Papers (1760  - 1935) including correspondence, financial papers, account books, daybooks, essays, speeches, legal records, land records, notebooks, etc. of Eastern North Carolina farmer, leader of the NC Tobacco Growers Association, and NC Secretary of State (1901-1923), etc.
John Bryan Grimes, the second of nine children born to Major General Bryan Grimes and Charlotte Emily Bryan, grew up on the family plantation, Grimesland, in Pitt County. He began his education at several North Carolina private schools, including Trinity School at Chocowinity. Grimes studied at the University of North Carolina (1882-1885) before completing his education at Bryant and Stratton Business College in Baltimore. An active farmer, he served as president of the North Carolina Tobacco Growers Association and in 1899 was appointed to the North Carolina Board of Agriculture. He held the position of North Carolina secretary of state from 1901 until his death in 1923. During this time, Grimes expressed an active interest in North Carolina history as a member of the North Carolina Historical Commission and in other ways. In 1894 Grimes married Mary Octavia Laughinghouse, daughter of Joseph John and Eliza O'Hagan Laughinghouse, who lived on an adjoining plantation, Oakland. Mary Octavia (May) Grimes died on December 2, 1899, leaving her husband with one daughter, Helen Elise. Grimes married Elizabeth Laughinghouse, May's sister, on February 3, 1904. For additional information, see sketch of J. Bryan Grimes in Ashe's Biographical History of North Carolina, VI, -266 and in Powell's Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, II, 376. A genealogical chart of selected members of the Grimes and Laughinghouse families is appended to this description.
The agricultural papers of J. Bryan Grimes and his older brother, Alston, who owned large farms in Pitt and Beaufort counties, comprise the bulk of the collection. Also included are scattered papers of Major General Bryan Grimes, personal papers of three generations of the Grimes and Laughinghouse families, and records pertaining to the farming operations of J. Bryan Grimes, Jr. The collection is divided into three subgroups consisting of personal papers, farm- and business-related papers, and miscellaneous files.
Series 1: Personal Papers
Correspondence in this subgroup concerns the personal activities of three generations on the Grimes and Laughinghouse families, but the bulk of it relates to the activities of J. Bryan Grimes. In general, the correspondence provides an interesting picture of the pursuits and lifestyles of these prominent agriculturists. Correspondents include J. Bryan Grimes and his siblings, May Laughinghouse, Mrs. Charlotte Grimes, Eliza O'Hagan Laughinghouse, Margaret Laughinghouse, Elizabeth Laughinghouse Grimes, Dr. Charles O'Hagan Laughinghouse, and Dr. Charles James O'Hagan.
Many of the letters reveal the nature of late-nineteenth-century social life and customs. Of particular interest are numerous letters exchanged between J. Bryan Grimes and May Laughinghouse (May, 1892-November, 1894) that reflects the development of their lengthy courtship during her enrollment at Notre Dame of Maryland and after her return to Pitt County. Additional correspondence describes their wedding and reception (November, 1894; February, 1895). Other notable letters concern the impropriety of revealing the content of correspondence written by a lady to her gentleman friend (May, 1884); social life in Wilmington (January 19, May 18, 1893); the wishes of a Washington, N. C., lady concerning her burial and the care of her children (April 25, 1893); social life in Washington (April 25, 1893); the attempted suicide of two Washington girls who were not allowed to go to the local skating rink (October 27, 1893); and social life in Newport News, Virginia (July, August, 1894).
Correspondence pertaining to education deals with University of North Carolina affairs and events in Chapel Hill (March, ; March, April, December, 1884; February, 1885; [ca. 1894]; October, 1896); disorderly students at North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (October, November, 1891); student life at and other aspects of Notre Dame of Maryland (February, 1896); the American College of Aesthetics in Florence (March, 1908); and a hike at and the unfriendliness of cadets at West Point (August, 1929).
