A Guide to the Papers of Robert M. Rose 1809-1947 Rose, Robert M. MG 23

A Guide to the Papers of Robert M. Rose 1809-1947

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number MG 23


Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University

Special Collections
Perry Library
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
Phone: (757) 683-4483
Fax: (757) 683-5954
Email: libspecialcollections@odu.edu
URL: http://www.lib.odu.edu/special/

© 2001 By Rector and Board of Visitors of Old Dominion University.

Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Special Collections and University Archives Staff

Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University
Collection number
MG 23
The Papers of Robert M. Rose 1809-1947
Physical Characteristics
1 Hollinger Documents Case
Gift of Mrs. Carolyn H. Tunstall, November 18, 1977

Administrative Information


Open to researchers without restrictions.

Publication Rights

There are no restrictions on the copying or photocopying of the papers. However, copies from the collection may be used for publication only with the expressed written permission of the Special Collections Librarian. Other questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title], The Papers of Robert M. Rose, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.


The Papers of Robert M. Rose were donated by Mrs. Carolyn H. Tunstall, a former faculty member at the University. These papers are part of a larger family collection, the bulk of which was given in 1950 to the U.S. Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, Maryland. Prior to the date of this former gift, the papers were in the possession of George H. Rose, one of the two sons of Dr. Robert W. Rose. Dr. Rose's second son, Robert W. Rose, Jr., married the sister of Dr. Robert B. Tunstall. Dr. Tunstall's son Charles, married his cousin by this marriage, Jane W. Rose. Mrs. Charles Tunstall is the donor of the gift to the U.S. Naval Academy Museum. Mrs. Carolyn Tunstall, the donor of the gift to the Old Dominion University Special Collections and University Archives, is married to the nephew of Mrs. Charles Tunstall.

Biographical/Historical Information

Born in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, Robert M. Rose was the son of a Norfolk, Virginia family. Apparently there was something of the sea tradition in the Rose family. There was an uncle, Alexander F. Rose who captained his own ship and under whom, Robert's brother Alexander began his career in 1830. Much earlier than this, Robert Rose enlisted in the U.S. Navy as midshipman on board the USS Independence in 1809. While serving on the Independence, Rose attained the rank of lieutenant and continued in this capacity in subsequent assignments on the USS Columbus and the USS Terrier.

By 1815 Rose had married his wife Mary, a woman also from the Norfolk area. As a naval officer, Rose of course was away from his family for many months out of the year. Indeed his son Robert W. Rose was born in the summer of 1823 while he was stationed in Key West with the Terrier. The anxiety caused by these extended periods of separation runs throughout Mary's letters. Aside from maintaining several rental properties belonging to the family, Mary attended to the duties of her own household. Periodic outbreaks in the community of diseases such as yellow fever were always a source of concern for a mother with a young child. There is also some evidence that Robert financially supported his brother Alexander while he was in school. This went contrary to Mary's way of thinking. She felt that Alexander was given too much to study and too little honest work.

Sometime in 1830, Mary and their son Robert began living in Portsmouth near Fort Nelson with the family of Lieutenant Joseph Smoot. In April of that same year, Rose had been promoted to Commander. References in Mary's letters dated immediately after this time indicate that Rose had visited with his family prior to taking command of the USS Erie. Within three months of his new command, Rose contracted yellow fever and died at a West India Station on August 27, 1830. The last letter in the collection from Mary was written the day before her husband's death and is especially poignant as it contains the welcome news of their son's recovery from the same malady.

Scope and Content Information

The Papers of Robert M. Rose is a collection of family papers including the business records and personal correspondence of four Norfolk families in the Rose-Tunstall lineage. The papers are arranged according to family into four series; however, the focal point of the collection is the papers of Commander Robert M. Rose.

The papers in the collection are original holographs with the exceptions of folders in Series I: Sub series C. Folders 24 and 25 are photocopies from the National Archives of materials relating to Commander Rose and his wife in the U.S. Naval Records of Officers. Folder 26 contains a carbon typescript of documents held at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum.


Although Series I does not contain correspondence written by Robert Rose, there are multiple letters from his wife Mary and from several naval and business acquaintances. Those letters authored by Mary provide an insight into the Rose family, containing personal reminiscences as well as daily accounts of household and local affairs. There are, in addition, frequent references to the families and ship assignments of other naval officers. For example, Mary in her letter dated April 12, 1823 (Folder 1), recounts a rather grisly newspaper story concerning the pirating of a ship and the death of its captain at Campeachy. These and similar examples from Norfolk and naval life ca. 1820-1830 may prove of interest to the social historian.

Series II contains the correspondence and business papers of Commander Rose's son, Dr. Robert W. Rose. Although there are letters from family members and friends,, here as in the first series, there is no correspondence actually written by Dr. Rose. What could be considered as an exception to this is a copy of a legal document written on behalf of Dr. Rose and addressed to the 1893 Provisional Congress of the Confederate States (Folder 32). The document concerns the loss of six runaway slaves for whom Dr. Rose seeks financial redress from the Provisional Congress. From the remaining correspondence and papers, especially those in Folders 33 and 34, numerous genealogical references to the Rose family can be found.

Series III and IV include the papers of Dr. Robert B. Tunstall and his son Mr. Charles M. Tunstall respectively. Both of these series may be of little interest to the researcher because of their limited scope. Dr. Tunstall's papers concern the financial settlement of his estate while those of Charles Tunstall and his wife contain memorabilia such as World War II ration tickets. The importance of these two series to the collection lies in the information they provide relative to the connection between the Rose and Tunstall families and in establishing the provenance of the papers.

