, who had come to Jackson from Virginia in 1879, lived at the William T. Buxton residence (Number 20) where he had an office in the yard. A strong theme in the first volume of the diary is the courtship, marriage, and early domestic life of Dr. Lewis.

The doctor was married in 1884 to Mrs. Sallie Ridley Long, a widow several years older than the doctor, and the mother of two children--Nanny and John Long. When the diary opens, the widow was living in Weldon, North Carolina, in the household of her mother-in-law (Mrs. Melissa Williams Long), together with her two widowed sisters-in-law (Mrs. Junius Daniel and Mrs. James W. Faucett). The late John J. Long (who seems to have been something of a "sport") had been a friend of George P. Burgwyn, and Mrs. Burgwyn ("Cousin Emma") was first cousin to Mrs. Long. These relationships account for the numerous references MacRae makes to various Ridleys, frequent visitors in the community, who lived either in Southampton County, Virginia, or in the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth. Before 1890, the elderly Francis T. Ridley moved to Jackson with two of his daughters, Mrs. Joseph Drewry and Miss Julia Ridley. MacRae's fascination with Miss Julia is another recurrent theme.

A map of Northampton County (Series 4, Folder 18) shows the major sites mentioned in the diary, as well as the railroads that traversed the county. Observe how near the area lies to Richmond, Petersburg, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Portsmouth; also observe that Raleigh and Wilmington were easily accessible by train. The relative ease with which residents of Jackson were able to reach these cities was a major cause of the fairly sophisticated life they lived.

The plantations mentioned most frequently in the diary--Mowfield, Verona, Thornbury (Bull Hill), Longview, and Belmont--are shown on the county map. Thornbury house was unoccupied; Verona was the home of Senator Matt. W. Ransom, his wife, daughter, and numerous sons, the oldest of whom, Matt Jr., is mentioned from time to time in the diary; Longview was the home of Thomas W. Mason, his daughter Ruth, and his daughter Betty and her husband (Major Mac Long) and their children; Belmont was the residence of Dr. Edmund W. Wilkins and his family; Mowfield--sometimes spelled "Moorfields" by MacRae--was the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Spruill Urquhart.

The map of Jackson shows three plantation houses that stood on the outskirts of the village: Grape Hill (Number 31) was the residence of an important grandam, Mrs. John Randolph, and her son-in-law, William Wallace Peebles, and his children; Holly Lodge (Number 44) was the residence of Mrs. Sallie Blunt Peebles--widow of both Henry and Nicholas Peebles--and her son Ethelred John ("E.J." in the diary) and her daughter Ella, whose marriage to a Mr. Fuller was considered a misalliance; Mrs. Urquhart of Mowfield was also the daughter of Mrs. Peebles of Holly Lodge. Across the road from Holly Lodge was the residence of the W. Cornelius Bowen family (Number 43).

At Number 7 on the town plat lived Mrs. William Barrow, widowed sister of Mrs. John Randolph. These dignified women were daughters of Samuel Calvert, who, at the time the town of Jackson was laid out, acquired a majority of the lots. It was he who gave the land for each of the three churches in the town--Episcopal, Methodist, and Baptist. When the diary opens, Mrs. Samuel Calvert, Jr. (born Gulielma Faison) was living at Number 18; she was as militant a Methodist as was Mrs. Picard an Episcopal. Mrs. Barrow had several children, but the only two who are mentioned frequently by MacRae are Will and Alethia ("Miss Lethe"), with whom the diarist was infatuated.

As already noted, Mrs. Randolph lived at Grape Hill; her grandchildren, Margaret ("Maggie"), Bruce, and Calvert ("Cal"), and their father, Mr. "Billy" Peebles, appear again and again in the chronicle.

On the courthouse square (at Number 8) lived Robert Bruce Peebles ("Captain Bob"), lawyer, Confederate veteran, judge, and husband of Margaret Cameron, daughter of Paul Carrington Cameron of Hillsborough. Living with the Peebleses were his sister, "Miss Mittie" and his nieces, the Misses Lucretia and Janet Whitfield. The Whitfield sisters--led by "Miss Lou"--became the teachers of the parochial school established by the Church of the Saviour in 1886.

