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.
Funding from the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc., supported the encoding of this finding aid.
|Size||8.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 4,500 items)|
|Abstract||The Springs family of Mecklenburg County, N.C., and York District, S.C., were white plantation owners who resided at and managed Springfield Plantation, York District, S.C., along with the people enslaved by the family there and at Cornucopia plantation in Georgia, and other family-owned plantations in Cherokee County, Tex. The collection consists of family, personal, and business papers, chiefly 1845-1870, that document slavery, including health, labor, trafficking, self-emancipation, and wealth built upon the labor of, and crimes against enslaved people; freedmen labor and rights; family, especially the lives of plantation women and children who wrote home from school; North American Indian land disputes; social life and conditions, including wealthy white society, crime, and sexual promiscuity; agriculture and plantation management; financial ventures, including banking, railroads, and textile manufacturing; the American Civil War, including wartime conditions for both white people and enslaved people in South Carolina and Texas, the 6th South Carolina Infantry Regiment and the 1st South Carolina Cavalry Regiment, camp life and battles in Virginia, and Confederate politics; Reconstruction, including labor, economic conditions, and politics; race relations, including white supremacist activities and the Ku Klux Klan; and frontier life, including the perspectives of overseers and others who moved to Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas.|
|Creator||Springs (Family : Mecklenburg County, N.C.)|
|Curatorial Unit||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.|
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.
The Springs of North and South Carolina are a white family descended from the Springsteens, a Dutch family who migrated to New York in the middle of the 17th century. One line of the Springsteens later shortened their name, moved to Delaware, and from there to Mecklenburg County, N.C., circa 1776. John Springs, who led the move to North Carolina, bought property near the Square in Charlotte, as well as property in the Providence area of the county. His sons, John Springs Jr. (1751-1818) and Richard Springs (1754-1833), both of whom served in the Revolution, together amassed much greater property holdings.
John Springs Jr. resided at his father's plantation in Providence, but acquired three plantations in Lincoln County, N.C., large tracts of land on Sugar and Steele Creeks, and additional lots near the Square in Charlotte and in what later became the Myers Park area of the city. He also obtained mineral rights for some of his Mecklenburg lands and later was involved in gold mining. His brother Richard bought a tract of land on Big Sugar Creek in Lancaster District, S.C., and moved there shortly after the Revolution.
Both brothers invested in business ventures. Richard, in particular, invested in bank stocks. His son and grandson, John Springs III (1782-1853) and Andrew Baxter Springs (1819-1886), continued his practice of investing, first in banks, then in railroads, cotton mills, and other kinds of companies.
John Springs III, at the time of his marriage to his cousin Mary Springs (1778-1834) in 1806, moved to the Indian Land section of York District, S.C., a short distance from his father's Lancaster plantation, and built Springfield. At his death in 1853, his property, including lands in York District, Lancaster District, Lincoln County, and downtown Charlotte, and most of his stocks were divided among his surviving five children: Richard Austin Springs (1807-1876), who served in the South Carolina Legislature; Leroy Springs (1811-1863), who went into the mercantile business; Laura Springs Davidson (1813-1872); Andrew Baxter Springs, who served in the South Carolina Legislature, developed extensive business investments, and succeeded his father at Springfield Plantation; and Sophia Springs Myers (1821-1883).
The Springs intermarried with several other early and prominent Mecklenburg County families, in particular the Alexanders, Baxters, Moores, and the Davidsons. The Baxters, who figure importantly in these papers, had migrated to Mecklenburg from Lancaster County, Penna., just prior to the Revolution. Richard Springs married Jean Baxter (1761-1804), whose brother Andrew Baxter (1759-1816) moved to Georgia following the Revolution. Andrew Baxter's oldest son, Eli Harris Baxter (1778-1866), established himself in Hancock County, Ga., where he was a judge and the owner of a large plantation called Cornucopia. Judge Baxter also acquired a great deal of land near Alto, Tex., early in the 1850s. From then until his death in 1866, he divided his time between the management of his Texas and Georgia plantations. One of Judge Baxter and Julia Richardson Baxter's daughters, Julia Blandina Baxter (1827-1902), married her cousin Andrew Baxter Springs in 1850.
The children of "Baxter" and "Blandie" Springs, in particular Eli Baxter Springs (1852-1933), Brevard Davidson Springs (1860-1936), and Leroy Springs (1861-1931), became active in business and politics. Eli Springs became mayor of Charlotte, N.C., and later a member of the New York Stock Exchange. Brevard Springs and Leroy Springs acquired a number of cotton mills that later became Spring Mills Inc., under the management of Leroy's son Elliott White Springs.
Biographical and genealogical information is derived from the following sources: Katherine Wooten Springs, The Squires of Springfield (Charlotte: William Loftin, 1965), and Julia Amanda Springs Gibson, Lineage and Tradition of the Family of John Springs III (Atlanta: Foote and Davies Company, 1921).
See also the original finding aid, filed in folder 1a, for genealogical charts and additional biographical information about white family members embedded in series descriptions.Back to Top
The collection consists of family, personal, and business papers, chiefly 1845-1870, of the white Springs and related families of Mecklenburg County, N.C., and Springfield Plantation in York District, S.C., and the white Baxter family of Cornucopia Plantation in Hancock County, Ga., and other family lands in Cherokee County, Tex. Where the experiences and concerns of enslaved and free Black people who lived on the family plantations and in surrounding communities are documented, it is from the perspective of the white family members and their associates.
The collection is chiefly the papers of John Springs III (1782-1853), his first wife Mary Springs (1778-1834), his son Andrew Baxter Springs (1819-1886), and Baxter's wife, Julia Blandina Baxter Springs (1827-1902).
The papers were organized by the donor into two series, each arranged chronologically. The first series is comprised almost entirely of correspondence; the second series is much smaller and contains financial, legal, and military papers.
Series 1. Correspondence: Topics
Series 2. Other Papers: Topics and Formats
Series 1 has been arranged into chronological groupings. Family, personal, and business correspondence chiefly documents the experiences and concerns of the white members of the Springs and related families of Mecklenburg County, N.C., and York District, S.C., and the Baxter family of Hancock County, Ga., and Cherokee County, Tex. Where the experiences of enslaved and free Black people who lived on the family plantations and in surrounding communities are documented, it is from the perspective of the white correspondents.
Includes detailed chronological analysis of series 1 and 2 and an index of selected proper names. There are genealogical charts and additional biographical information about white family members is embedded in series descriptions.
About 40 items.
Topics include the trafficking and value of enslaved people at Princess Ann, Md., and Drummontown, Va. (1806, 1807, 1808, 1820, 1823), family and local news, business conditions in Philadelphia, quilting, and the death of an infant from whooping cough (1809).
Papers are chiefly those of Mary Springs (1778-1834), and consist of letters from her husband John Springs III (1782-1853), their children, and other Springs and Alexander family members.
About 260 items.
Topics that concern enslaved and free Black people who were part of the family plantations and surrounding communities of the white correspondents include the health of enslaved people (1837-1844); labor of enslaved people (6 June 1842, 13 December 1842, 27 December 1842); theft of the wedding suit and watch of a free Black person (June 1838); and a self-emancipated enslaved person who murdered two white men (26 July 1838).
Other topics include warfare with North American Indians in Perry County, Ala. (May 1837); family life of white plantation owners; Leroy's mercantile business; school life; the estate of Eli Springs; plantation concerns, including crops, and raising and exhibiting livestock; and investments and business dealings with the Bank of Hamburg and other companies. Letters also provide fatherly advice; impressions of Philadelphia, Charlotte, N.C., and various warm springs resorts in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia; and commentaries on the tariff controversy, nullification, currency, the U.S. Bank, and South Carolina politics. Also mentioned briefly are gold mining; and prices and politics in Alabama.
