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Collection Number: 03598

Collection Title: Slack Family Papers, 1805-1891

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 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 400 items)
Abstract Slack family of Iberville Parish, La., included Eliphalet Slack (1778-1843), who moved to Louisiana from Weston, Mass., in 1829-1830, and Henry Richmond Slack (1835-1890), member of the Yale College class of 1855, sugar planter, and Confederate officer. The chief agricultural pursuit of the Slack family in Louisiana changed from cotton growing to sugar growing around 1834. The collection includes personal and family correspondece, and financial, legal, and military papers, chiefly 1830s-1891. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence among members of the Slack family in Iberville Parish, La.; Weston, Mass.; and Albany County, N.Y.; and the related Woolfolk family, friends, and associates. Topics include family matters, local events, schooling, and agricultural pursuits. There are also numerous Civil War letters from Henry Richmond Slack, with the 1st Louisiana Cavalry Regiment in Tennessee, Kentucky, and elsewhere, concerning personal, military, and political matters. Financial and legal papers consist chiefly of estate, slave, agricultural, and shipping records of the Slack and related Woolfolk, Cutter, and Benjamin families. Included is an 1867 farming contract between Henry Richmond Slack and some freedmen. Other items document the formation of a "law and order" organization, apparently begun in Iberville Parish in 1878, and a Slack family genealogy compiled by William Samual Slack (1869-1944) in 1930.
Creator Slack family.
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 Slack Family Papers #3598, 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
Received from Emily Slack Slade, Middlebush, New Jersey, October 1962. The family papers had been preserved by the donor's father, the Reverend William Samuel Slack (1869-1944), Episcopal priest, who served parishes chiefly in Louisiana, and who published The Slack Family in 1930. Copy #93 of this book was given in November 1962 by the donor's nephew, W.S. Adams of Wilmington, Delaware.
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

Eliphalet Slack (1778-1843) was one of ten children of John Slack (d.1823) of Weston, Mass. Among Eliphalet's sisters and brothers were: Elizabeth (1786-1873); Robert Fuller (1793-1853); Caroline Matilda (1795-1842); and Granville (1798-1858).

In 1819, Eliphalet Slack married Abigail Cutter (1798-1840) of Weston, Massachusetts, whose brother Leonard Cutter died in 1824, leaving property in Iberville Parish, Louisiana. Eliphalet was administrator of both his father's and Cutter's estates. He went to Louisiana about 1824-1825 to examine the Cutter property, and settled his family there about 1829-1830, first at Plaquemine, later at Bay Farm on Bayou Grosse Tete. Bay Farm was purchased by Eliphalet Slack from the other Cutter heirs about 1840. It was chiefly a cotton plantation until around 1834.

The children of Eliphalet and Abigail Cutter Slack were: William Augustus (1820-1843); Charles Albert (1824-1857), who married Martha Bennett, daughter of Mrs. J.W. Stillwell, who lived on Bayou Grosse Tete; John Dutton (1832-1864), who married Mary Singleton Moore; Henry Richmond (1835-1890), who married Louisiana; and Tennessee Woolfolk (1840-1920), daughter of Austin Woolfolk (1796-1847) of Bayou Grosse Tete.

When Eliphalet Slack died in 1843, his wife and oldest son having died before him, he left in Louisiana three sons, the oldest of whom, Charles A., was only 19. The three boys kept in close touch with their relatives at Weston, Massachusetts, and at Guilderland and Albany, New York. The two younger brothers went north to be educated, while Charles A. managed the plantation (Bay Farm) at Grosse Tete. About 1844, cotton was abandoned at Bay Farm in favor of sugar cane.

Louisiana Woolfolk Slack had three brothers and a sister: Joseph Biggers Woolfolk (1833-1904); Austin Woolfolk (1837-1871); Sarah Jane Woolfolk (1842-1915), who married William Howard Simrall; and Samuel Richard Woolfolk (1847-1859).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

This collection consists mainly of family and personal correspondence; school essays and other modest writings; legal papers, bills, and receipts; military papers; and a limited-edition volume compiled by William S. Slack.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1825-1917 and undated.

About 280 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly personal correspondence between members of the Slack family, other relatives, friends, and professional associates.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1825-1865.

About 240 items.

Correspondence from 1825 to 1843 is chiefly between Eliphalet and Abigail (Cutter) Slack and their Slack and Cutter relatives in Massachusetts, New York, and Louisiana. Among the communications in this period are items from John Dutton (see also Financial and Legal Papers), judge of the Parish of Iberville, Louisiana, and letters from Martha Cutter, Methuen, Massachusetts, to Abigail Slack, 1833; there is also correspondence between the sons of Eliphalet and Abigail Slack. In a letter from Methuen, Massachusetts, July 2, 1835, to Eliphalet Slack in Louisiana, A. Durant tells of the good outlook for cotton factories and silk worm cultivation. There are letters about family deaths in October 1839 (baby Edward White Slack), September 1842 (Caroline Matilda Slack), July 1843 (William A. Slack), and in August 1843 (Eliphalet Slack).

