Saturday, June 16, 2018

Reverend Raymond Lee Graves (1928-2010)

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Defiant Graves Fights "System" with Fiery Flair

Sixty-two years have passed now and the death of Herman Graves, sharecropper, bootlegger and emerging social activist, is as resonant in his son's mind as ever.

His death gave rise to a story, which over the years has been burnished into legend, of a passel of angry white men forcing a German Luger into the hand of a black man and giving him no choice but to pull the trigger and kill his friend.

The story of the father's death has, in turn, fueled in the son an anger so strong it has yet to be tempered. It also has yielded a great distrust, particularly of something he calls the system.

"It was the system that killed my daddy," he says.

So it was that the Rev. Raymond Lee Graves was propelled into a life of the ministry and social activism. And so perhaps it is fitting, if not at least a little symbolic, that the New Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, where he is pastor, stands just outside Rochester's Inner Loop.

For nearly three decades now, Graves has stood defiantly outside the city's downtown boundary and established power structures, hurling angry criticism at targets large and small.

He has attacked the city police department for what he describes as a pattern of harassment and discrimination against minorities. Following the Calvin Green shooting in 1988, he dismissed as a sham the grand jury investigation and state probe that cleared the officer who killed Green, an unarmed black man. The officer was white, and many charged the killing was racially motivated.

Once, he called for the razing of the Hyatt hotel, saying its skeleton was unsafe. Another time he took to the airwaves to warn young black men not to wear watches for fear the glint of the metal would be mistaken by police officers for a weapon.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Back To Slavery: Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina

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Back To Slavery

Donald Henderson, president of the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers, C.I.O., has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate and take action in the case of a "slave" notice which appeared in the Yanceyville, (N.C.) Caswell Messenger. The notice read:

"Notice: I forbid anyone to hire or harbor Herman Miles, colored, during the year 1939. -- A. P. Dobbs, Route 1, Yanceyville."

Said Mr. Henderson: "This seems to me to involve violations of civil rights so atrocious that I am calling it to your attention in the hope that the F.B.I. can investigate and take some action. It seems that this procedure is based upon an archaic statute, yet on the books, although declared unconstitutional, and maybe several times, as smacking of peonage or slavery and abridging the liberties of human beings."

The advertisement first came to notice through being quoted by the Chapel Hill Weekly, published in the home town of the University of North Carolina.

"To satisfy my curiosity," wrote the editor of the Chapel Hill Weekly, "I wrote to a friend of mine in Yanceyville, who frequents the county offices and the law courts and knows almost about everything that goes on in Caswell County and asked him what it meant.

"He replied that such advertisements are still employed to 'put the fear of God into Negroes and ignorant white folks.'

"Many of our magistrates still hold it is 'good law' and zealously support its use in upholding contentions of landlords, who resent any dissatisfactions on the part of tenants to whom they have advanced as much as 50 cents for rations. Few landlords will risk incurring the wrath of some Christian, Democratic freeholder by hiring his hand after he warned us not to. As long as folks don't know the statute is unconstitutional it can be made to serve its intended purpose. The Caswell legislator who would try to take that law off the books would lose many votes."

It would appear that the advertisement in the Caswell Messenger certainly is specific enough for the G-Men to take action through its civil liberties division as this would appear to be an open and shut case of peonage. It if weren't for publication of this, it would be difficult to conceive, however, that such a condition existed in so liberal a state as North Carolina.

The editor of the progressive Chapel Hill Weekly deserves credit for bringing this condition to light and for his research as does the president of the UCPAW for filing the formal complaint with the F.B.I. It remains now for the G-Men to get busy and give us some action on the matter as it is definitely at variance with federal laws. If such a matter is allowed to remain winked at, then we're not so far removed from slavery as we think we are.

The Herman Miles mentioned may be the person born 1918 in Caswell County, NC, and died in 1964. He is the son of Moses Miles and Willie Ann Richmond Miles. In 1957, he married Ruth Iona Tate.

The A. P. "Dobbs" mentioned probably is Arthur Pinnix Dabbs (1891-1961).

