New Private Collections

[This blog post is by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist in the Special Collections Section.]

I am pleased to highlight some of the private collections that have become available for research during the last six months or so. At minimum these papers have a finding aid in the State Archives Search Room (SR) and a collection-level MARS description online. Some have an online finding aid (OL). They are listed generally from the most recent in terms of time span of the papers to the earliest. There is a wide representation of archival material from the 18th to late 20th centuries, and together they illustrate the depth and complexity of our state’s history and culture.

1. Betty H. Wiser Papers, 1951-1990. PC.1716. Wake County and statewide. 59 fibredex boxes (bx.) Finding aids: SR, MARS, OL. Features personal papers of Betty Wiser (1931-2010) stemming from her role in several civic and women’s organizations and relating to her participation in and interest in the political process at the state and local level. Notably, she served as a member of the General Assembly, 1985-1990 serving three terms as representatives for Wake County. The papers available now for research include the League of Women Voters, 1951-1976, Wake County Council on Aging, 1974-1990, Political Campaigns and Organizations, Council on the Status of Women, 1981-1984, and the Council of Women’s Organizations. Our outstanding volunteer, Steve Lord, has worked for months, putting in around 80 hours, on the remaining papers (about 350 cubic feet) at the Old Records Center, removing the duplicates and state documents, with the latter transferred to the State Library of North Carolina. Gift of the late Betty H. Wiser of Raleigh, early 2000s.

2. Roberta Waddle Papers (ERA), 1975-1984. PC.2076. Cumberland County and statewide. 4 fibredex bxs; 1 os bx. Finding aids: SR, MARS.

These papers reflect Ms. Waddle’s involvement since the 1970s as a women’s rights and Equal Rights Amendment activist. Papers consist of speeches, correspondence, notes, lists, newsletters, resolutions, and subject files relating to her and other women’s activities as part of the National Organization for Women in the U.S. and North Carolina, and other state organizations, and reflects cooperative efforts to garner support for the Equal Rights Amendment. The focus of the collection was on statewide political involvement of North Carolina women and organizations to promote passage of the ERA in North Carolina in the early 1980s, ultimately defeated by the state’s legislature in late June 1982. Gift of Roberta Waddle, Fayetteville, N.C. 2013.

3. Marshville, N.C. Plant of Union Asbestos & Rubber Co. Papers, 1942-1955. PC.2078. Union County, N.C. and Chicago, Ill.1 fibredex bx. Finding aids: SR, MARS.

These papers consist of business letters, personal notes; interoffice communications; open letters to employees; reports; notices of company news and meetings; company newsletters, 2 photographs and a drawing. The majority of the correspondence is to and from George Anton Novak, Marshville Plant manager dating from 1948. There is also material from the National Labor Relations Board in the matter of UNARCO and United Textile Workers of American Federation of Labor. In 1948 the Marshville plant was purchased by the UNARCO of Chicago from the Carolina Asbestos Company, founded in 1919. The company appeared financially successful during the surge of economic growth following World War II and the papers reflect the involvement of the management and employees in the surrounding community of the then-rural Union County. As the adverse health effects of asbestos became increasingly recognized, the company and its subsidiaries had fallen into bankruptcy by the early 1980s. Gift of McLean County History Museum, Bloomington, Ill., 2013.

4. Carey A. Upchurch Papers, ca. 1919-1938. PC.2015. Finding aids: MARS, SR.

Carey Almon Upchurch (1879-1954) of Wake County attended Wake Forest College, 1925-1928, as a ministerial student. His work included pastoral duties and a tenure as secretary, then superintendent of the North Carolina Anti-Saloon League. The papers reflect some of the views and activities of Carey and consist of notes, sermon outlines, pamphlets, primarily on topics of prohibition, temperance, and immorality, including social dancing of that day; and theological topics and prayer; two poems; and miscellaneous published material. Gift of David and Ellen Nightingale, Raleigh, N.C., 2011. However, two recent additions to these papers were transferred from the Claudia Thompson O’Brien Papers, PC.1946, donated by Susan Webster Vallance, Morehead City, 2004. These items are a printed leaflet setting forth the program and plans of the N.C. Anti-Saloon League , dated 10 August 1929, of a letter of 29 October 1929 soliciting subscriptions to the league.

5. Etta McKay Gillis Papers, 1917-1948. PC.2062. Hoke and Scotland Counties, and statewide. 3 fibredex bxs. Finding aids: SR, MARS

The papers include some one hundred and forty-nine letters, most of which are to Etta Gillis (1886-1971). The time frame covered in these letters includes the eras of the Great Depression and World War II and includes various exchanges about farm life; crops; sharecroppers; labor shortages; gas, sugar, and other household shortages; women’s domestic endeavors such as gardening, canning, sewing; illnesses; community life; the United States’ entry into World War II; training and lifestyles of servicemen; and college life for young women at Flora MacDonald College. Gift of the Friends of the Archives, 2013.

6. Gloucester Lumber Company, Toxaway Tanning Company, 1902-1918. PC.1592. 7 fibredex boxes. Finding aids: SR, MARS. This is a small portion of a set of papers that totals over 175 cubic feet. The remainder of the papers requires extensive conservation, a process that will continue in May under Jennifer Blomberg, head of Collections Management Branch and Emily Rainwater, Conservator. The available seven boxes do give glimmers of the fascinating story and business practices of the company’s president, Joseph Simpson Silverstein (1879-1958), and the principals in the leather tanning business—family members and associates in the Northeast, and a wide network of business contacts in various parts of the state, region, and country.

Silverstein was born in Russia, and immigrated with his parents and siblings to the United States. The Silverstein family settled initially in New York, probably in the mid-1880s and Joseph and his siblings became naturalized American citizens. Around 1900 Joseph married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Mount, a young elocution teacher, whom he had probably met while working in her hometown of East Stroudsburg, Monroe, Pennsylvania. With skills as a bookkeeper and tanner, Joseph brought his bride to Transylvania County, N.C. and operated the Toxaway Tannery, part of the Toxaway Tanning Company, based in New York. A town grew up around the tannery, and the township in 1906 was renamed Rosman.

There is a series within the available papers, the Silvermont Mansion Papers, 1915-1917, two fibredex boxes of material relating to the construction of the Silverstein (apparently changed during this period to Silversteen) family home, known as Silvermont and situated on eight acres in the village of Brevard, located a few miles from Rosman. The house was designed by New York architect, C. Bertram French, and its construction begun in 1916, not many years after the Biltmore Estate, the vast Gilded Age residence and country home of George Washington Vanderbilt, between 1888 and ca. 1902. Although Silvermont could hardly be compared with the Vanderbilt estate, it was then and is now regarded as one of the most ambitious private residences ever built outside of Asheville in the western part of North Carolina. Gift of A. W. Nelson, Jr. Champion Lumber, Atlanta, Ga., 1976.

7. Rosser Family Papers, 1855-1966. PC.2022. 8 fibredex boxes and 3 oversized boxes. Finding aids: SR, MARS.

These are the papers of Adonis R. Rosser, Lee County, and family, and comprise correspondence, student papers, estate papers, farm papers and bulletins, greeting cards, miscellaneous papers, oversize diplomas, music, plans, and studies, and photographs. Dates range from 1855 to 1966. Processing assistance by State Archives volunteer, Joy Heitmann, 2014. Additional processing is forth coming but these papers can be used by researchers. Gift of T. Donnie Maddox, Sanford, N.C., 2005.

8. West, Tatom, McBride Family Papers, 1853-1913. Bladen County. PC.2073. ½ fibredex bx. Finding aids: SR, MARS, OL.

Several courthouse fires in Bladen County destroyed court and various land records as late as 1893. This collection includes land transfers and court certifications involving the West, Tatom, and McBride families, who had been established in Bladen County by the early 19th century, if not before. These papers were donated in 2013 by Jason Bordeaux, Sophia, N.C., a descendant who is making a concerted effort to build the Private Collection’s holdings of Bladen County material.

9. Weathers Family Papers, 1849-1933. PC1980. 1 fibredex bx: 1 vol. Finding aids: SR, MARS, OL. Papers contain material reflecting activities of several generations of a family prominent in Rutherford County from the early 19th century (later in Cleveland County when it was formed in 1841 from Rutherford.) The Weathers farmed, and William M. (1796-1867) had a license to sell spiritous liquors, preserved within the collection. A grandson, Albert Pinkney (1860-1933), was a builder, merchant, and mayor of Shelby, ca. 1925; and great-grandson, Lee Beam Weathers, was a long-time editor and publisher of the Shelby Star. Transfer from the N.C. Museum of History.

