Southgate-Jones Family papers, 1760-2008

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Southgate-Jones family
22.4 Linear Feet
circa 13,456
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Southgate-Jones family papers, 1794-1990s (bulk 1912-1933), are largely comprised of both business and personal correspondence, but also include printed material; photographs; genealogical information; business records in the form of volumes, reports, and minutes of meetings; clippings; and legal and financial papers. Several generations of Southgate and Jones family members are represented, including James Southgate, James H. Southgate, Mattie Logan Southgate Jones and James Southgate ("South") Jones. These individuals were involved in business, educational, political, civic, social and cultural activities in Durham and North Carolina during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Areas include insurance, real estate and tobacco businesses, banking, the administration of Trinity College, the women's suffrage movement, the Durham Civic Association, and Durham Masonic Lodge No. 352. The collection is useful for studying the history of Durham and North Carolina, the regional application of national policy toward farmers during the 1920s and 1930s, and the family history of prominent citizens.

A significant portion of the collection was generated by James Southgate Jones as President of the North Carolina Joint Stock Land Bank of Durham. This organization was one of twelve created by the Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916, to encourage farmers to purchase land with low interest, long term loans financed by the sale of stocks and bonds to investors. The bank was liquidated in 1942. The majority of correspondence dating before 1930 in the North Carolina Joint Stock Land Bank of Durham Series contains documents relating to the sale of farm land in North Carolina and, to a much lesser extent, Virginia; the financing of loans; and, after 1930, the increasingly harsh economic situation farmers faced as banks foreclosed on their loans. There is also discussion of foreclosure policies, relief programs, and the Hull-Wolcott Bill of 1933 in later correspondence. Included are communications with investment brokers in New York and Boston, property owners, real estate agents in North Carolina and elsewhere, prospective clients, banks in North Carolina and other states, and to a lesser extent the United States Treasury Department. There is also correspondence between James Southgate Jones, other officers of the bank and members of its Board of Directors. The series contains some financial reports from other land banks in Nebraska, Chicago, California, and Washington, D.C. Also included in the financial papers subseries are: lists of property owned, money loaned, farms for sale, farms purchased, and foreclosures; receipts for the sale of land and stock; balance sheets; and bank expenditures.

Other family business endeavors are documented in the Correspondence and Business Records Series. Both series contain information about the business endeavors of tobacco merchant T.D. Jones, including letters and notes from tobacco merchants throughout the Southeast who sold his products. Volumes in the Business Records Series record the financial affairs of J. Southgate and Son, an insurance agency begun by James Southgate and later headed by James H. Southgate; agencies affiliated with J. Southgate and Son; and Southgate Jones and Company Real Estate, headed by James Southgate Jones. Scattered Correspondence, 1890s- early 1910s, and a letterbook of James H. Southgate (1901-1906), relating to J. Southgate and Son, concern these businesses. As President of Southgate Jones and Company Real Estate, James Southgate Jones handled property in North Carolina, such as farmland and Durham homes and businesses as well as property in Virginia and New York. The bulk of the Correspondence between 1912 and 1914 deals with the promotion of North Carolina land to prospective buyers, especially in the North and West; and efforts of businessmen to make deals with Jones. These letters may be useful for examining the development of Durham between 1910 and 1920. There is limited correspondence regarding early land stock business unaffiliated with the North Carolina Joint Stock Land Bank of Durham.

Information on the civic and political activities of family members is located in the Correspondence, Printed Material, Writings and Speeches and Miscellaneous Series. Correspondence, particularly after 1916, was generated almost exclusively by Mattie Southgate Jones's involvement in the Durham Civic Association and a variety of women's clubs. The Miscellaneous Series contains materials relating to her involvement with the North Carolina State Fair, suffrage, and a Durham campaign for a waste disposal program. Correspondence about the suffrage campaign, 1918-1922, discusses soliciting names for petition drives, lobbying state senators, and political strategy and organization. Mrs. Jones was responsible for petition drives on the Trinity College campus. Other suffragist leaders with whom she frequently corresponded include Gertrude Weil, who served as Vice President and President of the North Carolina Equal Suffrage Association. A letterbook (1897-1902) kept by James Southgate concerns his involvement with the Masons, Elks and Templars. In addition to a small number of letters pertaining to his insurance business, the bulk are to other Lodge members and pertain to the Grand Chapter, the national organization and other business of Durham Masonic Lodge No. 352, including the sponsorship of an Orphan Asylum in Oxford, North Carolina. James H. Southgate's letterbook (1901-1906) contains a small amount of correspondence, 1903-1904, concerning his position as a Trustee of Trinity College, and includes discussion of the Bassett affair and the formation of Greensboro Women's College.

The extensive genealogical research of Mattie Southgate Jones is located in the Correspondence, Genealogy, Pictures and Miscellaneous Series. Additional information on family members can be found in the Clippings, Legal Papers and Financial Papers Series. The majority of letters written in the Correspondence Series between 1922 and 1934 consist of contacts made by relatives in North Carolina and elsewhere, in response to Mrs. Jones's queries. The largest amount of material relates to the Jeffreys, Jones, Southgate, and Wynne families. Photographs in the Pictures Series correspond to written information, and often unidentified loose photographs can be matched to labeled ones in albums.

