Collection (1852-2014) includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, printed materials, and other items compiled by retired East Carolina University English professor emeritus Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives (1930-2016) relating primarily to the Hardee - Rives and related families of North Carolina and the United Kingdom, the history of Eastern North Carolina (especially Halifax County and the town of Enfield), the United Methodist Church in Eastern North Carolina, state and local and national politics, and his charitable and philanthropic interests. The earliest original documents cover the period from 1852 through the Civil War and World War I.
Ralph Hardee Rives was born November 24, 1930, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the son of Ralph Cooper Rives and Lossie Day Hardee Rives. After his mother's early death, his father remarried to Lossie's sister Blanche Hardee. He grew up in Halifax County, North Carolina, and called Enfield home. He attended Hardrawee Elementary School, graduated from Enfield High School, and received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees from East Carolina Teachers' College (now East Carolina University) which he attended from 1948 to 1953. After serving two years in the United States Army, Dr. Rives attended the University of Virginia and taught for three years while completing his Doctorate in Education in Rhetoric degree in 1960. After receiving his doctorate, he joined the faculty of the Department of English at his alma mater, then called East Carolina College, from which he retired in 1992. He also attended summer programmes at Oxford University and the University of London.
Dr. Rives acted with the East Carolina Players, the Wyvern Players, and the St. John Players (both of Georgia) and directed productions in North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia.
He was also a noted speaker in the United States and Great Britain and was the founder and first president of the (eastern North Carolina) Colonial Branch of the English-Speaking Union. He was an active member (and often the founder) of many historical and cultural organizations as well as being the author of numerous publications. His wide-ranging interests and activities included the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Coastal Plains Development Commission, the Halifax County Historical Association, the Pitt County Historical Society, the Society of the War of 1812 in North Carolina, the North Carolina Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, St. Andrew's Society of North Carolina, and many others.
The Hardee-Rives Award for Dramatic Arts given by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association was endowed by Ralph Hardee Rives in memory of his family, and he made the award's inaugural presentation in 2009.
Dr. Rives was enthusiastic about genealogy and local history and donated materials in twenty-eight separate collections in the East Carolina Manuscript Collection to preserve the history of eastern North Carolina and specifically Halifax County and Enfield. Ralph Hardee Rives died in Enfield, North Carolina, on May 20, 2016, and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Enfield. In his will, he established an endowment to be used to ensure continued preservation of the manuscript collections he started and to further development of the East Carolina Manuscript Collection.
Find a Grave
Information from retired ECU English Professor Lorraine Hale Robinson.
Among the correspondence in this collection are three letters dealing with the Civil War years. A letter (1862) from William R. Cheek while stationed at Camp Arrington, Virginia, relates the strategy the commander of the Merrimack employed against Union ships near Old Point in April, 1862. Two other letters (1864, 1865) of interest are from Eliza M. Groner to Sergt. George W. Davis, a Confederate prisoner of war in Elmira, New York.
A letter (1918) from Pvt. George Wynne, a member of the American Expeditionary Force in France, tells of such Allied activities as breaking the Kaiser's Hindenburg Line and liberating French civilians from the Germans. The letter also relates that the Americans are in good spirits and confident of victory.
A letter (1923) from Margaret Hardee describes the reaction in Pinehurst, N.C., to President Harding's death. Also included is a letter (1954) from George Wills describing the conditions in Maryland during Hurricane Hazel and the peaceful transition that the people of Baltimore were making in enforcing desegregation in the public schools as a result of the 1954 Supreme Court desegregation decision.
Of particular interest is an extensive sketch book (1857) containing sermons by Dr. William Henry Wills and lists of members of the Bethesda Church Sunday School. Dr. Wills (1809-1889), a native of Tarboro, was a founder and principal contributor to Bethesda Church, which was built in 1853. He was one of North Carolina's most distinguished nineteenth century clergymen and educators.
Other items include minutes of the organizational meetings (1856) of the Bethesda Church Sunday School and a list of the Sunday School members; a report card (1860) of Lucy Cary Wills from Elba Female Seminary; two party invitations (1860, 1865); a deed (1852), conveying the Bethesda Church property; Bethesda Church Roll (1890); a Certificate of the Brotherhood of the N.C. Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church (1905); notes concerning the location of the Elba Female Seminary, written by Lula Hunter Skillman (1966); an obituary (undated) from The Henderson Gold Leaf on the death of the Reverend J.H. Page; pictures of the Reverend William Henry Wills; and miscellaneous items.
Loaned by Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives
Gift by Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives
Gift by Suellyn Lathrop, University Archivist, ECU
Gift by Lorraine Hale Robinson
Gift of Susan Fraser Dahl (for the Ralph Hardee Rives estate)
Processed by D. Lennon
Encoded by Apex Data Services
Descriptions updated by Jennifer Overstreet, July 2020
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
For Related Collections see:
Rives-Dalton Family Papers East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Blanche Hardee Rives Papers East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
James Redding Rives II Papers East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Gerda Nischan Papers East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Mamie Ella Pittman Hardee Collection East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
John Gaston Rives, Jr. Family Papers East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC