1813-1850 - An antebellum archive of documents and correspondence kept by the patriarch of one of the South’s most prosperous plantation owners including information about slave auctions and traders, hiring overseers, slave provisions and health, runaway slaves, crop damage, and more.
1813-1850 - An antebellum archive of documents and correspondence kept by the patriarch of one of the South’s most prosperous plantation owners including information about slave auctions and traders, hiring overseers, slave provisions and health, runaway slaves, crop damage, and more.
1813-1850 - An antebellum archive of documents and correspondence kept by the patriarch of one of the South’s most prosperous plantation owners including information about slave auctions and traders, hiring overseers, slave provisions and health, runaway slaves, crop damage, and more.
1813-1850 - An antebellum archive of documents and correspondence kept by the patriarch of one of the South’s most prosperous plantation owners including information about slave auctions and traders, hiring overseers, slave provisions and health, runaway slaves, crop damage, and more.
1813-1850 - An antebellum archive of documents and correspondence kept by the patriarch of one of the South’s most prosperous plantation owners including information about slave auctions and traders, hiring overseers, slave provisions and health, runaway slaves, crop damage, and more.
1813-1850 - An antebellum archive of documents and correspondence kept by the patriarch of one of the South’s most prosperous plantation owners including information about slave auctions and traders, hiring overseers, slave provisions and health, runaway slaves, crop damage, and more.

1813-1850 - An antebellum archive of documents and correspondence kept by the patriarch of one of the South’s most prosperous plantation owners including information about slave auctions and traders, hiring overseers, slave provisions and health, runaway slaves, crop damage, and more.

Various: 1813-1850. Unbound. This archive contains 18 items: six documents and 12 letters totaling 36 pages of text. The earliest is from 1813 and the latest 1850; most are from the 1820s and 1830s. Two of the letters bear rare postal markings: an early manuscript postmark from Memphis, Tennessee and a circular date stamp from Hempstead Court House, Arkansas Territory. All are in nice shape. Transcripts will be provided.

This archive documents many aspects of plantation ownership. A very few examples include:

Slave traders and public slave auctions – Receipts for the first twelve slave purchases made by Malcom and his brother, Pryor, between 1813 and 1818, in apparent preparation for their move to land in Kentucky. Also, correspondence between family members: “As to purchasing negroes [at auction] in this country it is quite uncertain wheather many will be sold this fall or not. There is but little money to be maid in the . . . courts this fall . . . owing to the sheriffs election. . .. The price you speak off is less than such negroes has been sold for & probably can not be purchaised at it. I have not seen or Known of a young likely fellow selling at public sale for less than $800 but it is quite uncertain what they will sell for. . .. Mr. Thomas McCargo, [an itinerant slave trader] was here this spring with negroes part of which he cashed and part he sold on time. I have now in my hand, notes of his to about $12,000, which will be due next winter. . .. Mr. McCargo will be here early in the fall say 1st November. . ..”

Financial squabbles over slave ownership – “I omitted to mention any thing in relation to the two negroes we purchased in copartnership, as I have taken the negroes and appropriated to my own use. . .. In taking those negroes I perhaps may have done wrong but I presumed that you had more than your proportion . . . and I required them. . .. I am willing to pay whatever you may think or deem correct. . ..”

Hiring overseers – “Smally is anxious to oversee for us this year. He will not do. I employed [another] overseer, some time since at $1000. . .. Besides being a good and decent manager of negroes, he is a fine Physician. The price of an overseer should be no object, when we find one to suit. . ..”

Slave provisions and health – “We will need 500 or 600 bushels of corn. . .. I shall purchase molasses when I go below. . .. The meat is nearly out at Lake Charles I sent out last week the only two barrels of pork I had. I have a little bacon that may answer until you ship the pork. . .. Your negroes have been and are now pretty healthy. . .. Shadrick, Parthenia, and Sylvia are now over having been sick for some time [and] I’ll not look upon any of them dangerous save Shadrick who . . . I hope is now a little better. . .. Shadrick says he is a fraid [so] he is now at my house. . ..”

Selling slaves and runaway slaves – “When at the plantation last, I tried Mark, in the shop. I think, he is a pretty good plantation smith. Let is of no use on the plantation [and] seldom does any work. I do not think she could be sold as a sound negro [but, she ought to be sold by all means. . .. Get some person who knows my runaway boy Dick, to go after him for me. There are a great many persons who know him in your neighborhood as he was bought not far from you. . .. These are the directions. Leave the boat at Williams Landing 50 miles above the mouth of the Oho River. Get a horse there and ride to Vienna a distance of 25 miles. Enquire for Jesse Cannaday, who will show him the negro. . .. He may deposit him in jail any where . . . probably it would be better in Memphis. . ..”

Insect damage – “The crop with us will be light. . .. The bole worms set in early. . .. The armyworms or caterpillars then set in. . .. The crops . . . have been injured about 1/3 within the last ten days.”

Banking risks – “As to what you had best do with your Bank stock I would advise you to keep it. . .. It is most certainly true that it placed itself in an awkward position the last fall & winter by extending her loans to too great [but] the difficulty with the Bank . . . will make them more causious. . ..”

Dealing with borrowers’ excuses – “Having been thwarted & disappointed in every attempt to meet my pecuniary engagements . . . I am unable to do so. . .. I had made an arrangement with one of the dealers in provisions with steam boats to take their mutton of me. Before I had sold ten muttons disease & death laid hold of my sheep . . . & what survived were unfit for market.”

. Very good. Item #009870

In 1772, Henry I. McNeill settled in North Carolina where he established a 300-acre farm. His son, Malcom, took charge of the family business in 1813 and began to purchase slaves in advance of the family’s relocation to Christian County, Kentucky in 1818 where they prospered growing tobacco. There, Malcom built the family’s plantation house, Hemphill, in 1827. He, his brother, and sons expanded their holdings and, by 1850, owned thousands of plantation acres in Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas. Malcom also purchased investment property at Chicago, Memphis, and Natchez. Several references refer to Malcom as the richest man in the county and his son as “the largest cotton planter in the South.” The combined holdings of the family must have made it one of the wealthiest in the country. Although, their plantation empire was destroyed by the Civil War, the family was far from financially ruined as the value of their urban investments was enormous.

(For more information see online records at Ancestry.com, the Biographical Cyclopedia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Froom’s McNeill and Allied Familiesentries at Reigel Roots, “McNeill, Angus” at the Texas State Historical Association, and “Terhune vs. Commercial Nat. Safe Deposit Co. et. al.” in the Northeastern Reporter vol 92.)

This archive is full of important and informative first-hand records of plantation life saved by one of the South’s most prominent planters. At the time of listing, nothing similar is for sale in the trade. The Rare Book Hub shows no auctions for similar records. The University of North Carolina holds a collection of mostly post-war McNeill family papers, and OCLC shows a number of institutions hold plantation records, mostly financial ledgers, but it is doubtful more than a few are from such a prominent family.

Price: $9,500.00

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