There are five letters to Colonel Austin Woolfolk indicating business interests in farming near Jackson, Tennessee, and at New Orleans, Plaquemine, and Baltimore (dated: 24 October 1841; 1 March, 23 July, 16 August, 31 December 1844).

There are five letters to Colonel Austin Woolfolk indicating business interests in farming near Jackson, Tennessee, and at New Orleans, Plaquemine, and Baltimore (dated: 24 October 1841; 1 March, 23 July, 16 August, 31 December 1844).

Letters dating 1844-1845 are chiefly from Charles A. Slack, at Bayou Grosse Tete, to his relatives--uncle John Slack at Guilderland Center, Albany County, New York, and aunts, cousins, and younger brother, Henry R. Slack, at school in New York. Two letters written by cousin John S. Whiting at Grosse Tete, 1848-1849, are included.

Most items from 1850 to 1855 are personal and family letters to Henry R. Slack during years when he was going to school at Guilderland, Albany County, New York, under the care of his Slack relatives, and at Yale College (Class of 1855). The letters were written by Henry's brothers Charles and John at Grosse Tete, Louisiana, giving news of the sugar plantation, neighborhood, and local politics; by his uncles and aunts, John and Mary Slack and Granville and Harriet Slack, and cousins Henry and Abby Slack at Guilderland and Albany; and by his aunt Eliza Slack at Weston, Massachusetts. Other letters to Henry R. Slack were written by friends: John C. Boyd at Guilderland and Princeton; Walter Stillwell of Louisiana at Warnersville Union Seminary and later at Farmington, Connecticut; and Joseph Brewster at New Haven in 1855. They mostly discuss friendships, school, and other personal matters. During this period all three Slack brothers apparently went back and forth between New York and Louisiana.

Personal and family letters continue in the period 1856-1860 to Henry R. Slack who was at New Orleans for two or three years before settling in Iberville Parish (Rosedale, Louisiana). Among the correspondents of these years were Walter Stilwell at Farmington, Connecticut, and later at Rosedale; John Wager Swayne at Yale (1856); cousin Warren A. Durrant at Lawrence, Massachusetts (1856-1860); aunt Eliza Slack at Weston, Massachusetts (1856-1860); other Slack relatives at Weston and Guilderland; cousin Henry Slack in Albany County and also New York City; and brother John in summer 1859 while he was taking his family to the Virginia springs. Also included are letters to Henry R. Slack while Henry was travelling from home, giving news of Iberville.

Henry R. Slack married Louisiana Tennessee Woolfolk in 1860 (see Biographical Note). From 1857 on in this series, correspondence relating to the Woolfolks is mingled with the papers of Henry R. Slack. There are two letters to Louisiana Woolfolk at Grosse Tete in 1857, one from her mother, Emily Woolfolk, 14 February, and one from M- S- Denton, 6 November, at Patapsco, saying that she is sending a confirmation certificate and other things.

Letters for the Civil War years are chiefly from Henry R. Slack in the Confederate Army to his wife, Louisiana T. W. Slack, at Rosedale, Louisiana; there are also a few other family letters. (Some of the war letters are almost illegible because of paleness, tiny script, and cross-writing.) Serving with the 1st Louisiana Cavalry Regiment, Henry Slack wrote letters from near Nashville, Tennessee, 27 November 1861; Bowling Green and Russellville, Kentucky, 10 December 1861 to 10 January 1862; Shakertown, Kentucky, 23 and 27 January 1862; Auburn [Al.?], January 1862; Memphis, Nashville, Columbia, Pulaski, and Spring Hill, Tennessee, and northern Alabama, in February and March 1862; Courtland, Alabama, 27 May 1862; Chattanooga, Kingston, and Sparta, Tennessee, in June, July, and August 1862; Bridgeport and Frankfort, Kentucky, in September and October 1862; and an unnoted location, 16 April 1863.

There are six items written sometime during the period 1861-1862 without dates. (See also Series 3, Other Materials, 1861-1865).

There is one letter from John (probably John Dutton Slack, d.1864) to "Dear Brother" (probably Henry R. Slack) possibly 1861, that refers in detail to various types of weapons and horses.

