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Murfreesboro Historical Association Collection: Wynns Family Papers, 1800-1961 (bulk 1880-1929)

Manuscript Collection #691-002

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: Murfreesboro Historical Association Collection: Wynns Family Papers
Creators: Murfreesboro Historical Association
Wynns family
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Papers (1800-1961) of Hertford County, NC, family, consisting of correspondence, legal documents, financial papers, estate papers, account books, ledgers and time books, and miscellany, including records of Petty Shore Fishery and the family cotton business.
Extent: 25.0 Cubic feet, 13 archival boxes, 128 ledger books and 1 oversize folder, consisting of correspondence, ledger books, estate records, financial records, legal records and account books

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

February 6, 1996, ca. 700 items, 55 volumes; Papers (1822-1927) of Hertford County, N.C. family, consisting of correspondence, legal documents, financial papers, estate papers, account books, ledgers and time books, and miscellany, including records of Petty Shore Fishery and family cotton business. Donor: Murfreesboro Historical Association.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

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

Preferred Citation

Murfreesboro Historical Association Collection: Wynns Family Papers (#691-002), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Murfreesboro Historical Association

Processing Information

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services

  • Processed by Dale Sauter, 2011

Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The Wynns Family, generally associated with Hertford County, North Carolina, has taken on various spellings over time, including Wynns, Wynne and Wynn. According to genealogical research, the earliest member of this family present in the Hertford County area was Captain George Wynns. He was born in 1675 and died in 1751. From his remaining will, we know that Wynns was married to Rosa, and they had seven children. This included John, Mary (wife of Cullence Sessoms), Joseph, Benjamin (a Colonel in the Continental Army of 1776), William (died in 1757, had a wife Elizabeth and daughter Penelope and a son, name unknown), Sarah (wife of Peter Evans) and George (a Major in the Continental Army of 1776).

Captain Thomas, Edmond and Peter Wynne are mentioned among the grantees in the charter of Virginia granted by King Charles II in 1609. Daniel Wynns was the son of one Wynns who married the daughter of Daniel Van Pelt, whose family originally came to North Carolina from New York. According to his will, Daniel Wynns had several children, including George, Watkin Williams, Daniel Van Pelt, Mrs. Mary Jenkins, Mrs. Elizabeth Barns, Mrs. Sarah Roberson and Peggy (who later married a Northcutt), Caroline and Emeline. Colonel Benjamin Wynns (of revolutionary fame, and the son of Captain George Wynns, as previously mentioned) had four sons with his second wife, Margaret Pugh of Bertie, North Carolina. They included Benjamin, George, William and Thomas. Thomas became a general in the states troops after the war of 1776 and represented the Edenton District in Congress from 1802 until 1807. James M. Wynns (son of William), the great grandson of Colonel Benjamin Wynns, produced in marriage (21 Feb 1865 to Jennie Brown) three sons, Thomas B., John S., and William D.; and three daughters, Jennie B., Lucy D., and Maud L. All of these children were still living in Murfreesboro, North Carolina in the early 20th Century. James M. Wynns also served in the Civil War as First Lieutenant, 19th Regiment, North Carolina Troops, 2nd North Carolina Cavalry, Company C-Gates and Hertford Counties.

The Wynns (Winn, Wynn, Winns) family of Hertford County was one of great prominence in colonial North Carolina. As indicated above, the Wynns family took on various spellings throughout generations. As a result, in these papers researchers will find both “Wynn” and “Wynns” used on various documents. In the text of this finding aid, the spelling is kept as “Wynns” to be consistent. These papers document the activities of a later generation of Wynns who lived predominately during the late 1800s and early 1900s. These include Thomas B. Wynns (wife, Lois V. Wynns) and his father, James M. Wynns (12 Oct 1831 - 1906,) James B. Wynns (believed to be James M. Wynns’ other son;) as well as William B. Wynns (1796-1840, married 21 Jan 1830 to Mary A Pipkin,) and his brothers, Thomas, Benjamin, James D.

