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Z 1751.000 S
POITEVENT FAMILY PAPERS

1848-1976

Biography/History:

Of Huguenot descent, the Poitevent family moved from North Carolina to Mississippi around 1836. William Poitevent first settled in Pearlington and then in Gainesville in Hancock County where he owned a sawmill. He married Mary Emilia Russ, and they had eight children, including a daughter, Eliza Jane Poitevent, who later owned the Daily Picayune in New Orleans, and a son, June Poitevent, who was born in Pearlington in 1837.

June Poitevent enlisted in the Third Regiment, Mississippi Infantry, in 1861. He attained the rank of captain and was later captured and held as a prisoner in New Orleans until the end of the war. Poitevent married May Eleanor Staples in 1866. The couple had one son, Schuyler, who was born in 1875. June Poitevent worked in his father's sawmill until 1868, when he started a boating business, first on the Pearl River in Mississippi, and later on the Trinity River in Texas, where he purchased a farm in 1870. He lived in Texas until he built a home in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, in 1876. Poitevent also purchased land in Tampa, Florida, that same year. He spent much of his time in Florida and later in Tampico, Mexico, where he purchased a ranch in 1895. Poitevent eventually worked in the lumber business in Mississippi and New Orleans.

Schuyler Poitevent became a member of the Mississippi Historical Society in 1890, but a serious interest in history did not develop until middle age. He was also interested in Indian artifacts as a youth. Poitevent attended Tulane University and the University of Virginia between 1894 and 1898. The Daily Picayune hired him as book reviewer and reporter after graduation. Poitevent married Thomasia Hancock in 1906, and they moved to his fatherís ranch in Tampico. He raised cattle and exported fruits and vegetables until the Mexican Revolution forced him to abandon his business interests and return to the United States. Poitevent spent the rest of his life in Ocean Springs and dedicated himself to the study of Mississippi Gulf Coast history. He wrote a great number of historical essays, poems, and short stories, but apparently none were ever published. Poitevent died in 1936.

Schuyler Poitevent, Jr., was born in Mexico in 1911. He later married Virginia Favre. The Poitevents lived in Ocean Springs.

Scope and Content:

The papers of June Poitevent document the settlement of Poitevent family on the Mississippi Gulf Coast during the nineteenth century. The diaries of June Poitevent begin in 1876 and detail the activities of this early Mississippi entrepreneur. His correspondence also contains information about life in Florida, Mississippi, and Texas, as well as in Mexico, during the late nineteenth century. Poitevent's legal and financial papers, including certificates, deeds, and tax receipts, also pertain to his wife, May Eleanor Staples Poitevent.

The papers of Schuyler Poitevent, Sr., reveal a series interest in Mississippi history and archaeology. His correspondence and manuscripts often pertain to such interests. Poitevent's letters to his father between 1889 and 1898 describe the collecting of various Indian artifacts, which according to one obituary, amounted to around three thousand items at his death. Additional information about the archaeological collection can be found in two notebooks. A scrapbook begun by Poitevent in 1889 reveals his early interest in Mississippi history, as do the letters he received from William Rice Sims, secretary of the Mississippi Historical Society.

Poitevent corresponded with southern archivists and historians of his day, including Dunbar Rowland, director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Marie Owen, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History; and Henry P. Dart of the Louisiana Historical Quarterly. He conducted research in Mississippi courthouses; in archival repositories and libraries throughout the South and Midwest; and in the National Archives. Poitevent's correspondence and notes contain many details and references about Mississippi history. Poitevent used much of the collected source material in stories about early Mississippi, such as "Sehoy's Boy" and "Three Tales of the Natchez", and in three major works, "Amichel", "The Broken Pot", and the unfinished "Pearls in Pottery", which traced the origins of Mississippi up to the departure of the colonial French.

The years that Schuyler Poitevent, Sr., spent in Mexico at the turn of the twentieth century also provided inspiration for his poems and stories. The letters that Poitevent wrote to his parents and the letters that his wife, Thomasia, wrote to her mother from Tampico, Mexico, discuss ranch life, farming, exporting fruits and vegetables, local customs, camping and hunting trips, fishing, the birth of Schuyler Poitevent, Jr., and the Mexican Revolution.

Among the Hancock family papers is an October 1864 of Richard Hancock that was sent from a Union hospital in Winchester, Virginia, to Thomasia Harris. Thomasia Hancock Poitevent later penned stories about her father, including one entitled "An Escape from Winchester". Additional information about the Hancock family can be found in the letters from Thomasia Hancock Poitevent to her brothers, Arthur and Harris Hancock.

An undated letter from Eliza Jane Poitevent Nicholson (Pearl Rivers) to May Eleanor Staples Poitevent welcomes the latter to New Orleans. The correspondence of Leonard Nicholson, son of Eliza Jane Poitevent Nicholson, to Schuyler Poitevent, Sr., dates from the 1930s. There are photographs of the Poitevent, Staples, and Allied families. There are also more than forty pencil sketches of Charles Tracy Earle, husband of Cora Poitevent Earle, the eldest daughter of June Poitevent. The sketches are primarily animal studies and landscapes.

