Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thomas Rainey (1824-1920) Memoir

The following is transcribed by John Douglas Storey from the original, written in pencil ca. 1901 by Thomas Rainey (1824 - 1910), son of James Glenn Rainey and Sophia Hendrick. Cousin Tom also published a small memoir of his life after running away from home titled, "Some Notes on the Life and Times of a Wanderer" . He had an adventurous life, including as school teacher, Whig activist, entrepreneur in Brazil, and moving force behind the building of the Queensboro Bridge connecting Manhattan and Long Island. "Uncle Judge" was his great-uncle, James Rainey, of Red House, Caswell County, N.C.

I have tried to render the spelling and format as I have it, but the paper is in fragile condition.

Father was about 7 yrs. old when Gr.f. was killed. My Gr.mother was living with Aunt Nancy, her sister, & he was living with his uncle Josiah Samuel, who married his cousin Sarah Samuel. His sister Bettie became Mrs. Pittard, father of cousin Dr. Pittard & Benj. P. [Pittard]

One day when uncle Dabney R. passed uncle 'Siah Samuel's house he saw father, who was about 7 ys. old, holding his uncle's horse & barefooted. Took him up and home with him, & uncle Josiah R. took off his shoes and gave him. "Uncle Judge" then put him to school with his boys, at the old Hycotee Academy, where I was afterward partly educated, & he commenced studying Latin, for which all the Raineys were famous. There was not room for him at the family table. So he would come one day to the table & uncle Josiah would wait, & the next day they would rotate.

Uncle Virgil who was about twelve yrs. older than my father, feeling the obligation of caring for his mother & younger brothers, after his father's death and total loss of fortune, went off and learned millwrighting, & took my father away from uncle Judge at 12 just as he was getting an education, & kept him with him, working at all sorts of things until he was about 17 ½, when he married Sophia Hendrick at Aspen Grove, now Estelle, Cas. Co. Day, the mulatto cabinet maker at Milton tried hard to get father to go with him & learn a trade, but he refused, & removed to the old Jeremiah Graves Haunted house, about 3/4 mile E. of Yanceyville. Myself & bro. John G. were born there. We then went & lived in a new house at uncle Judge's, built for a kitchen. Bros. Patrick & Billy were born there. Then father removed to Pagler's(?), Cobb's Creek, where he had a good mill, & where sisters Grace & Jennie, & Carolina, & Dabney were born. I went from there in 1836 to Red House to school, to uncle John P. Rainey, boarded with him and aunt Martha at Brown's in the big old house & had the measles.

The family then removed to Thornton's, near Semora where Virgil was born in 1837, & where we were all poisoned by the cook, wife of a field hand, who was incensed at Uncle Wm. Hendrick, who had whipped him for some crime. She took mother's calomel bottle & put it into the milk. Uncle William who usually drank milk drank none that night. I & a visiting Yankee, Mr. Chambers, drank much of it, & he died while I hardly escaped.

My father was farming all of these years on a large scale for a young man & uncle Wm. managed for him. We then removed to Richmond Hill 2 miles E. of Milton, where Judge Richmond & my father were partners in manufacturing agricultural implements for some years. Sister Rebecca was born there. We then removed to the Old Red House. where Henry Harrison, Sophia & Josiah were born there. We remained here until 1844, four years; but I was at Yanceyville at Uncle Dabney's classical school during 1840, & wrote my first Composition - a poem on Wm. H. Harrison. Returned to Red House & continued my Latin & other studies under Field A. Claiborne at the Old Hycotee Academy & one night got half drunk for the first & only time in my life. It was from this house that I ran away 22 June 1842 at midnight, my mother knowing my plans & not seriously opposing them.

