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 Duplication Policy section for more information.
|Size||6.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 3000 items)|
|Abstract||Correspondence, business records, and other papers of members of the Cates family of Burlington, N.C. These papers document John Wesley Cates's activities as a businessman, school board member, and city booster; his daughter, Bertha Cates's, activities as a coal merchant in Burlington; his daughter, Verna Cates Stackhouse's, activites as a supervisor at the King Cotton Mill in Burlington and as an active Democrat; and a number of personal and civic concerns of the family. The papers include thirty-three diary volumes kept by Bertha Cates, discussing her daily activities, 1937- 1979. Organizations with which members of the Cates family were involved include the Burlington Merchants Association, the North Carolina Retail Coal Merchants Association, the First Baptist Church of Burlington (of which John W. Cates was a founder), the Burlington Business and Professional Women's Club (of which Bertha Cates was a founder), and the North Carolina Retail Coal Merchants Association.|
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.
John Wesley Cates was born in 1847 in Orange County, N.C., the son of William Cates and Sarah Burns Cheek. In 1869, John Wesley Cates married Sarah Patterson. They had four children. After his wife died, he and his children moved to Burlington, N.C., where he worked as a carpenter. In 1885, Cates opened his own lumber and coffin business and helped organize the First Baptist Church of Burlington. Also in 1885, Cates met his second wife, Sarah Elizabeth Scott, who had come from Virginia to work as a weaver. John Wesley and Sarah had eight children. Sarah died in July 1917. John Wesley was seriously injured in an automobile accident in 1913 and died in 1918. Cates had been actively involved in organizing the Burlington school system and Chamber of Commerce.
Bertha Iona Cates was born in 1887 in Burlington, and was educated at Burlington High School. While still in school, she began working for her father, and after his automobile accident in 1913 she took over more and more responsibility in her father's company, J.W. Cates, Inc. When John Wesley died in 1918, his son-in-law, John Vernon, became president of the company while Bertha stayed on as manager. In the 1930s Bertha took charge of the whole company and continued to do business, much of it dealing with coal. She became involved in state coal affairs and helped to establish the North Carolina Retail Coal Merchants Association. Until she sold the company in 1967, she continued to participate in the Association, holding the positions of treasurer and vice-president for a number of years. She is said to have been the first woman coal merchant in the South.
Bertha Cates also was involved in the Philathea Society, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Burlington Business and Professional Women's Club, of which she was a charter member. For her many achievements, she was named Burlington's Woman of the Year in 1956. She died in 1982 at age 95.
Verna Lee Cates Stackhouse was born in 1890 in Burlington. She too was educated at Burlington High School. She went on to study at Meredith College until she accepted a position teaching business courses at Oxford College. She quit teaching to take a position as a supervisor with King Cotton Mills in Burlington, a job which she continued until 1937. Cates married Frank Boyd Stackhouse in 1926. Later, they moved to Durham, N.C., where Verna worked with the Red Cross, the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, and the local office of U.S. Senator B. Everett Jordan. She died in Burlington in 1986.Back to Top
The Cates Family Papers consist of letters, diaries, records, and pictures of the family, primarily those of the father, John Wesley Cates, and two of his daughters, Bertha Iona Cates and Verna Lee Cates Stackhouse. The collection is divided into three major parts: the papers of the father and of each of the daughters.
John Wesley Cates's papers primarily concern two areas of interest: his business activities and his involvement with schools. John Wesley Cates's business papers are varied. His businesses involved coffin making, undertaking, hardware, lumber, curbing, coal, and shingles; he also found time for a land company. The school papers pertain to the selection of a new superintendent of Burlington schools in 1910 as well as to orders for classroom furniture.
The papers of Bertha Iona Cates are chiefly personal correspondence, diaries (dating from 1937 to 1979), and material relating to the North Carolina Retail Coal Merchants Association.
Verna Lee Cates Stackhouse's papers are primarily personal and political correspondence and papers relating to her work as a supervisor at the King Cotton Mill. There are also notes pertaining to her civic activities, especially the Burlington Business and Professional Women's Club.Back to Top
Letters to John Wesley and Sarah Scott Cates from associates and family members.
Insurance policies, items concerning stock investments, bills relating to childrens' education, and correspondence with Cates's lawyer.
