Guide to the Munford-Ellis Family Papers, 1777-1942


The Munford and Ellis families were connected through the marriage of George Wythe Munford and Elizabeth Throwgood Ellis in 1838. The earliest papers from the Munford family center around William Munford (1775-1825) of the first generation, George Wythe Munford (1803-1882) of the second generation, and the children of George Wythe Munford, notably Thomas Taylor Munford (1831-1918), Sallie Radford (Munford) Talbott (1841-1930), Lucy Munford and Fannie Ellis Munford. Papers of the Ellis family begin with those of Charles Ellis, Sr. (1772-1840), Richmond merchant; his wife, Margaret (Nimmo) Ellis (1790-1877); and his brother, Powhatan Ellis (1790-1863), jurist, U.S. senator, and diplomat. Later materials include letters from Thomas Harding Ellis (1814-1898), son of Charles and Margaret Ellis, as well as some materials from their other children and grandchildren. Collection contains family, personal, and business papers of three generations of the Munford and the Ellis families of Virginia. The papers contain information on politics, literary efforts, social life and customs, economic conditions, and military questions principally in nineteenth century Virginia. Includes materials on the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Collection Details

Collection Number
Munford-Ellis Family papers
30 Linear Feet, 12522 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Material in English

Collection Overview

Family, personal, and business papers of three generations of the Munford and the Ellis families of Virginia, connected by the marriage of George Wythe Munford and Elizabeth Throwgood Ellis in 1838. The papers contain information on politics, literary efforts, social life and customs, economic conditions, and military questions principally in nineteenth century Virginia.

Letters and papers of the Munford family center around William Munford (1775-1825) of the first generation, George Wythe Munford (1803-1882) of the second generation, and the children of George Wythe Munford, notably Thomas Taylor Munford (1831-1918), Sallie Radford (Munford) Talbott (1841-1930), Lucy Munford and Fannie Ellis Munford.

The letters of William Munford (1775-1825) are concerned with some details relative to the management of his plantation in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, by an overseer, his legal practice in the early 1800s in southside Virginia, accounts of his election to the governor's council in 1805, and political questions confronting the council. The collection also contains letters concerning possible publication by Thomas Willis White of a novel written by Ursula Anna (Munford) Byrd, sister of William Munford. Letters of friends and relatives and members of the first generation of Munfords are also included.

Volumes are an account book, 1799-1873, and a miscellany, 1790-1814, containing poems of William Munford, a list of the books in his library, and a list of subscribers to the Munford and William W. Hening Reports of Cases argued and determined in the Supreme court of appeals of Virginia. Chief of the literary works are two poems, "The Richmond Cavalcade" (1798), and its sequel, "The Richmond Feast" (1799), in Hudibrastic verse aimed at the political maneuvers of the Federalists. Also included are original poems by John Blair, Thomas Bolling Robertson, Anna (Munford) Byrd, St. George Tucker, and Mrs. John Page of Rosewell concerning social matters; and other poems by Munford, some of which were later published in the Richmond Enquirer.

George Wythe Munford (1803-1882), named for the mentor of his father, was clerk of the Virginia House of Delegates, an office which he held until the end of the Civil War, when he attempted farming until forced by reverses to secure a clerkship in the U.S. Census Bureau. Correspondence concerns the Mexican War, including letters from Admiral William Radford aboard the U.S.S. Warren blockading the Mexican coast at Mazatlan; Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia, 1845; Virginia politics, including letters from Henry Alexander Wise while governor; the people and countryside around Lynchburg, Virginia, where he went for recuperation during the summer; his gubernatorial campaign in Virginia, 1863; the fall of Richmond, April, 1865, and his flight to western Virginia, including descriptions of his reactions and those of his relatives, and the uncertainty of the future; his application for a pardon and the response of President Andrew Johnson; detailed accounts in letters to his son, Thomas, of his struggles, work, and the labor system relating to his farming attempts in Gloucester County, Virginia, 1866-1873; his work in preparing a Virginia code of laws, 1873; the Readjuster Movement, which resulted in his removal from office as a clerk in the House of Delegates to which he had returned after farming his experiences as clerk in the census office in Washington, 1880-1882; the Southern Historical Society, of which he was secretary; and people and social life and customs in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., including letters from his daughters while employed as governesses. Included also are notes, correspondence, and the original manuscript of his The Two Parsons (Richmond: 1884), published after his death, as well as correspondence about the two ministers, John Buchanan and John Blair. A poems and account book, 1821-1837, contains poetry by George Wythe Munford, including "The Gander Pull or James City Games," and sentimental poems, some written to his relatives; poetic letters; and a cashbook. Other volumes include an inventory of his household furniture purchased in 1834; and account books, 1835-1865.

