W. Keats Sparrow Papers

Manuscript Collection #13
Sparrow, W. Keats (Wendall Keats), 1942-2009
Physical description
0.22 Cubic Feet, 30 items , photocopies of genealogy typescripts, clippings, census records, book and magazine articles, speeches, and travel diary; typescript of Bible records concerning Sparrow genealogy and Dr. Patrick J. Sparrow; and correspondence.
Preferred Citation
W. Keats Sparrow Papers (#13), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1836-1977) including genealogical materials, clippings, census materials, clippings, speeches, travel diary and correspondence, etc.

Scope and arrangement

The collection consists of several family histories, notes on the Maryland Sparrow ancestors of Johns Hopkins, Bible records of Isaac E. Sparrow (1822-1885) of Lenoir County, N.C., and papers concerning the Rev. Patrick Jones Sparrow, D.D., (1802-1867). The Strouds family history gives some information on the background of the Stroud name, supplies incomplete data on nineteenth century members of the family, and includes a genealogical chart. Lapierre, Fordham, and Rouse: Eastern North Carolina Families, compiled by Lois Smith and W. Keats Sparrow, contains information concerning John La Pierre, his son-in-law Benjamin Fordham, and the Fordham and Rouse descendants of Benjamin Smith and Sparrow also compiled Rouse Family History, which contains data on the descendants of Richard Rouse, Sr., of Lenoir County. The genealogy, Daniel Croom of Virginia: His Descendants in North Carolina, traces the Croom descendants from the death of Daniel in Virginia in 1734 to various twentieth century Croom families living in eastern North Carolina.

Rev. Sparrow, of Lincoln County, N.C., was a well-known Presbyterian minister who taught and preached at churches in Lincoln and Rowan counties, N.C., Prince Edward County, Va., Alabama, and Florida. He was one of the founders of Davidson College (1837) and was chosen the first professor of languages to teach there. He left Davidson in 1840 and later served as president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia (1845-1847). He died in Cahaha, Alabama, on November 10, 1867. Material concerning Rev. Sparrow includes photocopies of clippings, census records, letters, book and magazine excerpts; his 1836 travel diary; and speeches given by him while associated with Davidson College. The collection also contains History of the First Presbyterian Church of Pensacola, Florida 1837-1940 where Rev. Sparrow was pastor from 1856 until 1862.

Rev. Sparrow's travel diary (March 29-May 25, 1836) documents his travels from north central North Carolina (Rockingham and Caswell counties) through Virginia to Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Md.; Philadelphia, Pa.; New York City; and finally to Pittsburgh, Pa., where he apparently attended a Presbyterian General Assembly meeting. Included is an account of stage, steamboat, meal, and tavern expenses in North Carolina and Virginia. Descriptions of steamboat travel on the Potomac (April 15) and Delaware (April 21, 28) rivers, stage travel (March 29), and train travel (April 20) to Baltimore from Washington are found. Brief descriptions are provided of Milton, N.C. (March 29); Fredericksburg, Va. (April 15); Mount Vernon (April 15); Baltimore, Md., sights such as the Catholic Cathedral, the Washington Monument, and the lottery offices; the Peale Museum in Philadelphia (April 20, 21); New York City (April 28, May 1 and 8) sights, especially Broadway Tabernacle; and Holidaysburg (May 14) and Pittsburgh (May 17), Pa. Sparrow refers to circuit preaching and attending various Presbyterian church services along his trip. The diary's last pages appear to describe a Presbyterian General Assembly gathering with references to Old and New school parties.

Rev. Sparrow's most vivid and lengthy description, however, is of U.S. House of Representatives and Senate meetings he attended on April 18, 1836. The physical appearances and speaking styles of Congressmen John Quincy Adams and Henry Alexander Wise, Vice President Martin Van Buren, and Senators Judge Hugh Lawson White, Felix Grundy, Daniel Webster, John Caldwell Calhoun, and Henry Clay are graphically depicted. Senators are pictured in a debate over using railroads to transport mail. On April 19, 1836, Rev. Sparrow visited Senators John C. Calhoun and William Campbell Preston and recorded their appearances in more relaxed surroundings.

Two additional Sparrow family-related papers are an article excerpt concerning Lemuel M. Sparrow and a clipping concerning Rev. Patrick J. Sparrow's son John. Lemuel Sparrow was connected with Talladega Institute and served as principal of Eastaboga Academy in Alabama in the 1850s. John Sparrow (1859-1924) was editor of the Birmingham Daily Ledger (Alabama) and worked in the advertising business.

Items not pertaining to the Sparrow family include a letter (Jan. 19, 1977) from author Thad Stem, Jr., and a letter (Aug. 4, 1966) from poet Walter Blackstock.

Administrative information
Custodial History

September 26, 1967, 30 items; Genealogical histories entitled The Strouds; Lapierre, Fordham, and Rouse: Eastern North Carolina Families; Rouse Family History; and Daniel Croom of Virginia: His Descendants in North Carolina.

October 31, 1977, 23 items (copies); Census records, news articles, and printed material pertaining to Dr. Patrick J. Sparrow and Sparrow family genealogical material.

June 3, 1984, 2 pp., typescripts; Bible records of Isaac E. Sparrow of Lenoir County, N.C.

October 29, 1984, 2 items; Letters from Walter Blackstock (1966) and Thad Stem, Jr. (1977). Gift of Dr. W. Keats Sparrow, Greenville, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Dr. W. Keats Sparrow

Processing information

Processed by M. Elmore, December 1984 and N. Hardison, January 2023

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848
Blackstock, Walter--Correspondence
Calhoun, John C. (John Caldwell), 1782-1850
Clay, Henry, 1777-1852
Grundy, Felix, 1777-1840
Preston, William C. (William Campbell), 1794-1860
Sparrow, Isaac E.
Sparrow, P. J. (Patrick Jones), 1802-1867
Stem, Thad, Jr., 1916-1980--Correspondence
Van Buren, Martin, 1782-1862
Webster, Daniel, 1782-1852
White, Hugh Lawson, 1773-1840
Wise, Henry A. (Henry Alexander), 1806-1876
Family Names
Croom family
Fordham family
Lapierre family
Rouse family
Sparrow family
Stroud family
Corporate Names
Davidson College--Faculty
First Presbyterian Church (Pensacola, Fla.)
Presbyterian Church--Clergy
Presbyterian Church--United States--History
Railroad travel--United States
Stagecoaches--Travel--United States
Baltimore (Md.)--Description and travel
Delaware River Estuary--Description and travel
New York (N.Y.)--Description and travel
North Carolina--Description and travel
North Carolina--Genealogy
Philadelphia (Pa.)--Description and travel
Pittsburgh (Pa.)--Description and travel
Potomac River--Travel
Virginia--Description and travel
Washington (D.C.)--Description and travel

Container list
Box 1 Folder a Genealogical Notes containing information on Daniel Croom of Virginia and his descendants; and the LaPierre, Fordham,and Rouse families of Eastern N.C.; the bible records of Isaac E. Sparrow (1822-1885) and information on his descendants., 1822-1885, undated
Box 1 Folder b Rev. Patrick J. Sparrow materials that include correspondence and published items., 1837-1977, undated
Box 1 Folder c Letters from author Thad Stem, Jr. and poet Walter Blackstock, 1966, 1977