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Collection Number: 04070

Collection Title: William McKendree Robbins Papers, 1813; 1836-1905.

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 rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities; this finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.

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Size 2.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 170 items)
Abstract William McKendree Robbins was professor at Normal College (later Trinity College), Randolph County, N.C., 1851-1853; lawyer in Alabama, and Salisbury and Statesville, N.C.; and North Carolina congressman, 1873-1878. Papers consist of love letters, 1849-1854, between Robbins and his future wife, Mary Montgomery; letters, 1855-1857, about life in Glennville County, Ala.; a diary of and correspondence received by his nephew/ward Alabama congressman Gaston Ahi Robbins (born 1859), including material, 1882-1890, about politics at Trinity College, and eight letters, 1886, from Varina Howell Davis and her daughter, Varina Anne Jefferson Davis. There are also miscellaneous family correspondence; writings, scrapbooks, and diaries of William McKendree Robbins, pertaining primarily to his activities as Gettysburg Battle Field commissioner, 1894-1905; clippings; photographs; and family history material.
Creator Robbins, William McKendree, 1828-1905.
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 William McKendree Robbins Papers, #4070, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Mrs. Isaac T. Avery of Statesville, N.C., Miles T. Wood of Talladega, Ala., and William Wood and Winifred Wood of Montreat, N.C., 1976-1977.
Additional Descriptive Resources
A copy of the original finding aid for this collection is filed in folder 1a.
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

William McKendree Robbins (1828-1905) was professor, lawyer, state legislator, and North Carolina congressman. Robbins was born in Randolph County, N.C., and was educated at Randolph-Macon College. He was a professor of mathematics at Normal (later Trinity) College, 1851-1853, and opened a female college in Glennville, Ala., 1855, a project he soon abandoned in favor of practicing law. During the Civil War he served with Company G, 4th Alabama Regiment, in Virginia and Tennessee. After the war he began a law practice in Salisbury, N.C., and later became a state senator, 1869-1873, and United States congressman representing the 7th North Carolina District, 1873-1878. After his last congressional term he returned to practicing law in Statesville, N.C., with his son-in-law B. F. Long. He later served as Gettysburg Battle Field commissioner, 1894-1905.

William McKendree Robbins was married to Mary Montgomery of Montville, S.C., in 1854. They had two children, William and Mary Alice. After his wife's death in 1858, Robbins married her sister Martha Montgomery. They had four children, Montgomery (1866-1893), Gertrude, Maude, and Frank C. Robbins. William McKendree and Martha Robbins also raised Gaston Ahi Robbins and Mamie Lafayette Robbins, after the death of Julius Robbins, William McKendree's brother.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The papers consist of love letters, 1849-1854, between William McKendree Robbins and his future wife, Mary Montgomery; letters, 1855-1857, about life in Glennville County, Ala.; a diary of and correspondence received by his nephew/ward Alabama congressman Gaston Ahi Robbins (born 1859), including material, 1882-1890, about politics at Trinity College, and eight letters, 1886, from Varina Howell Davis and her daughter, Varina Anne Jefferson Davis; and letters, 1882-1884, from Martha Montgomery Robbins describing her William McKendree Robbins's political campaign for a North Carolina congressional seat. There are also miscellaneous family correspondence; writings, scrapbooks, and diaries of William McKendree Robbins, pertaining primarily to his activities as Gettysburg Battle Field commissioner, 1894-1905; clippings; photographs; and family history material.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated.

Chiefly family and social correspondence of the Robbins family. Also included are writings and speeches of William McKendree Robbins and clippings relating to family members and their interests.

Correspondence, 1849-1854, consists primarily of love letters between William McKendree Robbins and his future wife, Mary Montgomery. There are also letters, 1855-1858, from the couple to relatives concerning life in Alabama. Papers, 1859-1879, are scattered and include social correspondence of Mary Alice Robbins and items related to the death of Mary Montgomery Robbins and other family news.

