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.
|Size||5.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 2400 items)|
|Abstract||Arnold family of Providence, R.I., and Bryan County, Ga., and Screven family of Savannah, Ga., whose members included Richard James Arnold (1796-1873), husband of Louisa Carolina Gindrat and native of Providence, R.I., who owned several plantations in Georgia; James Proctor Screven (1799-1859), rice planter, Savannah physician, mayor, and railroad builder, and his wife, Hannah Georgia; her father, Joseph Bryan (1773-1806); and James and Hannah Georgia Screven's son, John Screven (1827-1900), husband of Mary White Footman, rice planter, Confederate officer, mayor of Savannah, and president of the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad Company. The Arnold and Screven families were united in 1870 by the marriage of John and Mary Screven's daughter, Elizabeth Woodbridge (b. 1852) to Richard and Louisa Arnold's son, Thomas Clay Arnold (1836-1875). The collection includes papers of members of the Arnold and Screven families, chiefly 1818-1900. Included are business correspondence, financial and legal materials, and a farm journal of Richard James Arnold; and family and business correspondence, financial and legal materials, writings, farm journals, genealogical information, and other materials of members of the Screven and related families, including papers of Joseph Bryan, his daughter Hannah Georgia and her husband James Proctor Screven, and their son John Screven.|
|Creator||Arnold (Family : Providence, R.I.)
Screven (Family : Savannah, Ga.)
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.
Richard James Arnold (1796-1873) of Rhode Island married Louisa Caroline Gindrat of South Carolina and Georgia in 1824. They alternated residence between Arnold's home in Providence, and White Hall plantation in Bryan County, Georgia, which Louisa had inherited from her maternal great-grandfather, Captain James McKay. Arnold spent much of his time in the South accumulating land, and when the Civil War started he owned several plantations in Georgia and South Carolina. During the war, Richard James Arnold apparently returned to Providence while his sons remained in Georgia to manage the plantations.
The Arnolds had nine children. Seven lived to adulthood, including Thomas Clay Arnold, who married Elizabeth Woodbridge Screven in 1870. Prior to this marriage, the Arnold and Screven families had mutual business interests in the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railway (later the Atlantic & Gulf Railway), a segment of which was constructed through Arnold land. For a more complete biography of Richard James Arnold, see Charles Hoffman, North by South: The Two Lives of Richard James Arnold (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1988).
Three generations of the Screven family were civic leaders of Savannah, Georgia, and rice planters in the marshy lands surrounding the city: Major John Screven, his son James Proctor Screven, and his grandson John Screven. Although each generation was nurtured by productive and feisty women, three men in particular emerge as focal points of the family's history. John Screven (d. 1830) was the son of Elizabeth Pendarvis Bryan (widow of Josiah Bryan) and John Screven. He married Hannah Proctor and they had three children who lived to adulthood, including a son, James Proctor Screven (1799-1859). When Hannah died, John married her sister Sarah Proctor; most of their children did not survive infancy. Sarah and her widowed sister Martha Proctor Richardson together ran the Screven household in Savannah.
James Proctor Screven attended Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1820. He continued his studies for several months in Europe, but had returned permanently to Savannah by 1823. His marriage to his cousin Hannah Georgia Bryan in 1826 reunited the Screven and Bryan clans. During the early years of their marriage, James Proctor and Georgia lived in Savannah, where he entered into a medical partnership with Dr. William C. Daniell in 1828. Early in the 1830s James Proctor gave up his medical practice and moved his wife and their two children, John (b. 1827) and Ada (b. 1831) to the Bryan estate, Nonchalance, on Wilmington Island near Savannah. There the Screvens grew rice, had two more children, Thomas Forman (b. 1834) and George Proctor (b. 1839), and began to enlarge the family's landholdings. In the 1840s James Proctor bought Ceylon and Brewton Hill plantations on the Georgia mainland, and by 1859 the Screven family also owned Union Ferry and Proctor's plantations as well as land on Tybee Island. In 1849, Screven's interests took yet another turn when he was elected an alderman of Savannah and the family returned to the city. In this same year, John Screven married Mary White Footman.
The 1850s were a decade of political and commercial successes for James Proctor Screven and his son John. James Proctor was elected on the Democratic ticket to the Georgia Senate, where he used his influence to inaugurate the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railway in a scheme to connect the Atlantic seaboard at Savannah with the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile. James Proctor Screven was the president of this company until his death in 1859. Screven was also very active in Savannah commerce and politics as an investor in the new Savannah Hotel Company, superintendent of Savannah Water Works (1855), commander of the Savannah Volunteer Guard, and mayor of Savannah (elected in 1856). John Screven, a lawyer, assisted his father in many of his business ventures and managed the family's plantations.
John Screven followed in his father's footsteps as president of the railroad, commander of the Savannah Volunteer Guard during the Civil War, and mayor of Savannah during Reconstruction. His wife died during the war (circa 1863), leaving him with several young children. John married Mary Eleanor Nesbitt Brown shortly after the war and they had two daughters before her death in 1883. Screven's daughter Elizabeth ("Bessie") Woodbridge (b. 1852) was married to Thomas Clay Arnold from 1870 until his death in 1875. Screven's Arnold family grandchildren seem to have lived much of their lives away from Savannah.
For more detailed biographical information about the Screven and related families, see Series 1.1 which has been organized and described according to significant events in family history.Back to Top
This collection is composed of two distinct series. Items in the first series deal almost exclusively with the plantations of Richard James Arnold and contain little information about personal or family matters. In contrast, materials in the second and larger series document both family and business concerns of three generations of the Screven family. Nevertheless Major John Screven, and his father John, remain shadowy figures at best; his son James Proctor Screven and grandson John are the principal creators of these papers. Correspondence and financial and legal papers in Series II have been arranged chronologically with subseries determined by dates of events significant enough to signal a change in the cast of characters and/or subjects treated.Back to Top
Correspondence, financial and legal Papers, and a farm journal document Arnold's acquisition and development of several plantations, located primarily in Bryan County, Georgia.
Chiefly business correspondence related to Richard James Arnold's plantation building activities in Georgia. Letters show that Arnold lived at White Hall in Bryan County Georgia, usually during spring and autumn months. Included in this series are detailed instructions Arnold left for his overseers to follow during his months in Providence, Rhode Island. These instructions cover crop maintenance, building construction, labor assignments for field and household workers, disease management among the slave population, and a variety of other topics. Chief correspondents include Samuel A. Wales and Richard W. Habersham of Clarksville, Georgia, in Habersham County, both of whom acted as business agents in Arnold's land dealings.
From 1832 to 1839 letters document Arnold's activities regarding his two major plantations, White Hall and Cherry Hill. From 1840 to 1844, letters show Arnold acquired additional land in Georgia, including Silk Hope plantation. During this period he also investigated several technological improvements for his farming operation, such as a steam engine and equipment for an "eleven pestal" rice mill, which he ordered from companies in Providence. Two letters from L. Allen in December 1843 about the installation and operation of the steam engine provide the only glimpse of Arnold's Rhode Island community. Allen offered news from Providence, ruminated about the tariff, and complained about the demand for good machinists in Providence. From 1845 to 1853, Arnold acquired additional land, including Mulberry Hill and Sedgefield plantations; and became entangled in land disputes with George McAllister and William Way. There are no letters from 1854 to 1860, and none document Arnold family experiences in the Civil War. A few letters in 1861 represent the first contact between the Arnold and Screven families. Richard James Arnold and John Screven corresponded about problems in the construction of the Atlantic & Gulf (or Savannah, Albany, and Gulf) Railroad through Arnold's property. Letters from 1866 to 1868 continue to document Arnold family involvement in the Atlantic & Gulf Railway, and show Thomas Clay Arnold's responsibility for a variety of business matters.
Chiefly legal documents relating to Richard James Arnold's plantations in Georgia. Indentures, deeds, bills of sale, and mortgages, together with Arnold's own memoranda, provide ownership histories for his many land holdings. Depositions and other papers document Arnold's property disputes, especially his disagreement with William Way over the boundary between Sedgefield and Silk Hope (1850-1853).