A large portion of the collection relates to Thomas Taylor Munford (1831-1918), planter, brigadier general in the cavalry of the Confederate Army, and lecturer on Confederate military history. Correspondence pertains to the difficulties of farming, the Civil War, including the shortage of rations, typhoid and diphtheria on the plantation, charges brought against Munford by General Thomas Lafayette Rosser, and the fate of the Confederacy, with copies of letters and orders regarding the mobilization of the Confederate Army and cavalry, reorganization of the cavalry, Munford's promotion to brigadier general, and his command and surrender; postwar financial difficulties; his cattle selling venture; and the Lynchburg Iron, Steel, and Mining Company. The bulk of the material was written after 1875 and relates to Civil War campaigns and battles, especially to the Virginia cavalry and particularly to the battle of Five Forks; Virginia Military Institute; writings on the Civil War; the flag and seal of the state of Virginia; and Virginia history. Many of the letters are annotated, although not always accurately, by Munford's nephew, Charles Talbott III. Correspondence between Munford and many former Confederate and Union officers and soldiers pertains to efforts to collect Confederate cavalry records; the history of the 2nd Virginia Cavalry as well as references to other cavalry units including the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th Virginia cavalries, C.S.A., and the 6th New York Cavalry, 4th, 6th, and 16th Pennsylvania cavalries, 1st Maine Cavalry, 1st Rhode Island Cavalry, 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, and 1st Maryland Cavalry, U.S.A.; jealousy between the Virginia and South Carolina cavalries; comparisons between the cavalries of the Army of the Potomac, U.S.A., and the Army of Northern Virginia, C.S.A., and other Confederate and Union cavalries; cavalry operations, tactics, and weapons; the writing and publication of Henry B. McClellan's The Life and Campaigns of Major General J. E. B. Stuart (Boston: 1885); court of inquiry review, 1879-1880, of the role of General Gouverneur Kemble Warren at the battle of Five Forks; accounts of various battles and campaigns of the Civil War, especially the battle of Five Forks, but also the battles of 1st Manassas, Gettysburg, Aldie (Virginia), Chancellorsville, Todd's Tavern (Virginia), and Appomattox; and the dispute between Munford and Rosser over the battle of Five Forks. Other correspondence concerns the history of the guns at V.M.I., including copies of letters from the Marquis de Lafayette, William Davies, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe, the trial of Aaron Burr, including copies of letters and documents; the early history of V.M.I.; Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson at V.M.I.; Munford's terms as president of the Board of Visitors at V.M.I., 1884 and 1888; his views on discipline, insubordination, and students; dissension at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, Virginia, in 1885; the Southern Historical Society and its publications, the history of secession, including letters from Douglas Southall Freeman; campaign for a Confederate memorial to be erected in Lynchburg where Munford's regiment was organized and disbanded; the Confederate Veterans Association; the United Confederate Veterans; and race riots in Indiana, 1903.

Addresses and notes concerning Confederate cavalry fighting include a muster roll, 1863; lists of officers; a history of Munford's regiment with detailed accounts of troop movements and activities of Confederate officers, 1861-1863; maps; typed copy of a diary, 1861-1862, of a Confederate soldier describing camp life, hardships, skirmishing, picket duty, and fighting at the battles of 1st Manassas, Dranesville, and Leesburg, Virginia; material on the Maryland Campaign, 1862; typed copy of a diary, May-October, 1864, of Major James Dugue Ferguson, assistant adjutant general of Fitzhugh Lee's Cavalry Division, describing the itinerary and operations of his troops; copies of letters and articles on the Munford-Rosser feud; copy of "Spirit of the Army, Lynchburg, Va., Feb. 25, 1865," concerning the reaction of the 2nd Virginia Cavalry to the peace terms proposed by President Andrew Johnson; and a narrative of the battle of Waynesboro, Virginia, 1865, sent by Colonel Augustus Forsberg, 51st Virginia Infantry, C.S.A. Material on the Battle of Five Forks consists of notes on the battle by General Munford; his unpublished manuscript on the battle; bound volume containing related letters and clippings; a short narrative (22 pp.) on the battle; extracts from the report of General George E. Pickett to General Robert E. Lee; extracts from General Rosser's reminiscences on Five Forks; "Vindication of General Anderson from the Insinuations of General Fitzhugh Lee" by C. Irvine Walker, including Richard Anderson's report to Robert E. Lee, 1866, and part of Fitzhugh Lee's report to Robert E. Lee; narratives by Confederate soldiers on the last days of the 2nd Virginia Cavalry; extracts from the report of General George Crook, U.S.A., regarding the surrender at Appomattox, Virginia; copies of correspondence between Munford and Ranald Slidell McKenzie on Munford's surrender after Appomattox; and Munford's "The Last Days of Fitz Lee's Division of Cavalry Army of Northern Virginia." Other papers relate to the activities of Confederate and Union veterans, including material on the history of the flag and seal of Virginia, and addresses to various veterans organizations and reunions; V.M.I., including material on the return of the bronze statue of George Washington taken by General David Hunter, the history of the French guns, and Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, and lists of V.M.I. soldiers and officers in the C.S.A. Army; miscellaneous notes and addresses on the Constitution and the right of secession, the Society of the Cincinnati, and the Southern Historical Society; and miscellaneous poetry including "Mexican Campaign Song." Clippings generally pertain to the Civil War, including letters and accounts of the C.S.A. Army clipped from various newspapers; Confederate veterans organizations; Civil War statistics; Confederate generals and field officers of the Virginia cavalry; and the Munford-Rosser feud.

