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 and enslaved people in Hanover, Pittsylvania, and Halifax counties Virginia and Calhoun County, Texas. The collection contains scattered documents, including bills of sale, contracts, wills, tax receipts, and a broadside, that document the people enslaved and trafficked by the Crenshaws and Millers, insurrections by enslaved people in Virginia and North Carolina circa 1810, the manumission of enslaved people the early 1800s, a Christmas celebration by a community of enslaved people in Hanover County in 1812, and contracting work with freed people 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 correspondence, deeds, wills, bonds, writs of summons, contracts, land plats, court orders, articles of agreement among other items.
Creator Crenshaw family.



Miller family.
Curatorial Unit University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.
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 plantation owners, enslavers, and chiefly tobacco growers.

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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The white Crenshaw and Miller families owned tobacco plantations and enslaved people in Hanover, Pittsylvania, and Halifax counties Virginia and Calhoun County, Texas. The collection contains scattered documents, including bills of sale, contracts, wills, tax receipts, and a broadside, that document the people enslaved and trafficked by the Crenshaws and Millers, insurrections by enslaved people in Virginia and North Carolina circa 1810, the manumission of enslaved people in the early 1800s, a disagreement between Charles Crenshaw Jr. and Chiswell Dabney over an extended Christmas celebration in an enslaved community in Hanover County in 1812, and contracting work with freed people 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 correspondence, deeds, wills, bonds, writs of summons, contracts, land plats, court orders, and articles of agreement. The legal and public affairs of the Crenshaw family are best documented between 1751 and 1839, especially the estates of Major Nathaniel Crenshaw of Pittsylvania County and Charles Crenshaw Jr. of Hanover County. All the papers after that date pertain to their Miller relatives. Almost no details of family life emerge in the documents.

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Contents list

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

Extra Oversize Paper Folder XOPF-00192/1

Oversize papers, 1766-1859 #00192-z, Series: "Crenshaw and Miller Family Papers, 1751-1916." XOPF-00192/1

Materials relating to slavery include:

  • "To the Public" broadside, 7 July 1812, regarding a disagreement between Charles Crenshaw Jr. and Chiswell Dabney over an extended Christmas celebration in the enslaved community on a plantation neighboring Crenshaw's Hanover County, Va., plantation.

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

Folder 1

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

Materials relating to slavery include:

  • Bill of sale, 7 January 1789, for Donald, Dinah and her children Juno and Daphne, were purchased by Nathaniel Crenshaw from Charles Thompson in Hanover County, Va.
  • Will of Charles Crenshaw of Hanover County, Va., 9 February 1790, bequeathing to his son John Crenshaw the six enslaved people he had already given to him at his marriage; to his son Nathaniel Crenshaw a group of unnamed enslaved people; to his daughter Susanna he gave Nanny, an enslaved woman and Mary, an enslaved girl, and a group of unnamed enslaved people; to his daughter Temperance he gave Delphy, an enslaved woman, and Liza, an enslaved girl, and a group of unnamed enslaved people; to his daughter Agnes he gave Alice, an enslaved woman, and Fanny, an enslaved girl, and a group of unnamed enslaved people.

Other papers include plats and deeds for tracts of land in Pittsylvania and Halifax counties, bonds, indentures, and other legal items.

Folder 2

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

Materials relating to slavery include:

  • Will of Charles Crenshaw Jr., 1808, stating that the people enslaved by him should be freed when emancipation is legal in Virginia, and the conditions for their livelihood until that time.
  • Government issued summons, 2 June 1810, to militia duty from John Tyler to patrol against insurrections led by enslaved people in North Carolina and Virginia.
  • Will of Susanna Crenshaw (?), 1818, stating that the people enslaved by her should be freed when emancipation is legal in Virginia, and the conditions for their livelihood until that time. This will was cancelled.
  • Memorandum of agreement, 24 December 1818, between William Miller of Halifax County, and Nathaniel C. Crenshaw, of Hanover County, N.C., in which Crenshaw sold to Miller his interest in the people enslaved by the estate of his uncle Nathaniel Crenshaw, except for Moses and Betty, in exchange for Sally, an enslaved girl who had previously been trafficked to Miller.

