Item #8238 [North Carolina Unionist letters of the Wheeler-Cox family with Civil War, Reconstruction era, and migration to Indiana, etc. content]. A. A. Wheeler, Peyton A. Cox, Cynthia E. Gordon, E. L. Osborn, Lou S. Wheeler, Lydia Wheeler, Mary Evelyn Cox Wheeler, Melissa J. Wheeler. .
[North Carolina Unionist letters of the Wheeler-Cox family with Civil War, Reconstruction era, and migration to Indiana, etc. content]
[North Carolina Unionist letters of the Wheeler-Cox family with Civil War, Reconstruction era, and migration to Indiana, etc. content]
[North Carolina Unionist letters of the Wheeler-Cox family with Civil War, Reconstruction era, and migration to Indiana, etc. content]
[North Carolina Unionist letters of the Wheeler-Cox family with Civil War, Reconstruction era, and migration to Indiana, etc. content]
[North Carolina Unionist letters of the Wheeler-Cox family with Civil War, Reconstruction era, and migration to Indiana, etc. content]
[North Carolina Unionist letters of the Wheeler-Cox family with Civil War, Reconstruction era, and migration to Indiana, etc. content]
[North Carolina Unionist letters of the Wheeler-Cox family with Civil War, Reconstruction era, and migration to Indiana, etc. content]

Sign up to receive email notices of recent acquisitions.

[North Carolina Unionist letters of the Wheeler-Cox family with Civil War, Reconstruction era, and migration to Indiana, etc. content]

[Amo, Danville, Hadley, Westminster, and Springtown, Indiana; Winston, Forsyth County, North Carolina; Nansemond County, Virginia, 1864–1879.]. 20 letters, 64 pp. In ink. 2 original envelopes included. 1 letter cross-written. A handful of letters are not signed. CONDITION: Good overall, damp-stains and chewing to several letters, with loss of a few words.

A fascinating collection of letters sent between members of the Cox and Wheeler families of North Carolina, featuring unusual content on the Unionist refugee scene in Indiana and including Quaker, Civil War, and Reconstruction era content.

The community of North Carolina Unionists in the North either left the state before the Civil War or arrived as refugees during the war. Most had lived in the so-called Quaker Belt, a swath extending across a number of Piedmont counties. The two principal families involved in the correspondence offered here, the Coxes and Wheelers, were noted Quaker families from Guilford County.

Married to Lydia Wheeler and the father of Mary Evelyn Wheeler Cox, A. A. Wheeler wrote eleven of the present letters (some of which are not signed), nine to Peyton and Mary Cox and two to his wife. Wheeler was a refugee who arrived in Indiana from central North Carolina in 1864. One of the earliest letters in this archive, dated 9 Oct. 1864, sees Lydia and A. A. cross the line during the Civil War. In a letter written a little over a month later (on 20 Nov. 1864), he describes their time in Virginia before they make their way to Maryland. Upon reaching Baltimore, Maryland, Wheeler is told he cannot leave the state with the Black woman Amy who accompanied him without first obtaining a passport, but they are able to obtain train tickets from a friend and proceed anyway. 

A. A. Wheeler is known to have reached Indiana via the trails of the underground Unionist network apparently in company with Dr. John Lewis Johnson (1818–1900), whose career in the rebel army ended when he was taken prisoner. Johnson was a founder and leader of the pro-Union secret society known as the Heroes of America (or “Red Strings”) during the Civil War, whose purpose was to protect its members from Confederate authorities. The society remained active during the Reconstruction, offering protection to Unionists from hostile ex-Confederates. On Johnson’s return to North Carolina after his capture he led a drive to expand the reach of Heroes of America from the counties of its origin to other parts of North Carolina and to neighboring states. Jesse Wheeler (who is mentioned in one of the present letters, dated 6 Apr. 1865) is recorded as stating that Johnson “has been active in forming leagues among the Union men of the South for mutual cooperation and support,” his efforts said to be “systematic and attended with considerable success.” Jesse Wheeler was a Unionist and native of Guilford County who fled the state in 1861 and lived in exile in Indiana during the war after being tried for helping Rev. Daniel Worth circulate copies of Hinton Rowan Helper's The Impending Crisis of the South in central North Carolina.

Before the Civil War, Peyton Alexander Cox (1827–1895), the author of one of these letters, was a teacher. When North Carolina seceded from the Union, he enlisted in the 52nd North Carolina, Company K. He was assigned duty as a nurse and by mid-September 1863 was detailed to Wilson Confederate Hospital, where he was made a Ward Master of the surgical unit. Cox served under Dr. Solomon Sampson Satchwell, and in a known letter written in October 1863 (not included in this lot), Cox details the patients in his care which included Gettysburg casualties. In one of the present letters Melissa J. Wheeler encourages Peyton with the prospect of practicing medicine in Springtown, Indiana, which she says is “thickly settled.” After the war, Cox is known to have farmed and practiced dentistry on the side in North Carolina. Peyton and Mary Evelyn Cox (née Wheeler, 1841–1936) were married on 21 Sept. 1864. It is unclear if the Coxes ever reached Indiana.


A. A. Wheeler; Nansemond County, Virginia; 9 Oct. 1864 “Respected children… We have got along first rate so far although some of them this side of the line seems to want to skin [us] alive if possible but we have been treated with gentility only … We saw some of the fruits of the war. They burned the place with a lot of bacon. Crops are very poor[?] until we got some 25 miles below Weldon. Yes if there is any smart to the world it must be Weldon. We staid over there all night in the hall on the floor with the door open and just sprawled down in the floor. We are tormented at every shift with a military ignoramus taping on the shoulder. Passport yes… We have a room in an unoccupied house belonging to Jonathan E. Cox. If the weather permits we shall go to work for one day to curtail expenses.”  

[A. A. Wheeler]; Springtown, Indiana; 20 Nov. 1864 “We will inform you that we have bought a farm at $45 dollars per acre, it contains 80 ½ acres with a good new barn…We are twenty-five miles west of Indianapolis [and] one mile north of the railroad at Amo Depot…We are surrounded by N. Carolinians. There has been several come through the lines since we left the south. There was ninety out of one hundred and twenty-four came the way of our neighbors and acquaintances that left about a week after we did. Bill Haney[?], [Hon?] Johnson, Daniel Pitts.”

“Thursday morning after we left home for the Union lines where we arrived about ½ after one O’clock and were escorted in the lines by the pickets and was treated with the greatest civility by the officers and men and was guarded by an orderly to Portsmouth [VA] 17 miles on the railroad we were lodged in Portsmouth in the Sanitary Commission for the night. It was superintended by an old friend by the name of John Alecocke[?]. He gave all handkerchiefs…We was carried around Portsmouth awhile and then took to Norfolk and took before the general and examiner and sent before the Provost Marshall and took the Oath of Allegiance. They gave us a pass and put us aboard the Gargi[?] and for Baltimore. We touched at Fortress Monroe and got a newspaper and set sail for Baltimore up the bay…Just at daylight we came to Baltimore where there was a little more trouble in store but it was of short duration. I was told I cannot leave Maryland with the Black woman Amy without a passport so I cut out to the Provost Marshall’s office 1 ½ miles off and when I arrived I was told that I could not get a passport till 9 O’clock … I was in a fix so I went back to the depot & stated my case to a friend B. K. Peleg. He said he would fix us up. He was passenger agent for that Point so he would get us tickets which he did and seen us and baggage.” 

A. A. Wheeler; Springtown, Indiana; 22 Nov. 1864 “Alueran[?] Hainey volunteered in the [rebel] Army and is dead. Jasper saw him at Indianapolis he requested Jasp. to write to his father & let him know where he was so they may give them the intelligence.”

[Unknown writer;] Flat Branches, Forsythe Co., North Carolina; 1 Feb. 1865 “Mr. J. Watson had meat and lard to sell, but won't take Confederate money. I do not know whether he will take bank money or not."

A. A. Wheeler; Springtown, Indiana; 4 June 1865 “It will be some satisfaction for all that Jesse Wheeler will be in N.C. in a few days to see to affairs and I want you to have my book & papers in order so that he may bring them to me in case you do not come soon…[P.S.] Let Jesse Wheeler have Harper Johnson’s receipt on Farrrington & Hiatt & Jonas Henderson also my receipt from McAdam for costs of Confederacy.”

Melissa J. Wheeler; Springtown, Indiana; 24 June 1865 “We have received three letters from William Cox. I will put two of them in for you. Pate [i.e., Peyton] is trying to get him out of prison he will do everything he can to get him out.”

Melissa J. Wheeler; Springtown, Indiana; 10 Aug. 1865 “Pate [i.e., Peyton] if you want to practice medicine this is the place. It is thickly settled and they are able to pay & if you want to farm pap has land enough for you and him too. Mother wants you to get a lot of onion seeds for her.”

“P[eyton]. A. C[ox]”; Winston, NC; 24 June 1866 “Breadstuffs have been very scarce and dear. Corn…hard to get and no money to buy it…Sugar 15 to 20 cts, Calico 15 to 25 cts.… Everything has a downward tendency but bread & taxes. Money seems to grow scarcer, no source of income & all [?]. The high Federal Tax has stopped all our trade that was a source of income to this section of the State. Our state convention will adjourn tomorrow the 25th inst.… [We] will elect members to Congress…but I see no use of it, they can’t get a hearing with the Radicals who hold the power. So for me I had just as soon live out the Union as wish them in the Union & they in power…You ask if I am going to move west soon. I would if i could, but doubt see[ing] how I can now, without leaving an aged mother [aged 71] here alone & dependent sister also…When I can I want to leave this country, but not to stay in Indiana…Good land will be my object when I move…I never saw the people work harder & steadier than they now do & have done since the war…Uncle Manlove Wheeler has gone somewhere in Indiana.”

