SERIES III: FAMILY AND PERSONAL PAPERS (Boxes 27-32)
Scope and Contents
The Family and Personal Papers Series is divided into four subseries: Personal papers, Estate papers, Records of Holly Pine Farm and earlier land acquisitions, and Travel files.
The Personal papers subseries contains a variety of items of both J. Brackin and Eleanor George Kirkland. Perhaps most noteworthy are the speeches and debate notes Kirkland assembled into one notebook, chiefly from his student years at the Southern Industrial Institute and Cornell University (1911-1918). They reveal his youthful opinions on a number of issues of the day; topics include women's suffrage, problems of the South, lynching, prohibition, the tariff, capital punishment, yellow pine, and George Junior Republic. There are also two diaries (19271931) with very short entries, covering work with the Boys Clubs and at George Junior Republic; two address books, one of which contains several pages of transcribed stories and jokes Kirkland used to begin speeches; and a file of financial records, besides other items listed below. The Christmas card scrapbook contains cards received by the family, chiefly 1935-1937 in Radburn, New Jersey, as well as copies of those they sent. The photo album contains approximately 500 small snapshots (1912-1924) of persons and scenes in Mississippi and at the Southern Industrial Institute, Cornell University, and the George Junior Republic. The papers from Kirkland's clipboard and briefcase were found there at his death. A few items (chiefly letters) were replaced into the files from which he withdrew them; a list of those items is kept in this series.
This subseries contains files on the estates of six individuals, including William R. and Esther Brewster George, Mrs. Kirkland's parents. John F. George was a relative of Mrs. Kirkland; the Gerrit S. Millers, father and son, were friends of the George family. Mrs. Kirkland was a beneficiary in the will of Gerritt S. Miller, Sr.; she was born Eleanor Miller George.
Miss Julia Lathers (d. 1935) was a wealthy New York heiress who was a longtime friend of the elder Georges and the Kirklands. J. Brackin Kirkland exercised power of attorney for her in her last months; as a consequence of his involvement he found himself the victim of a suit by Miss Lathers' estranged sister Ida. The story of the sisters' estrangement was published in the New York Herald Tribune; clippings are included. Among Ida Lathers contentions was that her sister owned a pecan grove (purchased through Kirkland) and that Kirkland was concealing it from the estate. There is correspondence regarding the suit in this file; Kirkland in fact had invested in some pecan trees for Julia Lathers, not in any land.
Biographical material on William R. and Esther Brewster George may be found in the George Junior Republic series, as can information on Gerrit S. Miller, Sr.
Records of Holly Pine Farm and Earlier Land Acquisitions
During the 1920's, 1930's, and 1940's, J. Brackin Kirkland bought and sold several tracts of land near Moselle, Mississippi, in the neighborhood of his childhood home. He intended to return home to take up farming after he earned his degree from Cornell in 1918, but he did not do so until he retired from the presidency of the Southern Industrial Institute in 1950. At that time he purchased land from his brother Clinton, land that he had owned once before. He named the farm he developed on that land Holly Pine Farm. In the early years he raised beef cattle; later he concentrated on growing pines. In 1970 he harvested 10,000 pine trees.
This subseries contains correspondence relating to Kirkland's various land transactions (1920's to 1940's) as well as records relating to the operation of Holly Pine Farm (1950's to 1970's). More correspondence regarding land deals and the management of Kirkland's lands before his return to Mississippi can be found in the correspondence with his brothers Clayton and Clinton, who looked after his properties while he was gone (Boxes 20 and 21).
Included in this subseries is correspondence (1924-1942) between Kirkland and Calvin Bender, a black man who both purchased and rented land from him and who occasionally worked for the family. Some of this correspondence is of a personal nature, although most relates to Bender's financial obligations to Kirkland. There are other references to Bender in the correspondence of Clinton Kirkland (Boxes 20 and 21). Bender's son Singleton Bender later became principal of the Piney Woods School in Mississippi, a black institution similar in purpose to the Southern Industrial Institute; more information on the family may be found in the Piney Woods School series (Box 51, Folder 12). Another file of correspondence (Brunson acreage) documents complicated negotiations in clearing up a question of title to eighty acres of land.
Kirkland sold timber from his land on several occasions, both before and after his return to Mississippi. Included in the Masonite Corporation file (concerning a possible timber sale) is a 1935 color catalog of Masonite products and their application in home design (Box 30, Folder 29). Now a nationally known firm, Masonite Corporation is a south Mississippi institution; Kirkland corresponded directly with Mr. Mason.
The records of Holly Pine Farm are not extensive, but they do include plans for the house and barn (which he designed), correspondence and receipts for timber sales, and other miscellaneous records.
Files on several major trips taken by the Kirklands, consisting chiefly of travel brochures, tourist information, and postcards, are preserved in this small subseries. Many of the items were annotated by Mrs. Kirkland. Further information on their 1938 Caribbean cruise may be found in the Boys Clubs of America series, William E. Hall correspondence (Box 41, Folder 9). Hall was president of the Boys Clubs and a close friend of the Kirklands; he booked the cruise for them. The Kirklands' friends Ellen and Marian Rawlinson accompanied them on the 1962 trip to New England and eastern Canada.
The Kirklands also undertook several fundraising trips for the Southern Industrial Institute during the 1940's. Records of those trips (chiefly of a financial nature, but also recording their itineraries) are found in the Southern Industrial Institute series (Box 48).
- Creation: 1886-1983
Conditions Governing Access
Noncirculating; available for research.
From the Collection: 27 Cubic Feet
Language of Materials
From the Collection: English
Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository
118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001