Collection Number: 05706

Collection Title: T.T. Hicks and Belle Hicks Purvis Papers, 1891-1974

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.


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Size 1 foot of linear shelf space (approximately 100 items)
Abstract The collection of Henderson, N.C., attorney T.T. Hicks (1857-1927) and his daughter Belle Hicks Purvis (1890-1974) of Salisbury, N.C., contains diaries and letters, a household account book, printed material, and other items. Topics in the diaries and letters include North Carolina politics; populism; African Americans' political activities; disfranchisement of African Americans; family and community; family members' political disagreements; Prohibition; alcoholism; rape; lynching; leisure activities and travel; and events with international and national significance. Hicks also wrote of his law practice; his youth immediately before, during, and after the Civil War; and of his early political career as a justice of the peace and mayor of Henderson, N.C.
Creator Hicks, T. T. (Thurston Titus), 1857-1927.

Purvis, Belle Hicks, 1890-1974.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the T.T. Hicks and Belle Hicks Purvis Papers #5706, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from John T. Hudson in November 2016 (Acc. 102983).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Attorney Thurston Titus Hicks (1857-1927) was the son of Benjamin Willis Hicks and Isabella Jane Crews Hicks of Granville County, N.C.

T.T. Hicks received his license to practice law in 1881 and established his practice in Henderson, N.C. One of his most notable cases was the slander and libel case, Gattis v. Kilgo, which had several hearings in the Supreme Court of North Carolina between 1899 and 1905.

Hicks served as mayor of Henderson, N.C., from 1889 to 1891 and was a registered Democrat until 1900 when he became a Republican. He left the Democratic Party because he objected to the 1900 electoral amendment to North Carolina's constitution. The amendment instituted a literacy qualification for voters, which disfranchised African Americans who could not use the grandfather clause as illiterate whites could.

In 1910, he was the Republican nominee for chief justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. He lost in the general election to the incumbent Walter Clark.

T.T. Hicks married Mary Eliza Horner (1858-1932) in 1883. They had three children who lived past infancy: Isabella (Belle) Hicks (1890-1974), Edison Thurston Hicks (1897-1962), and Benjamin Horner Hicks (1903-1997).

Belle Hicks married physician Sovereign Paschal Purvis (1877-1944) in 1917. They lived in Salisbury, N.C. with their three daughters Mary Elizabeth Purvis (1918- ), Belle Hicks Purvis (1921- ), and Martha Dell Purvis (1926- ).

For more information on Thurston Titus Hicks, see the article in NCPedia by George T. Blackburn, II. (Site accessed 13 December 2016 http://www.ncpedia.org/biography/hicks-thurston-titus)

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection contains diaries, a household account book, letters, printed materials, and other items. The two volumes of T.T. Hicks' rich personal diary span the years 1891 to 1926. The second volume of the diary was resumed after Hicks' death by his daughter Belle Hicks Purvis, who wrote entries from 1933 to 1973.

In his diary entries, Hicks wrote extensively and thoughtfully about North Carolina politics, political parties, and elections, offering keen observations on populism, African Americans' political activities, disfranchisement of African Americans, and the North Carolina Democratic Party. He wrote frequently about his family and community, and in the first volume, Hicks interspersed contemporary diary entries with recollections of his youth and his early political and legal career. Hicks mentioned his leisure activities, health and illnesses of family and friends, and some events with international and national significance.

In her diary entries, Purvis wrote chiefly about family especially her children and her brother Edison, an alcoholic, and leisure and travel. She also remarked on events with international and national significance such as World War II, Sputnik, and Watergate.

Nearly all the letters in the collection were received by Belle Hicks Purvis from T.T. Hicks. He wrote to his daughter with news of family and friends and remarked on possum hunting, his law practice, his purchase of a "2nd hand Ford," church, household expenses, a coal strike, Prohibition orators, and his support of Prohibition. He mentioned court cases including one in which domestic violence ended in murder and which involved a Harriet Mill employee. Hicks also intimated that he did not wish to quit working and that he was thinking about the end of his life.

Printed items include newspaper clippings and two political items written by Hicks, one expressing his objections to a literacy requirement for voting in North Carolina. Other items include a recipe and a Christmas card list.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Papers, 1891-1974.

About 100 items.

Folder 1

T.T. Hicks diary and recollections, 1891-1897 #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 1

Diary entries are intermittent and focused on state and local politics, his law practice, family life, church, travel, and social news in the local community.

Political topics center on the North Carolina's political parties and third party populism. He wrote about contested elections and election fraud by the North Carolina Democratic Party, estrangement from his father and one of his brothers following the 1892 election, the Farmers’ Alliance and the demands of farmers for wealth redistribution, the People's Party, North Carolina's Democratic and Republican parties, fusionism, and free silver or bimetallism.

