A Guide to the Charles Willis Cassell Family Papers 1883-1950 Cassell, Charles Willis Family Papers, 1883-1950 Ms1984-170

A Guide to the Charles Willis Cassell Family Papers 1883-1950

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number Ms1984-170


Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Special Collections, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Email: specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/

© 2003 By Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Processed by: Rosana Magoia, Special Collections Graduate Assistant

Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Collection number
Charles Willis Cassell Family Papers 1883-1950
Physical Characteristics
11 containers; 4.2 cu. ft.
Papers of a Wythe County, Virginia, Lutheran minister, farmer and businessman and his family. Includes Cassell's personal, professional, and business correspondence; the personal correspondence of his wife and children; financial and legal records; diaries; notes on catechetics; and scrapbooks containing historical sketches of various Lutheran Churches, obituaries, family-related social events, and newspaper clippings concerning Cassell's services as pastor.

Administrative Information


Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Charles Willis Cassell Family Papers must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Preferred Citation

Charles Willis Cassell Family Papers, Ms1984-170 - Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Acquisition Information

The Charles Willis Cassell Family Papers were purchased by the Special Collections in 1984.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement and description of the Charles Willis Cassell Family Papers commenced in November, 2003 and was completed in December, 2003.

Biographical/Historical Information

Charles Willis Cassell, farmer, businessman and Lutheran minister, was born--probably in Wythe County, Virginia--on March 25, 1871, to Michael Cassell (1827-1898) and Eliza Ann Rapass (1830-1909). Cassell married Helen Roberta Buchanan (1875-1958) in 1899; the couple had four daughters--Eliza Helen (1903-1906), Anna Catherine (1910-1912), Rebekah, and Mary Brown (1908-1979)--and one son, Joseph B. Cassell, who also later became a Lutheran pastor.

Cassell was a prominent member of the Lutheran Church and served as pastor in several parishes, including Bland County (1896-1898); Tazewell County (1898-1905); Augusta County (1918-1922); Page County (1922- ?); Rockbridge County and others. During his work in the Synod of Virginia, he also compiled and edited--along with W. J. Fink and Elon O. Henkel--the History of the Lutheran Church in Virginia and East Tennessee(1930).

Cassell died April 14, 1937. He and his wife are buried in Kimberling Cemetery in Wythe County, Virginia.


Cassell C. W., Fink, W. J. and Henkel, E. O. editors. History of the Lutheran Church in Virginia and East Tennessee.[Strasburg, Va., Shenandoah Publishing House, 1930.] (BX8042 V8 C3 Spec/Large)

Scope and Content Information

This collection contains the papers of Wythe County, Virginia farmer, businessman and Lutheran minister Charles Willis Cassell and his family. Nearly half of the collection consists of letters to Cassell. While much of this correspondence concerns purely personal matters, many letters are related to Cassell's work in the Lutheran church and to his own personal business affairs. The personal correspondence of Cassell's wife Helen and three of their children (Mary, Rebekah, and Joseph) is included as well. The collection also contains a number of financial and legal records relating to Cassell's Wythe County farm and property which he owned in Marion, Virginia and Columbia, South Carolina. The collection includes a set of Cassell's personal diaries, together with notebooks and scrapbooks, many of which contain notes and newsclippings on Cassell's church duties and information on Virginia Lutheran history, apparently assembled preparatory to compilation of a book on the subject. A small group of printed materials (including a 1921 Marion College newspaper) completes the collection.


The collection is arranged in the following series:

Series I. Correspondence, 1883-1950. This series is comprised primarily of correspondence addressed to either Cassell or other family members. The series has been divided into the following subseries:

Subseries A. Charles Willis Cassell Correspondence, 1883-1934. This subseries includes Cassell's personal, professional and business correspondence. The personal correspondence (1883-1935), divided by subject matter and then organized chronologically, includes letters of sympathy following the death of various family members and letters relating to his marriage with Helen Buchanan.

Cassell's professional correspondence (1896-1927) relates to his work as home missionary pastor of the Lutheran Church. It includes letters regarding calls largely requiring Cassell's services as pastor in various Lutheran churches; letters concerning synodical matters such as the printing of the "The Monitor"(published by the Southwestern Virginia Synod), and letters and reports regarding a closer union between the Virginia and North Carolina Lutheran synods. Also included are letters concerning Cassell's role as financial secretary of Marion College.

The personal business affairs correspondence (1903-1934) is comprised of letters concerning Cassell's house in Marion, Virginia; letters from S.W. Hedrick (a farm manager in Rural Retreat, Virginia) relating to farm affairs; and letters concerning Cassell's property in Columbia, South Carolina. Many of these letters mention the economic difficulties Cassell had regarding this property as a result of World War I. The business affairs correspondence includes a few pieces of outgoing correspondence.