Contents List

Series I: Commander Robert M. Rose
  • Subseries A: Correspondence
    • Box 1, Folder 1
      Mary Rose April 12, 1823
    • Box 1, Folder 2
      Mary Rose April 30, 1823
    • Box 1, Folder 3
      Mary Rose June 14, 1823
    • Box 1, Folder 4
      Mary Rose June 30, 1823
    • Box 1, Folder 5
      Mary Rose July 19, 1830
    • Box 1, Folder 6
      Mary Rose August 15, 1830
    • Box 1, Folder 7
      Mary Rose August 25, 1830
    • Box 1, Folder 8
      S. Hambletori (?) February 19, 1820
    • Box 1, Folder 9
      James H. Henry September 21, 1815
    • Box 1, Folder 10
      James H. Henry November 8, 1817
    • Box 1, Folder 10A
      James H. Henry September 12, 1818
    • Box 1, Folder 11
      J.K. May: n.d. (ca. 1813-1820)
    • Box 1, Folder 12
      J.K. May February 10, 1820
    • Box 1, Folder 13
      George W. Stover October 19, 1818
    • Box 1, Folder 14
      William P. Taylor: unsigned, n.d.
    • Box 1, Folder 15
      William P. Taylor February 14, 1819
    • Box 1, Folder 16
      M.B.M. (?) May 8, 1830
    • Box 1, Folder 17
      M.B.M. June 8, 1830
    • Box 1, Folder 18
      M.B.M. to Lt. Joseph Smoot July 10, 1830
    • Box 1, Folder 19
      M.B.M. to Lt. Joseph Smoot August 22, 1830
    • Box 1, Folder 20
      M.B.M. to Lt. Joseph Smoot October 13, 1830
  • Subseries B: Business Papers
    • Box 1, Folder 21
      Certificate of membership, Naphtali Lodge October 9, 1811
    • Box 1, Folder 22
      Estate of Major Alexander F. Rose 1817
    • Box 1, Folder 23
      Receipts, six items: (ca. 1830)
  • Subseries C: Miscellaneous
    • Box 1, Folder 24
      U.S. Naval Records of officers: entries for Rose, (photocopy)
    • Box 1, Folder 25
      U.S. Naval Records of officers: pension file for Mary Rose (photocopy)
    • Box 1, Folder 26
      U.S. Naval Academy Museum: Documents addressed to R.M. Rose and others, typescript (carbon)
Series II: Dr. Robert W. Rose
  • Subseries A: Correspondence
    • Box 1, Folder 27
      J.R. Carter: n.d.
    • Box 1, Folder 28
      J.R. Carter December 1, 1856
    • Box 1, Folder 29
      J.R. Carter April 4, 1857
    • Box 1, Folder 30
      J.R. Carter July 11, 1857
    • Box 1, Folder 31
      W. Menkins March 17, 1818
    • Box 1, Folder 32
      Provisional Congress of the Confederate States from Dr. Rose May 14, 1863
    • Box 1, Folder 33
      Susan Turner October 24, 1855
    • Box 1, Folder 34
      Henry Wiekinton(?) December 21, 1855
    • Box 1, Folder 35
      John L. Hargrave to Catherine Jamesson March 22, 1851
    • Box 1, Folder 36
      Signed "your truly attached aunt, M.E.J." to Mollie (Hodge): n.d., return address, 56 Library/Savannah
  • Subseries B: Business Papers
    • Box 1, Folder 37
      Receipts, bank loans 1848 and 1865-1867
    • Box 1, Folder 38
      Receipts, Household 1844-1866
    • Box 1, Folder 39
      Receipts, building and property 1846-1851
    • Box 1, Folder 40
      Succession and Legacy Returns for Rose Estate January 9, 1869
Series III: Dr. Robert B. Tunstall
  • Subseries A: Business papers
    • Box 1, Folder 41
      Check receipts 1883-1886
    • Box 1, Folder 42
      Promissory notes 1871-1883
    • Box 1, Folder 43
      Property 1881 and 1884
    • Box 1, Folder 44
      Receipts and invoices 1883
    • Box 1, Folder 45
      Receipts and invoices 1884
    • Box 1, Folder 46
      Receipts and invoices 1885
    • Box 1, Folder 47
      Receipts and invoices 1886
    • Box 1, Folder 48
      Stocks and bonds 1880 and 1884
    • Box 1, Folder 49
      Taxes 1883-1884
    • Box 1, Folder 50
      Deed of land April 15, 1857
    • Box 1, Folder 51
      Family document appointing Alexander and Richard Tunstall as executors of Dr. Tunstall's estate April 6, 1883
    • Box 1, Folder 52
      Partial inventory of the Tunstall Estate April 18, 1883
    • Box 1, Folder 53
      Record of debts paid 1883-1887
    • Box 1, Folder 54
      Summary of debts paid March 19, 1884
    • Box 1, Folder 55
      Cash on hand statement April 15, 1884
    • Box 1, Folder 56
      Richard H. Baker and Son lawyer's statement October 9, 1884
    • Box 1, Folder 57
      Bank of Commerce Account Book, Alexander and Richard Tunstall (ca. 1883)
    • Box 1, Folder 58
      Miscellaneous notes: n.d.
Series IV: Charles and Jane B.P. Tunstall
  • Subseries A: Memorabilia
    • Box 1, Folder 59
      World War I War Bond (encl. April 1, 1947)
    • Box 1, Folder 60
      World War II Ration Book (Encl. April 12, 1944)
  • Subseries B: Miscellaneous
    • Box 1, Folder 61
      Assortment of printed calling cards, two with photographs: n.d.
    • Box 1, Folder 62
      The Citizen: A Democratic Weekly (printed copy) December 1, 1944