Friday, June 30, 2006

Blackwell School (1908)

Photograph courtesy The Caswell Messenger. Click on photograph for larger image.

Recognize any of these wonderful people? Have a story or a photograph to share? If so, do it!

Florance Harrelson Store

Photograph courtesy The Caswell Messenger. Click on photograph for larger image.

Click Here for another image.

Caswell County Courthouse (1907)

Photograph courtesy The Caswell Messneger. Click on photograph for a larger image.

Yanceyville, North Carolina (1931)

Courtesy The Caswell Messenger. Click on photograph for larger image.

Milton Covered Bridge

Photograph courtesy The Caswell Messenger. Click on photograph for a larger image.

For a grayscale version that may render a bit clearer on some web browsers go to Milton Covered Bridge.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Photograph Identification Project Entry #4

The Little Rascals of Jones School is the fourth installment in the CCHA Photograph Identification Project. Click on the photograph for a larger image.

All that we know is that these are Jones School students in the 1920's, possibly the entire student body.

Can you help identify more of these children? Do you have a photograph that you would like to submit? Leave comments here or contact the CCHA.

Don't forget the other photographs in this series:

1. Kids on a Rock

2. Old Tractors

3. Lady and Barefoot Boy

As with respect to all the images that have been posted as part of the CCHA Photograph Identification Project, the owner of the photograph, through the Caswell County Historical Association, retains all rights. Accordingly, copying, posting, publishing, and any other manner of distribution or use is prohibited without first obtaining the express written authorization of the copyright holder. Contact the CCHA if you have questions.

To see the solution to this puzzle go to Little Rascals of Jones School (Solution).

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Photograph Identification Project Entry #3

Here is another photograph in the Caswell County Photograph Identification Project series, the third entry.

The image is probably around one hundred years old and originated in the Prospect Methodist Church/Allison community of Caswell County, North Carolina.

Any ideas?

Don't forget:

Entry #1: Kids on a Rock

Entry #2: Old Tractors

Have your own mystery Caswell photos to submit? Please do.

Leave a comment here or send a message to the CCHA.

As with respect to all the images that have been posted as part of the CCHA Photograph Identification Project, the owner of the photograph, through the Caswell County Historical Association, retains all rights. Accordingly, copying, posting, publishing, and any other manner of distribution or use is prohibited without first obtaining the express written authorization of the copyright holder. Contact the CCHA if you have questions.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Beulah Thompson's Third Grade Class 1954-1955

This is a darling photograph of the 1954-1955 Bartlett Yancey Elementary School third grade class taught by Mrs. Beulah Thompson. Some of the students can be identified; please help with the others. Click on the photograph for a larger image.

Front Row: Phil Allen, Carolyn Payne, Willie Belton (?), David Shatterly, Diane Odell, Emaly Pemberton, Jessica Moorefield

Second Row: Unk, Jim Rice, Unk, Edward Matthews, Unk, Unk, Larry Gibson

The other rows are a bit jumbled, but include: Mrs. Thompson, Brenda Webster, Mary Garrison, Ernie Fuller, Javon Wright, Skippy Rowland, and Mary O. Vernon.

Please help identify all these wonderful children. Leave comments here or send them to the CCHA.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Eighth Grade Class (1908-1909)

This photograph was taken of a Person County eighth grade class 1908-1909. The two tall male students at the right rear are Charlie Louis Foushee and James Rountree Foushee. Click on the photograph for a larger image.

Can you identify other students?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

John Burch Blaylock (1909-1995)

Caswell County Register of Deeds from December 1934 to June 1976. In addition to his formal duties as Register of Deeds, Burch Blaylock assembled Caswell County genealogical and historical records into what is known as the Burch Blaylock collection, which is housed in the Caswell County Register of Deeds Office at the new courthouse in Yanceyville, North Carolina. The materials in the collection can be searched by the person's name in the card catalogue. Copies can be made for a reasonable charge.

This photograph is from The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) at 624.

