Bates, George Edward
Correspondence and Related ephemera pertaining to George Bates, early investor in the East Fairmount Corporation’s activities in today’s Estabrook neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia, 1903-1963

143 letters, 149 pp., plus 75 pieces of related printed and manuscript ephemera, and 10 photos, all dated 2 November 1903 to 26 April 1963.

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Outgoing and Incoming Correspondence of George E. Bates, Business Associates, and Family which delineates the history and development of this Norfolk, Virginia neighborhood through the microscope of one man’s property in it.

The correspondence includes: 62 letters written by George E. Bates, 5 originals, the rest retained copies, concerning business and real estate; 56 incoming business and real estate letters to Bates; and 25 letters concerning Bates’ estate, carried on by his daughters, their attorneys, and others; the majority of the letters and ephemera deal with an investment property that Bates purchased in 1905 in East Fairmount, Norfolk, Virginia, which he owned until his death, then was inherited by his married daughters. Some of the correspondence also deals with his investment in the Southern Land Development Company, which appears to have gone bankrupt in 1909.

The correspondence deals with making his monthly payments on his Norfolk property, paying the taxes on it, inquiring about the possibility of selling it, what it would bring, a number of attempts to sell it, the hoped increase in his property’s value due to the development of the area due to war activities (1918).

The collection also includes ephemera, plat maps, promotional materials and other items that show how the neighborhood was marketed to investors such as Mr. Bates:

         75 pieces of printed and manuscript ephemera, and 10 photos, dated 1905-1963, as follows:

1 real estate plot map titled “East Fairmount Suburb of Norfolk, VA.,” measures approximately 24” x 24”, fold marks, several tears at folds, dated 1905; 1 prospectus, 2 printed pp., titled “Improvements at East Fairmount” giving information about the development, plus a price list of the various lots, not dated, c1905, chipped; 2 contracts, one dated 1905 for deed for property purchased by Bates from the East Fairmount Corporation identifying Bates as a “white person”,  the deed had a clause stating that the lot “is not to be sold, rented, or otherwise disposed of, to any person of African descent for a period of twenty years”; second contract, same form, blank; 5 receipts from the East Fairmount Corporation to George E. Bates for monthly payments on property lot, dated 1905-1909; 5 used post cards to George E. Bates, 3 of them from the East Fairmount Corporation, dated 1905-1910; 1 stock certificate for Southern Land and Development Co, Inc., made out to George E. Bates, dated 1907, torn; 1 statement of total payments for East Fairmount property lot of George E. Bates from 1905,  dated 1909; 28 real estate tax receipts for East Fairmount property, dated between 1912 to 1963; 1 receipt made out to George E. Bates by the Surrogate’s Court, County of Albany, dated 1913; 1 property deed, 2 typed pp., between George E. Bates and wife to Indiana Home & Investment Corporation, dated 1923 for East Fairmount property lot, never filled out; 4 income tax returns, dated 1924 -1929; 1 used check, dated 1928; 1 legal document, dated 1933; 1 Social Security Card of George E. Bates, dated 1937; 1 certificate made out to George E. Bates from the Apollo Lodge, No. 13, F. & A. M., dated 1908;  2 newspaper clippings concerning George E. Bates, dated c1944; 1 certificate made out to George E. Bates from Railroad Retirement Board, dated 1944; 1 estate accounts, 15 typed pp., of George E. Bates, dated 1956;

1 inheritance tax return for 1962;1 memorandum of inheritance taxes for the estate of George E. Bates, dated 1963;

1 receipt from Clerk of the Circuit Court, concerns estate of George E. Bates, 1963; 1 prospectus, 3 pp., for the Southern Land and Development Company, not dated; 5 pieces of manuscript notes, draft of letter, etc.; 1 piece of printed ephemera, 2pp., “Railroad Work is War Work – Get a Railroad Job,” dated c1940s; 12 small black & white snap shot photographs of house lots owned by Bates in Norfolk’s Estabrook neighborhood, not dated, c1940s-1960s; 3 miscellaneous receipts; 1 business card; 1 used envelope, date dated.


       George Edward Bates (1874-1955)

George Edward Bates was born on 13 August 1874 in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. He was the son of George Bates (1831-1892) and Sarah Marshall (1833-1892) English immigrants from Rastrick, Yorkshire, England, who settled in Middleton, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Bates’ father worked in a cotton mill in Pennsylvania; the same occupation he had in England. Bates father died ten months after his mother in 1892, when Bates was eighteen years old.

Bates worked for the railroad most of his career, retiring in 1944. He initially worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a telegraph operator, then moved on to the Northern Pacific Railroad, and then the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. He started with the Delaware & Hudson Railroad Corporation in 1903 in Philadelphia and spent the rest of his career with them, retiring in 1944. He soon went to the Saratoga and Pennsylvania Divisions, and in 1914 he took up his duties as real estate and industrial agent of the company for its entire system, helping industries that wished to locate in the territory served by the railroad and to smooth the way for them to open up a new industry. He eventually became the assistant to the vice-president of line in 1920.

