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Hampton Family Papers


Papers, chiefly letters, of three generations of the Hampton family of Hamptonville, Yadkin Co., N.C.Papers from 1852-1917 are principally the letters of Col. John A. Hampton, Civil War officer, state legislator, and lawyer. Those from 1918-1951 are principally those of Hampton's daughter, Nellie Hampton Bell, her children and her brothers and children. Col. Hampton's letters to his son Green Hampton, 1899-1903, are a rich source for cultural and economic history of the area. The letters of Mrs. Bell's daughters for 1924-1929 are students' letters written from the Southern Conservatory of Music, Durham, N.C. Other members of the family who correspond or who are mentioned in the letters inclu ... (more below)

Title

Hampton Family Papers

Collection Number

PC.1785

Date(s)

1852 - 1951

Language

English

Physical Description
Items
Approx. 1,300
Physical Description
Items
1300.00
Abstract

Papers, chiefly letters, of three generations of the Hampton family of Hamptonville, Yadkin Co., N.C.

Papers from 1852-1917 are principally the letters of Col. John A. Hampton, Civil War officer, state legislator, and lawyer. Those from 1918-1951 are principally those of Hampton's daughter, Nellie Hampton Bell, her children and her brothers and children. Col. Hampton's letters to his son Green Hampton, 1899-1903, are a rich source for cultural and economic history of the area. The letters of Mrs. Bell's daughters for 1924-1929 are students' letters written from the Southern Conservatory of Music, Durham, N.C. Other members of the family who correspond or who are mentioned in the letters include Frank Armfield Hampton (private secretary to U.S. Sen. Furnifold M. Simmons), State representative Charles G. Bryant, Baptist hymnist and publisher Sanford M. Brown. Political figures mentioned in the corresp. include Zebulon Baird Vance, William Woods Holden, Calvin Josiah Cowles, Henry H. Cowles, Robert F. Armfield, Benj. F.Long, and Furnifold M. Simmons. The papers are, however, more valuable as a source of social and economic history than political history.

Physical Location

For current information on the location ofthese materials, please consult the Public Services Branch, State Archives of North Carolina.

Creator

Hampton family.

Repository

State Archives of North Carolina


Available for research.


Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.


Processed by George Stevenson, December, 1990

Encoded by Fran Tracy-Walls, October, 2002

Converted from Version 1.0 to Version 2002, and re-encoded by Ashley Yandle, September, 2004.


Six Cowles family letters that were included in the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have been added to the Calvin J. Cowles Papers, PC.111.


During the eighteenth century the Hampton family moved from Virginia into the southwestern Yadkin County area (originally Rowan, then Surry County) where it became one of the principal families in the area. In 1805 they laid out the town of Hamptonville, and in 1809 a post office was established with the postmastership in the Hampton family for the next ten years. The town was incorporated in 1818 after the arrival in the community of Josiah Cowles. In the same year, the postmastership passed to Cowles and remained in his family for fifty years. Like their friends and neighbors, the Cowles, the Hamptons were Whigs who supported the Confederacy, and were Democrats after the Civil War. Despite the fact that the Democrats were in a minority in the area, after the election of 1872 the Hamptons regained the postmastership of Hamptonville and continued to hold it throughout the period of these papers except for the years from 1884 to mid 1891.

Hamptonville was a farm town and was probably never active as a true municipality. Cowles' tinner's shop, an occasional carriage maker or wool carder, saw mills, and the usual general merchandise store appear to have been the extent of commerce and industry in Hamptonville (though a book and job printer's press was located there in the 1880s). There was a "Hamptonville Library" briefly in the nineteenth century, but it seems chiefly to have been composed of books owned by and maintained in the Hampton household. The community's identity and continuity owed a good deal more to the continuing presence of the post office and the unifying force of the local church than it did to municipal affairs. When the  "Big Meeting" was opened at Flat Rock Baptist Church at the beginning of November each year, "Big Meeting" pigs were killed and dressed and  "Big Meeting" cakes were baked. Two or three visiting preachers were required for the meeting as services were held every day and night for nine days, and concluded with baptism of the converted in the ford of Flat Rock Branch on the tenth day of the meeting (Monday). Hamptonville people who moved to other parts of the country subsequently recalled these annual meetings with great longing.