Click on these photographs for a larger image.

"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.
[Note that the typewriter shown in this photograph, which was used by Burch Blaylock for decades, is on display at the Richmond-Miles History Museum in Yanceyville, North Carolina.]

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."

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.

I do not know for sure whether Burch Blaylock had an opponent in his first bid to become Caswell County Register of Deeds, the 1934 general election (held November 6, 1934). However I do recall him saying after retirement that the people of Caswell County were wonderful in electing him and permitting him to hold office for 42 years "without opposition." Of course, one could argue that statement may not address his first election in 1934. So, let's take a look back.

The 1934 election was an off-year one (not a Presidential election). Franklin D. Roosevelt was in his second year, having been elected in 1932. Democrats built on their successes in the previous two elections, and the Democrats were solidly in control in Caswell County, as they were throughout North Carolina politics.

When Blaylock won in 1934, the outgoing Register of Deeds was Henry Stephen Turner, who had held the position for thirteen years. Even though a Republican had been in the White House during most of Turner's years as Caswell County Register of Deeds, Turner must have been a Democrat to have survived so long in Caswell County. When Turner last was elected, in 1930, Caswell County voted 71.3% in favor of the Democratic candidate for the US House of Representatives. And, of course, the NC governor was a Democrat.

So, Turner was a Democrat, and Blaylock was a Democrat. If Turner did indeed seek re-election, what procedure is there when two people of the same party are after the same office? Answer: primary election. And, the North Carolina Democratic primary elections were held June 2, 1934. I believe it would have been here that Blaylock ran against Turner and won. Then, in the general election the Republicans offered no candidate for Caswell County Register of Deeds. Thus, it is possible (and likely) that as far as the election that actually chose the Caswell County Register of Deeds, Burch Blaylock never had an opponent.

Footnote: the 1934 Democratic Party primary elections were so close with respect to County Commissioners and Superior Court Clerk that a run-off election was required June 30. James Gatewood and H. R. Thompson were running for the clerkship; and Cary Howard King, George Oliver, E. W. Carter, J. D. Norton, W. P. Aldridge, and John Newman were chasing three open commissioner seats. I do not know who won the commissioners race, but H. Ralston Thompson became the Superior Court Clerk.

In 1985, Mary Gordon Blaylock, second wife of John Burch Blaylock stated: "In 1934 Burch campaigned for the office of Register of Deeds and won the election. Thereafter he never had an opponent to run against him."

John Burch Blaylock retired in 1976, after serving as Caswell County Register of Deeds for 42 years. In 1976, he was 67 years old. As the Register of Deeds served a four-year term, he served 10.5 terms, and in 1976 would have been in the middle of a term. Had he reached mandatory retirement age?

"In the local primary for registrar of deeds, a post to be vacated by the retirement of J. B. Blalock after over 40 years in the office, Blalock's assistant Mrs. Mary Lee Carter won the Democratic nonimation with 1,965 votes. Buddy J. Terrell, a businessman, finished second behind Mrs. Carter with only 719 votes, followed by Jo Ann Upchurch, 218; Andy Pleasant, 140; and Carlton Kimbro, 66."

The Danville Register (Danville, Virginia), 18 August 1976, Wednesday, Page 7.

Note: The Blalock/Blaylock family has not agreed on the spelling of their common surname. Most of the Blalock/Blaylock descendants use the Blalock spelling. Why John Burch chose to use Blaylock is unknown. However, because he was both a genealogist and historian without equal, his decision to use Blaylock should be carefully examined.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Yanceyville Stores (1960's)

Yanceyville Stores (1960's)

[click on photo for larger image]

Here are three well-known Yanceyville business establishments that no longer are in operation. From left to right: Yanceyville Drug Company (the "Drug Store"); Pope's Five-Cent Store (the "Dime Store"); and Caswell Motor Company (the "Ford Dealership").

Only the Caswell Motor Company building remains standing. The Drug Store and Dime store (along with the Bank of Yanceyville building) were demolished to make way for a modern bank.

Thomas Ham

Dr. Thomas Ham built the Drug Store, which included a second-floor apartment in which he and Mrs. Ham lived for many years.

The following if from The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) at 641:

Born in Richmond, Va., Aug. 22, 1896, son of Thomas Jones and Ida Virginia Cogbill Ham, Thomas Jones Ham, Jr., was educated at John Marshall High, University of Richmond, and the Medical College of Virginia, where he took his degree in pharmacy.

Tom Ham, afterwards to be known as "Dr." Ham, came to Yanceyville in 1922 and took over the drug stock and trade of the late Nat Brandon. He built the brick Yanceyville Drug Store adjoining the now-razed Florance building soon after his marriage in 1926 to Miss Margaret Dawson, formerly of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and late a successful business woman in Durham, N.C. The Hams lived above the drugstore and Yanceyville will remember as a landmark the graceful iron balcony of their apartment. When their adopted son, Robert, had graduated from U.N.C. in pharmacy and married, "Dr." and Mrs. Ham turned over their apartment to the newly-weds and moved to a two-story brick home which they built in east Yanceyville. Several years ago, the drugstore was torn down to make room for the Wachovia Bank and the Yanceyville Drug Store was moved to its spacious quarters on the corner of Main and Greensboro St. by "Dr.' Ham's successors, Tom and Joe Davis who continue to serve the community.

The Hams are remembered for their leadership and support of Yanceyville United Methodist Church and many other community activities. T. J. Ham was also an officer in the State Pharmaceutical Association and served on many boards and committes until his death May 21, 1967; his wife succumbed July 28, 1971 and both are buried in the Methodist Church Cemetery here.

Sally Reagan

For years Popes Dime Store was operated by Sally Pyron Reagan (1909-1999).

Johnnie Gunn

And, of course the Caswell Motor Company Ford dealership was owned by John Oliver (Johnnie) Gunn:

John Oliver Gunn was born in Pelham, NC he was a son of Richard Griffin Gunn and Nannie Rudd. He was a farmer and an auntomobile dealer for 46 years and spent four terms in the N.C. House of representative from Caswell in 1945-1957, 1965 and 1967. He was the chairman of the Caswell County, Democratic Executive Committee from 1942-1945 and served as trasurer for Caswell County from 1936-1940. He also served on a number of other committees in Caswell County. He was a charter member of the N.C. Automobile Dealer's Association and the yanceyville Rotary Club, where he served as president.

He served as secretary of the Caswell Development Company as director and secretary of the Royal Hosiery Mills, and vice president and member of the executive committee of the Bank of Yanceyville. He was also a member of the Caswell Brotherhood Lodge No 11 of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, the Oasis Temple Shrine, the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemansonry, the Order of the Eastern Star No 239 and the junior Order United American Mechanics. He was also active in the Boy Scouts and was a national and regional representative. He was a member of the Yanceyville Methodist Church.

Please share what you know about these businesses, buildings, and the people associated with them.

Bartlett Yancey House

Bartlett Yancey House

[click on photo for larger image]

The date of this great photograph is unknown, but the location and the people are:

Mrs. Patricia Ayres of New York City, with the Bartlett Yancey House in the background, accepts the deed to the property from James A. Gray, Executive Director of the Historic Preservation Fund of North Carolina. Looking on are (left) Warren Ayres and (right) Millard Quentin Plumblee, President of the Caswell County Historical Association.

Can you add to our knowledge about this photograph, the people, and the location?

For more on Bartlett Yancey and the Bartlett Yancey House go to Bartlett Yancey.

The following photographs of the Bartlett Yancey House are without date or author:

Cobb Memorial School

Cobb Memorial School (1962-1963)

[Click on photo for a larger image]

Here is another addition to the CCHA Photograph Identification Project. This one should be easier than the first two.

Do you recognize anyone?

The teacher identified is Mary V. Daniel. The principal was Julius Lee Clayton. Principal Clayton is the son of George Lee Clayton and Leona Moorefield.

