McGibbony/Armfield Family Papers

1763-1953 [bulk 1780-1880]. 1 box (37 folders), ca. 250 items. MSS. COLL. #230

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.


This collection consists primarily of correspondence, financial and legal documents, and printed materials relating to the McGibbony and Armfield families. Both families settled in Guilford County in the 1700s, were farmers, and owned a small number of slaves. Included are personal letters, promissory notes, receipts, slave bills of sale, and property deeds. Researchers interested in Guilford County during the 18th-19th centuries and slavery will find this collection of use.

Arrangement: This collection is organized into five series by document type. The series are: Correspondence, 1796-1922; Financial, 1780-1876; Legal, 1763-1882; Miscellaneous, 1809-1879, n.d.; and Printed Material, ca. 1794-1953.

Provenance: This collection was donated by Christopher Liles in November 2015 and assigned accession number 2015.51.1. The donor acquired these materials through his paternal grandmother, Rachel Hudson Liles, who was the daughter of Lina Armfield and Sam Hudson.

Processing: This collection was organized by volunteer Teddi Burnett in 2016, and the finding aid was prepared by volunteer Olivia Carteaux in October 2017. The arrangement was adjusted and the finding aid was updated by Archivist Elise Allison in early 2020.


John Armfield, a Quaker farmer from northern England, came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1718 with his wife. He moved to what is now southern Guilford County in 1765 with most of his family, except his three married daughters who stayed in Pennsylvania. John’s oldest son William had seven sons, one of whom was David Armfield (1760-1845).

David Armfield’s third son, Needham (1809-1854), married Margaret Huston, and one of their children, Emsley Alexander (1839-1915), became a clerk for the county court in Monroe, North Carolina. He married Rachel Philpher, and their daughter Lina (1883-1959) then married Sam H. Hudson. David’s youngest son, Emsley (1813-1879), became Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners in Guilford County and married Jane McGibbony (1811-1900). Their daughter Roxana (1854-1926) married Hon. John Lee King. Jane’s father was David McGibbony (1779-1865), and her grandfather was Patrick McGibbony (1744-1804).

The McGibbony family, like the Armfields, were farmers. Both owned small farms and kept 4-10 slaves who worked on their farms and in their homes; documents relating to several of these slaves are found in this collection. Also included are deeds relating to Richard and Samuel Ozment. The Ozments joined the Armfield family in 1866 with the union of Joseph C. Armfield and Elizabeth J. Ozment, but her relation to Richard and Samuel Ozment remains unclear.

Biographical Sources: The early history of the Armfield family was obtained from The History of Guilford County, North Carolina, by Sallie W. Stockard (Knoxville, TN: Gaut-Ogden Co., Printers, 1902). Additional biographical information was found in the collection, on and on The relationships between the key family members represented in these materials are summarized on the family tree in the folder at the beginning of the collection.


This collection consists of correspondence, financial and legal documents, printed materials, and other miscellaneous items relating to or collected by the McGibbony and Armfield families. The bulk of the materials are financial and legal documents, particularly promissory notes, receipts, slave bills of sale, and property deeds. Also included are personal letters and writings, as well as a few newspapers published in Greensboro in the late 19th century.


1. Correspondence.  8 folders (ca. 36 items).  1796-1922.

Included in this series are both business and personal correspondence to and from various members of the McGibbony and Armfield families. Of particular interest are letters to Mrs. John Lee (Roxana) King from Horace J. Smith regarding the recital of Mr. Polk Miller (1:4).

2. Financial.  8 folders (ca. 111 items).  1780-1876.

The financial documents include promissory notes, receipts, and slave bills of sale belonging to and involving members of the McGibbony and Armfield families. Of particular note are slave purchase records from Emsley Armfield (2:2), David McGibbony (2:4), and Patrick McGibbony (2:6). Often these purchases included children and partial families. Also of interest is H.C. Worth’s stock certificate for 500 shares in the Phoenix Mining Company, which is signed by company president Cyrus P. Mendenhall (2:8).

