Collection Number: 03520

Collection Title: Henry Lee Reynolds Papers, 1802-1924

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.

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Size About 300 items
Abstract Henry Lee Reynolds was a native of Norwich, Conn., merchant and cotton factor of Mobile, Ala., and New York City. Also represented are members of his family, including his wife, Mary Wilson Hill Reynolds; his father-in- law, Reverend Stephen Prescott Hill, Baptist minister of Washington, D.C.; and his son-in-law, Gardiner Greene (1851-1925), judge of the Connecticut superior court and state legislator. The collection includes business and personal correspondence, financial and legal papers, and other items of the Reynolds family and relations, chiefly concerning H. L. Reynolds's companies: Reynolds, Witherspoon, & Co., a Mobile merchandizing firm, and its successor, H. L. Reynolds & Co., cotton factors and merchants in Mobile and New York. There are also many letters relating to family matters, especially since Reynolds was often in partnership with family members. During the Civil War, there are documents relating to Reynolds's arrest and detention by federal agents. Letters, 1866-1868, chiefly concern getting bales of cotton from Alabama and Mississippi planters to market in spite of federal agents' authorization to seize cotton as reparation payments. Also included are four diaries, written by unidentified female family members in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, recording daily life and family events, 1802-1840, with considerable gaps; papers relating to land warrants of the Mobile firm of Harding and Redditt, 1858-1884; documents about Greene family history; an incomplete biographical sketch of Hezekiah Smith (1737-1805), Baptist evangelist of Haverhill, Mass.; and a sketch book of Reynolds's son, Harry, containing North Carolina scenes.
Creator Reynolds, Henry Lee, fl. 1852-1884.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
This collection contains additional materials that are not available for immediate or same day access. Please contact Research and Instructional Service staff at to discuss options for consulting these materials.
Restrictions to Use
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 Henry Lee Reynolds Papers #3520, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson 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 Jerome Schickler of Brooklyn, New York, in January 1961.
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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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

Papers show that Henry Lee Reynolds of Norwich, Connecticut, was in business in Mobile, Alabama, as early as 1852, first with William A. Witherspoon in Reynolds, Witherspoon, & Co., "importers, manufacturers, and dealers in hardware ...iron and nails stoves ...cutlery ...and house furnishing articles of every description." The firm also received cotton on its accounts and sold it on the market. By 1860, Reynolds's associates were Jack P. Richardson and James C. Reynolds, Henry's nephew, and his firm was called H. L. Reynolds & Co.

In September 1861, Henry Lee Reynolds was arrested in the north by federal agents. After being detained at Fort Lafayette for two weeks, he was paroled in Washington, D.C., but not permitted to return south. After the Civil War, Reynolds's base of business operations was in New York, with his nephews William C., James C., and Alfred C. Reynolds, managing his affairs in Mobile with his old partner, Jack P. Richardson and others. Sometime in 1865, Henry Lee Reynolds became associated with L. Jacquelin Smith, forming Reynolds, Smith & Co., commission merchants, at New York, with interests in Mobile.

Henry Lee Reynolds's first wife, Martha Thomas Reynolds, died in June 1855, leaving a young son, Charles, who was cared for by his mother's relatives in Norwich. Reynolds remarried around 1859, taking as his wife Mary Wilson Hill of Washington, D.C. Mary was the daughter of the Reverend Stephen Prescott Hill, a Baptist minister. Among other children, the Reynoldses had a son, Harry Lee (born 1861), and a daughter, Louise (born 1868). Harry Lee studied law and was admitted to the Washington, D.C., bar in 1885. He may have died of tuberculosis at Asheville, North Carolina, in 1891. Louise married Gardiner Greene (1851-1925) of Norwich, Connecticut, in 1894. Greene, the son of Gardiner (1822-1895) and Mary Ricketts Adams Greene, was a judge of the Connecticut superior court and a state legislator.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Chiefly business and personal correspondence and financial and legal papers relating to Henry Lee Reynolds and other members of the Reynolds family. Also included are a few diaries, probably written by Reynolds family members, and other papers including documents relating to land warrants held by the Mobile firm of Harding and Redditt, papers about Greene family history, an incomplete biographical sketch of Baptist evangelist Hezekiah Smith (1737-1805) of Massachusetts, and a sketch book belonging to Harry L. Reynolds

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence and Financial and Legal Papers, 1851-1924.