Papers chiefly involve John Springs III and several of his and Mary's children, including Mary Laura Springs (1813-1872), Leroy Springs (1811-1863), Sophia Springs (1821-1883), Richard Austin Springs (1807-1876), and especially Andrew Baxter Springs (1819-1886).
About 900 items.
Topics that concern enslaved and free Black people who were part of the family plantations and surrounding communities of the white correspondents include health of enslaved people (March 1849, July-September 1853); the suicide of Shadrack, an enslaved man (12-13 November 1845); a suspected infanticide attempt by an enslaved woman of her enslaved child (21 October 1845 and 7 November 1845); an enslaved man who reported that he had been stolen from the Springs gold mine (30 September 1846); rumors of overseers being murdered by enslaved people in Alabama (16 April 1847); trafficking of enslaved people (15 January 1848); an eye condition of Albert, an enslaved person (13 January 1849, 9 March 1849, 2 May 1949); a Black man sentenced to be hung (23 May 1849); enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act (2 October 1850); the shooting of a Black man who had been found with a (presumably) white woman in her house (23 August 1850); punishment of enslaved people caught giving food to a white family (8 and 15 August 1853); and arson, committed by enslaved people on at least one occasion (28 October 1850, 21 August 1851).
Other topics include claims involving North American Indian land (November-December 1846); family news; politics, including secession and the affairs of the South Carolina legislature; general business and economic conditions; investments in North Carolina and South Carolina banks and railroads, including the Bank of Hamburg, Bank of Camden, Merchants Bank of Cheraw, Bank of Cape Fear, the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad and other railroads; the Graniteville Manufacturing Company; cotton prices and speculation; and crops and livestock at Springfield plantation; the affairs of single women (5 June 1845); Cornucopia plantation matters; travel to and society in North Carolina, South Carolina, and northern cities; sexual promiscuity and prostitution in Charleston, S.C. (1850-1851); and crimes, including patricide (June 1849) and larceny. Also included are reports from former Springs overseers on crops, prices, land, farming methods, slavery, and the extent to which their hopes for prosperity were being realized or disappointed in Arkansas, Monroe County, Miss., Shelby County, Tenn., Perry County, Ala., and Cass County, Tex.
Papers are a mixture of family and personal correspondence and John Springs III's business correspondence.
About 700 items.
Topics that concern enslaved and free Black people who were part of the family plantations and surrounding communities of the white correspondents include the productivity of enslaved laborers on cotton plantations in Georgia and Texas (19 October 1857); the possibility of a return to trafficking of enslaved people from Africa (10 October 1858, 21 September 1859); a hiring recommendation for a Black man who was a gardener (18 October 1858); the arrest of the white Pugh family who reportedly had aided enslaved people who were planning an insurrection at Rock Hill, Va. (29 December 1860); and the punishment of an enslaved woman (2 July 1855). Letters also describe several instances of self-emancipation, including Amy, an enslaved woman who was punished for her attempt to self-emancipate (24 February 1855, 8 April 1855, 20 May 1855); the capture in Cass County, Tex., of an enslaved person who had attempted self-emancipation (18 July 1856); Gincy, an enslaved woman who had attempted to self-emancipate three times (4 July 1859).
Other topics include the settlement of the estate of John Springs III; the difficulties of transferring stock to married women; the affairs of Richard Clark Springs, half brother of John Springs III, at Cedar Spring Asylum for deaf and mute students; improvements to Springfield and to property in Statesville, N.C.; plantation affairs at Cornucopia, Marietta, and Mt. Zion in Georgia; hard times, illness, and labor needs at the family plantations in Texas; cotton crops and markets; politics and campaigns, including the Know Nothing party in Georgia, the Texas House of Representatives, and the Kansas controversy; the improper administration of a North American Indian land treaty (16 September 1854); the administration of the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad and Blue Ridge Railroad, the banks in Chester, Cheraw, Hamburg, and Newberry, the Graniteville Manufacturing Company, and various other stock investments; anticipation of war; and roads and river transportation. Also included are reports from former Springs overseers on crops, prices, land, farming methods, slavery, and the extent to which their hopes for prosperity were being realized or disappointed in Arkansas, Monroe County, Miss., Shelby County, Tenn., Perry County, Ala., and Cass County, Tex.