Series Identification:

  1. Correspondence. 1879-1947. 930 items.

    This series consists of correspondence of June Poitevent, May Eleanor Staples, Schuyler Poitevent, Sr., Thomasia Poitevent, and the Richard and Thomasia Harris Hancock family, which is arranged according to recipient.

    June Poitevent (1879-1915, n.d.):

    Letters relating to a clain against the federal government for property lost during the Civil War; letters concerning Texas and Mexico; letters from son Schuyler Poitevent, Sr., in Mexico (1905-1914); wedding and anniversary announcements.

    Box 1.

    May Eleanor Staples Poitevent (1895-1931):

    Letters from daughter Vera Poitevent; letters from son Schuyler Poitevent, Sr., at the University of Virginia (1896) and from Mexico (1911-1914); letters from relatives, including sister-in-law Eliza Jane Poitevent Nicholson (n.d.); letter from Mrs. W.B. Rhodes, Mississippi president of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America, concerning Fort Maurepas (1913).

    Box 1.

    Schuyler Poitevent, Sr. (1888-1936):Letters from father June Poitevent while he was away on business; letters from mother May Eleanor Staples Poitevent and sister while Poitevent was attending the University of Virginia; letters written while Poitevent was a reporter with the Daily Picayune, which relate to family matters or his father's business interests in Florida, Mississippi, and Mexico; letters to or from relatives or acquaintances regarding Indian artifacts and other matters; letters from William Rice Sims, secretary of the Mississippi Historical Society (1890-1891); letters relating to business interests in Mexico. Included are letters from wife Thomasia Poitevent, son Schuyler Poitevent, Jr., mother-in-law Thomasia Hancock, and relatives including, Charles T. Earle and G. Hodges; letters to or from various archival institutions regarding Poitevent's historical research on the Mississippi Gulf Coast or family genealogy; letters to or from members of early Mississippi families concerning genealogy or local history; letters to publishers; and letters to or from doctors and nurses regarding an operation at the Hotel Dieu in New Orleans (1933-1935).

    Boxes 1-5.

    Thomasia Hancock Poitevent (1899-1947):

    Letters from Schuyler Poitevent, Sr., including a number from the Hotel Dieu, a New Orleans hospital (1933-1936); letters from son Schuyler Poitevent, Jr., father and mother Richard and Thomasia Harris Hancock, and brothers Arthur and Harris Hancock, these primarily relating to the Hancock estate in Virginia; letters from relatives, friends, and staff of the Hotel Dieu.

    Boxes 5-7.

    Richard and Thomasia Harris Hancock Family (1864; 1905-1911):

    Letter from Richard Hancock to Thomasia Harris, Winchester, Virginia (October 19, 1864); letters from Thomasia Poitevent, Washington, D.C., to her mother, brothers, and sisters from Tampico, Mexico, describing the birth of Schuyler Poitevent, Jr., life on the ranch, and the Mexican Revolution (1909-1911).

    Boxes 8-11.

  2. Certificates, Contracts, and Estate Papers. 1848-1944. 13 items.

    This series consists of Fruit Growers' Association certificates; Texas land certificates; a Jackson County, Mississippi, a land deed; a land grant; and a claim against the federal government for the loss of the steamer, A.G. Brown, and other property of W.J. Poitevent during the Civil War.

    Box 12.

  3. Diaries. 1876-1934. 15 items.

    This series consists of diaries of June Poitevent (1876-1918), including a revisionist diary that begins in 1912; a diary of Schuyler Poitevent, Sr. (1890-1891); notebooks relating to a collection of Indian artifacts; and narrative accounts of the Poitevents' return to the United States after the Mexican Revolution and of September 1934 operation.

    Boxes 12-14.

  4. College and School Assignments. 1895-1921. 18 items.

    This series consists of essays of Schuyler Poitevent, Sr., written while he was a student at the University of Virginia and school exercises of Schuyler Poitevent, Jr. (1912).

    Box 15.

  5. Manuscripts and Notes. 8.7 linear feet. 1900-1936, n.d.

    This series consists of fiction, non-fiction, and poems of Schuyler Poitevent, Sr.; fiction of Thomasia Hancock; and stories about Richard Hancock by Thomasia Hancock.

