Francis Asbury Dickins papers, 1729-1934.

Creator: Dickins, Francis Asbury.
Collection number: 218
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Abstract: Francis Asbury Dickins (1804-1901) was a planter of Ossian Hall in Fairfax County, Va., agent for the United States War and Treasury departments and lawyer of Washington, D.C., specializing in government claims, son of Asbury Dickins (1780-1861), who had also held various government positions. Francis Asbury Dickins married Margaret Harvie Randolph (d. 1891), daughter of Harriot Wilson and Thomas Mann Randolph (1792-1848) of Tuckahoe Plantation in Goochland County, Va. Francis and Margaret had five children who lived to maturity: Francis Asbury, Jr. (called Frank) (1841-1890), Frances Margaret (called Fanny) (1842-1914), Harriot Wilson (1844-1917), Thomas Mann Randolph (called Randolph) (1853-1914), and Albert White (1855-1913). The collection is chiefly correspondence of the Dickins and Randolph families before, during, and after the marriage of Francis Asbury Dickins and Margaret Harvie Randolph. Most letters discuss social and family matters, including daily activities and trips made chiefly within the United States. Early letters document Francis’s government service; later letters document plantation life at Ossian Hall. Civil War letters reflect Francis’s several arrests for display of Confederate sympathies and the war work of Fanny and Frank. Many post-Civil War items relate to the children of Francis and Margaret Dickins. Frank and Albert worked on railroads in the west; Randolph became a U.S. Marine; Harriot married Henry Theodore Wight; and Fanny lived with her mother and traveled among family members. Items relating to Margaret and Fanny document the women’s financial concerns, travel abroad, and genealogical interests. There are also diaries, account books, commonplace books, scrapbooks, school notebooks, and other collected materials, 1804-1903, relating to various family members, and photographs, chiefly of Randolph family relatives. Also included are materials relating to Francis Asbury Dickins’s law practice, especially his work as an agent for claims against the Mexican government in the 1830s through the 1850s, and against the U.S. government, particularly pension claims lodged by veterans of various wars.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Correspondence includes advice on the handling of slaves (1845); the purchase of two elderly slaves (1848); and a mention of post-Civil War servants in Virginia (1868).