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John Wilson Bivens Papers

Finding Aid & Inventory

John Wilson Bivens attended Wake Forest College (1880-1883) and made his living in Union County, N.C. Materials in this collection include biographical sketches, obituaries, student materials of both Bivens and his son, Anson County and Union Baptist Association records, original poetry, authored news clippings, and other writings related to and possibly by John Wilson Bivens. Items are photocopies, with the exception of one photograph negative.

Biographical and Historical Note

John Wilson Bivens was born in Union County, N.C., on October 29, 1859, to Henry and Jane Ashcraft Bivens. He attended Wake Forest College from 1880-1883 and married Mary Anna Williams in 1884.

After his time at Wake Forest College, Bivens returned to Union County to farm. He was elected as Register of Deeds for Union County in 1890 and served three two-year terms (1890-1896). In 1896, Bivens and his wife moved from Monroe to Wingate, N.C., where the family resided. Bivens was elected to serve in the lower house of the General Assembly between 1901 and 1902, though his time in the legislature was short due to health issues. Later, he worked in banking and business within Union County.

Bivens supported Wingate School (later Wingate University). Wingate School was formed by Baptist associations in Union County, N.C., and Chesterfield County, S.C, for grade school students in the Piedmont region. Bivens was on the Union County Board of Education and his name is listed as a founding trustee on the Union Baptist Association's Resolution regarding Wingate School's construction.

Bivens' son, John Ashcraft Bivens, graduated from Wake Forest College with a Bachelor of Arts in 1917 and a Master of Arts in 1918, and John Ashcraft Bivens, Jr., his grandson, attended Wake Forest College from 1951-1953. John Wilson Bivens died in Wingate, N.C., on December 20, 1927.


Wake Forest Alumni Directory, Wake Forest College, 1961.

"History and Traditions," Wingate, Wingate University. Available online at Wingate's web site.

Collection Overview

This collection documents some of Bivens' interests and connections across his life, including: Wake Forest College, Baptist organizations, government, education, religion, and writing. This collection includes news clippings, correspondence, documents, and writings by and about John Wilson Bivens. Materials in the collection are photocopies, with the exception of one photograph negative.

This collection is organized into five series: Series 1. Biographical materials; Series 2. John Ashcraft Bivens (son) materials; Series 3. Union Baptist Association materials; Series 4. Wake Forest College materials; Series 5. Writings

Collection Inventory

  • Biographical materials
    • Photographic negative (undated) box 1 folder 1
    • Obituaries  (1927) box 1 folder 2
    • Biographical sketches (1902, 1926) box 1 folder 3
    • Monroe Enquirer articles "Wingate School" and "J.W. Bivens"   (1912) box 1 folder 4
    • Anson County, N.C., "Abstract of Listed of Taxables"  (1896) box 1 folder 5
  • Wake Forest College materials
    • Note to faculty about tuition (undated) box 1 folder 11
    • Correspondence: Henry Bivens to John Bivens  (1881 March 19) box 1 folder 12
    • Grade report  (1881) box 1 folder 13
    • "Reflections of an Old Shoe," handwritten essay and transcription  (1883 May 16) box 1 folder 14
  • Writings
    • "Dismal Days of Civil War Period" article (undated) box 1 folder 15
    • Poetry, original and compilation (1921 September, undated) box 1 folder 16
    • Letters to editor regarding tuberculosis and sanatorium  (1918) box 1 folder 17
    • "R. Edgar Williams Murdered" write-up  (1917 March 27) box 1 folder 18

Summary Information

Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives
John Wilson Bivens Papers
Date [inclusive]
1 half-document box
0.21  Linear Feet

Administrative Information

Publication Information
Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives, 2023 September
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for researchers. 
Conditions Governing Use
The nature of the WFU Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives 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 ZSR 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 or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. 
Preferred Citation
John Wilson Bivens Papers (MS313), Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, USA. 

John Ashcraft Bivens (1917) filled out a survey questionnaire that is in Alumni Organizations. Half-Century Club Records (RG30.1), Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives.

John Ashcraft Bivens also wrote History of the Union Baptist Association, 1918-1970 available in Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives.

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