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Horton family papers

Identifier: AC-382

Scope and Contents

The Horton Family Papers documents the public and private lives of multiple generations of the Horton family of Watauga County, North Carolina. Religious beliefs promoted at Three Forks Baptist Church is illustrated through multiple Sunday School speeches while other papers illustrate Horton family business and correspondence practices, illicit alcohol production and their regulation, education of orphaned youth, and political beliefs. The Hortons employeed several members of the Grimes family.

Missing Title

  1. Ashe County, N.C.
  2. Bald Mountain, N.C.
  3. Boone, N.C.
  4. Distilleries
  5. Horton, Carrie Rebecca
  6. Horton, James Crittenden
  7. Horton, Jonathan
  8. Horton, Nathan
  9. Religion
  10. Segregation - Laws and legislation
  11. Three Forks Baptist Church (Boone, N.C.)


  • 1790-1932, undated


The materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

No Interlibrary loan.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for use in the Dougherty Reading Room. An appointment for research is recommended. The Dougherty Reading Room is located on the 4th floor of Belk Library in Special Collections.

Biographical Note

The Hortons were an influential family in the development of northwestern North Carolina and held many political offices in Ashe County and later Watauga County. The Hortons descend from Colonel Nathan Horton (1757-1824) and his wife Elizabeth Eagles (b. 1766), who moved to the New River area of Watauga County, North Carolina in 1785. They are believed to be among the earliest European inhabitants in modern-day Watauga County, which was formed from Ashe County in 1849.

Nathan Horton was born in Chester, New Jersey and married Elizaeth Eagles, daughter of John Eagles of New York City, in 1783. They moved to North Carolina in 1785. He was a colonel in Ashe County's militia, and from 1800 to 1802 represented Ashe County in North Carolina's House of Commons and from 1803 to 1806 in the senate. He also constructed a toll road from Cook's Gap to Beaver Dam. He and many members of his family were members of the Three Forks Baptist Church. Nathan and Elizabeth Horton had nine children: Hannah (1784-1785), William (b. 1786), James (b. 1789), David (b. 1792), Sarah (b. 1794-died as child), Phineas (b. 1795), John (b. 1800-died as child), Elizabeth (b. 1803), and Jonathan (1806-1895).

William, whose wife was Millie Dula, settled in Elksville and represented Ashe and Wilkes Counties in the General Assembly for fourteen years.

James represented Ashe County in 1830. He fought in the War of 1812 and commanded a company from Ashe County who removed Cherokee to Oklahoma. He and his wife Sidnea Webb lived in New River.

James' son John "Jack" Horton (b. 4 July 1816) served as the Watauga County's sheriff from 1866-1876. His wives were Rebecca Mast and Mary Swift. His son James W. (b. 1846) served as deputy sheriff while his father was sheriff. He married Mary (Polly) Council.

David Eagles was a planter on the Yadkin River and served in the War of 1812. His wife Sarah Dula was the sister of brother Williams' wife Millie.

Phineas served in the War of 1812 and was magistrate for over thirty years. Phineas and Rebecca Councill Horton had several children including William (1828-c.1867), Nathan (b. 1829), James, and Jonathan Philmore (1836-1863). Each son served as officers in the Confederacy. Jonathan organized the "Watauga Marksmen" to fight for the Confederacy. He and James died during the war. William served as county surveyor from 1849 to 1862 and was elected to the State Legislature in 1862, 1864, and 1864. He and his wife Nancy Rebecca Blair Horton (b. 1835) had the following children: James Crittenden (b. 1861), Jonathan B. (b. 1863), Julia R. (b. 1865), William P. (b. 1867), Mary Emma (Moore) (1869-1962), Addie E. (b. 1871), Henry W. (1874), and Sallie H. (b. 1866).

James Crittenden (aka John Ceril and J.C.) Horton married Mary A. Elrod (1862-1917) in 1889. He served as the Democratic County chair and a County Commissioner. He also served as Clerk of the State Legislature and was appointed inspector for the Department of Agriculture. He also worked for the Internal Revenue Service. He and Mary had one daughter, Carrie (b. 1899), who married Dean Bingham. They also acted as guardians to C.M. Hodges' children, who likely were the children of Mary's sister Sophia.

Elizabeth married her first cousin Zephaniah Horton of Yancey County and had four children.

Jonathan married Malinda Hartzog in 1841 and lived at the Nathan Horton homestead. He represented Ashe County from 1832 to 1835 and Watauga County 1854. During the Civil War, he served as captain of the 37th NC Troop. The Hortons' home was robbed multiple times during the Civil War. Jonathan served as the Watauga representative in the state senate in 1864. They did not have any children.


3.25 Linear Feet (2 boxes, 1 oversize folder)


The Horton Family Papers are a collection of documents accumulated by the Horton family of Watauga County, North Carolina. Jonathan Horton and James Crittenden Horton generated most documents.


The collection is arranged into two series: Series I: Documents and Series II: Publications and Artifacts. Folders are arranged alphabetically within each series.

Acquisitions Information

Anna Boyce Phillips donated these materials to the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection in October 2000. Its accession number is AC.2000.008. It was opened to the public in January 2008.

Processing Information

Processed by Barry Dobson, December 2007; Encoded by Kathryn Staley, December 2007; Reprocessed and finding aid revised by Cynthia Harbeson, January 2013. This collection was reprocessed as part of a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The grant funded extensive processing of the backlog within the W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection between 2012 and 2014.

AC.382: Horton Family Papers, 1790-1932, undated
Processed by: Barry Dobbins; machine-readable finding aid created by: Kathryn Staley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository