The collection is made up primarily of miscellaneous unrelated material which had accumulated at Bellair Plantation near New Bern, N.C.
The only segment pertaining directly to the plantation consists of photocopies of legal papers which reflect the history of the property located on Batchelor's Creek south of the Neuse River. These include land descriptions from grants to John Lovick (1719, 1757), deeds showing the transfer of the property to various individuals, legal briefs and other documents resulting from disputed ownership, and eventual purchase of the property by John H. Richardson in 1838. The name "Belair" first appears in the records in an 1830 power of attorney. The plantation has remained in the Richardson family since 1838.
Also included is a copy of a 1791 letter describing a wedding celebration in New Bern, chattel mortgages (1875, 1880), a U.S. Senate Bill (1905) for restitution for Richardson property destroyed by Union forces during the Civil War, a New Bern theater notice (1877), a New Bern souvenir calendar (1903), a fictional love story set in Revolutionary War New Bern, poetry, and
Mitchell's School Atlas (1856).
The remainder of the collection consists of published material pertaining to a variety of topics. In the area of agriculture, an issue of
Livestock Journal (1874),
The Window and Flower Gardener (1875), and seven issues of
American Agriculturist (1873-1881) are included. Relative to ladies' fashions and activities, there are copies of
The Delineator (1901),
Munsey's Magazine (1897),
Everybody's Magazine (1899-1900), and
Ladies Home Journal (1899-1910). Religious publications consisting of
Our Little People (1872, published by the M. E. Church, South), the
Christian Herald (1893, 1894) and the
Sunday School Visitor (1873, Nashville, Tennessee). Also included is a sizeable collection of sheet music along with two music books. The sheet music contains such titles as "Softly ye nightwinds" (ca. 1851), "Nags Head Polka" (ca. 1852), "The Hazel Dell" (ca. 1853), "Tomorrow" (ca. 1854), "Kiss me quick and go" (ca. 1856), "Sweet Genevieve" (ca. 1869), "President Cleveland's Grand March" (ca. 1884), "Beautiful Venice," and "Songs from the opera 'Gizelle or the Night Dancers,' " to name but a few.
Newspapers in the collection date from 1862 to 1891 and were published in New Bern, Raleigh, New York, and Louisville, Kentucky. Some of the poetry, music, magazines, and newspapers are also found in the two oversize folders.