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Historical Family Collections

A listing of Historical Family Collections found in local libraries
Transcribed by Deloris Williams


Family documents contributed to various institutions, libraries, and universities can be a valuable asset in researching one's ancestors. They can contain many things, including family histories, bibles, plantation records, deeds,  slave records of all kinds, personal letters and other correspondence. North Carolina is fortunate to have many such collections, some of which I am listing below along with the time period covered  and linked to the institution where it is housed with a more complete description by clicking onto the title of the collection. Note that some of the collections have copies of actual documents attached to them, so I suggest that you look through them thoroughly.  As I locate other collections with genealogical material, it will be added to this page.

Archibald Davis Alston Papers: 1804-1893
Archibald Davis Alston (b. 1817, son of Thomas Nicholas Faulcon Alston and Elizabeth Crawford Davis Alston),  lawyer and planter of Halifax County, N.C. Deeds, wills, gold mining accounts, tobacco sales records, notes, bills, receipts, and family correspondence of Sarah M. Alston (fl. 1840s) of Halifax County, N.C.; her son, A. D. Alston and his wife; their son, A. D. Alston, Jr. (fl. 1870s), of Warrenton and Louisburg, N.C.; and of Elizabeth
Crawford Davis Alston (fl. 1834-1846). Family letters, 1843-1859, are from Ariella Alston Hawkins (fl. 1843-1859) and her family in Matagorda County, Tex., and from Edgar M. Alston (d. 1848) in Galveston, Tex. There are no Civil War letters. Business correspondence, 1874-1882, of A. D. Alston, Jr., concerns mining properties.  Includes materials for Joseph John Alston and Willis Alston.


Battle Family Papers: 1765-1955
Lots of Battle Family information
Prominent members of the Battle family of North Carolina included William Horn Battle (1802-1879) of Louisburg, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill, lawyer, legislator, judge of the North Carolina superior and supreme courts, and trustee and professor of law at the University of North Carolina; he married Lucy Martin Plummer daughter of Kemp Battle and Susanna Martin of Warren County; their son, Kemp Plummer Battle (1831-1919) of Chapel Hill and Raleigh, lawyer, president of the Chatham Railroad, who was active in state affairs during the Civil War, served as state treasurer and as University of North Carolina president, 1876-1891, and professor of history, 1891-1907; and Kemp Plummer Battle's son, William James Battle (1870-1955), University of North Carolina and Harvard student, professor of classics, dean, and acting president, 1893-1917, and professor of classics, 1920-1955, at the University of Texas, and professor of classics, 1917-1920, at the University of Cincinnati. Many letters are from Cornelia Phillips Spencer (1825-1908), whose brother Charles Phillips married Kemp Plummer Battle's aunt, Laura Caroline Battle.
Includes a family chart on website.

Also See:

Photo of Lucy Martin Plummer Battle

James P. Beckwith Papers: 1789-1989
Family papers of James P. Beckwith of Durham, N.C. Included are letters and other papers, 1789-1869 (microfilm), reflecting the domestic and social life of the Arrington, Heath, Jones, Long, and Williams families, chiefly of Petersburg, Va., and Warrenton, N.C., especially the education of Dr. John Francis Heath (1819-1862) at Harvard University, the University of Berlin (including his journal while there), and the University of Pennsylvania; family Bible records (photocopy) of the family of Hugh Johnson (1762-1810) and Sally(Green) Johnson (1775-1848); genealogy of the Banister-Bolling-Eppes family (photocopy) and commonplace book, 1832-1865, of Mary Kearney (Davis) Williams of Montmorencie, Warrenton, N.C., containing diary entries, religious meditations, and copies of her letters to family members. Also included are the diaries of Mary J. White of Warrenton, kept at Wilmington, N.C., in 1864, while waiting with her father, John White; recollections of General Robert E. Lee's visit to Warrenton, 1869-1870 (microfilm), written in 1934 by Mrs. Mary J. Beckwith; A Short History of the A.E.O.C. (a Harvard University social club), 1835, by Thomas Pinckney Rutledge (1815-1838), edited by James P. Beckwith; and account books, 1925-1961 (6 volumes) of Robert Paine Beckwith (1888-1969), physician of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., who specialized in pediatrics and obstectrics from the 1920s through the 1950s. Marginal notes contain genealogical information about his Halifax and Northampton counties, N.C., and Brunswick County, Va., patients, many of whom were from textile mill families.

