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Collection Number: 02976

Collection Title: George Washington Polk Papers, 1793-1927

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.


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Size 2.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 820 items)
Abstract George Washington Polk, civil engineer and genealogist of San Antonio, Tex., was the son of Lucius Junius Polk (1802-1870), planter of Maury County, Tenn., and Mary Ann Eastin Polk (1810-1847), who was Mrs. Andrew Jackson's niece, and nephew of Leonidas Polk (1806-1864), Episcopal bishop and Confederate general. The collection includes scattered 19th-century papers of members of the Polk and related families and extensive 20th-century papers about them. Early papers are chiefly of Lucius Junius Polk, Mary Eastin Polk, and Lucius's father, William Polk (1758-1834), who owned much land in North Carolina. Letters pertain to politics, planting, family matters, lands, and other business interests. Included are letters from Andrew Jackson and Leonidas Polk, and papers of General John Coffee (1772-1833) of Alabama and other members of the related Coffee, Donelson, and Eastin families of Tennessee. Postbellum papers are chiefly of William Harrison Polk (fl. 1875) of Paris, Ky., and George Washington Polk. The majority of these later papers relate to George's genealogical and historical interests. Also included are George's reminiscences of his childhood during the Civil War, education at schools in Tennessee and at the University of Virginia in the late 1860s, and experiences in Texas and the West as a civil engineer working primarily on the westward expansion of railroads.
Creator Polk, George Washington, b. 1847.
Language English
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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 George Washington Polk Papers #2976, 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 the Records of ante-bellum southern plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series J.
Acquisitions Information
Received from George W. Polk Junior, of Spring Valley, California, in November 1953.
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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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.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

George Washington Polk (born 1847) was the son of Lucius Junius Polk (1802-1870), planter of Maury County, Tennessee, and Mary Ann Estin Polk (1810-1847), niece of Mrs. Andrew Jackson. He was also the nephew of Episcopal Bishop and Civil War General Leonidas Polk (1806-1864).

George Washington Polk was educated in Tennessee schools and attended the University of Virginia from 1867 to 1868, where he studied engineering. He worked as a civil engineer, chiefly involved in the westward expansion of railroads. He eventually settled in San Antonio, Texas

Polk was married on 29 October 1885 to Jane Jackson, daughter of George Moore and Sarah Cabell Perkins Jackson of Florence, Alabama, and descendant of James Moore, governor of South Carolina, 1700-1703. The Polks had three children, all of whom were born while the couple lived in Houston, Texas: George Washington Junior (born 1889); Jane Jackson (born 1893); married George Gill Ball); and Harrison Jackson (born 1896).

In his later years, Polk generated a tremendous correspondence with members of the Polk and related families about family history.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Scattered 19th century papers of members of the Polk and related families and extensive 20th century papers about them. Early papers are chiefly of Lucius Junius Polk, Mary Estin Polk, and Lucius's father William Polk (1758-1834), who owned much land in North Carolina. Letters pertain to politics, planting, family matters, lands, and other business interests. Included are letters from Andrew Jackson and Leonidas Polk, and papers of General John Coffee (1772-1833) of Alabama and other members of the related Coffee, Donelson, and Estin families of Tennessee. Postbellum papers are chiefly of William Harrison Polk (fl. 1875) of Paris, Ky., and George Washington Polk. The majority of these latter papers relate to George's genealogical and historical interests. Also included are George's reminiscences of his childhood during the Civil War, education at schools in Tennessee and at the University of Virginia in the late 1860s, and experiences in Texas and the West as a civil engineer working primarily on the westward expansion of railroads.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Family Papers, 1793-1897.

About 220 items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1793-1857

Chiefly family correspondence and other items, including the following items (description taken from inventory of 1953): a typed copy, 1793, of a Tennessee land grant to Thomas Polk, for service a colonel on the Continental line in the American Revolution; letter, 10 November 1800, from Thomas Jackson to Colonel William Polk in regard to claims for western lands; bills, 1802-1803, of William Polk in Raleigh, N.C.; a deed, 1809, to George Doherty for 300 acres in Maury County, Tenn. (N.C., western lands) signed by John Sevier; letter, 2 August 1811; from William Eastin of Nashville to Captain John Coffee, Jefferson, about returning Coffee's horse; a bill, 8 August 1812, from Thomas Eastin to John Coffee for two quires of blanks for the Examinor; typed copy of a letter, 21 October 1812, from William Polk to his wife Sarah in Raleigh telling her about his trip and the wedding of Tom (Polk?) and Mary in Salisbury; letter, 14 January 1813, from William Eastin to Mrs. Coffee about supplies of hogs, salt, and other business; William Eastin's bill, 1814, to General John Coffee for supplies; letter, 17 October 1814, from William Polk to Governor William Hawkins, stating his attitude toward the proposed peace with Britain and offering his services to his country; bills and receipts, 1815, of William Eastin; and an agreement, 1816, involving William P. Anderson, John Coffee, Will Polk, and others in connection with the land granted to George Doherty.

