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Knox family papers

Identifier: MS0403

Scope and Contents

The Knox Family Papers, Collection No. 403 is a small collection whose history begins with James and Hannah Knox of Steele Creek Township in southwestern Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, late in the eighteenth century. Over the generations these family papers were passed on to James B. Knox, then to Charles Pettus Knox, then Annie Esther Knox Porter, then Agnes Porter, and then Linda Blackwelder; who donated the collection to the University of North Carolina Charlotte in 2008. In addition to the Knox materials, papers from the Lowrie family (mostly Margaret A. and Samuel J. Lowrie) and also the Porter family were accumulated and added to the collection. Collections of family papers typically contain letters to and from various family members, and the Knox family collection is no exception. These letters usually contain routine information about the health of family members, who got married, what the wedding was like, who traveled away on business, and the like. Some of the papers in the Knox collection were composed during the Civil War and provide valuable information about that event, and how it was affecting people—both civilian and military. An appendix of Civil War materials is included in this inventory.

Many of the papers found in this collection are either promissory notes or papers involved in the settlement of estates of deceased people. In the nineteenth century, long before the advent of credit cards, people often and routinely borrowed money from friends, family members, and to a lesser degree from financiers for more substantial loans; and gradually paid them off over time. If the debtor died prior to paying off the loan, the executor of the estate would have to make arrangements to sell goods and property in order to pay off the debt. Saleable items often included furniture, farming implements, land, farm animals and captives. Papers involved in auctions are often times found in files labeled “Estate papers.” Likewise, if a creditor died prior to the complete payment of a loan by the still-living debtor, the executor would make arrangements with the debtor to continue the payments. In most cases, debtors, who had been making payments to a creditor who had died, would make payments to the surviving heirs. Because the settlement of an estate could (and often did) take several years to completely resolve, there were cases where the estate executor died prior to the fulfillment of the terms of the estate he was administering—requiring another executor to manage two estates simultaneously, making the estate settlements very complicated.

Among other things, there are a few rare items in the Knox Family Papers from the Bank of Charlotte, dating from 1857 and 1858. The first of these is the bank’s “condensed statement” which provides information such as the amount of capital it had at the time and who its stock holders were. Another item of interest in this collection is a summons issued by Justice of the Peace W. M. Porter to Fanny Winget (or Windget) for her to appear in court to identify the father of her illegitimate child. Items such as this indicate how Southern society felt about illegitimacy in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Since almost all of the Knoxes and their extended relations were farmers, they relied heavily on the labor of enslaved people to work their farms and plantations. There are several items in this collection referring to enslaved people, and in most cases identifying them by name. An appendix of the names of enslaved individuals is provided in this inventory.


  • 1762 - 1945
  • 1840 - 1930


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

The papers of many different people in the Knox and related families appear in this collection. Some of the people whose names appear in this collection are documented sufficiently that brief biographical statements can be made about them.

These are: Dr. D.R. Dunlap: Dr. David R. Dunlap was born in Anson County, NC in 1777, and migrated to Mecklenburg County early in the nineteenth century. He practiced medicine for many years, and developed a fine reputation. In addition to his medical practice, he also served as the clerk and master of the Court of Equity in Mecklenburg County. Dr. Dunlap married a Miss Jenkins, but this marriage was short-lived, as she died about a year later. Then Dunlap married her sister—a practice not accepted by the Presbyterian Church. Being cast out from the Presbyterian Church, Dunlap was one of the charter members of the new Methodist Church in Charlotte. After the death of his second wife he married Polly Lowrie. By the middle of the nineteenth century, Elizabeth B. Lowrie, Margaret A. Lowrie and Mrs. Margaret Jones were all living in the Dunlap household. The 1850 census indicates that he had an estate valued at $5700 at that time.

James B. Knox: James B. Knox was the third child of James Knox and Hannah McFalls Knox and was born in Steele Creek Township, Mecklenburg County in 1803. As an adult, he became a lawyer and served as the executor of several estates, including those of his parents and other family members. He married Ann Graham Price on August 31, 1842.

Samuel B. Knox: Samuel Buie Knox was the eldest child of James and Hannah Knox. He first married Cynthia Pettus (his second cousin), of York, South Carolina in 1825. This marriage was short-lived, as Cynthia died in childbirth the following year, and she and her child were buried in the family cemetery in 1826. Knox remarried in 1836 to Ann Sloan Lowrie, a widow with two children—Robert B. Lowrie and Samuel J. Lowrie (both of whom served in the Civil War). According to his will, at the time of his death, he owned hundreds of acres of land and was a man of considerable wealth.

William Harrison Knox: William H. Knox, born in April of 1844, was the fourth child of Samuel B. Knox and Ann Sloan Lowrie Knox. He served in Company H of the 11th North Carolina Volunteers during the Civil War, and was wounded, but never fully recovered from his injury. Like his elder brother, James, he never married. After his death in 1919 he was buried in the cemetery of the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church.

Samuel J. Lowrie: Samuel J. Lowrie was a lawyer who lived in Charlotte in the mid-nineteenth century. He seemed to have been a fairly prominent member of the Charlotte and Steele Creek community, and he also traveled to such places as New York City and Philadelphia, writing home about his travels. In some of his letters he sometimes referred to “Aunt E” who was probably Elizabeth Lowrie. A leave-of-absence form, dated August 19, 1861, that bears his signature indicates that he served as a first lieutenant in Company C of an artillery battery during the Civil War. Lowrie is listed in the 1850 census when he was nineteen years old.

Charles June Porter: We know quite a bit about June Porter by the volume of written material he left behind. His name is a source of conjecture because though he seems to have referred to himself most often as “June” other documents identify him as Charles J. Porter, or J.C. Porter or June C. Porter. June married Annie Knox and with her had several children: Margaret Agnes, Mary Lee, Charles June, Junior, and Ruth. There is a large quantity of papers documenting the purchase of real estate in Charlotte in 1927. What we know of their children is that at least one of them, Margaret, went on to higher education, matriculating through the Appalachian State Teachers College.


0.8 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Knox family papers are a small collection generated by the Knox and related families (including the Dunlap, Lowrie, and Porter families) documenting much of their daily activities, mostly from the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. Most of the papers in this collection are letters to and from family members, promissory notes that document short-term loans between friends and family members, papers concerning the settlement of estates of deceased people, the enslavement of individuals and events during the Civil War.


The collection contains five series, three of which are further divided into subseries. The five series are: Knox Family, Lowrie Family, Porter Family, Spratt Family and Assorted Materials. There are also (Genealogical Notes and Dunlap Family) that do not belong to any series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Obtained from Linda Blackwelder in 2008.

Available Online

The Knox Family papers have been digitized and are available online:

Processing Information

The collection was processed in 2008 by Robert McInnes.

Knox 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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