Elizabeth Washington Grist Knox papers, 1814-1863; 1890; 1909.

Creator: Knox, Elizabeth Washington Grist, 1808-1890.
Collection number: 4269
View finding aid.

Abstract: Elizabeth Washington Grist Knox was the wife of Dr. Reuben Knox (1801-1851) of St. Louis, Mo., and mother of Franklin R. Grist (b. 1828), a Yale graduate, painter, and diplomat. Her father was cotton planter John Washington (1768-1837) of Kinston, Lenoir County, N.C. Her brother, James Washington (1803-1847), was a doctor in New York City. The collection includes correspondence, chiefly consisting of letters received by Elizabeth Knox in Washington and New Bern, N.C., between 1827 and 1840, and in St. Louis, 1840-1849, many of which are from her brother James. There are also many letters received by Franklin Grist, mostly 1845-1849, chiefly from relatives and school friends. Also included are letters from John Washington to his wife and daughter about running the family’s plantation in Lenoir County, N.C., and about his daughter’s schooling, and others between various members of the Washington and Knox families. There are also six letters from Elizabeth’s friend, reformer Dorothea Dix. Topics include family life in eastern North Carolina, St. Louis, and upstate New York; plantation and household affairs; westward migration, especially passage by steamship and wagon train; encounters with the Nez Perce, Pawnee, and Flathead (Salish) Indian tibes; observations on the Mormon community in Salt Lake City; descriptions of ranching and mining in California; Franklin Grist’s travels as a sketch artist with the Stansbury Exploration of the Great Salt Lake region of Utah in 1849-1850; the activities of slaves in Missouri; Franklin’s student life at Yale in the late 1840s and as an art student in Paris, 1855-1858; and James Washington’s experiences as a medical student in Philadelphia, 1824-1829, and Paris, 1829-1831. There are also a few college compositions, poems, and other papers.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Included is a 19 December 1847 letter from Elizabeth Grist Knox, concerning several slaves working to pay for their freedom in Saint Louis, Missouri,  one by opening a barbershop.