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 Duplication Policy 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.
|Size||2.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1450 items)|
|Abstract||John McRae was the postmaster in Fayetteville, N.C., in the 1840s and 1850s, and a private farmer and businessman in Mangum, N.C., from his retirement in 1853 to his death in 1880. Personal and business papers of McRae and his family, and of Joshua A. Wright and James G. Burr, businessmen of Wilmington, N.C. The McRae papers are primarily letters between McRae and his sons Alexander, Duncan K., Thomas, and James Cameron, concerning the men's personal lives and careers. Topics include military service, the Kentucky Shaker community of which Thomas was a part, Duncan's service as consul-general at Paris, and North Carolina politics. Also included is James Cameron MacRae's 1879 diary. The Wright and Burr papers concern their legal and financial businesses in Wilmington. Topics include the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad; the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad; banks in New York, Wilmington, and the Cape Fear region; and dealings with New York merchants. The connections among the Wright, Burr, and McRae families are unclear.|
|Creator||McRae, John, 1793-1880.|
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.
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John McRae (1793-1880) served as postmaster at Fayetteville, N.C., with his father, Duncan, 1801-1853. He then went into private business in Mangum, N.C., where he resided until his death in 1880. He married first Margaret Scott Kirkland in 1814, and second Mary Ann Shackleford in 1826. He had thirteen children, including sons Duncan K., Alexander, Thomas, and James Cameron McRae.
Duncan K. McRae (1820-1888) was appointed United States consul general to Paris in 1853 and served until 1858. He unsuccessfully ran for public office in North Carolina in 1858-1859 and then served as an officer in the Confederate Army. During the Civil War, he commanded the 5th North Carolina Regiment in the Battle of Williamsburg, May 1862, and the Seven Days fighting around Richmond, and Garland's Brigade in fighting at South Mountain and Antietam. Later in life, he was a lawyer in North Carolina and Memphis, Tenn.
Alexander McRae (1829-1862) attended Delaware College and then the United States Military Academy at West Point, from which he was graduated in 1851. As a U.S. Army officer, he served at several western posts. He was killed at the Battle of Val Verde in 1862.
Thomas McRae (1831-1896) was a minister at Ocracoke, N.C.; Cairo, S.C.; and other locations in the South. He travelled throughout the South and Midwest, and settled in Pleasant Hill, Ky., a Shaker community.
James Cameron McRae (1838-1909) was first a teacher in Little River, S.C., and then studied law in New Bern, N.C. He became a lawyer in Fayetteville, judge of the Superior and Supreme Courts of N.C.; and dean of the Law School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There is no material in the collection about his career as judge or dean. During the Civil War, he fought in the battles of Big Bethel and Williamsburg. He also served as a major on the staff of General Lawrence Simmons Baker. In 1867, he married Frances Broadfoot Hinsdale and had nine children: Samuel Hinsdale, Elizabeth, Mary Shackleford, John Donald, Cameron Farquhar, James Christopher, Theodore Hinsdale, Frances Wetmore, and Duncan.
James G. Burr was a business man in Wilmington, N.C. He was involved with a number of banks, especially the Bank of Cape Fear, as well as with railroads.
Joshua G. Wright was a lawyer and businessman in Wilmington, N.C., and an Burr's associate. He pursued a legal career, settling debts and claims against estates, and was an officer of the Bank of Cape Fear.Back to Top
The collection is divided into three series: correspondence; financial and legal papers; and other papers. The correspondence series is divided into two subseries: John McRae family correspondence; and the James G. Burr and Joshua Wright correspondence The first subseries contains correspondence between John McRae, postmaster of Fayetteville and businessman at Mangum, with his sons and daughters. Most of the material concerns the private and public lives of his sons Alexander, Duncan, James, and Thomas. The second subseries contains the business and other letters of Joshua Wright and James G. Burr of Wilmington, N.C. The Wright material concerns his work in the legal profession. The Burr correspondence concerns his business with a number of banks and railroads.
Series 2 contains financial and legal Papers, relating primarily to Burr and Wright and concerning their business in Wilmington. Series 3 contains other papers that relate mainly to the McRae family and are an assortment of military and political appointments, student notes, orations, clippings, and other items. There appears to be no connection between the McRae family and either Burr or Wright.Back to Top
Correspondence between John McRae, postmaster of Fayetteville, N.C., and later businessman in Mangum, N.C., with his sons and daughters. A very small amount of the material relates to his duties as postmaster and to Fayetteville news. The bulk of this series relates to the private and professional lives of McRae's sons. Of particular interest are Alexander McRae's letters from western military posts in which he described relations with Native Americans and Mormons; Duncan McRae's correspondence from Paris and from Raleigh, N.C., concerning North Carolina politics; and Thomas McRae's letters from the Shaker community in Pleasant Hill, Ky., in which he described life with the Shakers in some detail. There are also Civil War letters from Alexander, Duncan, and James McRae (1838-1909), all of whom saw active duty. Postwar correspondence details the lives of the men as they settled upon their careers as lawyers and businessmen. Of note also are a few letters describing Duncan McRae's arrest in 1867 for complicity in the murder of an African American by a mob in Fayetteville. The correspondence for the last ten years contains mostly personal and family news and solicitations for John McRae's health.
Of note is a letter dated 20 January 1844 from President John Tyler to John McRae, asking McRae for aid in circulating Alexander G. Abell's Life of the President, a book refuting charges made against Tyler and highlighting the strengths of his personal character. In the letter, President Tyler cautions McRae "to do nothing inconsistent with propriety in your own estimation as to the matter and regard it in a private and not a political light."
Correspondence of James G. Burr and Joshua Wright of Wilmington, N.C., and their business associates. Frequent correspondents include Thomas Acres of New York City and W. A. Gammell, Burr's cousin. The first part of the correspondence, 1852-1865, is between Wright and other parties concerning the estate of John Dougal of Scotland, whose descendants resided in Wilmington, and claims against the estate by Thomas McTaggart of New York. There are also other business letters related to the collection of debts and to the New York Stock Exchange. The correspondence, 1865-1870, is primarily of Burr, and relates to banking in New York, Wilmington and the Cape Fear region, the Crosby Opera House Art Association, business with various New York merchants, and the Wilmington and Weldon and Wilmington and Manchester railroads. There is also a small amount of personal correspondence from Burr's cousin, Ria Burr.
This series includes a small number of McRae legal documents concerning land transfers, the emancipation of two slaves, and estate records, but the bulk of the material consists of the financial and legal papers of James G. Burr and Joshua Wright. These include papers related to the Dougal estate and other estates handled by Wright; bank documents, particularly for the Bank of Cape Fear, of which Burr was an officer; lists of stock prices; accounts; bills; receipts; and lists of expenditures.
Arrangement: by type.
Miscellaneous other items, mostly relating to the McRae family. Included are military and postmaster appointments; advertisements for schools; orations and sermons; class notes; etc. There are also approximately eighty clippings, 1841-1906 and undated, pertaining to the Spanish American War and other current events from the time period. There is also a diary of James McRae for 1879, and a report on the descendants of James And Frances McRae, prepared in 1966.
Processed by: Tracy E. K'Meyer, June 1992
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008
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.Back to Top