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William L. Spoon Papers, 1705-1928

Manuscript Collection #170

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: William L. Spoon Papers
Creator: Spoon, William L., 1862-1942
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Papers (1705-1928) consisting of papers, a diary, pamphlets, almanacs, maps, photos, reports on weather, tax receipts, genealogical records.
Extent: 0.65 Cubic feet, 400 items , consists of papers (1705-1928), including correspondence, a diary, pamphlets, almanacs, maps, photos, and newspapers.

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

May 6, 1971, 90 items; Papers (1885-1928), including correspondence, a diary, pamphlets, and a map.

April 4, 1972, 1 item; An Alamance County map (1893).

June 6, 1974, ca. 150 items; Papers (1796-1894), including Eli Moser estate papers, nineteenth century newspapers, farm publications, etc.

December 19, 1975, ca. 100 items; Newspapers (1885-1905) published in Greensboro, Burlington, Graham, and other North Carolina cities.

May 9, 1977, 65 items; Papers (1769-1918), consisting of correspondence, land records, financial papers, photographs, essays, poetry, pamphlets, and miscellaneous. Deposited by Mrs. T. Collins Cooper, Windsor, N.C.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions

Copyright Notice

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

Preferred Citation

William L. Spoon Papers (#170), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Mrs. T. Collins Cooper

Processing Information

  • Processed by L. Hardy; C. Bentley, November 1985

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services


Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

William Luther Spoon (1862-1942) was the son of George Monroe and Nancy (nee Stafford) Spoon of Alamance County, N.C. Spoon attended the University of North Carolina where he was a member of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society. In 1891 he graduated with B.S. and B.E. degrees and subsequently worked as a surveyor, teacher, inventor, map maker, and traveling salesman. In 1897 he married Addie Vernon Neville and made his home in Burlington, N.C. After his marriage, Spoon was appointed supervisor of public roads in Alamance County and worked for a time as an agent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Description Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence. Early letters concern Spoon's interest in establishing an ice-making plant in Burlington, N.C., his desire to work as a surveyor, and his employment by the North Carolina Geological Survey and the Alamance County Superior Court. Other letters pertain to Spoon's life in Texas where he taught school and worked on a press to revolutionize the cotton industry. Included in this correspondence (1895-1896) are comments on the climate in Texas, on farm machinery used to harvest crops, and corn prices. Of particular interest is the observation that people were burning their corn as fuel since prices on it were too low to warrant shipping it to market. Later correspondence pertains to Spoon's travels to sell a coat rack which he had invented. During his stay in Baltimore, Maryland, he wrote on the climate, his concern over the measles and influenza epidemics in North Carolina, and the loading of flour, cotton, and lumber aboard a ship bound for Liverpool, England. The remainder of the correspondence pertains to Spoon's appointment as supervisor of roads in Alamance County (1897), crop prospects (1897, 1907), a flood of the Arkansas River (1908), and the weather in Washington, D.C., in April 1919. Correspondence between Addie Spoon and her sister deals with family affairs and daily life (1880-1882).

A small notebook entitled The Methodist Recorder contains a description of the Methodist Christian Endeavor Rallies (1894) held in Cleveland, Ohio, and some notes on sermons and speeches heard there. One copy each of the Friends' Review (1859) and The Epistle From the Yearly Meeting (1833) contain information on Quaker groups in Great Britain and Pennsylvania.

A diary recording Spoon's activities from July 2, 1926, to January 11, 1927, is also included in the collection. It recounts the building of a house in Burlington, Spoon's travels to Virginia and North Dakota on assignment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and his work on Alamance County roads. Of particular interest are reports on the weather and scenery in the Midwest, a bridge being built over the Missouri River, and rail travel in 1926.

Several different farmers' almanacs from the period of 1838-1842 deal with general agricultural topics and the production of sugar beets and silk worms. Blums Farmer's & Planter's Almanac for 1856, 1864, 1865, 1867, 1869, and 1915 lists the state government officers and their salaries. The Arator for 1856 and 1857 has articles on turpentine production in N.C. and The Farmer's Advocate for June 1, 1840, has an article on cinch bug control in N.C.

Another item of interest is a North Carolina Geological and Economic Survey for June 6 to July 21, 1924, which records soil surveys in various N.C. counties primarily to determine which records soil surveys in various N.C. counties primarily to determine which soils made the best roads. There is also a handwritten report entitled "Historical, Statistical and Geological Information for Alamance County."

Two maps of Alamance County included in the collection were drawn by William L. Spoon. One shows the county as it was in 1893 and the other as it was in 1928. Two photographs show road crews and steam-powered equipment working on road construction (undated).

There is a group of promissory notes and other financial papers from the estate of Eli Moser of Orange County, N.C., (1820s). George M. Spoon was the executor of Moser's estate.

Enrollment of the Conscripts of the 68th Regiment, North Carolina Militia, Guilford County, 8th day of July, 1862 is also included.

