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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.
|Size||About 7000 items (10.0 linear feet)|
|Abstract||The collection is chiefly correspondence of Nims, Rankin, and Spratt family members, most in Mount Holly, Gaston County, N.C., and Fort Mill, York County, S.C. Included are several letters, 1850s, describing railroad building in the South; some letters with detailed information about slaves and Native Americans in Georgia; and a few letters, 1860-1865, showing the centrality of the Civil War in the lives of family members and discussing life in the Confederate army. Letters, 1865-1907, deal chiefly with family life, including discussions of the family's agricultural interests and its cotton mill in Mount Holly, N.C. A few letters relate to service in a hospital in the Philippines during the Insurrection. After 1910, correspondence increasingly centers around Spratt family members in Mount Holly, chiefly the women, who included a Gaston County, N.C., social worker and a professor of home economics at Cornell University. All of these women wrote frequent and highly detailed letters, most dealing with their time as college students and later with routine family matters, fashion, and sewing. Also included are family financial and legal papers, including labor contracts with freedmen in 1866; writings; school materials; genealogical materials relating to the White, Spratt, Jenkins, Rankin, and Campbell families; diaries with short entries by some of the Spratt and Rankin women; clippings; and photographs, chiefly of family members and soldiers from Camp Greene in Charlotte, N.C.|
|Creator||Nims (Family : Gaston County, N.C.)
Rankin (Family : Gaston County, N.C.)
Spratt (Family : Mount Holly, N.C.)
|Curatorial Unit||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.
Frederick Nims, son of James and Lucy Boyden Nims, was born 29 May 1810 in Conway, Mass. He studied civil engineering at Andover and, after graduating at age 25, began working for the Georgia State Railroad. Nims surveyed and was a contractor for various railroads in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. On 20 November 1855, he married Elizabeth White of Fort Mill, S.C. In 1859, he bought a farm and mill in Gaston County, N.C., where he died in 1867.
Elizabeth White Nims Rankin, daughter of Susan Rachel Spratt and Joseph White, was born on 13 November 1835 at Fort Mill, S.C. Between 1856 and 1867, Elizabeth and Frederick Nims had five sons and two daughters: Luther (1856-1930), Frank White (1858-1876), Susie Spratt (1860-1887), Frederick (1862-1951), Annie (1864-1864), Edward (1865-1867), and Boyden (1867-1927). On 18 February 1874, Elizabeth married Wade D. Rankin, with whom she had two daughters: Eleanor Wade (called Nell; also called Chet by her sister Bess) (1875-1965) and Elizabeth White (called Bess and Bessie; also called Carrie by her sister Nell) (1877-1963). The sisters lived with their parents until their deaths. When Eleanor Wade Rankin married Roy Spratt (1876-1928) from Chester, S.C., in 1904, he came to live with the family. Wade D. Rankin died in 1906. Elizabeth White Nims Rankin died at Mount Holly, N.C., in 1908.
Boyden Nims, whose wife was named Edna Jackson, earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Michigan and was a chemist in Columbia, S.C. He had a heart attack while running towards a fire at his pleasure park, Boyden Arbor Picnic and Campgrounds, and died in 1926. Also included are Luther Nims and his wife, Eunice Nims, of the Nims Manufacturing Company, which produced cotton yarns in Mount Holly, and Frederick Nims (d. 1953) of Fort Mill, S.C., who married Floride Harrison.
Children of Eleanor Wade Rankin Spratt and Roy Spratt were: Wade Rankin (1904-1962); Frances Marion (1906-1997); Elizabeth White (1908-1999); Eleanor Royden (1912-1999); and Julia Caldwell (1916-1938).
Wade Rankin Spratt went to the University of Virginia, Rutherford College, and North Carolina State College. He became an engineer with Duke Power and lived with his wife, Mabel Rankin Spratt, whom he married in 1928, first in Chapel Hill, N.C., and then in Spencer, N.C., Pelzer, S.C., and finally in Belmont, N.C. Wade and Mabel had one son, Wade R. Spratt, Jr.
