Mitchell Family Papers

ca. 1833-1894. 1 box (73 folders) ca. 350 items.MSS. COLL. #37

NOTE:  The numbers cited in parentheses, e.g. 1:5, refer the researcher to the Series#:Folder# in which that name/topic will be found.


The Mitchell Family Papers consist of documents relating primarily to the business dealings of Joseph and Samuel Mitchell in Guilford County. The collection contains correspondence, receipts, deeds, agreements, literary compositions, and printed materials. Though somewhat small, it details typical business dealings and daily life in 19th century Guilford County. Researchers will find materials relating to sale of slaves, as well as dry goods and services. The legal documents relate to such subjects as guardianship, real estate, and breach of marriage. There are also several letters from out of state friends, which document events outside of North Carolina. Materials pertaining to the Mitchell family itself are limited.

Arrangement: The series are arranged by document type, then alphabetically by subject and/or document type. The series are: Bills & Receipts, 1834-1894; Correspondence, 1835-1881; Documents, ca. 1850; Legal, 1832-1853; Literary, ca. 1850; and Printed Materials, 1854-1890.

Provenance: The provenance of this collection is currently unknown.


The Mitchell family collection relates to the descendants of Adam Mitchell Sr. of Guilford County (then Orange Co.), who purchased land on North Buffalo Creek, a portion of which was sold to found Buffalo Presbyterian Church in 1756.

Joseph and Samuel Mitchell, the great-grandsons of Adam Mitchell, form the core of this small collection, which documents aspects of their life during the 1830s-60s. For a brief mention of the Mitchell family, see S.M. Rankin, Buffalo Church and Her People (p. 26). In brief: Adam Mitchell Sr. gave birth to Adam Mitchell Jr., who gave birth to Adam Mitchell “III” (1776-1841), who gave birth to Joseph and Samuel.


This collection primarily documents the business and legal affairs of Joseph Mitchell, and to a lesser extent his brother Samuel, both of Guilford County. Some of the material concerns William Mitchell (relationship unknown) for whom Joseph served as guardian.

Bills and receipts make up the largest series and offer information about goods and services during the period. Of particular note are documents concerning: blacksmithing (1:1), tailoring (1:5), house building & lumber (1:7, 1:10), medicine (1:12), midwifery (1:15), Porter business (1:16-17), schooling (1:20), shoes & socks (1:22), and tobacco sales (1:27).

Interesting documents from the 1830s concern the support of illegitimate children, apparently fathered by Joseph Mitchell (1:25, 4:6). Additional financial and legal materials from the 1830s-50s relate to African Americans (1:23, 4:14-15).

Correspondence, dating from 1835-1881, although not voluminous, contains interesting letters from friends writing from various places: Arkansas (2:9); Georgia (2:9); Greensboro (2:3, 2:5, 2:7); Kernersville (2:7, 2:10); Missouri (2:2); New Orleans (2:6); Reidsville (2:1). Two of the letters (2:5, 2:10) include artwork.

Miscellaneous materials include: two Masonic Lodge #76 items, including a 1855 membership request (3:3) and a 1854 printed invitation; an 1842 property rental agreement in Greensboro (4:3); 1853-54 N.C. Railroad Co. stock receipts (1:14); 1890s National Bank of Greensboro checks (1:19); an 1890 broadside calling a meeting of the Justices of the Peace and Guilford Co. Commissioners to levy taxes and elect commissioners (6:1); and an 1861 Kernersville High School report for S.A. Mitchell.


1.  Bills and Receipts.  30 folders (ca. 50 items). 1834-1894.

This series pertains primarily to the business dealings of Joseph Mitchell. The receipts pertain to a wide range of payments, from blacksmithing services to school tuition. The blacksmithing receipts document the making of shovels, pitchforks, lynch pins, and wagon tires (1:1). Several receipts document the sale of dry goods & foodstuffs, such as calico, shoes, spool cartons, gall molasses, and eggs (1:4). There is also a receipt for tuition at Kernersville High School (1:6) and for the support of illegitimate children, possibly Joseph Mitchell’s (1:25).

2.  Correspondence.  10 folders (10 items). 1835-1881.

This series, though limited in scope, contains several professional letters and correspondence from friends and family who were traveling. Slave sales are discussed in a brief note from Ralph Gorrell to Joseph Mitchell (2:1) and a letter from Samuel to Joseph Mitchell (2:6). Another letter concerns a J. Wharton resigning his teaching position due to poor health (2:8).

There are also several letters from family members and friends who traveled to different states. The letters of J. Whittington describe the people and environs of New Bern (NC), Georgia, and Arkansas (2:8). A letter to Martha Mitchell contains a folksy drawing of a man and woman (2:5).

3.  Documents.  6 folders (8 items). ca. 1850.

The materials in this series are miscellaneous and sparse. Among the more interesting items is a membership request for a Masonic Lodge (3:3), military procedures (3:5), and a drawing and other information about property belonging to Robert and George Rankin (3:6).

