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Leonidas L. Polk Ledger, 1883-1887


Leonidas LaFayette Polk (1837-1892) was a native of Anson County, the son of Andrew and Serena Autry Polk. As a young man he was a gentlemen farmer with an ongoing interest and involvement in journalism. After serving in the General Assembly 1860-1861, Polk was an officer in the Confederate Army. His successes in the years after the Civil War included service as the first Commissioner of the State Department of Agriculture, 1877-1880. Although three businesses he founded in the early 1880s failed, Polk founded the successfulProgressive Farmer in 1886; was elected national president of the Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union, 1889; and was influential in higher education, the farmers' move ... (more below)

Title

Leonidas L. Polk Ledger, 1883-1887

Collection Number

PC.AB.541

Date(s)

1883-1887

Language

English

Physical Description
1 account book
Physical Description
Items
1.00
Abstract

Leonidas LaFayette Polk (1837-1892) was a native of Anson County, the son of Andrew and Serena Autry Polk. As a young man he was a gentlemen farmer with an ongoing interest and involvement in journalism. After serving in the General Assembly 1860-1861, Polk was an officer in the Confederate Army. His successes in the years after the Civil War included service as the first Commissioner of the State Department of Agriculture, 1877-1880. Although three businesses he founded in the early 1880s failed, Polk founded the successful  Progressive Farmer in 1886; was elected national president of the Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union, 1889; and was influential in higher education, the farmers' movement, and the affairs of the state and nation.

This ledger includes an alphabetical index of businesses and individuals followed by page numbers and pages headed by names of businesses and individuals. There is a listing under each name of purchases by date. Items purchased include a variety of books, supplies, and some services. The name of the business operated by Polk is not identified, and most of the entries predate the founding of the  Progressive Farmer.

Creator

Polk, Leonidas L.

Repository

State Archives of North Carolina


Bound ledger is arranged by customer name.


Available for research.


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.


Processed by Fran Tracy-Walls, 2011

Encoded by Fran Tracy-Walls, May 2011: additional encoding by Lea Walker, October 2016


Leonidas LaFayette Polk (1837-1892), a native of Anson County, was born to Andrew Polk and his second wife, Serena Autry. Andrew Polk had practiced diversified farming, and was moderately wealthy, but died prematurely when his son was thirteen. With his mother's death two years later, Leonidas was orphaned at the age of fifteen. Under the care of responsible adults, he remained in the community where he continued to attend neighborhood schools. Always an avid reader, Polk as a young man entered Davidson College in 1855 where he completed one year with distinction as a special student. Subsequently, he returned to Anson County, married Sarah Pamela Gaddy, and began farming land inherited from his father.

With a keen interest in politics, Polk was elected to the General Assembly in 1860. Originally opposed to secession, in 1861 Polk was commissioned a colonel in the State Militia and later transferred in May 1862 to the Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiment, as a private and later a sergeant Major; and eventually, served as a second lieutenant in the N.C. Forty-third Regiment and saw service at Gettysburg, where he was wounded but eventually recovered.

In 1864, Polk returned to the state legislature, and the following year, after the end of the Civil War, Polk won election to the constitutional convention. During the next few years he opened a general store, began the  Ansonian as a news weekly, and founded the town of Polkton, Anson County, incorporated in 1875.

Polk's onoing efforts to improve the farmers' economic situation were a factor in his appointment in 1877 as commissioner of the newly established State Department of Agriculutre, where he served for three years. Subsequently, he joined the daily  Raleigh News as a roving reporter. In 1881 he manged the state fair, and two years later strongly influenced the reorganization of the state Board of Agriculture.

Though successful in various arenas, Polk experienced the failure of three business ventures he started in the early eighties. During that period and under those circumstances, Polk returned to journalism and agricultural leadership, culminating in his publication of the weekly  Progressive Farmer in February 1886. As founder of this influential paper, and later president of the Baptist State Convention, Polk utilized his influence to play a major role in the founding of the Agricultural and Mechanical College and Baptist Female University, now known as North Carolina State University and Meredith College.

Polk also influenced growth of the farmers' club movement, making the state receptive in 1887 to the Farmers' Alliance. At the national level of that organization, Polk served as an officer in 1888, and the following year was elected president of the National Farmer's Alliance and Industrial Union. It was widely thought that the People's Party would have made him their nominee for U.S. President had it not been for his untimely and unexpected death on 11 June 1893. Within his immediate family he left his wife, Sarah Polk, and six daughters, including Carrie Polk Browder, and Juanita Polk Denmark.


[Identification of item], PC.AB.541, Leonidas L. Polk Ledger, 1883-1887, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC, USA.


Received as a gift from Anne Denmark Beaty, Raleigh, NC, 2011


This ledger includes an alphabetical index of businesses and individuals followed by page numbers and pages headed by names of businesses and individuals. There is a listing under each name of purchases by date. Items purchased include a variety of supplies, books, including Bibles, hymnals, Gospel hymns, and some services rendered. There were various customers from Raleigh, but the customer base extended beyond Raleigh, Wake County. The name of the business operated by Polk is not identified, and most entries predate the founding of the  Progressive Farmer.


 Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, s.v. Polk, Leonidas LaFayette;  Encyclopedia of North Carolina , s.v. Progressive Farmer ; John L. Cheney Jr., ed.,  North Carolina Government, 1585-1979: A Narrative and Statistical History (Raleigh: Department of the Secretary of State, 1981), 327, 331, 426, 437, 832; Louis H. Manarin and Weymouth T. Jordan Jr., comps.,  North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865 (Raleigh, Division of Archives and History, Dept. of Cultural Resources), VII:465; X:370; U.S. Census: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880; Website of North Carolina Deparment of Agriculture and Consumer Services, N.C. Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees: Leonidas LaFayette Polk.


  • Polk, L. L. (Leonidas La Fayette), 1837-1892
  • Retail trade--North Carolina
  • Wake County (N.C.)
  • Raleigh (N.C.)

The pages in this ledger are numbered. There are entries on 490 pages out of a total of 552 pages.