Tuesday, February 20, 2018

World War I Deaths (Caswell County, North Carolina)

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The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 31 January 2018.

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The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 14 December 2018.

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The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 14 December 2018.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Eugene Stokes Butler (1899-1973)

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Eugene Stokes Butler (1899-1973)

Reidsville -- Eugene Stokes Butler, 73, of Rt. 1, Reidsville [physically in Caswell County], died unexpectedly this morning at 2:45 o'clock in a Reidsville hospital following several years of declining health.

A native of Caswell County, he was the son of the late Mack Neal and Martha Francis Butler, and the husband of the late Florence Saunders Butler who died in 1965. He was a prominent farmer and civic leader of the Camp Springs Community in Caswell County, former chairman of the Caswell County Board of Commissioners and former member of the Caswell County Board of Education. He was a member of Camp Springs United Methodist Church, and a member of the Caswell Brotherhood Masonic Lodge No. 11 A.F. & A.M.

Survivors include two sons, Connie Mach (Tony) Butler of the home, Melvin C. Butler of Rt. 1, Reidsville; nine daughters, Mrs. Wilbert Paschall and Mrs. Frances B. Page, both of Rt. 1, Reidsville, Mrs. Freeman Somers Sr., and Mrs Robert Swift, both of Rt. 2, Elon College, Mrs Boyd Parker of Asheboro, Mrs. Wilbert Aldridge of Rt. 3, Burlington, Mrs. William Compton of Burlington, and Mrs. Jerry Rudd of Miami, Fla.; 25 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

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Final rites will be held Saturday afternoon at 3 o'clock at Camp Springs United Methodist Church. The Rev. Allen C. Ridenour, pastor, will officiate. Masonic graveside rites will be held at the church cemetery by Caswell Brotherhood Lodge No. 11 A.F. & A.M. following the service.

The body will remain at Strickland Funeral Home in Burlington until taken to the church 30 minutes prior to the service. Visitation will begin Friday morning at 10 o'clock. The family will be at the funeral home Friday night from 7 to 9 o'clock.

The Daily Times-News (Burlington, North Carolina), 3 May 1973, Thursday, Page 12.

Note that two children died very young, and are not mentioned in the obituary: Eugene M. Butler (1920-1920); and Eugene Stokes Butler, Jr. (1933-1934).

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Eugene Stokes Butler's store on the Cherry Grove Road in southern Caswell County, North Carolina. No longer in operation. May have housed a church after the death of Eugene Stokes Butler, but not confirmed.


1. Elijah Butler m. Linsey Unknown
2. John Thomas Butler m. Martha Carolina Parker
3. Mack Neal Butler m. Martha Susan Francis
4. Eugene Stokes Butler m. Florence Iona Saunders

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


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"Burch" by Dale Williams

John "Burch" Blaylock is well-known in Caswell County and will be well-remembered after he is gone also. He will be remembered because of his kindness to people but also for the valuable and helpful records that he is leaving behind.

Mr. Blaylock was elected to the Office of Register of Deeds in 1934. He held that office until 1976 when he retired. His duties in that office were to record births, deaths, and marriages but he went much farther than that. "Beginning in 1945, I started collecting and recording in four deed-book size books about 675 Family Bible records and hundreds of other records that dealt with people, such as cemetery records for the county." These records are located in the Register of Deeds office in the Caswell County Courthouse. There is a wealth of information to be found in these books, everything from death and birth certificates to articles about Caswell County and the people of the county.

The books are a valuable asset to the Caswell Register of Deeds office, Mrs Mary Lee Carter, current Register of Deeds, tells of the usefulness of these books. "We are very lucky to have these books. You can't find other records like these. They are valuable records because many times Family Bibles are lost and cemeteries get vandalized. These records are the only place to go to find out about their families." She added that people use Blaylock's research frequently.

Carter also remembers an occasion when Mr. Blaylock rescued school records that were about to be burned. "Before there was a law that said the schools had to keep the records, the school decided to burn old school records. They brought them to the courthouse to be burned. Mr. Blaylock realized they were valuable. He salvaged them and stored them. We have the school records here now. They are very important records for finding birth dates and parent's names."

There is also a large collection of delayed birth certificates for people who had no record of their birth. To obtain a delayed birth certificate, a person had to have two proofs of birthplace and one for parents' names. Blaylock tells that making the delayed birth certificates led him to a lot of research. "In 1945 the idea came to me these records are here so why not record it. There are a lot of things in them for future generations."

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Blaylock noted that the job was filled with long hours but was enjoyable. "I tried to be as accurate as I could I worked a lot at night. For the first 25 years I worked night and day with no help except for a few hours. It was hard but it was pleasant. It was not a chore, time went by fast."

Blaylock explained that he collected family histories and information for future generations. "Whatever I have recorded is available to anyone who wants it. I don't get a penny for it. I did it for two reasons. One was to save records for future generations. The other reason was by way of thanks to people for being so good to me."

Even though Mr. Blaylock has retired from office, he is still actively working on his books. "My main job since I have retired is indexing all of the material I collected." He has already over 40,000 index cards on file and is still not finished.

Blaylock was born on June 6, 1909 in Hightower township of Caswell County where he lived until he moved to Yanceyville to take the job of Register of Deeds. In October of 1917, Mr. Blaylock's legs became diseased and were removed. He tells of being pushed to school in a wagon by cousins. "I have not forgotten these boys for it meant a lot to me. My father would have carried me if the boys had not wanted to push me. The children in the neighborhood accepted me as a playmate as if I had two feet."

He graduated from Bartlett Yancey High School in 1928 and then attended Elon College to study business for one year.

In 1937 Blaylock met Miss Isla Mae Coward, who came to work at the Welfare Department of Caswell County. They were married in December of 1941. She died in February of 1963. In 1964 Mr. Blaylock met Mary Ethel Gordon from Greensboro and on November 6, 1966, they were married. He feels that he has been luck in his choices. "I have been blessed with two wonderful wives."

Blaylock tells that he likes meeting and talking to people. "People would come to talk. I like people. I don't know anybody I don't like. I just appreciate living. If you put all my friends in one group and gold in another pile. I don't think I would look at the gold. I value the friendship of lots of people. After all we're all kin when you go back to Noah."

Mary Lee Carter commented that people still stop by the office and ask about him. "Nearly everyday someone comes by and asks about him. He will never be forgotten. He has helped so many people through the years."

In addition to the family records, Blaylock has collected and recorded church histories of many of the Primitive Baptist churches. Both he and his wife are Primitive Baptists.

In talking about his years as Register of Deeds and his life in Caswell, Blaylock feels that it has been good. "When I grew up and came before people for office they were wonderful in electing me. They permitted me to work there 42 years without anyone running against me. Caswell County has and is full of warm-hearted people. I'm just thankful to the Lord for letting me live this long."

Williams, Dale. "Burch," The County Magazine, May-June 1984. Courtesy Frank G. Carter, Jr.

"The Legend of Sally Garland"

"The Legend of Sally Garland"

On a lost road that went from the Old Rock Academy, crossed John's Branch and Hogan's Creek, and ended at Lick Fork church in Ruffin, stand the ruins of what has come to be known as the Sally Garland House. Tales of murder and the intrigue of buried treasure drew people to the house for many years.

The house was originally built by Garland Blackwell, who will this "mansion" to his second wife Sarah, and upon her death to his children. The will also included lands purchased by Garland Blackwell from area landowners.

After Garland Blackwell's death, Sarah "Sally" Blackwell, who came to be known as Sally Garland, lived with a young slave girl in the house. This was probably the girl Margaret, who, along with a young boy named Bash, were willed to Sally, as noted in Garland's will, probated in April 1855.

According to the legend, Sally and the young Margaret were in the house alone one evening when they heard a scratching at the door. Upon hearing this, Sally asked the girl to let the cat in. When the girl opened the door, there was no cat, but rather a black man stood in the doorway. The sight of the man frightened the girl and she hid behind the door. The man entered the house and struck Sally with such force that the girl thought he had killed her. At this, the girl panicked and ran without getting a good look at Sally's assailant. According to one report, "He searched the house and punched the old lady's eyes out." Little Margaret had summoned neighbors, who found Sally alive, but she never regained consciousness and died a short time later. The girl named a man living on the farm as the assailant, but nothing could be proven, and no one was prosecuted for her murder.

Rumor had it that silver and paper money might have been hidden in the old house during the Civil War. Over the years people who heard the stories about the house ransacked it, tearing out walls and floors, the hearth, and digging in the basement. The "hidden treasure" has never been found, or at least never reported, and the mystery surrounding Sally Garland and her murder remains unsolved today.