4.  Legal.  17 folders (ca. 30 items). 1832-1853.

This series contains a variety of documents pertaining to the affairs of the Mitchell family. Materials relating to slavery include a bond hiring a Negro girl (4:4) and petitions for a slave sale order (4:14). Documents relating to real and personal property include the estate papers of Samuel Mitchell (4:10), deeds (4:7-9), and several wills of Adam Mitchell (4:16). Of particular interest is a breach of marriage suit brought by Sally Kirkman against Joseph Mitchell (4:6).

5.  Literary.  3 folders (3 items). ca. 1850.

The items in this series are primarily school-related and most likely written by Samuel Mitchell. Included are school compositions on love and the miseries of idleness (5:1), a short musical composition (5:2), and a series of verse (5:3).

6.  Printed Materials.  4 folders (4 items). 1854-1890.

This series contains miscellaneous items relating to either Joseph or Samuel Mitchell. There is one general announcement of an 1890 meeting of the Commissioners and Justices by J.W. Causey, Clerk of County Commissioners (6:1). Also included is a promissory note from Joseph Mitchell to pay the Greensboro Mutual Life Insurance and Trust Co. (6:2), a report card for S.A. Mitchell from Kernersville High School in 1861 (6:3), and an 1854 invitation to the Masonic Lodge in Greensboro (6:4).


11Bills/Receipts-- Blacksmithing (1835-58)
*Michael Brown, Rodney K. Hendrich, W.M. Landreth, James McIver, W. Sides
2-- Buffalo Presbyterian Church (1849-56)
3-- Gillespie, C.A. (1848)
4-- Gilmer, Wm. S. & Son (1848-56)
5Bills/Receipts-- Joller, James F. (1849-50)
*re. Tailoring
6-- Kernersville High School (1859)
7-- Lewis, Levi, 1853 (re. house shingles)
8-- Lindsay, Jesse H. (1834-56)
9Bills/Receipts-- Logan, John M. (1847-48)
10-- Lumber/Timber (n.d.)
11-- McConnel, W. J. (1851-55)
12-- Medical (1846)
13Bills/Receipts-- Mt. Pisgah Church
* Yates, C[harles] G.
14-- N.C. Railroad Co. (1853-54)
*Receipt for shares of stock
15-- Parish, Phebe (1849) re. Midwifery
16-- Porter, Algernon Sydney (1855)
17Bills/Receipts-- Porter, William C. (1837)
18-- Rankin & McClean (1846-56)
19-- Rich, George W. (& family) (1856-94)
*Tax bills; National Bank of Greensboro (checks)
20-- School Payments (1868-69)
*M.A. McLean
21Bills/Receipts-- Scott & McAdoo (1847-48)
22-- Shive, J. W. (1854-55)
*re. shoes/socks
23-- Slaves (1854)
*Advertising fee, with Greensboro Patriot
24-- Sloan, J. & R. (1853)
25Bills/Receipts-- Support for Illegitimate Children (1833-36)
*payments by Jos. Mitchell
26-- Tax Receipts (1832-52)
27-- Tobacco Sales (1855)
28-- Weatherly, A. (1855-59)
29Bills/Receipts-- Wharton, E. P. (1894)
*Worth-Wharton Real Estate
30-- Winbourne & Whitty (1856)
21Correspondence-- [Cunningham], N.H. (1881)
2-- Donnell, Robert W. (to Sam. Mitchell,1839)
3-- Gilmer, Robert (to Jos. Mitchell, 1835)
4-- Gorrell, Ralph (to Jos. Mitchell, 1849)
*re. Sale of slave
5Correspondence-- Mitchell, Martha
6-- Mitchell, Samuel (to Jos. Mitchell, 1837, 1839)
7-- Unidentified (1842-72)
8-- Wharton, J. (to Mr. Mitchell, n.d.)
*re. Resigning from teaching assignment
9Correspondence-- Whittington, T.M. (1852-60)
10-- Young, Emily C. (to Sam Mitchell, 1860)
31Documents-- Election Results (n.d.)
2-- List of children (n.d.)
3-- Masonic Lodge -- Membership request (1855)
4Documents-- Medical recipe (n.d.)
5-- Military procedures (n.d.; 19th cent.)
6-- Rankin Property
*Robert & George Rankin
41Legal-- Agreements -- Clark, David (1856)
*land rental agreement with Jos. Mitchell
2-- Agreements -- Donnell, Nancy & Wm. Fike (1841)
3-- Agreements -- Harvey, Isaac (1842)
*rent of a lot in Greensboro
4-- Bond -- Hire of Negro girl, Jane (1853; 1855)
5Legal-- Bond -- Kirkpatrick, Samuel (1843)
6-- Breach of Marriage Suit -- Sally Kirkman vs. Jos. Mitchell (1832-1835)
*Thomas Caldwell
7-- Deeds -- Dillen, Andrew to Adam Mitchell (1831)
8-- Deeds -- Mitchell, Samuel (1836)
*Lot in Greensboro
9Legal-- Deeds -- Cobb, H.W. (1890)
10-- Estate Papers -- McNeely, James (1845-53)
11-- Estate Papers -- Mitchell, Samuel (1837)
12-- Guardianship -- Mitchell, William
13Legal-- Mortgages -- Isabella Kelly (1853)
14-- Petitions -- Slave Sale Order (1849)
15-- Promissory Note -- Clothing/Support of Rufus & Jane Unthank (1842)
16-- Wills -- Mitchell, Adam (1835; 1838; 1840)
17Legal-- Writs (1843-44; 1848)
51Literary-- Mitchell, Samuel (school compositions)
2-- Musical composition (n.d.)
3-- Verse
61Printed-- Commissioners & Justices Meeting (Greensboro, 1890)
*J. W. Causey, Clerk of County Commissioners
2-- Greensboro Mutual Life Insurance & Trust Co.
3-- Kernersville High School (1861)
*Report, for Samuel A. Mitchell
4-- Masonic Lodge Invitation (Greensboro,1854)

