The winter edition of NC State magazine serves as a tribute to the 125th anniversary of NC State University. In researching the different stories in the magazine, from a tale of an athlete lost to history to the story of the first freshman class in 1889, we found a treasure trove of artifacts, pictures and documents that weave together an important tapestry of the university’s past.
We couldn’t include everything we found in the magazine, so we’ve compiled some of the more interesting finds and information for the blog as a way to look back just a little more. We hope you enjoy what we found.
S.M. Young and Walter Jerome Mathews were two of the longest living members of the Class of 1893. Young ran a hardware store in Raleigh for years, and Mathews was the first student to arrive on campus in 1889, a young man from Buncombe County, N.C., ready to study mechanics. He is remembered every year when the Alumni Association awards the Mathews Medal, the highest non-academic award given to students, in his honor. Below, they both stand with Chancellor John T. Caldwell in 1959.
Alexander Quarles Holladay was the first president of North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts when the first 72 students arrived in 1889. He apparently stayed connected to some of the graduates in the Class of 1893, as we found a letter of recommendation for a job written for Louis T. Yarbrough. In the letter, dated August 16, 1895, Holladay lauds Yarbrough’s mathematical skills and knowledge of machinery.
Below is a photograph from a 1943 NC State College News issue. In it, some of the members of A&M’s first graduating class stand as they gather to celebrate their 50th anniversary in 1943. Joining six of the members in the photograph is Exum Taylor, one of the first African-Americans to set foot on the university’s campus. He’s listed in the photo as the first class’ valet when classes and lodging were both held in Main Building (now Holladay Hall).
A&M’s first freshman class produced men who pursued a variety of careers in engineering and agriculture. But it also held two future wordsmiths, neither of whom are listed in archives as graduates from A&M, who left their marks on the pages of newspapers around the state. H.E.C. “Red Buck” Bryant was a well-known columnist for the Charlotte Observer in addition to writing about politics in Washington, D.C., Boston, New York and Raleigh. Baxter Clegg Ashcraft was an editor for the Monroe Enquirer for 25 years before dying in 1922. Upon his death, the paper published his last editorial, seen below, which he wrote some time before he died to serve as a reflection on his life.