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Coates Family Letters

Identifier: MS 00058

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Content Description

Papers of Dr. Stapleton Coates (1807-1890) of Henrico County, Virginia, and his descendants. Other prominent surnames, related by marriage, are Deitrick and Sutton; names of unspecified relation include Wingfield and Pettus. The collection consists of correspondence, sermon notes, property agreements and drawings, probate documents, tax receipts, obituaries, and a tintype of an unidentified man.

All but one of the 27 letters or letter fragments in the collection were written in the 1870s and 1880s or are undated. Not all correspondents are identified, and some have no apparent familial relationship with the Coates family. A number of the letters were written by or addressed to persons named Belle. There were females with that name in at least three generations of the family; it is not always apparent which is the correspondent.

Topics mentioned in the letters include family and church activities, illness, romance and marriage, school and partying, friendship, prospective visits, the tobacco business, and the presidential election of 1880. Two sets of seven letters reveal the evolving romances of two different couples, both of whom later married.

Anna Maria Pettus, the subject of the probate records, apparently was a patient of Dr. Coates. She named him her principal beneficiary and executor of her estate.


  • Creation: 1835 - 1913

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical / Historical

Stapleton Coates, physician born 1807 January 19 married, 1835 September, Evelina A. Mills, 1811 March 28 – 1881 April 9 daughter Martha Elizabeth ‘Pattie’, 1836 February 1 – 1916 August 17 daughter Claudia Isabel ‘Belle’, 1842 April 30 – 1914 June 17; unmarried died 1890 February 6

Stapleton, Evelina, Pattie and Belle are buried at Mt. Vernon Memorial Park, Glen Allen, Henrico County, Virginia.

Martha E. ‘Pattie’ Coates (1836-1916) married, 1859 November 10, Jacob L. Deitrick, son of William A. & Sally E. Deitrick daughter Willie Belle, born 1862 June son Stapleton, born c. 1865 son Joseph L., born c. 1868 son Virgil Stuart, born c. 1870 in Hanover County; lumber merchant son Claude, born c. 1872 daughter Stella, born c. 1875 daughter Corrine, born c. 1878 daughter Mabel C., born c. 1880

In the 1860 & 1870 Censuses, Jacob & Pattie are in Hanover County; in 1880, they are in Henrico.

Claudia I. ‘Belle’ Coates (1842-1914) appears in the 1880 Census in the household of her father Stapleton (72 years old), in the Tuckahoe District of Henrico County. In the 1900 Census, she is in the household of her nephew Claude Deitrick (28 years old), in the Tuckahoe District of Henrico. In the 1910 Census, she is listed in the household of her nephew Stapleton Coates (45 years old), in Ashland, Hanover County.

Willie Belle Deitrick (born 1862) married, c. 1889, Herbert B. Sutton, born 1861, farmer daughter Eva Louise, born 1890 September, stenographer son Valville L., born 1892 May, farmer daughter Sarah Belle, born 1894 September daughter Hortense A., born 1896 August daughter Mabel L., born 1899 April son Herbert G., born c. 1902 daughter Blanche E., born c. 1905

Herbert B. Sutton is identified in the 1900 Census as a farmer in the Tuckahoe District of Henrico County. In the 1910 Census, Herbert is not listed with the family; Willie Belle is identified as a farmer, Eva L. as a stenographer for the C&O railroad, and Valville as a farmer on the home farm. In the 1930 Census, a Herbert B. Sutton, 67 years old, appears in Guilford, North Carolina, married to Lula L, 60 years old; they were married at ages 52 and 44 respectively, and both were born in Virginia. Is this Willie Belle’s former husband?

Virgil Stuart Deitrick, Jr., naval commander born 1912 September 15, in Parksley, Accomack County, Virginia; son of Virgil Stuart Deitrick (born c. 1870) and Margaret White Deitrick (born c. 1882); great-grandson of Dr. Stapleton Coates (1807-1890) married, 1936 December 5, Gladys Caroline Matthews, 24 years old son James Stuart, born c. 1941 daughter Sandra Carole, born c. 1945 son William Richard, born c. 1949 died 1951 September 30

Edward L. Wingfield – no apparent connection to the Coates or Deitrick families born 1848, Hanover County, Virginia son of Samuel R. and Judith Wingfield; brother of Lemuel and Samuel Wingfield married, 1872 October 29, cousin Aggy T. Wingfield [Aggie S?] N.B. Some of this information is from the Coates Family Papers, but most is from In both sources, dates and the spelling of names often are inconsistent.


0.25 Linear Feet



Guide to the Coates Family Letters
Del Moore, SCRC Volunteer
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository