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Collection Number: 00247

Collection Title: William Ethelbert Ervin Journals, 1839-1856.

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.

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Size 3 items
Abstract William Ethelbert Ervin was a cotton planter of Lowndes County, Miss. The collection includes journals, 1839-1845, 1846-1856, of Ervin concerning crop cultivation; buying, selling, and disciplining slaves; and other farming activities, 1846-1851. Also saw and grist mill accounts, 1851-1854.
Creator Ervin, William Ethelbert, 1809-1860.
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 William Ethelbert Ervin Journals #247-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm: 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 the Armstrong family of Columbus, Mississippi, in 1937, and from Caro Armstrong of Columbus, Mississippi, in April 1972.
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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Processed by: Shonra Newman, March 1991

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Nancy Kaiser, October 2020

This inventory is based on two inventories previously compiled by members of the Southern Historical Collection staff.

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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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William Ethelbert Ervin (1809-1860) owned Liberty Hall Plantation, near Columbus, in Lowndes County, Mississippi near Columbus. He was born to William and Eliza Dick Ervin in Sumter District, South Carolina on 28 September 1809. The family moved to Lowndes County, Mississippi, about 1832. His father died there in 1839.

William E. Ervin built Liberty Hall in 1835 on the east side of the Tombigbee River. After his home was built he returned to Sumter, South Carolina, and married Sarah McGee Kennedy.

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This collection consists of two plantation journals kept by William Ethelbert Ervin at Liberty Hall Plantation between 1839 and 1856. The entries are very brief and note cultivation of cotton and other crops, hauling cotton to the Tombigbee River for shipment, cutting logs, killing hogs, and other activities. He also noted the weather each day.

Ervin included information on buying and selling slaves, hiring slaves owned by others, providing slaves with blankets, hats, and other clothing, and paying slaves for their Christmas work. He made lists of slave birth (and some death) dates. In 1847, he wrote out the rules for slave conduct and punishments in case the rules were broken. There were rules for how to handle quarrels, duties of husbands and wives, absence from the plantation, and the obligation of slaves to be in their quarters by 9 p.m.

Ervin also mentioned his trips to town and attendance at court and at sales. He was a devout Christian and regularly attended church and Sunday school. On 28 February 1850, Ervin mentioned that four of his children were very sick, one with typhoid fever.

In addition to the daily entries, Ervin kept lists and memoranda on his farming activities. At the end of each year, he entered an account of total weights of cotton, sometimes crediting each of his hands with the amount they had picked. There are pages of miscellaneous accounts and memoranda including twists of tobacco sold to individuals and notes settled. After February 1851, the diaries contain records of his saw mill and grist mill. These entries continue through April 1854. Following that date, there are some miscellaneous accounts through 1 January 1856.

Volume 2 is available in typed transcription.

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Contents list

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Folder 1

Volume 1, 1839-1845

Folder 2

Volume 2, 1846-1856

Folder 3

Typed transcription of volume 2

Reel M-247/1-2




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