A Collection in
the Virginia Historical Society
Collection Number Mss1 G9957 c
Virginia Historical SocietyVirginia Historical Society
P.O. Box 7311
Richmond, Virginia 23221-0311
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Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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Gwathmey Family Papers, 1790-1982 (Mss1 G9957 c FA2), Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia.
Gift of the Burlington-Gwathmey Memorial Foundation, 1987.
This collection represents four generations of this prominent King William County family. From their family seat at "Burlington," the Gwathmey's were active in the political, social, and religious life of the county for more than two centuries.
Joseph Hardin Gwathmey and his wife, Jeannette Garnett (Ryland) Gwathmey, had five children, three of whom, John Ryland Gwathmey (1888-1982), Anna Garnett Gwathmey (1879-1979), and Mary Burnley Gwathmey (1883- 1974), are prominent in this collection.
With the exception of the years he spent at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Now Virginia Polytechnic University and State University), John Ryland Gwathmey spent his entire life at "Burlington." John Ryland Gwathmey supervised farming and timber operations on the family estate and appraised real estate in King William and nearby counties. He was also a member of the county board of supervisors and of Beulah Baptist Church.
The collection begins with the papers of Joseph Gwathmey, (1758-1824), a planter, major in the state militia, and deacon of the Beulah Baptist Church. These records consist of an account book, loose accounts, and estate materials. Major Gwathmey's account book also contains records of his children's births and lists of horses. Most of his papers, however, concern his estate and include the records of executors, Richard Gwathmey (1789-1866), John Hill Gwathmey (1798-1839), and William Gwathmey (1794-1875). Two accounts books contain copies of Joseph Gwathmey's will, inventories, appraisals, and accounts and expenses. Loose estate materials include accounts, inventories, an indenture selling land to Nathaniel Boush Hill, and an 1836 appraisal of slaves.
The papers of William Gwathmey are found in boxes 2-7. William Gwathmey inherited "Wakefield," but moved to "Burlington" upon the death of his brother, John Hill Gwathmey, in 1839. A planter and physician, Gwathmey was also a trustee of the Beulah Baptist Church.
Dr. Gwathmey's papers begin with a diary of his journey to St. Augustine, Florida, with his wife and sister-in-law, Hardinia M. Burnley, from 1833 to 1834. Other diaries follow; a complete list of these appears in the guide that follows this description. The diaries, many of which are kept in copies of Richardson's Almanac, mostly concern weather conditions, farming operations, the health of slaves, physicians's visits, and church activities. The pages of an 1837 diary describe a trip to New Orleans and southwest Louisiana. Entries in the 1852 diary concern a medical conference in Richmond (Apr. 28, May 5) and the presidential election of that year (Nov. 9). The 1859 diary describes hiring day in Ayletts (Jan. 1) and election day (May 26).
Diaries from the Civil War years not only provide Gwathmey's views on the war, but also document local events. Several 1863 entries describe the appearance of Northern units in King William (January 8 and June 5), as well as the baptism of slaves at Beulah (Sept. 6). Entries for 1864 describe the arrival of Union troops at Ayletts (Mar. 1-2), the doctoring of wounded soldiers, and the occupation of "Burlington" (May 22- 29). Several 1866 entries concern Reconstruction (Feb. 27, May 31, June 12-18). These last entries concern formal charges bought against a neighbor for mistreating a former slave.
Boxes 3-5 contain the correspondence of William Gwathmey. Most of this consists of letters from family members, including Joseph Robert Garlick, Frances Fielding (Lewis) Gwathmey, Lucy Ann (Garlick) Gwathmey, Richard Gwathmey, Washington Gwathmey, and William Henry Gwathmey. Many of these letters concern the activities of Beulah Church. Significant correspondence incudes the letters of Gwathmey's brother-in-law, Edwin Burnley, who apparently deserted his wife and went to Mississippi. These letters document his divorce and attempts to transfer slaves to his new home. The letters of another brother-in-law, Dr. Thomas Meaux, concern medicine and phyhsicians. Thomas Witt Haynes writes concerning WG's son Richard Brooke Gwathmeyh, who served in the 9th Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War. Letters with Alexander Fleet pertain to Gwathmey's brief service in the Ware of 1812, for which WG was applying for a pension. An 1865 letter from richard Gwathmey describes the Richmond fire, while an 1837 letter describes a trip to Chicago, Ill.