Note that there are a few typed transcriptions of letters and other items scattered throughout this series.

Folder 1

1793-1818 #02976, Subseries: "1.1. 1793-1857" Folder 1

Folder 2

1820-1825 #02976, Subseries: "1.1. 1793-1857" Folder 2

Folder 3

1826-1831 #02976, Subseries: "1.1. 1793-1857" Folder 3

Folder 4

1832-1834 #02976, Subseries: "1.1. 1793-1857" Folder 4

Folder 5

1835-1838 #02976, Subseries: "1.1. 1793-1857" Folder 5

Folder 6

1839-1841 #02976, Subseries: "1.1. 1793-1857" Folder 6

Folder 7

1842-1843 #02976, Subseries: "1.1. 1793-1857" Folder 7

Folder 8

1844-1857 #02976, Subseries: "1.1. 1793-1857" Folder 8

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1865-1897

Chiefly family correspondence and other items, including the following items (description taken from inventory of 1953):

Note that there are a few typed transcriptions of letters and other items scattered throughout this series.

Folder 9

1866-1874 #02976, Subseries: "1.2. 1865-1897" Folder 9

Folder 9a

1875-1897 #02976, Subseries: "1.2. 1865-1897" Folder 9a

Folder 9b

Undated (probably before 1900) #02976, Subseries: "1.2. 1865-1897" Folder 9b

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Genealogical and Family History Materials, 1900-1927 and undated.

About 600 items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk

Letters relating to genealogy and family history to and from George Washington Polk in San Antonio, Texas.

Folder 10

1900-1907 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 10

Folder 11-12

Folder 11

Folder 12

1908 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 11-12

Folder 13

1909-1911 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 13

Folder 14-15

Folder 14

Folder 15

1912 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 14-15

Folder 16

1913-1914 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 16

Folder 17

1915 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 17

Folder 18-21

Folder 18

Folder 19

Folder 20

Folder 21

1916 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 18-21

Folder 22

1917-1919 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 22

Folder 23-24

Folder 23

Folder 24

1920 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 23-24

Folder 25-28

Folder 25

Folder 26

Folder 27

Folder 28

1921 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 25-28

Folder 29-34

Folder 29

Folder 30

Folder 31

Folder 32

Folder 33

Folder 34

1922 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 29-34

Folder 35-36

Folder 35

Folder 36

1923 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 35-36

Folder 37

1924 #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 37

Folder 38

Undated #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 38

Folder 39

Fragments #02976, Subseries: "2.1. Genealogical and Family History Correspondence of George Washington Polk" Folder 39

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials

Reminiscences, historical articles, notes, genealogical charts, and other documents about the Polk and other families.

Folder 40

George Washington Polk reminiscences #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 40

Folder 41

George Washington Polk Junior, materials #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 41

Folder 42

Coffee, Jones, McNeal, Perkins, Shelby, Pratt #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 42

Folder 43

Donelson #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 43

Folder 44

Eastin #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 44

Folder 45

Hardeman and Polk #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 45

Folder 46

Hawkins #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 46

Folder 47

Jackson #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 47

Folder 48-52

Folder 48

Folder 49

Folder 50

Folder 51

Folder 52

Polk #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 48-52

Folder 53

Pollack #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 53

Folder 54

Purnell #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 54

Folder 55-64

Folder 55

Folder 56

Folder 57

Folder 58

Folder 59

Folder 60

Folder 61

Folder 62

Folder 63

Folder 64

Miscellaneous notes and other materials #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 55-64

Folder 65-67

Folder 65

Folder 66

Folder 67

Volumes: scrapbooks and family records #02976, Subseries: "2.2. Other Genealogical and Family History Materials" Folder 65-67

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Processing Information

Processed by: SHC Staff, 1953; and Roslyn Holdzkom, June 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.

This inventory incorporates information from an inventory written in 1953 by SHC staff.

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