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Collection Number: 02712

Collection Title: Rufus Reid Papers, 1772-1911

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. Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the encoding of this finding aid.

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Size 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 514 items)
Abstract Rufus Reid (1797-1854) of Rowan and Iredell counties, N.C., was a planter and merchant and also served in the North Carolina House of Commons in the 1840s. The collection includes business and legal papers, family papers, account books, and other items relating to Rufus Reid; members of the Reid family; and members of related families, including the Davidson, Guy, Morrison, Smith, and Torrance (Torrence) families, chiefly of Rowan and Iredell counties, N.C. Business papers relate to the planter and merchant activities primarily of members of the Guy, Reid, and Davidson families, and include bills, tax receipts, merchandising licenses, magazine subscription receipts, cotton sales receipts, accounts, and promissory notes. Included in business correspondence are references to a runaway slave and to economic conditions in Tennessee and Mississippi. Legal materials relate primarily to Rufus Reid and include several documents granting powers of attorney. Family papers include land records relating to Iredell County land and to land in Tennessee and Mississippi, family correspondence, and other items. Family correspondence includes letters from Franklin L. Smith, a student at the University of North Carolina, to his mother, 1825 and 1827; several letters from Rufus Reid to his daughter and stepdaughter attending school in Salem, N.C.; and several letters from J. R. Satterfield describing an extended trip to Europe, 1866-1867. There are also letters from W. I. Brawley, Frank Davidson, George F. Davidson, and Robert Hall Morrison. Volumes include a detailed account book of a merchant, 1854-1855; an account book of James F. Torrance showing work done by his slaves on the Mississippi Central Railroad, 1852-1861; and an account book of Isabella Torrance Smith Reid that lists slaves' names and clothes and blankets distributed to them, 1845-1855.
Creator Reid, Rufus, 1797-1854.
Language English
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
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 Rufus Reid Papers #2712, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
All for part of this collection is available on microfilm from University Publciations 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 Chalmers Davidson in 1942 and Mrs. R. C. Harrington in 1948.
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

Rufus Reid (1797-1854) was the son of Sara and Captain John Reid of Catawba Springs, Lincoln County, N.C. John Reid received a commission during the Revolution and owned much land at the Springs, renowned locally for their healing properties.

Rufus Reid spent much of his early adulthood in Rowan County, N.C., where he established himself as a merchant and planter. By 1831, he moved to Iredell County, N.C., where he hired craftsmen to build an impressive plantation house that he named Mount Mourne. He spent most of the rest of his life supervising his merchant and planting activities from this location.

Rufus Reid was a leading social and political figure in southern Iredell County from his arrival in the 1830s until his death in 1854. He was a prominent member of the county court, and his neighbors twice elected him to represent them in the North Carolina House of Commons (1842 and 1844). He was probably a Whig. Although he never officially joined a church, he was a regular contributor to the minister's "stipend" at Centre Presbyterian Church, located near Mount Mourne.

Rufus Reid's plantation was one of the largest and most diversified in Iredell County. In 1850, Reid owned 84 slaves, making him the second largest slaveholder in the county. Reid's slaves worked hundreds of acres of land and grew substantial crops of corn, wheat, and cotton.

Rufus Reid married three times. He and his first wife, Nancy Latta Reid of Mecklenburg County, N.C., had three daughters: Mary Jane, Sallie, and Nannie. After Nancy's death, Reid married Betsy Latta Davidson, sister of his first wife and widow of Benjamin Davidson. He and Betsy Latta Davidson Reid had one daughter, Betty. After Betsy's death, Reid married Isabella Torrance Smith, widow of Franklin C. Smith. He and Isabella had six children: Emma Catherine, James Rufus, Addie Isabella, John Hugh, Lucy Andrews, and Franklin Samuel. His oldest son, James Rufus, died in 1861 while serving in the Confederate Army in Virginia.

Rufus Reid died in 1854 and is buried near Mount Mourne. His estate was administered by George F. Davidson.

(Source: Homer M. Keever, Iredell: Piedmont County, 1976.)