The collection contains many letters of the thirteen other children of George Wythe Munford. Correspondence of Charles Ellis Munford (1839-1862) concerns the U.S. Military Academy, war preparations and military drilling at the University of Virginia, and his recruiting duties. Other letters concern his death at Malvern Hill, Virginia, 1862. Also included are his law notebooks, 1859-1861. Personal and family letters of the daughters of George Wythe Munford contain information of the details of household economy and general conditions during the Civil War and Reconstruction. A scrapbook, 1861-1871, of Lizzie Ellis Munford contains Confederate verse and mementos, including flowers taken from the coffin of Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson in 1863 and from the grave of John Ewell Brown Stuart in 1864, and clippings relating to the war. There are also a number of letters from two grandsons of George Wythe Munford, Allan Talbott and Ellis Talbott, written while touring Europe and while studying at the University of Geneva and at the University of Heidelberg, 1886-1889.

Papers of the Ellis family begin with those of Charles Ellis, Sr. (1772-1840), Richmond merchant and partner of John Allan, who was the foster father of Edgar Allan Poe, and of his brother, Powhatan Ellis (1790-1863), jurist, U.S. senator, and diplomat. Letters of Charles Ellis concern business affairs and personal matters, the latter consisting largely of admonitions to his son, James, while a student at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, and of letters written from the springs of western Virginia. Letters of Margaret (Nimmo) Ellis (1790-1877), wife of Charles Ellis, Sr., are numerous from 1840 to her death and, although generally concerned with family affairs, also contain accounts of war activities and social changes resulting from the Civil War. Correspondence of Powhatan Ellis concerns national politics; party affiliation of John Tyler; the nullification debate in the Senate; Andrew Jackson's stand against South Carolina on the nullification issue; the digging of the James River Canal; his duties as minister to Mexico; Franklin Pierce's policy towards Cuba; Mississippi politics; opposition to Stephen A. Douglas; secession; the Richmond Light Blues; the formation of the Confederacy in Mississippi; legal affairs of William Allan; and family and personal matters, including visits to Berkeley Springs, Virginia.

Correspondence of Thomas Harding Ellis (1814-1898), son of Charles and Margaret (Nimmo) Ellis, merchant and businessman, relate to his education at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1831-1832; the Southern Literary Messenger; the Richmond Fayette Light Artillery; his interest in literary activities; his duties as private secretary to his uncle, Powhatan Ellis, in Mexico, 1836, and as first secretary of the legation, 1839-1841; people and events in Richmond, 1840-1860; the Civil War, including preparations in Richmond during the Peninsular Campaign; labor conditions and financial difficulties in the James River Valley after the war; his residence in Chicago, 1871-1883, with detailed accounts of the growth of the city and the great fire of 1871; the Republican National Convention of 1880; clerkships in the Departments of the Interior and the Treasury, 1887-1898; and genealogy of the Ellis family.

