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Collection Number: 03355

Collection Title: Brashear and Lawrence Family Papers, 1802-1897.

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 1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 500 items)
Abstract Walter Brashear (1776-1860) was a physician in Kentucky before 1822 when he moved to St. Mary Parish, La., where, after acquiring Belle Island Plantation and other landholdings in the area, he became a sugar planter and state legislator. The family of Effingham (d. 1850) and Ann Townsend Lawrence (fl. 1802-1830s) lived in Bayside, N.Y., until sons Robert (fl. 1820s-1850s), Samuel Townsend (d. 1839), Henry Effingham (1809-1876?), and Effingham, Jr. (1820?-1878) moved to New Orleans to take up merchandizing and sugar planting. Henry Effingham Lawrence married Frances Emily Brashear, daughter of Walter and Margaret Barr Brashear, in 1844. The collection is chiefly correspondence among members of the Brashear, Lawrence, and related Barr, Parker, Clay, Tilton, and Townsend families. Topics include observations while travelling in Ohio, Pennsylvania (especially Pittsburgh), and Mississippi in the 1820s and 1830s; physician Walter Brashear's life in Lexington, Ky., in the 1820s; sugar growing, slavery, and medical care in St. Mary Parish, La.; Louisiana politics, especially in the 1840s; and various aspects of life in the Confederacy. Letters from the Lawrence brothers in New Orleans to their relatives in New York in the 1820s offer observations by Northerners of life in the South. Civil War correspondence and the diary of Henry Effingham Lawrence refer in some detail to military operations and the effects of the war in St. Mary Parish. Correspondence with the Lawrence children at the Louisiana Institute for the Deaf and the Dumb and the Blind at Baton Rouge, the Whipple School at Mystic River, Conn., and the Hellmuth Ladies School at London, Ont., concerns school, social life, and family matters in the 1860s and 1870s.
Creator Brashear (Family : Saint Mary Parish, La.)

Lawrence (Family : New Orleans, La.)
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 Brashear and Lawrence Family Papers #3355, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Special Collections 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
Received from Henry Effingham Eccles of Newport, Rhode Island, in 1958, 1962, 1963, 1976, and 1985.
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: Ellen R. Strong, 1963; E. Neal, 1976; Roslyn Holdzkom, May 1988; Erik D. France, October 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

Walter Brashear (1776-1860) was a surgeon, sugar-planter, an exporter of ginseng to China, and, beginning in 1834, member of the Louisiana legislature. Though born in Maryland, he was raised and lived in Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky, until 1822, when he moved to St. Mary Parish (Attakapas region), Louisiana. He acquired extensive landholdings in the area, including Belle Island Plantation, and what was known in the 1860s as the Town of Brashear or Brashear City, now Morgan City. A sketch of Walter Brashear appears in the Filson Club Quarterly, XXVII, pp.156-157.

Margaret Barr (1781-1834) of Kentucky, married Walter Brashear in 1803. The Brashears had at least six children: Mary Eliza, Rebecca Tilton, Carolina Imly, Walter B., Thomas Todd (d.1858), and Frances Emilly (1819-1895), who married Henry Effingham Lawrence (1809-1876?) in 1844.

Henry E. Lawrence was the son of Ann Townsend (fl.1802-1830s) and Judge Effingham Lawrence (fl.1802-d.1850) of Bayside, Long Island, N.Y. (Among his siblings were Samuel Townsend (fl.1820s-1839), Robert (fl.1820s-1850s), and Effingham, Jr. (1820?-1878).) He moved from Long Island to New Orleans about 1836, became a merchant, acquired Magnolia Plantation, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, and, after marrying Frances E. Brashear, became associated with the Brashear landholdings in St. Mary Parish.

Henry and Frances Lawrence had seven children, six of whom were Walter B., Townsend B. ("Towny"), Robert B. ("Bob"), Nancy B., Lydia B., and Margaret ("Maggie"). Five of these children were deaf and dumb. Frances Brashear moved to Long Island, N.Y., during the Civil War, and lived on the Brashear plantations with various of her children in her later years.

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Series 1 consists of correspondence, 1802-1887, 1897, and undated. Letters before 1844 consist of family correspondence of Brashears and Lawrences. Brashears involved in the correspondence were Dr. Walter Brashear and his wife Margaret Barr; their children; and other relatives in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Belle Island Plantation, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana; Lawrences were Ann (Townsend) and Effingham Lawrence; their children, three of whom moved to Louisiana in the 1830s; and other relatives in New York City, Albany, and elsewhere. The correspondents discussed family matters, travel and business, political affairs, weather, and health matters.

After 1844, when Henry Effingham Lawrence married Frances Emilly Brashear, correspondence is between Henry E. Lawrence and his wife as Henry carried on his business as a merchant in New Orleans and Frances lived on the Brashear plantation in the Atakapas region in the vicinity of St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, with their children. There also are letters between Frances and her children at institutions for the deaf and dumb, and other family correspondence. Letters continue to discuss family matters, travel and business, political affairs (including the Civil War), weather, and health matters. Many of the children's letters mention events and social life at institutions for the deaf and dumb.

Typed transcriptions of many letters are filed immediately before the corresponding originals. They have not been checked for accuracy by the staff of the Southern Historical Collection.

Series 2 consists of financial and legal materials, chiefly scattered items of the Brashear family, including estate records, bills, promissory notes, and receipts.

Series 3 consists of a diary kept by Henry Effingham Lawrence, Berwick Bay, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, 1862-1863.

Series 4 consists of miscellaneous materials, including writings and newspaper clippings relating to the Brashear and Lawrence families. There is also a map [circa 1960s?] and information about Morgan City and Berwick, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, and a 1982 register of the papers of Rear Admiral Henry Effingham Eccles at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1802-1843.

About 175 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly family correspondence of Margaret (Barr) Brashear and her husband Dr. Walter Brashear in Locust Grove, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Franklin, St. Mary Parish, La.; and family correspondence of Anne (Townsend) Lawrence and her husband Effingham Lawrence of Bayside, Flushing, Long Island, N.Y. The Brashear correspondence comprises Subseries 1.1.1, the Lawrence correspondence, Subseries 1.1.2.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1.1. Brashear Correspondence, 1804-1843.

About 80 items.

During the period 1804-1830, correspondents of Margaret (Barr) Brashear and Dr. Walter Brashear included their daughters Mary Eliza (d.1823), Rebecca Tilton (d.1834), Caroline Imly (d.1841), and Frances Emilly; sons Walter B., Jr., and Thomas T.; and Mrs. Brashear's sister, Mrs. Benjamin (Maria Barr) Warfield and brothers Thomas Tilton Barr (d.1833) and Robert Barr of Lexington, Kentucky. In a letter, 17 April, 1802, to Thomas T. Barr at Lexington, Kentucky, Walter Brashear explained why he abandoned the practice of medicine to become a businessman. There are scattered references in letters from Kentucky relatives of the Brashears to the families of Cassius M. and Henry Clay. (Cassius M. Clay married Mary Jane Warfield of Lexington, Kentucky, niece of Margaret Barr Brashear, in 1832). The letters chiefly discuss family matters, business dealings, school (Margaret Brashear's daughters were studying at an academy at Lexington, Kentucky), travel, and health. The letters to and from her Walter Brashear relate to medicine, selling sugar and land, buying slaves, and political events of 1827.

Most letters from 1831-1843 are to Frances Brashear from her parents and sisters. Also included are letters to Margaret Brashear's sister Maria Warfield in Lexington, Kentucky, letters from Walter Brashear to his son Robert Barr Brashear, and letters to Nancy (Rossiter) Brashear, Robert's wife. These letters chiefly discuss family matters.

Folder 1


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Folder 3


Includes references to buying enslaved people in 1827.

Folder 4


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Folder 6


Folder 7


Folder 8


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1.2. Lawrence Correspondence, 1802-1843.

About 95 items.

For the years 1802-1827, correspondents of Anne (Townsend) Lawrence and Effingham Lawrence include Anne's sister Mary Townsend Nicoll and brother Solomon Townsend in New York City and her sister Hannah Townsend [Martin?] in Albany, N.Y. Topics are chiefly family matters. There are two 1808 letters from W.E. Lawrence, London, England, to Effingham Lawrence at Bayside, N.Y., discussing business affairs and the effect of the U.S. embargo on trade with foreign nations. There are letters, June-July 1820, from Effingham Lawrence describing his trip to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, western Virginia, and Ohio, with special attention to an army arsenal near Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh itself, and the scenery in Ohio. There also are other letters from members of the Lawrence family visiting relatives and friends in New York City, Albany, and elsewhere. Other family correspondents include the children of Anne and Effingham Lawrence, especially Effingham [Jr.], Robert, Samuel Townsend, Henry Effingham and Lydia Lawrence, chiefly discussing family matters.

