Guide to the Hemphill Family Papers, 1784-1958


Hemphill family of South Carolina. Collection includes correspondence, sermons, and other papers, of William Ramsey Hemphill, Presbyterian minister, and of his sons, James Calvin Hemphill and Robert Reid Hemphill, newspaper editors. The material relates to national, South Carolina, and Texas politics; slavery; reform movements (including anti-slavery and temperance); politics and military campaigns in the Confederacy; Reconstruction; the race situation; and journalism. Correspondents include William Jennings Bryan, Andrew Carnegie, Champ Clark, Grover Cleveland, Josephus Daniels, Jefferson Davis, Francis W. Dawson, Sr., Ellen Glasgow, Carter Glass, Henry P. Grady, Wade Hampton, George Swinton Legaré, William G. McAdoo, William G. McCabe, Adolph S. Ochs, George Washington Ochs, James L. Orr, Walter Hines Page, Joseph Pulitzer, Whitelaw Reid, William Howard Taft, Benjamin R. Tillman, Joseph P. Tumulty, Oscar W. Underwood, Oswald Garrison Villard, Booker T. Washington, and Henry Watterson.

Collection Details

Collection Number
Hemphill Family papers
30 Linear Feet, 12,196 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Material in English

Collection Overview

The first several letters of this collection are largely those of the John Hemphill (1761-1832). There are several boxes of Associate Reformed Presbyterian sermons, and many of the earlier letters relate to affairs of that church in South Carolina, including many letters from other ministers of that faith to William Ramsey Hemphill. Three sermons and a pastoral letter of William Ramsey, as well as letters from N.M. Gordon, William W. Patton, Matthew Linn, Samuel Taggart, James Hemphill, and Robert C. Grier to him, concern the question of slavery. These letters are by other A.R.P. ministers and relatives.

Along with religious correspondence, there are letters discussing: naturalization laws in force in 1807; Aaron Burr's expedition; anti-Masonic meetings in Alabama in 1820; nullification sentiment in South Carolina in 1832 and anti-nullification sentiment in North Carolina as expressed in a letter from 1833; pro-slavery views; resignation of Thomas Cooper as president of South Carolina College; movement of slaves through Augusta, Georgia, in 1834-1835; expedition of 1836 against the Seminoles of Florida; affairs at South Carolina College; abolition petitions in Congress in 1836; attempts to link Charleston with Cincinnati by rail; presidential campaign of 1840; Catholic support of Temperance in Philadelphia in 1840, and other aspects of the Temperance movement; movement of John Hemphill to Texas in 1838 and his elevation to the supreme court of that state in 1840; African Colonization Society; John Hemphill's service with an expedition against the Mexicans in 1843; encounter with Sam Houston and his wife in 1845; sending of missionaries to Liberia; establishment of a mail steamship line from Charleston to Havana; Calhoun and Clay in 1849; Erskine College and Erskine Theological Seminary; Stockton, California, and vicinity in 1851, as described by Robert King Reid (he and John Y. Lind had gone to California from South Carolina. He was elected resident physician at the California state hospital, and Lind was elected to the California senate); American Colonization Society; presidential election of 1856; slavery controversy in Kansas and land prices there; abolition; secession; reception in the South of the speeches of Stephen Douglas and reception in the North of William L. Yancey's speeches; the Civil War; war activities of women in Chester, South Carolina in 1862; Henry S. Foote's opinion in 1862 of Bragg's campaign; battle of Chancellorsville; hardships at home; Copperheads; election of Jas. H. Hemphill in 1865 to the South Carolina constitutional convention and the work of that body; movement of James Hemphill's former slaves; bankruptcy of South Carolina in 1865 (James Hemphill was chairman of the finance committee of the senate of that state in 1865); difficulties of Robert Nixon Hemphill in getting freedmen to sign work contracts; hard times in Reconstruction; the Ku Klux Klan activities around Blackstock, South Carolina, in 1871; armed fight between Democrats and Republicans during an election in Kentucky in 1871; the Panic of 1873; Wade Hampton's administration as governor; organization of a militia company in South Carolina; politics of that state in the 1870s; and the state debt of South Carolina.

The papers following the 1870s are largely those of James Calvin Hemphill's career. The latter portion of the collection includes quite a number of letters from William Howard Taft and Daniel H. Chamberlain, both of whom were friends of J.C. Hemphill; from Mrs. Francis W. Dawson I; and from various members of the Hemphill family. There is also a considerable quantity of papers of Robert Reid Hemphill, second son of William Ramsey and Hannah Smith (Lind) Hemphill.

