Meriwether Family Papers, 1791-1949

Descriptive Summary

Meriwether Family Papers, 1791-1949
Meriwether Family
1/2 box, 3 folders, 74 items. Typed copies andoriginals.
Finding Aid Author
Archives Staff
Western Kentucky University

Collection Overview

Biography / History
I. Charles Meriwether
Charles Meriwether (August 12, 1766-October 7, 1843), son of Nicholas and Margaret Douglas Meriwether, was born and reared in Albemarle County, Virginia. His father died in 1772, and his grandfather, Parson Douglas, tutored him and helped provide for his education. In 1789 Charles went to Edinburgh to enter medical school.
While in Edinburgh, he visited his mother's relatives; and in the early 1790s, he married a Scottish cousin, Lydia Laurie. They had one daughter, named for her mother, who lived only a few years as did Mrs. Meriwether; they both were buried in Scotland.
Following these misfortunes, Charles returned to Virginia. In 1800 he married Nancy Minor (1781-1801), daughter of Dabney and Ann Anderson Minor. A son, Charles Nicholas, was born to them in August of 1801. Death claimed the mother shortly thereafter.
Approximately seven years later, the doctor married again. His third wife was Mary Walton Daniel, a Virginia widow. They were the parents of two children, William Douglas (1809-1885), and James Hunter (1814-1890).
In 1809 Charles and Mary moved to Guthrie, Kentucky, a small town located near the Kentucky-Tennessee state line, and they settled on a farm consisting of about 1600 acres. A year later, they built a commodious brick house on the farm and named it "Meriville." It was still in the possession of the Meriwether family as late as 1964.
II. Caroline Ferguson (Gordon) Tate
James Morris Gordon and Nancy Minor Meriwether Gordon were the parents of Caroline Ferguson Gordon (October 6, 1895-April 11, 1981), who was born nearTrenton in Todd County, Kentucky. She was educated at Bethany College, Bethany, West Virginia, receiving a B.A. degree in 1912. Caroline married John Orley Allen Tate in 1924, and their daughter, Nancy Minor Meriwether, was born the next year. John and Caroline divorced in 1959.
Caroline was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1932 and received second place in the O. Henry Memorial Awards in 1934. She filled the positions of reporter, professor, lecturer, and author during her career. Among her writings were the following books: Penhally, 1931; Aleck Maury, Sportsman, 1934; None Shall Look Back, 1937; The Garden of Adonis, 1937; Green Centuries, 1941; The Women on the Porch, 1944; The Forest of the South, 1945; The Strange Children, 1951; Old Red and Other Stories, 1954; The Malefactors, 1956; and How to Read a Novel, 1957.
III. Elizabeth (Meriwether) Gilmer
Elizabeth Meriwether was born on November 18, 1861, on a farm named "Wood-stock," which was located partially in Kentucky and partially in Tennessee; yet, Tennessee can rightfully claim her as a native daughter since the house was located in Montgomery County, Tennessee. After a few years, the family's financial burdens forced them to leave the farm and to move to Clarksville, Tennessee, where Elizabeth attended The Female Academy. Graduating from the Academy at age sixteen, she attended Hollins Institute in Virginia for six months. Elizabeth won the annual composition medal while at Hollins, and this event really marked the beginning of her writing career.
In 1882 Elizabeth married her step-mother's brother, George O. Gilmer, who was ten years her elder. Shortly after her marriage, she realized that her husband was unable to retain a job and that he was emotionally unstable; nevertheless, she tried to help him overcome both problems. He never improved for any length of time, and it became necessary for Elizabeth to be the family's provider.
After having some short stories accepted by newspapers for publication,Elizabeth began writing for the New Orleans Picayune in 1896. She soon became editor of the Women's Department and inaugurated her advice column. It was during this period that she assumed the pseudonym "Dorothy Dix," which name she used exclusively from then on, even signing her name as "Dolly" on occasions. In 1901 she joined the New York Journal as a staff writer specializing in the coverage of murder trials; but she continued writing her advice columns which were syndicated and published throughout the United States. In 1917 she returned to her beloved New Orleans. Gilmer continued to write her columns until 1949. In addition, she wrote the following books: Mirandy Exhorts, 1922; My Trip Around the World, 1924; and Dorothy Dix - Her Book: Everyday Help for Everyday People, 1926. After being hospitalized for many months, Gilmer died on December 16, 1951, and was buried in New Orleans.
Scope and Content
The collection is comprised chiefly of letters to and from various members of the Meriwether family. The papers (typescripts) of Charles Meriwether are the earliest ones, dating from 1791 to 1870, and include incoming letters (32), deedsfor land in Christian County, Kentucky, and Montgomery County, Tennessee, as well as Montgomery County tax receipts, surveys, and genealogical material.
Tate's papers, 1938-1947, are mainly her letters (originals, 14) to various relatives which contain family news, World War II experiences, and accounts of professional activities. Included in the collection are the 1944 weddinginvitation of Nancy Tate, Caroline's daughter, and the 1941 clipping of a review of Tate's book, Green Centuries.
Gilmer's family letters, 1930-1949, (originals, 13) are addressed mostly to her cousin, Mrs. Ross McCuddy of Adairville, Kentucky. (McCuddy was related to each of the individuals mentioned as is noted on a genealogical chart included in the collection.)

Contents of the Collection

Papers (typed copies) chiefly of Charles Meriwether. 1791-1870. 44 items.

  • Box 1, folder 1

Incoming letters to Charles. 1791-1795. 4 items.

  • Box 1, folder 1a
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Incoming letters to Charles. 1808-1843. 18 items.

  • Box 1, folder 1b
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Incoming correspondence to Charles from his brother, William Douglas. 1809-1840. 8 items.

  • Box 1, folder 1c
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Miscellaneous letters. 1852,1870. 2 items.

  • Box 1, folder 1d
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Montgomery County, Tenn., tax receipts. 1809,1811. 2 items.

  • Box 1, folder 1e
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Christian County deeds. 1810,1816,1819. 3 items.

  • Box 1, folder 1f
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Montgomery County, Tenn., deeds and surveys. 1811,1825 1851,1860. 4 items.

  • Box 1, folder 1g
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List of negroes given to W. D. Meriwether by his father, Charles. 1830. 1 item.

  • Box 1, folder 1h
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Meriwether genealogy. 2 items.

  • Box 1, folder 1i
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Meriwether family genealogical chart. 1 item.

  • Box 1, folder 1j
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Caroline (Gordon) Tate Papers. 1938-1947. 18 items.

  • Box 1, folder 2

Letters. 1938-1947. 14 items.

  • Box 1, folder 2a
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Letters of friends or relatives which mention the Tates. 1941-1944. 2 items.

  • Box 1, folder 2b
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Wedding announcement of Nancy Tate to Percy H. Wood, Jr. 1944. 1 item.

  • Box 1, folder 2c
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Clipping of book review of Green Centuries. 1941. 1 item.

  • Box 1, folder 2d
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Dorothy Dix Letters. 1930-1949. 13 items.

  • Box 1, folder 3

Letters chiefly to Mrs. Ross McCuddy, a cousin.

  • Box 1, folder 3
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