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Collection Number: 00447

Collection Title: Macay and McNeely Family Papers, 1746-1918.

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.


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.

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Size 1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 320 items)
Abstract Prominent members of the Macay and McNeely families of Rowan County, N.C., included Spruce Macay (1755-1808), lawyer and judge; and his sons, Alfred (d. 1827) and William Spruce Macay (d. circa 1861). Also represented is Robert W. McNeely, son of William Spruce Macay's widow, Mildred Ann (Hunt) Macay, and her second husband, William G. McNeely. The materials up to 1820 consist chiefly of legal Papers, with a few items of correspondence, of Spruce Macay, his second wife, Elizabeth (Haynes) Macay, and several of his children, especially his son, Alfred. The papers for 1827-1856 deal chiefly with William Spruce Macay, including correspondence, legal documents, and financial Papers, and papers concerning his brother Alfred's estate. The correspondence relates primarily to family affairs. The 1861-1877 material relates to the Macay, McNeely, and Hunt families, and includes a few letters from Meshack F. Hunt, 1st lieutenant in the 5th Infantry, North Carolina State Troops; a muster roll of Co. G., 54th Regiment, North Carolina State Troops; and other miscellaneous items relating to the Confederate Army. The 1880-1918 items are papers of the McNeely family, in particular concerning their efforts, in 1891-1892, to claim a large area of land on Manhattan Island, New York City, through their relationship to the Edwards family. In addition, there is material concerning the naval service of Robert W. McNeely, including letters describing his trips to the Azores, the British Isles, the Caribbean, Greece, the Mediterranean, Palestine, and Turkey, and letters from Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Robert married Marie Calhoun Butler, who travelled with him to his posts in the Orient and wrote back of her experiences there, 1902-1908. Volumes include a lawyer's fee book, 1759-1774; plantation, merchants' and household accounts; and slave records, 1791-1872.
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 Macay and McNeely Family Papers #447, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
All or part of this collection is 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
Gift of Fanny McNeely of Salisbury, N.C., before 1940 and in 1952.
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

The papers deal chiefly with members of the Macay and McNeely families of Rowan County, N.C. There are also a number of items of members of the Hunt and Edwards families to whom the Macays and McNeelys were related. Material up to around 1820 consists of legal papers and a few letters of Spruce Macay (1755-1808), North Carolina lawyer and judge, and his family, including his second wife Elizabeth Haynes Macay (his first wife was Fanny Henderson Macay) and several of his children, including Betsy, Alfred, Fanny, and William Spruce.

William Spruce Macay married Mildred Ann Hunt, sister of Meshack and Mary Hunt. Their daughter was Annie Cremona Macay, who married Stephen F. Lord in 1875. After William Spruce Macay's death around 1861, Mildred Ann married William G. McNeely. Their children were Fanny, Robert Whitehead, Meshack Hunt, and Thomas Chalmers. Robert married Marie Calhoun Butler of South Carolina in 1900.

For more genealogical information, see correspondence for 1880-1892 and undated materials.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The materials up to 1820 consist chiefly of legal Papers, with a few items of correspondence, of Spruce Macay, his second wife, Elizabeth (Haynes) Macay, and several of his children, especially his son, Alfred. The papers for 1827-1856 deal chiefly with William Spruce Macay, including correspondence, legal documents, and financial Papers, and papers concerning his brother Alfred's estate. The correspondence relates primarily to family affairs. The 1861-1877 material relates to the Macay, McNeely, and Hunt families, and includes a few letters from Meshack F. Hunt, 1st lieutenant in the 5th Infantry, North Carolina State Troops; a muster roll of Co. G., 54th Regiment, North Carolina State Troops; and other miscellaneous items relating to the Confederate Army. The 1880-1918 items are papers of the McNeely family, in particular concerning their efforts, in 1891-1892, to claim a large area of land on Manhattan Island, New York City, through their relationship to the Edwards family. In addition, there is material concerning the naval service of Robert W. McNeely, including letters describing his trips to the Azores, the British Isles, the Caribbean, Greece, the Mediterranean, Palestine, and Turkey, and letters from Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Robert married Marie Calhoun Butler, who travelled with him to his posts in the Orient and wrote back of her experiences there, 1902-1908. Volumes include a lawyer's fee book, 1759-1774; plantation, merchants' and household accounts; and slave records, 1791-1872.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Loose Materials, 1746-1918.

About 290 items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1746-1865.

About 125 items.

Materials up to 1820 consist chiefly of legal papers and a few letters of Spruce Macay and his second wife, Elizabeth Haynes Macay. There are also materials relating to several of his children, especially his son Alfred. Papers for 1827-1856 deal chiefly with William Spruce Macay and include correspondence, legal documents, and financial Papers, some relating to his brother Alfred's estate. Correspondence is primarily about family affairs. Material dated 1861-1865 concerns members of the Macay, McNeely, and Hunt families, and includes a few Civil War items.

