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Hays-Ray-Webb Family Papers

Identifier: MSS-4

Scope and Contents

Contents include the papers of Robert Berry Webb and Matilda Ann “Lit” Boyd Webb and their extended family.

The collection bulks with family correspondence documenting the activities of various family members. Included are letters of Matilda Webb’s parents, John D. Boyd (1800-1844) and Anna McKee Boyd Green (1804-1886), early settlers of the Standing Pine area, near Carthage, Leake County, Mississippi. John D. Boyd’s letters from Jackson document his service as a Mississippi legislator, business matters, and his death of smallpox, 1843-1844. The collection also bulks with antebellum and postbellum letters among family members, a great many of them letters from Sophia Boyd Andrews Hays and her siblings to their sister Matilda (Lit) Webb in Kosciusko, but also including letters to their mother Anna Boyd Green. The Civil War period is represented by 18 letters, some civilian. Among these are letters of (Anderson) Jack(son) Boyd, 13th MS infantry, Co. I (Minute Men of Attala), John Gordon D. (Gordon) Boyd, Co. E, 12th Texas Infantry Regiment (Young=s Regiment), James M. Boyd (Co. D, 40th Mississippi Infantry) and family members. Robert R. Boyd, 13th MS Infantry Co. I (Minute Men or Attala), wounded and disabled at Malvern Hill, is represented in letters to him and in the subject content of other letters.

Post-Civil War letters include letters of Robert Berry Webb to his wife during his travels and include letters of successive generations of the Webb and Boyd families, including Annie Webb Ray and her husband, Emmett Leighton Ray of Kosciusko. An unusual group of 29 letters were written to Lit Boyd by Sophia Boyd from Europe (1860, 1866-1868, and undated). Letters of “Cousin Wess” document family matters and his life while working for a sugar company in Cuba, 1929-1936. Other localities documented in the letters include Kosciusko, Sharon, Madisonville and Canton in Madison County (Mississippi), Moor’s Bayou, Tunica County (Miss.), New Orleans, and various localities in Texas and Cuba.

Other materials in the collection include diaries (two written in England and Scotland), primarily of Sophia Boyd Andrews Hays and her son Leon Sidney Hayes, who lived in Europe at times during 1860-1868. Kosciusko and Attala County materials include accounts, tax receipts, notes and other business and legal papers, county records and school records. Various newspaper clippings include obituaries and other family news items, Kosciusko news, and miscellaneous. There are a few tintypes and other photographs of family members.


  • 1824 - 1959


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers with exception to one restricted folder located in Box 3, Folder 39.

Rights Statement

Any requests for permission to publish, quote, or reproduce materials from this collection must be submitted in writing to the Coordinator of Manuscripts or Manuscripts Librarian for Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Mississippi State University as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Biographical note

The heart of this collection stems from couple Robert Berry Webb and Matilda Ann “Lit” Boyd Webb. Robert Berry Webb (1822-1900) was born in South Carolina. For years, Webb served as the Attala County circuit court clerk, county treasurer, and sheriff. In addition, he worked for the state government in Jackson, Mississippi. He was husband to Matilda Ann “Lit” Boyd Webb (1832-1913), who was a Mississippi native of Leake County. Together, the couple had nine children: Eva Evelyn Webb (1855-1934); Robert James Webb (1857-1933); Charles Micajah Webb (1858-1934); Ruth Webb (1860-1933); Jack Boyd Webb (1862-1939); Clayton Webb (1864-1926); John Gordon Webb (1869-1927); Arthur Leon Webb (1869-1943); and Annie Harriet Webb (1872-1949). Annie Harriet Webb went on to marry Emmet Leighton Ray (1868-1952) of Kosciusko, Mississippi. The Hays connection stems from Sophia Boyd Andrews Hays (1827-1910; sister to Matilda Ann “Lit” Boyd Webb), who married Sidney Hays, a doctor during New Orleans’s yellow fever epidemic in the mid-nineteenth century.


9 Cubic Feet (5 record cartons; 1 manuscript box; 4 oversized costume boxes; 1 small costume box; 2 oversized folders; 2 smaller oversized folders; 1 reel microfilm; 1 oversized framed item )

Language of Materials



Series I. Biographical, 1864-1991: arranged alphabetically by subject, then date. Series II. Correspondence, 1843-1965: arranged alphabetically by author, then chronologically. Series III. Legal and Financial Records, 1837-1996: arranged chronologically. Series IV: Attala County Records, 1852-1919: arranged chronologically. Series V: E. L. Webb Papers, 1890-1965: arranged alphabetically by subject, then chronologically. Series VI: Journals, 1852-1937: arranged alphabetically by author, then chronologically. Series VII: Ledgers, 1836-1927: arranged alphabetically by author, then chronologically. Series VIII: Three-Dimensional Objects, undated: arbitrary arrangement. Series IX: Audio Visual Materials, 1947-1951: arranged chronologically. Series X: Costumes, 1893 & undated: arranged by size. Series XI: Oversized, 1824-1986: arranged by size, then chronologically.

Technical Access

The collection contains one reel of microfilm, which requires the use of a microfilm reader.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The 1959 accession (originally a long-term loan) was deposited by Margaret Buchanan, with a second deposit made in 1978. The 2013 accession was donated by Peyton Johnson and Maura Johnson.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Materials

MSS.834 James Franklin “Frank” Buchanan Papers were separated from this collection.

Preservation Note

The collection was processed and arranged in acid-free archival folders and boxes. Leather materials were leaved or wrapped in unbuffered archival paper. Metal fasteners (e.g., staples and paperclips were removed and replaced with either Plastiklips or stainless-steel paper clips.

Processing Information

This collection arrived in three phases to the Manuscripts Division of Special Collections. The first accession was made in 1959. Contents included one cubic foot of correspondence, Attala County records, journal photocopies, and photographs. The second accession arrived in 1978 but it is unclear precisely what materials were deposited. Contents from the 2013 accession include correspondence, biographical information, the papers of E. L. Ray, journals, ledgers, three dimensional items, photographs, film, and a wedding dress. The papers of James Franklin “Frank” Buchanan were also included; however, his papers were significant in size and warranted the creation of a separate collection. The 1959 and 2013 accessions were finally reprocess beginning in 2020 by Manuscripts Librarian, Carrie P. Mastley. The two accessions were interfiled into the arrangement listed below and arrangement was completed in June 2021.

The following materials have been removed from the collection and disposed of in an appropriate manner: 2 empty land deed envelopes. Approximately 1/4 inch of newspaper clippings were photocopied on acid-free paper.

Hays-Ray-Webb Family Papers
This finding aid was authored by Carrie P. Mastley in Summer 2021.
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts Repository