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Dr. Leo W. Jenkins, "Haywood Dailís Ballot-Diet Is Part of the ECU Legend", Daily Reflector, 24 April 1970

This article describes the historic events surrounding the birth of East Carolina University. This and other articles may be found in the records of the Chancellor's Office, Record Group CH1050, Series 1, Scrapbook File, 1914-1978 in the University Archives. Citation for this article is: "Haywood Dailís Ballot-Diet Is Part Of the ECU Legend" The Greenville Daily Reflector. May 24, 1970.

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Haywood Dailís Ballot-Diet Is Part Of the ECU Legend


One of the most interesting and colorful legends about the BIRTH OF East Carolina University is that of Haywood Dail and his bit of ballot biting, if not ballot stealing.

It is legendary now 63 years later, but actually it is a well-documented and apparently true story about how the school was located in Greenville. The year was 1907 and Haywood Dail kept his promise to Gov. Thomas J. Jarvis that he would see that a proposed $50,000 local bond issue necessary to locate a new educational institution in Greenville would pass. Dail, a farmer, was a booster of Greenville and Eastern North Carolina.

By his own later admission, Dail who was pollholder for the bond election chewed enough "No" ballots on election day to assure passage of the issue by 300 votes.

History does not record exactly how many of the negative votes Dail absent-mindedly stuffed into his mouth that day. But somehow he knew which were the "No" votes - and that there was considerable opposition to the idea of new local taxes in Greenville. And Dail was determined. He must have chewed vigorously.

He chewed only in the area on which the ballot had been marked - and put the wet paper wad in his pocket. Of course when time came to count the votes, those ballots had to be discarded.

In later years, Dail confessed. "Iím not sorry I did it," he said, "because if I hadnít the issue wouldnít have carried. It was a long time before I said anything about it to anyone, but Iíll be damned if Iím ashamed of it."

The fact is that Governor Jarvis had been concerned about the outcome of a bond issue to establish a new college if it were put to a vote. Dail however reassured the governor.

"I said, ĎGovernor, if you want that election Iíll get it,í" he said. Dail insisted that the ballots be small with nothing more than "For Bond Issue" and "Against Bond Issue" printed on them. That made it easier to chew the paper slips.

Fifty years later Dail said, "none of us had any idea that the college would grow as it has. None of us had that much vision.

"We just thought it would be worth a great deal to Eastern North Carolina. If it takes vision to think that way about a thing then I guess we had vision."

Of course Haywood Dail had both vision and determination and these qualities which have been and now are embodied in the spirit of East Carolina University and those who support and defend it . . .

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Citation: "Haywood Dail's Ballot-Diet is Part of the ECU Legend," Daily Reflector Greenville, April 24, 1970.
Location: North Carolina Collection, Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858 USA
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