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Collection Number: 04207

Collection Title: Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938

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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.


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Size 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 700 items)
Abstract Letters to Frances Polk Skipwith (1835-1884) of Oxford, Miss., from her mother Frances Devereux Polk (Mrs. Leonidas Polk) in New Orleans, La., Asheville, N.C., Nashville, Tenn., and at Columbia Female Institute, Columbia, Tenn., discussing her struggles as a teacher and other matters; her brothers and sisters at various Southern locations; her husband, Peyton H. Skipwith, at various locations and Washington, D.C., including love letters in the late 1860s; and friends and other relatives. Most letters are about family affairs and local news, reflecting the efforts of Southern families to manage in the midst of the difficulties and privations of the Reconstruction period. The Addition of December 2008 consists of 17 letters to Frances Devereux Polk Skipwith from family friends Winchester and Ruth Hall. Winchester Hall commanded the 26th Louisiana Infantry Regiment and published a book detailing the Regiment's history, role in the Siege of Vicksburg, and ultimate disbandment after the Civil War. Most of the letters date between 1863 and 1866. The letters cover a variety of topics including Ruth Hall's experiences during the Union invasion of Louisiana in 1863, including mention of a slave uprising after a Confederate retreat; the death of Skipwith's father, Leonidas Polk; Winchester Hall's thoughts on the future of the South; and other routine topics.
Creator Polk family.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
This collection contains additional materials that are not processed and are currently not available to researchers. For information about access to these materials, contact Research and Instructional Services staff. Please be advised that preparing unprocessed materials for access can be a lengthy process.
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 Polk Family Papers #4207, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Mrs. Francis D. Polk, IV, of Columbia, Maryland, in December 1979 and June 1987. Purchased from Swann Galleries in December 2008 (Acc. 101096).
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

Frances ("Fanny") Devereux Polk Skipwith was born on 27 November 1835; she died 15 March 1884. Fanny's father was Leonidas Polk, Episcopal bishop and Confederate general, who died just before the earliest letters in this group were written. Her mother was Frances Devereux Polk who died in 1875. Fanny married Peyton H. Skipwith on 27 November 1866. The Skipwith's children were Kate (18 September 1867-1938) and Frank (b. 10 October 1872). Fanny's brothers and sisters were:

Alexander Hamilton (27 January 1831 - 2 October 1872), who married Emily Beach in 1854. Their children were Frank, George Beach, Hamilton, Leonidas, and Nicholas Beach.

Katherine (16 August 1838 - 3 February 1916), who married William D. Gale in 1858, and lived in Nashville, Tennessee. Their children were Francis, Dudley, Katherine, Leonide, Josephine, and Ethel.

Sarah H. ("Sallie") (b. 1840), who married Francis D. Blake in May 1866, and lived in Asheville, North Carolina. Francis Polk was their child.

Susan R. (16 April 1842 - 17 March 1917), who married Dr. Joseph Jones on 21 June 1870. Their children were Fanny, Hamilton P., and Laura.

Elizabeth ("Lily") Devereux (29 June 1843 - 14 November 1918), who married Col. William E. Huger, and lived in New Orleans. Their children were Francis D., Emily, Hamilton, John Middleton, Lucia, Arthur Middleton, and William Elliot.

William Mecklenburg (15 August 1844 - 24 June 1918), who married, first, Ida A. Lyon (d. 1912), and, second, Marie H. Dehon in 1914. Children by his first wife were Leonida, Frank Lyon, and John Metcalfe.

Lucia (b. 22 October 1848), who married Edward Chapman on 8 January 1870.

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About 625 letters written, with only a few exceptions, to Frances Polk Skipwith between 1865 and 1884. Almost one-quarter of the letters are from Fanny's mother, who wrote of her life as a widow in the decade following the Civil War. Financial difficulties; loneliness; teaching positions at Columbia Female Institute, Columbia, Tennessee, and in New Orleans; personal affairs in Asheville, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee; and activities of children and in-laws figure prominently in her letters. Most are relatively lengthy, articulate, and thoughtful reports on family and social life.

Fanny's husband, Peyton H. Skipwith, wrote the next largest number of letters in the group; they date from courtship days in 1866 to 1883, just before Fanny's death. Skipwith wrote as he travelled on business through the South and Southwest and to Washington, D. C., and Pennsylvania. In most of these letters, Skipwith dealt with courtship and family matters. Occasionally, he mentioned his business dealings as a cotton broker, insurance salesman, and debt collector. In one letter, written in 1869, Skipwith discussed then Congressman James A. Garfield's help in securing legislative relief for former Confederate soldiers. In several of the letters, he expressed the pain and alienation of an ex-Confederate visiting the nation's capital.