Correspondence, 1882-1890, is primarily to Gaston Ahi Robbins from his sister and mother dealing with family problems and with politics at Trinity College. There are also some friendly letters, 1886-1888, to Gaston from Varina Howell Davis (Mrs. Jefferson Davis) and her daughter Varina Anne Davis. Correspondence, 1882-1884, from Martha M. Robbins to her stepdaughter/niece, Mary Alice Robbins and to her nephew Gaston Ahi Robbins contain descriptions of the defeat of William McKendree Robbins for a North Carolina congressional seat by the Liberal Anti-Prohibition Party candidate, Tyre York; the North Carolina cyclone of 1884; and the organization of the Woman's Union Temperance Society of Trinity College.

Correspondence, 1890-1905 and undated, is miscellaneous and includes social correspondence; letters from William McKendree Robbins in Gettysburg, Pa., to his family; letters from James Madison Leach Junior in Cape Town, South Africa, to his mother Eliza Montgomery Leach in Newberry, S.C.; sympathy notes to Mamie Lafayette Robbins on the death of her brother Gaston Ahi in the Park Avenue Hotel fire in New York City in 1902; and letter fragments.

Folder 1a

Original finding aid #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 1a

Folder 1

Correspondence, 1813-1852 #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

Correspondence, 1853 #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

Correspondence, 1854 #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 3

Folder 4

Correspondence, 1855-1857 #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 4

Folder 5

Correspondence, 1858-1868 #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 5

Folder 6

Correspondence, 1876-1882 #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 6

Folder 7

Correspondence, 1883 #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 7

Folder 8

Correspondence, 1884 #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 8

Folder 9

Correspondence, 1885-1886 #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 9

Folder 10

Correspondence, 1887-1890 #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 10

Folder 11

Correspondence, 1894-1905 #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 11

Folder 12

Correspondence, undated #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 12

Folder 13

Clippings, 1878, 1884, 1902 #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 13

Folder 14

Writings #04070, Series: "1. Correspondence, Clippings, and Writings, 1813-1905 and undated." Folder 14

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Volumes, 1846-1905.

Volumes include the diary, 1894-1905, of William McKendree Robbins; a book of poetry, 1846, composed by Eliza Lewis Montgomery Leach also containing genealogical data on the Taylor, Lewis, and Maclin families, probably added later by another family member; the diary, 1884, of Gaston Ahi Robbins; two scrapbooks of clippings about William McKendree Robbins, the Civil War, and the Gettysburg Battlefield Commission; and a catalog of the Branford Lock Works.

Folder 15

Volume 1: Poetry book, Eliza Lewis Montgomery Leach 1846; genealogy notes #04070, Series: "2. Volumes, 1846-1905." Folder 15

Folder 16

Volume 2: Diary, Gaston Ahi Robbins, 1884 #04070, Series: "2. Volumes, 1846-1905." Folder 16

Folder 17

Volume 3: Scrapbook, William McKendree Robbins, 1861, 1875-1893 #04070, Series: "2. Volumes, 1846-1905." Folder 17

Folder 18

Volume 4: Scrapbook, William McKendree Robbins, 1896-1904 #04070, Series: "2. Volumes, 1846-1905." Folder 18

Folder 19

Volume 5: Diary, William McKendree Robbins, 1894-1898 #04070, Series: "2. Volumes, 1846-1905." Folder 19

Folder 20

Volume 6: Diary, William McKendree Robbins, 1898-1900 #04070, Series: "2. Volumes, 1846-1905." Folder 20

Folder 21

Volume 7: Diary, William McKendree Robbins, 1900-1902 #04070, Series: "2. Volumes, 1846-1905." Folder 21

Folder 22

Volume 8: Diary, William McKendree Robbins, 1902-1904 #04070, Series: "2. Volumes, 1846-1905." Folder 22

Folder 23

Volume 9: Diary, William McKendree Robbins, 1904-1905 #04070, Series: "2. Volumes, 1846-1905." Folder 23

Folder 24

Volume 10: Catalog, Branford Lock Works #04070, Series: "2. Volumes, 1846-1905." Folder 24

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Miscellaneous Papers, Fragments, and Printed Material

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Oversize papers (OPF-4070/1b, X-OPF-4070/1a).

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Processing Information

Processed by: SHC Staff

Encoded by: Noah Huffman, December 2007

Updated by: Kate Stratton and Jodi Berkowitz, July 2009

This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.

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