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Sayre and Sullivan Families Papers

Identifier: MS0214

Scope and Contents

Because many of the men and women belonging to the families that are part of this collection have similar names, it was difficult to distinguish some of the subjects of the various materials in these papers. There are many letters and papers from the different generations of the Sayres and Sullivans. Many individuals were named Sayre and many were named Clayton (both male and female). The names were used as first, middle and last names repeatedly. Much of this collection consists of Ella Hargrove Sayre Sullivan Robinson's correspondence as a young woman, during her first marriage, and after her first husband's death, and her financial records, including bills and receipts and some bank statements. There is a very small amount of material about The Columbia Record and a slightly larger amount of material about The Charlotte Observer, especially from just before Sullivan and Curtis Johnson bought the newspaper. Since Robinson and the Linebergers continued to own a substantial amount of stock in the paper, there is some material about the newspaper after 1921 as well. There is also material about Walter Sullivan's illness including pamphlets relating to diabetes, diet, Dr. Tilden's health program and other general health advice; information on the diet he was supposed to follow; and medical records.

The collection also consists of five scrapbooks about and made by Clayton Sayre Sullivan Lineberger, between 1918 and 1937. The first scrapbook includes photographs of Clayton beginning in her infancy, and also show the house where she was born and grew up, as well as the domestic servants (African-American maids) that the Sullivans employed. Other scrapbooks show pictures of Clayton later during her childhood, vacations that the family took (including a cruise to Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Russia in the 1930s), Clayton's introduction to Charlotte society as a debutante in the 1930s and her connection with the United States Lawn Tennis Association. The papers also do not include any material about W. S. O'B. Robinson Jr. (for more information see the Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill on his father's papers, the Walter Smith O'Brien Robinson Papers, SHC #1768).


  • 1846-1969


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

Ella Hargrove Sayre Sullivan Robinson, a native of Montgomery, Ala., was the daughter of Col. Calvin Lawrence Sayre and Ella Agnes Lansdale. Calvin Lawrence Sayre (1832-1894) was son of Philemon Dickerson Sayre and Caroline Virginia Clayton. Ella Hargrove Sayre first married Walter Bernard Sullivan (b. 1885 in Savannah, Ga.; died 1921 in New York City), a co-owner of The Columbia Record (1912-15) and The Charlotte Observer (1916-21), on August 19, 1911. The Sayre family was one of the early settlers of Long Island, N.Y., and came to Alabama ca. 1819. Ella was a cousin of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Walter Sullivan developed diabetes in November, 1919, and died of the disease 2 years later, only months before a treatment was discovered that could have saved his life. The family retained its partial ownership of The Observer until the newspaper was sold to Knight Publishing Company in the 1950s. After remaining a widow for almost 40 years, Ella Sullivan married (ca. 1958) William Smith O'Brien Robinson Jr., corporate attorney and chair of the board of Duke Power Company. She died after 1970. The Sullivan's had three children: Eleanor Sayre, Walter Bernard, and Clayton Sayre. The first two children died in infancy or early childhood. The latter married Henry Lineberger, a wealthy Belmont, N.C., textile manufacturer. In 1957, they moved into the James B. Duke mansion, White Oaks, in Charlotte's Myers Park neighborhood for a number of years. Their daughter is Sayre Lineberger Meyer. (Meyer resided in the Lambeth-Sullivan-Meyer House [built 1927] at 435 Hermitage Road, directly across from White Oaks. Nationally renowned architect Charles Barton Keene of Philadelphia designed both homes. Meyer's grandmother, Ella Sullivan, resided in the Lambeth-Sullivan House.

Clayton Sayre Sullivan was born in her family's home in Charlotte, North Carolina, to Walter Bernard and Ella Hargrove Sayre Sullivan, in 1918. Walter B. Sullivan was a co-owner of the Charlotte Observer newspaper and was one of Charlotte's wealthiest citizens. As an affluent family, the Sullivans employed domestic servants, whose photos can be seen in one of the scrapbooks in this collection. Other materials in this collection show that the family travelled on cruises in the Atlantic and vacations to the American desert southwest. Clayton was also involved in the United States Lawn Tennis Association. As the Sullivans circulated with Charlotte's high society, Clayton was a debutante in the mid 1930s. She later married Henry Lineberger (probably in 1941), who was a wealthy Belmont, N.C., textile manufacturer. The couple had three children: Walter Sullivan Lineberger, Clayton Sayre Lineberger (a boy), and Ella Hargrove Sayre Lineberger. [References: Jack Claiborne, The Charlotte Observer; Nancy Milford, Zelda; Joe Maynor, Duke Power: The First 75 Years; Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission's survey and research reports on the James B. Duke mansion, "Lynnwood/James B. Duke House," and the Howard Madison Wade House; Mary Norton Kratt and Thomas W. Hanchett, Legacy: The Myers Park Story, pp. 111-112; and The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, vol. 19, pp. 37-38, entry for Walter Bernard Sullivan (1926).]


22.1 Linear Feet




Primarily papers of Ella Hargrove Sayre Sullivan Robinson, a Montgomery, Ala., native who married Walter Bernard Sullivan (1885-1921), co-owner of The Columbia Record (1912-15) and The Charlotte Observer (1916-21). Includes business records and family papers (ca. 1846-ca. 1900) of the Sayre family; Robinson's correspondence and financial records as a young woman, wife, and widow; and some financial records (1912-1922) of The Charlotte Observer. Also includes several scrapbooks that belonged to Sayre Sullivan Lineberger that contain photographs of the family's many vacations in the American Southwest and European cruises, as well as illustrate the life of a wealthy, young woman in Charlotte in the early 20th century.


The collection is arranged into three series, two of which (Photographs and Sketches and Subject Files) are further divided into subseries. The three series are: Artifacts and Memorabilia, Photographs and Sketches and Subject Files.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Ms. Sayre Lineberger, 1994, and E.H. Sayre Lineberger, in December of 2010.

Related Materials

Jose Baxeres de Alzugaray papers (ms0522)

Separated Materials

The Jose Baxeres de Alzugaray papers (MS 522) were received as part of the original donation, but were separated to create a distinct collection. Two music scores by Georgia S. Gossler were removed and placed in the Historic Sheet Music Collection (ms475). Titles of scores are "I always kept white flowers" and "I have a longing."


Previously titled: Ella Hargrove Sayre Sullivan Robinson papers.

Processing Information

Processed by David Rhoton and James Kusik, 2002 ; processed by Robert A. McInnes, 2011. Additional processing by J. Henry, 2015/16.
Sayre and Sullivan Families Papers
David Rhoton and James Kusik
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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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 28223 United Stated