In June 2017, the Special Collections News posted an article on the mystery of Eliza Riddick and her connection to the 4th President of the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering, Wallace Carl Riddick. As one of the two nurses who died while nursing State College students suffering from influenza, Eliza Riddick was said to be the daughter of W.C. Riddick. The previous blog post established that she was not the daughter of Wallace C. Riddick, but the mystery remained: who was she?
The title of a News & Observer article, dated Oct. 17, 1918, reveals the answer: “Miss Eliza Riddick dies of Pneumonia, Only Daughter of Dr. and Mrs. I.G. Riddick and Had Been Nurse at State College.” Dr. I.G. Riddick was Wallace Carl Riddick’s brother. As suspected, Eliza Riddick was the niece of the 4th President of the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering. Her brother, William C. Riddick, died of pneumonia following influenza the week before. For more articles on the Spanish influenza's impact on Raleigh, visit the North Carolina collection on Newspapers.com or view the microfilm copies located both at NCSU and the State Library of North Carolina.
Beyond establishing the exact familial connection to Wallace C. Riddick, newspaper articles in the News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), the Greensboro Daily Record (Greensboro, NC) and The State Journal (Raleigh, NC) paint the portrait of a young woman with a “frank, friendly disposition” who worked in the college office during the day and nursed sick students at night. She was “the volunteer martyr-nurse whose beautiful life had so impressed everybody.”
With this information, we now have a little more insight into who Eliza Riddick was and why her name has remained such an integral part of the World War I story on campus.
For more information about NC State during World War I, please visit our other blog posts in this series.
*quotes from the News & Observer, Oct. 17, 1918 and Nov. 3, 1918.