Also represented are papers of Wynns relatives (mainly through marriage), one family being the Southalls. The Southalls were prominent members of the town of Murfreesboro beginning with Rev. Daniel Southall who moved to Murfreesboro in 1816. He married Miss Julia Riddick and they produced several children. After his wife died, he married Miss Patience W. Branch of Halifax County in 1810 and they had a daughter, Mary Susan Southall, who died at the age of three months. Rev. Daniel Southall died in 1830. Another one of Rev. Southall and Julia’s children was John W. Southall, who went on to became a prosperous merchant in the Murfreesboro community. John V. Lawrence was the father-in-law of Susan E. Southall, daughter of Mary P. Wynns and John W. Southall. John V. Lawrence married Hannah Peck Rea in 1836. Among other ventures, Southall had a partnership (Lawrence & Vaughan) with fellow merchant Uriah Vaughan (1813-1890.)

Sources: Finding aid of the Wynns Family Papers, 1824 - 1927

"Sketches by Benj. B. Winborne….," compiled by David Powell, 2002, Joyner Library, North Carolina Collection, North Carolina Reference, CS 71 B17 2002.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Series Descriptions

Series 1: The Thomas B. Wynns Papers series consists of a few pieces of correspondence belonging to Thomas B., son of James M. Wynns. Nearly all of the correspondence is business related. One rare exception is a letter (1906) to Wynns from a friend regarding the recent death of Thomas' father and other family matters. Nearly all of the remaining correspondence primarily documents the daily operation of Wynns’ store, Wynn Bros., known for years as “Murfreesboro’s Greatest Store.” These materials offer good insight into the types and quality of goods the store was dealing in, as well as the many wholesale companies who were supplying the goods. The goods sold represent quite a broad range, from clothing, household goods, farm equipment and everyday use items. There is also a fair amount of early correspondence (1918-1920) from American companies still well-known today. These include, John Deere, The Palmolive Company and International Harvester. From evidence in the collection, by the 1950s, Wynn Bros. changed its name to Day's Department Store. It is unsure whether the store was sold or possibly taken over by relatives of Wynns. The only clue found are a few receipts in the financial records for Janet Day. The legal materials consist of documentation of various business ventures by Wynns, mostly related to land and property. Among the documents present are building mortgages, deeds, articles of agreement, crop liens and insurance policies. Also included is a document concerning the estate of Jennie B. Wynn (relation unsure.) In addition, present are Wynns’ real estate and personal property forms and federal and state income tax returns. (some tax records have been moved to oversize folder # 691-002.os1-see staff for details) These documents offer further insight into the Wynn Bros. store’s financial picture and other business endeavors by Wynns. Supplementing the financial papers are numerous personal ledger books offering detailed accounts of all his business activities. (For details, see the Financial Ledgers series description.) Among the items found in the other printed materials sub-series, include printed lists of daily prices for wholesale groceries (1868, 1925), various factory price lists for goods, a copy of The Woman Patriot Journal (1920), a sales leaflet for maid uniforms (1939), several advertising blotter ink pads (including some for Wynn Bros.,) a variety of sales brochures for household, agriculture and other types of goods and several business cards from company salesmen. Also of interest is a “regulator diary” advertising a drug store and several types of nostrums (medicines sold with false or exaggerated claims and with no demonstrable value; quack medicine, definition from Also included is a large sales book of fabric samples for the fall season of 1941, published by Arthur Beir & Co., Inc., New York City.