Any Williamsons or Cobbs in this picture?

Was it the next year or the one following that saw the high school consolidation in Caswell County? Most of these students eventually would attend Bartlett Yancey High School in Yanceyville. They undboubtedly were sad to leave their beloved Cobb Memorial.

Cobb Memorial School was named for John Blackwell Cobb (1857-1923). A tobacconist and capitalist, he was born in Caswell County, the son of Henry Wellington and Mary Howard Cobb. He was educated in the private schools in his native county, and at the age of nineteen, with a borrowed five hundred dollars, he engaged in the leaf tobacco business as a pinhooker in Danville, Virginia. His initial profits were lost, but he eventually recovered and set out on a significant business career. To learn the rest of the story go to John Blackwell Cobb.

Please note that the CCHA is seeking a photograph of John Blackwell Cobb to accompany his online biography.

Cole Chevrolet (1947)

Cole Chevrolet (Yanceyville, North Carolina)

Above is a fun photograph for those who grew up in and around Yanceyville, North Carolina, in the 1940's - 1970's. For a larger image click on the photo.

Clyde Caviness Cole (1903-1969) came to Yanceyville, North Carolina, May 28, 1928, to open a Chevrolet dealership. The grand opening was held June 5 and 6, 1928 in the "old Tom Lea" building. Mr. Cole secured the first Chevrolet franchise ever granted to Caswell County.

In 1947 he constructed a new Chevrolet dealership building on Hooper Street in Yanceyville (now Cole Street). This new structure was 75' by 136' and totalled 12,775 square feet including the mezzanine. Construction was brick and steel, with no posts to hinder work flow. The floor was five inches of concrete, and the roof was 20-year built-up bonded. Ceilings were thirteen feet (eight feet on the mezzanine).

The new building included two large steel roll-up doors and two large plate glass windows in the show room. Heat was oil-fired steam with nine unit heaters individually thermostatically controlled. The boiler, which had 6,080 square feet of radiation, burned sixteen gallons per hour. There was a used car lot to the right and an alley to the left.

The people in the photograph above are: Clyde Cole, Irving Reagan, Wallace Burke, Billy Oakley, Steve Poteat, Billy Aldridge, Jim Aldridge, and Bessie Shaw (in front).

The grand opening of the new building was 6 September 1947.

On August 10, 1930, Clyde Caviness Cole married Elsie Lea Hooper (1910-1994). She was the daughter of William M. (Wid) Hooper (1876-1968) and Erna Wrenn (1883-1966). The 1930 US Census (Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina) shows Clyde Cole as a boarder in the household of William M. and Erna Hooper. There were four other borders. The Hoopers also had two daughters living in the house: Elsie (age 20) and Clara (14). Was this Elsie Hooper the future Elsie Cole? Yes it was.

The following photographs are not as much fun, even though the old building looks in pretty good shape. It shows the old Cole Chevrolet building April 2006.

Do you know more about this building, the old Tom Lea building, the Cole Chevrolet dealership operations, or the people shown in the 1947 photograph? If so, please share either by leaving a comment here or by sending a message to the CCHA. Photographs are always appreciated and will be placed online.

Justice Chevrolet Company (Yanceyville, NC)

Clyde Caviness Cole (1903-1969) came to Yanceyville, North Carolina, May 28, 1928, to open a Chevrolet dealership. The grand opening of Justice Chevrolet was held June 5 and 6, 1928, in the "old Tom Lea" building on the Square. Mr. Cole secured the first Chevrolet franchise ever granted to Caswell County. Whether he was the sole owner is not known, but it is believed that he had one or more investors (possibly T. E. Steed).

In January 1932, the Tom Lea Building burned, damaging the A. H. Motz Building and threatening the entire east end of the Square. Lost were Lea's Garage (Justice Chevrolet), Richardson's Barber Shop, and Swicegood Funeral Home. Lea apparently leased the building to Justice Chevrolet and began rebuilding immediately. The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, NC), January 7, 1932.

