Skip to main content

McCoy family papers

Identifier: MS0409

Scope and Contents

The McCoy family papers include primarily the papers of Albert McCoy, his in-laws (the Gluyas family) and some of Albert’s children. Most of the papers were generated as a result of the daily activities of Albert McCoy and include such things as receipt for the consumer goods that he bought, checks that he wrote, promissory notes that he made with friends and family members, letters that he sent and received, and deeds for land that he bought. Because the McCoy family enslaved people during the antebellum years, there is a cemetery for enslaved people on the McCoy property and the family has carefully maintained it into the twenty-first century. Written and printed material about this cemetery is found in file 36. Also, traditional stories told by people enslaved by the McCoy family have become part of the McCoy family tradition and written notes of these stories are a part of this collection (see file 37). Two of Albert McCoy’s sons served in uniform during World War I and a daughter, Ella McCoy Nisbet, opened her home to some of the soldiers who were training at the military base in Charlotte during WWI. The letters, papers and photographs that the McCoys generated and accumulated during the war constitute one of the more interesting aspects of this collection. An appendix of war-time correspondence (itemizing the authors, recipients, dates and files where those letters are located) is included in this inventory. There is also a copy of the November 10, 1918 issue of the Charlotte Observer, and it is stored in oversize storage. This issue is especially significant because it has articles concerning the abdication of the German Kaiser and the armistice. One item, removed from this collection and placed with the UNC Charlotte rare book collection, is a flier entitled “The Brother Jonathan.”


  • Creation: 1796 - 2001
  • Creation: 1844 - 1919


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Ezekiel and Margaret (Alexander) McCoy moved from Cecil County, Maryland and settled on land along Gar Creek in northern Mecklenburg County in 1768, and their descendants have lived on and farmed this land continuously since then. Margaret was the half sister and half first cousin of Hezekiah and John McKnitt Alexander, and as descendants of Scotch-Irish immigrants the McCoys were Presbyterians. Their son, John, lived on the land with his wife Ester (Frazier) McCoy. Records from the historic Hugh Torance House and Store on Gilead Road show that John traded there in the early nineteenth century. In 1854, John’s son Marshall Rudolphus McCoy was killed in a copper mine explosion on the farm between Hopewell Church and McCoy Road. Marshall left three sons, John, Columbus Washington, and Albert. Albert (many of whose papers are in this collection) was born on September 1, 1843 and was educated at the Statesville Military Institute. Soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the Confederate Army—37th North Carolina Infantry, Company C. John and Washington also served the Confederate cause, and John was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863. During a furlough from military service, Albert was accepted in the local Masonic Lodge, and he remained a life-long member, steadily rising through its ranks.

After the war Albert lived with his widowed mother until he had his own house built on McCoy Road in 1886. This was the first complete house built by John Ellis McAuley (this house was restored in the 1990s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places). After the Civil War, Albert married the former Miss Kate Potts. This couple had one child—a daughter named Lura. Kate McCoy died soon after Lura’s birth, and a significant accumulation of documentation indicates that Albert was designated as the guardian of his daughter following Kate’s death. Why Albert McCoy would have to be designated as the guardian of his own child is not known. This documentation suggests that after her death, Lura may have inherited property from her maternal ancestors, and since the death of her mother Albert had a fiduciary responsibility in managing her inheritance.

Not long after the death of his first wife, McCoy married again, this time to Mary Catherine Gluyas (“Gluyas” rhymes with “Lewis”) and with her had twelve children. The McCoy’s were instrumental in the founding of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church on Mount Holly-Huntersville Road in 1886. Albert, Mary and Columbus Washington McCoy were among the first communicants. Their reasons for leaving the Hopewell Presbyterian Church are sparsely documented, but according to family lore, it was because the Presbyterians would not allow dancing. Over the years McCoy accumulated large tracts of land in Long Creek Township in order to augment the size of the property. It was there where he died of pneumonia in 1925. By the time of his death, he had been one of the oldest freemasons in North Carolina, and one of the most respected citizens of Long Creek Township. In his will he decreed that his property would be divided up into portions for each of his twelve children from his second marriage—but none to Lura. Some of this land has remained with McCoy descendants into the twenty-first century.

Several of the McCoys' captives continued to live on the McCoy plantation after emancipation. Aunt Lizzie, an individual enslaved by the McCoy family, played an integral role in raising Albert and Mary’s large family. Her riddles and “Old Bad Man” stories remain part of the McCoy family oral heritage. After her death Aunt Lizzie was buried in the cemetery where the McCoys' buried enslaved individuals on McCoy property. Funds for the perpetual care of the cemetery were provided through the estate of Thomas Marshall McCoy, second son of Albert and Mary.

Two of Albert’s sons served in the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. These were Robert Oates and Joseph Bennett McCoy; and several of their letters are included in this collection. One of Albert’s daughters, Ella Letitia McCoy Nisbet, and her husband William, opened their home to a few of the American recruits stationed at the army training camp at Charlotte. These were Fred Guthery and J. A. Peterson; and the Nisbets carried on a correspondence with these two “doughboys” and their families throughout the war. A poem found among the McCoy family papers (unsigned, but probably written by Ella) elaborates about the Nisbets opening their home to these soldiers (see file 41). After Albert’s death in 1925, Ella and William Nisbet inherited the Old Homeplace, and it was there where they raised their children. Upon their deaths, the home passed to their son Thomas Gluyas Nisbet who practiced dentistry in Charlotte and raised polled Hereford cattle on the farm. In accordance with his wishes, his estate transferred the Old Homeplace to his mother’s brother’s grandson, Tom McCoy. Tom and his wife, Robin now live at the Old Homeplace with their son, Tom, Jr., and daughter, Arrington. [Sources: McCoy family papers, 1796-2001, Mss 409.]


0.4 Linear Feet (372 items)

0.858 Megabytes

Language of Materials



This collection contains papers and photographs generated by the McCoy and related families in Mecklenburg County, NC from 1796 to 2001. Most of the papers were produced by Albert McCoy (1843-1925), and a smaller amount by his children. Other families related to the McCoys were the Gluyas, Houston, and Nisbet families. Because the McCoys enslaved people, some of the files in this collection concern a cemetery for enslaved people and traditional stories told by McCoy family captives owned.


The collection contains the following four series: Individual family member materials, Papers concerning people McCoy enslaved, Photographs and Miscellaneous. There is also a file (Genealogical notes concerning the McCoy and Gluyas families) that does not belong to any series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired from Dr. Thomas and Mrs. Robin McCoy, in April 2009. Photo of Robert M. Oates family donated by Vera Oates Holt, date unknown.

Related Materials

St. Mark's Episcopal Church records, Mss0084

Processing Information

Processed by Robert A. McInnes.

McCoy family papers
Robert A. McInnes.
May-July 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

About this Site

Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

Special Collections and University Archives
J. Murrey Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
(704) 687-1170
Schedule an Appointment