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Collection Number: 02090

Collection Title: Shanks Family Papers, 1801-1923

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 processed with support 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 1000 items)
Abstract The William Shanks family and the William A. Moody family were related. Both were chiefly tobacco planters of Granville County, N.C., and Mecklenburg County, Va. The Royster family of Granville County was related to the Shanks and Moody families. The collection is chiefly business papers, with scattered family correspondence and miscellaneous items. Business papers pertain to the administration of estates and to plantation finances, and most involve William Shanks between the 1830s and the 1870s. Earlier financial materials include papers of William Shanks's father, Robert Shanks, mostly between 1801 and the 1820s, and of Williams Shanks's brother-in-law, William A. Moody, in the 1830s and 1840s. Later business papers are for William Shanks's son, Henry T. Shanks. Estate papers appear for Benjamin Moody, Francis Royster, Robert Shanks, Elizabeth Shanks, and others. The financial items consist of bills, receipts, accounts, slave bills of sale, slave lists, deeds, legal agreements, correspondence concerning personal finances and the sale of tobacco, and summonses. Family letters touch on social, religious, plantation, and school life; slavery; politics in Macon County, N.C., Fayette County, Tenn., Drew County, Ark., and several locations in Virginia; and overseers' duties in Clarke and Hinds counties, Miss. There are a few Civil War letters relating to life in the Confederate army. Also included are poems, a hymn, and a pamphlet.
Creator Shanks family.
Language English
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

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 Shanks Family Papers #2090, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
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 Henry T. Shanks of Chapel Hill, N.C., before January 1940.
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

William Shanks (1801-1888?) was a tobacco planter in Granville County, N.C., and Mecklenburg County, Va. The son of Robert (1775-1845?) and Elizabeth Royster Shanks (d. 1864?), he had several siblings, including Robert Jr. (b. 1811), James (b. 1814), Susanna (b. 1805), and Mary Shanks (b. 1817).

William Shanks married Ann Moody, the daughter of Benjamin and Dolly Moody of Granville County. William and Ann had several children, among them Henry T. Shanks (fl. 1869-1923).

Ann Moody Shanks had several siblings, including William A. Moody (fl. 1831-1849), Mary E. (possibly called Elizabeth), Almirah (possibly Susan Almirah, often called Elmyrah or Elly), James (d. 1833?), and Francis A. Moody (fl. 1831-1838). All the younger siblings became the wards of John H. Ragsdale and of their brother, William A. Moody, upon the death of their father, Benjamin Moody, about 1831.

William A. Moody was a tobacco planter in both Granville County, N.C., and Mecklenburg County, Va. As guardian for his younger siblings, he shared responsibility for raising them with his mother, Dolly, who remarried after her husband's death to Pomfreitt Lloyd of Granville County.

Mary E. Moody (fl. 1831-1851) may have married William D. Trotter; although she continued to use her maiden name in her letters, their content suggests that she was married to and had children with Trotter. She moved with him first to Macon County, N.C., and later to Fayette County, Tenn., and Drew County, Ark.

Other relatives of the Shanks and Moody families include Elizabeth Royster Shanks's father, James Royster (d. 1837?), and her brother, Banister Royster (fl. 1831-1837). Relatives whose connections are unclear are Francis Royster (d. 1831), his daughter, Emily Royster (fl. 1831-1837), and John Royster (d. 1838?), who were probably relations of Elizabeth, and Peter W. Brame and Mary Brame. Peter worked as an overseer in Clarke County, Miss., in 1860-1861, and served in the Confederate army in 1862.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection is chiefly business papers, with scattered family correspondence and miscellaneous items related to the Shanks family, tobacco planters of Granville County, N.C., and Mecklenburg County, Va. There are also papers of the related Moody family, also of Granville County, N.C., and Mecklenburg County, Va., and of the Royster family of Granville County. Business papers pertain to the administration of estates and to plantation finances, and most involve William Shanks between the 1830s and the 1870s. Earlier financial materials include papers of William Shanks's father, Robert Shanks, mostly between 1801 and the 1820s, and of Williams Shanks's brother-in-law, William A. Moody, in the 1830s and 1840s. Later business papers are for William Shanks's son, Henry T. Shanks. Estate papers appear for Benjamin Moody, Francis Royster, Robert Shanks, Elizabeth Shanks, and others. The financial items consist of bills, receipts, accounts, slave bills of sale, slave lists, deeds, legal agreements, correspondence concerning personal finances and the sale of tobacco, and summonses. Family letters touch on social, religious, plantation, and school life; slavery; and politics in Macon County, N.C., Fayette County, Tenn., Drew County, Ark., and several locations in Virginia; and overseers' duties in Clarke County, Miss., and Hinds County, Miss. There are a few Civil War letters relating to life in the Confederate army. Also included are poems, a hymn, and a pamphlet.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Family Correspondence, 1837-1891 and undated.