[A. A. Wheeler]; Amo, Indiana; 6 Jan. 1867 “Me and mother has been up to Hancock Rush & Henry Counties on a visit. We was gone twelve days & a half and had quite a fine time of it while we was out. We will give you a short journal of our trip while out…Attended Quarterly meeting at Walnut Ridge…it is composed of what we call fast line Quakers or people that press the doctrine of repentance and conversion with as great a zeal as ever the Methodists did.” 

E. L. Osborn; Amo, Indiana; 18 Apr. 1867 “Gordon has bought a house and ½ acre lot in Coatesville & rented 1 acre he is going to garden & trade for a living. I know nothing of his trading only that he made 18 hare[?] trades in fur necks & has owned a good many since that… There has been three cases of consumption. One young woman died & two young [individuals] are not expected to live…Father has got one of the greatest washing machines ever was cost $10 & any child that can churn can wash on it. It will wash without any ware more to the clothes than our old way of pounding any common cloth.”

A. A. Wheeler; Amo, Indiana; 21 July 1867 “There is two or three families that lives by stealing chickens & spectacles, mother had a pair. The spec. pedlar gave her for staying with us worth three dollars & gift cents which disappeared on [the] third day after she got them. … The valley of VA no doubt is a fine country but I presume land is high there. I think it [is] the garden spot of America…Mary knows Uncle George…undertook to winter 137 head of sheep on the [?] of Nebraska and over 100 died.”

A. A. Wheeler; Indiana; 21 July 1867 “As to the Negro question, I think if they push it along, we will become about as stabile a government as Mexico. I am willing the negro be free and be protected in his life and property but I want the machinery of government run by white men and the Negro colonized to form themselves a government if they must govern at all let them govern themselves you had better leave N.C. [North Carolina] and come here, from under the rule of military, General Sickles will certainly render himself [?]. I think the party in power will lose the reins if not very cautious, but I object to it going back to the Democrats as they are in fault for all our suffering in part scenes[?] and as for whipping white men & negroes I think it wholesome for the community there is none of it here. We have two state prisons and a third one under contract. It is a matter impossible to hang a man for murder here…I think there is more meanness where there is penitentiarys [sic] than where there is none.”

Lou S. Wheeler; Amo, Indiana; 2 June 1868 “It was one of these big meetings…there was a large turnout there is meeting at Amo every Sunday. There was a Sabbath school convention at Danville last Sunday. There was a great many there.”

A. A. Wheeler; Amo, Indiana; 28 Oct. 1870 “I am on a trek for a mill not far from here if I purchase I shall move it to the new rail road two miles north of here to a place called Hadley [Indiana], a good site for a mill. The price is one thousand dollars, the half of the property sold for 16 hundred 3 years ago.”

A. A. & Lydia Wheeler; Hadley, Indiana; 5 Apr. 1876 “[The snow] was 2 feet deep in parts of Ill. so much as to stop some of the trains but our fruit is not all killed yet. The report among nurserymen is that there is plenty yet we fear that your wheat crop is very much injured. Our wheat markets are high & low. The last year’s crop of Ind[iana]. rules from 60 to 1.15 per bush according to quality. We send to Michigan for wheat to make good flour…Labor is high especially in crop time…G. W. Macy of Cloud County Kansas…he has had [an] unlucky fire & otherwise loss to the amount of $1800.00, has to sell 160 acres of land to fix up… [He] has turned Quaker, is Justice of the Peace, Head Granger of Cloud County, President of the Agricultural Board, post master &c…We have got our Meeting House done at Hadley…We have had quite a revival here in this country[.] Among friends we have seen the Mausners[?] bench in some of our meetings and heard the shouts of praise go up in the congregation…There was a revival at Danville our county seat last winter which caused a move for a church there. Quakers are carrying the day at this time in the west…There is a great deal of sickness in the country and many deaths…mostly Typhoid fever.”

[A. A. Wheeler]; Hadley, Indiana; 5 Feb. 1879 “[I] waited for Eunice Hodson to write to Rockville to the Leonarrd woman it was her that cured Eunice of the complaint that troubles Mary. The woman lives at Rockville…her husband wrote that she was doctoring all the time. Takes in some patients at home. Eunice says she thinks it advisable for Mary to come. She cured her and charged her $15.00…It was other diseases that the Indianapolis doctor cured Eunice of.”

A rich sheaf of letters documenting in detail the experiences of Unionist North Carolinians, some of whom migrated to Indiana during and after the Civil War.

REFERENCES: Auman, William T. and David D. Scarboro. “The Heroes of America in Civil War North Carolina.” The North Carolina Historical Review, October, 1981, Vol. 58, No. 4 (October, 1981), pp. 327–363; “1862-64: Peyton Alexander Cox to his Siblings” (2021); “1864: Mary Evelyn (Wheeler) Cox to Peyton Alexander Cox” at Spared & Shared at wordpress online; “Guilford County North Carolina Quaker Families” at NCGENWEB Project online.

Item #8238

On Hold

Price: $2,250.00