Henry Clark Bridgers, Jr., Papers

Manuscript Collection #558
Bridgers, Henry C., Jr. (Henry Clark), 1913-1981
Physical description
6.69 Cubic Feet, ca. 1,252 items, 9 volumes, including correspondence, legal documents, ledgers, literary manuscripts, stock certificates, deeds, charters, minutes, photographs, clippings, financial records, orders, and publications.
Preferred Citation
Henry Clark Bridgers, Jr., Papers (#558), 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 (1870-1981) including correspondence, legal documents, ledgers, literary manuscripts, stock certificates, deeds, charters, minutes, photographs, clippings, financial records, orders and publications.

Biographical/historical information

Henry Clark Bridgers, Jr., (1913-1981) was the son of Henry Clark Bridgers, Sr., (1876-1951) and the great nephew of Robert Rufus Bridgers (1819-1888). R. R. Bridgers was the president of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad and the Wilmington, Columbia, and Augusta Railroad. Bridgers, Sr., organized (1898) and was president and general manager of the East Carolina Railway. Also active in banking, he was the president of the First National Bank in Tarboro, as well as banks in Conetoe, Pinetops, Macclesfield, Fountain, and Hookerton. Henry C. Bridgers, Jr., graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1935; after which he entered the Navy and graduated from flight training school in 1936 as an aviator. He joined Patrol Squadron 7 in San Diego, California, and in 1939 became instrument training instructor at Pensacola, Florida. During World War II he served in the South Pacific as operations officer of Fleet Air Wing One, receiving the Legion of Merit for combat operations in the Solomon Islands. In 1945 he commanded Fighter Squadron 42 and then Carrier Air Group 42 aboard the USS SICILY. After training at the General Line School and the Naval War College, Bridgers became navigator of the USS MIDWAY (1952). He achieved the rank of captain in 1963 and took command of the Naval Station at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. Later that same year he assumed command of the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range as well. Bridgers suffered a heart attack in 1965 that forced his retirement from the Navy. Returning to his native Edgecombe County, N.C., he became a well-known local historian who wrote on railroading, banking, and steam boating in eastern North Carolina.

Scope and arrangement

A major portion of the collection concerns the East Carolina Railway and Bridgers, Jr.'s history of that railroad. Correspondence includes a letter from W. B. Elliott (1899) to Bridgers, Sr., discussing the purchase of the East Carolina Railway by the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, transportation of forest products, and construction mileage. Agreements indicate a similar close association with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, including joint use of cars, stations, and roads (1900-1923), and joint inspections of freight cars (1929). Bills show that early development of the railway made use of convict labor from the state prison (1901). Materials document road extensions (1906, 1911) as well as rights of way and purchase of land for extensions in Edgecombe, Greene, Pitt, and Halifax counties (1900-1929); other records concern the various kinds of property disputes that developed. One document for the Raleigh and Pamlico Sound Railroad (1906) concerns grading at a road crossing while others involve adjustments to rights of way. Minutes of the Hookerton Terminal Company (1908) reflect the intention to construct and maintain a bridge across the Moccasin River.

Numerous records reflect the role of railroads in the lumber industry. Included are log train agreements (1902-1903) between the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and the East Carolina Railway as well as with the Eureka Lumber Company and the Wilson Wood and Lumber Company (1900-1913). One railway ledger (1905-1912) contains an enumeration of log train trips and a contract empowers Bridgers to build and operate a sawmill in Edgecombe County, presumably to cut crossties for the railway. Company minutes (1914) mention a decline in timber freight and a successful suit against the Wilson Wood and Lumber Co., while later minutes (1929) concern cross tie production by a creosote plant.

Minutes reflect the popularity of railroad excursions (1909-1910) and the scheduling of special days for use by Blacks. Other minutes note the opening of hard surface roads (1924), the negative effect of the roads on passenger business and freight, and the growing threat of truck competition (1929). Other records pertain to the installation of Western Union Telegraph lines (1900) and those of the Macclesfield Co. and Carolina Telephone Company (1905). Railway ledgers (1905-1912) reflect the costs of equipment repair, telephone line construction, salaries, and rent.

The transportation of cotton and fertilizer along the Tar River by the steamships of the Tar River Line is documented in a series of ledgers and daybooks (1895-1920). Records reflect gin construction (1901) and operational costs (1902-1920), construction expenses for the steamers TARBORO (1901) and SHILOH (1895), and operational expenses for these (1895-1919) and for the steamers BETA (1889-1894) and CLEOPATRA (1889). Also included are accounts with commission merchants (1892-1903) and expenses for seed, fuel, mill, warehousing, repairs, and salaries.

A series of folders document Bridgers, Jr.'s, research for The Story of Banking in Tarboro and include draft manuscripts. Also included is correspondence concerning the reconstruction of the First National Bank of Tarboro as the Edgecombe National Bank (1929) and merger with the North Carolina Bank and Trust (1930). One of the railway ledgers (1911-1912) contains accounts with banks in Conetoe, Pinetops, and Hookerton, while a railway waybill and claims ledger includes condition statements for Edgecombe County banks (1924-1928). Miscellaneous financial records and stock for the First National Bank are also included.

