Library of the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill
SOUTHERN HISTORICAL COLLECTION
NISBET AND MARYE FAMILY PAPERS
NOTE: A more complete finding aid for this collection is available at the Southern
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Abstract: Correspondence of the John Nisbet family of
Savannah and Marietta, Ga., and of the Philip Thornton
Marye family of Newport News, Va., and Atlanta, Ga.
The collection documents many aspects of the business
and domestic life of these families, but particularly
the business activities of Savannah cotton factor John
Nisbet in the 1870s; the education of Florence Nisbet
Marye while traveling in Europe, 1889-1890, and at St.
Timothy's School in Catonsville, Md., early 1890s;
that of Jack Marye at the University of Virginia in
the early 1890s; the movements of Florence's husband
Philip, commander of the Third Army Motorpool of the
American Expeditionary Forces in 1918 and 1919; and
the activities of their son, John Nisbet Marye, at
summer camp in New Hampshire and at Woodberry Forest
School in Woodberry, Va., 1918-1919. Also included
are letters from Nanni Nisbet in Germany reporting on
the dislocation of German society after World War I.
Online Catalog Terms:
Camps--New Hampshire--History--20th century.
College students--Virginia--History--19th century.
Commission merchants--Georgia--History--19th century.
Family--Georgia--Social life and customs.
Family--Virginia--Social life and customs.
Marye, Florence Nisbet.
Marye, John Nisbet.
Marye, Philip Thornton.
Saint Timothy's School (Catonsville, Md.)--Students--History--
United States. Army. American Expeditionary Forces. Motorpool,
University of Virginia--Students--History--19th century.
Woodberry Forest School--Students--History--19th century.
Size: About 400 items (3.0 linear feet).
Related Collections: Thomas Butler King Papers (#1252);
Wilder and Anderson Family Papers (#1255).
Provenance: Gift of Alexander Heard of Chapel Hill, N.C., in
Access: No restrictions.
Copyright: Retained by authors of items in these papers, or their
descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright
Table of Contents:
Series 1. Correspondence
Series 2. Miscellaneous Items
Born in Danzig (now Gdansk), West Prussia, the son of
Christopher and Marianne von Boehm Nisbet, John Nisbet
(1841-1917) worked for most of his life as a cotton factor in
Savannah, Ga. In 1870, he married Virginia Lord King
(1837-1901), whose father, Thomas Butler King (1800-1864), had
been a prominent antebellum planter and Whig politician from St.
Simon's Island, Ga. By the end of the 1870s, John and Virginia
Nisbet had at least five children: Jack, Marie, Florence, Nanni,
During the Spanish American War, Florence Nisbet met Philip
Thornton Marye, a young officer from Newport News, Va., who was
then stationed in Savannah. Married in January 1900, Philip and
Florence Marye had at least one child, John Nisbet Marye. By
1917, the Maryes were living in Atlanta, where Philip was an
architect. In 1918 and 1919, Philip Marye served in the American
Expeditionary Force in France and Germany.
Family letters dealing with everyday matters form the bulk of
the documents in the collection. The early letters are chiefly
those of John Nisbet to his wife Virginia Lord King Nisbet, who
he called Bush, Buschibus, or Appie. They deal primarily with
the pleasures and perturbations of family life, but also with
Nisbet's political activities in Savannah and his business
concerns as a cotton factor there. In addition, there are
letters written by Nisbet from numerous European capitals
concerning economic conditions in England and Europe and his
business contacts in those places.
The correspondence from the 1880s and 1890s is much more
diverse, both in terms of the number and ages of the writers
involved and the topics they discuss. The Nisbets and their
three oldest children--Jack, Marie, and Florence (called Flip or
Flippenchen)--are the major correspondents, as is Virginia
Nisbet's sister, Georgia King Wilder, wife of another cotton
factor in Savannah, Joseph J. Wilder. Many of the letters were
written by the Nisbets from Savannah and Marietta, Ga., to their
daughters Marie and Florence, who lived in England and various
European capitals with their aunt Georgia Wilder between 1889 and
1890. Most of the letters, however, were written by Marie,
Florence, and Georgia to the Nisbets, and relate to the schooling
of the Nisbet children while in Europe and to their travel
Letters to the Nisbets from their son Jack and their daughter
Florence dominate the correspondence from the early 1890s. Most
of these letters are related to Jack's schooling at the
University of Virginia and to Florence's education at St.
Timothy's Academy in Cantonsville, Md.
Florence, her husband Philip Thornton Marye (called Thornton),
and their son John Nisbet Marye (called Baby or Nisbet) wrote
most of the letters from 1894 to 1917. These include Philip's
courtship letters to Florence from the various places where he
was stationed during and after the Spanish American War,
including New York and the Carribbean. The majority of the
letters from this period, however, were written by their
son John between 1915 and 1917 and concern his summer activities
at Camp Marienfeld in Chesham, N.H.