Series 2: The James M. Wynns Papers series contains correspondence, financial records and legal records. The correspondence is primarily concerned with business and personal family matters. During 1863 and 1864, several letters were received from Wynns’ Uncle James Dean Wynns, telling of the elder Wynns' ill health and reporting that Yankee troops had taken all of his clothes, leaving him destitute and in great need of assistance. Other Civil War-era correspondence includes several leaves of absence granted to Wynns (most allowing him to attend the North Carolina State Legislature sessions,) a statement of receipt of supplies and money given to Wynns, an official letter from Adjutant General Daniel(?) Fowle authorizing Wynns to enlist another 250 or more mounted infantry troops, a few letters discussing issues related to age limits of the enlisted and some general orders. Other topics of particular interest in the correspondence include activities at Petty Shores Fishery, aid for Methodist College at Murfreesboro (1880), description of Japan and the Japanese people (1886), Wynns family history (1894, 1896), breeding of horses for trotting purposes (1900-1901), and the death of James M. Wynns (1906). Other letters of interest discuss the Wynns family history and the Daughters of the American Revolution (1894), the request of a photo of fellow Civil War veterans to produce a history of the regiment (1900), the construction of a road (1901), a sample taken of drinking water (1902), Wynns’ bladder condition (1904), W.B. Wynns and letters of condolences for J.M. Wynns’ death (1906). The rest of the correspondence is mainly from family members or business related. Of particular interest is correspondence documenting Wynns’ order for a bicycle from J.E. Poorman Bicycles and Sundries, Cincinnati, Ohio (1894). The financial records include various receipts and promissory notes documenting Wynns’ financial interests. Supplementing the financial papers are numerous personal ledger books giving detailed accounts of all his business activities, including detailed employee records for workers at the Wynns farm and the Petty[s] Shore Fishery (1871-1903) (For details, see the Financial Ledgers series description.) The legal records include indentures, bills of sale and agreements regarding named slaves (1854-56) and deeds. Among the legal items of interest are a land deed involving Hertford County, North Carolina and the state of Tennessee (1843), a document produced by the “Knights Templars and the appendant Ordersholders in Portsmouth, Virginia, State of Virginia, U.S.A.” certifying Wynns as a “Knight of the Red Cross Knight Templar and Knight of Malta Of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.” (1860), a similar document certifying Wynns as a “Royal Arch Mason in Mt. Ararat Chapter 103, located in the town of Murfreesboro, Hertford County, North Carolina,” as well as one certifying Baldwin A. Capehart to this same position, a list of officers (captain and above) of the 15th Battalion, NC Troops, as of July 22, 1863, a printed announcement from Weldon Camp 68th Regiment, North Carolina Troops, a document regarding the nomination of a candidate to represent Hertford county in the Senate and the next state legislature and a stated opposition to William Holden being Governor of North Carolina (1864). Also of particular interest are two typescript documents entitled “A Proclamation by William W. Holden, Provisional Governor to the People of North Carolina” detailing a planned election on Sept 21, 1865 for Convention Delegates resulting from President Andrew Johnson's May 29th 1865 proclamation to restore pro-union governments (one signed by Wynns.) Holden (1818-1892) was the only Chief Executive in North Carolina history to be impeached and removed from office (and the first in the nation to endure that indignity.) Holden was posthumously and unanimously pardoned by the North Carolina Senate in 2011. Also included is an official state document signed by Holden as Governor, appointing Wynns as the Justice of the Peace of Herfort County (1865). Also present in the legal records is Wynns’ life insurance policy (1870), a document granting Wynn guardianship of an orphan, Fannie S. Myrick (1874), abstract listings of property, Wynns’ last will and testament (1891) and will (1894), a document authorizing the representation of the Roanoke and Albemarle Agricultural Fair in Hertford County (1899), an agreement between J.S. Wynns and T.B. Wynns to dissolve the firm of Wynn Bros., with J.S. selling one half interest to T.B., an undated valuation sheet documenting slaves belonging to James M. Wynns featuring slaves’ names and assigned individual values and an undated constitution and by-laws of the "Charles Egbert Craddock Club". The “other printed materials” sub-series includes genealogical and historical notes, poems and essays, believed to be written by J.M. Wynns.