42 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Scattered letters to Ann Moody (Mrs. William) Shanks and Margaret (Mrs. William A.) Moody from Mary E. Moody and W. D. Trotter (probably Mary E, Moody's husband), from Macon County, N.C., Fayette County, Tenn., and Drew County, Ark., 1845-1851, and later letters from relatives in North Carolina and Virginia; letters to William Moody from his brother Francis in Rockingham, N.C., and cousins in Virginia and North Carolina, mostly in the 1840s; letters to William Shanks from relatives in North Carolina in the 1830s and 1840s; letters to Miss Mary Brame (location unknown) from her brother Peter W. Brame, while he worked as an overseer on a cotton plantation in Clarke County, Miss., 1860-1861; and miscellaneous letters exchanged by other Shanks and Moody family members whose identities are unclear. One item, dated 25 March 1849, is a letter from an unidentified overseer in Hinds County, Miss. Two Civil War letters appear: one, dated 24 June 1862, is from Peter W. Brame, while he was a soldier in Virginia, to Mary Brame, and the other, dated 23 July 1862, is from James Shanks at Camp Johnston to his father.

Antebellum letters chiefly discuss family, social, religious, and plantation life, slavery, and politics in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and overseers' duties in Mississippi. Civil War letters discuss camp life and family matters. Postbellum letters, some addressed to a Mary Shanks, discuss family matters and school life.

Folder 1

1837-1847 #02090, Series: "1. Family Correspondence, 1837-1891 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1848-1861 #02090, Series: "1. Family Correspondence, 1837-1891 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

1862-1891 and undated #02090, Series: "1. Family Correspondence, 1837-1891 and undated." Folder 3

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated.

About 990 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Business papers, chiefly of William Shanks of Granville County, N.C., and Mecklenburg County, Va., between the 1830s and the 1870s, and of William A. Moody of the same area in the 1830s and 1840s. Papers also appear for Robert Shanks Sr., mostly between 1801 and the 1820s, and for Henry T. Shanks, 1872-1923. The bulk of the papers concern the settlement of the estates of Francis Royster and Benjamin Moody and the plantation business of Shanks and Moody. Estate papers also appear for James Royster, James Moody, John Royster, Robert Shanks, Sr., Elizabeth Shanks, and William Shanks. Items include bills, receipts, estate and plantation accounts, slave bills of sale, slave lists, correspondence with commission merchants in Richmond and Petersburg, correspondence with local creditors and debtors, banking papers, legal agreements, summonses, and deeds.

Of note are a list, 20 February 1820, of the names and birth dates of the children of Robert and Elizabeth Shanks, and an 1837 legal agreement on the division of slaves belonging to the estate of James Royster.

Folder 4

1801-1826 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 4

Folder 5

1827-1832 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 5

Folder 6

1833 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 6

Folder 7

1834 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 7

Folder 8-9

Folder 8

Folder 9

1835 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 8-9

Folder 10-11

Folder 10

Folder 11

1836 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 10-11

Folder 12-13

Folder 12

Folder 13

1837 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 12-13

Folder 14

1838 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 14

Folder 15

1839 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 15

Folder 16

1840 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 16

Folder 17

1841 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 17

Folder 18

1842 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 18

Folder 19

1843-1844 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 19

Folder 20

1845 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 20

Folder 21

1846-1847 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 21

Folder 22

1848-1849 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 22

Folder 23

1850 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 23

Folder 24

1851-1852 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 24

Folder 25

1853-1854 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 25

Folder 26

1855-1856 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 26

Folder 27

1857-1859 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 27

Folder 28

1860-1861 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 28

Folder 29

1862-1865 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 29

Folder 30

1866-1868 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 30

Folder 31

1869-1872 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 31

Folder 32

1873-1877 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 32

Folder 33

1878-1885 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 33

Folder 34

1886-1923 #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 34

Folder 35

Undated #02090, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1801-1923 and undated." Folder 35

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Items, 1877 and undated.

4 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Pamphlet entitled The Vindication of Thomas Paine by Robert G. Ingersoll (64 pages) published on 8 October 1877 by the Appeal To Reason of Girard, Kan.; an undated, untitled hymn (handwritten); an untitled poem by T. A. Clairborn, given to his student Miss E. T. Moody, bidding his scholar farewell; and an undated fragment of a poem.

Folder 36

Other items #02090, Series: "3. Other Items, 1877 and undated." Folder 36

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Processing Information

Processed by: Jill Snider, August 1992

Encoded by: Roslyn Holdzkom, January 2007

This collection was processed with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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