Collection Number: 05769

Collection Title: Crenshaw Family Papers, 1851-1991

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 2.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 150 items)
Abstract The collection consists chiefly of account ledgers and correspondence related to the Crenshaw family, specifically F. W. Crenshaw (1824-1902) and F. W. Crenshaw, Jr., (1856-1936) white plantation owners of Butler County, Ala., with landholdings near Manningham and Greenville. One ledger predating the Civil War and emancipation contains substantial information about the enslaved people on land owned by Jacob Lewis Womack (1806-1877) that was inherited by the Crenshaws. Lists of enslaved men and women include names, years and dates of birth, and in some cases the names of their mothers. Work assignments and allowances for clothing and crops are also recorded in the ledger. Ledgers spanning the 1890s to the 1930s contain accounts for sharecroppers and tenant farmers, many of whom were likely African American men and women who had been enslaved or were descended from slaves held by Jacob Lewis Womack. Letters received by F.W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr., from siblings and cousins comprise the bulk of the correspondence. One cousin, T.C. Crenshaw (likely Thomas Chiles Crenshaw, 1848-1944) wrote lengthy letters in the 1920s and 1930s discussing his view that formerly enslaved people had been better off under slavery and his support for Prohibition. Other papers include genealogical and family history information on the Crenshaws and related families and a manuscript book of ballads compiled by Mrs. F.W. Crenshaw, Jr.
Creator Crenshaw (Family : Butler County, Ala.)
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 Crenshaw Family Papers #5769, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Tom Crenshaw in December 2017 (Acc. 103302).
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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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

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

F. W. Crenshaw (1824-1902) and F. W. Crenshaw, Jr., (1856-1936) were white plantation owners in Butler County, Ala., with landholdings near Manningham and Greenville. The Crenshaws inherited the land from Jacob Lewis Womack (1806-1877).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection consists chiefly of account ledgers and correspondence related to the Crenshaw family, specifically F. W. Crenshaw (1824-1902) and F. W. Crenshaw, Jr., (1856-1936). One ledger predating the Civil War and emancipation contains substantial information about the enslaved people on land owned by Jacob Lewis Womack (1806-1877) that was inherited by the Crenshaws. Lists of enslaved men and women include names, years and dates of birth, and in some cases the names of their mothers. Work assignments and allowances for clothing and crops are also recorded in the ledger. Ledgers spanning the 1890s to the 1930s contain accounts for sharecroppers and tenant farmers, many of whom were likely African American men and women who had been enslaved or were descended from slaves held by Jacob Lewis Womack. Letters received by F. W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr., from siblings and cousins comprise the bulk of the correspondence. One cousin, T. C. Crenshaw (likely Thomas Chiles Crenshaw, 1848-1944) wrote lengthy letters in the 1920s and 1930s discussing his view that formerly enslaved people had been better off under slavery and his support for Prohibition. Other papers include genealogical and family history information on the Crenshaws and related families and a manuscript book of ballads compiled by Mrs. F. W. Crenshaw, Jr.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Account books, 1851-1991.

13 items.

Arrangement: Chronological.

Enslavement

Ledger contains substantial information about enslaved persons, including names, mothers' names, birth years (and in some cases months and dates of birth), work details, accounts, and allowances for items such as boots. The ledger also includes the plantation's accounts payable and receivable and information about planting, harvesting, cotton sold, livestock, equipment and tools, dry goods, and medications.

Folder 1

Plantation ledger, 1851-1858 #05769, Series: "Enslavement" Folder 1

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Sharecropping and Tenant Farming

Accounts kept for individual sharecroppers or tenant farmers, both men and women. The accounts have names and entries for clothing and shoes, farming equipment and hardware, mules, cash, tobacco, sugar, molasses, meat, bacon, corn, and doctor's visits and indicate when debts have been covered by picking cotton, ginning, hauling, and other work assignments. Some accounts list "Rents to be Delivered in Greenville, Ala.," measured in bales. Many of the sharecroppers listed in the earliest volumes carry the surname Crenshaw and are likely formerly enslaved African Americans.

Folder 2

"F.W. Crenshaw's Acc. Book,"1890-1895 #05769, Series: "Sharecropping and Tenant Farming " Folder 2

Folder 3

"F.W. Crenshaw Jr. Account Book,"1896-1902 #05769, Series: "Sharecropping and Tenant Farming " Folder 3

"Rents to be Delivered in Greenville, Ala.," measured in bales.