Materials include the following:

10 March 1746: Indenture for sale of land in Petersburg, Va., by Thomas William to Anthony Haynes and William Eaton.

1761 and 1783: Indentures for sale of lands in Rowan County, N.C., to Haynes family members.

13 July 1785: Letter from William R. Davie to Spruce Macay about Macay's marriage to Fanny Henderson and other matters.

1786-1800: Papers relating to Spruce Macay's purchases of land and slaves in Rowan County and slaves and to his marriage to Elizabeth Haynes in 1794 and the settlement of Haynes family estates; a 1796 letter from Macay to Elizabeth while he was travelling the law circuit that discusses General and Mrs. Allen Jones and Mrs. Davie; and an 1800 letter from Archibald Henderson in Philadelphia discussing family matters and politics.

1801-1808: Chiefly legal documents relating to sales of lands in Rowan County.

1809-1825: Macay family items, including a deed of gift from Betsy Macay to William Macay for slaves, a list of slaves allotted to family members in Spruce Macay's will, and several other family wills; an 1809 letter from J. Franklin of Washington, D.C., to Jo. Williams of Surry County, N.C., on political issues and an invention for making cotton cards; Rowan County land sale indentures; testimony of S. P. Simpson(?) about a dispute over a Fourth of July celebration in an unspecified town; and an 1823 copy of Spruce Macay's 1808 will.

1827-1856: Items relating chiefly to William Spruce Macay, including correspondence about family affairs, with discussion of the settlement of his brother Alfred's estate, the activities of Fanny Macay, and the desire of Spruce Macay's brother James Macay of Butts County, Ga., for William's help in moving back to North Carolina. In 1827, there are letters relating to William's attendance at the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy in Middletown, Conn. Financial papers include bills of sale for slaves, bills and receipts for goods and services, and records of cotton sales. There are also deeds for the purchase and sale of lands in Rowan and Cabarrus counties, N.C.; documents, 1842-1849, relating to the settlement of debts owed by Macay to Thomas Ruffin of Orange County and others; and an 1847 document granting permission to Macay to operate one pair of "improved Vertical Reacting Water Wheels" on Grants Creek, Rowan County. There are also two 1848 letters from E. B. Hunt of Jonesville, N.C., to his daughter Mildred, wife of William Spruce Macay, and legal papers relating to transactions of several unrelated Rowan county residents.

7 March 1861: Map and description of William and Ann McNeely's share of William Spruce Macay's estate.

3 April 1863: Note to Ann McNeely of Salisbury, N.C., from W. T. Gilmore about the sale of cotton and the purchase of a house servant.

1861-1865: Letters from Meshack F. Hunt, 1st lieutenant in the 5th Infantry, N.C. State Troops; a muster roll of Co. G., 54th Regiment, N.C. State Troops; and a few other items relating to the Confederate army.

Undated materials include a list of slaves with a record of meat and meal given them.

Folder 1

1746-1794 #00447, Subseries: "1.1. 1746-1865." Folder 1

Folder 2

1795-1805 #00447, Subseries: "1.1. 1746-1865." Folder 2

Folder 3

1806-1830 #00447, Subseries: "1.1. 1746-1865." Folder 3

Folder 4

1831-1844 #00447, Subseries: "1.1. 1746-1865." Folder 4

Folder 5

1845-1856 #00447, Subseries: "1.1. 1746-1865." Folder 5

Folder 6

1861-1865 #00447, Subseries: "1.1. 1746-1865." Folder 6

Folder 7

Undated before 1866 #00447, Subseries: "1.1. 1746-1865." Folder 7

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1866-1918.

About 160 items.

Material dated 1866-1877 concerns members of the Macay, McNeely, and Hunt families and focuses on family matters. 1880-1918 items are chiefly papers of McNeely family members, including documents relating to their efforts, 1891-1892, to claim land on Manhattan Island, New York City, through their relationship to the Edwards family. In addition, there is material concerning the naval service of Robert W. McNeely, including letters describing his trips to the Azores, the British Isles, the Caribbean, Greece, the Mediterranean, Palestine, and Turkey, and a few letters from Cuba during the Spanish-American War. There are also letters of Robert's wife Marie Calhoun Butler McNeely, who travelled with him to posts in the Orient and other areas, 1902-1910, and wrote of her experiences there.

Materials include the following:

1866: Three certificates relating to granting Ann McNeely for her participation in the Civil War.

December 1873: Letter from Richard C. Gwyn in Elkin, N.C. to Ann McNeely about a mining venture in which her father had invested.