Justice Chevrolet Company reopened, having been closed since the fire of January 1932. The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, NC), May 11, 1933.

In 1936, Justice Chevrolet occupied a new building constructed by T. E. Steed. Where this new building was located is not known. Nor is it known when the name of the dealership was changed to Cole Chevrolet. The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, NC), June 4, 1936.

In 1947 Clyde Cole constructed a new Chevrolet dealership building on Hooper Street in Yanceyville (now Cole Street). This new structure was 75' by 136' and totaled 12,775 square feet including the mezzanine. Construction was brick and steel, with no posts to hinder work flow. This building was demolished a few years back.

January 19, 2018

Photograph Identification Project

Photograph Identification Project

In May 2006 the CCHA launched the Photograph Identification Project with a wonderful photograph of a group of children on a large rock: Kids on a Rock

Above is the second photograph submitted for identification. It came from the files of John Oliver (Johnnie) Gunn (1892-1992), who owned the Ford dealership in Yanceyville, North Carolina, for many years. He also sold Fordson (and later Ford) tractors.

This photograph (click on photo for larger image) is believed to be a dealer demonstration of a Fordson tractor to local farmers. Note the metal wheels (no tires). See the old cars in the background to the right and the farm buildings in the background to the left.

Can you identify any of these people, the tractor, the cars, or the location?

To help, here is another photograph believed to be of the same event (click on photo for larger image):

Leave your comments here or send them to the CCHA.

As with respect to all the images that have been posted as part of the CCHA Photograph Identification Project, the owner of the photograph, through the Caswell County Historical Association, retains all rights. Accordingly, copying, posting, publishing, and any other manner of distribution or use is prohibited without first obtaining the express written authorization of the copyright holder. Contact the CCHA if you have questions.

Caswell County Training School

These fine ladies were heroes to a generation of CCTS students.

Click on the photograph for a larger image.

Caswell County Board of Education

Recognize these good people? [Click on the photograph for a larger image.]

Friday, June 09, 2006

Walters Mill

Blanche Moore Wedding Invitation

Here is a wonderful old wedding invitation submitted to the CCHA by a Caswellian who is very interested in the history of Blanche, North Carolina.

The wedding of Blanche Lydia Moore and Alexander (Sandy) Banks Moore did indeed take place at the Blanche Baptist Church on June 22, 1910.

Blanche Lydia Moore (1882-early 1960's) was the daughter of James Byrd Moore (1848-1900) and Bettie Margaret Powell (1851-1938). As James Byrd Moore had died, his wife was left alone to announce the wedding of their daughter in 1910. Note that Blanche Lydia did not need to change her surname.

Alexander Banks Moore (1879-1958) was known his entire life as Sandy. He was the son of Luther Thomas Moore (1852-1947) and Sarah Elizabeth Ferrell (1854-1892).

Blanche and Sandy Moore lived in the Blanche, North Carolina, community for many years before moving to Yanceyville, North Carolina. Their Blanche property was sold to Herman A. Smith and remains in the Smith family to this day. Blanche and Sandy had three children.

However, the community in which Sandy and Blanche first lived must have had another name (probably Rattlesnake). This is because the name was changed to Blanche, North Carolina, in honor of Blanche Lydia Moore. This name was bestowed either by Blanche's father (the first Blanche Postmaster) or by her uncle Daniel G. Watkins (the second Blanche Postmaster). Traditions differ on this.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Caswell County Jail

Caswell County Jail

One of the most interesting buildings in Caswell County is the old Caswell County Jail. Built in the first decade of the 1900's, the Jail served the county's prisoner housing needs until 1973, when a new jail was constructed.

After 1973, the old jail was used for a variety of short-term purposes, but by and large, the building stood unused, neglected, and empty. The ravages of time, weather, and lack of maintenance began to tell on the old structure, which soon developed symptoms of severe deterioration.