Other materials include copies of Sarah Bacon Crenshaw's wills, 1803, 1808(2), and 12 January 1818; a printed notice about a stolen horse; and printed messages from Matthew Clay, member of Congress, to constituents reporting on acts passed in the Virginia legislature.

Folder 3

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

Materials relating to slavery include:

  • Will of Charles Crenshaw, 1 May 1820, stating that the people enslaved by him should be freed when emancipation is legal in Virginia, and the conditions for their livelihood until that time.
  • Indenture between George M. Y. Miller and Henry P. Rucker, 18 August 1826, stating that six unnamed enslaved people would provide the labor for the land in Halifax County that Miller rented from Rucker.
  • Labor contract, 20 September 1828, between William Miller and overseer Uriah Fisher.
  • Power of attorney between William Miller and George M. Y. Miller, 19 May 1827, concerning Armistead, who was enslaved to the estate of Nathaniel Crenshaw in 1818 in Halifax County and self-emancipated to the western or southern counties.
  • Tax receipt, 1828, indicating that George M. Y. Miller enslaved 21 people.
  • Copy of resolutions passed in 1831 by white citizens of Hanover County documenting their fears of revolts led by enslaved people.
  • Articles of agreement between John S. Glenn and Shadrack Barber, stating that six unnamed enslaved people would labor on the land and the conditions of the rental.
  • Tax receipt, 1837, indicating that William Miller and son enslaved 28 people.
  • Tax receipt, 1838, indicating that William Miller enslaved 14 people.

Other materials include estate papers of Nathaniel Crenshaw and his brother and Charles Crenshaw Jr., an accounting sheet for William Miller with William T. Smith, and legal papers of William Miller, including correspondence, deeds, indentures, writs of summons, land plats, articles of agreement, and court orders and certifications.

Folder 4

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

Materials relating to slavery and Reconstruction include:

  • Will, 19 March 1856, of William B. Miller, made in Calhoun County, Tex., indicating that he was an enslaver.
  • Bill of sale, 6 September 1859, in which Joe, who was enslaved by Louisa. P. Miller, and Little David, who was enslaved by Nathaniel C. Miller were trafficked between the two owners.
  • Bill of sale, 12 February 1860, in which Jim, who was enslaved by George M. Y. Miller, and Coleman, who was enslaved by Nathaniel C. Miller were trafficked between the two owners..
  • Labor contract, 9 August 1865, between Nathaniel C. Miller and the following freed people: Jim and his wife Betty; Philip, his wife Lucita, and their child; Mary and her 3 children; Samuel and his wife; David, his wife, and their 8 children; Ben and his wife; Fountain and his wife Corina; Margaret; Milly and her 2 children.

Other papers include deeds and correspondence of the Miller family of Halifax and Pittsylvania counties, Va., and Calhoun County, Tex., including William Miller; his sons George M. Y. Miller and Nathaniel C. Miller; his grandson, Charles Edwin Miller; and other family members, including Charles E. Miller (d. 1851?), William B. Miller (active 1851) of Texas, and Crenshaw Miller (active 1826).

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 Owin, who sought work at William Miller's plantation and 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

Since August 2017, we have added ethnic and racial identities for individuals and families represented in collections. To determine identity, we rely on self-identification; other information supplied to the repository by collection creators or sources; public records, press accounts, and secondary sources; and contextual information in the collection materials. Omissions of ethnic and racial identities in finding aids created or updated after August 2017 are an indication of insufficient information to make an educated guess or an individual's preference for identity information to be excluded from description. When we have misidentified, please let us know at wilsonlibrary@unc.edu.

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