During the eighteenth century the Hampton family moved from Virginia into the southwestern Yadkin County area (originally Rowan, then Surry County) where it became one of the principal families in the area. In 1805 they laid out the town of Hamptonville, and in 1809 a post office was established with the postmastership in the Hampton family for the next ten years. The town was incorporated in 1818 after the arrival in the community of Josiah Cowles. In the same year, the postmastership passed to Cowles and remained in his family for fifty years. Like their friends and neighbors, the Cowles, the Hamptons were Whigs who supported the Confederacy, and were Democrats after the Civil War. Despite the fact that the Democrats were in a minority in the area, after the election of 1872 the Hamptons regained the postmastership of Hamptonville and continued to hold it throughout the period of these papers except for the years from 1884 to mid 1891.

Hamptonville was a farm town and was probably never active as a true municipality. Cowles' tinner's shop, an occasional carriage maker or wool carder, saw mills, and the usual general merchandise store appear to have been the extent of commerce and industry in Hamptonville (though a book and job printer's press was located there in the 1880s). There was a "Hamptonville Library" briefly in the nineteenth century, but it seems chiefly to have been composed of books owned by and maintained in the Hampton household. The community's identity and continuity owed a good deal more to the continuing presence of the post office and the unifying force of the local church than it did to municipal affairs. When the  "Big Meeting" was opened at Flat Rock Baptist Church at the beginning of November each year, "Big Meeting" pigs were killed and dressed and  "Big Meeting" cakes were baked. Two or three visiting preachers were required for the meeting as services were held every day and night for nine days, and concluded with baptism of the converted in the ford of Flat Rock Branch on the tenth day of the meeting (Monday). Hamptonville people who moved to other parts of the country subsequently recalled these annual meetings with great longing.


[Identification of item], PC.1785, Hampton Family Papers, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC, USA.


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Rex G. Johnson, Hamptonville, N.C. in October and November 1990. Three photographs of the Reinhardt family and a pamphlet history of "The Red Strings" baseball team, gift of Maurine Brown, Encino, California, May 1990.


Additional information on topics found in this collection may be found in the Manuscript and Archives Reference System (MARS)  http://www.ncarchives.dcr.state.nc.us.


The collection consists of the papers, chiefly letters, of three generations of the Hampton family of Hamptonville, (Yadkin County) North Carolina.

The letters in the Hampton Family Papers fall roughly into two groups, even though they are arranged continuously in one chronological series. From 1852 until 1917 the letters are principally those of Col. John A. Hampton and include letters to and from him and his children and his brothers-in-law. The second half of the letters, from 1918-1951, are principally composed of those of his daughter, Nellie Priscilla Hampton (Mrs. Charles A. Bell), and includes letters to and from her, her daughters, her brothers, and her cousins. (See genealogical table in the appendix of the paper finding aid for the relationships in the family correspondence.)

Col. Hampton's letters to his son Green Hampton, 1899-1903, are a rich source for cultural and economic history of the area. The letters of Mrs. Bell's daughters for 1924-1929 are students' letters written from the Southern Conservatory of Music, Durham, N.C. Other members of the family who correspond or who are mentioned in the letters include Frank Armfield Hampton (private secretary to U.S. Sen. Furnifold M. Simmons), State representative Charles G. Bryant, Baptist hymnist and publisher Sanford M. Brown. Political figures mentioned in the corresp. include Zebulon Baird Vance, William Woods Holden, Calvin Josiah Cowles, Henry H. Cowles, Robert F. Armfield, Benj. F.Long, and Furnifold M. Simmons. The papers are, however, more valuable as a source of social and economic history than political history.

Hampton Family genealogical chart, beginning with Dr. John Hampton.


The collection consists of the papers, chiefly letters, of three generations of the Hampton family of Hamptonville, (Yadkin County) North Carolina.

The letters in the Hampton Family Papers fall roughly into two groups, even though they are arranged continuously in one chronological series. From 1852 until 1917 the letters are principally those of Col. John A. Hampton and include letters to and from him and his children and his brothers-in-law. The second half of the letters, from 1918-1951, are principally composed of those of his daughter, Nellie Priscilla Hampton (Mrs. Charles A. Bell), and includes letters to and from her, her daughters, her brothers, and her cousins. (See genealogical table in the appendix of the paper finding aid for the relationships in the family correspondence.)