Items documenting John Wesley Cates's business activities in Burlington and elsewhere in North Carolina, including his lumber, building, undertaker, coal, concrete, and brick businesses.
Correspondence concerning Cates's activities on the Burlington school board. Most items are letters concerning the selection of a new superintendent in 1910.
Items concerning Cates's involvement with such civic organizations as the First Baptist Church, the Oxford Orphans Home, and the Burlington Merchants Association.
Correspondence with friends, relatives, and business associates.
School papers and exams from Bertha's years at Burlington High School.
Diaries kept by Bertha Cates, discussing her daily activities, 1937-1979.
Material relating to the Burlington Business and Professional Womens Club, the Kill Kare Club, and various other activities.
Correspondence, agreements, and customer lists pertaining to J. W. Cates, Incorporated, while the company was managed by Bertha Cates.
Correspondence concerning the Association, relating chiefly to its meetings, and a scrapbook kept by Bertha.
News clippings about Bertha Cates.
Letters from Frank Stackhouse, friends, other family members, and political associates. These items document Verna's family concerns and political activities.
Among Stackhouse's political correspondents are U. S. Senator B. Everett Jordon, for whom Stackhouse was an aide; Senator Josiah Bailey; U.S. Representatives William Umstead, Carl Durham, and Frank W. Hancock; and North Carolina Governors Cameron Morrison, J. Melville Broughton, Terry Sanford, and Robert Scott. Correspondence with these officials is scattered throughout their terms in office. It relates chiefly to contributions Stackhouse made to their campaigns and to Stackhouse's interest in particular issues, chiefly government retirement benefits.
Journals of Frank and Verna Lee Cates Stackhouse from different periods of their lives, chiefly documenting routine activities.
Correspondence of Verna Stackhouse relating to her management of the mill, and newspaper clippings related to the mill.
Items documenting Verna's activities with the Burlington Business and Professional Women's Club and other civic organizations.
Personal financial and legal items, chiefly relating to a 1957 dispute between Stackhouse and her health insurance company.
Items relating to Meredith College, where Stackhouse was a student, and Oxford College, where she taught.1
Newspaper clippings and notes.
Papers of William M. Cates, George Robert Cates, Frank Boyd Stackhouse, and other members of the Cates family, as well as items with unidentified authors.
Letters and letter fragments to and from members of the Cates family and associates, including William M. and Sarah Cates.
Financial and legal items of Frank Stackhouse and other members of the Cates family.
Writings, chiefly poems and essays, by unidentified authors.
Photographs of Bertha and Verna Cates, other family members, and associates.
|Oversize Paper OP-4341/3|
|Oversize Paper OP-4341/7|
|Photograph Album PA-4341||
Picture Album. Picture album assembled by Verna Cates Stackhouse, circa 1920 #04341, Series: "5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972." PA-4341
Page 1: Verna Cates and others at Oxford College, circa 1910 #04341, Series 5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972., Photoalbum PA-4341
Page 2: People in Wallburg, N.C., circa 1910 #04341, Series 5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972., Photoalbum PA-4341
Page 3: Verna and Bertha Cates and others at Oxford College, circa 1910 #04341, Series 5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972., Photoalbum PA-4341
Page 4: Verna Cates and others, circa 1910 #04341, Series 5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972., Photoalbum PA-4341
Page 5: Athletes and others at Liberty-Piedmont Institute, circa 1910 #04341, Series 5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972., Photoalbum PA-4341
Page 6: People, chiefly two young women, in Asheville, N.C., circa 1910 #04341, Series 5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972., Photoalbum PA-4341
Page 7: Soldiers at camps in the United States, circa 1916 #04341, Series 5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972., Photoalbum PA-4341
Page 9: Verna Cates at the King Cotton Mills, circa 1920 #04341, Series 5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972., Photoalbum PA-4341
Page 11: Three commendations for Verna Cates from King Cotton Mills and Oxford College, 1913-1918 #04341, Series 5. Pictures, circa 1900-1972., Photoalbum PA-4341
Processed by: Carolyn Roff, July 1986; Mark Beasley, April 1987
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008
Container list updated by: Dawne Howard Lucas, July 2020Back to Top