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Major Family Papers

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Major Family Papers, 1755-1942 | Eastern Kentucky University - Special Collections and Archives

By Kyle McQueen, Chuck Hill

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Collection Overview

Title: Major Family Papers, 1755-1942Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1800-1900

Extent: 4.42 Cubic Feet

Arrangement:

Correspondence and Personal Documents are arranged alphabetically by recipient or creator and then chronological. They encompass the day to day personal activities, business interests and politics of the respective family members. Because 19th century correspondence of a business nature was often interwoven with personal information, researchers looking at the business or financial aspects of the Major Family should also consult the Correspondence files. Some of the correspondence, especially that of Samuel Major II, discusses the politics, events and repercussions of the Civil War. For researchers and scholars, this collection is rich in primary source material relating to the business and personal aspects of American slavery.

Business and Financial Papers are arranged chronologically except for material that could constitute a coherent group and contain a substantial number of documents (such as financial documents relating to the Kentucky Yeoman). These documents will be found in separate folders as listed in the finding aid below. The material covers a number of different endeavors including banking, publishing, farming, slave holdings, mill operations and land deals. As noted above, researchers looking at the business or financial aspects of the Major Family should also consult the Correspondence files.

Land and Legal Documents are arranged (Land) by county and state, and (Legal) chronological. The land items include deeds, surveys, field notes, and insurance policies, primarily involving Francis, SIMM-I, Dr. Patrick Major and SIMM-II. The legal material relates to several family members and extended family. Among this material are tax documentation and court papers.

Political Documents and Campaign Material that are arranged chronologically within their respective folders. Most of this material relates to SIMM-II and contains letters, petitions, speeches, and official records.

Date Acquired: 04/26/2004

Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865., Kentucky yeoman., Major family., Slavery - Kentucky

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Major Family was a prominent Frankfort, KY family in the mid-nineteenth century. The bulk of the material in this collection relates to Samuel Ire Monger Major II, mayor of Frankfort following the Civil War, a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives and owner of the Kentucky Yeoman. A number of documents also relate to his father, Samuel Ire Monger Major I, who was Clerk of the Penitentiary of Kentucky and noted civic leader in early Frankfort; his brother, Dr. Patrick Major, who was also his business partner and confidant whose correspondence reflects their close relationship; and his son, Patrick Upshaw Major, a well-known attorney and judge. There is correspondence that relates to family and business matters, personal documents that range from poetry to journals, business and financial papers that concern a wide range of endeavors, land and legal documentation such as deeds and land grants for holdings in Kentucky and Virginia as well as other states, and political material that relates to campaigns and political beliefs. Of particular interest is a first-hand account of the New Madrid Earthquake, letters concerning the 1850 cholera epidemic and records relating to the Kentucky State Penitentiary.

Many of the Major Family women are represented as well. Among them are: Margaret (Peggy) Porter who married Francis Major to become Margaret (Peggy) Major; Martha Hipkins Bohannon who was married to S.I.M. Major I, and known as Martha H. Major; and Mary Brown Scott married to S.I.M. Major II, and commonly addressed as Mary B. Major. There is very little biographical information regarding the Major Family women; however, there is extensive correspondence between the women, to and from their husbands, fathers and sons as well as with cousins and friends. These give a glimpse into their social background, daily lives, education, and some sense of their political and financial views.

For researchers and scholars, this collection is rich in primary source material relating to the politics, business and personal aspects of American Slavery, Women's History, the American Civil War and many other subjects - Journalism, Trade & Commerce, etc.

Collection Historical Note

The Major Family was a prominent Frankfort family in the mid-nineteenth century. The bulk of the material in this collection relates to Samuel Ire Monger Major II [SIMM-II], mayor of Frankfort following the Civil War, a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives and owner of the Kentucky Yeoman. A number of documents also relate to: his father, Samuel Ire Monger Major I [SIMM-1], who was Clerk of the Penitentiary of Kentucky and noted civic leader in early Frankfort; his brother, Dr. Patrick Major, were business partners and confidants whose correspondence reflects their close relationship; and his son, Patrick Upshaw Major, a well-known attorney and judge.

SIMM-I was a businessman, politician and local civic leader during the early days of Frankfort. SIMM-II was the editor and publisher of the influential Kentucky Yeoman, and was also a noted local politician (mayor of Frankfort), civic leader, and entrepreneur. As a businessman, SIMM-II was involved in the banking industry, a local gas utility company, and a mule-drawn trolley car operation. However, it was as publisher of the Kentucky Yeoman that he had the greatest impact. His paper was the main Southern Democratic voice in Kentucky before the Civil War, hitting its height with his support of John C. Breckinridge for President in 1860. During, and after, the Civil War, the Kentucky Yeoman continued to be a formidable political presence in the state. SIMM-II ceased publishing the Kentucky Yeoman in 1885. He died in 1886.

Margaret (Peggy) Porter married Francis Major to become Margaret (Peggy) Major. Martha Hipkins Bohannon was married to SIMM-I and was known as Martha H. Major. Mary Brown Scott married SIMM-II to become Mary B. Major. There is very little biographical information regarding the Major Family women. However, there is extensive correspondence between the women, to and from their husbands, fathers and sons as well as with cousins and friends. These give a glimpse into their social background, daily lives, education, and some sense of their political and financial views.

More biographical information/genealogical data will be found in the Research File, Box 01 f. 08.

Subject/Index Terms

Civil War, 1861-1865.
Kentucky yeoman.
Major family.
Slavery - Kentucky

Administrative Information

Repository: Eastern Kentucky University - Special Collections and Archives

Acquisition Source: Ferguson, Harley; Pulliam, Molly


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