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Ashe Family Papers

Identifier: SC-MS-320

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the biographical documents, familiy histories, diaries, works of poetry, genealogical lists, and photographs of the Ashe family of North Carolina. Most of the materials in this collection consist of photocopies or typed transcripts, but it does contain original diaries, letters, and photographs.

The original diaries were written by Henrietta Perkins and Sarah Anne Ashe during the late 1840s and early 1850s. Sarah's diary focused on the tragedies of travelling during the era. Fannie Waddell's diary is a photocopy of the original, while Rosa Ashe Hill's diary is only a transcript. Both diaries were written during the 1860s and mention the impacts the Civil War had on their personal lives.

Included are photocopies of John Ashe Sr.'s original will and a transcript of John Ashe Jr.'s will. In addition, there is information about the Cape Fear area during the early to mid 1700s, when the Ashe family came to the region. There are douments describing the land owned by the Ashe family and maps of the surrounding plantations.

The collection also features works depicting the significance of the Ashe family in North Carolina. There are newspaper and magazine articles discussing the achievements of individual family members and their contribution to public service, as well as a VHS film about the Bayard v. Singleton case.


  • Creation: 1672-2003, undated
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1852-1887

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

The Ashes were a prominent family in eighteenth and nineteenth century North Carolina. Samuel Ashe served as Governor of North Carolina from 1795 to 1798, and he helped draft the state's first Constitution. He was the presiding judge over the Bayard v. Singleton case in 1787, which has stood as legal precedent for determining if laws are unconstitutional in North Carolina and the United States. Samuel Ashe was also on the Board of Trustees that founded the University of North Carolina. He was born in Beaufort, North Carolina and lived in Pender County. He was the son of Elizabeth Swann and John Baptista Ashe, who served in the local assemblies and as public treasurer in New Hanover County.

Samuel A'Court Ashe, born in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina in 1840, was a Confederate infantry captain, historian, and state legislator. Prior to his death in 1938, he was the last surviving commissioned officer of the Confederacy. He is the son of William Sheppard Ashe, who was the director of the Transportion Department for the Confederacy during the Civil War. His duties were to manage the railroads that transported supplies to troops and military stores.

The Ashe family has contributed to the public service of North Carolina for centuries, and these efforts were documented by the Ashe women through their written diaries and letters during the mid-nineteenth century. Sarah Anne Ashe was married to William Sheppard Ashe in 1836. Rosa Hill Ashe was William's sister-in-law, and she lived with him and his family for a brief period of time when her husband Thomas Henry Ashe died in 1859. During the Civil War, she lived with her mother and half-sister Fannie Waddell in Petersburg, Virginia.


1.8 Linear Feet (Contains 2 document boxes, 1 oversize box.)

Language of Materials



The arrangement of the Ashe Family Papers Collection is in three main series: Ashe Family History, Personal Papers, and Background on the Cape Fear. Within the series, the papers are arranged by date if applicable. The remaining items in the collection are also arranged by date.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by William Ashe Bason on May 13, 2009.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kensi Laube in Fall 2019.

Ashe Family Papers
Kensi Laube
2019 October 28
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository