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Collection Number: 03583

Collection Title: James S. Milling Papers, 1852-1883

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 FAQ section for more information.


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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 150 items)
Abstract James S. Milling was a physician and planter in Fairfield District, S.C. In 1859, Milling moved his slaves to a plantation in Bossier Parish, La., where he spent much of his time while his wife (and cousin) Mary W. Milling and their children remained with her family near Camden, S.C. In 1866, Mary and the children moved to Louisiana. The collection is chiefly letters to James Milling from relatives and friends, including his father, David, in Fairfield Distict, S.C.; his brothers Thomas H. and William A. in South Carolina; his brothers David and John R. in Anderson County, Tex.; his wife near Camden, S. C.; schoolmasters from the Medical College of South Carolina, including an 1855 letter referring to sexual exploits of students; and friends settling frontier areas of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas. Many of these letters were written in colloquial English with unconventional grammar and spelling. Chief topics include student life at several South Carolina schools; plantation life and slave relations; travels in the Southwest frontier; the South Carolina home front during the Civil War; life in a military camp near Manassas, Va., in 1861; the war in Mississippi and Louisiana; the formation of Oklahoma; and postwar adjustment. There are few letters after 1866.
Creator Milling, James S., fl. 1854-1883.
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 James S. Milling Papers #3583, 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
Purchased from Munroe D'Antinac, dealer of Griffin, Georgia, in June 1962.
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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James S. Milling was the son of David Milling, a planter near Jackson's Creek in the Fairfield District of South Carolina. Although James attended medical school at the Medical College of South Carolina in Charleston, he seems to have been chiefly preoccupied with farming. After leaving Charleston in 1854, he returned to the Fairfield District and married his cousin Mary of Bairds Hill near Camden in 1857. He spent several years scouting land in the West, assisted by his brothers John and David, who moved to Anderson County, Texas. James Milling finally moved his slaves to Bossier Parish, Louisiana, in 1859, where he spent most of the Civil War. In 1866, James moved his wife and children, who lived at Bairds Hill during the war, to Louisiana. For more detailed biographical information see the following description.

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This collection consists chiefly of letters to James S. Milling from friends and relatives. The bulk of the letters date from 1852 to 1866. Interfiled with original letters, often written in colloquial English with unconventional grammar and spelling, are many typed transcriptions. These transcriptions should serve only as aids to quick scanning since they tend to be neither accurate nor complete.

Chief topics in the earliest letters in the collection include education and the search for land in frontier areas of the Southwest. James received several letters in 1854, during his final days at the Medical College of South Carolina in Charleston, referring to anxieties he had expressed about passing exams. Upon finishing his school work, he returned to practice medicine and farm at Jackson's Creek in the Fairfield District of South Carolina. There he received letters from former classmates, such as Camden Atkinson, who wrote in 1855 about the rigors of exams and his sexual exploits. James's brothers also wrote from school in South Carolina: John at Arsenal Academy in Columbia, and Thomas at Greenwood in the Abbeville District. Also of note is an 1852 letter from relatives in Tennessee to whom the Millings occasionally refered in letters throughout the collection.

By 1855, letters show that James and his brothers were looking for land in the West. A travelling acquaintance wrote James in June describing the terrain and agricultural potential of Texas, and declaring that such land would not "suit large cotton planters, but tis a poor man's paradise." Several letters from R. G. and Basil A. Hallum offer details of political and social activities in Anderson County, Texas, where James's brothers David and John eventually settled.

James married his cousin Mary in 1857 and they had two daughters, Minnie and Jane, before James moved to Bossier Parish, Louisiana, in 1859. In December 1860, Mary wrote her husband news of their newborn son John. James in Louisiana was separated from his family in South Carolina for four years during the Civil War. Many letters from Mary and from James's father and brothers document the effects of war on the home front in South Carolina. Topics include the report of a speech given by James Chesnut in Camden during the secession crisis, rumors from Charleston, food prices, and slave relations. An exception to the emphasis on the domestic experience of the war is a letter from William (3 September 1861), who was camped near Manassas, Virginia, and complained about a measles epidemic among the soldiers there. There is also some documentation of the western theater of the war in letters from Mississippi and Louisiana.

In 1866, James was reunited with his family in South Carolina and soon moved them to Louisiana. There are only a few letters after 1866, chiefly from Texas and South Carolina family members, who describe readjustments in the aftermath of slavery and attempts at financial recovery, including James's purchase of land in Arkansas. Of special interest among the scattered letters from 1870 to 1883 are an 1873 letter from Thomas Milling in Richmond, Arkansas, discussing the formation of Oklahoma from Indian territory, and an 1883 letter from John Milling conducting business in Shreveport, Louisiana for his father, James.

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Contents list

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Processing Information

Processed by: Lisa Tolbert, June 1990

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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