John Isham Papers
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John Isham Papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Atlanta History Center
Creator: Isham, John, 1817-1892
Title: John Isham Papers
Dates: 1855-1893
Quantity: 1.0 linear ft.
Quantity: Extent: 1 linear ft. (2 boxes)
Identification: ahc.MSS232

Biographical/Historical Note

John Isham (1817-1892) was born in Manchester, Vermont on 31 January 1817. He was trained as a lawyer, and admitted to the New York Bar. In 1840 he moved to South Carolina where he began a teaching career and he later moved to Columbus, Georgia. For a short time, he taught in the public schools of Columbus, Georgia. In 1855 he opened his own private academy, Pine Grove, which he led until 1864. In the last year of the Civil War, he enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army and he served in Capt. Chapman’s Company of the Georgia Defenders. He returned to Columbus in 1865 and continued teaching. He moved to Atlanta in 1868 where he was named principal of the Crew Street School in 1872. For a brief time, 4 months in 1883, he lived in Talladega, Alabama. He returned to Atlanta in January of 1884 and remained until his death on 1 August 1892. He was married twice, to Miss Elizabeth Sherwood in 1854 and Miss Maria Louisa “Lou” Wood in 1875 (b. 1850 d. 14 Sept. 1946). He had three daughters who reached maturity, Annie Angier (b 1857 d. 7 June 1938), Mary Graham ( b. 1879 d. 6 Dec. 1964), and Helen Wynne(b. 1889 d. 4 June 1984). At least three children, one son and two daughters died in infancy.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of six diaries written by John Isham and his wife, Maria Louisa “Lou”, during the years 1878 to 1892. At the conclusion of the diaries there is one page dated February 1893, most probably written by his daughter. John Isham died on 1 August 1892. The daily entries usually begin with observations of the weather and temperature, followed by comments about daily events. In addition, Isham and his wife give a great deal of attention to the news and gossip around Atlanta. They note births, marriages, and deaths, also commenting on politics and the state of education in the city. The diaries also contain long summaries of sermons preached at Central Presbyterian Church. In addition to the diaries, the collection contains a ledger and enrollment book from the Pine Grove Academy, the private school operated by Isham in Columbus, Georgia. All of this is concluded with various transcriptions of the diaries. These incomplete transcriptions, some hand written while others have been typed, were done by Atlanta Historical Society volunteers in the 1980s.


This collection is arranged chronologically by journal date, followed by ledger, and diary transcriptions.

Index Terms

Atlanta (Ga.)
Columbus (Ga.)
Crew Street School (Atlanta, Ga.)
Isham, John, 1817-1892
Isham, Maria Louisa Wood, 1850-1946

Administrative Information

Custodial History

These diaries were originally in the possession of Mrs. Don Wynne, daughter of John Isham. They were donated to the Atlanta history Center, with assistance from the Central Presbyterian Church.

Existance and Location of Copies

Transcriptions of portions of the diaries were made by Atlanta History Center volunteers in the 1980s. The transcriptions are maintained as part of the manuscript collection.

Preferred Citation

The John Isham Papers, MSS 232, Kenan Research Center, Atlanta History Center

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Central Presbyterian Church, 1977 (1977.56)

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




11Diary, Sept. 1878 – Dec. 1880
2Diary, Jan. 1881 – April 1883
3Diary, May 1883 – June 1885
4Diary, July 1885 – Dec. 1887
5Diary, Jan. 1888 – Nov. 1889



21Diary, Dec. 1889 – Feb. 1893
2Ledger and enrollment book, 1855 –1864
3Transcription, 16 Sept. 1878 –7 Jan. 1881
4Transcription, Jan. 1881 –Feb. 1883
5Transcription, May 1883 –Sept. 1884
6Transcription, Sept. 1884 –June 1885