James Hervey Greenlee diary, 1837; 1847-1902.

Creator: Greenlee, James Hervey, 1811-1902.
Collection number: 1735
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Abstract: James Hervey Greenlee was a planter and Presbyterian evangelical of Burke and McDowell counties, N.C. From 1845 to 1886, Greenlee served as an elder at the Marion Presbyterian Church. Greenlee was a delegate to the North Carolina state convention in May 1861 when it voted to secede from the Union. The collection includes original and partial typed transcription of James Hervey Greenlee’s diary, chiefly documenting the weather, farming and business activities, his family’s social visits to neighbors and relatives, and his personal and religious thoughts. Greenlee also recorded the daily tasks assigned to his slaves, some of whom apparently were skilled as coopers, cobblers, and tanners. Also included are expense accounts and notes from various journeys through South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Kentucky, where the Greenlees visited the Lexington Exposition in 1883. There is little information on Greenlee’s experiences at the 1861 North Carolina state convention or the Civil War in North Carolina. In May 1865, however, he did briefly record his and his slaves’ reactions to their emancipation. Greenlee’s religious life and spiritual well-being are extensively documented, including numerous references to sermons, reading from the Bible and various religious tracts, camp meetings, circuit riders, religious organizations, and his service as a delegate to the Old School Presbyterian Synod at Charleston, S.C., in 1859. In 1848, Greenlee expressed his guarded views on the eventual emancipation of slaves and his hopes for their recolonization in Africa. He also recorded his grief over the deaths of his first wife in 1857, of his baby son in 1854, and of his adult daughter in 1866. The diary includes scattered entries written by his first and second wives, and an extract from an 1882 Richmond and Danville Railroad prospectus. His second wife wrote brief accounts of a February 1883 trip through Florida and an October 1883 trip through Kentucky in Greenlee’s diary. The transcription covers the diary through 1867, and contains two photographs, one of James H. Greenlee, ca. 1861, and one of Turkey Cove, his family home at Marion, N.C.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Entries document the daily tasks assigned to his slaves, some of whom were apparently skilled as coopers, cobblers, and tanners. Included in the diary are references to Greenlee’s guarded views about the eventual abolition of slavery (1848); his support of proselytizing among slaves in order to train them as missionaries to Africa (1849-1852); and his and his slaves’ reactions to emancipation (May 1865). Microfilm available.