Referring again to the town plat, it will be seen that Number 10 occupies an important location in the town. This house was built for Thomas Bragg, who later became governor of North Carolina and a member of Jefferson Davis' cabinet. After the Civil War, it was acquired by the Newsom family, and early in MacRae's diary it became the residence of the Preots, a Creole family from Louisiana. When Dr. H.W. Lewis' sister Eileen was married to W. Paul Moore of Norfolk, they moved to Jackson and purchased this house. MacRae saw a great deal of the Moores, whose cuisine was famous in the area, and the diarist could not resist an invitation to dinner.

The number of Buxtons mentioned in the diary makes for confusion, but they were an important element in the community. William T. Buxton was register of deeds; Capt. Samuel Buxton was a well-to-do merchant.

Three of the children of Mrs. Samuel Calvert, Jr. appear often in the journal--Samuel Calvert III, Mrs. Douglas A. Jordan, and Miss Maggie (or "Mag") Calvert. Both Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Jordan were popular members of the town's society; Sam Calvert III annoyed MacRae because he--along with Capt. Peebles, Dr. Lewis, and Mr. Bowen--liked to play poker, a game that the diarist deplored. But, like MacRae, Sam Calvert was a strong Mason, and that was important to MacRae.

Important to the narrative--especially in the later volumes--is the fact that George P. Burgwyn maintained a commissary, a barroom, a gin, and a mill at Bull Hill. The millpond there was MacRae's favorite haunt for fishing, and he thought nothing of walking from Jackson to the pond and back day after day--a ten-mile round trip.

In addition to the two maps already noted, there is also a list of persons frequently named in the early volumes of the journal. What has not been mentioned heretofore is what the diary reveals of MacRae himself. A few brief comments will suffice: The frankness with which he records his actions and feelings is reminiscent of Pepys; in fact, it makes the reader speculate as to why MacRae kept the diary so faithfully--from the autumn of 1883 (when he was 38 years old) until January 1916, a few months before his death. The diary is explicit in detailing MacRae's sexual exploits with black women and equally detailed in recording his remorse. He seemed always to be completely infatuated with some "acceptable" white woman--always admired as if on a pedestal--but unable to restrain himself with blacks who visited him without apparent invitation. He was never married.

In the current phrase, MacRae was "allergic" to routine employment, yet he seemed always to be trying to find a job. His law practice languished to extinction; he lost his plantation because he could not make mortgage payments; in his latter years he lived on the charity of his Burgwyn cousins. Yet as a man he was remarkably generous with what he had and with whatever was given to him--no matter how modest. The man's eccentricities, which are still recounted in Jackson, are apparent in his account of his own behavior. His opinions of individual men and women must be read with care, for from month to month and year to year they changed radically; an unexpected favor or an unexpected slight was enough to cause him to reverse a strong opinion only recently expressed. On the other hand, his accounts of events are detailed and, from all available evidence, reliable.

It is obvious that MacRae, despite his peculiarities, was usually welcomed in Jackson homes. He must have been an entertaining conversationalist and something of a raconteur; certainly he had a degree of education and experience of the world that enabled him to serve well as "the extra man" whenever out-of-towners were being entertained.

The diary itself indicates that MacRae's habit was to draft each day's entry on loose sheets of paper, then, at his leisure, he would transcribe the drafts into the journal, making editorial changes as he did so. In a few instances, it is apparent that, in the transcription process, MacRae made errors in dates, and a few entries are made in incorrect order. But these errors are rare. From the autumn of 1883 to January 1916, there are very few days for which no entries were made.

Although MacRae diligently reported his activities when he was away from Jackson, the principal value of the diary lies in its record of what occurred in that town. Few communities have been reported in such faithful detail.

