The collection primarily concerns aspects of shipbuilding, repair, and maintenance. Among these materials are bills of sale for vessels, itemized statements for outfitting certain vessels, bills from Hunter's suppliers of shipbuilding materials, federal licenses for vessels of larger than twenty tons, vessel enrollments, bills of lading for vessels, towing bills, grocery invoices for vessels, dockage bills, receipts for fines for inspection-law violations, correspondence, and insurance policies. Letters inform Hunter of the recovery near Cape Hatteras of his abandoned schooner
Lady Whedbee, request that he retrieve the vessel, and instruct him to inform the owner of the vessel's cargo concerning the ship's recovery (March-April 1859). Other documents concerning the
Lady Whedbee include the ruling for the disposition of the vessel's salvage in favor of the finder, Captain James Hobbs (March, 1859), and the ultimate auctioning of the vessel and its rigging (January, 1860). Items of particular interest to the maritime industry include a letter (Feb. 4, 1852) from the U.S. Coast Survey office authorizing Hunter to repair the survey schooner
Mason; a letter to Hunter regarding difficulties in getting paid for a vessel in Norfolk (May 28, 1853); a bill of sale (Apr. 8, 1861) for the condemned U.S. lightboat
Croatan; a negotiation letter from a prospective buyer of a vessel from Hunter (December 26, 1861); a letter asking Hunter to examine a vessel to determine if it is worthy of repair (August 8, 1865); a letter regarding the three masted schooner
Isabella Ellis, which had been chained to one of Hunter's vessels and sunk in the Roanoke River near Plymouth to obstruct navigation during the Civil War (August 1, 1866); and pay slips for crew members on the
Camden Union (March 26, 1869). Subsequent correspondence includes letters regarding the reimbursement of Hunter for expenses incurred by the captain of one of his vessels in the matter of a seaman who became ill, died, and was buried (April to May, 1870); a letter from a Keyport, New Jersey, ship owner, requesting an affidavit vouching for his honesty in the documentation of a ship (June 10, 1871); and a letter from one of Hunter's debtors making arrangements to settle accounts (undated).
Slavery is reflected in numerous records, including bills of sale for Negroes and hiring agreements for slave labor. Other items of particular interest include an agreement between a master and a blacksmith to teach the trade to a Negro boy (January 25, 1834), a document giving permission for a free woman of color to keep her bound son with her until he is called for by his owner (February 29, 1840), a court order for Hunter to furnish three able hands to work on a road outside of Elizabeth City (1849), life insurance policies for Hunter's slaves (1853), a bill for boots for Hunter's slaves (October 30, 1854), the conveyance of eighteen Negroes from Timothy Hunter to his wife (October 2, 1858), a medical bill for four years of treatment rendered to slaves (October 3, 1859), and another medical bill for attention to a slave child (June 12, 1861).
Civil War items reflect the impact of the war on maritime activities. Among these are a bill from Hunter to the Confederate States of America for work on a light boat (September 27, 1861); an acceptance speech of a newly elected Confederate officer (undated); notes (found on a page numbered 477 that is torn from a ledger book) on the August 1861 capture of Hunter's schooner, the
San Juan, near Cape Hatteras (January 27, 1862); correspondence regarding the Confederate government's seizure of Hunter's vessel, the
Rebel, for the defense of Roanoke Island (January 30, September 20, and November 3, 1862); and a letter from William Nathan Harrell Smith regarding submission of claims for Hunter's reimbursement for the seizure of the
Rebel (undated, probably 1862). Instructions for couriers in the Confederate army (February 17, 1862) and an account of Hunter's personal wartime losses (1862) are also included.
The collection also contains legal and business documents that reflect the frequent transactions necessary for Hunter in his business during the economic turbulence of the nineteenth century. Included in these documents are financial papers; deeds; deeds oftrust on schooners, slaves, and land; insurance policies; Masonic Mutual Life Insurance assessments; and promissory notes. One letter (February 20, 1868) reflects the difficulties of the salt trade and other items reflect sheriffs' sales to satisfy judgments for debt. Also included in the collection are receipts for local school, town, poll, turnpike, penitentiary, and educational taxes. One letter of particular interest is from L.D. Starke, offering Hunter an amicable way to resolve Hunter's debts (July 30, 1868). A deed for the sale of property by Hunter's assignee in bankruptcy (January 28, 1870) also appears in the collection. Correspondence (April 19, 1872; March 6, 1873; December 27, 1874) pertains to efforts of a debtor to avoid bills associated with the schooner
Luck, accusations of the debtor against a third party, and failure to achieve significant closure in the settlement of the
Luck' s accounts. In a letter (May 6, 1870) written from Franklin Depot in Virginia, a man describes meeting former Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Other business and legal items include a widow's annual allowance (January 1, 1873) and an assignment of guardianship of a minor to Hunter (July 18, 1873).
Other items include bills from dry goods, grocery, and general stores; medical bills; Hunter's marriage license (1826); an agreement between doctors H.L. Weatherly and Elijah Martin to practice medicine together (August 23, 1850); and bills from Chowan Female Collegiate Institute in Murfreesboro, N.C., for the education of Hunter's daughter, with accompanying letters from M. R. Forey (principal) to Hunter (March 5, July 29, 1851). A journal containing essays about affection, liquor, justice, and romance (1853-1854); a bill of sale for the conveyance of household items in the parsonage to the Baptist church in Elizabeth City, N.C. (August 31, 1858); a detailed description of Hunter's personality (1866); and a receipt for reimbursing the state of North Carolina for bringing a bastardy action against a black man (March 24, 1870) are also included. Items concerning Hunter's death are a resolution by the Eureka Masonic Lodge (March 1, 1875), mourning his recent death, and bill for his funeral service from Ziegler Funeral Home in Edenton, N.C. (August 6, 1875). Additional miscellaneous items include balance books belonging to Ann Hunter (1885); a certified tabulation (1906) of the North Carolina Encampment of the International Order of Odd Fellows; and a certificate of W. H. Weatherly as a representative to the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Odd Fellows order (August 9, 1906).
Items in oversize include a Masonic certificate of admission into Royal Arch status (1806); Hunter's commission (April 17, 1840) in the Albemarle Blues (a naval militia-type organization); an agreement between seamen and the owner of the schooner
San Juan for a voyage to Barbados (October 29, 1860); a descriptive list of equipment issued to a private in the 17th North Carolina Regiment (undated), including his service record listing the skirmishes and battles in which he had participated; and an issue of the
Biblical Recorder (June 14, 1871).