Caswell County Board of Commissioners (2 November 1959): Left-to-right: Arthur Delbert Swann (1907-1985); Arthur Pinnix Dabbs (born c. 1891); William Wallace Pointer (1909-1965); James Worsham White (1919-2000); and Clyde Banks Rogers (1900-1980).

See: The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) at 94-95 (Article #25 "James White Arnold Family" by Donna Coleman Little).

Thursday, June 14, 2018

National Register of Historic Places: Caswell County, North Carolina

National Register of Historic Places: Caswell County, North Carolina

According to the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office the following twenty-three entities are on the National Register of Historic Places. To see the formal application, follow the link provided.

Brown-Graves House and Brown's Store (Locust Hill)
Application Form

Old Caswell County Courthouse (Yanceyville)
Application Form

Caswell County Training School (Yanceyville)
Application Form

Garland-Buford House (Osmond vicinity)
Application Form

Graves House (Yanceyville vicinity)
Application Form

Griers Presbyterian Church and Cemetery (Frogsboro vicinity)
Application Form

William and Sarah Holderness House (Yanceyville vicinity)
Application Form

John Johnston House (Yanceyville vicinity)
Application Form

Longwood (Gone) (Milton vicinity)
Application Form

James Malone House (Leasburg vicinity)
Application Form

Melrose (Williamson House) (Yanceyville vicinity)
Application Form

Milton Historic District (Milton)
Application Form

Milton State Bank (Milton)
Application Form

Moore House (Locust Hill vicinity)
Application Form

Poteat House (Yanceyville vicinity)
Application Form

Red House Presbyterian Church (Semora)
Application Form

Rose Hill (Bedford Brown House) (Locust Hill)
Application Form

Union Tavern (Yellow Tavern) (NHL) (Milton)
Application Form

Warren House and Warren's Store (Prospect Hill)
Application Form

Wildwood (Semora vicinity)
Application Form

Woodside (Milton vicinity)
Application Form

Bartlett Yancey House (Yanceyville vicinity)
Application Form

Yanceyville Historic District (Yanceyville)
Application Form

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

WWI African Americans Remembered: William Earnest Warren

WWI African Americans Remembered

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In preparation for the Heritage Festival on June 23, Sandra Aldridge with the Richmond-Miles History Museum in Yanceyville, researched the late William Earnest Warren, an African American who served in World War I. According to Aldridge a book was written about Caswell County veterans in 1921, but African Americans were left out. Aldridge's biography on Warren will be one piece of many on African Americans available for view next Saturday.

African Americans, who were back then called "colored" or "negroes," had a corner of the draft card folded, said Aldridge, They were made to be quickly sorted out and segregated, she said. "Guess which ones got sent off at a higher percentage?" she said. "A bad thing is that many volunteered to serve their country to prove that they weren't second class citizens. Yet, they were given labor and service roles, because people believed they shouldn't carry a gun back then. They dragged dead bodies and performed hard labor and when they came back home, nothing had changed."

Warren registered for the draft on June 5, 1917, in Yanceyville. He was listed as being 23 years old and single. There is no exact date listed for his birth, although census records indicate 1893. His occupation was listed as farm laborer, on his father's farm in the Topnot community. Warren's draft card was signed by Julius Johnston, who was serving on the Local Draft Board. Warren was inducted into military service on March 30, 1918. He was sent to Camp Grant in Rockford, Ill., for his training and was attached to the 22nd Co. of the 161st Depot Brigade until April 28, 1918.

"Most of the African Americans here went off to Charlotte, to Camp Greene," said Aldridge. Warren then served with the 24th Co. of the 161st until May 27, 1918. His last days of service were with Co. D. of the 323rd Quartermaster Labor Battalion. He departed from Hoboken, N.J., aboard the U.S.S. Manchuria on July 10, 1918. Warren died a private on July 22, 1918, as a result of a brain concussion. He is commemorated in perpetuity at the Oisne-Aisne Cemetery in Seringes-Et-Nesles, France. The 35.5 acre cemetery contains the remains of 6,012 American soldiers who lost their lives while fighting in the vicinity.

Warren is memorialized on the WWI Monument that stands in Yanceyville Town Square. His parents were Rev. Spencer P. Warren and Dina Johnson Warren. The federal census records indicated his siblings as Mollie Warren, Lunie Warren, Fannie Warren, Sam Warren, and Eurie Warren. His father served as the pastor of Sweetgum Missionary Baptist Church.