Boyd Family Papers: 1847-1973
Boyd family of Warrenton, N.C., and the related Burwell, Massenburg, Norwood, Davis, and other families. Family members include William Henry Burwell (d. 1917); planter John Early Boyd (1812-1883) from Mecklenburg Co.,VA,  and his wife, Ann Bignall Jones Boyd (1816-1882); and their son, lawyer Henry Armistead Boyd (1855-1929) and his wife, Elizabeth Massenburg Norwood Boyd (1863-1944), who came from Woodleaf Plantation, Franklin Co., NC. Correspondence, financial and legal materials, genealogical materials, pictures, and other papers of the Boyd and related families. The earliest letters are to and from Burwell family members, relating especially to the academic career of William Henry Burwell at the University of North Carolina, where he earned an A.B. degree in 1856.

Burgwyn Family Papers: 1787-1987
The Burgwyn family of Northampton County, N.C. included such prominent family members as Henry King Burgwyn (1813-1877), planter, and his sons Henry King Burgwyn, Jr. (1841-1863), a graduate of the University of North Carolina and a colonel in the 26th North Carolina Regiment, C.S.A.; William Hyslop Sumner Burgwyn (1845-1913), who served in the 35th North Carolina Regiment, was a graduate of the University of North Carolina and Harvard Law School, and a lawyer in Baltimore, Md., and Henderson, N.C., where he also ran a bank; and John Alveston Burgwyn (1850-1898), planter, merchant, and government official of Northampton County; and Thomas Williams Mason Long, husband of Maria Greenough Burgwyn Long and North Carolina state senator and physician who was active in the field of public health.  Various family members founded  banks in Henderson, Weldon, Roanoke Rapids, Rich Square, Ayden, Rocky Mount, and Jackson, all in North Carolina; owned lands in Warren County, and were proprietors of Ball Hill Mills, Odom, North Carolina, and Gee Farms, Jackson, North Carolina.

Benjamin Mosely Collins Papers: 1857- 1980
Benjamin Mosely Collins was born 18 August 1840, to Mary Ann Cottrell and Michael Collins, at Pleasant Hill, the family's home plantation near Ridgeway, Warren County, N.C. During the Civil War, he served as a captain in the Confederate Army. He died 8 March 1913. His father, Michael Collins, was born 16 May 1778, to Elizabeth Collins and Michael Collins. He was a planter, slave owner, and mill owner with assets in Rockingham County, N.C.; Vance County, N.C.; and Warren County, N.C. He died in 1856. Includes inventories documenting the sale of slaves, real estate, and perishable property from the estate of Michael Collins and some genealogical material relating to the Collins and Arrington families.


Charles Alston Cook Papers, 1813-1926
Charles Alston Cook of Warrenton, N.C., and Muscogee, Okla., was a lawyer; planter; active Republican; associate justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, 1901-1903; and member of the Oklahoma state legislature, 1909-1910. The collection includes letters from Cook, principally to his wife Marina Jones Cook, occasionally mentioning political events in Oklahoma, but making little reference to political or judicial affairs in North Carolina; considerable correspondence with and about John Graham (born circa 1847), founder of the Warrenton High School, Warrenton, N.C., and his family, chiefly on education topics; scattered letters from Daniel Lindsay Russell (1845-1908), Republican governor of North Carolina; other personal and family correspondence of Marina Jones Cook and of the Cooks' children at school in North Carolina and Tennessee; a letterpress copybook used by Cook in his legal work, 1877-1880, and by lawyer E. H. Plumer, 1868-1869; legal papers of Cook; newspaper clippings about family members; and family photographs.