The letters of Philip Marye and his son John form the bulk of
the correspondence between 1918 and 1925. Those from the elder
Marye were written to his wife from France and Germany during
1918 and 1919, while he was in command of the Third Army
Motorpool of the American Expeditionary Forces. John's letters
were written to his mother from Camp Marienfeld, Woodberry Forest
School in Woodberry, Va., and from the Lanark Inn in Lanark, Fla.
Besides correspondence, there are also a few school reports,
receipts, and genealogical charts.
The papers are arranged as follows:
Series 1. Correspondence. Folders 1-126 (ca. 400 items)
Series 2. Miscellaneous Items. Folders 127-132
(ca. 40 items)
Series 1. Correspondence
1874-1925. About 400 items.
Correspondence of the Nisbet and Marye families, chiefly
related to routine family matters, the business activities of
cotton factor John Nisbet, the education of the Nisbet children
in Europe and the United States, the summer camp activities of
John Nisbet Marye, and the experiences of Philip Thornton Marye
as part of the American Expeditionary Forces in France and
Germany in 1918-1919. Also included are letters, 1887-1921, from
John Nisbet's aunt Nanni Nisbet in Germany covering a wide
variety of topics, the most notable of which is the disruption of
German society in the aftermath of World War I.
Subseries 1.1. 1874-1881
Early letters are those of John Nisbet to his wife, Virginia
(called Buschibus, Bush, Appie), from Savannah, New York,
England, and various European capitals concerning family matters,
his travels, and business conditions in these places. Also
included are letters to the Nisbets from several members of
Virginia's family. Her sister, Georgia King Wilder, wife of
Joseph J. Wilder, the cotton factor for whom John Nisbet worked,
wrote about poor relief in Savannah and the effects of yellow
fever on the poor in that city; her brother, Mallery P. King,
wrote about regaining the confidence of his black laborers and
planting at Retreat, the family plantation on St. Simon's Island,
Ga.; and, in a June 1879 letter, another brother, J. Floyd King,
U.S. congressman from Louisiana, mentioned the defeat of
President Rutherford B. Hayes's plan to use the army during the
Folder 1 1874
Subseries 1.2. 1885-1888
Family letters continue. Particularly noteworthy are several
letters written from Mexico City by Virginia Nisbet's sister,
Florence King Jackson, whose husband, Henry Rootes Jackson, was
U.S. minister to Mexico, 1885-1887. In a letter to Virginia
Nisbet, her brother-in-law, Fritz Nisbet of Cawker City, Kan.,
referred to conditions in that city. Virginia Nisbet's brother,
J. Floyd King, wrote about working in New York City and receiving
requests, from his former Louisiana constituents to return there
and run again for office.
Folder 18 1885
Subseries 1.3. 1889-1890
Chiefly correspondence between the Nisbets and their young
daughters, Florence (called Flip) and Marie, who spent the year
traveling throughout the British Isles and Europe with their
aunt, Georgia King Wilder, and her teenage daughter, Page Wilder.
Most of the letters were written by Florence, Marie, and Georgia
and concern sightseeing, lodging, food, sickness, travel and the
education of the Nisbet girls, especially their efforts to learn
French. Writing from Paris during the spring of 1890, Georgia
Wilder comments on contemporary French art and the difference
between "nudes" and "the naked." Also included are several
letters to the Nisbets from their son Jack at the University of
Virginia, and others from him to his sisters in Europe.
Folder 24-27 January-June 1889
28-45 July-December 1889
46 No month 1889
47-65 January-June 1890
66-68 July 1890
69 August and no month 1890
Subseries 1.4. 1891-1899
Chiefly letters concerning routine family affairs, especially
the education of Jack Nisbet at the University of Virginia and
his sister Florence Nisbet at St. Timothy's School for Girls in
Cantonsville, Md. Particularly noteworthy are Florence's letters
to her parents during the fall of 1892. These detail a variety
of topics, from the tightly controlled regimen at St. Timothy's
and the celebration of the election of President Grover Cleveland
among the school's Southerners to Florence's personal disdain for
a bishop's request that the school girls donate their Bible funds
to an African-American theological seminary. Comments on race
relations can also be found in the letters to Virginia Nisbet
from her sister Florence Jackson. There is mention of a chance
meeting between Florence Jackson and Neptune, one of the former
slaves on the King plantation Retreat, and of the rising fears of
white women in rural Georgia toward black men. Also included are
several brief letters to Virginia Nisbet from her brother J.
