Askew Family Papers

Manuscript Collection #298
Askew family
Physical description
0.43 Cubic Feet, 230 items , consisting of papers (1840-1893), including correspondence, financial records, invoices, newspaper clipping, notebook and miscellaneous published material.
Preferred Citation
Askew Family Papers (#298), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1840-1893) of Zephaniah Askew, a farmer, fisherman, Hertford County, NC surveyor and justice of the peace and his family, consisting of papers, clippings, notebook, invoices, financial records, correspondence, insurance, pamphlets, etc.

Biographical/historical information

The bulk of the Askew Papers is correspondence directed to Zephaniah Askew of Harrellsville, Hertford County, North Carolina. Askew was a farmer and fisherman who also served as a county surveyor (1854-1868) and justice of the peace (1860's). His four sons, R. W. Askew (Windsor, North Carolina), C.W., W.F. (Plymouth, North Carolina) and E.S. Askew (Edenton, North Carolina and Baltimore, Maryland) who are responsible for the majority of the correspondence, were involved in agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, and especially shipping.

Scope and arrangement

The bulk of the early letters (1853-1868) deal primarily with family affairs and agriculture, although there is one interesting letter which discusses the issue of slavery and the Missouri Compromise (1856).

The correspondence from 1868-1885 is concerned with the family's involvement with steamboats and shipping, primarily in the sounds of eastern North Carolina. Several particularly interesting letters describe the design for a new steam engine and the construction of the vessel in which is to be placed (1871). There are descriptions of excursions on steamboats, the types of cargo carried (such as guano), the routes taken and the important granting of mail contracts. Of a related nature is a broadside (1874) for an excursion on the steamboat Bertie to Murfreesboro to visit Wesleyan Female College. References to fishing are frequent, as are requests for Zephaniah's services as surveyor. Much family news is included as well as references to the practice of boarding young boys so that they could attend school or work. Note is taken of an epidemic of smallpox in Windsor (1872) and several robberies which occurred in Plymouth (1873). Mention is made of the 1876 Centennial celebration in Philadelphia.

The letters from 1885-1893 record Zephaniah Askew's move to Windsor. The majority of the correspondence deals with financial transactions over his Harrellsville property; agriculture, timber, and the renting or sale of land. Of particular interest is a cryptic message from New York City, which includes a "Pass Word" and sign for the recipient.

Other interesting correspondence concerns Henry Askew Mowbray's (Iredell County, North Carolina) request (1877) for genealogical information, which includes his own family history; and a letter from Dr. S.S. Fitch and Son, Broadway, New York which offers Zephaniah Askew a medical diagnosis by mail and includes a check list of symptoms.

The financial papers include account books, records of prices of farm goods, and papers delineating the boundaries of several farms.

Miscellaneous materials include E.S. Askew's diary and account book which records the words to two ballads, his own personal dictionary, and a "language of flowers" : a list of the policyholders in the Widows and Orphans Benefit Life Insurance Company of New York containing addresses and occupations of stockholders; several North Carolina almanacs; the General Orders of the Headquarters of the Second Military District, Charleston, South Carolina which concerns the ratification of the North Carolina constitution (May 12, 1868); an announcement by Henry Riddick of the opening of a school in Harrellsville (1872); and a pamphlet Ann of the Ku Klux Klan by Tom Henderson.

Administrative information
Custodial History

December 19, 1975, 230 items; Papers (1840-1893) of a Bertie County, North Carolina shipping family consisting of correspondence, shipping records, financial papers, and miscellaneous. Loaned by Mrs. T. Collins Cooper, Windsor, North Carolina.

Source of acquisition

Loaned by Mrs. T. Collins Cooper

Processing information

Processed by B. Frye, August 1976

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
Family Names
Askew family--Correspondence
Corporate Names
Bertie (Steamboat)
North Carolina. Constitution (1868)
Wesleyan Female College (Murfreesboro, N.C.)--History
Meeting Names
Centennial Exhibition (1876 : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Missouri compromise
Private schools--North Carolina--Hertford County--History
Robbery--North Carolina--Plymouth--History
Shipping--North Carolina--History--19th century
Slavery--United States--History
Smallpox--North Carolina--Windsor--History
Steam-engines--Design and construction
Steamboats--North Carolina--History
Surveying--North Carolina--Hertford County--History
Bertie County (N.C.)--History--19th century
Hertford County (N.C.)--History--19th century
North Carolina--Social life and customs--19th century