Source: Elizabeth Rudder Fearrington Croom Collection, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #0058
Staff Person: Martha Elmore
Freemasonry has a long history in North Carolina back to colonial times and still has a strong presence with 375 lodges and 47,000 members (2007, www.grandlodge-nc.org/freemasonryrevealed/atlantic.htm). It is thought that the society developed from stonemason guilds in the Middle Ages, but today it is a fraternal order centered on the principles of self-improvement and philanthropy. One must apply to be a member and once accepted, one studies the principles and teachings of Freemasonry to work through the three degrees of apprentice, fellow craft, and master mason. Masons meet as lodges in buildings referred to as Masonic lodges.
Below is a certificate stating that Samuel R. Ireland became a Regular Master Mason on March 28, 1846, with the Belmont Lodge No. 108 in Duplin County, North Carolina.
Master Mason Certificate, Belmont Lodge No. 108, Duplin Co., N.C.
To learn more about the Ireland family of Duplin and Sampson Counties, N.C., go to http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/special/ead/findingaids/0058/.
Source: Lawrence-Gulley General Store Records, 1903-1954, East Carolina Manuscript Collection
Staff Person: Martha Elmore
General store records are usually sizable collections which contain many cash books and ledgers. They contain a wealth of information concerning what items people were normally buying in a specific time period and how much these items cost. They can also be of interest to people searching for information about their ancestors because the account books list their customers by name and what they bought and the status of their bills. General store records are notoriously underused because they require a lot of time to peruse and are often in less than pristine shape due to being stored in outbuildings for many years before being donated to a Manuscript Collection.
The Lawrence-Gulley General Store Records were one of very first collections donated to the East Carolina Manuscript Collection (now a part of Special Collections in Joyner Library) — in fact, the fifth collection donated. This general store was located in the small town of Leggett in Edgecombe County, N.C., and was operated during the first half of the 20th Century by members of the Fountain and Lawrence families. The town is very small and in 2000 had a population of 77 people. Along with the store’s records, several catalogues were donated. The Staff Pick today is a page from one of those catalogues– the Hearne Bros. & Co., of Whitakers, N.C., Catalogue H-6 “Illustrating Coffin and Casket Hardware and Funeral Sundries.”
I couldn’t find a date on the catalogue but it appears to be around 1900 judging by the representative clothing styles. I have chosen page 76 of the catalogue which illustrates Knights of Pythias (illustration No. 134) and Masonic (illustration No.135) ornamental hardware for caskets. [Whitakers is a small town in Edgecombe and Nash counties, N.C., but is larger than Leggett with a population of 799 people in 2000.] To find out more about this collection, see the online finding aid at Lawrence-Gulley General Store Records, Collection #5.
Ornamental hardware for caskets and coffins
Click on the image itself to view an enlarged version.