Tag Archives: Private Collections

Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist in the Special Collections Section.]

Announcement of Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084, and Tribute to Exum, the American South’s First Female State Representative, and to her Father

Exum and George Clement at in a field, Buncombe County, ca. 1916.

Exum and George Clement in a field, Buncombe County, ca. 1916.

I am very pleased to announce that the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084, are now processed and available for research. These papers are particularly valued because Lillian, known within her family and by most others as Exum, has had a significant legacy as the first female state representative in North Carolina. Notably, she was also the first female legislator in the American South. Following her election in November 1920, Exum has often been quoted as telling a reporter, “I am by nature, very conservative, but I am firm in my convictions. I want to blaze a trail for other women. I know that years from now there will be many other women in politics, but you have to start a thing.” [News and Observer. Jan. 7, 1921].

Much has already been written about Exum, her life and public service. Naturally, a comprehensive history and documentation of her accomplishments goes far beyond the scope of this piece. Instead, I will narrow my focus to what has recently evoked my curiosity about who and what inspired her success. Since Father’s Day is celebrated this month, I thought it would be revealing to shed some light on Exum, alongside her father, George Washington Clement (ca. June 17, 1852–Dec. 1942). And thankfully, the papers do contain a few items that illustrate a strong father and daughter connection. Additionally, a study of the lives of George and his daughter suggests that both shared similar traits. These include very strong determination and a work ethic, along with convictions, faith, and ideals, such as dedication to family, church, and community–surely among the profound influences in her life.

Exum and George Clement at the intake of the North Fork of the Swannanoa River, ca. 1916

Exum and George Clement at the intake of the North Fork of the Swannanoa River, ca. 1916.

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Women’s History Month: Ella Currie McKay

[This blog post was written by Stephen C. Edgerton, who donated the collection to Private Collections, Special Collections Section, and is volunteering under the supervision of Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist.]

In Recognition of Women’s History Month (March 2017): Focus on Researching Women in History, from the McKay, McPherson, and McNeill Private Papers (PC.2144)

Farmer’s Daughter

Ella McKay, RN, with a Confederate veteran at the Old Soldiers Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, ca. 1917

Ella McKay, RN, with a Confederate veteran at the Old Soldiers Home in Raleigh, North Carolina, ca. 1917. From PC.2144, State Archives of North Carolina

Ella Currie McKay was born in 1888, the daughter of a progressive, North Carolina farmer with 75 acres of sandy, arable land in Robeson County. A highly resourceful man, her father managed to send four of his nine children—two girls and two boys—to college. Three of them became medical professionals—two doctors and one registered nurse. Ella was that nurse.

At age twenty-four in 1911, Ella graduated from Philadelphus High School. At Red Springs, a mile away, she attended and graduated from Flora MacDonald College for women, and in time, Whitehead-Stokes Sanatorium Nursing School in Salisbury, North Carolina. Her professional nursing career began in May of 1917 at the Confederate Soldiers Home in Raleigh. Her many letters to her family at this time reveal thoughts about her two brothers, doctors serving in the war, and about whether she should join in the fight.

“Oh, this is hell here now”

Just prior to the end of World War I, in September of 1918, Ella joined the U.S. Army as a Red Cross nurse. Her first posting was at the military hospital at Camp Meade, Maryland, nursing the wounded and afflicted soldiers. Within ten days she contracted Spanish Influenza. Too ill to work, she was kept isolated from her patients and others for weeks. Her eyes remained “glued shut,” she said, and her back ached as if it would break. But her symptoms were more merciful than those suffered by the soldiers she encountered once she again took up their care. She surely was now squarely on the front lines of the flu epidemic of 1918, estimated today to have killed more people worldwide in the short time it raged than all those who died in the four years of the First World War.

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PC2124: Slave Deed of Gift of Sam

deedfrontside_pc2124

Front side of deed of gift of Sam, age 25, Moore County, from John R. Ritter to his daughter, Jane Ritter, 18 December 1847.

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Collections Archivist, of the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Private Collections (PCs) are an important source for researchers seeking not only genealogical information, but also important context for understanding family, social, and economic history. Likewise, PCs are an especially valuable resource for those tracing slave ancestry and a sense of the broader historical context and personal details. In honor of Black History Month, February 2017, this post shines a light on rich aspects of the life of Samuel (Sam) Ritter (ca. 1822-1892). Such focus places Samuel in a position of respect far above the offensive fact that he was born into slavery and given as a man of 25 to a girl of 12, the eldest daughter of the slave master.