Folder 4

"F.W. Crenshaw Jr. Acc, Book,"1902-1904 #05769, Series: "Sharecropping and Tenant Farming " Folder 4

Folder 5

"F.W. Crenshaw's Acc. Book," 1905-1906 #05769, Series: "Sharecropping and Tenant Farming " Folder 5

Folder 6

"F.W. Crenshaw's Acc. Book,"1909-1917 #05769, Series: "Sharecropping and Tenant Farming " Folder 6

Folder 7

"F.W. Crenshaw's Acc. Book," 1918-1924 #05769, Series: "Sharecropping and Tenant Farming " Folder 7

Folder 8

Account book, 1918-1930 #05769, Series: "Sharecropping and Tenant Farming " Folder 8

Folder 9

"F.W. Crenshaw's Acc. Book," 1925-1928 #05769, Series: "Sharecropping and Tenant Farming " Folder 9

Folder 10

Account book, 1929-1933 #05769, Series: "Sharecropping and Tenant Farming " Folder 10

Folder 11

"F.W. Crenshaw's Acc. Book," 1933-1936 #05769, Series: "Sharecropping and Tenant Farming " Folder 11

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Late Twentieth Century

Accounts for cash, bonds, personnel, household, automobile, utilities, farm, hospital insurance, doctors, drugstores, donations, gasoline, cemetery, timber sales, and other goods and services.

Folder 12

Account ledger, 1973-1984 #05769, Series: "Late Twentieth Century" Folder 12

Folder 13

Account ledger, 1989-1991 #05769, Series: "Late Twentieth Century" Folder 13

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated.

Approximately 100 items.

Arrangement: Chronological.

Folder 15-16

Folder 15

Folder 16

Correspondence, 1878-1882 #05769, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated." Folder 15-16

Letters received by F.W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr., from his brother John White Crenshaw.

Folder 17-18

Folder 17

Folder 18

Correspondence, 1883-1886 #05769, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated." Folder 17-18

Letters received by F.W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr. from his siblings and a friend.

Folder 19

Correspondence, 1889 #05769, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated." Folder 19

Letters received by F.W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr. from his siblings. Includes some financial correspondence.

Folder 20

Correspondence, 1895-1896 #05769, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated." Folder 20

Letters received by F.W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr. from his siblings and a cousin, Edward Crenshaw. Also includes a letter pertaining to a land sale.

Folder 21

Correspondence, 1897-1898 #05769, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated." Folder 21

Letters received by F.W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr., from his brother John White Crenshaw and from a cousin, Edward Crenshaw.

Folder 22

Correspondence, 1900-1902 #05769, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated." Folder 22

Letters received by F.W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr., from his brother John White Crenshaw. Also includes a letter pertaining to a land sale.

Folder 23

Correspondence, 1928 #05769, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated." Folder 23

Letters received by F.W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr., from a cousin, T.C. Crenshaw. In a letter dated 7 October 1928, Crenshaw discusses Prohibition, the dangers and immorality of alcohol consumption, and the upcoming presidential election, specifically the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Houston, Tex., of Al Smith (Alfred E. Smith), whom Crenshaw feared would end Prohibition.

Folder 24

Correspondence, 1929 #05769, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated." Folder 24

Letters received by F.W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr., from a cousin, T.C. Crenshaw. In a letter dated 19 January 1929, Crenshaw, discusses slavery at some length and a former enslaved man whom he had owned, Joe Crenshaw. Also included are an exchange of letters between F. W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr., and his cousin Lillian Akers. These letters pertain chiefly to family history and genealogy.

Folder 25

Correspondence, 1932-1934 #05769, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated." Folder 25

Financial correspondence received by F.W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr.

Folder 26

Correspondence, 1935 #05769, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated." Folder 26

Letters received by F. W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr., from cousins, T. C. Crenshaw and Edward Crenshaw. In a letter dated 12 December 1935, T. C. Crenshaw discusses his law career in Houston, Tex., after passing the Texas bar at the age of 78. He also requests help finding a Black man from Butler County, Ala., to do carpentry and mentions the extension of lines to the farm "furnishing me with electric light and power."