Folder 1

1825-1827 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 1

Folder 2

1828-1832 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 2

Folder 3

1833-1836 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 3

Folder 4

1837-1839 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 4

Folder 5

1840-1843 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 5

Folder 6

1844-1849 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 6

Folder 7

1850-1851 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 7

Folder 8

1852 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 8

Folder 9

1853-1854 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 9

Folder 10

1855 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 10

Folder 11

1856-1859 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 11

Folder 12

1860 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 12

Folder 13

1861 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 13

Folder 14

1862 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 14

Folder 15

1863 #03598, Subseries: "1.1. 1825-1865." Folder 15

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1866-1917.

Letters from 1866-1867 are chiefly to Henry R. Slack from Slack relatives and associates in the North. Among the communications in this period are items from W.A. Durant at Laurence, Massachusetts; Aunt Eliza Slack at Weston, Massachusetts; Wager Swayne (Yale classmate) at Headquarters of the District of Alabama, Mobile, letter responding to Henry R. Slack's inquiry about government aid for levies, 11 May 1867; Edwin Corner, New York (Yale classmate), letter in response to Slack's request for aid in finding a northern purchaser for his Louisiana property, 10 August 1867; and William F. Causey at Wilmington, Delaware, apparently on the same subject, 26 August 1867.

Material for 1868-1917 consists chiefly of scattered correspondence of the Slack and Woolfolk families. It includes a letter from Charles B. Slack, New Orleans, to Henry R. Slack, giving news of northern relatives and business matters; scattered correspondence relating to the Woolfolk family, of "Mound Place," and members of the Slack family; Henry R. Slack's directions to his brother-in-law, Joseph Woolfolk, about the care of the former's family in the event of his death, 3 November 1880; a series of letters, May-August 1890, from Henry R. Slack at Wheelcock, Louisiana, to his wife and children; a letter from H.R. Slack [Jr.], La Grange, Ga., to William Samuel Slack, about family matters, 21 November 1891; a letter from "Aunt Mat" at Rosedale, Louisiana, to William S. Slack; and a letter from William S. Slack to his mother, Louisiana Tennessee Woolfolk Slack, also concerning family matters, 21 January 1917.

Folder 16

1866-1867 #03598, Subseries: "1.2. 1866-1917." Folder 16

Folder 17

1868-1917 #03598, Subseries: "1.2. 1866-1917." Folder 17

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Financial and Legal Materials.

About 100 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly financial and legal papers of the Slack and Woolfolk families and relatives. Types of materials include estate settlements, bills and accounts, receipts, shipping bills and information, notices of payment due on notes, and records of purchases of slaves.

Items from 1805 to 1824 relate to businesses and legal transactions in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, mostly writs, signed by John Slack, justice of the peace. Various items from 1825-1852 include "An inventory of the Estate of Leonard Cutter, Merchant of the Parish of Iberville in the State [of] Louisiana..;" promissory notes dated 9 [7?] and 19 October 1825, William Woolfolk, at Baltimore, Md., to Austin Woolfolk that involve the transfer of slaves and dry goods, apparently in Jackson County, Tenn.; an 11 August 1827 mortgage agreement signed by Eliphalet and Abigail Slack, Weston, Massachusetts; and a license to empower Eliphalet Slack to administer the estate of Leonard Cutter, August 1827, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Other administrative papers regarding the Cutter estate include items concerning the sale of slaves to Eliphalet Slack on 10 January 1828 and wills of Leonard Cutter dated 1824, 1823, and 1829.

Items from 1833 to 1837 include: receipts; a purchase agreement for two slaves, 12 December 1831 [9 May 1834?], between Eliphalet Slack and Joseph Cathcart[?]; a list of real estate lots with values dated 18 March 1835; copies of receipts for slaves purchased by William Woolfolk in Baltimore, Md.; promissory notes; articles of agreement and contract, including specifications, for an Iberville, Louisiana, jail building, 9 April 1836; accounts of sales of cotton, 6 May 1836; and a list of personal property items loaned by Austin Woolfolk to James Lyon, 20 August 1837.

Items from 1850 to 1865 include: financial notes; a "Transcript of the Estate of Austin Woolfolk," 21 August 1853; a plat and description of land survey "for the legal representatives of Louis Alexander Reboul," of property bordering Bayou Grosse Tete, 29 January 1842; and a one-year appointment of Henry R. Slack as Inspector of Roads and Levies by Iberville Parish police, 7 August 1865.

Items from the period 1866-1875 consist of the following: promissory notes; legal documents relating to a theft of $20 in gold; various shipping and market reports; a "Contract between Henry R. Slack & the undersigned Freedmen for the cultivation & improvement of Bay Farm Plantation during the year 1867, 4 June 1867;" a business circular dealing with shipment of goods; miscellaneous bills and other business papers of Henry R. Slack; printed price lists and freight rate schedules; Henry R. Slack's statement of 13 June 1869, and other papers, in connection with the estate of Charles A. Slack (1842-1857); a broadside dated 18 September 1869, with manuscript signatures attached, entitled "Articles of Agreement of the 'Property Holder's Association'" of Iberville Parish; and a printed communication to the members of that group. There are also papers relating to division of property among heirs of Austin Woolfolk, Sr. and Jr., circa 1875.