Several letters describe European travel. The epistles of Margaret Laughinghouse concern her impressions of Amsterdam (October, 1894); the kind treatment she received from Dr. Charles Frédérick Girard, probably in Paris (November, 1894); the city of Berlin (September, 1897); a military wedding at a court church in Hamburg (September, 1897); sites in Charlottenburg, including the tomb of Frederick William III, emperor of Prussia, and Empress Louise (September, 1897); aspects of London, including Queen Victoria's Jubilee gifts at the "Imperial Institute" and the city's thick fog and smoke (November, 1897); and the S. S. ROTTERDAM, and activities aboard it (December, 1897). Another letter (August, 1889) discusses travel in Switzerland, Paris, and St. Cloud, France.
The subject of race relations emerges in some of the correspondence. Letters mention the break-up of a Negro revival at "White Oak" and the subjugation of Negroes by whites in the Grimesland area (August, 1884), ghosts at Grimesland and their effect on Negroes (March 22, 1893), and agitation in Burlington concerning the possible lynching of a Negro (May 27, 1894). Of particular interest is May Laughinghouse's description (April 25, 1893) of conflicts between blacks at James City, N. C., and New Bern landowner James Bryan. Her letter notes the Negroes' secret meeting and the need for state troops.
Additional topics include attempts to burn Washington, N.C., an impending celebration there, and the renovation of a church to accommodate it (March, April 7, 30, 1884); the nature of Ocracoke Island and its growing reputation as a tourist attraction (July, 1884); the interior of and a service at St. Alphonso's Catholic Church in Baltimore (February, 1885); types of life insurance (June, July, 1891); support for a Judge McRae for a seat on the N.C. Supreme Court (August, 1892); Thomas Nelson Page's readings and reception in [Wilmington?] (March 27, 1893); festivities at the Atlantic Hotel in Morehead attended by Governor Elias Carr and other Democrats (July 15, 17, 1893); poor exhibits, Zebulon Vance's conservative speech, and other aspects of the N.C. State Fair (October 22, 30, 1893); a painting of "The Landing of Sir Walter Raleigh on Roanoke Island" at the Raleigh Academy of Music (October 27, 1893); the quaintness and other aspects of Fayetteville (March 26, 1894); crops grown in the vicinity of Wallace (April 18, 1894); portraits painted for J. Bryan Grimes by William George Randall (October, 1897; February, 1898); formulas for and the application of wood stains (April, 1899); the depressed economy of eastern N.C. and its need for foreign immigrants (June, 1900); efforts to organize a cooperative cotton gin in the Grimesland area (September, 1910); the Maule family of Pennsylvania and other states (January, 1913); Confederate Memorial Day in Raleigh (May, 1913); the first International Exposition of Fur Bearing Animals and Products in New York City (November, 1928); techniques for canning (undated, folder 54.4.a); and the harmful nature of the economic policies of Grover Cleveland and the Democratic Party (undated, folder 54.4.c).
The diary of May Laughinghouse (September 7, 1892 - January 15, 1893; January 1 - February 12, 1894) complements much of the correspondence. Written in sprightly prose, it reflects Miss Laughinghouse's wit and keen powers of observation. Most entries discuss her courtship and many other social activities, especially frequent visits to Washington, N.C., to visit friends (Bragaws, Tayloes, and others) and to attend balls. She also mentions details of the Laughinghouse family's life at Oakland, including her clothing and her regular instruction of children. Topics of particular interest include social activities and a ball atWilson (September 13-20); St. Thomas Church, the Palmer house, residents, and other aspects of Bath, N.C. (October 10-11); tombstone inscriptions of Mary Evans and Sarah Bonner (October 11); services at a Catholic church in Greenville at which Bishop Leo Haid spoke (October 13); a fox hunt in the Grimesland area (November 2); her fears concerning a Negro attack on white women while area white men are marching to a Democratic Party function (November 21-22); a ball and socializing in Greenville, N.C. (December 6-7); and Christmas decorations and activities at Oakland (December 24-25).
