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Title: John Poynter Streety Papers, 1874-2001 (bulk 1874-1894)

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Creator: Streety, John Poynter, 1820-1894.
Collection number: 5478
View finding aid.

Abstract: John Poynter Streety was born in Bladen County, N.C., in 1820. He arrived in the town of Haynesville, Ala., circa 1839, where he became a prosperous businessman. Streety’s plantation was located in Lowndes County, where he was primarily active in cotton farming, raising livestock, and other agricultural activities. He was also involved in a co-partnership with a firm named J.P. Streety and Company, which participated in several types of businesses, including mercantile and advancing credit, ginning and milling, and acquisition of land. Streety died in Haynesville, Ala., in 1894. The bulk of the collection is manuscript volumes, mostly written by John Poynter Streety, 1874-1894. The volumes contain entries describing life on his plantation and in the town of Haynesville, Ala., as well as a few accounts of national occurrences. Many entries describe Streety’s farming and mercantile endeavors, the weather and its impact on crops, family and town life, the performance of workers, and local politics, while others describe race relations in the post-Civil War American South and include Streety’s personal views, accounts of lynch mobs, and other information. Some entries discuss yellow fever, social and economic conditions, and the national political environment. Also included are research materials, late 1960s-early 1970s, relating to Streety and belonging to Roland Mushat Frye, a Streety descendant and professor of English literature at the University of Pennsylvania; a 2001 Streety family newsletter; and other items.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: There are several references to race relations and African Americans in Streety’s writings. From Volume 2 in Folder 4, The entry written 12 June 1875 concerns the Radical Republican Party meeting attended by “a crowd of Freedmen,” and describes it as “noisy and turbulent.

Volume 3 in Folder 6 includes entries regarding race relations, such as one written 14 November 1875 that contains the description of a court case against an African American for assaulting a white man, which John Poynter Streety noted as having been arranged to include a majority of African Americans on the jury. In entries written 23 October and 25 December 1875, Streety reflected on his views regarding the presence of African Americans at his store and his concern for the safety of the store’s goods. In another entry from 1 January 1876, he mentioned Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

In Volume 4 in Folder 8 for an entry dated 26 August 1876, Streety discussed the overall dissatisfaction of the African American population regarding the overwhelming Democratic Party victory in the state elections.

In an entry written on 9 May 1878, Streety discussed the time African Americans spent in court and their convictions for what he considered minor infractions (Volume 5, Folder 10)

Volumes 7 and 8 in Folders 14 and 16 contain numerous references to Streety’s views on race relations, and incidents involving newly freed African Americans

Volume 9a in Folder 18 ┬ácontains entries concerning race relations, such as an account of a lynching written on 30 March 1888. In the account, Streety described an African American man being abducted from jail, where he was awaiting trial for allegedly killing a white man by a mob of masked men who hung him from a tree by the town’s public square. A few days later, on 7 May 1888, Streety commented on the consequences of the lynching, wherein numerous African Americans were arrested for organizing with the intention of avenging the action and state troops were called upon to handle the situation. In a 20 August 1889 entry, Streety reflected upon possible race troubles brought about by comments published in a newspaper edited by an African American man, in which an article characterized “the White race in most uncalled for and scandelous manner.”

There are accounts of local and national economic matters, such as the entry on 1 March 1892 noting the sharp decrease in the price of cotton and the dire situations encountered by farmers, especially African Americans. Another entry regarding race relations was written on 14 October 1893, describing a young African American girl being whipped by a white man for “rudely walking against his daughter.” The same white man had the parents of two smaller girsl whipped for the same reason. The entry goes on to describe the white man responsible for the whippings receiving a letter saying that future acts of this sort would result in the town being burnt down (Volume 10, Folder 21)

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