The next largest group of letters consists of correspondence from Fanny's siblings. Most were written about everyday life--ill health, children, and homelife in general. Sallie's, Sue's, and Lucia's weddings and marriages were discussed at length. Susan and Lucia wrote about the social activities that they enjoyed in spite of the war and the difficulties that followed. In their letters, brothers Meck and Hamilton described their lives, one as a medical student and the other as a planter and businessman.

The subjects of letters from Fanny's Aunt Nelly Pierrepont are social activities in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Auburn, New York, and news about relatives. Several letters are included from Fanny's friend Mary C. Coxe in Canton, Mississippi, and San Francisco. Other relatives wrote the remaining letters, chiefly offering condolence or congratulations, or reporting personal news. Six letters addressed to Fanny's daughter Kate were written in 1875, 1890, 1914, 1915, and 1938.

Bishop Leonidas Polk is mentioned very infrequently in these letters. He is referred to only in connection with his wife's bereavement after his death and her efforts to recover his letters. Other rarely mentioned topics are the war, the Confederate cause, and public events of Reconstruction.

The Addition of December 2008 consists of 17 letters to Frances Devereux Polk Skipwith from family friends Winchester and Ruth Hall. Winchester Hall commanded the 26th Louisiana Infantry Regiment and published a book detailing the Regiment's history, role in the Siege of Vicksburg, and ultimate disbandment after the Civil War. Most of the letters date between 1863 and 1866. The letters cover a variety of topics including Ruth Hall's experiences during the Union invasion of Louisiana in 1863, including mention of a slave uprising after a Confederate retreat; the death of Skipwith's father, Leonidas Polk; Winchester Hall's thoughts on the future of the South; and other routine topics.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938.

Folder 1

1864-1865 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 1

Folder 2

January - March 1866 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 2

Folder 3

April - July l866 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 3

Folder 4

August - 15 October 1866 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 4

Folder 5

16 October - December 1866 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 5

Folder 6

January - May 1867 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 6

Folder 7

June - December 1867 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 7

Folder 8

1868 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 8

Folder 9

January - April 1869 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 9

Folder 10

May - August 1869 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 10

Folder 11

September - December 1869 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 11

Folder 12

January - 23 June 1870 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 12

Folder 13

24 June - August 1870 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 13

Folder 14

September - December 1870 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 14

Folder 15

January - May 1871 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 15

Folder 16

June - December 1871 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 16

Folder 17

January - June 1872 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 17

Folder 18

July - October 1872 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 18

Folder 19

November 1872 - January 1873 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 19

Folder 20

February- 21 May 1873 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 20

Folder 21

22 May - September 1873 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 21

Folder 22

October - December 1873 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 22

Folder 23

January - June 1874 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 23

Folder 24

July - December 1874 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 24

Folder 25

1875 - 1876 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 25

Folder 26

1877 - 1878 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 26

Folder 27

1879 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 27

Folder 28

1880 - 1938 #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 28

Folder 29-30

Folder 29

Folder 30

Undated #04207, Series: "Polk Family Papers, 1864-1938." Folder 29-30

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Addition of April 2009. 1863-1866, undated.

17 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

The Addition of December 2008 consists of 17 letters to Frances Devereux Polk Skipwith from family friends Winchester and Ruth Hall. Winchester Hall commanded the 26th Louisiana Infantry Regiment and published a book detailing the Regiment's history, role in the Siege of Vicksburg, and ultimate disbandment after the Civil War. Most of the letters date between 1863 and 1866. The letters cover a variety of topics including Ruth Hall's experiences during the Union invasion of Louisiana in 1863, including mention of a slave uprising after a Confederate retreat; the death of Skipwith's father, Leonidas Polk; Winchester Hall's thoughts on the future of the South; and other routine topics.

Folder 31

Letters from Winchester and Ruth Hall, 1863-1866 #04207, Series: "Addition of April 2009. 1863-1866, undated." Folder 31

In an undated letter, presumably written in November 1863, Ruth Hall details how she shamed looting Union soldiers into asking permission before leaving with their spoils, how she obtained an unrestricted travel pass from Union soldiers, and a slave uprising after a Confederate retreat.

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Processing Information

Processed by: K. Lanning in 1980 and P. Dean in 1987

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Revisions: Finding aid updated in October 2010 by Megan Bricker Thompson.

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