James Larkin Pearson Collection

The James Larkin Pearson Library is located on the lower campus of Wilkes Community College. This combination library and museum houses the writings, correspondence, books, and memorabilia of Wilkes County native James Larkin Pearson, who was the North Carolina Poet Laureate from 1953 to 1981.

Exhibits of Pearson's printing presses, newspapers, and other artifacts are on permanent display in Lowes Hall and may be viewed during the college's regular operating hours. Pearson's writings, correspondence, and other documents are housed in Pardue Library on the second floor of Alumni Hall and are available by appointment only.

James Larkin PearsonThe second Poet Laureate of North Carolina was born in Wilkes County, September 13, 1879. His name was James Larkin Pearson, son of William and Louise McNeil Pearson. Born on Berry Mountain, he was delivered by a "granny-woman" in a crude cabin his family called home. As Pearson would state in his book My Fingers and My Toes, "So far as could be discovered by the 'granny-woman' and all the visitors, I was a normal baby. But about four years later they were not so sure. One cold winter day when I was four-and-a-half years old, my father had me out with him and asked me, "Jimmy, are you cold?" Without taking any time to study out my answer, it came like a flash:

 

"My fingers and my toes,
My feet and my hands,
Are jist as cold
As you ever see'd a man's"

In early boyhood, James Larkin Pearson was determined to become a poet. He had little formal education, and early in life he worked on the farm and did some carpentering. Pearson says of his schooling: "Had only a very moderate liking for history and geography, and couldn't endure arithmetic at all. Liked my old Fourth Reader very well, because it had some poetry in it, was set down as a hopeless case, who there was no use trying to educate. Quit school entirely at 16, having never been in school more than 12 months, from first to last." He further states that he "Worked on the farm till I was 21 years old. Many of my poems were composed as I went about my work on the farm. I always carried my notebook and pencil to the field with me, and as I trudged between the plow-handles in the hot sunshine, my mind was busy working out a poem."

In the early 1900's Pearson worked with R. Don Laws on The Yellow Jacket, a highly successful paper printed at Moravian Falls, NC. Some few years later, Mr. Pearson began his own paper, The Fool-Killer. This paper was a success, acquiring a circulation of some 50,000 subscribers.

On May 1,1907, James Larkin Pearson married Cora Wallace. During the years with his first wife, the Pearson's adopted a daughter, Agnes, who arrived in their home on the "Fifty Acres" near Boomer, in May 1923. After many years, of being a semi-invalid, Cora passed away in 1934. Five years later, he met Eleanor Fox of Guilford College and got married again. "She was also a precious sweet person and I lived happily with her for 23 years."

After the death of Eleanor, he decided he should return to North Wilkesboro, to the home of his daughter, Mrs. Agnes Eller. He built a library/office/print shop building on the lot to the rear of his daughter's home on Sparta Road. In this building is where he housed his collection of memorabilia, books, and printing press. This collection was to become the James Larkin Pearson Library, housed on the campus of Wilkes Community College.

Pearson's publications include, Castle Gates, Fifty Acres and Other Selected Poems, Early Harvest, Pearson's Poems, Plowed Ground, Selected Poems of James Larkin Pearson, and My Fingers and My Toes. On August 4, 1953, Governor William B. Umstead appointed Pearson as the North Carolina Poet Laureate of the State. He held this post until his death, on August 27, 1981.

The Fool Killer

Newspaper published from 1910-1929.

James Larkin Pearson Correspondence Collection Information

Date Completed: 1985
Encoded by: Christy Earp, Librarian
Date Encoding Completed: April 2003
Images Digitized by: Vickie Cothren, Library Technician
Under the Direction of: Dr. Fay Byrd, Library Director

Repository
James Larkin Pearson Library, Wilkes Community College
Creator
James Larkin Pearson
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Wilkes Community College Learning Resources Center.
Acquisitions Information
This collection was willed to Wilkes Community College by James Larkin Pearson.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], James Larkin Pearson Correspondence, Learning Resources Center, Wilkes Community College.
Copyright Notice
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors, their descendants, or Wilkes Community College in accordance with U.S. copyright law. These images may not be reproduced without permission from copyright holders.
Scope and Content Note
The James Larkin Pearson Correspondence collection spans the life of Mr. Pearson, and includes hundreds of additional letters and other related print memorabilia. Contents include postcards, poems, letters, booklets, and leaflets.

Detailed Description of the Collection
The James Larkin Pearson Correspondence collection contains letters written to Pearson from well-known authors and political figures of the 1920's and 1930's, including Upton Sinclair, Eugene Debs, and H. P. Lovecraft. Well-known local individuals included in the collection are Paul Crouch, Guy Owen, R. Don Laws, and Shepherd M. Dugger.

Caudill, R. Paul, Dr. Wilkes County, NC theologian, minister and author.

