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Collection Number: 00543

Collection Title: John Nevitt Diary, 1826-1832.

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 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 3 items)
Abstract John Nevitt was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and owner of Clermont Plantation near Natchez in Adams County, Miss. The collection is the diary, 1826-1832, of John Nevitt, recording work on Clermont, his Adams County, Miss., plantation, including the planting, picking, ginning, and pressing of cotton, the duties and health of slaves, and the occurances of runaways and their punishment when they returned or were captured. In addition, Nevitt apparently used the journal as an account book for his financial transactions, including the payment of his gambling debts. There is also occasional mention of family and personal activities.
Creator Nevitt, John, fl. 1803-1832.
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 John Nevitt Diary #543, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
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 Victor Baker and Francis N. Baker of Natchez, Mississippi, on 12 March 1937.
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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John Nevitt was the owner of Clermont Plantation in Adams County, Mississippi, near Natchez. Nevitt was in the U.S. Navy as a midshipman in 1803, and retired in 1811 as a lieutenant. Tradition has it that he named his plantation for a ship that he commanded. Nevitt had at least two children, Matilda and Albert.

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This collection consists chiefly of a diary kept by John Nevitt between 1826 and 1832, and a typed transcription of that diary.

In the diary, Nevitt discussed at length activities on the plantation, where cotton seems to have been the chief crop. Nevitt mentioned his slaves daily: their duties, health, when they ran away, their punishments, and when he sold, bought, or hired them out, as well as when he hired those belonging to others. Many of his slaves ran away, but most were caught and returned to him, or returned of their own accord. He punished them by whipping them and occasionally "putting the iron on their legs." He wrote about slave labor in the cultivation of cotton including picking cotton, running it through the gin, and pressing it into bales. Occasionally he used Indian labor, and, on 5 September 1832, he noted in his diary that he had paid the "Indians" for picking cotton for him. Other duties of the slaves included hauling wood to Natchez to be sold. Nevitt noted when he hired and fired overseers. He also reported on the weather and winds daily.

Many entries concern financial transactions, with Nevitt noting the money he lent and borrowed, collected and repayed. He wrote in the entries about goods he bought and sold, and his gambling debts, including his wins and losses in games of euchre, brag, and billards, horse races, and bets on elections and other events. He mentioned a few social affairs, apparently chiefly for men, and occasionally had visitors, sometimes travelers who remained with him for some time. There is some mention of politics, chiefly elections.

Nevitt's daughter, Matilda, and son, Albert, were apparently away at school during most of this period. He wrote to them frequently and sent them money. In 1830, his son entered Princeton University. On 5 and 24 May 1832, Nevitt mentioned having his portrait painted by Bush (probably Joseph H. Bush).

Also included in this collection are two maps, one of Napha harbor, dated 1853, and one of the Coffin Islands, dated 1854.

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Contents list

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Processing Information

Processed by: Shonra Newman, February 1991

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, December 2009

This inventory is an edited version of an inventory previously compiled by a member of the Southern Historical Collection processing staff.

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