J. Walter Potts family papers
Scope and Contents
Potts Family papers is a small collection of papers, beginning with John Neely in the late eighteenth century, continuing with the Grier family (a.k.a. Greer family), then the Hunter family and ultimately the J. Walter Potts family in the early twentieth century; all from the Steele Creek region of southwestern Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The papers include documentation concerning real estate transactions, receipts for taxes and consumer goods, promissory notes, letters to and from various family members, and the buying, selling and leasing of enslaved persons. The majority of papers in the Potts family collection concern documentation for enslaved persons, short-term financial lending, real estate transactions, and the guardianship for minors in the nineteenth century.
- 1776 - 1942
- Majority of material found within 1790 - 1890
- Potts, J. Walter (James Walter) (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.
Biographical / Historical
The people whose papers appear in this collection to a prominent degree are John Neely, Charles L. Hunter and James Walter Potts.
John Neely Notes: Not a lot is known about John Neely, but from the small collection of papers that he left behind, we know that he had at least two children—John S. Neely and Jane Neely, both of whom migrated to eastern Tennessee and periodically wrote to their father in the Steele Creek Township. Receipts indicate that Neely purchased a captive in 1776: Jude, a girl who was nine years old at the time. A receipt for the purchase of Will, an enslaved individual in 1779 indicates that he was “Clear of Convultion [sic], fits or any Other Impediment known.” In 1784, Neely purchased an Rose, an enslaved woman. According to Neely’s estate inventory dated May 10, 1806, only two of the four enslaved persons were identified in the document by name: Sue and Will. The inventory does not indicate their ages, but identified Sue as a “wench” (little girl) and Will as a boy. Also, according to this inventory, Neely owned 250 acres of land, indicating that he was one of the more prominent figures in that part of the county. The fact that Neely’s estate inventory was drawn up on May 10, 1806 suggests that he died shortly before that time.
Charles L. Hunter Notes: The 1850 census indicate that there were two Hunter families living in the Steele Creek Township. One family consisted of Henry Hunter (41 years of age in 1850); Esther Hunter (21 years of age at that time); and Charles Hunter (five years old). This family made their living by farming and their estate was valued at $900 in 1850. Though there is considerable evidence to the ownership of enslaved persons, the 1850 census makes no mention of them. Adjacent to this family listed in the census (and probably geographically as well) was another Hunter family, which included John (age 35 in 1850) and Miss Susan (age 40). The fact that there is a sizeable quantity of material concerning Charles’s guardianship beginning in 1854 indicates that both of his parents had died by that time. Because Charles inherited property while still a minor, a neighbor, James Lee Grier, served as executor of the Hunter estate and handled Hunter’s business affairs. The Hunter estate included enslaved people and there are several rental contracts for enslaved people in the collection. The guardianship records decline in quantity around 1861, when Charles was sixteen years old, though there is one item dating 1863. According to Michael C. Hardy’s The Thirty-seventh North Carolina Troops: Tar Heels on the Army of Northern Virginia, Charles L. Hunter enlisted in Company I, of the 37th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. Hardy also indicates that Hunter was transferred from the 37th to Company F of the 63rd North Carolina Troops (later identified as the 5th NC Cavalry). Other military records indicate that he was mortally wounded and died in a military hospital in Petersburg, Virginia on September 12, 1864. The disposition of his estate after his death is not known.
J. Walter Potts Notes: James Walter Potts (known to his family and friends as “Walter”) was an active and prominent member of the Steele Creek community. As a lawyer, this collection contains a variety of materials concerning such things as the guardianship of certain minors (his grand-daughters, Daisy and Ada Bell Potts and members of the Carothers family), and the administration of the estates of deceased people (such as James Lee Grier). Potts also served as a school committeeman in District 10 of the Steele Creek Township. Potts and his wife Elizabeth had at least one child—J. Walter Potts, Junior. Junior married and had two daughters (Ada Bell and Daisy D. Potts); but died at a young age while his daughters were still minors.
[Sources: 1850 Census of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Compiled by the Olde Mecklenburg Genealogical Society, 1994 ; Hardy. Michael C., The Thirty-seventh North Carolina Troops: Tar Heels on the Army of Northern Virginia ; J. Walter Potts Family Papers, 1776-1942, MS 402.
0.4 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box)
Language of Materials
Contains a small collection of papers, beginning with John Neely in 1776, continuing with the Grier family (a.k.a. Greer family), then the Hunter family and ultimately the J. Walter Potts family in the early twentieth century; all from the Steele Creek Township in southwestern Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The papers include documentation concerning real estate transactions, receipts for taxes and consumer goods, promissory notes, letters to and from various family members, and documentation concerning enslaved persons.
The collection contains six series, five of which are further divided into subseries. The six series are: Grier Family (1783-1871), Hunter Family (1833-1848), Neely Family (1776-1860), Potts Family (1810-1921), Miscellaneous (1778-1942) and Oversize Items (1778-1883). There is also one file, Notes, that does not belong to any series.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donation from Ruby Potts, August 2008.
Processed by Robert A. McInnes
- Greer family
- Grier family
- Hunter family
- Mecklenburg County (N.C.) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Mecklenburg County (N.C.) -- Genealogy Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Neely family
- Plantation life -- North Carolina -- Mecklenburg County Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Potts family
- Potts, J. Walter (James Walter)
- J. Walter Potts family papers
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note