1880-1892: Chiefly correspondence among members of the McNeely family and their relatives concerning their relationship to the Edwards family. Members of the Edwards family in several states were claiming a large portion of New York City and land in several other states on the basis of their relation to an Edwards ancestor who had a 99-year lease to these lands. Most of this correspondence is from 1891-1892 and involves Harry L. Edwards, a lawyer of New Orleans, and Thomas C. McNeely, an employee of the Central Railroad and Baking Company of Georgia. Their letters of November 1891 summarize the issues involved in the claim.

1893-1897: Chiefly letters from Robert W. McNeely in the U.S. Navy to his sister Fanny McNeely. Most of the letters were written while he was on cruises to the Azores, Madeira, the Caribbean, the British Isles, and the Mediterranean. He also wrote detailed reports of visits to Palestine, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. He also discussed Navy policy and life aboard ship, particularly in the letter dated 15 April 1895. In 1896, there are two letters to him from Hunt family members discussing their activities.

1898-1899: Letters include a few from Robert W. McNeely to Fanny McNeely while he was on ship around Cuba during the Spanish American War. There are also a few letters from others to Robert and Fanny about family history.

1900-1910: Letters include several written home by Marie Calhoun Butler McNeely who was travelling with her husband Robert W. McNeely in the Orient and the Mediterranean.

1911-1918: Several letters to and from Fanny McNeely about family history. In 1912, there is a letter from Robert W. McNeely to Fanny about his activities as naval attache in Buenos Aires.

Undated materials include a few clippings and family letters.

Folder 8

1866-1889 #00447, Subseries: "1.2. 1866-1918." Folder 8

Folder 9

1891 #00447, Subseries: "1.2. 1866-1918." Folder 9

Folder 10

1892-1895 #00447, Subseries: "1.2. 1866-1918." Folder 10

Folder 11

1896 #00447, Subseries: "1.2. 1866-1918." Folder 11

Folder 12

1897 #00447, Subseries: "1.2. 1866-1918." Folder 12

Folder 13

1898-1899 #00447, Subseries: "1.2. 1866-1918." Folder 13

Folder 14

1900-1912; 1918 #00447, Subseries: "1.2. 1866-1918." Folder 14

Folder 15

Undated after 1865 #00447, Subseries: "1.2. 1866-1918." Folder 15

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Volumes, 1759-1872.

9 items.

Volumes include a lawyer's fee book, 1759-1774, and Rowan County plantation, merchant, and household accounts and slave records beginning in 1791.

Folder 16

Volume 1: Lawyers' account book, 90 pages, 1759-1774, owner unknown. Fees and the nature of each case are listed under clients' names. Note that the blank pages in the middle of the volume are sewn together. #00447, Series: "2. Volumes, 1759-1872." Folder 16

Folder 17

Volume 2: Account book, 57 pages, 1791-1829 and 1856, containing a number of types of entries written in several different hands. Entries for 1791-1807, probably made by Spruce Macay, are inventories of land, slaves, household furnishings, and books; accounts of crops and expenses at Radford, Belfield, and Milford planations; and blacksmith shop accounts. In 1811, there is a slave list, and, for 1815, records of a mill, probably relating to Alfred Macay. Entries, 1827-1829 relate to Alfred Macay's estate. The 1856 entry is a slave list. #00447, Series: "2. Volumes, 1759-1872." Folder 17

Folder 18

Volume 3: Account book, 74 pages, 1830-1855 and 1867-1868. Early entries are accounts of William Spruce Macay, including an 1842 list of slaves. Later entries include brief accounts of the purchase and sale of food, wood, and other items. Pasted on the inside back cover is a list of Macay family members with death dates. #00447, Series: "2. Volumes, 1759-1872." Folder 18

Folder 19

Volume 4: Day book, 207 pages, 1833-1834, owner unknown, listing sales of general merchandise in Salisbury, N.C. #00447, Series: "2. Volumes, 1759-1872." Folder 19

Folder 20

Volume S-5: Account book, 133 pages, 1834-1846, of William Spruce Macay, containing records of the purchase of goods and services, including work done at saw mills, cotton gins, and flour mills. There are also cotton crop records and slave accounts. #00447, Series: "2. Volumes, 1759-1872." Folder 20

Folder 21-22

Folder 21

Folder 22

Volume S-6 and Volume 7: Account books, 237 pages and 299 pages, 1835-1841 and 1845-1856, of William Spruce Macay, containing blacksmith, mill, wood shop, and other accounts. Note that original page numbering in volume 7 is off due to missing and blank pages. #00447, Series: "2. Volumes, 1759-1872." Folder 21-22

Folder 23-24

Folder 23

Folder 24

Volume 8 and Volume S-9: Account books, 108 pages and 143 pages, 1856-1864 and 1856-1872, with entries relating to Macay and McNeely family members. Included are accounts for the purchase of wood, food, clothing, and blacksmith services. #00447, Series: "2. Volumes, 1759-1872." Folder 23-24

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Pictures, 1860s.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

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Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, August 1992

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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.

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