Hentz family papers, 1782-1932.

Creator: Hentz family.
Collection number: 332
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Abstract: Prominent members of the Hentz family included French revolutionary Nicholas Arnould Hentz (1756-1832); his sons Nicholas Richard Hentz (1786-1850), an officer in the French Imperial Army; and Nicholas Marcellus Hentz (1797-1856), a prominent entomologist; the latter’s wife, the writer Caroline Lee Whiting Hentz (1800-1856); two of Nicholas Marcellus and Caroline Hentz’s children, Charles Arnould (A.) Hentz (1827-1894) and Thaddeus William Harris Hentz (1830-1878), who were both physicians; and Charles A. Hentz’s son, William Booth Hentz (b. 1860). The collection includes personal, medical, financial, and legal papers, and diaries and autobiographies of members of the Hentz family of France, Alabama, and Florida. Correspondence describes activities of family and friends in Alabama and Florida, teaching at a female academy in Alabama, medical and dental practices, and a Confederate soldier’s camp life and experiences as a prisoner of war. The diaries of Caroline Lee Hentz discuss her life and work in Alabama. The diary of Thaddeus W. Hentz, her son, details his experience in the Confederate army. The diaries and autobiography of Charles A. Hentz are concerned with travels in the southern United States; the Mexican War; his medical education and practice, including treatment of slaves; recreational drug use and drug addicts; the flora and fauna of the Panhandle region of Florida; descriptions of inhabitants of and life in Louisville, Ky., Cincinnati, Ohio, New Orleans, La., Mobile and Tuskegee, Ala., and Jackson and Gadsden counties, Fla.; a journey on horseback to Tampa Bay, Fla.; treatment of the wounded at the battles of Marianna and Natural Bridge, Fla. The execution of Confederate deserters; his citrus and vegetable farms; and a lynching. Other items include military records of an officer in the French Imperial Army; notes and writings on yellow fever and grave-robbing for dissection purposes, descriptions of fish and plants, and drafts of plays and stories; records of Charles A. Hentz’s obstetrical cases; drawings and pictures of human, botanical, and animal subjects; biographical and genealogical sketches; and a phrenological character analysis. The Addition of June 2000 includes two framed photographs and one cased ambrotype, all undated. The photographs are childhood portraits of Julia Keyes Hentz Dumbar (b. 1862) and William Booth Hentz (b. 1860), probably taken circa 1865. The ambrotype is a portrait of Charles A. Hentz. The Addition of May 2005 contains two documents relating to the medical practice of Charles A. Hentz. The Addition of September 2005 consists of the Hentz Family Bible, with scattered genealogical material. The Addition of May 2009 includes eight diaries. The 1862 diary documents Charles A. Hentz’s activities as a doctor in Quincy, Fla., and his work at the military hospital established there. Diaries, 1880-1901, describe Charles A. Hentz’s everyday activities as a doctor in Quincy and as a citrus farmer in City Point, Fla. Included is a 17 May 1880 entry describing an operation Hentz performed to remove part of the skull of an African American man who had suffered a fractured skull. In an 1899 diary, Ella Hentz described traveling with William Booth Hentz from their home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to a family wedding in City Point; in a diary, March-May 1901, William Booth kept a March-May 1901 diary during a visit to City Point and Quincy.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights:  An autobiography (1827-1893) includes descriptions of slave life in Alabama;  comments on northern impressions of slavery; the medical treatment of plantation slaves in Florida; the punishment of slaves in Florida; black Union troops in the Civil War; the murder of a white sheriff by four black men and their subsequent trial and execution; northern schoolteachers and their treatment of freedmen in Florida; and the murder of a white man by a freedman and the arrest and lynching of the latter in Florida.(See Folders 23-26 for the autobiography and typed transcriptions).

Folder 19 includes Volume 1 of Charles Hentz diary includes discussion of the amputation of an African American woman’s leg.

Folder 27 contains obstetrical records in order by date, with an index to patient names in the back of the volume. Case descriptions for both white and black patients are included. (This folder has been digitized, click here to link to the finding aid and access the digital material).

Folder 28 contains a medical journal of Hentz’s cases from 1858 to 1863. Entries give details on symptoms and treatment of cases for both black and white patients (This folder has been digitized, click here to link to the finding aid and access the digital material).

Folder 33 contains a copy of Charles Heinz diary from 1880, which contains an entry 17 May 1880 that describes an operation performed by Hentz to remove part of the skull of an African American man who had suffered a fractured skull.