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|Size||16.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 12600 items)|
|Abstract||William Worrell Vass was treasurer, 1845-1893, of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad Company and an official of the Chatham Railroad Company, the Raleigh & Augusta Air Line Railroad Company, and the Seaboard Airline Railroads (later merged into the CSX Corporation). Railroad business records, family and personal business correspondence, and other materials of W. W. Vass. Railroad materials are most plentiful for the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, but are present for the numerous roads with which Vass was in some way associated over his long career. These materials include extensive incoming and copies of outgoing correspondence as well as financial records of many kinds, reports, minutes of stockholders meetings, and other items. The bulk of the railroad records date from the 1870s to the 1890s, with some earlier material included. Also included are letterpress copy and sales invoice books of the Carolina Paper Company, 1895-1896. Family and personal business correspondence of Vass consists mainly of correspondence and other items concerning the numerous loans Vass made to individuals in Granville and Wake counties and other areas and to the properties he rented, particularly in Granville County. There are also letters from relatives and friends, papers relating to Vass's activities as a Baptist layman, especially material relating to the North Carolina Baptist Publications and Sunday School Society in the 1840s, and detailed records of the course and treatment of the typhoid fever suffered by Vass's son Will in 1898.|
|Creator||Vass, William Worrell, 1821-1896.|
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William Worrell Vass was born on 19 February 1829 near Oxford in Granville County, N.C., to Thomas Vass Junior (1777-1857), a farmer, and Lucy Hester. The family of Thomas Vass Senior (1738-1818), a Baptist minister and descendent of French Huguenots, had moved to North Carolina from Virginia in 1790.
Vass was educated in common schools. In his early adolescence, he clerked in the mercantile store of Major John S. Eaton at Henderson, and became a full partner in 1843. Eaton retired from his mercantile business in 1845. As the director of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad Company, chartered in 1835, Eaton secured Vass an appointment as treasurer of the railroad on 1 January 1845.
The state bought the bankrupt Raleigh and Gaston Railroad in 1848 and Vass secured the position of president. Vass's administration proved a success and in 1851, as the line was again profitable, Vass returned to his duties as treasurer.
Vass was elected to serve as treasurer of the Chatham Railroad Company, later the Raleigh & Augusta Airline Railway Company, in 1862. He remained as treasurer of the Raleigh and Gaston, which consolidated with Seaboard Airline in 1893. Owing to his advanced age and health, Vass resigned as treasurer and was appointed honorary secretary of the new consolidated railroad. By 1896, Vass had achieved the distinction of being perhaps the longest continuously serving railroad official in the United States.
In addition to his career in the railroad industry, Vass also served as a Confederate major, a director of the Raleigh Institute for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind, and as a trustee of Wake Forest College. He was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Raleigh for 49 years.
Vass's first wife, Amanda Freeman of Granville County, died without children. Vass married Lillias (Lillie) Margaret McDaniel, daughter of Reverend James McDaniel of Fayetteville, on 11 October 1866. This marriage resulted in three children; Eleanor, Lilla May, and William W. Junior, who became a prominent banker.
Vass died in Raleigh in 1896 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.
[From a draft of the sketch by Ronnie W. Faulkner for the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography.]Back to Top
Railroad business records, family and personal business correspondence, and other materials of W. W. Vass. Railroad materials are most plentiful for the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, but are present for the numerous roads with which Vass was in some way associated over his long career. These materials include extensive incoming and copies of outgoing correspondence as well as financial records of many kinds, reports, minutes of stockholders meetings, and other items. The bulk of the railroad records date from the 1870s to the 1890s, with some earlier material included. Also included are letterpress copy and sales invoice books of the Carolina Paper Company, 1895-1896. Family and personal business correspondence of Vass consists mainly of correspondence and other items concerning the numerous loans Vass made to individuals in Granville and Wake counties and other areas and to the properties he rented, particularly in Granville County. There are also letters from relatives and friends, papers relating to Vass's activities as a Baptist layman, especially material relating to the North Carolina Baptist Publications and Sunday School Society in the 1840s, and detailed records of the course and treatment of the typhoid fever suffered by Vass's son Will in 1898.Back to Top
Chiefly letters from stockholders and railroad officials. Most letters concern the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, although the other lines with which Vass was associated are also represented. Letters from stockholders mostly concern the transfer, purchase, or cancellation of stock, or dividends from it. Letters from railroad officials regard amounts owed by the Raleigh and Gaston and other matters.
Outgoing letters from W. W. Vass about railroad business. Most letters are to stockholders, banks, or railroad officials. They deal with overdue bills and various other financial matters, stockholders meetings, stock transfers, and related concerns, and other matters. Most letters concern the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, although the other lines with which Vass was associated are also represented.
Arrangement: by railroad, then by type.
Varied financial records of numerous railroads with which Vass was associated, as noted below.
Bills and receipts and related items regarding such matters as road repairs, supplies, such as cross-ties, reimbursements for over-charges, and dividends. Railroads involved are chiefly Raleigh and Gaston, Chatham, Petersburg, and Seaboard Airline.
Various items concerning railroads other than correspondence, accounts/ledgers, and bills and receipts. Included are such items as coupons and passes, meat and meal tickets for employees, resolutions, by-laws, lists of stockholders and minutes of stockholders meetings, miscellaneous statistics, and an album containing newspaper clippings about railroads and other matters. Most items relate to the Raleigh and Gaston and the Raleigh and Augusta Railroads.
Two letterpress copybooks with letters concerning the Carolina Paper Company.
Chiefly letters either concerning payments on loans Vass had made (confirmation of receipt, negotiating delayed payments, etc.) or requesting loans. Most letters are from individual debtors, and many of these are notable for phonetic spelling. Many other letters are from lawyers representing the interests of debtors. Scattered throughout are letters from insurance companies concerning dividends from policies and letters from renters of property that Vass apparently owned in Granville County and other locations.
A few letters in the early years concern the North Carolina Baptist Publications and Sunday School Society, of which Vass was corresponding secretary, and a number concern the livelihood of Baptist ministers. There are letters in the 1890s concerning Wake Forest College, attended during that decade by Vass's son, Will, and from Dwight L. Moody, requesting donations. There are also scattered letters from relatives and friends concerning family and personal matters, including letters from friends to Will Vass in the 1890s.
Largely copies of letters from Vass to individuals who owed him money concerning payments and related matters. Some letters concern rental property Vass owned. Included is an inventory of Vass's rental property and copies of letters he wrote resigning from jobs.
Receipts for loan and rent payments, and a ledger with records of these accounts; bills from cabinet makers, hardware stores, clothing stores, etc.; poll tax bills; and other bills and receipts.
Estate inventories; assorted legal documents, some with no clear connection to Vass; handwritten commentaries on books of the Bible; and miscellaneous other items.
Personal letters addressed to others and not written by W. W. Vass, some concerning the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, and some other papers. Included are detailed records, 1898, of the treatment of Vass's son, Will, for typhoid.
Processed by: Ginny Briggs, Angela Dickerson, Tim West, November 1993 with subsequent additions
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008Back to Top