Hunter Family

A Guide to the Hunter Family Papers, 1766–1918
Call Number Mss1 H9196 a FA2


Main Entry

Hunter family


Papers, 1766–1918.


ca. 4,070 items (32 manuscripts boxes)

Biographical Note

The collection primarily consists of the papers of the family of Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (1809–1887) of Essex County, Va., lawyer, state legislator, U.S. speaker of the House, U.S. senator, and Confederate States secretary of state. Also represented are his parents, sisters, and children.

This collection of Hunter family papers, received by the Virginia Historical Society in 1986, complements other large holdings of the records of this Essex County family in such repositories as the University of Virginia Library, the Archives Division of the Library of Virginia, and the Library at Mills College, Oakland, California.

The earliest major figure in the collection is James Hunter (1746–1788), a Virginia-born merchant who should not be confused with his uncle, James Hunter (1721–1784), Scottish-born Fredericksburg merchant and master of the iron works at Falmouth. The younger man, known as "James Hunter, Jr.," was educated for the mercantile trade in Duns, Scotland, and London, England, by some of his Hunter cousins. He returned to Virginia before the Revolution and became a merchant at Richmond. During the war he served for a time as assistant commissary for purchase at the Public Storehouse at Fredericksburg, but later gave up the position to engage in mercantile operations with John and Henry Banks, some of which included supplying the Southern Department of the Continental Army during the latter years of the Revolution (see below). After the war he settled as a merchant in Portsmouth.


Collection includes correspondence, 1770–1788, accounts, and mercantile records of James Hunter (1746–1788) of Portsmouth and Richmond, Va., in part concerning the British linen trade and supplying the Southern Deptartment of the U.S. Continental Army. Also, includes family and business correspondence, 1789–1825, accounts, and mercantile records of James Hunter (1774–1826) of Norfolk and "Hunter's Hill," Essex County, Va.

Also, includes correspondence, 1821–1884, of Robert M. T. Hunter of "Fonthill," Essex County, Va., concerning Democratic party politics, the presidential election of 1860, secession, land speculation in western Virginia and Wisconsin, and Hunter's career in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate; financial records; farming records; and political materials. Also, includes family correspondence, 1838–1888, accounts, farming and flour milling records at Hunter's Mill of his wife, Mary Evelina (Dandridge) Hunter (1817–1893).

Also, includes correspondence, accounts, diaries, slave records, and miscellany of R. M. T. Hunter's sisters Jane Swann Hunter (1804–1880), Martha Fenton Hunter ([1800–1866] an author of anonymously published novels, short stories, and children's books), and Sarah Harriet Apphia Hunter (1822–1874); correspondence, 1868–1915, financial, farm, and horse breeding records of Philip Stephen Hunter (1848–1919) of "Otterburn," Essex County, Va.; and miscellaneous papers of other members of the Garnett and Hunter families.


Gift of Dr. Mary P. Hester and Mrs. Philip Sasser in 1986.





Series I. James Hunter (1746–1788), Portsmouth & Richmond, Va.

Hunter's correspondence covers the period 1770–1788 (a few letters before 1770 relate to the linen trade and are filed separately, see below). Some of the earliest of these letters were written to Hunter while he worked at the paper manufactory of Richard Lancake at Charenton, outside Paris, France. Some of the correspondence is with family members, but most is business-related. Among the more frequent or important correspondents are: Henry Banks, John Banks (while in partnership in Hunter, Banks & Co., a business arrangement that would cause James Hunter great problems throughout the rest of his life; many letters concern the supply contract with the Continental Army under General Nathanael Greene—see especially the letter of 22 November 1782), Preeson Bowdoin (Norfolk merchant), Eliezer Callender (in command of the ship Dragon of the Virginia Navy, protecting the Chesapeake Bay in 1778), John Cooper (captain of the ship Saucy Jack, a privateer taking British prizes off Edenton, N. C., in 1782), Charles Dick (making requisitions from Hunter as commissary of public stores; verso of 8 September 1776 bears frank of Thomas Jefferson); Adam Hunter ( [1739–1798], a cousin and merchant in Fredericksburg, Va.), Archibald Hunter (b. 1734), George Weedon (concerning the election of customs collectors by the Virginia General Assembly), and Charles Yates (Fredericksburg merchant).

James Hunter's loose accounts cover the period 1771–1786. These include accounts with George Weedon (as a tavern keeper in Fredericksburg, 1771); Dr. Robert Innes and Dr. Hugh Mercer, and mention of "Fall Hill" and Hunter's Forge (i.e., Hunter's Iron Works at Falmouth) in 1772; the Sloop "John," a merchant vessel, 1776; and mercantile activities with Alexander Phillips (husband of his sister-in-law Elizabeth Spence ) and James & Adam Hunter of Fredericksburg, 1778–1780.

