Greenville in Pitt County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Thomas J. Jarvis
Captain, 8th North Carolina, CSA
Lt. Governor & Governor of North Carolina
U.S. Ambassador to Brazil
The Father of East Carolina University
In life he embodied the motto
of the University he helped establish,
Placed by the Pitt County Historical Society
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Education • War, US Civil.
Location. 35° 36.902′ N, 77° 22.614′ W. Marker is in Greenville, North Carolina, in Pitt County. Marker is on West 2nd Street near South Pitt Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Greenville NC 27858, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Thomas J. Jarvis (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Baptist State Convention (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sycamore Hill Missionary Baptist Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sycamore Hill Gateway Plaza (approx. 0.2 miles away); Neighborhood Unity and Community Pride Town Common & Urban Renewal (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Sycamore Hill Missionary Baptist Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); United in Faith (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Greenville.
Regarding Thomas J. Jarvis. Thomas Jordan Jarvis has the distinction of sharing his name with an ancestor, proprietary governor Thomas Jarvis, whose tenure extended from 1691 to 1694. While serving as lieutenant governor in 1879, the nineteenth century Jarvis became governor when Zebulon B. Vance resigned to serve in the United States Senate; the following year he was elected to his own full term. The son of Bannister Hardy and Elizabeth Daley Jarvis, he was born on January 18, 1836, at Jarvisburg in Currituck County. The “Plough Boy of Currituck” graduated with honors from Randolph Macon College in 1860. A captain in the Eighth Regiment, Jarvis received a crippling arm wound at Drewry’s Bluff. After the war, he moved to Columbia where he set up law practice. Jarvis flirted with politics as a delegate to the 1865 convention and in 1868 won a seat in the legislature from Tyrrell
In 1872 Jarvis moved to Greenville and two years later married Martha Woodson; the couple had no children. Having worked his way into the hierarchy of the Democratic Party, Jarvis received the nomination for lieutenant governor on the successful ticket with Vance in 1876. Two years into the term, Vance resigned to serve in the Senate, thrusting Jarvis into the governorship on February 5, 1879. Jarvis’s agricultural background instilled sympathy to the plight of farmers; the Industrial Revolution brought pressures for government intervention. Against both groups Jarvis pitted his commitment to reduce the costs of government, eliminate corruption, and lower taxes. His personal view was that state government’s only responsibility in economic development should be provision of an honest and efficient environment for all interests. Consequently, as governor, he sold the state’s interest in several railroads to private enterprise, urged state agencies to make use of convict labor, and initiated scrutiny of the expenditures for county administration.
Jarvis persuaded the legislature to establish five normal schools for teachers; played a major role in the
President Grover Cleveland in 1885 appointed Jarvis United States minister to Brazil, an office he resigned in 1888 to return to law practice in Greenville. The next year he turned down an offer to be first president of the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (present-day North Carolina State University). Governor Elias Carr appointed him to fill the Senate seat vacated by the death of Vance in 1894. There he promoted a graduated income tax, tariff reduction, and involved himself with other monetary problems. Jarvis hoped to gain a full term in the senate by challenging incumbent Matt Ransom rather than try for the two years remaining in Vance’s term. He failed, but out of his effort came his interest in free coinage of silver.
By the early 1900s elder statesman Jarvis quietly withdrew from public life and concentrated on his legal practice. In 1904 he declined the deanship of the newly created law school at Trinity College (present-day Duke University). In 1907 he and William Ragsdale helped push through the legislature a law establishing a teachers’ training school in Greenville (present-day East Carolina University). Thomas Jarvis, a Methodist, died on June 17, 1915, and was buried in Cherry Hill Cemetery in Greenville. (North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 29, 2019. It was originally submitted on July 21, 2013, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 482 times since then and 8 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on July 21, 2013, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.