Names frequently found in the early volumes of the John B. MacRae diary:

Anderton: overseer at Miss Kate MacRae's Occoneechee Neck plantation

Baker, Mrs. Thomas R. (Minnie Burgwyn): MacRae's cousin; daughter of Henry K. and Anna Greenough Burgwyn; lived in Richmond

Barrow, Mrs. William (Eliza Calvert): see biographical note narrative

Barrow, William, Jr. (Will or Willie): see biographical note narrative

Barrow, Alethia (Lethe): see biographical note narrative

Bowen, William Cornelius (Neal): see biographical note narrative

Bowen, Mrs. William Cornelius (Josephine Southall): native of Murfreesboro; died of pneumonia in 1893 at same time as Mrs. George P. Burgwyn, Mrs. Douglas A. Jordan, and Mrs. Cornelius G.C. Moore (Mr. Bowen's aunt)

Bowen girls (daughters of the W.C. Bowens: Rettie, Julia, Josephine, and Blannie)

Brodnax, Mrs. Alexander John (Ellen Mallory): widow of Dr. H.W. Lewis' cousin and close companion of his mother, Mrs. Benjamin Lewis; mother of Nelly Brodnax; lived at The Woodlands in Brunswick County, Virginia

Brodnax, Nelly: one of MacRae's beloved. Earlier she had been married to Robert Dunlop of Petersburg who had mistreated her. She, with her mother (both Roman Catholics), had gone to Rome and secured a papal annulment of the marriage, one condition of which was that, although she might reassume her maiden name, she must prefix it with "Mrs." There is much speculation in the diary as to whether she is truly free to remarry.

Burgwyn, Miss Emily: see biographical note narrative

Burgwyn, George P.: see biographical note narrative

Burgwyn, Mrs. George P. (Emma Wright Ridley): see biographical note narrative

Burgwyn, G. Pollok: son of the above; appears in the later volumes

Burgwyn, Mrs. G. Pollok (Emily Bartlett Roper): a native of Petersburg who was married to G. Pollok Burgwyn; they lived in Jackson

Burgwyn, Mrs. Henry King (Anna Greenough): see biographical note narrative

Burgwyn, Henry K.: grandson of the above; son of George Pollok; was kind to MacRae in his latter years

Burgwyn, Mrs. Henry K. (Page Cauthorne): a native of Tappahannock, Virginia

Burgwyn, John Alveston: see biographical note narrative

Burgwyn, John Collinson: see biographical note narrative

Burgwyn, John Fanning: see biographical note narrative

Burgwyn, Thomas Pollok: see biographical note narrative

Burgwyn, William Hyslop Sumner: brother of George P. Burgwyn; colonel in Spanish-American War; frequently mentioned in the correspondence of Mrs. Cornelius Phillips Spencer. Lived in Henderson and Weldon, North Carolina. He seems to have specialized in organizing banks in small eastern North Carolina towns.

Burgwyn, Mrs. William Hyslop Sumner (Margaret "Maggie" Dunlop): native of Petersburg

Burgwyn, William H. Sumner: son of George P. Burgwyn; called "Sum" by MacRae

Buxton, Captain Samuel: see biographical note narrative

Buxton, William T.: see biographical note narrative

Buxton, Mrs. William T. (Mary Ann Jordan): native of Smithfield, Virginia

Calvert, Margaret (or "Maggie" or "Mag"): see biographical note narrative

Calvert, Samuel: see biographical note narrative

Calvert, Mrs. Samuel, Jr. (Gulielma Faison): see biographical note narrative

Calvert, Samuel III: see biographical note narrative

Daniel, Mrs. Junius (Ellen Williams Long): see biographical note narrative

Faucett, Mrs. James W. (Willie Williams Long): see biographical note narrative

Gooch, James T.: mayor of Weldon

Gooch, Mrs. James T. (Emily Long): cousin of the other Longs and frequent visitor in Jackson

Higgs, the Rev. Gilbert: rector of the Church of the Saviour in Jackson -- see biographical note narrative

Jordan, Douglas A.: one of MacRae's close friends; a native of Smithfield, Virginia

Jordan, Mrs. Douglas A. (May Calvert): daughter of Mrs. Samuel Calvert, Jr.