Letters and papers of other children of Charles and Margaret (Nimmo) Ellis are also included. Letters of James Ellis (1815-1839) in general were written from the U.S. Military Academy. One contains a reference at the time of the death of John Allan, Poe's foster father, stating that Allan had not "spent his time in a proper way" and making some reference to Allan's second wife, which has been thoroughly obliterated. Charles Ellis, Jr. (1817-189-), left many business and personal letters, the latter consisting largely of family letters and accounts of numerous visits to the springs in western Virginia, especially Warm Springs in Bath County, with minute descriptions of activities, guests, his ailments, and the young ladies whom he escorted during his long life and many sojourns at Warm Springs. Other correspondence concerns the education of James West Pegram at Clifton Academy, in Amelia County, Virginia, 1855-1856; John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, 1859; the railroad during the Confederacy, especially the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad during the siege of Petersburg; Ellis's efforts to remain president of the railroad after the war; and the collapse of the gallery in the courtroom of the capitol in Richmond. Correspondence of Powhatan Ellis, Jr. (1829-1906), son of Charles Ellis, Sr., major in the Confederate Army, and planter, pertains to his activities as a student at the University of Virginia, 1848-1850; as an agent to look after family lands in Kentucky; as an officer in the Confederate Army in the western theater, with particular references to the surrender of Fort Henry, the Vicksburg Campaign, and troop movements and military engagements in Mississippi and Alabama; and as a planter in Gloucester County following the Civil War.

The letters of Jane Shelton (Ellis) Tucker (1820-1901) and her husband, Nathaniel Beverley Tucker (1820-1890), relate to their wanderings and his career as a diplomat, Confederate agent in France and Canada, residence in England and political maneuverings in Washington, residence at Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, financial worries, and their frequent changes of residence. Included also are numerous letters of their children, especially of Beverley D. Tucker, later bishop of the Protestant Episcopal diocese of southern Virginia, and of Margaret Tucker. Numerous letters relative to farming operations of Richard S. Ellis (1825-1867) in Buckingham County, Virginia, are in the collection.

Letters during the Civil War and Reconstruction written by friends and relatives of the Munford and of the Ellis families discuss secession; mobilization; high prices; the blockade; difficulties in securing supplies; women making clothes for the army; the need for nurses; auctions of clothing when women went into mourning; refugees; civilian hardships; rumors; damage to salt and lead works; camp life; conscription; health conditions in the army; various battles and campaigns of the Civil War, including 1st Manassas, the West Virginia campaign against General Rosecrans, the surrender of Forts Henry and Donelson, the Peninsular Campaign, the Seven Days battles, the Vicksburg Campaign, the siege of Petersburg, and the surrender at Appomattox; trench life during the siege of Petersburg; fraternization between opposing lines; various Confederate and Union officers; cavalry regulations; the occupations of Alexandria, Virginia, by the New York Fire Zouaves; the possibility of arming African Americans; African American celebrations after the fall of Richmond; depredations by Union troops; the assassination of Abraham Lincoln; restlessness among freedmen; economic distress during Reconstruction; dispute between the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, over property in Martinsburg, West Virginia; and the 1867 election in which U.S. troops were used to keep order while African Americans voted.

Other papers include original poems and clippings by William Munford, George Wythe Munford, and Bishop Beverley Dandridge Tucker; speeches and essays by George Wythe Munford and Charles Ellis Munford at the University of Virginia; manuscript entitled "History of William Radford's Incarceration in the Tower of London"; bills and receipts relating to household and political affairs; newspaper clippings and printed material concerning family biographies and obituaries, Confederate history, and genealogy of Virginia families; miscellaneous material relating to Virginia history; genealogical information on the Bland, Cabell, Ellis, Galt, Harrison, Jordan, Munford, Nimmo, Radford, Talbott, Tayloe, and Winston families, and a chart of the Munford, Ellis, and Tayloe families; scrapbook of the letters of Thomas Harding Ellis, published in the Richmond Standard, containing material on the Allan family; reminiscences of Thomas Harding Ellis on the boyhood of Edgar Allan Poe; pictures; scrapbooks, 1877-1888 and 1910-1912, of Sallie (Munford) Talbott; account book, 1823-1826, and memorandum book, 1808-1809, of Charles Ellis, Sr.; account books, 1841-1853, of the administration of the estate of Charles Ellis, Sr.; letterpress copybook, 1856-1893, of Charles Ellis [Jr.?]; surveyor's notebook, 1838-1839, and commonplace book, 1835, of James Nimmo Ellis, the latter book containing records of a club formed at the United States Military Academy "for the purpose of acquiring information"; and the Ellis family Bible.

Also contains an album (1860-1890) containing 68 cartes de visites and cabinet cards primarily featuring members of the Munford, Ellis, Tucker, and Talbot families. Most of the subjects are identified and some are hand colored. Among the portraits of family members are George Wythe Munford, Powhatan Ellis, Rev William Munford, Dallas Tucker, Charles Ellis, and Maggie N. Tucker. There are also images of CSA Gen. Joseph Johnston and Jefferson Davis, along with a Mathew Brady photograph of an unidentified man. One card features a collage with images of "Radical Members of the South Carolina legislature." Identified Richmond photography studios include Anderson & Co. and C. R. Rees.