Julia Caldwell Spratt (called Coddie) attended Mitchell College in Statesville, S.C., and died in 1938 at age 22 in an automobile accident. Elizabeth White Spratt (called Bink, Binks, Inkie, Shortie, Lal, Libba) had surgery in 1921 because of scarring resulting from burns suffered when she was 4 years old; attended Queens College and the North Carolina College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., in the late 1920s; lived in Mount Holly; and worked for most of her life in social services in Gaston County. Frances Marion Spratt (called Toots, Til, and Tiltz) attended the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, N.C.; taught school in Spencer, Statesville, Mooresville, and Mount Holly, N.C.; received a Masters Degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.; and became a professor in the Clothing and Textile Division of the University of Texas in Austin, Tex. She later moved to the New York State College of Home Economics at Cornell University from which she retired to Mount Holly in 1967. Eleanor Spratt (called Leen and Lena) attended school in Greensboro in the early 1930s, then pursued a retail career in Asheville, N.C. She married Cliff T. Beatty in 1941 and lived with him in Long Island, N.Y., and, during World War II, in the Canal Zone. The Beattys had three children: Eleanor Wade (called Nell), born in the Canal Zone in 1944, who attended North Carolina State University and received a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan; Nancy Todd (called Nan) (b. 1946), who attended Peace Academy in Raleigh, N.C., in the 1960s, married in 1963, attended Meredith College, and was graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Elizabeth Caldwell (called Bess) (b. 1947), who attended Wake Forest University and received a Ph.D. from Florida State University. Eleanor Beatty married George Hacker in 1960.
For additional information, see genealogies and family histories in Series 2.Back to Top
The collection is chiefly correspondence of Nims, Rankin, and Spratt family members, most in Mount Holly, N.C., and Fort Mill, S.C. Many letters, especially in the 1850s, are from Frederick Nims to Horace Nims describing railroad building and other labor in the South. Limited but detailed information about slaves and Native Americans in Georgia appears in Frederick's earlier letters. There are a few letters, 1860-1865, showing the centrality of the Civil War in the lives of family members and discussing life in the Confederate army. Letters, 1865-1907, deal chiefly with family life, including discussions of the family's agricultural interests and of Luther Nims's cotton mill in Mount Holly, N.C. Some of Boyden Nims's letters relate to his service in a hospital in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. In the 1900s, Boyden wrote from Ann Arbor, Mich., where he was professor of physiology at the University of Michigan. After 1910, correspondence increasingly centers around Spratt family members in Mount Holly, chiefly Eleanor Rankin Spratt, her husband Roy Spratt, and their children: Wade Spratt, who became an engineer for various power companies in North Carolina and South Carolina; Julia Caldwell Spratt, who died in an automobile accident in 1938; Elizabeth Spratt, who worked in social services in Gaston County, N.C.; Frances Spratt, professor at the New York State College of Home Economics at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.; and Eleanor Spratt, who married first Cliff T. Beatty, with whom she had three daughters, then George Hacker. All of these women wrote frequent and highly detailed letters, most dealing with their lives as college students and later with routine family matters, fashion, and sewing.
There are also family financial and legal papers, including labor agreements with freedmen in 1866; writings; school materials; genealogical materials relating to the White, Spratt, Jenkins, Rankin, and Campbell families; diaries with short entries by some of the Spratt and Rankin women; clippings; and photographs, chiefly of family members and friends on leave in North Carolina during World War I.Back to Top
Arrangement: chronological by year.
Early letters are chiefly between Frederick Nims and his brother Horace Nims, and between Elizabeth White Nims Rankin and her children and two husbands. Letters concern business affairs, family life and events, and local and national politics.
Correspondence from the 1830s includes a few detailed letters from Frederick Nims to relatives in Massachusetts describing conditions of slaves and Native Americans observed while he was on railroad surveying teams in Georgia. Letters from the 1840s follow some Nims family members as they moved from Massachusetts to Michigan and Horace as he joined Frederick in the South.
The 1850s letters from Frederick to Horace describe their lives and concerns as railroad contractors. Common topics include the difficulty of obtaining labor (primarily hired slaves), the treatment of labor, and the weather, and how these factors affected the speed, cost, and quality of railroad work. There is also scattered correspondence with fellow railroad contractors. The Nims brothers commented on the profitability of land speculation near Charlotte, N.C. Frederick also offered advice to Horace about marriage. Other correspondents include relatives who often asked for financial help and described illnesses and deaths.
