Henry E. Fries (1878) 3 January 1875 Letter

Back to College Letters Collection
Back to Henry Elias Fries Letters | Jump to original | Jump to annotations


Jan 3. 1875 [1]
Davidson College [2]

Dear Mother [3] ,

I again direct my first letter to you, & I have many times wished since my return that I could spend several more weeks with you all, for I now realize more fully than ever what a blessing it is to have a pleasant home to go to. I have not yet awakened to my situation, there seems to be some space which is left empty, and I suppose it is to be filled only by you all at home; this feeling prevails among all the boys, & I suppose owing to the unpleasant weather, some of us have what might be called a case of blues. I have been trying to shake this feeling off but it sticks close; nevertheless when

[page 2]

the Profs. [4] get hold of us again we will be forced to get hard at work. The reports were sent off last night [5] , & judging from those which were sent around here I feel rather scared, lest the remaining returns which Dr. P. [6] spoke of will be below 60. Comparing the reports here in town, (which the boys living here received) there are several things which we cannot make out, in some instances they are overrated & in others they come below what we all expected by the manner in which they recited. Upon the whole I will have to lower my notches somewhat & come down to an average of 70 or 75 instead of 75 or 80. If I get through without failing I will be very glad indeed but the reports are gone & my fate is sealed.

If I get through without failing please send my report as soon as possible,

[page 3]

if I fail I can wait untill it suits your convenience to send it, I would like to know what brother John [7] thinks about it in either case, I expect a little scolding is what I deserve.

We arrived here safely Saturday morning after a very boring time in Greensboro [8] , I spent a very pleasant evening with cousin [Coonnie?], & got back to the hotel by ten o’clock, I did not rest very well & had to get up a little after two, we waited an hour for the train on [the?] Central [9] but it did not come, I suppose was detained by the sleet. We made connection with our train & reached here at the usual time. A party the day before did not make connection, & had to come here from Statesville[10] in a hack. They had rather a disagreeable time of it, they did not

[page 4]

get here untill in the afternoon. Whitehead [11] was in the crowd & yesterday although he did not feel like it he had to stand an examination under Prof. Latimer [12] , which he was prevented from standing before Xmas on account of sickness. He got through very well & is now the first man in his class, he did not expect it, but we are all very glad that he took it. Most of the monitors & vice monitors are Phis [13] & I am glad that the Soc, or rather the members have done so well. There are several other things I wanted to say but will write to Frank [14] . Please answer soon.

Your affec. son,

I hope all are well, Much love

H.E. Fries [15]


Jump to transcript


[1] On this date, Fries would have just returned to Davidson after winter break to begin his second term as a freshman on January 1st (Davidson College Catalog 1874-75, p 3).

[2] Davidson College in the 1874-1875 academic year had 121 students (Davidson College Catalog 1874-75, p 10) (hereafter DCC) and 7 faculty (6). It was located on the “Atlantic, Tennessee and Ohio Railroad” approximately halfway between Charlotte and Statesville, North Carolina. The area was praised in the College Catalogue for being healthy and free from temptations to “vicious and extravagant habits” (12). The college offered a “Classical Course” (4-year) a “Scientific Course” (3-year) and an “Eclectic Course” (variable—for students wishing to get instruction in specific areas) (14, 16, 17). The tuition was $70 a year. Overall expenses (excluding clothing, traveling-expenses and pocket money) were estimated to be between $225 and $250 a year. (19). Terms of admission to the college included proof of good moral character, “honorable dismission” from the last school attended, and examination in English, Latin, Greek, and Mathematics (13).

[3] Lisetta Maria Vogler Fries, mother of Henry Fries, was born March 3, 1820. At the age of 18, she married Francis Levin Fries (“Lisetta Maria Vogler”), a member of the General Assembly (Powell). Lisetta had 7 children. She died October 23, 1903 in Salem, North Carolina, where she lived all her life (“Lisetta Maria Vogler”). She has an archived diary chronicling her travels as an 11 year old girl in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Vogler).

 lisetta vogler

Image 1: Lisetta Maria Vogler, mother of Henry Fries, courtesy of Geni.com.

For access information to Lisetta’s diary, visit http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/v/Vogler,Lisetta_Maria.html.

