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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.
|Size||4.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1090 items)|
|Abstract||Family of Joseph Hoomes Davis (1809-1879), Methodist minister and educator of Virginia and North Carolina, and Anne Turberville Beale Davis (1809-1894). Principal family members included Robert Beale Davis (1835- 1864), son of Joseph Davis and his first wife, Martha Beale; Richard L.T. Beale (1819-1893), brother of Anne Davis; and the four children of Joseph and Anne, Wilbur Fisk (b. 1839), John W.C. (b. 1840), Olin (b. 1844), and Martha Anne (b. 1846). Correspondence, diaries, and other family and business papers of the Davises and their children, with scattered business items for other relatives. The letters document home and religious life; Methodist church affairs on several North Carolina and Virginia circuits; college life at Randolph-Macon College, the University of Virginia, Wesleyan Female College, and Petersburg Female College from the late 1840s through the 1850s; a rumored slave insurrection in Murfreesboro, N.C., 1856-1857; secession politics in North Carolina and Virginia; Civil War preparations and camp life, especially with the Potomac Rifles and the Topographical Engineers; teaching in the postwar period in private schools and at the University of Virginia and Virginia A & M College (now Virginia Polytechnic Institute) in Blacksburg; and farming in Westmoreland County, Va. The diaries (53 v.) provide extensive information on the daily family and religious life of Joseph and Anne Davis, 1838-1883, and the farming, social, religious, financial, school, and family affairs of their children, 1856-1860 and 1881-1920. Diaries appear for Joseph and Anne Davis; Robert Beale Davis, John W.C. Davis, and Martha ("Nannie") Davis Beale. Locations documented in the collection include Murfreesboro, N.C., and Fredericksburg, Petersburg, Lynchburg, Boydton, Charlottesville, and Hague, Va. Scattered business items include letters, 1855-1860, from tobacco factors to James Thomas, Jr., relationship unknown, of Richmond, Va., and to John and William Murphy, cousins of Anne Davis, of Westmoreland County.|
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Joseph Hoomes Davis (1809-1879) was a Methodist minister and educator who travelled Virginia and North Carolina circuits in his early years and later served as an educator and minister at various locations in the two states. In late 1854, he accepted a position as head of the Wesleyan Female College in Murfreesboro, N.C., which he left in 1859, when he joined his brother, W. T. Davis, at the Petersburg Female College. During the Civil War, Davis served as a minister in the Charlottesville area. After the war he moved to Hickory Hill in Westmoreland County, where he farmed and served as a minister.
Davis first married Martha Felicia Beale and had one son, Robert Beale Davis. After Martha's death, her sister Anne Turberville Beale took over care of Robert. The Beale sisters were the daughters of Major Robert Beale, Revolutionary veteran and planter in Madison County, Va.
In 1838, Davis married Anne, and together they raised Robert and their own children, Wilbur Fisk, John Williams C., Olin Turberville, and Martha Anne (Nannie) Davis. Robert (1835-1864) attended Randolph-Macon College and the University of Virginia, where he studied law. He was briefly in business in Murfreesboro, N.C., and, in the late 1850s, practiced law with his uncle, Richard L. T. Beale, of Westmoreland County. Robert served in the Potomac Rifles during the Civil War and was killed at the battle of Petersburg in 1864.
Wilbur Fisk Davis (b. 1839), upon graduating from Randolph-Macon College and the University of Virginia, taught school at Ashland, Clifton, Farmville, and Lynchburg, Va., and later at Union, W.Va. He married a woman named Ella, who was also a teacher, from Clifton, Va. John Williams C. Davis (b. 1840), also attended Randolph-Macon and the University of Virginia. During the war, he served briefly with the Potomac Rifles until wounded, and then joined the topographical engineers in southwestern Virginia. After the war, he taught in private schools for a while, then returned to the University of Virginia to teach chemistry. He later joined the faculty at Virginia A & M College (now Virginia Polytechnic Institute) in Blacksburg, Va. Following his academic career, Davis farmed for many years in Westmoreland County.
