John Bull Smith Dimitry papers, 1848-1922, 1943 (bulk 1857-1922)

Navigate the Collection

Using These Materials Teaser

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke...
More about accessing and using these materials...


Dimitry, John Bull Smith, 1835-1901
The Dimitry, Hardeman, Stuart, and Mayes families were white Southerners involved in education, government, business, and the military during the time just before and after the Civil War. The collection includes correspondence that documents the lives of family members in the South from the 1850s to the 1890s. In addition to local family matters, there are accounts of Confederate army service and views on politics and government. Extensive writings on religious and mathematical topics as well as poetry are also to be found. Family members who are featured in the collection include Colonel Oscar J. E. Stuart, Sarah Hardeman Stuart, Oscar, James, and Edward Stuart, Ann Lewis Hardeman, William and Mary Hardeman, John Bull Smith Dimitry, Adelaide Stuart Dimitry, Bettie Stuart Mayes, Fanny Harris Mayes, Robert Burns Mayes, Robert Burns Mayes, Jr., and Robert Burns Mayes III.
2 Linear Feet
580 Items
Material in English , French
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The John Bull Smith Dimitry Papers, 1848-1922, 1943 (bulk 1857-1922), consists of writings by various members of the Dimitry, Hardeman, Stuart, and Mayes families, who were related by marriage. Correspondence includes detailed discussions related to the Confederacy, Civil War, and Reconstruction from the point of view of white Southerners living in the Mississippi, Virginia, and Kentucky areas. This correspondence provides considerable information on family affairs, including business and legal matters and the role of women. There are also letters describing life in South America in the 1870s. Poetry, religious, and mathematical writings relate primarily to the Mayes family.

This collection appears to have incorporated an earlier Mayes-Hardeman-Stuart Collection and there are many mimeographed copies of originals held by the Mississippi Deparment of Archives and History. These seem related to Aunt Ann's Boys, an unfinished project by Robert Burns Mayes, Jr. which compiled correspondence between James, Oscar, and Edward Stuart and their aunt, Ann Lewis Hardeman.

Details of these families are found in O'Brien, Michael (ed.). An Evening When Alone: Four Journals of Single Women in the South, 1827-67, Southern Texts Society/University Press of Virginia, 1993, which publishes the 1850-1867 journals of Ann Lewis Hardeman.

Biographical / historical:

John Bull Smith Dimitry (1835-1901) was the son of Alexander and Mary P. (Mills) Dimitry of New Orleans and was born in Washington, D.C. He was educated at Georgetown College, and (1859-1861) served as secretary to his father who was then U.S. Minister to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. He served in a New Orleans regiment during the Civil War and was later wounded at Shiloh. Thereafter he served as chief clerk in the Confederate Post Office Department, where his association with John Henninger Reagan began. Dimitry stayed with the retreating Confederate government as far as Washington, Georgia, in 1865, and then returned to Louisiana. Dimitry had some contact with the family of Colonel Oscar J. E. Stuart and in 1871 married Stuart's daughter Adelaide.

Colonel Stuart (born 1810) and Sarah Hardeman (born 1816) were married in 1837 and moved to central Mississippi. Their first son, James Hardeman Stuart, was born in 1838 and a second, Oscar Ewing Stuart, was born in 1841. Adelaide Lewis Stuart was born in 1843 and Annie Elizabeth Stuart (usually called "Bettie" or "Patti") was born in 1845. The third son, Edward, was born in 1847 and a daughter, Sarah Jane was born in 1849. Sarah Hardeman Stuart died shortly thereafter, leaving the six children to be brought up largely by their aunt, Ann Lewis Hardeman, with the assistance of other family members, particularly her brother William Hardeman and his wife Mary. Colonel Stuart took little part in the raising of his children. May of 1853 saw the death of the youngest child, Sarah Jane.

James H. Stuart attended the University of Mississippi and was graduated in 1858 with the highest honors in his class. Oscar also began his studies at the University, but ill health necessitated his leaving in early 1861. He planned to study medicine but this was interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War. From 1859 to 1861 the two daughters attended Saint Mary's Hall at Burlington, New Jersey.