Documents show that in addition to White Hall and Cherry Hill, Arnold acquired the plantations Silk Hope in 1840, Sedgefield in 1848, Mulberry Hill in 1849, and Orange Grove in 1857, along with various other tracts of land before the Civil War. In 1861, he deeded all of these holdings to his son Thomas Clay Arnold (7 May 1861).
Labor arrangements, chiefly for White Hall and Cherry Hill plantations, are documented by overseers' contracts and slave lists, which usually show food allowances and sometimes ages of individual slaves, or numbers of field hands and household servants. Cash accounts for 1867 document the amount of wages and provisions paid to contract laborers.
Also of note in this series are documents related to Richard James Arnold's position as trustee of the Neck River Church in Bryan County, Georgia (1838 and 1853); a proposal for a steam engine (1843); Thomas Clay Arnold's Federal pardon (1865); a deed for land sold in Providence, Rhode Island (1868); and a copy of Richard James Arnold's tax return (1869).
Although Arnold's major cash crop was rice, few crop lists show the variety of agricultural products or amount of income his plantations generated. Furthermore, there are no personal accounts documenting family or household expenses, and none showing direct participation in the Civil War.
Genealogical information, and a farm journal documenting Richard J. Arnold's supervision of his plantations while in Georgia. Entries follow a pattern revealing Arnold's residence in Georgia from January through April and October through December of the three years covered in the volume. Arnold commented particularly on farming activities at Cherry Hill, but also mentioned White Hall, Sedgefield, and Mulberry Hill. In addition, he recorded occasional family movements.
Family and business correspondence, financial and legal Papers, writings, journals, school reports, genealogical information, pictures, and other materials of the Screven and related families.
Business and family correspondence of the Screven and related families. Subseries divisions are based on dates of events significant enough to signal a change in the cast of characters and/or the subjects treated during a specific time span. This series also includes several letterpress copybooks (Subseries 2.1.9) of John Screven's outgoing correspondence. Undated correspondence (Subseries 2.1.10) is arranged by family.
Chiefly letters to Joseph Bryan (1773-1812), whose plantation on Wilmington Island, near Savannah, Georgia, was named Nonchalance. Frequent correspondents include his London factors, Simpson & Davison, who referred often to the market for Sea Island cotton; Robert Gregorie, Charleston merchant and friend who provided current Charleston gossip; and Obadiah Jones, an anti-federalist whose letters contain many observations about backcountry politics and the response to Bryan's candidacy for Congress. Bryan served as United States representative from 1803 to 1806. Also of note for this period are a few letters from Caesar A. Rodney, political colleague and friend who named his son for Bryan. Rodney wrote about his own congressional campaign and Bryan's prospects in his impending marriage to Delia Forman in 1805.
Because most letters for this period are from Bryan's business and political associates, this subseries offers only a limited view of the familial ties between the Bryans and the Screvens. Much of this information is contained in a few letters from John Screven, who wrote to William Bryan about his children's education and the Bryan estate.
Chiefly letters to James Proctor Screven from his aunt Martha Proctor Richardson and his stepmother Sarah Proctor Screven. During this period James Proctor Screven was away from Savannah, first at school in Philadelphia and later in Europe, continuing his medical studies and touring the continent. These letters reveal little of James Proctor's activities, but are rich in details of Savannah and Screven family news.
Martha Proctor Richardson was a widow living in Savannah with her sister Sarah Proctor Screven, second wife of Major John Screven. Martha wrote her nephew especially long letters containing information about a family dispute over her husband, George Richardson's estate; vivid details of urban social life, including a description of a theater curtain painted by Benjamin West and her opinion of a recent duel in town (19 December 1818); an account of a devastating fire in Savannah (18 January 1820); and many other interesting subjects.
In April 1820 several letters of introduction to various European physicians signal James Proctor Screven's preparations to travel abroad. During 1821 and 1822, Screven visited Liverpool, London, Paris, Rome, and elsewhere in France and Italy. A rare letter from James Proctor (8 September 1822) reveals his plans to return to Savannah. Letters from Martha Richardson and Sarah Screven follow him throughout his European expedition. There are no letters to him from his father, Major John Screven.
