unc logo

Collection Number: 03894

Collection Title: Perkins Family Papers, 1822-1942

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.


expand/collapse Expand/collapse Collection Overview

Size 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 730 items)
Abstract The collection includes personal and family papers, chiefly after 1860, of members of the families of Elisha Alexander Perkins (1828-1897), and his brother, Robert C. Perkins (1825-1904), farmers at "Pleasant Valley" on John's River near Morganton (Burke County), N.C. Included are letters from three generations of the Williams family [sister Jane Elizabeth Perkins married a Williams] of White County, Ga.; Civil War correspondence, official papers, and diary, 1863 and 1865, of Captain A. E. Perkins of the 41st North Carolina Cavalry Regiment, Confederate States of America, in coastal North Carolina and Virginia, and civilian correspondence, mostly from the women of the family in North Carolina and Georgia; business papers, especially of R. C. Perkins as a local official during and after the war; various farm accounts; and a journal and account book, 1852, of R. C. Perkins's trip to California and his mining experiences during the Gold Rush. Correspondence after 1900 shows that the Happy Valley farm was run by the Perkins women. Volumes include diaries, 1861-1864 and 1866-1869, of Emma Sue (Gordon) Perkins (1837-1870), wife of R. C. Perkins. Before her marriage in 1863 she was a teacher in Hertford, N.C. The diaries describe daily life in Hertford and at Pleasant Valley.
Creator Perkins family.
Language English
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

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 Perkins Family Papers #3894, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
All or part of this collection is available on microfilm from University Publications of America as part of Southern women and their families in the 19th century, Series A.
Acquisitions Information
Purchased from the Golden Past Antique Shop, Morganton, N.C., in 1969, and from Michael Barnes of the Old Book Corner, Chapel Hill, N.C., in August 1980.
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.
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

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.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Robert Caldwell Perkins (1825-1904) and his brother Elisha Alexander Perkins (1828-1897) operated a large farm known as Pleasant Valley on John's River near Morganton in Burke County, N.C. Their sister Jane Elizabeth Perkins married a Williams and settled in White County in northern Georgia. During the Civil War, Elisha Alexander Perkins was a captain in the Confederate Army, serving with the 41st North Carolina Regiment in coastal North Carolina and Virginia; Robert Perkins remained in Morganton and held a number of local offices, including that of sheriff of Burke County, during and after the war.

In October 1863, Robert Perkins married Emma Sue Gordon, a cousin of his first wife Mary Neal. Before moving to Morganton, Emma Gordon had taught school in Hertford, Chowan County, N.C. Her sister, Juliana "Dunie" Gordon, was the wife of Captain Elisha Alexander Perkins.

Elisha Alexander Perkins's daughters Sue, Emma (Mrs. Forney), and Elizabeth ("Lizzie"; Mrs. Robert L. McConnaughey), lived at the Pleasant Valley farm and continued to operate it into the 20th century.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection includes personal and family papers, chiefly after 1860, of members of the families of Elisha Alexander Perkins (1828-1897), and his brother, Robert C. Perkins (1825-1904), farmers at "Pleasant Valley" on John's River near Morganton (Burke County), N.C. Included are letters from three generations of the Williams family [sister Jane Elizabeth Perkins married a Williams] of White County, Ga.; Civil War correspondence, official papers, and diary, 1863 and 1865, of Captain A. E. Perkins of the 41st North Carolina Cavalry Regiment, Confederate States of America, in coastal North Carolina and Virginia, and civilian correspondence, mostly from the women of the family in North Carolina and Georgia; business papers, especially of R. C. Perkins as a local official during and after the war; various farm accounts; and a journal and account book, 1852, of R. C. Perkins's trip to California and his mining experiences during the Gold Rush. Correspondence after 1900 shows that the Happy Valley farm was run by the Perkins women. Volumes include diaries, 1861-1864 and 1866-1869, of Emma Sue (Gordon) Perkins (1837-1870), wife of R. C. Perkins. Before her marriage in 1863 she was a teacher in Hertford, N.C. The diaries describe daily life in Hertford and at Pleasant Valley.

Back to Top

Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942.

About 700 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Personal and family letters, chiefly 1860-1910, received by members of the Elisha Alexander Perkins family and the Robert Caldwell Perkins family at Pleasant Valley near Morganton, Burke County, N.C., including many letters from Jane Elizabeth Perkins Williams and her descendants in White County, Georgia. Also included are many bills, accounts, receipts, and other papers concerning Robert Perkins's business interests and responsibilities.

Letters are concerned entirely with the daily activities and the health and welfare of members of the household and the immediate circle of relatives and friends of the letter writers. There are almost no references to anything or anyone beyond their homes or farms or neighborhoods, and none to ideas or opinions. Several of the letters were written to relatives after long periods of silence and include summary information about the separated members of the family. In general, these materials are unadorned chronicles of births, visits, marriages, vocations, illnesses and deaths, and daily chores, with occasional mentions of weather and crops.

Papers before 1860 consist primarily of deeds, bills, receipts, promissory notes, and other financial and legal papers. There are also a few personal letters. The earliest item is a certificate, 1822, relating to Alfred Perkins's 640 acres in Burke County. Also included are business items and the will, 1856, of John Caldwell, brother of Mrs. Alfred Perkins; two letters, 1839, to Elisha Alexander Perkins at Davidson College from his parents, Alfred and Mary; and a letter, 1852, from Robert Perkins at Maxwell's Creek, Cal., mentioning mining, food prices, prospects, and news of other North Carolinians.

Items dated from 1860 to 1890 consist chiefly of business papers of Robert Perkins and family correspondence. Also included are many routine military communications, 1861-1864, received by Captain Elisha Alexander Perkins of the 41st North Carolina Regiment. Beginning in 1861, there are scattered letters, mostly to Robert Perkins, from relatives with the Confederate Army in Virginia, chiefly his brother Elisha Alexander and nephew A. P. Williams. There are also many letters from various members of the Williams family in Georgia, and a few letters, 1863, to Robert Perkins from his aunt Sarah F. Baker. After 1863, there are many letters to Emma Sue Gordon Perkins from various friends, including Nettie Gilliam, Julia Gaither, and Elizabeth Brace. Business papers of Robert Perkins after 1870 consist of his receipts and accounts as sheriff and tax collector in Burke County; as trustee or agent for the creditors of W. C. Erwin; as administrator, 1875, of the will of John Caldwell, succeeding Tod R. Caldwell, executor, deceased; and as guardian, after 1884, of Jane E. Collett, non compos mentis.

Papers after 1890 consist mainly of letters to "the Perkins girls," Emma, Sue, and Lizzie, from various friends and relatives, including several members of the Williams family. Letters from friends chiefly describe social activities. Also included are a letter, 1893, from A. P. Williams, telling of many deaths from typhoid; a letter, 1897, from Georgia relatives, following the death of Elisha Alexander Perkins; a letter, 1908, to Lizzie Perkins from Thomas L. Shannonhouse, patient at State (Psychiatric) Hospital, Morganton, describing his treatment, the hospital, and some of the staff; a letter, 1921, from Ethel M. Hendricks of Tucson, Ariz., telling of her travels in Arizona and personal news; and a thank-you note, 1930, from a school girl whose class had visited Pleasant Valley farm.

Also included are a number of poems copied from various sources or clipped from newspapers, and some miscellaneous clippings relevant to members of the Perkins family and their friends.

Folder 1

1822, 1833-1846 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 1

Folder 2

1850-1859 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 2

Folder 3

1860-1861 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 3

Folder 4

1862 January-July #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 4

Folder 5

1862 August-December #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 5

Folder 6

1863 January-April #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 6

Folder 7

1863 May-December #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 7

Folder 8

1864 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 8

Folder 9

1865-1869 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 9

Folder 10

1870 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 10

Folder 11

1871 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 11

Folder 12

1872-1874 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 12

Folder 13

1875-1879 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 13

Folder 14a

1880-1881 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 14a

Folder 14b

1882-1884 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 14b

Folder 15

1885-1889 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 15

Folder 16

1890-1899 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 16

Folder 17

1900-1909 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 17

Folder 18

1910-1942 #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 18

Folder 19-20

Folder 19

Folder 20

Undated and miscellaneous #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 19-20

Folder 21

Poems and clippings #03894, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1822/1942." Folder 21

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Volumes, 1830-1916.

21 volumes.
Folder 22

Volume 1: 1830-1839, 24 pages. Accounts of Alfred Perkins with various individuals for such things as wheat, bacon, corn, and wool, and accounts of Mary Perkins. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 22

Folder 23

Volume 2: 1841-1857, 100 pages Elisha Alexander Perkins's accounts with individuals and miscellaneous memoranda concerning hogs killed, crops sowed, and items sold and purchased, with prices for bacon, lard, corn, salt, peas, etc. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 23

Folder 24

Volume 3: 1851-1855, 16 pages. Miscellaneous financial memoranda. Receipts, expenditures. List of notes due Elisha Alexander and Robert Perkins, circa 1854. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 24

Folder 25

Volume 4: January-April 1852 and undated, 39 pages. Robert Perkins's notebook of trip to California, telling of the journey from Charleston, S.C., via Havana and Panama to Stockton, Cal., evidently in company with a group from Burke County, N.C. The book also contains some records of money sent home and borrowed, accounts for purchasing picks, shovels, and provisions, and accounts with companions. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 25

