Finding Aid of the Leonidas Polk Denmark Collection, <date calendar="gregorian" era="ce" normal="1861/1965">1861 - 1965</date>, PC.1417


Finding Aid of the Leonidas Polk Denmark Collection, <date calendar="gregorian" era="ce" normal="1861/1965">1861 - 1965</date>, PC.1417


Leonidas Polk Denmark (1892-1964) was the grandson of Colonel Leonidas Lafayette Polk (1837-1892). Leonidas Lafayette Polk's second daughter, Juanita ["Neta"], married James W. Denmark. The Denmark's three children were Leonita, a graduate of Meredith College, 1911; Leonidas Polk, College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, 1915; and. James W., Jr., Raleigh High School and a school of photography in Tennessee, 1916.
The collection includes letters, telegrams, articles and editorials, newspapers and clippings, booklets, pamphlets, magazines, manuals, postcards, photographs, uniform insignia, and miscellaneous items.

Descriptive Summary

Leonidas Polk Denmark Collection
Call Number
Denmark, Leonidas Polk
1861 - 1965
2000.00 items
State Archives of North Carolina

Restrictions on Access & Use

Access Restrictions

Available for research.

Use Restrictions

Copyright is retained by the authors of these materials, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law (Title 17 US Code). Individual researchers are responsible for using these materials in conformance with copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], PC.1417, Leonidas Polk Denmark Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC, USA.

Collection Overview

The collection consists of the papers of Leonidas Lafayette Polk and the Farmers' Alliance, papers of the James William Denmark Family, the World War I correspondence and papers of Leonidas Polk Denmark and James W. Denmark Jr., miscellaneous papers of Leonidas Polk Denmark between 1919 and 1964, and genealogical material relating to the Polk and Shelby families.

Papers of Leonidas Lafayette Polk and The Farmers' Alliance. Of the eight letters to L. L. Polk, three are routine (an appointment, a subscription, request (1891) for a picture by the Fairview Academy, Gibsonville, Davidson County). The five remaining, all laudatory, were written in August, 1891. One from Thomas B. Long, a state lecturer for the Alliance, refers to Polk's name being placed before the People's Party convention the next year; one of the two letters from an L. Reece in New York City refers to an article by Sidney Klein in , and suggests that American farmers sell wheat direct for cash to the Alliancemen of France to avoid being by American and European speculators and handlers, and offers to be the intermediary between Polk and the president of the French Alliance. A letter from Charles P. Converse of the Brevard Transylvania Company refers to mining in the western part of the state and to Zebulon Vance's voting with the in the Senate; the railroad barons are excoriated, and it is suggested that everyone should be compelled to till the soil for three years. An August 27, 1891, letter from William F. Jackson, an Alliance lecturer in Virginia, urges Polk not to tax his mental and physical powers orating to city people who are --the local and rural Alliance can offer a $25 speaker's fee.

Also included are eight letters from Polk in Washington, D. C. [etc.] to his son-in-law James W. Denmark, business manager of . All were written between June, 1891, and May, 1892. The first concerns the resignation of Baylus Cade as editor of and the hiring of P. F. Duffy, with enclosures to and from Cade.

On October 8, 1891, Polk requests $700 be drawn from W. S. Barnes, secretary-treasurer of the Farmers' State Alliance. December 7, 1891, Barnes editor of the outlines his terms (including $125 a month for assuming the assistant editorship of . March 28, 1892, Polk directs that 30,000 extra copies of be printed and gives detailed instructions for content with emphasis on the platform and his speech at the St. Louis Convention, February, 1892, April 26, 1892, advises that (mail also indicates he will be on national ticket... secretly hopes another man will be chosen... favors a suggestion he should be nominated for governor ... in fine health). A letter from Polk on May 11, 1892, states that General [James B.] Weaver [who became the presidential nominee on the People's Party ticket in 1892] writes from Oregon that the