    Schuyler Poitevent, Sr.:

    • Box 16: "The Depths of the Deep", 1900; "Mississippi's First Caucasian Resident", 1925; "La Pulsa-Pulse: A Gringo Tale of Old Mexico", 1927; "The Carved Magnolia", n.d.
    • Box 17: "Azoque: A Peon Tale of the Rio Tamasi", 1927; "Compra-Venta: A Tale of the Laguna Tamiahna", 1927; "La Boda Wedding: A Peon Tale of the Coyote", 1927; "Porque el Javali no Tiene Cola", 1927; "Say-O-Day", 1927; "Se Acabo el Coyote", 1927; "Why the Gavilan Catches the Pollitos", 1927.
    • Box 18: "Belem", 1928; "Chismes", 1928; "Don Lorenzo Estufa", 1928; "Dona Victoria", 1928; "El Azadon del Municipio", 1928; "El Hoyo de los Ratos", "El Tigre", 1928; "Escanda los", 1928; "La Cambia", 1928; La Puenta of Necesidad", 1928; "Ojos", 1928; "Railes", 1928; "The Sinvergvenzos", 1928; "When se Acabo-ed the Trabojo of the Seccion", 1928; "Don Manuel, El Bombero", 1929.
    • Box 19: "Smoking Out the Mafia", 1928; "Bull", n.d.; "Mazaquata", n.d.; "Mexican Stories", n.d.; "Molestias", n.d.
    • Box 20: "The Cap'n", 1928; "My Tombstone", 1928; "The Still", 1928; "Inherited Racial Characteristics", 1929.
    • Box 21: "Mississippi's Land Pirates", 1929.
    • Box 22: "Dulcinea", 1929; "March 1876", 1929.
    • Box 23:"Roosters Crowin" or "Shutting the Front Gate", 1928; "Sehoy's Boy", 1930; "The Alibi", 1930; "The Right Lightning-Bolt", 1930.
    • Box 24-27: "In Spirits of Wine", 1930-1932.
    • Box 28: "The Aztec Blood of Yore", 1930; "Dona Ysabel's Powers", 1931; "Miss Jennie Orrell", 1931; "Wits", 1931; "Three Tales of the Natchez", 1932; "Life After Death: A Grave-Shed Story", n.d.; "Lorna's Reasons", n.d.
    • Box 29: "Three Tales of the Natchez", 1932.
    • Box 30-36: "Amichel", 1932.
    • Box 30-36: "Pineda's Espiritu Santo", 1933.
    • Box 37-38: "Broken Pot", 1933.
    • Box 39: "Hotel God, New Orleans", 1934.
    • Box 40: "When the Senior Road Master Americans Walked Drunk and Other Mexican Things", 1936; "The Coming of the British", n.d.
    • Box 41: Poems, 1923-1926.
    • Box 42: Poems, 1927-1929; n.d.

    Thomasia Poitevent:

    • Box 43: "A Coincidence", "An Escape from Winchester", "Papa's Book", "Richard Hazlewood", "Richard J. Hancock: Bossier Volunteer" or "The Young Southerner", and other notes by Thomasis Poitevent.
    • Box 44: "Diana Dole".

  6. Research Notes. n.d. 3 boxes.

    This series consists of research notes on Mississippi Gulf Coast history, which are arranged alphabetically by author or subject; schemes and drafts are arranged chronologically.

    Boxes 45-47.

  7. Genealogical Notes. n.d. 18 items.

    This series consists of genealogical notes on the Poitevent and Allied families (Lee, Hodges, Russ, and Williams); genealogical notes on the Ladner family; notes of Virginia Favre Poitevent on the Poitevent estate and on Biloxi history.

    Box 48.

  8. D'Iberville Dedication. 1952. 1 box.

    This series consists of papers relating to the dedication of a historical marker on the probable site of Fort Maurepas in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Included are correspondence and minutes of the Fort Maurepas Dedicatory Committee and related clippings. Virginia Favre Poitevent was secretary of the committee.

    Box 48.

  9. Financial Papers. 1876-1949. 130 items.

    This series consists of financial papers of the following Poitevent family members: June and May Eleanor Poitevent (1876-1929): Texas land agents' accounts; tax receipts of June Poitevent, May Eleanor Poitevent, and Adeline Staples for land in Florida, Mississippi (Jackson County), and Texas; Thomasis Poitevent (1920-1949): Neale Publishing Company account; Ocean Springs State Bank canceled checks and statements (1920-1949); correspondence relating to stocks and taxes (1929-1949).

    Boxes 49-50.

  10. Photographs. n.d. 149 items.

    Photographs of Poitevent family members and friends.

    Box 51.

    Photographs of Florida; Ocean Springs, Mississippi; Mexico; and other locations.

    Box 52.

  11. Newspaper Clippings. 1892-1975. 85 items.

    This series consists of clippings of obituaries of June Poitevent, Schuyler Poitevent, Sr., William Poitevent, and Adeline Staples; clippings related to Indian artifacts collected by Schuyler Poitevent, Sr., 1889; and clippings relating to Mississippi history.

    Box 53.

  12. Printed Materials. 1877-1832; n.d. 23 items.

    This series consists of various publications, including those of Eliza Jane Poitevent Nicholson (Pearl Rivers).

    Box 54.

  13. Sketches. 1881-1882. 48 items.

    This series consists of pencil sketches by Charles Tracy Earle.

    Box 55.

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