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Lenoir Plantation records

Identifier: MSS-585

Scope and Contents

The Lenoir Plantation records contain the personal and business records of the extended Lenoir family in Mississippi and Texas. There is a small amount of correspondence with family and friends, including some Civil War letters, along with other personal material. The largest proportion of the collection materials is concerned with the family’s business activities including financial correspondence, accounts and invoices, deeds, legal materials, and other documents pertaining to the land holdings and cotton plantation operations of the Lenoir and Blanchard families in Monroe, Clay and Marion Counties in Mississippi, and Falls County, Texas. These materials document extensively plantation cotton growing in Mississippi and Texas and the Mobile, Alabama, cotton trade from the 1840s into the 1920s. Other materials in this category include land and oil plats and maps, and plans for a gin and cotton house. The collection also contains 19th and 20th century family photographs.

The papers are divided into eight series. The first, Personal, includes letters from Mary Lenoir, James Lenoir and others written during the Civil War; letters to William S. Lenoir, Sr. at Greene Springs School for Boys in Alabama, and; two letters from Methodist Bishop Robert Paine, Superintendent of LaGrange College, Alabama, in support of the graduation and qualifications of William A. Blanchard and William T. Lenoir. There are also genealogical materials, postcards, clippings, items related to Whitman H. Lenoir’s service as a pilot during World War I, school notes from 1833 and a speech honoring the Confederacy, as well as yearbooks from Whitman H. Lenoir’s school in Tennessee and copies of Sterling P. Lenoir’s college yearbook entries. The miscellaneous items include a 1943 ration book for Ruth P. Lenoir.

The second series, Business records, is the largest, comprising the financial correspondence and receipts and invoices documenting the business activities of Absalom Blanchard and his son William A. Blanchard, William T. Lenoir and his wife Mary, and their children. The family being cotton planters, there is extensive documentation on the cotton trade in their correspondence. Folder 68, however, deals with a legal suit in Texas. Folders 23, 24 and 35 contain receipts and invoices related to the Blanchard and Lenoir cotton business. There are also some documents on the enslaved persons owned by the family. Folder 18 contains a receipt for $900 paid to Hope H. Lenoir by Absalom Blanchard for enslaved persons Kizzy (30), Jordan (4) and Dorcas (6 weeks) in 1848. Folder 25 includes receipts for enslaved individuals named Samuel and Philip bought by William A. Blanchard in 1845 and 1847 for $575 and $600 respectively, as well as property tax receipts and a property list which include enslaved persons. Folder 27 contains a bill of sale for an enslaved person named Jordan. Folder 29 contains a fair handbill which has a penciled enslaved persons list on the reverse while Folder 44 also contains a property list featuring enslaved individuals Ned and Peter. Along with receipts and invoices for other goods and services provided to the family, there are also tax receipts, including some from the Civil War period, the bulk of which relate to Monroe County property but also to other counties in Mississippi and Texas. In addition, the series contains some bank books, soil conservation documents from 1936, and miscellany including William S. Lenoir, Sr.’s 1886 visitor’s ticket for the Mobile Cotton Exchange.

Series three, Legal documents, is primarily related to land. These documents include deeds to property in Mississippi and Texas from the 1840s to the 1940s, and they show how the family acquired their plantations and how these were later divided with the passing of the generations. Of particular interest are the land grant to a member of the Chickasaw tribe, Ki-am-ma, in 1840 by President Martin Van Buren and two centesimal or hundredth deeds in the names of William A. Blanchard and William T. Lenoir from 1848 relating to 27 acres of the land sold by Richard W. Anderson in Monroe County which were set aside for public buildings such as churches and schools to be used by the settlers. Folder 79 comprises an abstract of the land inherited by Whitman H. Lenoir drawn up in 1924 which gives a detailed history of the ownership of the properties. The series has a number of plats, one of which shows the purchasers of Richard Anderson’s land including the Blanchard and Lenoir families. In addition there are documents related to two law suits, a holograph copy of the 1773 will of Absalom Blanchard’s father Josiah, in which he bequeaths two enslaved persons, Nancy and Jack, and other property to his wife and son, and correspondence and documents concerning the family’s investments in railroad and mining stocks, and a Confederate States of America bond for $500.