Papers, 1854-1860, are a mixture of family, personal, and business correspondence, chiefly addressed to Baxter Springs and his wife Blandie Springs.
About 580 items.
Topics that concern enslaved and free Black people who were part of the family plantations and surrounding communities of the white correspondents include rumors that Black people near Rock Hill, Va., committed crimes against enslaved and white women (14 November 1861); the frequency of crimes against Black women committed by Yankees (12 December 1864); civil liberty and political power for Black people after emancipation (Fall 1865); postwar relationships of freed people with their former enslavers (November-December 1865).
Other topics include civilian wartime conditions in York District, S.C.; camp life and battle conditions in Virginia; raising troops and procurement of food and supplies; defense of the South Carolina coast; political races; internal struggles of the Confederate government, including public debt and scarcity of commodities; providing food for Confederate soldiers passing Springfield and encamped near "Texas Plantation"; exemptions from military service; refugees in Shreveport; and troop morale and desertion.
Papers include many letters sent to Baxter Springs by members of the 6th South Carolina Infantry Regiment, Company B, and the 1st South Carolina Cavalry Regiment because of his service as a commissioner for the distribution of relief to soldiers' families in York District. There are also a number of letters from Frank B. Sexton, a friend and distant relative of the Springs and the Baxter families, who lived near San Augustine, Tex., and who served in the Confederate Congress. Correspondence regarding Springs' investments and the affairs of various banks, railroads, and the Graniteville Manufacturing Company is diminished for this period, though it does not cease entirely. Likewise, the volume of family correspondence is decreased, but there are occasional letters from relatives in Cedar Spring, S.C., Georgia, and Texas, and from family serving in the 28th Texas Cavalry Regiment and 34th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, Company G.
About 625 items.
Topics that concern Black people who were part of the family plantations and surrounding communities of the white correspondents include contracts with freedmen (1866) and the system of freed labor (6 January 1868, 22 September 1869); a large meeting of Black people at a Catawba church (16 August 1867); race relations, including an interracial relationship between a white man and a Black woman (27 January 1868); Black jurors in court (14 May 1867, 5 March 1869); white supremacy activities, including young white men of Hillsboro, N.C. getting up a police force (5 May 1869) and the Ku Klux Klan presence in Mebaneville, N.C. (5 May 1868, 21 October 1869); and political activism of Black people at Rock Hill (19 September 1870).
Other topics include family news, including letters from children at school; settlement of estates; and the sale of Cornucopia. There also are many business letters relating to investments; the cotton market, per J. D. Aiken and Company of Charleston, S.C.; the development of property in Statesville, N.C.; the condition of various banks, especially with regard to the banks' wartime circulation; Graniteville Manufacturing Company; railroads, including Mississippi Central Railroad and the Columbia and Hamburg Railroad; social and economic conditions, especially with regard to the Southern Famine Relief Commission operating in York District; Reconstruction politics (17 February 1866, 9 November 1866); and farming techniques in Wythe County, Va. (30 January 1868).
Of note is a letter describing the arming of students at Bingham School in Mebaneville, N.C. (5 September 1871), but otherwise the papers are scant and miscellaneous in content.
Includes a brief history of Springfield Plantation.
Largely financial and legal papers. Materials that document Black people who were part of the family plantations and surrounding communities include bills of sale for enslaved people and lists of monetary gifts given to enslaved people at Christmas. There are also various receipts from and accounts with merchants; receipts for the sale of cotton; tax receipts; tuition receipts; bills for the services of midwives and physicians; bills for work done on houses and barns; receipts for newspaper subscriptions; post office accounts; marriage agreements; wills; property valuations and inventories; lists of debts due; land surveys and plats, including a few pertaining to the transfer of lands from North American Indians; and lists of livestock exhibited.