Folder 26

Volume 5: 1858, 1863, 29 pages. Accounts of merchandise charged, 1858, by Thomas B. Myzock. The book was later used for accounts of expenditures "going home" from Montgomery in February 1863 to Salisbury, and for farm work done in April 1863. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 26

Folder 27

Volume 6: 1863, 1865, 43 pages. Diary of Captain Elisha Alexander Perkins, 1 January-12 March 1863, Also included are irregular entries between 24 March and 19 April 1865 and some lists of who drew saddles, bridles, nosebags, sabres, etc., probably 1863. Entries tell of activities in camp, troop movements, news and rumors. There is frequent mention of a Colonel Baker and of making records. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 27

Folder 28

Volume 7: 1870-1872, 30 pages. Memoranda book of Robert Perkins with taxes collected from individuals as sheriff of Burke County, N.C., and slight farm expenditures and a few miscellaneous merchandise accounts. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 28

Folder 29

Volume 8: 1872-1881, 19 pages. Record of subscribers and pledges for support of Reverend R. B. Anderson, year by year, as pastor of the Quaker Meadows Presbyterian Church. Elisha Alexander Perkins was apparently treasurer. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 29

Folder 30

Volume 9: 1881-1884, 4 pages. Three pages as in Volume 8 and one page of house expenses, 1887. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 30

Folder 31

Volume 10: 1882-1886, 55 pages. General merchandise accounts of Elisha Alexander and Robert Perkins with McKenzie and Turner, Morganton, N.C. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 31

Folder 32

Volume 11: 1885-1890, 46 pages. Autograph album of Emmie Perkins, begun at Statesville Female College in spring 1885, with autographs added to 1890. Later still, someone has added information about marriages, etc., of autographers. Also included is a list of Statesville College girls and their "flower" nicknames. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 32

Folder 33

Volume 12: 1891, 18 pages. Diary entries of Elizabeth (Lizzie) W. Perkins, 16-27 March 1891, concerning the family, home, and farm at Pleasant Valley, weather, visits and visitors, and daily occupations. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 33

Folder 34

Volume 13: 1903-1905, 30 pages. Memorandum book of Elizabeth (Lizzie) W. Perkins of Pleasant Valley. Included are notes concerning pigs, hogs, eggs, butter, corn, and miscellaneous expenditures. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 34

Folder 35

Volume 14: 1906-1915, 73 pages. Memorandum book of Elizabeth (Lizzie) W. Perkins of Pleasant Valley. Included are miscellaneous memoranda concerning farm accounts--eggs and chickens sold, etc. There are also accounts of expenses on trips to Washington, June 1906; Camden, March 1906; and New York, undated. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 35

Folder 36

Volume 15: circa 1907, 3 pages. Miscellaneous memoranda, including names of persons buying pigs. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 36

Folder 37

Volume 16: circa 1916, 15 pages. Slight farm expenditures of Robert L. McConnaughey of Morganton, N.C. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 37

Folder 38

Volume 17: 12 June 1861-21 December 1862, 195 pages. Diary of Emma Sue Gordon, schoolteacher of Hertford, N.C. Entries discuss everyday life in Hertford, the activities of her students, and rumors about the early battles of the Civil War. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." Folder 38

Oversize Volume SV-3894/18

Volume S-18: 26 January 1863-11 March 1864, 88 pages. Diary of Emma Sue Gordon Perkins, discussing her courtship with Robert C. Perkins and their marriage. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." SV-3894/18

Oversize Volume SV-3894/19

Volume S-19: 1 January 1866-22 January 1867, 200 pages. Diary of Emma Sue Gordon Perkins, describing farm life at Pleasant Valley. Included are many details concerning the price of crops and goods bought and sold, and much information about family and social activities, particularly those of Perkins relatives in Georgia. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." SV-3894/19

Oversize Volume SV-3894/20

Volume S-20: 1 February 1867-14 August 1868, 100 pages. Diary of Emma Sue Gordon Perkins, Pleasant Valley, Burke County, N.C. Entries are generally similar to those in volume S-19. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." SV-3894/20

Oversize Volume SV-3894/21

Volume S-21: 23 August 1868-7 November 1869, 96 pages. Diary of Emma Sue Gordon Perkins, Pleasant Valley. Entries are similar to those in volumes S-19 and S-20. #03894, Series: "2. Volumes, 1830-1916." SV-3894/21

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Back to Top

Processing Information

Processed by: Rebecca Hollingsworth, January 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.

Back to Top