Realities conveyed in bare facts, such as the foregoing, can bring pain and offend our humanity and sense of human dignity. Difficult as it is to view papers documenting unsavory facts, we must continue to seek and to make available all that offer clues, especially in the difficult challenge of slave ancestry. Such is true of the donation in 2016 to Private Collections of a single item titled: “Slave Deed of Gift of Sam, Age 25, Moore County, from John R. Ritter to Jane Ritter, 18 December 1847.” PC.2124.

In the course of a recent day’s work, I set out to discover and document the usual background facts expected in the writing of a finding aid. Additionally, I wanted to make meaningful sense of this unusually troubling deed of gift and to provide some basis for investigations by future researchers. The bare facts of this 1847 deed of gift were especially provocative, and I was vexed enough to raise the obvious questions, and a few more. For starters, I wanted to know: Did Sam survive ownership by young Jane? If she married during the next decade or so, did Sam become part of her husband’s estate, and what was his name and locale? Did Sam escape to the North? Or if he survived in North Carolina past the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, what surname did he assume? Where did he live? Did he ever reach position of dignity as a head of a household? Did he have a vocation, and a family of his own? And finally, who were Sam’s parents and siblings?

Though a seasoned archivist and historian, I admit to being somewhat daunted thinking of the span of time and the proverbial brick walls that I might hit in researching Sam from the year 1847 to the year 1870—when black individuals and families were first named on the U.S. Federal Census. There was the realistic possibility of no clear answers to any of my questions. Still, I proceeded to build into my finding aid’s biographical and historical note a basic chronological framework. With many other projects awaiting attention, I strove to find as much factual information as I could find in a reasonable length of time. Yet even the essential clue of finding Jane’s future married name in the North Carolina Marriage Bonds and the Marriage Index was denied. Consequently, I resorted to a wide assortment of Internet searches. The end result was a mix of unproven clues about the Ritter family, scattered about the Internet, and facts derived from the standard sources, mainly census records. I offer the following as an approach that others might consider when seeking to trace and to highlight the life of a particular individual.

deedsamnamedexcerpt

Excerpt from deed of gift identifying a “negro man Slave named Sam aged about twenty five years.”

In this case, it was necessary to begin with the first-named slave owner conveying the “gift” of Sam’s person. Research revealed him to be John Richardson Ritter (ca. 1793–1860), a son of John (ca. 1760–1828) and Elizabeth H. Richardson Ritter (ca. 1760–1842). The younger John was married around 1813 to Mary Kennedy (1802–1865 or before), Moore County. The couple is shown on the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Federal Census residing with three sons and five daughters, with birth dates ranging from around 1829 to 1850.

An essential character in my query was the said Jane Ritter, born in 1835, and the oldest daughter of the Ritter couple. As stated, she was 12 years of age when her father deeded to her the “gift” of “ownership” of Sam, age 25, born around 1822. The 1850 U.S. Federal Census slave schedule does not list Jane Ritter as a slave owner, but shows that her father, John R. Ritter, claimed two females, ages 30 and 12, mulatto; and eight males, with three of the four children therein described as mulatto. The two adult males included one listed as 35, and the

other as 30 years of age. The latter man was probably Sam, named in the 1847 deed of gift. It should be noted that John R. Ritter is not listed as a slave owner in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census slave schedules. That was probably the year of his death, and it is uncertain what happened to the ten slaves, ascribed to him in 1850.

Jane Ritter, also known as Dicie Jane (1835–1891), was still living in her parents’ household during the census enumeration of 1860. Family reports, lacking documentation, indicate that Jane Ritter was married in late 1861 to Nelson J. Hunsucker (1833–1875). The 1870 census does verify that Nelson Hunsucker was recorded by the census taker as a farmer, with a full household. Family named include Hunsucker’s wife, Dicie Jane, his mother, four young Hunsucker children, plus a boy of 10, possibly a relative, and one Samuel Ritter, black, age 22, with an approximate birth year of 1848. The Hunsucker household and farm were located in Ritters Township, Moore County. These welcomed pieces of information, made me suspect that the young Samuel Ritter (SRJr) might well be the son of the elder Samuel Ritter (SRSr)

It is more than coincidental that on the 1870 census another Samuel Ritter, black, is listed as a farmer in Ritters Township, and located in fairly close proximity to the Hunsucker farm. If the age this older Samuel Ritter gave to the census taker is correct, his birth year was around 1819. This is within three years and remarkably close to the projected birth year of the slave, Sam (described as age 25 in the said Ritter family deed of gift of 1847). Signs surely point to the high probability that Samuel and Sam were indeed the same, and I will hereafter designate him as SRSr.

There are several other pieces of additional interest in the 1870 census record. First, the household of SRSr includes Elisabeth/Elizabeth, age 28, a mulatto, and six children, ranging in ages from ten years to infancy. Secondly, there is additional information in the census form’s “Personal estate” category, column 9. The enumerator entered 100 (dollars) for SRSr’s personal property (defined generally as including all bonds, stocks, mortgages, notes, livestock, plate, jewels, or furniture). The practice was to leave the column blank if the valuation was less than $100.

This category of “Personal estate” was, in fact, left blank for the neighboring Hunsucker family, and some of the other white families in the area. Additionally, it is assumed that the elder Samuel Ritter had title to the land that he farmed, and was not in the category of sharecropper that described so many men during the 19th and on into the 20th century. Finally, Elisabeth Ritter was entered on the form as being able to read, though not write. Samuel Ritter, on the other hand, like so many of that era, could neither read nor write.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census also suggests a possibly cooperative relationship between the white Hunsucker family and the two black Samuel Ritters (SRSr and SRJr) and their families. By 1880 Dicey Jane Ritter Hunsucker is now a widow and listed as a farmer/head of household. The older SRSr, now 60 years old, is again registered as a farmer, and his name has the actual designation of “Senior.” Notably, there is only one residence separating his farm from that of the Hunsucker farm. The young Samuel Ritter (SRJr) who previously lived with the Hunsucker family, is now married, and listed as a farmer, with several young children. Significantly, he and his family are residing in a residence adjacent to the senior Samuel Ritter, most certainly his father, SRSr. Furthermore, SRSr lives in the second residence down, and SRJr lives in the third residence down from the Hunsucker homestead.

Following these families gives rises to even more unanswered questions, and surely the

deedtitle_reverseside

Excerpt from reverse side of deed of gift, with title and partial court endorsement.

loss of the 1890 U.S. Federal Census compounds the problem. Since SRSr does not appear on the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, we can assume that he died sometime between the 1880 and 1900 enumerations. One unproven family record on the Internet indicates that he died in 1892. If true, then SRSr lived well past the average life expectancy for men of that era. We know with fair amount of certainty that Dicey Jane Ritter Hunsucker died in 1891 because of the existence of her gravestone at the Bethlehem Baptist Church Cemetery, close to Ritters Township, in the town of Carthage.

Overall, discovering several positive connections to SRSr and his family has indeed been gratifying. Though I did not answer all questions, the results exceeded what I could reasonably anticipate when I first initiated my inquiries. For other researchers who have a family and/or a historical interest in SRSr and family, further in-depth research can take myriads of other directions. Thanks to the starting point presented through a single 1847 deed of gift, we have a better understanding of SRSr’s life and the legacy that he represents. We can never know the exact and undoubtedly complex nature of the relationships between the white Ritter family/Hunsucker family and the black Ritter family. It is certain, however, that their lives intersected in significant ways. It can probably be safely surmised that the relationship between Dicey Jane Ritter Hunsucker (d. ca. 1891) and Sam Ritter (d. ca. 1892), was at least cooperative on some levels and peaceful enough so that they could live almost side-by-side on their farms until the end of their days.

See also in honor of Black History Month, February 2017, a blog post written by Elizabeth Crowder, about the McCormick, Green, and Shaw Collection. PC.2130.

Collection Overview:

PC. 2124. Slave Deed of Gift, of Sam, age 25, Moore County, from John R. Ritter to his daughter, Jane Ritter, 18 December 1847. This document was proven and duly registered in the January court session of 1848, by the oath of Benjamin P. Person. 1 item.

 

North Carolina State Fair

[This blog post comes from Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist in the Special Collections Section.]

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: Edith (Mrs. George W.) Vanderbilt, State Fair President of 1921

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: Edith (Mrs. George W.) Vanderbilt, State Fair President of 1921

The North Carolina State Fair, which first opened in late October of 1853, is one of the state’s premier fall attractions. In that spirit, this blog post poses to all State Fair goers: What particular interests and expectations have drawn you to the State Fair, and what special memories have you taken away?  Not surprisingly, a number of the Private Collections offer glimpses of the North Carolina State Fair that add to the breadth of our collective State Fair experience, now spanning one hundred and sixty-three years.  Four such collections are featured here. Their dates range from 1853 to 1921, with three being penned within the first three decades of that auspicious opening event of 1853.

 

From the Margaret Eliza Cotton Journal, PC.1977, October 3, 1853

From the Margaret Eliza Cotton Journal, PC.1977, October 3, 1853

From the Margaret Eliza Cotten Journal, 1853-1854. PC.1977:  Margaret was a seventeen-year-old St. Mary’s School student living at home on Blount Street, Raleigh. She has left us, through her journal, one of the earliest, and maybe the only surviving privately recorded comment about the State Fair before its formal opening. On the night of October 3, 1853, Margaret opined, “I don’t know when I have been to a party or anything of the kind, [and] wish someone would give a large, nice one. Our city will be quite alive in a few weeks, I hope however, with the ‘Fair.’ I hope it may not be a failure – it is high time for ‘old Rip’ [town of Raleigh] to wake up. I think we are also to have a temperance convention, or something of that kind, on the 17th.”

Margaret’s subsequent comments indicated that the first fair was indeed a success, and quite the place to see and to be seen. Evidenced by her journal and the typical mindset of a teenager, the fair and its social aspects loomed far larger in her mind than the first State Temperance Convention. Not surprisingly, Margaret made no further comments about the latter event, though she had hoped that the Temperance Convention would attract some of her family and friends from Tarboro, Edgecombe County, her place of birth.

 

Letter of Ida B. A., St. Mary’s School, October 24, 1877, from the Kenelm Harrison Lewis Papers, PC.162

Letter of Ida B. A., St. Mary’s School, October 24, 1877, from the Kenelm Harrison Lewis Papers, PC.162

From the Kenelm Harrison Lewis Papers, 1834-1907. PC.162: These papers include a letter written by another student at St. Mary’s School, Ida B. A. [surname uncertain]. Ida was probably a friend of the daughter of Kenelm Lewis, Annie Harrison Lewis (1861-1943), a student at St. Mary’s School during the same time period. Writing probably to a male friend, on October 23 and 24, 1877, Ida described two visits to the Fair. The second time was especially “splendid,” and involved doing “almost exactly what I did the day before, only [I] did more of it. I was introduced to several very nice gentlemen and enjoyed myself hugely.” Specific events that impressed her included hearing a good band, seeing “elegant [military] drilling” and betting on “elegant [horse] racing,” and consuming delicious candy and cake. Additionally, she was pleased at “seeing so many nice folks from home,” including the New Berne boys, even though they “were not the right set,” but instead “grown young men.” Ida was also pleased that her friend, Lila, looked very stylish “for the first time in her life.” Lila apparently cut quite a figure wearing a dark brown dress and a brown straw hat trimmed with a cardinal scarf, and was “considered by a great many to be the prettiest girl on the grounds.”

 

From Leonidas Lafayette Polk Papers, PC.849: Letter of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to. L. L. Polk, September 1, 1881.

From Leonidas Lafayette Polk Papers, PC.849: Letter of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to. L. L. Polk, September 1, 1881.

From the Leonidas Lafayette Polk Papers, 1881. PC.849: The sole item in this collection is a letter dated September 1, 1881, written to L. L. Polk, 1888. It is from Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, former Confederate army commander, declining Polk’s invitation to attend the North Carolina State Fair because of prior business commitments in the Southwest. Johnston’s words express genuine disappointment: “I regret this infinitely. For I could find few gratifications in the world equal to that of meeting again the North Carolinians with whom I served in the most trying times that of their century have . . .  [ever] known.”

 

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: The papers include one photograph of Mrs. George W. Vanderbilt (Edith), the year she served as president of the North Carolina State Fair.  The image shows Mrs. Edith Vanderbilt, and Mary, Alice, “B,” and Kenlon (staff from the Biltmore estate?), riding in what appears to be an open-air fire engine. A glance at the photograph suggests that the group in the truck, especially Mrs. Vanderbilt, was attracting considerable notice from fair-goers on the ground, and that people-watching has long been one of the enduring attractions of the State Fair.