Series 3: The William B. Wynns Papers series includes correspondence, financial records and legal records. The correspondence (moved to oversize folder # 691-002.os1-see staff for details) is primarily from his brothers Benjamin, Thomas and James Dean Wynns, and is concerned with various business activities in which they were engaged. Thomas wrote several letters (1824-1834), mostly from Turks Island in the Bahamas, commenting on commercial activities, giving instructions for handling business matters, and denying any part in the ownership of the schooner "Pigot." Benjamin, who apparently had several misunderstandings with his brothers, wrote from his new farm in Florida, telling of crops, new farm buildings, and trouble with his son William and giving instructions for the transporting of his slaves to Florida (1838). Other correspondence tells of the farm situation in Hertford County, business activities, William B. Wynns' involvement in Florida farming, weather, health and an “Indian” uprising in Florida (1839-1841). Other items in the William B. Wynns papers include deeds and indentures for property, slaves and shares of the Winton Ferry (1825-1837), a bill of sale for the schooner "Pigot of Newbern" (later renamed "Pigot of Murfreesboro") and financial records for Wynns, including an account book for his estate, as well as records for his Petty Shore farm and fishery and his Florida property (1840-1854). Also present is an undated description directions of his route taken from Hertford County to Florida (located at end of correspondence.)

Series 4: The Other Wynns Papers series includes correspondence, financial records and legal records related to General Thomas Wynns, Benjamin Wynns, James Dean Wynns and James B. Wynns (believed to be James M. Wynns’ son.) Among the earliest papers in the collection are three items (1824-1825) pertaining to General (Congressman) Thomas Wynns. These include an account, a letter to the General, and a notice of the sale of his estate. The bulk of other corresopence consist of letters discussing family and business matters. Among the other correspondence is a letter to J.W. Wynns regarding money owed to him and a letter to James D. Wynns, also regarding debts owed him, including a few from his brothers. Among the financial records are account books, receipts and promissory notes, most of which deals with crops, especially cotton. Also of particular interest, is an undated farmer’s pocket ledger with no entries. Though without financial entries, approximately the first and last third of the pages contain advertising featuring many images and specifications for early John Deere farm equipment. Among the legal materials of interest are a notice of sale of the estate residence of General Thomas Wynns (deceased), an indenture for a tract of land in Jackson County, Territory of Florida, many documents regarding land in Hertford County, an itemized list of James D. Wynns’ estate, a summons to James D. Wynns to appear before the Justices of the Court (Hertford County) regarding a judgment against him, a slave purchase in Chowan County, NC (1843) and a copy of James B. Wynns’ will (1912).

Series 5: The John W. Southall Papers series includes correspondence, financial records and legal records. There is a small amount of correspondence, most of which consists of a few letters to Southall from his nephew Thomas Capehart requesting funds. Also present are letters regarding a suit against the stockholders of the Bank of Cape Fear, one to J. M. Wynns from Miss Fannie S. Myrick regarding money due C.E. Myrick in the settlement of Southall’s estate and a letter from Lou(?) L. Lawrence to her brother regarding debts owed her. Financial records included receipts and ledger pages, promissory notes, an account book primarily related to estates settlements and guardianships (1849-1868), and a resolution of association for, and minutes of the North Carolina and New York Steamboat Company (1855-1856). Legal materials consist of a contract between Southall and his nephew, B. A. Capehart regarding a male slave described as being “of light complexion between the age of sixteen and eighteen years,” estate and guardian records and a list of stockholders and minutes of the North Carolina and New York Steamboat Company (1855-1856), as well as much regarding the settlement of Southall's estate and a copy of Southall’s will (1873). There are also many indentures for debts owed between several parties (including some non-NC residents,) and several arrest warrants for individuals due to debts owed. Most of these are administered by the firm of the Lawrence & Vaughan Company, a partnership between John V. Lawrence and Colonel Uriah Vaughan (1813-1890), a merchant and also a justice of the peace for many years.