Series 2: Business and Financial Papers
These papers primarily concern the farming operations and business ventures of General Grimes and his sons, J. Bryan and Alston. Scattered papers pertain to the agricultural endeavors of J. Bryan Grimes, Jr. Correspondence (1879-1933, undated), much of it from Alston to J. Bryan, concerns the production of tobacco, cotton, potatoes, and other crops. Other topics include timber sales and the Grimes's tenants who, by 1917, produced all of the cotton and tobacco at Grimesland Plantation. Of particular interest are applications (1918) of farmers for the position of overseer at Grimesland. Much of the correspondence concerns the purchase of fertilizer and guano from numerous firms, including Powers, Gibbs, & Co., and Navassa Guana Co., Wilmington, N.C.; Boykin Carmer & Co., Baltimore, Md.; Imperial Guano Co., Norfolk, Va.; and F. S. Royster, Tarboro, N.C. Commission merchants the Grimes dealt with include T. M. Robinson of New York City and Cobb Bros. of Norfolk. In addition, the correspondence reflects the Grimes's business transactions with J. O. Proctor & Bro. of Grimesland and Tar River Oil Company of Shiloh, Edgecombe County. The financial transactions of J. Bryan Grimes are reflected in correspondence with the Bank of Washington, Henry R. Bryan, and creditors.
Of particular interest among the business and financial correspondence are letters discussing the possible settlement of colonies of Scots in eastern N.C. (September-October, 1894); faults of the Farmers Mutual Insurance Company (July, 1896); the planting and management of orchards and fruit crops (October 1898); Alston Grimes's fear of Negro businesses in the vicinity of the Grimes's property in Grimesland (January, 1907); prices of wood as fuel and the possibility of establishing a sawmill (October, 1908); the failure of prohibition and the ubiquity of drunkenness among Negroes around Grimesland (February, 1909); the poor attendance at a Farmers' Institute in Grimesland sponsored by the N.C. Department of Agriculture (July, 1909); the heated political campaign between Mixon and Tayloe in Washington, N.C. (August, 1910); and the superiority of gasoline to steam engines (July, 1911).
Bills, receipts, and miscellaneous financial papers (1841, 1856-1935, undated) relate to shipments of freight by steamers and railroads, fertilizer and farm supply purchases, tobacco sales, and family finances.
The collection also contains numerous volumes and volume fragments (1873-1930), including daybooks, account books, order books, receipt books, memoranda books, and time books that reflect the nature of the Grimes's farm operations and their transactions with various firms, laborers, and other individuals.
Also among the business and financial papers are miscellaneous farm records (1910-1931, undated), which include an inventory of J. Bryan Grimes's property on two farms (1910), a record of crops planted (1917), and a "tractor chart"(1931); records of tolls charged at General Bryan Grimes's Washington toll bridge (1869, 1871); and correspondence, advertising material, and miscellany concerning the Grimes Real Estate Company (1899), a firm that promoted the sale and development of land in Pitt and Beaufort counties. Among the correspondence in the Grimes Real Estate Company files are letters of Elias Carr and Samuel Lindsay Patterson (February, 1899) that describe the desirability of eastern North Carolina for agriculture. Two letters of W. F. Massey (March, 1899) discuss malaria in the area and ways to prevent it.
Series 3: Miscellaneous Papers
This subgroup pertains primarily to the activities of J. Bryan Grimes. The N.C. Secretary of State files (1905-1913, undated) contain correspondence discussing North Carolina's bonded indebtedness and its history of default (1910), and the Legislative Reference Bureau of the Rhode Island State Library (1911). A typescript (ca. 1903) outlines the work of the secretary of state and contains statistics revealing the increase in the volume of work of its departments.
Grimes served as secretary of North Carolina Appomattox Commission (1904-1905). Correspondence, typescripts, and miscellany pertaining to the commission reflect the efforts of Henry Armand London and Grimes to arrange for the erection of a monument to North Carolinians at Appomattox Court House (April, 1905).
Board of Agriculture correspondence (1899), though consisting mainly of applications for positions in the Department of Agriculture, also discusses the railroad commission's takeover of space on the Department of Agriculture formerly allocated to the "Museum"(July), complaints of N.C. Agricultural Experiment Station employee W. F. Massey concerning his burdensome duties for little pay (September), and the need for cooperative marketing of cotton (September).