Also during this period a few letters mark the beginning of an extended correspondence between Georgia Bryan at Nonchalance on Wilmington Island, Georgia, and her grandfather, Thomas Marsh Forman, at his Rose Hill plantation in Maryland. Several letters exchanged between Delia Forman Bryan (Georgia Bryan's mother) and Sarah Proctor Screven document the continuing relationship between Bryan and Screven families.
Primarily Bryan family correspondence, especially correspondence of Georgia Bryan, and some Screven family correspondence. With James Proctor Screven at home in Savannah, Bryan family correspondence supersedes Screven family correspondence for this period. Georgia Bryan, attending school at D. Greland's in Philadelphia, wrote her grandfather and her mother about her problems and her progress. Delia Bryan, a widow managing Nonchalance and her sons' education, wrote her daughter of the difficulties she encountered. After her death (circa 1826), Major John Screven and Thomas Marsh Forman communicated about the Bryan estate and the education of Jonathan Randolph Bryan and Joseph Bryan. Georgia Bryan went to live with the Screvens in Savannah.
Correspondence for this period indicates an interval of adjustment for James Proctor Screven, who had returned to Savannah to practice medicine by 1823. He received several letters written in French (1823-1825) from Adele and Adrienne Dobry in Paris, whom he had met during his European tour. But by November 1826, Screven was engaged to his cousin Georgia Bryan. They were married in December 1826 and had their first child, John, in 1827; and their second, Ada, by 1831. No correspondence documents the relationship between Georgia and James Proctor Screven. Although he served as the health officer of Savannah in 1825 and entered into partnership with Dr. William C. Daniell in 1828, details of Screven's medical practice are rare, and in December 1831, Georgia wrote her grandfather from Nonchalance that her husband had given up medicine and moved to the farm.
Chiefly correspondence of James Proctor Screven and other Screven family members, and a small amount of Bryan family correspondence. James Proctor Screven's agricultural pursuits and political activities, the education of his son, John Screven, and family legal disputes and estate matters comprise the chief topics of correspondence for this period. Probably because James Proctor Screven spent most of his time at Nonchalance, there are few letters here from him to other family members; his activities are primarily revealed through the letters he received from relatives and business associates. These letters show that Dr. Screven was an unsuccessful states' rights candidate for Senate in 1834, and that he enlarged his land holdings in 1847 by buying Proctor's plantation in South Carolina, through the legal services of Petigru and Lesesne of Charleston.
Considerable correspondence for this period deals with James Proctor Screven's involvement in the legal and financial difficulties of his brother-in-law, Samuel M. Bond. In 1833, Screven's sister Emily died in childbirth; thereafter, Samuel M. Bond often wrote James Proctor Screven of the family's repeated crop failures and their worsening financial situation. Matters were complicated by a dispute between Martha Richardson and her niece, Emily Bond, over sixty slaves. James Proctor appears to have served as arbiter in these family disputes and benefactor of his sister's surviving children.
Correspondence between Georgia Bryan Screven and her grandfather, Thomas Marsh Forman ends during this period. Their last letters here document the trip Georgia and her children took in 1833 to visit the children's great-grandparents at Rose Hill in Maryland. No letters document the relationship between Georgia and James Proctor Screven. Georgia had two more children during this period, Thomas Forman Screven (b. 1834) and George Proctor (b. 1839).
In 1839, John Screven was sent to John S. Hart's Edgehill School in Princeton, New Jersey. Many letters for this period revolve around John's education, including several from John Screven to his parents; letters to him from his mother, Georgia, and sister, Ada; and periodic reports to James Proctor Screven from John S. Hart. In 1848, letters of introduction signal John's plans to travel to Europe, where he studied law and modern languages in London, Heidelberg, and elsewhere. Most of the letters from James Proctor Screven that survive for this period were written from Brewton Hill to his son in Europe. John had returned to Savannah by 1849, when he married Mary White Footman.
