James Redding Rives II Papers

1918-1919, 1972-1987, 2005
Manuscript Collection #487
Rives, James Redding, II, 1889-1972
Physical description
0.223 Cubic Feet, 1 archival box; 16 items., World War I diary, church program, letters, biographical sketches, clippings, photographic prints.
Preferred Citation
James Redding Rives II Papers (#487), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
Access to audiovisual and digital media is restricted. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Papers (1918-2005) relating to Greenville and Enfield, North Carolina boy scout leader including his World War I Diary recounting his service in the 14th Company, 4th Training Battalion, Depot Brigade and the 218th Ambulance Company in the American Expeditionary Force in France, 1918-1919, camp schedule, list of letters received and answered, addresses of French women, debts, English - French phrase, movements, places visited, and observations on daily military activities; memorials after his death; biographical sketches and clippings; letters and clippings describing him; and photographic prints of him in his World War I uniform. In English and French language.

Biographical/historical information

James Redding Rives, II (b. 11 June 1889 - 25 February 1972) was a local businessman and Boy Scout leader in Greenville and Enfield, North Carolina. During World War I, he served as a private in the 318th Ambulance Company, 305th Sanitary Train, 80th Infantry Division (National Army), of the American Expeditionary Force in France. During his service, he kept a daily diary from the time when he was inducted into the Army at Camp Lee, Virginia (March 9, 1918) and ending on when he returned to the United States (May 31, 1919). Among the topics Rives discussed while at Camp Lee include his training as a bugler and camp activities such as drilling, hiking, gunnery and target practice, and digging trenches.

Rives's company left Newport News, Virginia, for France (May 25) aboard the U.S.S. SIBONEY and was convoyed part way across the Atlantic by the U.S.S. NORTH CAROLINA. Enroute Rives voices his fears of German submarines and describes the routine of livesaving drills.

Upon arrival at Biscay Bay (June 7), Rives's company was transported to Bordeaux. The diary discusses reactions to American soldiers by French villagers, horrible camp conditions, cramped quarters for traveling to the front, billeting in French towns, and rumors that the U. S. had declared war on Mexico.

From Bordeaux, Rives's company moved to Beauville, headquarters of Maj. Gen. Adelbert Cronkhite, who commanded the 80th Division, American Expeditionary Force. There Rives describes nighttime artillery battles, dogfights and shooting down German planes, bombings of the camp, and experiences at the front as an ambulance driver. The 80th Division saw action in the First Battle of the Somme (1918), Meuse-Argonne, and the Battle of Saint-Mihiel (1918).

After a bout with pleurisy, Rives was sent to the front at Verdun (Sept. 27); his illness forced him to a Bordeaux hospital, where he remained until after the Armistice was signed. Before leaving for home, Rives enrolled in courses in French language and history, saw General John J. Pershing on an inspection visit to Rives's camp, was treated for lice, and saw a ship on which President Wilson was traveling. Rives left France on board the ROTTERDAM (May 21).

Before the war Rives worked at the Flanagan Buggy Company and organized one of the first Boy Scout troops in Eastern North Carolina. In 1920 he married Miss Novie Shippe, of Enfield and Tarboro, North Carolina. The couple had two children: James R. Rives, III and Jeannette Rives (later, Mrs. Calvin Johnson).

After his marriage, Mr. Rives engaged in mercantile businesses in various towns in including Greenville, Ahoskie, and Baltimore; in 1926, he returned to Enfield where he operated Rives and Company for twenty years. He later owned and operated Rives Paint and Upholstery Company, in Enfield. He died in 1972.

Scope and arrangement

The James R. Rives, II Papers are arranged in original order in a single series.

In addition to Rives's narrative, the diary contains a camp schedule for Camp Lee, together with lists of letters sent from France, debts owed to Rives, and addresses of French women.

The Rives Papers also includes a Historic Whitakers Chapel (Methodist) Eighth Annual Homecoming program (11 June 1972) which included a memorial to James Redden Rives, II who had recently died.

The Rives Papers also contains correspondence between Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives and the National Boy Scouts of America in which Dr. Rives reports on the recent death of James R. Rives, II and recounts his service to the Boy Scouts in Greenville, and Enfield, North Carolina.

The collection also includes two clippings in the Enfield Progress mentioning Rives' service to the Boy Scouts.

In addition it includes a typescript manuscript of a biographical sketch of James R. Rives, II, by Ralph Hardee Rives, that was published in volume 2 of the Chronicles of Pitt County (2005).

The collection also contains two photographic prints, annotated by Dr. Rives, of James R. Rives, II in his World War I uniform.