Correspondence and clippings (1899-1900) in the North Carolina Tobacco Growers Association file discuss meetings of that organization, of which Grimes was president.
The Grimesland School series (1912-1914, undated) contains material reflecting Alston Grimes's involvement in the construction of a new school building at Grimesland. Among the correspondence is a letter from architect Frank K. Thomson concerning his design for rural schools and other aspects of his career (November, 1913). Miscellany in the series concerns the sale of bonds, the school's 1914 commencement, and support for paying architects a fixed percentage of the total cost of the building. Proposed plans for the school are located in the oversize file.
Essays and speeches in the collection, most of which were written by J. Bryan Grimes while he was a student at the University of North Carolina and later, discuss the presidential election of 1884 and the likelihood that Cleveland would win (February, 1884), the needs and rights of farmers and their relationship to the Democratic party (ca. 1892), the contributions of D. T. Tayloe, Sr., and D. T. Tayloe, Jr., to the Washington (N.C.) Hospital, and the growth of corporate wealth in N.C. (ca. 1914). An 1886 speech of U.S. Representative Thomas Gregory Skinner advocates free coinage of silver.
Miscellaneous legal records (1767-1930, undated), most of which relate to the Grimes family's farming and business interests, concern an apprentice (1891), tenants (1890-1930), timber rights (1889-1890), and the sale of lots in Grimesland (1913). Also included are the will of Stephen Williams of Currituck County (1767) and a court notice concerning a bond election in Chicod precinct in support of the Goldsboro, Snow Hill and Greenville Railway Company (1885).
Land records (1760-1915, undated) include deeds for land in Marion (1829, 1836, 1837), Muscogee (1832), and Sumter (1833, 1835, 1836) counties, Georgia; and for Grimes properties in Pitt, Beaufort, and Chatham counties. The series also includes a commissioners' report concerning the division of Grimes family land in Pitt, Beaufort, and Craven counties (1888) and undated plats, descriptions, and inventories.
Among the series of petitions and reports is J. Bryan Grimes's undated report to the parishioners of Trinity Church, Chocowinity, describing its bad condition and the lack of church spirit in the parish.
A file containing copies of proposed North Carolina legislation is followed by a variety of material pertaining to education. Letters and minutes of the University of North Carolina Building Committee (1921) discuss campus building plans. Notes of Alston Grimes at the University of North Carolina reflect the nature of the physiology course taught by Professor Holmes (fall, 1882) and the business law course taught by Professor Kemp Plummer Battle (1883). Notes of William Demsie Grimes were taken in chemistry (September-October, 1894) and torts classes at the University of North Carolina. J. Bryan Grimes, Jr., recorded notes on banking and finance in 1928. Miscellany pertaining to education includes a typescript containing statistical information concerning the education of whites and blacks in Pitt County (1883-1903), material reflecting the nature of activities at Notre Dame of Maryland (1892-1893, 1898), and Latin exercises assigned at the University of North Carolina (1883). A sheet of mathematics problems (1892) bears a lithograph of Horner Military School in Oxford, N.C.
Photographs, most of which are unidentified, include views of the interior of the Crystal Palace in London and the entrance to a cathedral at Strasbourg, France.
The bulk of poetry in the collection was penned or collected by Elizabeth and May Laughinghouse. One poem, "The '545," was written by Adelaide L. Fries.
Included in the biographical and genealogical files are items pertaining to the Grimes family; Mary B. Browne of Tyrrell County; Nathaniel Williams and his North Carolina descendants; James O'Hagan of Renovo, Pennsylvania; Alexander Lillington; the Nathaniel Williams family of Hanover County, Virginia, and North Carolina; Elmer Ellsworth Smith of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Thomas Kenan; John H. Bryan, Jr.; William and Alexander Gaston; and the Maule family of eastern N.C.
The military papers of J. Bryan Grimes, Jr., include orders, instructions, regulations, and a photograph (July-August, 1923) reflecting his participation in the Citizens Military Training Camp held at Fort Bragg.
