ROBINSON-L ArchivesArchiver > ROBINSON > 2008-01 > 1201120497
From: "Diane Williams" <>
Subject: [ROBINSON] Otey & wyche papers: James Robinson, attny;John J Robinson of Ark;Meck Robinson in VA, C.A. Robinson in Meridianville; mid 1800s.
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 15:35:05 -0500
Robinson mentions in record searches on Lexis Nexis Library edition,
southern history files. You can access these reels through interlibrary
loans if you are interested in this extra information.
Ante Bellum Southern Plantations
Index to reels on file
Subseries 1.4. (1866-1898 and undated)
This subseries consists principally of the family correspondence of Octavia
Wyche and her children, Imogene, William Walter, Mollie, Lucy, and Elliese.
Included are letters family members exchanged with each other and letters
they received from Wilburn relatives in Mississippi, and Otey and Landidge
relatives in Tennessee. The bulk of the letters is addressed to Octavia
Otey. During this period the Otey family continued to reside at Green Lawn,
their farm outside Meridianville, and most of Octavia's letters are written
A few business letters, which are interspersed with family items, concern
her financial problems.
Only two letters appear for 1866. One is to Octavia from an unidentified
friend in Titus County, Texas, who wrote on 25 August, to express sympathy
over William Madison Otey's death, and another is to Octavia from her
cousin, W. Wyche Wilburn, who wrote on 9 December
in reference to her plantation and property in Yazoo County. Octavia
received letters from Wilburn about the plantation's management and attempts
to sell it throughout the 1870s and in 1880. She received one letter from
her cousin R. E. Wilburn of Pickens, Mississippi, concerning selling the
plantation in 1882.
Correspondence between 1867 and the mid-1870s consists mostly of letters
Octavia exchanged with her Otey relatives living in Beechwood, Tennessee,
including her nephew William S. Otey, his wife Lou, and her cousins Fannie
Lou, J. S. Landidge, and Mary. Letters of note
include one from J. S. Landidge, who wrote Octavia in 1868, to recommend a
tenant farmer, Mr. Phillips, to her; another from Lou Otey, written in 1875,
concerning her desire to move to Huntsville and the possibility of her
husband's going into law partnership with Jim Robinson; and
several from her nephew Meck Robinson in 1869, written while Robinson
attended medical school at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia,
concerning both his studies and family news. Another letter, dated 21
September 1869, is from Carlos G. Smith, and concerns the schooling of her
son, William Walter, at Huntsville Grammar School. The letter is accompanied
by a printed circular about the school.
Octavia, Imogene, and Mollie visited Beechwood regularly in this period and
corresponded with each other and with other family members while there.
Their letters are filled with news of family and friends as well as with
discussion of finances, farm affairs, local events, and travel
In the late 1860s through the mid-1870s, Octavia also received a number of
letters from her nephew John J. Robinson of Bartons, Arkansas; her cousin
Ellen of Sunnyside, Alabama; her cousin Mary of Collinsburg, Louisiana; and
E. A. Wyche of Red Land, Louisiana. These letters
relate mostly family news with some discussion of postwar difficulties and
relationships with the freedmen.
Of interest in the 1880s is a letter from Imogene's husband, William Fields,
to John Hampton on 29 July 1884, in which he discussed attending the
Democratic Convention at Marion to nominate a congressional candidate. He
also discussed his family and crops. Also of note is a
letter Octavia received from Rebecca Scruggs, written 20 March 1888, in
which Scruggs described the city of Woodville, Mississippi, where she was
visiting, and mentioned a Women's Christian Temperance Union convention she
had witnessed in Nashville.
Undated family correspondence for the postwar period is mostly that of
Octavia Otey, with scattered letters appearing for her children Imogene,
Mollie, William Walter, Matt, and Elliese.
Most of Octavia's letters are addressed from Green Lawn. Frequent
correspondents include her half-sister, Ella; her nephew, Meck Robinson in
Liberty, Virginia, and unidentified locations; and her cousin, Ellen, of
Sunnyside. Letters exchanged with Ella discuss mostly domestic affairs,
including Ella's trials over her husband's alcoholism.
Meck Robinson wrote concerning his travels and his health. Ellen wrote most
often about her children, her health, and her plans for visiting.
Other correspondents of note are M. O. Pruit; William S. Otey, writing from
Meridianville; Armpie Otey, and C. A. Robinson.
William Walter received a letter from his cousin Hattie W. Rhett. Imogene
received several letters from her mother and wrote several replies. She also
wrote her sister Lucy. Mollie wrote her mother and received letters from
her. Of interest is a letter Matt Otey wrote as a child to "Santy
Close," telling him what he wanted for Christmas.
Other individuals from whom letters appear are Marian Shelby of Dixie Hill;
Margaret A. Otey of Marshall Court, Alabama; Helen Pickens; Walter Kelley;
R. K. Williams; J. W. Levers; Octavia's cousins, R. M. Wilburn and J. D.
Vance; cousin Jarvis; cousin Lee; and cousin Will.
The undated letters are similar to the dated items for the postwar period,
and discuss mostly family news, illnesses, travels, and finances. They have
been inserted within the most likely decades of their appearance.
Subseries 2.2. Antebellum and Wartime Otey and Kirkland Papers (1836-1863)
subseries consists predominantly of William Madison Otey's accounts with
cotton factors in the 1850s through 1861. A few items appear for his wife's
stepfather, John Kirkland, and John Kirkland's daughter, Ella, and for Mary
Cotton factors with whom Otey dealt most frequently were Bradley, Wilson &
Co. of Huntsville and Pope and Devlin (later Jennings & Devlin, then J. M.
Devlin) of Yazoo City, Mississippi. Reports of cotton sold and accounts for
hardware items, foodstuffs, farm supplies and medicinal drugs bought of
these firms comprise over eighty percent of Otey's papers.
Most of the remaining accounts relating to Otey are with hardware merchants,
W. P. Thompson, William M. Rozell, John M. Humphrey, and John S. Dickson of
Huntsville; dry goods merchants, John Kirkland of Meridianville and Thomas
S. McCalley of Huntsville; blacksmith,
James T. McClean; druggists, James L. Cooper of Huntsville and Newman &
Harrison; doctors, G. A. Wyche of Meridianville and F. H. Newman; and book
dealers, Collant & Sons.
Otey's account in 1842 with tailor John Shanor lists a charge for "cutting a
coat for a free [N]egro," suggesting that Otey might have served as a
go-between for free blacks and local merchants.
Legal papers for Otey consist of a certificate, dated 8 April 1847,
appointing him paymaster of the 2nd Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Division of
the Alabama state militia; a deed, dated 16 October 1850, transferring land
in Madison County from William H. and Eliza Branch to John
Robinson and William Madison Otey; and a certificate, dated 1 March 1861,
issued by the Alabama Commissioners' Court of Roads and Revenue, naming Otey
overseer of the Meridianville Road. Only a handful of items, mostly
accounts, appear in the Civil War period.
Early items in the antebellum papers are financial materials related to Mary
Otey. Notes appear in 1837 and 1846 for loans made to and by her with John
Robinson, and in 1838 for money she owed Pruit & Jones of Huntsville.
Accounts comprise one, dated 11 January 1841,
with Patton & Bros. of Huntsville, for clothes and sewing goods, and
another, dated 17 November 1844, with Wyche Landidge, for medical services.
group of docs are here: