Davis and Walker family papers, 1755-1962.

Creator: Davis and Walker family.
Collection number: 4172
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Abstract: Davis and Walker families of Wilmington, N.C. Prominent family members included George Davis (1820-1896), lawyer, attorney-general of the Confederacy, and well-known orator; and his son, Junius (1845-1916), who practiced law with his father and shared his interests in local and family history. Junius married Mary Orme Walker, daughter of Thomas Davis Walker (1822-1865), president of the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad during the Civil War, and Mary Vance (Dickinson) Walker (1821-1900). Also represented is Platt Dickinson Walker, son of Thomas D. Walker and Mary V. D. Walker, associate justice of the North Carolina supreme court, 1903-1923. The Davis family series consists primarily of scattered family correspondence, 1864-1891; addresses and essays; and biographical, genealogical, and local history material relating to the Lower Cape Fear River region. Correspondence of George Davis includes three letters written from federal captivity. In addition, there are a few documents relating to his work with state-owned railroads and some political and financial items. There are three Civil War letters from Junius Davis and three copies of twentieth-century letters by him, one of which, 1916, contains reminiscences about Civil War-era songs. The bulk of the correspondence is letters to Junius from family and friends. Other items of interest include a contemporary set of caricatures of locally prominent Revolutionary War-era figures; and letters by Emily and Rebecca Evaline Polk reflecting the social conditions in south-central Tennessee and central Louisiana during Reconstruction. The Walker family series is primarily family correspondence between Thomas Davis Walker and Mary Vance (Dickinson) Walker and their family, July-December 1862 and December 1864-February 1865, while Mary was refugeeing in Raleigh, N.C., and her husband was in federally-occupied Wilmington. Topics include the yellow fever epidemic in 1862 and family and social life in Raleigh. Walker’s letters describe his efforts to manage the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad under Union occupation. Among other family letters are several from daughter Mary Orme Walker attending the Nash-Kollock School in Hillsborough, N.C., and son Platt Dickinson Walker at James H. Horner’s school in Oxford, N.C., and at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. There is also a letter, 1862, written from one family slave to another, and some Walker family slave lists.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: The Davis Family Series contains one slave deed of ownership ¬†from 1833 (See Folder 2); documents relating to the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1866 (See Folder 4); and recollections of songs sung by blacks on a Davis rice plantation in 1915 (See Folder 12).

The Walker Family Series contains slave deeds of ownership from 1786 and 1855 (See Folders 58 and 59); slave lists from 1855 and 1862 (See Folder 59 and 61); a promissory note paid for the hiring of a slave in 1861 (See Folder 61); and letters discussing Walker slaves living in Raleigh and Wilmington.

The correspondence in this series expresses concern for slaves’ health and over- frequent escape attempts (See letter from 30 August 1862 in Folder 62, and correspondence in 1865 in Folders 72-75); the permissive attitude of an acquaintance toward slaves (See letters from 4,2, and 9 January 1865 in Folder 72); and anxiety about the arrival of black troops in Wilmington in January 1865 (See Folder 72). An account of rent payments received, some apparently from former Walker slaves in 1867 also is present. (See Folder 76)