The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence to Kate and Julia Wheeler from their classmates, friends, and relatives. Many of the letters concern the activities and interests of members of the Wheeler, Bond, and Moore families. Correspondents include Fannie Hooper, daughter of educator John De Berniere Hooper; Miss M. M. Fowle, of Washington, N.C., who occasionally mentions activities there; John Hill Wheeler; Samuel Jordan Wheeler; and Kate's grandmother, Mary Branch. Mrs. Branch, wife of Governor John Branch, makes occasional brief references to the governor (Oct., 1860; July, 1861; Nov., 1861).
Much of the correspondence discusses education. Topics include the establishment of a Baptist female college in Brownsville, Tenn. (Apr., 1851), plans for Chowan Female Collegiate Institute (Oct., 1851), the return from a cruise and dismissals at the U.S. Naval Academy (Oct., 1860), and a school for women in Washington, D.C.(Jan., 1861). Of particular interest are the letters of John and Woodbury Wheeler that describe life at Columbian College in Washington, D.C. (1859-1860). Another letter (Dec., 1861) also contains a description of the college.
Several letters pertain to the Civil War and its aftermath. Letters from John Wheeler, Kate's brother (June, 1861), describe the living conditions and activities of the Hertford Light Infantry at Portsmouth, N.C., and their discovery of Union ships off Hatteras. Additional correspondence concerns "Buffalo" troops in the Albemarle section of N.C. (Oct., 1862), a speech by Jefferson Davis at Raleigh and Union prisoners' approval of it (Oct., 1864), and Davis's living quarters and activities at Fortress Monroe, Virginia (Oct., 1866). A letter of Samuel Jordan Wheeler (ca. 1861) discusses the irony of his participation in the war, the nature of camp life, and his relationship with a Negro servant. Scattered statements reflect the views of women on wartime developments.
Additional correspondence deals with social life and customs. Topics include a University of North Carolina student's unsuccessful attempt to court a young lady (Nov., 1859); a "tableaux" or pageant performed in Murfreesboro (Feb., 1863); and a conversation with Mrs. Jefferson Davis in which the role of women was discussed (Oct., 1866). Two letters (Jan., Mar., 1860) discuss women's dress and other aspects of parties at the White House. The second letter includes a floor plan of the first floor, labeled to indicate how guests were conducted through the building.
The religious attitudes of the correspondents emerge in many of the letters. Of particular interest are references to a revival in Washington, D.C., and the conversion of John Wheeler (Dec., 1857).
Other topics include the status of operations at the U.S. Mint in Charlotte (Feb., 1838); a lecture by arctic explorer Isaac Israel Hayes at the Smithsonian Institution (June, 1858); the nature of gardens on the estates outside Baltimore (Sept., 1858); various aspects of life in Edgefield, S.C. (Apr., 1859); the suicide of a Washington, D.C., man (Nov., 1859); a fire and a young girl's suicide in Columbus, Mississippi (May, 1860); the thriving business of a daguerreotypist in or near Murfreesboro (Sept., 1860); the possibility of a slave insurrection at Hampton Roads, Virginia (Oct., 1860); instructions for canning walnuts (Apr., 1861); the flowers and terrain in the vicinity of Lake City, Florida (Dec., 1861); the menu and wine list of the Bollingbrook Hotel in Petersburg, Virginia; the "Bowery" atmosphere of New Bern (Dec., 1865); an effort by the United States Ex-Slave Owners Registration Bureau to record data concerning slaves forfeited during the Civil War (1896); and a project to compile a genealogy of the Wheeler Family (1903).
The diaries of Kate Wheeler provide information about her education and social life. The first diary (Feb. 1, 1854-July 4, 1854) discusses her routine activities as a student in a private school in Raleigh. The second diary (Feb., 1862-Feb., 1863) contains brief entries that detail her day-to-day activities in Murfreesboro, including walks, visits, and gardening. The diary also mentions war-related developments in Murfreesboro: the use of the town as a barrack for Union troops (Feb. 23, 1862); the use of the Baptist church as a hospital (Feb. 24, 1862); her mother's subscription of $5.00 for the "gun boat" (Apr. 16, 1862); the approach of Union gunboats (May 18, 1862); and other occurrences.
Among the scattered financial records in the collection (1834-1881) is a volume used by the firm of Webb and Capehart, of Windsor, N.C. (1834-1835). It includes lists of dry goods (apparently those in stock) and orders made by various citizens of Bertie County, including Lewis Bond. Other items include a list of slaves hired out by Henry and Daniel Bond (1857), a receipt for medical services rendered by Dr. Francis Gillam of Bertie County, N.C. (1867); and a receipt for coffins constructed for Dr. Samuel Wheeler and his wife (1880).
School records include a book of essays and poems written by Kate Wheeler (Sept., 1854-May, 1855), her first-grade teaching certificate (1887), and Wheeler family grade reports from Murfreesboro Female Academy (1844), Chowan Female Collegiate Institute (1851), and Columbian College (undated).
The papers of Samuel J. Wheeler consist of an essay on the life of Lycurgus, a fragment of an essay on religion in Murfreesboro, and a poem by H. C. Hoyt, "On the Death of My Son" (1849).
Items of a genealogical nature include typescripts and manuscript notes that reveal relationships of members of the Wheeler and Bond families, and newspaper articles concerning John Hill Wheeler, Samuel Jordan Wheeler, John Wheeler, Lewis Bond, Sr., and Mrs. Prudence C. Taylor.
A folder of miscellany includes a pamphlet,
A Literal Translation of Demosthenes on the Crown (Princeton, N.J., 1851), and an undated note concerning religion in Murfreesboro.
The oversized folder contains copies of the
Bee (November 15, 1878) and
Brownsville States (September 19, November 21, 1878) concerning the deaths of T. W. and Lewis Bond.