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Guide to the Alexander Proctor papers, 1837-1895

Summary

African American family originally from Virginia and North Carolina. Legal papers and correspondence relating to the Alexander Proctor family, tracing their history beginning as freedmen in Virginia and North Carolina, their 1840s resettlement in Warren County, Ohio, their emigration to Haiti in 1861 as part of the Redpath movement, and their eventual return to Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1866. The correspondence dates principally from the 1870s, is chiefly written by A.W. Proctor, one of Alexander Proctor's sons, and S.S. Hutchins, friend of Proctor's son, Isaac, and relates to family affairs, business, and other matters. S.S. Hutchins is identified in the Gould's St. Louis Directory (1874), 449, as Chief Clerk in the U.S. Army Engineer's Office. One letter from a friend to a family member mentions seeing Frederick Douglass at Wilberforce College in 1893. The legal records document the free status of the Proctors, various labor agreements, and migration papers, and include receipts and letters of introduction.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.01055
Title
Alexander Proctor papers
Date
1837-1895
Creator
Proctor, Alexander, 1814-1865
Extent
0.1 Linear Feet, 36 Items
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Material in English and French

Collection Overview

One-folder collection of 19th century legal papers and correspondence concerning the migratory movements, legal status, life situations, and relationships of members of a free African American family. The correspondence dates principally from the 1870s, is chiefly written by A.W. Proctor, one of Alexander Proctor's sons, and S.S. Hutchins, friend of Proctor's son, Isaac, and relates to family affairs, business, and other matters. S.S. Hutchins is identified in the Gould's St. Louis Directory (1874), 449, as Chief Clerk in the U.S. Army Engineer's Office. One letter from a friend to a family member mentions seeing Frederick Douglass at Wilberforce College in 1893.

The legal records document the free status of the Proctors, various labor agreements, and migration papers, and include receipts and letters of introduction. Official documents from Haiti are written in French and include an 1865 order permitting the burial of Proctor at St. Marc, Haiti. In terms of the context relating to the family's emigration to Haiti, many people that emigrated by way of the Redpath Agency to Haiti, as was the case for the Proctors, either died or were untraceable by 1864, and few managed to return to the U.S.

More Biographical / Historical Info

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More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

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

Contents of the Collection

1. Legal Papers, 1837-1866

21 items

Series begins with a brief descriptive sketch of the Proctors and the nature of this collection. The legal papers include documents demonstrating that Alexander and Margaret Proctor were free persons in Virginia and North Carolina. The papers also document the travels and various life events of the Proctor family up through Margaret Proctor's permission to return to the U.S. after the death of her husband Alexander Proctor in St. Marc, Haiti, in 1865.

Brief descriptive sketch of the Proctors and the contents and historical context of the collection, undated
Folder 1
Articles of agreement for “Thomas Proctor, a free Negro” to bind himself in service for 5 years to G. H. Crosman, Capt. U.S. Army, 1837 July 18
Folder 1
Recommendation for hiring for work with boats for “Alexander Proctor, a free man” from J. M. Jeffress, 1839 Dec. 4
Folder 1
Official statement from Clerks Office of Charlotte Co., Va. that Margaret Proctor was born to a free family in that county, 1840 Apr. 7
Folder 1
Official statement from Clerk's Office of Mecklenburg Co., Va. that Alexander Proctor was born to a free woman in Granville Co, NC, 1840 Apr. 16
Folder 1
Deposition for case pending in the Supreme Court of Mercer Co, Ohio, detailing testimony of John Anthony concerning a case between Melchen Adam Meyer and Samuel Gray over a horse, circa 1842
Folder 1
Document affirming the good citizenship and moral character of Alexander Proctor, signed by 36 members of the community in Mason, Warren Co., Ohio, 1843 Oct. 20
Folder 1
Document pertaining to land transfer to Alexander Proctor, 1845 Apr. 9
Folder 1
“Charles Moore deed to Alex. Proctor,” 1845 Apr. 11
Folder 1
Document verifying religious beliefs of and recommending Alexander and Margaret Proctor to other churches, from Regular A. S. Baptist Church of Beaver Creek, Ohio, 1852 Dec. 18
Folder 1
Affirmation concerning the ordination of Alexander Proctor to “the work of the Gospel ministering by the laying on of hands,” prepared by the First Baptist Church of Little River at Windsor Ontario Canada West, Apr. 27, “no year”
Folder 1
Receipt for payment from Alexander Proctor to Treasurer's Office of Miami University, 1855 Nov. 1
Folder 1
Agreement for Alexander Proctor to rent land belonging to Leon St. Louis, 1860 Feb. 4
Folder 1
Register entitled “Emigration to Hayti, from the Township of Sandwich County of Essex Canada West, 1861,” which lists Alexander and Margaret Proctor, and two of their sons, William (21) and Samuel (14), among several others planning to emigrate.
Folder 1
Emigrant's copy of “Haytian Bureau of Emigration Agreement with Alexander Proctor and family,” arranged by James Redpath of Boston, Gen. Agent of Emigration, noting the family received 3 tickets for passage to Haiti, 1861 June 15.
Folder 1
Letter of introduction of “The Reverend Alexander Proctor,” written by B. F. Whidden, United States' Commissioner, Consul General, Haiti, 1864 Mar. 12
Folder 1
Document from the Bureau L'Etat Civil in Haiti, in French, concerning “Elder Alexander Proctor,” 1865 May 30
Folder 1
Official government document from Republic of Haiti for Margaret Proctor, in French, 1865 July 3
Folder 1
Note concerning Margaret Proctor, in French, 1865 Nov. 16
Folder 1
Official notice from Consulate of the United States of America, Camille Lynch, that Margaret Proctor should be granted passage and aid into the U.S., 1866 Apr. 12
Folder 1
Prayer or invocation, handwritten, author unknown, undated
Folder 1

