Skinner family papers, 1705-1900.

Creator: Skinner family.
Collection number: 669
View finding aid.

Abstract: Family members included Maria Lowther Skinner (1786-1824), her husband, Joseph Blount Skinner (1781-1851), and their children–Tristrim Lowther Skinner (1820-1862) and Penelope Skinner Warren (1824-1841). Joseph Blount Skinner of Edenton, N.C., owned several plantations in Bertie, Perquimans, and Chowan counties and served in the North Carolina House of Commons in 1807 and 1814. After 1840, Tristrim Lowther Skinner managed his father’s plantations; served in the N.C. general assembly, 1846-1848; was a captain, 1st North Carolina Infantry Regiment, C.S.A. He married Eliza Fisk Harwood Skinner (1827-1888) of Williamsburg, Va., in 1849. Chiefly family correspondence. Women wrote about their education and reading, courtship and marriage, pregnancy and child care, household and social activities, and political opinions, especially about the War of 1812. Of special interest are letters documenting the relationship of brother and sister, Tristrim Skinner and Penelope Skinner Warren, and Penelope’s 1840 pregnancy. Other letters describe trips to spas in North Carolina and elsewhere. Letters written by school-aged children show differences between male and female education. Letters of several male family members document their experiences at the College of William and Mary and at the University of North Carolina, 1813-1814. Correspondence, journals, and other papers document plantation management, including information about slaves, work routines, crops, and agricultural reform. Other subjects include North Carolina and Whig Party politics; life in the Confederate Army; life on the Confederate homefront; and social conditions in Edenton and Hillsborough, N.C., and Williamsburg and Norfolk, Va.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Correspondence documents management of the family’s plantations in Edenton, Bertie, Perquimans, and Chowan Counties, North Carolina, discusses problems with slaves and slave management in 1823, 1861, 1863 (Folders 11; 42-47; 52) and the family’s relationship with their slaves, particularly in 1849. Letters of 5 August 1849 and 3 July 1850 show that Tristrim was concerned that Joseph’s health would suffer without the attention of Annie, a slave nurse who tended her patients at Plantation House. A letter of 23 February 1849 shows that when Eliza arrived as Tristrim’s new bride in Edenton she was welcomed by “Annie and Harriet–the two principal members of the household. … After a while the washerwoman was presented–Aunt Eliza”.

Also included are wills that include a deed , dated 11 December 1816, documenting Joseph B. Skinner’s purchase of two town lots in Edenton and the slave Pegg and her two children (Folder 64); journals that contain slave lists that record the names, ages, skills, dates of birth, deaths, sales, and sometimes escapes, of family slaves between1843-1860 and a list of slave “women having children and annual increase” (Folder 68), and a journal kept by Eliza Skinner documenting work done by enslaved women and supposed insolence of enslaved individuals due to the Civil War.