Also of interest for this period are several letters (1842-1843) from Francis Markoe to James Proctor about fossils, geological research, American science, and Screven's membership in the National Institution for the Promotion of Science. Limited Bryan family letters include several written by J. Bryan, Navy purser on the USS Potomac in Pensacola Bay, about trouble with his captain and requests for transfer (1846); and a few 1849 letters to John Screven from John Randolph Bryan discussing, among other things, Northern attitudes toward slavery.
Family and business correspondence, chiefly of John Screven, and some correspondence of James Proctor Screven. James Proctor Screven returned to live in Savannah and John Screven became his father's partner, diversifying the family's business interests during this period. Because of the extensive travel required of John and James Proctor by this expansion, this subseries contains the most substantial husband-wife exchange and plantation-related correspondence in the entire collection. Although James Proctor Screven became heavily involved in state and local politics as alderman of Savannah (elected 1849), state senator (1855), and mayor of Savannah (elected 1856), surviving letters provide only a limited view of these political activities. Instead, John Screven becomes the major correspondent in this subseries. (For an informative exception to this general pattern, see letter of 15 October 1856 for discussion of James Proctor's mayoral campaign, including activities of the Know-Nothing Party in Savannah.)
John Screven's business trips, especially in 1851 and 1859, provided the occasion for long, diary-like letters to his wife, Mary Footman Screven. In addition to accounts of his activities, Screven wrote detailed descriptions of the places he visited, including Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia; Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee; and several resort springs in Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia.
In 1853, letters show that James Proctor and John Screven helped form the Savannah Hotel Company. Scattered correspondence throughout the decade documents political arrangements, construction plans, and business relationships necessary to build and operate the hotel. James Proctor Screven was president of the hotel company.
The most important business development during this period, however, was the creation of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad Company. As president, James Proctor hoped to build a railway network linking the South Atlantic seaboard at Savannah, Georgia with the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile, Alabama. This venture took him back to Europe in 1855 with his son, Thomas Forman Screven. James Proctor wrote John (13 July 1855) that their activities in Europe included "business, sightseeing, racing and excursions to which I may add dining out.."
In spite of these increasingly demanding business and political concerns, the family's fortunes continued to depend heavily on their plantations; and during this period the Screvens expanded their land holdings by purchasing part of Tybee Island, Georgia. James Proctor's extended absences from his plantations, often with his son Thomas Forman, left John Screven to manage the family's farming interests. John wrote many long letters to his father describing his agricultural activities and seeking advice about rice culture and plantation maintenance. This correspondence continues through 1859 when James Proctor, seriously ill at the Virginia Springs, dictated his last letters in this collection to Thomas Forman. During this time, John Screven took over his father's responsibilities as acting president of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad, and kept him informed with detailed letters about personal inspections of the line and the financial condition of the business. Thomas Forman informed John of James Proctor's death at the Virginia resort on 16 July 1859. Screven was not buried in Savannah until several months later.
Also of interest during this period are a series of letters (1856-1858) to James Proctor by and about an Irish immigrant who married James Proctor's ward, Elizabeth Richardson. William Gabbett, a civil engineer, left Ireland around 1857 and settled in Atlanta. Letters document his financial prospects.
Chiefly Civil War correspondence of John Screven and the Woodbridge brothers, Robert W. and Henry H. ("Harry"), nephews of Mary Footman Screven. When the Civil War started, John Screven was captain of the Volunteer Guard in Savannah; he was soon promoted to major of Artillery (see also subseries 2.3.1). In 1861 his letters to Mary Footman Screven indicate that he was stationed at Green Island, Georgia. John's Civil War letters are informative. He wrote his wife about a variety of subjects including aid to indigent families of volunteers, defense preparations at Fort Screven, a description of General Lee and his inspection of the fort (21 November 1861); and his increasingly futile efforts to maintain the railroad in addition to his military duties. His continuing inspections of the railroad took him to a variety of places in Georgia during the war. In September 1862, John moved all of the family slaves from Ferry and Proctor's plantations to Brewton Hill to stop the flow of runaways behind Union lines. In 1863, pleading that his civilian role maintaining the railroad was more useful to the Confederacy than his office as major of artillery in the Savannah Volunteer Guard, John Screven was released from his military obligations.