Col. Hampton's letters to his son Green Hampton, 1899-1903, are a rich source for cultural and economic history of the area. The letters of Mrs. Bell's daughters for 1924-1929 are students' letters written from the Southern Conservatory of Music, Durham, N.C. Other members of the family who correspond or who are mentioned in the letters include Frank Armfield Hampton (private secretary to U.S. Sen. Furnifold M. Simmons), State representative Charles G. Bryant, Baptist hymnist and publisher Sanford M. Brown. Political figures mentioned in the corresp. include Zebulon Baird Vance, William Woods Holden, Calvin Josiah Cowles, Henry H. Cowles, Robert F. Armfield, Benj. F.Long, and Furnifold M. Simmons. The papers are, however, more valuable as a source of social and economic history than political history.

Hampton Family genealogical chart, beginning with Dr. John Hampton.


  • Bell, Nellie Priscilla Hampton, 1875-1950.
  • Hampton, John Adams, 1836-1917.
  • Vance, Zebulon Baird, 1830-1894.
  • North Carolina. General Assembly.
  • Southern Conservatory of Music (Durham, N.C.)
  • American Party--Southern States.
  • Baptism.
  • Baseball.
  • African Americans.
  • Christmas.
  • Community music.
  • Contested elections.
  • Deer hunting.
  • Democratic Party (N.C.)
  • Depressions--1929--United States.
  • Desertion, Military.
  • Education--North Carolina--1852-1930.
  • Elections.
  • Greeting cards.
  • Music--Instruction and study.
  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)
  • Women--Education--North Carolina--Durham.
  • Confederate States of America--Imprints.
  • Yadkin County (N.C.)
  • Georgia.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

Although the letters are arranged continuously in one chronological series, from 1852-1917 the letters are principally those of Col. John A. Hampton and from 1918-1951, the letters are principally those of his daughter, Nellie Priscilla Hampton (Mrs. Charles A. Bell).

Col. Hampton, son of Dr. John Hampton, commenced reading law in Cassville, Georgia, in 1855 and continued his law studies in North Carolina in 1856 (but whether or not at Judge Pearson's school is unclear). He was admitted to the bar in 1858 and commenced his law practice at Wilkesboro. His career was interrupted by the Civil War, and he served from 1861 to the fall of 1864, first as a lieutenant then as a captain. (He was then appointed lieutenant colonel of the Wilkes County Battalion of State Troops by Gov. Vance, hence his subsequent honorific.) Col. Hampton served as engrossing clerk in the House of Representatives at the sessions of 1865/66 and 1866/67, and was, briefly in 1866 agent for the Freedmen's Bureau in Yadkin County but was discontinued in office because of his inability to subscribe the "Test Oath." He then settled to his law practice in Hamptonville. Though a Democrat in "rock-ribbed Republican Yadkin," Col. Hampton was elected to three successive terms as Yadkin County solicitor and was, in 1882, elected to the North Carolina Senate from the 23rd Senatorial District Col. Hampton married Cynthia Carolina Brown, daughter of the pastor of Flat Rock Baptist Church, by whom he had five sons and six daughters. Except for two daughters who died as infants (Carrie Jane and Docia Bryan) all of the children figure in the letters as subjects, recipients, or writers.

From 1852-1856, the letters are principally written to or by John A. Hampton while in North Carolina and in Georgia where he had gone to read law and teach school. His father's letter of Sept. 10, 1855, urges Hampton to return to North Carolina and attend Judge Pearson's law school and gives him news of community deaths from typhus and flux. Letters of July 26, September 10, and November 12, 1855, refer to elections of that year. John A. Hampton discloses in a letter written from Fairmont, Georgia, that the Know Nothings had a majority in his neighborhood, and that he intends to vote for the first time for a Whig Know Nothing for governor and other offices. His father's reply admits "the Now Nothings is taking the world with us," too. Hampton's letter of Nov. 12, 1855, describes a near-fatal stabbing on election day in Calhoun County, Georgia, but explains that the assailant, a family friend, would get off lightly -- "...he was justifiable in doing it ...they fell out about politics."

