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Collection Number: 00435

Collection Title: Robert D. Gilmer Papers, 1796-1926.

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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Size 3.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 3450 items)
Abstract Represented are members of the Branner, Atkins, and Gilmer families, including merchant and educator Joseph A. Branner of western North Carolina and Tennessee; his wife, Mary Josephine "Mollie" Love Branner; their daughters, Love Branner Gilmer and Ella Branner Atkins; Love's husband, Robert D. Gilmer (1859-1925), lawyer and legislator of Waynesville, N.C.; opera singer Josephine Gilmer, daughter of Love Branner Gilmer and Robert D. Gilmer; and Ella's husband, James Atkins, Jr. (1850-1923), president of the Asheville (N.C.) Female College and later of Emory and Henry College in Virginia. Correspondence and other materials primarily concern Joseph A. Branner's mercantile business in western North Carolina and Tennessee; the Branner Institute in Mossy Creek, Tenn.; the Asheville Female College; the "Love Speculation Lands," for which Robert D. Gilmer was trustee; Gilmer's legal and political careers; and Josephine Gilmer's musical career and trip to Milan, Italy. After Love Branner Gilmer acquired the Suyeta Park Hotel in Waynesville in 1916, there is correspondence about the hotel and restaurant business. The financial and legal papers mirror the concentration on these subjects, especially the school and the Love Estate lands.
Creator Gilmer, Robert D., 1858-1925.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Robert D. Gilmer Papers #435, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Gift of Mrs. Love Gilmer before 1940.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Joseph A. Branner was a merchant and educator of western North Carolina and Tennessee. He was a merchant in Mossy Creek, Tenn., in the early 1870s. In 1876, with the help of Reverend H. P. Myers, he founded the Branner Institute in Mossy Creek. About 1880, he moved to Asheville, N.C., and operated the Asheville Female College with James Atkins, Jr. Branner married Mary Josephine "Mollie" Love Branner (d. 1914), and with her had two daughters, Love Branner and Ella M. Branner. Love Branner married Robert D. Gilmer. Ella M. Branner married James Atkins, Jr.

James Atkins, Jr., (1850-1923) was born in Knoxville, Tenn., the son of a Methodist preacher. He became a Methodist minister and served in Morristown and Mossy Creek, Tenn. In 1879, he became president of the Asheville Female College in Asheville, N.C. In 1889, he moved to Virginia to become president of Emory and Henry College. He married Ella M. Branner in 1876 and together they had four children, including Love Branner Atkins. After the death of Ella M. Branner Atkins, James married Eva Rhodes.

Robert D. Gilmer (1859-1925) was the son of Samuel L. Gilmer and Matilda C. Moore of Mount Airy, N.C. His mother was the granddaughter of Jesse Franklin, governor of North Carolina and a United States senator. Gilmer attended Emory and Henry College in Virginia, 1879-1881, and the Dick and Dillards Law School in Greensboro, N.C., from which he was graduated in 1882. He was a member of the North Carolina state legislature, 1890 and 1892, and attorney general in 1898 and 1904. He was also the author of The Trial of the Sparrow for Killing Cock Robin (1898). He married Love Branner in 1884. The Gilmers had two children: Joseph "Branner" Gilmer (d. 1919) and Josephine Gilmer. In the 1910s and 1920s, Love Branner Gilmer owned and operated the Suyeta Park Hotel in Waynesville, N.C.

Josephine Gilmer, daughter of Robert D. Gilmer and Love Branner Gilmer, was educated at Peace Institute and Saint Mary's School in Raleigh, N.C. She studied in New York under Madame Ziegler of the Metropolitan Opera House for three years, and then travelled with her mother to Italy, 1912-1913, where Josephine studied voice in Milan under Emilio Metellio. Upon her return to the United States, Josephine performed several concerts as a prima donna soprano. She later married Jordan P. Chase.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection is divided into three series. Series 1. Correspondence includes family and business letters that detail the lives and careers of members of the Atkins, Branner, and Gilmer families. The bulk of the collection is contained in Series 2. Financial and Legal Material, and relates primarily to the business, legal, and educational careers of family members, especially Robert D. Gilmer's work as trustee of the Love Speculation Lands. Series 3. Other Papers includes calling and greeting cards, printed material, clippings, etc.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933.

About 800 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

The early part of the correspondence, 1796-1878, is primarily related to Joseph A. Branner and his mercantile business and school at Mossy Creek, Tenn. A few very early letters establish the relationship between the Love and Branner family. James R. Love, whose estate was handled by Robert D. Gilmer, was Mary Josephine Love Branner's cousin. There are a few letters about Love and Branner family business relationships. For the most part, however, the letters concern the mercantile business and Branner Institute.

Correspondence, 1879-1891, primarily concerns the Asheville Female College, Asheville, N.C. Included is correspondence exchanged with with the United States Department of the Interior about arrangements to have Cherokee girls educated at the school; letters from parents; corres- pondence regarding furnishing the school with books and other supplies; and scattered letters from or about students. In 1887, there is a great deal of correspondence between Allen L. Melton, superintendent of the College, and others about constructing a new building on the grounds. The school was closed permanently in 1901.

Also included is material concerning Joseph A. Branner's other business interests in Mossy Creek, including his real estate investments, relationship with his lawyer, George P. Yoe, and lumber sales. Other topics include Ella Atkins's role in the Women's Missionary Society of the Methodist Church; James Atkins's decision to move to Emory and Henry College in 1889; and the marriage of Love Branner to Robert Gilmer.

