Dick Family Papers

1843–1930s. 3 boxes (42 folders), ca. 500 items.MSS. COLL. #9


The Dick Family Papers contain materials from several generations of the Robert Paine Dick family. The bulk of the documentary materials relate to Robert Paine Dick and his wife, Mary, from 1848 through 1898. Of the photographic materials, fifty-five percent are from 1910 through 1920 (candid photographs of children), and thirty-five percent are nineteenth century portraits of family members.

Arrangement: The Dick Family Papers are arranged into nine series, and within each series materials are arranged by provenance and/or document type. The following headings represent the nine series: Correspondence, 1843-1945; Printed Materials, late 19th century; Financial & Legal Papers, late 19th and early 20th centuries; Genealogies, no date; Literary Manuscripts, 1842-1897; Scrapbook, 1900-1925; Map, 1894; Miscellaneous, 1880-1927; and Photographs, 1860-1945.

Provenance: This collection was donated in large part by Mrs. Lizzie Leigh Dick Crabtree of Greensboro, granddaughter of Robert Paine Dick. It includes accession nos. 1981.49.1-108, 1976.52.1, 1976.53.1-3, and others.

Processing: This collection was processed by Karen C. Carroll, and the finding aid was completed in July 1983.


John McClintock Dick (1791-1861) was born on a farm in eastern Guilford County, the son of James Dick. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and later read law. His practice was located in Greensboro. He served in the North Carolina State Senate in 1819 and from 1829 until 1831. He was elected by the North Carolina Legislature to the Superior Court Bench in 1935, and served a life term until his death in 1861. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1842 until 1860. Dick lived on North Elm Street in Greensboro and owned a large farm in the northern part of the county. On September 4, 1821, he married Parthenia Paine Williamson (1800-1881).

Robert Paine Dick was the son of John and Parthenia Dick and was born in Greensboro on October 5, 1823. He attended the Caldwell Institute and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1843. He read law in Greensboro under his father and George C. Mendenhall, and was licensed in 1845. He began his practice in Wentworth (Rockingham County), North Carolina. On June 27, 1848, he married Mary Eloise Adams, daughter of George Adams and Justinia Madeleine Watkins Adams, of Pennsylvania County, Virginia. The Dicks moved back to Greensboro and later built “Dunleath.” Dick was a gifted orator and in much demand for public speaking.

From 1853 until February 1861, Robert Paine Dick served as United States District Attorney for the State of North Carolina. He was anti-secessionist and a delegate to the 1861 North Carolina Secession Convention. He was an active states rights advocate and served on the North Carolina Council of State. In 1864, he was Guilford County Delegate to the North Carolina Senate. He declined an appointment in May 1865 to the United States District Judgeship for North Carolina because he could not take the test oath. He was an active member of the new (1867) Republican Party.

Dick served as Associate Justice of the State Supreme Court from 1868 until 1872. Then, until his death in 1898, he was the judge of the United States District Court for the western district of North Carolina. In 1878, Dick founded the Greensboro Law School in cooperation with Judge John Dillard. Dick was also an active member of First Presbyterian Church and served as a ruling elder.

Several other related families are included in these papers. George Adams Dick (1853-1922), son of Robert Paine Dick, married Rosa Jane Stanback (1854-1920). Their daughter, Lizzie Leigh (1880-1959), married Thomas Crabtree (1880-1949). The children of Thomas and Lizzie Crabtree were Robert Dick Crabtree and Jane Crabtree. Jessie Madeleine Dick (1855-1935), daughter of Robert Paine Dick, married Robert Martin Douglas (1849-1917), son of Stephen A. Douglas (the “Little Giant”).


The Dick Family Papers include personal and business correspondence, printed materials, financial and legal papers, genealogies, literary manuscripts (speeches and notes), a clipping scrapbook, a map, 263 photographs, and other miscellaneous items.

The correspondence is chiefly of a personal nature. Two letters describe society life in London (1843) and Paris (1844), but most items discuss family matters. The business correspondence is limited to that of a legal or financial nature, and is usually addressed to John McClintock Dick or Robert Paine Dick. The correspondence of Mary E. A. Dick (35 items) provides an excellent look at life in the mid-nineteenth century (1846-1868); however, few items mention the Civil War.

