Whitaker's Chapel near Enfield, NC, was established as an Anglican chapel (1740), became Methodist (ca. 1776), and was the birthplace (1828) of the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church in which it remained until 1939 when the Methodist Protestant Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, reunited. The church remained open and functional until 1948 and the building was restored for periodic commemorative services, the first of these taking place on December 20, 1964. The present building was erected in 1850 and it is the third building to serve as the congregation's place of assembly. The United Methodist Church designated the building as one of two shrines in North Carolina (1970).
The collection contains the original minutes of the Methodist Protestant Church's Roanoke Circuit (1848-1939) and typescripts of minutes (1848-1931) are also included. The minutes primarily concern matters of routine circuit business such as ministerial examinations, buying and selling of church property, Sunday School, and attendance statistics. Sporadic references to heresies, temperance, and memorials of prominent Methodist Protestant ministers and laymen within the Roanoke Circuit are included. One significant theological disagreement over water baptism is reflected in these minutes (1880). Another entry reflects cooperation between Methodist Protestants and Free Will Baptists in a Sunday School project (1930).
The collection also contains photocopies of two Sunday School Registers (1883-1901) covering Whitakers' Chapel primarily but also other Roanoke Circuit chapels; and a set of minutes (1902-1903) for the Beneficial Literary Society, an intellectual social group that met for the purpose of sharing works of literature, poetry, and developing skills of debate. Found with the minutes are the organization's by-laws which include debate procedure and other rules of decorum.
Miscellaneous material includes essays about the horrors of war; American relations with European nations; a handwritten chronology of the Spanish-American War; a poem about the failure of the Confederate States and their currency; and an essay concerning whether liquor or war was the greater evil.
Other materials include a daybook of Enfield dry goods merchant Wilson Gary Whitaker (1859); United Society of Christian Endeavor chapter records (1897-1911); a Christian Workers' Band minute book (1913-1914); Whitaker's Chapel membership books (1923-1948); a dessert recipe and home remedies book (1887); and a scrapbook of published poems about death and dying.
Most of the correspondence in the collection is largely that of Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives, former English professor at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, concerning efforts to re-open the Chapel for periodic services (1960s). Much of the correspondence pertains to the scheduling of speakers, the Chapel's maintenance, and the developments, rivalries, and problems within the Methodist Church on the local, conference, and denominational levels (1960s-1980s). Several letters (Mar. 17, 1969; Jan. 19, 1971; Nov. 6, 1978; Jan. 8, 1987) document tensions between a local United Methodist Church and the Chapel. Frequent regional denominational and academic correspondents were Paul Garber, Robert Blackburn, William Cannon, Arthur Wenger, Bruce Whitaker, S. Bruce Petteway, and Thomas Collins.
Other correspondence pertains to memories of teaching Czechoslovakian children in New York City in the late 1930s (November 3, 1970); the history of the Holme house in Lancastershire, England, and a description of the parapsychological methods used forassessing ghostly activity in the manor house (Dec. 28, 1971); and a description of an 1889 wedding at Whitaker's Chapel (Mar. 26, 1981).
Miscellaneous materials concerning Whitaker's Chapel include items chronicling its history; speeches given by Dr. Rives; assorted publications; church service programs; the guest register for the re-opening of the church (December 1964); guest speakers' resumes and biographical information; interior and exterior photographs of the Chapel; and newspaper clippings (1950-1986). There is also a folder of Whitaker family genealogical material and more information on the family can be gleaned from the correspondence.
Gift of Dr. Ralph Hardee Rives
Mrs. Drucilla H. York
Processed by K. Rouse; A. Merriman; M. Elmore, November 1999
Encoded by Apex Data Services
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.