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The Mystery of Peter Stuart Ney

A guide to materials in Archives and Special Collections related to Peter Stuart Ney, the designer of the college seal, and the mystery of his identity.


Peter Stuart Ney taught schoolchildren throughout the Carolinas and as he moved from city to city, he certainly made an impression on the local community. Among these communities, there was also heavy speculation as to whether or not Ney was in fact the famed Napoleonic marshal. In our collection, we have materials that relate to Ney's life in the Carolinas and reminiscences from individuals that describe their encounters with Ney.

Poem written by P.S. Ney to Margaret Hampton

Poem written by P.S. Ney for Martha Hampton (1843)

Manuscript Collections

Manuscript materials are largely unpublished documents such as diaries, letters, speeches and sermons. The collections may be about an individual, a family, or a group. The majority of our collections relate to students and alumni of Davidson College and to civic organizations in the town of Davidson, North Carolina.

Listed below are relevant collections related to Peter Stuart Ney and reminiscences of him. Collections are organized by manuscript number, along with a brief description of the collection's contents, and are hyperlinked to the collection's digital finding aid.

Margaret E. Hampton Reminiscences (DC0167s)

Description: Margaret Elizabeth Hampton Alexander was the daughter of Joseph Wade Hampton and Cynthia Wilson. Her family was acquainted with Peter Stuart Ney. The collection consists of handwritten reminiscences of family history and Peter Stuart Ney's connection to Davidson College and a typescript of family history.

Catawba Springs Hotel Collection (DC0232s)

Description: The Catawba Springs Hotel was located in Lincoln County, North Carolina and was in operation from the 1790s to the mid-1860s. Peter Stuart Ney set up an academy at the Catawba Springs Hotel in the early 1840's. Included in this collection are guest ledgers from 1838-1851 and 1852-1854. These ledgers contain the names, residences and destinations of the guests. Peter Stuart Ney's signature can be found in Volume I on September 20, 1841. In the column allotted to home addresses, Ney wrote next to his name "An atom floating on the atmostphere of chance."

Peter Stuart Ney Collection (DC043)

Description: The collection is comprised of many subcollections related to Peter Stuart Ney. Over time, many donors have gifted materials related to P.S. Ney and these items have been collated into this collection. The collection is organized into the following series: gifts, correspondence, manuscripts, printed material, recordings, photographs, oversize, and books. 

Additional Primary Sources

Listed below are relevant collections regarding Peter Stuart Ney that can be found at UNC-Chapel Hill and East Carolina University. Materials are linked and described below.

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