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Collection Number: 02193-z

Collection Title: Appleton Oaksmith Papers, 1825-1888

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.


This collection was processed with support from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

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Size About 110 items
Abstract Appleton Oaksmith, North Carolina state legislator from Carteret County, N.C., was the son of Seba Smith (1792-1868), Maine and New York political humorist, and Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith (1806-1893), author, lecturer,and reformer, who used the name Ernest Helfenstein. The collection contains scattered papers, consisting chiefly of postwar legal papers and letters concerning the Carolina City Land Company of Carteret County and Oaksmith's detailed diary of an unsuccessful shipping venture in 1855 in which his ship was seized near Mobile, Ala., apparently while carrying arms to Cuba. Other papers include a dozen letters, 1874-1877, written by Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith from North Carolina to William J. Spence, Long Island, N.Y., concerning race relations and the temperance movement. Also included is a broadside, 1825, advertising for the return of runaway slaves in Maryland.
Creator Oaksmith, Appleton, 1827-1887.
Language English
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
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 Appleton Oaksmith Papers #2193-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy available.
  • Reel 1: Entire collection
Acquisitions Information
Received from Geraldine Oaksmith, of Brooklyn, N.Y., in April 1953, and purchased from Charles Hamilton, Autographs, Inc., in December 1959.
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

Appleton Oaksmith of Carteret County, N.C., was the son of Seba Smith and Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith. Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith (1806-1893) was a Northern abolitionist who came to the South in the pre-Civil War period to make speeches and engaged in temperance and religious missionary work in the South after the war. She was a writer whose articles were published in monthly magazines in the North. Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith served as pastor of the Independent Church, Canastota, Madison County, N.Y., in 1887. Seba Smith was a journalist, owner of the Courier, and was the author of "Major Jack Downing's Letters," which, according to a clipping in the collection, were "very pungent and amusing productions that were a great hit in the times of Andrew Jackson's administration." He was chief editor of the Great Republic Monthly.

Appleton Oaksmith was a representative of Carteret County in the North Carolina legislature in 1874. He was connected with the Carolina City Company (also known as the Carolina City Land Company), being appointed its agent in Carteret County in 1884 and its receiver when it was dissolved in 1886. He and his wife, Augusta, had at least four daughters, Elizabeth, Corine, Mildred, and Pauline, who drowned 4 July 1879.

(For further information, see Selections from the Autobiography of Elizabeth Oakes Smith, edited by Mary Alice Wyman (Columbia University Press: New York, 1924), and Two American Pioneers, Seba Smith and Elizabeth Oakes Smith (Columbia University Press: New York, 1927).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection of Appleton Oaksmith of Carteret County, N.C., contains scattered papers, consisting chiefly of postwar legal papers and letters concerning the Carolina City Land Company of Carteret County and Oaksmith's detailed diary of an unsuccessful shipping venture in 1855 in which his ship was seized near Mobile, Ala., apparently while carrying arms to Cuba. Other papers include a dozen letters, 1874-1877, written by Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith from North Carolina to William J. Spence, Long Island, N.Y., concerning race relations and the temperance movement. Also included is a broadside, 1825, advertising for the return of runaway slaves in Maryland.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondences and Related Material, 1825-1888 and undated.

About 100 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Items before 1884 include an advertisement for two runaway slaves, 26 September 1825, by Benjamin Chambers, Baltimore (noted missing, May 1995); a letter, 1855, between two Oaksmith brothers; a list, 1859, by Seba Smith of the authors, among whom were E. Oakes Smith, Edward Oaksmith, and Appleton Oaksmith, of articles appearing in the January and February 1859, editions of the Great Republic Monthly; a letter, 1860, from Mary Livingstone Thomsin(?) in Paris to Oaksmith about a land transaction; a letter, 1875, to Philip Ripley from Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith asking if he were the same Colonel Riplay stationed at Newport, N.C., during the Civil War and if he would raise money for a destitute widow, Mrs. Yorke; a letter, 1880, written from the United States Consulate in Nagasaki, Japan, concerning the appearance of Japan and trade possibilities in the Orient; a letter, 1881, to Appleton Oaksmith from John Rumley, clerk in the office of the Board of County Commissioners, Beaufort, N.C., inviting him to attend a meeting to discuss the railroad debt of Carteret County; two extracts from the minutes of the Board of Commissioners of Carteret County, 1883, where Oaksmith was appointed as a committee of one to arrange with the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad Company for the establishment of stations in that county; and two letters, 1883, concerning a personal financial arrangement of Oaksmith with the National Bank of New Bern, N.C.