[4]-As a freshman in the second term, Fries would have taken courses under Professor Sampson, instructor of Latin on Curtius and Cicero, J. F. Latimer, professor of Greek on  Herodotus and Lysias, and Professor Barnett, instructor of  Peirce’s Geometry(D.C.C. 1874-75, p 6, 14). His course load also included Old Testament History and English History and Composition, perhaps under the tutelage of Professor Hepburn of the Mental Philosophy and English Literature Department (D.C.C. 1875-76, p 30) .

[5] At the closing of each term, every student would be examined on material covered during that time. Written exams assessed the level of scholarship the student had attained during the semester.  Reports with results of the final examinations were sent to the student’s parents or guardians for review (D.C.C. 1874-75, p 18).

[6] Dr. P is most likely Dr. Charles Phillips, a professor of Mathematics and Engineering and Davidson College’s clerk. Dr. Phillips was Henry Fries’ professor in his freshman mathematics class, Towne’s Algebra (D.C.C. 1874-75, p 6, 14).  Dr. Phillips retired in 1875, moving on to a professorship at the University of North Carolina, where he attained Emeritus status. He died in 1889 (Semi-Centennial Catalogue 19).

[7] Born November 27, 1846, John William Fries was the eldest son of Francis and Lisetta Fries. He wed Agnes Sophia de Schweinitz and had two daughters (“John William Fries”). In 1891, he helped organize the Wachovia Loan and Trust Company (Powell). He passed away in 1927 (“John William Fries”).

[8] Greensboro, North Carolina is located 30 miles east of Fries’ home in Salem and 92 miles north of Davidson College (Google Maps). Greensboro had recently been connected to Salem through the Northwestern Rail Line. During Fries’ time, it was a hub of industrialism due to the constant growth of railroad lines and cotton mills (“History of Greensboro”).

[9] Central Station was a part of the burgeoning railway system in Greensboro, North Carolina. Ultimately, Greensboro earned the title of “the Gated City” because of its maze of railways that allowed more than 60 trains to pass through the city each day (“History of Greensboro”).

[10] Statesville, North Carolina was located 24 miles north of Davidson College (D.C.C. 1874-75, p 12). Statesville revolved around herbs, tobacco, and liquor production during the late 1800s and experienced rapid development due to the growth of railway lines (“Historic Downtown Statesville”).

[11] John Whitehead, Class of 1875, graduated with top honors from the Classical course of study. He was named Second Honor of the Honor Men of the Class Graduating 1875, and was noted as First Honor on the Roll of Honor (D.C.C. 1875-76, p 15). During his time at Davidson, he was a member of the Philanthropic Society. After graduating, he went on to medical school in his hometown of Salisbury, NC, and earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1880 (Semi-Centennial Catalogue 60).

[12] Professor James F. Latimer began teaching at Davidson College as a professor of metaphysics in 1872. He was a professor of Psychology, Logic, & Ethics and acted as librarian during Fries’ freshman year (D.C.C. 1874-75, p 6). He later became a professor of Greek and German Languages (D.C.C. 1875-76, p 8). He earned his doctorate degree in 1880, and left Davidson College in 1883, after 10 years of teaching (D.C.C. 1879-80, p 6). After that, he became pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee for one year and continued teaching  at various universities across the southeast (Semi-Centennial Catalogue 19).

[13] The Philanthropic Literary Society, formed in 1837,was one of the first student organizations on campus, along with its counterpart, the Eumenean Society (Sanchez). The Philanthropic Society’s goal was to cultivate an academic environment that fostered debate, critical thinking, and awareness of current events. It also aimed to sharpen its members’   leadership skills and elocution. Both societies had elaborate halls that held carefully compiled libraries (D.C.C. 1874-75, p 18).

Encyclopedia Entry about the Literary Societies: http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/literary-societies.

[14] Francis Henry Fries was Henry Fries’ elder brother by two years (“Francis Henry Fries, Col.”). He too attended Davidson College and graduated in 1874 from the Scientific Track (D.C.C. 1872-73, p 10). He became a partner in his father’s manufacturing company, F and H Fries Manufacturing Company. He also acted as president and general manager of the Roanoke and Southern Railway. Francis then became president of the Wachovia Bank, the largest bank in the South (Powell).

For more information on Francis Fries, visit http://docsouth.unc.edu/browse/bios/pn0000547_bio.html.

[15] Henry Elias Fries was born September 22, 1857 in Salem, North Carolina (“Henry E. Fries”). He was a student of Davidson College from 1874-1876. Unfortunately, he left Davidson one year early because of failing eyesight ( “Fries Auditorium”). He instead moved back home to take charge of East Salem Sunday School, which eventually changed its name to Fries Memorial Moravian Church. His future wife, Rosa Mickey, led the worship music and taught Sunday school (“Fries Memorial”).  At the same time, he was also manager of Wachovia Mills, a subsidiary of his father’s company. Fries additionally revolutionized the generation of hydroelectricity, founding the Fries Manufacturing and Power Company and operating an electric streetcar system (“Fries Auditorium”). In later years, Fries acted as president of the Winston-Salem Southbound Railroad (Powell).From 1889-1892, he served as the mayor of Winston-Salem and made many improvements to the city during his time as mayor (“Town of Salem Mayors”). He died March 3, 1949 of a heart attack, survived by his daughter Anna Fries (“Henry E. Fries”).

For a short biography on Fries, visit http://www.wssu.edu/cg-okelly-library/archives/buildings/fries-auditorium-m.aspx.



Davidson College Catalog, 1872-1873. Davidson: Davidson College Office of Communications. [1873].

Davidson College Catalog, 1874-1875. Davidson: Davidson College Office of Communications. [1875].

Davidson College Catalog, 1875-1876. Davidson: Davidson College Office of Communications. [1876].

Davidson College Catalog, 1877-1878. Davidson: Davidson College Office of Communications. [1878].

Davidson College Catalog, 1879-1880. Davidson: Davidson College Office of Communications. [1880].

“Fries Auditorium.” Winston-Salem State University. Last modified 2010. Accessed 23 Feb.  2013.


“Fries Memorial Moravian Church.” Moravian Archives Winston Salem. Accessed 22 Feb. 2013.


“Greensboro, NC to Davidson, NC.” Map. Google Maps. Accessed 22 Feb. 2013.


“Historic Downtown Statesville.” Downtown Statesville, NC. Last modified 2007. Accessed 22 Feb. 2013.


Lisetta Maria Vogler. Photograph. Geni. Accessed 22 Feb. 2013.


“Philanthropic Hall.” In Davidson College Encyclopedia. N.p.: Davidson College, 2012. Accessed 22 Feb.2013.


Photograph 5.8.1Fries1878. Henry. E. Fries Alumni File. RG5/8.1 Alumni Relations. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.

Powell, William S., ed. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. N.p.: n.p., 1996. Accessed 22 Feb. 2013.


Sanchez, James. “Eumean and Philanthropic Literary Societies.” In Davidson College Encyclopedia. N.p.: Davidson College, 2003.

 Accessed 22 Feb. 2013. http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/literary-societies


Schaffner, Faith. “Agnes Sophia Fries.” Geni. Last modified 28 Dec. 2010. Accessed 22 Feb. 2013.


Schaffner, Faith. “Francis Henry Fries, Col.” Geni. Last modified 28 Dec. 2010. Accessed 22 Feb. 2013.


Schaffner, Faith.”Henry Elias Fries.” Geni. Last modified 28 Dec. 2010. Accessed 23 Feb. 2013.


Schaffner, Faith. “John William Fries.” Geni. Last modified 21 Dec. 2010. Accessed 22 Feb. 2013.


Schaffner, Faith. “Lisetta Maria Vogler.” Geni. Last modified 28 Dec. 2010. Accessed 22 Feb. 2013.


The Semi-Centennial Catalogue of Davidson College, 1837-1891. Davidson: Davidson College, 1891.

“Town of Salem Mayors.” City of Winston-Salem. http://www.cityofws.org/Home/DiscoverWinston-Salem/


Vision Internet. “History of Greensboro.” City of Greensboro, NC. Last modified 2011. Accessed 22 Feb. 2013.


Vogler, Lisetta Maria. Lisetta Maria Vogler Diary. 1831. 1172-z. The Southern Historical Collection. Wilson Library at the Univ. of

North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Accessed 22 Feb. 2013. http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/v/Vogler,Lisetta_Maria.html.

Transcription and annotation author: Keri Register

Date:  March 2013

Cite as:  Register, Keri, annotator. 3 January 1875 Henry Fries Letter. DC0029s. <http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/digital-collections/henry-e-fries-letter-3-january-1875>


Sorry, comments are closed for this post.