Lenoir Family Papers 1770-1969
The Lenoir Family Papers is a very large and diverse collection of documents by General William Lenoir (1771-1839) and members of his family. The papers themselves cover 1770-1969). General Lenoir was a Revolutionary War Patriot was a major player at the Battle of King Mountain. The Battle was a major victory for the Colonies and made it evident to the British that the American colonists in the South would not back the British.
Following the War, General Lenoir was a resident of Wilkes County, NC. Formation of counties places his preserved historic home Ft. Defiance is in present-day Caldwell County. General Lenoir served as Wilkes Clerk of Court and served in the legislature. Active in Whig Party politics, he was asked to run for Governor three times but declined. A detailed biography is available in the Notables section below.
The original paper document consisting of over 13,200 items covering the period 1770-1969 and are housed at the Southern Historical Collection at The Louis H. Round Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina. These documents are available at various locations on 34 rolls of microfilm. Mr. Isaac “Ike” Forester donated a copy to Ft. Defiance.
• This copy is available in the Local History Room in the Lenoir Branch of the Caldwell County, 120 Hospital Avenue NW, Lenoir, NC 28645.
• A copy is also available by appointment in the Genealogy Society Room at the Wilkes County Public Library, 215 10th St, North Wilkesboro, NC 28659
This website is organized into two sections:
(1) A keyword-searchable description of the original documents contained on each reel of film. UNC developed the index. The Barnes-Oxford Genealogy Research Foundation, Inc. a tax-exempt 501(c)3 with Mr. Forester’s assistance, made some minor modifications to make the index more usable.
(2) The Foundation is preparing biographies of the more notable individuals discussed or writing documents in the collection.
The remainder of this section and the index are the sole works of staff at the Southern Historical Collection. Several volunteer contributors are preparing the Notables section.
In addition to General Lenoir, some of the other individuals featured in the papers are Lenoir’s friend and father in law of two of Lenoir’s sons Waightstill Avery, lawyer, legislator, and signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration; and his son in law Israel Pickens, N.C. congressman, 1811-1817, governor of Alabama, 1821-1825, and U.S. senator from Alabama, 1826. Also important are William Lenoir’s children, especially William Ballard Lenoir of Roane County, Tenn.; Thomas and his wife Selina Louisa Avery Lenoir of Fort Defiance; and Walter Raleigh Lenoir of Boone County, Mo. Much material relates to Thomas and Selina’s children, especially William Avery Lenoir; Sarah (Sade) Jones Lenoir of Fort Defiance; Walter Waightstill, a lawyer in Lenoir, N.C., and his wife Cornelia Isabella Christian Lenoir; Thomas Isaac and his wife Mary Elizabeth (Lizzie) Garrett Lenoir of the family plantation at East Fork of Pigeon, Haywood County, N.C.; Rufus Theodore and his wife Sarah Leonora (Sallie) Gwyn Lenoir of Fort Defiance; son in law Joseph Caldwell Norwood, a teacher in Hillsborough, N.C.; and cousin William Bingham of the Bingham School in Orange County, N.C.
There is also material relating to the children of Rufus and Sallie, including Thomas Ballard of Fort Defiance; Rufus Theodore, Jr., of Athens, Ga., and his wife Clyde Lyndon Lenoir; and to members of the related Avery, Norwood, and Pickens families. Correspondence chiefly centers on General William Lenoir of Fort Defiance, Caldwell County, N.C., and his children, especially William Ballard Lenoir of Roane County, Tenn.; Thomas and his wife Selina Louisa Avery Lenoir of Fort Defiance; Walter Raleigh Lenoir of Boone County, Mo.; and son in law Israel Pickens, N.C. congressman, 1811-1817, governor of Alabama, 1821-1825, and U.S. senator from Alabama, 1826. There is also correspondence of members of the Avery, Norwood, and Pickens families.
Abstract 1.1.a: Letters relating to politics begin in the 1790s and are chiefly from or to William Lenoir at Fort Defiance. Local and state political topics include Whig politics; lottery ticket sales in support of the University of North Carolina; William Lenoir’s militia activities in 1812; internal improvements, especially lobbying for roads and railroads; and political ambitions of various family members. National politics was discussed by William Lenoir’s congressional friends in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., including N.C. congressman Lewis Williams. Topics include Revolutionary War pensions; banking and international trade issues; the containment of slavery; Thomas Jefferson and his political opponents; Israel Pickens’s career as a member of Congress during the War of 1812 and as Alabama governor; and distaste for Andrew Jackson.
Abstract 1.1.b: Business letters relate chiefly to plantation management, including buying, selling, and supervising slaves; land speculation chiefly in North Carolina and Tennessee; and William Lenoir’s unsuccessful attempt to retain lands confiscated from Moravians after the Revolutionary War. Family letters express the hopes and aspirations of family members relating to mates, children, careers, and living conditions. Much correspondence relates to the lives of the women of the family. Letters discuss births, marriages, and deaths; the education of male and female family members, chiefly at the Bingham School, Salem Academy, and the University of North Carolina; health issues, especially relating to Waightstill Avery, lawyer, legislator, and signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration; feelings towards slavery; and William Lenoir’s exploits at the Battle of King’s Mountain.