William E. Clarke Papers, 1796, 1820-1919

Manuscript Collection #269

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

Title: William E. Clarke Papers
Creator: Clarke, William E., 1850-1901
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Papers (1830-1919) of a prominent New Bern, NC attorney, state representative, 1876-1880, and state senator, 1881-1883, consisting of correspondence, legal briefs, financial papers, accounts, estate papers, land book and miscellaneous.
Extent: 0.975 Cubic feet, consisting of correspondence, legal files and briefs, financial papers, accounts, estate papers, wills, receipts, land book, and miscellaneous.

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

Accessions Information

August 1, 1974, ca. 1000 items; Papers (1830-1919) of New Bern, N.C. lawyer, including correspondence, legal briefs, financial papers, accounts, estate papers, and miscellaneous. Gift of Mr. Elmer E. Long, III, New Bern, N.C.

March 29, 1978, ca. 850 items; Papers (1820-1919), including correspondence (1868-1919), legal briefs, notes, and miscellaneous, anonymous gift

February 20, 1997 (unprocessed addition 1), 1 volume; U.S. Commissioner's Trial Docket (1888-1897). Donor: Mrs. Mary Barden.

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 E. Clarke Papers (#269), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Mr. Elmer E. Long, III
  • Gift of Mrs. Mary Barden

Processing Information

  • Processed by B. Frye; M. Elmore, November 1979

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services

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

William E. Clarke (1850-1901) was a prominent New Bern, N.C. attorney who served in the State House of Representatives (1876-1880) and the State Senate (1881-1883). He was the son of Mary Bayard Clarke, the state's most famous poetess of the nineteenth century, and William J. Clarke who served as state comptroller and as a Republican legislator and superior court judge during Reconstruction.

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

The collection is overwhelmingly concerned with the practice of law in Eastern North Carolina. Included are briefs covering a wide range of topics such as usury, property rights for women, malicious prosecution, forgery, and malfeasance in office.

Specific cases of interest are the suing of A.M.E. Zion Church by Emilene Tucker, a former teacher (1897); a suit against the owners of the steamship SNOW HILL by D. Styron for back wages (1898); an arson case, State v. Hunter (1880), and the subsequent warrant for his arrest for the burning of the office of Register of Deeds; and cases involving the blocking of a highway from New Bern to Pollocksville (1882). Other legal items include a bill of sale for three Negroes (1830); correspondence relating to the sale of, power of attorney papers, and abstracts of the deed for the Carraway Gold Mine in Randolph County, North Carolina (1881); tenant farming contracts which include crops to be cultivated, items to be furnished, and final dividing of the yield; an affidavit to examine an insane person (1889); the will of Jesse Moore setting slaves free; and arguments and precedents relating to the validity of slaves' marriage. The remainder of the legal portion of this collection pertains to the collection of debts; land transactions in Jones, Onslow, and Craven counties; and other legal documents such as summonses, mortgages, promissory notes, and power of attorney papers.

Correspondence in the collection also reflects the nature of Clarke's law practice. Of particular interest are the efforts of Miss Jennie Bell, a Northern missionary, to establish a school for poor whites on Harker's Island (1867). Included in this particular group is correspondence dealing with the possibilities of combining this school with Graham Academy in Marshallberg, North Carolina, upon Miss Bell's death (1894). Significant legal correspondence consists of material related to the case of Crabtree v. Sheelky (1895), which includes a complete description and inventory for the Sheelky Planing Mill Plant in New Bern; efforts to establish the legality of French spoliation claims (1884); and testimonials, complaints, and possibilities of a suit involving the manufacturing of a new type of plow (1887). There is also some correspondence concerning the efforts of Clarke to set up a receivership for a Negro woman in Tarboro, North Carolina, who was being cheated out of her share of a business by a group of Negroes (1887).

Correspondence of a political nature comprises another portion of this collection. Republican chances in Eastern North Carolina in 1878 are discussed in connection with possible damage caused by the "Tarboro Affair" as well as the organization of the Independents in Craven County. Another letter describes the situation in Morehead City, North Carolina, where Democrats and Populists have joined together to secure a Postmaster position in the district (1897).

Other correspondence includes a description of Craven County before and after the Civil War and its effect on land values (1886); pension claims for the services of Captain William J. Clarke in the Mexican War; a description of life at Guilford College; and the observing of a comet (1910). There is also considerable correspondence dealing with land speculation and the possible profitability of the marl trade in Eastern North Carolina in the 1880's.

Financial papers include the receipts and outlay for a cotton farm (1886) and the records for the Croatan Farm of L. H. Banks (1888). Also included are tax receipts, a listing of traveling expenses to and from New York by schooner (1846-1847), freight charges for the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad company (1876), and general accounts from various stores and companies.

The miscellaneous group is comprised of newspaper clippings of a temperance speech by William Kitchen (1908), and various papers involving lodge activities.