The significant subjects treated in the latter part of the collection are: South Carolina politics in the 1880s; presidential election of 1884; Benjamin R. Tillman and the attitude of Francis W. Dalton I, editor of the Charleston News and Courier before his death in 1888, as well as the attitude of others toward Tillman; the Charleston earthquake of 1886; Theodore Roosevelt; the murder of F.W. Dawson, Sr., in 1888; Hugh S. Thompson's opinion of Roosevelt and Charles Lyman, his fellow members in the Civil Service Commission; illness of Henry W. Grady in 1889; South Carolina politics in the 1890s; colonization of African Americans in Africa; presidential election of 1892; woman suffrage, as part of a bill introduced in the South Carolina senate by Robert Reid Hemphill in 1892; race of John Gary Evans in 1894; presidential campaign of 1896; the Dispensary Law; John L. McLaurin's race for the Senate in 1897; railroads (mentioned occasionally); Gridiron Club; presidential election of 1900; McKinley's "imperialistic policy"; Walter H. Page's opinion of Ellen Glasgow's novel; William McNeill Whistler; Edward W. Blyden's opposition to the miscegenation of black people; establishment of a naval station at Charleston; the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition; the appointment of Dr. Crum, an African American, as collector at the port of Charleston; murder of N.G. Gonzales; Joseph Pulitzer's plan to establish a school of journalism at Columbia University; experiences of Robert G. Hemphill as a teacher in Monroe, Georgia; Grover Cleveland; the presidential election of 1904; M. Storey's opposition to Harvard's giving Henry Cabot Lodge an honorary LL.D.; Oswald Garrison Villard; the visit in 1904 by R.W. Gilder with Varina (Howell) Davis; the Ogden Movement; Ludwig Lewishon; Men of Mark in South Carolina, edited by James Calvin Hemphill; Booker T. Washington; race relations in the Mississippi delta in 1905; St. Andrew's Society of Charleston; William L. Hemphill's experiences as an engineer in tin mines in Bolivia; meeting of the Southern Immigration and Industrial Association in Birmingham in 1907; Uncle Joe Cannon's Boot Fund; George Harvey; Joseph Pulitzer; R. Goodwyn Rhett; William Howard Taft; the American Commission to Liberia in 1909; Everett G. Hill's views on Jefferson Davis; the history of Liberia and race relations there; William Jennings Bryan; "yellow journalism"; W.E.B. Dubois; possible U.S. intervention in 1911 in Mexico; Woodrow Wilson; James Cannon, Jr.; Taft's view on the tariff; suit of Ambrose E. Gonzales and J.C. Hemphill vs. D.A. Tompkins, George Stephens, and W.H. Wood; segregation in Balitimore and Washington; prohibition; World War I; League to Enforce Peace; the Alexandria Gazette; Josephus Daniels; the American Motion Picture Corporation; the life of Daniel H. Chamberlain; and John Sharp Williams' description of Key Pittman.

Other papers include invitations and calling cards; other miscellaneous printed material; several boxes of copies of editorials and speeches; and bills and receipts.

The volumes include: a journal (author unknown) of a trip to Europe in 1905; letterbooks running from 1887 to 1903; scrapbooks of newspaper clippings from 1887 to 1916. Several scrapbooks related to James Calvin Hemphill's involvement in the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition, the bulk dating from 1901-1902.

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[Identification of item], Hemphill Family Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Correspondence, 1784-1838
Box 1
Correspondence, 1839-1853
Box 2
Correspondence, 1854-1862
Box 3
Correspondence, 1863-1873
Box 4
Correspondence, 1874-1886
Box 5
Correspondence, 1887-1893
Box 6
Correspondence, 1894-1896
Box 7
Correspondence, 1897-1899 May
Box 8
Correspondence, 1900-1901 Oct.
Box 9
Correspondence, 1902 Nov.-1903 May
Box 10
Correspondence, 1903 June-1904
Box 11
Correspondence, 1905 Jan.-1906 Mar.
Box 12
Correspondence, 1906 June-1907 Apr.
Box 13
Correspondence, 1907 May-1908 Mar.
Box 14
Correspondence, 1908 Apr.-1909 June
Box 15
Correspondence, 1909 July-1910 Apr.
Box 16
Correspondence, 1910 May-1911 July
Box 17
Correspondence, 1911 Aug.-1912 Feb.
Box 18
Correspondence, 1912 Mar.-1913 July
Box 19
Correspondence, 1913 Aug.-1916
Box 20
Correspondence, 1917-1922
Box 21
Correspondence, 1923-1926
Box 22
Correspondence, 1927-1958 and undated
Box 23
Correspondence, undated
Box 24
Sermons, 1792-1840
Box 24
Sermons, 1841-1846
Box 25
Sermons, 1847-1873
Box 26
Sermons, 1874-1876 and undated
Box 27
Sermons, undated
Box 28
Sermons, undated
Box 29
Writings and addresses
Box 30-32
Financial papers, 1830s-1880s
Box 33
Financial papers, 1890s-1909
Box 34
Financial papers, 1910-1919
Box 35
Financial papers, 1910-1920s
Box 36
Financial papers, 1920s and undated
Box 37
Legal papers, 1861-1922
Box 37
Clippings, 1836-1925
Box 37
Box 38
Printed material
Box 38
Box 38
Invitations, calling cards, etc.
Box 39
Christmas and New Year cards
Box 39
Box 40
Miscellaneous cards, programs, etc.
Box 40
Volume (1)
Box 40
Volumes (2)
Box 41
Volumes (3)
Box 42
Volumes (4)
Box 43
Box 43
Box 44
Copy of Rebekah Woodin's will, 1784 Nov. 20
Box 45
Miscellaneous correspondence, 1859-1952
Box 45
Matthew Elder, Jr., autobiography, 1813-1892
Box 45
Family history
Box 45
Volumes (5), including quote books and a letter book
Box 45
Papers of James Calvin Hemphill II, 1954-1966