In addition to the "usual camp news" about neighbors and kinsmen, the letter of May 4, 1863, includes references to action at Fredericksburg, Virginia. The letter of August 9, 1863, describes indignation in the Confederate Army at "the course the people of N.C. are pursuing in regard to deserters," and goes on to describe meetings in the North Carolina regiments in which W. W. Holden was denounced as a traitor; "they swore they will send men to Raleigh to hang old Holden."(On Sept. 9, 1863, Georgia troops in Raleigh destroyed Holden's press while the frightened editor fled to Gov. Vance for protection.) The letter of Jan. 23, 1864, describes a mock battle between regiments, N.C. versus Va., and N.C. versus Ga., in which snowballs were used as ammunition; the regiments "marcht off with music in front." The letter of May 9, 1864, is written on the reverse of a Confederate imprint (N.C. Adj. Gen., General Order no.1, Jan. 15, 1864).

Three of the five letters from 1866 to 1868 contain information relating to Reconstruction affairs and conditions. In his letter of Aug. 23, 1866, addressed to Col. Edie, Superintendent of the Freedmen's Bureau at Salisbury, Hampton explains why neither he nor any other qualified man in Yadkin County can subscribe the bureau's "Test Oath." Hampton's letter of June 18, 1867, to "Miss Rosa" speaks of Freedmen's political meetings in the county and of his having spoken at one--but states that he has not turned "Red String." In another letter to her dated Dec. 17, 1868, Hampton denies the truth of rumors that he has turned radical and explains to her the reasons for his stance in the recent elections, denounces the new  Code of Civil Procedure, describes the conditions surrounding a recent township magistrate's court in Iredell County he attended (all the fault of carpetbaggers and Negroes), and speaks of "Daddy Kowles (C. J. Cowles) and his wife, 'Gov.' Holden's daughter."

The letters from 1875 and 1881-1888 include ten written home during January and February 1883 when Hampton was in the Senate; the letters are non-political nature. In a letter to Hampton dated Feb. 4, 1884, Zeb Vance says he has forwarded Hampton's petition to the U.S. Postmaster General and has given him "a piece of my mind," an apparent reference to the appointment of Richard G. Green to the Hamptonville postmastership on Jan. 21, 1884. Letters of Oct. 9, 1885, and Aug. 16, Nov. 10, and Nov. 12, 1888, relate to Hampton's duties as a U.S. Internal Revenue "storekeeper" and "gauger," as which he was responsible for the issuance of revenue stamps and the gauging and warehousing of locally distilled whiskey and spirits.

Letters of May 27, 1893, and June 11 through July 16, 1894, and June 9, 1895, concern political affairs, the first having to do with the district collectorship, the second with the Democratic party conventions and the election of 1894, and the last with the judgeship of the 8th judicial district.

By far the greater part of the letters from 1899-1903 are made up of Col. Hampton's letters to his oldest son, Green, who went to Kansas City to seek employment near his mother's brothers (the Browns). These carefully composed, newsy, tender and sentimental letters inform the son of all the neighborhood news on a regular basis. They are, in effect, fortnightly newsletters. Here are reported the births, deaths, funerals, baptisms, and marriages in the neighborhood; who is teaching at what school; who is leasing whose farm or is tenant at another's; economic conditions, politics; elections; floods and unusual weather; general health of the community; epidemics of typhoid fever, pneumonia, whooping cough, influenza, consumption, smallpox; church "meetings;" interesting gossip about friends and acquaintances; and family news. The worsening of the economic conditions in western Yadkin County from 1900 to the crisis in 1902 is unfolded in the letters: drought in 1900, flood in 1901, scouring rains and snow early in 1902. "There are lots of families that can't get a mouthful of meat to eat, have to live on milk and bread" (June 1, 1902). "This has been the hardest year I have ever experienced. Nearly half the people have been without meat all this summer" (Aug. 3, 1902). Then, the letter of Aug. 17, 1902, announces all the tobacco and fodder and half the corn crop in that area of the county had been destroyed by a wind, hail, and rain storm: "... the hail went through watermelons and pumpkins like shot." The accidental death of Green Hampton in Kansas City in May, 1903, put an end to his father's really informative series of fortnightly letters.

