Charles Laban Abernethy, Jr., Papers

Manuscript Collection #98
Abernethy, Charles Laban, Jr., 1901-1968
Physical description
32 Cubic Feet, 520 items , including correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, legal case files, school material, receipts, and a map.
Preferred Citation
Charles Laban Abernethy, Jr., Papers (#98), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1842-1970) consisting of correspondence concerning national politics, photographs, pre-World War II invitations, notes, legal papers, legal case files, school material, tariff discrimination, etc.

Biographical/historical information

Charles Laban Abernethy, Jr., the son of Charles L. and Minnie Abernethy, was born in 1901 in Rutherford College, North Carolina. After graduating from high school in New Bern, Mr. Abernethy attended the University of North Carolina for two years, transferred to Harvard University and graduated from that institution in 1922. He then studied law at Harvard and Trinity College (now Duke University) before receiving his degree from Wake Forest in 1924. Charles Abernethy, Jr., married the former Sarah All and joined his father in the firm of Abernethy and Abernethy. The senior Abernethy served the Third District of North Carolina as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1922 to 1935. The wife of Charles Abernethy, Jr., graduated from the highly-regarded Boston Conservatory and taught piano lessons in New Bern for over thirty years.

Scope and arrangement

Although little of the correspondence is concerned with national politics, three of the early letters deal with the 1932 Democratic convention. Two letters from June 1932 contain comments by then governor of New York Franklin D. Roosevelt on the Democratic convention in Chicago and the Craven County primaries in North Carolina. In a letter written during July of the same year, Frank C. Norbeck, a delegate to the Democratic convention, discusses the issue of repealing Prohibition and its possible effect on President Hoover.

Concerning state politics, for the pre-war period there is a letter (June, 1936) from the State Board of Elections listing the official vote of the Third Congressional District election between the successful incumbent Graham Barden and Charles Abernethy, Jr. Although Mr. Abernethy ran three times for Congress this is the only correspondence dealing with his unsuccessful attempts.

Also in the pre-World War II period are two letters of invitation. The first letter (December, 1938) is an invitation for Charles Abernethy, Jr., to submit poems to the Watchtower Publishing Company. The second letter invites Mr. Abernethy to be listed in the 1940 edition of the Social Directory of the United States.

In the years after World War II there are a number of letters concerned with state and local politics. Included are letters from candidates requesting support from Mr. Abernethy; correspondence (July, 1953) concerning the appointment by Governor Umstead of a replacement to fill the United States Senate seat left vacant by the death of Willis Smith; and a letter from Johnson Mathews (July, 1963), chairman of the State Board of Paroles, commenting on the verbal attacks on that board by Judge Clawson Williams. In several letters written during 1965 and 1966 Mr. Abernethy comments on the selections for public office made by Governor Dan K. Moore. Also of interest are U.S. Senator Sam Ervin's comments (July, 1968) on the nomination of Abe Fortas to fill the seat of Chief Justice Earl Warren, and a speech by Ervin in opposition to the appointment of Thurgood Marshall.

With the collection is correspondence pertaining to a lengthy illness suffered by Congressman Abernethy. Letters from Laurel Sanitarium, Laurel, Maryland, to Charles Abernethy, Jr., concern the period in which Charles Abernethy, Sr., stayed at that institution. Several letters from the former congressman are included. Also in the collection is correspondence with the Prudential Life Insurance Company concerning the legal guardianship of the former congressman.

Additional materials include newspapers and clippings from the various schools which Mr. Abernethy attended; newspaper clippings of cases in which he was attorney; photographs of John Nance Garner, William Kerr Scott, and unidentified persons in addition to numerous photographs and snapshots of members of the Abernethy family; charters and ordinances of the city of New Bern (1913); and two maps of the Havelock-Slocum Village area of Craven County.

Included in the collection, though not directly related to the Abernethy papers, is a group of papers (1848-1882) belonging to Johnson Bryan of Craven County. The Johnson Bryan papers include statements of debt and obligation, receipts, correspondence, and some business records. Included are mortgage papers from the public stage line operating between New Bern and Beaufort, North Carolina (1848); receipts from the purchase and sale of Negro slaves (1857-1859); mortgage of the mail line operating between Plymouth and New Bern (January, 1860); and a receipt (1861) for $100 for the hire of one free Negro in payment for a fine on a state indictment. Also included is an adjudication of bankruptcy, a certificate of exempted property, a dismissal of debt concerning Johnson Bryan (1868), and a resolution from the North Carolina Board of Internal Improvements (undated) complaining of tariff discriminations and maintenance deficiencies on the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad.

Thirty-two cubic feet of legal case files for the law firm of Abernethy and Abernethy are completely sealed and will not be open to the public before January, 1995. The manuscript committee will have sole responsibility for deciding upon accessibility to the files after the above date.

Administrative information
Custodial History

October 1, 1969, 16 cubic feet; Legal case files of law firm of Abernethy and Abernethy of New Bern, N.C.

November 24, 1969, 12 cubic feet; Personal correspondence, photographs, clippings, legal files, and miscellaneous. Gift of Mrs. Charles L. Abernethy, Jr., New Bern, N.C.

May 6, 1970, (unprocessed addition 1), ca. 300 items.; correspondence, photographs, clippings, pamphlets, scrapbooks, miscellaneous. Donor: Mrs. Charles L. Abernethy, Jr.

June 27, 1973, (unprocessed addition 2), ca. 250 items.; poems. Donor: Mrs. Charles L. Abernethy, Jr.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Charles L. Abernethy, Jr.

Processing information

Processed by G. Newbold, April 1970

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Abernethy, Charles L. (Charles Laban), 1872-1955
Abernethy, Charles Laban, Jr., 1901-1968
Bryan, Johnson
Meeting Names
Democratic National Convention (1932 : Chicago, Ill.)
Lawyers--North Carolina--Craven County
Slavery--North Carolina--Craven County
Craven County (N.C.)--Politics and government
New Bern (N.C.)
North Carolina--Politics and government--1865-1950

Container list
Box 1 Correspondence
Box 2 Correspondence; Johnson Bryan Papers
Box 3 Newspaper Clippings; Photographs
Box 4 Date Books; Published Material
Box m Map
Folder os2 Newspapers
Folder os1 Certificates and Awards