[Various locations in and around Jasper County, Mississippi: 1840-1881]. Approximately ninety-eight documents totaling about pp., most entirely in manuscript but with a healthy number of partially-printed documents completed in manuscript, plus a handful of original transmittal envelopes. Some documents significantly faded, some chipped or with noticeable losses. Documents range from poor to very good condition. Good. Item #1702
An interesting collection of manuscript correspondence, business receipts and accounting records, jury summonses, real estate and tax records, legal and estate documents, and more, relating to the business dealings of Duncan D. McLaurin (1816-1890) of Turnerville, Jasper County, Mississippi. The documents record details of purchases, moneys owed, estate transactions, and other economic information on a wide range of products and services both before, during, and after the Civil War in Mississippi. The products include whiskey, tobacco, gingham, oil, calico, indigo, pills, corn, coffee, sugar, and cotton, among numerous others.
The latter product is well represented in the collection, with a handful of documents concerned with cotton. One document dated in 1874 memorializes an agreement between McLaurin and two locals (apparently illiterate, as they both sign their names with a mark), for eighty-five dollars worth of cotton from McLaurin’s supply. Another document from 1867 records a shipment of two bales of cotton from McLaurin, marked “DDMc” which was sent from Shubuta to Mobile, Alabama.
The various products bought and sold by McLaurin come from or flow through local retailers such as Richardson & Co., E.B. Gaston & Son, W.W. Brame, and Welch, Agee & Co (who handled McLaurin’s cotton shipment to Mobile mentioned just above). These retailers hailed from Newton, Enterprise, Paulding, and Shubuta, respectively. A few of the documents, such as the aforementioned cotton shipment, mention business dealings in Mobile; an 1873 blank form present here was intended to document 500-pound cotton shipments from Mississippi “on account of the Mobile and Little Rock Railroad Company.”
Some of the more interesting and unusual documents include a letter to McLaurin from a local sheep farmer, asking McLaurin to sell some of the sheep recently found grazing on McLaurin’s land; a small plat map indicating property ownership in a small section of Jasper County; a letter from a local resident attempting to buy corn from McLaurin but unable to send his wagon through because of the “very bad” roads around McLaurin’s house; and a letter of introduction for William McKnight who is looking to “teach school” in the area.
Perhaps the most interesting document here is McLaurin’s manuscript discharge signed by Confederate Captain William C. Porter of Company B, 5th Regiment of the Mississippi State Troops. In his statement, dated March 25, 1863, Porter certifies that Duncan McLaurin is “unfit for military duty by reason of an old ulcer over the region of the heart destroying the motion of the muscles of the chest & producing general disability.” Porter urges McLaurin’s immediate medical discharge.
Duncan D. McLaurin was almost certainly related to Duncan McLaurin (1787-1872), a prominent farmer, teacher, and lawyer in North Carolina who served in the state legislature beginning in 1831. Much of the former McLaurin’s family moved to Mississippi in the early-19th century, which likely included the McLaurin represented in the current collection. One document here lists Duncan D. McLaurin along with “D.H. McLaurin” and “John P. McLaurin;” the only brother of the elder McLaurin from North Carolina was named John. The two Duncan McLaurins here are perhaps uncle and nephew.
Taken together, the present collection presents a rare view of the homefront economy of the Confederacy, as well as the larger Southern economy in deeply-rural Mississippi both before and after the Civil War.