Index to the Mitchell Family Papers
(ca. 1833-1894)

Note: The numbers following the name/subject entry — e.g., 1:1 — Series#:Folder# (or, if no “:”, Series only) that name/topic can found.

Arkansas: letters from, 2:9

Banks: National Bank of Greensboro, 1:19
Blacksmithing: 1:1
Brown, Michael (blacksmith): 1:1
Buffalo Presbyterian Church: 1:2

Caldwell, Thomas: 4:6
Causey, J. W.: 6:1
Churches: Buffalo Presbyterian Church, 1:2; Mt. Pisgah Church, 1:13
Clark, David: land rental agreement, 4:1
Cobb, H.W.: 4:9
Cunningham, N. H.: 2:1

Dillen, Andrew: deed, 4:7
Donnell, Nancy: 4:2
Donnell, Robert W.: 2:2

Fike, William: 4:2
Freemasons: Lodge #76, 3:3, 6:4

Georgia: letters from, 2:9
Gillespie, C.A.: 1:3
Gilmer, Robert: 2:3
Gilmer, William S. & Son: 1:4
Gorrell, Ralph: 2:4
Greensboro: lot rental, 4:3; property in, 4:8
Greensboro Mutual Life Insurance & Trust Co.: 6:2
Greensboro Patriot: 1:23
Guilford County Commissioners: meeting, 6:1

Harvey, Isaac: 4:3
Hendrich, Rodney K. (blacksmith): 1:1
Houses: lumber, 1:10; shingles: 1:7

Joller, James F.: 1:5

Kelly, Isabella: 4:13
Kernersville High School: 1:6, 6:3; letters from, 2:7, 2:10
Kirkman, Sally: 4:6
Kirkpatrick, Samuel: 4:5

Landreth, W.M. (blacksmith): 1:1
Lewis, Levi: 1:7
Lindsay, Jesse H.: 1:8
Logan, John M.: 1:9

McConnel, W. J.: 1:11
McIver, James (blacksmith): 1:1
McLean, M.A.: 1:20
McNeely, James: 4:10
Medicine: 1:12, 3:4
Military education: 3:5
Missouri: letters from, 2:2
Mitchell, Martha: 2:5
Mt. Pisgah Church: 1:13
Music: compositions, 5:2

National Bank of Greensboro: 1:19
New Orleans: letters from, 2:6
Newspapers: advertising fee for slaves, 1:23
N.C. Railroad Company: 1:14

Parish, Phebe (midwife): 1:15
Politics: election results: 3:1
Porter, Algernon Sydney: 1:16
Porter, William C.: 1:17

Rankin, George: property, 3:6
Rankin, Robert: property, 3:6
Rankin & McClean: 1:18
Reidsville: letters from, 2:1
Rich, George W.: 1:19

Schools: costs, 1:20; teachers, 2:8
Scott & McAdoo: 1:21
Shive, J.W.: 1:22
Sides, W. (blacksmith): 1:1
Slaves & slavery: 1:23, 2:4, 4:4, 4:14-15
Sloan, J. & R.: 1:24

Tailoring: 1:5
Tax Payments: 1:26
Tobacco: sales receipts, 1:27

Unthank, Jane: clothing/support of, 4:15
Unthank, Rufus: clothing/support of, 4:15

Weatherly, A.: 1:28
Wharton, J.: 2:9
Wharton, W.P.: 1:29
Whittington, T.M.: 2:9
Winbourne & Whitty: 1:30
Worth-Wharton Real Estate: 1:29

Yates, Charles G.: 1:13
Young, Emily C.: 2:10