Kee (occasionally spelled "Key" in the diary): hotel keeper in Garysburg, N.C.; about 9 miles from Jackson

Lewis, Benjamin: father of Dr. H.W. Lewis; a lawyer who lived in Brunswick County, Virginia

Lewis, Mrs. Benjamin (Ellen E. Wilkins): born at Belmont plantation in western part of Northampton County; a frequent visitor in Jackson at the houses of her son (Dr. Lewis) and daughter (Mrs. W. Paul Moore)

Lewis, Benjamin, Jr.: Dr. Lewis' brother who worked in the town for a few years as a young man

Lewis, Henry W.: the physician that MacRae called "Physic": see biographical note narrative

Lewis, Mrs. Henry W. (Sallie Ridley, formerly Mrs. John J. Long, Jr.): see biographical note narrative

Long, John J. III (son of Sallie and John J. Long, Jr.): MacRae did not like the young man

Long, Major Lemuel McKinne (Major Mac): native of Halifax County, N.C.; in 1883 married Miss Betty Mason and lived at Longview plantation in Northampton County

Long, Mrs. Lemuel McKinne (Betty Mason): daughter of Thomas W. Mason; MacRae was highly critical of her in the early portions of the diary but later changed his view

Long, Nanny W. (daughter of Sallie and John J. Long, Jr.) - MacRae admired this young woman; she was a frequent visitor at her mother's house in Jackson after her mother became Mrs. Lewis; later married Thomas B. Yuille.

MacRae, Cameron F.: see biographical note narrative

MacRae, Kate: see biographical note narrative

Mason, Thomas Williams: lawyer, Railroad Commissioner, judge. Lived at Longview plantation. A favorite of MacRae's.

Moore, William Paul: a native of Norfolk; although he was a dentist, he seems to have given up the practice after living in Jackson for several years, probably because of income from other sources. He was hospitable to MacRae and shared with him an interest in music and the bottle. Very popular in Jackson. Mrs. Moore was Ellen, sister of Dr. H.W. Lewis.: see biographical note narrative

Peebles, Calvert G. (Cal): son of William Wallace Peebles

Peebles, Ethelred John (E.J.): see biographical note narrative

Peebles, Mrs. Ethelred John (Margaret Peebles): husband and wife were first cousins

Peebles, Millard F.: son of Henry and Sally Blunt Peebles; his murder is noted in the diary

Peebles, Sarah E. (Miss Mittie): sister of Robert B. and William W. Peebles

Peebles, Robert Bruce: see biographical note narrative

Peebles, Mrs. Robert Bruce (Margaret Cameron): see biographical note narrative

Peebles, Sallie Blunt: daughter of Millard Peebles, later Mrs. Frank R. Harris

Peebles, William Wallace: brother of Robert Bruce Peebles; see biographical note narrative

Peele, Miss Pattie: sister of Mrs. Samuel Buxton

Picard, Mabel (later Mrs. Henry Benjamin Hardy): see biographical note narrative

Picard, William Thomas: see biographical note narrative

Picard, Mrs. William Thomas (Mabel Howard): see biographical note narrative

Preot family: see biographical note narrative

Randolph, Mrs. M. John (Morgianna M. Calvert): see biographical note narrative

Ransom, Matt Whitaker: United States Senator: see biographical note narrative

Ransom, Mrs. Matt Whitaker (Patty Exum): see biographical note narrative

Ransom, Matt Whitaker, Jr.: see biographical note narrative

Ridley, Francis T.: see biographical note narrative

Ridley, Julia Maclin: see biographical note narrative

Ridley, Norfleet Blunt: brother of Mrs. Sallie Ridley Long-Lewis; resident of Portsmouth, Virginia; occasional visitor in Jackson

Ridley, Mrs. Norfleet Blunt (Anna Field Ridley): daughter of Francis T. Ridley, above; occasional visitor in Jackson

Ridley, Robert, Jr.: brother of Mrs. Sallie Ridley Long-Lewis; resident of Portsmouth, Virginia; occasional visitor in Jackson

Ridley, Roberta M. (Berta or Bert): daughter of Nathaniel Thomas Ridley of Bloomfield plantation, Southampton County, Virginia (brother of Mrs. George P. Burgwyn) and Mary Thomas Ridley (sister of Mrs. Sallie Ridley Long-Lewis); occasional visitor in Jackson

Ridley, Mrs. Thomas (Margaret Ann Bynym Jordan) of Bonnie Doon plantation, Southampton County, Virginia; frequent guest of her daughter, Mrs. George P. Burgwyn

Semmes, Mrs. Bernard Brockenbrough (Frances Stuart Lewis) (Miss Fanny): sister of Dr. H.W. Lewis; her visits to Jackson before her marriage are described in some detail; MacRae liked her. After marriage, she lived in Newport News, Virginia.

