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Collection Number: 00221

Collection Title: William G. Dickson Papers, 1767-1920

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


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Size 1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1090 items)
Abstract William G. Dickson was a University of North Carolina alumnus, attorney, and state representative of Burke (now Caldwell) County, N.C.; wife Peggy McDowell Dickson (1783-1854); father General Joseph Dickson (1745-1825); brother James Dickson; and son Robert Moffit Dickson (1820-1855). The collection is chiefly business and personal papers of William G. Dickson and members of his family, and personal correspondence and a few other items of the Abernethy and Glass families of North Carolina and Virginia. Correspondence primarily concerns local news of family, neighbors, and friends, with some miscellaneous legal and business materials. Included are items, 1795-1799, related to Dickson's student days at the University of North Carolina; letters, 1814-1818 and 1825, from relatives and friends in Bedford and Rutherford counties, Tenn., concerning the poor health of slaves, local members of the militia in the Creek Indian Wars, one man's military service and capture during the War of 1812, land sales, and the deaths of Dickson's parents; letters, 1852-1855, from Robert M. Dickson and his companions in California prospecting for gold; letters, 1857-1860, from students attending three North Carolina female academies; an 1860 letter from Zebulon B. Vance, discussing the proposed state convention and secession; many Civil War-era letters commenting on Confederate military life and wartime social and economic conditions in North Carolina and Virginia; and letters, 1865, about freed slaves leaving their former masters, hatred for the "Yankee Devils," and the imprisonment of a white man in Morganton, N.C., for shooting a black man. Also included are five volumes, 1837-1866, apparently kept by various members of the Abernethy family, containing business accounts, legal documents, original prose and verse, and a few scattered letters. Of particular interest are a journal, 1837-1852, probably kept by M.T. Abernethy, recording farming activities and the production output of an iron forge that employed slave labor at Kings Mountain and Lincolnton, N.C.; and a court minute docket for Caldwell County, N.C., covering the 1855-1857 terms.
Creator Dickson, William G., 1775-1855.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
Retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the William G. Dickson Papers #221, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Robert B. Glass of Collettsville, N.C., in October 1931.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

William G. Dickson was a University of North Carolina alumnus, attorney, and state representative of Burke (now Caldwell) County, N.C.; wife Peggy McDowell Dickson (1783-1854); father General Joseph Dickson (1745-1825); brother James Dickson; and son Robert Moffit Dickson (1820-1855).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Chiefly business and legal papers of William G. Dickson (1775-1855), University of North Carolina alumnus, attorney, and state representative of Burke (now Caldwell) County, N.C., and personal correspondence of the Dickson, Abernethy, and Glass families of North Carolina and Virginia, with five volumes.

Series 1 consists of correspondence and related documents, with early items, 1767-1840, pertaining chiefly to the college, military, and legal career of William G. Dickson. Included are assorted receipts for university tuition and room and board, 1795-1799; a Dialectical Society speech and diploma; a military appointment to the rank of captain; and miscellaneous wills, accounts, state licenses, and other documents. Also included are several letters, 1814-1818 and 1825, from relatives and friends in Bedford and Rutherford counties, Tenn., concerning the poor health of slaves, local members of the militia in the Creek Wars, one man's service with General Andrew Jackson and capture during the War of 1812, land sales, the deaths of Dickson's parents, and other family news. Later items, 1840-1920, are chiefly personal letters of Dickson, Abernethy, and Glass family members, primarily concerning local news of family, neighbors, and friends, with some miscellaneous legal and business materials. Included are a series of letters, 1852-1855, written by Robert M. Dickson and his companions in California while prospecting for gold; letters, 1857-1860, from various family members written while they were students at the Davenport Female College at Lenoir, N.C., the Edgeworth Female Seminary at Greensboro, N.C., and the Rutherford Academy in Burke County, N.C.; and an 1860 letter from Zebulon B. Vance, discussing the proposed state convention and secession from the Union. There is also a rather extensive collection of Civil War era letters from husbands, brothers, and male cousins who were serving in the Confederate Army in North Carolina and Virginia, as well as from sisters and female cousins at home, commenting on military life, wartime social and economic conditions, freed slaves leaving their former masters, hatred for the "Yankee Devils," and the imprisonment of a white man in Morganton, N.C., for shooting a black man.

Series 2 consists of five volumes, 1837-1866, apparently kept by members of the Abernethy family, containing business and financial accounts, legal documents, some original prose and verse, and a few scattered letters. Of particular interest are a journal, probably kept by M. T. Abernethy, recording farming activities and the production output of an iron forge that employed slave labor in Kings Mountain and Lincolnton, N.C., and a court minute docket for Caldwell County, N.C., covering the 1855-1857 terms.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence and Related Material, 1767-1920.