Also included are papers relating to estate settlements for William Pettus, Frederick Dinkins, David Spratt, Eli Springs, Richard Springs, and Henry Kimbrell; the purchase of various stocks and bonds, chiefly those of the Columbia and South Carolina Railroad; proceedings of various railroad meetings and circulars (some printed); and the condition of various banks. Confederate military and administrative papers document mustering of troops in the Fort Mill, S.C., area in 1861; food supplies and provisions for South Carolina troops, including Forrest's Cavalry Brigade, and the 8th Texas Cavalry (Texas Rangers); orders issued from the Quartermaster's Office, Armstrong's Division; and the work of the Soldier's Relief Board.
Financial and legal papers, 1807-1816 #04121, Series: "2. Financial, Legal, and Other Papers, 1772-1924, and undated." Folder 210
Topics include estate of William Pettus (1813-1822).
Financial and legal papers, 1817 #04121, Series: "2. Financial, Legal, and Other Papers, 1772-1924, and undated." Folder 211
Topics include estate of William Pettus (1813-1822).
Financial and legal papers, 1818 #04121, Series: "2. Financial, Legal, and Other Papers, 1772-1924, and undated." Folder 212
Topics include estate of William Pettus estate (1813-1822).
Financial and legal papers, 1819-1825 #04121, Series: "2. Financial, Legal, and Other Papers, 1772-1924, and undated." Folder 213
Topics include estates of William Pettus (1813-1822), Frederick Dinkins (1825-1833).
Financial and legal papers, 1826-1829 #04121, Series: "2. Financial, Legal, and Other Papers, 1772-1924, and undated." Folder 214
Topics include estates of Frederick Dinkins (1825-1833), David Spratt (1829-1833).
Financial and legal papers, 1830-1832 #04121, Series: "2. Financial, Legal, and Other Papers, 1772-1924, and undated." Folder 215
Topics include estates of Frederick Dinkins (1825-1833), David Spratt (1829-1833).
Financial and legal papers, 1833 #04121, Series: "2. Financial, Legal, and Other Papers, 1772-1924, and undated." Folder 216-217
Topics include estates of Frederick Dinkins (1825-1833), David Spratt (1829-1833), Eli Springs (1833-).
Financial and legal papers, 1834 #04121, Series: "2. Financial, Legal, and Other Papers, 1772-1924, and undated." Folder 218-219
Topics include estate of Richard Springs (1934-).
Financial and legal papers, 1855 #04121, Series: "2. Financial, Legal, and Other Papers, 1772-1924, and undated." Folder 244
Topics include estate of Henry Kimbrell (1855-1858).
Financial and legal papers, 1856 #04121, Series: "2. Financial, Legal, and Other Papers, 1772-1924, and undated." Folder 245-248
Topics include estate of Henry Kimbrell (1855-1858).
Financial and legal papers, 1858 #04121, Series: "2. Financial, Legal, and Other Papers, 1772-1924, and undated." Folder 249
Topics include estate of Henry Kimbrell (1855-1858).
United States documents, 1850, 1853, 1858 #04121, Series: "2. Financial, Legal, and Other Papers, 1772-1924, and undated." Folder 263
Includes a "Lecture on Texas."
|Oversize Paper Folder OPF-4121/1|
Processed by: Susan Ballinger, 1978, and Roslyn Holdzkom, 1991
Encoded by: Nancy Kaiser, November 2005
Conscious Editing Work by: Nancy Kaiser, September 2020. Updated abstract, subject headings, biographical note, scope and content notes, and container list.
Since August 2017, we have added ethnic and racial identities for individuals and families represented in collections. To determine identity, we rely on self-identification; other information supplied to the repository by collection creators or sources; public records, press accounts, and secondary sources; and contextual information in the collection materials. Omissions of ethnic and racial identities in finding aids created or updated after August 2017 are an indication of insufficient information to make an educated guess or an individual's preference for identity information to be excluded from description. When we have misidentified, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funding from the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc., supported the encoding of this finding aid.Back to Top