Includes letters, printed materials, photographs, and clippings. Letters largely regard his architecture firm.

Box 46

7. Oversize Material

3 boxes; 1 folder
Printed Material: Correspondence and certificates

Of note is a letter (dated 1882) including a printed skyline of San Francisco in 1851; also diplomas and certificates for various Hemphill family members, from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s; and original artwork with a caricature of Hemphill.

Oversize-folder 1
Correspondence and Sermons, 1861-1924 and undated
(28 items)
Box 47
Editorials, articles, and speeches, 1841-1920 and undated
(27 items)
Box 47
Bills and receipts, 1822-1926
(45 items)
Box 47
Miscellany, 1907 and undated
(19 items)
Box 47
Legal papers, clippings, printed materials, menus, and invitations, 1882-1926 and undated
(20 items)
Box 47
Legal papers, clippings, printed materials, menus, and invitations (continued from Box 47)
Box 48
Blueprints and House Resolutions, 1900s
Box 48
(14 items)
1. Unidentified
Box 48
2. James Calvin Hemphill
Box 48
3. Home of Cathrine M. Chapin
Box 48
4. James C. Hemphill and other editors
Box 48
5. Probably Hemphill
Box 48
6. Home of Rev. John Hemphill
Box 48
7. James Calvin Hemphill I
Box 48
8. Gridiron Club, Jan. 1900
Box 48
Letterpress Book, 1887-1894
Box 48

8. Volumes, 1866-1916

38 volumes

There are additional volumes boxed in the Miscellaneous series.

Hemphill, James Calvin: Letterbook, 1894 June-1896 Jan. Charleston, S.C., 990 pp.
Volume L:4258
Hemphill, James Calvin: Letterbook, 1896 Jan.-1897 May. Charleston, S.C., 497 pp.
Volume L:4259
Hemphill, James Calvin: Letterbook, 1897 June-1898 Oct. Charleston, S.C., 498 pp.
Volume L:4260
Hemphill, James Calvin: Letterbook, 1900 Aug.-May 1903. Charleston, S.C., 507 pp.
Volume L:4261
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1887-1888. Charleston, S.C., 200 pp.
Volume F:4262
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1889-1890. 179 pp.
Volume F:4263
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1891-1892. 178 pp.
Volume F:4264
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1892-1895. Charleston, S.C., 200 pp.
Volume F:4265
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1895-1897. Charleston, S.C., 201 pp.
Volume F:4266
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1897-1899. Charleston, S.C., 179 pp.
Volume F:4267
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1899-1901. 196 pp.
Volume F:4268
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1900 Apr.-1901 Apr. Charleston, S.C., 186 pp.
Volume F:4269
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1901 Apr.-1901 Dec. Charleston, S.C., 198 pp.
Volume F:4270
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1901-1902. Charleston, S.C., 109 pp.
Volume F:4271
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1901 Dec.-1902 Feb. Charleston, S.C., 199 pp.
Volume F:4272
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1901-1903. Charleston, S.C., 296 pp.
Volume F:4273
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1902 Feb.-1902 June. Charleston, S.C., 230 pp.
Volume F:4274
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1903-1904. 196 pp.
Volume F:4275
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1904-1906. 199 pp.
Volume F:4276
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1906-1907. 200 pp.
Volume F:4277
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1907-1908. Charleston, S.C., 200 pp.
Volume F:4278
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1908-1910. 220 pp.
Volume F:4279
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1910. 194 pp.
Volume F:4280
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1910 Nov.-1911 June. 189 pp.
Volume F:4281
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1911 July-1912 May. 218 pp.
Volume F:4282
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1912-1916. Charleston, S.C., 200 pp.
Volume F:4283
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1868-1895. Charleston, S.C., 84 pp.
Volume L:5342
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1893-1894. Charleston, S.C., 28 pp.
Volume F:5343
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1895. Charleston, S.C., 26 pp.
Volume F:5344
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1892-1898. Charleston, S.C., 24 pp.
Volume L:5345
Hemphill, James Calvin: Scrapbook, 1875-1907. Charleston, S.C., 223 pp.
Volume F:5346
Hemphill, Robert Reid: Legal Case Book, 1866-1880. Cleburne, Johnson Co., Texas; and Abbeville, S.C., 87 pp.
Volume M:5347
Hemphill, Robert Reid: Scrapbook, 1873-1892. Abbeville, S.C., 13 pp.
Volume M:5348
Hemphill, James Calvin: Daybook, 1880-1886. Charleston, S.C., 19 pp.
Volume M:5940
Hemphill, James Calvin: Daybook, 1894-1897. Charleston, S.C., 157 pp.
Volume M:5941
Hemphill, Robert Reid: Commonplace Book, undated. Abbeville, S.C., 25 pp.
Volume M:5942
Hemphill, Robert Reid: Daybook, 1876-1882. Abbeville, S.C., 27 pp.
Volume M:5943
Hemphill, Robert Reid (probably): Teacher's Record, undated. Abbeville, S.C., 28 pp.
Volume M:5944

