Getsinger Family Papers

1767-1972; 1847-1944
Manuscript Collection #172
Getsinger family
Physical description
3.12 Cubic Feet, 805 items , consisting of correspondence, memoranda books, a sketchbook (also photographic and microfilm copies), financial records, religious publications, church records, and pamphlets, broadsides, photographs, legal papers, newspaper clippings, books, and miscellany.
Preferred Citation
Getsinger Family Papers (#172), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Collection (1828-1972) pertaining to Martin County, NC, farmer John Conrad Getsinger, Sr., (Nov. 4, 1812-Jan. 16, 1891), a native of Wurttemburg, Germany, and several of his descendants consisting of correspondence, memoranda books, a sketchbook created by Mr. Getsinger while he was a soldier (1847-1848) fighting in the Mexican War, financial records, Civil War records pertaining to Mr. Getsinger and his son John C. Getsinger, Jr., religious publications, Primitive Baptist Church records, pamphlets, broadsides, photographs, legal papers, newspaper clippings, and miscellany.

Biographical/historical information

These papers contain materials pertaining to Martin County farmer John Conrad Getsinger, Sr., (Nov. 4, 1812-Jan. 16, 1891), a native of Wurttemburg, Germany, and several of his descendants, including J. C. Getsinger, Jr., Perlie Eugene Getsinger, and Thomas Reddick Getsinger. For information concerning John C. Getsinger, Sr., and his descendants, see Getsinger Genealogy (1971), in folder 172.4.g.

Scope and arrangement

A considerable part of the collection reflects the participation of John C. Getsinger, Sr., as a sergeant in Company E of the 1st Regiment of N.C. Volunteers during the Mexican War (1847-1848). Letters Getsinger wrote to his family and friends during the war discuss the nature of camp life and the deprivations and sickness he and his comrades from Martin and Edgecombe counties suffered. Getsinger camped at Fort Ogden, Texas; Fort San Francisco near Camargo, Mexico; Buena Vista, Mexico; and Arispes Mills (probably Ramos Arizpe in the State of Coahuila), Mexico. Of particular interest are his descriptions of the sea voyage to Texas (Mar., 1847), the area in the vicinity of Camp Buena Vista (six miles south of Saltillo) and camp conditions there (July 18, 1847), the execution of a member of the cavalry from Arkansas for threatening the life of his captain (Dec. 31, 1847), and Getsinger's poor standard of living since going to Mexico (Mar. 20, 1848). An order from Secretary of War William L. Marcy to Zachary Taylor expresses President Polk's disapproval of General John E. Wool's order No. 404 giving dishonorable discharges to First Lieutenant G. E. B. Singletary and others. Letters to Getsinger from his wife, relatives, and friends mention their farming operations and other activities near Williamston, illnesses and deaths, and routine matters. Notable correspondence mentions prices of agricultural products, turpentine, tar, and shingles (July 5, 1847); views on the end of the war and how Congress should bring it about (Dec., 1847); and the free school at Williamston (Nov. 18, 1847; Jan. 20, Mar. 12, 1848). The letters between John and his wife, Mary, reflect the couple's abundant love for each other.

Additional Mexican War materials include a list of the soldiers from Martin and Edgecombe counties composing companies A and E of the 1st Regiment of N.C. Volunteers; a document recording the amount of stationery requisitioned by Company E at Saltillo (Jan.-June, 1848); Getsinger's pension papers (1887); microfilm, photocopies and photographs of his sketchbook in which he depicted "Bahama Island," German Jews, Mexican civilians and a Mexican soldier, a Mexican dwelling on the Rio Grande, U.S. soldiers, "Taylors Camp," the Battle of Buena Vista, and ships; a volume containing Company E's "Sick Report" ; a volume containing a muster role of Company E and a list of soldiers' equipment and their prices; and a volume of Getsinger's poetry (1847-1848) and brief accounts concerning his company's men.