Stancell, Millard F.: one of MacRae's close friends; at one time managed the local alcoholic liquor dispensary; later register of deeds of Northampton county; following the death of Alveston Burgwyn, lived at No. 24 on plat of town of Jackson

Urquhart, George S.: see biographical note narrative

Urquhart, Mrs. George S. (Susan Peebles): see biographical note narrative

Urquhart, Martha Rebecca (Pattie): half-sister of Mrs. Sallie Ridley Long-Lewis and niece of George S. Urquhart of Mowfield. She and her sisters (Louisa, Annie, and Lucy) lived at Charlie's Hope plantation, Southampton County, Virginia, and were frequent visitors in Jackson.

Weaver, Richard A. (Dick): lived near the Burgwyns and Dr. H.W. Lewis. See Number 23 on plat of Town of Jackson; a great favorite of MacRae's.

Whitfield, Janet: see biographical note narrative

Whitfield, Lucretia: see biographical note narrative

Wilkins, Bessie G.: daughter of Dr. Edmund W. Wilkins of Belmont plantation; first cousin of Dr. H.W. Lewis and Mrs. W. Paul Moore

Wilkins, Edmonia C.: sister of Bessie G. Wilkins

Wilkins, Dr. Edmund W.: uncle of Dr. H.W. Lewis and Mrs. W. Paul Moore; lived at Belmont plantation in the western part of Northampton County. On his property stood the original Town of Gaston, the eastern terminus of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection contains John MacRae's nine-volume daily diary, 1883-1916; letterpress copybooks, 1886-1896, of MacRae; speeches by MacRae; and miscellaneous volumes and papers. The diary describes day-to-day life and events in Jackson, Northampton County, N.C., including MacRae's long-term relationship with a local African-American woman, his fishing expeditions, and his work as a steward in the State Penitentiary in Raleigh, N.C. Among others discussed in the diary are various members of the Burgwyn family and Matt Whitaker Ransom (1826-1904). Also included are letters, 1869-1870, from Kate MacRae to her father, Cameron MacRae, describing her travels in Europe; class notes from the University of North Carolina, 1866; a baseball club treasurer's book and constitution, 1883; an account book, 1880-1889, containing accounts for meat, corn, cotton, and other goods; and political speeches and addresses given by MacRae at Confederate reunions and Masonic, Episcopal Church, and other organization meetings.

The Addition of March 2008 contains letters and related materials concerning the Scottish heritage of John Burgwyn MacRae as well as his land ownership in Northampton County, N.C.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1864-1896 and undated.

16 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Personal correspondence, primarily between MacRae family members; letterpress copybooks containing personal business letters of John B. MacRae.

Letter, 27 July 1864, H.L. Ryan, Chapel Hill, to [Mr.--probably Cameron, father of John Burgwyn] MacRae, thanking MacRae for a letter of sympathy for the death of Ryan's son Rob, who was mortally wounded at Spottsylvania.

Eleven letters, 1869-1870, and two letters, c. 1869, from Katherine MacRae to her father, Cameron MacRae, describing her travels in Europe with her aunt, Emily Burgwyn. Several of the letters are incomplete. Letter, [1870], from Emily Burgwyn to Cameron MacRae asking for additional money for their European trip.

Letter, undated, from Cameron MacRae to John Burgwyn MacRae announcing the birth of a brother; letter, undated, and short note, undated, both signed by John Burgwyn MacRae.

Two letterpress books, 1886-1896, containing copies of John Burgwyn MacRae's letters to business firms, banks, and relatives concerning orders of merchandise and books and magazines for personal use, payments for same, debt settlements, and other financial transactions.

