Daniel Augustus Tompkins papers, 1774-1976

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Tompkins, Daniel Augustus, 1851-1914
Engineer, author, and entrepreneur, of Charlotte (Mecklenburg Co.), N.C. Collection contains letters and papers relating to Tompkins' work in the Pennsylvania steel industry, specifically with the Bethlehem Iron Works, his career as an industrial engineer in North Carolina with the Westinghouse Machine Company, his personal life, his activities as co-owner of the Charlotte Observer and his disputes with the editor, J. C. Hemphill, his patents and inventions, his business activities and involvement with the textile, brick, and other industries, and the settlement of his estate. Includes ledgers and a stockholders' minute book of the D. A. Tompkins Company.
11 Linear Feet
6432 Items
Material in English
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

Collection consists of personal, business, legal, and financial papers of Daniel Augustus Tompkins (1851-1914), Charlotte businessman. Correspondence, 1874-1884, is principally with his fiancee, Harriet Brigham, discussing personal matters; his work and colleagues at the Bethlehem Iron Works, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where Tompkins was employed as a machinist, 1874-1881; economic conditions relating to Bethlehem Iron Works; life in boarding houses; social and cultural life in Bethlehem; Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; his organization of a savings and loan association; John Fritz, mechanical engineer at Bethlehem Iron Works; and his work as an engineer and sales agent in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Westinghouse Machine Company.

A ledger, 1881-1886, contains accounts for public committees in Bethlehem including fire, street, lock-up, lamp, health, police, ordinance, finance, and market; and accounts, 1883-1884, for selling steam engines for the Westinghouse Machine Company. Scattered papers, 1884-1914, generally pertain to Tompkins's investments, and to his dispute over editorial policies with James Calvin Hemphill, editor of the Charlotte Observer, in which Tompkins owned a majority interest.

Included are a cashbook, 1913-1914; notes and bills receivable and payable, 1889-1918; notes, 1906-1907, about gas engines; a journal, 1910-1914; and a ledger, 1907-1914.

Papers, 1915-1921, consisting of correspondence, legal and financial papers, scattered minutes, and financial statements, generally relate to the settlement of the Tompkins estate and his investments in the Charlotte Observer; the Observer Printing House; the Greenville (S.C.) News; the Atherton Mills of which Tompkins was a founder; the High Shoals Company; other cotton mills in North and South Carolina, especially Parker Cotton Mills Company, Victor-Monaghan Mills, Hampton Cotton Mills and Issaqueena Mills; the Troy Oil Mill; the D. A. Tompkins Company, manufacturers, engineers, and contractors with machine and roller covering shops; the Switzerland Company, developers of the resort community of Little Switzerland, North Carolina; the Charlotte Sanatorium, a general hospital; banking investments; and the Johnson Publishing Company.

There are also correspondence and other papers dealing with the writing of a biography of Daniel Augustus Tompkins by George Tayloe Winston entitled A Builder of the New South: Being the Story of the Life Work of Daniel Augustus Tompkins (New York: 1920); and with bequests to Edgefield, South Carolina, for their library and for the installation of manual training and home economics in the public schools.

Accounts for the estate consist of a journal, 1914-1926; cashbooks, 1914-1926; and a trial balances book, 1913-1918. There are also accounts for the D. A. Tompkins Company including a cashbook, 1907-1917; a ledger, 1907-1917; and a minute book, 1906-1916. Accounts for the Troy Oil Mill Company are a cashbook, 1914-1917; a general ledger, 1905-1917; and a ledger, 1914-1916.

Papers after 1921 are chiefly those of Sterling Graydon (d. 1974), nephew of Daniel Augustus Tompkins, executor of the Tompkins estate, and owner of the Angus Brick Company, Ninety Six, South Carolina. Included are personal correspondence of Graydon and of his wife, Nell (Saunders) Graydon, concerning family matters, politics, economic conditions, the management of the Tompkins estate, and Graydon's ownership of the Angus Brick Company; papers relating to Graydon's stock investments, especially during the 1950s; papers dealing with Nell (Saunders) Graydon's historical writings on South Carolina; information on the Cokesbury (South Carolina) Historical Commission and the campaign to preserve the town; accounts relating to the Angus Brick Company, consisting of ledgers, 1930-1945, and cash journals, 1934-1945; a personal cash journal of Sterling Graydon, 1930-1948; and a ledger of Clint T. Graydon, 1930-1935.

The collection also contains printed material and pictures.

Description taken from: Guide to the Cataloged Collections in the Manuscript Department of the William R. Perkins Library, Duke University (1980)

Biographical / historical:

Daniel Augustus Tompkins (1851-1914) was an engineer, author, and entrepreneur, of Charlotte (Mecklenburg Co.), N.C.

Acquisition information:
The Daniel Augustus Tompkins Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift between 1950 and 1973.
Processing information:

Processed by Rubenstein Library Staff

Encoded by Noah Huffman, February 2012

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 1950-1973

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.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Daniel Augustus Tompkins Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.