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Grimes Family papers

 Collection 0004-MDHC

The Grimes family of Oxon Hill, Prince George's County, Maryland maintained a farm as well as a store and tavern or 'ordinary' throughout the nineteenth century. For much of that time one family member or another served as postmaster for the area. In accordance with the contemporary convention of naming towns after the local postmaster, the town was then known as Grimesville. The Grimes family papers include financial ledgers from the store, daybooks recording work on the farm, weather, and local and family news, legal agreements about land and labor, and correspondence. While the Grimes family did not enslave people, they did participate in and benefit from the enslavement of people. Thomas Grimes (1794-1864) managed the store, ordinary, farm, and post office from about 1820 until his death. His son Richard Franklin (born 1835) assumed responsibilities in the family businesses as Thomas' health declined in the 1860s and maintained the businesses after his father died.


  • 1821-1902
  • Majority of material found within 1845-1864

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


3.25 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Grimes Family papers date from 1821 to 1902, with the bulk of the documents covering 1845 to 1864. The ledgers and daybooks are the most significant section of the collection. Ledgers from the store show prices for food, liquor, and other goods in the mid-nineteenth century. The ledgers also include many names of Grimes's customers, including the Dyer, Edelon, Talbert or Tabbert, and Vodery families. Thomas Grimes's daybooks offer a detailed picture of his employment practices, as well as his success in agriculture. While the Grimes family did not enslave people, there are records of them hiring people who were enslaved by other local families, an agreement in which the enslavers received the payment, not the enslaved people doing the labor for the hiring family. Grimes carefully recorded how much of each crop he planted and how much he reaped, along with notes on the weather and on the condition of other farmers' crops. The daybooks also contain brief notes of family importance, such as the birthdays of his four oldest sons and a listing of Grimes's account with the local doctor. The correspondence and notes that make up the rest of the collection deal primarily with the agricultural, financial, and legal concerns of the family, as well as the buying habits of local families.

Family History

Little is known about the Grimes family of Oxon Hill, Prince George's County, Maryland. Throughout the nineteenth century, the family maintained a farm as well as a shop and tavern or 'ordinary' located at an intersection, now where St. Barnabas Road intersects Oxon Hill Road (Route 414). For much of that time, one family member or another served as postmaster for the area, and thus the town was known as Grimesville, in accordance with the contemporary convention of naming towns after the local postmaster.

Thomas Grimes (1794-1864) managed the store, ordinary, farm, and post office from about 1820 until his death. Liquor and sales licenses for the store from the 1840s and 1850s were issued to Peter Grimes, who may have been part owner of the store. The relationship between Thomas and Peter has not been determined, however, new information provided by a genealogical researcher suggests that Peter was the son of Thomas Grimes and Elizabeth Cadle. See note below.

Thomas and his first wife, Catherine, had four children: Charles Robert, b. 1821; John Thomas, b. 1824; James Henry, b. 1826; and Jeremiah Tobias, b. 1827. After Catherine died in 1832, Thomas married Elizabeth Cadle (or Kadle). This second marriage produced at least two children: Richard Franklin, b. 1835, and George Daniel, b. 1841.

It was Richard Franklin who assumed responsibilities in the store and on the farm as Thomas's health declined in the 1860s and who took over running the family businesses after Thomas's death in 1864. By the time of Thomas's death, the older children no longer lived in the area. Charles and James, along with their families, both moved to Virginia in 1850, and as of 1852 John was in Baltimore. In 1856, Jeremiah moved as well, to "Mr. Baden's place."

A Grimes family tree is available. NOTE: A genealogical researcher provided the following additional information from an 18th century family bible. Thomas' second wife's name was spelled Kadle or Cadle and there was at least one additional (to two listed above) child - Peter Gibson Grimes. Peter Gibson Grimes married Catherine Rachel Suit (as in Suitland, Maryland) sister of Samuel Taylor Suit, and had eight children: Ella Fancis, Samuel Taylor, Sallie Suit, Minnie Gibson, Hattie Louise, Frank Hume, Edith Marie and Mabel Catherine. Catherine Rachel Suit was the daughter of Fielder Wilson Suit, 1805-1870, married 1831 Catherine Margaret Scott, 1817-? Fielder Wilson Suit was the son of Oliver Burch Suit, born 1775, married 1794 Eleanor Wilson. Catherine Margaret Scott was the daughter of Samuel Scott and Elizabeth Free.


The collection has been divided into four series:

Series 1
Financial Records
Series 2
Personal Records
Series 3
Legal Records
Series 4

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the Grimes Family papers from Charles Apfelbaum in 2002. An additional ledger (1844-1859) was received from the Talbot County Free Library in 2010.

Processing Information

The papers were separated by subject and then by type. Within each group, the documents were arranged chronologically. The ledgers from Series 1 were placed in oversize boxes. The entire collection was transferred to acid-free folders and housed in acid-free boxes.

Guide to the Grimes Family papers
Processed by Sarah Heim.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Jennie A. Levine.
  • 2017-05-24: EAD checked and revised following ArchivesSpace migration by Emily Flint.
  • 2018-02-20: Finding aid reviewed and minor updates made by Caitlin Rizzo.
  • 2021-04-2021: Hannah Frisch added additional information to the collection abstract, scope and contents note, and Correspondence series note regarding the family's history of hiring enslaved people and also made updates to language regarding enslavement.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742