Certificates (1886-1892) and newspaper clippings concern the Grimes family. Among the latter are articles by J. Bryan Grimes that advocate U.S. government ownership of eastern North Carolina canals (1910) and articles in support of Grimes's candidacy for the position of secretary of state.
Among the broadsides, circulars, and printed miscellany are items concerning the formation of the North Carolina Cotton Farmers' State Association (1901); a faculty-student baseball game at the University of North Carolina ([1896?]); "Short Courses in Agriculture" at N.C. College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (1899); rewards for the arrest of arsonists who had burned farm buildings belonging to J. Bryan Grimes, J. J. Laughinghouse, and Mrs. J. H. Saunders (1891); the assassination of General Bryan Grimes and the alleged misdeeds of James E. Shepherd as defense attorney of William Parker; the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence; and the N.C. State Fair marshals' ball (1893).
The collection also contains numerous pamphlets and periodicals. Those pertaining to agriculture include The Reconstructed Farmer (September, 1869), published in Tarboro; the annual report of the N.C. Agricultural Experiment Station (1879); the charter, articles of agreement, and bylaws of the N.C. Farmers' Protective Association (1903); the proceedings of the fifth annual session of the N.C. Farmers' State Alliance (August, 1891); and "The Condition of the Farmers of North Carolina"(1921), a speech by Josiah W. Bailey. Also included are pamphlets concerning fertilizers, farm machinery, and the Farmers' Cooperative Manufacturing Company at Shiloh in Edgecombe County (1888).
Several publications are devoted to aspects of the Civil War. They include Southland (October, 1897), published in Greenville by Henry T. King; The Gettysburg Knapsack, which discusses the battle and the battlefield park; and Carolina and the Southern Cross (November, 1912), a Kinston periodical that contains articles on Kinston, Foster's Raid, and Major General Bryan Grimes.
Miscellaneous publications include a pamphlet designed to attract tourists and convalescents to Raleigh (ca. 1897); the 1898-1899 catalog of Red Springs Seminary in Red Springs, N.C.; and pamphlets describing Fair Oaks Sanatorium in Summit, N.J., and the resort of Southern Pines, N.C. (ca. 1898). Other publications discuss the strategic value of the Nicaraguan canal, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Pacific Ocean (1898); the Torrens System of land registration (1910); and "The Negro of the South"(June, 1899). Also included in the collection is a paperback book, Standard Comic Recitations.
Miscellany in the J. Bryan Grimes Papers includes an envelope bearing a lithograph of Peace College (1883), a typescript discussing the "South Carolina Phosphate Rock Situation,"and a recipe for pickled peaches.
The oversize file contains a variety of material, including nineteenth-century newspapers published in North Carolina and elsewhere. Deeds record transactions involving land in Sumter and Marion counties, Georgia (1835-1837). Also included in the oversize file are a proclamation of Governor Thomas Holt offering a reward for the arrest of arsonists who burned property of J. Bryan Grimes, J. J. Laughinghouse, and Mrs. Joseph H. Saunders; an open letter to O. L. Joyner of Greenville that criticizes him and the Consolidated Tobacco Company; a flyer (1907) describing efforts of the Farmers Consolidated Tobacco Company to secure higher prices for tobacco; lists of cotton purchases by C. W. Tayloe (1887); proposed architectural plans for a school at Grimesland (ca. 1913); Chicod Precinct election returns for state and local offices (1896); Alexander County election returns for state and local offices (1904); and maps of parts of the estate of General Bryan Grimes (1890).
Maps depict Atlantic Coast Line routes (1899), progress of the topographic survey of the United States (1889-1890), indurated formations in northeastern Iowa (1889), Grimesland (1926), and North Carolina Stock law (1908). A manuscript map of land in Pamlico County (undated) concerns a legal dispute between James Riggs and Benjamin S. Tillman.
For related material, see collections 16, 147, 267, and 571 in this repository, the Bryan Grimes Papers and John Herritage Bryan Collection at the North Carolina State Archives, and the Bryan Grimes Papers and John Bryan Grimes Papers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Gift of Ida W. Grimes
Gift of Mr. Leslie F. House
Processed by M. York, October 1981
Encoded by Apex Data Services
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.