Monthly Archives: May 2011

Jefferson Davis to Governor John W. Ellis, May 23, 1861

Tiffanie has added a new item to our Archival Treasures collection within the North Carolina Digital Collections:

Letter from Jefferson Davis to Governor John W. Ellis, May 23, 1861

On May 20, 1861 120 delegates assembled and unanimously voted to secede from the United States of America, and within an hour of adopting the secession resolution the same convention ratified the Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States of America.

Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, in this letter to Governor Ellis is responding to a telegram sent on May 22nd to request “machinery.” He also states “I have written to Gov. Letcher on the subject and desired him to communicate with you.” John Letcher was the Governor of Virginia.

Learn more about this and other archival treasures on the Treasures homepage.


Jackson County Estates

Jackson County Estates (1874-1971) are now available in the Search Room. New box lists (in both Word and PDF format) have been added to the County Records page of the North Carolina State Archives website.

Upcoming Civil War Sesquicentennial Events in North Carolina

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Cultural Resources press release – you can find other news related to NC Cultural Resources here.]


On May 20, 1861, North Carolina seceded from the Union to join the Confederate States of America. Thus began the state’s involvement in the American Civil War.

This weekend the N.C. Museum of History and the State Capitol in Raleigh will commemorate the 150th anniversary of North Carolina’s secession vote. On Friday, May 20, the Museum of History will open the small exhibit “North Carolina and the Civil War: The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862,” which is located within the museum’s military history gallery “A Call to Arms.”

Also at the Museum on Friday, May 20, in observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a daylong conference with more than 18 speakers will be held with the theme “Contested Past: Memories and Legacies of the Civil War.

The keynote address by David Blight of Yale University will be “Race and Reunion: Has Civil War Memory United or Divided America?” Eight sessions are planned with topics ranging from “Arms for Art, and Other Shenanigans: The Curious Case of a Marble Bust of John C. Calhoun” presented by John Coffey, North Carolina Museum of Art, to “Risky Remembrances: African American Accounts of the Civil War and Reconstruction” presented by John Haley, University of North Carolina at Wilmington. The conference is sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources with support from the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, North Caroliniana Society, North Carolina Civil War Tourism Council and North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. For more information go to .

The $25 registration fee includes morning refreshments, a boxed lunch and the closing reception.

The deadline for registration to receive a boxed lunch is Tuesday, May 17.

To make payment by cash or check (payable to the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association), contact Parker Backstrom at (919) 807-7279 or e-mail him at . For conference information call Michael Hill at 919-807-7288 or e-mail him at

On Saturday, May 21, the State Capitol will present “North Carolina Secedes,” a living history program that includes a re-enactment, period music, a drill and dress parade, lectures and more. Details about the exhibit and the program at the Capitol follow. The exhibit and Capitol events are free and open to the public.

North Carolina and the Civil War: The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862

“North Carolina and the Civil War: The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862” highlights the events leading up to the outbreak of the Civil War and the early battles. On view from May 20, 2011, through Oct. 29, 2012, the exhibit features artifacts related to the state’s role in the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the nation’s western expansion, and the Civil War. Civil War artifacts include the Confederate first national flag of the 33rd Regiment N.C. Volunteers, 1861-1862; and an M1833 dragoon saber and scabbard (1861-1862) used by Zebulon B. Vance, colonel of the 26th Regiment N.C. Troops and later the state’s wartime governor. A bugle, snare drum, banjo and flugelhorn are among the musical instruments on exhibit.

“North Carolina and the Civil War:  The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862” is the first exhibit in a three-part series that explores the four-year conflict that changed the state and nation. The exhibit series, titled “North Carolina and the Civil War: 1861-1865,” tells the story of North Carolinians who lived, served and sacrificed during the nation’s bloodiest conflict.

The series’ second exhibit, debuting in 2013, will focus on the year 1863. The final installation, opening in 2014, highlights the last engagements of 1864-1865 and postwar consequences.

North Carolina Secedes: Living History Program at State Capitol

“North Carolina Secedes,” a living history program at the State Capitol, takes place Saturday, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will commemorate the state’s historic vote and look at North Carolina’s early wartime preparations.

At 11 a.m. in the historic House Chamber, hear readings from Secession Convention speeches. Contemporary accounts of May 20, 1861, recount that after the unanimous vote, someone dropped a handkerchief from the Capitol’s west portico to signal to the crowd below that North Carolina had seceded and joined the Confederacy. Maj. Stephen Dodson Ramseur’s artillery unit, which was posted on the grounds for the occasion, announced the historic moment by firing its cannons.

During the May 21 program, approximately 100 re-enactors from the 26th Regiment N.C. Troops will portray Maj. Ramseur’s battery and re-enact an infantry drill and rifle-fire during the war. In the afternoon watch the drill and dress parade, and hear a field music concert. Lectures will focus on the state’s military organization, war flags, and the early uniforms and equipment of both North Carolina and Union soldiers. Additionally, a facsimile of North Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession will be on display inside the Capitol.

The exhibit and the living history program are presented as part of the N.C. Civil War Sesquicentennial, a statewide initiative organized by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in North Carolina. For more information go to

To learn more about the Museum of History, call (919) 807-7900 or access  or Facebook. For details about the State Capitol program, call (919) 733-4994 or visit

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The N.C. Museum of History is located at 5 E. Edenton St. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The Museum of History, within the Division of State History Museums, is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information on Cultural Resources is available 24/7 at .

Construction at the Library/Archives Building

Due to the ongoing construction project, the primary accessible entrance has been temporarily closed. Patrons can be dropped off at the loading zone along Blount St. and access the building from the back side (north end) of the building. The other option is to be dropped off in the gravel lot behind the building, but due to the gravel, that may be a difficult route for someone in a wheelchair.

Once you arrive at the back door, please call the Security Desk at (919) 807-7383 for assistance and someone will meet you here to help you into the building.

If there is no answer, please call (919) 807-7476 or (919) 807-7475 for assistance.

Thank you for your patience while the plaza is being renovated.

Naval Diary of Naval Engineer Lewis C.F.C. Laesch

We just added this item to the Treasures of the State Archives online exhibit:

The Naval Diary of Naval Engineer Lewis C.F.C. Laesch, who served aboard the U.S.S. Pequot, during the first half of 1864, and kept a daily diary of activities, from January 1, 1864, until May 20, 1864. Lewis Laesch was born in the German State of Mecklenburg in 1844, immigrated to the United States with his father (Louis or Lewis, possibly originally Ludwig), settled in Philadelphia and was educated at Pennsylvania Polytechnic College. He joined the U.S. Navy at age 19, and was assigned to duty aboard the U.S.S. Pequot. The diary recounts his observations near Boston, Massachusetts, Portsmouth, Virginia and near the ports of Beaufort and Wilmington, North Carolina. During his time in waters off North Carolina the Pequot captured the notorious blockade runner Don. A very bad sore on his left foot impeded him from certain duties, and his resignation from the Navy was accepted on May 24, 1864.

Read more on the Treasures site or see the diary itself in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

“To Secession and (Slightly) Beyond” Lecture on Monday

The Civil War Sesquicentennial Lecture Series continues on Monday, May 9, 2011, when Christopher Meekins will speak on “To Secession and (Slightly) Beyond.” The lecture will be held in the auditorium of the State Library & Archives Building in downtown Raleigh from 10:30 to 11:30 AM.

To learn more about the Archives Civil War 150 Committee lecture series, please see the flyer announcing our next three lectures (PDF). To learn more about the Civil War in North Carolina, please visit the State Archives’ Civil War Sesquicentennial blog.