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection of planter, merchant, and state legislator Rufus Reid includes business and legal papers, family papers, account books, and other items relating to Reid; members of the Reid family; and members of related families, including the Davidson, Guy, Morrison, Smith, and Torrance (Torrence) families, chiefly of Rowan County, N.C., and Iredell County, N.C. Business papers relate to the planter and merchant activities primarily of members of the Guy, Reid, and Davidson families, and include bills, tax receipts, merchandising licenses, magazine subscription receipts, cotton sales receipts, accounts, and promissory notes. Included in business correspondence are references to a runaway slave and to economic conditions in Tennessee and Mississippi. Legal materials relate primarily to Rufus Reid and include several documents granting powers of attorney. Family papers include land records relating to Iredell County land and to land in Tennessee and Mississippi, family correspondence, and other items. Family correspondence includes letters from Franklin L. Smith, a student at the University of North Carolina, to his mother, 1825 and 1827; several letters from Rufus Reid to his daughter and stepdaughter attending school in Salem, N.C.; and several letters from J. R. Satterfield describing an extended trip to Europe, 1866-1867. There are also letters from W. I. Brawley, Frank Davidson, George F. Davidson, and Robert Hall Morrison. Volumes include a detailed account book of a merchant, 1854-1855; an account book of James F. Torrance showing work done by his slaves on the Mississippi Central Railroad, 1852-1861; and an account book of Isabella Torrance Smith Reid that lists slaves' names and clothes and blankets distributed to them, 1845-1855.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Business and Legal Papers, 1786-1879.

About 395 items.

Business and legal papers primarily of the Guy, Reid, and Davidson families of North Carolina. Items detail merchant activities of members of these families and others through accounts, bills, receipts, promissory notes, and correspondence. Legal materials include several notes granting powers of attorney and a few other items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. Bills and Receipts, 1786-1879 and undated.

About 330 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Materials chiefly concerning the merchant activities of members of the Guy, Reid, and Davidson families of Lincoln, Rowan, and Iredell counties, N.C. Items include bills, receipts, notes, and accounts detailing the commercial interaction of several prominent North Carolina piedmont families. Items of special interest include an extensive run of tax receipts, 1817-1864; several receipts concerning the sale of cotton, 1821-1822, 1866; a receipt for a tombstone bought by Rufus Reid from Francis Peyse, Jr., and Son, 1822; several licenses for Rufus Reid to sell merchandise, 1823-1844; several magazine receipts of Rufus Reid and his wife Isabella, 1841-1853; a few receipts for purchases of slaves, 1852-1861; and tuition bills and a receipt for Julia Davidson who attended school in Statesville, N.C., 1867.

Folder 1

1786-1816 #02712, Subseries: "1.1. Bills and Receipts, 1786-1879 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1817-1820 #02712, Subseries: "1.1. Bills and Receipts, 1786-1879 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

1821-1822 #02712, Subseries: "1.1. Bills and Receipts, 1786-1879 and undated." Folder 3

Folder 4

1823-1829 #02712, Subseries: "1.1. Bills and Receipts, 1786-1879 and undated." Folder 4

Folder 5

1830-1837 #02712, Subseries: "1.1. Bills and Receipts, 1786-1879 and undated." Folder 5

Folder 6

1838-1844 #02712, Subseries: "1.1. Bills and Receipts, 1786-1879 and undated." Folder 6

Folder 7

1845-1849 #02712, Subseries: "1.1. Bills and Receipts, 1786-1879 and undated." Folder 7

Folder 8

1850-1855 #02712, Subseries: "1.1. Bills and Receipts, 1786-1879 and undated." Folder 8

Folder 9

1856-1865 #02712, Subseries: "1.1. Bills and Receipts, 1786-1879 and undated." Folder 9

Folder 10

1866-1870; 1879 #02712, Subseries: "1.1. Bills and Receipts, 1786-1879 and undated." Folder 10

Folder 11

Undated #02712, Subseries: "1.1. Bills and Receipts, 1786-1879 and undated." Folder 11

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. Business Correspondence, 1821-1872, 1883, and undated.