Miscellaneous material includes various financial papers such as tax receipts and summonses to court for nonpayment of debts; a genealogy for the Isley family (1836-1878); a cure for cancer (1881); and three pamphlets written by Spoon: The Art of Soldering, Building Sand-Clay Roads in Southern States (1903), and The Construction of Sand-Clay and Burnt-Clay Roads. Other items of interest include two illustrated catalogs and price lists of the John W. Douglas Co. of New York; a copy of Pierce's Memorandum and Account Book; a copy of the Oakdate Student of Alamance County, N.C., for March, 1886; a catalog for Littleton Female College, Littleton, N.C. (1910); a catalog for Trinity School, Chocowinity, N.C. (1893-1894); and Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (1839).

A folder of land records includes deeds and indentures from Person, Guilford, and Orange counties, N.C., (1705-1828).

Oversize folders contain N.C. newspapers from the 1800s and early 1900s and three deeds from Orange County, 1769-1796.

Subject Headings Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Card Catalog Entries Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Reading Room's card catalog. This system is no longer maintained, but it is left in place to help on-site researchers locate particular topics in the collection.

Geographic Entry :

  • North Carolina, Alamance County

Autograph Entries :

  • Holmes, J[oseph] A[ustin] (4) 1893-1897
  • Holt, W[alter] L[awrence] (2) 1897

Subject Entries :

  • AGRICULTURE--Corn--Equipment
  • AGRICULTURE--Corn--Prices
  • AGRICULTURE--Crops--1897
  • AGRICULTURE--Crops--1907
  • AGRICULTURE--Publications--Almanacs--19th Century
  • AGRICULTURE--Silkworms
  • AGRICULTURE--Sugar Beets
  • AGRICULTURE--Turpentine--Collection Methods
  • BUILDING AND ARCHITECTURE--Bridges
  • BUILDING AND ARCHITECTURE--Burlington, N.C.
  • BURLINGTON, N.C.--General Description and History--1800s
  • BUSINESS AND COMMERCE--Equipment
  • BUSINESS AND COMMERCE--Ice--Manufacture
  • CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA--Bonds--1864
  • CONSERVATION--Geology
  • EDUCATION--COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES--Littleton Female College
  • EDUCATION--PRIVATE SCHOOLS--Beaufort Co., N.C.--1893-1894
  • HEALTH AND MEDICINE--Cures
  • HEALTH AND MEDICINE--Diseases--Cancer
  • HEALTH AND MEDICINE--Diseases--Influenza
  • HEALTH AND MEDICINE--Diseases--Measles
  • INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS--Roads
  • INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS--Roads
  • INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS--Roads
  • INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS--Peace
  • LAND--Deeds and Sales--Guilford Co., N.C.
  • LAND--Deeds and Sales--Orange Co., N.C.
  • LAND--Deeds and Sales--Person Co., N.C.
  • MARYLAND--BALTIMORE
  • MILITIA--Guilford Co., N.C.--1862
  • RELIGION--Methodist
  • RELIGION--Society of Friends (Quaker)
  • TEXAS--1895
  • TRANSPORTATION--Railroads--1926
  • TRANSPORTATION--Roads--Building
  • TRANSPORTATION--Ships and Shipping
  • TRAVEL--Middle West--1926
  • TRAVEL--U.S.--1926
  • WAR--CIVIL--Militia
  • WASHINGTON, N.C.
  • WEATHER--Middle West--1926
  • WEATHER--District of Columbia--Washington--1919
  • WEATHER--Texas--1895

Genealogy Entries :

  • ISLEY FAMILY
  • MOSER FAMILY--Orange Co., N.C.

Pamphlet Entries :

Author Entry
  • Spoon, William Luther.
    • The Art of Soldering 
    • Building Sand-Clay Roads in Southern States  (1903)
    • The Construction of Sand-Clay and Burnt-Clay Roads 

Newspaper Entries:

