Lenoir Family Papers — Account of Corn, 1785

Colin Thompson

This account of corn from the Lenoir Family Papers in 1785 is a pivotal piece of the food story of the Chapel Hill area of the time because it objectively shows the reliance that civilians of the area had on corn as a food crop. This is especially important for a family like the Lenoir’s because the Lenoir’s were a successful and prominent family of the time in the area, so identifying their reliance on corn only highlights its importance. Also, the fact that this object is from the era of our nation’s infancy (shortly after the Revolutionary War) shows corn’s pivotal role in development of the local cuisine of a new nation.

This object is so significant when you consider it in the context of its time period. In the newly founded United States, citizens had journeyed there to start their “new” lives. In order to do this, they would need to find a way to sustain themselves. They needed a way of livelihood and food to survive. Corn provided just that to the newly born nation’s citizens. According to Britannica.com, corn is a crop indigenous to the Americas, and the Americas were a new land at the time, so those living in the United States could use corn as an opportunity.

If this account were of a foodstuff other than corn, it would not have the same significance in the area’s food story. It cannot be understated how attractive it must have been to start life anew in a new land with this new crop that held so much promise and played such a central role in people’s new lives.


“18 Food Crops Developed in the Americas”. https://www.britannica.com/list/18-food-crops-developed-in-the-americas. 6 October 2018.

From Account of Corn, 1785, Folder 287 in the Lenoir Family Papers/426, Southern Historical Collection, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.