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Mary Rebecca Denny papers

 Collection — Box: SFC3 [F09.090.03.01], Folder: 343
Identifier: MS0343

Scope and Contents

The papers of Mary Rebecca Denny concern her career as the first full-time faculty member of Charlotte College and her extended family. Also includes historical notes on the McMillan-Denny-Horne farm in Robeson County, N.C.


  • Creation: 1970-2002


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

Recorded information on this family begins with Hector and Barbara Patterson McMillan, of Rennert Township in Robeson County, N.C. Their son, William McMillan (1814-1892) acquired several tracts of land in the mid 1850s in Robeson County, a short distance to the southeast of Red Springs, N.C. In 1864, he married Mary Leach Morrison (1826-1902), and with her had one child, a girl they named Katharine Morrison McMillan, born in 1865. It was probably in the 1870s that McMillan hired an assistant to help him with the farm operations, a man named John Thomas Denny (1852-1930). After demonstrating his industrious work ethic, Denny married Katharine in 1895, three years after her father's death. Denny significantly increased the size of the farm by purchasing neighboring tracts of land. He also branched out from crop farming to other operations, such as lumber, turpentine manufacture and beef. In order to transport his lumber to market, he built a narrow gauge railroad, running from his property to the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. He also built a mansion, locally known as "the castle." John and Katharine Denny had four children, including John Thomas Denny, Jr., Katharine Morrison Denny and Mary Rebecca Denny. Katharine Morrison Denny married William Henry Horne. Over the years, the farm property saw its ups and downs, through depressions, irresponsible tenants and overgrowth. Katharine Horne resolved late in life to pass the estate on to her son, William Henry Horne III during her lifetime. Upon receiving the title to the property, William promptly evicted their tenant, hired a new one with a proven track record in farm management, cleared overgrown land, cleaned up tons of accumulated trash, installed field entrances to guard against trespassers, rid the property of illegal hunting and generally improved the condition of the farm. Horne also sold off a few acres of land for residential development.

As stated earlier, Mary Rebecca Denny was born to John Thomas and Katharine Morrison McMillan Denny on August 12, 1896 apparently on the family farm, not far from Red Springs, N.C. After her graduation from Salem College in 1917, Denny taught English in several different public schools in eastern North Carolina. Later, she matriculated through a master's degree program at Duke University, receiving her M.A. in 1933. In 1936, she became associate professor of English at Queens College, in Charlotte and taught there for ten years. In 1946, when Charlotte Center of the University of North Carolina was first established, Denny moved to that institution and became its first full time faculty member. She also served as the chairman of the English Department until 1963 when Charlotte College became a four-year institution. Denny then relinquished her role as department head, but remained active within the Curriculum Committee. When she retired in 1964, the Board of Trustees awarded her the distinction of Professor Emeritus. In 1970, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte named and dedicated a large classroom building in her honor. Denny's three and a half year old niece, Mary Denny Horne, participated in the event by unveiling her portrait. Following her retirement, Denny returned to the family home in Red Springs and remained there until her death in 1979.


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Language of Materials



This small collection includes papers on the history of the Denny, Horne, and McMillan families of North Carolina, compiled by Mrs. Jo B. Horne, of Red Springs, N.C. in 2002. In addition to notes on the family, the collection also includes photographs of certain family members, especially Mary Rebecca Denny and Katharine Morrison McMillan Denny.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Ms. Bonnie Sawyer.

Processing Information

Processed by Randy Penninger and James P. Kusik; reprocessed by Robert A. McInnes in 2005. Encoded by Robert A. McInnes in 2005.

Mary Rebecca Denny papers
Randy Penninger, James P. Kusik, Robert A. McInnes.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

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