The printed works are chiefly speeches by Robert Paine Dick delivered at his law school, church, or other functions. Dick wrote original poetry and several examples are included. The literary manuscripts span fifty years: several items date from Robert Paine Dick’s college days, but most are speeches given later in life. The genealogy file contains several typescript reports on family matters, probably compiled by Mrs. Thomas (Lizzie Leigh) Crabtree. The scrapbook clippings are of a general historical nature but usually relate, however peripherally, to the Dick family.

Two large gaps occur in this collection. With few exceptions, no items are included from the Civil War years. Also, there are no materials on the construction of Dunleath, Robert Paine Dick’s home in Greensboro, which has now been razed.

The major strength of the collection is that through photographs and/or documents it provides a record of five successive generations of a prominent Greensboro family. A Xerox copy was made previously of many items in this collection, and they are filed under miscellaneous.


1. Correspondence. 1843-1945. 3 inches. Arranged by provenance.

This series contains letters written to and from various members of the Dick family. Included are: personal letters between family members, touching on various subjects (1843-1945); a subseries from 2nd Lt. Robert H. Dick to his aunt (1943-1944); letters written by various students– Robert Paine Dick while at UNC-Chapel Hill (1841), Robert Dick Crabtree while a student at UNC-Chapel Hill (1926-27), George A. Dick while a student at Davidson College (1870), and Mary E. Adams (Dick) while a student in Richmond, VA (1846); a letter from R.P. Dick relative to the estate of J.M. Dick (1879); letters from J.M. Dick describing the political climate of 1861; and other items. Several letters are from Letitia H. Walker, daughter of John M. Morehead and friend of R.P. Dick.

2. Printed Materials. Late 19th century. 3½ inches. Arranged by provenance.

This series includes items relative to the Greensboro Law School, such as advertising broadsides and printed introductory and Sunday afternoon lectures delivered there by R.P. Dick. Other printed speeches by Dick include religious tracts, a memorial to Thomas Ruffin, and a graduation address for the UNC-Chapel Hill Class of 1893. Other items relate to the death of Stephen A. Douglas Sr., and a speech by Robert M. Douglas.

3. Financial & Legal Papers. Late 19th & early 20th century. 2 inches. Arranged by type and provenance.

The legal documents in this series consist chiefly of land deeds, both in Pittsylvania County, VA, and Greensboro. The R.P. Dick financial papers include receipts from a governess and teacher for services (1868-69); a contract between Mrs. R.P. Dick and the First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro for establishment of a Judge Robert Paine Dick Memorial Room in the Smith Memorial Building (1902); stock certificate in the Guilford Building & Loan Association; signed account page from Algernon Sydney Porter (1867); settlement sheet of the J.M. Dick estate, etc. The estate papers include how each estate was divided and the ME Dick estate papers include a receipt from the J.H. Neese Marble & Granite Company (Greensboro) for an inscription and footstone for R.P. Dick (1916), and a stock certificate for Piedmont Springs Company, Winston, NC. The two items in the P.P. Dick subseries involve the hiring of slaves (January 1865). The Rosa Stanback subseries are bills of account from Edgeworth Female Seminary (1869) and Saint Mary’s College, Raleigh, NC (1871). The papers regarding Stephen A. Douglas refer to the brother of Robert M. Douglas.

4. Genealogies, n.d. ¼ inch.

This series includes typescript descriptions of the following: J.M. Dick House, Greensboro; D.P. Weir House, Greensboro; Wilson family, Pittsylvania County, VA; Dunleath, Greensboro; and the John DeJarnette family.

5. Literary Manuscripts. 1842-1897. 8 inches.

This series includes manuscripts of notes and orations delivered by R.P. Dick while a student at Chapel Hill and later as a public orator. Included are addresses to the ladies of Fayetteville Seminary and Edgeworth Female Seminary, and also to the Greensboro Guards (R.P. Dick was a member of the Greensboro Guards). Topics included many of a religious nature as well as ones on Masonry, a tribute to John Dillard, as well as one to the Guilford Battleground Association. Also included is an 86-page monograph on the history of the Anglo-Saxons and three reports written by Dick while a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.

