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. 1976.52.1, 1976.53.1-3, 1981.49.1-108, 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 Pittsylvania 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.  16 folders.  1843-1945.  

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.  3 folders.  Late 19th century.  

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.  9 folders.  Late 19th & early 20th century.

The legal documents in this series consist chiefly of land deeds, both in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, 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.  1 folder.  n.d.  

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

5. Literary Manuscripts.  7 folders.  1842-1897.  

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.  1 folder.  1900-1925.

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, Virginia; Dunleath, Greensboro; the DeJarnette, Stanback, Donoho and Williamson families; and other family topics.

7. Map.  1 folder (1 item).  1894.  23 inches x 30 inches.

Manuscript map of R.P. Dick property in Pittsylvania County, Virginia., 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.  4 folders.  1880-1927.  

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 R.D. 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.  264 items.  1860-1945.  Arranged by accession number and 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 -- Douglas Family
22Printed Materials -- Greensboro Law School
23Printed Materials -- Robert P. Dick, author
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)



1. Adams, Justinia M.W., Incoming: 2 letters, 17 November 1843 (from London, describes life in England, fashionable life) & 28 April 1844 (from Paris, described masked ball, court life in general, describes Fontainebleau) from her cousin Peter Hariston; and letter written from J.M.W. Adams to sister Elouisa, before 1848, on family matters.

2. Adams, Justinia M.W. to Emma C. Adams: a note to her daughter. 1 item, no date.

3. Adams, Justinia M.W. to M.E.A. Dick: 16 items, 1847-1851; speaks of chiefly family matters, but also advice on construction of a house (1849); 2 slaves, possible runaways (1849); shipment to Mary of hams, butter, oats, candles, etc., and future shipment of flour, pickles, Negro clothes, etc. (1849); fevers & smallpox; and a revival at Providence (NC?).

4. Crabtree, Mrs. Lizzie Leigh Dick: series from nephew 2nd Lt. Robert H. Dick, U.S. Army, 1943-44, 5 items with covers, 1 extra cover, from USA & Iceland; letter from Sgt. Ray Stallings to LLDC from New Guinea, 14 December 1944; letter from brother William, 30 May 1940, family news; miscellaneous correspondence, 1947, re genealogical requests; 2 items (copies) letters to Dr. Frank Graham, President of UNC, 1935, re speaking at the unveiling of a marker to David Caldwell by Guilford County Committee of Colonial Dames; 9 items, letters from son Robert Dick Crabtree while a student at UNC-CH, 1926-27; carbon letter, to John Carter, 9 December, 1939, re genealogy, family circumstances, matters relating to a trial involving ownership of the Adams ancestral home “Oak Ridge” in Pittsylvania Co., Virginia.

5. Dick, George A.: 3 items; cover, to G.A. Dick at 309 Isabel St., Greensboro, 1920; letter, G.A. Dick to his grandfather George Adams; letter, September 19, 1870, G.A. Dick as student at Davidson College to sister Jessie, describes college.

6. Dick, John McClintock: to Robert 23 April 1861, from Benton(?)ville, speaks of volunteers and the “disunion flag,” the general political climate and NC leaving the union; to Robert from Plymouth, September 11, 1861, speaks of circuit nature of courts, to Robert about him running for election, general political climate; to John W. Norwood, Hillsboro, from Kinston, 24 September, 1840, re. legal matters speaking of developing a turnpike Greensboro to Hillsboro to Raleigh; 5 December 1835 from Greensboro to Ralph Gorrell, Esq., Raleigh, NC re: employing his overseer.

7. Dick, Mary E.A., Incoming: 16 items to M.E.A. Dick from cousins and friends; most of the letters predate her marriage to R.P. Dick; one letter, 1848, from her cousin Lizzie describes how as a new bride Mary is a “Stranger in a Strange land.”; 1852 letter from a friend offering condolences over the death of Lizzie, the infant daughter of M.E.A. Dick; one letter (unsigned, 1848) speaks of having a daguerreotype taken.

8. Dick, Mary E.A., Incoming upon the death of R.P. Dick: 30 items, including from R.E. Caldwell (and response) (ALS) Winston, NC; Sally L. Gilmer; Jennie Sloan Scales; Egbert W. Smith; Letitia H. Walker; Kemp Battle (ALS); D.D. Davies; also resolutions of respect from Ladies Aid Society of St. Barnabas Church (Greensboro) and Dialectic Society, UNC-CH.

