Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Howry Family Papers, 1842-1883

Finding aid created by
Clements Staff and Meg Hixon, June 2012

Summary Information
Title: Howry family papers
Creator: Howry, J. M. (James Moorman), 1804-1884 and Howry, Charles Bowen, 1844-1928
Inclusive dates: 1842-1883
Bulk dates: 1842-1876
Extent: 55 items
This collection contains 19 letters, 34 legal and financial documents, and 2 additional items related to Mississippi judge James Moorman Howry and his son, Charles Bowen Howry. The Howrys' incoming correspondence concerns the governance of the University of Mississippi in the late 1840s, and the experiences of Mississippi residents and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The legal and financial documents primarily concern James M. Howry's land holdings in Oxford, Mississippi.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1987, 1989. M-2328, M-2521.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Howry Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged in the following series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Legal and Financial papers
  • Series III: Miscellaneous

Each series is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.


James Moorman Howry was born in Fincastle, Virginia, on August 4, 1804, and grew up in Hawkins County, Tennessee. He served as a colonel in the Tennessee Militia and practiced law in Nashville after 1831, though he did not have a formal legal education. In 1836 or 1837, Howry moved to Oxford, Mississippi, where he continued his successful legal career, served as judge for the 8th judicial district, and became a founding member of the University of Mississippi's board of trustees (1844-1870). He continued to assist in the university's governance throughout much of the rest of his life, and also became a state senator (1858-1861) and trustee of Union Female College. He and his wife, Narcissa Bowen (1818-1870), were married in 1834, and had at least nine children: Susan, Henry, Charles Bowen (1844-1928), Alice, Samuel, Herschel, Sallie, Frederick, and Peyton. James Moorman Howry died on April 14, 1884.

Charles Bowen Howry was born on May 14, 1844. He briefly attended the University of Mississippi before enlisting as a corporal in Company A of the 29th Mississippi Infantry Regiment at the outbreak of the Civil War; he later became a first lieutenant. After the war, he returned to the University of Mississippi, and he graduated in 1867 with a degree in law. Howry owned a successful legal practice in Oxford, Mississippi, and held many public positions, including service as a state senator (1880-1884), United States district attorney (1885-1889), and assistant attorney general of the United States (1893-1896). Charles Bowen Howry died in 1928.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection contains 19 letters, 34 legal and financial documents, and 2 additional items related to Mississippi judge James Moorman Howry and his son, Charles Bowen Howry. James M. Howry's incoming correspondence consists primarily of letters concerning the governance of the University of Mississippi between 1846 and 1849. Charles Bowen Howry received 6 letters between 1860 and 1865, including 4 pertaining to southern perspectives on the Civil War. The legal and financial documents deal mostly with James M. Howry's land holdings in Oxford, Mississippi, and include indentures, tax receipts, and official appointments.

The Correspondence series is comprised of 19 incoming letters addressed to James M. Howry and to his son, Charles Bowen Howry ("Charlie"). The first 3 letters are personal letters that James M. Howry received from relatives and friends in the South. Among other topics, his correspondents shared family news, thoughts on religion, and notes about local politics. Between 1846 and 1849, professional acquaintances wrote 7 letters to Howry about the official affairs and governance of the University of Mississippi. Among these is a 12-page letter from an unidentified correspondent at the University of Virginia, who provided detailed information about the college's administration and students (April 15, 1848). Also included is a 2-page printed description of the Ravenscroft Seminary, enclosed with a manuscript note from one of its founders, Donald MacLeod (October 1, 1848).

Charles Howry's incoming letters consist of 1 personal letter from his father, James M. Howry, and 5 from his brother Henry and other friends, who wrote of their experiences during the Civil War. In 3 letters, Confederate soldiers discussed military life, their experiences with the army, and war news. Sarah Taliaferro, a female friend, expressed her anxiety upon hearing that Charles intended to go to war (July 19, 1861). She also drew a small pencil sketch of a horse's head and neck. Also of interest are Henry Howry's letters to his brother Charles. In his first, dated October 20, 1860, Henry described his studies at the University of Mississippi, and in his second he discussed his experiences at a Confederate Army camp, as well as the women within the camp (May 4, 1861).

The 34 Legal and Financial papers series contains 2 documents appointing Howry to official offices (both dated November 23, 1841) and 32 indentures, purchase receipts, property appraisals, and tax receipts concerning land James M. Howry owned in Mississippi. Of the latter, 17 predate the Civil War, 12 are dated between 1869 and 1883, and 3 are undated fragments. Most of Howry's land was located in Lafayette County, Mississippi, particularly Oxford.

The Invitation and Notes series holds 2 items: a printed invitation for John M. Howry to attend a party given for the University of Mississippi's trustees (July 8, 1845), and a brief genealogical note regarding deaths in the Carter family (undated).

Subject Terms

    • Confederate States of America. Army--Military life.
    • Mississippi--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Mississippi--Politics and government.
    • Oxford (Miss.)
    • Real property--Mississippi.
    • Real property tax.
    • Soldiers--Mississippi.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • University of Mississippi--Administration.
    • University of Mississippi--Finance.
    • University of Mississippi--Students.
    • University of Virginia--Administration.
    • University of Virginia--Students.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Horses.
    • Howry, Henry.
    Genre Terms:
    • Indentures.
    • Legal documents.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Receipts (financial records)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   48, Small Collections  
    Correspondence [series]
    Folders   49-50  
     February 8, 1842-May 31, 1862    [Note: 1 item housed in Oversize Manuscripts]
    Box   48, Small Collections  
    Legal and Financial Papers [series]
    Folders   51-53  
     November 23, 1841-1883 and  undated    [Note: Several items housed in Oversize Manuscripts]
    Box   48, Small Collections  
    Invitation and Notes [series]
    Folder   54  
     July 8, 1945, and  undated
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The John H. Graham journals contain information about the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment (University Greys)

    Howry, James M. "Citizen, as Well as Brig. General," Chalmers.: It Is Due to My Friends, and the Public, That I Should Notice a Scurrilous Article Over the Signature of "Jas. R. Chalmers, Citizen, as Well as Brigadier General," in the Mobile News...

    Howry, James M. To the Qualified Voters of the 8th Judicial District of Mississippi.: Fellow Citizens: Having Been Absent from the State for Several Weeks ... I Avail Myself of This Method to Announce to You That I Am a Candidate for the Office of Judge of the Circuit Court... 1861.

    The Mississippi Department of Archives & History holds a collection of Howry family papers.


    Brown, John Howard. The Cyclopaedia of American Biography: Comprising the Men and Women of the United States Who Have Been Identified with the Growth of the Nation. Volume IV. James H. Lamb Company, 1901.

    Crisman, E. B. Biographical Sketches of Living Old Men, of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, in Six Volumes. Volume I. St. Louis, Missouri: Perrin and Smith, 1877.

    Lynch, James T. The Bench and Bar of Mississippi. New York: E. J. Hale & Son, Publishers, 1881.

    Sansing, David G. The University of Mississippi: A Sesquicentennial History. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999.