About 45 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly letters addressed to Samuel Guy, Rufus Reid, and others by business associates, customers, and agents. Most letters detail merchandise to be sent by merchants to customers; discussions of business conditions in other states; and concerns about debts, family health, weather, crops, etc. Items of particular interest include a letter to Samuel Guy from Thomas Holton of Salisbury, N.C., concerning the capture of a runaway slave, 1822; a letter to Samuel Guy concerning the renting of a female slave, 1824; several letters from John McLean and R. C. Braley of Tennessee to friends and relatives concerning the settlement of debts left behind in North Carolina, the weather, the condition of crops, and the health of family members, ca. 1827-1833; two letters from George G. Lyon of Alabama to Alfred D. Kerr of North Carolina, reporting Lyon's handling of Kerr's slave property in Alabama, including lists of slaves, their renters, the amounts for which they were rented, and short descriptions of their treatment, 1850 and 1851; and a letter from Benjamin Franklin Little to George F. Davidson regarding post-war difficulties in real estate markets in Richmond and McDowell counties, N.C., 1868.

Folder 12

1821-1849 #02712, Subseries: "1.2. Business Correspondence, 1821-1872, 1883, and undated." Folder 12

Folder 13

1850-1872, 1883, and undated #02712, Subseries: "1.2. Business Correspondence, 1821-1872, 1883, and undated." Folder 13

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. Legal Papers, 1819-1879 and undated.

About 20 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly legal papers of Rufus Reid. Most items grant Reid power of attorney to settle debts and transact business in the name of associates who moved from the region, 1827-1833 and 1846. Also included are a sample set of questions in a court case dealing with the sale of a slave, 1853, and an undated prose piece lauding the legal profession.

Folder 14

Legal papers #02712, Subseries: "1.3. Legal Papers, 1819-1879 and undated." Folder 14

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Family Papers, 1772-1902.

About 110 items.

Chiefly land records, family correspondence, and miscellaneous family-related papers of the Guy, Reid, Smith, and Latta families of North and South Carolina. Items include deeds, bonds, plots, letters, post cards, newspaper clippings, diplomas, and a few other items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.1. Land Records, 1772-1844 and undated.

About 40 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Primarily bonds of sale and indenture, deeds, and plots of land in Rowan and Iredell counties, N.C.; Tennessee; and Mississippi. Items of interest include a colonial deed for land in Roan [Rowan] Province, 1772; several deeds relating to the purchase of Iredell County lands by Rufus Reid, 1828, 1830, 1832, 1840, and 1849; and an accounting of the division of Rufus Reid's lands among his heirs, 1856. Items relating to land in and around southern Iredell County, N.C., are particularly numerous. Prominent surnames include Guy, Reid, Davidson, Houston, Torrence, and Braley [also Brawley].

Folder 15

1772-1820 #02712, Subseries: "2.1. Land Records, 1772-1844 and undated." Folder 15

Folder 16

1821-1884 and undated #02712, Subseries: "2.1. Land Records, 1772-1844 and undated." Folder 16

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.2. Family Correspondence, 1825-1902.

About 30 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly family letters received by members of the Smith, Reid, and Latta families of North Carolina. General topics include health of families, weather, tourist information, and visits by relatives. Items of interest include a series of letters from Franklin L. Smith, a student at the University of North Carolina, to his mother Mary Smith, discussing aspects of student life, difficulties of being separated from family members, comments about a commencement address Franklin Smith gave, and pleas to receive visitors, 1825 and 1827; another letter from Franklin Smith to his mother describing a trip to Syracuse, N.Y., during which he traveled by steam boat, railroad, and packet boat, 1832; several letters from Rufus Reid to his daughter and stepdaughter attending school in Salem, 1852, 1853, and 1854; and several letters from Mr. J. R. Satterfield to Isabella Reid and Mrs. Haralson describing in detail an extended trip to Europe and including information about the ocean voyage and the sights in London, Paris, Naples, Rome, and other major cities, 1866-1867. Later items include several post cards primarily relating information about family health and visits by relatives.