Box 2 of the collection begins with materials concerning the Dunse Linen Company of Duns, Scotland, 1766–1783. James Hunter worked as an agent for the company while in London, and his cousins John and William Hunter were involved in the company. The materials consist of correspondence of James and William Hunter with company directors and others (including John Hunter [b. 1723] and Archibald Hunter [b. 1734]); accounts; shipping invoices (for consignments); bills of exchange and a protest; and notes.

Materials, 1782–1787, of Hunter, Banks & Co. of Richmond, Va., concern the partnership of James Hunter with John and Henry Banks. They consist of correspondence pertaining to the firm or its principals; letters addressed to Smith, Bowdoin & Hunter of Richmond; a letter and bill of lading of Banks, Burnett & Co. of Charleston, S. C.; accounts; a bond (unexecuted) of John Banks and Nathanael Greene; invoices; an agreement, affidavit and powers of attorney concerning the purchase of lands in Georgia by John Banks and James Hunter; a letter of attorney of William Robinson of Kempsville, Va., to Thomas Mathews (1785); copies of correspondence of Henry Banks (primarily with John Banks and James Hunter); and notes concerning a lawsuit of John Cooper.

James Hunter's miscellany includes accounts, 1776, as commissary of purchase for the colony’s Fredericksburg storehouse (apparently torn from a journal); a bill of lading, 1784; a memoranda book of Isaac Bowe concerning a mercantile store at Boyd's Hole, King George County, 1773; and some unclassified items.

Following the materials of James Hunter are a few items of his wife, Marianna Russell Spence, the widow of his cousin William Hunter (1736–1773). These consist of letters to her, 1772–1794 (including two from her father, George Spence, a prosperous London merchant); letters of George Spence to William Hunter, 1771; and a commonplace book, 1794, including medicinal recipes, lines of verse and the like (which appears also to have been used by Jane Swann Hunter in the 1830s to list clothing distributed to her African American slaves).

Box 1

Inaugural address of Governor Oden Bowie to the General Assembly of Maryland, 1868

Box 2

Speeches of Allen G. Thurman [16 July 1868]


Series II. James Hunter (1774–1826), Norfolk & "Hunter's Hill," Essex County, Va.

The next major figure in the collection is James Hunter (1774–1826), a Norfolk merchant who later settled at "Hunter's Hill," near Layton's in southeastern Essex County, Va. This James was the son of William Hunter (1748–1784), who in turn was a brother of James Hunter (1746–1788).

The correspondence of James Hunter is primarily with friends and family members or concerns his mercantile operations during the period 1789–1825. Among the correspondents are Augustine Boughan (a Fredericksburg merchant who is also mentioned prominently in a number of letters in this section); Robert Wormeley Carter (of "Sabine Hall," Richmond County); Beverley Chew (at Uniontown, Pa., while serving with the Virginia militia during the Whiskey Insurrection, November 1794); James Mercer Garnett (U. S. congressman from Virginia); James Herron (Norfolk merchant); Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (1809–1887); Muscoe Livingston; George Ross (of Culpeper County); and Robert Barraud Taylor (as a Norfolk lawyer).

A ledger, 1818, bears accounts of local planters with James Hunter for blacksmith services and iron manufacture presumably at "Hunter's Hill." The services involve the repair of agricultural implements, and the manufacture of nails and other metal work for the construction of homes and farm buildings. Loose accounts, 1790–1821, are mostly personal, although some derive from mercantile activities.

Boxes 3–4 contain materials concerning Hunter's career as a merchant. Initial general materials consist of a cash book, 1803–1806, for a store at Lloyd's in Essex County; and orders, 1798–1812, for merchandise. Records, 1798–1801, of James Hunter & Co. of Layton's, Va., are comprised of letters (arranged chronologically) from other merchants and merchant firms (including James Herron and Stone, Boughan & Co. of Baltimore, Md.); accounts; shipping receipts; and a deed of assignment (unexecuted) to a mortgage on lands in Prince William County.

Materials, 1794–1801, of Stone, Hunter & Co. of Norfolk, Va., concern Hunter's partnership with William Scandrett Stone of Fredericksburg. They include letters (numerous from Stone and merchant William Lovell); accounts; shipping receipts and invoices for flour, corn, staves, tobacco, etc.; flour inspection certificates; an agreement concerning the brigantine "Brothers of the Burthen"; a list of ships sailing between Madeira and Norfolk; and an affidavit of William Scandrett Stone.