John Burgwyn MacRae notes in his diary that he burnt all the letters he received from his father and various sweethearts, thus accounting for the lack of personal correspondence in the collection.

Folder 1

1864-1870 #00478, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1864-1896 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2-3

Folder 2

Folder 3

Folder numbers not used #00478, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1864-1896 and undated." Folder 2-3

Oversize Volume SV-478/1

Volume 1 #00478, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1864-1896 and undated." SV-478/1

Letterpress copybook, 29 October 1886-10 June 1890 (498 pages)

Oversize Volume SV-478/2

Volume 2 #00478, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1864-1896 and undated." SV-478/2

Letterpress copybook, 11 June 1890-26 March 1896 (287 pages)

Folder 4

Undated #00478, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1864-1896 and undated." Folder 4

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Diary, 1883-1916.

9 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

While MacRae's diary touches on plantation business, his legal work, politics, and Masonic events, these are peripheral to his descriptions of local personalities and daily occurrences in MacRae's life. John Burgwyn MacRae faithfully recorded weather information, his ailments and medical treatments, where and with whom he ate, correspondence received and sent, and various aspects of his social life. He devoted a fair amount of space to descriptions of individual women he encountered, both socially and sexually, and his various infatuations are a theme throughout the diaries. Much of Volume 6 is taken up with his relationship with a local black woman, with whom he had two children. He drank a good deal, off and on, periodically decreeing his intention to stop drinking so much. He also made periodic vows no longer to consort with women or use tobacco.

The early volumes recount MacRae's financial difficulties, eventually leading to the loss of his plantation and subsequent attempts to find employment (all of which he heartily hated). A seven-month stint as steward at the State Penitentiary is described in Volumes 5 and 6 (May 1899 through January 1900). After he loses the plantation, MacRae's fishing expeditions become regular themes, with the catch and conditions thoroughly recounted. Episcopal church services and sermons are described in some detail, as are concerts and plays, and various entertainments attended during out-of-town visits. MacRae's primary interest was in people and the daily social life of the Jackson community, and this is what is consistently commented upon throughout the diary.

Henry Lewis' introduction to the diary (see Biographical Note) provides much further context and identifies individuals discussed.

Folder 5

Volume 3 #00478, Series: "2. Diary, 1883-1916." Folder 5

24 October 1883 - 24 August 1887, 561 pages

Folder 6

Volume 4 #00478, Series: "2. Diary, 1883-1916." Folder 6

25 August 1887 - 10 December 1889, 358 pages

Folder 7

Folder number not used #00478, Series: "2. Diary, 1883-1916." Folder 7

Oversize Volume SV-478/5

Volume 5 #00478, Series: "2. Diary, 1883-1916." SV-478/5

10 December 1889 - 20 October 1894, 679 pages

Folder 8

Volume 6 #00478, Series: "2. Diary, 1883-1916." Folder 8

22 October 1894 - 20 January 1897, 304 pages

Folder 9-12

Folder 9

Folder 10

Folder 11

Folder 12

Folder numbers not used #00478, Series: "2. Diary, 1883-1916." Folder 9-12

Oversize Volume SV-478/7

Volume 7 #00478, Series: "2. Diary, 1883-1916." SV-478/7

21 January 1897 - 16 October 1899, 300 pages

Oversize Volume SV-478/8

Volume 8 #00478, Series: "2. Diary, 1883-1916." SV-478/8

15 October 1899 - 30 September 1903, 400 pages

Oversize Volume SV-478/9

Volume 9 #00478, Series: "2. Diary, 1883-1916." SV-478/9

1 October 1903 - 19 March 1909, 502 pages

Oversize Volume SV-478/10

Volume 10 #00478, Series: "2. Diary, 1883-1916." SV-478/10

20 March 1909 - 10 June 1911, 202 pages

Folder 13

Volume 11 #00478, Series: "2. Diary, 1883-1916." Folder 13

10 June 1911 - 13 January 1916, 423 pages

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s.

14 items.