6. Scrapbook. 1900-1925. 3 inches.

The scrapbook is chiefly newspaper clippings. It originally contained several other items, especially photographs, in this collection but they were removed for conservation reasons. The pages are unbound and not numbered. The clippings contain chiefly information on family members (deaths, obituaries, etc.) and genealogical information. Included are information on Humphrey’s Folly, Greensboro; Oak Ridge, Pittsylvania County, VA.; Dunleath, Greensboro; the DeJarnette, Stanback, Donoho and Williamson families; and other family topics.

7. Map. 1894. 23 inches x 30 inches. 1 item.

Manuscript map of R.P. Dick property in Pittsylvania County, VA., approximately 994 acres, extending from the Dan River to the North Carolina State Line. Shown are roads, houses, forests, etc., with survey points.

8. Miscellaneous. 1880-1927. 2½ inches. Arranged by provenance.

The R.P. Dick folder includes an invitation to daughter Jessie’s wedding, a calling card, diploma (1843) for the Dialectic Society (UNC-Chapel Hill), blank envelopes with his return address as western district Judge, various complimentary railway passes, etc. The RD Crabtree folder contains memorabilia and certificates, 1906-1926, from his birth to his entrance into college. Much of this material in the RD Crabtree folder came from the scrapbook, series #6. The family folders contain miscellaneous calling cards, including mourning cards for Mrs. R.P. Dick to use at the death of her husband. Xerox copies of many other items in the collection, made at some earlier date, are also included.

9. Photographs. 1860-1945. 264 pieces. Arranged by accession number. Filed as a group under 1981.49.1-108 in the general photograph collection.

These include photographs of members of the Dick family, including in-laws, and many photographs of Dunleath, interior and exterior. Several tintypes are included. See the photographic inventory records for full descriptions. Also in this series are several photographs of Saint Mary’s College, Raleigh, NC. 156 items are candid photographs, chiefly of R.D. and Jane (his sister) Crabtree as children.


11Correspondence -- Adams, Justinia M.W., Incoming
12Correspondence -- Adams, Justinia M.W. to Emma C. Adams
13Correspondence -- Adams, Justinia M.W. to M.E.A. Dick
14Correspondence -- Crabtree, Lizzie Leigh Dick
I5Correspondence -- Dick, George A.
16Correspondence -- Dick, John McClintock
17Correspondence -- Dick, Mary E.A., Incoming
18Correspondence -- Dick, Mary E.A., Incoming upon the death of R.P. Dick
19Correspondence -- Dick, Mary E.A., Outgoing
110Correspondence -- Dick, Robert P., Incoming
111Correspondence -- Dick, Robert P., Outgoing
112Correspondence -- Dick, Rosa Jane Stanback
113Correspondence -- Douglas, Robert M.
I14Correspondence -- Douglas, Stephen A. II
115Correspondence -- Miscellaneous
116Correspondence -- Stanback, Octavia
21Printed Materials, Greensboro Law School
22Printed Materials, R.P. Dick, author
23Printed Materials, Douglas Family
31Financial & Legal Papers, Legal Documents
32Financial & Legal Papers, Financial Papers, R.P. Dick
33Financial & Legal Papers, Financial Papers, P.P. Dick
34Financial & Legal Papers, Financial Papers, G.A. Dick
35Financial & Legal Papers, Estate Papers, G.A. Dick
36Financial & Legal Papers, Estate Papers, M.E.A. Dick
37Financial & Legal Papers, Financial Papers, S.A. Douglas
38Financial & Legal Papers, Financial Papers, Rosa Stanback Dick
39Financial & Legal Papers, Financial Papers, Misc.
51Literary Manuscripts, R.P. Dick-Speeches
52Literary Manuscripts, R.P. Dick-Speeches
53Literary Manuscripts, R.P. Dick-Speeches
54Literary Manuscripts, R.P. Dick-Chapel Hill
55Literary Manuscripts, R.P. Dick-"The Anglo Saxons"
56Literary Manuscripts, R.P. Dick-Poems
57Literary Manuscripts, R.P. Dick-Miscellaneous
81Miscellaneous, R.P. Dick
82Miscellaneous, R.D. Crabtree
83Miscellaneous, Dick Family
84Miscellaneous, Xerox copies
91Photographs (filed as a group within the general photograph collection)