Bettencourt Family Papers

1833-1965
Manuscript Collection #482
Creator(s)
Bettencourt family
Physical description
0.25 Cubic Feet, 175 items, consisting correspondence, genealogical files, financial papers, including holograph, mimeograph, typescript and photocopied materials
Preferred Citation
Bettencourt Family Papers (#482), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
Repository
ECU Manuscript Collection
Access
No restrictions

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.


Biographical/historical information

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", and a daughter Amy. Bettencourt seems to have had significant financial resources and become prominent socially. He served as a director of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad, ca. 1861–1862. He also served as 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, from 1854 to 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. The college closed during the Civil War and was reopened in 1869 as a secondary school. Mary Bettencourt was sick on a regular basis, though there is no mention of her death. There is hardly any mention of the daughter Amy.

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, N.C. There does not seem to be any obvious connection between the Bettencourts and the Newkirks. However, the Newkirks do seem to be related to the Hartleys.


Scope and arrangement

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. The correspondence includes letters from various men seeking Bettencourt's political patronage; correspondence between Mrs. Mary Bettencourt and three of her friends about local gossip; and correspondence between Mrs. Mary Bettencourt and her niece Naomi Thompson. Also included is 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, as well as calling cards accepting and rejecting his invitations/requests for dates. The 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. 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.


Administrative information
Custodial History

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

August 4, 2015 (unprocessed addition 1), 1 item, 0.001cu.ft.; Addition includes a letter dated 25 September 1847, written by W. C. Bettencourt and sent to Secretary of War Marcy. Donor: Luke Bilberry.

August 4, 2015 (unprocessed addition 2), 2 items, 0.002 cu.ft.; Addition includes a letter dated 11 December 1849, written by Molly Ann Costin in Wilmington, North Carolina, to W. H. Bettencourt while he was attending the College of St. James in Hagerstown, Maryland. Also included is a transcription and research provided by William James Griffing. Donor: Carl M. Volz.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Elizabeth Newkirk

Gift of Luke Bilberry

Gift of Carl M. Volz

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

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
Bettencourt family

Container list
Box 1 Folder 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
Box 1 Folder c Item 1 Ancestors and Descendants of Edmond Hawes [1619-1965], by an unknown author (ca. 1965). Printed. 1 vol. 166 p
Box 1 Folder c Item 2 Hawes Family Crest: a print in black and white (ca. 1965) Photocopy. 1 item. 1 p
Box 1 Folder c Item 3 Mrs. Mercy N. Hartley, Wilmington, North Carolina. Letter to Dear Bryan regarding Brossards / Benschoten genealogy (20 August 1954) TLS. 1 item. 1 p
Box 1 Folder c Item 4 Line of Edmond Hawes (ca. 1965) Photocopy typescript. 1 item. 15 p
Box 1 Folder c Item 5 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
Box 1 Folder 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