This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.
This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities; this finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.
|Size||4.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1,200 items)|
|Abstract||The collection of white lawyer and North Carolina Ku Klux Klan leader and organizer, William Laurence Saunders (1835-1891) include his personal papers and his collection of colonial and early state records of North Carolina. His personal papers document his participation in the American Civil War as a colonel in the 46th North Carolina Regiment of the Confederate States of America Army (CSA); his tenure as secretary-treasurer of the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees; and his editorship of the Colonial Records of North Carolina. Known items related to Saunders’ Klan activities and white supremacist ideology are two letters dated 1871 and 1874 about the murders by lynching of African American men near Hillsborough, N.C., and the failure of an amnesty bill for Klan members to pass in the state legislature. Also included are his pocket diaries, correspondence, and bank books. Colonial and early state records of North Carolina that Saunders collected for his historical research include legal papers and contracts; a 1766 petition of members of the Tuscarora people concerning a dispute over and sale of land; a bill of sale for an enslaved girl; letters of William R. Davie and North Carolina governor Thomas J. Jarvis; copies of North Carolina legislative journals and reports of the royal governors; records of the Episcopal School of North Carolina in Raleigh, N.C.; and manuscripts relating to the early history of North Carolina.|
|Creator||Saunders, William Laurence, 1835-1891.|
|Curatorial Unit||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.|
Processed by: SHC Staff
Encoded by: Noah Huffman, December 2007
Updated by: Adam Fielding and Jodi Berkowitz, April 2011; Tierra Thomas and Laura Hart, July 2019; Nancy Kaiser, August 2022
In August 2022, the collection was retitled and description was updated to reflect Saunders role as a collector of colonial and early state records.
This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.
Since August 2017, we have added ethnic and racial identities for individuals and families represented in collections. To determine identity, we rely on self-identification; other information supplied to the repository by collection creators or sources; public records, press accounts, and secondary sources; and contextual information in the collection materials. Omissions of ethnic and racial identities in finding aids created or updated after August 2017 are an indication of insufficient information to make an educated guess or an individual's preference for identity information to be excluded from description. When we have misidentified, please let us know at email@example.com.Back to Top
The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.
Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.
William Laurence Saunders (1835-1891) of North Carolina was a white lawyer; colonel of the 46th North Carolina Regiment, Confederate States of America; editor of the Colonial Records of North Carolina, as well as collector of colonial and early state records of North Carolina; secretary-treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina; and secretary of state of North Carolina, 1879-1891.Back to Top
The collection includes the personal papers of William Laurence Saunders and the colonial and early state records of North Carolina that he collected, chiefly in the course of compiling and editing the Colonial Records of North Carolina. His personal papers include Civil War letters and papers pertaining to his Confederate Army service in North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina, and his participation in the battles for Roanoke Island, 1862, at Fredericksburg, 1862, and at Charleston, 1863; diaries, 1867-1868 and 1879-1881, containing brief entries; bank books; and correspondence relating to his historical research and other activities, including two items pertaining to the Ku Klux Klan.
Colonial and early state records that Saunders collected include legal papers; land grants; deeds; a 1766 petition of members of the Tuscarora people regarding dispute over and sale of land; an 1810 bill of sale for Patty, an enslaved girl; indentures; a document appointing William R. Davie to lieutenant colonel commandant, 1787; letters to General Davie from George Washington regarding the appointment of regional officers from N.C., 1798-1799; contemporary copies of the legislative journals of North Carolina, 1749-1764; copies of reports of the royal governors, 1768-1771; financial and other records of the Episcopal School of North Carolina at Raleigh, N.C., 1833-1837; notes and manuscripts pertaining to the early history of North Carolina collected by Francois-Xavier Martin; two long letters written by former North Carolina governor Thomas J. Jarvis containing his recollections of North Carolina history and politics, 1888; and scattered miscellaneous notes related to state history.Back to Top
Arrangement: Papers are arranged chronologically; volumes are arranged chronologically by topic.
1766: petition concerning a dispute over and sale of land between the Tuscarora people and the Lord Proprietors Deputies of North Carolina. The petition provides a history of the terms and violations of the 1714 treaty and 1748 act, seeks a partial nullification of the 1748 act, and requests compensation through the sale of Tuscarora land to assist with their relocation due to impoverished conditions to a northern area of land (near Mohawk land), which had been held and occupied by Tuscarora for fifty years.
Robert Jones the Attorney General, William Williams of Halifax, and Thomas Pugh of Bertie County were identified as trustees in the sale of the land, and in compensation would each receive a parcel of land from the Tuscarora.
The petition is signed by Billy Taylor, John Wiggins, Billy Howard, Captain Blunt, Jonathan Cain, Billy Sockey, Billy [Netos?], Captain Jo., Billy Hinks, Billy George, Billy Dennis, John Jack, Billy Pugh, John Roggers, Isaac Miller, Tom Whitmell, Captain Basket, Captain Lightwood.
See also Lewis Thompson Papers (folder 1) for an indenture, 23 July 1766, leasing 8000 acres in the Indian Wood, Bertie County, to Robert Jones, William Williams, and Thomas Pugh for 150 years.
|Separated Folder SEP-2658/1|
12 February 1810: bill of sale for Patty, an enslaved girl who was bought in Southampton from John C. Gray by John Drew. The sale was registered in Martin County on 10 January 1814. Patty was later trafficked to another owner, possibly in Halifax, by public sale to satisfy a judgment against Drew.
Includes two letters related to white supremacist terrorism by the Ku Klux Klan for which William Saunders was the chief organizer in North Carolina following the Civil War. In an unsigned letter addressed to Fred Strudwick and dated 27 November 1871, the anonymous author accuses Strudwick of the murders by lynching of African American men near Hillsborough, N.C., and threatens violence against leaders and participants of the lynch mob including Col. Weeks, [Henry Armand?] London, and Saunders. The letter’s author, who states “you hung our race” may have been African American. In a 20 September 1874 letter addressed to Saunders, Joseph C. Webb discusses the results of the recent state election, pleased with the Democratic Party’s gains but disappointed that an amnesty law protecting Ku Klux Klan members did not pass because of dissenters including [Josiah?] Turner who had privately made remarks of “encouragement” to the Klan while denouncing the “Ku Klux and Leagues” in his newspaper.
Includes reports from Governnor Tryon and his correspondence with the assembly and minutes of the council.
Commonplace book with notes by David L. Swain.
Manuscript on North Carolina history by David L. Swain.
|Oversize Volume SV-2658/42||
Letters from insurance companies to Saunders when he was secretary of the state of North Carolina.
Two letters from Jarvis written from Petropolis, Brazil, containing recollections and reflections on North Carolina matters, including politics.
|Extra Oversize Paper Folder XOPF-2658/1|
|Special Format Image SF-P-2658/1|