This collection contains assorted manuscript documents and printed material from the Ingram and Chiles families, including correspondence, legal records, receipts, memorandum, promissory notes, merchant order forms, and miscellaneous notes and musings. Also contains several bound volumes, belonging to the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries; a notebook with entries by John Couch, with entries dating between 1860 and 1866; and an Ingram family genealogy, typed and bound, titled: "The Descendants of Winifred Nelms and Joseph Ingram, compiled by Mary Little K. Davis, 1950." The bulk of the collection belongs to the first half of the nineteenth century and includes material pertaining to the cotton industry, cider, brandy, slavery, transportation, and the social and economic conditions of Anson and other counties in North and South Carolina along the Pee Dee River. Business and personal correspondence is intermixed and arranged chronologically. Letters and memorandum from the Chiles family is included in the contents from the earliest period. Includes official documents related to the appointment and service of Thomas Chiles as lieutenant colonel, commandant of the militia of Montgomery County. The bulk of the Ingram family's correspondence belongs to Joseph Ingram and his son Dr. Eben N. Ingram and addresses matters of family health and travel; business matters about cider, vinegar, brandy, corn, cotton, the Ingram fishery, logging, and labor; legal affairs; banking and finance; and matters involving enslaved persons belonging to the Ingram family. Bills of sale listing the names of enslaved persons can be found in the legal papers. Several items in the legal papers also pertain to an inheritance dispute between Benjamin Ingram and the executors of the wills of Jeremiah and Lemuel Ingram. The collection also contains two large bound volumes and several small notebooks of Joseph and Eben Ingram.
There are a few notable items authored by or pertaining to free persons of color in this collection. Several letters and business papers are either authored by or relate to the business affairs of Elijah Patterson, a free person of color and a known horse doctor. Of particular interest to researchers might be a letter dated March 21, 1847 from Jacob Chiles, a formerly enslaved man whose family moved to Warren County, Ohio, to his former owner, John M. Ingram, in his own handwriting. Chiles writes about his new community and shares his thoughts on the hypocrisy of slavery in a country that had adopted the Declaration of Independence: "keep your slave ignorant if you wish to hold them in bondage. Now these are my sentiments after enjoying the sweets of Freedom."
The Ingram family owned a plantation and several enslaved people in Anson County, North Carolina in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Joseph Ingram Sr. (1744-1828) was born in Culpepper, Virginia to parents John Ingram and Hannah Pines of Northumberland and Brunswick, Virginia. North Carolina Land records show that Joseph bought several hundred acres of land along the Pee Dee and Neuse rivers in the late eighteenth century beginning in 1772. According to family history, Joseph purchased his first 600 acres of land known as the "Riverdale Farms" located on the northwest side the Pee Dee River from Cornelius Robinson in 1769. Joseph married Winnifred Nelms in 1774, and they had nine children, including William Pines Ingram, Jeremiah "Jerry" Ingram, Benjamin Ingram, Lemuel Ingram, Elizabeth "Besty" Stanback, Samuel P. ingram, Thomas Ingram, Hannah Dunlap, and Ebenezer "Eben" Nelms Ingram. Joseph served in the militia during the Revolutionary War, where he likely became acquainted with Thomas Chiles Sr. and Thomas Chiles Jr. Joseph Ingram and his sons owned a plantation, where they and an unknown number of enslaved people produced and sold corn, brandy, cider, and, especially by the mid-nineteenth century, cotton.
The Ingrams prioritized schooling for their children and others. According to family history, the Ingrams built a church on the plantation and organized the first Sunday school in Anson County. Joseph was a founding trustee of the Wadesborough Academy (established 1802).1 Hannah Pines Ingram attended the Salem Female Academy, the first institution of higher education for women in North Carolina. The youngest Ingram son, Eben, had trained as a physician in New York before returning to the family plantation, where he only occasionally dabbled in medicine.
Lemuel and Dr. Eben N. Ingram oversaw much of the plantation's business matters after his Joseph Ingram's death in 1828, though Ingram family history hold that the family left most of the operations to be managed by the plantation's enslaved community. Eben's nephew John Billingsley Ingram (1827-1907) helped manage the Ingram Plantation in Eben's old age and after Eben's death in 1877. Eben Ingram was involved in several lawsuits and inheritance disputes in the 1840s and 1850s, which are partially documented in the collection.
It is likely that the enslaved community living on, and perhaps near, the Ingram Planation learned to read and write. A joint will of Joseph and Winifred Ingram, dated 1828 Dec. 17, specified that their grandchildren would inherit an enslaved person each "on the condition that they shall learn to read the scriptures twenty negroes apiece or other poor children." In 1847 a formerly-enslaved man named Jacob Chiles wrote a letter to John M. Ingram of Anson County, N.C., updating the Ingrams' on his life after slavery and thoughts on slavery and freedom. Having resettled his immediate family in Warren, Ohio after their emancipation, Jacob enrolled his two sons at the first free school for African American children in Ohio, the Harveysburg Free Black School. Chiles' letter aside, few other documents in the collection shed light on the social or interior lives of enslaved people and free persons of color who once labored on the Ingram family plantation.
Sources: Family genealogy, Joseph Ingram, Sr. Papers, Box 5, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University; Mary L. Medley, History of Anson County North Carolina, 1750-1976 (Wadesboro, NC: Anson County Historical Society, 1976), p. 113; Will Records, 1751-1962, Also Contains A Few Family Sketches; Author: North Carolina. Superior Court (Anson County); Probate Place: Anson, North Carolina. North Carolina, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.