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, Craven County

Autograph Entries :

  • Ames, Charles Gordon (2) 1894
  • Bellows, Henry Whitney 1868
  • Blount, William Augustus 1887
  • Clarkson, Heriot (4) 1889, 1893
  • Fuller, Thomas Charles 1879
  • Richetson, Daniel (2) 1872, 1880

Genealogy Entry :

  • BURNEY FAMILY— Craven Co., N.C.

Subject Entries :

  • AGRICULTURE— Cotton— Marketing
  • AGRICULTURE— Equipment
  • AGRICULTURE— Fertilizer
  • AGRICULTURE— Livestock— Law and Legislation
  • AGRICULTURE— Farm Tenancy
  • AGRICULTURE— Financial Papers
  • BUSINESS AND COMMERCE— Agricultural Implements— 1887
  • BUSINESS AND COMMERCE— Bankruptcy— Halifax Co., N.C.
  • BUSINESS AND COMMERCE— Manufacturing
  • BUSINESS AND COMMERCE— Publishing— 1895-1896
  • BUSINESS AND COMMERCE— Ships and Shipping— French Spoliation Claims
  • CLOTHING AND DRESS— Northwest— 1912
  • DISASTERS— Fires— Oregon
  • CRAVEN CO., N.C.— Land Value and Taxation
  • CRIME AND PUNISHMENT— Prisons— 1877
  • EDUCATION— Textbooks— 1879
  • ELECTIONS— Craven Co., N.C.
  • ELECTIONS— N.C. General Assembly— House
  • ELECTIONS— N.C. General Assembly— Senate— 1886
  • SUFFRAGE— Law and Legislation
  • HARKER'S ISLAND, N.C.— Mission Schools
  • HEALTH AND MEDICINE— Drugs— 1917
  • HEALTH AND MEDICINE— Mental Health
  • INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS— Canals— New Berne & Beaufort Canal Co.
  • LABOR— Strikes— Lumber Trade
  • LAND— Deeds and Sales— Craven Co., N.C.
  • LAND— Speculation
  • LAW AND LAWYERS— New Bern, N.C.
  • MINES AND MINING— Gold— Randolph Co., N.C.
  • NEGROES— Business and Commerce— 1887
  • NEW BERN, N.C.
  • ORGANIZATIONS— Knights of Honor
  • PROHIBITION— Temperance
  • POLITICS— Democratic Party— N.C.— 1897
  • POLITICS— Populist Party— 1897
  • POLITICS— Republican Party— N.C.— 1878
  • POLITICS— Republican Party— N.C.
  • RELIGION— African Methodist Episcopal Zion
  • RELIGION— Mission Schools— Harker's Island, N.C.
  • RELIGION— Missionaries— Alabama
  • RELIGION— Spiritualism
  • SLAVERY— Emancipation
  • SLAVERY— Marriage
  • SLAVERY— Craven Co., N.C.
  • TRANSPORTATION— Railroads— Wilmington and Weldon Railroad
  • TRANSPORTATION— Railroads— Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad
  • TRANSPORTATION— Roads— 1882
  • TRANSPORTATION— Ships and Shipping
  • TRANSPORTATION— Ships and Shipping
  • TRANSPORTATION— Intracoastal Waterways
  • TRANSPORTATION— Steamboats
  • WAR— CIVIL— Forts— Fort Totten
  • WAR— CIVIL— Negro Troops
  • WAR— CIVIL— Pensions
  • WAR— MEXICAN— Pensions
  • WAR— WORLD WAR I— Homefront

Date Entries :

  • 1860-1869
  • 1870-1879
  • 1880-1889
  • 1890-1899

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

Box 1#0269.1
Legal files, slave records, estate records (1830-1875)
Box 2#0269.2
Legal files (1876-1879)
Box 3#0269.3
Legal files (1880-1883)
Box 4#0269.4
Legal files (1883-1884)
Box 5#0269.5
Legal files (1885-1886)
Box 6#0269.6
Legal files, farm records (1887-1889)
Box 7#0269.7
Legal files (1889-1894)
Box 8#0269.8
Legal files (1895-1919)
Box 9#0269.9
Legal files (undated)
Box 10#0269.10
Correspondence (1867-1886)
Box 11#0269.11
Correspondence, financial papers, miscellaneous (1887-1919)
Box 12#0269.12
General correspondence (1863-1919)
Box 12#0269.12
Correspondence file B
Box 13#0269.13
Correspondence files B-W
Box 13#0269.13
Undated correspondence
Box 14#0269.14
General legal files (1796, 1820-1901)
Box 15#0269.15
Wills (1857, 1890)
Box 15#0269.15
Legal files B-G
Box 16#0269.16
Legal files G-W
Box 16#0269.16
Undated legal files
Box 17#0269.17
Legal files (undated)
Box 17#0269.17
Land book (1875)
Box 17#0269.17
Personal receipts, miscellaneous

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 Department, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. None of the original documents in this collection are digitally available online at this time.
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