Correspondence from 1860 to 1865 shows the centrality of the Civil War in the lives of family members largely located in Gaston County, N.C., and Fort Mill, S.C. Letters to and from soldiers in Virginia in the Confederate army concern battles, conscription, destruction, deaths, Sherman's march, and food shortages and hardships on the home front.
Letters from 1865 to 1907 deal chiefly with family life, including discussions of the family's agricultural interests and of Luther Nims's cotton mill in Gaston County, N.C. Many of the letters written around the turn of the century are to and from Elizabeth's son, Boyden Nims, and relate to his work in a hospital in the Philippines during the Insurrection and his activities at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he earned a Ph.D. in chemistry. A few letters written in this period mention racial tensions and race riots in the South.
Nims and Rankin family members are still important in materials after 1910, particularly Elizabeth White Rankin (called Bess) of Mount Holly, N.C., and Boyden Nims. Correspondence after 1910, however, chiefly documents the lives of the women of the family. See the biographical note for information about family members nicknames and activities.
Undated letters are particularly voluminous due, in part, to the curious habit of some correspondents who razored out postmarks on envelopes and dates and the names of recipients and, on occasion, of writers on the letters themselves.
Includes descriptions of the conditions of enslaved people and Native Americans in Georgia.
Loose financial and legal materials include several labor contracts between Frederick Nims and freedmen in 1866 and some statements listing slave purchases. Also included are routine bills, receipts, promissory notes, records of general merchandise purchases and estate settlements, land purchases, stock reports, and slight account books. Volumes are chiefly account books and ledgers.
Loose financial and legal materials: 1860s #04255, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials, 1840s-1960s and undated." Folder 212
Contains labor contracts between Frederick Nims and freedmen.
|Oversize Volume SV-4255/1||
Volume 1: Account book of Frederick and Horace Nims, 1853, #04255, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials, 1840s-1960s and undated." SV-4255/1
Pertaining to personal and business loans.
|Oversize Volume SV-4255/2||
Volume 2: Account book of Horace Nims, 1854 and 1875-1880 #04255, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials, 1840s-1960s and undated." SV-4255/2
Pertaining to the Granby Quarry in South Carolina, 1854, and to other businesses, 1875-1880
|Oversize Volume SV-4255/3|
|Oversize Volume SV-4255/4|
Account book of Nims Manufacturing Company, circa 1897-1900 #04255, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials, 1840s-1960s and undated." Box 20
Acquisitions Information: Accession 101664 (Addition of September 2012).
Photographs include many World War I era images, some of soliders from Camp Greene in Charlotte, N.C. There are also a few portraits and snapshots of unidentified individuals. Writings include Elizabeth Rankin's recollections of her life and family. School materials include school notebooks and a few assignments, chiefly for classes in domestic science, 1910s-1930s. Diaries have short entries by Eleanor Spratt, 1940s; Bess Rankin, 1960; and Frances Spratt, 1940-1993 and undated. Genealogical materials are chiefly family trees, and birth, death, and marriage records of the White, Campbell, Rankin, Jenkins, and Spratt families. Spratt family records refer to the period beginning roughly in 1735 and continuing through the late 19th century. Clippings, 1847-1988, chiefly document family activities and deaths of family members. There are a few clippings relating to the Nims-Rankin-Spratt home in Mount Holly, N.C.
Image Folder PF-4255/1-2
|Image Folder PF-4255/3|
|Image Folder PF-4255/4||
Post card with image of soldier, circa 1918 #04255, Series: "3. Other Materials, 1847-1993 and undated." PF-4255/4
Acquisitions Information: Accession 101664 (Addition of September 2012).
Post card received by oy Spratt.
Diary of E.W. Rankin, circa 1906 #04255, Series: "3. Other Materials, 1847-1993 and undated." Box 20
Acquisitions Information: Accession 101664 (Addition of September 2012).
[Elizabeth White Nims Rankin].
Image Folders: PF-4255/1-4
Oversize Volumes: SV-4255/1-4 and photographs (P-4255/folders 1-3).Back to Top
Processed by: Lu Ann Jones and Roslyn Holdzkom, October 2001
Encoded by: Roslyn Holdzkom
Updated by: Roslyn Holdzkom, October 2002
Updated: May 2019Back to Top