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Woodside Family Papers

One and one-quarter linear feet of papers, 1857-1989, of the Woodside family focus principally upon Robert Israel Woodside (1873-1949) and his wife, Lula Baynard W. Woodside (d. 1962), who for more than half a century were at the center of Greenville's business and cultural life.

Along with his brothers, Edward F., John T., and Joel David -- "the Woodside boys," who were classed as "city builders" and considered among "South Carolina's greatest benefactors" (Greenville News, 5 September 1937) -- Robert, a banker, was instrumental in the erection of the Woodside Building, Greenville's first skyscraper, which became the new home of the Woodside National Bank. The "Sentinel of the Carolinas," begun in 1920 and formally opened on 18 June 1923, is most graphically represented here in a large photograph, 15 March 1921, showing the skeletal structure with an American flag waving atop its seventeen-story frame. Other views of the building's exterior and interior provide evidence for the significance attached to the addition of this edifice to the Greenville skyline.

Robert Woodside's international interests and impulses are reflected by the presence in the collection of two letters, 1898-1899, from C. Wakamatsu, a Japanese student whom he presumably met when both were attending Eastman Business College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. In reply to Woodside's remark that he hoped someday to make a trip to Japan, Wakamatsu wrote, 17 July 1898--"It would be great pleasure to me to be of service to you when you visit Japan, and surely I will let you have a greatest time. If you visit once Japan you will never come back again to this country, because the climate is soft, scenary is exquisite, and girls are so pretty." Invitations, programs, and menus document Woodside's participation in a four-month fact-finding tour of Europe in 1913 as a member of the American Commission of the Southern Commercial Congress, whose purpose was to investigate European agricultural cooperation. The titles of various talks presented by Woodside to Greenville's Club of Thirty-Nine further indicate his world view and civic-mindedness: "Modern Ocean Travel" (undated), "French Efforts toward Building the Panama Canal" (1913), "The Problem of Public Relief" (1938), and "Alaska" (1947). Scattered letters from Woodside cousins in Ireland, 1913-1938, reveal the establishment of a connection with relations there. Two letters, 1927-1928, written from Guernsey reflect Woodside's efforts to purchase cattle from brokers and breeders in the Channel Islands. And a letter from Wally and William Markus, Berlin, 24 April 1938, thanks the Woodsides for their hospitality toward the Markus children--"They are lucky to have met you, as it appears that you are a good substitution for their parents....It stands to reason that their gratitude towards you is also their parents' gratitude."

Newspaper clippings, programs, and photographs reveal the cultural interests and contributions of Mrs. Woodside, the former Lula Baynard Woodside of Baton Rouge. In a letter to her sister, Miss Lucy Ricketts of Memphis (1855-1920), 22 October 1900, Lula's mother, Mary Louisa Ricketts Woodside (1845-1901), characterized Lula as "nothing if not candid." She went on to report--"A gentleman said of her not long ago that she would never be a social success because she was too true, too sincere for the times. He meant she would never be a perfectly up to date society woman for that reason, she was `not deceitful enough.'"

In Greenville Mrs. Woodside was prominent in the musical life of the city, as a performing instrumentalist (piano and harp) and as a founder of both the Music Club of Greenville and the South Carolina Federation of Music Clubs. Numerous clippings further indicate her interest in religion, gardening, and the visual arts. Among the manuscripts are samples of her original compositions for the harp.

Six letters of an earlier generation provide more details for researching the ties which bound South Carolina to the Old Southwest. In the fall of 1859, while traveling with a party whose purpose was to explore possible new places for establishing plantation operations, J.L. Woodside wrote to his wife in Greenville to tell her of his visits to relatives and to relay his impressions of conditions and opportunities in various places in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas. From East Feliciana Parish, La., 16 October 1859, he declared--"There is a place...that I looked at yesterday that I can buy for 11 dollars [per acre] if I wish, I will take it if I can not better myself in Texas or Arkansas it will make on an average 2600 hundred lbs of cotton to the acre & 60 bushels of corn & is close to the rail road & 12 miles from Port Hudson."

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