Series 6: The John V. Lawrence Papers series includes correspondence, financial records and legal records. Among the correspondence is a letter requesting a promised payment from Lawrence from another party, letters from B.A. Capehart regarding a requested payment and another letter regarding funds from a “Mr. Williams.” Many of the financial and legal records papers were administered by the Lawrence & Vaughn Company, a partnership between Lawrence and Colonel Uriah Vaughan (1813-1890), a merchant and also a justice of the peace for many years. These records include several arrest warrants for individual due to debts owed, deeds, true copies of the wills of Elisha Lawrence (1832) and Mary Lawrence (1843), a slave agreement between Futnell(?) and Joyner, naming many slaves (1849), as well as a document related to Susan Futnell(?) and her deceased husband’s estate which mentions a “Negro girl named Jane.”

Series 7: The Financial Ledgers series consists of 128 financial ledgers produced by Thomas B. Wynns, his father J.M. Wynns and others that are no positively unidentified. In most cases, particularly with the Thomas B. Wynns material, his ledgers supplement the other financial papers produced by him, many documenting transactions of his store, Wynn Bros. in Murfreesboro. Though a large percentage of the ledgers are not documented by their creator, it is believed that most of these were also created by Thomas B. Wynns and J.M. Wynns. However, since they are no notations indicating certain ownership, they were placed in the “other” subseries. A few in this subseries that are identified include those entitled “J.S.W. Farm Book,” “Wynn Farm,” Guano Delivered for Spring and Summer,” “Cotton Goods” and "Troy Ely’s Account.” Note: Due to the varying sizes and storage requirements, the ledgers are not arranged by date within each sub-series.

Related Collections Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Container List Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