The Correspondence Series contains a small amount of commentary, 1861-1863, on the Civil War, including letters from family members serving with the 1st North Carolina Cavalry Regiment. One letter includes an account by a civilian of the Union cavalry expedition from New Bern to Tarboro and Rocky Mount, North Carolina in July, 1863. The series also contains correspondence between family and friends. Included are a number of letters, 1906-1930, between James Southgate Jones ("South") and his uncle James H. Southgate, mother Mattie Southgate Jones, and brother Lyell Jones, written while he was away at school or traveling. Letters, 1909-1910, that South and Lyell wrote during a trip out West describe new surroundings, particularly New Mexico. There are also letters from South, Mattie, and other family members to Lyell from 1912-1913, during his extended illness and stay at the Winyah Sanatorium in Asheville, N.C. Other correspondents include James Southgate and Celestia Muse Southgate Simmons.

The collection also includes lantern slides, tintypes, daguerrotypes, and cartes-de-visites in the Picture Series. Subjects include family members and Durham businesses, streets and homes in the late nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

Additions to the collection have not been interfiled, and include business records, photographs, scrapbooks, a cookbook, and autobiographies of some family members. Please consult the detailed list below for more information.

The papers of James Southgate (1832-1914) form a separate collection in the Duke University Special Collections Department. Collections in the Duke University Archives related to the career of James Haywood Southgate include the William Preston Few Papers, the Trinity College Board of Trustee Papers, and the John Carlisle Kilgo Papers.

Biographical / historical:
James Southgate
Date Event
1832, July 26
Born, Edgefield, Va.
Attended the University of Virginia
Became member of the Masonic Lodge in Norfolk, Va.
Opened Norfolk Military Institute with brother
1857, Aug. 4
Married Delia Haywood Wynne
Served in the Confederate Army
President of Louisburg Female College in Louisburg, N.C.
Moved to Hillsborough, N.C., and began Southgate Insurance Agency, later called J. Southgate and Son
Moved to Durham, N.C. to expand insurance business
1876-1878 and 1886-1887
Appointed Worshipful Master for Durham Masonic Lodge No. 352
1914, Oct. 28
Died, Durham, N.C.

Mr. Southgate was a teacher and educational administrator who later opened the first insurance business in Durham. He was a member of the Royal Arch Masons and the Knights Templar. After his career at Louisburg Female College, he served as president of Olin College in Iredell County, N.C. Among his children were James Haywood Southgate (1859-1916) and Mattie Logan Southgate Jones (1864-1936).

James Heywood Southgate
Date Event
1859, July 12
Born, Norfolk, Va.
Became partner in J. Southgate and Son Insurance Company
1882, Dec.
Married Kate Shephard Fuller (d. 1892)
Elected presidential candidate on Prohibition ticket
Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Trinity College
President of National Association of Insurance Writers
1916, Feb. 22
Died, Durham, N.C.

Mr. Southgate attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill briefly before entering the insurance business. He played a principal role in J. Southgate and Son from the 1880s onward, serving as President until his death. He was the first in Durham to enter the banking business. Southgate was active in Democratic and Prohibition politics, and served as President, Director, or Trustee of a number of civic and professional groups including the Durham Chamber of Commerce, the Durham Land and Security Company, the North Carolina Peace Society, the Durham County Fair, the Citizens' National Bank, the YMCA, the Durham Public Library, and the Southern Conservatory of Music. He was Secretary of Durham Masonic Lodge No. 352 and a member of the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church.

Thomas Decatur Jones
Date Event
1852, Oct. 18
Born in Danville, Va.
Moved to Durham, N.C.
1884, Oct. 21
Married Mattie Logan Southgate
1889, Oct. 30

Mr. Jones was a dealer in fancy leaf tobacco, a business which he expanded profitably in Durham, N.C. He had two children, including a son, James Southgate Jones. He was a member of the Durham Tobacco Association and the Durham Chamber of Commerce.

Mattie Logan Southgate Jones
Date Event
1864, Oct. 14
Helped plan women's parade for the North Carolina State Fair
1918 and 1920
Campaigned for the passage of the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution

Mrs. Jones attended Reverend Harris's College in Staunton, Va. Among the positions she held were President of the Durham Equal Suffrage League, President of the Durham Civic Association, and Chairman of the Fifth District of the Equal Suffrage Association of North Carolina. She was a member of the North Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs.

James Southgate
Date Event
1888, July 23
Attended Bingham School in Asheville, N.C.
Opened the People's Bank in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Became President of Southgate Jones and Company Real Estate
Became manager of the Durham Morris Plan Company
1920, Feb. 7
Married Nancy Amorette Green
President of the North Carolina Joint Stock Land Bank of Durham

Mr. Jones also attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. Before opening the People's Bank, he was employed at the First National Bank of Durham. He was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, the Masonic and Pythian Lodges, and the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church. He was a charter member and treasurer of the Durham Chamber of Commerce and President of the Durham YMCA.

Acquisition information:

The Southgate-Jones Family Papers (1760-2008) were donated to the Special Collections Department in 1970 by members of the Jones family. Some papers were transferred to the collection from the former Trinity College Papers in 1971.

Additions to this collection include: 2009-0020, 2010-0086 and 2011-0091.

Processing information:

Processed by Janie Morris and Denise Dolan

Date Completed: November 6, 1991

Encoded by: Alvin Pollock, Stephen Miller

Updated by: Meghan Lyon, February, 2009 and May, 2010

Updated by: Alice Poffinberger, June 2011

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is open for research.

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The copyright interests in the Southgate-Jones Family Papers have not been transferred to Duke University. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Rubenstein Library.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Southgate-Jones Family Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.