Olin Turberville Davis (b. 1844) and Martha Anne (Nannie) Davis (b. 1846) attended school at Wesleyan Female College and Petersburg Female College. Olin graduated from Petersburg Female College in 1860 and Nannie shortly after. After graduation, they both taught school. Nannie married Robert H. Beale and settled near Hague, Va.Back to Top
This collection contains the papers of itinerant Methodist minister, Joseph Davis, of Virginia and North Carolina, his wife, Anne Turberville Beale Davis, and their children, Robert Beale, Wilbur Fisk, John Williams C., Olin, and Martha Anne (Nannie). Also included are scattered business papers of Robert Beale Davis and John W. C. Davis and of relatives, George, John, and William Murphey of Westmoreland County and James Thomas, Jr., of Richmond.
The collection includes correspondence, personal and farm diaries, and miscellaneous accounts, receipts, clippings, broadsides, school materials, genealogical notes, and other items. The bulk of the correspondence is for the antebellum period, with a substantial number of letters also appearing in the postwar period. Only a handful of Civil War letters are present. Personal diaries appear for Joseph and Anne Davis, Robert Beale Davis, and Nannie Davis Beale. A personal and farm diary appears for John W. C. Davis. Locations documented in the collection include Raleigh, New Bern, Hickory, and Murfreesboro, N.C.; Boydton, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, Farmville, Lynchburg, Richmond, Charlottesville, Blacksburg, Clifton, Greenville, and Hague, Va.; and Union, W.Va.
Series 1 contains the correspondence of Joseph and Anne Davis and their children. Much of the postwar correspondence is that of their son, John, though letters appear for all the immediate family members. The letters document the home and religious life of an itinerant minister's family; Methodist church affairs on several North Carolina and Virginia circuits; college life at Randolph-Macon College, the University of Virginia, Wesleyan Female College in Murfreesboro, N.C., and Petersburg Female Institute from the late 1840s through the 1850s; secession politics in North Carolina and Virginia; war preparations and camp life; teaching in the postwar period in private schools and at the University of Virginia and Virginia A & M College in Blacksburg; and farming in Westmoreland County. Miscellaneous business letters appearing for James Thomas, Jr., of Richmond and the Murphey brothers of Westmoreland County pertain to the sale of crops, especially tobacco.
The diaries in Series 2, comprising 53 volumes, provide extensive information on the daily and religious life of a nineteenth-century circuit minister and the difficulties his wife faced at home alone, and on their children's late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century farming, social, religious, school, and family activities. Robert Beale Davis's diary provides an excellent source on student life at the University of Virginia in the late 1850s. His and his mother's diaries also provide considerable information on family history.
Financial information on John W. C. Davis's farming activities between 1881 and 1913 appear in his diary. Limited financial information also appears in Joseph Davis's diary on his finances as a minister and, after the war, as a farmer in Hague, Va. Information also appears in Nannie Davis Beale's diary on her household finances.
The diaries contain about 300 enclosures, including clippings, accounts, receipts, bills, loan notes, broadsides, and genealogical notes.
Series 3 contains miscellaneous items pertaining chiefly to Robert H. Beale, John W. C. Davis, Robert Beale Davis, George Murphey, and Reverend James Davis. Items include accounts, invitations, broadsides, school materials, genealogical notes, clippings, and other items.Back to Top
Family and business correspondence of Joseph and Anne Davis of Virginia and North Carolina; their children, Robert, Wilbur, John, Olin, and Martha (Nannie); and other Davis and Beale relatives. The bulk of the correspondence is for the antebellum period, with a substantial number of letters also appearing in the postwar period. Only a handful of Civil War letters are present. Topics include family, Methodist church affairs, college life, teaching, farming, and politics.
Family and business correspondence of the Davis family of Virginia and North Carolina and their Virginia relatives. Principal family members are itinerant Methodist minister, Joseph Davis, who travelled on several North Carolina and Virginia circuits; his wife, Anne Turberville Beale Davis; and their children, Robert, Wilbur, John, Olin, and Nannie.
Frequent correspondents include Anne's brother, Richard L. T. Beale, and other Beale family members in Westmoreland County; Anne's Compton relatives, especially A. Compton, in Greenville; her Arnest relatives in Westmoreland County; her Ball relatives in Fairfax County; and Joseph Davis's brother, W. T. Davis, in Petersburg. Scattered business letters appear for Attorney James Thomas, Jr., of Richmond, and for John and William Murphey of Westmoreland County. A few business letters also appear for Robert Beale Davis.
The bulk of the correspondence comprises family and school letters exchanged between 1855 and 1860, while Joseph Davis was president of the Wesleyan Female College in Murfreesboro, N.C., and co-head of the Petersburg Female College, and his sons were attending Randolph-Macon College and the University of Virginia. Earlier letters are primarily those exchanged by Joseph and Anne while Joseph was travelling, and those received by the Davises from relatives and friends.
Only about 100 items are dated before 1855. Among these are letters written between 1836 and 1838 by Anne T. Beale at Hickory Hill, her family home in Westmoreland County, to her future husband, Joseph Davis, concerning her family; the welfare of Joseph's son, Robert, who remained in her care; and local church news. After marrying in 1838, Anne and Joseph wrote when he was away and she was living with their children in Boydton, Fredericksburg, and later Richmond. Their letters discuss church matters; news of family events, illnesses, births, and deaths; Joseph's travels; and his religious work. His letters frequently describe his attempts to save souls, pastoral visits, conversions, revivals, and camp meetings. Of note is a letter, dated 27 October 1853, in which Davis wrote from Lynchburg describing the results of the conference sessions, a visit from the Bishop, other clergymen attending, and the town of Lynchburg. Joseph also occasionally wrote to his children discussing similar topics during this period. Of interest is a letter he wrote his son on 7 December 1854 about his going to Murfreesboro, N.C., to be head of the Wesleyan Female College, at a salary of $1500 and board for his family.
Many of the remaining early letters are from Richard L. T. Beale, while he studied law at the University of Virginia and after he settled at his home Cabinford in Westmoreland County in the early 1840s. He wrote Anne at Hickory Hill before her marriage and later wrote her and her sons in Raleigh, Boydton, Fredericksburg, and Richmond. Beale often discussed family and neighborhood affairs, including illnesses, deaths, births, visits, camp meetings, and local duels, and frequently mentioned his crops and home affairs. Of note is a letter, dated 3 July 1849, from Richard to Wilbur Davis concerning books and history, and describing Robert Beale, Sr.'s part in the Revolution.
Scattered early letters also appear from Robert Beale, Sr., in Hague, and from various relatives in Fairfax, Westmoreland, and other Virginia counties. These letters provide mostly news of family and religious life, including discussion of revivals, meetings, and other Methodist matters. There are also a few letters between 1849 and 1854 from Robert Beale Davis at Randolph-Macon College and the University of Virginia.
Between 1855 and the Civil War, there is a large collection of Davis family letters. Mrs. Davis wrote frequently and regularly to her sons while she was living at the Wesleyan Female College in Murfreesboro, N.C., and they were away at Randolph-Macon College and the University of Virginia. Joseph Davis also occasionally wrote to his sons. Both tell of building and planting projects, revivals, students, and faculty at Wesleyan. These letters also contain parental advice and soul-searching, as well as news of the neighborhood and religious affairs of Murfreesboro. Letters of note are one, dated 6 March 1855, from Joseph Davis to his son, Robert, telling him about missionary work among South Carolina slaves organized by Bishop Capers and the Honorable C. C. Pinckney, and another, dated 5 January 1857, from Anne Davis, giving a detailed and graphic account of a rumored slave insurrection and the fear and unrest attending it around Murfreesboro. The Davis daughters, Olin and Nannie, who both attended Wesleyan, also wrote their brothers concerning life at the school.
The brothers, in turn, wrote home letters rich in information on their respective schools. They described school activities, pranks, courses, examinations, professors, and debates. Several letters of particular note appear. On 28 February 1855, Robert wrote describing his life at the University of Virginia and a Washington's birthday celebration there. In 1856, he wrote describing the dedication of the Hall of the Sons of Temperance, the attempt to get Mr. Thackery to lecture, and the employment of servants at the University. Letters from Wilbur at Randolph-Macon in November 1855 discuss the case of Dr. Deems versus Dr. W. A. Smith. His later letters in 1857 and 1858 discuss the organization of a military company at the college and politics. John W. C. Davis also wrote from Randolph-Macon describing his life there. Of note is a letter, dated 1 November 1858, in which he described the typical routine at the school, giving an hour-by-hour account of his day. Both Wilbur and John wrote later from the University of Virginia concerning the political unrest sweeping the area.
Other letters appear from Beale, Compton, Arnest, Davis, Ball, and other relatives, and from Methodist acquaintances of the Davises. Topics include politics (especially in letters the Davises exchanged with Richard Beale), missionary work, church affairs, and family news. Richard L. T. Beale often wrote between 1858 and 1860 concerning Know-Nothingism, the court system of Virginia, and the secession crisis. Robert Beale Davis returned to Murfreesboro in 1856; he began practicing law with Richard Beale in 1857. His letters to his family often discuss politics. Other correspondents of note are A. Compton of Greenville, who wrote most frequently concerning Methodist affairs, and W. T. Davis of Petersburg, who wrote concerning family and church affairs.
Scattered business letters appearing between 1855 and 1860 are from tobacco factors to James Thomas, Jr., of Richmond, and from factors to John and William Murphey of Westmoreland County. The Murpheys were cousins of Anne Davis. A few business letters also appear for Robert Beale Davis in 1858, concerning the sale of wooden rails at Murfreesboro.
Letters of Robert Beale Davis and Wilbur Davis just before the outbreak of war and of John W. C. Davis while he was serving in the Confederate Army. Letters for 1861 discuss secession, the formation and drilling of the Potomac Rifles and other Virginia companies, the procurement of arms, and family news. Correspondents include Anne T. Davis, S. C. Brickenstein, and Captain C. Dimmock of the Armory of Virginia. Anne Davis wrote most frequently concerning politics around Charlottesville and family. Of note is an undated letter to her son John concerning his military prospects and the military activities of Robert and Wilbur. Also of special interest is a letter of 16 January 1861 from S. C. Brickenstein, a law student in Baltimore, to Robert Davis, which addresses his studies, political happenings in the city, Maryland's peculiar position in the secession crisis, the Crittenden Amendment, and slavery.
Two letters were written by John W. C. Davis while he was a member of the Topographical Engineers. The first, dated 9 December 1864, from Camp Brick Church near Wytheville, describes his life in camp to his mother. The second, dated 6 January 1865, was written from Camp at Olive Branch Church to his sister Nannie. It discusses the possibility that Wilbur might join him in the Engineers and describes neighborhood responses to his company.
Chiefly family letters the Davises exchanged with each other and relatives, discussing family, farming, teaching, church, and social activities. Letters also appear from friends and fellow Methodists, and business letters appear for John W. C. Davis. In the early years of this period, about an equal number of letters appear for Joseph, Anne, Wilbur, John, and Olin Davis; beginning in the mid-1870s, the bulk of the letters are those of John W. C. Davis.
Family correspondents include Davis cousins in Petersburg and at the University of Virginia, Compton cousins in Greenville, and members of the family of Ella (Mrs. Wilbur F.) Davis. Numerous letters appear to John W. C. Davis from his friend, John T. Humphreys, in Lynchburg and in Hickory, N.C.
Topics in the family letters immediately following the war include miscellaneous business affairs, the scarcity of money, reading clubs, debating, music, and women's fashions. In 1867, letters begin to appear from the family of Ella Davis in Clifton, Va. Most of these are addressed to Olin Davis and discuss family news and mutual friends.
Letters written by Anne and Joseph Davis from Hickory Hill to their children throughout the 1870s typically give news of their farming, crops, and household activities, as well as of church and other religious affairs. Letters the Davises received from John and Wilbur provide news of Wilbur's teaching activities in Farmville and Fredericksburg in the late 1860s; John's position at the University of Virginia in the early 1870s and at A & M College in Blacksburg in 1873 and 1874; and Wilbur's teaching in Union, W.Va., in 1875. John and Wilbur also wrote concerning family and telling of events in their respective locations. Of interest is a letter, dated 16 October 1870, in which John described events in Charlottesville upon the death of General Robert E. Lee. Also of note is a letter from Wilbur of 24 February 1871 describing a great Methodist revival in Lynchburg. Later letters for this year discuss the closing down of private schools upon the arrival of Free Schools. Letters Joseph Davis received from fellow Methodists discuss mostly the affairs of the church and Methodist doctrine.
From the mid- to late 1870s, the bulk of the correspondence is that of John W. C. Davis. He received letters from friends and colleagues and from his students and frequently corresponded with school officials throughout Virginia and other southern states seeking teaching positions. Of interest is a letter of 4 July 1873 from W. H. F. Lee on the need in Virginia for a practical agricultural and engineering school. Several letters appear between 1873 and 1875 pertaining to Davis's efforts to help develop Virginia A & M College (now Virginia Polytechnic Institute) in Blacksburg. Davis also received frequent letters from a number of friends, especially John T. Humphreys, who were interested in geology and natural science. Humphreys wrote regularly from Lynchburg in the early 1870s and later from Hickory, N.C., in the late 1870s, concerning field trips they planned together, scientific experiments he was conducting, and other geological, agricultural, and mineralogical matters. He also often wrote concerning his family and other personal affairs.
Only 15 items appear between 1880 and 1896. They include letters of Robert H. Beale, who married Nannie Davis; Anne Davis; John W. C. Davis; James Thomas, Jr.; and Robbie. Most of the letters received by Robert Beale concern his finances. Of note is a letter, dated 17 August 1886, to Robert from his wife, who, anticipating her death, wrote him her last wishes. Anne Davis received several letters from her sister, Anna, concerning church affairs in Petersburg and sicknesses in the family. The correspondence of John W. C. Davis includes discussion of his farm affairs, genealogy, and Virginia Methodist conference affairs. One letter appears in 1882 to James Thomas, Jr., and pertains to items he had ordered. One letter also appears in 1889 for "Robbie" in Greenville from "Sallie," discussing personal matters.
Letters, mostly antebellum, of Anne and Joseph Davis; their children, Robert, Wilbur, John, and Olin; and other Davis family members and friends.
Letters received by Anne Davis from her friend R. A. Wingfield; her nephew, A. H. Compton, and Marie Compton in Greenville; her husband in King and Queen County, Virginia; and her niece, Emily A. Arnest, at Nomony Hall, all focus on family news, chiefly of illnesses, deaths, and births.
Three letters appear for Joseph Davis, all from his wife, who wrote from Richmond and Murfreesboro concerning her uneasiness over him in his travels, news of their children and household affairs, and affairs of the Wesleyan Female College. Of note is a letter, dated 30 November 185?, in which Mrs. Davis expresses discomfort over a spontaneously organized group of women holding an emotional prayer meeting at the college.
Letters received by Robert Beale Davis are from Robert Crawford of Eutaw, Ala.; his sister Olin in Murfreesboro; his cousin Mary Beale; his mother in Petersburg; M. Dulaney Ball in Williamsburg; and John F. Dent in St. Mary's County, Md. Both Crawford and Dent wrote concerning business; Ball wrote giving news of school expulsions at William and Mary. Davis's sister and mother most often mentioned news of family and friends and discussed happenings at Wesleyan Female College and Petersburg Female College.
While a student at Randolph-Macon College and the University of Virginia, Wilbur F. Davis received letters from his mother, his sister, Olin, and Lizzie Davis, probably a cousin. Lizzie wrote concerning her teaching in a girl's school in Petersburg and mutual friends. Mrs. Davis and Olin wrote describing religious and social affairs at Wesleyan Female College and concerning family.
John W. C. Davis received family letters while a student at the University of Virginia and several business letters while he later taught there. His sisters, Olin and Nannie, wrote from Wesleyan Female College and from Petersburg discussing their school affairs, teachers, and fellow students. Business letters discuss the election of professors at the University and the welfare of students. A fragment of a letter appears from Davis's friend, John Humphreys, who wrote concerning scientific experiments in which he was interested and his family. One letter appears from John W. C. Davis to Messrs. Stockpole & Bro. pertaining to scientific instruments he had ordered.
Letters from Anne and Joseph Davis to their sons discuss mostly family and school. One letter from Wilbur to one of his brothers also discusses family and the Wesleyan Female College.
Two letters appear to Olin Davis, one from an unidentified woman in Ashland, Va., and another from her sister-in-law, Ella Davis, in Farmville, Va. Both discuss news of family and friends.
Miscellaneous correspondence appears for members of the Davis family and relatives of Ella Davis. Family is the topic of the bulk of the letters. Letters appear from Dora in Clifton to her brother; from Anne in Southampton City to her sister; from Eugene to his sister; and from Mary L. in Finedowery to Ella in Farmville. Miscellaneous letters appear from Selby & Dulaney to James A. Davis in Hague, Va., and from William Arnold to George Murphey.
Arrangement: by author.
Personal diaries of Davis family members, Joseph Hoomes Davis, Anne T. B. Davis, Robert Beale Davis, and Martha Anne (M. Nannie) Davis Beale, and a personal and farm diary of John W. C. Davis. The diaries discuss family, church, farm, and school affairs.
Diary, in two volumes, of Anne Davis, wife of Methodist minister, Joseph Davis. First begun in Raleigh, N.C., Davis's diary contains entries for every year between June 1838 and January 1883, except 1847, 1854, 1856, 1858, 1860-1861, and 1865-1872. Volume 1 contains 170 pages dated between 1838-1859 and 1873-1883. Volume 2, 121 pages, contains diary entries for 1862-1864, a brief memoir of her life, and entries made by her husband.
The diary is fullest for the years 1838-1840, with monthly or more frequent entries for that period; after 1840, only one to seven entries appear per year. Locations at which Davis kept the diary include Raleigh, Gates County, Murfreesboro, and New Bern, N.C., and Fredericksburg, Richmond, Petersburg, Norfolk, and Westmoreland County, Va. Entries between 1873 and 1883 were made while the Davises were living at Hickory Hill in Westmoreland County. The diary contains mostly religious meditations and retrospective accounts of each year's major events. It occasionally notes the whereabouts of her husband, mentions the births of her children and visits she made, and gives her thoughts on sermons, the Methodist church, and camp meetings. Of note in Volume 1 are an "account of my convictions," dated 1851, and her description of a dream she had in 1853. Three enclosures to this volume are poems: one by her son, Robert, entitled "A Dirge," on the death of a young student at Wesleyan Female College; one by M. A. Brown entitled "The Happiest Time"; and another anonymous poem entitled "The Parted Spirit."
Volume 2 contains entries for 1862-1864 (6 pages, hand copied from the original by her son Wilbur) and Davis's memoirs (22 pages) written in 1880 and 1881. Also appearing in this volume are memoirs penned by her husband, Joseph Davis, an index he kept, notes he took on religious readings, and genealogical notes. One enclosure is a page of genealogical notes on the Davis family. Anne Davis's memoirs demonstrate clearly the difficult life of an itinerant minister's wife.
Pocket diaries of Joseph H. Davis, itinerant Methodist minister in North Carolina and Virginia, covering the years between 1855-1859 and 1864-1877. The diaries appear in seventeen volumes (Volumes 3-19), and contain almost daily entries concerning Davis's ministry, his personal life, and farm notes. Also appearing in the diary are agricultural, household, and ecclesiastical accounts. The volumes range from 48 pages (Volume 3) to 403 pages (Volume 15) in length, but average about 150-170 pages.
The diary opens with Davis beginning new duties as president of Wesleyan Female College in Murfreesboro, N.C., where he remained for four years. During these years (covered in Volumes 3-7), he wrote most frequently concerning the students and faculty at Wesleyan, his preaching, conference news, and the health of his family. Volume 8 recounts Davis's experiences as a preacher in western Virginia around Charlottesville in the last days of the Civil War and in the year following the war. This volume also contains a register of marriages Davis performed in Virginia and North Carolina between 1838 and 1854. According to the diary, after the war, Davis and his family moved to Hickory Hill, formerly the home of Anne Davis's parents, in Westmoreland County. The diary after 1866 deals with church affairs, annual conferences, details of farming, the education of his daughters, his health, and neighborhood news. Between 1865 and 1877, Davis ministered to churches near his home except for 1874 and 1875, when he served the East Norfolk Circuit. He often recorded baptisms and conversions of community members, identifying them by race.
Enclosures to the diaries are mostly newspaper clippings and accounts. Topics covered in the clippings include the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Know Nothings, use of the Wesleyan Female College lawn by the public, the financial woes of Rutherford College in North Carolina, and obituaries. Accounts are for church monies collected, travel expenses, groceries, and sundries. Of interest is a broadside, dated 24 August 1858, announcing "A Plan For the Establishment of Conference Depositories and for the Augmentation of the Capital of the Publishing House."
Diary, in two volumes, in which Robert B. Davis recorded his thoughts while a student at the University of Virginia and later while practicing law in Westmoreland County.
Volume 20 (43 pages) is dated between 18 February 1856 and 27 December 1857. It discusses details of Davis's school work, reports conversations he had with professors, and describes his friends and schoolmates, the weather, visits he made, and his future plans. Volume 20 is fullest for the period between 18 February and 31 March 1856, when Davis made almost daily entries. After falling ill in April, he made only sporadic entries. Three entries, dated 6 January, 4 October, and 27 December, appear for 1857.
Volume 21 (134 pages), maintained between 7 October 1857 and 7 March 1860, contains entries Davis made as a student and later while reading and practicing law under his uncle, Richard Beale, in Westmoreland County, Va. The diary begins with Davis's lecture notes (70 pages) from Professor John Minor's law class. Personal entries describing his reading, his amusements, and his legal experiences begin on page 72 and appear regularly between 2 August 1858 and 7 March 1860. Pages 129-130 are genealogical notes Davis made on the Beale family. The enclosure is a page of undated notes on a tribute to J. B. Hayes, first president of the "W. M. S. of the S. M. Church."
Daily diary of John Davis, kept while farming at Hickory Hill, near Hague, Va., between January 1881 and July 1913. The years 1903, 1909, and 1912 are missing from the eleven-volume diary (Volumes 22-42). Entries include a record of Davis's farm activities and accounts, notes on the weather, mention of trips, and brief discussion of events in the life of his family.
The approximately 200 enclosures appearing from Davis's diary are chiefly accounts of crops sold, sundries and publications purchased, travel expenses, and his financial dealings with local millers, merchants and others, especially his sister Nannie and her husband, Robert H. Beale. Other financial records include loan notes and receipts. A few clippings, mostly of a political nature, appear. Enclosures are dated 1874, 1880, 1884-1885, 1890-1899, 1901-1908, 1910-1911, and 1920. There are also undated enclosures.
Volumes 43-53 contain the diary of Nannie Davis Beale, widow of Robert H. Beale. The diary, kept at Sunnyside, near Hague, Va., provides details of her housekeeping, farming, visiting, entertaining, and church work. It also records the comings and goings of her children and other family members. Her two sons were away at Randolph-Macon College in the first years of the diary. Household and farm accounts appear in several volumes. Volume 47 contains a record of poultry and eggs.
Enclosures to the volumes, dated 1912, 1915, 1933, and undated, consist mostly of accounts for travel expenses, poultry, groceries, and clothing. Of note is an account of monies "Collected for Female Fund by L. A. Society of Carmel Church"; Nannie Beale was treasurer of the L. A. Society. Other enclosures include bills, receipts, and miscellaneous items pertaining to church committees and boards. Of interest is an undated broadside on the Marvin Grove District Training School of Henderson Church.
Accounts, invitations, school materials, genealogical notes, clippings, and other miscellaneous items.
Accounts and receipts appear for Robert Beale Davis, George W. Murphey, John W. C. Davis, Robert H. Beale, and Reverend James A. Davis, mostly with commission merchants. Invitations appear for weddings and school activities at the Petersburg Female College and the Southern Female College. Other school materials include an undated student report form from the Classical School near Fredericksburg, Va., where Wilbur F. Davis was a professor; an undated announcement of the opening of Central High School, a boys' school in Memphis, Tenn.; and a prospectus for the "University Literary Magazine" at the University of Virginia. A program of exercises, dated May 1888, also appears for the Westmoreland County, Va., Sunday School Union.
Genealogical information on the Beale and Davis families appears in handwritten notes, epitaphs copied from gravestones, and other materials. Of interest are a 9-page, typed copy of the Revolutionary War memoirs of Major Robert Beale, Sr.; sheet music for a song, "The Grave of Uncle Line"; and a two-page sketch of the Davis family history.
Miscellaneous items include a deed for land in Westmoreland County, dated 1884, notarized by Robert H. Beale; a bill of lading for John W. C. Davis, dated 1873; a broadside from 1874 for the Christian Age Association; and two newspaper clippings from 1858. The first clipping relates to the selection of a University of Virginia alumnus for the Chair of Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology at the University of North Carolina, and the second to a sermon preached on Christian lawyers. A printed copy, dated 10 July 1858, of the New-York Price Current and a photostatic copy of a 1933 article from World Outlook concerning Bishop W. R. Lambuth also appear.
Processed by: Jill Snider, December 1991 from an inventory by B. Allan
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008
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.Back to Top