I’m working on a more extensive post about social life in Winston at the turn of the 20th century, but could not resist leaking this wonderful bit.

The children of the first wave of tobacco and textile millionaires in Winston-Salem grew up in the Victorian era, when some inhibited folks were inspired to put skirts on table legs. But their love lives were not as constrained as one might think. The young men and women of the West End had an especially diverse social life.

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Four college students on an outing in the late 1890s. At left, Carro Buxton, daughter of John Cameron Buxton, a prominent lawyer and godfather of the school system and the Carnegie Public Library, perches on a bicycle built for two held up by Frank Rogers, the son of Captain Mitchell Rogers, one of the founders of what eventually became Brown Rogers Dixson hardware.

At right with their conventional bicycles, are Cam Buxton, Carro’s brother, and Sadie Hanes, daughter of Philip Hanes, a partner, with his brother Benjamin Franklin, in the B.F. Hanes Tobacco Company.

Neither of these liaisons lasted long. All four ended up marrying someone else. But they were part of a group, as you will see in a later post, that dominated the youthful social life of the Twin City. For the moment, I want to focus on the ladies. Carro Buxton was the belle of the ball in Winston and led an interesting life, but Sadie Hanes got the brass ring.

Carro Buxton was the first born child of John Cameron and Agnes Belo Buxton. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1901. Her grandfather, Edward Belo, had operated “E. Belo’s Leviathan”, the biggest retail and wholesale general merchandise business in the area, and was also one of the founders of the local railroad. But it was her uncle, Alfred Horatio Belo, who would have the most influence in her life.

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Caro Buxton’s senior picture, Bryn Mawr College, 1901

Alfred, an avid secessionist and the founder of the first company from Forsyth County to enter the Civil War, was one of those diehards who in 1865 went west to join up with Nathan Bedford Forrest in his ill fated plan to continue the Civil War as a guerrilla  struggle. When that fell through, Belo found a job with a Texas weekly newspaper, then eventually founded the Dallas Morning News, which would become one of the nation’s leading newspapers. The Belo Company is still an important force in the Dallas area today.

But it is also why the Belo name has become nearly extinct in Winston-Salem. Eventually, most of the Belos migrated west to join the party. Carro was no exception. Through her family connections, she met a Dallas cotton merchant, Henry L. Edwards. They married in 1910 and moved to Dallas.

We know that she traveled to Europe many times, because her name keeps popping up on ship’s passenger lists. And we know that she and her husband were leaders in the Dallas social scene.

While still in Winston after graduating from Bryn Mawr, she and her sister Anna both taught at the West End graded school. Caro joined forces with Katharine Smith Reynolds, Kate Bitting Reynolds and Lucy Patterson to found the local YWCA, which became a major force in the improvement of the lives of local women, both black and white.

Sadie Hanes was born October 8, 1879 in Mocksville, Davie County, the first of seven children of Philip and Sallie Hanes. By the 1890s, her parents had moved to 237 North Cherry Street in Winston, NC, where Philip joined his younger brother, Benjamin Franklin Hanes, in the tobacco business.

Sadie graduated from the Winston Graded School in 1895, winning a scholarship to Guilford College. She received her college degree in 1898 from the State Normal School for Women (later Women’s College of the University of North Carolina, now UNC-G). After graduation, she taught at her alma mater, by then the West End Graded School.

In 1902, she married a fellow teacher at the school, Robert Diggs Wimberly Connor, forever after known as RDW Connor. The couple moved to Oxford, NC, then Wilmington, where Dr. Connor was associated with the local schools. In 1904, they moved to Raleigh, where Sadie and Dr. Connor began organizing the State Historical Commission, later the North Carolina State Archive, of which he became the founding secretary. This organization would become the model for all state archives in the United States.

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RDW Connor and his SAE fraternity brothers at UNC, 1899. The ones identified in yellow are all from Winston or Salem.

In 1921, Dr. Connor resigned from the State Historical Commission and was appointed the Kenan Professor of History and Government at the University of North Carolina, where he became one of the most popular professors in university history. During their stay in Raleigh and Chapel Hill, Sadie was deeply involved  in her husband’s various activities as well as many local projects and was one of the most popular social hostesses in both cities.

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The National Archive building under construction at Washington, DC, June, 1934.

In 1934, Dr. Connor was appointed by President Roosevelt as the first Archivist of the United States in Washington, DC. He had to manage the completion of the National Archives building, hire and train a large staff and organize 150 years worth of previously neglected national treasures. By the time he retired in 1941, he was a living legend and Sadie was one of the best known women in the nation’s capitol. The couple returned to Chapel Hill., where Dr. Connor was appointed the first Burton Craige* Professor of History and Jurisprudence at the university.

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Left to right: RDW Connor, Burton Craige, Moravian Bishop Rondthaler, President Taft. Driver is unknown.

Dr. Connor died on February 25, 1950. On Sunday, June10, 1951, Sadie left Chapel Hill with a friend to spend a few days in another friend’s cottage at Myrtle Beach. Sometime that night she had a stroke and died in her sleep at age 71. She is buried next to her husband at the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery.

* Burton Craige was the founder of a local law firm, which in my lifetime became Craige, Brawley, Liipfert and Ross (Tom Ross is the former president of Davidson College and the current  president of the University of North Carolina). In the 1920s, Craige bought the 1853 home of Constantine Banner, a prominent local slave owner who vigorously opposed secession in the runup to the civil war, on Cascade Avenue at the corner of South Main in the Washington Park neighborhood.

Craige hired my old friend Luther Lashmit to completely redo the property. The house is still standing, and if you know how it looked when Banner built it, you can still see the basic outline of the 1853 house, a local treasure.

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