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Collection Number: 01152

Collection Title: George W. Gift Papers, 1862-1876.

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 FAQ section for more information.


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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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 200 items)
Abstract George Washington Gift (b. 1833) of Tennessee was a lieutenant in the Confederate Navy during the Civil War. In April 1864, he married Ellen Augusta Shackelford of Early County, Ga. The collection is chiefly correspondence between Ellen Shackelford Gift and George Washington Gift, written before and after their marriage, with a few letters from other members of the Shackeford and Gift families and from friends, including Catesby Ap Roger Jones, Gift's captain on the "Chattahoochee." Most of the letters were written by George to Ellen while he was serving on Confederate ships, including the "Chattahoochee," based at Chattahoochie, Fla.; the "Gaines," based at Mobile, Ala.; and the "Tallahassee," based at Wilmington, N.C. All of these letters concern daily life. After the war, Gift wrote many letters from Memphis, Tenn., as well as a few from New York, Hong Kong, and other places where he was involved in a variety of business ventures. These letters chiefly concern his daily activities, family news, and routine events, though there are extensive descriptions of Hong Kong. Ellen's letters to George chiefly concern family life.
Creator Gift, George W. (George Washington), b. 1833.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is 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 George W. Gift papers #1152, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy available.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Jeanne Rice of Fillmore, circa, in September 1946.
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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George Washington Gift (b. 1833) was raised in Tennessee, and went to California some time before the Civil War. He came home from California in the summer of 1861 in order to join the Confederate Navy. He served on several C.S.N. vessels in the coastal waters of North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, including the C.S.S. Chattahoochee, based at Chattahoochee, Fla.; the C.S.S. Gaines, based at Mobile, Ala.; the R.E. Lee, off the North Carolina coast; and the Tallahassee, based at Wilmington, N.C. In April 1864, Gift married Ellen Augusta Shackelford of Early County, Ga. After the war, Gift spent time in New York City; in Memphis, Tenn., where the Gift family apparently lived; and in Hong Kong.

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The collection is chiefly correspondence, 1862-1876, between George Washington Gift and Ellen Augusta Shackelford Gift, written before and after their marriage in April 1864. Most of the letters were written by Gift while he was in the Confederate Navy, 1862-1865, and concern his daily life on ships such as the Chattahoochee, the Gaines, and the Tallahassee. The early letters, written from the Chattahoochee, include references to Captain Catesby ap Roger Jones, the commanding officer, and descriptions of the routine on board the ship. Many of the letters were written in the form of journals, recording events over the span of several days. Of special interest are several letters concerning the explosion that destroyed the Chattahoochee on 27 May 1863; a letter containing a substitution cipher, evidently devised by Gift; and four letters from Canada written by Gift, but signed "O. P. Fannin."

In 1865, Gift wrote a few letters to his wife from New York City, where he was evidently engaged in shipping. In 1866, he moved to Memphis, Tenn., and wrote many letters about family members who lived in the area and about acquiring land to build a cotton gin with his oldest sister Maria Louisa Sims. In 1869 and 1870, he was in Hong Kong, which he described extensively in letters home.

There are about twenty-five letters from Ellen to George. Most early letters consist of news about her friends and family; later letters are similar, but primarily concern their children.

Also included are a few letters, 1863 and 1864, to George Gift from Ellen's sisters Hannah and Georgie; a letter, June 1863, to Ellen from George's sister Sarah Jane Gift; and two letters, January 1864 and October 1876, from George's friend and sometime commanding officer, Catesby ap Roger Jones.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse George W. Gift Papers, 1862-1876.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Rebecca Hollingsworth, November 1991

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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