Collection Number: 00192-z

Collection Title: Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916.

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.

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Size 83 items
Abstract The white Crenshaw and Miller families owned tobacco plantations in Hanover, Pittsylvania, and Halifax counties Virginia and Calhoun County, Texas. The collection contains scattered documents about plantation management, the people enslaved and trafficked by Nathaniel Crenshaw, revolts by enslaved people, the manumission of enslaved people early 1800s, and contracting work with freedmen in 1865. The bulk of the collection is legal and estate papers primarily of Nathaniel Crenshaw, Charles Crenshaw Jr., Sarah Bacon Crenshaw, and William Miller including deeds, wills, bonds, writs of summons, legal correspondence, contracts, land plats, court orders, articles of agreement among other items.
Creator Crenshaw family.



Miller 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 Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers #192-z, 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
Gift of Thomas Frederick Davis, great-grandson of Agnes and William Miller, in 1939.
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

Charles and Sarah Crenshaw, their daughter Agnes, and her husband, William Miller, and their descendants lived on various plantations in Hanover, Pittsylvania, and Halifax counties, Va. They appear to have been planters, cultivating mostly tobacco.

Charles Crenshaw (fl. 1775-1794) married Sarah Bacon (d. 1818) and lived in Hanover County. Charles and Sarah had six children: Susanna (fl. 1790-1818), who never married; Agnes (d. 185?), who married William Miller of Halifax County; Temperance (d. 180?), who married William Rice; Nathaniel Crenshaw (d. 1818), who served as a major in the Virginia militia and lived on a plantation left him by his father in Pittsylvania County; John (fl. 1801); and Charles, Jr. (d. 1825). Charles and Sarah had at least eight grandchildren, including John Rice Miller and Nathaniel C. Miller (1816-1888), both children of Agnes and William Miller; Sarah B. Rice (m. Walter Crew), Samuel B. Rice, Mary B. Rice (m. Samuel P. Hargrave), and Izard Bacon Rice, all children of Temperance and William Rice; and Nathaniel C. Crenshaw (fl. 1812-1831) and Edmund B. Crenshaw (fl. 1826), brothers who probably were the children of John Crenshaw.

William Miller also had another son, George Y.M. Miller (fl. 1826-1863), by a previous marriage. Agnes and William's son, Nathaniel C. Miller, remained a bachelor, as did their grandson, Charles Edwin Miller (1839-1906). Nathaniel C. Miller left his Pittsylvania County estate, Sharswood, to Charles Edwin Miller.

There are other family members whose relationship to those noted above is unclear. They include: Charles Edwin Miller (d. 1851?); William B. Miller of Calhoun County, Tex., (fl. 185?); Crenshaw Miller (fl. 1826); and Charles Grenshaw Gent, possibly an uncle or other relation of Charles Crenshaw.

Several individuals served as executors of wills for family members. John Crenshaw was the executor for the estate of his father, Charles Crenshaw; Charles Crenshaw Jr. was executor for the estate of his mother, Sarah Bacon Crenshaw, and for the estate of his brother, Major Nathaniel Crenshaw; and William Miller was executor for the estate of Charles Crenshaw Jr.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Consisting almost entirely of legal papers, this collection is especially useful for the study of early 19-century Virginia estates. Receiving the most attention are the estates of Major Nathaniel Crenshaw of Pittsylvania County and Charles Crenshaw Jr. of Hanover County. The papers are deeds, wills, bonds, writs of summons, legal correspondence, contracts, land plats, court orders, and articles of agreement. Only a few financial items, mostly household accounts and county tax receipts, appear.

Significant, though limited, information can be found in the papers on enslaved people and freedmen, including the locations of early revolts in Virginia and North Carolina; documentation of an extended celebration among people in the enslaved community on a Hanover County plantation in 1812; several wills providing for the manumission of people enslaved by the family members; bills of sale for people enslaved and trafficked by family members; and a work contract with freedmen signed in 1865.

Limited information, contained in reports to constituents of acts passed in the Virginia legislature and a broadside, pertains to politics between 1802 and 1805.

