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|Size||1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 75 items)|
|Abstract||John Burgwyn MacRae of Jackson, Northampton County, N.C., son of Episcopal rector Cameron F. MacRae and Julia Burgwyn MacRae, was a lawyer, owner of a large Roanoke River plantation, and diarist. The collection includes MacRae's nine-volume daily diary, 1883-1916; letterpress copy books, 1886-1896, of MacRae; speeches by MacRae; and miscellaneous volumes and papers. The diary describes day-to-day life and events in Jackson, including including MacRae's long-term relationship with a local African-American woman, his fishing expeditions, and his work as a steward in the State Penitentiary in Raleigh, N.C. Among others discussed in the diary are various members of the Burgwyn family and Matt Whitaker Ransom (1826-1904). Also included are letters, 1869-1870, from Kate MacRae to her father Cameron MacRae describing her travels in Europe; class notes from the University of North Carolina, 1886; a baseball club treasurer's book and constitution, 1883; an account book, 1880-1889, containing accounts for meat, corn, cotton, and other goods; and political speeches and addresses given by MacRae at Confederate reunions and Masonic, Episcopal Church, and other organization meetings. The Addition of March 2008 contains letters and related materials concerning the Scottish heritage of John Burgwyn MacRae as well as his land ownership in Northampton County, N.C.|
|Creator||MacRae, John Burgwyn, 1845-1916.|
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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NOTE: This essay, with an accompanying annotated list of names, was written in 1980 by Henry W. Lewis, grandson of Dr. Henry Lewis, a Jackson contemporary of John B. MacRae, as an introduction and guide to MacRae's diary (see Series 2). It provides biographical detail on many persons as well as MacRae.
About 1840, the children of John Fanning Burgwyn of New Bern (Henry King, Thomas Pollok, Emily, John Collinson, and Julia--wife of the Reverend Cameron F. MacRae) shared with their Devereaux kin in inheriting (but not without litigation) the extensive Roanoke River plantation lands of George Pollok (sometimes written "Pollock"). The shares allotted to the Burgwyns lay on the north side of the river in Northampton County, specifically in the great bend of the river known as Occoneechee Neck.
Mrs. Cameron MacRae, whose husband was at various times rector of Episcopal Churches in Warrenton, in Maryland, in Philadelphia, and in Savannah, never lived in Northampton County, but her brothers, Henry, Thomas, and John Collinson Burgwyn, moved to their Roanoke River holdings. John died young and unmarried; Thomas married a New Yorker, but she did not remain long in the area; Henry King, who had attended Harvard College, married Anna Greenough of Boston. After a brief residence in the village of Jackson, the Henry Burgwyns went to live in a house they had built on Thornbury plantation--long known as Bull Hill before the Burgwyns renamed it for an English town near their ancestral seat. (U.B. Phillips was impressed with the American Farmer's account of agricultural operations on this plantation, not to mention the elaborate facilities erected there for its slave population--chapel, hospital, etc.--and made much of it in his Life and Labor in the Old South.)
Not long after the Burgwyns settled in Northampton County, perhaps before 1845, the Rev. Mr. MacRae became assistant minister of Christ Church, Philadelphia. He and his Burgwyn wife had two children--John Burgwyn (the diarist) and Kate, a daughter who never married and who lived most of her life in Philadelphia with her mother's unmarried sister Emily Burgwyn (called "dear Emmie" in the diary).
John Burgwyn MacRae was born in 1845. His mother died in Philadelphia before the Civil War, and his father cared for the two young children at the boarding house of a Mrs. Scheetz on Portico Row in that city. Although the sequence of events is not entirely clear, it appears that the Rev. Mr. MacRae accepted a call to St. John's Church, Savannah, and it was from that city that young John entered the University of North Carolina in 1862. John remained in Chapel Hill until 1863; then at age 18 he became a soldier in the Confederate Army and saw service in eastern North Carolina. In 1865 he returned to the University but did not graduate; he received the A.B. degree along with other members of the "war classes" in 1911.
Upon leaving Chapel Hill, MacRae seems to have gone to Fayetteville, his father's birthplace, to read law. How long he remained there is undetermined, but, having completed his legal studies, it was not long before he settled in Jackson. In the division of the Pollok lands, Mrs. MacRae had obtained two large Occoneechee Neck plantations, one of which had been inherited by John, the other by his sister Kate. Thus, it was not surprising that the young lawyer should have decided to establish himself near these plantations.
When John MacRae arrived in Jackson, he found two of his Burgwyn cousins well established in the community: Alveston, a bachelor, and his brother, George Pollok. In 1869, George Burgwyn had married Emma, daughter of Colonel Thomas and Margaret Jordan Ridley of Bonnie Doon plantation in Southampton County, Virginia, some 40 miles from Jackson. The plat of the Town of Jackson (see Folder 28, Series 4) indicates where the George Burgwyns were living (Number 24) when the diary opens; to the east is situated The Elms (Number 22), the old Calvert residence in which Alveston Burgwyn was keeping bachelor's quarters. Later the Burgwyn brothers exchanged houses.
MacRae seems to have been genuinely devoted to "Cousin Emma," his name for Mrs. George Burgwyn, and to his cousin Alveston. His feelings for his cousin George blew hot and cold.
Living in Richmond, but always hovering in the background, was the widowed Mrs. Henry King Burgwyn--MacRae's "Aunt Anna"--mother of the Burgwyn men in Jackson and of their redoubtable sister, Mrs. Thomas R. Baker, usually called "Madame Baker" by MacRae. (Mrs. Baker also lived in Richmond.)
The affairs of the Episcopal church, especially of the Church of the Saviour in Jackson, were important to MacRae, and its activities are given substantial space in the diary. In the early years of the journal, the Jackson church was served by the Rev. Gilbert Higgs, who lived in Warrenton and also served the church there. Higgs and his two sisters endeared themselves to MacRae by their devotion to good music and impeccable churchmanship. In Jackson, the Rev. Mr. Higgs was assisted by William T. Picard, a livery stable operator and harness maker who served first as lay reader and later as a perpetual deacon. MacRae's views of "Old Pic" or "Old Whiskers" constitute one of the most amusing themes in the diary. Mrs. Picard, a native of Hull, England, was a village tyrant, and her views and actions are important to the chronicle. Their daughter Mabel, a bit young for much notice in the opening volumes of the diary, was a saintly person.
Adjoining the courthouse square in Jackson stood the hotel that since 1808 had been acknowledged center of town life. Here MacRae took his meals and joined those he called the "village senators and solons" in discussing the news and latest gossip. On the town plat, adjoining Number 7 on the eastern side of the square, was a small two-room office (indicated by a cross mark) in which MacRae was living in the early years covered by the diary. He made a number of moves through the years, but he rarely strayed far from the center of town life.
Facing the courthouse square on the west and attached to the hotel was a small building in which Dr. H. W. Lewis maintained a drug store, called a "pill and poison shop" by MacRae, and just north of that stood the building in which Dr. Lewis established his office a few years after the diary opens. To MacRae, Dr. Lewis, eleven years his junior, was always "Physic." As a bachelor, Dr. Lewis, who had come to Jackson from Virginia in 1879, lived at the William T. Buxton residence (Number 20) where he had an office in the yard. A strong theme in the first volume of the diary is the courtship, marriage, and early domestic life of Dr. Lewis.
The doctor was married in 1884 to Mrs. Sallie Ridley Long, a widow several years older than the doctor, and the mother of two children--Nanny and John Long. When the diary opens, the widow was living in Weldon, North Carolina, in the household of her mother-in-law (Mrs. Melissa Williams Long), together with her two widowed sisters-in-law (Mrs. Junius Daniel and Mrs. James W. Faucett). The late John J. Long (who seems to have been something of a "sport") had been a friend of George P. Burgwyn, and Mrs. Burgwyn ("Cousin Emma") was first cousin to Mrs. Long. These relationships account for the numerous references MacRae makes to various Ridleys, frequent visitors in the community, who lived either in Southampton County, Virginia, or in the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth. Before 1890, the elderly Francis T. Ridley moved to Jackson with two of his daughters, Mrs. Joseph Drewry and Miss Julia Ridley. MacRae's fascination with Miss Julia is another recurrent theme.
