This weekend I visited the Southern Historical Collection located on the 4th floor of the Wilson Library at UNC. I checked out a box from the William S. Powell Papers. This was my first visit to the Collection library. I was allowed to bring my laptop and digital camera in, but had to use the loose leaf paper and pencils they provided to me. They do not provide photocopying services, and if I had not had digital camera, I would have been able to check one of theirs out for free. The only two conditions to using digital cameras were 1) I cannot use a flash and 2) I had to sign a form that said I would not reproduce any images I photographed without the written permission from the Southern Historical Collection.
The purpose of my trip was to find the research notes of William S. Powell that he used in writing his book, “When the Past Refused to Die: The History of Caswell Count, North Carolina.” On page 71, he mentioned my ancestor, “Colonel Henry Williams” as a Revolutionary War soldier and I would like to know what source Powell used to indicate that my ancestor was a Colonel or that he was a Revolutionary War soldier. I have blogged previously here and here that I can’t find any other documentation that he was a Colonel or participated in the Revolutionary War.
The box I reviewed had 5 folders in it which were not named or numbered. As I took a folder out, I had to insert a placeholder in its place. The first folder had printed pages from the book with some corrections Powell made. The 2nd and 3rd folder had correspondence Powell had with his publisher, the Caswell County Historical Association members, and Caswell County residents, just to name a few. I found a few index cards with notations made of other collections titles that Powell reviewed (although he did not list the repository – whether they were contained in the Southern Historical Collection, the Duke Manuscripts, or North Carolina State Archives, for example), but no reference to any Revolutionary War Records.
In one of his letters to his publisher, Powell mentioned that he had indexed every name and place title he found in each record he reviewed on index cards. These cards were not included with these materials. Maybe he sent these cards to his publisher?
I learned a lot about writing a North Carolina history book from reading Powell’s correspondence. I learned about the administrative practices of securing an agreement with a publisher and securing funds. I learned about feasibility and finding enough subject material to write about. I learned about how to get the county residents involved and soliciting submissions for historical essays on the history of places like churches, mills, houses, and schools. I also found in his papers a guide that was written about how to write a county history including a list of subject matter and outline material! I also saw some correspondence Powell had with people who disagreed with the information he wrote about their ancestors. This gave me great insight into what it would be like to write a historical book, which is something I would like to do someday!
So all in all, my trip was good. I would love to do more research in the Southern Historical Collection. I found their online finding aids to be very information and specific enough to determine if a collection is what I am looking for. Although I did not find exactly what I was looking for, I will not lose hope.
John Brooks Binns was my Paternal great-grandfather. He was tall and skinny and had blonde hair and blue eyes. He was married to the love of his life, Blanche Kathryn Hill and they had three beautiful little girls, Kitty, Barbara, and Brooxine Binns. John was a member of the Big 3 Little 3 Press Association in college and played football for the Monticello A&M Bollwevils in Arkansas. He was a meat cutter for Krogers grocery for ten years and when his kids were old enough to go to high school he and his wife went back to school and became school teachers. He taught 5th grade until he retired in 1975.
This post is part of a Monthly First Friday blogging theme suggested by Dee Akard Welborn. Dee encourages geneabloggers to highlight our funeral card collections on the first Friday of each month. You can join the fun on Facebook here as well!
Last year I wrote a postabout my ancestor Henry Williams, asking the question, Was he really a Revolutionary War Soldier? like William S. Powell indicated in his book When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County, North Carolina 1777-1977 (Durham, NC: Moore Publishing Company, 1977).
Although Powell did not provide sources in his book, he did note that he donated all research materials to the Gunn Memorial Library in Yanceyville, NC. I called the Library and they said they did not have any of Powell’s papers, but that they were probably located at UNC’s Wilson Library. The Finding Aid for Powell’s papers that are housed at the Wilson Library does mention papers relating to Caswell County History, but offers no specifics.
In the meantime, I happened to come upon the “Compiled service records of soldiers who served in the American Army during the Revolutionary war” – a set of microfilm put out by NARA that was scanned and digitized and put online for free public access on the Internet Archives website and can be downloaded for free here.
I downloaded 3 pages total.
The first page was the front of Henry Williams’ service card.
It had the following information on it:
North Carolina Militia
Private | Private
Number of personal papers herein: 0
W | Collier’s Regiment | N.C. Militia
Appears on a Receipt Roll
under the following heading:
“Rec’d of Captin John Johnston specia tickets in
pay for the under Named for serving one Tour of
Duty under his Comand on the 16th of Decem.
July the 29th 1783
Number of Record: 1
W P Riply, Copyist
W | Collier’s Regiment | N.C. Militia
PW , Capt. John Johnstone’s Co. in Col.
John Collier’s Reg’t of No. Carolina
Militia, commanded by John Butler, Brigadier General.
Company Pay Roll
of the organization named above,
dated: Dec 22, 1780
What time paid from Sept 8, 17__
What time paid to Dec 22, 17__
Number of Days 106
Pay per day in dollars 1
Subsistence per month 20
Total amount in dollars 176
And then another researcher I’ve been working with found the following on footnote.com – a scan of the Pay Receipt that included Henry Williams, a Private, no. 16 down on the left hand side.
Pay Roll for Capt John Johnstone’s Company in John Collin’s Regiment of No. Carolina Militia Commanded by John Butler Brigadier General December 22, 1780.
Name: Henry Williams
What Time Paid from: 8 Sept
What Time Paid to: 22 Dec
Number of Days: 106
Pay per day in Dollars: 1
Subsistence per month: 20
Total amount in dollars: 176
The existence of these documents is a good indication that our Henry Williams was a participant in the Revolutionary War, however, Powell’s book said he was a “Colonel” and these documents mention only a “Private” Henry Williams, so there is unfortunately some discrepancy.
I guess the hunt for Powell’s original source materials will continue. The Powell collection that is housed at the Wilson Library is huge. According to the finding aid, materials on Caswell County are in folders 121 and 16. I plan to peruse these folders in the new few weeks.
John Milton Binns was my great-great grandfather. He was born January 17, 1868 in Arkansas and died October 8, 1961 in his home in Monticello, Arkansas. He married Perthinia Brooks November 10, 1892. She died November 3, 1942, just one week before they were to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.