For more information or to provide information on African Americans who served in WWI, contact 336-421-9524;

Source: The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 13 June 2018.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Roxboro Cotton Mills Employees in 1923 Portrait

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Roxboro Cotton Mills Employees in 1923 Portrait

On Oct. 17, 1923, employees of Roxboro Cotton Mills East Roxboro mill posed for Roxboro photographer Dan Oakley to take this photo during the noon lunch hour. The East Roxboro mill had been expanded during 1923, doubling its capacity, and 25 new mill homes had been built in the area. The photo does not show all the mill's workers since some declined to be included and watched the proceedings out the mill windows, as did Lottie Morris Harris, who was employed at the mill "off and on for 51 years."

Mrs. Harris, along with Mrs. Webb Frederick and Mr. and Mrs. Graham Morris provided the following identification for the picture (from left):

Front Row:

Jeff Solomon
Leonard Hobgood
Mancy Walker

Mr. Jackson
Elmo Powell
Red Hudgin
Henry Carver

Cruder Carver
Jack Harris
William Harris
Ozie Morris

Hudie Robertson
Tom Hudgins
Howard Morris
Charlie Knott
Oscar Jordan

Jake Cozart
George Long
Johnny Shelton
Andrew Clayton
Graham Morris

Calvin Carver
Ed Carver
Will Freeman

Back Row:

Neal Carver
Ed Walker
Pink Cozart
Henry Owens
Trick Owens

Charlie Morris
Bob Day
Tommy Taylor
Minnie Seamster
Flora Smart Cozart

Alma Davis
Mrs. Jackson
Mattie Walker
Mamie Freeman
Myrtle Kirkman

Jenny Clayton
Gracie Shelton
Ada Frederick
Nettie Long

Laura Robertson
Mamie Munday
Lula Carver
Mary Hicks

Ethel Shotwell
Beatie Morris
Sallie Walker
Kate Phillips
Addie Carver

Beulah Neighbors
Sally Bett Walker
Whitey Carver
Banks Cozart (boss
Leroy Jones

Where this article was published is not known.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Caswell County: Westward Railroad Expansion in North Carolina

How Caswell County Affected Railroad Expansion into Western North Carolina

Before the Civil War

Caswell County's involvement in North Carolina's railroad history must begin with the vision of Archibald DeBow Murphey (1777-1832). Murphey was born in Caswell County the same year it became a county, being created from Orange County. By 1919, he was a lawyer and legislator who promoted education and internal improvements. These internal improvements focused on transportation, a vision that would result in the railroad movement that came to fruition after his death.

The early history of railroads in North Carolina is, to say the least, confusing. Many railroads were proposed, but few were built. A local group would petition the legislature for a charter (authorization) to create a railroad company and seek investors -- purchasers of stock in the new company. Few of these early efforts were able to generate sufficient funds to proceed. Several such early plans were floated in Caswell County, but no railroads were constructed.1

William Marshall Graves (1865-1941)

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William Marshall Graves (1865-1941)

William Marshall Graves was born March 4, 1865, in Caswell County to slaves, Bural and Henrietta Graves. Marshall along with his parents and older brother Henry, were freed by proclamation of General John M. Schofield, early in May 1865, which followed the Emancipation Proclamation 1 January 1863. Little is known about his ancestry except that his father had five brothers and three sisters, Eshman, Silence, Iverson, Joe, Sam, Mary J., Margaret and Joyce. Iverson fought in the Civil War.

Marshall grew up on the farm and along with his parents and Henry, were employed as laborers by their former slave owners, Lee and Dock Graves. He attended Martin School, later named Fitch School, located on Old 62 South of Yanceyville. His parents instilled in their sons the importance of working hard to earn a living, as well as a deep faith in God. Both parents died before Marshall reached adulthood and as family ties were strong, his Aunt Susan Graves provided a home for him. Henry also died before reaching adulthood. Marshall married Maggie Elizabeth Graves, born 1867, daughter of Gabriel and Edith Carr Graves in 1887 and they had twelve children, eight sons and four daughters: William Albert 3 December 1888, Gabriel Parker 5 September 1890, Edith Henrietta 30 June 1892, Johnnie Pleasant 1 July 1894, Henry Thomas 4 May 1896, George Abriel 29 May 1898, Burlie Owen 15 September 1900, Joseph Ezra 12 November 1902, Hattie Lou 22 January 1905, Mary Mageline 16 June 1906, Fannie Gertrude 29 November 1909, and Samuel Vinson 18 November 1911.

