The major portion of the collection relates to Grainger's activities as a truck farmer in Lenoir County and as an agent for various agricultural products and equipment companies, including Baugh and Sons, Thornhill Wagon Company, Griffith and Turner Disc Cultivators, and International Harvester. In the late 1890s, Grainger entered into a partnership with David V. Dixon to form Grainger & Dixon, a Kinston firm dealing in buggies, wagons, machinery, and fertilizer.
Correspondence largely concerns Grainger's orders, sales, and accounts. From 1896 through early 1910 he ordered bulk quantities of potato, cabbage, and tobacco guano, crates for various truck farm products, engines, wagons, buggies, saws, cotton seed meal, potato seed, lime, and cotton presses. Correspondence for 1901 with Baugh and Sons concerns a federal inspection of a shipment of cabbage guano. Other correspondence concerns territorial conflicts between Grainger and other guano agents (1901, 1904), the impact of cotton prices on the wagon business (1905), and the status of cotton crops across the South (1906). A letter (1899) from A. F. Leighton, writing for stockholder Jesse Grainger, concerns looking for "a northern man" to be superintendent of the Kinston Furniture Company.
Grainger's correspondence reflects his dealings with a variety of commission merchants to sell his truck products including Scheur Brothers of Cleveland, Ohio (fruits and vegetables), Wm. Gamble and Company of New York (Irish potatoes), John H. Short of Scranton, Pennsylvania (cabbage), E. B. Redfield and Company of Philadelphia (cantaloupes), Chapin Brothers of Boston (fruit and southern truck), and C. E. Snyder of Richmond (southern fruit and vegetables).
Ledgers give corresponding daybook pages and list accounts for Vernon Farm, Grainger's purchases from the various companies he dealt with as an agent, sales of these goods as well as his truck farm sales, lumber accounts, accounts for houses and buildings he built, salaries, and Grainger's personal and business expenses.
Other aspects of Grainger's personal life are highlighted in the correspondence. A 1907 letter and resolution from the Knights of Harmony concern a lodge donation for the hospital, a letter from L. J. Mewborne includes a resolution of thanks for a piece of land Grainger donated for a town park, and a copy of a letter (June 1907) from M. J. Westbrook to Gov. Robert B. Glenn urges that the East Carolina Teachers' Training School be located in Kinston.
Correspondence with P. M. Pearsall (1908-1909), lawyer for the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad, concerns a claim against the government, Pearsall's fees for litigation, the leasing of the A. and N. C., coupons on bonds, and the move of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad into Goldsboro station.
Correspondence after Grainger's death reflects on his vice presidency of the Norfolk and Southern Realty Company and his purchase of several lots in Virginia. Other letters (1910-1913) concern the settlement of the estate and efforts to sell lots in Greensboro as well as the Virginia property. Estate records contain a valuation of land holdings and list insurance on property and equipment from 1908 through January 1910. Tax records show holdings in Onslow County in 1905 and the Norfolk County property beginning in 1906. A file of real estate records shows Grainger selling lots in Kinston from 1892 on.
Other files contain records of the bankruptcy of Gay Lumber Company (1904), a political broadside concerning a school board of trustees election controversy (1909), a merchant's license (1902), and contribution records for the St. Louis Exposition (1903) and the Methodist Orphanage (1904).
Source for information on Grainger & Dixon:
A Journey Through Faith and Service, Queen Street United Methodist Church, Kinston, N.C., 2011, p. 28.