William Eaton Papers: 1725-1893
William Eaton (1785-1862)  was a planter of Halifax and Warren counties, N.C. The collection includes deeds, bill, receipts, letters, and other papers pertaining to the Eaton and Bell families of Warren County, N.C. Included are colonial land grants, deeds, indentures, and receipts; accounts, 1850-1857, of William Eaton; letters, 1853, to William Eaton's daughter, Ella Rives Eaton Bell, from John McGill, Roman Catholic Bishop of Richmond, Va., written while he was in Paris, France, describing the wedding of Napoleon III and referring to Levi Silliman Ives (1797-1867); letters, 1853-1856, to Ella Rives Eaton Bell from Teresa and Beatrice Orsini of Rome, Italy; legal papers, 1870-1876, of the Eaton and Bell families, including the wills of William Eaton and his wife, Martha P. Eaton; and business papers, 1880-1893, of Peter Hansborough Bell (1812-1898) and Ella Rives Eaton Bell, living in Littleton, N.C. Peter Hansborough Bell, a native Virginian, had been in Texas during its war for independence and the Mexican War. He was governor of Texas from 1849 to 1853 and served in Congress from 1853 to 1857.

Charles Wilson Harris Papers: 1765-1924
Charles Wilson Harris (1771-1804), originally from Concord, N.C., was a lawyer and educator of Halifax and Warren counties, N.C., and one of the first professors at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C. Papers include letters from Charles Wilson Harris to his uncle, Charles Harris, a physician, and to his brother, Robert Harris, a student at the University of North Carolina and later a merchant in Salisbury, N.C. Topics include business, foreign affairs, state politics, the University of North Carolina, and the legal and medical professions, and advising his brother on choosing a career. Additions include a 1916 publication reproducing some of Harris's letters; a history of the Poplar Tent Church, a Presbyterian church in Cabarrus County, N.C., in which the Harris family was active; and deeds, correspondence, genealogical information, and other items relating to Charles Wilson Harris and the Harris and related families.

Hawkins Family Papers: 1738-1895
The Hawkins family, primarily of Warren and Franklin counties, N.C., included Benjamin Hawkins (1754-1818), who served with Washington in the American Revolution, was in the Continental Congress and the U. S. Senate, and, in the 1790s, was agent to the Creek Indians and superintendent of all tribes south of the Ohio River; John Davis Hawkins (1781-1858), who graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1801, studied law, and served in the North Carolina Senate; William J. Hawkins (1819-1894), who studied medicine, but worked chiefly in railroads and banking; Philemon Benjamin Hawkins (1823-1891), who was a planter and served in the North Carolina legislature; and Colin M. Hawkins (fl. 1860-1880). Records included are also 1738-1799 Deeds for lands, slaves, and other property, chiefly in Granville and Warren counties, N.C., but also Bute, Franklin, Montgomery, and Edgecombe counties.

Herndon and Caldwell families of North Carolina and Virginia, 1649-1998 a genealogy
Introduction states that this material may ONLY be reproduced for research purposes, and never for profit. From CD: Herndon and Caldwell families of North Carolina and Virginia, 1649-1998, A genealogy compiled by C.N. Herndon, M.D., Copyright 2006 by Margaret C. Herndon, Winston-Salem, NC. This is a complete Collection viewable & entirely accessible online through the NC Digital Collection.


Hill and Davis Family Papers: 1768-2003
Hill and Davis families of Warrenton, N.C. The collection includes correspondence, financial and legal items, genealogical material, printed items, and other materials of the extended Hill and Davis families. Materials prior to 1867 concern the families' activities in the Methodist Church in eastern North Carolina. After 1867, the material relates to Louisa Hill Davis and her daughters; Louisburg Male Academy and Louisburg Female Academy and their successor institution, Louisburg College; and the genealogy of the Davis-Hill-Toole-King-Fuller-Long-Seawell family. Some other names included in this collection Daniel Shines,  Sarah Richmond, Gabriel Long, Charles A. Hill (educator of Franklin County), Daniel Shine
Hill, Jordan Thomas, Jones Fuller, Ruth Jenkins, Edward Leigh Best, and many others.