About 230 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Business and personal correspondence, accounts, legal papers, and other business records of Henry Lee Reynolds and other members of his family. Materials relating to Harding and Redditt land warrants are filed in Series 3.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1851-1864

Papers chiefly relating to the activities of Henry Lee Reynolds's successive companies in Mobile and in New York. Antebellum papers are concerned with Reynolds, Witherspoon, & Co., the Mobile merchandizing company Reynolds ran in partnership with William A. Witherspoon. Topics covered are securing supplies from New York, sales in Alabama and Mississippi, debt collection, and other business matters. Many of the letters written in the 1850s are from Witherspoon and others who discussed not only business, but politics, economic conditions, local news and gossip, and the weather.

Family letters received by Reynolds during this period are particularly numerous in 1855 when Reynolds was at Richfield Springs, New York, and his first wife's relatives were caring for his young son in Norwich, Connecticut. In 1859, there are letters from Mary Wilson Hill, who Reynolds married that year, and, in 1861, there are letters about Reynolds's arrest and detention by federal agents, including two documents, 14 September 1861 and 24 March 1862, relating to his parole. There are also items relating to Mary's father, Baptist minister Stephen Prescott Hill, in 1851 and 1853.

Folder 1

1851-1854 #03520, Subseries: "1.1. 1851-1864" Folder 1

Folder 2

1855 January-July #03520, Subseries: "1.1. 1851-1864" Folder 2

Folder 3

1855 August-December #03520, Subseries: "1.1. 1851-1864" Folder 3

Folder 4

1856-1858 #03520, Subseries: "1.1. 1851-1864" Folder 4

Folder 5

1859 #03520, Subseries: "1.1. 1851-1864" Folder 5

Folder 6

1860-1864 #03520, Subseries: "1.1. 1851-1864" Folder 6

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1865-1924 and undated

Many 1865 letters to Reynolds in New York from nephew William C. Reynolds and others (and among Reynolds's business associates) are chiefly concerned with desperate attempts to get bales of cotton from Alabama and Mississippi planters to the speculative market to sell in payment of the planters' debts. This operation was difficult because federal agents had authorization to seize these same bales of cotton. Letters discuss the hiding, stealing, insuring, shipping, and marketing of cotton under these difficult circumstances, as well as debts and collections, suits and settlements, claims and counter-claims all over Alabama and Mississippi. They also discuss the hardware business in Mobile, general business conditions and credit, and the outlook for the future in the light of uncertain harvests of crops, government regulations, and court decisions. At the end of 1866, a small book recording cotton bought and sold by H. L. Reynolds & Co. is filed.

In addition, there are letters relating to rental property Reynolds owned in the Mobile area and other investments he held in the north, and occasional letters from A. H. Jones, a cotton broker in Augusta, Georgia, telling about his business and about the general business climate there. In 1869, there are letters from T. A. Hamilton in Mobile that discuss a suit pending against Reynolds in connection with some cotton shipments.

There are only a few letters after 1866. One is an 1868 letter about Reynolds's election as vestryman at the Church of the Ascension in Washington, D.C. Items dated 1873-1924 are chiefly personal and family letters about miscellaneous family matters. Correspondents include Stephen Prescott Hill (1873, 1881); Harry L. Reynolds (1881-1885); Louise Reynolds Greene (1873, 1883, 1911); and Gardiner Greene (1894, 1896, 1922). There are two letters in 1893 and one in 1922 relating to the Adams family. Five letters, 1923-1924, are from Reginald Reynolds to Gardiner Greene about efforts to publish a translation of German fairy tales that Greene had produced.

There are a few undated letters and fragments, none of which is very substantial.

Folder 7

1865 January-July #03520, Subseries: "1.2. 1865-1924 and undated" Folder 7

Folder 8

1865 August-November #03520, Subseries: "1.2. 1865-1924 and undated" Folder 8

Folder 9

1865 December #03520, Subseries: "1.2. 1865-1924 and undated" Folder 9

Folder 10

1866 #03520, Subseries: "1.2. 1865-1924 and undated" Folder 10

Folder 11

1868-1869 #03520, Subseries: "1.2. 1865-1924 and undated" Folder 11

Folder 12

1873-1924 #03520, Subseries: "1.2. 1865-1924 and undated" Folder 12

Folder 13

Undated and fragments #03520, Subseries: "1.2. 1865-1924 and undated" Folder 13

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Diaries, 1802-1840.