Numerous miscellaneous items for James Hunter have been grouped together. Loose notes for a diary, 1813, concern a trip to the Virginia springs (including brief comment on a visit to "Monticello," Albemarle County, on August 30). Materials, 1796–1803, from the estate of William Hunter (1748–1784) include a letter, receipts and powers of attorney of William Garnett Hunter and Taliaferro Hunter (b. 1776). An agreement, 1814, with William Scandrett Stone concerns a distillery at Hunter's Mill in Essex County. Additional materials include lists of African American slaves and personal property, 1811–1819; letters, 1798–1814, written by or addressed to Augustine Boughan, William Brooke, John Dishman, Grace Fenton (Mercer) Garnett, Maria (Garnett) Hunter, William Garnett Hunter and John P. Matthews; memoranda, 1793, of Muscoe Livingston; and agreement of Presley Thornton and Sharp Delany concerning land in Northumberland County.

Box 3

general correspondence, 1789–1825; ledger, 1818; loose accounts, 1790–1821; general merchant materials; James Hunter & Co. materials, 1798–1801

Box 4

Stone, Hunter & Co. materials, 1794–1801; miscellany (diary, William Hunter estate, agreement, etc.)


Series III. Apphia Bushrod (Rouzee) Hunter (d. 1822), "Epping Forrest" & "Hunter's Hill," Essex County, Va.

Materials of James Hunter's second wife, Apphia Bushrod Rouzee of "Epping Forest" in Essex County, begin with Box 5. (Hunter's first wife was Maria Garnett [1777–1811].) These consist of letters, 1805–1821, primarily from Elizabeth (Lindsay) Gordon of "Springfield," Albemarle County; and accounts, 1809–1820. Records, 1813–1825, concerning a claim against George Tackett for land in Culpeper County include correspondence of attorneys Thomas Hord and Robert Patton with James Hunter; accounts and receipts; an agreement of John Rouzee and Tackett and an affidavit of Daniel Farmer; and notes of Thomas Hord.

Box 5

letters, 1805–1821; accounts, 1809–1820; claim against George Tackett, 1813–1825; miscellany


Series IV. Muscoe Garnett Hunter (1779–1818), Loretto, Essex County, Va.

Muscoe Garnett Hunter (1779–1818), brother of James Hunter, was an Essex County merchant and postmaster at Loretto, Va. His correspondence, 1810–1817, includes letters from Augustine Boughan, George Mercer Brooke, James Mercer Garnett and William Scandrett Stone. Records, 1810–1814, of Hunter & Garnett of Pittsville (later Loretto) consist of letters, accounts, shipping receipts, a bill of complaint concerning Kelso & Crump of New York City, and a receipt of Robert Selden Garnett. Miscellany includes personal accounts, 1810–1817 (including some with Dr. Alexander Somervail); printed instructions, 1800, to postmasters; an agreement, 1816, concerning "Mount Pleasant," Westmoreland County (see also correspondence with Giles Fitzhugh); materials, 1804–1815, concerning African American slaves belonging to William Garnett and the estates of Mrs. Rosanna Butler Ayres and Thomas Butler; and a letter, n.d., of James Mercer Garnett to Thomas Matthews presumably concerning the death of Muscoe Garnett Hunter.

Box 5 (cont.)

correspondence, 1818–1817; Hunter & Garnett materials, 1810–1814; miscellany


Series V. Grace Fenton (Garnett) Hunter (1779–1846), "Elmwood," Essex County, Va

Muscoe Hunter's wife, Grace Fenton Garnett, lived at "Elmwood" in Essex County. Her papers consist of correspondence, 1796–1841 (mostly undated), primarily with her sister-in-law Martha Taliaferro Hunter (1778–1840) and her nieces Martha Fenton Hunter and Sarah Harriet Apphia Hunter; and five accounts, 1832–1834. Their daughter, Grace Fenton Hunter (1817–1840), maintained correspondence with the same relatives. Her student essays, ca. 1828–1831, survive, as do several certificates for diligence in musical study. A commonplace book, 1828–1829, lists books and lines of verse. An accomplished amateur artist, Grace Hunter produced numerous pencil, pen-and-ink and watercolor renderings of plantation and farm houses (including a front view of "Kendall Grove," Northampton County), birds and animals, churches and cathedrals, flowers and plants, and landscapes. Some of these artistic endeavors are preserved in two sketch books (Box 6).

Box 6 (cont.)

correspondence, 1796–1841; accounts, 1832–1834


Series VI. Grace Fenton Hunter (1817–1840), "Elmwood," Essex County, Va.

Box 6 (cont.)

correspondence, 1823–1839; student essays; commonplace book; artistic materials, ca. 1827–1828


Series VII. Martha Taliaferro Hunter (1778–1840), "Fonthill" & "Hunter's Hill," Essex County, Va.

Martha Taliaferro Hunter (1778–1840), sister of James and Muscoe Hunter, lived at "Hunter's Hill" and "Fonthill" in Essex County. Her correspondence, 1828–1840 (mostly undated), includes numerous letters of interest from Elvira Desha (Boswell) Fowler (of Little Rock, Ark.); Elizabeth Mary (Lomax) Hunter; James Hunter (b. 1813) concerning clergymen, politics and R. M. T. Hunter); Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (1809–1887) while a student at the University of Virginia); and Archibald Russell Spencer Hunter of Huntington, N. C., enclosing letters of Martha Taliaferro (Hunter) Hitchcock and Dr. Charles M. Hitchcock). Her miscellany is comprised of personal accounts, 1819–1830; lines of verse; and an agreement, 1839, concerning a legacy from the estate of William Hunter (1748–1784).

Box 6 (cont.)

correspondence, 1828–1840; accounts, 1819–1830; lines of verse; agreement


Series VIII. Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (1809–1887), "Fonthill," Essex County, Va.

The central character in the Hunter family papers is Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (1809–1887), an Essex County lawyer and state legislator, U. S. congressman and senator from Virginia, Confederate official and senator, and after the Civil War treasurer of Virginia for a time. The son of James Hunter of "Hunter's Hill," R. M. T. Hunter built "Fonthill" in Essex County and lived there most of his life when not away for periods of government service.

Of particular note is Hunter's correspondence with his wife, which is heaviest during his early congressional career, 1837–1843 (especially while speaker of the House of Representatives and concerning the congressional election of 1839) and as a Confederate States senator from Virginia, 1862–1863. A separate index of correspondents, noting special subjects not appearing in the above list and indicating the chronology of the correspondence may be found following the general collection description (pp. 14–22).

Hunter's accounts survive for the years 1826–1864 and 1882–1887. In the early years they document his dealings with local merchants in Essex County, such as David W. Pitts, Bevan Dandridge Pitts and Joseph J. Gouldman. Later he shifted his dealings to merchants in Fredericksburg (Edwin Carter and James Cooke & Co.) and Baltimore, Md. (McDonky, Parr & Co.). Accounts for 1861 include records of his payment of manager's wages at "Hunter's Hill," and those for 1862–1863 cover the period of his service in the Confederate State Department and Senate at Richmond.

Farming materials, 1858–1881, are divided into three groups: first, general accounts and notes not specific as to farm; second, "Hunter's Hill" records (including an agreement with African American freedmen as farm laborers, a memoranda book covering days worked and wages paid to laborers at "Hunter's Hill" and "Fonthill," and unexecuted deeds for the "Level Town Field" at "Hunter's Hill"); lastly, materials concerning Spindle's Farm, "Makeshift," and "The Forest" ("Epping Forest"?), all presumably in Essex County.

Hunter's Mill records consist of corn and wheat receipts and mill accounts, 1858–1884; a mill book, 1873–1877, covering operations of the mill in Essex County; and papers concerning saw mill operations (mill books, 1830–1832 and 1868–1869, which include memoranda of amounts of plank cut for customers, and notes, work orders and accounts).

Hunter's real estate records (Box 14) include materials, 1847–1856, on a farm in Jefferson County, Va. (now W. Va.) acquired from the heirs of Adam Stephen Dandridge (1782–1821) and sold to Meredith Helm. Materials relating to the development of Superior, Wisconsin, 1858, include a letter of J. J. Moore to John Littleton Dawson and an agreement. Gauley River Lumber Company items concern timber lands in western Virginia, 1854–1859. A draft of a bill to be presented to the Virginia General Assembly, ca. 1854–1855, for the formation of the Ohio River Company was designed to encourage the improvement of navigation on that body of water and its projected directors included Matthew Fontaine Maury, Philip Pendleton Dandridge, James Lyons and James Hunter (b. 1813).

At this point Hunter's rather extensive grouping of records from his lengthy political career appears. The first cover his years as U. S. congressman from Virginia and include: certificate of election, 1839; materials, 1841–1849, concerning Thomas A. Doyle, a Norfolk native, as inspector of customs in New York City (including letter of introduction of Francis Mallory to Abel Parker Upshur, commission and covering letter [franked by President John Tyler], letters of William Grigsby Freeman and James Andrew Jackson Bradford, and a letter of Doyle to R. M. T. Hunter); and notes on compensation for members of Congress and on the federal budget in 1841 (Folder 1). Also included are materials, 1841–1843, concerning John C. Calhoun's bid for the presidential nomination in 1844 (including letters written by or addressed to Calhoun, Cornelius Clarke Baldwin [concerning a convention of ironmasters in Virginia at Lexington in 1841], Virgil Maxcy, Joseph Alfred Scoville, Harold Smyth and Samuel Young [copy sent to the Washington Spectator]) (Folder 2).

The next group of records (Box 15) concerns Hunter's career in the U.S. Senate, 1847–1861 (during a part of which time he served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance) and include: Hunter's notes on the admission of California to the Union and federal revenues, 1847–1848; a printed circular of the yearly meeting of the British Society of Friends concerning African American slavery and the African slave trade (1849); a printed proposal of Isaac William Hayne of South Carolina concerning protection of the interests of slave-holding states; and materials concerning American coinage (Folder 1). Also included are: Hunter's notes on the 1850 Compromise and possible constitutional amendments (the suggestions of John C. Calhoun?); a petition of citizens of Pennsylvania opposing further acquisition of territory and extension of federal jurisdiction; lists of members of the Virginia legislature in the 1850–1851 session (Folder 2); materials, ca. 1855, concerning public lands and Virginia bounty lands (resolutions of the Virginia General Assembly, draft of federal legislation, notes); Robert Selden Garnett correspondence (copies) with Samuel Cooper concerning Garnett's service in the U. S. Army, 1855; materials, 1855–1857, concerning the tariff bill of 1857 (Folder 3); presidential election of 1856 and candidacy of R. M. T. Hunter for the nomination of the Democratic Party (including letters written to Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett and Lewis Edwin Harvie by Basil Magruder Jones, Lawrence Slaughter Mayre, Albert Gallatin Pendleton and Thomas N. Welch, and list of members of the Virginia House of Delegates for the 1855–1856 session) (Folder 4); application for pay increase for U. S. Inspectors of customs, with support materials, ca. 1858; materials pertaining to the establishment of a steamship line and direct mail service between the U. S. and Germany; report (copy) of James Auld concerning T. W. Tansill and the U. S.–Mexican Boundary Commission, 1858; extracts from a letter concerning attacks on American citizens on the Island of Raiatea in 1858; letter, 1859, of Ambrose W. Thompson to Erastus Tunstall Montague concerning tariffs and the collection of customs duties; and materials, 1860, concerning Austrian currency (Folder 5); 1860 presidential campaign and Hunter's candidacy for the nomination of the Democratic Party (including letters of Charles Mason to William Marshall Ambler, Jonathan B. Stovall to Littleton Dennis Quinton Washington, and newspaper clippings) (Folder 6); and constituent requests, 1861; newspaper clippings; general miscellany (Folder 7).

A few items relating to R. M. T. Hunter during the early years of the Civil War survive in this collection. These include a letter of James Mercer Garnett McGuire to Maria (Hunter) Garnett concerning a commission as assistant surgeon in the Confederate States Army; a letter of E. de Bellot to Mr. [D?] Ellis concerning transatlantic shipping, especially to France; a draft of a presidential inaugural address, ca. February 1862, prepared by Hunter for Jefferson Davis; notes; and newspaper clippings.

After the Civil War Hunter was imprisoned for a short time and then returned to Essex County to rebuild his farm and mill. In 1874 he was elected treasurer of Virginia and served until 1880. During this period he wrote a number of essays that appear in the collection (Box 15). They concern John Caldwell Calhoun as a U. S. congressman; "The Labor Question in America" (but primarily discussing treasury notes and currency as legal tender); protective tariffs; the Southern Pacific Railroad; the U. S. Constitution; and the Virginia state debt.

Hunter's papers also contain a spurious essay proposing James Wesley Hunnicutt and John Minor Botts as presidential candidates of the "Dregist Party," ca. 1868; an incomplete essay (not in Hunter's hand) concerning the Republican Party and political activity among free blacks in Virginia; notes for a speech on progress and education; and notes on politics and finance.

Some of the earliest of Hunter's materials have been assigned to "general miscellany." There are some student essays and exercises; correspondence, 1836–1837, of Susan S. Micou concerning Hunter as an attorney; an order, 1843, of the Essex County Court concerning the estate of Benjamin Coghill; and an undated proposal for a lottery, presumably in Essex County; lists of furniture and other personal property from "Ingleside," [Essex County, Va.?]; and some unclassified items.

R. M. T. Hunter's extensive correspondence, 1821–1884 (Boxes 7–12), is mostly political in nature, with constituents, fellow politicians and government officials, but some of the letters are from family members and friends. The key subjects covered may be divided into roughly definable chronological periods:


candidacy of John C. Calhoun for president and the efforts in his behalf by the Washington Spectator


coal lands along the Kanawha River in western Virginia; lands in Nicholas County, Va. (now W. Va.)


possible presidential nomination of Hunter by the Democratic Party


land speculation and development in Superior, Wisconsin


tariff question


possible presidential nomination of Hunter by the Democratic conventions at Charleston, S. C., and later Baltimore, Md.


secession of the southern states


response to Hunter's speech on "The Invasion of States"


service as Confederate Secretary of State


service in the Confederate Senate


reestablishing the farm and mill at "Fonthill"


preparation of a biography of John C. Calhoun (reportedly near completion in that year)



Boxes 7-12

correspondence, 1821–1884 [Index]

Box 13

accounts, 1826–1864, 1882–1887

Box 14

farming materials, 1858–1881; Hunter's Mill, Essex County, Va., 1830–1884; land records; political materials: U. S. Congress, 1839–1849

Box 15

political materials: U. S. Senate, 1847–1861; Civil War materials; post-Civil War; general miscellany


Series IX. Mary Evelina (Dandridge) Hunter (1817–1893), "The Bower," Jefferson County, and "Fonthill," Essex County, Va.

Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter married Mary Evelina Dandridge of "The Bower," Jefferson County, Va. (now W. Va.) in 1836 and brought her to live at "Fonthill." "Line," as she was invariably called by the family, maintained extensive correspondence with members of the Dandridge and Hunter families (Box 16). Among her frequent correspondents are William Bradshaw Beverley, Ann Spotswood (Dandridge) Buchanan, John Esten Cooke, Adam Stephen Dandridge (1814–1890), Dr. Alexander Spotswood Dandridge, Philip Pendleton Dandridge, Sarah (Pendleton) Dandridge (of "The Bower," Jefferson County), Serena Catherine (Pendleton) Dandridge, Maria (Hackley) Glass (enclosing a photograph), Martha Taliaferro (Hunter) Hitchcock, James Dandridge Hunter, Jane Swann Hunter, Martha Fenton Hunter, Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (1839–1861), Sarah Harriet Apphia Hunter and Sarah Stephena (Dandridge) Kennedy.

Mrs. Hunter's account book, 1886–1888, contains household expenses at "Fonthill," as well as memoranda concerning mill operations. Her loose accounts, 1837–1848, 1854–1864, and 1880–1889, are most heavily concentrated in the 1850s–1860s. Other "Fonthill" materials, 1858–1862, include a farm book listing cattle and other livestock, passes issued to African American slaves by Mrs. Hunter and Sarah Harriet Apphia Hunter, and miscellaneous notes. Lastly, records concerning the operation of Hunter's Mill in Essex County for the years 1871–1875 and 1883–1888 consist of lists of wages paid to workers, milling orders (primarily for corn meal) and an unexecuted deed of trust.

Boxes 16-17

correspondence, 1838–1888

Boxes 18-19

: account book, 1886–1888; loose accounts, 1837–1848, 1854–1864, 1880–1889; "Fonthill" materials, 1858–1862; Hunter's Mill materials, 1871–1875, 1883–1888


Series X. Maria (Hunter) Garnett (1797–1873), "Hunter's Hill" & "Elmwood," Essex County, Va.

Maria Hunter (1797–1873) was R. M. T. Hunter's oldest sister and the only sister to marry. Her husband, James Mercer Garnett (1794–1824), died just a few years after their marriage, but she continued to live at "Elmwood" in Essex County, where she aided her father-in-law, James Mercer Garnett (1770–1843), in teaching the school for girls there. Her correspondence, ca. 1820–1870, contains significant letters from Charles Fenton Mercer Garnett (of "Cedar Hill," Hanover County, concerning Henry Alexander Wise and the presidential election of 1860); her son, U. S. Congressman Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett; her sister, Martha Fenton Hunter; and her cousin, Maryland educator Margaret Mercer. Mrs. Garnett's miscellany includes receipts, 1859–1863; letters, 1821–1834, of Margaret Mercer to Ann Garnett, James Mercer Garnett (1770–1843) to Robert Selden Garnett, and Francis Walker Gilmer (concerning botany) to James Mercer Garnett (1794–1824); an undated essay of James Mercer Garnett (1770–1843) on "The Public Good"; and a letter and accounts of Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett.

Box 19 (cont.)

correspondence, 1820–1870; miscellany


Series XI. Martha Fenton Hunter (1800–1866), "Hunter's Hill" & "Fonthill," Essex County, Va.

Martha Fenton Hunter (1800–1866) lived at "Hunter's Hill" and "Fonthill," but also spent much time at "Elmwood." She was an accomplished author of novels, short stories and juvenile literature, most of which were published anonymously and some of which can now be identified through materials in this collection. Martha Hunter likewise maintained extensive correspondence with members of the Hunter and Garnett families, as well as former students at Elmwood Academy. Among the correspondents may be listed: Sarah (Pendleton) Dandridge (of "The Bower," Jefferson County, Va. [now W. Va.]); Charlotte Olympia (Garnett) Darby (concerning R. M. T. Hunter and claims of the grandchildren of Colonel William Thompson of South Carolina before the U. S. Congress, 1859–1860); Elvira Desha (Boswell) Fowler (of Little Rock, Ark.); Charles Fenton Mercer Garnett (as a civil engineer on the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad and on a national railroad in Brazil); Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett (at the University of Va.); Theodore Stanford Garnett (a civil engineer, concerning R. M. T. Hunter [letter of 5 May 1838] and the publication of Eveline Neville [1845–1846]); William Garnett (1786–1866); Maria (Hackley) Glass (concerning travel on railroads in Virginia and the Midwest, civil engineering and internal improvements); Martha Taliaferro (Hunter) Hitchcock (while her husband, Dr. Charles M. Hitchcock, served in the U. S. Army at West Point, New York [1840–1845], as a resident of San Francisco, Calif. [ca. 1854–1860], and while traveling in Europe, 1860–1861 [includes references to the family of Charles James Faulkner, American minister to France]; also includes a reference to Charles Dickens [20 June 1841]); Elizabeth Mary (Lomax) Hunter (while keeping school and a boardinghouse in Fredericksburg, Va.); James Hunter (b. 1813); James Dandridge Hunter (while serving in the Confederate States Cavalry); Eleanor Tayloe (Lomax) Lewis; Catherine Lomax (in part concerning the Fredericksburg Orphans Asylum); Eleanor Lomax; Bishop William Meade; Margaret Mercer (Maryland educator and author; some letters concern the emancipation of slaves and their emigration to Liberia); Mary Pendleton (Cooke) Steger (of Richmond, Va., and at the While Sulphur Springs concerning Henry Clay [1847]); Louisa Henrietta Fenton (Garnett) Williamson (of Lexington, Va.); and Henry N. B. Wood (a graduate of the University of Virginia and a teacher at Bloomfield Academy, Albemarle County).

Boxes 20-22

correspondence, 1813–1865; accounts, 1837–1865; miscellany


Series XII. Jane Swann Hunter (1804–1880), "Hunter's Hill" & "Fonthill," Essex County, Va.

Jane Swann Hunter (1804–1880) also lived at "Hunter's Hill" and "Fonthill." She kept a diary (four volumes) during the years 1824–1827 and 1829. Comprised of entries made roughly on a weekly basis, the diary is filled with religious studies and musings, comments on readings, visiting and family affairs. Jane Hunter's correspondence, 1839–1872, contains interesting or otherwise important letters from Newton Martin Curtis (concerning the imprisonment of R. M. T. Hunter by the U. S. Army in 1865), Dr. Alfred Hay Garnett, Theodore Stanford Garnett, Martha Taliaferro (Hunter) Hitchcock, James Dandridge Hunter (while serving in the Confederate States Cavalry and as a civil engineer on the Cincinnati, Dayton and Eastern Railroad), Sarah Harriet Apphia Hunter and Bishop William Meade (imperfect).

Numerous loose accounts of Jane Hunter with local merchants in Essex County and Fredericksburg also include receipts for the medical treatment of African American slaves and the payment of local taxes in Essex. Two commonplace books, one undated, the other 1830–1835, contain essays on religious topics and bear some accounts as guardian of Sarah Harriet Apphia Hunter. Bonds, 1831–1846, cover the hiring out of African American slaves and are accompanied by lists of slaves, 1858–1860.

Jane Hunter's records as guardian of her sister Sarah include accounts, 1832–1845 (among which are three with James Mercer Garnett [1770–1843] for books), and bonds for the hire of African American slaves. A scrapbook, 1860–1862, contains clippings of articles "From Our Lady Correspondent" (i.e., Martha Taliaferro (Hunter) Hitchcock) sent to a San Francisco newspaper while she traveled in Europe. Jane Hunter's miscellany consists of essays, notes and student exercises; medical prescriptions (she prescribed remedies for family members regularly); and some unclassified items.

Box 23

diary (4 v.), 1824–1829; correspondence, 1839–1872

Box 24

accounts, 1827–1865, 1872; commonplace books (2 v.), n.d., 1830–1835; bonds, 1831–1846, lists of slaves, 1858–1860; guardian's records, 1832–1845; scrapbook, 1860-1862; miscellany


Series XIII. Sarah Harriet Apphia Hunter (1822–1874, "Hunter's Hill" & "Fonthill," Essex County, Va.

Sarah Harriet Apphia Hunter (1822–1874) was the youngest of the Hunter sisters at "Fonthill." She also kept a diary (in three parts), 1835–1836, concerning visitors to "Fonthill," visiting in general, and family affairs. Her correspondence, 1832–1873, primarily with family members, contains significant communications with Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett (her cousin and childhood companion), Martha Taliaferro (Hunter) Hitchcock (of West Point, New York, and San Francisco, Calif.), James Dandridge Hunter, Martha Taliaferro Hunter (1841–1909), Mary Frances (Minor) Start (of "Keelona," Albemarle County), Mary Pendleton (Cooke) Steger (of Richmond) and Elizabeth A. (Rowzee) Westmore (of "Epping Forest," Essex County).

Sally Hunter maintained two sets of account books. The first, a record of daily expenses, 1849–1861, survives in three parts. Another ledger, 1837–1863, records personal accounts, farm expenses and income, and the hire of African American slaves. The latter includes accounts with R. M. T. Hunter and Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett, as well as accounts of Jane Swann Hunter, Maria (Hunter) Garnett and Martha Fenton Hunter. The latter portion of the ledger lists gifts and supplies (mostly blankets and clothing) distributed among her African American slaves. Loose accounts, 1829–1871, record transactions with local merchants and include some services rendered by local physicians Alfred Hay Garnett, Robert B. Rennolds and Alexander Somervail to family members and African American slaves.

