Skip to main content

William F. Tompkins (1862-1896) Collection

Identifier: MSS 80-13

Scope and Contents

This collection contains manuscripts regarding William F. Tompkins, a Jackson County, NC, physician and businessman. Tompkins was born in Michigan in 1862, but grew up in Kansas and Colorado. He took his professional training in the Louisville Medical College (Louisville, KY). His first practice was at Colorado Springs, CO. While still a young man he moved to Webster, NC (Jackson County), where he established a medical practice and became a land and mineral speculator. Dr. Tompkins served as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Republican Party in the Ninth Congressional District.

Dr. Tompkins married Annie Luck, daughter of Felix A. Luck, editor of the Tuckaseigee Democrat and the Sylva Sentinel. William and Annie Tompkins had three sons: Frank, Harry, and Dan. Dan Tompkins would become editor of the Jackson County Journal. Dr. Tompkins died in 1896.

The main grouping of the collection consists of correspondence of Dr. Tompkins. Much of this correspondence concerns Tompkins' business affairs, in particular his real estate dealings. Tompkins was involved with buying and selling mineral and timber rights as well as real estate. Also of note is the political correspondence in the collection. On March 2, 1889, there was a request from James B. Mason, of Chapel Hill, NC, for an introduction to President Harrison. There are several letters from U. S. Congressman Hamilton Glover Ewart during 1889-1890. The 1890-1891 correspondence contains letters from the Protective Tariff League.

Following the correspondence are deeds, mineral and timber rights, legal papers, Republican Party materials and speeches, Jackson County Medical Society papers, and the Good Roads Association papers.

The final grouping contains ledgers and notebooks. These include medical notebooks and business ledgers.

The first addition to this collection contains manuscripts regarding four Jackson County, NC, families of the early part of the 20th century. The families are Tompkins, Coleman, Luck, and Dillard.

The principal family represented is the Tompkins family. Dan Tompkins was a newspaperman and politician in Sylva for thirty-one years. Dan Tompkins’ paternal grandfather was Dr. William C. Tompkins. In 1884, after practicing medicine and publishing newspapers in Kansas and Colorado, Dr. Tompkins moved to Webster where he continued to practice medicine and publish a newspaper, the Webster Herald.

In 1912, Dan Tompkins became editor of the Jackson County Journal. Tompkins served as editor for the next thirty-one years except for 1917-1918, when he served in World War I. He served as mayor of Sylva, NC, for 12 years; judge, in 1935; registrar of voters, in 1937; judge of elections, in 1943; and served three terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Tompkins helped to organize the Sylva Chamber of Commerce and served as its first president.

Tompkins was married on June 23, 1931, to Emily Weigle of Augusta, GA.

Tompkins’ mother, Annie Luck, was born on the Pittsylvania County, VA, plantation of her grandfather, Col. Dan Coleman, in 1876. She was the daughter of Felix A. Luck. Felix Luck later moved to Webster, NC. From 1888 through 1896, Felix Luck and his wife, Nellie, published the Tuckaseigee Democrat. In 1897, for eight months, the Lucks also published the Sylva Sentinel. Prior to founding the Tuckaseigee Democrat, Luck served as railroad agent in Pigeon River, NC.

The materials contained in the collection regarding the Coleman family relate to Dan Tompkins' mother’s great-grandmother and great-grandfather, Susan Coleman and Thompson Coleman.

Of the Dillard family there is little information available in the collection. The only consistent reference pertains to the World War I death of William E. Dillard.

The collection is grouped as follows: Genealogy, correspondence, business and legal papers, prose of Dan Tompkins (stories and editorials), newspaper clippings, documents pertaining to Jackson County, NC, and tax receipts from Jackson County.

The newspaper clippings regard all four families, but especially the Tompkins and Luck families.

Jackson County schools include certificates and report cards from the late 1920s.

Jackson County Baptist churches include letters of reception and dismissal dated 1890s through 1930s.

Business ledgers are contained in MSS 80-73.4.

The second addition to the collection consists of two hotel registers belonging to F.A. Luck, proprietor of several hotels in western North Carolina. The first register includes the Penland Hotel in Pigeon River (Canton), North Carolina and the Webster Hotel in Webster, North Carolina. The second register lists the Central Hotel, Windsor House, and Eagle's Nest, all in Waynesville, NC.


  • 1820 - 1971

Conditions Governing Use

No publication fee is made for use of Western Carolina University Library special collections material in scholarly publications. The Library retains sole right to judge what constitutes a non-scholarly or commercial publication. Permission to publish commercially, in circumstances where the Library is qualified to grant it, requires proper authorization. Please contact Special Collections at for more information.


4.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Hunter Library - Special Collections Repository

Cullowhee United States