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|Size||3.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1000 items)|
|Abstract||Martha (Mattie) Virginia McNair Evans Patterson of Laurel Hill and Laurinburg, Richmond (later Scotland) County, N.C., who married first cotton farmer Erasmus Hervey (Hervey) Evans (1861-1900) of Sherwood, N.C., in 1899 and then Gilbert Brown Patterson (1863-1922) of Maxton, N.C., in 1907, is the focus of the collection, along with her suitors, friends, and Murphy, Evans, Lytch, and McNair relatives. Letters and other items, including family photographs, of members of the McNair, Evans, and related families. Letters, 1870-1886, chiefly relate to the Evans family, including some in 1877 to and from Hervey Evans at the Union School, Carthage, N.C. The focus shifts to Mattie around 1888 when, after completing her education at Peace Institute in Raleigh, N.C., she returned to Laurel Hill and became the object of several suitors' attentions, among them Laurinburg physician Daniel Malloy Prince (1848-1919). He and school friends wrote to Mattie chiefly about social events, although there is one letter from Prince about a lynching in Laurinburg. Letters, 1894-1895, are chiefly to Mattie from women friends, some of whom supported themselves in offices and schools, but most of whom discussed their beaus, marriages, and wardrobes. Some, however, shared Mattie's interest in Presbyterian missionary societies. Love letters from Hervey begin in August 1897 and continue until their marriage in June 1899. Other letters document the 1898 suicide of Mattie's brother, John William McNair, a Laurinburg merchant. There are also letters, 1898-1899, from missionaries in China, the Congo, and Japan. In 1899, there are letters relating to the creation of Scotland County from Richmond County. In July 1899, Hervey and Mattie were involved in turpentine manufacture in Fairfield, Fla. By March, Hervey's ill health forced the couple back to Sherwood. By May, Hervey was in the State Hospital in Morganton, N.C., where he died of stomach cancer in June. After Hervey's death, letters show that Mattie moved to Laurinburg where Erasmus Hervey Evans was born in August 1900. There are few letters documenting her marriage to Gilbert Brown Patterson in 1907. Mattie died in childbirth on 3 July 1912.|
|Creator||Patterson, Martha Virginia McNair Evans, 1870-1912.|
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Martha (Mattie) Virginia McNair Evans Patterson of Laurel Hill and Laurinburg, Richmond (later Scotland) County, N.C., who married first cotton farmer Erasmus Hervey (Hervey) Evans (1861-1900) of Sherwood, N.C., in 1899 and then Gilbert Brown Patterson (1863-1922) of Maxton, N.C., in 1907, is the focus of the collection, along with her suitors, friends, and Murphy, Evans, Lytch, and McNair relatives.Back to Top
The following pages are the work of donor Helen Wolfe Evans, who also provided typed transcriptions of most of the items in this collection (see Series 3). Pages 3-6 contain the preface Evans wrote to the typed transcriptions. In it, she identified the major figures appearing in the papers and placed them in historical context.
Family charts begin on page 7. The first traces the lineage of Martha (Mattie) Virginia McNair Evans Patterson (1870-1912), second child and second daughter of John Franklin McNair (1843-1927) and Mary Jane Lytch McNair (1841-1905). Mattie, who married first Erasmus Hervey (Hervey) Evans (1861-1900) in 1899 and then Gilbert Brown Patterson in 1907, is the focus of the collection. On page 8, a chart shows the family of Hervey Evans, second son and fourth child of Susan Murphy Evans (1834-1904) and Erasmus Hervey Evans (1830-1879). Charts on pages 10-14 are for other generations of the Murphy, Evans, Lytch, and McNair families.
Researchers are strongly advised to request typed transcriptions along with original materials, since the transcriptions provide not only clear and accurate copies of handwritten materials, but also supply detailed information on persons and events important in the papers.Back to Top
Letters in the 1870s are chiefly of Evans family members and include a few in 1877 to and from Erasmus Hervey (Hervey) Evans at the Union School in Carthage, N.C. A letter of 9 October 1879 documents the death of Hervey's father, also Erasmus Hervey Evans. Note that there are a few letters, 1869-1871, filed in Series 2 that relate to Hervey's mother Susan Murphy Evans's family before her marriage.
