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|Size||0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 480 items)|
|Abstract||George Hairston, tobacco planter of Pittsylvania County, Va.; his wife Anne Elizabeth Hairston George (1834-1925), who, after Hairston's death, married Forney George; the Hairston's son Samuel (1865-1933); and George's first cousin Louisa H. Watkins (fl. 1851-1872), her husband Peter Wilson Watkins (fl. 1851-1865) of Henry County, Va., and their son Hairston Watkins (fl. 1864-1865). Chiefly correspondence and business papers of George Hairston, 1850-1860, and his estate Papers, 1866-1898. There are also letters and financial papers of Anne Elizabeth Hairston George, Samuel Hairston, Major Peter Hairston (1752-1832), and George's father-in-law William Lash (fl. 1834-1896). George Hairston's correspondence is mostly letters with his older brother Peter W. Hairston (1819-1886). Topics include family and neighborhood life; plantation affairs, including conditions among the slaves; Virginia politics; estate settlements; civilian and military experiences during the Civil War, including the service of African-American soldiers and the service of Hairston Watkins with the 24th Virginia Cavalry Regiment and as a prisoner at Point Lookout, Md.; the work of freedmen in Virginia; and postwar finances. Of note is a series of letters in the 1850s concerning Robert Hairston's estate in Mississippi, which he tried to leave to his child by a slave. Family plantations in Pittsylvania and Henry counties, Va., and Davie and Stokes counties, N.C., are documented. Business papers include deeds and land surveys, accounts, receipts, wills, land rental agreements, clippings, advertising circulars, programs, poems, school grade reports, calling cards, and line drawings.|
|Creator||Hairston, George, 1822-1866.|
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Born in Pittsylvania County, Va., in 1822, tobacco planter George Hairston (1822-1866) was the second of Agnes John Peter (Wilson) and Samuel Hairston's seven children. In 1823, Samuel Hairston (1784-1880), who in the 1850s became known as the "richest man in Virginia," built Oak Hill plantation in Pittsylvania County. George spent his early years at Oak Hill and attended the plantation school along with his brother Peter's future wife, Columbia Stuart, and her brother, the future Confederate general, James Ewell Brown (Jeb) Stuart. Like his brother Peter, George attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, but, unlike the former, George performed poorly and left the University after several incidents.
In 1855, George Hairston married Anne Elizabeth Lash (1834-1925), the daughter of William and Anne Powell Hughes Lash of Bethany, N.C. Between 1855 and George's death in 1866, the couple and their two children, William and Samuel, lived at Berry Hill, the Pittsylvania County plantation of George's grandmother, Ruth Stovall Hairston. In 1875, Anne Hairston (often called Lizzie) married Colonel Forney George, with whom she had one child, Elizabeth Lash George (the future Mrs. Spencer James). Widowed again in 1877, Mrs. George returned to Oak Hill to live with her son Samuel. She died in Danville, Va., in 1925.
Louisa Hardyman Hairston was George Hairston's first cousin by his paternal uncle, George Hairston (1784-1863). Louisa married Peter Wilson Watkins (fl. 1846-1865) and had three children: Hairston, Nannie, and Loulie. Hairston Watkins served in the Civil War in the 24th Virginia Cavalry Regiment, and, in 1864, was held prisoner for a time at Point Lookout, Md. His first cousin, Orren W. Barrow, served as a company commander in the 24th Virginia Infantry Regiment.Back to Top
Chiefly the correspondence and business papers of George Hairston, with significant correspondence of Peter and Louisa Watkins. The bulk of George Hairston's papers appear between 1850 and 1860. His estate Papers, kept by William Lash, cover the period from 1866 to 1898. Hairston's correspondence consists mostly of letters from his older brother, Peter. Correspondence for the Watkins family is scattered between 1851 and 1872, with the bulk found in 1858 and 1864. Most of the letters are addressed to Louisa Watkins. A considerable number of Civil War items appear.
The best opportunities to be found in this collection are for the study of family and neighborhood life, estate settlements, Civil War civilian and military experiences, and postwar finances in Virginia and North Carolina. Locations best documented include Pittsylvania and Henry counties, Va., and Stokes and Davie counties, N.C. Many of the Civil War letters pertain to soldiers in Virginia's 24th Cavalry Regiment, including Hairston Watkins. His captivity at Point Lookout, Md., in 1864 is also documented. A few scattered items relate to the North Carolina 9th Brigade. The papers provide little information on individuals, other than George Hairston and Peter Watkins, for whom financial and legal papers appear.
Although information on slaves and free blacks is not extensive, what appears is of particular interest. Letters touch on antebellum free blacks in Philadelphia; the participation of African-Americans in the Union Army; and the social life of freedmen in Stokes County. Slave lists and a slave bill of sale are also included, as are receipts for crops from freedmen.
Correspondence, stretching from 1842 to 1901, consists mostly of family letters to George Hairston and his widow, Anne Elizabeth Hairston (later George), and business letters to their son, Samuel Hairston. Scattered business letters also appear for George Hairston. Letters dated between 1858 and 1865 mostly relate to the Watkins family. Topics include family and plantation affairs; internal improvements; politics; travel in New York, Philadelphia, and abroad; Civil War civilian and military life; and postwar financial arrangements. Note that the only materials relating to Jeb Stuart are clippings about his career in Series 3.
Financial and legal papers include deeds and land surveys, accounts, receipts, wills, loan notes, land rental agreements, slave lists, and a slave bill of sale, mostly relating to the plantation and legal affairs of George Hairston. The bulk of the papers belonging to others concern land acquisitions and plantation and household accounts. A few Civil War items appear in Subseries 2.4 (Peter Watkins).
Other Papers, mostly postbellum, include clippings, advertising circulars, programs, poems, school grade reports, calling cards, and miscellaneous items collected by members of the Hairston and Watkins families.Back to Top
Antebellum correspondence of George Hairston; antebellum, Civil War, and postwar correspondence of the Peter and Louisa Watkins family and postwar correspondence of George Hairston's widow, Anne Elizabeth (Lizzie) (later Mrs. Forney George), and son Samuel. Over two-thirds of the items are family letters, but scattered business letters are also included. Major correspondents are Peter W. Hairston, Orren Wilson Barrow, and Louisa Smith. Topics include family life, plantation affairs, internal improvements, politics, travel, free blacks, Civil War camp life and prisons, and postwar financial arrangements. Several letters appear between 1852 and 1859 on the settlement of Robert Hairston's estate.
Family and business correspondence, chiefly of George Hairston of Pittsylvania County, plus about 30 letters for Peter and Louisa Watkins of Henry County. Many letters are between George and his brother Peter. He also received letters from his mother, wife, several Wilson, Hairston, and Stuart relatives, and various friends. Business correspondence is chiefly with merchants and lawyers. Letters relating to the Watkinses are from Hairston and Barrow relatives and business associates. The first Watkins item appears in 1851; most are in 1858. Topics include family and plantation affairs, land acquisitions, politics, and the estate of Robert Hairston.
Peter W. Hairston wrote George frequently between 1846 and 1860. Early letters from White Sulphur Springs, Philadelphia, New York, and Oak Hill, discuss family activities, his travels, and the Mexican War (see 8 April 1847). Of particular interest is a letter from Philadelphia in April 1847, relating the story of an African-American barber who invited Peter to the dedication of a new Negro church in the city. Peter attended the dedication and wrote that the sermon he heard there was superior to those he had heard in the North Carolina backcountry.
After 1849, Peter wrote most often from his home, Cooleemee Hill, in Davie County, N.C., and from Columbus in Lowndes County, Miss. Between 1850 and 1852, his letters focus on land purchases; crops; affairs at Cooleemee Hill, Shoe Buckle, Old Town, and Home House plantations; and internal improvements. Between 1852 and 1856, he wrote from Columbus about his efforts to challenge and settle the last will and testament of their step-grandfather, Robert Hairston. Letters from Robert A. Hairston in Lowndes County, Miss., from lawyer James M. Whittle in Pittsylvania County, and from Jesse Wootton in 1852 and 1853 also discuss Robert Hairston's will. Peter's letters after 1858 describe a trip abroad he took with his wife, Fanny.
Letters to George from his mother, Agnes Hairston at Oak Hill, and his wife, Lizzie, discuss family events, illnesses, crops, church affairs, an operation George underwent in Philadelphia in 1859, and Lizzie's deep unhappiness at Berry Hill (see 4 February 1859). Of note is a letter, dated 28 February 1846, in which George's mother revealed her displeasure with Southern girls being educated in the North and discussed how the death of a young son had affected her attitudes toward child rearing.
George received a number of letters from other relatives and friends. Of interest among these is one from his cousin Sammie of Wytheville, in August 1844, mentioning a phrenologist, a costumed Scottish Highlander playing the bagpipes, and the well-attended execution of a black man for murdering another black man. Also of note is a letter from his cousin, Robert A. Hairston, a student at the University of North Carolina, in 1848, who wrote concerning his studies and the upcoming commencement. A distant relative, Nicholas P. Scales of Taladega, Ala., wrote in 1854 explaining how they were related and requesting financial assistance from Hairston. A friend, J. O. Leary of Cascade, Va., wrote in July 1859 concerning plantation affairs and his desire to marry a wealthy older woman: "Being afraid to assume the yoke for life I prefer making a short experiment of wedded life."
The bulk of the letters of the Watkins family are addressed to Louisa Watkins at "Shawnee" in Henry County from her husband, Peter; her father, George Hairston (d. 1863); and other relatives. Peter wrote Louisa several times in 1858 from Rome, Ga., and Taladega, Ala., where he seems to have had plantation business, discussing the illness and death of his sister Letitia, the cotton market, money affairs, and his return travel plans. George Hairston wrote Louisa between 1855 and 1858 from Hordsville, mentioning internal improvements, banking, and other issues before the legislature in Richmond (see 29 January 1856) and Lou's taking care of Letitia's children (see 1 December 1858). Lou also received letters from her nieces Lizzie and Joe Hairston, her aunt Ann Hairston, and others concerning family news and housekeeping. Peter Watkins received two letters from his brother T. H. (probably Thomas), discussing tobacco prices and family illnesses. He also received a number of miscellaneous business letters.
About half of the undated letters were received by Louisa H. Watkins from relatives, with the bulk of the remainder addressed to her cousin George Hairston. Scattered items appear for Peter Watkins, Lizzie Hairston, and others. The letters focus on family and neighborhood news, including discussion of illnesses, weddings, visits, deaths, and gardening. A few business letters to George Hairston discuss the operation of his mill and his financial arrangements.
Civil War letters, mostly 1864, exchanged by members and relatives of the Watkins family at "Horse Pasture" in Henry County. The bulk of the correspondence is addressed to Louisa Watkins from her nephew, Orren Wilson Barrow, a company commander in the 24th Virginia Infantry Regiment, and to her son, Hairston Watkins, while he served in the Virginia Cavalry and was held prisoner at Point Lookout, Md. Private Watkins's mother, father, sister Nannie, cousin Orren, and aunt Louisa R. Smith wrote him often during his stay at Point Lookout. Scattered correspondence appears for Nannie Watkins, Peter Watkins, George Hairston, and a Colonel George Wortham of the North Carolina Brigade's 9th Regiment.
Orren Barrow's letters, written from near Taylorsville and Hanover Junction, Va., and from his regiment's headquarters on the Appomattox and James rivers, are informative and detailed, describing camp life, troop morale, skirmishes, the treatment of Confederate prisoners, and news of family members. He frequently reported on the whereabouts and activities of Hairston Watkins; Wat Barrow (his brother); and John Armstead, a friend who was being held prisoner in Elmira, N.Y. Barrow wrote from near Taylorsville on 22 December 1863 concerning strong abolitionist sentiment in Henry County, and from "the Trenches" on 26 August 1864 concerning engaging African-American soldiers in battle, reporting "great indignation felt in the Brigade at the idea of [N]egro soldiers being any ways near us."
A few letters from Hairston Watkins to his family discuss camp life near Richmond, visitors to Point Lookout, and relatives held there, including Hairston Seawell. Letters from home and from his aunt Louisa Smith of Baltimore give mostly family and neighborhood news and often express anxiety over his well-being.
Two additional letters appear from soldiers. One, dated 4 February 1862, is from P. F. Shelton of Co. A, 42nd Regiment, Virginia Volunteers, to his cousin, complaining of how the volunteers fight while members of the militia stay home. The other, dated 29 September 1864, is from Wat W. Barrow at Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond to Louisa Watkins, describing his injuries, expressing his worries about brother Orren, and giving news of Hairston Watkins at Point Lookout.
