Lenoir family papers, 1763-1936, 1969-1975 (general abstract).

Creator: Lenoir family.
Collection number: 426
View finding aid.

Abstract: Lenoir family members include William Lenoir, Revolutionary War general and N.C. politician of Fort Defiance, Caldwell County, N.C.; Lenoir’s friend and father-in-law of two of Lenoir’s sons Waightstill Avery, lawyer, legislator, and signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration; and his son-in-law Israel Pickens, N.C. congressman, 1811-1817, governor of Alabama, 1821-1825, and U.S. senator from Alabama, 1826. Also important are William Lenoir’s children, especially William Ballard Lenoir of Roane County, Tenn.; Thomas and his wife Selina Louisa Avery Lenoir of Fort Defiance; and Walter Raleigh Lenoir of Boone County, Mo. Much material relates to Thomas and Selina’s children, especially William Avery Lenoir; Sarah (Sade) Jones Lenoir of Fort Defiance; Walter Waightstill, a lawyer in Lenoir, N.C., and his wife Cornelia Isabella Christian Lenoir; Thomas Isaac and his wife Mary Elizabeth (Lizzie) Garrett Lenoir of the family plantation at East Fork of Pigeon, Haywood County, N.C.; Rufus Theodore and his wife Sarah Leonora (Sallie) Gwyn Lenoir of Fort Defiance; son-in-law Joseph Caldwell Norwood, a teacher in Hillsborough, N.C.; and cousin William Bingham of the Bingham School in Orange County, N.C. There is also material relating to the children of Rufus and Sallie, including Thomas Ballard of Fort Defiance; Rufus Theodore, Jr., of Athens, Ga., and his wife Clyde Lyndon Lenoir; and to members of the related Avery, Norwood, and Pickens families. Selected series, some of which have been grouped together for convenience in online searching, have been cataloged separately. They are: Subseries 1.1. Correspondence, 1773-1839 (426 Series 1.1a; 426 Series 1.1b); Subseries 1.2. Correspondence, 1840-1860 (426 Series 1.2); Subseries 1.3. Correspondence, 1861-1865 (426 Series 1.3); Subseries 1.4. Correspondence, 1866-1890 and Subseries 1.5. Correspondence, 1891-1937 (426 Series 1.4,1.5); Series 2. Diaries and other writings, 1776-1940 (426 Series 2); Series 3.1. Household and plantation records, 1768-1929 (426 Series 3.1); Series 3.2. Legal and business records, 1765-1909 and Series 5. Financial and business volumes, 1781-1892 (426 Series 3.2,5); Series 3.3. Political and election records, 1775-1882 and Series 4. Land records (426 Series 3.3,4); and Series 6. Government records, 1776-1888 (426 Series 6).

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Correspondence includes discussion of the buying, selling, and supervision of slaves (See particularly subseries 1.1 and 1.3); the containment of slavery (subseries 1.2), and references to free blacks in North Carolina (subseries 1.4).

Among letters in this series relating to managing slaves are those of 21 March 1809, in which Thomas Lenoir asked that brother Walter Raleigh Lenoir look for a “young wench that he thinks would suit me”; of 2 February, 28 March, and 19 May 1811, in which Thomas and William Lenoir discussed buying and selling slaves and how the price for slaves had recently escalated; and of 11 September 1835, which shows that Walter Raleigh Lenoir had slaves on his Missouri property. Letters of 13 April 1806, 28 March 1837, 23 December 1839, and 10 January 1840 show that the Lenoirs were somewhat sensitive about buying and selling slaves. In the 1837 letter, Thomas Lenoir explained to William Avery Lenoir, who had just sold his own slaves in Alabama and wondered what to do with those of Thomas who were in his care, that William was to ask the slaves whether or not they wanted to be sold. The 1839 and 1840 letters between William Ballard Lenoir in Tennessee and L. G. Jones in North Carolina are about how to avoid breaking up a slave family.

The collection also contains a letter of 26 April 1875 of nephew William Ballard Lenoir,  to Walter Waightstill Lenoir about the African-American exodus northward (Folder 169).

William Lenoir’s speeches (subseries 2.2.1) also contain discussions of topics such as enslavement.

Subseries 3 (Plantation Records) contain several references to enslaved people, such as a list of slave births and labor performed on the plantation (including skilled labor).

Tax records in Series 4 and 6 also contain assessments and valuations of enslaved individuals.