Collection Number: 01408-z

Collection Title: Simpson and Brumby Family Papers, 1847-1945

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 About 110 items
Abstract Sarah Catherine Brumby Simpson (1840-1915), daughter of John Greening Brumby (fl. 1830-1871) and Catherine Sarah Remley Brumby (d. 1863) of Benton and Goodman, Miss., is the central figure in these papers. Sarah had at least five brothers: Arnoldus (1832-1892), Robert E. (1834-1864), John Greening (1838-1863?), James R. (b. 1846), and Thomas Micajah (b. 1852); and three sisters: Virginia Carolina (1836-1915), who married a Mr. Wellons; Mary E. or Mollie (1844-1907), who married Augustus Vaughan; and Emily (b. 1848). In 1858, Sarah married Richard Simpson (d. 1871) of Covington, La., and Goodman, Miss. A businessman, Simpson traveled frequently througout Louisiana and Texas. Together they had four children. The collection includes family letters, chiefly 1858-1871, received by Sarah Catherine Brumby Simpson from her husband Richard Simpson, other family members, and friends. A handful of letters are addressed to other family members, including Sarah's brother-in-law, Augustus Vaughan. Civil War letters provide information on troop conditions and civilian hardships, especially in Tennessee and Mississippi. Other topics of interest in the letters are courtship; Arnoldus Brumby's medical practice in Mississippi; postwar economic conditions; religious fervor among women in Marietta, Ga., during the Civil War; and family life.
Creator Brumby (Family : Simpson, Sarah Catherine Brumby, 1840-1915)

Simpson (Family : Simpson, Sarah Catherine Brumby, 1840-1915)
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 Simpson and Brumby Family Papers, #1408-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
The Simpson and Brumby Family Papers consist mostly of items donated by Ralph E. Talley of Knoxville, Tennessee. Two items donated by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Brumby of Franklin, Louisiana, were merged with the gift of Mr. Talley in 1969. These items are a 15 April 1847 letter from William Winans to his nephew F. D. Richardson and a 26 September 1882 letter from Arnoldus S. Brumby to his father, John Greening Brumby.
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: Jill Snider, September 1990

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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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

Sarah Catherine Brumby Simpson (1840-1915) was the daughter of John Greening Brumby and Catherine Sarah Remley Brumby of Benton and Goodman, Mississippi. Sarah Catherine was referred to sometimes as Sarah, sometimes as Sallie, and sometimes as Kate. She had at least five brothers, Arnoldus S. (1832-1892), Robert E. (1834-1864), John (1838-1863?), James R. (b. 1846), and Thomas Micajah (b. 1852), and three sisters, Virginia Carolina (1836-1915), Mary E., called Mollie (1844-1907), and Emily (b. 1848).

In 1858 Sarah Brumby married Richard Simpson (d. 1871) of Covington, Louisiana, and moved there with him. Simpson traveled frequently throughout Louisiana and Texas as a business agent for several clients. The Simpsons had four children, Mary Ellis, Pearl, Eloise, and Richard. A letter of 4 June 1871 mentions that after Simpson's death in 1871 Sarah considered opening a millinery shop with one of her sisters, but no evidence appears to document whether she ever went through with her plans. Letters addressed to her show that Sarah lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1906, and in St. Petersburg, Florida, from 1907 until her death in 1915.

Two of Sarah's brothers, Robert E. and John Greening Brumby, Jr., lost their lives in the Civil War. Her brother Arnoldus studied medicine and became a physician in Holmes County, Mississippi. Another brother, James R., after serving in the Confederate Army, became a cooper in Marietta, Georgia. In the 1870s he set up a chair manufacturing firm there, in which he was joined by his brother Thomas Micajah Brumby. Thomas later left their partnership to set up a competing company. Sarah's sister Mary E. (called Mollie) married Augustus Vaughn, and lived in Goodman, Mississippi, and later Little Rock, Arkansas. Her sister Virginia Carolina married a Mr. Wellons and lived in Marietta, Georgia. Emily lived in Fort Gaines, Florida.

Only sketchy information is available on Sarah's children. Her daughter, Mary Ellis (called Nellie) married James C. Talley, and her daughter Eloise married T. A. Gramling. Another daughter, Pearl, remained unmarried. No evidence appears about whether or who her son Richard (also called Dick and Bud) married.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Although Sarah Brumby Simpson was the recipient of the vast majority of the letters in the collection, the insight they provide into her life is limited. Most illuminating on her personal affairs are letters she received from her husband, discussing their children and finances. The lives of her other siblings emerge more fully in the letters. They share with her news of their travels, family events, and activities, and freely discuss their feelings and worries about family, political, and social events.

The papers are useful for the study of a variety of topics, including family life in the antebellum and postwar South, the experiences of civilians and soldiers in the Civil War, and social and religious life in Louisiana and Mississippi. The Civil War letters are the fullest in terms of their emotional and factual depth.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1847-1909.

About 95 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Predominantly family letters received by Sarah Catherine Brumby Simpson between 1858 and 1871. Letters appear from her husband, Richard Simpson, her brothers Robert E. and John, her sisters Emily, Virginia, and Mary E. (Mollie), her mother, Sarah Remley Brumby, her father, John Greening Brumby, and various other family members. A few scattered letters appear addressed to her brother-in-law, Augustus Vaughn, her father, and her brother, Arnoldus S. Brumby.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1847, 1857-1858, 1860-1865.

