Cronly Family Papers 1888-1925

These papers contain personal correspondence between Cronly family members and letters and petitions directed to Wilmington and New Hanover County government officials.  This personal correspondence falls between the years 1888 and 1907.  The letters and petitions to area officials address two concerns:  first, the need for reopening a county road, and second, the proposed use of property once used as the State Guard campground. 


A letter to D.T. Cronly of Wilmington, NC, from W. D. MacMillan, 3rd, of Chapel Hill, NC, is in reply to Cronly’s interest in Wilmington’s “Kuners.”  Dougald MacMillan later wrote “John Kuner,” published in the Journal of American Folklore in January, 1926.  In a footnote to the article, MacMillan acknowledged Cronly’s help in investigating the custom.  Kunering was a song and dance performance done in the street by masked and costumed Negro men (Kuners) on Christmas Day.  After each performance, the leader passed a hat for contributions.  MacMillan’s article traced the custom to only a few other coastal towns of North Carolina, and to Nassau, where these men were called “John Canoes.”  In Wilmington, the custom apparently died out in the 1880’s.


A notebook is included in these papers.  It contains an unfinished story with a Civil War setting.  The author is not listed, nor any reference to the existence of the remainder of the manuscript.  This notebook consists of 90 pages of handwritten material.


These papers were donated by Ruth Pleasants Cronly, widow of Robert D. Cronly, Jr., in about 1970. 


This collection has been designated Accession Number 9 of the Manuscripts Collection, Special Collections Department, William Madison Randall Library, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, North Carolina 28403-3297.


There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Biographical Sketch


Two of these letters are from Kate to her sister, Mrs. Margaret Cronly, of 215 South Third Street, Wilmington, NC.  In later letters Margaret Cronly is addressed as Mother by Mary Ann Hill Cronly and Robert Dickson Cronly, and as Grandmother by Robert Dixon Cronly, Jr., whose wife, Ruth Pleasants Cronly, donated these papers to Randall Library after his death.[1]


The Cronly residence at 215 South Third Street no longer exists.  Robert D. Cronly, Jr., described it in Wilmington’s Vanished Homes and Buildings, published in 1966.  He noted that the Cronly family had lived there for more than a hundred years.[2]


Robert Dixon Cronly, Jr., was born in Petersburg, VA on July 2, 1894.  He received his LLB at the University of Virginia and was admitted to the bar in 1920.  From 1954-1967 he was an insurance adjustor.[3]  He married Ruth Pleasants Cronly, daughter of Edward Bates and Clarice Wetherill Pleasants, and the resided at 321 South Third Street.  Ruth Cronly operated a private school in Wilmington for several years.  Robert Dixon Cronly, Jr., died on September 6, 1968, and Ruth Pleasants Cronly died on August 7, 1975.


[1]Wilmington (NC) Star-News, 7 September 1968, p. 5, and 8 August 1975, p6.  Death notices from Robert D. Cronly, respectively, listed these middle names.


[2]MacMillan, Emma Woodward.  Wilmington’s Vanished Homes and Buildings, Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Co., 1966. p. 49.


[3]Hewlett, Crockett W.  Attorneys of New Hanover County, compiled with the assistance of the New Hanover County Bar Association Auxiliary.  Wilmington, NC,   1976. p31.




1888 Oct 2, letter, “Brother, “Wilmington, NC, to Daisy.  Letterhead is “The Atlantic Coast Line.”  Typescript, 2p.



1901 Jul 22, letter, Kate, from Neill’s home, to her sister.  Stamped envelope, addressed to Mrs. M(argaret) Cronly (MC), Wilmington, NC, and has postmarks for Olga, Ivanhow, and Wilmington, NC, all dated July 23, 1902. 6p.



1904 Jan 29, letter, Robert D. Cronly, Baltimore, MD, to MC, (Grandma).  Inquires about his Uncle Mike and Aunt Jeanie.  Stamped envelope. 2p.



1904 Jun 29, letter, Mary A. Hill Cronly (MAHC) (Robert Cronly’s wife), Goldsboro, NC, to MC (Mother).  Writes of Rob and of children, John Hill and Robert.  Stamped envelope. 6p.



1904 July 17, letter, Douglas Cronly, Norfolk, VA, to MC (MA). Writes of Sister, Mary, Rob and the Laurinburg property.  Stamped envelope. 5p.