  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from R. Paul Caudill, dated July 31, 1967.
  • "While all these hills around me stand," poem by R. Paul Caudill, enclosed with letter dated July 31, 1967.
  • Letter from James Larkin Pearson to R. Paul Caudill, dated August 13, 1967. (Carbon copy.)
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from R. Paul Caudill, dated September 6, 1967.
  • Letter from James Larkin Pearson to R. Paul Caudill, dated March 13, 1968. (Carbon copy.)
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from R. Paul Caudill, dated March 18, 1968.
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from R. Paul Caudill, dated September 23, 1968.
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from R. Paul Caudill, dated September 22, 1969.
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from R. Paul Caudill, dated September 23, 1970.
  • "Evening Quiet," poem by R. Paul Caudill, enclosed with letter dated September 23, 1970.
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from R. Paul Caudill, dated September 24, 1973.

Crouch, John (b. 1902) Wilkes County author and newspaper editor.


Crouch, Paul. Wilkes County native with connections to the U. S. Communist Party, who was a key witness against the Communist Party to the U. S. Senate.

The Paul Crouch file contains 53 letters from Crouch to James Larkin Pearson and to Crouch from Pearson and various family members; newspaper clippings from the Daily Worker and other uncited publications, one and a half linear feet of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's file on Crouch, and the following four fliers advertising political events.


Sacco and Vanzetti Protest Meeting and Picnic notice. [Digital image.]

Monster Protest Meeting and Demonstration against the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. [Digital image.]

These fliers advertise meetings in protest of the execution of Italian immigrants and anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Sacco, a shoemaker, and Vanzetti, a fish peddler, were accused in May of 1920 of murdering a Massachusetts shoe company paymaster. During their trial, it was obvious to many that the political character of the accused was more important to the prosecutors, judge and jurors than were the facts of the murder itself. Set against the backdrop of the Red Scare of the early 1920's, Sacco and Vanzetti's case seemed to be more a trial accusing the two of being Communists than murderers. Political groups like the International Labor Defense league and the Minneapolis International Labor Defense Committee protested vehemently against the execution and used the debate to continue their press for labor reforms.


Anti-Imperialist Rally Against President Hoover's "War Trip to Latin America." [Digital image.]

This flier probably refers to President Herbert Hoover's goodwill visit to Latin American in 1928. The All-American Anti-Imperialist League was formed in 1925 to form an international alliance to promote independence for American colonies and an end to the economic imperialism of the United States. After the U. S. Marines invaded Nicaragua in 1928 during a revolution in that country, the Anti-Imperialist League mounted a huge propaganda campaign, holding rallies, such as the one advertised in this flier, and achieving national coverage in the New York Times. It is interesting to note, however, that one of Herbert Hoover's greatest achievements while in office was the removal of all the U. S. military presence from Latin America, even though many of those nations owed large debts to the United States.


Protest Against United States Involvement in the Chinese Revolution. [Digital image.]

This flier probably refers to the conflict between the Chinese Nationalist Party (the Guomindang or Kuo Min Tang) and the Chinese Communist Party, which lasted from around 1926-1928. Many American radicals were in support of the CCP, and wanted to prevent the United States military from becoming involved.



Daniels, Jonathan (b. 1902) North Carolina author and historian; editor of the Raleigh News and Observer; and administrative assistant to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Jonathan Daniels, dated December 5, 1934.
  • Letter from James Larkin Pearson to Jonathan Daniels, dated December 31, 1934. (Carbon copy.)
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Jonathan Daniels, dated January 3, 1935.
  • Letter from James Larkin Pearson to Jonathan Daniels, dated January 28, 1935. (Carbon copy.)
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Jonathan Daniels, dated January 30, 1935.
  • Letter from James Larkin Pearson to Jonathan Daniels, dated August 9, 1935. (Carbon copy.) [Digital image.]
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Jonathan Daniels, dated August 10, 1935.
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Jonathan Daniels, dated August 15, 1935.
  • Letter from James Larkin Pearson to Jonathan Daniels, dated August 19, 1935. (Carbon copy). [Digital image.]
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Jonathan Daniels, dated September 2, 1935.
  • Letter from James Larkin Pearson to Jonathan Daniels, dated September 4, 1935. (Carbon copy.) [Digital image.]
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Jonathan Daniels, dated September 8, 1949.
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Jonathan Daniels, dated December 22, 1964.
  • Letter from James Larkin Pearson to Jonathan Daniels, dated September 19, 1966. (Carbon copy.) [Digital image.]
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Jonathan Daniels, dated September 22, 1966.

Daniels, Josephus (1862-1948) North Carolina author; editor of the Raleigh, NC News and Observer; Secretary of Navy under President Wilson; and Ambassador to Mexico under Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Josephus Daniels, dated February 22, 1906.
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Josephus Daniels, dated October 4, 1929.
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Josephus Daniels, dated December 7, 1934.

Debs, Eugene V. (1855-1926) U. S. Socialist party leader and four-time Workers' Party candidate for the Presidency of the United States.


Debs, Theodore. Activist in the U. S. Socialist Party. Brother of Eugene V. Debs.


Dugger, Shepherd M. (1854-1938) North Carolina author.

  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Shepherd M. Dugger, dated May 27, 1906.
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Shepherd M. Dugger, dated November 3, 1906.
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson from Shepherd M. Dugger, dated February 4, 1918.

Gompers, Samuel (1850-1924). President of the American Federation of Labor.

  • Letter from Samuel Gompers to James Larkin Pearson, dated April 27, 1915.

Laws, R. Don. Publisher of the Wilkes County, North Carolina newspaper the Yellow Jacket and author.

  • Letter from R. Don Laws to James Larkin Pearson, dated October 20, 1903. (Photocopy.) [Digital image.]
  • Letter from R. Don Laws to James Larkin Pearson, dated December 26, 1903.(Photocopy.) [Digital image.]
  • Letter from R. Don Laws to James Larkin Pearson, dated January 2, 1904. (Photocopy.) [Digital image.]
  • Letter from R. Don Laws to James Larkin Pearson, dated March 8, 1904. (Photocopy.) [Digital image.]
  • Letter from R. Don Laws to James Larkin Pearson, dated March 14, 1904. [Digital image.][Digital image of envelope.]
  • Letter from R. Don Laws to James Larkin Pearson, dated March 14, 1904. (Photocopy.) [Digital image.]
  • Letter from R. Don Laws to James Larkin Pearson, postmarked March, 1904. [Digital image of front.] [Digital image of back.] [Digital image of envelope.]
  • Letter from R. Don Laws to James Larkin Pearson, dated April 8, 1904. [Digital image.][Digital image of envelope.]
  • Letter from R. Don Laws to James Larkin Pearson, dated April 19, 1904. (Photocopy.) [Digital image.]
  • Letter from R. Don Laws to James Larkin Pearson, dated May 4, 1907. [Digital image.] [Digital image of envelope.]
  • Letter from R. Don Laws to James Larkin Pearson, dated June 25, 1907. [Digital image of front page.] [Digital image of back page.] [Digital image of envelope.]
  • Letter from James Larkin Pearson to R. Don Laws, dated November 24, 1943. [Digital image.][Digital image of envelope.]
  • Letter from James Larkin Pearson to R. Don Laws, dated September 14, 1966.

Lovecraft, H. P. (1890-1937) American author of fantasy and horror literature.

  • Postcard from H. P. Lovecraft to James Larkin Pearson, dated May 2, 1915.
  • Letter from H. P. Lovecraft to James Larkin Pearson, dated December 31, 1916.
  • Letter from H. P. Lovecraft to James Larkin Pearson, dated April 6, 1918.
  • Letter from H. P. Lovecraft to James Larkin Pearson, dated August 3, 1919.
  • Letter from H. P. Lovecraft to James Larkin Pearson, dated August 26, 1919.
  • Letter from H. P. Lovecraft to James Larkin Pearson, dated September 19, 1919.
  • Postcard from H. P. Lovecraft to James Larkin Pearson, dated March 19, 1926.
  • Letter from H. P. Lovecraft to James Larkin Pearson, dated March 21, 1926.
  • Letter from H. P. Lovecraft to James Larkin Pearson, dated April 25, 1926.
  • Letter from H. P. Lovecraft to James Larkin Pearson, dated July 21, 1926.
  • Letter from H. P. Lovecraft to James Larkin Pearson, dated September 28, 1926.

Markham, Edwin (1852-1940) American author and poet.

  • Letter to Louis M. Starring, dated January 10, 1907.
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson, dated February 4, 1926.
  • Letter from James Larkin Pearson, dated February 22, 1926.
  • Letter from James Larkin Pearson, dated October 19, 1926. [Page 1.][Page 2.][Page 3.]
  • Letter to James Larkin Pearson, dated November, 1926.

Owen, Guy. Wilkes County, North Carolina author.

  • Letter from Guy Owen, dated August 10, 1960. [Digital image of front page.][Digital image of back page.]
  • "My Father's Curse", poem enclosed with the letter from Guy Owen, dated August 10, 1960. [Digital image.]
  • "Old Barn," poem enclosed with the letter from Guy Owen, dated August 10, 1960. [Digital image.]
  • "The Encounter," poem enclosed with the letter from Guy Owen, dated August 10, 1960. [Digital image.]
  • Letter from Guy Owen, postmarked June 25, 1963. [Digital image.] [Digital image of envelope.]

Roosevelt, Governor and Mrs. Franklin Delano. Governor of New York, afterward became 32nd President of the United States.

  • Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt, dated November 14, 1930.
  • Letter to Eleanor Roosevelt from James Larkin Pearson, dated November 18, 1930. [Page 1.][Page 2.]
  • Christmas card from Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, dated December 23, 1930. [Card.][Envelope.]

Sinclair, Upton. American author.

Online access to this finding aid was supported with money from funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds came through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

Contact Information

Learning Resources Center
Wilkes Community College
PO Box 120
Wilkesboro, North Carolina 28697
Phone: 336-838-6114
Fax: 336-838-6515
Email: cbearp774@wilkescc.edu