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Collection Number: 00419

Collection Title: Lea Family Papers, 1797-1934

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.


Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the encoding of this finding aid.

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Size 1.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 200 items)
Abstract William Lea (1777?-1873), was a merchant of Leasburg, N.C. He had three sons: Willis M., who became a physician and settled in Mississippi; Lorenzo, Methodist minister and teacher in Tennessee and Mississippi; and Solomon (1807-1897), Methodist minister and schoolmaster at Boydton, Greensboro, and Leasburg. Solomon's six daughters included Adeline, Lilianne, Eugenia, and Wilhelmina (1843-1936). The collection includes letters, 1812-1820s, consisting of family correspondence of William Lea (1777?-1873) and his brothers, Vincent and James, all merchants, writing from Leasburg, N.C., Petersburg and Norfolk, Va., and New York City, chiefly about business matters, prices, economic conditions, debts, current news, and other topics. Letters, 1820s-1850s, are chiefly between William Lea and his children and among the children. Willis M. Lea wrote from Philadelphia, where he was studying medicine, and later from Holly Springs, Miss. Solomon Lea was a student at the University of North Carolina and later lived at Boydton, Farmville, and Greensboro, N.C. Letters from 1861 onwards are chiefly correspondence of the daughters of Solomon Lea, most written by Wilhelmina from the various places where she taught school, including Louisburg, Olin, and other places in North Carolina and Murfreesboro, Tenn., and at the Marshall Institute in Mississippi. Volumes are ledgers, 1797-1803, of William Lea (1751-1806), merchant of Leasburg and uncle of William (1777?-1873); school accounts, 1853-1862, of Solomon Lea, who taught at Somerville Seminary and founded Somerville Female Institute in Leasburg and was president of Greensboro College, 1846-1857; and reminiscences and a 19-volume diary, 1872-1934, of Wilhelmina Lea.
Creator Lea family.
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 Lea Family Papers #419, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Gifts, 1943-1962, of Wilhelmina Lea of Leasburg, Caswell County, N.C., Mrs. W. S. Dixon, Mrs. M. H. Moore, Mrs. C. W. Dunlap, and Bessie M. Bradsher.
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 Lea (1777?-1873), merchant at Leasburg, N.C., was the son of Gabriel Lea (1756-1834). Gabriel also had a brother William who was a merchant.

William Lea (1777?-1873) had three sons: Willis M., who became a physician and settled in Mississippi; Lorenzo, Methodist minister and teacher in Tennessee and Mississippi; and Solomon (1807-1897), Methodist minister and schoolmaster at Boydton, Greensboro, and Leasburg. Solomon was president of Greensboro Female College, 1846-1847, and operated the Somerville Female Institute at Leasburg from its founding in 1848 until 1892. William Lea, Jr., was a merchant at Petersburg, Va.; Addison was also a Methodist teacher and preacher, mostly in Tennessee; William's daughter Anness was the wife of Yancey Wiley of Oxford, Miss.

Solomon's six daughters, including Wilhelmina (1843-1936). The other daughters were: Anness Sophia, who married Leon Richmond; Henrietta, who married M. C. Thomas; Adeline, who married B. L. Arnold); Lilianne, who married T. C. Neal; and Eugenia, who married Calvin G. Lea. One son died in infancy and one son never married. Three of Eugenia and Calvin G. Lea's daughters married Dunlaps.

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The Lea family papers includes letters, 1812-1820s, consisting of family correspondence of William Lea (1777?-1873) and his brothers, Vincent Lea and James Lea, all merchants, writing from Leasburg, N.C., Petersburg, Va., Norfolk, Va., and New York, N.Y., chiefly about business matters, prices, economic conditions, debts, current news, and other topics. Letters, 1820s-1850s, are chiefly between William Lea and his children and among the children. Willis M. Lea wrote from Philadelphia, where he was studying medicine, and later from Holly Springs, Miss. Solomon Lea was a student at the University of North Carolina and later lived at Boydton, N.C., Farmville, N.C., and Greensboro, N.C. Letters from 1861 onwards are chiefly correspondence of the daughters of Solomon Lea, most written by teacher Wilhelmina Lea from the various places where she taught school, including Louisburg, Olin, and other places in North Carolina and Murfreesboro, Tenn., and at the Marshall Institute in Mississippi. Volumes are ledgers, 1797-1803, of William Lea (1751-1806), merchant of Leasburg and uncle of William (1777?-1873); school accounts, 1853-1862, Solomon Lea, who who taught at Somerville Seminary and founded Somerville Female Institute in Leasburg and was president of Greensboro College, 1846-1857; and reminiscences and a 19-volume diary, 1872-1934, of Wilhelmina Lea.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Papers, 1796-1934.

About 200 items.

Note that there is a gap in the materials between 1880 and 1930.