Scattered throughout the years 1876-1885 are slight bills, checks, shipping slips, etc., bearing the name of W.H. Benjamin, Concordia, Louisiana (who in 1896 became the father-in-law of William S. Slack). There is an election registration certificate of Henry R. Slack dated 21 September 1876, and an arbitration of "Mound Plantation," dated 28 August 1877. Also included are Levee District one dollar bonds; a list from J.B. Woolfolk & Co. to Henry R. Slack, of itemized payments due, 1 January 1881; a description of property bordering Grosse Bayou Tete, 12 August 1881; a request for fees; a legal document regarding a 155-acre tract on Bayou Grosse Tete; and a "Plan for dividing Mound Place," [1885?].

Undated items include: a memo concerning shipment of cotton; a petition by citizens in the vicinity of Bayou Grosse Tete to officers of the New Orleans, Mobile & Chattanooga Railroad Company to select their area for the site of a new railroad line; legal documents concerning the Woolfolk and Slacks [1880s?]; and financial notes.

Folder 18

1805-1824 #03598, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials." Folder 18

Folder 19

1825-1832 #03598, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials." Folder 19

Folder 20

1833-1837 #03598, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials." Folder 20

Folder 21

1850-1865 #03598, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials." Folder 21

Folder 22

1866-1875 #03598, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials." Folder 22

Folder 23

1876-1885 #03598, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials." Folder 23

Folder 24

Undated #03598, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials." Folder 24

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Materials.

About 25 items.

Arrangement: by type.

School essays, Civil War papers from in or near Louisiana, a limited-edition book about the Slack family, papers relating to the formation of a local Louisiana military organization in 1878, a sketch map of local land holdings in 1889, a clipping of Henry R. Slack's obituary, a printed letter and essay by William S. Slack, calling cards, a partial list of slaves, and a list of biblical verses.

School essays of Henry R. Slack are: "Cotton" (18 December 1846); "Chinese Empire" (22 November 1847); "The House" (1 February 1848); "Commerce" (20 June 1850); "Religion" (2 January 1851).

Civil War papers consist of a handwritten copy of "General Order No. 137[?]," 17 June 1864, "HQ, [Dist.? of] S.W. Miss. & East LA." and "Special Order No. 8, HQ, Dist. of Homodutto[?], Liberty," 6 September 1864. There also are communications beneath a letterhead reading "Inspector-General's Office, Dist. Western LA., Alexandria," from William C. C. Claiborne, Jr., Capt. and asst. adjutant general, to Capt. W.B. Radcliff, with annotation in pencil by Captain Radcliff, dated 17 November 1864, concerning minor military responsibilities and operations in Louisiana.

The Slack Family, compiled by Rev. William Samuel Slack (Alexandria, Louisiana: The Standard Printing Co., 1930. 252p, copy 93 of 100), is composed of genealogical and other family information.

Miscellaneous items from 1858 to the 1940s include: an invitation to an event of 21 October 1858, in an envelope addressed to Henry R. Slack, M.D.; a list of seven slave names, with empty columns labeled "Age," "Condition," and "Value"; a January 1878 pact "obligating" the formation of a "Military Organization for the purpose of preserving the Peace, protecting Property, and aiding the Law Officers to bring all criminals to Justice" (also called a "law and order" group), with signatures; a written description of the organization with breakdown of officers and subalterns; a sketch map, 25 July 1889, of land bordering and in the vicinity of the Louisiana Central Railroad; a newspaper clipping of Henry R. Slack's obituary, [circa1 October 1890]; a printed "New Year's Letter," from Rector William S. Slack to his congregation, 1 January 1917; an invitation to the wedding of Cecilia Benjamin Slack to M. Stockton Marion Estes, 29 December [1925]; and a typed essay by William S. Slack entitled "A Report of My Stewardship from 1892-1930," with annotations and a cover sheet added after his death on 15 June 1944.

Undated items include: calling cards of "Master W.S. Slack" and "Mr. & Mrs. Henry R. Slack"; and a list of Biblical verses with Greek translations, apparently concerning the controversy over baptismal immersion.

Folder 25

School papers #03598, Series: "3. Other Materials." Folder 25

Folder 26

Civil War papers #03598, Series: "3. Other Materials." Folder 26

Folder 27

The Slack Family #03598, Series: "3. Other Materials." Folder 27

Folder 28

Miscellaneous #03598, Series: "3. Other Materials." Folder 28

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Processing Information

Processed by: Brooke Allen, 1962; Ellen R. Strong, 1963; Erik D. France, October 1990

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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