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‘Poor Peter’ book given to library

By Dwight Sparks

The Clemmons Courier

Another copy of the 1812 book, “Poor Peter’s Call to His Children” has made its way back home to Clemmons.

Tom Gray won the bidding for the book at a recent Virginia auction of rare books and has donated it to the Clemmons Library. Written by the founder of the village, Peter Clemmons, the book is 153 pages of the author’s religious and personal thoughts about clean living that he addressed to his children. Included in the book was a condemnation of slavery, unusual for the day.

Clemmons was a merchant and held deeply religious “fire and brimstone” views and did some preaching.

“It’s heavy reading,” David Hauser, president of the Clemmons Historical Society acknowledged. The book can be read on the Internet at https://archive.org/details/poorpeterscallto00clem

The book is the third of its kind to make its way back to the village. Gray has his own copy, and the Clemmons Historical Society was given a copy several years ago that is on display at the village hall.

Gray said he has an ulterior motive with his gift: He wants the new Clemmons Library to have a North Carolina historical room to contain genealogical and other historical items. He cited the document rooms at Davie County and Salisbury libraries as good examples of what Clemmons could have.

“I’m giving this in honor of David Hauser and his role in the preservation of Clemmons history. Together, David and I hope the new library will have a North Carolina history room. That’s what our hope is — that the architects will include a room in the new library. We could keep books like this and photos for safe keeping. It would be a wonderful addition to Clemmons.”

The book was printed in Salisbury by the Coupee & Crider Press.

“We’re very pleased to have another copy in Clemmons,” Hauser said last week.

Gray bought the book at an Orange, Va., auction of the late Burton Craige’s rare book collection. Craige was once the general counsel for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and a native of Salisbury.

Gray presented the book to Carolyn Price, librarian. He also gave the library a collection of photos from the 1940s of the Robert E. Lasater house overlooking the Yadkin River and of Lasater Mill.

Gray said the Peter Clemmons book, if in mint condition, can sell for as much as $4,000.

“Most of the copies left are in collections,” he said. This book does not qualify as mint condition, but the yellowed pages can still be read.

Hauser said he had no idea how many of the books were printed. “It’s amazing to me that somebody held on to it.”