Subseries B. Family correspondence, 1897-1950. This subseries contains letters addressed to Cassell's wife, Helen Buchanan Cassell, and children--Mary, Rebekah, and Joe (Joseph?). Helen Cassell's letters include personal correspondence from family and friends both before and after her marriage. Mary Cassell's correspondence consists of letters from family and from Irvine MacNeill, a U. S. soldier during World War II. MacNeill's letters relate his experiences and feelings while training at Camp Lee and Camp Crowder, and later while serving at Drew Field (Florida) and Camp Gordon (Georgia). The subseries also includes the correspondence of Rebekah Cassell (largely from family and friends) and Joe (Joseph?) Cassell, as well as a set of invitations to various commencements, weddings and entertainments. Arranged by name of recipient, then chronologically, with invitations completing the subseries.

Subseries C. Other Correspondence, 1870-1947. This subseries includes correspondence sent to Miss Bertha Buchanan, Mrs. Mary Buchanan, Miss Mary Lookup, and Mr. and Mrs. Preston. Also included are letters to unidentified people. Arranged chronologically.

Series II. Financial Records, 1890-1935. This series has been divided among the following subseries:

Subseries A. Account books, 1899-1935. The account books mostly relate to Cassell's farm but also include bank, personal, trip and store account books. The books are all signed by C.W. Cassell, except one trip account book that apparently belonged to Mary Brown Cassell. The six farm account books contain detailed information regarding the sale of farm produce, statements on farm workers' hours and wages, conditions of crops, stock gains and losses and other farm income and expenditures. One book devoted to cattle sales also lists promissory notes and contributions made to schools, churches, libraries, etc. A personal account book, with notations regarding daily expenditures for groceries, gas, laundry, etc., is included as well.

Subseries B. Bank Account Records, 1899-1927. This subseries includes bank statements, checks, check stubs, and deposit slips from accounts held by Cassell at financial institutions in Graham, Rural Retreat, Stephen City, Roanoke, Marion, Buena Vista, Luray and Mt. Sidney, Virginia and Bluefield, West Virginia. The subseries is arranged by document type, then by name of institution, then chronologically.

Subseries C. Insurance Assessment Notifications, 1900-1913. These notifications were sent to Cassell from the Farmer's Mutual Fire Association of Wythe County, Virginia. The material is arranged chronologically.

Subseries D. Promissory notes, 1899-1926. This subseries includes promissory notes from Cassell to either individuals (e.g. Sidney Cassell) or institutions (e.g. Marion College). The notes are arranged chronologically.

Subseries E. Tax Records, 1915-1928. This subseries is largely comprised of taxes charged on the Cassells. The material is arranged chronologically.

Subseries F. Receipts, 1892-1925. This subseries includes receipts from different stores and the Norfolk & Western Railway Company. It also contains receipts indicating Cassell's payment on interest on mortgages for property in Columbia, South Carolina, and materials purchased to build a house there. Also included are receipts from various hospitals, the Theological Seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Philadelphia, Roanoke College, Presbyterian Minister Funds, etc. The subseries is organized by receipt type, then chronologically.

Subseries G. Farm Reports, 1924-1928. This subseries contains general statements of the farm work, time put in by regular help, special help employed, conditions of crops, increase or loss of stock, sale of stock, sale of grain not in exchange of work, sale of grain for work, sale of poultry and eggs, other sales, income and expenditures. The reports were sent to Cassell by S.W. Hedrick, the farm manager. The subseries is organized chronologically.

Subseries H. Miscellaneous financial records, 1901-1926. This subseries includes personal notations regarding Cassell's farm, a list of members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church that paid to support Cassell as pastor for the Bland Charge, the estate of V. J. Hudson, etc. This subseries is organized chronologically.

Series III. Legal Records, 1922-1927. This series is largely comprised of legal documents regarding Cassell's business affairs in Columbia, South Carolina. Among the papers are a charter for Caldwell T Co., court resolutions regarding a legal dispute on the construction of the Cassells' house there; a contract of sale between The Monticello Home Co. and Mrs. Helen R. Cassell, etc. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series IV. Personal Records, 1888-1934. This series is divided into the following subseries:

Subseries A. Diaries, 1893-1927. Cassell's diaries--ten in number--contain detailed records of his daily activities as a pastor of the Lutheran Church, personal reflections, letters received, and commentaries on weather, personal and family events. Arranged chronologically.

Subseries B. Notebooks, 1894-1895. Contains one notebook holding Cassell's notes on catechesis under Dr. Spaeth at the Lutheran Theological Seminary (Philadelphia).

Subseries C. Scrapbooks, 1897-1928. The scrapbooks include newspaper clippings concerning Cassell's services as Lutheran pastor, historical sketches of various Lutheran churches, obituaries and social events related to Cassell's family. (Note: newspaper clippings are pasted in ledger books also containing account notations from an unidentified church (1850-1852) and court judgments (1854-1856).

Subseries D. Miscellaneous personal records. This subseries includes Cassell's notes concerning the history of various Lutheran churches and pastors, newspaper clippings related to Lutheran churches, and other general materials.

Series V. Printed Materials, 1888-1934. The printed materials series includes a 1921 issue of "The Marion College Record," two booklets, pamphlets, programs, postcards, newspaper clippings and other ephemeral material.

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