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Sills Family Papers, 1792-1969

Manuscript Collection #201

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: Sills Family Papers
Creator: Sills family
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Papers (1792-1969) including correspondence, financial papers, a cipher book, newspaper clipping, and a family history references to school, comments on Democratic Party, genealogical material, etc.
Extent: 1.8 Cubic feet, 4 boxes, copies, including correspondence, financial papers, a cipher book, newspaper clippings, and a family history.

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

June 27, 1972, 110 items; copies, Papers (1800-1969) including correspondence, financial papers, a ledger, a cipher book, clippings, genealogical material, and miscellaneous. Loaned for copying by Miss Louise Sills, Nashville, N.C.

November 11, 1982 (addition 1), 2 items; Original letter G. Sills to Louisa Jelks (undated) and copy G.S. to Louisa (Sept. 16, 1834). Donor: Mrs. Charlotte Perry. Donated in memory of Martha Long Nicholson Sills King Boone.

March 21, 2000 (addition 2), 110 items; Papers (1800-1969) including correspondence, financial papers, a ledger/scrapbook, a cipher book, clippings, genealogical material, and miscellaneous, originals of copies acquisitioned 6/27/72. Donor: Mr. Bill Dameron, Dr. Thomas Dameron & Mrs. Isad D. Barton.

Access Restrictions

Box 4 is restricted from use. Use photocopies in box 3 instead.

Copyright Notice

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

Conditions Governing Use note

Box 4 is restricted from use. Use photocopies in box 3 instead.

Preferred Citation

Sills Family Papers (#201), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Loaned by Miss Louise Sills
  • Gift of Mrs. Charlotte Perry
  • Gift of Mr. Bill Dameron
  • Gift of Mrs. Isad D. Barton

Processing Information

  • Processed by D. Lennon, February 1997

  • Cheryl Funderburk July 2008

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services


Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The Sills family came to North Carolina from Southern Virginia late in the 18th Century. David Sills, Jr. settled on a tract of land in Nash County, N.C., which he named Belford, after an ancestral home in England. Belford eventually grew to over six thousand acres in Nash, Franklin, and Warren counties and at one time operated its own post office and school.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Prior to the Civil War, the Sills family was a wealthy, slaveholding family. An inventory of property dated 1833 indicated that David Sills, Jr., owned 133 slaves. There are also bills of sale for slaves (1792), references to the death of slaves (1852), and a list of slaves emancipated by the Federal government in 1865.

Antebellum correspondence covers a wide range of topics, much of it related to activities of the Sills, Jelks, and Boddie families. Letters (1818-1866) from Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi comment on life and activities in these states, particularly in reference to crops, prices, smallpox, and emigration of families from North Carolina into these and other western states.

Throughout the collection there are numerous references to schools and educational developments. The school at Belford, which was intended to educate the family and neighboring children, is mentioned and tuition at this school is recorded (1850, 1868). Other letters are written from schools in Warrenton (1822), La Grange Female Academy (1852), Warrenton Female Seminary (1857), and at Louisburg and Greensboro. Also included are announcements (1852) on Franklin Institute (Franklin County) and Castalia Female Institute (Nash County) and a cipher book containing mathematical problems. Letters, diary entries, and advertisement reflect the operation of these schools and tell of life while attending them. Also of interest are letters from two of the Sills boys who attended medical schools in Philadelphia and Baltimore. A letter (1857) comments on life at the University of Pennsylvania, Christmas Day spent at school, and experiences while walking around Philadelphia.

Other correspondence comments on a Democratic Party rally at Franklinton (1852), baseball as a sport (1866), church meetings (1868), and life in Key West, Florida (1833).

A diary (1858-1866) reflects the hardships and emotions felt by the Sills family during the Civil War era. The writer expresses strong anti-Union sentiment prior to secession and reflects the view of women left at home, illnesses of soldiers, and thoughts of the war. Passing references are made to the battles at Roanoke Island and Fort Donelson, the repulse of Union troops by Hoke's Division near Wilmington, the Confederate invasion of the North and the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate hospitals in N.C., and service by Nash County troops.

Other material pertains to a distant relative of the Sills through the Boddie family who was involved in the Cuban Civil War of the 1890s. Ramon Alpuente, a Spaniard living in Cuba, had been married to Mary Boddie, but she had died. A daughter was sent to live in Spain while Ramon became involved with the Cuban Underground Movement. Outlawed, he fled to England with a small fortune, and then tried to enter Spain to see his daughter. He was captured, tried, and imprisoned by the military and eventually died of maltreatment. Letters to N. W. Boddie tell of his exploits and seek Boddie's aid in looking after the daughter.

The bulk of the collection is family oriented, with considerable genealogical material on the Sills, Arrington, Battle, Jelks, Nicholson, and Dameron families. Of significance are the investigations conducted by Louise Jelks Sills into her family's past. There are letters from the DAR and other sources which provide genealogical information.

Subject Headings Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Card Catalog Entries Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Reading Room's card catalog. This system is no longer maintained, but it is left in place to help on-site researchers locate particular topics in the collection.

Geographic Entry :

  • North Carolina, Nash County

Subject Entries :

  • CUBA— Revolution, 1895-1898
  • EDUCATION— COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES— Louisburg College
  • EDUCATION— COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES— Pennsylvania
  • EDUCATION— PRIVATE SCHOOLS— Nash Co., N.C.
  • EDUCATION— PRIVATE SCHOOLS— Nash Co., N.C.
  • EDUCATION— PRIVATE SCHOOLS— Franklin Co., N.C.
  • EDUCATION— PRIVATE SCHOOLS— Warrenton, N.C.
  • EDUCATION— PRIVATE SCHOOLS— Warrenton, N.C.
  • FLORIDA, KEY WEST— 1883
  • MISSISSIPPI— 1866
  • PLANTATIONS— Nash Co., N.C.
  • PLANTATIONS— Nash Co., N.C.
  • POLITICS— Democratic Party— N.C.— 1852
  • SLAVERY— Nash Co., N.C.
  • SPORTS— Baseball— 1866
  • TENNESSEE-1818
  • WAR— CIVIL— Battles— Roanoke Island, N.C.
  • WAR— CIVIL— Homefront
  • WAR— CIVIL— Public Opinions
  • WESTERN MIGRATION

Genealogy Entries :

  • ARRINGTON FAMILY— Nash County, N.C.
  • BATTLE FAMILY— Nash County, N.C.
  • DAMERON FAMILY— N.C.
  • JELKS FAMILY— N.C.
  • NICHOLSON FAMILY— N.C.
  • SILLS FAMILY— Nash County, N.C.; Virginia

Date Entries :

  • 1851-1859
  • 1860-1869

Container List Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

What is this page? Click here to learn more abou this webpage
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Division, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. None of the original documents in this collection are digitally available online at this time.
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