Whitaker's Chapel Collection

Church Collection #CR0003
Whitaker's Chapel
Physical description
1.754 Cubic Feet, consisting of Roanoke Quarterly Conference Journals, daybooks, roll books, copies of other roll books, church programs, genealogical material, photographs, periodicals, clippings and correspondence.
Preferred Citation
Whitaker's Chapel Collection (#CR0003), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Biographical/historical information

Whitaker's Chapel near Enfield, NC, was established as an Anglican chapel (1740), became Methodist (ca. 1776), and was the birthplace (1828) of the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church in which it remained until 1939 when the Methodist Protestant Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, reunited. The church remained open and functional until 1948 and the building was restored for periodic commemorative services, the first of these taking place on December 20, 1964. The present building was erected in 1850 and it is the third building to serve as the congregation's place of assembly. The United Methodist Church designated the building as one of two shrines in North Carolina (1970).

Scope and arrangement

The collection contains the original minutes of the Methodist Protestant Church's Roanoke Circuit (1848-1939) and typescripts of minutes (1848-1931) are also included. The minutes primarily concern matters of routine circuit business such as ministerial examinations, buying and selling of church property, Sunday School, and attendance statistics. Sporadic references to heresies, temperance, and memorials of prominent Methodist Protestant ministers and laymen within the Roanoke Circuit are included. One significant theological disagreement over water baptism is reflected in these minutes (1880). Another entry reflects cooperation between Methodist Protestants and Free Will Baptists in a Sunday School project (1930).

The collection also contains photocopies of two Sunday School Registers (1883-1901) covering Whitakers' Chapel primarily but also other Roanoke Circuit chapels; and a set of minutes (1902-1903) for the Beneficial Literary Society, an intellectual social group that met for the purpose of sharing works of literature, poetry, and developing skills of debate. Found with the minutes are the organization's by-laws which include debate procedure and other rules of decorum.

Miscellaneous material includes essays about the horrors of war; American relations with European nations; a handwritten chronology of the Spanish-American War; a poem about the failure of the Confederate States and their currency; and an essay concerning whether liquor or war was the greater evil.

Other materials include a daybook of Enfield dry goods merchant Wilson Gary Whitaker (1859); United Society of Christian Endeavor chapter records (1897-1911); a Christian Workers' Band minute book (1913-1914); Whitaker's Chapel membership books (1923-1948); a dessert recipe and home remedies book (1887); and a scrapbook of published poems about death and dying.

Most of the correspondence in the collection is largely that of Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives, former English professor at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, concerning efforts to re-open the Chapel for periodic services (1960s). Much of the correspondence pertains to the scheduling of speakers, the Chapel's maintenance, and the developments, rivalries, and problems within the Methodist Church on the local, conference, and denominational levels (1960s-1980s). Several letters (Mar. 17, 1969; Jan. 19, 1971; Nov. 6, 1978; Jan. 8, 1987) document tensions between a local United Methodist Church and the Chapel. Frequent regional denominational and academic correspondents were Paul Garber, Robert Blackburn, William Cannon, Arthur Wenger, Bruce Whitaker, S. Bruce Petteway, and Thomas Collins.

Other correspondence pertains to memories of teaching Czechoslovakian children in New York City in the late 1930s (November 3, 1970); the history of the Holme house in Lancastershire, England, and a description of the parapsychological methods used forassessing ghostly activity in the manor house (Dec. 28, 1971); and a description of an 1889 wedding at Whitaker's Chapel (Mar. 26, 1981).

Miscellaneous materials concerning Whitaker's Chapel include items chronicling its history; speeches given by Dr. Rives; assorted publications; church service programs; the guest register for the re-opening of the church (December 1964); guest speakers' resumes and biographical information; interior and exterior photographs of the Chapel; and newspaper clippings (1950-1986). There is also a folder of Whitaker family genealogical material and more information on the family can be gleaned from the correspondence.

Administrative information
Custodial History

February 17, 1970, ca. 200 items; Correspondence, church history, programs, clippings, etc.

April 24, 1970 (addition 1), 2 volumes; Sunday school registers (1883-1901).

March 10, 1976 (addition 2), 50 items; Correspondence, clippings, and miscellaneous.

May 20,1980 (addition 3), 62 items; Papers (1969-1979), including correspondence, clippings, programs and miscellaneous.

July 2, 1984 (addition 4), 7 volumes; Roanoke Quarterly Conference journals, Methodist Protestant Church, (1848-1939), Whitaker family's daybook (1861-1862), and Whitaker genealogies.

April 30, 1986 (addition 5), 75 items and 1 volume; Papers (1875-1984), including correspondence, registers, daybooks, clippings, and miscellany.

December 29, 1987 (addition 6), ca. 150 items; Typescript of Proceedings of Roanoke Quarterly Conference (1848-1931), Christian Endeavor Society Records (1897-1911), roll book (1938), correspondence, programs, clippings, photographs, and miscellaneous. Gift of Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives

November 4, 1997 (addition 7), 2 items; National Register of Historic Places nomination and photograph of Whitaker's Chapel. Gift of Mrs. Drucilla H. York, Greenville, NC. Donor: Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives

August 26, 2012 (unprocessed addition 8), 4 items, .004 cubic feet; Papers (1982-1988) include two letters, one clipping and a 1982 graduate program for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute concerning William D. Bulloch, husband of Anne Boyd Whitaker of Enfield, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives

Mrs. Drucilla H. York

Processing information

Processed by K. Rouse; A. Merriman; M. Elmore, November 1999

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
Rives, Ralph Hardee--Correspondence
Corporate Names
Church membership--North Carolina--Enfield
East Carolina University--Faculty
Methodist Episcopal Church, South--North Carolina--Halifax County
Methodist Protestant Church (U.S. : 1830-1939). North Carolina Conference
Whitaker's Chapel (Enfield, N.C.)
Church records and registers--North Carolina--Enfield
Protestant church buildings--North Carolina--Enfield
Enfield (N.C.)--Church history--19th century
Enfield (N.C.)--Church history--20th century

Container list
Box 1 Notebooks, 1859-1898
Box 2 Notebooks; Ledgers; Minute Books; Registers, 1913-1964
Box 3 Roanoke Circuit Conference Minutes, 1848-1939
Box 4 Roanoke Circuit Minutes (transcribed), 1848-1931
Box 4b Photographs; Beneficial Literary Society records, 1902-1903
Box 4c Miscellaneous
Box 5 Histories of Whitakers' Chapel; Clippings, 1950-1986
Box 5b Resumes and Biographical Data; Bulletins; Speeches; Genealogy; Miscellaneous Publications; National Register of Historic Places Registration Form
Box 6 Correspondence: 1921, 1958-1972
Box 7 Correspondence: 1973-1988, undated