He discussed state and local political conventions including "negro conventions," nominations he received for elected office including mayor of Henderson, N.C., and African American candidates for local and state office, including Jame R. Young, Jim Watson, and William B. Henderson. He also mentioned state appropriations for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and liquor traffic.

Hicks recalled his mayoral term and described Negroes needing aid to bury their dead and complaining of domestic cruelty and his closing down of a "disorderly house" established by "lewd women." Of note is a substantial entry titled “Rape” in which Hicks discussed how the rape of white women by African Americans and lynching werre used as political weapons by the North Carolina Democrats.

The volume includes family history and recollections, which are interspersed with his contemporary diary entries. Hicks recalled playing with enslaved children, hearing cannons toward the end of the Civil War, and losing "the best" of the family's slaves when William T. Sherman's army came through North Carolina. He described going to school with "country boys," debating in school, earning a "high degree of profanity" in his youth by spending time with "negroes," reading the law, and courting his wife. He offered observations of his baby daughter Belle's physical development and speech development and expresseed concern over possibly losing her to disease.

Folder 2

T.T. Hicks and Belle Hicks Purvis diary, 1898-1973 #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 2

The volume served as a diary for T.T. Hicks from 1898 to 1926 and for Belle Hicks Purvis from 1933 to 1973.

T.T. Hicks' diary entries are intermittent. Chief topics are local and state politics, his law practice and specific court cases, particularly Gattis v. Kilgo, family life, and community life. Other topics include crops particularly tobacco; the Methodist Protestant Church; births and deaths; illnesses in the family and community including dysentery, cholera, appendicitis, and jaundice; his wife's zealous care for the children's "afflictions real + imagined;" medicines such as opium administered; finances; and his leisure activities, specifically reading Dickens and other fiction, travel to the coast of North Carolina and Virginia, and riding his bicycle. Hicks discussed his son Edison's alcoholism, recording that he had sent Edison to the "state hospital for inebriates at Raleigh."

Political topics include the 1898 election and the coup in Wilmington, N.C., corruption in North Carolina's state government, populism, North Carolina's Democratic and Republican parties, fusionism, voting rights, and the disfranchisement of African Americans. He discussed the amendment to the North Carolina constitution in 1900 that established a literacy requirement, which was not applied to illiterate whites who were "granfathered in." He remarked on public schools, public roads, taxes, wages of Negro laborers, tarriffs, falling crop prices, and the Ku Klux Klan. He also discussed running for an associate justice seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1910.

On occasion, Hicks commented on national and international events including the Spanish American War; the Dreyfus affair; the elections of United States presidents William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Warren Harding; federal prosecutions of illegal trusts; World War I; the Russian revolution; the selective draft; and passage of the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th amendments to the United States Constitution.

The volume also includes some genealogical information.

Belle Hicks Purvis's diary entries begin at the end of 1933 and are intermittent. Chief topics are family, her daughters' education, her brother Edison's alcoholism, travel, neighbors, finances, social events, illness, and her book club. She frequently mentioned national and international events including the closing of banks during the Great Depression; repeal of the 18th Amendment; rationing, shortages, and victory gardens during World War II; Franklin Delano Roosevelt's death; the atomic bomb; Sputnik; desegregation of schools in Little Rock, Ark.; Bay of Pigs; Vietnam War; moon landing; Black Panthers; inflation in the 1970s; and Watergate.

Folder 3

Belle Hicks Purvis household account book, 1918-1941 #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 3

Salisbury, N.C.

Folder 4

Letters received by Belle Hicks Purvis, October-December 1919 #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 4

Folder 5

Letters received by Belle Hicks Purvis, January-February 1920 #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 5

Folder 6

Letters received by Belle Hicks Purvis, March-April 1920 #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 6

Folder 7

Letters received by Belle Hicks Purvis, May 1920 #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 7

Folder 8

Letters received by Belle Hicks Purvis, June-August 1920 #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 8

Folder 9

Letters received by Belle Hicks Purvis, September 1920 #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 9

Folder 10

Letters received by Belle Hicks Purvis, October-December 1920 #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 10

Folder 11

Letters received by Belle Hicks Purvis, undated #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 11

Folder 12

Printed items written by T.T. Hicks, 1900 and 1920 #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 12

"A Few of the Reasons Why I Did Not Vote for the Amendment and the Straight Democratic Ticket in the Election of August 2, 1900" and "A Letter from the President."

Folder 13

Newspaper clippings, 1904-1966 and undated #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 13

Folder 14

Miscellaneous household items, circa 1940-1974 and undated #05706, Series: "Papers, 1891-1974." Folder 14

Includes recipe for turkey dressing, Christmas card mailing list, notes, and household account calculations.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Laura Hart, January 2017

Encoded by: Laura Hart, January 2017

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