unc logo

Collection Number: 01007

Collection Title: Lemuel Bingham Wetmore Papers, 1834-1925

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.


expand/collapse Expand/collapse Collection Overview

Size 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 600 items)
Abstract Lemuel Bingham Wetmore of Lincolnton, N.C., son of Episcopal rector William Robards and Mary Bingham Wetmore, practiced law in Lincoln County, N.C., from the late 1880s until his death in 1918. The collection chiefly consists of papers relating to Wetmore's legal practice: court-related documents, such as motions, briefs, and appeals; documents used in evidence, such as deeds and contracts; letters; papers pertaining to Wetmore's legal strategies, such as notes and texts of instructions to juries; memo pads; and an account book listing legal services performed and fees charged. Types of cases handled include debt collection, contract disputes, divorce, slander, personal injury, a stock transfer dispute, and a missing baggage claim against a railroad. Other papers of Wetmore include law office administrative papers, petitions and political endorsements, letters concerning political attacks on Wetmore, letters from North Carolina politicians, notes and an outline written by Wetmore for an article on lynching, and a photograph of a 1904 train wreck. Also included in the collection are antebellum letters from William Robards Wetmore writing from Sumter County, Ala., to Lemuel's grandmother, primarily about family life and the Episcopal Church, a letter from Episcopal Bishop Joseph Blount Cheshire discussing William Robards Wetmore, and a set of humorous Civil War poems about wine and ammunition production.
Creator Wetmore, Lemuel Bingham, d. 1918.
Language English
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

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 Lemuel Bingham Wetmore Papers #1007, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Silas McBee Wetmore of Florence, S.C., in August 1945, and from Thomas H. Wetmore of Muncie, Ind., in September 1990.
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.
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

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.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Related Collections

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Lemuel Bingham Wetmore, circa 1867-1918, of Lincolnton, N.C., the oldest son of the Reverend William Robards Wetmore and Mary Bingham Wetmore, practiced law in Lincoln County, N.C., from the late 1880s until his death in 1918. Prior to that, in 1886, he and his younger brother Thomas were job printers and edited and published a short-lived local weekly newspaper, The Trumpet Apparently Wetmore was politically active with the local Democratic Party and at one point was an unsuccessful candidate for the post of solicitor. At the time of his death, Wetmore was in charge of the drafting of soldiers in Lincoln County for World War I.

Lemuel Wetmore's father, the Reverend William Robards Wetmore, was for thirty-three years rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Lincolnton, N.C.; his mother was a daughter of Lemuel Bingham, who was a pioneer in the development of North Carolina journalism. Lemuel was the oldest of three brothers; his brother the Reverend Thomas Cogdell Wetmore (1869-1906), with whom Lemuel Wetmore published The Trumpet, founded the Christ School in Arden, N.C., and his youngest brother, Silas McBee Wetmore, practiced law in Florence, S.C.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection consists primarily of the legal papers of Lemuel Bingham Wetmore. The bulk of the legal papers are sorted chronologically; however, some papers, mostly dated between 1916 and 1918, are sorted into case files. In addition to loose legal papers, the collection contains Wetmore's account book and three small notebooks. Papers not pertaining to legal cases are sorted chronologically. A separate portion of the collection holding the correspondence of L. B. Wetmore's father, the Reverend William Robards Wetmore, is chiefly made up of antebellum letters.

Back to Top

Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Legal Papers, 1834-1918 and undated.

About 500 items.

Arrangement: chronological and by case file.

Loose legal papers, pertaining to cases handled by L. B. Wetmore between 1887 and 1918, including contracts, deeds, letters, handwritten notes, briefs, and copies of court filings; memo pads; attorney's pocket docket; account book.

Wetmore handled a variety of cases ranging from debt collection to murder defenses, including divorce, contract disputes, financial management, slander, child maintenance, and personal injury. Most of his clients were individuals or local companies; he also contracted with the collection departments of several Northern credit agencies to act as their local associate attorney for collection of debts owed to the subscribers of the agencies, with his payment a percentage of the amount collected. For at least one case in the collection he acted as attorney for the State.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. Loose Papers, 1834-1918 and undated.

About 350 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Loose legal papers, including contracts, deeds, letters, notes, and copies of official court documents.

Papers are fairly sporadic for the early years of Wetmore's practice; papers dated prior to 1887 probably were applicable to cases handled by Wetmore. Included are papers used as evidence or background for cases, including promissory notes, deeds, contracts, invoices, and receipts. Folder 4 contains a list of case exhibits, "A" through "X," and a legal pad with detailed descriptions of each exhibit, apparently for a land dispute case. Copies of official papers issued by or filed in court, include summonses, complaints, appeals, transcripts, motions, briefs, and judgments.

Several papers pertain to Wetmore's intended actions in court cases--instructions to the jury, texts of summations, lists of questions to ask witnesses, and notes to himself. Many of the letters concern legal fees; it seemed to be important to Wetmore that what he earned was perceived to be fair, and he often explained in great detail how much work he had done, offering to reduce the fee if the client was upset by it. A number of letters reflected hurt feelings, both on the part of Wetmore and those he was communicating with.

Folder 1

1834-1899 #01007, Subseries: "1.1. Loose Papers, 1834-1918 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1900-1909 #01007, Subseries: "1.1. Loose Papers, 1834-1918 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

1910-1915 #01007, Subseries: "1.1. Loose Papers, 1834-1918 and undated." Folder 3

Folder 4

1916 #01007, Subseries: "1.1. Loose Papers, 1834-1918 and undated." Folder 4

Folder 5

1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.1. Loose Papers, 1834-1918 and undated." Folder 5

Folder 6

1918 #01007, Subseries: "1.1. Loose Papers, 1834-1918 and undated." Folder 6

Folder 7

Undated #01007, Subseries: "1.1. Loose Papers, 1834-1918 and undated." Folder 7

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918.

About 150 items.

Arrangement: alphabetical by client name.

Loose papers, primarily letters and official court papers, pertaining to particular cases or clients over a span of time. Cases include a stock ownership dispute, personal injury, contract disputes, inheritance, and divorce. Most case files contain fewer than 10 items.

Folder 8

Avon Mills: 27 October 1916-4 February 1918 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 8

The case appears to be a dispute over stock ownership resulting in the transfer of the presidency and control of the mill from plaintiff to defendant. Included are letters and legal papers sworn before Superior Court.

Folder 9

John F. Burris: 8 May 1903-19 January 1904 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 9

Suit to obtain payment of an earlier judgment that the Court Clerk paid out to a third party; contains notice of filing, list of questions to ask the defendant, official complaint, and judgment.

Folder 10

Perry Cline: 14 September 1916-10 February 1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 10

The plaintiff lost a finger in mill machinery while working at the Maiden Cotton Mill and sued for damages; official papers and letters, including letter to terminate suit.

Folder 11

May Cobb: 2 June 1911-5 May 1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 11

Primarily hand-written letters from Mrs. Cobb to Wetmore, who apparently handled a number of financial matters for her.

Folder 12

Denton: 28 December 1916-8 January 1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 12

Letters between Wetmore and lawyers in South Carolina discussing disputed money held for a minor.

Folder 13

J. H. James: 29 January 1916-8 January 1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 13

Sworn statement and letters from client in a debt collection case.

Folder 14

C. M. Loftin: 12 February 1917-26 May 1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 14

Letters between attorneys and letters from client. Wetmore's client claimed a debt against the father of another lawyer; some of the letters become quite personal.

Folder 15

Daisy MacDonald: 12 August 1917 and undated #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 15

Four letters from MacDonald asking about declaring a missing man dead and signing a voucher.

Folder 16

Kate Michal: 18 January 1917-18 April 1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 16

Promissory note and letters in a debt collection case.

Folder 17

Mrs. W. W. Motz: 27 September 1917-10 December 1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 17

Lost luggage; contains correspondence with a baggage agent of the Southern Railway system and a list of luggage contents and value.

Folder 18

North Carolina, State of: 24 January 1916-20 June 1916 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 18

Suit against the Rudisill Manufacturing Company as a public nuisance for causing the proliferation of mosquito breeding. Five letters, including a letter, 26 May 1916, from North Carolina Senator Lee S. Overman responding to a request for information and the use of a government expert to investigate malaria in Lincolnton.

Folder 19

Paulson, Linkroum, and Company: 10 December 1915-24 April 1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 19

Wetmore acted as local agent for a New York client suing a North Carolina cotton mill for failure to deliver cotton as contracted. Contains letters and official court papers.

Folder 20

Ellen Reel: 23 July 1916-25 June 1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 20

Four letters concerning the divorce case of an abused woman.

Folder 21

Royster Guano Company: 13 February 1917-18 April 1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 21

Four letters in a debt collection case.

Folder 22-24

Folder 22

Folder 23

Folder 24

Saxony Spinning Company: 17 January 1917-27 December 1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 22-24

Letters and other papers pertaining to three contract dispute cases.

