Robert Lee Foy Collection

Manuscript Collection #32
Foy, Robert Lee
Physical description
0.22 Cubic Feet, 227 items , including correspondence, deeds, accounts, receipts, promissory notes, plat, church minutes, judgment, speech, pamphlet, newspapers, and miscellaneous items.
Preferred Citation
Robert Lee Foy Collection (#32), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
Access to audiovisual and digital media is restricted. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Collection (1762-1894) including correspondence, deeds, accounts, receipts, promissory notes, plat, church minutes, judgment, etc. of early settlers of Poplar Grove Plantation, Scott's Hill, N.C.

Biographical/historical information

The Foy family settled in southeastern North Carolina prior to the American Revolution, and James Foy Jr. purchased Poplar Grove Plantation at Scott's Hill in 1795. Poplar Grove was owned originally by Cornelius Harnett and his colonial mill site is still visible on the plantation. The present Foy home was built by Joseph Montford Foy circa 1850 and maintained by the skills of the enslaved men and women. The original manor house was restored and opened to the public as a museum in 1980 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Scope and arrangement

Correspondence in the collection includes a letter (October 1860) from Joseph M. Foy to his son opposing Southern secession and predicting the victory of Abraham Lincoln in the approaching presidential election. An 1864 letter lists people enslaved by Foy being hired out to others and the annual rate he received for their labor. The Hiring-out system allowed a hirer to temporarily lease an enslaved person from an enslaver, generating revenue for the enslaver through the labor of the enslaved people completing the work.

In October of 1865, Edward C. Armstrong, nephew of the brother of Secretary of State William H. Seward, commented on agricultural activities in Orange County, New York, and offered to use his influence to assist Mrs. Joseph Foy if she so desired. The remainder of the correspondence (1871-1875) concerns claims made by Mrs. Foy against the U.S. government. In executing these claims, Mrs. Foy declared her loyalty during the recent conflict and charged that her livestock was taken for the use of the Union Army.

Land records make up a second significant portion of the collection. Deeds and grants (1762-1861) reflect the transfer of land in the Topsail Sound area of New Hanover (now Pender) County, including pre-Revolutionary transactions of James Moore, CorneliusHarnett, and John Picket. Other land records include memorandums of survey, property bonds, a lease, land description, and a plat of Cornelius Harnett's Poplar Grove Plantation (undated).

Also included in the Robert Lee Foy Collection are accounts (1848-1872) dealing primarily with goods and services purchased and crops, particularly peanuts, sold on the market. Other financial papers consist of promissory notes (1805-1858); miscellaneous receipts (1776, 1806, 1849-1874, 1894), including receipts for the purchase of enslaved people and for shares in the Wilmington and Topsail Sound Plank Road Company (1853); an 1860 itemized tax receipt; and a medical receipt for the attendance of enslaved persons (1861).

Miscellaneous items include an account book (1790) that contains Algebra problems; writ for seizure of property (1814); a deed for the sale of two enslaved persons (1848); an inventory of the Henry Rhodes estate (1781); a flier concerning claims against the government stemming from the Civil War (1869); and minutes of a meeting held at Cats [Scotts] Hill Meeting House, October 8, 1842, with resolutions for building a new meeting house and providing for the administration of the same. Other items consist of an oath of allegiance to U.S. government (1865); claims application against U.S. government for property taken by Union Army (1871); a speech on temperance; a pamphlet, Ohio Combination Bee-Hive, by E. W. Phelps; and copies of the Kingston, New York, Ulster County Gazette (January 4, 1800), telling of the burial of former President Washington, and The New York Herald (April 15, 1865), reporting the assassination of President Lincoln.

An oversize folder contains land records and two newspapers.

Administrative information
Custodial History

November 1, 1967, 192 items; Papers (1762-1875) of the Foy family of Scott's Hill (Pender County), N.C. Collection includes correspondence, deeds, accounts, receipts, promissory notes, plat, church minutes, judgement, speech, pamphlet, newspapers, and miscellaneous items.

December 2, 1968, 35 items; Grants, deeds, estate papers, and accounts of Foy family (1763-1894). Gift of Mr. Robert Lee Foy, Scott's Hill, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mr. Robert Lee Foy

Processing information

Processed by D. Lennon; M. Quintanilla, November 1986

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Descriptions updated by Jennifer Overstreet, July 2020

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Foy, Joseph M., 1817-1861
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
Moore, James
Pickett, John
Family Names
Foy family
Corporate Names
Wilmington and Topsail Sound Plank Road Company
Agriculture--New York (State)--Orange County
Agriculture--North Carolina
Deeds--North Carolina--Pender County
Gullahs--North Carolina--Pender County
Peanut industry--Southern States
Plantations--North Carolina--New Hanover County
Slavery--North Carolina
Slaves--Medical care--United States
Poplar Grove Plantation (Pender County, N.C.)
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Claims