9, Dick, Mary E.A., Outgoing: 4 items; 1846, 1906, 1915; one letter to her father while a student in Richmond, speaks of her courses & lessons; letter (1906) to her granddaughter LL Dick Crabtree on the birth of her son Robert; 2 other letters (1915, no date) to Lizzie on family matters.

10. Dick, Robert P., Incoming: 1858 request legal advice from Calvin Jones; 1853 from Washington, legal advice re. C.P. Mendenhall & a pension claim; 1896, request from W.P. Stanback for political appointment; 1886 from A.W. Graham (signed); 1893 & 1895 from Letitia H. Walker (signed); 1847 from Brother addressed to Dick in Wentworth; miscellaneous; 1869, letter from brother W.A. in Lumberton, speaks of legal affairs & hardships of living in the country- starvation, etc., power of attorney to sell father’s estate.

11. Dick, Robert P., Outgoing: letter, to son George 1874, re: setting him up in business; to Rosa March 13, 1877 from Dunleath, welcoming his daughter-in- law into family, but he can’t be present at wedding; March 20, 1841, to his mom from Chapel Hill (as a student); copy of 1881 letter to President of United States re: political appointment; letter & cover to William F. French, Lumberton, NC, 16 April, 1879, speaking of his father’s estate, selling slaves, tells how the estate was settled, & some land negotiations pertaining thereto; letter to J.L. Wiley, 19 May 1856, regarding political elections of “Gilmer”; miscellaneous.

12. Dick, Rosa Jane Stanback: 4 items; to husband, George, August 25, 1920; to daughter Lizzie Leigh Crabtree, Westbrook Sanatorium, Richmond, VA, August 1915 (with cover); to Rosa, July 5, 1883, from a cousin “Jennie” on family matters and life in the country; to Rosa, October 29, 1888, from Jennie speaks of home teaching and education, family matters.

13. Douglas, Robert M.: 1 item; from Secretary to the President of the United States John A Porter (TLS) requesting a photo of Douglas

14. Douglas, Stephen A. II: December 28, 1873, letter to brother Bob from Reidsville getting money for support while at court in Reidsville.

15. Miscellaneous: 1945 et. al.

16. Stanback, Octavia: 1 item; to her cousin, Marie Gorrell, 15 January 1867, speaks of family, having photos taken in Charleston, of moving to Greensboro (Robert Lindsey offered lot for sale, $6000).

(Printed Materials)

1. Douglas Family: 2 items; addresses delivered on the death of Senator Stephen A. Douglas (1861) in the House & Senate of the US; speech of Col. Robert M. Douglas delivered at Statesville, NC, 19 Oct, 1880 (1967.181.43); speech by R.R. McMahon (copy) to Judge Douglas.

2. Greensboro Law School: miscellaneous items, including broadsides, advertising the course of study.

3. Robert P. Dick, author: miscellaneous lectures delivered at the Greensboro Law School, including those delivered at the introductory sessions of 1880, 1881, 1885, 1887, 1888; the Sunday Afternoon Lectures (1883); others delivered to church groups; one delivered at the commence­ment of the University of North Carolina, 1893; and a “Discourse upon the Life and character of the Hon. Thomas Ruffin”; some titles have duplicate copies.

(Financial & Legal Papers)

1. Legal Documents: 13 items; 3 copy deeds, to George Adams, 1830, 1853, 1824; 1 copy deed, George Adams to R.P. Dick & wife, 1865, on south side of Dan River (1100 acres) in Virginia; , George A. Dick et. al. to Ceasar Cone, handwritten description of survey lines of conveyance of lot in Greensboro located near Chestnut St; deed, G.A. Dick et. al. to Real Estate & Trust Company, Guilford County, for 4 interest in the 1100 acres above (typescript copy); 7 deeds relating to George & Rosa Dick, many on Chestnut St. in Greensboro.

2. Financial Papers–R.P. Dick: 35 items; receipt from governess to Mrs. Dick (1868) with tax stamp; report from teacher to Mrs. Dick (1869) with tax stamp; receipt for domestic servant (1869) with tax stamp; contract, Mrs. Dick & First Presbyterian Church for sponsorship of a room in the Smith Memorial Building to be called the Judge Robert P. Dick Memorial Room (1902); insurance premium certificate (1871-72); stock certificate in Guilford Building & Loan Association (1875), signed by R.M. Sloan Sr. & Jr.; 3 U.S. Treasury Salary drafts for R.P. Dick (1897); treasury draft (1850) which Dick drew for a client pensioning for a soldier in War with Mexico; account page to A.S. Porter (1867) with tax stamp, signed A.S. Porter; 5 miscellaneous receipts & pay warrants; settlement sheet of R.P. Dick in regard to settling estate of John McClintock Dick (no date, mentions paying CSA tax); duplicate contract, E.B. Gibson & R.P. Dick renting Dick plantation on Dan River for 1875; series of notes of mortgage to Dick from Powell & Glass, re land transactions; miscellaneous.

3. Financial Papers–P.P. Dick: 2 promissory notes to P.P. Dick for payment for hire of slaves, January 1865, includes conditions of hire.

4. Financial Papers–G.A. Dick: 1 item; (1917) promissory note for a land transaction.

5. Estate Papers–G.A. Dick: 2 items (1922) how estate was settled among heirs and real property listing.

6. Estate Papers–M.E.A. Dick: (1916); 18 items; receipt from J.H. Neese Marble & Granite Co (Greensboro) for inscription & footstone for R.P. Dick; stock certificate in Piedmont Springs Co. (Winston, NC); estate accounting from administrator; appointment paper of G.A. Dick as executor.

7. Financial Papers—S.A. Douglas II: 11 items; correspondence from brother R.M. Douglas re financial matters, 1871 & 1873.

8. Financial Papers–Rosa Stanback Dick: 2 items; bill of account with Edgeworth Female Seminary (1869); bill of account with St. Mary’s College (Raleigh, NC) (1871).

9. Financial Papers-Miscellaneous: 4 items, 1848-1917.


1. Genealogies: Typescript descriptions of: J.M. Dick House; D.P. Weir House; Wilson Family, Pittsylvania County, VA; Dunleath; John DeJarnette family of Anson Co.

(Literary Manuscripts)

1. R.P. Dick– Speeches: 4th of July speech at Leaksville, 1848; Temperance Address, (n.d.) as a young man; 2 different speeches to Philanthropic Society, No date, and 2nd one is at Davidson College, 1844; address to women of Fayetteville Seminary; address to “Young Ladies” unidentified; oration on Masonry; address to young ladies at Edgeworth (2 separate speeches); address to Greensboro Guards (RPD was member).

2. R.P. Dick–Speeches: 7 items, speeches, especially of religious nature.

3. R.P. Dick–Speeches: 9 items, including on 4th of July celebration at Battleground & Battleground Association; to Guilford Bar on Judge Dillard; various on religious topics.

4. R.P. Dick–Chapel Hill: 3 manuscript reports written while a student at UNC-CH on the Ruin of Jerusalem, History of NC, & the exile of Napoleon.

5. R.P. Dick–“The Anglo Saxons”: 86 page manuscript.

6. R.P. Dick–Poems: 6 items; prayer to George A Dick; poem to Letitia H. Walker (2 items); poem, “Requiem to Lizzie” on the death of his daughter (1851); poem written by RPD in his early twenties.

7.  R.P. Dick– Miscellaneous


1. Scrapbook: Chiefly newspaper clippings, etc. several other items in this collection were removed from this scrapbook for conservation reasons. The scrapbook, whose pages have been loosened, contains chiefly information on various family members, including deaths, obits & testimonials & genealogical information. Most clippings are undated and the book pages are not numbered. The scrapbook was probably compiled by Mrs. Lizzie Leigh Dick Crabtree.


1. Map: R.P. Dick’s property in Pittsylvania Co., Virginia, ca. 994 acres (1894) south of Dan River to North Carolina state line. Shows roads, houses, forest, etc. with compass & survey points.


1. R.P. Dick: 28 items; 2 copies, program from Memorial Service, 1st Pres. Ch., for ruling elders, incl. R.P. Dick (1914); program, dedication of Caldwell Monument (1935); diploma, R.P. Dick, Dialectic Society, UNC (1843); calling card (1867); 15 blank envelopes, R.P. Dick, U.S. Judge, Western District; invitation to marriage reception of daughter Jessie (1874); cover addressed to Dick at Greensboro; various complimentary railway passes (6); invitation to commemorative exercises of 100th anniversary of the U.S. Judicial Department (1890).

2. R.D. Crabtree: 30+ items; correspondence, memorabilia, financial, etc.; 1906-1926; Alpha Kappa Psi (UNC-CH) initiation certificate; grammar school report cards (Greensboro et. al.); Presbyterian Primary Catechism (1909).

3. Dick Family: 11 items, calling cards of Mrs. George A. Dick; R.M. Douglas; Jessie M. Dick; Mrs. R.P. Dick (Mourning), in envelope.

(Photographs – see photograph inventory sheets)