At the beginning of the Civil War both James and Oscar enlisted in the 18th Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, known as the "Burt Rifles." In the summer of 1861, Oscar was made a sergeant-major of the Burt Rifles and James was detached from this regiment and made a member of the Signal Corps stationed in Centreville, Virginia. James's term of enlistment was to have expired early in 1862 and he tried to raise a company so that he could get a commission. This effort failed, but in June of that year he was commissioned a captain in the signal corps and was attached to the staff of his distant cousin, General J. E. B. Stuart. In the meantime, Colonel Oscar J. E. Stuart had tried to organize a company of older men to be known as the "Silver Greys," but, failing this, had enlisted. Oscar re-enlisted and in the winter of 1862 was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant. He also served as adjutant.

James was killed August 30, 1862, at the battle of Manassas Junction and Oscar in May 1863 in the surrender of Marye's Heights. This left only Edward Stuart, the youngest of the brothers, who had enlisted in the summer of 1862, in the Confederate Army. He was incapacitated by a severe case of scurvy from about the time of Oscar's death until 1864, and was cared for, as was Oscar at an earlier period, in the household of Dr. W. A. Horsley, a distant relative of the Stuarts. He was also in Pratt Hospital near Lynchburg, Virginia, and was captured and imprisoned at Point Lookout in Maryland, toward the end of the war.

After the death of William Hardeman in 1863, the Hardeman and Stuart families moved to Haynesville, Alabama and in 1864, Adelaide Stuart worked in a branch of the Ladies Treasury Department in Columbia, South Carolina. During this time, Colonel Oscar J. E. Stuart attempted to obtain a patent for his new and improved plowshare from the Confederate States Patent Office.

After the Civil War, the family dispersed in efforts to exist under the economic and political hardships of the Reconstruction period. Colonel Oscar J. E. Stuart moved from Summit, Mississippi and spent much of 1870-1871 in Burksville, Kentucky, with his niece, Mrs. Mary Cheek, whose husband had died in 1868. Before her marriage, Adelaide Stuart worked as a schoolteacher and for a time Ann Hardeman and Bettie Stuart lived together in Franklin City, Mississippi. Mary Hardeman restored La Vega, her Mississippi plantation, and Ann Hardeman lived there until her death in 1868. Edward followed the carpentry trade in Louisiana and, in later years, Texas. In 1867 Bettie married Judge Robert Burns Mayes (born 1820), whose first wife had died, leaving several children. Their first child, Robert Burns Mayes, Jr. was born in 1868 and their second, Adelaide Eleanor Mayes, was born in 1870. Stuart Hardeman Bowman Mayes was born in 1873. Their fourth and fifth children were daughters: Fanny Harris Mayes (1877-1896) and Annie Elizabeth Mayes (1879-1975).

In the years following the Civil War, John Dimitry and his wife Adelaide traveled to South America where he taught languages in a university - Colegio Caldas, Colombia - from 1874-1876. He later also taught at Montgomery College, Virginia (1895). He engaged extensively in journalism and contributed to various papers. His Lessons in the History of Louisiana, from its Earliest Settlement to the Close of the Civil War, to Which are Appended Lessons in its Geography and Products was published in 1877. Dimitry was also widely known for his epitaphs on Confederate heroes. He planned to write a series of biographies of outstanding Confederates but it would seem that he never progressed further in this work than the writing of epitaphs. Dimitry died on September 7, 1901. In 1911, Adelaide Stuart Dimitry, who was historian of the Stonewall Jackson Chapter of New Orleans, published War-Time Sketches: Historical and Otherwise.

Acquisition information:
The John Bull Smith Dimitry Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift in .
Processing information:

Processed by Rubenstein Library staff, Michael Fitzgerald

Encoded by Michael Fitzgerald

Completed March 2007

Accessions were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Using These Materials

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials


Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Before you visit:
Please consult our up-to-date information for visitors page, as our services and guidelines periodically change.
Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], John Bull Smith Dimitry Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University