Guide to the John Bull Smith Dimitry Papers, 1848-1922, 1943 bulk 1857-1922)


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.

Collection Details

Collection Number
John Bull Smith Dimitry papers
1848-1922, 1943 (bulk 1857-1922)
Dimitry, John Bull Smith, 1835-1901
2 Linear Feet, 580 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Material in English , French

Collection Overview

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.

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

Contents of the Collection

1. Correspondence/Papers, 1848-1897

2 boxes

Includes material from several disparate sources placed in chronological sequence. There are many mimeographed copies of originals held by Mississippi Department of Archives and History as well as some mimeographed copies complete with originals. Participants include members of the Stuart and Hardeman families. Topics include family life; James H. Stuart's time as a student at the University of Mississippi; and James, Oscar, and Edward Stuart's participation in Civil War battles in Virginia and Mississippi. In June of 1861 James and Oscar wrote of the lukewarm sentiments of many Virginians around Lynchburg. There are also allusions in these letters to the cost of uniforms and equipment, the scarcity of ammunition and other supplies, anticipated military action at Manassas, and the beauty of the Virginia countryside. There may be found also in the letters of the war period information on military action at Manassas, Bethel Church, Drainsville, Leesburg, Fredericksburg, and Marye's Heights; and references to desertions, morale, censorship, theatrical productions given by the troops, and camp life in general. The deaths of James, and then Oscar Stuart receive prominent attention.

Correspondence regarding business and personal interests of Colonel Oscar J. E. Stuart and materials related to Robert Burns Mayes and his legal and insurance careers are present. In addition to letters to Colonel Stuart from his three children and his niece, Mary S. Cheek, there are a number of letters from more distant members of the Stuart family. Letters to Adelaide Stuart Dimitry from her siblings are also included.

Several long letters document the time spent in South America by John and Adelaide Dimitry. These letters, written to the family in Mississippi, trace with great detail the Dimitrys' life in Colombia. There are descriptions of the ocean voyage, Jamaica, Barranquilla and Bogota (the two towns in which they lived), the landscape of Colombia in general, a trip through the Andes, the climate, the political and economic state of the country, educational facilities, and the social life, customs, and temperament of the natives.

Correspondents from outside of the family include John Henninger Reagan, among others. Documents include the 1865 certificate of release of prisoner of war for Edward Stuart, a short diary by James H. Stuart documenting his time in the Signal Corps, a portion of the 1855 book The Catholic History of North America by Thomas D'Arcy McGee, and a handmade 1865 calendar.

(3 folders)
Box 1
(3 folders)
Box 1
(5 folders)
Box 2

2. Writings, undated

2 boxes

The Religious Writings concern Robert Burns Mayes's book The Tecnobaptist (published 1857) and related topics including his essays on aeiparthenia, anti-Romanism, and church music.

Mathematical Writings relate to Robert Burns Mayes's 1878-1880 study of the ancient Greek geometric problem of trisecting an angle (a mathematical impossibility) and include correspondence with Professor J. W. Nicholson as well as Mayes's essay The Mathematical Pariah.

Poetry consists of writings by Robert Burns Mayes III and Fanny Harris Mayes. In All Generations, subtitled “Poems of the Past, the Passing, and the Coming,” is a 458-page typescript collection of poems on religious and historical themes. Many of the poems relate to the Civil War and to Mayes, Stuart, and Dimitry family history and there are some long passages of biographical narrative. It is dedicated to “my eight soldier-uncles [...] who have ended the march, and are resting on the bivouac.” It seems that this work was intended for publication as it was edited and annotated at some point after the author's death in 1922. Brief excerpts from works by other poets are interspersed.

Ivy Locke is a 36-page poem written circa 1895 by Fanny Harris Mayes at age 18.

Religious Writings by Robert Burns Mayes
Box 3
Tecnobaptist materials
(4 folders)
Box 3
Essays and notes
(3 folders)
Box 3
Box 4
Mathematical Writings by Robert Burns Mayes, 1878-1880
(3 folders)
Box 4
In All Generations by Robert Burns Mayes III, circa 1922
(2 folders)
Box 4
Ivy Locke by Fanny Harris Mayes, circa 1895
Box 4

Historical Note

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.

Related Material

  • Documenting the American South. (University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.)
  • Adrien Emmanuel Rouquette Papers (Tulane Manuscripts Department, Tulane University.)
  • Dimitry Collection (B. S. Ricks Memorial Library.)
  • William Henry McRaven Papers (Tennessee State Library and Archives.)
  • Archives (Mississippi Historical Society.)
  • Mayes-Dimitry-Stuart Family Papers (Mississippi Department of Archives and History)
  • Oscar J. E. Stuart Papers (Mississippi Department of Archives and History)
  • University Archives (University of Notre Dame)

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


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.