Folder 1-3

Folder 1

Folder 2

Folder 3

Correspondence, 1812-1880 #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 1-3

Letters, 1812-1820s, are family correspondence of William Lea (1777?-1873) and his brothers Vincent and James, all in the merchandizing business. William was at Leasburg in Caswell County, N.C., and his brothers wrote from Petersburg, Norfold, and New York, chiefly about business matters, prices, economic conditions, debts, current news, and other topics. Letters, 1820s-1850s, are chiefly correspondence of William Lea with his children and correspondence among the children. There are letters from Willis M. Lea studying medicine at Philadelphia in 1826, and practicing medicine at Holly Springs, Miss., in the 1840s; letters from Solomon Lea as a student at the University of North Carolina, 1829 and 1832, and later letters from Boydton, Farmville, and Greensboro; letters from Addison Lea at college in Boydton, 1836; and letters written at Jackson, Tenn., and Aberdeen, Miss. There is a letter from Peter Doub in Greensboro, 17 March 1848, and one from E. F. Rockwell in Statesville, N.C., 19 April 1847. Letters from 1861 onwards are chiefly correspondence of the daughters of Solomon Lea, most written by Wilhelmena ("Miss Willie") at the various places where she taught school, usually for only a few months at a time: Louisburg, N.C., 1866-1867; Olin, N.C., 1868; home, 1870 and 1880; Soule Female College in Murfreesboro, Tenn., 1871; Marshall Institute in Mississippi, 1871.

Digital version: Letter from Solomon Lea to Lorenzo Lea, 1 September 1829

Documenting the American South

Digital version: Letter from Solomon Lea to William Lea, 14 September, 1832

Documenting the American South

Folder 4

Correspondence, 1930 and 1934 and undated #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 4

Two family letters, 1930 and 1934, and 18 undated latters or letter fragments. There are also fragemtns of a famiy record and an obituary for a cat.

Folder 5

Writings of Solomon Lea #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 5

Loose pages from the writings of Solomon Lea including his reminiscences of distinguished preachers and places written for the Advocate and articles on tobacco and whiskey.

Folder 6

Clippings, 1914-1915 #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 6

Albert Payson Terhune's columns on historical matters for various newspapers.

Folder 7

Clippings #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 7

Lea family genealogy.

Folder 8

Volume 1, 1797-1800 #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 8

Ledger with accounts for clothes, personal supplies, etc., probably of William Lea (1751-1806), merchant of Leasburg, N.C., who was a brother of Gabriel Lea.

Folder 9

Volume 2, 1798-1803 #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 9

Ledger with accounts for clothes, whiskey, cash, supplies, blankets, etc., probably of William Lea (1751-1806), merchant of Leasburg, N.C., who was a brother of Gabriel Lea.

Folder 10

Volume 3, 1853-1854 #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 10

Somerville Institute, Leasburg, N.C., pupils' accounts for board, tuition, and supplies, probably of Solomon Lea (1807-1897), who taught school at Leasburg, was president of Greensboro College, 1846-1847, and founded Somerville Female Institute at Leasburg.

Folder 11

Volume 4, 1860-1862 #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 11

School register with names of pupils, their parents, addresses, and date of entering school, probably of Solomon Lea (1807-1897), who taught school at Leasburg, was president of Greensboro College, 1846-1847, and founded Somerville Female Institute at Leasburg.

Folder 12

Volume 5, 1842-1862 #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 12

Ledger and other accounts of the Somerville Seminary at Leasburg, accounts at Greensboro, accounts of purchases of books and other supplies at Philadelphia, and other accounts, probably of Solomon Lea (1807-1897), who taught school at Leasburg, was president of Greensboro College, 1846-1847, and founded Somerville Female Institute at Leasburg.

Folder 13

Volume 6: "Reminiscences" of Wilhelmina Lea. Typescript, 19 pages #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 13

Mostly a narrative account of her family, with biographical data, dates, and relationships, written in the 1930s. Typescript was made in 1943 from a manuscript lent by Mrs. W. S. Dixon.

Folder 14

Volume 7: "The Lea Family Tree." Typescript, 19 pages. #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 14

Genealogical tables showing names with very few dates. Typescript was made from a manuscript lent by Mrs. W. S. Dixon.

Folder 15-33

Folder 15

Folder 16

Folder 17

Folder 18

Folder 19

Folder 20

Folder 21

Folder 22

Folder 23

Folder 24

Folder 25

Folder 26

Folder 27

Folder 28

Folder 29

Folder 30

Folder 31

Folder 32

Folder 33

Diary of Wilhemmina Lea written intermittently in composition books, tablets, and other small notebooks #00419, Series: "Papers, 1796-1934." Folder 15-33

15: Volume 8, 1872 #00419, Folder 15
16: Volume 9, 1885-1886 #00419, Folder 16
17: Volume 10, 1887-1889 #00419, Folder 17
18: Volume 11, 1890-1893 #00419, Folder 18
19: Volume 12, 1894-1895 #00419, Folder 19
20: Volume 13, 1896-1899 #00419, Folder 20
21: Volume 14, 1900-1901 #00419, Folder 21
22: Volume 15, 1902-1903 #00419, Folder 22
23: Volume 16, 1904-1907 #00419, Folder 23
24: Volume 17, 1908 #00419, Folder 24
25: Volume 18, 1909 #00419, Folder 25
26: Volume 19, 1910 #00419, Folder 26
27: Volume 20, 1914-1917 #00419, Folder 27
28: Volume 21, 1923-1924 #00419, Folder 28
29: Volume 22, 1925 #00419, Folder 29
30: Volume 23, 1926-1927 #00419, Folder 30
31: Volume 24, 1928-1931 #00419, Folder 31
32: Volume 25, 1932-1933 #00419, Folder 32
33: Volume 26, 1934, including lists of family birth and death dates #00419, Folder 33
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Processing Information

Processed by: Manuscripts Department Staff, February 1962

Encoded by: Mara Dabrishus, April 2005

Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the encoding of this finding aid.

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