Civil War records reflect the service of John C. Getsinger and his son. Among the papers of the elder Getsinger, who served as a captain in Company B, 10th Regiment, 3rd Brigade of N.C. Militia, are his commission (1861) and a volume listing articles furnished his company, notes (Jan.-Feb., 1862) concerning the company's drills, and a list of the men in the company. The volume also includes scattered accounts for 1869. The papers of John Getsinger, Jr., a sergeant in Company B of the 40th Regiment of N.C. Troops (3rd Regiment N.C. Artillery), include furloughs and a volume containing a chronology of his movements and notes concerning clothing, supplies, and pay received.

Post-Mexican War correspondence of John Getsinger and his son (1856-1906), primarily from relatives in Germany; Detroit and Frankenmuth, Michigan; and Philadelphia--some of which is written in German--chiefly reflects routine family matters. Notable letters concern family genealogical information (May 17, 1858; Sept.-Oct., 1888); the willingness of a Hyde County, N.C., girl to fight in the Civil War (June, 1861); various aspects of Flora, Illinois (June 2, 1867); General Joseph E. Johnston's membership in a Philadelphia chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic ([May, 1888?]); and various aspects of Frankenmuth, Michigan (Aug. 24, 1891).

A considerable portion of the collection relates to the activities of Perlie E. Getsinger, an elder in the Kehukee Association of the Primitive Baptist Church who served as pastor of Smithwicks Creek Church in Jamesville, N.C. He was associated also with Farm Life School in Martin County. His papers contain manuscript and printed material concerning various associations of the Primitive Baptist Church. Correspondence, church minutes, legal papers, and printed material (1928-1940, undated)concerns Smithwicks Creek Church and a split that occurred in the church when a minority of its members formed a new congregation that was recognized by the Kehukee Association. Also included among the church records are letters and minutes (1941-1944) concerning activities of other North Carolina Primitive Baptist Churches and scriptural studies on various topics. Additional correspondence (1935-1941) discusses associational problems and meetings as well as personal witnessing.

Printed material concerning the Primitive Baptist Church includes copies of The Gospel Messenger (1894-1914), some of which were published in Williamston, N.C.; Zion's Landmark (1924-1943), published in Wilson, N.C.; Advocate and Messenger (1925-1944); Good Will (1943-1945); The Primitive Baptist (Nov. 21, 1935; Mar. 16, 1939); and North Carolina Christian (May, Aug.-Sept., 1936). Also among the publications are minutes of annual meetings of the Abbott's Creek Union (1939), Blue Ridge (1943), Ebenezer (1929, 1942, 1943), Flint River (1940), Friendship (1943), Indian Creek District (1942, 1943), Kehukee (1923-1927, 1929, 1936), Ketocton (1942, 1943), Marietta Old School (1942, 1943), Original Oconee (1943), Pamlico (1938); St. Clair's Bottom District (1942); Senter Creek (1942); Suwanee (1944); Old School Original Towaliga (1944); Upper County Line (1934), and Upper Mayo (1943, 1944) Primitive Baptist associations. The collection also includes minutes of the annual meetings of the Primitive Baptist Association of Eastern North Carolina (1941-1944), Southern Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board pamphlets (ca. 1910) and miscellaneous church-related publications.

Correspondence (1933-1939), attendance records, speeches, student rosters, financial material, and an annual report (1932-1933) pertain to the Farm Life School, on the board of which Perlie Getsinger served.

Also among Perlie Getsinger's papers is personal correspondence (1906, 1924-1944), mostly from family members and friends. Of particular interest are a lengthy letter from "Professor Astro" discussing Getsinger's horoscope (Dec., 1906), descriptions of flight training at Gunter Field, Alabama (May, July, 1941), and an application to the Agricultural Adjustment Administration for the construction of a house (1944).

The papers of Thomas R. Getsinger, brother of Perlie, reflect his attendance at Buie's Creek Academy and Wake Forest College (1907-1911). Correspondence includes personal letters from family members and friends, some of which mention farming operations in the Jamesville area. Notable letters discuss the importance of joining the Phi Society, a debating organization at Buie's Creek Academy (1907-1909); and the merits of the University of North Carolina (Oct.; 1909; Feb., May, 1910). An Oct., 1908, letter bears a lithograph of a building at Buie's Creek Academy. Also included in Getsinger's papers are essays written at Wake Forest College (ca. 1910) and a notebook containing review questions pertaining to U.S. history (ca. 1900).

Financial and farm-related papers pertain to the activities of several generations of the family. Among them are bills, receipts, and other loose papers (1836-1941) reflecting the nature of the Getsingers' taxable property and purchases. Tobacco sales receipts (1893-1942) record prices received for leaf sold in Williamston and Greenville. Estate papers of A. J. Lickman of Bertie County, executed by John C. Getsinger, Jr. (1869-1872), include claims against the estate, an inventory of Lickman's personal property, and a record of the sale of his property. Volumes among the financial and farm-related papers include John C. Getsinger, Sr.'s memoranda book (1849) recording notes about rail-splitting and the preparation of farmland and his account book (1849-1861) listing prices for labor, shingles, and a variety of farm products. An 1854 entry in this volume indicates that Getsinger and Andrew Lickman owned a store in Williamston. Volumes belonging to John C. Getsinger, Jr. (1874) and Perlie E. Getsinger (1906-1910; 1918-1925; 1925-1926) contain farm and miscellaneous accounts. An order book of J. S. Getsinger of Richmond (1917-1918) reveals the prices of large quantities of food such as eggs, flour, and stick candy. The collection also contains unidentifiable time and memoranda books ([1929?], 1940).

The Getsinger Family papers contain several subject files. Land records (1869-1942) include Martin County deeds (1869, 1880, 1886), documents concerning a loan from the Atlantic Joint Stock Land Bank for land purchased by Perlie Getsinger (1923-1926), and an agreement for renting farmland (1942). The wills of Memcy Getsinger (1890) and John Getsinger, Jr. (1908) also are included. Recipes and formulas pertain to mixing paints (1828), medicine and diseases, food preparation, making soap, and a variety of household needs.

Additional files contain family photographs, poetry written by John C. Getsinger, Sr. and others, Getsinger family genealogical information, newspaper clippings pertaining to the family and the Kehukee Association of the Primitive Baptist Church (1930), and essays written by Thomas R. Getsinger at Wake Forest College (ca. 1910).

Broadsides and speeches critical of saloons pertain to a May 26, 1908, vote on the issue of prohibition in N.C. Other political literature includes an 1875 broadside denouncing the Constitution of 1868 and the excesses of the Radical government in North Carolina, and pamphlets (1908) discussing negative aspects of the national and North Carolina Republican parties. Among the latter publications are critiques of the Republican Party's effect on public education in N.C. and the career of Republican gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Elwood Cox.

Miscellany in the collection includes a petition of Martin County residents to have the school in district nine moved to a central location (undated); a manuscript advocating open immigration into the United States; an indenture binding a Negro girl to the Getsingers as a housekeeper (1853); a broadside advertising Compound Extract of Roots as a remedy for all chronic diseases; and pamphlets concerning The Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance Association of North Carolina (1896), the regulations of the Musigmarhonian Literary Society of Piedmont High School (probably of Lawndale, N.C.), speeches of Franklin D. Roosevelt as governor of New York, maternal and infant care (1933), and the nature of Wake Forest College (1910-1911). Also included among the pamphlets are Blindness Deafness Catarrh: Causes and Cures and the May-June, 1938, issue of The Student-Echo, published by the students of King's Business College in Raleigh.

A folder of oversized materials contains a broadside, "The Saloon Burden" (1908?); and Martin County timber options (1925-1928).

The collection contains also F. Lightfoot's Map of the Jamesville and Washington Rail Road and Lumber Company's Land and Rail Road (undated) showing various features of Martin and Beaufort counties.

Administrative information
Custodial History

June 9, 1971, 1 cu. ft.; Correspondence; Primitive Baptist Church minutes, bulletins, and religious publications; financial papers; and miscellaneous. Deposited by Mr. J. Sam Getsinger, Williamston, N.C. Gift contract signed on 5/15/2014 by Dr. Winnie W. Morgan.

June 18, 1973, ca. 250 items; Papers (1847-1943), including correspondence, ledgers, a sketchbook, legal papers, and miscellaneous. Loaned by Miss Winnie Williams, Leesburg, Va. Gift contract signed on 5/15/2014 by Dr. Winnie W. Morgan.

