William Howard Hooker Collection: Martha Gregory Brown Family Papers

Manuscript Collection #472-004
Hooker, William Howard; Martha Gregory Brown family
Physical description
0.174 Cubic Feet, 115 items, letters and letter fragments
Preferred Citation
William Howard Hooker Collection: Martha Gregory Brown Family Papers (#472-004), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Letters and letter fragments (1862 - 1865) of George H. Brown family, written primarily from Washington, Greenville, Tarboro and the surrounding area.

Scope and arrangement

When Washington, N.C., was occupied by Federal troops, 1862-1865, many townspeople became refugees while others remained at home and coped with shortages, fears, illness, and other problems of living in an area occupied by the enemy. Martha [Gregory] Brown left her home in Washington to join her husband George H. who was a Confederate officer serving in the Tarboro area. Correspondence between Martha, her family, and friends, as well as letters from her husband before she joined him, provide a unique picture of people in the midst of changing times, the chaotic conditions of war, and the uncertainties of refugee living.

The major portion of the correspondence is between Martha; her husband; her mother, E. L. Gregory; and her sisters, Bettie Havens, Jennie Warren, and Frannie Bryan. The letters, except for the ones from Mrs. E. L. Gregory and Bettie Havens, originated from Salem, Greenville, Pactolus, Louisburg, Wilson, Hendersonville, and Tarboro; cities to which these families fled during the occupation of Washington.

Refugee topics discussed include the scarcity of food and clothing; smuggling of goods and mail; pain of separation from home, friends, and family; illness and treatments; troop movements; costs of food, clothing and lodgings; coping with death of family members; education; making over old clothes; and reminiscences of former times.

Since Mrs. E. L. Gregory and Bettie Havens remained in Washington, N.C., during most of the occupation, their letters reflect life under Union rule. They contain reports of destruction of the Washington port (April 1862); confiscating of homes, livestock, and supplies; smuggling of goods and mail; runaway servants; church services and home prayer groups; coping without servants; the influx of Negroes and troops to Washington; and reactions to Yankee occupation. These letters also mention the restriction of movement in town and the difficulty of leaving Washington and returning; planting food in flower gardens; doctoring sick children and wounded soldiers; the desire to get children away from negative influences; and fear for lives and homes. Strong religious convictions are evident throughout the letters.

Administrative information
Custodial History

June 4, 1985, 115 items, letters and letter fragments (1862-1865) of George H. Brown family, written primarily from Washington, Greenville, Tarboro, and surrounding area. Gift of Mr. William Howard Hooker, Marietta, Georgia.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mr. William Howard Hooker

Processing information

Processed by B. Howlett, July 1985

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
Personal Names
Brown family
North Carolina--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
North Carolina--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Destruction and pillage
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Economic aspects
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives, Confederate
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Social aspects
Washington (N.C.)--History, Military--19th century