Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Red House

The Red House

Many records refer to a "Red House" in the northeast section of Caswell County that was in or near the community today called Semora. References are to "The Red House, "Red House," "Red House" Community, and "Red House" Presbyterian Church. Some have stated that the original "Red House" was the "Red House Tavern," which was painted red and gave the name to the community and to the Presbyterian Church.

Historian William S. Powell provided the following:
The Red House Tavern near Semora, owned by Lewis Shirley, was another populr center for horse racing. Shirley advertised in the Milton Intelligencer of May 6, 1819, that he had purchased "the celebrated Imported Horse EAGLE" and that he would be let to mares at Red House at $50 the season. "And as to a race horse," he said, "England never produced his equal in his day, which may be seen by reference to the English stud book, in my possession, together with his blood and numerous performances." By 1825 Shirley had moved to Kentucky where he raised thoroughbred horses. Afterwards he went on to Texas where it has been said he introduced thoroughbreds.

The account book for Red House Tavern contains entries that suggest the kind of entertainment dispensed there. Guests sometimes rented space at the tavern and gave balls. Other guests stayed for many days at a time consuming large quantities of cider, brandy, and whiskey. Glasses of toddy and julips appear often in the accounts. An extra fee was charged for oysters, and "dinners during the races" were more expensive than at other times; sometimes dinner was even served at the track. Ordinarily dinner might be forty to fifty cents, but at the track it would be $2.00. Many account book entries include a charge for the guest's horse, and occasionally during the season the book records that Shirley lent cash to his patrons. it was not unusual for many regular customers to charge drinks on an average of seven different days a month, but sometimes names appear up to eighteen days out of a month. Whiskey was the drink most often consumed, and it was not unusual for up to eight drinks or gills to be charged to a man in one day.

Source: When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977, William S. Powell (1977) at 160.

1818 - October 1818 Court: John Oliver and James Clay licensed to sell spiritous liquors at their homes; also Lewis Shirley at the "Red House." (Kendall at 35).

A person by the name of Hugh Dobbin/Dobbins apparently was closely connected with the Red House Tavern in the northeast section of Caswell County that purportedly gave the Red House Community its name (and the name of the Red House Presbyterian Church). The tavern is believed in existence before 1800. Set forth below are a few records found while researching the origins of Red House.

1784 - Road to be laid out from Capt. John Graves, the nearest and most convenient way to the red house of Hugh Dobbin. July 1784 Session of the Caswell County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions (Kendall at 11).

1793 - April 1793 Court: William Rainey to keep ordinary at the Red House, Hugh Dobbins, bondsman. (Kendall at 19)

1804 - April 1804 Court: Ordered that John Lea (Canebrake) be appointed overseer of road "from where Graves road comes into the road that leads from his house to Stephen's and the Red House." (Kendall at 25).

1817 - April 1817 Court: George Wilson to keep "tavern and House of Entertainment" at the Red House. (Kendall at 34)

1818 - October 1818 Court: John Oliver and James Clay licensed to sell spiritous liquors at their homes; also Lewis Shirley at the "Red House." (Kendall at 35).

1828 - January 1828 Court: Adam Richmond to oversee road from the Cross Roads near Archibald Rice's to the Old Road leading to the Red House. (Kendall at 43.)

1781 - June 1781 Court: Administration of estate of Hugh McAden granted to Catherine McAden, widow, with John Black and Hugh Dobbin, securities. (Kendall at 6).

1781 - Deed Book A, Page 175 (December Court 1781): Hugh Dobbins - Will - written 10 Nov. 1781. Nephew Andrew Ferguson; James Dobbins (my cousin Hugh Dobbins son); John Dobbins, brother to James; Elizabeth Coyle to get wife's clothes; Mary Donaldson. Exec: Andrew Ferguson, Josiah Cole. Wit: Thomas Wiley, Robert Long, James Long. (Kendall Will Book at 8).

1782 - September 1782 Court: Hugh Dobbin to keep tavern at his house. (Kendall at 8).