10. Wynne Family Papers, 1775-1915. PC.2066. Franklin, Wake counties. 3 fibredex bxs. Finding aids: SR, MARS, OL. Papers of Wynne and related families consisting of letters; a love letter and a poem; receipts for goods, tuition and taxes, etc.; an indenture; slave receipts and slave bills of sale; 1863 Quarter Master’s receipt; state order for audit of guardianship accounts; promissory and various monetary transaction notes; Christmas cards; and a communication from Wesleyan Female Institute. An addition of April 2014, includes a letter of 1887 from Philip W. Wiley asking permission to marry Blanche, the daughter of George W. Wynne. Gift of William P.D. Wynne, D.D.S., Raleigh, N.C.

11. Norman, Hobson, and Chitty Family Papers, 1797-1925. PC.2074. 1 fibredex box; 1 os mss bx. Finding aids: SR, MARS, OL.

The earliest paper in this set is a 1797 indenture written in iron-gall ink possibly by Frederic William Marshall (purportedly his signature is affixed), Moravian business manager of Wachovia, to Horatio Hamilton, Stokes County. One of the last papers in the collection is a penciled love letter (1915) to future wife, Sarah Wooten from Joe Tyre Matthews. The 1797 indenture has been recently restored by our conservator, Emily Rainwater. Her skillful, many-step treatment of this document included removal of adhesive tape (from the recto and verso) totaling approximately 152 inches; an acetone bath; and mending. This was described in Ms. Rainwater’s blog posted 29 April 2014. Gift of Sue Smith, Greensboro, N.C., 2013.

12. J. Robert Boykin Collection, 1782; 1865. PC.2070. ½ fibredex bx. Finding aids: SR, MARS. Duplin and Orange County.

This small collection features a statement of dire financial need made by Caroline Couch, under oath that was recorded by Samuel Couch [Justice of the Peace, Orange County?], dated 26 June 1865–just after the close of the Civil War and during the beginning of Reconstruction. Donated by J. Robert Boykin, Wilson, N.C., 2013.

13. Zimmerman Family Papers, 1757-1883. PC.2056. 1 fibredex box. Finding aids: SR, MARS, OL. David Zimmerman (1799-1857) and his wife, Margaret (1805-1879), owned a farm in eastern Burke County. Among their six children, the three boys served as Confederate soldiers in the Civil War. Hartley and David were both wounded in combat and later paroled, while Israel was taken prisoner and died of his wounds in a federal hospital. In addition to farming the Zimmerman family operated a distillery. David Zimmerman owned one slave in 1850, a 15 year-old girl named Peggy, whom he bought in 1843. The papers consist of correspondence; bills, receipts and promissory notes; records of deeds and land, a distillery business, and estates; slave papers; Civil War military papers; oaths of allegiance; tax receipts; vital records; and miscellaneous papers. Donors: Mary Lou Cook Hall, Danville, Va.; Karolyn Cook Pullen, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Dr. Charles F. Cook, Hickory, N.C.; Dr. Sarah Cook Magan, Orlando, Fl., 2006. Most of the arrangement and description is by Jennifer Davis, former N.C. Genealogical Society intern, Frances H. Wynne Endowment, 2013.

14. Eleanor Troy Pippenger Collection, 1735-1907. PC.2060. Finding aids: SR, MARS, soon to be available OL. Bladen and Columbus counties. Consists primarily of land grants and indentures for acreage in Bladen County during the period, circa 1735 to 1853. These materials are particularly important because of the Bladen County courthouse fires in 1770, 1800, and 1893. Subsequent miscellaneous land and court records supplement land grants and indentures. Other items of interest include several deeds and bills of sale for slaves. Gift of Eleanor Troy Pippenger, Salem, Oregon, March 2013. Most of the arrangement and description is by Jennifer Davis, former N.C. Genealogical Society intern, Frances H. Wynne Endowment. 2013.

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