Underwood, Key families papers
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Underwood, Key families papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30305. 404.814.4040. reference@atlantahistorycenter.com
Creator: Key family
Creator: Underwood family
Title: Underwood, Key families papers
Dates: 1827-1951 (bulk 1861-1864)
Quantity: 0.25 linear ft.
Quantity: Extent: .25 cubic feet (1 half document case)
Identification: ahc.MSS213

Biographical/Historical Note

The Underwood and Key families were merged on June 27, 1832 with the marriage of Little Berry Underwood (1804-1879) and Louisa Maria Key (1815-1895). The couple moved from Tennessee to a village in Franklin County, Georgia known as Walnut Hill, and later to Lithonia before the Civil War. Mr. Underwood was a merchant. The couple had eight children, including Nancy Sarah Ann, who died in her infancy in 1833; Harriet Frances who married Paschal Philips (1838-1916); William Jackson (1840-1864); Alvin Columbus (1843-1864); James Knox Polk, known as “Uncle Jimmy” (1846-1915); Marion LaFayette (1849-1938), who married Florence DeAllen Brockman; Cornelia Malissa who married Charles H. Miller (1851-1926), and Mary Louise who married James Franklin Hill (1855-1940). Alvin Columbus Underwood served with Cobbs Legion, a Georgia Volunteer Infantry unit during the Civil War and was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. Alvin’s brother, William Jackson Underwood (Jacky) served in the 4th Regiment, Georgia Volunteers, Company F, and was killed in the Battle of Winchester. Biographical information about members of the Key family of Georgia has not been determined.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains correspondence, envelopes and financial and legal documents belonging primarily to members of the Underwood family of Franklin County, and later Lithonia, Georgia. Most of the correspondence was written by William and Alvin Underwood to their parents and siblings when the pair served in the Confederate Army from 1861-1864. William sent correspondence to his family telling of his unit’s fitness and preparation, his optimism about a short war, his difficulties in getting furloughs, his need for clothes, and comments on his participation in the battle at Gettysburg, and General Robert E. Lee’s success against General George Meade. His last letter in the collection was dated May 13, 1864 and written from a hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia where he was recovering from a gunshot wound. He died three months later in battle. Alvin Underwood also touches on a variety of subjects in his correspondence, including diseases (measles) in camp, his good health, his optimistic views of the war, including his hopes that Great Britain will intercede the conflict, and mentions battles in the Peninsular Campaign, including the 1862 battle involving the Merrimac. He also mentions battle wounds and disappearances of members of his unit. The collection also includes letters from B. L. Key, W. J. Key, and M. J. Key, A. C. Giles, W. H. Morris, J. L. Philips, all written from 1861-1864. Also included is a letter from “Mary” in 1886 written from Stone Mountain, Georgia in which she describes the appearance of James Longstreet and Jefferson Davis at an event in the town. The collection also includes financial records belonging to Little Berry Underwood such as postmaster bills, Georgia and Confederate tax bills, and land deeds. The collection contains genealogical information about the Underwood family, and also a copy of Samuel Pettit’s (father of Florence DeAllen Brockman) will, in which he bequeaths his land and slaves to his children.


Collection is arranged alphabetical according to titles supplied by staff.

Index Terms

Confederate States of America. Army. Cobb's Legion.
Confederate States of America. Army. Georgia Infantry Regiment, 4th.
Franklin County (Ga.)--History
Georgia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives
Key family
Land titles--Georgia
Peninsular Campaign, 1862
Promissory notes--Georgia--Atlanta
Promissory notes--Georgia--DeKalb County
Rockdale Papers Mills (Conyers, Ga.)
Slaves--Virginia--Amherst County
Underwood family
Underwood, Alvin Columbus, 1843-1864
Underwood, Little Berry, 1804-1879
Underwood, William Jackson, 1840-1864
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives
Wills--Virginia--Amherst County

General Notes

America's Turning Point: Documenting the Civil War Experience in Georgia received support from a Digitizing Historical Records grant awarded to the Atlanta History Center, Georgia Historical Society, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Digital Library of Georgia by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Underwood, Key Families Papers, MSS 213, Kenan Research Center, Atlanta History Center

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Florence Underwood Adams, 1977(1977.535)

Description Control

Collection processed in 2007


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Container List




11Correspondence from Alvin Columbus Underwood to family and friends, 1861-1864 View online.
2Correspondence from William Jackson Underwood to family and friends, [also includes one letter from Alvin Underwood, as it was written on the same paper as a letter from W. Jacky Underwood to their parents], 1861-1864 View online.
3Correspondence from A. C. Giles to L. B. Underwood, 1862 View online.
4Correspondence from B. L. Key, 1862-1864 View online.
5Correspondence H. T. Key to Fannie Underwood, 1863 View online.
6Correspondence from W. J. Key, 3 letters, 1861-1864 View online.
7Correspondence from William H. Morris to L. B. Underwood, 1862, 1864 View online.
8Correspondence from J. L. Phillips and Lonso to L. B., and Louisa Underwood, 1862 View online.
9Correspondence and envelopes from unidentified persons, mostly unsigned letters to friends and family of the Underwood’s and Key’s, 1860-1862, 1886, 1931 View online.
10Financial and legal documents: receipts for post, taxes, deeds, debts etc. and a photocopy of a will, also includes the Instrument of Passage mentioned in a letter also held in the collection, 1827-1863 View online.
11Miscellaneous documents including lesson report cards, train schedules, an initiation certificate to the Knights of Jericho, and a photocopied set of notes on the families genealogy, 1860-1951 View online.
12Newspaper clipping of First Football Team of All Atlanta Boys 1894 and a copy of “The Mountain Campaigns in Georgia” third edition, 1887 View online.