Printed Material includes circular #18, August 18. 1877, N. C. Department of Agriculture (directions to counties on exhibits for the agriculture museum); December 13, 1889, menu and program of banquet for president-elect Polk of the National Farmers' Alliance, Yarborough House in Raleigh (Josephus Daniels, chairman); for the Farmers' Alliance, etc., by Charles S. Howe, 1891; June 6. 1892, address by William F. Jackson, People's Party, Amelia, Va.; November 17, 1892, , as advocated by the National Farmers' Alliance, by H. L. Loucks, who succeeded L. L. Polk as president of the Alliance; by A. E. Redstone, 1802; Constitutions of the Farmers' State Alliance of N. C., 1894-1897; by H. E. Taubeneck, chairman (1894 of the People's Party executive committee, 1896; proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Session of the N. C. Farmers' State Alliance, 1897; Address, Cyrus Thompson, state convention of People's Party at opening of Populist Campaign, August, 1808; By-laws of the Farmers' National Cooperative Exchange Company, 1902; By-laws, articles of incorporation, press comments, Farmer's National Co-operative Exchange Company organized in South Dakota, 1902. Address to farmers on organizing a protective society by Secretary of State J. Bryan Grimes, c. 1903; articles of agreement of N. C. Farmers' Protective Association, n.d.; Simeon A. Delap, , , Trinity College Historical Society, 1922.

Civil War material: Notebook listing militia companies and officers by counties, 1861, with a few notations for 1862 [The entries until May, 1861, were apparently the basis for the Militia Roster submitted by Governor John Ellis to the Convention of May, 1861. See M.C. 5.]; Infantry manual prepared by War Department, 1859; Typescript extracts of letters to Mrs. L. L. Polk, 1862-1865; Typescript account of 43rd Regiment (published serially in , which was edited by L. L. Polk in Polkton, Anson County, 1874 and 1876). Newspaper clipping reporting Polk's nomination for legislature by the three Anson companies in the 43rd Regiment, 1864; Draft of preamble and constitution for the , n.d., providing for a roster, a building, and a hall in which to exhibit relics of the war, attached is a constitution for a similar society in Maryland, 1871.

Photographs (6) of L. L. Polk were taken in 1857, 1861, 1878 and later; there is also a picture of his bride in 1857. Four of these were used to illustrate Stuart Noblin's biography of Polk.

Biographical material includes many editorials and obituaries written at the time of his death, June 11, 1892, in addition to various feature stories in newspapers (1931, 1940, 1958). Of special interest is a typescript biographical sketch of Polk, a review of the Noblin biography (, October, 1950), and two items by Clarence Poe: an address at the dedication of the animal husbandry building, Polk Hall, at N. C. State [University]: and a feature story in the on the 100th anniversary of Polk's birth, April 25, 1935.

Copies of newspaper articles and editorials from , , and miscellaneous other newspapers, apparently compiled by James W. Denmark, Sr., c. 1912. These articles are in two fibredex boxes, one contains a chronological arrangement of articles from , etc., April 16, 1874 to February 14, 1877 (files for April 8, 1875 - April 12, 1876 ); a clipping file of newspaper items from the commissioner of agriculture period (1877-1888), and articles from , etc., 1886-1888, with an index. The other box contains articles copied in 14 copy book notebooks, interspaced with biographical notes on Polk's travels, honors, etc. In general the topics concentrate on his crusade for the improved economic and political status of the farmers as well as higher education for their sons and daughters. One notebook contains minutes from the 1888 Baptist State Convention with arguments for the education of women; another, the 1886 minutes of the Board of Agriculture relative to the selection of Raleigh as the site for an [Note: The minutes of the Board of Agriculture in the Archives do not begin until 1887].

The papers include a copy of the constitution of the N. C. Baptist Student Aid Association (1875) and a subscription list of 82 names [c. 1875-1877]. There are several letters to Mrs. James W. Denmark [] from relatives and friends, one of March 1, 1881, describes Cornelia Spencer's grief at leaving Chapel Hill. Several others of 1904 are addressed to her as A few letters in 1888 refer to --one calls for Mrs. Denmark to attend a patient in Durham, another written to her by her husband consoles that she is not a There are 173 pages of her childhood reminiscences, with additional comments by her daughter in another notebook.

Although a letter from Elias Carr, president of the state Alliance, in 1890 advises James Denmark that he, as a bookseller, is not eligible for membership in the Alliance, by October of the same year, Denmark had become business manager of the official organ of the Alliance () and was to become a member of the executive committee of the farmers' organization. A number of letters, reports, and statistical data concern a shoe factory incorporated by the Alliance under the N. C. Farmers' Manufacturing Company. Letters of 1895 indicate it was to be located in Cary, but Mayor J. C. Angier bought the land; there are copies of the incorporation papers for the company, and on July 4, 1898, James Denmark produced a mimeograph statement summarizing the problems, progress and profits since the factory had begun operating in Hillsborough, December 15, 1897.

Letters from Alliance men to Denmark concern the shoe factory and editorials in . Of special interest is September 6, 1892, from Marion Butler requesting the People's Party platform be carried as a standing insertion in , noting that the leaders of the last legislature are now in the People's Party. A September 16, 1892, letter from Denmark to O. W. Sutton defends the $75 loan to Butler used for expenses in heading off the People's Party movement and keeping Alliancemen in the Democratic party, etc.; 1895 letters from Butler concern a monument to Polk being erected in Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh.

There are eight letters and an itemization of his salary as editor from 20-year old Clarence H. Poe who is seeking to purchase in the spring of 1901, with a number of personal letters to the family in later years, including one eighteen years later which enclosed a $500 victory bond in gratitude for the assistance the Denmarks gave him early in his career, in recognition of the war service of the Denmark boys, and in expiation for his failure to show Denmark a letter from another prospective buyer of the newspaper in 1901.

Miscellaneous items include a membership [257] list of Raleigh Council of the Royal Arcanum, a life insurance group, 1895; a comparison of expenditures of State Treasurer William H. Worth and his predecessor, 1897 [by Chief Clerk J. W. Denmark]; a brief account of watching Halley's comet, 1910, by Mrs. Denmark; an editorial attacking Jerome Dowd, editor of the , who has been appointed economics professor at Trinity College [Duke], n.d.; detailed report of relationship of and the Farmers' Alliance, n.d. [but after 1892]; invitation to debate between The Pullen and The Leazar Literary Societies of [N. C. State College], 1908; Department of Agriculture Bulletin, 1907; letter from Dr. James R. Rogers thanking J. W. Denmark as a member of the board of directors of the State Prison for voting for his reinstatement as prison physician; a photograph of the J. W. Denmark & Co., booksellers, and the Edwards & Broughton Co., printers, combined booth at the Raleigh Exposition of 1884; a letter from Wake Forest College the year before Denmark's death (August 31, 1921) acknowledging a gift of $1,000 to the student aid fund.

The unique portion of this collection is a well documented account of the World War I experiences of Denmark's sons, L. Polk and James W., Jr. Preserved are 108 letters from L. Polk to his family which are reminiscent of the 135 letters his grandfather L. L. Polk wrote home during the Civil War [the latter are described in the Southern Historical Collection as ]. Lt. Polk Denmark trained at army posts in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, D. C., Oklahoma, Texas, and Michigan until stationed in France at Maxient, Tours, and Angers as an aerial observer. He wrote home of his duties, his classes, his fellow officers, the girls who wrote to him, the families who entertained him, the unusual people he saw (Indians in Oklahoma, peasants in France), the joy of flying, and the wonder of Woodrow Wilson's voice carried to France by wireless. He saw no front line action because of an discovered by army doctors in France.

The younger brother James was stationed for fourteen months at Fort Caswell, only 150 miles from home, going overseas just in time to celebrate the Armistice (arrived in Brest, November 9, 1918). His forty-eight letters describe with good humor the tedium of routine days relieved by camaraderie with fellow soldiers and pleasant social activities on weekend-passes. The letters describe his attempts to be transferred to a photographic unit in the signal corps and his bad luck at becoming indispensable to his commanding officer as the post photographer.

Young Polk preserved seventy letters from his family and sixty from old and new friends in addition to extensive memorabilia of his tours of duty, such as menus, opera and concert programs, ticket stubs, catalogs (Tours Museum), brochures, passes, embarkation card, insignia (including wings), signal flags, dog tags, engraving for calling card, manuals, c. sixty pictures (postcards, photographs, snapshots, aerial photographs), newspaper clippings, etc. The letters from his mother and sister Leonita are newsy, gossipy, chronicling the births, deaths, and marriages of friends, neighbors, and relatives as well as the day-to-day activities of the family. The sights and sounds of wartime Raleigh are described; and his sister prepared two small typewritten booklets, one illuminating the feminine attitude towards war, the other describing the armistice day celebration in the city. Of the many letters from girl friends, those from Agnes Scott and Meredith Colleges are perhaps less trivial than others, and afford some insight into the concerns and reflections of college girls of the period.

The World War I letters also describe the flu epidemic of 1918 in Raleigh and at Fort Caswell and the interest of some women in war work overseas (Nell Battle Lewis, Ruth Faison Shaw, and the wife of Governor Thomas Bickett).

