Collection Number: 05747

Collection Title: Fearrington Family Papers, 1746-1955 and undated.

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 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately About 100 items items)
Abstract In 1780, John Andrew Fearrington (1733-1827) purchased 1,690 acres worth of land grants from the North Carolina governor. After that original purchase, the Fearrington family holdings grew, peaking at between 8 and 10 thousand acres. The collection chiefly contains deeds of sale and other documents related to the land the Fearrington family owned and operated. The included deeds of sale are primarily land purchased by Edward Mebane Fearrington (1856-1940) and Elijah Cole (1820-1915) in the late 1800s. Edward married Elijah's daughter, Adelaide (1855-1938), in 1875, and the couple took over Eureka Farm, a 640 acre farm that the Cole family had operated since 1786, growing cotton, tobacco, and corn. Edward and Adelaide's son, John Bunyon Fearrington (1889-1975), and his wife, Anna Jessica Owen Fearrington (1891-1955) converted the land to a dairy farm in the 1930s. Papers concerning the farm also include tax forms from 1926 to 1941, ledgers for the farm stores from the late 1930s to early 1940s, correspondence, and additional legal and financial documents, including electrification papers. The collection also contains World War II ration books and a notebook owned by Mary Burnett, an African American woman who worked for the Fearringtons.
Creator Fearrington (Family : Chatham County, N.C.)
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is 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 Fearrington Family #5747, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Recieved from Jesse Fearrington in July 2017 (Acc. 103104).
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 Historical Information

In 1780, John Andrew Fearrington (1733-1827) purchased 1,690 acres worth of land grants from the North Carolina governor. After that original purchase, the Fearrington family holdings grew, peaking at between 8 and 10 thousand acres. The land that became Eureka Farm was purchased by William Cole Sr. (1755-1824) in 1786. The Cole family grew cotton, tobacco, and corn, as well as building a mill for grain processing. In 1820, William Cole Jr. (1780-1850) built a house on the land. Edward Mebane Fearrington married Adelaide Cole in 1875, and the farm officially passed into the Fearrington family upon Elijah Cole's death in 1915. In 1925, the original Cole house burned down, and a new house was built by Edward and Adelaide's son, John Bunyon Fearrington, in 1927. John and his wife, Anna Jessica Owen Fearrington converted the land to a dairy farm in the 1930s. When John and Anna's son, Jesse Owen Fearrington Sr. (1919-2014) married Sarah Willa Drew (1919-2002) in 1947, an additional wing was built onto the house for their family to grow into. Since their children were not interested in running Eureka Farm, Jesse and Willa sold it to R.B. and Jenny Fitch in 1974. The Fitches converted the house into an inn and restaurant and used the land to build a mixed-use community that they named Fearrington Village.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection chiefly contains deeds of sale and other documents related to the land the family owned. The included deeds of sale primarily contain land purchased by Edward Mebane Fearrington and Elijah Cole in the late 1800s. Other deeds include those purchased by other members of the Cole family, as well as those those bought and sold by members of the Atwater, Rigsbee, Williams, and Pearson families. Several of the land purchases by Edward and Elijah were filed with the Register of Deeds for Chatham County by John Bunyon Fearrington in 1932. Papers concerning the farm also include tax forms from 1926 to 1941, ledgers for the farm stores from the late 1930s to early 1940s, correspondence, and additional legal and financial documents, including electrification papers. The collection also contains World War II ration books and a notebook owned by Mary Burnett, an African-American woman worked for the Fearringtons.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Fearrington Family Papers, 1746-1955 and undated.

Folder 1

Better farmer practices class certificate, J.B. Fearrington, 1940 #05747, Series: "Fearrington Family Papers, 1746-1955 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

Cabinet card of Will Lee, a cousin, circa 1880s-1910s #05747, Series: "Fearrington Family Papers, 1746-1955 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

Land deeds and payment agreements, 1786-1941, (bulk 1880s-1920s) #05747, Series: "Fearrington Family Papers, 1746-1955 and undated." Folder 3

Includes the 1786 deed for 640 acres for the Eureka Farm land.

Folder 4

Land deeds registered with Chatham County in 1932, 1874-1882 #05747, Series: "Fearrington Family Papers, 1746-1955 and undated." Folder 4

Folder 5-8

Folder 5

Folder 6

Folder 7

Folder 8

Ledgers and day books, 1937-1945 #05747, Series: "Fearrington Family Papers, 1746-1955 and undated." Folder 5-8

Folder 9

Legal and financial documents, 1846, 1895, 1936, 1955, and undated #05747, Series: "Fearrington Family Papers, 1746-1955 and undated." Folder 9

Includes 1846 will of William Cole.

Folder 10

Letters, 1894-1895, 1930s-1940s #05747, Series: "Fearrington Family Papers, 1746-1955 and undated." Folder 10

Includes several letters from two former German prisoners of war who were part of a work-release program at Eureka Farm.

Folder 11

Notebook of Mary Burnett, 1926 #05747, Series: "Fearrington Family Papers, 1746-1955 and undated." Folder 11

Mary Burnett worked for the Fearringtons and was a descendent of people who were enslaved by the family.

Folder 12

Tax forms, 1926-1941 #05747, Series: "Fearrington Family Papers, 1746-1955 and undated." Folder 12

Folder 13

World War II ration books #05747, Series: "Fearrington Family Papers, 1746-1955 and undated." Folder 13

Includes ration books two and four for family members and employees.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Mary Oliva, August 2017

Encoded by: Mary Oliva, August 2017

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