Robert W. and Henry H. Woodbridge wrote interesting letters from the front lines in the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina. Some of these letters include detailed maps of battle positions; descriptions of skirmishes and evacuations; complaints of the expense of quartering in Charleston; and an eyewitness account (29 August 1863) of the sinking of a submarine-like "torpedo boat" drawn by the letter writer. By 1864, Henry was writing from the trenches at Chaffins Farm in Virginia about Confederate deserters, Negro troops, conversing with Yankee soldiers, and trading tobacco across enemy lines for everything from newspapers and paper collars to whiskey.
Mary Footman Screven spent much of the war with her children, Georgia, Elizabeth Woodbridge ("Bessie"), and James Proctor, in Athens, Georgia, at the home of George Proctor Screven, her brother-in-law. There the children attended school and corresponded with John Screven about their education. Around 1863 Mary apparently left the children in Athens to return to Savannah, and they exchanged many letters before her death that same year.
Also of note for this period are a letter (19 June 1863) from a woman in Athens, Georgia describing war conditions in town including the use of homespun and servants' shoes made from carpet; and a letter to Georgia Screven (May 1865) from E. Lamb in England declaring sympathy for the South from "almost all classes" in Great Britain.
John, Thomas Forman, and George Proctor Screven received Federal pardons in 1865. Several letters document John's attempts to secure this status for himself and his brothers.
Primarily political and business correspondence of John Screven, and some family correspondence. Reconstruction politics and postwar business concerns are the major topics of correspondence in this subseries. Serving several terms as mayor of Savannah during the 1870s, John Screven's correspondence with other Southern mayors and Georgia politicians document state and local political adjustments in the aftermath of war. Many letters reveal the financial difficulties of the Atlantic & Gulf Railway (so named after the reorganization of the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railway) which Screven served as president. Letters show some controversy among a group of stockholders who argued unsuccessfully that Screven should give up the mayor's office to devote full time to the struggling railroad. In 1880 financial considerations forced yet another reorganization of the railroad, then renamed the Savannah, Florida, & Western Railway. John Screven resigned active management of the company, but letters show he continued to take an interest in railroad business.
Thomas Clay Arnold married John's daughter Elizabeth (Bessie) Woodbridge Screven in 1870. Scattered letters to Arnold (1871-1873) discuss farm management at Cherry Hill and business and family news from Providence, Rhode Island. Thomas died in 1875, and John wrote a long letter to Bessie (January 1876) advising her about the Arnold estate and explaining why a woman should not run a rice plantation alone.
During this period, John Screven himself married Mary Eleanor Nesbitt Browne. There is much correspondence regarding an estate dispute in which his mother-in-law, Mrs. Martha Nesbitt Duncan, sought John's legal advice. She disagreed with her stepson Duncan about the disposition of the estate of her husband, William Duncan, (see subseries 2.2.4). Screven was also drawn into an estate dispute involving relatives of his first wife, the Woodbridges.
Scattered letters appear throughout this period from Screven children away at school, including James Proctor (who died in 1875); and Thomas, who attended Virginia Military Institute. John Screven's second wife died 30 June 1883.
Of special interest during this period are several 1877 letters to John about "dry culture" in Savannah, including a copy of a long letter from him relating the history of dry culture experiments in the area from 1854 to 1876; and a letter (14 October 1880) from an aging John Randolph Bryan in Fredericksburg, Virginia containing a lengthy Bryan family update. See also Subseries 2.1.9, Letterpress Copybooks.
Chiefly letters of Bessie Woodbridge Arnold and her two daughters, Louise and Mary S. Arnold ("Mamie"). Early in this period Louise wrote her mother and grandfather, John Screven, from St. Timothy's School in Catonsville, Maryland (later attended as well by Mary S. Arnold). Many letters appear in 1887 from Louise in Europe with Mrs. Samuel Green Arnold and other relatives. She visited Heidelberg, Frankfort, Berlin, Dresden, Munich, and Nuremberg, in Germany and Venice, Ravenna, and Florence in Italy, writing long letters to her family about her experiences in these and other European cities. In 1888, there is an extended correspondence between Mary S. Arnold and her mother, Bessie. By 1895 Louise Arnold was married to Frederick W. Jackson, and Bessie was living with them in Cleveland, Ohio.
