Peter Wilson Hairston (1819-1886) was the son of Samuel Hairston (1788-1875) and Agnes John Peter (1801-80) of Pittsylvania County, VA. He enrolled in the University in 1833, became a member of the Dialectic Society, and received his BA in 1837. Correspondence in the Wilson and Hairston Family Papers, SHC, indicates that after graduation he studied law at the University of Virginia, then returned to his family's plantation in 1839. He married Columbia Stuart (1830-57) in 1849 and settled on a plantation in Davie County, NC. After his first wife's death, he married Fanny Caldwell (1834-1907), with whom he had four children. During the Civil War Hairston was a major in the Confederate army, serving on the staff of Gen. Jubal A. Early.