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Collection Number: 05004

Collection Title: Thomas Williams Mason Papers, 1856-1919, 1943

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 2.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1,500 items)
Abstract Thomas Williams Mason was a lawyer and cotton planter who conducted the bulk of his professional activities in and around the town of Garysburg, Northampton County, N.C. After his discharge from the Confederate Army in 1865, Mason took up residence with his wife's family at Longview Plantation, outside Garysburg, and from there supervised both his own planting interests and those of his father-in-law, William Henry Gray. In the years after 1877, Mason was active in state and local politics and as lawyer in Northampton County. In the latter part of his life, Mason often acted as a collections agent for various grocers and purveyors of dry goods in the region. Thomas Williams Mason's papers consist mostly of letters from various cotton factors and requests for legal and collections assistance from various clients. There are also a few items relating to Mason's service on the North Carolina Railroad Commission; some letters addressed to William Henry Gray, mostly relating to sales of cotton and the purchase of various agricultural supplies; and documents addressed to Mason's grandson, Willie Jones Long. The latter relate to a bond issue and plans for construction of a road in Occoneechee Township, N.C.
Creator Mason, Thomas Williams, 1839-1921.
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 Thomas Williams Mason Papers #5004, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Caroline Long Tillett of Valentines, Va., in November 1999 (Acc. 98511). Additions received from James P. Beckwith, Jr., in March 2001 (Acc. 98891) and from Phil Perkinson of Norlina, N.C., in August 2005 (Acc. 100154).
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

Thomas Williams Mason was born on 3 January 1839 at the Brunswick Plantation in Brunswick County, Va. He was named for his first cousin, Nathaniel Thomas Williams, who may have been visiting Brunswick Plantation at the time. Williams gave his namesake the Huon Plantation located in Madison Parish, La., as a birthday gift.

Mason attended the University of North Carolina from 1854 to 1858. Thereafter, he studied law at the University of Virginia, receiving his degree in 1860. During this time, he paid court to Elizabeth Marshall Gray, daughter of William Henry Gray of Longview Plantation near Garysburg, N.C. They were married at Longview on 25 September 1860.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Mason sided with the Confederacy. He was commissioned a lieutenant and assigned as aide-de-camp to General Robert Ransom. Mason attained the rank of captain, seeing action at Sharpsburg, Boone's Mill, and in the Richmond line.

At the end of the war, Mason returned to his father-in-law's plantation to oversee farming operations. In 1877, he was admitted to the bar of Northampton County, N.C. Mason served terms in both houses of the North Carolina State Legislature and was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in 1894, and also ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1896. He served on the North Carolina Railroad Commission from 1891 to 1894, and, from 1885 to 1909, he was a trustee of the University of North Carolina. He was also a judge in Northampton County.

Mason fathered four children, three of whom survived to adulthood. Two of his daughters, Bettie Gray and Sallie Williams, married members of the Long family. The third daughter, Ruth, went blind in childhood and never married.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The papers of lawyer Thomas Williams Mason are divided into five series. The first series contains letters from various family members, as well as a number of letters relating to Mason's legal practice and agricultural activities in the town of Garysburg, Northampton County, N.C. It includes letters from his wife, Elizabeth Gray Mason, various cotton factors, and purveyors of dry goods, as well as some items relating to Mason's service on the North Carolina Railroad Commission. In addition, the series contains letters from various parties for whom Mason acted as a legal agent in Northampton County, principally the Petersburg Dry Goods Company. There are also several letters relating to the sale of railroad construction materials belonging to the Westcott and Trenchard Lumber Company to the Edgerton Lumber Company. These papers date from 1874 on. (Note that the bulk of Mason's earlier papers are in the Sally Long Jarman Papers (#4005).)

The second series consists of letters addressed to William Henry Gray of Longview Plantation, Northampton County, N.C. Gray was Mason's father-in-law. His papers include correspondence with various family members, cotton factors, dry-goods merchants, and grocers.

The third series contains letters addressed to Willie Jones Long, grandson Thomas Williams Mason. The correspondence relates to a bond issue and various other matters surrounding the construction of a road in Occoneechee Township, N.C.

The fourth series contains receipts and other documents relating to the cotton farming enterprises of Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray. Included are receipts and bills from various cotton factors, purveyors of dry goods, dealers in farm products, and records of cotton production and sales.

The fifth series consists of a single photograph depicting a large cabinet flanked by the coats of arms of the Mason and Smith families.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918.

About 800 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Personal and business letters of Thomas Williams Mason, lawyer and plantation owner of Northampton County, N.C., include correspondence with his wife, Elizabeth Gray Mason, various cotton factors, and purveyors of dry goods, as well as some items relating to Mason's service on the North Carolina Railroad Commission. In addition, the series contains correspondence from various parties for whom Mason acted as a legal agent in Northampton County, principally the Petersburg Dry Goods Company. There are also several letters relating to the sale of railroad construction materials belonging to the Westcott and Trenchard Lumber Company to the Edgerton Lumber Company. Also included are variety of printed materials including announcements for legal books and journals and advertisements for farm implements and products of various sorts.

Folder 1

1874-1887 #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 1

Folder 2

1888 #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 2

Folder 3-4

Folder 3

Folder 4

1889 #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 3-4

Folder 5

1890 #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 5

Folder 6-14

Folder 6

Folder 7

Folder 8

Folder 9

Folder 10

Folder 11

Folder 12

Folder 13

Folder 14

1891 #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 6-14

Folder 15-17

Folder 15

Folder 16

Folder 17

1892 #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 15-17

Folder 18-21

Folder 18

Folder 19

Folder 20

Folder 21

1893 #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 18-21

Folder 22

1894-1906 #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 22

Folder 23

1907 #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 23

Folder 24

1908-1910 #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 24

Folder 25

1911-1918 #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 25

Folder 26-28

Folder 26

Folder 27

Folder 28

Printed material #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 26-28

Folder 29-30

Folder 29

Folder 30

Undated #05004, Series: "1. Thomas Williams Mason Correspondence and Related Papers, 1874-1918. " Folder 29-30

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse 2. William Henry Gray Correspondence, 1856-1885.

About 100 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Correspondence of William Henry Gray of Longview Plantation, Northampton County, N.C. Gray was Thomas Williams Mason's father-in-law. His papers include letters from various family members, cotton factors, dry-goods merchants, and grocers.

Folder 31

1856-1878 #05004, Series: " 2. William Henry Gray Correspondence, 1856-1885. " Folder 31

Folder 32

1879-1881 #05004, Series: " 2. William Henry Gray Correspondence, 1856-1885. " Folder 32

Folder 33

1882-1885 #05004, Series: " 2. William Henry Gray Correspondence, 1856-1885. " Folder 33

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Willie Jones Long Letters, 1917-1919, 1943.

About 100 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Letters addressed to lawyer Willie Jones Long, grandson of Thomas Williams Mason. The letters relate to a bond issue and various other matters surrounding the construction of a road in Occoneechee Township, N.C.

Folder 34

1917 #05004, Series: "3. Willie Jones Long Letters, 1917-1919, 1943. " Folder 34

Folder 35

1918 #05004, Series: "3. Willie Jones Long Letters, 1917-1919, 1943. " Folder 35

Folder 36

1919, 1943 #05004, Series: "3. Willie Jones Long Letters, 1917-1919, 1943. " Folder 36

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray Financial Papers, 1873-1919.

About 500 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Receipts and other documents relating to the cotton farming enterprises of Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray. Included are receipts and bills from various cotton factors, purveyors of dry goods, dealers in farm products, and records of cotton production and sales.

Folder 37

1873-1875 #05004, Series: "4. Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray Financial Papers, 1873-1919. " Folder 37

Folder 38

1876-1877 #05004, Series: "4. Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray Financial Papers, 1873-1919. " Folder 38

Folder 39-40

Folder 39

Folder 40

1878 #05004, Series: "4. Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray Financial Papers, 1873-1919. " Folder 39-40

Folder 41

1879-1880 #05004, Series: "4. Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray Financial Papers, 1873-1919. " Folder 41

Folder 42

1881-1884 #05004, Series: "4. Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray Financial Papers, 1873-1919. " Folder 42

Folder 43

1885-1886 #05004, Series: "4. Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray Financial Papers, 1873-1919. " Folder 43

Folder 44

1887-1891 #05004, Series: "4. Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray Financial Papers, 1873-1919. " Folder 44

Folder 45

1892-1899 #05004, Series: "4. Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray Financial Papers, 1873-1919. " Folder 45

Folder 46

1904-1915 #05004, Series: "4. Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray Financial Papers, 1873-1919. " Folder 46

Folder 47

1916-1917 #05004, Series: "4. Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray Financial Papers, 1873-1919. " Folder 47

Folder 48

1918-1919 #05004, Series: "4. Thomas Williams Mason and William Henry Gray Financial Papers, 1873-1919. " Folder 48

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 5. Picture, 1918.

1 item.

One photograph featuring a cabinet flanked by the coats of arms of the Mason and Smith families.

Folder 1/P-5004

Photograph of Mason and Smith coats of arms #05004, Series: "5. Picture, 1918. " Folder 1/P-5004

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Processing Information

Processed by: John Foster, September 2000

Encoded by: John Foster, September 2000

Revisions: Finding aid updated in January 2002 by Nancy Kaiser.

Revisions: Finding aid updated in January 2006 by Nancy Kaiser.

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