James Willis Wellons Collection
Scope and Contents
This collection documents the life of James Willis Wellons, a minister of the Christian Church in the South. J.W. Wellons was also one of the founders of Elon College and served on the Board of Trustees until his passing in 1927. The majority of materials date from the mid-late 1800’s through the late 1920’s. The largest portion of this collection contains handwritten sermons by J.W. Wellons, most of them undated. The collection is arranged alphabetically by type of material into eight series, then chronologically within each series, where applicable. The series are: Artifacts; Books; Correspondence; Legal Documents; Lists; Literary Productions; Photographs; Printed Material. Throughout the entire collection, there are a large number of items that were either written and/or published by J.W. Wellons. Specifically, in the Books and Correspondence series, one can find books and letters written by J.W. Wellons that mostly relate to the Christian Church or Elon College. Of particular historical interest is the last will and testament of J.W. Wellons that can be found in the Legal Documents series. This document was handwritten by Wellons in 1907 and it documents in detail how all of his personal and monetary belongings were to be divided among his fellow ministers, the Christian Church, Elon College, and family members (4:1). The majority of the Literary Productions series includes hand written sermons by J.W. Wellons, mostly undated. In addition to the sermons, there are some personal hand written manuscripts that contain addresses and biographical information about J.W. Wellons. Within the Photographs series, most of the photographs are pictures of J.W. Wellons by himself or pictured with other people. Some of the photographs have brief explanations, but most of them are undated. The items within the Printed Material series either appear to be unrelated to the entire collection or they offer helpful summaries of J.W. Wellons’ life and accomplishments. Of particular historical interest is the original certificate that officially ordained J.W. Wellons as a minister of the Christian Church in 1856 (8:11). Also, there are newspaper clippings in this series that provide biographical information about J.W. Wellons, as well as document his accomplishments within the Christian Church.
- 1856 - 1956
- Wellons, J. W. 1826-1927. (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
The nature of the Archives and Special Collections of Belk Library means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Archives and Special Collections of Belk Library claims only physical ownership of most materials. The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to the U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research of otherwise should be fully credited with the source.
Biographical / Historical
* Born January 1, 1826 in Sussex County, Virginia
* In 1831, he saw the slave Nat Turner, hung in Jerusalem near Courtland, VA
* In 1837, was a member of Barrett's Church and decided his "calling" in life was to be a minister
* Father= Hartwell Wellons
* Mother= Polly Stephenson Wellons or Mary West Wellons (Stephenson maiden name, listed under both names)
* Parents were farmers and owned a farm in Smithfield, VA
* His family owned 16 slaves
* Children of Hartwell and Polly/Mary Wellons: William Brock, Julia Ann Sallie, James Willis, Indiana Arletta Virginia
* J.W. Wellons never married
* William Brock Wellons married Sarah L. Beasley of New Bern, NC - Julia Ann Sallie married Rives Chapel Wills of Sussex County
* Indiana Arletta Virginia married Rev. Thomas W. Joyner. Rev. Joyner died 10 years and 2 months after they were married
* Indiana Arletta Virginia then married Henry May of Franklinton, NC and lived together for about 15 years until Indiana died in Lynchburg, VA (date of marriage unknown)
Education: * Note: Graham Normal College, Graham College, Graham Normal Institute and Graham Normal Institute all refer to the same school in Graham, NC * In December of 1852 he left home to attend the Graham Normal Institute in Graham, NC * Attended Graham Normal Institute in January of 1853 (he was 27 years old) * Stayed at the Graham Normal Institute for approximately a year and a half when sickness made him withdraw from the school * During his time at the Institute, he lived with Reverend George W. Walker * J.W. Wellons' first school teacher was Robert Stephenson * John R. Holt and A.G. Anderson were the principal teachers at the Graham Normal Institute while J.W. Wellons attended * Rev. E.W. Beale and Rev. R.H. Coston of Eastern Virginia were classmates of J.W. Wellons while at Graham Normal Institute Career and Religious Life: * In October of 1854 he joined the North Carolina and Virginia Christian Conference at the O'Kelly Chapel (Chatham County, NC), as a minister * In October of 1856, he was officially ordained as a minister of the Christian Church in Hank's Chapel in Pittsboro, NC (Chatham County, NC) * In 1854 he was appointed to the Deep River Circuit as a minister (now the Western North Carolina Conference) * In November of 1854, he preached at Shallow Well Church in Moore County * During the Civil War, he was considered a "camp minister" for the military troops * After the Civil War, he helped local African Americans establish and form