June 2, 1983, 31 pages, typescript; Reminiscences of life in Lenoir Co., N.C., during the 1880s.
February 2, 1984, 52 pages, typescript; Reminiscences of life in Lenoir Co., N.C., before 1900. Gifts of Mr. G. T. Whitfield, Kinston, N.C.
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.
James Lewis Jones Manuscript (#473), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
- Gift of Mr. G. T. Whitfield
In his later years Jones wrote several manuscripts about life in Lenoir County before 1900, relating his experiences as a boy and a young adult. These manuscripts were probably intended to be chapters of a book based on Jones's reminiscences. The eight manuscripts are arranged in no particular order and can be located by title within the folder. A brief letter by Jones's daughter, Kathleen, serves as a preface for the manuscripts.
"Politics of the Eighties in Lenoir County, North Carolina" recounts the Democratic zeal of North Carolinians in national, state, and local elections of 1884. Descriptions of a torchlight procession and local fanfare in celebration of the Democratic sweep are included (p. 3). Also revealed are the distinctly negative attitudes of North Carolinians towards Negro and Republican officeholders during this period.
In "Schools of the Eighties in Lenoir County, North Carolina," Jones recalls his school days in the haphazard public education system of a farming community. Included are descriptions of how teachers were hired (p. 1) and accounts of some of Jones's teachers, the school house, the curriculum, and various experiences related to his school days, such as an earthquake in 1885 which affected Lenoir County (p. 3). A poem composed by Jones relating a childhood adventure with a bear is attached (pp. 6-10).
The hanging of a black man found guilty of rape and murder (pp. 3-4), the unveiling of a monument of former North Carolina governor Richard Caswell (p. 5), and the unprecedented cultivation of wheat by Lenoir County farmers during a flour shortage (p. 7) highlight "Stirring Events of the Early Eighties in Lenoir County, North Carolina."
"Backward Flight of Time" records many of the boyish pastimes enjoyed by the young Jones. Sunday morning rabbit-chasing; the construction of popguns, cornstalk fiddles, and baseballs from worn socks; and the setting of bird traps are a few of the recreations described (pp. 5-8).
County cookery forms the basis of "Two Years in the Kitchen." Kitchen utensils, varied menus, and procedures for making fritters, egg pie, and possum are included (pp. 10-11).
A detailed description of a hog slaughtering (pp. 3-6) and the making of sausage (pp. 6-7) dominate "A Brief Description of the Old Home as Enjoyed by an Eleven Year Old Boy." Also included is a description of the construction of an apple press and the making of apple cider (pp. 1-2). "Mother Shipton's Prophecy" concerning the end of the world is included at the end of this manuscript.
"The Most Embarrassing Moment of My Professional Career" contains a witty medical anecdote involving the removal of an ingested glass eye. Jones also recalls the difficulties of practicing medicine in a rural community, including payment in kind and uncertain hours.
In the final chapter, Jones describes several subjects of interest. In "Amusements, Vendues, Turntables, Etc. of Seventy Years Ago," he depicts the celluloid collars and cuffs, bustles, and hoop skirts of men's and women's fashions of the 1880s (pp. 7-13). A favorite amusement of Lenoir and surrounding counties was the tournament in which young men participated in several athletic events on horseback and foot. These activities are recalled in detail, including the choosing of a tournament queen (pp. 1-3). The practice of having a sale or vendue of possessions upon the death of a resident is another topic of interest (pp. 3-4). Also of importance are the home remedies and cures that Jones records. Mullein tea for internal disorders, spider webs for hemorrhaging, and hot compresses for appendicitis are mentioned (pp. 10-11). Other items of interest are the making of homemade bedsteads, shuck mattresses, turkey wing fans, and blackgum toothbrushes (pp. 11-14). One topic which is particularly entertaining is Jones's discussion of women and snuff dipping (pp. 15-16). Also of interest are Jones's thoughts on how women's social habits had changed since his boyhood days (p. 15).