William Rutherford Savage papers, 1826-1953.

Creator: Savage, William Rutherford, 1854-1934.
Collection number: 3999
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Abstract: Represented in the collection are William Rutherford Savage, Episcopal priest of Virginia and North Carolina; his parents Thomas Staughton Savage (1804-1880), scientist and Episcopal missionary to Liberia, and Elizabeth Rutherford Savage (1817-1899), also a missionary; his brothers Thomas Rutherford Savage (1851-1918), physician of Kalamazoo, Mich., and New York, N.Y., and Alexander Duncan Savage (1848-1935), curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; and his sister Jessie Duncan Savage, an artist, who in 1884 married Thomas L. Cole, an Episcopal priest. The papers relate primarily to the personal life and professional work of William Rutherford Savage, beginning in the 1860s and continuing through his years at Episcopal High School, the University of Virginia, and the Theological Seminary of Virginia, and while serving his first parish at Virginia Beach, Va. In the early 1900s, Savage went to the Blowing Rock area of North Carolina and worked at missions there, in Valle Cruces, and in Boone. He remained in the area until his death in 1934. Among the early papers are scientific letters, 1840-1860, to Rev. Dr. Thomas S. Savage in Liberia concerning African species, including a species of gorilla he discovered. After his return from Africa, Dr. Savage was an Episcopal priest in Pass Christian, Miss., and Rhinecliff, N.Y. Also documented are the activities of Thomas Rutherford Savage and his brother, Alexander Duncan Savage, both graduates of the University of Virginia in the early 1870s. Thomas then studied medicine in Baltimore, Md., and New York, N.Y., and was employed for 18 years at the Michigan State Insane Asylum in Kalamazoo. He returned to New York City and set up practice in 1892. Duncan continued his studies in Europe in the fields of Comparative Philology and Sanskrit and taught at Johns Hopkins University for a time. Knowledgeable in art and archealogy, he eventually became assistant director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Letters of Jesse Duncan Savage relate to her life in New York City and Baltimore prior to her marriage in 1884 to Thomas L. Cole. There is scattered correspondence from the Cole children, especially Thomas Casilear Cole (1888-1976), portrait painter. Among other correspondents are Bishops Alfred Magill Randolph, Junius Moore Horner, Thomas Campbell Darst, Joseph Blount Cheshire, and Beverley Dandridge Tucker.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: The collection includes an 17 November 1885 letter from William Savage to his mother Elizabeth Savage, where he describes the lynching of Noah, a 16 year-old African American boy, in Norfolk, Va. The letter goes into great detail about Noah’s suspected murder of a young girl, to his kidnap and killing by a crowd, and ponders veracity of “lynch law”.