Historical Note

Biographical and Historical Note

The Hemphill family patriarch was Rev. John Hemphill (1761-1832), a native of Ireland. He migrated to Pennsylvania, and eventually went to Hopewell, South Carolina, as a minister in the Associates Reformed Presbyterian Church. He first married Jane Linn, daughter of his professor, the Rev. Matthew Linn, of Greencastle, Pennsylvania. They had six children: Jennette, Margaret, Eliza, Matthew, John and William Ramsey. Two years after the death of his wife in 1809, he married Mary, the widow of Dr. James Andrew Hemphill, no relation to John Hemphill. They had four children: a daughter who died in childbirth, David, James, and Robert Nixon. His son William Ramsey also became an A.R.P. minister.

William Ramsey and Hannah Lind Hemphill's second son was Robert Reid Hemphill, born on May 3, 1840 in the Calhoun Section of Abbeville County. He was born on his father's plantation, Lindo. Robert Reid edited the Abbeville Medium and served in the state senate. He died on December 28, 1908, at his home in the section of Abbeville called Fort Pickens, and is buried in Melrose Cemetary, Abbeville.

Robert Reid Hemphill's brother, James Calvin Hemphill, was born in Due West, South Carolina, on May 18, 1850. He attended Erskine College, where he earned a A.B. (1870), A.M. (1872), and LL.D. (1909). James Calvin Hemphill married Rebecca M. True on November 19, 1878. Rebecca was the daughter of Rev. C.K. True of Flushing, L.I. James Calvin worked briefly as a teacher at Lowell, Kentucky, in 1870, but spent the majority of his career as a journalist. He was the editor of the South Carolina Abbeville Medium, 1871-1880; reporter and exchange reader, 1880-1881; chief of the Columbia bureau, 1881-1882; city editor and acting manager, 1886-1888; and manager and editor-in-chief of the Charleston News and Courier, 1888-1910. He then was editor of the Richmond Times Dispatch, 1910-1911; editor of the Charlotte Observer, 1911; on the editorial staff of the New York Times, 1912; was Washington correspondent of the Philadelphia Public Ledger; and was editor of the Spartanburg Journal for five years. Aside from his journalism career, James Calvin Hemphill was an active Democrat. He was an organizer and board member of the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition at Charleston, 1901-1902. He died in Abbeville, South Carolina, on November 20, 1927.

There is additional genealogical information about the Hemphill family in an Information folder in the Rubenstein Library reading room.

Related Material

See the John Lind Sermons and the Robert C.S. Lind Papers, both held by Duke's Rubenstein Library Library. John Lind was the brother of Jane Lind Hemphill and the father of Hannah Smith Lind Hemphill. Robert C.S. Lind was the son of John Lind and the brother of Hannah Smith Lind Hemphill.

See the Francis W. Dawson Family Papers, also held by Duke's Rubenstein Library Library.

There is additional genealogical information about the Hemphill family in an Information folder in the Rubenstein Library reading room.

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


The Hemphill Family Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1950-1981.

Processing Information

Processed by Rubenstein Library Staff, 1993

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, February 2011