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Collection Number: 04720

Collection Title: Peek Family Papers, 1847-1872

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 Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc., supported the encoding of this finding aid and microfilming of this collection.

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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 150 items)
Abstract The Peek family of Hampton, Va., included brothers William Hope Peek, who lived for a time in Little Rock, Ark., then served as an assistant surgeon with the 2nd Virginia Cavalry, 1861-1863; George Meridyth Peek, a student at the University of Virginia until late 1861, then a teacher at Wesleyan College in Florence, Ala., then in service with the 26th Alabama Infantry Regiment in 1863, and a student again from 1866 to 1867; Thomas C. Peek, a newspaperman of Little Rock, Ark., and Camden, Ark.; and Eddie Peek, who served with the 32nd Virginia Cavalry Regiment, 1862-1864. Their sister Maria Peek ("Sis") remained at home in Hampton during the Civil War and was the recipient of most of her brothers' letters. The collection consists chiefly of letters written by William Peek and George Peek, with letters written by other family members and friends scattered throughout the papers. Early items include letters relating to both men as students at the University of Virginia. In September 1861, William wrote to George from Little Rock, Ark., where he seemed to be enjoying the attentions of the governor's daughter. In November, George wrote of his teaching position at Wesleyan College in Florence, Ala., and his twin ambitions of falling in love and pursuing a career in teaching. In 1862, William wrote of serving as a surgeon without benefit of medical training in the 2nd Virginia Cavalry Regiment, mostly in the vicinity of Orange Court House and Martinsburg, Va. George's 1862 letters discuss fighting in and around Huntsville, Ala., and Florence, Ala. By April 1863, George had joined the 26th Alabama Infantry Regiment. On 11 June 1863, William wrote of frenzied activity near his camp in northern Virginia; his 8 July letter contains a brief description of the horrors of the Battle of Gettysburg in which he had just participated. A letter dated 19 July announced William's death. Letters after July 1863 relate chiefly to George. A few in 1866 concern William's parents' efforts to find William's grave. There also are letters from "Sis" and various other Peek family members, including brother Thomas Peek, about family news and activities. Post war letters from George indicate that he was a law student at the University of Virginia in 1866 and 1867. The few items after 1866 include an 1870 endorsement of George Peek's candidacy for a judgeship in Virginia. There is also an undated broadside, possibly from the 1850s, advertising a Virginia dry goods store run by a Peek family member.
Creator Peek 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 Peek Family Papers #4720, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy (filmed May 2005) available.
  • Reel 1: Entire collection
Alternate Form of Material
Transcriptions are available for some of the letters.
Acquisitions Information
Purchased and received from Charles V. Peery of Charleston, S.C., in September 1994 (Acc. 94135).
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

The Peek family of Hampton, Va., included brothers William Hope Peek, who lived for a time in Little Rock, Ark., then served as an assistant surgeon with the 2nd Virginia Cavalry Regiment, 1861-1863; George Meridyth Peek, a student at the University of Virginia until late 1861, then a teacher at Wesleyan College in Florence, Ala., then in service with the 26th Alabama Infantry Regiment in 1863, and eventually on board the Patrick Henry; Thomas C. Peek, a newspaperman of Little Rock, Ark., and Camden, Ark.; and Eddie Peek, who served with the 32nd Virginia Cavalry Regiment, 1862-1864. Their sister Maria Peek ("Sis") remained at home in Hampton during the Civil War.

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The collection consists chiefly of correspondence relating to William Hope Peek and George Meridyth Peek of the Peek family of Hampton, Va. A few letters were written by other Peek family brothers, Thomas C. Peek and Eddie Peek. Their sister, Maria Peek ("Sis"), remained at home in Hampton during the Civil War and was the recipient of most of her brothers' letters.

The 1847 item is a holograph poem called "Home & Childhood" by Thomas C. Peek in Baltimore, Md. The 1858 letter is from S. Maupin at the University of Virginia to William Hope Peek about Peek's readmittance to the University after illness in the region had forced the school to suspend classes. In 1859, there is a letter from George Peek to brother William about a speech George was to make and about a game he had played that involved making cat-like noises to annoy his neighbors at night.

Most of the letters during the Civil War years relate to William and George, but there are a few that concern other Peek family members and friends. January 1861 found George still at the University of Virginia, worrying in a letter to William about the coming war. In September 1861, William wrote to George from Little Rock, Ark., where he seemed to be enjoying the attentions of the governor's daughter. Other letters between the brothers and from the brothers to sister Maria document William's social life in Little Rock (11 November: "I haven't yet met the lady whom I have to make Mrs. W. H. Peek") and involvement with brother Thomas's newspaper venture in that city. In November, George wrote of his teaching position at Wesleyan College in Florence, Ala., and his twin ambitions of falling in love and pursuing a career in teaching. In December, William, apparently having enlisted, wrote of his surprise at being appointed surgeon in the army without benefit of medical training.

In 1862, William wrote of serving with the 2nd Virginia Cavalry Regiment, mostly in the vicinity of Orange Court House, Va., and Martinsburg, Va. On 22 June, he wrote of meeting a woman who pleased him and discussed setting up a medical practice at Orange Court House after the war. In some of his letters, he discussed military life and lavished praise on his commanding officers. Meanwhile, George continued to write about teaching, social life, and family affairs. On 15 February, he told his father, "The Yankees have reduced our school very much, but we will never suspend, for the endowment fund will be forfeited if the College closes." He later explained that he was attempting to raise a troop at the College, probably in an effort to keep the school open. In several letters, he asked his father to supply him with the makings of Confederate uniforms for the troop. Letters in March through September discuss fighting in and around Huntsville, Ala., and Florence, Ala. George seems to have made arrangements to join the 26th Alabama Infantry Regiment in late 1862 or early 1863.

George started 1863 in Florence, but was with the 26th Alabama Infantry Regiment at unidentified battle sites by April. William was still with the 2nd Virginia Cavalry Regiment in northern Virginia. On 11 June, he wrote of being in camp near Culpeper Court House, where he was puzzled by the massing of troops and general activity in the area. His next letter, dated 8 July, contains a brief description of the horrors of the Battle of Gettysburg in which he had just participated. On 19 July, there is a letter from his commanding officer telling of William's death on 13 July of "liver congestion." In letter dated 19 October, a fellow surgeon offered the opinion that William died because "... all attention had been delayed until he was past recovery."

Many letters after William's death relate chiefly to George. Other letters include one, dated July 1864, from Eddie Peek, who was serving with the 32nd Virginia Cavalry Regiment, about his suffering from the heat and telling of an execution for desertion in his company. A few in 1866 concern William's parents' efforts to find William's grave. There also are letters from "Sis" and various other Peek family members, including brother Thomas Peek, about family news and activities. Letters from George indicate that he was a law student at the University of Virginia in 1866 and 1867. The few items after 1866 include an 1870 endorsement of George's candidacy for a judgeship in Virginia. The undated item is a broadside advertising John L. Peek's dry goods store in Eagle Rock, Va., possibly from the 1850s.

Note that transcriptions are included for some of the letters, but that these transcriptions are sometimes quite sketchy and may contain considerable inaccuracies.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Papers, 1847-1872 and undated.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Lynn Holdzkom and Alicia Reeves, November 1994

Encoded by: Nancy Kaiser, April 2005

Funding from the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc., supported the encoding of this finding aid and microfilming of this collection.

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