Three accounts books follow. The first two are indexed and primarily consist of accounts with patients, but they also include records of family births, servant births, lists of livestock, and accounts with the estate of Joseph Gwathmey. The second account book also contains accounts, 1875-1895, of Joseph Hardin Gwathmey. The third account book, 1870-1875, contains contracts and accounts with farm hands.
Loose accounts begin in box 7. These are followed by deeds and bonds, most of which concern land, but which also include an indenture to a former slave, Sylvia Hill, granting her ownership of her house. Beulah Baptist Church records consist of lists of subscriptions, a commonplace book, eulogies for Hardin Burnley (1804?-1869), John William Garlick (1823?-1866), Edward Hill (d. 1870) and James Trice. Miscellaneous materials include photocopies concerning Gwathmey's 1812 service and a pass, 1864, signed by James Alexander Seddon (1815-1880).
The correspondence of Elizabeth Theresa (Burnley) Gwathmey (1806-1879), wife of William Gwathmey, consists mostly of letters written by her children. Among those are the letters of Mary Atwood Gwathmey, which describe her visit to cousins in Mississippi in 1856 and 1857.
The collection contains materials of seven of William and Elizabeth (Burnley) Gwathmey's children. The papers of Richard Brooke Gwathmey (1838-1864), a soldier in the 9th Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War, and William Gwathmey (1840-1858) are located in box 8. Also in box 8 are several diaries of Joseph Hardin Gwathmey (1846-1918), who inherited "Burlington" upon the death of his father in 1875. Gwathmey, an agent for the Virginia Fire and Marine Insurance Company, also served as superintendent of King William County Schools.
Gwathmey's general correspondence is mostly with friends and family members, but also includes a letter signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1881-1944), as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, thanking Gwathmey for the loan of his binoculars to the U. S. Navy during the First World War. Account books concern farming operations and include accounts with far laborers. Loose accounts include receipts from the King William County Grange. Records concerning Gwathmey's superintendency of King William schools consist mostly of certificates, but also include a statistical report, ca. 1905, detailing conditions in the system.
The papers of Jeannette Garnett (Ryland) Gwathmey (1847-1915), wife of Joseph Hardin Gwathmey, consist of diaries, memoranda and scrapbooks, correspondence, and miscellany. The diaries mostly concern the weather and her church activities, but the 1905 volume also contains notes on the Garnett family. Her memoranda book contains notes on the Peachey, Ryland, and Griffin families.
The papers of Owen Overton Gwathmey (1849-1922), Elizabeth Burnley Gwathmey (b. 1818), Hardinia Morris Gwathmey (1832-1905), and Mary Atwood Gwathmey (1834-1868) are located in boxes 11 and 12. Owen Overton Gwathmey was a lawyer and judge of the King William Circuit Court. Among his papers are deeds of land to Gwathmey in his capacity as trustee for Beulah Baptist Church. His miscellany includes the wills of Sylvia Hill (d. 1906) and Phillis Garlick, both of King William County.
Gwathmey's papers begin with general correspondence, which is mostly with family members. Frequent correspondents include his sisters, Anna Garnett Gwathmey and Mary Burnley Gwathmey, Eleanor Gwathmey (Powell) Dewey, Joseph Hardin Gwathmey (1878-1945), Laura (Blankenship) Albert Gwathmey, and Lewis Franklin Powell, associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. Many of Powell's letters concern the Burlington- Gwathmey Memorial Foundation, but have been filed together with the general correspondence. Form letters consist mostly of appeals from charitable and political organizations. Greeting cards and invitations conclude this box.
Box 17 contains account books. Three of these concern farming operations at "Burlington." Financial records consist almost entirely of bank statements and federal income and property tax returns. Other financial records relate to life and health insurance and trust funds, including statements and accounts of the Burlington Cemetery Trust Fund.
In the late 1970's, "Burlington" was added to the Virginia Landmarks Register. Correspondence with the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission concerns the establishment of landmark status, the granting of an open space easement, and the awarding of a preservation grant and subsequent restoration. In 1977, the Burlington-Gwathmey Memorial Foundation was established to maintain the family estate after the death of John Ryland Gwathmey. Foundation materials include acts of incorporation and correspondence, primarily with lawyers.
Box 30 begins with letters and census reports from the Department of Agriculture concerning farming operations at "Burlington." Materials pertaining to timber include reports, agreement, and accounts with lumber mills. These are followed by land records, mostly deeds of lease, concerning other land owned by JRG, including a house in Ayletts known as "Gwathmey's," and "Meadow Farm," the estate adjacent to "Burlington."
John Ryland Gwathmey served as chairman of the industrial and Rural Utilities Committee of the Ruritan Club of King William County. These papers mostly concern the publication of a promotional pamphlet, King William Invites You, and consist of correspondence and drafts of the manuscript. Materials from JRG's tenure as a member of the county's board of supervisors also primarily concern industrial growth and include a consultant's 1970 water and sewerage report. Appraisals of farms in King William and surrounding counties, conducted by JRG, conclude box 31. Papers relating to JRG's service as trustee and clerk of the Beulah Baptist Church concern subscriptions and renovations to the building. These precede student composition books, clippings, and miscellany.
The papers of Anna Garnett Gwathmey begin with general correspondence (boxes 33-36). Much of this is with her sister, Mary Burnley Gwathmey, from 1921-1926. Other frequent correspondents include family members: Alice R. Campbell, Jeannette O. Campbell, Joseph Hardin Gwathmey (1878-1945), Laura (Blankenship) Albert Gwathmey, and Laura Virginia (Gwathmey) Young. Box 37 contains correspondence with institutions, greeting cards, invitations, account books, and accounts. Financial records consist of bank statement and checks and investment, tax, and insurance records.
Materials in boxes 41-45 document Anna Garnett Gwathmey's career as a general insurance agent in both New York City and King William County. These begin with five account books, a rate book, and a folder of unanswered solicitations. Client files consist of correspondence, claim forms, invoices, and policies with individual policy holders. These are arranged alphabetically. Records from the various insurance companies that AGG represented follow. These consist of letters and memoranda from the companies, commission statements, forms, bulletins, and promotional materials. Memoranda and rate quotes from the Virginia Insurance Rating Bureau Service, performance bonds, and miscellany conclude this section.
Materials concerning a patent search consist of reports and copies of patents on stockings. Letters and miscellany of New York's Three Arts Club pertain to a 1937 benefit bridge tournament and dance. Speeches and addresses are mostly from a public speaking class. Miscellany includes cards of airplane silhouettes, used to test the accuracy of aircraft spotters during World War II. Sympathy letters addressed to John Ryland Gwathmey and estate materials conclude the papers of Anna Garnett Gwathmey.
Mary Burnley Gwathmey (1883-1974) graduated from Woman's College (now Westhampton College, University of Richmond), in 1904. Her general correspondence is located in boxes 47 and 48 and includes letters from Harry Flood Byrd (1887-1966) concerning the 1952 Democratic National Convention, Mamie Geneva (Doud) Eisenhower concerning Virginia Democrats for Eisenhower in 1952, New York Congressman Carfoline Love Goodwin O'Day, and Anna Eleanor (Roosevelt) Roosevelt concerning a request for an appointment. Correspondence with institutions dates mostly from MBG's years in New York.
Boxes 49 to 51 pertain to MBG's career as an artist and designer, begfinning with her papers as a teacher at the University of Arkansas and as a teacher and student at Columbia University's Teachers College. These primarily consist of lecuture notes and notebooks. After receiving a master of arts degree from Columbia in 1926, MBG worked for James McCreery & Co. and James A. Hearns and Sons, both New York stores. In the early 1930's, she left retaining to become an independent design and fashion consultant. Records docummenting MBG's career in New York mainly consist of company memoranda, bulletins, brochures, layouts of display, advertising materials, and newsaper clippings. In 1943, MBG accedpt a position as instructor of distributive eeducation at Washington-Lee High School, Arlington, Va.
