Tag Archives: United States Civil War

Champney Sketches Added to NC Digital Collections

We are constantly adding new materials to the North Carolina Digital Collections, but one recent addition of note includes the Civil War sketches of soldier and artist, Edwin G. Champney, from the Outer Banks History Center.


Juniper Bay, Hyde County, N.C. Civil War sketches by Edwin G. Champney, Civil War Collection, NC Digital Collections

This collection includes sixty unpublished pen-and-ink sketchbook drawings of coastal North Carolina between 1862-1863 illustrated by soldier and artist, Edwin G. Champney (1843-1899). Champney was a native Bostonian and Union soldier. Champney enlisted as a private in the 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, Company G at the time he sketched the drawings. He arrived in Eastern North Carolina in October 1862 and took part in the Goldsboro Expedition. Champney was stationed at Cape Hatteras from February 23, 1863 until the close of his North Carolina tour on June 22, 1863. The original artwork include scenes showing landmarks, landscapes, and Union military activity from or in the vicinity of Hatteras Island, New Bern, Kinston, Plymouth, and Hyde County. The sketchbook was donated to the Outer Banks History Center in Manteo, which is the permanent home for the drawings.

These materials are now part of the Civil War Collection in the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Treasures of Carolina: Martha Henley Poteet Letter

[This blog post was written by Andrea Gabriel, Outreach and Development Coordinator for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

First page of a letter from Martha Hendley Poteet to Francis Marion Poteet, June 16, 1864

First page of a letter from Martha Hendley Poteet to Francis Marion Poteet, June 16, 1864. Poteet-Dickson Letters, Private Collections.

Among the items in the Private Collections are Civil War letters, journals, diaries and remembrances. A series of letters between Martha Henley Poteet and her husband, Francis Marion Poteet document the privations of war. Married in McDowell County in 1847, Poteet was working as a miller at the time of his conscription. Thirteen children were born to this union.

Many of the letters that go back and forth between husband and wife describe their separate lives—“I have been in the entrenchments about two month I haint been Releaved in 12 days,” writes Francis from Petersburg. In another letter he requests food. “I have Rote for you to send me Sumthing more to eat of you could I wanted you to send me sum beens &cabetch and one possum & apeace of pork . . . I want you to keep your lamp trimed and burning and tell Thomas and Elizabeth to keep ther lamps trimed and burning you can tell them that I still pray For them . . . “

In a letter dated June 16, 1864 Martha writes to Francis “. . . the sweet potatoes is very pretty and the irish potatoes is the pretyest I ever seen I hav a mess today I wish you was hear to eat some with me.” With this letter, Martha includes a cut-out tracing of her four-week-old daughter’s hand, “My baby will be 4 weeks old Saturday Night she was born the 21 of May write to Me what to name her.”

For more materials from the Poteet-Dickson Letters, see the North Carolina Digital Collections.

Tracing of a baby's hand from a letter written by Martha Hendley Poteet to Francis Marion Poteet, June 16, 1864. Poteet-Dickson Letters, Private Collections.

Tracing of a baby’s hand from a letter written by Martha Hendley Poteet to Francis Marion Poteet, June 16, 1864. Poteet-Dickson Letters, Private Collections.


A selection of the state’s historic documents will be exhibited in Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives of North Carolina at the Museum of History, October 24, 2015–June 19, 2016. Documents from the Archives vault, unique letters, historic photographs, public records, and other media will illuminate the myriad of ways in which the holdings of the State Archives document the workings of our government, provide evidence of civil liberties, and preserve the history and culture of North Carolina. This exhibit is sponsored by the Friends of the Archives and runs through June 19, 2016. Additional funding was provided by the N.C. Bar Association Foundation, the Raleigh Times, and Wells Fargo.

To learn more about the exhibit, please see: https://ncarchives.wordpress.com/tag/treasures-of-carolina/ and http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/See-Our-Exhibits/Current-Exhibits/Treasures.

For a full list of documents that will be on display only a limited time, see: https://ncarchives.wordpress.com/2015/09/09/plan-to-visit-treasures-of-carolina/

See the State Archives Facebook calendar or Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources events calendar for more upcoming events.

First Wednesdays – Cohabitation Certificates

An example of cohabitation records indexed in the MARS online catalog.

An example of cohabitation records indexed in the MARS online catalog.

Collection Services Section Manager Debbi Blake wrote this month’s “First Wednesday” post for the North Carolina Civil War 150 blog. The post discusses cohabitation certificates and how they can be useful for researchers looking for records of African American marriages.

In addition to the blog post, there are other resources related to these records, including:

  • The MARS online catalog, which includes an index for many of the cohabitation materials.
  • The three-volume reference work Somebody Knows My Name: Marriages of Freed People in North Carolina County by County by Barnetta McGhee White, PhD.
  • Family Search page on the North Carolina cohabitation records.
  • North Carolina cohabitation records are available through Ancestry.com’s North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 page.


First Wednesdays – Cohabitation Certificates

[This blog post was written by Debbi Blake, Collection Services Section Manager for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

With the abolition of slavery came many questions about the rights of freedmen, one of which was how to validate marriages. This was answered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1866 with an act allowing formerly enslaved couples to register their marriages in the county of their residence. This act provided proof that such unions had existed, often for decades. In North Carolina, such certificates were called cohabitation records, most of which are housed in the State Archives of North Carolina. Couples were to appear before 1 September 1866, although it was later amended in order to extend the period until 1 January 1868. The overwhelming majority of couples came before the clerk of court or justice of the peace during the first targeted period of March to September. This stampede resulted in the thousands of certificates in the Archives. [Read more…]

1901 Confederate Pension Applications Digital Collection

The 1901 Confederate Pension Applications digital collection is now complete. All 35,717 pension applications have been made available online. Formally referred to as “Pension Bureau: Act of 1901 Pension Applications,” these materials are part of the State Auditor’s records. The project began last year when the Collections Management Branch scanned the microfilm copies of the pension applications. To learn more about how the project was processed, visit the initial blog post here.

The 1901 Confederate Pension Applications contain genealogical information, such as name, age, and place of residence when applying for the pension. But the applications also capture service information including company, regiment, length of service, and wounds or disability.  Pension applications filed by widows were filed under the name of the deceased soldier. Documents in the collection include: pension applications from soldiers and widows; documentation of disabilities by physicians; correspondence relating to the application; and witness statements, usually from men who served in the same company or regiment, attesting to the applicant’s service history. In very rare instances, the pension files may include copies of marriage and death certificates, or other supporting documentation. A majority of the applications also indicate whether the application was approved or disallowed by the state-level board of inquiry in an official statement usually located on the back page of the application.

More historical information about the 1901 Confederate Pension Applications is available in the MARS online catalog entry for “Pension Bureau: Act of 1901 Pension Applications:”

“As first begun in 1889, those applicants eligible for pensions were divided into four classes based on disability: first class pensioners were totally disabled ($72 annually); second class pensioners had lost a leg or arm ($60); third class pensioners had lost a hand or foot ($48); and fourth class pensioners had lost an eye, or were partially incapacitated due to other wounds ($30). Widows were classified as fourth class pensioners.

All persons entitled to pensions under the act, whether previously drawing pensions or not, were to appear before their county Board of Pensions on or before the first Monday in July 1901 for examination and classification. For pension applications before 1901, see the series, Pension Bureau: Act of 1885 Pension Applications. Applications for admission to the Soldiers’ Home, however, are included with applications under the 1901 act, even though some may date from before 1901.

Certain persons were excluded from benefits under the pension acts. Applicants owning more than $500 worth of property or earning a public salary of $300 or more were ruled ineligible for a pension, and no one receiving aid under laws for relief of the totally blind or maimed was eligible. Inmates of the Soldiers’ Home, recipients of pensions from other states, and deserters were also excluded from benefits under the pension acts.

Almost every succeeding General Assembly made some change in the pension laws. The amount received was lowered and raised, the property disqualification was raised to $2,000, and the date of marriage to make a widow eligible was moved forward several times until a widow was eligible if she had been married to a Confederate veteran for ten years before his death if his death occurred after 1899. Widows could remarry and still be eligible provided they were widowed again at the time the application was made…”

The pension applications also include unexpected details about the applicant’s life:

In a few instances, widows were filing pensions well into the 1960s and 1970s. The pension system ended in 1986.

The original blog post announcing the 1901 Confederate Pension project is available at: https://ncarchives.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/1901-confederate-pension-applications-online/

Conservation Treatment of a Company Payroll

[This blog post was written by Emily Rainwater, Conservator for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Company payroll, before treatment

Company payroll, before treatment

During Preservation Week, the State Archives will be displaying a recently conserved 1864 payroll for Company G of the 38th North Carolina Infantry, Confederate States Army. When it was donated, the company payroll was in poor condition. Though the family had done what they could to preserve it, the document suffered from previous water damage and had numerous tears and areas where the paper was lost completely. Some of the text areas were folded over, which obscured the information. There were also several old pieces of tape which had been used at some point to hold the document together. As regular readers of The Charter know, tape can cause a lot of damage, and can be extremely time consuming for a Conservator to remove.

After conservation treatment

After conservation treatment

The treatment started out with thorough written and photographic documentation of the condition of the payroll. Solubility testing was carried out to see if the various printing and manuscript inks could be safely washed, as well as to test what solvent combination would work best on the tape. The document was cleaned with a soft brush, and then each piece of tape and its sticky residue was carefully removed. The document was then washed in a bath to remove some of the products of deterioration which had built up in the paper as well as re-establish the chemical bonds. Next, the document was placed in an alkaline bath, which raises the pH of the paper slightly and gives it a buffer against future acidic degradation. The document was dried flat, and then carefully mended back together using wheat starch paste and a thin Japanese tissue which had been toned to match the color of the paper. Larger areas of loss were filled in with a heavier weight tissue. Finally, the payroll was encapsulated to add protection from handling.