This other Hugh Dobbins may have died in Clark County, Tennessee. His will was proved 29 July 1797. See Kendall Will Book at 70.

Walker Daniel was their captain the other officers as follows, to wit: Col. Cox,General Huger or Hugee, General Stephens & General Greene who had the command in chief. This army was at that time composed of Regular Militia & volunteers, Col Lee [Henry Lee, “Light Horse Harry Lee”] & Col. Washington [William Washington] with their cavalry were there & many Catawba Indians. Deponent joined General Greene's army as aforesaid at Hallifax [sic, Halifax] Court house from which place he was marched in pursuit of Wallace towards Hugh Dobbins, a place called the red house., said Dobbins was a noted Tory but before Genl Greene got to Dobbins he heard that Wallace had gone to Hillsborough, he turned after him but before he got to Hillsborough he heard that Wallace had gone towards Gilford [sic, Guilford] Court house on the South side of haw [sic, Haw River] river. General Greene pursued on the North side of Haw River & headed Wallace near Guilford Court house where a severe battle was fought. The day before the battle General Greene ordered Lieutenant Williams to take deponent & about forty or fifty men & take charge of some British prisoners & carry them to the barracks in Albemarle County Virginia (which the great number of Tories rendered a dangerous enterprise).

1797 - Caswell Co DB K, p.100 31 May 1797 Thomas Roberts to Charles Mathews. 35 1/2 acres on Reedy Fork Crk adj William Richmond, John Flynn; tract Roberts purchased of Hugh Dobbins. Wit: Chas Dameron Sen., Vines Mathis, James Dixon

Orange County, North Carolina Records, Vol. III Granville Proprietary Land Office Miscellaneous Records By William D. Bennett, C.G. Page 9 Gladden, William survey 18 Dec. 1760, 623 acres on both sides of Moon’s Creek; joins Hugh Dobbin: ALEXANDER GOING, & William Morris, SCC.

Land was acquired by John Graves 1715-1792) in Orange Co., NC.: 630 acres by deed from Hugh Dobbin; early grants of 21 acres on Ready Fork, 394 acres on County Line Creek, and 457 acres on County Line. Later Grants in Caswell Co. were made to him. Mrs Chales Iverson Graves, whose husband was a great-grandson of John Graves, stated that John Graves' "home was on the eminence quite near the public road leading from Greensboro to Milton, NC."

The first land of record in North Carolina acquired by John Graves was 640 a. in Orange Co., deeded to him by Hugh Dobbin in June 1757. Source: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ncccha/biographies/johngraves/johngraves.html

North Carolina Census, 1790-1890 about Hugh Dobbins Name: Hugh Dobbins State: NC County: Caswell County Year: 1777 Database: NC Early Census Index North Carolina Census, 1790-1890 about Hugh Dobbins Name: Hugh Dobbins State: NC County: Caswell County Township: Richmond District Year: 1777 Database: NC Early Census Index

Note the following from "The Original Bloomsburg-1797" (Article in The Record-Advertiser, 15 June 1972, by Kenneth H. Cook):

James W. and Agnes Glenn Jeffreys made their home at The Red House, where they are buried. An extensive estate, it included the mansion with its outbuildings and quarters, a tavern, a Presbyterian church founded in 1760, a classical school incorporated in 1804 as Hyco Academy, a blacksmith shop, a wheelwright shop and a store. Lord Cornwallis captured The Red House in January, 1781, used it as his headquarters and left it in ashes. Thomas, the father of James, built the new house.

Does this mean that Thomas Glenn rebuilt the "Red House?"

Red House Presbyterian Church: 1823

Thomas Jeffreys of Caswell County to John McCain and Loften Walton, Elders and Trustees of the Presbyterian Congregation of the red house, for $1, 1 1/2 acres adjacent to land granted by Hugh Dobbin to Archibald Murphey et al where the old meeting house stood, said land on which a new meeting house has been erected. 10 October 1823. Witnesses: James Rainey, John B. Farley.

Caswell County, North Carolina
Deed Book U, Pages 340-341