Three documents comprise the fourth series, blueprints, showing plans for cotton gins and a cotton house from around 1900.

Series five is a transcript of the Lenoir Plantation Journal, found in a copy of C. V. Lavoisne et al. A Complete Genealogical, Historical, Chronological and Geographical Atlas (1821). The original volume was returned to the Lenoir family after transcription. It comprises genealogical information, recipes and other notes recorded by family members in the book, including Blanchard enslaved persons lists.

The sixth series, Publications, encompasses a variety of publications and pamphlets. Among them is a broadsheet titled “The Strange Luck of Israel Speed” purporting to be a warning against the activities of an African-American confidence man in Monroe County. It was written by the president of the First National Bank in Aberdeen, Eugene L. Sykes and was published in the Aberdeen Examiner on November 10, 1938. Folder 93 includes religious booklets and a 1918 report on German war practices, while Folder 94 holds a Rand-McNally Indexed Pocket Map and Shippers’ Guide of Mississippi from 1915 and Goodrich Route Book: Ohio and Indiana from 1914. Additionally there are a number of maps, showing the railroads of Louisiana, the railroads of Mexico and mines in Sonora, and a soil survey of Monroe County, all from the early years of the twentieth century. There are oil maps of the southern United States, many being supplements from Oil Weekly magazine.

The seventh series, Photographs, is a collection of photographs and negatives of the extended Lenoir family, their friends and acquaintances, featuring particularly the family of William S. Lenoir, Sr. There are photographs from Ruth Lenoir’s travels, and a group portrait taken at Club de la Union, Santiago, Chile, on August 18, 1937 which includes Joaquín Yrarrázaval Larraín and Harold Biggs. The contents of a cartes de visite album contains images of some extended family members but features mostly unidentified people photographed in Salem, N.C., Columbia, S.C., Waco and Galveston, Tex., and New Orleans, La..

The last series, Artifacts, includes a wooden box which was used to hold documents and an iron bullet mold.


  • 1792 - 2001
  • Majority of material found within 1850 - 1930


Biographical Information

The Hope Hull Lenoir (1786-1865) and Absalom Blanchard (1771-1854) families came to Marion County, Mississippi in the 1830s from Camden, South Carolina, via Alabama. Hope Lenoir and Absalom Blanchard were half-brothers; their mother Mary (d.1788) was the second wife of Hope’s father, Thomas Lenoir (1741-1816) who was born in Virginia of French Huguenot stock. The family name, LeNoir, was anglicized after the move to America. Hope Lenoir settled first at Cooter’s Bluff on the east side of the Pearl River and then moved to White Bluff near the home of his brother William Thomas (1785-1845) at Red Bluff.

Hope’s son, William Thomas Lenoir (1811-1860) and Absalom Blanchard’s son, William Adolphus Blanchard (1812-1862) attended LaGrange (Methodist) College in north Alabama. William Lenoir married Mary Elizabeth Blanchard (1810-1894), the daughter of Absalom Blanchard, in 1840. William and Mary Lenoir moved to Monroe County, Mississippi in 1845, having purchased 3,500 acres of the land owned by speculator Richard W. Anderson of Huntsville, Alabama, on the recommendation of Mary’s brother. William A. Blanchard had already moved to Columbus, Mississippi, and set up a law practice there. Absalom Blanchard purchased land in Monroe County from John and Martha Whitsitt of Sumter County, Alabama in 1842 and 1845 while his son also bought land from Anderson there in 1845 and 1855, with further purchases after his father’s death. The Lenoirs prospered in the cotton trade, expanding their holdings by buying land in 1855 from James Edward Harrison, who moved to Texas. According to family history, around 1847 William and Mary Lenoir began building what became the Lenoir Plantation house which still stands at Prairie, Mississippi. Building such a large house on their plantation was unusual since many planters preferred to build their grand homes in town while living in much more modest quarters on their land. The Lenoirs also owned over 5,000 acres on the Brazos River near Marlin, Falls County, Texas. William Lenoir was in Texas as early as 1837 and records show him buying property there through the 1850s. On the deaths of Absalom and William Blanchard, the Lenoirs inherited their Mississippi lands.

