Grimes Family Papers, 1713-1947

Creator: Grimes family.
Collection number: 3357
View finding aid.

Abstract: In 1815, Bryan Grimes (1793-1860) of Pitt County, N.C., married Nancy Grist. Three of their children reached maturity: Susan, William (1823-1884), and Bryan Grimes Jr. (1828-1880). The elder Grimes gave his two sons plantations along the Tar River. The brothers prospered as slave owners, cotton growers, and real estate investors. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Bryan became a major in the 4th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. He rose to the rank of major general. William remained in North Carolina. After the conflict, Bryan returned to his plantation Grimesland. William resided in Raleigh, where he became an absentee landlord in the tenant farming system, cattle breeder, and hotel owner. In 1880, Bryan became embroiled in a feud with the Paramore brothers and was killed by their hired assassin. William died four years later. The collection includes correspondence, financial and legal items, military papers, estate papers, account books, genealogical material, and other items relating to the Grimes family of North Carolina and the related Hanraham, Kennedy, and Singeltary families, chiefly 1830-1880. Among the topics documented are daily routines, the Civil War both in the military arena and on the home front, education at the University of North Carolina and other institutions, plantation management, slavery, sharecropping, livestock breeding, and cotton growing. Some materials relate to the buying and selling of slaves, and there are a few post-Civil War letters from ex-slaves. Besides members of the principal families, people important in the collection include Asa Biggs, John Gray Blount, William Boyd, William Cherry, Pulaski Cowper, James R. Hoyle, W.W. Meyers, James O’K Williams, and Charles Clements Yellowley. Significant locations include Beaufort County, Hyde County, Pitt County, and Raleigh (including information about the Exchange Hotel and the Yarborough House, both owned by family members), all in North Carolina, and Charleston, S.C.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: This collection contains material that has been digitized and is available online. Click here to link to the finding aid and to access the digital content.

Folder 5 contains mention of Grimes Family businesses, including selling of enslaved individuals in 1865.

Folders 7-14 and 17 include Overseer’s Reports at Avon Plantation mentions of the labor of enslaved individuals as well as free people of color.

Folder 53 contains 1844 receipts from the estate of John Singletary concerning the purchase and hiring out of slaves, as well as medical receipts for treatment.

Folders 72-76 contains bills and receipts from the estate of John Kennedy, concerning the hiring out of slaves as well as lists of enslaved individuals as well as their value, from 1825-1830. Folders 85,  87, and 90 also contain lists of enslaved persons.

Several folders in Subseries 2.3 relating to the estate of Thomas and Walter Hanrahan contains deeds of sale and receipts for enslaved individuals (Folder 91-96, etc.). Folder 105 also contains records related to the financial support and clothing of an African American woman and her children.

Folders in Subseries 2.5 (Estate of William Cherry) and Subseries 2.6 (Estate of James O’K. Williams) also contains lists, bills, and receipts for enslaved individuals.

Subseries 3.1 (Financial and Legal Items) contain several folders with deeds of sale and receipts for enslaved individuals (Folders 145-152, 155-158, etc). Folder 171 also contains a deed of sale for an eight year old boy without his mother. Folder 197 contains a list of slaves “who went to the Yankees” in Washington, N.C., in 1862.

Folder 205 and 210 in Subseries 3.2 contain sharecropping agreements from 1867 and 1868, including agreements with freedman.

The W.W. Myers material in Subseries 4.1 contains materials related to his work as a surgeon for the Freedman’s Bureau. Folder 315-316 contains correspondence between Dr. Myers and Rufus Craig, an African American man who worked with Myers. Also included are reports about Craig’s employment and salary. Folder 317-318 also contain reports about sick freedmen.

Volume 52 in Subseries 5.2 is an account book for laborers at one of the Grimes Family’s plantations with separate notations for African American workers (This volume has been digitized and is available online, click here to access the volume.)

Folder 415 contains correspondence among Grimes Family members about the purchasing and loaning of slaves.

Folder 417 contains a letter from William Grimes, formerly enslaved by the Grimes Family, who was now a Methodist circuit preacher. There is also a letter in Folder 418 from a formerly enslaved woman named Phyllis about visiting and obtaining employment.