Marshall was a hard worker and an enterprising man. In 1907 he purchased 305 acres of land from B. S. and Mallie Graves, which had formerly been owned by Lee Graves, slave master. At that time there were two old barns on the farm. He and his sons cleared the land and cut timber to build his home in 1909. The children provided the labor also to attend many acres of tobacco, corn, wheat, other grain, to raise animals, poultry, orchards and to raise most of the food they ate. They prospered and were able in 1917 to purchase a sawmill. The business enterprise was owned jointly by Marshall and four sons Albert, Gabriel, Thomas, and George, each having a one-fifth interest, with each assigned specific responsibilities for its operation. This sawmill provided timber for the Yanceyville Bank built around 1917-1918, for the dwelling homes of Fred and Walter Harrelson in Yanceyville, the Stokes family in the Cobb Community, homes in Alamance County and four homes on his farm. The sawmill also provided the lumber for all the bridges on Highway 62 South from Yanceyville to the Alamance County line.

Misfortune struck Marshall in 1919 when his sawmill burned down about two o'clock one morning. He was able to track two sets of footprints in the lightly fallen snow, which suggested arson. The mystery was never solved but Marshall suspected foul play from an old grudge in 1909 when he had seated blacks and whites together in his dining room to eat, following a "barn raising." This violated custom. He had also won a lawsuit around 1918 against a white man in an argument about ownership of a log wagon that he had purchased during the sawmill transaction. He was considered a "smart nigger" who thought he was as good as anyone else. On the first Sunday in January 1920 he lost the house by fire his son Burlie lived in, while they were away at church. Again in 1923 a vacant house belonging to his son George, and situated on the same farm was burned completely. Marshall and sons rebuilt the sawmill but later sold it.

Albert, the oldest son was a mail carrier around 1901-1902. His route ran from Yanceyville to the Anderson area. He traveled by foot daily, with the mail bag on his shoulder. Marshall and his other sons also worked to help build the first prison camp in Yanceyville, around 1932-1933, walking about 14 miles daily round trip for $.90 per day wages; the same for labor to build the elementary school in Yanceyville. Three of his sons, Gabriel, Johnny, and Thomas served in World War I.

Church played a very important part in Marshall's life. A member of Graves Chapel Baptist Church, he helped haul the logs that built the second church, 1897. He served the church as treasurer for eight years, Sunday school treasurer, and as a deacon for thirty years, until his death in March 1941.

Like many blacks at that time Marshall was a registered Republican, but did not hesitate to vote democrat, if that candidate represented his best interests. he made sure his family voted and personally saw that they got to the polls, by taking them. he worked at the polls to help count the votes. Marshall instilled in his children the pride of ownership, the honesty of labor, the need for a closeness between man and God, and an independence of the spirit. Family prayer every morning, "Blessings" before each meal, frequent visits with relatives, strong discipline in the home, and responsibility for one's "kin," were areas he had strong convictions about. He and Maggie reared many children who were not their own.

Many of Marshall's descendants still live on the property he purchased. The highway that passes through the property was named in his honor in 1883. Secondary road number 1120 is now known as Marshall Graves Road. However, his descendants are distributed throughout North Carolina and the United States. Two of his sons, Henry and Gabriel, became ministers. Several of his grandsons are ministers, many of his descendants have become well educated by attending colleges and universities throughout the United States. They hold degrees in engineering, nursing, teaching, social work, and law. They are business person, owning and operating their own businesses, such as dry cleaners, day care centers, barber shops, and boarding homes. They are secretaries, brick masons, printers, welders, plumbers, and mechanics, and serve as managers and supervisors. Many own their homes, farms, and other property.

Source: The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) at 243-244 (Article #275, "William Marshall Graves" by Ethel Fuller).