1904 July 22, letter, Kate, from Pleasant Retreat, to MC.  Stamped envelope with postmarks of Klondike, Ivanhoe, and Wilmington. 4p.



1904 July 25, letter, MAHC, Goldsboro, NC, to MC.  Mentions her son’s Uncle Mike.  Stamped envelope. 4p.



1904 Aug 7, letter, Douglas Cronly, Norfolk, VA, to Michael Cronly, Wilmington, NC.  Mentions enclosing a newspaper clipping; it is not with these papers.  Asks about Coal, cement & Supply Co.  Stamped envelope. 2p.



1904 Aug 30, letter, MAHC, Roslyn, MD, to MC.  Stamped envelope. 4p.



1904 Nov 30, letter, Robert Cronly (RC), Baltimore, MD, to MC.  Mentions Daisy.  Letterhead on Stationery reads: Chesapeake Bank Building.  Stamped envelope.



1905 Jan 2, letter , RC, Baltimore, MD, to Bud (Cronly), Wilmington, NC.  Expresses concern about Douglas’s injuries and compliments Dr. Bellamy.  Stamped envelope addressed to Mr. M. Cronly of Wilmington, NC. Typescript, 2p.



1905 May 19, letter, RC, Baltimore, MD, to MC.  Mentions Virginia and West Virginia certificates not included with these papers, Stamped envelope. 3p.



1906 Jun 21, letter, Robert D. Cronly, Baltimore, MD, to MC (Grandma).  Stamped envelope. 2p.



1907 Apr 26, letter, John Klondike, NC, to MC (Aunt Mag).  Writes of his mother’s illness.  Stamped envelope. 2p. 



1910 Aug 25, letter, Secretary of the F.S. Royster Guano Company to Charles A. Manship, Columbia, SC.  Directs Manship to resign and turn his office over to Mr. Cronly, manager of the Columbia Office, immediately.  Typescript, unsigned copy, stamped “Copy for Columbia Office.”  See also Item 16.



no date, letter, Fragment, Smith Secretary of F.S. Royster Guano Company to ? about Manship.  Date and place of origin unknown.  Typescript.  See also Item 15.



1911 Oct. 2, letter, Mary D. Cronly (MDC), Wilmington, NC to the Board of Commissioners for New Hanover County.  List of objections to the closing of a county road at Summer Rest Sound.  Typescript, 4p.  See also Item 18. 



1911 Oct. 4, letter, MDC to “Editor Star.”  Lists objections again to the closing of a county road at Summer Rest Sound.  Typescript, 4p.  See also Item 18. 



1915 Aug 28, letter, MDC to Chester C. Bellamy, Asst., City Atty., Wilmington, NC.  States her objections to property owners being responsible for the cost of sidewalk the city ordered put in.  2p.



1921 May 23, Petition, typescript, carbon copy, unsigned, Scotts Hill residents to the Board of County Commissioners of New Hanover Co., requesting the reopening of a specific road.  See also Item 21.



1921 May, Petition, typescript, carbon copy unsigned, residents of Middle Sound and Summer Rest to the Board of County Commissioners of New Hanover Co., requesting the reopening of a specific road, 2p.  See also Item 20.



1925 Jan 7, letter, W. D. MacMillan, 3rd, Chapel Hill, NC, to D.T. Cronly, of Wilmington, NC.  Writes about a Wilmington custom, "Kunering," 2p.  Stamped envelope



no date, Holograph, recollection of location of Mr. Glover’s grave in the graveyard on the corner of 4th and Market Streets.  Buried next to Joseph Hodges.  Mrs. Margaret Cronly’s signature is on verso of 3rd page.



no date, Typescript, p. 2 only, date and place of origin unknown.  Concerns the establishment of a campsite on city property in Summer Rest.



no date, Extracts from deeds describing a property on Wrightsville Sound, once used as the State Guard campground.  Typescript, 6p.



1921 Feb 23, Typescript, excerpt of act relating to private sale of land by the City of Wilmington.



no date, Photograph of picnic.  “Remember Brunswick”  printed on face.  Photographer was E.D. Macfee, Raleigh, NC.



no date, Notebook, contains unfinished story with Civil War setting.  No author listed. 90p.



COPYRIGHT:  Retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.