A map of Northampton County (Series 4, Folder 18) shows the major sites mentioned in the diary, as well as the railroads that traversed the county. Observe how near the area lies to Richmond, Petersburg, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Portsmouth; also observe that Raleigh and Wilmington were easily accessible by train. The relative ease with which residents of Jackson were able to reach these cities was a major cause of the fairly sophisticated life they lived.
The plantations mentioned most frequently in the diary--Mowfield, Verona, Thornbury (Bull Hill), Longview, and Belmont--are shown on the county map. Thornbury house was unoccupied; Verona was the home of Senator Matt. W. Ransom, his wife, daughter, and numerous sons, the oldest of whom, Matt Jr., is mentioned from time to time in the diary; Longview was the home of Thomas W. Mason, his daughter Ruth, and his daughter Betty and her husband (Major Mac Long) and their children; Belmont was the residence of Dr. Edmund W. Wilkins and his family; Mowfield--sometimes spelled "Moorfields" by MacRae--was the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Spruill Urquhart.
The map of Jackson shows three plantation houses that stood on the outskirts of the village: Grape Hill (Number 31) was the residence of an important grandam, Mrs. John Randolph, and her son-in-law, William Wallace Peebles, and his children; Holly Lodge (Number 44) was the residence of Mrs. Sallie Blunt Peebles--widow of both Henry and Nicholas Peebles--and her son Ethelred John ("E.J." in the diary) and her daughter Ella, whose marriage to a Mr. Fuller was considered a misalliance; Mrs. Urquhart of Mowfield was also the daughter of Mrs. Peebles of Holly Lodge. Across the road from Holly Lodge was the residence of the W. Cornelius Bowen family (Number 43).
At Number 7 on the town plat lived Mrs. William Barrow, widowed sister of Mrs. John Randolph. These dignified women were daughters of Samuel Calvert, who, at the time the town of Jackson was laid out, acquired a majority of the lots. It was he who gave the land for each of the three churches in the town--Episcopal, Methodist, and Baptist. When the diary opens, Mrs. Samuel Calvert, Jr. (born Gulielma Faison) was living at Number 18; she was as militant a Methodist as was Mrs. Picard an Episcopal. Mrs. Barrow had several children, but the only two who are mentioned frequently by MacRae are Will and Alethia ("Miss Lethe"), with whom the diarist was infatuated.
As already noted, Mrs. Randolph lived at Grape Hill; her grandchildren, Margaret ("Maggie"), Bruce, and Calvert ("Cal"), and their father, Mr. "Billy" Peebles, appear again and again in the chronicle.
On the courthouse square (at Number 8) lived Robert Bruce Peebles ("Captain Bob"), lawyer, Confederate veteran, judge, and husband of Margaret Cameron, daughter of Paul Carrington Cameron of Hillsborough. Living with the Peebleses were his sister, "Miss Mittie" and his nieces, the Misses Lucretia and Janet Whitfield. The Whitfield sisters--led by "Miss Lou"--became the teachers of the parochial school established by the Church of the Saviour in 1886.
Referring again to the town plat, it will be seen that Number 10 occupies an important location in the town. This house was built for Thomas Bragg, who later became governor of North Carolina and a member of Jefferson Davis' cabinet. After the Civil War, it was acquired by the Newsom family, and early in MacRae's diary it became the residence of the Preots, a Creole family from Louisiana. When Dr. H.W. Lewis' sister Eileen was married to W. Paul Moore of Norfolk, they moved to Jackson and purchased this house. MacRae saw a great deal of the Moores, whose cuisine was famous in the area, and the diarist could not resist an invitation to dinner.
The number of Buxtons mentioned in the diary makes for confusion, but they were an important element in the community. William T. Buxton was register of deeds; Capt. Samuel Buxton was a well-to-do merchant.
Three of the children of Mrs. Samuel Calvert, Jr. appear often in the journal--Samuel Calvert III, Mrs. Douglas A. Jordan, and Miss Maggie (or "Mag") Calvert. Both Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Jordan were popular members of the town's society; Sam Calvert III annoyed MacRae because he--along with Capt. Peebles, Dr. Lewis, and Mr. Bowen--liked to play poker, a game that the diarist deplored. But, like MacRae, Sam Calvert was a strong Mason, and that was important to MacRae.
