Belcher Family Papers, 1850-1868

Manuscript Collection #67

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

Title: Belcher Family Papers
Creator: Belcher family
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Papers (1850-1868, undated) including estate papers, correspondence, accounts, receipt, financial papers, expenses of "genteel" education for young women, prices current in 1864, agricultural fertilizer.
Extent: 0.073 Cubic feet, 192 items , consisting of correspondence, financial papers, accounts, receipts, and printed material.

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

Accessions Information

November 18, 1968, 192 items; Estate papers (1850-1868) of Willie Belcher, including correspondence, accounts, receipts, and other financial papers. 192 items. Deposited by Mrs. F. B. Everett, Palmyra, N.C. [Mrs. Everett is a granddaughter of Martha Ann Belcher.]

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

Belcher Family Papers (#67), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Mrs. F. B. Everett

Processing Information

  • Processed by T. Sloan, December 1968

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services

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

The Belcher Family Papers are concerned with the administration of the estate of Willie Belcher, a wealthy planter of Edgecombe County, N.C. His wife, Martha Belcher, and two daughters, Mary Jane (Mollie) Belcher and Martha Ann Belcher, were the heirs to the estate. After the death of Mrs. Belcher, Dr. John R. Mercer was appointed guardian for the two daughters.

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

The bulk of the papers are statements and receipts for the expenses involved in clothing, educating, and providing for the Belcher girls. A number of papers relate to their guardian, Dr. Mercer, and to medical and other expenses involved in caring for the estate, which included a number of slaves.

Of particular interest is the large number of items showing the expenses of a "genteel"education for young women of the antebellum period. The Belcher girls were privately educated, both by local teachers in Edgecombe County and at the Wilson (N.C.) Institute and the Wayne Female College at Goldsboro, N.C. Both the expenses involved and subjects taught are well represented.

A relatively large number of medical bills are in the papers, and represent several years of medical and dental care for the estate's slaves and also some similar items for the Belcher family. Drug prices and a bill for vaccinations are also reflected in various medical statements.

General retail prices for a variety of store items are well represented, especially for dress goods and clothing items, as the Belcher girls apparently spent relatively large sums in attiring themselves appropriately for their station in pre-Civil War southern society. An interesting contrast is shown by a single item showing the inflated prices current in 1864.

Of interest in the papers relating to Dr. Mercer are a labor contract (1867), a patent license for a portable fence (1860), and two items of business correspondence.

Printed material includes a circular for an early type of agricultural fertilizer and partial copies of The Christian Advocate (Raleigh, N.C.) newspaper for October 18, 1855, and The American Farmer magazine for December 1855.

For related material, see the Van S. Watson Papers #69.1 and the Andrew B. Benedict Papers #68.1.

Subject Headings 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.

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Department, 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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