the Afro-Christian Convention along with Rev. H.B. Hayes and Rev. W.H. Franks * He baptized and ordained over 100 African Americans that later became members of the Afro-Christian Convention * Also after the Civil War, he helped establish the Franklinton Christian College in Franklinton, NC that was to educate African Americans in the South * In 1900 he moved to Elon College, where he was a minister for 25 years * He assisted with acquiring money and supporters to assist in the construction of Whitley Building and five other buildings on the campus of Elon College after the fire in January of 1923 of the Administration Building * From 1924-1926 he was the Chaplain of the Masonic and Eastern Star Home in Greensboro, NC * While at Elon College, he had a room in the West Dormitory * Over the years served as a minister at the following churches: Shallow Well, Zion, Moore Union, Pleasant Grove, Park's Cross Roads, Pleasant Ridge, Shiloh Union, Shady Grove, Brown's Chapel, Acorn Ridge, Providence, Graham Court House, and two unnamed school houses Memberships and Organizations: * Member of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Board at Elon College from March 11, 1889-1927 * Member of Graham Lodge (1856-1927) * Member of the Order of the Eastern Star * Helped organize the Southern Christian Convention and was also a member * When the Southern Convention was organized in 1856 in Union, NC (Alamance County), J.W. Wellons was involved in the process and his brother W.B. Wellons became president * In 1925, he was considered one of the oldest Masons in North Carolina and in the United States * In 1857 (?) he was elected the Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of Royal Arch Masons of North Carolina * At Elon College, he was a member of the Provisional Board and he offered the first prayer for the institution in 1889 * One of the founding fathers of Elon College (1889-1927) * After the Civil War, he was elected President of the North Carolina and Virginia Christian Conference and served 2 years * In 1878, he was elected as an evangelist by the Southern Christian Convention at Lebanon, NC and served in this capacity for 2 years * In 1894, he was the vice president of the Durham Liquor and Opium Cure Company Awards: * A new dormitory on the campus of Franklinton Christian College was named out of gratitude and appreciation for J.W. Wellons Significant Events: * In 1889, under a sweet gum tree on the campus of Elon College he offered the first prayer for the institution * He preached on his 100th birthday, January 1, 1926, in Whitley Auditorium on the campus of Elon College for 1 hour * According to statements from J.W. Wellons, he converted over 7,000 people under his ministry * On October 28, 1862 James took his family through the military lines during the Civil War and met his brother William B. at Blackwater river, then they all went together to their father's in Sussex, Va. and then moved on to Petersburg, VA Books written by J.W. Wellons: Wellons' family prayers; Life and labors of William B. Wellons; Vital truths for hungry hearts; Wellons' family devotions * Check Belk Library catalog for holdings Later Years: * J.W. Wellons passed away at 10:45am on June 10, 1927 at the Masonic Home in Greensboro, NC * Burial services were held at Whitley Auditorium and Elon College Church on June 12, 1927 * During the funeral, President W.A. Harper read Wellons' funeral oration which was written in 1919, when he was 93 years old, by J.W. Wellons, to be read at his own funeral * He was buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Elon College, NC * There is a marble monument in Magnolia Cemetery that was dedicated to J.W. Wellons in 1932 Biographical Sources: Mss.Coll.#006-3:5, 3:6, 6:4, 6:7, 6:10, 7:4, 8:11, 8:18, 8:19, 8:22, 8:23 Christian Sun October 4, 1894, pg. 3 June 16 and 23, 1927 June 2, 1932, pg. 4
1.5 Linear Feet (3 archival Boxds)
Language of Materials
This collection documents the life of James Willis Wellons, a minister of the Christian Church in the South. J.W. Wellons was also one of the founders of Elon College and served on the Board of Trustees until his passing in 1927. The majority of materials date from the mid-late 1800's through the late 1920's. The largest portion of this collection contains handwritten sermons by J.W. Wellons, most of them undated. The collection is arranged alphabetically by type of material into eight series, then chronologically within each series, where applicable. The series are: Artifacts; Books; Correspondence; Legal Documents; Lists; Literary Productions; Photographs; Printed Material.
The collection is arranged alphabetically by type of material into eight series, then chronologically within each series, where applicable. The series are: Artifacts; Books; Correspondence; Legal Documents; Lists; Literary Productions; Photographs; Printed Material.
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The collection is located in Belk Library Archives Satellite Shelving at Elon University. Please contact the Archivist and Special Collections Librarian for further details about the location.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Processed by Katie Nash, August, 2006
- Encoded by Katie Nash, September, 2008
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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