Items from 1829-1843 include a letter (29 November 1831) from Ann Townsend Lawrence to her 22-year-old son Henry E. Lawrence on the eve of his trip from the old Lawrence homestead in Bayside, N.Y., to New Orleans. There also are letters from Henry and his brothers Robert and Samuel Townsend in New Orleans to their mother, father, and brothers in New York, discussing business, health and other personal matters. (Robert Lawrence moved to New Orleans in 1835 and became a partner in the mercantile firm of Lawrence and Legendre; Samuel Townsend Lawrence, called Townsend, and Henry Effingham Lawrence moved to New Orleans in 1836; in 1838, Samuel Townsend moved on to Vicksburg, Mississippi.) The three brothers provide in their letters detailed descriptions of the customs and climate of the South, including a mud slide in Vicksburg, November, 1838; their business and social life in Louisiana and Mississippi; the friends they made; and frequent yellow fever epidemics, including a detailed description of the fatal illness of Samuel Townsend Lawrence in 1839. Discussion of family and community events in New York City include a fire there in 1836. There are a few references to politics. In 1841 there is mention of the desperate situation and hopes for improvement in Henry Clay's bill. There are also letters by and about the Parker family of New Orleans with whom the three brothers lived during their early years in Louisiana and whose daughter Rosella married Robert Lawrence.

A letter of special note, is from Cornelius Van Wyck Lawrence (1791-1861) at Washington, D.C., to his uncle Effingham Lawrence, 9 January 1834. Lawrence briefly described his first weeks as a member of the Twenty-third Congress. (Cornelius resigned later that year to become mayor of New York City.)

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Folder 10


Folder 11

June 1820

Folder 12

July 1820

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Folder 14


Folder 15


Folder 16


Folder 17


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Folder 19


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1844-1860.

About 175 items.

Chiefly correspondence between Henry Lawrence and Frances Emilly ("Fanny") Brashear, during their engagement and then after their marriage. They discussed growing and selling sugar, slaves, family news, and business in New Orleans. There are also letters from Nancy Brashear, Laura (Warfield) Rogers (a cousin), and Effingham Lawrence, Jr. (1820-1878). In a letter, presumably to Walter Brashear, dated 2 February, 1844, Alexander Barrow (1801-1846) discussed the selection of a successor to Alexander Porter, the Louisiana senator who died in January 1844, and the need to choose a Whig so that the Whigs might control Congress after Clay's election in 1845. In September 1845, there are references to a new baby of Henry and Fanny Lawrence; on 6 November 1848, Fanny B. Lawrence refers to her children Walter, Townsend (Towny), and Robert (Bob); and in January, 1850, she refers to the birth of Nancy Barr Lawrence. Other Lawrence children who are mentioned include Lydia and Margaret ("Maggie").

For the period 1852-1860, most items are letters exchanged between Fanny and Henry Lawrence and their relatives including Lydia Lawrence (wife of Cornelius Van Wyck Lawrence), Hannah T. Lawrence (sister of Henry), and Mary (Lawrence) Mickle, discussing family matters. Beginning in 1860 there is correspondence between Fanny and her children, Walter B., Robert B., and Towny (Townsend B.) Lawrence at the Louisiana Institute for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind at Baton Rouge.

Folder 20

January-June 1844

Folder 21

July-December 1844

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Folder 23


Folder 24

January-February 1849

Folder 25

March-December 1849

Folder 26


Folder 27


Folder 28


Folder 29


Folder 30


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. 1861-1865.

About 50 items.

Scattered family letters describing the effects of the war on social conditions, family life, agricultural pursuits, and business matters. In a letter dated 24 April 1861, Lydia T. Lawrence wrote to her brother Henry E. Lawrence, Bayside, New York, about the "unholy and uncalled for war," noting that Fred Townsend was a reluctant colonel in the "15th" [3rd] New York Infantry Regiment, and that the social atmosphere in New York was bellicose. In a letter from Berwick Bay, Louisiana, Henry E. Lawrence wrote on 2 July 1861 to "My Dear Sister" of a portent, a comet, heralding the Confederate victory at the Battle of Big Bethel, Virginia; he mentioned work on the fortifications around Berwick Bay, and expressed general confidence in the ability of the Confederacy to emerge victorious. In a letter from Franklin, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, 10 December [1862?], Henry Effingham Lawrence warned Frances Brashear Lawrence of an outbreak of smallpox in camp, and advised her to have their children vaccinated immediately.

In a 27-page letter dated 10 August 1863, Henry E. Lawrence at Wileswood[?], Louisiana, described to his sister Mary, the fighting in the area of Berwick Bay, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, and its effect on him and his family, the weakness of the Confederate army and government, and his assessment and advice for the future. A typed transcription of much of the letter immediately precedes it. (See also Series 3, Henry E. Lawrence's diary, for the period 1862-July 1863.) There is also correspondence in late 1863 with the family in New York about Fanny and the small children moving to New York to live with sister Lydia.

There is a fragment of a letter from Henry E. Lawrence to his wife that mentions the registration by the Confederate government of all males between the ages of 45 and 55, the devastation in the Berwick's Bay area, and the dark future of the Confederacy. In another letter fragment, 20 October 1864, Fanny's cousin Julia Hunt, in Toronto, described to Henry E. Lawrence her feelings of disgust upon reading of the behavior of the Union Army, and how she and other women were furnishing clothing to Confederate prisoners of war throughout the North.