Important to the narrative--especially in the later volumes--is the fact that George P. Burgwyn maintained a commissary, a barroom, a gin, and a mill at Bull Hill. The millpond there was MacRae's favorite haunt for fishing, and he thought nothing of walking from Jackson to the pond and back day after day--a ten-mile round trip.
In addition to the two maps already noted, there is also a list of persons frequently named in the early volumes of the journal. What has not been mentioned heretofore is what the diary reveals of MacRae himself. A few brief comments will suffice: The frankness with which he records his actions and feelings is reminiscent of Pepys; in fact, it makes the reader speculate as to why MacRae kept the diary so faithfully--from the autumn of 1883 (when he was 38 years old) until January 1916, a few months before his death. The diary is explicit in detailing MacRae's sexual exploits with black women and equally detailed in recording his remorse. He seemed always to be completely infatuated with some "acceptable" white woman--always admired as if on a pedestal--but unable to restrain himself with blacks who visited him without apparent invitation. He was never married.
In the current phrase, MacRae was "allergic" to routine employment, yet he seemed always to be trying to find a job. His law practice languished to extinction; he lost his plantation because he could not make mortgage payments; in his latter years he lived on the charity of his Burgwyn cousins. Yet as a man he was remarkably generous with what he had and with whatever was given to him--no matter how modest. The man's eccentricities, which are still recounted in Jackson, are apparent in his account of his own behavior. His opinions of individual men and women must be read with care, for from month to month and year to year they changed radically; an unexpected favor or an unexpected slight was enough to cause him to reverse a strong opinion only recently expressed. On the other hand, his accounts of events are detailed and, from all available evidence, reliable.
It is obvious that MacRae, despite his peculiarities, was usually welcomed in Jackson homes. He must have been an entertaining conversationalist and something of a raconteur; certainly he had a degree of education and experience of the world that enabled him to serve well as "the extra man" whenever out-of-towners were being entertained.
The diary itself indicates that MacRae's habit was to draft each day's entry on loose sheets of paper, then, at his leisure, he would transcribe the drafts into the journal, making editorial changes as he did so. In a few instances, it is apparent that, in the transcription process, MacRae made errors in dates, and a few entries are made in incorrect order. But these errors are rare. From the autumn of 1883 to January 1916, there are very few days for which no entries were made.
Although MacRae diligently reported his activities when he was away from Jackson, the principal value of the diary lies in its record of what occurred in that town. Few communities have been reported in such faithful detail.
Names frequently found in the early volumes of the John B. MacRae diary:
Anderton: overseer at Miss Kate MacRae's Occoneechee Neck plantation
Baker, Mrs. Thomas R. (Minnie Burgwyn): MacRae's cousin; daughter of Henry K. and Anna Greenough Burgwyn; lived in Richmond
Barrow, Mrs. William (Eliza Calvert): see biographical note narrative
Barrow, William, Jr. (Will or Willie): see biographical note narrative
Barrow, Alethia (Lethe): see biographical note narrative
Bowen, William Cornelius (Neal): see biographical note narrative
Bowen, Mrs. William Cornelius (Josephine Southall): native of Murfreesboro; died of pneumonia in 1893 at same time as Mrs. George P. Burgwyn, Mrs. Douglas A. Jordan, and Mrs. Cornelius G.C. Moore (Mr. Bowen's aunt)
Bowen girls (daughters of the W.C. Bowens: Rettie, Julia, Josephine, and Blannie)
Brodnax, Mrs. Alexander John (Ellen Mallory): widow of Dr. H.W. Lewis' cousin and close companion of his mother, Mrs. Benjamin Lewis; mother of Nelly Brodnax; lived at The Woodlands in Brunswick County, Virginia
Brodnax, Nelly: one of MacRae's beloved. Earlier she had been married to Robert Dunlop of Petersburg who had mistreated her. She, with her mother (both Roman Catholics), had gone to Rome and secured a papal annulment of the marriage, one condition of which was that, although she might reassume her maiden name, she must prefix it with "Mrs." There is much speculation in the diary as to whether she is truly free to remarry.