Letters to Nannie Watkins from her cousins Louly and M. S. Seawell at "The Shelter" appear in 1863 and 1864 and discuss news of fighting near them, their brother Hairston's capture, and the enrollment of African-American soldiers by Yankee forces (see 10 February 1864). Of special note is a letter, probably 1863, describing the explosion of two powder magazines, after which the writer exclaimed, "The servants were greatly excited and some people thought Judgement day had surely come."
Scattered letters to Peter Watkins and George Hairston discuss mostly the war and business affairs. In February 1865, several items appear for a Colonel George Wortham, including orders and a letter. H. M. Corbet of Rutherfordton, N.C., wrote to the colonel on 7 February about his brother William's death and complaining of the manner in which his body was returned. Orders Wortham received from Colonel William Hardy concern monthly reports and troop movements.
Chiefly correspondence of George Hairston's widow Elizabeth ("Lizzie," "Sister" and, after she remarried, Mrs. Forney George) with various members of the Lash and Hairston families and with her sons William and Samuel. A few items also appear for Louisa Watkins of Ridgeway, Va.
In the fall of 1876, Elizabeth's father, William A. Lash, wrote of politics and a "Negro tournament" in Stokes County, N.C. Letters from Lash at Walnut Cove, N.C., and J. P. Dillard at Leaksville, N.C., in 1877 and 1878 offer their comments on the economic distress of their areas, tobacco crop losses, and the increasing costs of labor. A letter of note is one to Elizabeth from her brother, Powell (Powie) Lash in Walnut Cove, dated 20 April 1870, in which he discussed their brother's nomination to the Senate and his opening a new store. Other letters concern Elizabeth's finances, the settlement of her husband's estate, the education of her sons, and family news. Letters in 1884 appear from Elizabeth, now Mrs. George, at Oak Hill, Va., to Samuel Hairston, who was away at school, giving family and neighborhood news and advising him to use his time wisely. In November 1884, she wrote about black voting in the area, the murder trial of a George Hairston (relationship unknown), and talk of lynching the latter.
Letters to Louisa Watkins in 1866, 1870, and 1872 are from Susie B. Bockins of Richmond, Orren W. Barrow in Baltimore, aunt Harriet in Martinsville, and others. The letters discuss plans for teaching the Watkins children, news of family and neighborhood illnesses and weddings, and recipes. Of interest is a letter written in February 1866 from Martha A. Zenliniger of Mayo Forge to Louisa, begging her to prevail upon Mr. Watkins to pay a debt owed the Zenlinigers to prevent their financial ruin.
Scattered letters after 1892 are primarily those of Samuel Hairston and discuss his business and land affairs and family. Of interest is an 1896 letter to William Lash from H. R. Semly of Key West, Fla., concerning the free silver movement and Semly's request for advice on what to do with gold-based mortgages and railroad bonds.
Arrangement: chronological by individual.
Chiefly financial and legal papers of George Hairston and William Lash, his estate administrator. Papers also appear pertaining to the landholdings and/or finances of Major Peter Hairston (1752-1832); Alfred Smith (fl. 1833-1862); Peter Wilson Watkins (fl. 1851-1865); and Samuel Hairston (1865-1933). Included are deeds and land surveys, accounts, receipts, wills, loan notes, land rental agreements, a slave bill of sale, and slave lists.
Deeds for lands owned by Peter Hairston in Surry, Stokes, and Bladen counties, N.C.
Chiefly deeds and surveys for lands owned by Alfred Smith in Columbus County, N.C. Also appearing are "A List of the Valuation and Division of the Estate of Henry Boswell, Deceas'd," dated 1796, and a certification of receipt of estate shares signed by Boswell's assignees, dated 1802. Smith purchased land from Cornelius Boswell, executor of Henry Boswell's estate, in 1843. One slave bill of sale, witnessed by Alfred Smith in 1840, appears for a slave child sold by Josiah Powell of Columbus County to Richard L. Byrne.