There are ten letters of Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith, 1874-1877, to William J. Spence and his wife at Blue Point, Long Island, N.Y., who shared her interest in the temperance movement and belonged to a "Division" that she had been associated with when she was living with her son Alvin at Blue Point. The letters contain a description of her life in the wilderness of Carteret County where she lived with her son Appleton; comments on current politics, race relations, and economic conditions in North Carolina; her desire to work for the cause of temperance and to organize local groups and the factors that prevented this activity; the politics and activities of her son Appleton; articles she sent for publication in the Advance; lectures, 1876; and messages to the Division in New York.

Legal papers and letters concerning the Carolina City Land Company begin in 1884 and include Oaksmith's appointment as agent in Carteret County, 1884; material relating to the case of Ellen Mason v. the Carolina City Land Company; correspondence about Oaksmith's efforts to get the charter of the company extended and dealings with the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad Company, 1885; and papers about Oaksmith's role as receiver of the company, 1886.

Other papers include a letter from Oaksmith to his mother, 1885; letters, 1887-1888, addressed to Mrs. Appleton Oaksmith, mainly expressing sympathy at his death, with some material about the Carolina City Company; and one letter, 1887, to Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith requesting an article on her personal reminiscences of eminent men.

Related papers include two unsigned poems; sketches of Carteret County and General Collier C. Hornsby; a paper relating to the Carolina City Land Company; and clippings, 1856-1887 and undated. These clippings include poems by Bessie, Corinne, and Appleton Oaksmith; articles on political, legal, and economic affairs; a letter to the editor of the New York World by Elizabeth Oakes Prince Smith and several articles commenting on this letter; and an article containing tongue-twisters and attributing them to a Richmond Normal School class of elocution.

Folder 1

1825-1884 #02193-z, Series: "1. Correspondences and Related Material, 1825-1888 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1885-1887 #02193-z, Series: "1. Correspondences and Related Material, 1825-1888 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

1888 and undated #02193-z, Series: "1. Correspondences and Related Material, 1825-1888 and undated." Folder 3

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Volumes, 1855-1875.

2 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Folder 4

Volume 1 #02193-z, Series: "2. Volumes, 1855-1875." Folder 4

Diary of Appleton Oaksmith in Mobile, Ala. The first twenty pages are a narrative intended to bring members of Oaksmith's family up to date on his business ventures, described in some detail, and to exonerate himself from wrongdoing. The rest of the diary describes the trial in Mobile. Oaksmith went to Washington and back to Mobile before the diary ended on 15 October. The diary is primarily the account of legal problems Oaksmith had in Mobile when a Revenue Cutter seized Oaksmith's merchant vessel, the Magnolia, outside of Mobile Bay on charges of violation of the neutrality act. The vessel was destined for either Venezuela or Cuba, but its cargo, which consisted of guns, ammunition, and stores, was seized by the United States government. Another of his vessels, the Amelia, was threatened with seizure as well, due to its similar destination and cargo. Oaksmith then traveled from Savannah, where he had been conducting business, to Mobile to confer with the district attorney and port officials. The government decided to prosecute Oaksmith, who hired an attorney, a Mr. Bailey, to defend his interests. The trial opened on 16 July 1855 in Mobile and, on July 19, the day before the verdict was to be handed down, Oaksmith, with his brother Sidney and other unnamed men, hired a vessel and went to sea to intercept the Amelia. After finding the Amelia on 8 August and transacting business with the captain, Oaksmith returned to Mobile to learn that the case of the Magnolia had been decided in his favor. The government appealed and later seized the cargo in spite of the verdict.

Folder 5

Volume 2, September 1875 #02193-z, Series: "2. Volumes, 1855-1875." Folder 5

Log of the schooner "Minnie" on voyage from Patchogue, N.Y., to Hollywood, N.C., kept by Appleton Oaksmith.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Pictures, undated.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

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Processing Information

Processed by: Suzanne Ruffing, August 1996

Encoded by: Russell Michalak, May 2006

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, December 2009

This collection was processed with support from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

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