This Featured Collection post was written by Paige Horton, student assistant in Special Collections and Archives.
The David Needham Gore Papers (MS192) is a small, but worthwhile collection housed amongst hundreds of larger collections in Personal Collections & Manuscripts. We should all know by now not to judge a book by its cover or a collection by its size. Small, but mighty the David Needham Gore Papers house biographical information, sermons, personal correspondence, and Cape Fear Baptist Association Notes that speak to his work as a missionary. This collection offers a unique view into the late 19th century in North Carolina.
David Needham Gore was not only a Wake Forest College graduate but he was also a much loved and highly successful North Carolina pastor. Born in 1835 in Columbus, North Carolina, Gore dedicated his time to serving his community through his church. According to Baptist Biography Data Form, housed in Folder 1, Gore was a pastor at County Line Baptist Church in Turkey Creek, Louisiana and also a missionary to Ogbomosho, Nigeria, in West Africa for several years. He was also the first pastor of the Piney Forest Baptist Church after it organized in 1869. Gore was pastor for two periods: 1869-1875 and then again from 1877-1879. He also led in the organization of the Sunday school for the church in 1871. Reverend Gore was “greatly loved and respected by the members of the church.”
The great debate about this collection comes in the form of the Civil War. In his biological information there is a reference to Gore being Captain to the 18th Regiment in 1861. When our librarians researched this they found no mention of a David Needham Gore who served from North Carolina in the Confederate Army. In his Biography data it also says that he served as chaplain and that was also found to be inconclusive. What we do know about Gore comes from his biography information but also the rest of the collection including sermon notes, the personal correspondence, and the Association notes.
The entirety of his personal correspondence is addressed to one Miss Mary Rockwell of Whiteville, North Carolina. The correspondence, dated from 1879 to 1881, is well preserved and offers an exciting look into the everyday life of a 19th century pastor. The Association notes also hold interesting bits and pieces about Gore as a pastor. He was an Itinerant for the Southern portion of the Cape Fear Baptist Association in 1860; while he was Itinerant, he “traveled for 56 days, preached 93 sermons, received 65 persons, and baptized 46…[and his] traveling expenses [were] but $1.80.” Maybe the most surprising fact out of all of that is that he only spent $1.80 for 56 days of travel! The Association notes hold many more pieces like this in which Gore’s missionary work is detailed out.
The collection is full of interesting and surprising details just like the ones listed above. To access the collection students can view the finding aid to get a brief overview or make an appointment with the Special Collections to view the collection.