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Etta McKay Gillis Papers


Etta McKay Gillis (1886-1971) was born near Laurinburg, Scotland County to Parthenon Jane McCall and Artemus McKay. Her siblings were John Hugh McKay (1877-1945); Fannie Hall McKay (1878-1884); William Archibald McKay (1879-1941); George Hampton McKay (1882-1954); and Arnold Artemus McKay (1889- 1957). Etta was a graduate of Flora McDonald College, Red Springs N.C. Around 1938 she married a farmer and a widower, Angus James Gillis (1874-1941), of Raeford, Hoke County.The collection contains some one hundred and forty-nine letters, most of which are to Etta. The time frame covered in these letters includes the eras of the Great Depression and World War II and includes various exchanges about ... (more below)

Title

Etta McKay Gillis Papers

Collection Number

PC.2062

Date(s)

1917-1948

Language

English

Physical Description
2.0 boxes
Abstract

Etta McKay Gillis (1886-1971) was born near Laurinburg, Scotland County to Parthenon Jane McCall and Artemus McKay. Her siblings were John Hugh McKay (1877-1945); Fannie Hall McKay (1878-1884); William Archibald McKay (1879-1941); George Hampton McKay (1882-1954); and Arnold Artemus McKay (1889- 1957). Etta was a graduate of Flora McDonald College, Red Springs N.C. Around 1938 she married a farmer and a widower, Angus James Gillis (1874-1941), of Raeford, Hoke County.

The collection contains some one hundred and forty-nine letters, most of which are to Etta. The time frame covered in these letters includes the eras of the Great Depression and World War II and includes various exchanges about farm life; crops; sharecroppers; labor shortages; gas, sugar, etc. shortages; women's domestic endeavors such as gardening, canning, sewing; illnesses; community life; the United States' entry into World War II; training and lifestyles of servicemen; and college life for young women at Flora MacDonald College, etc. Etta was especially loyal to her extended family, but also to her alma mater, Flora MacDonald College, and to the Presbyterian Church.

Creator

Unknown

Repository

State Archives of North Carolina


Chronological


Available for research.


Papers purchased February 2013 by the Friends of the Archives.

Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.


Processed by Fran Tracy-Walls, 2012.

Finding Aid by Fran Tracy-Walls, 2014.


Etta McKay Gillis (1886-1971) was born near Laurinburg, Scotland County to Parthenia Jane McCall and Artemus McKay. Etta's mother, Parthenia Jane (1855-1920) was a daughter of Sarah Hall, and Hugh McCall. They were born possibly in Cumberland or Richmond County, portions of which later formed Scotland County.

Etta's siblings were John Hugh McKay (1877-1945); Fannie Hall McKay (1878-1884); William Archibald McKay (1879-1941); George Hampton McKay (1882-1954); and Arnold Artemus McKay (1889- 1957). Etta was a graduate of Flora McDonald College, Red Springs N.C. Around 1938 she married a farmer and a widower, Angus James Gillis (1874-1941), of Raeford, Hoke County. John Hugh McKay's occupation had been that of an accoutant; William Archibald's occupation was that of farmer; George Hampton was also a farmer, and lived and farmed in the McGirt's Bridge section near the lower Hoke County line in Robeson County. Arnold Artemus was a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, class of 1913 and held various teaching position in North Carolina and other states.

Nieces of Etta featured in these papers as correspondents include Jane Graham McKay and Catherine Hill McKay, daughters of George Hampton and Christine Graham McKay. Both daughers attended and probably graduated from Flora McDonald College. A nephew who corresponded with Etta was William Archibald "Bill" McKay, Jr. (b. ca. 1920). A native of Robseon County, he was the son of William Archibald and Eva McGirt McKay. A graduate of N.C. State University, he was an Army veteran of World War II.


[Identification of item] in PC.2062, Etta McKay Gillis Papers, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, N.C., USA.


The collection contains some one hundred and forty-nine letters, most of which are to Etta. The time frame covered in these letters includes the eras of the Great Depression and World War II and includes various exchanges about farm life; crops; sharecroppers; labor shortages; gas, sugar, etc. shortages; women's domestic endeavors such as gardening, canning, sewing; illnesses; community life; the United States' entry into World War II; training and lifestyles of servicemen; and college life for young women at Flora MacDonald College, etc. Etta was especially loyal to her extended family, but also to her alma mater, Flora MacDonald College, and to the Presbyterian Church. Etta is revealed as an independent woman who married around the age of fifty-two (circa 1938) to Angus James Gillis, a farmer of Raeford, Hoke County. She then found herself in financial straits when her husband died around 1941. She appears to have subsequently run the farm on her own, and managed with fewer resources than she had anticipated were forthcoming. Even in turbulent economic times, her college age nieces were not reluctant to ask her for sewing assistance and contributions to their college expenses as a supplement to their part-time job earnings and to their parents' contributions (their parents were also under financial duress).

Some noteworthy letters are those from Etta's brother, Arnold Artemus McKay, class of 1913, University of North Carolina, a former U.S. consul, Antafogasta, Chile, who had taught English at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis Md., and who during the World War II era was involved in teaching and training of candidates for the Naval Academy and also military service (at then State College in Raleigh). Other noteworthy letters were from an elderly aunt living in Winston-Salem; two nieces at Flora MacDonald College; and a nephew, a recent graduate of State College, called into U.S. Army service. As a whole the letters reveal the values, economics, and relationships of a family that had become somewhat dispersed during the Great Depression and the World War II era. The letters are often frank and indicate concerns with finances, illness, and other matters, yet show strong connections among family members, in a family with long roots in rural Hoke, Scotland, and Cumberland counties.


The collection is in its final arrangement and may be used. The finding aid may be subject to additions.