(For more information on Richard Dillard, Jr., see
Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume 2, William S. Powell, ed.)
Much of the correspondence in the collection is addressed to Richard Dillard, Sr., the largest amount being from the decade of the 1870s. A typed copy of a letter from John Campbell to Joseph Hewes (1779) describes conditions in Edenton during the Revolutionary War, including problems with paper currency and a price comparison of goods and services in specie and paper. The personal hardships of the war and Campbell's contributions to the "Public Treasury" are also mentioned.
Correspondence from the 1860s mainly concerns the Civil War. A letter from Governor Henry T. Clark (Dec. 1861) appoints Dillard as aide-de-camp to the Governor. Discussions about blocking the Croatan Channel by driving piles; problems with muskets; the need for more arms and troops on Roanoke Island; and the spread of sickness, especially measles, in the camp in Raleigh are included. A letter (April 1861) from the justices of Chowan County accepts Dillard's offer of the net profits of his farm for the Confederate cause while another letter (March 1864) includes an agreement for Dr. Dillard to supply meat to the Confederate Army in exchange for cotton and tobacco. A letter (May 1864) from State Representative William H. Manning discusses Confederate currency exchange rates; a skirmish at Bellfield, Virginia; destruction of railroad tracks by Union forces; fighting at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia; and news of General Grant's losses. Other correspondence from the 1860s concerns financial and familial matters.
The bulk of the correspondence is from the 1870s and is primarily financial in nature. Included are letters concerning the sale of cotton, farm finances, and requests for credit and loans. The effects of the panic of the 1870s are discussed in letters (1873-1875) from Richmond F. Dillard, a commission merchant in Norfolk, Virginia, to his brother Richard Dillard. Other letters contain information about the failed First National Bank of Norfolk and the possible lawsuit against the directors and stockholders (Oct. - Nov. 1874, July 1883); confidential information about shares of stock from a cashier at the Exchange National Bank (Dec. 1871); and the sale of Seaboard Railroad stock (Nov. 1875).
Letters from politicians during the 1870s cover a variety of topics including a bill to consolidate the poorhouses in Chowan County and the possible economic effects it would have on the county (January 1873). Also discussed are conditions in Washington, D.C., after the election of 1876, as related by Jesse J. Yeates, Democratic U.S. congressman from the 1st District, including possible actions by President Ulysses S. Grant toward Democrats in the House of Representatives and the possibility of civil war if Samuel Tilden is elected instead of Rutherford B. Hayes (Dec. 1876).
Correspondence of a medical nature from the 1870s includes requests for medical visits (Feb. 1872, Oct. 1874), a detailed second opinion for a diagnosis of tuberculosis (July 1877), an update on the condition of a patient operated on (Nov. 1874), a request on the need for removal of a breast cancer (March 1875), and mention of the effect of a case of scarlet fever on the attendance at St. Mary's School in Raleigh (Nov. 1878).
Correspondence from the late 1870s and the 1880s also contains detailed information on repairing a gristmill and sawmill in Chowan County owned by Richard Dillard. Letters to and from George Womble discuss a possible lawsuit against Dillard for alleged illegal removal of soil from Womble's land to repair the mill dam (Oct. 1877, Aug. 1879). Detailed letters concerning the repair of the mill itself are written by Richard Dillard, Jr., to his father (Aug.-Sept. 1887).
Various other letters discuss such family matters as Dillard's failing health and his desire to go to Buffalo Lithia Springs and Bon Air in Virginia (August 1877); and his children's education, including accounts at and a brochure for St. Mary's School in Raleigh (1876-1878), a receipt for tuition and books at Perquimans Academy (October 1871), and an updated letter describing life at Oxford High School in Granville Co., N.C. Genealogical information on Brownrigg (Chowan Co., N.C., Mississippi), Holladay (North Carolina, Mississippi) and Barker (North Carolina, Massachusetts, England) families is also included in the correspondence (March 1902; May 27 and July 12, no years given). The latest letter (1927) in the collection is from the novelist James Boyd and concerns N. C. Wyeth doing illustrations for a new edition of his novel
Legal papers contain certificates of freedom for a woman in Chowan Co, N.C., (1845) and a man in Hertford Co. N.C., (1859), giving a detailed description of each. An 1852 receipt for the hire of a slave contains conditions for care. An 1862 power of attorney gives Dillard, as a member of the State Convention of N.C., power to collect money due for services of the schooner
CRINOLINE rendered to the State. Other legal documents include several deeds of trust. Deeds and estate papers include the will (1856) of Hardy Cross, father-in-law of Richard Dillard, Sr., and deeds for land in Chowan County, N.C., and town lots in Edenton. Legal documents also include leases of Wingfield fishery (1868, 1877), of farmland (1870), and of the Brownrigg mill in Chowan Co., N.C. (1868, 1885).
Writings and speeches include drafts and printed articles written by Richard Dillard, Jr. Included are essays entitled "Women of Heroism in History," "Historical Reminiscences--Centre Hill" (1918), and "Little Marie's Papa, the Story of a Sad Life" (1925), and two poems. Speeches on the improvements in medicine and on the history of the North Carolina Confederate Flag are in the collection. Clippings contain various published stories by Dillard. Most clippings are collected in a notebook entitled "Logbook of the Motorboat `Elizabeth.' "
Miscellaneous items include invitations; genealogical information on Thomas Barker; permission from the Union Army for a black woman to remain in Plymouth, N.C. (1863); a N.C. Governor's commission for Dillard as aide-de-camp (1861); and insurance policies for Dillard property in Edenton (1877) and for a gristmill (1870) in Chowan County. Post cards are of various buildings in Coleraine (Ireland?) and photographs are of Beverly Hall (Dillard home in Edenton), Brownrigg mill, and other buildings (probably in Edenton and Chowan Co.), and of people related to the Dillards.
Miscellaneous items of a medical nature comprise pamphlets for patent medicines; prescriptions, including a cure for breast cancer (undated); a brochure on the University of Georgia Medical School (1876-77); and a physician's license (1866).
The financial papers include bank notes, promissory notes, general merchandise accounts, tax receipts, receipts for wages of overseers (1853) and for mill workers (1853-1854), farm repair receipts, a receipt for a pensioner of the War of 1812 (Feb. 1857), and freight receipts. Also included are tuition receipts for schooling at Belvidere, N.C. (1870-1871), Perquimans Academy (1872), Oxford High School in Granville Co. (1873, 1875), University of North Carolina (1876), schooling in Hillsborough (1874), and St. Mary's School in Raleigh (1874-1877). The tuition receipts often include progress reports for Richard Dillard, Jr., and his sister Sallie. Among the agricultural financial papers (1870s-1880s) are receipts for bales of North Carolina cotton and other farm products sold in Virginia and a memo book from 1861 containing expenses to Charleston, [S.C.], corn accounts, and notes regarding selling wheat and a horse. A ledger covering the years 1855 to 1887 contains mill accounts for the Brownrigg mill, giving names of customers, type of lumber, number of board feet milled, costs, and lists of amounts of corn ground.
Financial papers of a medical nature include medical bills (1850-1851) for the Cobb estate, including visits to Negroes; other medical bills (1852-1861, 1865-1866, 1871-1873); orders for medicine (1866, 1870, 1873-1874, 1878); a memo book (1873) listing patients visited and services rendered; and ledgers (1868-1881, 1889-1893, 1913-1921) listing professional visits to individuals, giving date, services rendered, charges and payments. Also included in the ledgers are visits to the United State Marine Hospital.