Folder 14

Volume 12 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." Folder 14

1866, 107 pages. Lecture notes, reading notes and writings of John Burgwyn MacRae, in class of Professor A.D. Hepburn, University of North Carolina, 1866. Included are essays, compositions, and notes on Logic, Chemistry, Natural Science, and Law.

Folder 15

Volume 13 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." Folder 15

June-August 1883, 14 pages. Treasurer's book, Northampton Baseball Club, and constitution of the club.

Folder 16

Volume 14 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." Folder 16

August 1887, 159 pages. Scrapbook containing copies of poems and literary excerpts, with a few pictures.

Folder 17

Volume 15 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." Folder 17

1880-1889, 144 pages. Accounts for meat, corn cotton, etc. with various persons.

Folder 18

Volume 16 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." Folder 18

Cash accounts, 1852-1855; a few pages of short diary entries, 1872-1874, chiefly relating to religious matters; and a few copies of sentimental poems, circa 25 pages.

Folder 19

Volume 17 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." Folder 19

Account book with accounts relating to various persons, 1883-1890, circa 175 pages.

Folder 20-21

Folder 20

Folder 21

Folder numbers not used #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." Folder 20-21

Oversize Volume SV-478/18

Volume 18 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." SV-478/18

Ledger with accounts for meat and other goods, 1894-1897, circa 450 pages.

Oversize Volume SV-478/19

Volume 19 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." SV-478/19

Ledger with accounts for meat and other goods, 1896-1903, circa 400 pages.

Folder 22

Volume 20 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." Folder 22

Volumes 20-25 are scrapbooks containing chiefly newspaper clippings of poems, Civil War stories, exotic news items, and pictures, 1860s-1920s.

Folder 23

Volume 21 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." Folder 23

See folder 22 description.

Folder 24

Volume 22 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." Folder 24

See folder 22 description.

Oversize Volume SV-478/23

Volume 23 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." SV-478/23

See folder 22 description.

Oversize Volume SV-478/24

Volume 24 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." SV-478/24

See folder 22 description.

Oversize Volume SV-478/25

Volume 25 #00478, Series: "3. Other Volumes, 1852-1920s." SV-478/25

See folder 22 description.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Other Papers, 1866-1905, 1974, and undated.

11 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Miscellaneous loose items including an invitation list of ladies to be invited to (presumably University of North Carolina) commencement exercises, 1866, and extracts from various works in reference to the clan of MacRae, undated.

Handwritten versions of three speeches given by John Burgwyn MacRae: "The duties of the Laity, especially toward Diocesan Missions," 15 February 1887; speech given Masons on behalf of the Mason-founded orphanage in Oxford, N.C., 19 December 1887; speech given to the Henry K. Burgwyn chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, 17 August 1905. Handwritten versions of four political speeches given by John Burgwyn MacRae, undated, including a speech concerning "The Supremacy of the White Race over the Colored Race."

Maps of the town of Jackson circa 1900 and Northampton County in the 19th century, 1974.

Folder 28

Other papers #00478, Series: "4. Other Papers, 1866-1905, 1974, and undated." Folder 28

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Additions

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Addition of March 2008 (Acc. 100739), 1883-1913 and undated.

10 items.
Folder 29

Letters and Related Materials, 1883-1913 and undated. #00478, Subseries: "Addition of March 2008 (Acc. 100739), 1883-1913 and undated." Folder 29

Letters and related materials concerning the MacRae clan and the Scottish heritage of John Burgwyn MacRae as well as his land ownership in Northampton County, N.C.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

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Processing Information

Processed by: Henry W. Lewis, Barbara Aschenbrenner, Roslyn Holdzkom, 1980, September 1993, March 1994, and March 2008

Encoded by: T. Mike Childs, February 2008, and Amy Roberson, March 2008.

Additions received after March 1994 have not been integrated into the original deposits. Researchers should always check additions to be sure they have identified all files of interest to them.

Finding aid updated in March 2008 by Amy Roberson because of addition.

Finding aid updated in May 2010 by Kathryn Michaelis for digitization.

Diacritics and other special characters have been omitted from this finding aid to facilitate keyword searching in web browsers.

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