Box 50 begins with materials concerning MBG's service, as a consultant on merchandising, color, and design, on the Virginia 350th Anniversary Commission. Thedse consist of correspondence, mostly with Executive Director Parke Rouse and with textile and paint companies, as well as reports, memoranda, press releases, clippings, and advertising and promotional materials. General art and design materials follow, and include: speeches and addresses, resumes, clippings, magazine articles, notes and notebooks, and miscellany.
The remainder of MBG's papers are located in boxes 52-54 and concern her non-art related activities. These begin with a few items pertaining to her work for the American Red Cross in Oteen, N. C., in 1921, and a trip to Switzerland in 1931. Materials concerning MBG's attempts to get funding for the publication of the story of Sylvia Hill, a former slave and family servant, include correspondence and application with foundations and rough drafts of the book. Correspondence, addresses, notes, and clippings concerning MBG's service as Executive Secretary of the King William County 250th Anniversary Committee follow.
Materials concerning Beulah Baptist Church mostly concern MBG's writing of Beulah Baptist Church: Highlights and Shadows. Copies of two of the Church's minute books are also included. Two scrapbooks, a memoranda book, and telephone directors follow. The first scrapbook contains clippings, lines of verse, snapshots, and obituaries from the early twentieth century, as well as three letters of Anna Maria (Garnett) Ryland (1826-1851), one to her brother, Reuben Meriwether Garnett, and two to her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Ferguson (Ryland) Willis.
Genealogical records include notes on the Burnley, Garnett, Gwathmey, Meaux, Rucker, Ryland, and Temple families. The Gwathmey folder also contains a biographical sketch of Edward Garlick Gwathmey (1839-1931) and a manuscript, "The Gwathmey Family of Virginia," by Mildred Bates Gwathmey. Clippings, miscellany, and estate materials conclude the papers of Mary Burnley Gwathmey.
Box 55 contains the papers of miscellaneous family members. A complete list of these individuals is found in the guide that follows this description. These items include: an 1870-1871 diary of Washington Gwathmey (probably kept at "Bear Island," Hanover County, Va.), a letter from John Newton Ryland to John Meriwether Garnett concerning politics in King and Queen County in 1840, and two account books, 1875-1876, of Gaskins, Moncure and Co., Essex County, Va.
Arranged into fifteen sections by creator.
- Burlington-Gwathmey Memorial Foundation
- Gwathmey family
- Plantation life
- Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives, Confederate
Account book, 1792-1824; accounts, 1790-1824; estate.
- Box 2Diaries, 1833-1834, 1837, 1845-1846, 1852, 1854, 1855, 1857, 1858, 1859, 1860, 1861, 1862-1863, 1864, 1866 (Jan. 2-16), 1867, 1868, 1869, 1871, 1872, 1874(20 v.)
- Box 3-5Correspondence, 1818-1875
- Box 6Account books, 1825-1838, 1838-1868, 1870-1875(3 v.)
- Box 7Other papers.
Accounts, 1833-1875; deeds, indentures and bond, 1818-1873; Beulah Baptist Church, 1829-1872; commonplace book; miscellany.
Correspondence, 1858-1864; account book, 1856-1864; memoranda book, 1859-1860; accounts, 1858-1864; estate.
Letters received, 1857.
- Box 8 (cont.)Diaries, 1872, 1910
- Box 9Correspondence, 1885-1918
- Box 9 (cont.)Financial records, 1866-1918
Account books, 1887-1893, 1895-1917; accounts, 1868-1918; and financial records, 1866-1916.
- Box 9 (cont.)Other papers, 1891-1918
Superintendent of Schools, 1891-1906; miscellany; and estate.
Diaries (7 v.), 1874-1875, 1905, 1907, 1908-1909, 1912-1913, 1914; memoranda book; correspondence, 1867-1915; scrapbook; music scrapbook, 1914; clippings; miscellany; resolutions.
Correspondence, 1899-1920; financial records, 1879-1916; student notebook, 1876-1877; Beulah Baptist Church, 1877-1915; certificates; miscellany; estate.
Letters received, 1864-1888.
Correspondence, 1847-1867; autograph book, 1852-1853.
Letters received, 1857-1903; scrapbook.
- Box 13-15General correspondence, 1918-1982
- Box 16Other correspondence.
Form letters; greeting cards; invitations.
