Copyright notice

This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Printer-friendly page

Bridgers, John Luther, Jr.

by H. C. Bridgers, Jr., 1979

5 May 1850–1 Apr. 1932

A photograph of John Luther Bridgers, Jr. published in 1919. Image from the Internet Archive.John Luther Bridgers, Jr., attorney, farmer, guardsman, and author, was born in Tarboro at the Grove, the home of his parents, Rebecca Louisa Dicken and Colonel John L. Bridgers. He went to school locally under Professor F. S. Wilkinson and then briefly attended the Groves School in Granville County before entering the Virginia Military Institute. He was graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1870 and, despite his military and civil engineering training, elected to read law in the office of George Whitfield in Wilson.

He passed the bar examination before attaining his majority and was required to wait until 1871 before being admitted to the bar. For more than half a century he conducted a successful law practice in Tarboro, with clients including the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, the town of Tarboro, and Edgecombe County. He was judge of Edgecombe's first inferior court and was a very active member of the American Bar Association. An inveterate convention goer, he was also much in demand as a speaker at local functions, especially Democratic rallies. He held various offices in many local concerns.

He did not desert his early military training completely. For eight years he was captain of the Edgecombe Guards, and “Hilma,” the home of John L. Bridgers, Jr., Tarboro, N.C. Courtesy of ECU Special Collections. later he commanded the Edgecombe Home Guards for several years, eventually holding a colonelcy on the staff of Governor A. M. Scales. During World War I he was chairman of the Council of Defense for Edgecombe County.

His greatest contribution to posterity was his collaboration with J. Kelly Turner in writing the informative History of Edgecombe County. However, neither law, writing, nor soldiering were his true fortes. His favorite occupations were hunting and looking after the crops on the more that fourteen hundred acres of his farms Middleplace and Teleco and his homeplace Hilma. He inherited his father's love for agriculture and devoted much of his energy toward its improvement.

On 11 Dec. 1872, Bridgers married Laura Placidia Clark (9 Nov. 1850–1 Mar. 1933), daughter of former Governor Henry Toole Clark. Their children were: Elizabeth Haywood, who married Pierre B. Cox and then Benjamin F. Finney, later vice-chancellor of the University of the South at Sewanee; Henry Clark; Mary Irwin, who married Frank P. Williamson of the Philippines; Laura Placidia, who married the Reverend Robb White; and Rebecca Routh. Both parents died at Hilma, and they along with three of their children were buried in the yard of Calvary Episcopal Church.


Bridgers's diary (1886–1924), diplomas, and commissions (possession of H. C. Bridgers, Jr.).

Court records of Edgecombe County (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh).

History of North Carolina, vol. 4 (1919).

North Carolina: Rebuilding an Ancient Commonwealth, vol. 3 (1929).

North Carolina State Archives (Raleigh [photograph]).

North Carolina Year Book (1914).

Raleigh News and Observer, 14 Dec. 1872.

Tarboro Farmers' Advocate, 12 May 1892.

Tarboro Southerner, 12 Oct. 1899.

Tombstones, Calvary Episcopal churchyard (Tarboro).

Additional Resources:

Turner, Joseph Kelly; Bridgers, John Luther. History of Edgecombe county, North Carolina. Raleigh, Edwards & Broughton printing co. 1920. (accessed April 19, 2013).

John Luther Bridgers Papers, 1861-1872 (collection no. 03020-z). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.,John_Luther.html (accessed April 19, 2013).

Image Credits:

"John L. Bridgers Jr." Photograph. History of North Carolina volume 4. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co. 1919. ???. Internet Archive. (accessed September 23, 2013).

“Hilma,” the home of John L. Bridgers, Jr., Tarboro, N.C. Courtesy of ECU Special Collections. Available from (accessed April 19, 2013).

Origin - location: