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Bettencourt Family Papers, 1833-1965(bulk 1833-1888) undated

(Manuscript Collection #482)

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

Title: Bettencourt Family Papers
Creators: Bettencourt family
Newkirk, Elizabeth, Mrs.
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: The Papers of the Bettencourt Family of Wilmington, North Carolina, 1833-1965 [Bulk: 1833-1888] are arranged in three series. Series I includes correspondence between William C. Bettencourt, his wife Mary and their son William H. "Willie" Bettencourt, while he was the College of St. James in Hagerstown, Maryland, 1849-1851. Series I also includes correspondence of William C. Bettencourt relating to business and political patronage and the personal correspondence of his wife, Mary Bettencourt, with three of her friends and her niece Naomi Thompson. Series II consists of genealogical files relating to the Hawes – Newkirk – Nieuwkirk family, 1619-1965, and the Brossard - Van Benschoten family, compiled by Mrs. Mercy Newkirk Hartley, ca. 1954-1965. Series III consists of financial records relating to William C. Bettencourt and William H. Bettencourt; and legal documents, ca. 1833-1860, concerning William H. Bettencourt's arrest for nonpayment of his debt to Thomas Webb.
Extent: 0.25 Cubic feet, 172 items, consisting correspondence, genealogical files, financial papers, including holograph, mimeograph, typescript and photocopied materials

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

Accessions Information

February 9, 1984 (unprocessed), 157 items; Papers of Wilmington, N. C. family (1828-1862), including correspondence, financial papers, and miscellaneous. Donor: Mrs. Elizabeth Newkirk.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

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

Preferred Citation

Bettencourt Family Papers (#482), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Mrs. Elizabeth Newkirk

Processing Information

  • Arrangement, description, inventory and finding aid by Jacqueline E. Kempfer, 4/10/2012; revised by Jonathan Dembo, 10/17/2012; Encoding revised by Jonathan Dembo, 10/18/2012; Apex Data Services, March 2002


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

William C. Bettencourt first arrived in New Hanover County, North Carolina as an immigrant from France in 1817. He had a wife, Mary, a son, William H. "Willie" Bettencourt, and a daughter Amy. Bettencourt seems to have had significant financial resources and became prominent socially. He served as a director of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad, ca. 1861-1862. He also served as a postmaster in Wilmington for many years, from at least 1846 to the 1880s. In the 1850s he appears to have been a U. S. Treasury Department official in Wilmington. As a consequence, he had some political influence in the state of North Carolina and often traveled back and forth to Chapel Hill for business. The papers, however, make little mention of his professional or political activities. His son, William H. “Willie” Bettencourt, attended the College of St. James an Episcopal college in Hagerstown, Maryland, 1854-1851. After having a difficult time at school, punctuated by a series of rejections from women whom he sought to marry, he returned home to Wilmington. Willie mentions having a wife in one of his letters home from Maryland. Documents in the collection indicate that he was threatened with imprisonment for debt. There is hardly any mention of the daughter Amy. The college closed during the Civil War and was reopened in 1869 as a secondary school. Mary Bettencourt was sick on a regular basis, but there is no mention of her death. The papers also include genealogical materials relating to the Hawes - Newkirk - Nieuwkirk - Brossard - Van Benschoten families of New Hanover County, North Carolina which was compiled in 1965 by Mrs. Mercy N. Hartley of Wilmington, NC. There does not seem to be any obvious connection between the Bettencourts and the Newkirk's. However, the Newkirks do seem to be related to Hartleys.

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

Papers of the Bettencourt Family of Wilmington, North Carolina, 1833-1965 [Bulk: 1833-1888], relate to personal, financial, and genealogical matters of the family and the related Hawes - Newkirk - Nieuwkirk families of Hanover County, North Carolina. Series I includes correspondence of William C. Bettencourt with various men his political patronage; it also contains correspondence between Mrs. Mary Bettencourt and three of her friends about local gossip; correspondence between Mrs. Mary Bettencourt and her niece Naomi Thompson. Series I also includes the correspondence of William C. Bettencourt and his wife Mary with their son William while he was attending an Episcopal school, the College of St. James in Hagerstown, Maryland and it includes some of his correspondence, including calling cards accepting and rejecting his invitations / requests for dates. Series II: Hawes - Newkirk - Nieuwkirk – Brossard – Van Benschoten Family Genealogical File, 1954-1965 includes a bound volume entitled Ancestors and Descendants of Edmond Hawes; a print of the Hawes Family Crest in black and white; a genealogical file entitled Line of Edmond Hawes (also includes biographical information about Edmond Hawes 1612-1693); a letter from Mrs. Mercy N. Hartley, 1954, relating to Brossard - Benschoten family genealogy; and a loose leaf volume entitled Data on the Newkirk family [1659-1965], by Mercy Newkirk Hartley, 1965, focusing on the descendants of Cornelisse Van Nieuwkirk. Series III: Financial Records includes bills and receipts of William C. Bettencourt and his son William Bettencourt; it also includes legal documents concerning William Bettencourt's arrest for nonpayment of his debt to Thomas Webb.

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

Personal/Family name

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

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Series 1:
Correspondence, 1838-1888
  • Box 1#0482.1
    • Folder a#0482.1.a
      Correspondence (1849-1888) of William H. "Willie" Bettencourt, while he was attending the College of St. James, Hagerstown, Maryland, with his parents, William C. and Mary Bettencourt, Wilmington, North Carolina, and including calling cards and requests for dates sent by William Bettencourt to various young ladies. Holographs. 46 items. 58 p. Note: Willie attend the college during 1849-1851.
    • Folder b#0482.1.b
      Correspondence (1854-1868) of William C. Bettencourt regarding business and political patronage; correspondence of Mary Bettencourt with three different friends, also with her niece Naomi Thompson regarding personal and family relations. Holographs. 38 items. 77 p.
Series 2:
Hawes - Newkirk - Nieuwkirk - Brossard - Van Benschoten Family Genealogical Files, 1954-1965
  • Box 1#0482.1
    • Folder c#0482.1.c
      • Ancestors and Descendants of Edmond Hawes [1619-1965], by an unknown author (ca. 1965). Printed. 1 vol. 166 p.   (item #1)
      • Hawes Family Crest: a print in black and white (ca. 1965) Photocopy. 1 item. 1 p.   (item #2)
      • Mrs. Mercy N. Hartley, Wilmington, North Carolina. Letter to Dear Bryan regarding Brossards / Benschoten genealogy (20 August 1954) TLS. 1 item. 1 p.   (item #3)
      • Line of Edmond Hawes (ca. 1965) Photocopy typescript. 1 item. 15 p.   (item #4)
      • Data on the Newkirk family [1959-1965], by Mercy Newkirk Hartley (1965) Mimeograph typescript. Loose-leaf bound. 1 vol. 56 p. Note: Information from "The Newkirk Family of North Carolina" by Elizabeth (Mrs. Bryan, III) Newkirk; typing, printing, binding by Mrs. Lois Larson; dating back to Cornelisse Van Nieuwkirk in 1659.   (item #5)
Series 3:
Financial & Legal Records, 1833-1888
  • Box 1#0482.1
    • Folder d#0482.1.d
      Financial records and receipts of W.C Bettencourt and William Bettencourt; Legal Documents concerning William Bettencourt's arrest for being in debt to Thomas Webb (1833-1860) Holograph & Printed forms. 86 items. 88 p.

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.

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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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