Burgwyn, Miss Emily: see biographical note narrative
Burgwyn, George P.: see biographical note narrative
Burgwyn, Mrs. George P. (Emma Wright Ridley): see biographical note narrative
Burgwyn, G. Pollok: son of the above; appears in the later volumes
Burgwyn, Mrs. G. Pollok (Emily Bartlett Roper): a native of Petersburg who was married to G. Pollok Burgwyn; they lived in Jackson
Burgwyn, Mrs. Henry King (Anna Greenough): see biographical note narrative
Burgwyn, Henry K.: grandson of the above; son of George Pollok; was kind to MacRae in his latter years
Burgwyn, Mrs. Henry K. (Page Cauthorne): a native of Tappahannock, Virginia
Burgwyn, John Alveston: see biographical note narrative
Burgwyn, John Collinson: see biographical note narrative
Burgwyn, John Fanning: see biographical note narrative
Burgwyn, Thomas Pollok: see biographical note narrative
Burgwyn, William Hyslop Sumner: brother of George P. Burgwyn; colonel in Spanish-American War; frequently mentioned in the correspondence of Mrs. Cornelius Phillips Spencer. Lived in Henderson and Weldon, North Carolina. He seems to have specialized in organizing banks in small eastern North Carolina towns.
Burgwyn, Mrs. William Hyslop Sumner (Margaret "Maggie" Dunlop): native of Petersburg
Burgwyn, William H. Sumner: son of George P. Burgwyn; called "Sum" by MacRae
Buxton, Captain Samuel: see biographical note narrative
Buxton, William T.: see biographical note narrative
Buxton, Mrs. William T. (Mary Ann Jordan): native of Smithfield, Virginia
Calvert, Margaret (or "Maggie" or "Mag"): see biographical note narrative
Calvert, Samuel: see biographical note narrative
Calvert, Mrs. Samuel, Jr. (Gulielma Faison): see biographical note narrative
Calvert, Samuel III: see biographical note narrative
Daniel, Mrs. Junius (Ellen Williams Long): see biographical note narrative
Faucett, Mrs. James W. (Willie Williams Long): see biographical note narrative
Gooch, James T.: mayor of Weldon
Gooch, Mrs. James T. (Emily Long): cousin of the other Longs and frequent visitor in Jackson
Higgs, the Rev. Gilbert: rector of the Church of the Saviour in Jackson -- see biographical note narrative
Jordan, Douglas A.: one of MacRae's close friends; a native of Smithfield, Virginia
Jordan, Mrs. Douglas A. (May Calvert): daughter of Mrs. Samuel Calvert, Jr.
Kee (occasionally spelled "Key" in the diary): hotel keeper in Garysburg, N.C.; about 9 miles from Jackson
Lewis, Benjamin: father of Dr. H.W. Lewis; a lawyer who lived in Brunswick County, Virginia
Lewis, Mrs. Benjamin (Ellen E. Wilkins): born at Belmont plantation in western part of Northampton County; a frequent visitor in Jackson at the houses of her son (Dr. Lewis) and daughter (Mrs. W. Paul Moore)
Lewis, Benjamin, Jr.: Dr. Lewis' brother who worked in the town for a few years as a young man
Lewis, Henry W.: the physician that MacRae called "Physic": see biographical note narrative
Lewis, Mrs. Henry W. (Sallie Ridley, formerly Mrs. John J. Long, Jr.): see biographical note narrative
Long, John J. III (son of Sallie and John J. Long, Jr.): MacRae did not like the young man
Long, Major Lemuel McKinne (Major Mac): native of Halifax County, N.C.; in 1883 married Miss Betty Mason and lived at Longview plantation in Northampton County
Long, Mrs. Lemuel McKinne (Betty Mason): daughter of Thomas W. Mason; MacRae was highly critical of her in the early portions of the diary but later changed his view
Long, Nanny W. (daughter of Sallie and John J. Long, Jr.) - MacRae admired this young woman; she was a frequent visitor at her mother's house in Jackson after her mother became Mrs. Lewis; later married Thomas B. Yuille.