- Box 17Account books, 1951-1980
Account books, n.d., 1951-1956, 1957-1963, 1964-1966, 1972-1974, 1974-1980; receipt book, 1953; employee hours book.
- Box 18-19Accounts, 1919-1982
- Box 19 (cont.)-25Checks and bank statements, 1916-1982
- Box 26-27Income taxes, 1942-1981
- Box 27 (cont.)Land and personal property taxes, 1918-1982
- Box 28Insurance and trust records, 1927-1982
Life and health insurance, 1970-1982; automobile insurance, 1953-1982; insurance on "Burlington," 1964-1982; Burlington Cemetery Trust, 1927-1982; trust fund, 1971-1982.
- Box 29Burlington materials, 1977-1982
"Burlington," 1977-1982; Burlington-Gwathmey Memorial Foundation, 1977-1982.
- Box 30Agricultural records, 1922-1982
Farming, 1940-1982; timber, 1922-1981; "Gwathmey's," 1977-1982; "Meadow Farm," 1927-1962; miscellaneous deeds of lease.
- Box 31Memberships and real estate, 1950-1977
Ruritan, 1950-1972; Board of Supervisors, 1955-1970; real estate appraisals, 1952-1977.
- Box 32Other papers.
Beulah Baptist Church, 1939-1970; student composition books; clippings; miscellany.
- Box 33-36General correspondence, 1918-1975
- Box 37Other correspondence, and financial records, 1913-1977
Correspondence with institutions, 1913-1972; greeting cards and invitations; account books, 1928-1936, 1931-1941, 1954-1960; accounts, 1925-1977.
- Box 38-40Bank records, 1916-1979
Planters National Bank, 1916-1933; Southside Bank, 1926-1979; Bank of Virginia, 1955-1960; Citizens and Farmers Bank, 1961-1971.
- Box 41Financial and land records, 1920-1976
Financial records, 1925-1966; land records, 1920-1976.
- Box 41 (cont.)-45Insurance agent records, 1921-1970
Account books (5 v.): 1921, 1937, 1922-1924, 1931-1944, 1936-1940; rate book, 1934; agent's letters, 1924-1967; client files, 1928-1970; insurance companies: Aetna Life Insurance Company, 1931-1945; Virginia Fire and Marine Insurance Company, 1933-1958; The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, 1935-1952; Davenport Insurance Corporation, 1937-1941; Winters-Oliver Insurance Agency, 1963-1968; Royal Globe Insurance Group, 1954-1962; Virginia Insurance Rating Bureau Service, 1941-1965; bonds; miscellany.
- Box 45 (cont.)Patent search, 1930-1931
- Box 45 (cont.)Three Arts Club, 1937
- Box 46Other papers
Speeches and addresses, memoranda books, clippings, miscellany, estate.
- Box 47-48General correspondence, 1910-1917
- Box 48 (cont.)Other correspondence, and financial records, 1916-1974
Correspondence with institutions, 1916-1973; letters of recommendation; greeting cards; accounts, 1934-1974; financial records, 1930-1974.
- Box 49-51Art and design materials, 1924-1959
University of Arkansas, 1924-1925; Columbia University, 1926-1943; design consultant, 1928-1936; Washington-Lee High School, 1943-1959; Virginia 350th Anniversary Commission, 1953-1958; speeches; biographical; clippings; magazine articles; notebooks; notes; miscellany.
- Box 52Organizations and projects, 1921-1959
Red Cross, 1921; Switzerland, 1931; Syvlia Hill, 1943-1959; King William 250th Anniversary Committee, 1952-195?.
- Box 53Beulah Baptist Church materials, 1936-1967
Beulah Baptist Church, 1961-1967 and minute books, 1812-1843, 1936-1952; scrapbooks; directory; memoranda book; essays and lines of verse
- Box 54Other papers.
Genealogical notes; clippings; miscellany; estate
Mollie Burnley; Eleanor Gwathmey, 1842-1931; John Hill Gwathmey, 1798-1839; Joseph Hardin Gwathmey, 1878-1945; Washington Gwathmey; William Gwathmey, 1875-1920; William Henry Gwathmey, 1819-1886; Mary Overton (Burnley) Meaux; Anna Maria (Garnett) Ryland, 1826-1951; John Newton Ryland; unidentified and family; miscellany.