New from Old Natchez - the Collections

McMurran-Austen Family Papers, 1846-1878, 1942 (bulk: 1856-1868)
143 items

John T. McMurran (1801-1866), a lawyer and state senator in Natchez, Mississippi, was married to the former Mary Louise Turner (1814-1891), with whom he had two children, John T. McMurran, Jr., and Mary Elizabeth McMurran (1835-1861). They built Melrose near Natchez in 1845, and it remained in the family until the Civil War.

John Jr. married Alie Austen (d.1899) of Baltimore County, Md, in 1856, and they resided at Riverside Plantation in Wilkinson County, Miss., until the Civil War. During the war, John enlisted in a local artillery unit but was discharged in 1862 for deafness. In 1864 he worked as a clerk for the federal war department in Washington D.C. John Jr. and Alie had two daughters, Caroline (Carrie) and Alice (Alie), who moved with their mother from Riverside to her family home, Filstone Farm in Maryland, during the Civil War.

Mary Elizabeth McMurran married Farar Conner and lived in Natchez before moving to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1857. They had two children, a son, Farar (Fazee), and a daughter. Farar remarried after Mary Elizabeth's death from a spinal disease in 1864.

The collection includes correspondence, printed items, photographs, and miscellaneous papers. The correspondence, primarily among John T. McMurran, Mary Louise McMurran, Alie McMurran, John T. McMurran, Jr., and the Austen family, pertains to John and Alie's wedding and courtship, women and family life, the 1856 Know-Nothing National Convention in Baltimore and Whig political sentiment in Natchez, and opinions about secession and the Civil War. The letters also include a description of Riverside Plantation's slaves and Alie's impressions of the institution of slavery, Natchez, and Natchez society. Letters between Alie and John T. McMurran Jr., during his tenure as a clerk for the federal government during the war reflect his growing anti-Southern attitudes. Post-war letters from Natchez friends provide a description of conditions in Natchez and relate their bitterness toward Yankees. Printed items include clippings regarding the John T. McMurran Sr.'s death in a steamboat accident and wedding invitations. Cartes de visites of Alie and Carrie, John Jr. and Alie's daughters, are also present. Miscellaneous items include a household inventory, J. T. McMurran, Jr.'s discharge from the Confederate army in 1862, and military passes.

Notes on the images:

1. Mary Louise McMurran to John T. McMurran, Jr., August 29, 1856. She discusses his pending marriage in Maryland and expresses excitement that he will be near the Know-Nothing nominating convention and tells who from Natchez will participate. She also describes conditions at Riverside Plantation.
Images: 1.1-1.2-1.3-1.4 | Transcript

2. Alie McMurran to her father, George Austen, [November 1856]. Alie describes her arrival at Riverside Plantation and recounts her impressions of the slaves, plantation life, her responsibilities as a slave mistress, Melrose, the McMurrans, and Natchez.
Images: 2.1-2.2-2.3-2.4-2.5-2.6-2.7-2.8-2.9 | Transcript

3. Mary Louise McMurran to Alie McMurran, November 12, 1856, in which she advises Alie of the loneliness of plantation life for women and reports the local reaction to the election of 1856.
Images: 3.1-3.2-3.3 | Transcript

4. Mary Louise McMurran to Alie McMurran, February 21, 1857. She describes her daughter Mary Conner's difficulty breastfeeding her newborn and reveals her attitudes about breastfeeding. She also gives an account of Natchez social activities.
Images: 4.1-4.2-4.3 | Transcript

5. John T. McMurran, Sr., to John T. McMurran, Jr., March 9, 1858. John T. McMurran makes arrangements for the transfer of some slaves from Riverside Plantation to Moro Plantation (also spelled “Morrow”), one of the three McMurran plantations. Moro was a joint venture with a partner named Vardaman and was located in Concordia Parish.
Images: 5.1-5.2 | Transcript

6. Antonia (Tonie) Quitman Lovell, daughter of John Quitman, to Alie McMurran, February 10, 1866. She describes their Christmas, difficulties in hiring servants, and her current living situation. She also expresses her desire to leave Natchez and her bitterness towards the Yankees.
Images: 6.1-6.2-6.3-6.4-6.5-6.6 | Transcript

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