news-category: GWU History

GWU Archives Launches Series Three of the Fay Webb Gardner Digital Collection

A collage featuring photos of Fay Webb Gardner and the logo for the library's digital collection
Portraits of Fay Webb Gardner: On the left is her official portrait as the First Lady of the State of North Carolina in 1929; in the center is the logo for the Library's Fay Webb Gardner Digital Collection; and on the right is a photo of her as a teenager in 1905

Historical Documents Preserve History of Churches and Pastors in the Foothills Region

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.— The Gardner-Webb University Archives announces the digital launch of Series Three of the Fay Webb Gardner Historical and Genealogical Collection in opens in a new windowDigital Commons @ Gardner-Webb. Mrs. Gardner, a prolific genealogist, was the wife of former North Carolina governor, O. Max Gardner. The Gardners, natives of Shelby, N.C., were ardent supporters of the junior college in Boiling Springs, now Gardner-Webb University. Their devotion to the college was recognized in 1942, when the trustees voted to name the school after them.

A 1929 portrait of Fay Webb Gardner

Mrs. Gardner’s collection of personal papers and genealogical research were willed to Gardner-Webb following her death in 1969. Her son, Ralph Gardner, oversaw the transfer of the collection to the Dover Library’s care in 1974 upon the completion of the current library building.

“The Fay Webb Gardner Collection is significant in documenting the history of our region, specifically Cleveland and Rutherford Counties,” noted Dr. Natalie Edwards Bishop, associate dean of the Library and University archivist. “Her genealogical collection contains items which provide context and insight into families who played integral roles in the growth and development of Shelby. Mrs. Gardner’s paternal grandfathers, Reverend J.M. Webb and Reverend G.M. Webb, established many of the Baptist churches in Cleveland County. Her maternal great-grandfather James Love, offered the 147-acre tract of the land that became the county-seat of Shelby, and did so with the understanding that plots of that land would be dedicated for the use of a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal congregations.”

Series Three focuses on the history of churches in the Foothills region, including several churches such as Brittain Presbyterian, Zion Baptist, Concord Baptist, and First Baptist Shelby that will soon celebrate 175 years of congregational service. It contains biographical and ministerial records for local clergy dating back to the late 1700s and handwritten church records for Zion Baptist dating back to 1817. There is information on the early founders of the Kings Mountain and Sandy Run Baptist Associations, which jointly formed Boiling Springs High School later to become GWU. Also included are Broad River Baptist Association Minutes, dating back to 1821. Many of the Broad River Baptist Association pastors later formed Kings Mountain Baptist Association.

The tombstone of Lieutenant McCullough
in Brittain Presbyterian Church

Digitization of the collection was made possible by the Gardners’ grandson, O. Max Gardner III, and the O. Max Gardner Foundation. A large portion of the collection documents Mrs. Gardner’s involvement in her husband’s political career, genealogical research, and in her own organizations, such as the State League of Women Voters and Benjamin Cleveland Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The first two series in the collection were digitized previously. Collection branding was designed by GWU alumna, Michaela Killion (@michaelaraedesign).

Series One includes Mrs. Gardner’s personal papers—correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, and resources pertaining to the history of the Foothills of North Carolina. Series Two contains Mrs. Gardner’s personal genealogical collection focusing on the Webb, Love, Andrews, Blanton, and Bridges families. Documents in Series Two date back to the 1800s, including letters from the Spanish-American War, land deeds, and personal letters.

land grant 1863
A land grant from 1863
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