William and Mary Lenoir’s oldest surviving son, William Smith Lenoir, Sr. (1842-1911) attended the Greene Springs School for Boys in Alabama but left before completing his education to join the Confederate army. He did not serve very long before being discharged with some form of disability but he volunteered again and fought at Tupelo, Mississippi. He married Julia Paine (1851-1918) in 1868. Julia’s father, Sterling L. Paine (1824-1890), was a doctor who practiced in Aberdeen, Mississippi, from 1847 and took care of Confederate wounded during the Civil War. He was the half-brother of Bishop Robert Paine (1799-1882) of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, who was president of LaGrange College from1830 to1846 and then moved to Aberdeen. Robert Paine’s son, George Carter Paine (1855-1936), and grandson, Thomas Fite Paine (1887-1956), were lawyers for the Lenoir family. Another of William and Mary Lenoir’s sons, James Lawrence Lenoir (b.1844), also attended the Greene Springs School for Boys for a time. After entering the army, James was captured at Fort Donelson, Tennessee, imprisoned at Camp Douglas, Chicago, for a year before returning to fight in Georgia. He married Caroline Watkins Hoskins (b.1840), a first cousin of Julia Paine Lenoir, in 1865. Mary Lenoir ran the plantations after the deaths of her husband and brother, a task made more difficult because her sons were away in the army. The Lenoir home was raided by Union soldiers in 1864 but it was not burned. Family legend records that a youthful portrait of William S. Lenoir, Sr. and his two brothers was damaged by a Union bayonet or sword during the raid. After the war, planters William and James Lenoir between them held property in five counties in Mississippi and in Falls County, Texas. James’ son William T. Lenoir (1866-1920) moved to Texas in the 1890s to manage the family lands. It is possible James joined him after giving up his interest in most of the Mississippi properties to his brother William in exchange for cash and Texas land. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the cotton business was profitable once again but the Lenoir estates also produced hay and corn. In the 1910s the family sold some Texas land to pay for the refurbishment of the Lenoir Plantation house by Aberdeen builder Addison Brannin.

The children of William S. Lenoir, Sr., including William Smith Lenoir, Jr. (1875-1944), Ruth Paine Lenoir (1882-1967), Sterling Paine Lenoir (1887-1961), and Whitman Hill Lenoir (1891-1928), inherited Lenoir Plantation and some Texas land. Ruth and her older sister, Julia Paine Lenoir (1879-1897), attended the Industrial Institute and College in Columbus, Mississippi. William S., Jr. and Ruth travelled to Europe in 1900. Sterling went to Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi in 1905-1906, and then transferred to Mississippi A&M College, Starkville, in 1907 for his sophomore and junior years. Whitman attended Branham and Hughes School in Spring Hill, Tennessee from 1908 to1910, and later joined the army in World War I and trained as a pilot. He died in 1928 in Marlin, Texas, where he had gone to recover his failing health. Despite difficult economic conditions for planters like the Lenoirs during the 1930s and 1940s, they managed to hold on to most of their property. Ruth Lenoir noted in 1940 that her family still owned 1400 acres of Texas land and all of the original Monroe County land. Sterling P. Lenoir’s son, Whitman Hill Lenoir III (1929-2013), took over the Lenoir Plantation of just over 1000 acres in 1968 and farmed there until it was sold in 2000.


8.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Lenoir Plantation records
Gerald Chaudron
September 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts Repository