Administrative information
Custodial History

December 30, 1983, diary (1917-1918). Gift of Mrs. Jeannette Rives Johnson, Hampton, Va.

December 29, 1987 (addition 1), 10 items, 0.006 cubic feet; Collection (ca. 1917-1987) of photographs, clippings and correspondence related to James Redding Rives II, including his military service during World War I and his activities as a Boy Scout troop leader in Greenville and Enfield, North Carolina. Donor: Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives, Enfield, NC.

June 23, 2006 (addition 2), 1 item, 0.001 cubic feet; Biography (2005) of James Redding Rives, II, b. 1889, d. 1972, by Ralph Hardee Rives, for Chronicles of Pitt County, Volume Two. Photocopy typescript. Donor: Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives, Enfield, NC.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Jeannette Rives Johnson

Gift of Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives

Processing information

Processed by D. Beard, April 1985;

Encoded by Apex Data Services, March 2002;

Processing, inventory, and finding aid by Christopher Cooper, April 11, 2012;

Inventory and finding aid revised by Jonathan Dembo, July 24, 2012;

Encoded by Jonathan Dembo, July 24, 2012.

Copyright notice

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

Language of material


Key terms
Personal Names
Rives, James Redding, II, 1889-1972
Corporate Names
United States. Army. American Expeditionary Forces
Soldiers--United States--Diaries
World War, 1914-1918--France
World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives, American
Bordeaux (Aquitaine, France)--History, Military--20th century
Camp Lee (Va.)

Container list
Box 1 Folder a James Redding Rives, II diary kept during his World War I military service in the 14th Company, 4th Training Battalion, Depot Brigade & 318th Ambulance Company (7 January 1918 - 31 May 1919) including a history of happenings in service from his induction at Petersburg, Virginia, on 9 March 1918, his training, his voyage to France aboard USS SIBONEY, his activities in France, and his return to the United States; including accounts of his daily activities and observation; his movements and locations; lists of his correspondence; descriptions of military operations; names of towns passed through; French - English phrases. English and French language. 3" x 5" 1 item. 49 pp. Note: Fragile; acidic; needs conservation; Pages missing 1918: 1-42
Box 1 Folder b Item 1 Historic Whitakers Chapel Eighth Annual Homecoming Service program (11 June 1972). 2 copies. Printed. 2 items. 2 p. Notes: Methodist Church; "Flowers in the altar vases have been placed in memory of . . . James Redden Rives, Jr. (June 11, 1889 - February 23 1972), by his family." Rives was a descendant of men active in the church in the 18th and 19th centuries
Box 1 Folder b Item 2 Rives, Ralph Hardee, English Department, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Letter to National Council for Boy Scouts of America (16 March 1972) informing the council of his uncles death, providing a biographical sketch, and describing his service to Boy Scouts as a troop leader in Enfield and Greenville, North Carolina. Photocopied typescript. 2 copies. 2 items. 2 p
Box 1 Folder b Item 3 Paul I. Ernst, Supervisor of Registration and Membership, National Council of Boy Scouts, North Brunswick, New Jersey. Letter to Ralph Hardee Rives acknowledging receipt of his letter to them relating to James R. Rives, II (30 March 1972) 2 copies. 2 items. 2 p
Box 1 Folder b Item 4 Rambling, by John McGwigan, Enfield Progress, Enfield, North Carolina including mention of James R. "Jimmy" Rives (9 November 1983) Clipping. 2 copies. 2 items. 2 p. Note: Annotated: "James R. Rives."
Box 1 Folder b Item 5 Edward Calvin Johnson Retirement Party invitation, RSVP card, and envelope addressed to Dr. Ralph H. Rives, Enfield, NC (3 June 1986) Printed. 1 item. 3 p. Note: Typed note on verso of invitation: "Calvin Johnson (of Hampton, VA) was the husband of Jeanette Rives Johnson (daughter of James R. and Novia S. Rives)"
Box 1 Folder b Item 6 Ralph Hardee Rives, Enfield, North Carolina. Letter to Jeanette and Calvin Johnson, Hampton, Virginia (5 June 1986) on the occasion of Calvin's retirement; regretting he will not be able to attend the party; thanking Jeanette for donating her father's World War I diary to East Carolina University; and attaching a biographical sketch he had written of James R. Rives, II. TLS. 1 item. 3 p
Box 1 Folder b Item 7 Rambling, by John McGwigan, Enfield Progress, Enfield, North Carolina including mention of James R. "Jimmy" Rives as a scoutmaster of the first Boy Scout troop in Enfield, North Carolina in 1917 (15 April 1987) Clipping. 2 copies. 2 items. 2 p. Note: Mentions of Rives underlined