Erwin, Jessie Harper

Erwin, Jessie Harper

ERWIN, JESSIE HARPER (March 3, 1864 - August 7, 1962) textile executive, was born at the family estate, "Bellevue", ner Morganton, North Carolina, of Scotch-Irish 8cestry. tHis father, Colonel Jose9h J. E\'iin, described as a "model of the old-time Southern gentlen", graduated from ':ashington Ccllege (\':ashingtcn and Lee Univcrsit.,) nnd served as a vestran of Grace Episcopal Chttrc!l in :·:or[;n!ton, n Clerk, of the Supeior CvUl·t, n ccber of the atte legislature for several teres, end a meber of the staff of' Govcrno·r '::. /\. Gro.h!:le His r.othcr, Elvi_ra flolt_Er\i, \·:as te daughter of Dr. William Raney Holt of Lexington, North Carolina, ho served as the president of the first stfite fair ever held in North Carolina. Tte distinguished Erwin facily can be traced to Nathaniel Erwin who eigrted to erica in 1740. Erwin was the ninth of eleven children and grew up at "Bellevue" within vi\-; of Gl"a.ndfo.tilel' ·:ountain. He received rAis education i1 private and public schools before entering Cetawba College in Newton. At the age of nineteen he moved to· whet was then Company Shops (Burligtcn), North Carolina where the shops of the North Carolina Railroad were locate. Here lIe worked for approximately one year in a general store prior to joining his brother-in-la.w, Lalrence S IIolt, Sr., in the mana.gement of Aurora Cotton Mills. Later he was promoted to Secretary-Treasurer of the E. M. Holt Plaid Mills in Burlington. With fifteen years of' experience in textiles, he moved' to Durham to accept the position of Secretary-Treasurer of the Durham Cotton lanuracturing Cocpany, the first textile mill in Durham 'tThich had been founded in 1884 by Julian S. Carr and later acuired by Ben Duke in 1899. He also became associated with Pearl Cotton Mills as sedretary-treasurer. Both of the afrementined companies were involved in the manufacture of ginghams and a variety of other cotton goods. Also, he ",ns a me!"Jber of the. bord of directors of the Durham and Southern Re.ih,ay, Oord Cotton I,!ills, Peoples 3ank located in East Durham, and Erwin Mills, which was managed by and naed for his brother, William A. Erwin. He was ifluential in the organiza.tion of Randolph Mills, Inc. of Fra.nkliriville, Ncrth Carolina, and served s Chairman of the Board of Directors there for a number of years until his dee,th. On Governor Charles B. Aycock's staff frot!! 1901 until 1905 Enlin served as an aide-dece.mp with the rnk of coloel. He particularly enjoyed nccoI!!pa.nJing Governor Aycock to Charleston to the South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition where President Theodore Roosevelt reviewed the 110rth Carolina Troops after the exposition opend on December 1, 1901. In Durh Erwin wns a charter me=ber of the Durham Kiwanis Club and served oh the Board of Directors of the Dur:·,e.m Young ·!en's Christian Association. A life long member of the E?iscopl Church,he served a numer of terI!!S !lS a ember of the vestry of t. Philip's E!Jhcopal Church and la.ter 5,n the same capacity at St. Joseph's Episcopal Church, a church bu1l t a,s a memorial to his parents nellr Erwin Cotton lUlls (presently a part of Burlington Industries, In.) in Durham. ' On November 5, 1895 he was married in St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Atlanta to Eleanor Drane Hayes of Americus, Georgia. The wedding was held in Atlanta while the Cotton States and International Exposition was in . process. Their children included Mary Erwin Michie, Eleanor Er\dn GrisYlolci, Josephine 'Erwin }.1ac!J.anus, Jesse Harper En,in, Jr., and Eugene Erl-tin. His home "Sunnyside" was located near Erwin Mills. His chief pleasures and interess in life included gardening, working with young people, ornitholoy and his aviary, and serving as a raconteur. He compiled a genealogical study of the Erwin fmmily and wrote some of his stories for those who had enjoyed them. 

, Erwin remained amazingly active in mind and body until his death,A"" in , rl:l t' (ht-, 'lb e i!,eJ _ at r.e age of ninety--eight. His life spanned nearly a century.  His funeral service was conducted at St. Joseph's Episcopal Church prior to his burial in the old section of l,!'plc\...ood Cenetcry in Durhum.

[Author: BWCR]

(Seel Erwin, OJ. Harpor, Alexander Entin and His Descendants, 171)0- 1946, Privately Printed, (1946); ErHin,. J. Harper, "A Brief Remin- iscence, Principally of the Early Period of the Life of Jesse Harper -- Erwin," typed, A!,ril 12,19;.8; En7in, J. Harper, liSt. Philip's Epis- copnl Church, II Parish Pantry, 1959; Erwin,J. H., "Joseph Enlin and De scendants", }'!cDo\ell, Jop.n Hugh, History of the !'cDo\-1el1 s, Er\lins, Ir\.fins and Cor.nectio!"ls, Being Compilation from Various Sources, }'le::ophis, C. B. Johnston, 1918; Jonea, Southgate, "Col. Harper Erwin Has Big Place in Durha.m's His'\.ory," Durham Morning Herald, April 29, 1945; Ashe, S. A., Bioeraphicn1 History of North Cro- lina, "Joseph J. Erwin," Vol. VII, Charles L. Van Noppen, Publisher, (1908); Ashe, S. A., Biofranhicnl !:Iistory of 1,orth Carolina, "',:llic..m A. Erwin," Vol. III, Charles L. Van Hoppen, Publisher, (1908); Boyd, Vl. K., Story 2f. Durham, City 2f. the :ie1i, South, Duke University Press, '(1925); uJesse Herper Erwin", North Cnrclinu, Rebuildin an Ancient . .- Cort1.monl'/ealth, Vol. III, 07-08, (1928); Dixon, \';yatt T., "Durhamite Since 1899, A Series of Sketches of Durhe.m and Her Citizens,1I The Durham Sun, October 28, 1949; "J. Harper Erwin Sr., Textile Pioneer, Dies Here at 98," Durham Horning Herald, August 8, 1962; "Erwin Rites to Be Held Toorrow," The Dut'ham Sun, August 8, 1962; "Jesse Harper Erwin" (Editorial), The Durham Suri, August 8, 1962; "Deaths and Funerals, J...l:Iarper Er\'lin, Sr. ," Durhar.l 1-1orning Herald, August 9, 1962; "Another Builder of Durham Passes, II DurhnllJ l-!orning Herald, Aug. 9, 1962.) 

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