May 30, 2014, (unprocessed addition 1), 5 items, .30 cu. ft.; (1)Mexican War sketchbook by John C. Getsinger, Sr., sergeant in Company E of the 1st Regiment of N.C. Volunteers during the Mexican War in which he depicts "Bahama Island," German Jews, Mexican civilians and a Mexican soldier, a Mexican dwelling on the Rio Grande, U.S. soldiers, "Taylors Camp," the Battle of Buena Vista, and ships (1847-1848). (2)Three German books originally owned by the Getsinger family. These include inscriptions of names and other writing (appears to be in German) in each book, 1767, 1803, 1809. (3)Financial ledger containing minutes and member roll call for Smithwick Creek Church in Martin County, NC. This ledger (1924-1932) was created by Perlie A. Getsinger (Clerk and Editor). Gift of Dr. Winnie W. Morgan.

Source of acquisition

Deposited by Mr. J. Sam Getsinger

Loaned by Miss Winnie Williams

Donated by Dr. Winnie Williams Morgan

Processing information

Processed by L. Parks; M. York, June 1981

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.

Language of material


Key terms
Personal Names
Gestinger, John C.
Getsinger, John Conrad, 1812-1891
Getsinger, Perlie Eugene
Getsinger, Thomas R.
Family Names
Getsinger family
Corporate Names
Confederate States of America. Army. North Carolina Infantry Regiment, 10th. Company B
Confederate States of America. Army. North Carolina Infantry Regiment, 40th. Company B
Kehukee Baptist Association
North Carolina. Militia--Records and correspondence
United States. Army--Military life
Buena Vista, Battle of, Mexico, 1847
Deeds--North Carolina--Martin County
Mexican War, 1846-1848--Campaigns
Mexican War, 1846-1848--Personal narratives
Primitive Baptists--North Carolina--Jamesville
Buenavista (Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico)--History, Military
North Carolina--Genealogy
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Equipment and supplies
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives

Container list
Box 1 Folder a Correspondence, Jan.-Feb. 1847
Box 1 Folder b Correspondence, March-June 1847
Box 1 Folder c Correspondence, July-September 1847
Box 1 Folder d Correspondence, Oct.-Dec. 1847
Box 1 Folder e Correspondence, Jan.-March 1848
Box 1 Folder f Correspondence, April-June 1848
Box 1 Folder h Correspondence, 1872-1899
Box 1 Folder i Correspondence, 1890-1899
Box 1 Folder j Correspondence, 1904-1908
Box 3 Folder a Financial Papers, 1836-1941
Box 3 Folder b Tobacco Sales Receipts, 1893-1942
Box 3 Folder c Estate Papers of Andrew J. Lickman
Box 3 Folder d Account and Memoranda Books, 1917-1940
Box 4 Folder a Farm Life School Records
Box 4 Folder b Land Records, 1869-1942
Box 4 Folder c Wills, 1890, 1908
Box 4 Folder d Recipes and Formulas
Box 4 Folder e Photographs
Box 4 Folder f Poetry
Box 4 Folder g Getsinger Family History
Box 4 Folder h Newspaper Clippings, 1930-1972
Box 4 Folder i Wake Forest College Essays
Box 4 Folder j Prohibition Literature, 1908
Box 4 Folder k Political Literature, 1875, 1908
Box 4 Folder l Miscellany
Box 5 Folder a The Gospel Messenger, 1894-1914
Box 5 Folder b-f Zion's Landmark, 1924-1943
Box 6 Folder a-d Advocate and Messenger, 1925-1944
Box 6 Folder e-f Good Will, 1942-1945
Box 6 Folder g The Primitive Baptist, 1935, 1939
Box 6 Folder h North Carolina Christian, 1936
Box 7 Folder a Primitive Baptist Association Minutes, 1936-1943
Box 7 Folder b Primitive Baptist Association Minutes, 1936-1943
Box 7 Folder c Primitive Baptist Association Minutes, 1936-1943
Box 7 Folder d Southern Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board
Box 7 Folder e Miscellaneous Religious Publications
Box 7 Folder f Church Records
Box 7 Folder g Miscellaneous Pamphlets