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Folder 32


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Folder 34


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.4. 1866-1887, 1897.

About 90 items.

Chiefly correspondence of Fanny and Henry with their children who were at various schools while Fannie was living in Bayville, Long Island, N.Y., and Henry was in New Orleans and at Magnolia Plantation, Plaquemines Parish. Walter, Bob, Towny, and Maggie were students at the Whipple's School, Mystic River, Connecticut. In 1874 and 1875, Nancy attended Miss Bolton's School, Middletown, Connecticut, and Lydia attended the Hellmuth Ladies College in London, Ont. After 1874 there is much correspondence between the daughters referring to personal and family matters and school. Other letters chiefly discuss family matters, school, and social conditions.

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Folder 36


Folder 37


Folder 38

January-April 1875

Folder 39

June 1875-1887, 1897

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.5. Undated.

About 18 items.

Undated letters chiefly discuss Lawrence and Brashear family matters, weather, and social conditions.

Folder 40

Undated correspondence

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1803-1874 and undated.

About 20 items.

Arrangement: Chronological.

Chiefly scattered financial and legal papers of the Brashear family, including estate Papers, promissory notes, receipts, and marriage papers.

Items dated 1803 1860 include the following: a photocopy of a document dated 5 May 1803 from Robert Barr, father of Margaret Barr, "grant[ing] him [Dr. Walter Brashear] a license to authorize a clergyman to close the contract" of marriage; a photocopy of Walter Brashear's marriage bond, dated 5 May 1803; promissory notes (1835, 1839); a receipt (1839); "Proceedings of Family Meeting in the Estate of Robert B. Brashear," 8 February 1860; a "List of Squares and unsold lots in Town [of] Brashear," May 1860; and the will of Walter Brashear, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, 17 September 1860.

Items from the period 1870-1874 include "Names of the purchasers & owners of Lots in [the] Town of Brashear," 1870; a holograph copy of "Proces Verbal of the Sale of the Property belonging to the Estate of Robert B. Brashear," 2 May 1871; a receipt for nine cows and calves, 5 August 1871; a general bill for clothes, 1872; and receipts and bills of Frances Emilly (Brashear) Lawrence, 1874.

Undated material includes notes and a receipt.

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Folder 42


Folder 43


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Diary, 1862-July 1863.

372 pages.

A diary kept by Henry Effingham Lawrence, Berwick's Bay, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, consisting primarily of brief daily entries about weather, crops, plantation work, and business transactions. There are longer descriptions of war events, including Lawrence's experiences with Confederate and Federal troops in the St. Mary Parish area, scattered through the diary, and especially March-July 1862.

Folder 44

Diary, 1862-July 1863

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Other Material.

About 10 items.

Miscellaneous writings, newspaper clippings, a map, and a register of the donor's papers at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.

Writings include an address by Walter Brashear, probably in 1856, in answer to the inaugural address of Louisiana Governor Robert C. Wickliffe. Brashear attacked the conduct of the Democrats, especially their protection of fraudulent voting, and presented a lengthy, reasoned defense of the American or Know-Nothing Party and an argument for such a party in the existing political situation. There is a 15-page phrenological analysis of Henry E. Lawrence made by Fowler and Wells, phrenologists, New York, N.Y., 12 June 1858. There is also a paper, probably by Walter Brashear, on the rotation of the planets, as well as genealogical notes on the Brashear and Barr families.

Printed materials include a photocopy of the Bayside Review, Bayside, N.Y., 30 September 1892 (v.1, no.18), featuring an article on the Lawrence family's Bayside homestead; Old Folks, Bayside, N.Y., circa 1895, "Issued under the Auspices of the Epworth League of the Methodist Episcopal Church..," featuring an article entitled "Judge Effingham Lawrence and His Contemporaries," with information on the Lawrences; a brochure entitled, "History of Belle Isle [St. Mary Parish, Louisiana]," Sun Oil Company[?], [195?], about the former Brashear property; a map of Morgan City and Berwick, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, [196?], which includes a brief history of the Morgan City and Berwick area; and The Review (Morgan City, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana), 1960 Centennial Edition, containing numerous articles on St. Mary Parish during the Civil War Period.

Register of the Papers of Henry E. Eccles, Evelyn M. Cherpak, compiler, Newport, Rhode Island: Naval War College, 1982 (Naval Historical Collection, Manuscript Register Series no.6), 63p., is a simple register without annotations.

Folder 45


Folder 46

Printed Materials

Folder 47

Eccles Register

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