MacRae, Cameron F.: see biographical note narrative
MacRae, Kate: see biographical note narrative
Mason, Thomas Williams: lawyer, Railroad Commissioner, judge. Lived at Longview plantation. A favorite of MacRae's.
Moore, William Paul: a native of Norfolk; although he was a dentist, he seems to have given up the practice after living in Jackson for several years, probably because of income from other sources. He was hospitable to MacRae and shared with him an interest in music and the bottle. Very popular in Jackson. Mrs. Moore was Ellen, sister of Dr. H.W. Lewis.: see biographical note narrative
Peebles, Calvert G. (Cal): son of William Wallace Peebles
Peebles, Ethelred John (E.J.): see biographical note narrative
Peebles, Mrs. Ethelred John (Margaret Peebles): husband and wife were first cousins
Peebles, Millard F.: son of Henry and Sally Blunt Peebles; his murder is noted in the diary
Peebles, Sarah E. (Miss Mittie): sister of Robert B. and William W. Peebles
Peebles, Robert Bruce: see biographical note narrative
Peebles, Mrs. Robert Bruce (Margaret Cameron): see biographical note narrative
Peebles, Sallie Blunt: daughter of Millard Peebles, later Mrs. Frank R. Harris
Peebles, William Wallace: brother of Robert Bruce Peebles; see biographical note narrative
Peele, Miss Pattie: sister of Mrs. Samuel Buxton
Picard, Mabel (later Mrs. Henry Benjamin Hardy): see biographical note narrative
Picard, William Thomas: see biographical note narrative
Picard, Mrs. William Thomas (Mabel Howard): see biographical note narrative
Preot family: see biographical note narrative
Randolph, Mrs. M. John (Morgianna M. Calvert): see biographical note narrative
Ransom, Matt Whitaker: United States Senator: see biographical note narrative
Ransom, Mrs. Matt Whitaker (Patty Exum): see biographical note narrative
Ransom, Matt Whitaker, Jr.: see biographical note narrative
Ridley, Francis T.: see biographical note narrative
Ridley, Julia Maclin: see biographical note narrative
Ridley, Norfleet Blunt: brother of Mrs. Sallie Ridley Long-Lewis; resident of Portsmouth, Virginia; occasional visitor in Jackson
Ridley, Mrs. Norfleet Blunt (Anna Field Ridley): daughter of Francis T. Ridley, above; occasional visitor in Jackson
Ridley, Robert, Jr.: brother of Mrs. Sallie Ridley Long-Lewis; resident of Portsmouth, Virginia; occasional visitor in Jackson
Ridley, Roberta M. (Berta or Bert): daughter of Nathaniel Thomas Ridley of Bloomfield plantation, Southampton County, Virginia (brother of Mrs. George P. Burgwyn) and Mary Thomas Ridley (sister of Mrs. Sallie Ridley Long-Lewis); occasional visitor in Jackson
Ridley, Mrs. Thomas (Margaret Ann Bynym Jordan) of Bonnie Doon plantation, Southampton County, Virginia; frequent guest of her daughter, Mrs. George P. Burgwyn
Semmes, Mrs. Bernard Brockenbrough (Frances Stuart Lewis) (Miss Fanny): sister of Dr. H.W. Lewis; her visits to Jackson before her marriage are described in some detail; MacRae liked her. After marriage, she lived in Newport News, Virginia.
Stancell, Millard F.: one of MacRae's close friends; at one time managed the local alcoholic liquor dispensary; later register of deeds of Northampton county; following the death of Alveston Burgwyn, lived at No. 24 on plat of town of Jackson
Urquhart, George S.: see biographical note narrative
Urquhart, Mrs. George S. (Susan Peebles): see biographical note narrative
Urquhart, Martha Rebecca (Pattie): half-sister of Mrs. Sallie Ridley Long-Lewis and niece of George S. Urquhart of Mowfield. She and her sisters (Louisa, Annie, and Lucy) lived at Charlie's Hope plantation, Southampton County, Virginia, and were frequent visitors in Jackson.
