Guide to the Wylanta Duke Strayhorn Aycock Holt Papers, 1889-1980
Wylanta Duke Strayhorn Aycock Holt (née Rochelle, 1881-1980) was the daughter of Durham merchant Leander Sydney and Jeanette Stanley Rochelle. She was the fourth and final wife of Brodie L. Duke and a Durham landowner in her own right. The Wylanta Duke Strayhorn Aycock Holt Papers date from 1889 to 1980 and chronicle the personal life of Wylanta as well as the business and financial transactions which she conducted as a prominent landowner in Durham. Materials include correspondence, photographs, and financial records.
- Collection Number
- Wylanta Duke Strayhorn Aycock Holt papers
- Duke, Wylanta, 1881-1980
- 3.4 linear feet, 2550 items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
The Wylanta Duke Strayhorn Aycock Holt papers date from 1889 to 1980, with the bulk of the materials from the 1920s and 1930s. The collection chronicles Wylanta's familial and social life as well as her business dealings.
The Correspondence Series contains primarily incoming correspondence from Wylanta's sister, Hettie, nieces and nephews, and husbands as well as letters to and from a wide range of friends and Durham citizens. It contains a number of holiday greeting and sympathy cards, but does not contain any correspondence explicitly addressed to Brodie L. Duke.
The Clippings Series includes excerpts from newspaper columns and articles which Wylanta collected throughout her life. These clippings include the regular opinion column written by Wylanta's brother, Zapheus A. Rochelle, notes from the society section chronicling Wylanta and others' visits and travels, and coverage of Wylanta and Stayhorn's 1923 motor vehicle accident in Nice, France, as well as other political and social subjects.
The Financial Records Series encompasses deposit slips, receipts, dividend notices, ledgers, and correspondence evidencing Wylanta's business transactions. The series also contains information about her property ownership in the city of Durham.
The Miscellaneous Series contains assorted handwritten notes and printed commercial images.
The Photographs Series includes a number of portraits of Wylanta, her husbands and her family as well as numerous images of as-yet unidentified individuals. The materials include images of Wylanta in her wedding gowns, snapshots, and portraits. There are also a handful of images of places and an early x-ray of Wylanta's arm following an accident.
Collection is open for research.
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The correspondence series contains primarily greeting and Christmas cards sent to Wylanta during her lifetime. The bulk of the correspondence is from the late 1920s. These notes are addressed to Wylanta according to her current married surname and generally express holiday greetings, well wishes, and, occasionally, thank her for gifts or sympathy sentiments received, invite her to weddings and other events, or request charitable gifts. Many of these greeting cards have no handwritten notes other than a signature. More in-depth are a handful of letters between Wylanta and her sister, Hettie (primarily from 1900-1925, Hettie Rochelle Blankenship lived 1893-1979), her future husband, Perry Elridge, and several other female friend correspondents. Topics addressed in these notes including current events such as World Wars I and II, love, business and property rental issues, Wylanta's winter home in Miami Beach, Durham society gossip, and family matters. There are also a small number of letters from merchants in response to Wylanta's requests for purchases. From 1923 there is a large amount of correspondence and condolence letters related to Wylanta's car accident in Nice, France, after which her husband, Isaac R. Strayhorn, died from injuries sustained. The correspondence series is organized chronologically.
The clippings series contains newspaper articles and columns that Wylanta collected. These clippings primarily include a regular public opinion column by Zalpheus Alderman Rochelle, Wylanta's brother, and articles related to Wylanta's family or the families of her husbands. The "Wylanta & Family" folder contains newspaper records of her visits and calls with family and friends, her vacations, marriages, and purchases of properties, and other instances wherein Wylanta's name was printed. Also included are copies of the New York Herald from 21-23 August 1923 which chronicle the car accident in Nice, France, after which Wylanta's second husband, Isaac R. Strayhorn, died from injuries. This series is organized by subject.
The financial records series includes receipts and transaction notes for various properties and securities owned by Wylanta. There are a number of deposit slips for The Depositors National Bank of Durham demonstrating Wylanta's financial transactions, dividend notices showing her various investments, and correspondence related to Wylanta's finances and financial managers. The series also includes a handful of receipts for hotels, jewelry, and more daily-use items, as well as four of Wylanta's hand-written ledgers. This series is arranged by type of record.
This small series contains a folder with Wylanta's handwritten notes; both bound in memoranda books and on several loose sheets of paper, and a variety of other small fragments.
The photographs series contains a number of black and white photographs. Many of these images show Wylanta at various stages of life, including portraits of her wearing several of her wedding gowns. Other photographs show individual and group portraits of Wylanta's husbands, siblings, and other family members, as well as a large number of as-yet unidentified individuals. A woman with glasses appears frequently in these images, and is likely Wylanta's sister Hettie. There are two photographs of Brodie L. Duke seated, one that perhaps shows a Duke tobacco barn, and three images showing him and Wylanta in front of a mock-up of Niagra Falls; likely created as souvernirs of their honeymoon. There is a radiograph x-ray of what seems to be Wylanta's dislocated or broken shoulder, resulting from her 1923 motor vehicle accident in France. The materials in the photographs series are organized by who or what they represent. All of the oversize photographs are contained in Box 5.
Wylanta Rochelle was likely born in 1881, although her birthdate is sometimes listed as 1882 or 1883, to her parents: Durham merchant Sydney Leander Rochelle and his wife, Jeanette Rochelle. On 11 June 1910, Wylanta, then 19 years old, married the 63-year old Brodie L. Duke (1846-1919), becoming his fourth and final wife. Duke and Rochelle were married in Camden, N.J. by Justice of the Peace Frank Garrison only one day after a Presbyterian minister in Washington D.C. refused to marry the couple due to Duke's two previous divorces.
Duke died on 2 February 1919 at the age of 73, and Wylanta continued to manage the couple's property affairs and use his surname until she married her second husband, Isaac Richardson Strayhorn (1889-1923), an attorney from Hillsboro with an office at 205 E. Main St., likely in 1920. On 3 September 1923, Strayhorn died in Nice, France from injuries inflicted by a motor vehicle accident in which Wylanta and others were also injured in late August of that year.
By August 1930, Wylanta had married Connor Woodward Aycock (1893-1941), the son of former North Carolina governor (1901-1905), Charles Brantley Aycock. Connor passed away on 12 October 1941, and Wylanta married her fourth husband, 39-year old Perry Clayton Eldridge (1903-1956), a former teacher and a sales repesentative for Standard Oil, one year later, in 1942. The marriage was short-lived, and Wylanta and Eldridge divorced one year later, in 1943.
On 22 October 1949, Wylanta married her fifth and final husband, Thomas Michael Holt Jr. (?-1979), son of another former N.C. governor, Thomas Michael Holt. The couple lived together at 607 Watts St. Holt Jr. died in 1979, and Wylanta died the following year, in 1980 at the age of 99, using the name Wylanta Rochelle Holt on her tombstone. It is unclear how many children, if any, Wylanta had.
Wylanta, through both her family and her husbands, owned a number of properties in Durham, many of them located on North Magnum Street, which she frequently rented.
[Identification of item], Wylanta Duke Holt Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The Wylanta Duke Strayhorn Aycock Holt Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2013.
Processed by Elisabeth Narkin; Meghan Lyon, December 2013
Encoded by Elisabeth Narkin; Meghan Lyon, December 2013
Accession(s) described in this collection guide: 2014-0020
This collection is minimally processed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.