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Series 1:
Thomas B. Wynns Papers
Subseries 1:
Subseries 2:
Legal Documents
Subseries 3:
Subseries 4:
Account Books
Subseries 5:
Tax Files
Subseries 6:
Other Printed Materials
Series 2:
James M. Wynns Papers
Subseries 1:
Subseries 2:
Legal Documents
Subseries 3:
Subseries 4:
Printed Materials
Subseries 5:
Account Books
Box 10#0691-002.10
Account Books, 1867-1907, undated
Series 3:
William B. Wynns Papers
Subseries 1:
Box os1#0691-002.os1
Correspondence, 1824-41, undated (oversize)
Subseries 2:
Legal Documents
Subseries 3:
Account Books
Series 4:
Other Wynns Papers
Subseries 1:
Subseries 2:
Legal and Financial Papers
Subseries 3:
Account Books
Series 5:
John W. Southall Papers
Subseries 1:
Subseries 2:
Financial Documents
Subseries 3:
Legal Documents
Series 6:
John V. Lawrence Papers
Subseries 1:
Subseries 2:
Legal and Financial Documents
Series 7:
Financial Ledgers
Subseries 1:
Wynn Bros./Day's Department Store
Box 14#0691-002.14
Wynn Bros., 1911
Box 15#0691-002.15
Wynn Bros.,1931-32
Box 16#0691-002.16
Wynn Bros., 1932
Box 17#0691-002.17
Wynn Bros., 1938
Box 18#0691-002.18
Wynn Bros., 1925
Box 19#0691-002.19
Day's Department Store, 1952
Box 20#0691-002.20
Wynn Bros., 1949-50
Box 21#0691-002.21
Wynn Bros., 1949
Box 22#0691-002.22
Wynn Bros., 1908
Box 23#0691-002.23
Wynn Bros., 1919
Box 24#0691-002.24
Wynn Bros., 1919
Box 25#0691-002.25
Wynn Bros., 1918
Box 26#0691-002.26
Wynn Bros., 1908-09
Box 27#0691-002.27
Wynn Bros., 1927
Box 28#0691-002.28
Wynn Bros., 1943
Box 29#0691-002.29
Wynn Bros., 1936-40
Box 30#0691-002.30
Wynn Bros., 1909
Box 31#0691-002.31
Wynn Bros., 1934
Box 32#0691-002.32
Wynn Bros., 1909-10
Box 33#0691-002.33
Wynn Bros., 1918
Box 34#0691-002.34
Wynn Bros., 1933-37
Box 35#0691-002.35
Wynn Bros., 1912
Box 36#0691-002.36
Wynn Bros., 1927-28
Box 37#0691-002.37
Wynn Bros., 1924-25
Box 38#0691-002.38
Wynn Bros., 1907
Box 39#0691-002.39
Wynn Bros., 1937
Box 40#0691-002.40
Wynn Bros., 1936
Box 41#0691-002.41
Wynn Bros., 1910
Box 42#0691-002.42
Wynn Bros., 1945
Box 43#0691-002.43
Wynn Bros., 1908-09
Box 44#0691-002.44
Wynn Bros., 1907-10
Box 45#0691-002.45
Wynn Bros., 1911
Subseries 2:
J.M. Wynns
Box 46#0691-002.46
J.M. Wynns, 1896-99
Box 47#0691-002.47
J.M. Wynns, 1896
Box 48#0691-002.48
J.M. Wynns, 1892-93
Box 49#0691-002.49
J.M. Wynns, 1893-94
Box 50#0691-002.50
J.M. Wynns, 103-04
Box 51#0691-002.51
J.M. Wynns, 1911
Box 52#0691-002.52
J.M. Wynns, 1908
Box 53#0691-002.53
J.M. Wynns, 1882-84
Box 54#0691-002.54
J.M. Wynns, 1890
Box 55#0691-002.55
J.M. Wynns, 1894-95
Box 56#0691-002.56
J.M. Wynns, 1888-1889
Box 57#0691-002.57
J.M. Wynns, 1893-96
Box 58#0691-002.58
J.M. Wynns, 1907
Box 59#0691-002.59
J.M. Wynns, 1904-06
Box 60#0691-002.60
J.M. Wynns, 1904-07
Box 61#0691-002.61
J.M. Wynns, 1906
Box 62#0691-002.62
J.M. Wynns, 1890-91
Box 63#0691-002.63
J.M. Wynns, 1887-88
Box 64#0691-002.64
J.M. Wynns, 1904
Box 65#0691-002.65
J.M. Wynns, "Roanoke and Albemarle Agricultural Fair in Hertford County", 1889
Box 66#0691-002.66
J.M. Wynns, 1907
Box 67#0691-002.67
J.M. Wynns, 1894-95
Box 68#0691-002.68
J.M. Wynns, 1883-88
Box 69#0691-002.69
J.M. Wynns, 1898
Box 70#0691-002.70
J.M. Wynns, 1888-90
Box 71#0691-002.71
J.M. Wynns, 1906-07
Box 72#0691-002.72
J.M. Wynns, 1891
Subseries 3:
Box 73#0691-002.73
Other, 1925-26
Box 74#0691-002.74
Other, 1930-35
Box 75#0691-002.75
Other, 1926-30
Box 76#0691-002.76
Other, 1923-24
Box 77#0691-002.77
Other, 1900-07
Box 78#0691-002.78
Other, 1910-11
Box 79#0691-002.79
Other, 1914-15
Box 80#0691-002.80
Other, 1925-27
Box 81#0691-002.81
Other, 1912-13
Box 82#0691-002.82
Other, 1916-17
Box 104#0691-002.104
J.S.W. Farm Book, 1916-23
Box 105#0691-002.105
Wynn Farm, 1933-49
Box 106#0691-002.106
Guano Delivered for Spring and Summer, 1891-1894
Box 113#0691-002.113
Other, 1902-03
Box 114#0691-002.114
Other, 1911-15
Box 115#0691-002.115
Other, 1897-98
Box 117#0691-002.117
Other, 1918-22
Box 118#0691-002.118
Other, 1919-20
Box 119#0691-002.119
Other, undated
Box 120#0691-002.120
Other, undated
Box 121#0691-002.121
Other, 1857-74
Box 122#0691-002.122
Other, undated
Box 123#0691-002.123
Other, 1892-93
Box 124#0691-002.124
Cotton Good, 1933
Box 125#0691-002.125
Troy Ely's Account, 1844-49
Box 126#0691-002.126
Other, 1913-14

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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