Weaver, Richard A. (Dick): lived near the Burgwyns and Dr. H.W. Lewis. See Number 23 on plat of Town of Jackson; a great favorite of MacRae's.
Whitfield, Janet: see biographical note narrative
Whitfield, Lucretia: see biographical note narrative
Wilkins, Bessie G.: daughter of Dr. Edmund W. Wilkins of Belmont plantation; first cousin of Dr. H.W. Lewis and Mrs. W. Paul Moore
Wilkins, Edmonia C.: sister of Bessie G. Wilkins
Wilkins, Dr. Edmund W.: uncle of Dr. H.W. Lewis and Mrs. W. Paul Moore; lived at Belmont plantation in the western part of Northampton County. On his property stood the original Town of Gaston, the eastern terminus of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad.Back to Top
The collection contains John MacRae's nine-volume daily diary, 1883-1916; letterpress copybooks, 1886-1896, of MacRae; speeches by MacRae; and miscellaneous volumes and papers. The diary describes day-to-day life and events in Jackson, Northampton County, N.C., including MacRae's long-term relationship with a local African-American woman, his fishing expeditions, and his work as a steward in the State Penitentiary in Raleigh, N.C. Among others discussed in the diary are various members of the Burgwyn family and Matt Whitaker Ransom (1826-1904). Also included are letters, 1869-1870, from Kate MacRae to her father, Cameron MacRae, describing her travels in Europe; class notes from the University of North Carolina, 1866; a baseball club treasurer's book and constitution, 1883; an account book, 1880-1889, containing accounts for meat, corn, cotton, and other goods; and political speeches and addresses given by MacRae at Confederate reunions and Masonic, Episcopal Church, and other organization meetings.
The Addition of March 2008 contains letters and related materials concerning the Scottish heritage of John Burgwyn MacRae as well as his land ownership in Northampton County, N.C.Back to Top
Personal correspondence, primarily between MacRae family members; letterpress copybooks containing personal business letters of John B. MacRae.
Letter, 27 July 1864, H.L. Ryan, Chapel Hill, to [Mr.--probably Cameron, father of John Burgwyn] MacRae, thanking MacRae for a letter of sympathy for the death of Ryan's son Rob, who was mortally wounded at Spottsylvania.
Eleven letters, 1869-1870, and two letters, c. 1869, from Katherine MacRae to her father, Cameron MacRae, describing her travels in Europe with her aunt, Emily Burgwyn. Several of the letters are incomplete. Letter, , from Emily Burgwyn to Cameron MacRae asking for additional money for their European trip.
Letter, undated, from Cameron MacRae to John Burgwyn MacRae announcing the birth of a brother; letter, undated, and short note, undated, both signed by John Burgwyn MacRae.
Two letterpress books, 1886-1896, containing copies of John Burgwyn MacRae's letters to business firms, banks, and relatives concerning orders of merchandise and books and magazines for personal use, payments for same, debt settlements, and other financial transactions.
John Burgwyn MacRae notes in his diary that he burnt all the letters he received from his father and various sweethearts, thus accounting for the lack of personal correspondence in the collection.
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Letterpress copybook, 29 October 1886-10 June 1890 (498 pages)
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Letterpress copybook, 11 June 1890-26 March 1896 (287 pages)
While MacRae's diary touches on plantation business, his legal work, politics, and Masonic events, these are peripheral to his descriptions of local personalities and daily occurrences in MacRae's life. John Burgwyn MacRae faithfully recorded weather information, his ailments and medical treatments, where and with whom he ate, correspondence received and sent, and various aspects of his social life. He devoted a fair amount of space to descriptions of individual women he encountered, both socially and sexually, and his various infatuations are a theme throughout the diaries. Much of Volume 6 is taken up with his relationship with a local black woman, with whom he had two children. He drank a good deal, off and on, periodically decreeing his intention to stop drinking so much. He also made periodic vows no longer to consort with women or use tobacco.