Henry Wilkins Lewis Papers: 1820-1997
Henry Wilkins Lewis, faculty member and director of the Institute of Government, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; active layman of the Episcopal Church; and authority on North Carolina family genealogy and the history of the Episcopal Church in North Carolina. Series 7-11. Family history: Materials relating chiefly to Lewis's genealogical studies include papers documenting the property and business interests of members of the Alston, Lewis, Long, Wilkins, and Williams families, and the history of the Alston, Blunt, Brodnax, Bruce, Burgwyn, Johnson, Jones, Kinchen, Lewis, Lucas, Peterson, Raines, Seddon, Wilkins, and Williams families of Northampton, Warren Counties and elsewhere in northeastern North Carolina.


Kemp Plummer Lewis Papers: 1908-1946
A member of the sprawling Plummer and Battle families of North Carolina, Kemp Plummer Lewis  (1880-1952) was the son of Richard Henry Lewis and Cornelia Viola Battle, he was a lifelong textile executive with Erwin Mills in Durham, N.C, attended the University of North Carolina, where he was later president of the alumni association and a member of the first board of trustees of the consolidated university;  was also active in Durham civic affairs and Episcopal church work. Among his siblings were  Richard Henry Lewis, longtime president of the Oxford Cotton Mills in Oxford, N.C.; Martha (Pattie) Battle Lewis, who married Dr. Isaac Manning of Chapel Hill, died early in life; Kemp Plummer Lewis; and Ivey Foreman Lewis, biologist and dean at the University of Virginia.  The collection contains family and financial correspondence of Kemp Plummer Lewis, including materials relating to Erwin Mills; the North Carolina Diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church.


Historical Table of Masonic Lodges of North Carolina
A complete listing of the Masonic Lodges which founded the Grand Lodge of North Carolina.


Littleton College Memorabilia: 1887-1900
Littleton College (formerly Central Institute for Young Ladies and Littleton Female College) in Littleton, Warren County, N.C., was privately owned and operated from 1882 until 1919 by Reverend James Manly Rhodes. The collection includes memorabilia connected with Littleton College, including letters, 1887 and 1892, from Mamie Norman, a student at the college; a graduation announcement; and news clippings.

Panacea Springs and Hotel Company Records: 1890-1892
The Panacea Springs and Hotel Company was an Oxford, N.C., company that ran a resort hotel in Warren County, N.C., and sold bottled mineral water. The collection contains letterpress copybooks, board proceedings, a ledger, and a few other items of the Panacea Springs and Hotel Company.

Person Family Papers: 1728-1907
Person family members included Thomas Person (1733-1800), North Carolina Revolutionary leader, born in Brunswick County, Va., but resident from infancy in Granville County, N.C. He became a surveyor for Lord Granville, and, over the years, he acquired a large estate in North Carolina and Tennessee. He became a justice of the peace in 1756, sheriff in 1762, and was representative in the Assembly in 1764 and frequently thereafter. Thomas Person married Johanna Thomas of Granville County; they had no children. Thomas Person became a surveyor for Lord Granville, and, over the years, he acquired an estate of more than 82,000 acres lying in Granville, Halifax, Warren, Franklin, Orange, Caswell, Guilford, Rockingham, Anson, and Wake counties in North Carolina and in Davidson, Sumner, and Green counties in Tennessee.Thomas Person's brother was William Person Jr. Eliza Person Mitchell, wife of Warrenton, N.C., merchant Peter Mitchell, was probably his granddaughter. The collection includes letters, bills, receipts, deeds, land grants, slave birth records, as well as papers concerning Thomas Person's estate, and many other papers.

Also see:
Settlement of the Estate of Thomas Person: Distribution of Slaves

and Image

Original estate record and a transcription of the document with names of slaves distributed to the heirs of Thomas Person.


Matthew Whitaker Ransom Papers: 1845-1914
Matthew Whitaker Ransom (1826-1904) was a lawyer, planter, state official, Confederate general, Redeemer, Democratic United States senator from North Carolina, and minister to Mexico. Born on 8 October 1826 in Warren County, N.C., to Robert and Priscilla Whitaker Ransom, Ransom was brother to General Robert Ransom and cousin to fellow Confederate officer Wharton J. Green. After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1847, Ransom went on to serve as the North Carolina Attorney General and as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly. He married Martha "Pattie" Anne Exum in 1853 and moved to her family's plantation, Verona, on the Roanoke River near Weldon, N.C. In 1861, he served as one of the three commissioners selected by the North Carolina state legislature to visit the Confederate convention at Montgomery, Ala. Ransom was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the 1st North Carolina Infantry, later served as colonel of the 35th North Carolina Infantry, and was ultimately promoted to brigadier general in 1863.

Robert Ransom Papers: 1887-1974
Robert Ransom (1828- 1892), a native of Warren County, North Carolina, was a major general in the Confederate States of America. The collection contains a speech, 1887, of Robert Ransom to the Ladies Memorial Association of New Bern, N.C., about the Civil War; and It Does Appear That I Am For All My Life To Be At Hard Employment... The Annotated Autobiography of Robert Ransom, Major General, C.S.A., Covering His Early Life and Service in the United States Army Before the Civil War, transcribed, with notes and an introduction, by David Sweet as a Dartmouth College honors project, 1974

Reid Family Papers: 1816- 2000
In the 19th century, the Reids of Warren County, N.C., and its environs were primarily small landholders and tenant farmers. Family members included Jesse Arthur Bynum (Binium) Reid (1828-1875) and his wife, Nancy Lilly Neal Reid (1837-1886). Among their children were Nancy Hellin Reid Kelly (1861-1937) and Eaton Willis Reid (Bud) (1863-1934). The collection includes financial and legal materials, personal letters, and other items of Reid family members. Most financial and legal items relate to expenditures for groceries, dry goods, taxes, medical bills, and agricultural supplies. Some materials document income, primarily from sales of cotton and tobacco through cotton factors in Petersburg and Norfolk, Va., and tobacco warehouses in Oxford or Rocky Mount, N.C. Included are items documenting Jesse Reid's Civil War service.

Steed and Phipps Family Papers: 1845-1902
Alexander Steed (d. 1891) & Elizabeth Lundie Phipps (d. 1902)  family collection of Vance, Nash & Warren Counties. The collection includes personal and family correspondence and other papers of the Steed and Phipps families. Early items include papers concerning Bettie's attendance at Opheleton Seminary in Easton, Pa.; letters to Bettie while teaching at Castalia, Nash County, N.C., from her cousins, Alexander Steed, who was farming in Warren County, N.C., and Erastus ("Raz") T. Allen in Tennessee. Civil War items include an 1863 tax evaluation for land and slaves in Warren County, N.C.


Jethro Sumner Papers: 1775-1791
Jethro Sumner (1733?-1785) was a brigadier general in the Continental Army. Sumner served in the Virginia militia, 1755-1761; was justice of the peace, 1768, and sheriff, 1772-1777, of Bute (now Warren) County, N.C.; and was colonel of the 3rd Battalion, North Carolina Continentals, 1776-1778, and brigadier-general 1779-1780. The collection contains Revolutionary War military correspondence of Continental Brigadier General Jethro Sumner. The bulk of the collection relates to the period 1781-1782, when Sumner was raising troops for General Nathanael Greene, whom he reinforced at the Battle of Eutaw Springs, and while he was in charge of forces in North Carolina. Letters are chiefly concerned with strategic matters including reports on engagements and the movement of British forces, procurement of arms and supplies, and issues of manpower including drafting of men and desertion.

Annie Blackwell Thorne Papers: 1769-1965
Papers collected or created by Annie Blackwell Thorne (born 1878) include correspondence, legal and financial materials, genealogical papers, and other items of the Alston, Harriss, Kearny, Thorne, Williams and related families, chiefly of Warren and Halifax counties, N.C; multi-generational collection includes documentation of the buying and selling of slaves, slave books detailing slave births and marriages of the slaves of William K. Kearney. Also included is Thorne family material largely from Saint Martin Parish, La. Correspondence pertains chiefly to personal matters, but also deals with business affairs. Included are two letters, 1831, from Thomas Whitmell Harriss (1810-1890) ; a few letters relating to the Civil War in Virginia and Louisiana; and letters, 1890s, to Annie's sister, Tempe Williams Thorne (born 1874), from family members and friends. Financial items include slave bills of sale and materials concerning tobacco sales in the 1850s. Legal materials include items, 1866-1869, relating to cases handled by John Davis Thorne (1834-1900), justice of the peace in St. Martin Parish, La.

Research of Florence Egerton Underhill on the Egerton, Davis and Pitchford families
Creator Underhill, Florence May Egerton, 1882-1953.
Subjects Genealogy--North Carolina
Egerton family
Davis family
Pitchford family

Research by Florence Egerton Underhill on the following families: Allen; Baker; Blount; Bobbit; Cheek; Davis; Duke; Egerton; Fleming; Foote; Harrison; Hicks; King; Lawrence; Pascahall; Pennell; Pitchford; Powell; Sharpe; Thornton; Underhill; Williams. The print collection is housed with the State Archives.


Webb Family Papers: 1795-1960
Persons represented include Alexander Smith Webb (fl. 1830s) of Person County, N.C., and his wife Cornelia Adeline (Stanford) Webb, daughter of U.S. Representative Richard Stanford (1767-1816) and Mary (Moore) Stanford; and five of their ten children, including: James Hazel Webb (1829-1902) of Person County; Richard Stanford Webb (1837-1901), Methodist minister and Confederate chaplain; Alexander S. Webb (1840-1928), Confederate soldier; William Robert Webb (1842-1926), Confederate soldier, teacher, founder of the Webb School at Bell Buckle, Tenn., and U.S. senator from Tennessee; and Susan Webb, teacher, of Randolph County, N.C. Family correspondence of Alexander Smith Webb and his wife, Cornelia Adeline (Stanford) Webb, of Person County, N.C., and of their children. Early papers include those of the Moore family of Bute (now Warren) County, N.C., especially of Sheriff William Moore, ca. 1760s.

Eliza Mary Bond Weissinger Papers: 1785-1868
Correspondence, financial and legal papers, and other materials relating to Eliza Mary Bond Johnston Weissinger (1805-1875) of Hillsborough, N.C., and her family. The collection consists chiefly of correspondence of  Weissinger, her first husband, George Mulhollan Johnston, and her aunt, Mary Williams Burke, b. 1782 Warren Co., North Carolina, concerning family and personal matters, social affairs in Hillsborough, N.C., and Marion, Ala., real estate, slaves, and finances; includes correspondence with  Robert Freeman of Warren County, N.C.


Lucy Tunstall Alston Williams Papers: 1827-1979
Lucy Tunstall Alston Williams was the daughter of Jane Elizabeth Crichton (1840-1891) and Philip Guston Alston (1839-1924), a farmer and Confederate Army captain, of Warren County, N.C. She married Archibald Davis Williams, a planter in Franklin County, N.C. The collection includes personal and business correspondence of the Alston, Williams, Crichton, and Tunstall families of Warren and Franklin counties, N.C. The bulk of the collection consists of personal correspondence, including Civil War letters. Miscellaneous items include leaflets, church bulletins, concert programs, poetry, cards, and invitations, school records, genealogical records, wills, pamphlets, and autograph albums.

2010 to present by Deloris Williams, Ginger Christmas-Beattie, for the NCGenWeb Project.  No portion of this any document appearing on this site is to be used for other than personal research.  Any republication or reposting is expressly forbidden without the written consent of the owner. Last updated 11/13/2016