Farming materials include a list of Sally Hunger's slaves at "The Forest" ("Epping Forest"?); records of the hiring out of slaves, 1843–1862; lists of gifts and supplies distributed among slaves; an unexecuted bond for the hire of a slave; notes; miller's receipts for corn, wheat and cotton, 1854–1856; and forms for Confederate States taxes in kind, 1864–1865. Sally Hunter was also very interested in writing, and early materials in the collection focus on that aspect of her life. These include a list of books read, 1834–1835; an order of the [Essex] Society of Arts & Belles Lettres concerning Sally Hunter as "convener" and Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett as "interrex," 1834; the "Essex Quarterly Magazine," a hand-produced volume edited by Sally Hunter and Muscoe Garnett; draft of a play about Queen Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots; drafts of stories and essays; miscellaneous notes; a commonplace book filled with lines of verse; two folders of miscellaneous lines of verse; and a scrapbook of engravings.

Boxes 25-26

diary (3 parts), 1835–1836; correspondence, 1832–1873

Box 26

account books (3 parts), 1849–1863; account book (ledger format), 1837–1863

Box 27

accounts, 1829–1871

Box 28

farming materials, 1843–1865; literary materials, ca. 1834–1835


Series XIV. Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (1839–1861)

The next generation of Hunter family members provides a few items each for Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter ([1839–1861], including letters written to him while a student at the University of Virginia, 1857–1858, and an account, 1860) and James Dandridge Hunter ([1844–1915] including a letter, student essays, 1856, an account book, 1867, and loose account, 1869).

Box 28 (cont.)

letters, 1857-1858; account, 1860


Series XV. James Dandridge Hunter (1844–1915)

Box 28 (cont.)

letter; student essays; account book, 1867; account, 1869


Series XVI. Philip Stephen Hunter (1848–1919), "Otterburn," Essex County, Va.

Philip Stephen Hunter (1848–1919), another son of R. M. T. Hunter, grew up in "Fonthill," but later lived at "Otterburn" in Essex County, where he established the Otterburn Stock Farm early in the twentieth century. His papers largely relate to farming and the marketing of produce, but some concern his interest in horse breeding. This interest is reflected in his correspondence, especially with Edwin Augustus Stevens and Robert Livingston Stevens of New Jersey. Letters from James Mercer Garnett (1861–1915) and Mary Picton (Stevens) Garnett Lewis generally concern "Elmwood," Essex County, and one from Littleton Dennis Quinton Washington discusses R. M. T. Hunter and Democratic Party politics.

Four of Philip Hunter's account books survive. One volume, 1886–1918, covers farming and horse breeding operations at "Otterburn" and "Mt. Pleasant" in Essex County and also includes notes on crop rotation, livestock and a plat (p. 51). Volumes for 1893–1894 and 1898–1909 concern operations at "Elmwood" and "Mt. Pleasant," but the latter also records household expenses at "Otterburn." Horse breeding materials, ca. 1889–1906, are comprised of pedigrees, terms offered for stud services, notes on the construction of racetracks, and newspaper clippings. Miscellaneous materials include a commonplace book covering the breeding of poultry, 1911–1913; an essay, "Virginia in the [Eighteen] Fifties"; and an unexecuted deed to "Hunter's Hill" and "Hunter's Mill."

Box 29

correspondence, 1868–1915

Box 30

account books (4 v.), 1886–1918; check stub books (5 v.), 1906–1914

Box 31

accounts, 1882–1914; horse breeding materials, ca. 1889–1906; miscellany


Series XVII. Martha Taliaferro Hunter (1841–1909)

Latin and Greek exercises, ca. 1860, of Sarah Stephena Hunter (1846–1865) and letters, 1892–1894, and lines of verse of Martha Taliaferro Hunter (1841–1909) conclude the materials of R. M. T. Hunter's children. Then follow in the last box (32) correspondence and miscellany of various members of the extended Hunter-Garnett family. This includes letters written by or addressed to Charles Bonnycastle (of the University of Virginia concerning the requirements of a mathematics professor), Dr. Alexander Spotswood Dandridge, Sarah (Pendleton) Dandridge, Charles Fenton Mercer Garnett and Muscoe Garnett Hunter (1799–1817).

Box 32

letters, 1892–1894; lines of verse


Series XVIII. Sarah Stephena Hunter (1846–1865)

Box 32 (cont.)

Latin and Greek exercises, ca. 1860


Series XIX. Hunter-Garnett family miscellany

Box 32 (cont.)

correspondence and general miscellany