Todd Johnson
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Smithfield, NC 27577
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 2709
Smithfield, NC 27577
Phone: 919-934-2836
Historical Image and Manuscript Archives


William S. Powell Collection

Collection Date(s):   1840  to 1920

Call Number(s):  2000.036

Physical Description:  392 items

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Biographical Sketch:  Ashley Guy Powell (1812-1889) was a planter, turpentine producer, inventor of agricultural implements, furniture-maker, and champion of education. In the 1850s, he and wife Elizabeth Stevens Powell operated a private academy, Hillfield, beside their home and boarded students in their home. Their son Charles Stevens Powell (1843-1918) was a Confederate soldier, farmer, sheriff of Johnston County in the 1870s, and a local news correspondent for the Smithfield Herald in the early 20th century. In 1872 he married Edith Millard of Duplin County, NC, and they lived with his parents in the homeplace on Brogden Road, Smithfield Township.

In 1878 A. G. and Elizabeth Powell moved to a nearby cottage they built for their retirement years and named "Sunnyside" (still standing). C. S. and Edith Powell's son Isaac Millard Powell married Ada Bell Perry and moved to Iredell County, NC, in about 1922. They were the parents of donor William S. Powell, the premier writer and compiler of North Carolina history. He was curator of the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill from 1958 to 1973, and taught North Carolina history at the university from 1964 until his retirement in 1985. Before working at the university, he served in the US Army during World War II. He and wife Virginia still live in Chapel Hill (2002) where he is placing the finishing touches on his latest project, an Encyclopedia of North Carolina.

Collection Description:  The bulk of the collection is comprised of mementos and household articles from the home of Charles S. and Edith Millard Powell, dating from the time of their marriage in 1872 to the 1920s. Kitchen and dining utensils, chairs (including baby high chairs), walking sticks, a masonic apron, Confederate reunion pins, quilts, pocket knives, an iron wash pot, a Civil War-era canteen, clocks and watches, baskets, razor strop, fishing net float, sheep shears, antebellum textbooks used at the Powell family's Hillfield Academy, Ashley Guy Powell's saddlebag, and Bill Powell's teddy bear (circa 1920) are among the many items included.

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