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Van Landingham family papers

Identifier: MS0057

Scope and Contents

This collection includes family correspondence, financial information, photographs, and memorabilia, primarily of Ralph, Sr., Susie Harwood Van Landingham, and Ralph Jr. The collection documents some of the activities and interests of the immediate Van Landingham family, including Deane, her husband Norman Cordon, and her daughter Susie Cordon; and of peripheral family members, such as Frances ("Fanny") Gibbes Taylor and Abigail Harwood, Susie Harwood's sisters; Frances Gibbes Frazier and Katherine Gibbes Geer, Fanny's daughters; and Norma Van Landingham Binder, Ralph, Sr.'s sister. Also substantially documented, primarily through scrapbooks, diaries, and photographs, is the life of Susie Harwood.


  • Creation: 1860 - 1986
  • Creation: 1900 - 1960


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

The Van Landingham family settled in Charlotte in 1869. Patriarch John Henry Van Landingham (1848-1915) was the son of Nathaniel Barber Van Landingham and Sarah Hicklin Cole of Lancaster, S.C. After serving in a South Carolina regiment during the Civil War, John moved to Charlotte in 1869. Around 1876, he established his own cotton brokerage firm, John Van Landingham and Son. He also served as business manager of The Charlotte Observer (1894-95) and was an active parishioner of St. Peter's Episcopal Church. In 1873, John married Mary Oates Spratt (1851-1937), the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Spratt of Charlotte. Mary was especially active in community activities including the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and numerous book clubs. John and Mary had three children: Ralph, Norma, and John Henry Jr. Norma married Jacob Binder, and they had two sons, John Jacob and William Van Landingham. John's successful business as a cotton broker, coupled with his and Mary's involvement in community affairs, brought the Van Landingham name into prominence. Ralph Van Landingham's wife, Susan (Susie) Harwood, was the daughter of Norman Blackmer Harwood (1830-85) of Vermont and Susan Drury Deane (1832-1918) of Massachusetts. The Harwood family resided in Atlanta, Bennington, Vt., Harwood, Fla., and St. Paul, Minn. Norman was a manufacturer and orange grower. In addition, the family owned substantial assets, investments, and property, including the Majestic Hotel in Atlanta. The Harwood family achieved wealth and social prominence in Atlanta society. (For genealogical information on this line, cf. Alven Martyn Smith, Three Blackmore Genealogies in the Rare Book Collection, CS71.) Norman and Susan Harwood had eight children: Henry (1863-93), Susan (Susie) (1867-ca. 1940), Norman Beaty (1869-81), Frances (Fanny) (1872-ca. 1950), and Abigail Lucinda (1876-1955), and three who died during childhood. Fanny Harwood married Arthur Barnwell Middleton Gibbes in 1895. They had two daughters, Frances Deane (b. 1899) and Katherine Hartridge (b. 1896). After Arthur died in 1904, Frances married George Lithgoe Taylor in 1907. Abigail never married. The lines of descent of Henry and Norman are unknown; Susie is discussed below. Ralph Van Landingham, Sr. and Susie Harwood were married on September 17, 1901 at the Majestic Hotel in Atlanta, then owned by Susie. Her family traced its lineage back to the Mayflower colonists. On June 14, 1902, Susie Van Landingham gave birth to paternal twins, Susan Deane and Ralph Jr. The family soon moved to Charlotte, where Ralph associated with his father's cotton brokerage firm. In Charlotte, they became socially prominent. The Van Landinghams resided on Louise Street until the mid-1910s when they built their estate at 2010 The Plaza. The property, located in Chatham Estates, featured a garden that became the hallmark of the residence. The estate, "Harwood," was willed to UNC Charlotte by Ralph Jr. The family was active in church and community activities, with membership in St. Peter's Episcopal Church of Charlotte. Ralph, Sr. held membership on the Chapel Committee of St. Peter's Hospital in Charlotte (ca. 1940-59) and the Charlotte Community Concerts (treasurer, ca. 1941-57). Family members also participated in genealogical societies. Susie was particularly active in the DAR at the state and local level (primarily Halifax Convention chapter, Charlotte). On the state level, she served as librarian (ca. 1925), chair of the Building and Bonds Committee (1925-26), and vice-regent (1928); nationally, she served as vice-president general (1929). Other memberships included the Colonial Dames of America, Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America, First Families of Virginia, Daughters of American Colonists, Daughters of Colonial Wars, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Society of Mayflower Descendants, Daughters of the Barons of Runnemede, and the Dolly Madison Book Club. Susie also worked extensively with the American Red Cross. Ralph, Sr., worked as a volunteer with the Selective Service Board during both World Wars. He held membership in the Sons of the American Revolution. [NOTE: More information on Susie's extensive and many-faceted community activities is documented in her scrapbooks, series 4.] The Van Landinghams were benefactors of institutions in Charlotte and in other locations, such as UNC Charlotte (through Ralph Jr.) and Crossnore School in Crossnore, N.C. They were also members of All Saints Episcopal Church in Linville, N.C., where Ralph, Sr. served as senior warden and treasurer (ca. 1947-51). The Van Landinghams were members of the Charlotte and Linville country clubs (Ralph, Sr. served as treasurer of both). At Linville, they participated actively in the club's annual masquerades and tournaments. Ralph, Sr. was a charter member of the Benedicts Club. The family also traveled frequently. In 1939, Susan Deane Van Landingham married Norman Cordon (1904-64), a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate and a singer with the Metropolitan Opera. The Cordons lived in New York City until 1948 when they moved to Chapel Hill, where Norman had a radio program on WUNC called "Let's Listen To Opera." Deane was a member of the Chapel Hill chapter of the American Red Cross (chair, ca. 1955). Other memberships included the DAR (state vice-regent, 1958) [she was also a member of other genealogical societies in which her mother was a member], Linville Golf and Country Club, and St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Charlotte. They had one child, Susan "Susie" Harwood (b. ca. 1940?). (Deane and her family are the only line of descent of Ralph Van Landingham, Sr.). Ralph Van Landingham Jr. never married. He attended UNC-CH (1918-22), served in the U.S. Army Air Corps (1942-45), and managed the Charlotte office of New York brokers Harris-Upham Company. Ralph Jr. became a benefactor of UNC Charlotte by establishing a foundation for the maintenance of the campus arboretum (Van Landingham Glen) and bequeathing the family estate to the university (sold by UNC Charlotte in 1977). He was a member of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Charlotte, the Linville Golf and Country Club, the Charlotte Country Club, and Educational Foundation, Inc.


3 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Papers of four generations of the Van Landingham family of Charlotte and of the Harwood family of New England and Atlanta. Includes correspondence, records of household expenses and investments, genealogical information, photographs, and blueprints of the family home in Charlotte, which was designed by Charles Christian Hook and Willard G. Rogers. Also contains extensive files, diaries, scrapbooks, and photograph albums of Susie Harwood Van Landingham (1867-1940) documenting her European travels, ownership of a hotel and society life in Atlanta, marriage to Ralph Van Landingham (1875-1959), and activities in the Daughters of the American Revolution. Also includes material (1918-20) on the organization and early activities of the Charlotte chapter of the American Red Cross.


The Van Landingham Family Papers are divided into five series: 1: Correspondence (1908-1958). 2: Financial Records (1900-1958). 3: Photographs (1860-1962). 4: Memorabilia (1888-1986). 5: Genealogical Documentation (1890-1961). Series 1, CORRESPONDENCE (1908-58), consists of two subseries: Subseries 1.1, FAMILY CORRESPONDENCE (1908-58), which consists primarily of routine letters among family members and from friends; and Subseries 1.2, DAR CORRESPONDENCE (1925-28), relating to Susie Harwood's activities in the national state and local chapters. Series 2, FINANCIAL RECORDS (1900-58), divided into subseries by individuals, documents general household expenses, bank accounts, management of estates and other property, and investments, through records kept by Ralph Van Landingham, Sr., Susie Harwood Van Landingham, Frances Harwood Gibbes Taylor, and Ralph Van Landingham Jr. Of particular interest is legal documentation kept by Susie Harwood Van Landingham on the Majestic Hotel in Atlanta, which she and Ralph, Sr. owned and managed (1900-30). Series 3, PHOTOGRAPHS (1860-1962), provides extensive visual documentation of the Harwood sisters, Susie, Frances, and Abigail (ca. 1880-1920) and of the Van Landingham family, including Deane's husband Norman Cordon and her daughter Susie (ca. 1900-60). Also documented are family activities, particularly trips and events at the Linville Country Club. Series 4, MEMORABILIA (1888-1955), contains as its most substantial documentation diaries and scrapbooks kept by Susie Harwood Van Landingham (ca. 1888-1915). They record European trips, Dolly Madison Book Club, and other social and community activities in Atlanta and Charlotte. Other memorabilia includes clippings of Charlotte happenings and family activities (1910-55); a guest register of the Van Landingham household (ca. 1900-48); and blueprints (1913) of the Van Landingham Estate. Series 5, GENEALOGICAL INFORMATION (1890-1961), contains primarily certificates of membership based on lines of descent.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Ralph Van Landingham Jr., ca. 1969. Gift of Ellen Patterson, 1981. Gift of Herbert Hechenbleickner, 1984. Gift of Norene Queen, 1984. Gift of Bonnie E. Cone, 1986. Transfer from UNC Charlotte University Archives, 1981. Purchase from George Cline, 1983.

Related Materials

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission Reports (Mss 77): Van Landingham Estate. UNC Charlotte University Archives (files related to Van Landingham Estate, gifts to UNCC, and Van Landingham Glen).

Physical Description

Approximately 5,400 items, including 413 photographs and 21 volumes

Papers of the Van Landingham family
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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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