2. Correspondence, 1865-1895

15 items

Includes personal and business correspondence between family members and friends of the Proctor family from 1865 to 1893. Many of the letters are written by A.W. Proctor, one of Alexander Proctor's sons, and S.S. Hutchins, friend of Proctor's son, Isaac.

Letter, Jan. 3, 1865, from Elizabeth Jackson, Oxford, Ohio, to “Nephew”
Folder 1
Letter, May 11, 1866, from A.W. Proctor, Kalamazoo, Mich., to “Mother” (Margaret Proctor)

A.W. Proctor says he is thankful to hear that she is back in the U.S. and urges her to come live with him.

Folder 1
Letter, Aug. 19, 1870, from A.W. Proctor, Kalamazoo, Mich., to “Brother”
Folder 1
Letter, July 7, 1873, from S.S. Hutchins, St. Louis, MO, to Isaac (Proctor)
Folder 1
Letter, Aug. 2, 1873, from S.S. Hutchins, St. Louis, MO, to Isaac (Proctor)
Folder 1
Letter, Mar. 17, 1874, from A.W. Proctor, Kalamazoo, Mich., to “Brother”
Folder 1
Letter, Sept. 21, 1874, from S.S. Hutchins, St. Louis, MO, to “Friend” (Isaac Proctor)
Folder 1
Letter, Sept. 24, 1874, from A.W. Proctor, Star Landing, to “Mother”
Folder 1
Letter, Oct. 24, 1874, from S.S. Hutchins, St. Louis, MO, to Isaac (Proctor)
Folder 1
Letter, Dec. 12, 1874, from A.W. Proctor, Decatur, to “Brother”
Folder 1
Letter, May 10, 1875, from A.W. Proctor, Decatur, to “Mother”
Folder 1
Letter, Dec. 25, 1875, from J.C. Howland, Detroit, Mich., to S. I. Proctor
Folder 1
Letter, June 25, 1877, from Chavens, Union City, to “Sir”
Folder 1
Letter, Mar. 11, 1893, from B.A.S., Washington D.C., to Dean P. Phillips (daughter of Alexander Proctor)

Includes reference to bad weather for parade for President Cleveland's inauguration.

Folder 1
Letter, June 28, 1893, unknown author, Detroit, Mich., to “Friend” (Dean)

Incomplete letter with pages missing. Refers to meeting with Frederick Douglass at Wilberforce.

Folder 1
 

Historical Note

The Proctors were a free African American family from the South, who left Virginia in the early 1840s, lived in Warren County, Ohio, moved to Canada in 1860, and emigrated to Haiti in 1861. Alexander Proctor (1814-1865), a Baptist minister, died there, and his family, headed by wife Margaret Chaven Proctor (1814-?), returned to the U.S. and settled in Kalamazoo, Michigan with one of her sons.


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Provenance

The Alexander Proctor papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 1978.

Processing Information

Processed by Rubenstein Library staff, 1978

Encoded by Jessica Carew, Paula Jeannet, June 2014

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 1978