Amis-Clark-Puryear Papers

1760-1849, undated
Manuscript Collection #474
Puryear family; Amis family; Clark family
Physical description
1.09 Cubic Feet, 950 items , consisting of correspondence, estates papers, receipts, promissory notes, land records, and miscellaneous material.
Preferred Citation
Amis-Clark-Puryear Papers (#474), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1760-1849, undated) including correspondence, estates papers, receipts, promissory notes, land records and miscellaneous materials.

Biographical/historical information

John Puryear appears in the 1830 census as the owner of sixty-three slaves. A survey of his land made in 1833, after his death, list the extent of his landholdings as 1,214 acres along Clark's Creek. Little is known about the career of Archibald Clark. He and members of his family owned a considerable amount of property in Granville County, and their papers thus document the importance of this county's role in antebellum North Carolina as the site of much land speculation. William Amis lived in the Abraham Plains district of Granville County (possibly near modern-day Berea), where he is listed as a taxpayer in 1788. In 1804 he married Elizabeth Puryear. Amis appears in the 1830 census as the owner of thirty-three slaves.

Scope and arrangement

This collection reflects the social and economic life of the Amis and Puryear families of Granville County, North Carolina, and the Clark family of Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Although the collection focuses on various members of the families, the bulk of the material centers on John Puryear and Archibald Clark, both planters and slaveowners during the antebellum period, and William Amis, a planter, slaveowner, and lawyer.

His and his family's close ties to members of the Clark family are documented by financial and legal items in the collection which, for example, list Amis as the executor of Archibald Clark's estate.

Due to the varied and complex nature of the material in this collection, the papers have been divided into four groups: Amis family papers, Clark family papers, Puryear family papers, and miscellaneous papers. With a few exceptions, items have been filed with the family whose members received the material, rather than with the family of the originator. In each family's group of papers, items are divided into correspondence; legal and estate papers; and business, domestic, and general receipts. The receipts are filed according to the following scheme. Business receipts pertain to the management of various family plantations and to activities not directly related to personal or household matters; domestic receipts reflect expenditures for household, health-related, and education-related items; and general receipts are those which contain no specific information other than names of persons involved in or amounts of transactions. (Because of their general nature, these last receipts are not chronologically arranged and have not been described in this narrative.

Amis Family Papers

Correspondence of Amis family members consists largely of notes and letters requesting loans and making arrangements to sell brandy and corn. Items of interest include a letter (Oct. 1, 1826) which briefly mentions a decline in cotton and corn prices and deaths resulting from an epidemic of colds, and a letter (Dec. 9, 1835) requesting settlement of the Archibald Clark estate.

Among legal and estate papers are receipts for the payment of public, county, and poor taxes (1800-48) and various promissory notes. Of interest are receipts (Oct. 11, 1822; Dec. 15, 1829) for payments on tracts of land, bills (Sept., 1830) for William Amis's law services, and a receipt (Nov. 29, 1833) for the cost of an equity suit between William Amis and John Puryear.

Financial papers reflect the social and economic life of the Amis family. Business-related financial materials includes receipts for a donation for building the Grassy Creek Baptist Meeting House (Dec. 23, 1832), charges for lodging a traveler and his horse (Oct. 13, 1836), expenses at the Washington Hotel (1838), and the expenses of maintaining a Negro woman and her two children (July 24, 1846). An item of particular interest is a document (undated) recording the age and valuation of slaves received by Elizabeth Amis when she married. In general, business receipts record purchases and sales of such items as horses, lumber, tobacco, iron, and corn.

Among the domestic financial papers are receipts (July 14, 1814; July 28, 1832) for medical services, including prices and prescriptions for the Amis family and its slaves. Tuition receipts (Dec. 10, 1824; Feb. 2, 1831; Jan. 28, 1832; Mar. 6, 1833; May 12, 1834) and receipts for subscriptions to the Raleigh Register and North Carolina Gazette (Mar. 8, 1829), the Oxford Examiner (Aug. 21, 1830), and the Oxford Mercury (Nov. 8, 1843) are found in the domestic financial material. Overall, this group of paper scontains accounts and receipts documenting purchases of items such as foodstuffs, clothing, and household goods.

Clark Family Papers

Among items in the Clark family correspondence are two letters (Oct. 20, 1813; Oct. 13, 1814), written during the War of 1812, which mention life as a soldier, sicknesses in a military camp, and provisions. Other letters concern health-related topics and describe symptoms of illnesses (Sept. 20, 1804; Mar. 17, 1815), relate agricultural concerns, request brandy for a pregnant woman (Oct. 8, 1824), discuss estate matters and education of family members, and request a deed of gift for a Negro woman and her two children (Oct. 19, 1809).

Legal and estate papers of the Clark family contain receipts for land transactions and public, county, and poor taxes; promissory notes; witnesses of accounts; indentures; lists of outstanding debts; bonds; and notices of property sales. Items of particular interest include a statement (June 10, 1793) explaining John Clark's reason for not voting in a Congressional election, documents (June 9, 1803) pertaining to a court case between a plantation owner and his overseer, a license (Aug. 15, 1814) to operate a still, a formal agreement (Jan. 9, 1819) to hire a schoolmaster, and the Methodist Meeting House List (undated). Several other items (1830-1831) relate to the estate of Archibald Clark. Among the property discussed in these papers are numerous slaves. Representative of material pertaining to them are an appraisal of slaves and property (Nov. 23, 1791), an agreement (June 7, 1833) to clothe and maintain a Negro woman and her child, a document (Dec. 28, 1835) revealing the division of Negroes in Archibald Clark's estate, papers (Dec. 27, 1837; July 31, 1839) concerning the hire of Negroes, and various receipts for sales of slaves. These estate-related papers also contain much genealogical information about members of the Clark family.

The bulk of financial papers in Clark family material consists of a variety of accounts and receipts. In business-related financial papers are receipts for the seasoning of a mare (Apr. 18, 1793) and tobacco sales (Aug. 14, 1801). Material on expenses for slaves is also found in this group of papers. Of interest are receipts for the hire of slaves (Aug. 17, 1805; Dec. 26, 1836; Sept. 28, 1837), a slave given as payment of a debt (Sept. 12, 1803), and the sale of a slave woman (Apr. 15, 1815). General accounts and receipts for services rendered to the plantation are also found in this group.

Among domestic financial papers- in addition to items pertaining to books, cloth, and foodstuffs- are medical receipts. These receipts document payments for attending ailing slaves (1802, 1828) and for treating family maladies (1802), including charges for costs of home visits and prescriptions. Another item of interest (Nov. 17, 1795) concerns family washing, mending, lodging, and cooking.

Puryear Family Papers

Land deeds, tax receipts, contracts, and promissory notes make up the bulk of the Puryear family legal and estate papers. Important items include documents (1799-1800, 1817) concerning liquor production, a notice (Aug. 12, 1812) to attend Granville Superior Court as a juror, an agreement (Apr. 4, 1816) about the seasoning of a mare, and a map and survey of Puryear land (1833). Other items include papers (1831, 1833, undated) pertaining to the death and estate of John Puryear.

Financial papers of the Puryear family are similar in content to those of the Amis and Clark families. Business material includes receipts for services rendered, including several receipts (June 15, 1798; 1807) for blacksmithing, a document (Mar. 25, 1806) giving a slave to a prospective son-in-law, a note (Dec. 25, 1832) concerning the maintenance of a Negro woman and her child, and many tobacco-related items. Domestic financial papers contain receipts and accounts for personal and household goods and receipts for tuition. Medical receipts (1812-14) pertain to costs for visits, treatments, and medicines. One medical receipt of particular interest (June 26, 1835) refers to treatment with an "electrifying" machine.

Miscellaneous Papers

Miscellaneous material consists of items concerning friends, neighbors, and associates of the Amis, Clark, and Puryear families. Among legal and estate papers are a pre-Revolutionary land grant (Sept. 17, 1760), inventories and appraisals of estates (Mar. 1805; Aug. 1805), a fragment of a meeting house document (undated), land deeds, indentures, tax receipts, and promissory notes.

This section of the papers contains only a limited amount of correspondence. Of interest are letters mentioning an ill-written deed (Sept. 8, 1812), a request for a loan (May 28, 1844), a request for the proceeds from a sale of tobacco (Mar. 29, 1848), and a notice to "The Freemen of Granville County" describing recent legislative proceedings (Dec. 25, 1829).

Among domestic financial papers are a prescription for administering medication to a child (undated), several hand-drawn maps (undated), and notes on gunpowder (undated). Several documents concerning slaves and tobacco are included in business receipts. These items include lists of Negroes (undated) which give their names, sexes, occupations, and valuations, a stud book (1810), and receipts pertaining to blacksmithing (1799, 1813), chimney repairs (1813), tobacco (1818, 1820, 1824, 1836), and general accounts.

Administrative information
Custodial History

June 23, 1983, ca. 950 items; Papers (1760-1849) of Granville County, N.C., and Mecklenburg County, Va., families, including correspondence, estates papers, receipts, promissory notes, land records, and miscellaneous. Deposited by Mr. Michael Cable, Greenville, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mr. Michael Cable

Processing information

Processed by E. Scott, July 1984

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
Family Names
Amis family
Clark family
Puryear family
Agriculture--North Carolina--Granville County
Medicine--Formulae, receipts, prescriptions--History--19th century
Plantation owners--North Carolina--Granville County
Plantation owners--Virginia--Mecklenburg County
Plantations--North Carolina--Granville County
Plantations--Virginia--Mecklenburg County
Slavery--North Carolina
Tobacco--North Carolina
Granville County (N.C.)--Genealogy
Granville County (N.C.)--Social life and customs--19th century
Mecklenburg County (Va.)--Genealogy
Mecklenburg County (Va.)--Social life and customs--19th century

Container list
Box 1 Folder b Amis Family: Legal and Estate Papers, 1800-1830
Box 1 Folder c Amis Family: Legal and Estate Papers, 1831-1848
Box 1 Folder d Amis Family: Financial Papers - Business, 1816-1846
Box 1 Folder e Amis Family: Financial Papers - Domestic, 1814-1846
Box 1 Folder f Amis Family: Financial Papers - General
Box 2 Folder a Clark Family: Correspondence, 1788-1824
Box 2 Folder b Clark Family: Correspondence, 1825-1839
Box 2 Folder c Clark Family: Legal and Estate Papers, 1767-1811
Box 2 Folder d Clark Family: Legal and Estate Papers, 1812-1829
Box 3 Folder a Clark Family: Legal and Estate Papers, 1830-1840
Box 3 Folder b Clark Family: Financial Papers - Business, [1789?] - 1820
Box 3 Folder c Clark Family: Financial Papers - Business, 1821-1837
Box 3 Folder d Clark Family: Financial Papers - Domestic, 1785-1831
Box 3 Folder e Clark Family: Financial Papers - General
Box 4 Folder a Puryear Family: Legal and Financial Papers, 1770-1831
Box 4 Folder b Puryear Family: Legal and Financial Papers, 1832-1835
Box 4 Folder c Puryear Family: Financial Papers - Business, 1798-1838
Box 4 Folder d Puryear Family: Financial Papers - Domestic, 1809-1835
Box 4 Folder e Puryear Family: Financial Papers - General
Box 5 Folder a Miscellaneous: Legal & Estate Papers, 1760-1843
Box 5 Folder b Miscellaneous: Correspondence and Financial Papers - Domestic, 1800-1848
Box 5 Folder c Miscellaneous: Financial Papers - Business, 1769-1839
Box 5 Folder d Miscellaneous: Financial Papers - General
Folder os1 Land records; Estate Papers, 1830-35