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

Contents of the Collection

Correspondence, 1786-1834
Box 1
Correspondence, 1835-1848
Box 2
Correspondence, 1849-1858
Box 3
Correspondence, 1859-1862
Box 4
Correspondence, 1863-1867
Box 5
Correspondence, 1868-1875, June
Box 6
Correspondence, 1875 July-1881 May
Box 7
Correspondence, 1881 June-1888 Aug.
Box 8
Correspondence, 1888 Sept.-1942 and undated
Box 9
Essays and speeches
Box 9
Box 10
Novel manuscripts
Box 10
Box 10
Box 10
Box 11
Box 11
Bills, receipts, etc., 1832-1849
Box 11
Bills, receipts, etc., 1850-1885 and undated
Box 12
Religious notes
Box 12
Legal papers, 1781-1867
Box 12
Correspondence, 1777-1898
Box 13
Correspondence, 1899-1909
Box 14
Correspondence, 1910-1925 and undated
Box 15
Legal papers, 1834-1902
Box 15
Printed materials (including obituary of T.T. Munford)
Box 15
Clippings and printed material
Box 16
Virginia flag and Seal papers
Box 16
Speeches: Confederate Veterans
Box 17
Narrative history of 2nd Virginia Calvary, including diaries of Confederate officers, Rosser-Munford dispute
Box 17
Diary of James D. Ferguson
Box 17
Miscellaneous Civil War notes
Box 17
Miscellaneous history writings and transcripts
Box 18
Miscellaneous printed materials
Box 18
Virginia Military Institute papers
Box 18
Miscellaneous manuscripts and notes on the Battle of Five Forks, 1865
Box 19
Correspondence (77 items), 1806-1893 and undated
Box 19
Ellis, Charles: Account book, 1823-1826
Volume S:1093
Ellis, Charles: Letterpress copybook, 1856-1893
Volume L:1097
Ellis, Charles: Memorandum book, 1808-1809
Volume S:1098
Ellis, Charles, Sr.: Account of Estate Administration by Thomas Harding and Charles Ellis, Jr., 1847-1848
Volume F:1095
Ellis, Charles, Sr.: Family Bible (records), 1772-1898
Volume M:1096
Ellis, Charles, and Thomas Harding: Account of Administration of Estate of Charles Ellis, Sr., 1841-1853
Volume S:1094
Ellis, James Nimmo: Commonplace book, 1835
Volume M:1099
Ellis, James Nimmo: Notebook, 1838-1839 (Surveyor's)
Volume M:1100
Munford, Charles Ellis: Notebook (Law), 1859-1861 (4 volumes)
Volume M:3050, M:3051, F:3052, M:3053
Munford, George Wythe: Account book, 1835-1865 (4 volumes)
Volume F:3055, F:3056, L:3057, F:3058
Poems and Account book, 1821-1837
Volume F:3059
Munford, Lizzie Ellis: Scrapbook of Poetry, 1860-1871
Volume ff:3054
Munford, Thomas Taylor: History of the Battle of Five Forks, 1865-1916 (copy on microfilm)
Volume M:3061
Munford, William: Account book, 1799-1873
Volume F:3062
Munford, William: Miscellany, 1790-1814
Volume ff:3063
Talbott, Sallie (Munford): Scrapbook, 1877-1912 (2 volumes)
Volume M:3831, L:3832
Munford-Ellis family photograph album, 1860-1890
Box 20
Munford, Thomas T.: Certificate for the election of Presidential Electors in Quincy Township, Franklin Co., Virginia, Nov. 7, 1848
Oversize-folder 1

Historical Note

The Munford and Ellis families were connected through the marriage of George Wythe Munford and Elizabeth Throwgood Ellis in 1838. The earliest papers from the Munford family center around William Munford (1775-1825) of the first generation, George Wythe Munford (1803-1882) of the second generation, and the children of George Wythe Munford, notably Thomas Taylor Munford (1831-1918), Sallie Radford (Munford) Talbott (1841-1930), Lucy Munford and Fannie Ellis Munford. Papers of the Ellis family begin with those of Charles Ellis, Sr. (1772-1840), Richmond merchant; his wife, Margaret (Nimmo) Ellis (1790-1877); and his brother, Powhatan Ellis (1790-1863), jurist, U.S. senator, and diplomat. Later materials include letters from Thomas Harding Ellis (1814-1898), son of Charles and Margaret Ellis, as well as some materials from their other children and grandchildren.

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The Munford-Ellis Family Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1941-1954.

Processing Information

Processed by Rubenstein Library Staff, 1970s

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, April 2011

Updated to include acc. 2012-0179 by Alice Poffinberger, November 2012