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged by three categories: (1) Papers of Leonidas Lafayette Polk and the Farmers' Alliance (2) James William Denmark Family Papers (3) World War I Papers (4) Miscellaneous Papers of Leonidas Polk Denmark; and (5) Genealogical material.

Biographical Note

Leonidas Polk Denmark (1892-1964) was the grandson of Colonel Leonidas Lafayette Polk (1837-1892), North Carolina's first commissioner of agriculture (1877-1880), founder of (1886), and a moving force behind the establishment of the N. C. College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (1887) [N. C. State University at Raleigh] and the Baptist Female College (1889) [Meredith College]. When he died at 55, Polk was president of the National Farmer's Alliance and the prospective candidate for president on the ticket of the People's Party [Populists] of 1892. The papers of L. L. Polk (c. 4,500) are in the Manuscript Division [Southern Historical Collection] of the University of North Carolina Library at Chapel Hill; his biographer is N. C. State professor, Dr. Stuart Noblin who wrote , (University of N. C. Press, 1949).

Polk's second daughter, Juanita ["Neta"], who under the pen-name "Aunt Jeanie" conducted the column of [1898-1906], married James W. Denmark, an 1877 graduate of Wake Forest College, where he established the first student aid fund in America. Denmark, a book seller, became the business manager of on October 10, 1890, and a member of the executive committee of the Farmers' State Alliance. He continued to manage the newspaper after the death of L. L. Polk, except for the Janaury, 1895 to March, 1901, period when he was chief clerk in the state treasurer's office. Returning to active management of he purchased the paper in August, 1901, selling it to Clarence Poe in 1903.

The Denmark's three children were Leonita, a graduate of Meredith College, 1911; Leonidas Polk, College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, 1915; and. James W., Jr., Raleigh High School and a school of photography in Tennessee, 1916. In May, 1917, L. Polk Denmark was commissioned a lieutenant in the army and served as an engineer and aerial observer in this country and overseas. His brother James enlisted in the summer of 1917 and was stationed at Fort Caswell for most of the war. James [who married Florence Bush] and Leonita later operated a photographic studio in Hudson-Belk's department store in Raleigh.

After the war and until his retirement in 1960, L. Polk Denmark's work on the engineering staff of the Highway Department was interspaced with five years as grant clerk in the office of the Secretary of State and six years as alumni secretary at the College of Agriculture and Engineering of the University of North Carolina [sic] in Raleigh. After retirement, he devoted his time to genealogical research in the Archives and the State Library. Among organizations he actively served were the Masons, the Hayes Barton Baptist Church, and the Boy Scouts (he was one of the founders of the first Boy Scout troop in Raleigh in 1912). He and [Annie] Burt Stainback, a graduate of Flora Macdonald College, were married in 1923; their daughter is Mrs. Anne Polk Denmark Beaty of Raleigh.

Contents of the Collection

1. Leonidas Lafayette Polk

Correspondence, etc., 1861-1898
Box PC.1417.1
Newspaper articles, etc., 1874-1892
Box PC.1417.2
Newspaper articles, etc., 1874-1892
Box PC.1417.3

2. James William Denmark Family

Box PC.1417.4
World War I, Correspondence,May 1917-July 1918
World War I, Correspondence,August 1918-February 1919
Box PC.1417.5

3. Leonidas Polk Denmark

Correspondence,1895, 1908-1917
Box PC.1417.6
World War I, Correspondence,May 1917-December 1918
World War I, Newspapers, notebooks, manuals, etc.
Box PC.1417.7
World War I, Photographs, postcards
Box PC.1417.8
World War I, Miscellaneous souveniers
Box PC.1417.9
Correspondence, etc., 1919-1964
Box PC.1417.10
Genealogy [Polk-Shelby family]
Box PC.1417.11
Genealogy [Polk-Shelby family]
Box PC.1417.12
Miscellaneous Genealogy
Box PC.1417.13
Box PC.1417.14