About 55 items.

Only one letter, written by William Winans of Centreville, Mississippi, to his nephew Francis D. Richardson of St. Mary's Parish in Louisiana, appears for the 1840s. Dated 15 April 1847, Winans's letter concerns a slave, Colbert, who Richardson wished to purchase. Winans described the man as a "practical engineer," with skills in leather tanning, bricklaying, carpentry, blacksmithing, and steam-engine operation.

Between 1857 and 1858 almost all the letters are from Richard Simpson to his fiancee, Catherine Brumby, while Simpson was traveling on business and Brumby was living with her family in Benton and later Goodman, Mississippi. Letters after their marriage in June 1858 are addressed to Covington, Louisiana, where the young couple lived, and to Benton and Goodman, where Sarah sometimes stayed with her parents when Richard was traveling. Richard's frequent topics were his feelings for Sarah and news of his family and business travels. One additional letter, dated 14 September 1858, appears from Sarah's sister-in-law, Lizzie. She wrote of news in Covington, Louisiana, including a yellow fever outbreak and family events. She also described a Catholic fair and the scandal caused at it by a woman wearing a low-neck dress.

Correspondence from the Civil War years shows a family hit hard by the war. One letter to Gus Vaughn from John Greening Brumby, who was killed in 1862, discusses the poorly equipped state of his troops while camped alongside the Cumbersland River in Tennessee. Letters written to Sarah by Robert E. Brumby, mostly while he was on leave in Goodman, Mississippi, discuss troop conditions and hardships, details of battles in Tennessee, and the fate of friends and prisoners. Of note is a letter of 12 February 1863 in which Brumby described the ruins left by the war and his feelings on the Emancipation Proclamation. A number of lettters from Augustus Vaughn and other family members also mention news of the war, friends killed, and the family's grief over the deaths of John and Robert, who died in 1864. Other war topics of interest are the Confederate government's impressment of leather manufacturers (7 December 1862) and the contraband trade (9 February 1863).

Letters to Sarah from her mother, Sarah Brumby, frequently discuss religion, family news, and the hardships suffered at home during the war. Of note is a letter of 16 September 1862 discussing prayer and church meetings in Marietta, Georgia, where Mrs. Brumby was living. She also described the predominance of women in the "awakening" she saw going on around her and commented interestingly on the class structure of Marietta. Letters Sarah exchanged with her sisters and brothers concern mostly friends, family illnesses, their mother's death in 1863, and the remarriage of their father in 1864.

Folder 1

1847, 1857-1858

Folder 2


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1866-1909.

About 40 items.

Mostly letters received by Sarah Brumby Simpson from her father, her sister Mollie, and an aunt, Belle. Letters also appear from her husband, her sister-in-law, Lizzie Warren, her sister Emily, and various other relatives. Topics of interest include her father's financial hardships, Sarah's plans to go into the millinery business, the death of her husband, and news of her family. Of note is a letter of 27 May 1868 from Sarah's father concerning his disastrous attempts to plant cotton in Macon County, Ala., with his brother, A. V. Brumby.

Other correspondence consists of a few scattered letters written to or by Sarah's brother, Arnoldus S. Brumby, her daughter Eloise, her sister Virginia, her brother James, and her son Richard. Of interest is a 20 July 1879 letter from Wallace Wood to the "Household of 212-214 Charles St., New Orleans." Wood described a jealous husband's murder of his cousin after he discovered that the younger man was having an affair with his wife. Illuminating evidence of a doctor's perception of his clients appears in a letter written by Arnoldus Brumby to his father on 26 September 1882. Brumby blamed his poorer clients for being ill because of their lack of initiative in taking care of themselves. A 19 July 1893 letter addressed to James Brumby and a 2 March 1900 letter addressed to Virginia Wellons concern Brumby family genealogy.

Folder 3


Folder 4


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Other Papers, 1860-1945.

20 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Miscellaneous items, mostly newspaper clippings, but also scattered financial papers, a few genealogical notes, and greeting cards.

Five clippings, all dated 1899, relate to the exploits of Lieutenant Thomas M. Brumby in the Spanish-American War and to the welcome he received upon returning home to Atlanta. Other clippings include a 1911 editorial expressing disapproval of extravagance in funerals, a 1915 news story concerning the reburial of Richard Simmons next to his wife in St. Petersburg, Fla., and a 1915 obituary of Carolina Virginia Brumby Wellons. Two undated clippings are an editorial on Civil War casualties and a poem entitled "Kennesaw," by Montgomery M. Folsom.

Financial materials consist of an 1860 loan note belonging to Richard Simpson, an unidentified list of household articles "for Mrs. Nelson and Self," an 1871 grocery receipt for Arnoldus S. Brumby, a 1915 list of silverware, and a 1945 invoice for blueprint photostats ordered by The Brumby Chair Company.

Genealogical notes (5 handwritten pages) pertain to the military service and death of Robert E. Brumby and to the death of Arnoldus S. Brumby. Two undated Christmas cards, one signed "Mamma" and the other unsigned, and one undated Easter card, signed "Sister," appear.

A final item is a handwritten quote on the ephemerality of monetary fortune.

Folder 5

Other papers

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