Spier Worthington Papers

Manuscript Collection #353
Worthington, Spier
Physical description
0.215 Cubic Feet, 415 items , consisting of correspondence, land records, account sales, a photograph, agricultural reports, receipts, and miscellaneous.
Preferred Citation
Spier Worthington Papers (#353), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1764-1910) including correspondence, land records, account sales, a photograph, agricultural reports, receipts and miscellaneous.

Biographical/historical information

Land records indicate that the Worthington family was living in Pitt County, N.C. by 1798 when Ambrose Worthington's family was granted forty-three acres by the State of North Carolina. Various spellings of the name Worthington such as Weitherington, Wetherington, Weatherington, and Witherington were used in the land records and correspondence throughout the nineteenth century.

Scope and arrangement

The bulk of the correspondence pertains to Spier Worthington and his wife Margaret of Pitt County, N.C. In the late 1860s and 1870s, Spier Worthington was a farmer, tobacco dealer, and retailer. He sold cotton and tar to New York City merchants and bought wholesale groceries and dry goods in New York City for retail sale in Pitt County. He also ran a distillery and sold brandy locally. Correspondence is primarily from New York merchants such as Zophas Mills; A. T. Bruce and Co.; Eldridge Durham and Co.; S. T. Knapp and Brothers; March, Price, and Co.; and W. H. Wiggins and deals mostly with the price of tar, cotton, and pork in the 1870s. Letters (March 28, May 20, and October 7, 1873) discuss the time differential between the selling of goods on consignment to southern retailers and the actual payment date in New York, and the money crisis and consequent preference for near cash terms by New York merchants. Correspondence from Washington, N. C., merchants deals with the price of bugging, rope, castings, and flour in 1870 and 1871.

Land grants and deeds cover the years 1764 to 1887 and are concerned with property in Pitt County. Names figuring prominently in the land records are John Moye; Frederick Mills, Sr. and Jr.; John Kittrell; Spier Worthington; Gideon Balderee; Elisha and Nancy Nichols; Samuel and Susanna Webber; Rebecca Cory; and Samuel G. Worthington.A deed (April 13, 1867) between Spier Worthington and Rebecca Cory contains genealogical information on the Cory family.

Estates sales and divisions pertain to Pitt and Lenoir Counties, N. C., and cover the years 1800-1860. These papers are an excellent genealogical source for the descendants of Robert Worthington (papers dated 1822, 1825), Ambrose Worthington (papers dated 1824, 1830), and Spier Worthington, Sr. (papers dated 1860). An undated paper deals with the division of the lands of John Kittrell.

Indentures are concerned with the sale of slaves in Pitt County (1829, 1833, 1847, 1858) and include the purchase prices. There is also an indenture (1834) whereby eleven year old Clemmon F. Gwaltney is apprenticed to learn the cooper's trade.

There are several summonses, tenant farming contracts, and land mortgages covering basically the years 1829-1876 and pertaining primarily to Pitt County, N.C. There is also a tenant farming contract dated 1794 between John Allen and Ambrose Worthington.

An incomplete series of N. Y. Cotton Exchange Reports (December 11, 1872-July 28, 1874) contain information on current prices, amount of sales, port receipts, reports from Liverpool and the Southern Markets, and the gold exchange rate in London and France. Also included is an incomplete series of agricultural commodities reports from the office of W. H. Wiggins (a commission merchant) in New York (July 12, 1873-February 20, 1875). These reports contain sales information on cotton, turpentine, rosin, tar, rice, corn, peanuts, beeswax, pork, hay, bagging, and gold.

Sales account sheets refer to grocery items from the Pitt County area in the early 1800s and to cotton and tar sales in New York City in the 1870s. Sales sheets for cotton and tar include various freight charges for shipping from North Carolina to New York. Other accounts pertain to flour, pork, molasses, and whiskey bought in New York City.

Shipping records from the 1870s pertain to S. T. Knapp and Bros. Wholesale Grocers and Commission Merchants of New York City, the Baltimore Steam Packet Co., the Old Dominion Steamship Co., and the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad Freight Line. Store receipts cover the years 1844-1875 and pertain to New Bern dealers in dry goods, groceries, and hardware; John Myers and Son of Washington, N. C.; Brown, Cherry and Perkins of Greenville, N. C.; Eldridge, Durham and Co. of N. Y.; and S. T. and E. J. Knapp and Co. of New York City.

The tax receipts cover the years 1856-1873 and pertain to state and local taxes, the U.S. excise tax on brandy, and the U.S. special tax on retail and tobacco dealers.

Miscellaneous items include a birth date for Ambrose Worthington, a certificate for a $200 Confederate States of America bond, a list of the hours spent in making the brandy (1871), a return (1870s) of brandy gauged at a fruit distillery owned by Alfred Worthington, and an unidentified photograph.

Oversize documents include Pitt County grants and deeds (1787-1798) and cotton accounts (1869).

Administrative information
Custodial History

January 25, 1978, 415 items; Papers (1787-1909) of Pitt County, N.C., farmer and businessman, including correspondence, land records, financial records and miscellaneous. Gift of Mrs. Margaret Worthington Mellon, Winterville, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Margaret Worthington Mellon

Processing information

Processed by M. Elmore, October 1978

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
Personal Names
Cory family
Worthington family
Worthington, Spier
Agricultural prices--North Carolina
Cotton trade--North Carolina--Pitt County--History--19th century
Deeds--North Carolina--Pitt County
General stores--North Carolina--New Bern
Naval stores industry--North Carolina
Slavery--North Carolina--Pitt County
Pitt County (N.C.)--Genealogy