Albemarle
  • The Stanly Enterprise
    • May 31, 1906
Asheboro
  • Southern Citizen
    • Mar. 29, 1839
Burlington
  • The Burlington Hawkeye
    • Nov. 5, 1891
    • Jan. 1, 1892
  • The Burlington Herald
    • April 8, 1892
    • June 16, 1892
  • The Burlington News
    • Feb. 12, 1891
    • Dec. 31, 1891
    • May 5, 1892
    • June 23, 1892
    • Feb. 15 1893
    • July 26, 1893
    • Dec. 13, 1893
    • Feb. 28, 1894
    • Aug. 8, 1894
    • Jan. 2, 1895
    • Jan. 30, 1895
    • Feb. 13-Mar. 13, 1895
    • Mar. 27, 1895
    • April 17, 1895
    • May 29, 1895
    • July 3,1895
    • July 17, 1895
    • July 31, 1895
    • Oct. 2, 1895
    • April 29, 1896
    • May 20, 1896
    • June 10, 1896
    • June 17, 1896
    • July 8, 1896
    • July 22, 1896
    • July 29, 1896
    • Aug. 26, 1896
    • Sept. 2-16, 1896
    • Nov. 4, 1896
    • May 26, 1897
    • July, 28, 1897
    • Sept. 1, 1897
    • Sept. 15, 1897
    • Mar. 27, 1901
    • June 27, 1901
    • Aug. 22, 1901
    • Dec. 20, 1901
    • Feb. 11, 1903
    • May 11, 1904
    • Feb. 15, 1905
    • May 31, 1905
    • July 19, 1905
    • April 4, 1906
Durham
  • Durham Recorder
    • June 10, 1891
Elon College
  • The Elon College Weekly
    • Sept. 19, 1900
Graham
  • The Alamance Gleaner
    • Jan. 27, 1887
    • Oct. 20, 1898
    • June 19, 1902
    • July 31, 1902
    • Aug. 14, 1902
    • Jan. 15, 1903
    • Feb. 12, 1903
    • May 31, 1903
    • July 7, 1904
    • Feb. 9, 1905
    • Mar. 16, 1905
    • April 13, 1905
    • June 22, 1905
    • July 6, 1905
    • July 13, 1905
    • Aug. 10, 1905
    • Mar. 8, 1906
    • Mar. 26, 1906
  • The Alamance Weekly
    • July 12, 1894
  • The Graham Tribune
    • Feb. 14, 1900
Greensboro
  • The Beacon
    • May 4, 1880
  • The Central Protestant
    • July 11, 1878
    • Aug. 8, 1885
    • July 9, 1887
    • May 19, 1888
    • July 21, 1888
    • July 27, 1889
    • Dec. 7, 1889
    • Jan. 20, 1890
    • Feb. 1-15, 1890
    • Mar. 8-29, 1890
    • April 12-May 3, 1890
    • May 17, 1890
    • May 31, 1890
    • June 21-July 19, 1890
    • Aug. 30, 1890
    • Sept. 6-27, 1890
    • Oct. 11, 1890
    • Oct. 18, 1890
    • Nov. 8, 1890
    • Nov. 15, 1890
    • Jan. 3, 1891
  • The Greensborough Patriot
    • Aug. 11, 1864
    • Oct. 26, 1892
  • The Guardian
    • June 30, 1855
    • July 25, 1855
    • Oct. 31, 1855
    • Nov. 21, 1855
  • The Little Harbinger
    • July 1893
  • Our Church Record
    • Feb. 27, 1896
    • Nov. 19, 1896
  • Patriot And...
    • Oct. 15, 1868
  • The Times
    • May 1, 1856
Hickory
  • Press and Carolinian Extra
    • Sept. 1, 1888
Hillsborough
  • Hillsborough Recorder
    • Nov. 25, 1836
    • Aug. 8, 1839
    • Oct., Nov. 28, 1839
Kenansville
  • Eastern Carolina News
    • Mar. 14, 1906
Lexington and Thomasville
  • Davidson County News
    • April 16, 1896
Liberty
  • Liberty Herald
    • May 24, 1894
New Bern
  • The Monthly Visitor
    • June 1, 1869
Normal College, Randolph County
  • The Guardian
    • Sept. 1854
Pittsborough
  • The Communicator
    • Mar. 18, 1848
    • June 10, 1848
Pittsborough
  • North Carolina Temperance Communicator
    • Nov. 10, 1848
    • Dec. 1, 1848
Raleigh
  • The Alliance Monthly
    • June 1895
  • Captions of Acts
    • 1881
  • The Eclectic
    • Sept. 1892
  • The Morning Post
    • Jan. 21, 1900
  • The News-Observer Chronicle
    • July 2, 1893
  • The Progressive Farmer
    • Oct. 27, 1891
  • Spirit of the Age
    • Aug. 1, 1855
  • The Weekly News
    • July 23, 1874
  • The Weekly Sentinel
    • April 16, 1867
Snow Camp
  • The Little Visitor
    • Feb. 1, 1868

Map Entries :

  • NORTH CAROLINA: ALAMANCE COUNTY (1893)
  • NORTH CAROLINA: ALAMANCE COUNTY (1928)

Date Entries :

  • 1890-1897
  • 1924-1927

Images below are listed alphabetically by subject. This list reflects only those portions of the collection for which negatives have been prepared.

BUSINESS AND COMMERCE--Ships and Shipping
Description: Waterfront
Location: Washington, NC
Date: 1930s
Call Number: p-170/1

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT--Convict Labor
Description: Black chain gang working on road
Date: 1900s
Call Number: p-170/1

TRANSPORTATION--Roads
Description: Tarring road in town, onlookers
Date: 1900s
Call Number: p-170/2

Container List Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Box 2#0170.2
Diary; N.C. Geological & Economic Survey; Farmers' Almanacs
Box 3#0170.3
Farmers' Almanacs
Map Folder m1#0170.m1
Maps of Alamance County, N.C. (1893, 1928)
Oversize Folder os1#0170.os1
Deeds, 1769-1796; Newspapers, Albemarle-Graham, NC; Burlington, NC; Photographs, undated
Oversize Folder os2#0170.os2
Newspapers, Greensboro, N.C.
Oversize Folder os3#0170.os3
Newspapers, Hickory-Snow Camp, N.C.

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Division, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. To see what's been digitized in this collection, please click on the "View Digitized Objects" link, or look for hyperlinks in the container list
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