Folder 17

1825-1850 #02712, Subseries: "2.2. Family Correspondence, 1825-1902." Folder 17

Digital version: Letter from F. L. Smith to Gustavus Miller, 1 February 1828

Documenting the American South

Folder 18

1851-1869, 1875, 1883, 1898, 1902 #02712, Subseries: "2.2. Family Correspondence, 1825-1902." Folder 18

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.3. Other Family Papers, 1802-1868 and undated.

About 40 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Items include diplomas of Franklin L. Smith from the University of North Carolina, 1829; a handwritten obituary of Rufus Reid, 1854; a memorial to J. Rufus Reid, who died in a Confederate camp in Virginia, composed by his sister, 1861; a release notice of R. H. Morrison from Fort Delaware prison, 1865; several scattered newspaper clippings; a few scattered references to estate administration by Alexander McCorkle, Rufus Reid, and George F. Davidson; and other papers.

Folder 19

Other family papers #02712, Subseries: "2.3. Other Family Papers, 1802-1868 and undated." Folder 19

Oversize Paper OP-2712/1

Franklin L. Smith diploma, 1829 #02712, Subseries: "2.3. Other Family Papers, 1802-1868 and undated." OP-2712/1

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Volumes, 1845-1911.

9 items.
Folder 20

Folder number not used #02712, Series: "3. Volumes, 1845-1911." Folder 20

Oversize Volume SV-2712/1

Volume S-1, 8 November 1854-18 November 1855, 402 pp. (first 94 pages are missing) #02712, Series: "3. Volumes, 1845-1911." SV-2712/1

Account book, listing customer names and items purchased by date. Items sold include mostly staples (coffee, sugar, molasses, etc.), clothing items (hats, shirts, shoes, etc.), and assorted other items.

Folder 21

Volume 2, 1852-1861, 106 pp. #02712, Series: "3. Volumes, 1845-1911." Folder 21

Account book of James F. Torrance of Mississippi. Items include notes written and paid for, 1852-1858; work done by Torrance's slaves and paid for by the Mississippi Central Railroad, 1859-1860; lists of crops and stock, 1852-1860; and lists of clothing and shoes for slaves, 1855-1860.

Folder 22

Volume 3. 1855-1870, 52 pp. #02712, Series: "3. Volumes, 1845-1911." Folder 22

Account book probably of George F. Davidson concerning the administration of Rufus Reid's estate for his minor heirs. Most entries relate to the renting of land and slaves.

Folder 23

Volume 4, 1856-1857, 36 pp. #02712, Series: "3. Volumes, 1845-1911." Folder 23

Day book, unascribed, documenting the settlement of debts, short descriptions of trips, and a recipe for Boston brown bread.

Folder 24

Volume 5, 1856-1870, 75 pp. #02712, Series: "3. Volumes, 1845-1911." Folder 24

Memo book, unascribed, detailing bonds Mississippi Central Railroad owned, purchases made, and a cure for "neuralgi".

Folder 25

Volume 6, 1881, 50 pp. #02712, Series: "3. Volumes, 1845-1911." Folder 25

Pocket memo book, unascribed, with brief entries describing purchases made, the weather, family and personal health, travel, and political events of the day.

Folder 26

Volume 7, 1885, 46 pp, plus two loose enclosures #02712, Series: "3. Volumes, 1845-1911." Folder 26

Pocket account book, unascribed, detailing purchases made for most of one year. Items are chiefly staples and produce.

Folder 27

Volume 8, 1911, 98 pp., most of them blank #02712, Series: "3. Volumes, 1845-1911." Folder 27

Notebook, unascribed, containing a description of a trip to Natchez, Miss.; several free-hand sketches of buildings and bridges; and short pieces of prose.

Folder 28

Volume 9, 1845-1855, 42 pp., with 2 enclosures #02712, Series: "3. Volumes, 1845-1911." Folder 28

Account book of Isabella Torrance Smith Reid giving lists of blankets and clothes given to slaves, 1845-1852, and a list of births of her daughters and sons and her marriage to Rufus Reid, 1855.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Items separated include an oversize paper (OP-2712/1) and an oversize volume (SV-2712/1).

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Processing Information

Processed by: Timothy A. Long, October 1992

Encoded by: Mara Dabrishus, October 2004

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, December 2009

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.

Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the encoding of this finding aid.

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