4 items.

Diaries written by three or four different members of the Reynolds family at Philadelphia and Norwich, Connecticut. Although some of the diarists cannot be identified, it appears that they were of same generation; it is possible that they were all children of Phebe Reynolds, who died in 1818. Information in the volumes reveals that the following person were participants in the activities described in them: Abby L. Reynolds Hommedieu of Norwich, Connecticut; Enoch and Sara Reynolds of Georgetown (Washington, D.C.); and Charles and Phebe Reynolds of Norwich. Also mentioned are Joseph, a seagoing man based at Philadelphia; Eliza; Hannah; and others. The writer of Volume 4 had two nephews, Charles L. and Henry L. Reynolds, who made frequent trips to Mobile and New Orleans.

Folder 14-15

Folder 14

Folder 15

Volume 1: December 1802 - April 1803, 30 pages; Volume 2: 7 December 1803 - 23 August 1804, 50 pages. #03520, Series: "2. Diaries, 1802-1840." Folder 14-15

These volumes may have been written by the same person, a woman living in Philadelphia. Topics include the activities of family and friends, social affairs, and local events. The writer may have been the sister of Abby, Enoch, and Charles.

Folder 16

Volume 3: 1820-1829, 14 pages. #03520, Series: "2. Diaries, 1802-1840." Folder 16

Diary with short, infrequent entries, bearing the name Abby L. Hommedieu of Norwich, Connecticut, on the flyleaf. Topics include local social and church events and the comings and goings of Reynolds family members.

Folder 17

Volume 4: 1811-1840, 30 pages. #03520, Series: "2. Diaries, 1802-1840." Folder 17

Diary with short, infrequent entries, of a woman living in Norwich, Connecticut. Topics include family and church events, religious meditations, sermons heard, missionary activities of the Chelcy Society. The writer mentions the "death of my mother, Mrs. Phebe Reynolds" in 1818. From 1829 through 1835, there are entries relating to the journeys of nephews Charles L. and Henry L. Reynolds to Mobile and New Orleans. In 1836, there is mention of sister-in-law Sarah, widow of Enoch Reynolds.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Papers, Ca. 1840s-1884 and undated.

About 40 items.

Miscellaneous items, including papers, 1858-1884, relating to land-warrants of the firm of Harding and Redditt that were maintained as a separate file by Henry Lee Reynolds; papers relating to Greene family history; and two volumes, one an incomplete draft of a biographical sketch of Hezekiah Smith and the other a sketch book belonging to Harry L. Reynolds.

Folder 18

Harding and Redditt papers, 1858-1884. #03520, Series: "3. Other Papers, Ca. 1840s-1884 and undated." Folder 18

Papers chiefly relating to land-warrants of the Mobile firm of Harding and Redditt. Included is correspondence, 1880-1884, of Reynolds, Harry L. Reynolds, and various persons in Alabama about Alabama land-warrants that turned up in an office occupied by Reynolds and that had been assigned to Reynolds in 1860 in payment of an obligation by the Harding and Redditt firm. Also included are deeds and other papers, 1858-1859, of Alexander T. Redditt and Jarvis B. Harding, relating to their land acquisitions and turpentine business in Beaufort County, North Carolina, and Baldwin County, Alabama.

Folder 19

Greene family history. #03520, Series: "3. Other Papers, Ca. 1840s-1884 and undated." Folder 19

Items relating to genealogy, including obituaries, clippings, and a typed copy of a memoir written by Mary Ricketts Adams Greene about her life in New Orleans in the 1840s and 1850s.

Folder 20

Incomplete draft, 32 pages, of biographical sketch of Hezekiah Smith (1737-1805), noted Baptist evangelist of Haverhill, Massachusetts. #03520, Series: "3. Other Papers, Ca. 1840s-1884 and undated." Folder 20

The author of the sketch is unidentified, and the draft covers only chapters 5-7. Smith, a traveling preacher and Revolutionary War army chaplain, is associated with the founding of Brown University and of the Warren Association.

Folder 21

Sketch book, 13 pages, of Harry L. Reynolds. #03520, Series: "3. Other Papers, Ca. 1840s-1884 and undated." Folder 21

Pencil sketches, with several North Carolina scenes. A tipped-in sketch appears to have been executed by another artist.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, April 1991

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

This inventory is based on a previous inventory prepared by Brooke Allan in January 1961.

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