Principally receipts of George Hairston with scattered accounts and other financial items. About half the receipts are for lawyers fees and the expenses of witnesses in the case of Robert Hairston and George Hairston vs. Ruth Stovall Hairston et al., concerning the disposition of lands in Lowndes County, Miss., which George's step-grandfather, Robert Hairston (1782-1852), had tried to will to a slave child he had fathered. The remainder of the receipts are for taxes, tobacco sold, and dry goods, blacksmith services, and hardware items purchased. Other individual items include slave lists; an 1855 deed for land owned by Hairston in Rockingham County, N.C.; a bill of lading; and a loan note. Slave lists include one for an unidentified location and one giving names of slaves at Jesse Gileses, Shelton's Place, and Walker's. This list also contains "A List of Negroes in Patrick [Co., Va.] Belonging to the Sauratown Estate." One receipt, dated 21 July 1865, appears for dry goods purchased by a Mr. Barrow from R. P. Spiers & Co. of Greensboro, N.C. Papers relating to George Hairston's estate appear in Series 2.5.
Accounts of Peter Wilson Watkins with Sigmund Putzel; James Rangeley, Jr.; Redd & Co.; Johnston, Clark & Co.; and John H. Schoolfield, locations unspecified. There are also accounts with Richardson & Co. of Richmond. Accounts are for clothing, dry goods, groceries, stationery, and hardware items. Four Civil War items are a travel pass (1862) and an order of impressment by the Confederacy of a mule belonging to Peter Wilson Watkins, and a furlough and furlough extension granted to Watkins' son, Private Hairston Watkins, of Co. H, 24th Virginia Calvary Regiment, in 1865.
Estate papers of George Hairston (1822-1866) kept by his father-in-law and administrator, William Lash, with scattered items pertaining to Hairston's wife, Anne Elizabeth Hairston (later Mrs. Forney George); to Hairston's minor sons, William and Samuel, for whom Lash was guardian; and to Lash himself. The bulk of the papers are receipts made out to Lash and to Charlie G. Freeman, the estate's agent, for amounts paid to creditors and merchants, for property taxes, and for crops produced by freedmen and other tenants. An undated list of tenants bears many of the same names as the receipts. A handful of receipts also appear for Mrs. Anne E. Hairston with Danville and Richmond dry goods and clothing merchants, grocers, and Dr. James D. Estes. Accounts for George Hairston's estate are with blacksmith E. Dean and doctors George P. Dillard and James Estes. Dillard's accounts are for treatment of slaves during the Civil War period. "An account of the receipts and disbursements of William A. Lash, Admr. of George Hairston dec'd" appears in August 1868.
Other items of interest are deeds for land purchased by William Lash in Stokes County, N.C., in 1871 and 1890; land rental agreements for the Misher Place Plantation in Pittsylvania County (1871) and Morgan Plantation in Henry County (1873, 1875, and 1881); a deed for land purchased by Mrs. A. E. George for her sons, William and Samuel (1881); and the will of Ruth Stovall Hairston, George's grandmother, dated 7 April 1866.
Accounts, receipts, deeds, and miscellaneous papers of Samuel Hairston (1865-1933), with scattered items of his brother, William L. Hairston, and mother, Mrs. A. E. George. Accounts and receipts are mostly for dry goods and hardware items bought from Danville and Martinsville merchants. Two sheets of accounts appear in 1891 for the estate of Colonel Forney George. Deeds are for land Samuel Hairston owned in Columbus County and for land he sold in Pittsylvania County. Of particular interest is an abstract from tax lists of properties owned by Samuel Hairston (1788-1875) and Robert Hairston (1782-1852) in Pittsylvania County in 1860.
Clippings, advertising circulars, programs, poems, grade reports, invitations, calling cards, and miscellaneous items collected by members of the Hairston and Watkins families. Most of the items are from the post-Civil War period. Clippings chiefly cover the lives and careers of noted political and military figures, including Jeb Stuart. Advertising circulars are for Richmond dry goods merchants, grocers, and clothiers, and for land dealers in Rockbridge County and Gordonsville, Va. Programs appear for events at Hampden Sidney College, Danville Female College, and the Episcopal High School, Alexandria, Virginia. Two handwritten poems are included: one, entitled "Stonewall Jackson's Way," was written in 1864; and the other is undated and untitled. Grade reports are for Hairston and Loulie Watkins in 1859. Also included are a geological description of Luray Cave by Wat Hairston; a line drawing of Peekskill Military Academy; and a 1922 railroad pass for Samuel Hairston, director of the Danville and Western Railway Company.
Two undated, unidentified portraits, probably of the same man.
Processed by: Jill Snider, March 1992; Walt Campbell, June 1987
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008
Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, January 2010Back to Top