In the later years, 1892-1906, the focus of the correspondence shifts to the career of Robert D. Gilmer. A small portion of the letters concern his legal business in Waynesville, N.C. More of the material is related to his campaign for attorney general and includes letters from W. T. Crawford (1856-1913), F. M. Simmons (1854-1940), and Charles D. McIver (1860-1906); letters of support from fellow attorneys; information about campaign travel; congratulations on success; and a small amount of attorney general business. There are also letters detailing his work as a trustee for the heirs of James R. Love and the "Love Speculation lands." Topics include protecting the interests of the heirs, surveying the land, settling suits, and selling off portions of the estate.

Towards the end of the period, the focus shifts to the Gilmer family women. There are many letters from Love Branner Gilmer and Josephine Gilmer during their trip to Italy in 1912-1913, which include descriptions of their travel experiences and especially of Milan. There is also general correspondence between the women in the family and their friends about family and social news. After Love Branner Gilmer acquired the Suyeta Park Hotel in 1916, there is correspondence about the hotel and restaurant business.

Folder 1

1823-1859 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 1

Folder 2

1860-1869 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 2

Folder 3

1870-1879 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 3

Folder 4

1880 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 4

Folder 5

1881 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 5

Folder 6

1882 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 6

Folder 7

1883 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 7

Folder 8

1884-1886 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 8

Folder 9

1887 January-April #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 9

Folder 10

1887 May-August #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 10

Folder 11

1887 September-December #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 11

Folder 12

1888-1889 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 12

Folder 13

1890-1891 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 13

Folder 14

1892-1899 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 14

Folder 15

1900 January #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 15

Folder 16

1900 February-June #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 16

Folder 17

1900 July-August #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 17

Folder 18

1900 September-October #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 18

Folder 19

1900 November-December #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 19

Folder 20

1901-1902 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 20

Folder 21

1903-1904 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 21

Folder 22

1905-1906 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 22

Folder 23

1907-1912 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 23

Folder 24

1913 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 24

Folder 25

1914-1915 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 25

Folder 26

1916-1921 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 26

Folder 27

1922 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 27

Folder 28

1923-1926; 1933 #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 28

Folder 29

Undated #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 29

Folder 30

Fragments #00435, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1823-1926, 1933." Folder 30

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924.

About 1,300 items.

Arrangement: roughly chronological by decade.

Most of the financial and legal papers pertain to Joseph A. Branner's business; the Holston Academy, a school at which James Atkins briefly served, Branner Institute, and Asheville Female College; and to real estate speculation related to the Love Estate. The material includes bills, receipts, deeds, wills, indentures, certificates of investment in the various schools, insurance policies for school buildings, payrolls of the schools, plats, and survey records. There is also some financial and legal material of the families, including bills, receipts, and personal legal papers. In the last few years, there are a great number of canceled checks. There are also four volumes containing accounts, expense lists, and notes.

Folder 31

1796-1849 #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 31

Folder 32

1850-1859 #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 32

Folder 33

1860-1869 #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 33

Folder 34-36

Folder 34

Folder 35

Folder 36

1870-1879 #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 34-36

Folder 37-44

Folder 37

Folder 38

Folder 39

Folder 40

Folder 41

Folder 42

Folder 43

Folder 44

1880-1889 #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 37-44

Folder 45-52

Folder 45

Folder 46

Folder 47

Folder 48

Folder 49

Folder 50

Folder 51

Folder 52

1890-1899 #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 45-52

Folder 53-56

Folder 53

Folder 54

Folder 55

Folder 56

1900-1909 #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 53-56

Folder 57

1910-1919 #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 57

Folder 58

1920-1922 #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 58

Folder 59-60

Folder 59

Folder 60

1923-1924 #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 59-60

Folder 61

Undated #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 61

Folder 62

Pass book, 1870-1873, of J. A. Branner #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 62

Folder 63

Branner Institute provisions accounts, 1876 #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 63

Folder 64-65

Folder 64

Folder 65

Bill Book, 1876-1884, of J. A. Branner and enclosures #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 64-65

Folder 66

Notes, undated, of J. A. Branner #00435, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1796-1924." Folder 66

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Papers.

About 578 items.

Arrangement: by type of material.

Other papers include cards and invitations; miscellaneous printed materials and clippings; handwritten notes and fragments; and miscellaneous volumes. The printed material includes advertisements, brochures for hotels and restaurants, programs, and a speech on Robert E. Lee by Samuel A. Ashe. The notes and fragments include school materials, recipes, lists, and notes on a meeting of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Mossy Creek, Tenn., in 1875 or 1876. Miscellaneous volumes include two opera house programs and one libretto. Photographs are of various family members.

Folder 67

Cards and invitations #00435, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 67

Folder 68-70

Folder 68

Folder 69

Folder 70

Printed materials #00435, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 68-70

Folder 71-75

Folder 71

Folder 72

Folder 73

Folder 74

Folder 75

Clippings #00435, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 71-75

Folder 76-77

Folder 76

Folder 77

Notes #00435, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 76-77

Folder 78

Fragments #00435, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 78

Folder 79

Miscellaneous #00435, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 79

Folder 80

"L'Amore Rei Tre Re," 1908 #00435, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 80

Folder 81

Grand Opera House Program, undated #00435, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 81

Folder 82

"Faust"--Libretto from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, undated #00435, Series: "3. Other Papers." Folder 82

Image P-435/1-15

P-435/1

P-435/2

P-435/3

P-435/4

P-435/5

P-435/6

P-435/7

P-435/8

P-435/9

P-435/10

P-435/11

P-435/12

P-435/13

P-435/14

P-435/15

Family photographs #00435, Series: "3. Other Papers." P-435/1-15

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Processing Information

Processed by: Tracy E. K'Meyer, June 1992

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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