Ada Pearce Cherry Papers

1861-1933, undated
Manuscript Collection #586
Cherry, Ada Pearce
Physical description
0.143 Cubic Feet, 119 items , consisting of correspondence, news articles, photographs, and miscellaneous.
Preferred Citation
Ada Pearce Cherry Papers (#586), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1861-1933, undated) of Greenville, NC singer, songwriter, and director of Jarvis Memorial Methodist Church including correspondence, news articles, photographs, genealogical information, portraits, etc.

Biographical/historical information

Ada Pearce Cherry (Aug. 13, 1856-June 28, 1934) was the daughter of Blount Coleman Pearce and Ann Kinsaul Pearce, of Greenville, N.C. She graduated from the Wesleyan Female Institute, Staunton, Va., and achieved local renown as "Greenville's Sweet Singer." She was choir director and soloist at Jarvis Memorial Methodist Church, and, at the age of seventy-six, received the copyright for a new tune to the old hymn "How Firm a Foundation." On March 16, 1875, Miss Pearce married James Burton Cherry (Jan. 17, 1840-Mar. 13, 1905), a widower with two daughters, and later had a son, James B. Cherry, Jr. The elder Mr. Cherry served Pitt County as clerk of Superior Court for several years up to 1868, and as county treasurer (1874-1890, 1898-1904).

Scope and arrangement

Three letters (1861, 1862) from Confederate Secretary of Navy Stephen Russell Mallory to J. J. Cherry in Greenville, N.C., concern the charter of Cherry's steamer, the COTTON PLANT, for use at Roanoke Island, N.C., and Norfolk, Va. (Sept.-Nov. 1861), damage to the vessel, and difficulty in negotiating payment for use and repairs. There are three letters from Greenville, N.C., fraternal organizations: two from the Greenville [Masonic] Lodge No. 284 and the Woodson Lodge of the Knights of Pythias (1873, 1877) thanking Mrs. Cherry for recent musical performances, and one from the Tar River Lodge of the Knights of Pythias (1905) memorializing member J. B. Cherry at his death. A photocopied letter (1885) from Mary W. Jarvis, wife of Gov. Thomas J. Jarvis, writing from Brazil, details her reaction to the news of the death of a niece, and mentions yellow fever and weakness caused by Brazil's climate. Three letters (1889-1891) between James B. Cherry, Jr., and his parents while attending the Davis School, a military school in La Grange, N.C., concern spending money and requests for supplies. One letter (1899) from James Cherry to his wife details his upcoming eye surgery at Johns Hopkins and thecosts involved. A large fire in Greenville, N.C., (1903) is chronicled in another letter. A 1931 letter from the DeVaignie Music Corporation invites submission by Mrs. Cherry of the manuscript of the song "How Firm a Foundation," while a clipping (1931) notes her ownership of a new copyright for the tune.

A newspaper clipping notes the completion (1880) of a new Methodist church in Greenville, N.C. Two undated obituaries for Blount Coleman Pearce contain biographical data and note that he was the first man in North Carolina to be arrested as a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). A 1905 memorial to James Burton Cherry includes biographical data.

Miscellaneous items include a hand-written copy of an act (1795) appointing trustees for Pitt Academy, in Greenville, N.C. (found in the oversized folder); an 1873 commencement program from Wesleyan Female Institute; a hand-written list of "firsts" for the "new ME Church" at Greenville (1880); and an undated memorial by the Patient Circle of the King's Daughters and Sons of Greenville at the death of Ada Cherry.

Also included is a picture booklet, "The White City by Lake Michigan, a Souvenir in Albertype" from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Illinois.

Numerous photographs are mostly of the Hopkins and Scott families of Maryland and the West Coast. Many give genealogical information. Included are family portraits and photographs of family homesteads, Scott burial sites in Maryland and California, as well as two tintypes of dead children (1876).

Of major significance is the cabinet photograph "The Horse in Motion" of Leland Stanford's horse Mahomet. This 1878 image taken by Eadweard Muybridge was significant in documenting animal locomotion. This item is kept in the vault separate from the rest of this collection, but access is not restricted.

For related material, see Collection #604.1.

Administrative information
Custodial History

December 12, 1989, 92 items; Papers (1861-1905), including correspondence, photographs, clippings, resolutions, and miscellaneous. Gift of Mr. Sam Underwood, Jr., Greenville, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mr. Sam Underwood, Jr.

Processing information

Processed by C. Crews, February 1991

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
Cherry, Ada Pearce
Cherry, J. J.--Correspondence
Cherry, James B., Jr.
Hopkins family
Mallory, Stephen R. (Stephen Russell), 1813-1873--Correspondence
Pearce, Blount Coleman
Scott family
Corporate Names
Cotton Plant (Ship)
Jarvis Memorial Methodist Church (Greenville, N.C.)
Wesleyan Female Institute (Staunton, Va.)
Fraternal organizations--North Carolina--Greenville
Methodist Church--North Carolina--Pitt County
Pitt County (N.C.)--Genealogy