MOUNT OLIVE - The Free Will Baptist Historical Collection at University of Mount Olive, the most comprehensive assortment of FWB items anywhere, has recently garnered another significant addition. The great-great-great granddaughters of Whitfield Grady; Susan Glover of Kinston; Barbara Novicki, Francis Gooden, and Nancy Satterfield, all of Goldsboro, recently donated some of Grady’s personal papers to the Collection. Although not members of the FWB denomination, the sisters understood that the papers could provide invaluable insight and history into the FWB movement and local family history.
The documents received pertain to a group of area FWB and Baptist churches. The papers range in date from 1832 through the late 1870’s, and contain letters between the “sister churches” of Rilyes Creek in New Hanover County; Prospect in Duplin County; Limestone in Duplin County; Indian Springs in Wayne County; and Pleasant Grove in Lenoir County. Other documents like church minutes and correspondences, explain a meeting held to develop the constitution of a “regular Baptist” church, where Grady was named church clerk and James Madison Spence was named a deacon. Years later, the Grady and Spence lines became entwined when descendants of both men married. Today, the house that Grady built in 1836 still stands in Lenoir County, and is another living piece of history remaining from that time period. It has stayed with the family and is currently owned by a descendent.
FWB Historical Collection Curator Gary Barefoot said, “These papers are some of the most important documents we have received in the last few years. The papers allow local Free Will Baptists to look into the history of their faith and their families. Listed among the minutes are many local names that can most likely be traced to several families in the area.”
The Free Will Baptist Historical Collection is located on the top floor of Moye Library on the campus of University of Mount Olive. It contains over 15,000 items concerning the FWB denomination. “The goal of the Collection is to acquire, organize, and preserve historical source materials related to Free Will Baptists and related denominations, including but not restricted to: manuscripts, personal papers of denominational personages, published and unpublished writings, minutes, treatises, photographs, pamphlets, bulletins, films, tapes, electronic media, and memorabilia,” Barefoot said.
* from left to right in picture : Susan Glover, Barbara Novicki, Frances Gooden, Nancy Satterfield and Gary Fenton Barefoot.
University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.