About 1,085 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1767-1860.

About 460 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly business and legal papers of William G. Dickson, and family correspondence of Dickson and Abernethy family members. Items before 1840 are primarily college, military, and legal documents pertaining to Dickson's career, including receipts for his tuition and room and board at the University of North Carolina, 1795-1799; his 1796 address to the University's Dialectical Society; his diploma from the Dialectical Society; his appointment to the rank of captain in the 6th Infantry Regiment; and miscellaneous wills, land deeds, accounts, state licenses, and other legal papers. Other items for this period include several letters, 1814-1818, from Joseph Dickson of Rutherford County, Tenn., to his son William concerning news of his William's mother's death, the poor health of his slaves, and local members of the militia in the Creek Indian Wars; letters, 1814-1818, from Daniel McKissick of Tennessee to William G. Dickson telling of his service with General Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812, his mistakenly being taken prisoner by American soldiers, land sales, and family news; and a letter, 1825, from James Dickson to his brother William informing him of their father's death and other family and local news.

Later items, 1840-1860, are chiefly personal letters of Dickson and Abernethy family members, concerning news of marriages, births, deaths, social visits, and occasional references to slaves, with some miscellaneous legal and business materials. Of particular interest are a series of letters, 1852-1855, to the Dickson family from Robert M. Dickson and his companions in California where they were prospecting for gold, discussing miners and slaves, working land claims, outbreaks of smallpox and other sicknesses, the weather and terrain, and the inflated costs of provisions; letters, 1857-1860, from various family members written while they were students at women's academies in North Carolina, including the Davenport Female College at Lenoir, Edgeworth Female Seminary at Greensboro, and Rutherford Academy in Burke County; and an 1860 letter from Zebulon B. Vance discussing the proposed state convention, secession from the Union, and his hopes that "cooler council" will prevail.

Folder 1

1767-1814 #00221, Subseries: "1.1. 1767-1860." Folder 1

Folder 2

1815-1817 #00221, Subseries: "1.1. 1767-1860." Folder 2

Folder 3

1818-1819 #00221, Subseries: "1.1. 1767-1860." Folder 3

Folder 4

1820-1825 #00221, Subseries: "1.1. 1767-1860." Folder 4

Folder 5

1826-1838 #00221, Subseries: "1.1. 1767-1860." Folder 5

Folder 6

1840-1847 #00221, Subseries: "1.1. 1767-1860." Folder 6

Folder 7

1850-1853 #00221, Subseries: "1.1. 1767-1860." Folder 7

Folder 8

1854-1856 #00221, Subseries: "1.1. 1767-1860." Folder 8

Folder 9

1857-1859 #00221, Subseries: "1.1. 1767-1860." Folder 9

Folder 10

1860 #00221, Subseries: "1.1. 1767-1860." Folder 10

Folder 11-12

Folder 11

Folder 12

Undated Before 1861 #00221, Subseries: "1.1. 1767-1860." Folder 11-12

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1861-1920.

About 625 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly family correspondence, 1861-1920, with a few financial, legal, and military documents pertaining to the Abernethy and Glass families of North Carolina and Virginia. Principal correspondents are C. Pinkney Abernethy, Matilda Abernethy, William Abernethy, and Lizzie Glass. Letters primarily concern local news of family and friends, accounts of social visits from neighbors and relatives, comments on health, references to sewing and quilting, and requests for fabric and other goods. Included is a rather extensive collection of Civil War letters commenting on army life and wartime social and economic conditions from husbands, brothers, and male cousins serving in the Confederate Army in North Carolina and Virginia and from women relatives at home; an 1862 set of general orders for a Lieutenant Dickson; reports, 1862, for Confederate troops at Post Ashland, Va.; and other documents. Also of interest are letters, dated 1865, of Abernethy family members concerning freed slaves leaving their former masters, hatred for the "Yankee Devils," and the imprisonment in Morganton, N.C., of a white man who shot a black man the previous summer.

Folder 13

1861 January-August #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 13

Folder 14

1861 September-December #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 14

Folder 15

1862 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 15

Folder 16

1863 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 16

Folder 17

1864 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 17

Folder 18

1865 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 18

Folder 19

1866-1867 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 19

Folder 20

1868-1869 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 20

Folder 21

1870-1871 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 21

Folder 22

1872-1879 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 22

Folder 23

1880-1883 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 23

Folder 24

1884-1889 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 24

Folder 25

1890-1891 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 25

Folder 26

1892-1893 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 26

Folder 27

1894-1920 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 27

Folder 28-30

Folder 28

Folder 29

Folder 30

Undated After 1860 #00221, Subseries: "1.2. 1861-1920." Folder 28-30

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Volumes, 1837-1866.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Patrick Huber, March 1993

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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