The legal and public affairs of the Crenshaw family are best documented between 1751 and 1839. All the papers after that date pertain to their Miller relatives. Almost no details of family life emerge in the documents.

Legal papers of the Crenshaw and Miller families of Hanover, Halifax, and Pittsylvania counties, Virginia. The collection includes estate papers of Major Nathaniel Crenshaw, Charles Crenshaw, Jr., and Sarah Bacon Crenshaw, miscellaneous legal and financial items belonging to William Miller and his family, as well as a few broadsides and clippings.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916.

Folder 1

Papers, 1751-1794 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." Folder 1

Includes plats and deeds for tracts of land in Pittsylvania and Halifax counties, bonds, indentures, and other legal items. Includes Charles Crenshaw's will, dated 9 February 1790.

Bill of sale, 7 January 1789 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." Folder 1

For Donald, Dinah, June and Daphne enslaved by Nathaniel Crenshaw and trafficked by Charles Thompson.

Folder 2

Papers, 1800-1819 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." Folder 2

Includes a 1810 call to militia duty from John Tyler to help suppress insurrections led by enslaved people in North Carolina and Virginia. There are also copies of Sarah Bacon Crenshaw’s wills, 1803, 1805, and 1813 expressing that the people she enslaved should be freed when emancipation is legal in Virginia; Charles Crenshaw, Jr.,’s will, 1808, stipulating that the people he enslaved be emancipated among other items.

Extra Oversize Paper Folder XOPF-00192/1

"To the Public"  broadside, 7 July 1812 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." XOPF-00192/1

Regarding an extended Christmas celebration in the enslaved community on a plantation neighboring Charles Crenshaw, Jr.'s Hanover County, Va., planatation.

Oversize deeds, land plat, and printed letter, 1766-1859 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." XOPF-00192/1

Oversize papers include deed for land granted by Joseph Eckhols Sr. of Halifax County, Va., to his son Joseph Eckhols J; deed for land sold to Charles Grenshaw Gent by the Commonwealth of Virgina, a land plat of tract in Pittsylvania County, Va, survey by Richard Parker for N.C. Miller, and a printed letter, from state legislators Thomas H. Wooding and Daniel Coleman to their constituents, regarding legislative acts passed.

Folder 2

Memorandum of agreement, 24 December 1818 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." Folder 2

Between William Miller of Halifax County., and Nathaniel C. Crenshaw, of Hanover County, N.C., concerning Sally, Moses, and other people enslaved by Nathaniel Crenshaw.

Folder 3

Papers, 1820-1839 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." Folder 3

Of note are a power of attorney concerning Armistead, who attempted self-emancipation from continued enslavement by the estate of Nathaniel Crenshaw; a copy of resolutions passed by white citizens of Hanover County documenting their fears of revolts led by enslaved people; and an overseer contract with Uriah Smith.

Primarily estate papers of Nathaniel Crenshaw and his brother, Charles Crenshaw Jr., and legal papers of William Miller including Charles Crenshaw’s will, deeds, indentures, writs of summons, land plats, legal correspondence, bills and receipts, articles of agreement, and court orders.

Folder 4

Papers, 1851-1916 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." Folder 4

Includes contracts dated 6 September 1859 and 12 February 1860 concerning trafficking enslaved people between plantations and a work contract dated 9 August 1865 between Nathaniel C. Miller and several freedmen on his plantation.

Papers of the Miller family of Halifax and Pittsylvania counties, Va., and Calhoun County, Tex., including William Miller; his sons George and Nathaniel C. Miller; his grandson, Charles Edwin Miller; and other family members, including Charles E. Miller (d. 1851?), William B. Miller (fl. 1851) of Texas, and Crenshaw Miller (fl. 1826). Includes William B. Miller’s will made in Calhoun County, Tex., dated 19 March 1856.

Folder 5

Papers, undated #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." Folder 5

Includes an undated letter from George Y.M. Miller to his father concerning a plantation employee, Owin. Also includes undated land plats from Pittsylvania County.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Jill Snider, July 1991

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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.

Conscious Editing Work by: Jackie Dean and Laura Smith, December 2020. Updated container list, abstract, and language around enslaved people in scope and content note.

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