In 1985, the Caswell County Historical Association negotiated a 25-year lease on the building from the County Commissioners. The Bartlett Yancey Future Farmers of America Chapter was enlisted to renovate the structure, repair damage, and restore the building as near as possible to its original condition. One hundred and thirty members of the Chapter volunteered over 6,300 person-hours to the project, with donations of time, equipment, and materials by a number of Caswell County businesses and residents.

Buster Payne Store (?)

The CCHA Website has a section devoted to the old stores of Caswell County. The purpose of the series is to identify and document (hopefully with old photographs) the stores throughout the county that were so important to the commercial and social life of our ancestors (and many of us as well)!

Above is a store belived to be on the Park Spring Road.

Anyone know the history of this store?

Just add a comment here or email the CCHA.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Yanceyville Square Scene

Here is a great old photograph of the house in which Maud Gatewood grew up (left) and the Poteat Hotel (center). To the far right is Yanceyville Motor Company, with a gasoline pump on the corner. In the background is the familiar Yanceyville water tower. Note: Click on the photograph for a larger image. You also may go to Square Photograph for a larger view.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Another Milton Mill Site May Have Been Found

Historic Milton Mill Site

Two Caswellians with very deep Milton roots recently have been exploring the creek around Milton (Country Line Creek) searching for the ruins of the railroad and any mills that operated in the area. That the Thomas Mill once operated in Milton is well-documented. However, these investigators discovered on a 1940 map of Milton (copied from a 1840 map) a reference to another mill site that was located on Country Line Creek near the end of East Street in Milton.

These intrepid historians believe they may have located the site of this mill, which would be a separate mill from the better-known Thomas Mill. An archelogist from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is interested in the discovery and plans to visit the site. Hopefully, she will be able to date the structure.

The accompanying photographs are of what was known as the Milton Roller Mill. Whether it is the same as the Thomas Mill is unknown.

Thomas Mill

One of the earliest references to the Thomas Mill is in a 1796 act of the North Carolina Legislature authorizing an inspection warehouse and the laying out of a town at the site of the warehouse. It was to be located near the mouth of the Country Line Creek at the Dan River on the property of Asa Thomas. Commissioners Thomas Jeffrey, Archibald Murphy, William Rainey, Archibald Samuel, and James Saunders were empowered to lay off thirty acres at or near the Thomas Mill into half acre lots and to establish a town to be named Milton. See When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County, North Carolina 1777-1977, William S. Powell (1977) at 100.

Powell goes on to observe that Asa Thomas had a mill at the site where the town of Milton was established before the town was formed, "but he soon was joined by others. Milton was indeed a mill town, as its name apparently was intended to suggest." Powell at 326.

It appears that the Thomas Mill had been in existence well before 1796. British General Cornwallis and his troops are believed to have "taken advantage of several mills such as Thomas's near Milton and Rainey's south of Semora." See The Tactical Rereat of General Nathanael Greene, Thomas J. Edmonds (2006) at 10.

And, it is possible that the mill that came to be known as the Thomas Mill was in operation as early as 1757. Note the following from Caswell County Historical Association Newsletter VOL. XXVI, Number 2, April 2003 at page 2:

"[Benjamin Merritt] came down from New York and secured a Granville Grant of many acres on both sides of the Dan River in two colonies. Benjamin built a mill which he sold to Mrs. Anne Smith ca.1757 with acreage over 50 in the tract, more than enough to start a flourishing frontier town."

And, the daughter of this Mrs. Anne Smith is believed to have sold this mill to William Thomas, Sr. in 1779. Asa Thomas was a son of William Thomas, Sr. For more on this go to the Will of Anne Smith, which indicates that she obtained her property in Milton by way of a Granville Land Grant in 1760.

For more background on the historic town go to Milton.

For additional photographs of the subject mill site go to Photgraph Two and Photograph Three.

The information provided here is for those interested in the history of Milton. However, please note that the structures shown reside on private property, and trespassers will not be tolerated.

Please submit any comments to the CCHA.