Folder 27

Correspondence, undated #05769, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated." Folder 27

Includes a letter to F. W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr., from Joseph Womack requesting financial help: "I am the only one of the old stock left, I am crippled and diseased and can do no labor to make a living."

Folder 28

Envelopes (empty) #05769, Series: "2. Correspondence, 1878-1935 and undated." Folder 28

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated.

Approximately 40 items.
Folder 29

Testimony [fragments], undated #05769, Series: "3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated." Folder 29

The testimony describes a violent encounter between George Anderson Crenshaw and W. Henry Hartley, in which Hartley was mortally wounded.

In February 2018 researcher and Crenshaw descendant Marian Austin provided the following information: "George Anderson Crenshaw (1878-1947), a white lawyer and owner of the Greenville telephone exchange is the half-brother of F. W. Crenshaw II (Willie). W. Henry Hartley is a local mill owner. On Saturday 20 September 1913 in front of the Planter's Mercantile in Greenville (a store owned by the Crenshaw family), the two men got into an altercation over, according to contemporary newspapers, accounts. Hartley attacked Crenshaw with a pipe wrench and Crenshaw defended himself with a .32 pistol, mortally wounding the unfortunate Hartley. George Anderson Crenshaw was tried for the murder but acquitted on the grounds of self-defense. He continued his legal practice in Greenville until his death. The witness and author of this testimony describes George as Uncle and another Crenshaw man as Cousin Henry. Based on his relationships with these men I surmise that the author of the testimony is F. W. Crenshaw III (William), the teenage son of F. W. Crenshaw II (Willie). It would not have been unusual for him to have been in town at the Planters Mercantile and to him George would have been his uncle and Henry, his cousin."

Folder 30

Sharecroppers and tenant farmers, 1878-1936 #05769, Series: "3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated." Folder 30

Includes a lien note signed with marks (x), accounts, and a list of hands.

Folder 31

State of Alabama, Butler County appointments, 1885-1895 #05769, Series: "3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated." Folder 31

F.W. (Willie) Crenshaw, Jr.'s appointments as inspector of elections and as apportioner.

Folder 32

Will of Thomas Chiles, 1929 #05769, Series: "3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated." Folder 32

Folder 33-36

Folder 33

Folder 34

Folder 35

Folder 36

Receipts for goods and services, 1882-1911 and undated #05769, Series: "3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated." Folder 33-36

Folder 37

Bonds and real estate holdings, 1924 and undated #05769, Series: "3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated." Folder 37

Folder 38

Printed items and miscellaneous #05769, Series: "3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated." Folder 38

Includes "Butler County's New Road Law" and "List of Ginneries in Butler County Alabama Revised and Corrected by Mr. W.F. [sic] Crenshaw, Jr. of Manningham."

Folder 39

Family history and genealogy (volume), circa 1914 #05769, Series: "3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated." Folder 39

"To Bolling [Hall Crenshaw] with love from Edith Christmas 1914." Notes on family history for Crenshaw, Chiles, Carr, White, Page, Elmore, Lea, Leake, and Brooks families.

Folder 40

Genealogical information, 1929 #05769, Series: "3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated." Folder 40

Includes notes taken from deed books and application for membership to the DAR.

Folder 41

Student essays written by John White Crenshaw (1859-1923) at Marion Military Academy, circa 1870s #05769, Series: "3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated." Folder 41

Topics include the history of tobacco, the Jewish people, North American Indians, and education.

Folder 42

Genealogical information, undated #05769, Series: "3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated." Folder 42

Notes on the Chiles family.

Folder 14

"Ballads" [song book], 1894 #05769, Series: "3. Genealogical Materials and Other Papers, 1878-1929 and undated." Folder 14

"Mrs. F.W. Crenshaw Jr. Manningham, Ala." Lyrics for more than 120 ballads. Titles include "Annie Laurie," "Bonnie Elouise," "Cradle's Empty, Baby's Gone," "Drifting Away," "Ever of Thee," "Home Sweet Home," and "In the Gloaming."

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Processing Information

Processed by: Laura Hart, January 2018

Encoded by: Laura Hart, January 2018

Updated by: Laura Hart, February and July 2018; Nancy Kaiser, January 2021

Conscious Editing Work by: Dawne Howard Lucas, July 2020. Updated abstract, subject headings, scope and content note, and biographical note.

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 wilsonlibrary@unc.edu.

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