The bulk of the early correspondence (1884-1893) consists of brief letters from Miss Lena Clyde Davis of Beaufort, who related family news. The letters mention births, marriages, deaths, and Miss Davis's school-related and social activities. She also mentions church activities, her interest in music, and Christmas and birthday gifts she received. The letters provide some insight into the development of Miss Davis's personality during adolescence and young adulthood (age fourteen to twenty-three).
Also found in the correspondence is a letter (1882) from Jesse Piver to his sister, Mrs. W. J. Bushall, in which he recounts a visit to Philadelphia, Pa., and makes negative comments about the Republican party in the South. Other letters (1916, 1922-1926,1945-1946, 1961) contain family news and genealogical information on the related Carteret Co., N.C., Guthrie, Ward, Shepard, Leecraft, and Bushall families. World War II letters give coastal North Carolina war news including the stationing of soldiers on the beach (January 26, 1942), eating canned fish because fishermen are afraid to go fishing (March 11, 1942), and the sinking of ships as well as discussing the number of bases in south Georgia. The Truman-Dewey presidential campaign is also mentioned in 1944 correspondence and a letter from the latter part of the war comments on the scarcity of consumer goods (August 24, 1944).
The diary notations (1863), which are written in a fragment of an unidentified account book (1848), contain information concerning the removal of pontoons at Franklin, Va., and the construction of a bridge over the Blackwater River by Company H of the 10th Regiment of North Carolina Artillery (May, 1863). A fuller diary fragment (1867), the most substantive item in the collection, pertains to William James Bushall's farming activities near Beaufort, N.C. It describes problems with hired labor, both black and white, and discusses general activities related to farm management and raising cotton. A few entries express Bushall's personal views concerning politics.
Miscellaneous items include the articles of government of the Oceanic Hook & Ladder Company of Beaufort (1866?) and genealogical notes pertaining to the Bushall, Ward, and Shepard families of eastern North Carolina. A fragment of
The Political TextBook, or Encyclopedia contains a few diary entries concerning Bushall's farming efforts (May-June, 1867) and a draft of a letter he wrote, probably to t president of the Oceanic Hook & Ladder Company (undated). Also included is a burial permit (1891), a Thanksgiving Day menu for the Langren Hotel in Asheville, N.C. (1913), and family photographs.