Most 1884-1886 items also relate to the Evans family. Included are several letters from Hervey traveling in Texas trying to further his education and looking for a job and, later, working for a short time on a railroad engineering project in North Carolina. The first Martha (Mattie) Virginia McNair Evans Patterson materials are grade and composition books, 1880-1883, from Mattie's time at the Cool Spring School, near her home in Laurel Hill, N.C. Also relating to her school days are autograph and composition books, 1884-1887.
Around 1887, the volume of letters written to Mattie increased considerably. After attending school at the Laurinburg Female Institute in 1886 and graduating from Peace Institute in Raleigh in June 1888, Mattie became the object of several suitors' attentions, who, along with former school friends, wrote frequently to Mattie after her return to Laurel Hill in 1889. By 1892, Mattie's suitors, especially lawyer Crawford Dunlap Bennett (b. 1870) and physician Daniel Malloy Prince (1848-1919), account for the majority of letters, most of which document social events, the weather, and religion in society, especially as it relates to dancing and other activities with which Mattie and her friends were concerned. The letters also reveal the varying degrees of ardor with which her beaus pursued Mattie. Occasionally, events in the greater world were mentioned, as in a 19 November 1892 letter in which Prince told of a lynching in Laurinburg.
By 1893, Prince, who practiced medicine in Laurinburg and was many years Mattie's senior, was Mattie's only serious beau, Crawford D. Bennett, apparently feeling neglected, having removed himself from the field in a letter of 22 May 1893. In a letter dated 26 July 1893, Prince asked John F. McNair for permission to marry his daughter. Whether or not this permission was granted, Mattie ended the relationship in October 1893 after Prince admitted to having been "overtaken by my old fault," which is nowhere specified in the papers. Ironically, Prince was the attending physician when Mattie died in childbirth in 1912.
Letters in 1894-1895 are chiefly to Mattie from women friends, some of whom supported themselves in offices and schools, but most of whom discussed at length their beaus, marriages, families, and wardrobes. Some of these friends, however, shared Mattie's interest in the work of Presbyterian missionary societies. Materials show that Mattie worked in various capacities for church missionary societies, especially the Women's Missionary Society of the Fayetteville Presbytery, for most of her life. Among these letters is a chain letter, dated 15 April 1895, in support of a poor woman in Clio, S.C., who would receive hundreds of 2-cent stamps in the chain remained unbroken. In 1896, Mattie had a brief flirtation with a Thomas H. Turner. In 1897, it was back to women's affairs with a long July 1897 letter, unsigned but written in Mattie's hand, entitled "The Club," which tells of a "literary" club that "doesn't read books."
During these years, there are few letters relating to Hervey Evans, who was apparently growing cotton on the family farm in Sherwood, N.C. Beginning in 1893, there are letters, often insightful and witty, to Hervey from his female cousin Frank Faison Ryburn in Shelby, N.C. Letters from Ryburn continue throughout the collection. An amusing example of Ryburn's wit is in a letter dated 10 October 1898, in which Ryburn accused her cousin of becoming a Populist, and, anticipating Hervey's next visit, lamented, "Oh, my. I have to suffer the agony of entertaining Marion Butler for a meal next week."
The first letter from Hervey to Mattie is dated 2 August 1897. The couple met for the first time between Hervey's letters of 18 and 27 October. In the 27 October letter, Hervey claimed that "somehow you were not a stranger to me after the first five minutes." From October 1897 to March 1898, Hervey's frequent and lengthy letters concentrate on getting Mattie to agreed to marry him. On 12 March 1898, he wrote, "I'll wait forever and a day, but it is a fact that time does hang rather heavy." After she consented to the idea of marriage in mid-March, Hervey embarked on a crusade to get Mattie to set a date for the marriage, which finally took place on 14 June 1899. While most of Hervey's letters deal with their forthcoming marriage, some discuss other matters. In his 1 February 1898 letter, Hervey revealed that his 19-year-old sister had mental problems in that "her mind is weak." In his 10 May 1898 letter, Hervey lamented that his formal education had been cut short by his father's death. In his 8 October 1898 letter, he wrote of how the discouraging nature of farming made him long for a different career.