The last group of materials concerns Bridgers, Jr.'s, years as commander of the Naval Air Station and the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico (1963-1965). Correspondence and orders mention "Operation Springboard" (1964, 1965) and search and rescue activities (1965). One folder on the Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range includes a brochure and speeches from its commissioning (1963), a booklet giving its history and activities, social rosters for the range, a fact sheet, and range usage data (1963-1965). Material on the Naval station includes a command chart for CINCLANTFLT and CINCLANT; a map of the Naval station (1962); and a list of station projects (1957-1964), containing dates, project descriptions, authorization, costs, and completion dates. Information on change-of-command ceremonies includes speeches and brochures for the station in San Juan (1962) and Roosevelt Roads (1965). A file on the history of the station is included. Naval publications feature several articles about Roosevelt Roads (1963); while a book, The Green Turtle and Man, and some photographs document Navy cooperation and Bridgers' involvement (1962) in a conservation project to distribute baby turtles from a hatchery to seventeen locations in the Caribbean.

A folder of personal correspondence between H. C. Bridgers, Sr., and his son are concerned with fraternity rush, the cost of meals, and buying a car while at UNC-Chapel Hill during the early 1930s.

Photographs include several of the Bridgers family ca. 1880-1890, World War II Naval airplanes, the Naval station at Roosevelt Roads, P.R., illustrations for the banking history volume, scenes in Tarboro around the turn of the century, and several which were collected during the writing of the history of the East Carolina Railway.

An oversized folder includes a hand-drawn map showing the intended expansion of the Raleigh and Pamlico Sound Railroad (1906). Two other maps of the Air force Aeronautical Chart and Information Center (1961, 1962) show the Virgin Islands and Martinique.

Administrative information
Custodial History

July 24, 1988, ca. 1,250 items and 9 volumes; Papers (1875-1974) of Edgecombe County, N.C., Naval officer and historian, containing correspondence, ledgers, literary manuscripts, stock certificates, deeds, charters, minutes, photographs, etc., pertaining to the East Carolina Railway Company, Hookerton Terminal Company, Tar River Lines, Tar River Oil (Cottonseed) Company, banking history, and command of the U.S. Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads, P.R. Donor: The family of Captain Henry C. Bridgers, Jr., Tarboro, N.C.

July 26, 2007, (unprocessed addition 1), 2 items, 1.09 cubic feet; East Carolina Railway Maps (6/30/1917) produced by the Office of the President, Tarboro, North Carolina, including Right-of-Way and Track Maps Nos. V.1, N.C. 1-9 and Profile Maps, Nos. V.1, N.C. 1-10, from Station 0+72 to Station 1932+435, covering the route from Hookerton, NC to Tarboro, NC. Scale: 1" = 400'. Right-of-Way and Track Maps: 56" x 24.25"; Profile Maps: 56.25" x 12". Ink on Linen drawings. Donor: Mr. James Albert Bass, Jr., former vice president and chief engineer of the East Carolina Chapter of the Railway Historical Society.

Source of acquisition

Gift of family of Captain Henry C. Bridgers, Jr.

Processing information

Processed by M. Boccaccio, January 1990

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
Bridgers, H. C. (Henry Clark), 1876-1951--Correspondence
Bridgers, Henry C., Jr. (Henry Clark), 1913-1981
Corporate Names
Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company
East Carolina Railway
University of North Carolina (1793-1962)--Students
Wilmington and Weldon Rail Road
Banks and banking--North Carolina--Tarboro
Railroads--North Carolina
Railroads--Social aspects--North Carolina--History--19th century
Segregation in transportation--Southern States
Roosevelt Roads Naval Station (P.R.)
Tarboro (N.C.)--History

Container list
Box 2 Railroading Correspondence, 1973-1977; East Carolina Railway Legal Documents, 1897-1942; DeVisconti Property Agreements, 1899-1931
Box 3 East Carolina Railway Records, 1898-1934; Hookerton Terminal Co. Records, 1906-1919; Macclesfield Co. Records, 1900-1918; N.C. Railroad Publications; Miscellaneous
Box 4 East Carolina Railway, Route of the Yellow Hammer: Manuscripts, Exhibits, Mats, Sales, and Taxes
Box 5 Railroading Background Literature and Clippings; Fact Book; Cotton Order Book, 1907-1910; Tar River Line Manifests, 1923, 1926; Freight Ledgers, 1916-1923; The Story of Banking in Tarboro Draft
Box 6 First National Bank of Tarboro Records, 1907-1940; Banking Correspondence, 1968-1969, Edgecombe County Banking Notes; Bridgers Personal Correspondence, 1930s; Bridgers Financial Records, 1874-1918; Bridgers Building Information, 1906-1909; Stock Certificates. U.S. Navy: Orders and Correspondence, 1963-1965; Atlantic Fleet Weapons Range, Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, Appointments, 1962-1963
Box 7 U.S. Navy: Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads, P.R., Files, 1955-1965; Academy Exams, 1900-1901; Publications; The Green Turtle project and information
Box 9 Tar River Oil Co. Cash Book, 1895-1902
Box 10 Tar River Oil Co. Cash Book, 1902-1906
Box 11 Tar River Oil Co. Ledger, 1889-1895
Box 12 Tar River Oil Co. Ledger, 1895-1906
Box 13 Tar River Oil Co. Ledger, 1906-1920
Box 14 Banking and Railway Ledger, 1911-1912
Box 15 East Carolina Railway, O. & M. Ledger, 1905-1911
Box 16 East Carolina Railway, Waybills & Claims, 1920
Box 17 John L. Bridgers Law Case Book, 1870
Folder os1 Maps
Folder os2 East Carolina Railway maps. [Located in the closed compact shelving in the library basement]