Bates’ work with the D & H RR brought him to Albany, where he lived for the rest of his life and took an active interest in the city, serving as second vice-president of the Albany Chamber of Commerce, president of the Albany Rotary Club, president of the Aurania Club, governor of the Albany Club, president of the American Railway Development Association, amongst many other organizations and clubs. He was prominent in the affairs of the New York State Waterways Association and active in advocating for a deeper Hudson River.

Bates married Mary Howard Lamb in 1897 and had two daughters:  Eva Marshall Bates Weaver and Emeline Bates Uttrick. He attended the Apollo Lodge No 13, F. & A.M., at Albany, New York, where he was a member for over twenty-five years.

George E. Bates died on 2 March 1955 in Albany. He was buried at the Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, Albany County, New York. He had been a resident at Albany since 1914. Bates’ wife, Mary predeceased him on 16 March 1942. The couple are buried together. Bates’ estate was divided up amongst his daughters and his grandson, Kenneth Bates Uttrick. Bates’ daughter Eva Marshall Bates Weaver lived in New York City. She listed herself as an artist. She appears to have attended Skidmore College.

       East Fairmount a.k.a. Estabrook

Bates’ work with the railroad brought him through Norfolk, Virginia, where he purchased a lot in the East Fairmount development in 1905 for $135.00 making $3.00 monthly payments until June of 1909 when it was paid in full. The property appears to have been an investment for Bates as he never tried to build on the lot. At the time Bates bought into the development, empty property lots sold for $50.00 to $300.00; with already built homes going for $1000 to $4,500. There was a clause in the property deed which stated the lot was “not to be sold, rented, or otherwise disposed of, to any person of African descent for a period of twenty years.”

East Fairmount Corporation developed an old pine woods field into today’s Estabrook neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia. While the company laid out and sold lots as early as 1904-1905, it was mainly developed in the 1920s as t a country settlement in Norfolk county, the East Fairmount area then being the suburbs of Norfolk, Virginia. With plans underway for the approaching 1907 Jamestown Exposition, real estate interests saw advantageous opportunities to develop the area. At the time, the East Fairmount area’s only connection with downtown Norfolk was a trolley line that ran along Chesapeake Blvd., between the City of Norfolk and Ocean View.

The Jamestown Exposition was one of the many world's fairs and expositions that were popular in the United States in the early part of the 20th century. Commemorating the 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in the Virginia Colony, it was held from April 26 to December 1, 1907, at Sewell's Point on Hampton Roads, in Norfolk, Virginia. It celebrated the first permanent English settlement in the present United States.

Because of the isolation of Sewell's Point, the company's choice made the site difficult to reach by land in order to develop it for the Exposition. New roads had to be built to the site. Two existing streetcar lines had to be extended a considerable distance to reach the site. The eastern portion of the newly built Tidewater Railway (soon to become part of the coal-hauling Virginian Railway) was rushed into service, and the local Norfolk Southern Railway agreed to add substantial passenger capacity in conjunction with the Tidewater Railway to prepare to move the thousands of daily attendees anticipated. On the shore, new piers had to be constructed for moving supplies to exposition buildings. Hotels had to be raised to handle the millions of anticipated exposition visitors. However, the exposition was considered by many to be a failure, much of it was opened late, the crowds never materialized, and the parties running the fair were unable to pay back the money they borrowed.

By 1950, the Norfolk area was the ninth fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States. The Norfolk County area from Ingleside through Norview to North Chesapeake Blvd. was annexed. Including the 1959 annexation, the size of the city grew to 64.3 square miles. Once WWII had ended, an intense demand for housing military members and their families erupted. The Veterans Administration made it easy for them to purchase homes and builders, in turn, responded by flooding the market with small detached homes.


Much of the ephemera and correspondence in this collection deals with Bates’ investment property in East Fairmount, Norfolk, Virginia. The correspondence deals with Bates making his monthly payments on his Norfolk property, paying the taxes on it, inquiring about the possibility of selling it, what it would bring, who might be interested, a number of attempts to sell it, the hoped increase in his property’s value due to the development of the area due to war activities (1918), etc. Bates also invested in the Southern Land and Development Company, bought shares in the company, this collection has a copy of them as well as a prospectus for the company. This investment was also not a good one, as the company went bust by 1909.


J.W. Halstead was the president of the East Fairmount Corporation, William Henry Taylor was the secretary. Southwest of Estrabrook, was another project that Halstead started up. It was called Ballentine Place, which was platted in 1909 as the "Ballentine Place Suburb of Norfolk, " by the Ballentine Realty Corporation, much like his “East Fairmount Suburb of Norfolk.” Halstead also served as president of this company. Ballentine Place’s plan utilized fifty-seven blocks extending north from the Princess Anne Toll Road and extended ten blocks south.