Subject Headings

  • Butler, Marion, 1863-1938
  • Carr, Elias
  • Daniels, Josephus
  • Denmark, Leonidas Polk
  • Dowd, Jerome
  • Evans, Nathan George, 1824-1868
  • Grimes, J. Bryan (John Bryan), 1868-1923
  • Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1807-1870
  • Lewis, Nell Battle, 1893-1956
  • Oldham, Edward A.
  • Osborne, John
  • Poe, Clarence H.
  • Polk, L. L. (Leonidas La Fayette), 1837-1892
  • Polk, Leonidas, 1806-1864
  • Ruegger, Charlotte
  • Shaw, Ruth Faison
  • Spencer, Cornelia
  • Thompson, Cyrus, 1855-1930
  • Vance, Zebulon Baird, 1830-1894
  • Worth, William H.
  • Denmark, Leonidas Polk
  • Denmark, James W., Jr.
  • Polk, Leonidas L.
  • Denmark, James W.
  • Polk, Leonidas L., Mrs.
  • Polk, Juanita
  • Carr, Elias
  • Butler, Marion
  • Poe, Clarence Hamilton
  • Polk, L.
  • Polk Family
  • Denmark Family
  • Confederate States of America. Army. North Carolina Infantry Regiment, 26th
  • Confederate States of America. Army. North Carolina Infantry Regiment, 43rd
  • Democratic Party (N.C.)--1892
  • Farmers' Alliance (U.S.)
  • Meredith College (Raleigh, N.C.)
  • North Carolina. Dept. of Agriculture--1870-1879
  • North Carolina. Dept. of State Treasurer--1897
  • North Carolina. Militia--1859-1862
  • North Carolina. Office of Archives and History--1914
  • North Carolina State Grange
  • North Carolina State University
  • People's Party (N.C.)
  • Populist Party (N.C.)
  • Wake Forest University
  • Progressive farmer
  • National Farmers' Alliance
  • People's Party (Populists)
  • Populist Party
  • French Alliancemen
  • Confederate States of America. Army. North Carolina Infantry Regiment, 43rd
  • North Carolina. Board of Agriculture
  • Baptist State Convention (1888)
  • Meredith College (Raleigh, N.C.)
  • North Carolina. Department of Agriculture
  • National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union
  • North Carolina Farmers' Protective Association
  • North Carolina Baptist Student Aid Association
  • Wake Forest College
  • United States. War Department
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical College
  • Confederate States of America
  • United States. Army
  • United States. Armed Forces
  • North Carolina. Commissioner of Agriculture
  • Ansonian (Polkton, N.C.)
  • Progressive farmer
  • Agriculture--Periodicals
  • Baptists
  • Boots and shoes--Trade and manufacture--United States
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Diphtheria--treatment
  • Draft--Confederate States of America
  • Farmers
  • Fraternal organizations--North Carolina--Raleigh
  • Halley's comet
  • Influenza Epidemic, 1918-1919
  • Journalism, Agricultural
  • Presidents--United States--Election--1892
  • Presidents--United States--Election--1928
  • Suffragists
  • World War, 1914-1918--African Americans
  • World War, 1914-1918--Correspondence
  • World War, 1914-1918--Women--United States
  • Universities and colleges
  • Officer
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • Government employees--North Carolina
  • Genealogists
  • Military engineering
  • Military bases
  • Women in war
  • Diseases
  • Epidemics
  • Influenza
  • Airplanes
  • Air pilots
  • Community Affairs
  • Agriculture
  • Presidential candidates
  • Politics
  • Politics, Practical
  • Political participation
  • Railroads
  • Railroads--Employees
  • Wheat
  • Sales
  • Exports
  • Lecturers
  • Political Conventions
  • ANSONIAN (Polkton)
  • Women's colleges
  • Political Parties
  • Children
  • Reminiscing
  • Membership
  • Baptist universities and colleges
  • Progressive farmer
  • Periodicals
  • Elections
  • Newspapers
  • Editorials
  • Infantry
  • Incorporation
  • Shoes
  • Factories
  • Photographers
  • Aerial Reconnaissance
  • Women college students
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Economic aspects
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Equipment and supplies
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Registers
  • Anson County (N.C.)
  • Fort Caswell (N.C.)
  • Guilford County (N.C.)
  • Hillsborough (N.C.)
  • Mecklenburg County (N.C.)--History--19th century
  • New Salem (N.C.)
  • Raleigh (N.C.)
  • Wadesboro (N.C.)
  • France
  • Fort Caswell (N.C.)
  • Brunswick County
  • Raleigh (N.C.)
  • Polkton (N.C.)
  • Hillsborough
  • Acquisitions Information

    Gift of Mrs. L. Polk Denmark, Raleigh, November 25, 1968.

    Processing Information

  • Processed by Ellen Z. McGrew, November, 1970
  • Encoded by Lee Todd, January, 2008