Guide to the MacRae Family Papers, 1817-1943


Correspondence, diary, account books, ledgers, bills, receipts, business records, legal papers, and other material of the MacRae family of North Carolina and Florida. Alexander MacRae's papers concern Florida plantations and their management, the Seminole Indian War (1842), and settlements in southern Florida. Papers of his son, Archibald MacRae, deal with his life aboard ship as a U.S. naval officer, and with his trips to the Azores, Italy, Sicily, Hawaii, South America, and California during the Mexican War. Other papers pertain to railroad construction and management, North Carolina militia (1832, 1839), a general commission business, life in the Confederacy and Confederate Army during the Civil War, postwar business and industrial development in the Wilmington, N.C., area, and a variety of business enterprises with which the MacRae family was connected. Includes writings and papers of Hugh MacRae.

Collection Details

Collection Number
MacRae family papers
10 Linear Feet, 4270 items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Materials in English

Collection Overview

Collection contains primarily correspondence, diary, account books, ledgers, bills, receipts, business records, legal papers, and other material of Hugh MacRae and the MacRae family of North Carolina and Florida.

From the ante-bellum period there are papers of Hugh MacRae's grandfather, Alexander MacRae, concerning the management of plantations in Florida and the second Seminole War; of Archibald MacRae, pertaining to his career in the United States Navy, including a voyage to the Azores and the Mediterranean Sea, 1838, observation of the British attack on Egyptian forces, 1840, participation in the Mexican War in California, voyage to Hawaii, 1847, and descriptions of political and social events in Chile while part of the United States Naval Expedition to the Southern Hemisphere, 1849-1852; of John Colin MacRae and Henry MacRae, relating to the construction and management of railroads in North Carolina and general construction and transportation development in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia, including correspondence concerning quarrels between the Wilmington and Manchester Rail road, headed by Alexander MacRae, and other North Carolina lines; and of John MacRae and Donald MacRae, concerning their general commission business in Wilmington, North Carolina, founded in 1849, the Endor Iron Works (McIver, North Carolina), begun in 1857, and the political activities of John MacRae in Wilmington.

Civil War papers reflecting army life are those of William MacRae, Robert Bruce MacRae, Henry MacRae, and Walter G. MacRae, all of whom served in the Confederate Army, for the most part in North Carolina and Virginia. Their letters describe numerous battles and skirmishes and depict camp life in the 1st, 5th, and 87th North Carolina Regiments and the 2nd North Carolina Regiment, Cavalry. Letters of Donald MacRae, John Colin MacRae, Roderick MacRae, and Alexander MacRae, Jr., concern conditions at home during the war and family business interests, including the sale of cotton, blockade running, operations of an iron works, manufacture of salt, an epidemic of yellow fever in Wilmington, speculation and economic dislocation at the end of the war, and the occupation of Wilmington by Union troops.

Papers for the years after the Civil War are primarily those of Donald MacRae and his son, Hugh MacRae. Papers of Donald MacRae concern the handling of family real estate; settlement of claims on property in Florida; the guano business, particularly the Navassa Guano Company; general business interests, including the development of Linville, North Carolina, as a resort by the Linville Improvement Company and the Western North Carolina Stage Coach Company; and power development, especially the Great Falls Water Power Mining and Iron Company. The papers after 1890 are increasingly those of Hugh MacRae and concern his business interests, including the Wilmington Street Railroad Company, the Consolidated Railways, Light and Power Company, the Central Carolina Power Company in South Carolina, the Tidewater Power Company, and the Investment Trust Company of Wilmington (North Carolina), and his interest in land development and land reclamation, including the formation of farm communities near Wilmington, the promotion of legislation designed to help tenant farmers acquire their own land and to encourage immigration, the creation of the Carolina Trucking Development Company and the Carolina Real Estate Trust Company, and MacRae's work with the National Economy League and the Southern Economic Council in the 1930s.

The collection contains bills and receipts from many of the businesses in which the MacRae family was interested and a number of volumes dealing with personal and business matters, including works on rural rehabilitation; a diary of Robert Bruce MacRae, 1865-1866; a volume of Hugh MacRae's experiment records, 1909; "Roll of the Wilmington Hibernian Society," 1866-1879; account books of Alexander MacRae; record book of Donald MacRae, Company K, 2nd North Carolina Regiment in the Spanish-American War; letter book of Hugh MacRae, 1899-1900; and mercantile and shipping records for J. & D. MacRae of Wilmington, 1858-1860.

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How to Cite

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

Contents of the Collection

Letters, 1822-1851
(3 folders)
Box 1
Letters, 1852-1861
(3 folders)
Box 2
Letters, 1862-1878
(3 folders)
Box 3
Letters, 1879-1887
(2 folders)
Box 4
Letters, 1888-1897
(2 folders)
Box 5
Letters, 1898-1918
(3 folders)
Box 6
Letters, 1920-1934
(2 folders)
Box 7
Letters, 1935-1943
(2 folders)
Box 8
Letters, undated
(1 folder)
Box 9
Legal papers, 1817-1894
(2 folders)
Box 9
Legal papers, 1895-1909
(3 folders)
Box 10
Legal papers, 1910, 1943
(2 folders)
Box 11
Legal papers, undated
(1 folder)
Box 12
(1 folder)
Box 12
Bills and receipts, 1826-1880s
(2 folders)
Box 12
Bills and receipts, 1890s-1940s, undated
(3 folders)
Box 13
Printed Materials
(4 folders)
Box 14
(2 folders)
Box 15
(4 folders)
Box 16
(4 folders)
Box 17
Ledger, 1888-1890
Volume L:5951
Letterpress book, 1899
Volume L:5952
Letterpress book, 1858-1859
Volume L:5953
Letterpress book, 1859
Volume L:5954
Letterpress book, 1859
Volume L:5955
Letterpress book, 1859
Volume L:5956
Letterpress book, 1860
Volume L:5957
Letterpress book, 1860
Volume L:5958
Account book, 1558-1869
Volume 1
Account book, 1858-1862
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Account book
Volume 5

Historical Note

MacRae family of North Carolina and Florida.

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The MacRae Family Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in 1956-1958.

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