Besides love letters, letters and other items in January 1898 document the suicide at age 25 of Mattie's brother, John William (Willie) McNair, a successful general merchant of Laurinburg. A 4 January 1898 letter from Daniel Malloy Prince's partner, Kenneth Archibald Blue, explains that McNair had been depressed for some time. Also in 1898, there is a sprinkling of letters from missionaries in various locations, including one on 20 June from China, and another on 13 November from the Congo, and one in September 1899 from Kobe, Japan. In 1899, several letters relate to the creation of Scotland County out of Richmond County, which was officially accomplished on 20 February 1899. Laurinburg became the Scotland County seat.
Hervey's dream of pursuing a new career came true after his wedding when he headed south to work for his father-in-law in the Florida turpentine fields. John F. McNair had interests in businesses in Laurel Hill, Laurinburg, and Wilmington, N.C., and in several operations in Florida that dealt with lumber, turpentine, and naval stores. In July 1899, Hervey was involved in turpentine manufacture in Fairfield, Fla. In a letter of 26 August, he discussed his life in Florida and his general ill health. In November 1898, Mattie moved to Florida, but by March Hervey's ill health forced the couple back to Sherwood. By 28 March, Hervey was at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where Mattie visited him. By May, he had been moved to the North Carolina Hospital for the Insane in Morganton, N.C., where his uncle, Patrick Livingston Murphy, was superintendent. While the hospital was chiefly devoted to treating mental patients, Hervey was apparently directly under his uncle's care until the end. While in the hospital, both Hervey and Mattie, who never left his side, received letters from friends and family. Most letters discuss family and neighborhood news. In a letter dated 13 June, Hervey's mother mentioned White Supremacy meetings in Sherwood. In a 15 June letter, Mattie's father, still in Florida, wrote to her offering to foot the bill for Hervey's treatment. On 17 June, Murphy wrote to John McNair asking how news of Hervey's impending death from stomach cancer should be broken to Mattie, since she was soon to be confined in childbirth. Murphy sent a similar letter to his sister on 18 June. Hervey died on 24 June at the age of 38. On 30 June, there is an itemized bill for his treatment.
After Hervey's death, Mattie moved to Laurinburg where her family had relocated in April 1900. The birth of Erasmus Hervey Evans on 22 August 1900 elicited many bitter-sweet letters of congratulations from friends and family.
From 1901 to 1912, there are many letters to Mattie from friends and relations, especially, until her death in 1904, from Hervey's mother, Susan Murphy Evans. Mattie's own mother, Mary Jane Lytch McNair, died in 1905, while Mattie was down with typhoid fever on a trip to Colorado, which is sketchily documented in the letters.
There are few letters after 1905. On 23 January 1907, Mattie married Gilbert Brown Patterson (1863-1922) of Maxton, N.C. A daughter, Mary McNair Patterson, was born 11 November 1909. Letters and other items show that Mattie and a second daughter died in childbirth on 3 July 1912.
Arrangement: arranged to correspond to order in typed transcriptions.
Miscellaneous items, including an 1858 essay on temperance by Mary Jane Lytch, age 17; an undated list of expenses in Mattie's hand; letters, 1869-1871, from Susan Murphy Evan's father, Patrick Murphy, to his son, Patrick Livingston Murphy, discussing their family's history; and assorted bills and receipts, 1888-1892, chiefly relating to cotton sales and purchases of farm equipment. (Items are transcribed and/or listed in Appendix I-IV of the typed transcription.) #04645, Series: "2. Other Papers, 1858-1929." Folder 32-34
Typed transcriptions, 1014 pp., of most of the materials in the collection by Helen Wolfe Evans.
Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, March 1993
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