Matthew Cary Whitaker papers, 1728-1883.

Creator: Whitaker, Matthew Cary, 1801-1873.
Collection number: 768
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Abstract: Matthew Cary Whitaker was a physician and planter of Halifax County, N.C. The collection contains family correspondence and other materials, 1728-1870. Included are letters received by Whitaker when he was studying medicine in Baltimore, Md., 1823-1824, and bills, receipts, accounts, and business papers related primarily to plantation operations, including records of slave transactions. Items before 1823 are deeds, accounts, and other papers of the related Fort family, including letters concerning plantations in Lawrence County, Ala. Letters from Fort family members in Alabama to Hilliard Fort of Halifax County, N.C., indicate that Alabama land was more productive than North Carolina land and encourage him to speculate in unclaimed lands in Alabama. Letters to Matthew Whitaker from his brother, Spier Whitaker, and other family members discuss family news, Halifax County political news, opinions of presidential candidates, monetary and other changes made by President Andrew Jackson, and the rising price of grain due to scarcity in Europe. The Addition of 2006 contains correspondence between Whitaker and Fort family members and friends. Topics include family news, Halifax County news, plantation matters, and politics. Included is an 1864 letter from Jefferson Davis to Mrs. Ransom, a Whitaker family friend, discussing the whereabouts of her husband, Major General Robert Ransom Jr. The Addition also contains financial records and receipts including records of slave transactions.┬áThe Addition of 2012 consists of two manuscript volumes. One is a physician’s ledger kept by Matthew Whitaker, 1827-1839, containing details of treatments, charges, payments, and medications prescribed to individuals in the Halifax County, N.C., area, including slaves. The other volume is a plantation journal belonging to Hilliard Fort, 1820-1827, listing accounts of various plantation operations, including purchases, promissory notes, debts, and records of slaves hired out.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Included are slave bills of sale (1817,1835) and accounts concerning the hiring out of slaves (1822, 1841).

Folders 15 and 16 also contain a plantation journal (documenting the hiring out of enslaved individuals) and a physician’s ledger (which contains an index of patients, including, enslaved individuals).

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available online. Click here to link to the finding aid for this collection and to access the digitized content.