Joseph Kinsey Papers

Manuscript Collection #63
Kinsey, Joseph, 1843-1929
Physical description
0.435 Cubic Feet, 21 items, consisting of correspondence, clippings, and a diary.
Preferred Citation
Joseph Kinsey Papers (#63), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
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Papers (1860-1928, undated) including correspondence, clippings, diary, account of Kinsey's service before being captured near Charleston, weather conditions, deaths, morale problems, and battle, etc.

Biographical/historical information

Joseph Kinsey (June 17, 1843 or 1845-January 12,1929) was a noted Lenoir County, N.C., educator and Civil War officer. [His tombstone has his birthdate as 1843, but his death certificate says 1845.] He taught school and studied at Trinity College before entering the Confederate Army in March of 1862. After being captured in 1863, he was imprisoned at Johnson's Island in Lake Erie near Sandusky, Ohio, until after the collapse of the Confederacy. On his release, Kinsey taught school in Jones and Lenoir counties and founded Kinsey Institute at LaGrange. The Institute later moved to Wilson where it became the forerunner of Atlantic Christian College. Kinsey subsequently became superintendent of Lenoir County schools and served in that capacity for many years.

Scope and arrangement

Correspondence in the collection consists of letters from Kinsey to his sister written from Trinity College before the war and from camp and prison after his enlistment. The Trinity letters reflect life and studies in college (1860-1861). Civil War correspondence contains comments on the poor leadership of his regiment, revival of home textile manufacturing, service in Pitt County and at Wilmington, and life in a federal prison. Kinsey pleads for letters from home, reports on prisoner exchanges, mentions his vegetable garden, comments on the 1864 presidential election, and records the deaths of fellow prisoners.

The diary, written from prison, gives a brief account of Kinsey's service before being captured near Charleston, S.C., in August of 1863. The bulk of the volume describes life in prison on Johnson's Island, including reports of prisoner escapes, weather conditions, deaths, morale problems, the availability of newspapers, Union propaganda, battle rumors, prisoner exchanges, and his train trip back to North Carolina after the surrender of General Lee. Also included for 1865 and 1866 are diary entries reflecting his return to school teaching in rural North Carolina and listing the students attending his school. Of particular interest near the end of the diary is a sketch written by Captain Simeon E. Hamilton of the Choctaw Cavalry. Hamilton, a prisoner with Kinsey at Johnson's Island, chastises whites for their attitude toward the Indians and describes the advanced living standards of the Choctaw people.

Newspaper clippings in the collection eulogize Kinsey and tell of his terminal illness and death.

Administrative information
Custodial History

September 20, 1968, 21 items; Correspondence, clippings, and a diary (1860-1866, undated). Deposited by Joseph E. Kinsey, LaGrange, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Joseph E. Kinsey

Processing information

Processed by D. Lennon

Encoded by Apex Data Services

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
Hamilton, Simeon E.
Kinsey, Joseph, 1843-1929
Corporate Names
Confederate States of America. Army--Military life
Johnson Island Prison
Kinsey Institute (Lenoir County, N.C.)
Trinity College (Randolph County, N.C.)--Students--Social life and customs
United States. Armed Forces--Officers
Choctaw Indians
Educators--North Carolina--Lenoir County
Private schools--North Carolina--Lenoir County
Lenoir County (N.C.)
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Casualties
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Propaganda
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Transportation