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: On February 3, 1921, the News and Observer writes of Edith (Mrs. George W.) Vanderbilt’s address to the state legislature and her induction as president of the 1921 State Fair.

From the Lillian Exum Clement Stafford Papers, PC.2084: On February 3, 1921, the News and Observer writes of Edith (Mrs. George W.) Vanderbilt’s address to the state legislature and her induction as president of the 1921 State Fair.

Significantly, the previous November, Lillian Exum Clement (not yet married), had been elected to the North Carolina General Assembly, becoming the first woman to serve in the state’s legislature.  Her private papers indicate that she had welcomed Mrs. Vanderbilt to Raleigh in early February of 1921, and include a newspaper clipping describing the event (News and Observer, issue of February 3, 1921). The article said that Mrs. Vanderbilt had addressed a joint session of the House and Senate and subsequently attended a meeting of the Executive Committee of the N.C. Agricultural Society, where she was inducted as president of the 1921 State Fair. Mrs. Vanderbilt’s presence and address evoked the observation: “But few times in the history of the State has a woman been asked to address the General Assembly, and none has pleased them more….”

In celebration of the State Fair and its history and impact, please note the online offering through the State Library of North Carolina: http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/digital/statefair/. There is a section entitled “Blue Ribbon Memories,” that includes comments from various fair-goers. On an added note, Private Collections invites those with extensive and detailed recollections of the State Fair to consider offering those, perhaps coupled with other historically valuable private papers and photographs, as a possible donation. Please contact Fran Tracy-Walls, fran.tracy-walls@ncdcr.gov for more information about donation guidelines and requirements.

New Films Available on DigitalNC

In April, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center announced that they were looking for audio visual materials to digitize. The project was similar to the one they completed in 2015, which enabled the digitization of and online access to films by H. Lee Waters, Beveridge and Associates, and others AV items held by the State Archives of North Carolina. This year we took part in their project again in order to digitize items from the Robert W. Scott II Papers (PC.1317) and films created by the Wildlife Resources Commission.

 

 

The digitized films are now online through the Internet Archive and the DigitalNC website as part of the North Carolina Sights and Sounds collection. Currently 48 films from the collections of the State Archives of North Carolina are available through DigitalNC. They cover a wide range of subjects including the 1968 election, fishing, water quality, state historical events, tobacco, and everyday life in 1930s-1940s North Carolina.

 

 

We  appreciate the opportunities such digitization projects offer and look forward to partnering with the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center in the future.

Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers

[This blog post was written by Elizabeth Crowder, contract archivist working with Private Collections in the Special Collections Section.]

Under the supervision of Fran Tracy-Walls, private manuscripts archivist at the State Archives of North Carolina, I have arranged and described the newest addition to the Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers. This work was made possible through generous funding from Dail Barbour, Ruth Barbour’s stepdaughter. The late George Stevenson Jr. processed the original accession of the Barbour Papers. His finding aid for the collection may be accessed here: http://ead.archives.ncdcr.gov/P_C_1859_Ruth_Peeling_Barbour_P_.html.

Small head shot of Ruth Peeling ca. 1947–1948

Ruth Peeling, ca. 1947–1948. PC.1859, Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers.

Ruth Peeling Barbour was born in York, Pennsylvania, in 1924. As a student at Syracuse University, she majored in history and edited The Daily Orange student newspaper. After graduation in 1946, Barbour moved to Beaufort, North Carolina, to edit the Beaufort News. The paper subsequently merged with Morehead City, North Carolina’s Twin City Daily Times, reestablishing itself as the Carteret County News-Times. In 1952, Barbour left the News-Times to attend graduate school. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from Florida State University the following year. Barbour then resumed editing the News-Times. In 1970, she married J. O. Barbour Jr., and in 1976 she stepped down from her position as editor. Barbour continued writing editorials, columns, and feature articles for the News-Times until 2000. She was also active in numerous professional, historical, and civic organizations, including the Carteret County Business and Professional Women’s Club, the North Carolina Society of County and Local Historians, and the Carteret County Salvation Army. Barbour died in Morehead City in 2014.

Ruth Peeling Barbour and Lockwood Phillips Sr. at a book signing for Cruise of the Snap Dragon, ca. July–August 1976

Ruth Peeling Barbour and Lockwood Phillips Sr., owner of the Carteret County News-Times, at a book signing for Cruise of the Snap Dragon, ca. July–August 1976. PC.1859, Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers.

Barbour did not limit herself to journalism. In addition to working for the News-Times, she published several plays and historical monographs, a novel, and a memoir. (A bibliography follows this post.) The Carteret Community Theatre, with which Barbour was long associated, produced her historical plays. Settings for her dramas included the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. North Carolina historical figures featured in the plays include pirate Edward Teach (Blackbeard), privateer Otway Burns, and Confederate spy Emeline Pigott. Barbour also featured Otway Burns in a 1976 novel entitled Cruise of the Snap Dragon. Her unpublished sequel to the novel was alternately titled “Third Cruse of the Snap Dragon” and “Captain from Carolina.” Barbour also undertook histories of the Beaufort Historical Association; of newspapers in Carteret County; of Open Grounds Farm; and of John Stewart McCormack, who advised her about naval matters for Cruise of the Snap Dragon. In 2005, she published Turning Back the Tide, an account of her journalism career in North Carolina.

Barbour’s original gift of private manuscripts to the State Archives includes letters and clippings concerning the Cape Lookout National Seashore and the potential unionization of the North Carolina Ports Authority; manuscripts and research materials for Cruise of the Snap Dragon and its sequel; and scripts of Barbour’s plays. The recent addition to the Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers contains notes, clippings, and drafts related to Barbour’s writing for the News-Times and for independent projects, as well as a large amount of research material concerning Carteret County history.

The new accession to the Barbour Papers demonstrates her meticulousness as a writer. Drafts of Barbour’s works reveal much about her composition process. Whether writing children’s stories in the 1940s and 1950s or news articles in the 1990s and 2000s, she relied upon extensive revisions to achieve her final product. Her drafts of “Captain from Carolina” and Turning Back the Tide are heavily corrected, and they feature pages and chapters rearranged to reflect experimentation with structure and final content. In some instances, Barbour edited her prose by cutting pages in pieces and pasting text together in the order she desired.

Barbour and her sister, Margaret Hall, took a similar approach while working on Hall’s unpublished memoir of her life in rural New Brunswick, Canada. Drafts of Hall’s manuscripts bear corrections from both sisters. Barbour and Hall were faithful correspondents—many of Hall’s letters are included in the Barbour Papers—who discussed composition and publication prospects alongside family matters. Their interests and lifestyles were different, and Hall claimed that writing was Barbour’s specialty, not hers. Yet both women had a similar eye for detail and the makings of a good story.

Barbour was as thorough a researcher as she was an editor. Her interest in Carteret County’s history was comprehensive. In addition to the many notes she accumulated while researching local newspapers and Open Grounds Farm, Barbour preserved clippings, pictures, and other documents chronicling her adopted home’s past. Materials available to researchers include:

  • interviews with local residents
  • articles about shipwrecks, Fort Macon, the Morehead City train depot, and the “vanished” community of Diamond City
  • information about dog racing in Carteret County and World War II’s impact on the North Carolina coast
  • notes from early newspapers and land and court records
Unidentified Beaufort, NC, residents in the aftermath of a flood, ca. 1933

Unidentified Beaufort, NC, residents in the aftermath of a flood, ca. 1933. PC.1859, Ruth Peeling Barbour Papers.

Ruth Peeling Barbour wrote about history, but she also lived it and made it. At the helm of a local newspaper at a time when women did not commonly hold such positions, she was a pioneer. Yet Barbour’s novel is out of print, and her histories were published in limited numbers. The private manuscripts she donated to the State Archives would be an excellent resource for students and scholars of North Carolina history and literature. It is to be hoped that these papers will make Barbour and her lifetime of writing and research more widely known.

 

Ruth Peeling Barbour Bibliography

Plays:

“Bonnie Blue Sweetheart” (1959)

“Blackbeard, Raider of the Carolina Seas” (1964)

“Otway Burns, Firebrand of 1812” (1969)

“It Happened Here” (1976)

“The Best of All” (1976)

“Prelude to Victory” (ca. 1981)

“On These Shores” (1985)

 

Novels:

Cruise of the Snap Dragon (1976)

“Third Cruise of the Snap Dragon”/“Captain from Carolina” (unpublished, ca. post-1975)

 

Nonfiction:

The Inimitable J. S. M. (1981)

History of the Beaufort Historical Association, January 25, 1960–January 1, 1990 (1990)

A History of Newspapers in Carteret County, NC, 1852–1992 (1998)

Open Grounds: Then and Now (2001)

Turning Back the Tide (2005)

Addition to Leonidas Polk Denmark Papers, PC.1417

[This blog post was written by Fran Tracy-Walls, Private Manuscripts Archivist in the Special Collections Section.]

Polk Denmark at L.L. Polk Historic Hwy. Marker, Polkton, N.C., 1948

Polk Denmark at L.L. Polk Historic Hwy. Marker, Polkton, N.C., 1948. From Non-textual Materials Unit, State Archives of North Carolina, Neg. 55.9.55

Private Collections are constantly expanding with new material and collections that encompass a range of historical periods. This posting highlights just one set of private papers recently processed, described, and made available to researchers: an addition to the Leonidas Polk Denmark Papers, PC.1417 (first installment received and accessioned in 1968).

The addition features Denmark’s correspondence, primarily of a genealogical nature, and material that pays homage to his illustrious grandfather, Leonidas L. Polk (among other contributions, founder of the Progressive Farmer). A modest but important part of the papers is a sketch of Denmark’s own life, with reference to his training as a pilot during World War I and his service in France during 1918 as an aerial surveillance instructor. Though the addition lacks letters and photographs of Polk’s service (see the first accession for letters), the Non-textual Materials Unit, has nine negatives that illustrate and document Denmark’s military service during World War I. (See listing below of all titles, dates, and negative numbers).

Polk Family Tree from Leonidas Polk Denmark Papers

Polk Family Tree from Leonidas Polk Denmark Papers. PC.1417. Addition, 2012. OS Box

Leonidas Polk Denmark (1892-1964) was a 1915 graduate of North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now N.C.S.U.), in the field of civil engineering. Denmark entered military service in May 1917 and was subsequently commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, U.S. Engineers, and assigned to the 105th Engineers Regiment at Camp Sevier, Greenville, S.C. Later, he volunteered for the Air Service and entered training, ultimately receiving his wings, then completing aerial gunnery training as part of the first class at Selfridge Field, Mt. Clemons, Michigan. Denmark sailed for France in July 1918, and subsequently served as instructor in aerial observation for seven months at the 2nd Aviation Instruction Center, Tours, France. He returned to the United States three months after Armistice. Additionally, Denmark was one of three men selected to represent the state of North Carolina at the burial of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, November 11, 1921.

Denmark’s main professional work was with the Highway Commission, from 1937 to 1960, as chief draftsman and cartographer with the Division of Statistics and Planning. A little known fact was that Denmark over many years engaged in genealogical research as a hobby and as a side-profession. This interest was undoubtedly stimulated during the 1920s when he served as land grant clerk in the office of the Secretary of State.

List of selected Leonidas Polk Denmark Photos in the Non-Textual Materials Unit, Special Collections, State Archives of North Carolina

  • 2nd Lt. L. P. Denmark, 105th Engineers, WWI, Wake Co., N. C.    1919 (1998)    N.98.1.89
  • L. P. Denmark, with Brunet Family, Tours, France, W.W.I    ca. 1918 (1998)    N.98.2.128
  • 2nd Lt. L. P. Denmark: “In My Office”, W.W.I    ca. 1918 (1998)    N.98.2.129
  • 2nd Lt. L. P. Denmark in Flight Gear, W.W.I    ca. 1918 (1998)    N.98.2.132
  • Ralph Jordan, L. P. Denmark, and the “Sop”, France, W.W.I    ca. 1918 (1998)    N.98.2.138
  • L. P. Denmark with Unidentified Aviator, Tours, France, W.W.I    ca. 1918 (1998)    N.98.2.141
  • 2nd Lt L. P. Denmark, et al, in Atlanta, GA    1917 (1998)    N.98.2.142
  • The “Famous 14th Squadron”, W.W.I    ca. 1917 (1998)    N.98.2.146
  • 105th Engineers Corp, Camp Oglethorpe, Georgia    ca. 1917 (1998)     N.98.3.23