The approximately 200 letters for 1904-1917 are chiefly of family interest, though neighborhood news continues to be reported to some extent. The Nov. 20, 1903, letter from Charles A. Bell to Col. Hampton formally seeking the hand of Nellie Hampton in marriage, with the colonel's reply of Nov. 30, and the subsequent letters written by the colonel and his daughter four years later upon learning of the surreptitious marriage of his second son, Frank Armfield Hampton (Feb. 26, March 3, and March 10, 1907) display clearly the colonel's expectation to be consulted in the matter of his children's marriages. During these years most of the children took up their lives elsewhere. The second son, Frank, set up a law practice in Rocky Mount in 1909, was regional manager of the political campaigns of three different Democratic candidates for office in the election of 1912 (including the campaign of U.S. Senator Furnifold M. Simmons), and was appointed private secretary to Senator Simmons in 1918. The third son, Leroy John Hampton ("Lee") commenced a newspaper career that took him to various cities: Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Asheville, Chicago, Newport News, LaSalle. Only the fourth son, Parks, was at home. The colonel's two married daughters, Nellie Hampton Bell and Maggie Hampton Bryant, lived at Statesville and Spruce Pine, respectively. His youngest daughter, Winnie, died at home in March 1917, and Colonel Hampton followed her to the grave in December.

Nellie, eldest daughter of Col. Hampton, married Charles B. Bell in 1903. From 1914 to 1943, Mr. Bell held the postmastership of Hamptonville. Of their three daughters Caroline, Margaret, and Luola, the two older girls attended the Southern Conservatory of Music at Durham. Caroline was at the school from September 1924 to May 1925; Margaret was at the school from September 1927 to May 1929, and attended summer schools at Appalachian State Normal School, Boone, in 1925 and 1926. Both girls attended summer school at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1928. Their grandmother, Caroline (Brown) Hampton died in 1929.

Most of the thirty letters dating from 1918-1923 concern family matters almost exclusively. The 1918-1919 letters are chiefly those written by Lee Hampton while serving with the Army Transport Service. One letter from Frank A. Hampton at Washington, dated Sept. 9, 1918, explains to his mother why neither he nor Senator Simmons can arrange a deferred draft classification for the youngest child, Parks, and why Parks must register for the draft and "take his turn" like all other young men.

Practically all the correspondence dating from September 1924 to May 1929 are exchanges of letters between Mrs. Bell and her daughters, Caroline and Margaret, as each studied music, in turn, at the Southern Conservatory of Music at Durham. Margaret's letters are the more uninhibited of the two and give a clearer picture of a student's life in the school during the 1920s. Her vignettes of the only two boys to enter the school during her stay are unflattering, and her accounts of the occasional attacks of hysterics that befell girls who were failing the coursework, social visits of young men friends to the school, references to the temperaments and student policy of the faculty, and similar matters, are quite candid. The school closed in 1931, its physical plant being sold to the Salvation Army for use as a hospital.

The letters written during the depression years show that the branch of the family in Kansas City, the Browns and the Coughs, were not seriously affected economically, while two of Lee's letters written from Florida in 1934 show him to have been having quite a difficult time making ends meet. For the most part, the 193 letters surviving for the years 1930-1951 concern family matters only.

Box: PC.1785.1  
1852 - 1903
1852 - 1903

Box: PC.1785.2  
1904 - 1923
1904 - 1923

Box: PC.1785.3  
1924 - 1928
1924 - 1928

Box: PC.1785.4  
1929 - 1951
1929 - 1951

Box: PC.1785.5  
Greeting Cards
1920s - 1940s

Christmas
1920s
1920s
1930s
1930s
1940s
1940s
Businesses
1920s - 1940s
Valentines
Sympathy
Birthday
1941 - 1945
Mothers'/Fathers' Day
1938 - 1944
Miscellaneous Greetings
1943

Box: PC.1785.6  
Volumes

Surry Co. Constable's Receipt Book
1834 - 1840
Thomas Lindley (Wagonmaker) Accounts
1844 - 1859
Account Book, Dry Goods and Notions
1869 - 1870
Charles A. Bell, Threshing and Baling Accounts
1931
1931
1936 - 1937
1936 - 1937
Frank A. Hampton, Diary
1903 - 1905
Nellie Hampton's Keepsake Album
1899 - 1917

Box: PC.1785.7  
Miscellaneous

Adam Cowles, Freedman
ca.1795 - 1900
Agricultural
Character References
1897 - 1904
Deeds
Deeds of Sale
Deeds of Trust
Chattel Mortgages
Democratic Tickets Various Elections
ca.1900 - 1905
Democratic Voters, Yadkin Co.
ca.1894
Dr. Bryant - Bona Fides
F. A. Hampton's Study Notes--Blackstone's Commentaries
Flat Rock Baptist Church,Big Meeting
1936
Fortune teller, Charlotte, N.C.
1897
Letters to the Landmark (Statesville)
Miscellaneous
Promissory Notes
1867 - 1912