3. Legal.  12 folders (ca. 75 items).  1763-1882.

This series consists primarily of property deeds involving members of the McGibbony and Armfield families, as well as others of unknown relation to these families. Some of these sales were from the State of North Carolina, and most of the land that changed hands was on South Buffalo Creek. Besides members of the McGibbony and Armfield families, people mentioned in the deeds include Arthur Bland, William Macy, Peter and Jeremiah Field, and John and Daniel Gillespie. Some of these deeds likely represent previous transactions for lands that were later purchased by members of the McGibbony or Armfield families.

Among the other legal materials in this series are summons to appear before a Justice of the Peace, judgements to be paid, wills, and papers relating to estates and guardianships. Of particular note is the Supreme Court decision in the case of David Armfield and his wife Betsy against her four sisters; it addressed the inclusion of children and grandchildren in the appraisal of a slave named Beck, who was left to Betsy after the death of her father but whose worth was to be shared between the four sisters (1790s; 3:1). Items relating to David McGibbony include a license to operate a still “for distilling spirits from domestic materials” (1817), an agreement with an attorney hired to make claims on his father’s service in the American Revolution (1834) and two copies of his will (1850; 3:10). The miscellaneous folder contains letterhead from the law office of Levi M. Scott, a blank State of North Carolina militia appointment, and the will of Peter Threewitts of Albemarle Parish, Virginia (1801; 3:12)

4. Miscellaneous.  4 folders (7 items).  1809-1879, n.d.

Miscellaneous items include a handwritten memoriam for Emsley Armfield by the Board of County Commissioners (4:1) and pages from the Armfield family Bible with genealogy (4:2). Also contained in this series are personal writings, including a poem about death and an essay entitled “On Going to School” (4:3).

5. Printed Material.  5 folders (18 items).  ca. 1794-1953.

The printed materials include a map of the new state of Tennessee (ca. 1794; 5:2), as well as newspapers and newspaper clippings. Of particular note is a Commercial Bulletin published in Greensboro with multiple ads for products carried by the Porter & Eckel drugstore and D.W.C. Benbow’s variety stores in Greensboro and Jamestown (1867; 5:5).


11Correspondence-- Armfield, Emsley -- Incoming (1860-1862)
2-- Armfield, E.A. -- Outgoing (1900s)
3-- Hudson, Lina Armfield -- Incoming (ca. 1901-1902)
4-- King, Mrs. John Lee (Roxana) -- Incoming (1894-1922)
5Correspondence-- McGibbony, Patrick -- Outgoing (1796)
6-- Miscellaneous (ca. 1910)
7-- Richmon, Henry -- Outgoing (ca. 1880)
8-- ______, Wilma -- Outgoing (n.d.)
21Financial-- Armfield, Emsley (1846-1876)
2-- Armfield, Emsley -- Slaves (1855-1856)
3-- McGibbony, David (1807-1840)
4-- McGibbony, David -- Slaves (1819-1852)
5Financial-- McGibbony, Patrick (1780-1803)
6-- McGibbony, Patrick -- Slaves (1780-1783)
7-- Miscellaneous (1780-1869)
8-- Phoenix Mining Company (1863)
31Legal-- Armfield, David -- Supreme Court decision (1790s)
2-- Armfield, Emsley (1855-1882)
3-- Deeds -- Armfield, David (1806-1823)
4-- Deeds -- Armfield, Needham (1850)
5Legal-- Deeds -- Armfield, William (1788-1799)
6-- Deeds -- King, George (ca. 1780)
7-- Deeds -- Miscellaneous (1770-1850)
8-- Deeds -- Ozment family (1808-1824)
9Legal-- Macy family (1846-1859, n.d.)
10-- McGibbony, David (1813-1854)
11-- McGibbony, Patrick (1785-1802)
12-- Miscellaneous (1763-1876, n.d.)
41Miscellaneous-- Armfield, Emsley -- In Memoriam (1879)
2-- Genealogy (n.d.)
3-- Literary (1809, n.d.)
4-- Recipe (n.d.)
51Printed Material-- Davidson College (1915)
2-- Map (ca. 1794)
3Printed Material-- Miscellaneous (1888-1907, n.d.)
4-- Newspaper Clippings (1878-1953)
5-- Newspapers (1864-1894)