Although occasional correspondence to John Screven continues to mention the political, estate, and railroad matters common to previous subseries, this period particularly documents Screven's interest in family and local history. Many letters (1888-1891) reflect his research of the Bryan family for a genealogy he was writing (see Subseries 2.3.3). Also during this period, Screven was elected president of both the Sons of the Revolution (Georgia chapter?) and the Georgia Historical Society.
His occasional references to farming conditions at Proctor's plantation in family correspondence indicate that John Screven was in semi-retirement from public life in Savannah (see subseries 2.2.4). Nevertheless, he never entirely abandoned his political interests. Scattered letters indicate his continuing interest in the rice tariff; his participation in a Savannah convention dedicated to improvement of South Atlantic harbors (1886); and his desire to be appointed a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission (1886). Toward the end of his life, letters show a return to a more active business and public life when Screven was appointed receiver of the City & Suburban Railway of Savannah in 1895 and oil inspector of Savannah from 1897 to 1899.
John Screven died in 1900.
Other family letters from this period include scattered correspondence from John Screven's children, as well as letters from their various spouses (Samuel C. Atkinson, husband of Lila Screven, and A. Campbell Wylly, husband of Martha ("Pattie") Screven). An 1887 letter from William S. Basinger describes the illness and death of Georgia Bryan Screven. John Punnet Peters, who married Screven's cousin Gabriella Forman, wrote (10 September 1888), on his way to conduct archaeological excavations in Babylon, for information to advise the people of Bulgaria about the effect of rice culture near cities. Some interesting letters from John Screven's son Thomas document his participation with the Savannah Guards in Florida during the Spanish-American War (1897) and his activities as superintendent of police in Savannah (1899). See also Subseries 2.1.9 (Letterpress Copybooks).
Copies of John Screven's outgoing business and personal correspondence. These volumes, marked "private" by Screven, contain letters about the William Duncan estate, railroad business, family matters, and other topics common to Subseries 2.1.7 and 2.1.8. These letters, in ink on thin paper, are very difficult to read.
Undated letters and letter fragments of Arnold, Screven, and related families. The letters, which chiefly relate to family matters, are arranged by family name. Arnold family correspondence relates to the family of Bessie Woodbridge Screven Arnold.
Financial and legal papers and volumes. Subseries for the unbound papers are divided according to dates which indicate significant changes in the content and/or creator of the documents.
Financial and legal papers of Joseph Bryan and John Screven. The earliest papers for this period consist of deeds and indentures which provide ownership histories of land eventually purchased by the Screvens. Other documents in this subseries include personal and household sundries accounts of Joseph Bryan; medical bills, often listing slave names and procedures performed; information regarding the Joseph Bryan estate for which John Screven served as executor; and school bills for Georgia Bryan and John Randolph Bryan. Among the many legal materials relating to Screven land holdings are several plats of plantations and tracts they purchased. Because there are no slave lists for this period, documentation of Bryan family slaves is scattered in deeds, medical bills, and other papers. Although there are no crop lists, an 1820 account for Delia Bryan indicates that she used cotton to pay for corn, blankets, bagging, and other plantation items.
Financial and legal papers of James Proctor Screven and his son John. This period opens with the marriage settlement of James Proctor Screven. The subseries chiefly documents Screven family land holdings--both plantations and town lots. It was during this period that the Screvens purchased Brewton Hill, Ceylon plantation, part of Tybee Island, and other properties. This accumulation of land is recorded in deeds, indentures, insurance policies, bills, receipts, plats, and other legal documents.
John Screven first appears in this subseries in bills for Edgehill school. His application for admission to practice law in Georgia was submitted in 1849, and although there are no records of fees charged for his services, Screven's legal career is documented by various certificates and commissions scattered through the period.