Floyd King concerning his efforts to raise money in New York for
a system of sewers in Brunswick, Ga. In addition, there are
numerous letters from Philip Thornton Marye to Florence Nisbet
that reflect his romantic intentions toward her and contain
comments on his activities during the Spanish American War in New
York and the Caribbean, mentioning, in one instance, the Cubans'
war on the occupation police and their rebellion against American
Folder 70-79 1891
Subseries 1.5. 1900-1917
Early letters are those to Florence Nisbet from Philip
Thornton Marye and from numerous family members congratulating
her on her marriage to Marye in January 1900. The Maryes
eventually moved to Atlanta from
Newport News, Va. There are also letters discussing Marye's
awards for architecture. Most items from this period, however,
are postcards and letters to the Maryes from their son John
Nisbet Marye (called Baby or Nisbet) concerning his summer
activities at Camp Marienfeld in Chesham, N.H.
Folder 96 1900
Subseries 1.6. 1918-1925
Philip Thorton Marye, his son John, and Nanni Nisbet, are the
principal correspondents. John's postcards and letters to his
mother from Camp Marienfeld, Woodberry Forest School in Orange
County, Va., and later, from the Lanark Inn in Florida, form the
bulk of correspondence. Most of Philip Thornton Marye's letters
to his wife were written while he served with the American
Expeditionary Forces in Europe, in 1918-1919. These contain his
comments on European architecture, the beauty of the French
countryside, and his activities as commander of the Third Army
Motorpool in France and Germany. The letters to Florence Marye
from Nanni Nisbet in Berlin reveal the views of this former
aristocrat on conditions in postwar Germany. There are comments
on a number of topics, including socialist revolution, the
lynching of Jews, pogroms, counterrevolution, communist
activities, and the expectation that finding female servants
would be easier once the demand for women typists diminished.
Folder 103-107 1918
Series 2. Miscellaneous Items
About 40 items.
Arrangement: by person and type of document.
Documents related to various aspects of the lives of Florence
and Marie Nisbet and their mother Virginia Nisbet and to the
lives of Philip Thornton Marye and his son John Nisbet Marye.
These include school reports, prose and poetry, greeting and
Christmas cards, wedding invitations, and receipts. In addition,
there are genealogical charts, maps, and a few printed and
John Nisbet Marye
Folder 127 Attendance report, North Avenue Presbyterian Church
School, Atlanta, May 1912; account of expenditures for
John Nisbet Marye, 1916; report card, Atlanta Public
School System, [1917?]; reports from Woodberry Forest
School, March-June 1919; Christmas greeting card,
undated; watercolor done by a child.
Philip Thornton Marye
Folder 128 French currency, [1918?]; newspaper clipping:
"Meuse-Argonne Saw A.E.F. Make Maximum Effort," The
Stars and Stripes, 27 December 1918; mimeographed
pamphlet, 16 pages: "Thirty Second Division Motor
Show: Sayn, Germany, March 28-29, 1919"; printed poem:
"Under Home-Stars," by Frank L. Stanton, undated.
Virginia King Nisbet
Folder 129 Receipts and annual dues for the Georgia Society of
Colonial Dames of America, April 1895 and January 1896
Folder 129 Record of body temperature, Westminster Hospital,
London, England, March-April 1890; report, St.
Timothy's School, Cantonsville, Md., October 1893;
assessment notices for dues, St. Timothy's Alumnae,
May, June, and October 1899
Folder 129 "Oak Leaves," poetry and prose, 4 pages; "Heidelberg
Castle," pencil drawing, 1889
Folder 130 "Ancestry and Connections of Robt. Somerville Voss";
Thornton family; "Ancestry of Caroline Homassel--Wife
of Dr. Philip Thornton, of `Montpelier'"; "Hyde
Genealogy"; King family; King and Ramsdell families
Folder 131 "Map of Cook's Tours in Central Europe," undated;
"Panorama de Dinard A Dinan: Par le Bateau a Vapeur,"
undated; American Y.M.C.A.--Rome," undated
Folder 132 "Speech of Hon. J. Floyd King of Louisiana in the
House of Representatives, April 24, 1879"; grocery
lists, 1886; "Glacier-Garden," advertisement for
resort in Lucerne, Switzerland, 1889; invitation to
wedding of Agnes McRae and Julian Walker Morton,
undated, Linville, N.C.; photograph, Filatusbahn
(Eselwand Tunnel), Germany, undated
Series 1. Correspondence
Box 1 Series 1.1. 1874-1991 (folders 1-17
Series 1.2. 1885-1888 (folders 18-23)
Box 2 Series 1.3. 1889 (folders 24-46)
Box 3 Series 1.3. 1890 (folders 47-69)
Box 4 Series 1.4. 1891-1899 (folders 70-95)
Box 5 Series 1.5. 1900-1917 (folders 96-102)
Series 1.6. 1918-1925 (folders 103-126)
Box 6 Series 2. Miscellaneous Items (folders 127-132)