Myers Family Papers

Manuscript Collection #431
Myers family
Physical description
0.22 Cubic Feet, 190 items , copies of business and personal correspondence, financial records, legal papers, newspaper clippings, published speeches, announcements, and government documents.
Preferred Citation
Myers Family Papers (#431), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1846-1937) including correspondence, financial records, legal papers, newspaper clippings, published speeches, announcements, and government documents.

Biographical/historical information

Dr. John Gray Blount Myers (1823-1895) was the son of John Myers, owner and operator of the shipping and mercantile firm, John Myers and Sons, located on Water Street in Washington, N.C., and Mary Harvey Blount, a member of the prominent and politically powerful Blount family during the Revolutionary and Federalist periods. Educated in the local schools, the University of North Carolina (1843- AB), and the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Myers was a physician, planter, and merchant. He married twice: first to Mary Olivia Rodman, who bore a son, William Rodman Myers, and second to Susan Grimes, who bore two daughters. William Rodman Myers married Lucy Wheelock Warren, and they had three children: Edward W. Myers, a civil engineer, Olivia, and Marcia.

Scope and arrangement

The collection falls into two main groups. Approximately one-half consists of Myers family correspondence (1847-1937) with the remainder being financial and legal records, and seven printed government documents. A small group (approximately 15 items) of financial records and business correspondence of Benjamine J. Parmele, a local Washington merchant during the 1850s, is among the financial records. The remainder of the collection consists of a number of newspaper clippings, social invitations, two booklets, and two essays.

The bulk of the correspondence prior to 1860 relates to Myers-Rodman-Grimes family business, primarily the sale and transfer of land and slaves from one family member to another. Of particular interest is a letter (November, 1853) from Bryan Grimes, father of General Bryan Grimes, to J. G. B. Myers regarding a dowry for his daughter, Susan.Social events, travel experiences, and the general health and well-being of Myers family members are the subjects of later correspondence. Two letters (July 22, and September 2, 1862) from F[rederick] H. Warren and Herbert Warren, kinsmen of Mrs. Lucy Warren Myers and Confederate soldiers, describe military movements at Manassas and from Alabama north to Tennessee, camp life, and medical treatment for an accidental leg wound.

Edward W. Myers, son of William Rodman Myers and Lucy Warren Myers, traveled throughout western North Carolina working for the United States Geological Survey during the 1890s and spent several years in the far western United States as a civil engineer. Several letters written to his mother (1897) describe his work and travel conditions in Western North Carolina. One letter (Feb. 20, 1897) mentions the Legislature's appropriation of $100,000 for the state's public schools and his reaction to the official coeducational status of the University of North Carolina. In other letters to Mrs. Lucy Myers, Edward Myers (Ned) and his wife talk about their life, travel, and children while living in New Mexico and South Dakota (1904-1906). The remainder of the correspondence from Edward Myers's family relates to family business, travel accounts from Shanghai (Feb. 14 and 23, 1933; April 21, 1937) and New Orleans (undated), and their life in Greensboro, N.C.

Three items in the collection not directly related to any other correspondence are, nevertheless, of interest. An unidentified letter most likely from Mrs. Myers to one of her daughters (Aug. 9, 1900) gives brief biographical sketches of teachers who taught school in Washington, N.C., during the nineteenth century. A second letter (1913) from a relative taking a cure at a spa in Hot Springs, Arkansas, vividly describes the accommodations and the bath procedures. An unidentifiable letter fragment (undated) to a Mr. Haywood discusses the collection and publication of Southern folklore.

The remaining portion of the collection consists of financial papers, legal records, and North Carolina government documents and legislative bills. Legal records include warranty deeds and bills of sale for the purchase and transfer of land to Dr. John Gray Blount Myers (1847-1871), and the purchase and transfer of slaves (1850-1861) by Dr. Myers, Bryan Grimes, and Miss Patsy Baker Blount. Other legal papers record agreements to divide land among the heirs of John Gray Blount (Sept., 1861), to cut a drainage ditch along the property line of William Blount Rodman and Dr. Myers at South Creek, near present day Aurora, N.C. (1851), and a boundary settlement between Dr. Myers and T. L. Waters (Oct. 5, 1858). Several military passes and permits to citizens of Washington to fish and to purchase and sell mercantile goods give evidence of the military occupation of Washington by the U.S. Army in 1863 and 1864.

Government documents pertain primarily to the Reconstruction period (1868-1869), the readmission of North Carolina to the Union, and the organization of a newstate government. Especially noteworthy are speeches on "Suffrage and Eligibility" made to the Constitutional Convention of 1868 by C. C. Pool (Jan. 28, 1868) and William Blount Rodman (Feb. 20, 1868), and General Orders #120 from the Headquarters of the Second Military District regarding the removal of "political disabilities" of former Confederates by Congress. A Report of the Code Commission (1868-69) pertains to the revision of North Carolina's Codes of Civil and Criminal Procedure. A Report of the Commission of Claims (1868) and a speech by state Senator W. H. S. Sweet (1869) reflect the immense financial burdens of the state during Reconstruction. A Civil War item is the Proclamation (May 11, 1863) by Governor Zebulon B. Vance calling upon the people to arrest and shoot deserters. One item of local Beaufort County importance is a legislative debate excerpt pertaining to changing the name of Choccowinity [Chocowinity] Creek to the Cocco River (1899).

Among the financial papers are tax accounts and receipts for William B. Rodman and Dr. John G. B. Myers (1847), a certificate for twenty shares of stock in the Greenville and Raleigh Plant Road Co. (1852), and pages from account books, as well as ledger sheets and business correspondence regarding purchase orders, corrections, and payments by Dr. Myers, his wife and son (1850s, 1870s, 1880s). Ledger sheets, bills of lading and invoices from New York wholesalers to Benjamine J. Parmele, merchant of Washington, N.C., can also be found in the collection.

A folder of miscellaneous items include invitations, newspaper clippings, lists of Confederate soldiers from Beaufort County in Co. B. 1st North Carolina Volunteers (1863), a list of slaves for hire owned by Mary Olivia Blount Rodman (1846), and two booklets, A Trip to Eastern North Carolina (1897) and Beaufort County-Bad Conditions and Some Remedies (1930). Newspaper clippings give an account of the "History of the KKK in Washington, N.C., During Reconstruction Days" (undated) and "Recollections of Washington, N.C." by Mrs. Lucy W. Myers (1916). Also among the miscellaneous items are two essays discussing the methods and techniques of road construction by Edward W. Myers and the origin of the town of Washington, N.C. (author unknown).

For related material, see the William Blount Rodman Papers (Collection #329) in this repository.

Administrative information
Custodial History

September 30, 1981, 90 items; Papers (1846-1937) of the Myers family of Washington, N.C., and of Washington merchant, B[enjamine] J. Parmelle. Gift of Mr. Herman E. Gaskins, Washington, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mr. Herman E. Gaskins

Processing information

Processed by J. Smith, December 1983

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Parmele, Benjamine J.
Family Names
Myers family
Merchants--North Carolina--Washington
Plantation owners--North Carolina--Washington
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)--North Carolina
Slavery--North Carolina--Washington
North Carolina--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Washington (N.C.)--History, Military--19th century