Papers for the 1850s show Screven family involvement in the Savannah Hotel Company and the Savannah, Albany & Gulf Railroad. Of particular note is an 1859 inventory of the James Proctor Screven estate summarizing Screven family holdings accumulated during much of this period.
Financial support of the Confederacy is revealed by receipts for slaves hired to the government, Confederate bonds, and other papers. The subseries ends with the presidential pardons of the Screven brothers and documents showing restoration of their lands following the Civil War.
Financial and legal papers of John Screven, relating primarily to land and railroad matters. Documents dealing with property for this period refer to rents, improvements, and sales more than to family acquisitions. Railroad papers reflect the increasing financial tribulations of the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad Company. In 1879 and afterward, legal papers show John Screven's involvement in Duncan and Woodbridge family estate disputes; and in the 1890s, his activities as receiver of the City & Suburban Railway of Savannah. A group of accounts listing the amount of rice from Proctor's plantation milled by R. W. Woodbridge, 1879-1880, represents the primary record of plantation activities for this subseries. One of the volumes in Subseries 2.2.4 contains more complete plantation account information for the postwar period.
Some financial papers of Thomas Clay Arnold also appear in this subseries during the 1870s, including a few estate papers following his death in 1875.
Bound financial and legal papers of John Screven. The volume relating to the William Duncan estate contains copies of pertinent documents, such as Duncan's will and marriage settlement; and journal-like notes of John Screven about his activities in the case, first as an executor and later as Martha Nesbitt Duncan's advisor. John Screven's plantation account book shows various accounts for Proctor's plantation including labor, insurance, repairs, equipment, stock feed and rations, cash summary, and an 1892 crop list. Another account book, which Screven titled "Securities, Bills Payable," lists securities held by John and other family members, but chiefly contains lists of notes and bills owed by him, and includes some information about life insurance. See also subseries 2.3.1.
These papers are comparable to other financial and legal materials in Series 2.2.
Farm journals, writings, genealogical notes and family histories, railroad materials, school reports and other papers relating chiefly to John Screven.
Chiefly farm journals written by John Screven. These plantation volumes contain Screven's notes about agricultural activities performed, lists of laborers, ditching tables, crop lists, tool lists, slave births and deaths, and a variety of other information, primarily about Proctor's and Union Ferry plantations.
There are also two volumes kept by John Screven unrelated to plantation work. One (Folder 179) contains notes on military affairs and was probably made while Screven commanded the Savannah Volunteer Guard in the Civil War. This volume also contains a brief diary of Screven's trip to New York immediately following the war, and an 1895 list of books in Screven's library. A Reconstruction-era volume (Folder 180) is chiefly related to business concerns but opens with an account of Screven's trip to Montgomery, Alabama, and includes entries from a trip to Europe.
The author of the 1831 journal is unidentified. It contains brief entries about farm activities and weather conditions, mentioning in particular the "W. F. place" and "Bond's".
Writings by John Screven and others.
"The Wreck of the Pulaski." According to a note by John Screven this account was copied from the original, written by Mrs. McLeod (Miss Rebecca Lamar). Virginia Bryan MacKay, daughter of Joseph and Delia Bryan, was drowned with her two children in the wreck of the Pulaski in 1838. The volume is initialed "L.M.S.," 31 January 1886. 87 pages. #03419, Subseries: "2.3.2 Writings, 1850-1999 and undated." Folder 183
Obituaries, biographical sketches, charts, and family histories chiefly collected or written by John Screven relating to his interest in Bryan and Screven family history. See also 2.3.6.
Materials relating to the Atlantic & Gulf Railroad Company, of which John Screven was president.
Grade reports of John Screven (1814) at Chatham Academy; Joseph Bryan (1828) at St. Mary's College of Baltimore; and John Screven (1839-1841) at Edgehill School, Princeton, New Jersey.
Collected materials in scrapbook, commonplace book, and unbound printed materials, including Civil War circulars and proclamations.
Processed by: Lisa C. Tolbert, May 1990
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008Back to Top