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Carpenter family papers

Identifier: MS0282

Scope and Contents

The Carpenter family papers document the activities of a farm family, living in the central Piedmont region of North Carolina (about thirty miles to the northwest of Charlotte), in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These papers include receipts (for the farming machinery they purchased), bank records, tax receipts, papers concerning their membership in the National Grange, promissory notes and a miscellany of other materials that provide evidence of other aspects of their lives. Though this family owned and operated a cotton plantation as early as the 1830s, there is no existing evidence to indicate that they enslaved any people. There are several letters addressed to the Carpenters that were mailed to an address in Long Shoals in Buncombe County, several miles away.

A few items of particular interest include an envelope from the Citizens National Bank, dated 1913, which bears a swastika on its logo. Others are North Carolina tax receipts which include the infamous poll taxes, once used to disenfranchise minorities.


  • Creation: 1835 - 1934


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

Evidence concerning the history of the Carpenter family of Lincoln County, North Carolina is contained in the few papers they left behind. From these, we can tell that they were farmers from about the 1830s until at least 1934; and according to their business receipts, they were buying consumer goods at least as early as 1835. There are two real estate indentures in this collection, and the first, issued in 1837, tells us that Michael and Samuel Carpenter bought a ten acre tract of land. Though there are no earlier indentures in this collection, this one says that the land they purchased borders on land that they already owned. Just how early the Carpenters owned land in Lincoln County is not revealed in this collection. A later indenture indicates that they bought another parcel of land in 1882. In addition, their tax records indicate that they must have owned a significant amount of acreage, because they paid taxes on land in three different townships in two different counties: Cherryville and Dallas townships, in Gaston County; and Lincolnton Township in Lincoln County.

According to information contained in their papers, the earliest members of the Carpenter family in the Lincoln and Gaston county area were Michael, Samuel junior and David. Michael and Samuel are listed in their real estate indenture of 1837, and were apparently brothers. Samuel moved to Alabama soon thereafter and his name does not appear on any documents in this collection after 1837. David’s name appears on a business receipt in 1835—the earliest record of him in this collection.

The most frequently listed name during the bulk of this collection (late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) is John Franklin Carpenter. By that time, he seems to have been the family patriarch. A few female names appear among these papers, such as Dulcinea (John Franklin Carpenter’s wife), Emma Lee, Venia, and Ella. John seems to have been most active from around 1875 until 1925—the last year that his name appears on tax receipts. Beginning in 1926, the initials “J.E.” make their appearance on tax receipts in place of John’s.

Among his more notable activities was his duty as the executor of the estate of Noah Alexander (Dulcinea's father), who died in late 1899, and papers concerning the administration of his estate are contained in this collection. In addition, John was the Lincoln County Superintendent of Roads in 1905. As a part of this duty, he sent out letters of appointment to county road walkers, those who walked the county roads to inspect them for any needed attention or repair.

In spite of the fact that the Carpenters owned a considerable amount of acreage, this did not protect them from financial problems, and some of their receipts and correspondence indicate that their creditors periodically had to remind them of their financial obligations. As farmers, they were members of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. Business receipts, a membership card for the North Carolina Cotton Growers Co-operative and other papers indicate that the Carpenters grew cotton. A U.S. Department of Agriculture document shows that they were also growing wheat by the 1930s. During the devastating years of economic depression during the 1930s, they applied for assistance with the North Carolina Emergency Relief Administration, requesting a little more than $200 in assistance.

As far as more personal matters are concerned, the Carpenters were members of Bethpage Evangelical Lutheran Church, and had subscriptions to the Lincolnton Courier, the Lincoln Progress, the Southern Agriculturalist and the Practical Farmer. Mrs. Dulcenia Carpenter bought an organ from the Beethoven Organ Company in 1901 and financed it over time in a series of payments, it is easy to imagine that she bought it for her church. Ella Carpenter, most likely one of the daughters, was sent to the Evangelical Lutheran Academy and Seminary at about the same time.


0.4 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection consists of papers of the Carpenter family, relating primarily to their farming activities in Lincoln and Gaston counties from 1834 to 1935. The collection also includes banking records, business and tax receipts, correspondence, insurance records, papers from the National Grange, Depression era relief records, and promissory notes.


This collection has been arranged into three series, there are also several files that do not belong to any series. The three series are: Banking Records, Business Receipts and Photographs. The contents within each folder are arranged chronologically. The whole of this collection is contained within one document case. Two items are too large to fit in standard size storage and have been removed to oversize storage. The collection’s four photographs have been relocated to photographic storage.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Wade Carpenter, 2001.

Processing Information

Processed by Robert A. McInnes, March 2005.

Carpenter family papers
Robert A. McInnes
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

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