Folder 25

S.A. Whitener: 1 January 1916-10 January 19[18?] #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 25

Four letters in a debt collection case.

Folder 26

Ella Wright/Mary Hull: 8 November 1917-28 November 1917 #01007, Subseries: "1.2. Case Files, 1903-1918." Folder 26

Collection of an out-of-state inheritance requiring negotiation; contains copy of will and letters from executor, contract hiring Wetmore, and receipts and letters confirming finalization of case.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. Notebooks, 1887-1909.

3 items.

Two bound memo pads, 1887 and 1903, containing notes about cases and fee payments; attorney's pocket docket, 1906-1909, with brief summaries made by Wetmore of Lincoln County Superior Court proceedings.

Folder 27

Memo pads, 27 October 1887-7 December 1887 and 1903 #01007, Subseries: "1.3. Notebooks, 1887-1909." Folder 27

Folder 28

Attorney's pocket docket, April-September 1906 and April-September 1909 #01007, Subseries: "1.3. Notebooks, 1887-1909." Folder 28

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.4. Account Book, 1899-1907.

1 item.

Wetmore's accounts of cash received; accounting of services performed and fees, by client name. Labeled "No. 3" by Wetmore.

Folder 29

1 August 1899-10 November 1907 #01007, Subseries: "1.4. Account Book, 1899-1907." Folder 29

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Other Papers of Lemuel Bingham Wetmore, 1886-1917 and undated.

17 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Papers of L. B. Wetmore not pertaining to legal cases, including law office administrative papers, petitions, letters to the editor, essays, and letters from prominent figures.

Among these items are the following: agreement, 1892, signed by S. Finley, dissolving the law firm of Finley & Wetmore and selling the contents of the office to L. B. Wetmore; 2 licenses to practice law in North Carolina, 1916 and 1917; contract, 1900, to be listed as a "Reliable Law Firm" in The National Bankruptcy News and Reports ; 2 petitions, 1898 and n.d.; political endorsement, 1910; notes and outline, circa 1887, written by Wetmore for an article on lynching; handwritten essay, n.d., presumably by Wetmore, on "The Newspaper of Today."

Also included are a copy of a letter, 1911, from Wetmore to Thomas H. Wright, offering support and sympathy in response to an anonymous letter received by Wright impugning the reputation of his daughter; letter, 1916, from North Carolina Congressman Edwin Y. Webb concerning the Keating Child Labor Bill; letter, 1916, from North Carolina Governor Locke Craig; and letter, 1916, from W. A. Fair while in command of cavalry troops at Camp Owen Bierne, Tex., discussing personal finances and official duties.

Additionally there are a photocopy of letter to the editor, 1917, written by L. B. Wetmore concerning the draft and published in The Lincoln Times; letter, undated, sender unknown, to Mr. Holton, praising L. B. Wetmore's political loyalty and ability and suggesting that he should be given a good position, perhaps referring to a political appointment; letter, undated, from lawyer D. W. Robinson to Robt.[?] and Lem [Wetmore], responding to an article about them in The Charlotte Observer; and a handwritten copy of letter, undated, from L. B. Wetmore to the editor of The Lincoln Democrat, responding to an attack on his character.

Folder 30

1887-1917 #01007, Series: "2. Other Papers of Lemuel Bingham Wetmore, 1886-1917 and undated." Folder 30

Folder 31

Undated #01007, Series: "2. Other Papers of Lemuel Bingham Wetmore, 1886-1917 and undated." Folder 31

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Picture, 1904.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Wetmore Family Papers, 1857-1925.

9 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Six letters, 1857-1861, from William Robards Wetmore, while living in Alabama, to his mother, about family matters and Episcopal church affairs; genealogical letter, 1908, from G. E. Wetmore to S. M. Wetmore; letter, 1925, from Bishop Joseph Blount Cheshire to Silas Wetmore, discussing the Reverend William Robards Wetmore; typed transcription of a series of humorous Civil War poems started by Colonel Thomas B. Wetmore of Selma, Ala., in response to a newspaper notice requesting that the ladies of Selma save the urine collected in their chamber pots for use in a nitre factory.

Folder 32

Wetmore Family Papers, 1857-1925 #01007, Series: "4. Wetmore Family Papers, 1857-1925." Folder 32

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Back to Top

Processing Information

Processed by: Barbara Aschenbrenner, November 1993

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, December 2009

Back to Top