"The Legend of Sally Garland," The County Magazine, May-June 1984. Courtesy Frank G. Carter, Jr.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Caswell County Board of Commissioners

Board of Commissioners
Caswell County, North Carolina

In 2018 we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Caswell County Board of Commissioners. Pursuant to the North Carolina Constitution of 1868 the executive authority of North Carolina's counties was shifted from the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions to the newly created board of commissioners. Initially, the commissioners were appointed, but eventually commissioners were elected.

Here we hope to list all the Commissioners who served Caswell County and eventually to publish a short biography of each.

Adams, William W. (c.1813-aft.1868)
Aldridge, Bobby Franklin (1936-
Aldridge, George Irvin (1934-
Aldridge, William Preston (1883-1941)
Allen, James W. (1834-

Allison, Edgar Archibald (1879-1955)
Allison, Joseph Carrithers (1837-1916)
Andrews, Bruce (not confirmed)
Barnwell, John Shelby (1823-1896)
Battle, Erik Donnell

Battle, Mel Ott (1945-
Blackwell, Faiger Megra (1955-
Blackwell, James Yancey (Jr.) (1928-
Blackwell, Rev. John Henry (1949-2016)
Boswell, Antiochus (1812-1885)

Brandon, Henry Field (1831-1900)
Burton, John Drewry (1877-1936)
Bowe, William B. (1808-1880)
Briggs, William Robert (1910-1974)
Burton, John Richard (1845-1921)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Terry Sanford Not Popular in Caswell County

Governor Terry Sanford
On the afternoon of January 18, 1963, in the ballroom of the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford opened his remarks to 200 reporters and editors gathered for the annual meeting of the North Carolina Press Association by saying, "I wanted to take this occasion, talking to people who have so much to do with the attitudes of the citizens of the state, to say something to you that I have long wanted to say, that I believe we must say and that I believe will mean much to the development of the life and character of our state." Then, he began.

"The American Negro was freed from slavery one hundred years ago. In this century he has made much progress, educating his children, building churches, entering into the community and civic life of the nation.

"Now is the time in this hundredth year not merely to look back to freedom, but forward to the fulfillment of its meaning. Despite this great progress, the Negro's opportunity to obtain a good job has not been achieved in most places across the nation. Reluctance to accept the Negro in employment is the greatest single block to his continued progress and to the full use of the human potential of the nation and its states.

"The time has come for American citizens to give up this reluctance, to quit unfair discrimination, and to give the Negro a full chance to earn a decent living for his family and to contribute to higher standards for himself and all men.

"We cannot rely on law alone in this matter because much depends upon its administration and upon each individual's sense of fair play. North Carolina and its people have come to the point of recognizing the urgent need for opening new economic opportunities for Negro citizens. We also recognize that in doing so we shall be adding new economic growth for everybody.

"We can do this. We should do this. We will do it because we are concerned with the problems and the welfare of our neighbors. We will do it because our economy cannot afford to have so many people fully and partially unproductive. We will do it because it is honest and fair for us to give all men and women their best chance in life."

He then announced he was that day appointing 24 individuals to the Good Neighbor Council he had proposed months earlier to work toward the elimination of discriminatory hiring practices. To show good faith on his part, he was asking the heads of all state agencies to immediately write nondiscrimination hiring policies for their departments.

Dead-End Road (Caswell County, North Carolina)

Brown, Deborah F. Dead-End Road. Bloomington (Indiana): Author House, 2004.

DEAD-END ROAD may be more aptly entitled, "Another Brown vs. Board of Education." This book captures the historical, educational and political events surrounding Jasper Brown and his struggles to integrate the public schools in Caswell County, North Carolina. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Jasper Brown, a God-fearing man, husband, father and community leader, took a bold stand in pursuit of justice, freedom and equality of education for his four children and other black children living in Caswell County. Starting in 1956, Jasper, and other freedom lovers, throughout the auspices of the Caswell County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), initiated desegregation of the Caswell County School System. After exhausting all administrative means to integrate the schools, Jasper and others filed a lawsuit and embarked upon a bitter court battle.

Six years later, the Federal 4th Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia ordered Caswell County officials to integrate the public schools. On January 22, 1963, the first day of school integration, Jasper shot two white men in self-defense and was arrested to stand trial. Ebony and Newsweek magazines ran stories about the shooting. During the trial, the late, Honorable Thurgood E. Marshall assisted with Jasper's defense. Although the civil rights movement initiated by Jasper and others was successful, Jasper and his family suffered humiliation, degradation, dehumanization, financial loss and even threats on their lives. Yet, through it all, Jasper and his family held fast to their faith and trust in God that His justice would prevail.