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Collection Number: 04067

Collection Title: Michael Shoffner Papers, 1777-1873

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 under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 130 items)
Abstract Michael Shoffner was a farmer and grist miller in southern Alamance County, N.C. The collection includes correspondence and other papers of Shoffner, chiefly letters, 1822-1873, received from his brothers John (1787-1857) and Daniel (fl. 1831-1858) and their families of Bedford and Carroll counties, Tenn. The letters provide familial information and a continuing commenatry on agricultural crops and conditions, internal improvements, the Lutheran Church, and local events. National events mentioned in the letters include the battle of the Alamo, the Panic of 1837, and Whig politics. Also included are scattered records of Michael Shoffner's gristmilling business and account books for smithwork and other labor and for various sundries.
Creator Shoffner, Michael, d. 1874.
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 Michael Shoffner Papers #4067, 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 Frances Alexander Campbell, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 17 October 1975.
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

Michael Shoffner (d. 1874), farmer and grist miller in southern Alamance County (Hartshorn Post Office), North Carolina, was the son of Michael[?] Shoffner. Michael's father died in Tennessee, 30 September 1838, having moved there around 1808 at age 50. The father was survived by one brother (Frederick), 74 grandchildren, and 84 great-grandchildren (according to letters of 28 August 1834 and 5 October 1838).

Michael Shoffner's siblings included two brothers, John Shofner (1787-1857), of Bedford County, central Tennessee (Duck River and Shelbyville), and Daniel Shofner in Carroll County, western Tennessee (Crooked Creek, Huntingdon, and Sandy Bridge). Michael Shoffner married Sarah "Sally" Shoffner (1788-1862). He later married Mrs. Nancy Stafford Spoon. Other relations include sisters[?] Eve and Milley and nephews Jack[?] Shofner, B. D. Shofner, John R. Shofner, Joel Shofner, Alex Crapp, Michael Shofner, and P. C. and Catherine Robertson. (Note: As a rule, Michael Shoffner's Tennessee relatives spelled the last name with only one "f" instead of two.)

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The majority of the collection (87 of 131 items) consists of letters from Michael Shoffner's Tennessee relations. These Tennessee letters, dated 1822 and 1831-1873, provide a continuing description of, and commentary on, living conditions, agricultural economy, church news--mainly Lutheran, construction of local railroads, Whig Party politics, and local events in Bedford and Carroll counties, Tennessee, as well as much detail about the individual members of these growing and spreading families. At frequent intervals, the Tennessee relatives brought their North Carolina kin up to date on family news. There are occasional comments on national politics and general topics of current interest, such as the battle of the Alamo, the Panic of 1837, and the Mexican War. There is very little information on secession or the Civil War.

In addition to the Tennessee letters, the papers include some business communications of Michael Shoffner, related mainly to his obtaining millstones for his grinding business. Three broadsides are interfiled with the papers (21 September 1855, 6 January 1857, 4 September 1873). The 1855 broadside is also dated 4 February 1853. There are three poems (16 April 1840 and two from 6 March 1850) interspersed with the correspondence.

There are also four slender account books, 1777-1836, of Michael Shoffner (perhaps Michael Shoffner's father) containing accounts for blacksmith work, shop work, and some general merchandise sales. The earliest entries are in German.

Correspondence and related material constitutes Series 1. The four account books are in Series 2.

The collection is of primary benefit to the researcher interested in the agricultural economy of middle and western Tennessee. The letters routinely convey details of crop yields, comparative prices, and seasonal routines. While the Shofners were slaveowners, they rarely discussed the institution or their own slaves.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence and Related Items, 1822; 1831-1866; 1869; 1873.

131 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly letters to Michael Shoffner from his brothers John and Daniel Shofner. News of family and farm predominate. John tended to include information on state and local politics, particularly the Whig party, and internal improvements. The Lutheran church, western lands, the Texas Revolution and Mexican War, and the general business climate were also of interest to the family.

Comments on national issues include:

description of Battle of the Alamo (14 May 1836); "great money panic" (8 November 1837); detailed description of Whig rally (29 November 1844).

In addition to the letters and accounts of Michael Shoffner's gristmilling business (interspersed throughout the collection), there is a letter (22 July 1855) to Michael from his nephew Joel Shofner of Bedford County, Kentucky, about his lumber milling business. Among undated items are a list of birthdates, a deed, Michael Shoffner's will, a complaint about Michael's millwork, and two hair samples.

Folder 1

1822, 1831-1832 #04067, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Items, 1822; 1831-1866; 1869; 1873." Folder 1

Folder 2

1833-1834 #04067, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Items, 1822; 1831-1866; 1869; 1873." Folder 2

Folder 3

1835-1839 #04067, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Items, 1822; 1831-1866; 1869; 1873." Folder 3

Folder 4

1840-1848 #04067, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Items, 1822; 1831-1866; 1869; 1873." Folder 4

Folder 5

1850-1855 #04067, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Items, 1822; 1831-1866; 1869; 1873." Folder 5

Folder 6

1856-1860 #04067, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Items, 1822; 1831-1866; 1869; 1873." Folder 6

Folder 7

1861-1866, 1869, 1873, and undated #04067, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Items, 1822; 1831-1866; 1869; 1873." Folder 7

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Account Books, 1777-1836.

4 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Chiefly accounts of Michael Shoffner (perhaps Michael Shoffner's father) for smithwork, flour, sale of merchandise, and miscellaneous labor. The first volume, 1777-1789, is in German. The rest are in English.

Folder 8

1777-1789 #04067, Series: "2. Account Books, 1777-1836." Folder 8

Folder 9

1814-1824 #04067, Series: "2. Account Books, 1777-1836." Folder 9

Folder 10

1822-1817, 1829-1836 #04067, Series: "2. Account Books, 1777-1836." Folder 10

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Processing Information

Processed by: Scott Philyaw, 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.

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