Ker family papers, 1776-1996.

Creator: Ker family.
Collection number: 4656
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Abstract: Ker family and related Baker and other families of Mississippi and Louisiana, including John Ker (1789-1850) of Natchez, Miss., and Concordia Parish, La., who was a surgeon, planter, 1830s Louisiana state senator, and vice president of the American Colonization Society; his wife Mary Baker Ker (d. 1862); their daughter schoolteacher Mary Susan Ker (1838-1923),who taught at the Natchez Institute; and two grandnieces whom Mary Susan raised: Matilda Ralston (Tillie) Dunbar (fl. 1890s-1960s), who clerked in a Fayette, Miss., bank, and Catharine Dunbar Brown (d. 1959), who first taught at the Natchez Institute and later owned a rare book and antiques store. Topics discussed in materials, 1800-1960s, include medicine; Louisiana and Mississippi plantation affairs; slavery; Presbyterian church activities; local, state, and national politics, including the conduct of the 1813-1814 Creek War and the War of 1812 (note an 1814 Andrew Jackson letter about the defense of Louisiana); men’s and women’s education, chiefly at the Natchez Institute and Oakland College, Miss.; and travel, especially Mary Susan Ker’s 1886 European tour.There are also materials relating to Mary Susan’s and Catharine Dunbar Brown’s teaching at the Natchez Institute; to Tillie Dunbar’s bank clerking in Fayette, Miss.; and to Catharine’s Ye Olde Booke Shoppe in Natchez. Also included are estate papers, bills and receipts, property inventories, wills and indentures, slave lists, account books, and other items documenting antebellum plantation and land holdings and postwar plantation and personal finances. There are also a few diaries, clippings, 19th- and early 20th-century pedagogical materials, and family photographs.Other papers include scattered records of John Ker’s work with the American Colonization Society and extensive records of the Natchez branches of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1924-1968, and the Colonial Dames of America, 1941-1967, in which both Tillie and Catharine were active, and letters and Mardi Gras invitations to Sue Percy Ker Hyams and other materials related to her.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Correspondence in subseries 1.1.1. discusses slaves of various members of the family. Correspondence in subseries 1.1.2 from George Potts in 1835 – 1849 discusses anti-slavery sentiments in the North.  A few letters, 1831-1835, mention Ker’s role in the American Colonization Society. Subseries 1.2.1 contains a will from Sarah Robinson, in which she manumits an enslaved individual.

Folder 66 contains an account book from Albert Dunbar, which includes slaves lists for various plantations.

Photograph Album PA 4656/9 contains an album of Susan Hyams started in the summer of 1946. It contains approximately sixty photographs of Susan and her friends from All Saint’s College, including trips to Cuba and Haiti, the University of Colorado, Mexico City, and Chicago.