The Nixon Family Collection
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The Nixon Family Collection ranks as one of the largest, most significant, and complete collections housed at the Lincoln County Museum of History. Peggy C. and Mercer W. Simmons donated to the museum portions of the overall collection from 1992 to 2005. Linda and Philip Graham have made donations of photographic materials to the Nixon Family Collection. Peggy Costner Simmons is the granddaughter of Alfred Nixon, and the daughter of Beverly P. Costner and Annie Nixon Costner.
Contained within the collection are original documents that include deeds, election and legal records, plats, letters, business ledgers, stock certificates, and Confederate Muster Rolls. The collection also consists of three-dimensional objects such as pins and badges from Confederate reunions, Native American artifacts, pharmaceutical equipment, a suit worn by Kemp Nixon during his term as North Carolina State Senator (1931-1935), and regalia worn by Mercer Simmons while a member of the Knights Templar.
The collection pertains chiefly to Alfred Nixon (1856-1924) and his service to Lincoln County as Sheriff, County Surveyor, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Clerk of Court, elder at the First Presbyterian Church of Lincolnton and, most importantly, Lincoln County’s first public historian. His writings, published and unpublished, journals, letters, scrapbooks, library, and photographs form the nucleus of the collection and provide the foundation upon which each of the other components of the collection stand. These materials document Nixon’s academic life at Rock Spring Seminary in Denver (Lincoln County), North Carolina from 1874-1877, and the University of North Carolina from 1878-1881, but also include personal correspondence between him, his parents, sisters, and friends from Lincoln County. The collection contains letters to Nixon from Sheriffs and authorities from various cities, counties, and states regarding their attempts to apprehend criminals, in addition to letters from local and academic historians about historic topics of local and statewide importance.
Monumental among the materials contained in the Nixon Family Collection are Alfred Nixon’s journals (1877-1899). Nixon was a voracious researcher and chronicler, and his journals document topics that range from the mundane activities of his vocation to the commemorative and celebratory events of the New South period. In four volumes, Nixon wrote about politics, surveying property for Lincoln County families, campmeeting at Rock Springs, local births and deaths, trips with the Southern Stars military company to the dedication of the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond, Virginia, family trips to places such as Atlanta, Georgia for the Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895, and celebrations at the site of the Battle of Kings Mountain.
The collection also contains photographs of the Nixon family and other Lincoln County families, in addition to letters to Alfred Nixon’s brothers, sisters, children, and grandchildren. The photographic materials feature people such as Alfred Nixon and Civil War veterans, Kemp Nixon, Lillian Nixon, Robert “Big Bob” Nixon, Joe Nixon, Myra Nixon Turley, Iola Jane Nixon, Reverend R.Z. Johnston, and members of the Mundy, Thompson, Beal, Abernathy, Costner, Cauble, Cherry, Cline, Kelly, and Simmons family. Other photographs document sites throughout Lincoln County that include Unity Presbyterian Church, Rock Springs Campground, Lincoln County Courthouse, UDC/Memorial Hall, the University of North Carolina, Inverness, Ingleside, Rehoboth Methodist Church, Ramsour’s Mill battlesite, Denver Academy, and railroad depots. Other family members and friends for whom letters and correspondence remain include Kate Nixon, Bonnie Nixon, Nina Nixon, Daisy Nixon, Jane Costner Ware, Peggy Costner Simmons, Mercer W. Simmons, C.E. Childs, J.E. Paine, B.C. Cobb, Kemp Nixon, Joe Nixon, Robert Nixon, James Nixon, Mrs. B.P. Costner, Myra Nixon Turley, Iola Nixon, and Sallie Lee Nixon.
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