The exhibit will be up through the end of the week and will display the newly conserved payroll and show examples of preservation techniques used to protect paper based materials. The exhibit will take place in the Search Room of the State Archives of North Carolina located at 109 E. Jones Street, 2nd floor. The State Archives is open 8am – 5:30am, Tuesday –Friday and 9am-2pm on Saturday.

A Thorn in the Union’s Side: Rose O’Neal Greenhow, Part 2

[This announcement comes from Andrea Gabriel, Outreach and Development Coordinator for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

“A Thorn in the Union’s Side: Rose O’Neal Greenhow, Part II”

When: Noon—1:00 p.m., Monday, November 10

Where: State Archives and State Library building; 109 E. Jones St., Raleigh

Join us as archivist Debbi Blake presents the second part of her lecture about Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow. Part of the State Archives Civil War Sesquicentennial series, this presentation follows Greenhow from her imprisonment to Europe and her downing while attempting to re-enter the Confederacy.

Questions? Contact Andrea Gabriel in the State Archives at (919) 807-7326 or andrea.gabriel@ncdcr.gov.

About the State Archives of North Carolina

The State Archives of North Carolina State Archives collects, preserves, and makes available for public use historical and evidential materials relating to North Carolina. Its holdings consist of official records of state, county, and local governmental units, copies of federal and foreign government materials, and private collections. For more information about the State Archives, visit http://www.ncdcr.gov/archives/Home.aspx.

About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council, and the State Archives. Cultural Resources champions North Carolina’s creative industry, which employs nearly 300,000 North Carolinians and contributes more than $41 billion to the state’s economy.  Learn more at www.ncdcr.gov.

Labor Day, New Finding Aids, and Blockade Runners

The State Archives of North Carolina will be closed August 30 – September 1 for the Labor Day holiday. Even though the building will be closed, our website is always open to you. Here are some new items that you may find interesting.

New in Government Records

New digital records guidelines are available for:

New Finding Aids

Several new finding aids are available on the State Archives of North Carolina website.

Audio Visual Materials

Century Film Productions Motion Picture Films Collection (pdf)
Century Film Productions (AKA Century Studios; Century Films) was a Raleigh-based film studio owned and operated by O.B. (Ollie) and Lynn Garris. O.B. – while also a cameraman for WRAL-TV – was the primary cinematographer, and his wife, Lynne, played a variety of roles from set designer to director, editing and sound to production assistant. The Century Film Productions catalog spans from the late 1950s through the early 1980s, and including completed films, production elements, and outtakes – all but two in 16mm format – numbers over 200 items. A few highlights include sponsored films for Carolina Power & Light, Occoneechee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the North Carolina Department of Transportation with R.J. Reynolds, the U.S. Navy, and the North Carolina Police Information Network; a North Carolina State University football game; commercials for Mt. Olive Pickles and Record Bar; short films and television spots for the political ad campaigns of state governors Dan K. Moore, Terry Sanford, and Robert W. Scott, United States Representative Jim Gardner, and others. There are also important events in North Carolina history that are captured on film such as a Ku Klux Klan march from circa 1965, the Pullen Hall fire at North Carolina State University in 1965, the inauguration of James E. Holshouser, Jr., and more. (204 items)

Governors Papers

  • David S. Reid, (in office January 1, 1851-December 5, 1854)
  • Daniel L. Russell (in office January 12, 1897-January 14, 1901)
  • Alfred M. Scales (in office January 21, 1885-January 16, 1889)
  • Richard D. Spaight (in office December 14, 1792-November 18, 1795)
  • James Turner (in office December 6, 1802-December 9, 1805)
  • Zebulon B. Vance, 1st Administration (in office September 8, 1862-May 28, 1865)
  • Zebulon B. Vance, 2nd Administration (January 1, 1877-February 4, 1879)

Private Collections

Cunningham, Josiah H. and William A., Letters, 1861-1865 (pdf)
Josiah H. Cunningham (ca. 1841-1863) and William Alexander Cunningham (ca. 1843-1904) were sons of George Washington (ca. 1807-1872) and Susan Turner Rives Cunningham (ca. 1817-1901), Granville County. On 8 June, 1861, the two brothers enlisted as privates, trained at a school of cavalry instruction at Camp Beauregard, Ridgeway, Warren County. It was there that the 9th Regiment N.C. State Troops (1st Regiment N. C. Cavalry) was formed on 12 August 1861. William survived the war, but Josiah was wounded 15 October 1863 near Manassas Junction, Va., and died the following day. Consists of fifty-six letters, the majority of which were written by the Cunningham brothers to family at home. Of these, a small quantity were written by Daniel B. Duke, company bugler, and by Robert D. Grisham/ Grissom, a private, both from Granville County, and one by Turner, probably a kinsman. Most of the letters consisted of references to life in the camps, with news that would be of interest to family at home, and did not dwell on the dangers and horrors of war. A couple of letters after Josiah’s death provide a few scant details to the grieving family. (1 box)

New on YouTube

If you missed the Civil War 150 talk “The Blockade and Blockade Running in North Carolina, 1861-1865” by Andrew Duppstadt on August 11, 2014, the video of the talk is now available on the Department of Cultural Resources YouTube channel.

New Blog Posts