The early volumes recount MacRae's financial difficulties, eventually leading to the loss of his plantation and subsequent attempts to find employment (all of which he heartily hated). A seven-month stint as steward at the State Penitentiary is described in Volumes 5 and 6 (May 1899 through January 1900). After he loses the plantation, MacRae's fishing expeditions become regular themes, with the catch and conditions thoroughly recounted. Episcopal church services and sermons are described in some detail, as are concerts and plays, and various entertainments attended during out-of-town visits. MacRae's primary interest was in people and the daily social life of the Jackson community, and this is what is consistently commented upon throughout the diary.
Henry Lewis' introduction to the diary (see Biographical Note) provides much further context and identifies individuals discussed.
24 October 1883 - 24 August 1887, 561 pages
25 August 1887 - 10 December 1889, 358 pages
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10 December 1889 - 20 October 1894, 679 pages
22 October 1894 - 20 January 1897, 304 pages
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21 January 1897 - 16 October 1899, 300 pages
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15 October 1899 - 30 September 1903, 400 pages
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1 October 1903 - 19 March 1909, 502 pages
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20 March 1909 - 10 June 1911, 202 pages
10 June 1911 - 13 January 1916, 423 pages
1866, 107 pages. Lecture notes, reading notes and writings of John Burgwyn MacRae, in class of Professor A.D. Hepburn, University of North Carolina, 1866. Included are essays, compositions, and notes on Logic, Chemistry, Natural Science, and Law.
June-August 1883, 14 pages. Treasurer's book, Northampton Baseball Club, and constitution of the club.
August 1887, 159 pages. Scrapbook containing copies of poems and literary excerpts, with a few pictures.
1880-1889, 144 pages. Accounts for meat, corn cotton, etc. with various persons.
Cash accounts, 1852-1855; a few pages of short diary entries, 1872-1874, chiefly relating to religious matters; and a few copies of sentimental poems, circa 25 pages.
Account book with accounts relating to various persons, 1883-1890, circa 175 pages.
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Ledger with accounts for meat and other goods, 1894-1897, circa 450 pages.
|Oversize Volume SV-478/19||
Ledger with accounts for meat and other goods, 1896-1903, circa 400 pages.
Volumes 20-25 are scrapbooks containing chiefly newspaper clippings of poems, Civil War stories, exotic news items, and pictures, 1860s-1920s.
See folder 22 description.
See folder 22 description.
|Oversize Volume SV-478/23||
See folder 22 description.
|Oversize Volume SV-478/24||
See folder 22 description.
|Oversize Volume SV-478/25||
See folder 22 description.
Miscellaneous loose items including an invitation list of ladies to be invited to (presumably University of North Carolina) commencement exercises, 1866, and extracts from various works in reference to the clan of MacRae, undated.
Handwritten versions of three speeches given by John Burgwyn MacRae: "The duties of the Laity, especially toward Diocesan Missions," 15 February 1887; speech given Masons on behalf of the Mason-founded orphanage in Oxford, N.C., 19 December 1887; speech given to the Henry K. Burgwyn chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, 17 August 1905. Handwritten versions of four political speeches given by John Burgwyn MacRae, undated, including a speech concerning "The Supremacy of the White Race over the Colored Race."
Maps of the town of Jackson circa 1900 and Northampton County in the 19th century, 1974.
Acquisitions Information: Acc. 100739.
Letters and related materials, 1883-1913 and undated. #00478, Subseries: "5.1. Letters and Related Materials (Addition of March 2008), 1883-1913 and undated." Folder 29
Letters and related materials concerning the MacRae clan and the Scottish heritage of John Burgwyn MacRae as well as his land ownership in Northampton County, N.C.
Acquisitions Information: Acc. 101921.
Processed by: Henry W. Lewis, Barbara Aschenbrenner, Roslyn Holdzkom, 1980, September 1993, March 1994, and March 2008
Encoded by: T. Mike Childs, February 2008, and Amy Roberson, March 2008.
Additions received after March 1994 have not been integrated into the original deposits. Researchers should always check additions to be sure they have identified all files of interest to them.
Finding aid updated in March 2008 by Amy Roberson because of addition.
Finding aid updated in May 2010 by Kathryn Michaelis for digitization.
Diacritics and other special characters have been omitted from this finding aid to facilitate keyword searching in web browsers.
Finding aid updated because of addition, January 2019Back to Top