In 1844 my father removed to Shady Grove five miles S. of Danville, Va. Here Hamden Pleasants, named for the Editor of the Richmond Whig, & Eva, his youngest child, were born, in poverty & hardship. He had become bankrupt at the Red House, but now, not withstanding his immense family, he was beginning to recover prosperity, & bought & paid for a little farm. Here my mother & "Tippecanoe", H. Harrison, died & were buried on the farm. He remained here five years, until 1849, & removed to the Hobson Farm in Rockingham Co. which he purchased from the gr.father of Richmond Hobson, Augustus H., who had a sister of Gen. Morehead.(sic) This was a fine estate called Mount Welcome, near Oregon Hill. Here brother James Patrick Henry cut his knee, & losing the (unreadable) fluid, he was laid up 18 months, & came out with a stiff knee. It was on this occasion that old gr.father Hendrick prayed all night for him, & on arising announced that he would get well. I returned home for the first time after nine years absence from Cincinnati where I was living, to see my afflicted brother. It was here that sister Carolina married Jos. R. Herndon, a young merchant. My father remained at Mt. Welcome & Oregon hill nine years, & in 1858 came to Germanton, Stokes Co., 12 miles N. of Salem, where his family still resides in Oct. 1901; a place purchased from Dr. Steadman & called Capitol Hill. My father & Gr.mother Hendrick died & were buried here, & my gr.f. Hendrick, my mother & "Tippecanoe's" bodies were removed & buried with them in the Methodist Epis. Church Cemetery.

My father as an Old Line Whig was bitterly opposed to Secession; but my brothers, John, William, Virgil, Josiah & Hampden Pleasants, & Capt. Herndon went into the Army & Navy; myself & my brothers James & Dabney being all of the time of the War in Brazil. I was devotedly Union; all the rest Seceders. At the close of the war everybody in the South was ruined. We prospered in Brazil & when his farm was about lost, covered by debt, we were enabled, combining our efforts & making what at the time were great sacrifices, sent home some Twenty Thousand dollars, & saved the property & the family, & solaced the old age of our old father.

(Note in hand of Josephine Rainey Smith: "written by Thomas Rainey son of James Rainey & Sophia Hendricks")

On the back of one page is the following, written, with additions, in Tom Rainey's hand, but evidently copied from a record written by Judge James Rainey (see dated note at end of first section) - JDS

Record of family of Judge James Rainey of Red House, Caswell Co. N.C.

James Rainey, b. Aug 1, 1758 d.__________1841
Nancy Samuel, his wife, b. Jan. 17, 1768 d.__________
married Nov. 20, 1794
William 1st son, b. Sep 14, 1795
James 2d " " Sep 15, 1797
Thomas 3d " " April 17, 1799
Dabney 4 " " March 23 1801
John Parish 5 " " Aug 10, 1803 d. July 17, 1872 at Red House
Josiah 6 " " May 2, 1805 d. Jan. 13, 1843 at " "
Nancy Samuel only daug " Sep 16 1808 d. Feb 17, 1836 at Milton
married Caleb Hazard Richmond, of New Bedford, Mass.

This record was made by me, Aug. 1st, 1828, being my birthday, and aged seventy years, at Red House, N.C.

John Parish Rainey, son of James, as above, b. Aug. 10, 1803 & married
Martha Durham, b. April 1, 1807; married Jan. 1, 1836 died 10 Sep. 1900 = 93y. 5mos. & 10ds.
James H. b. Nov. 12, 1836 died Oct. 4, 1859
William Wirt b. July 12, 1838 died July 6, 1862, killed at battle of Gettysburg
Mary C. b. Jan. 8, 1840 died July 19, 1862
Martha b. Jan. 18, 1841
John Parish b. Aug. 18, 1842
Matilda M. b. July 8, 1844
Josiah b. Sep. 8, 1846
Thomas Nathaniel b. March 2, 1849

On another page is the following:


John Hendrick b. Mecklenburg Co. Va. 1769 m.
Ruth Murray of Amelia Co. Va. 1801 & removed to Caswell Co. NC in 1814, & d. 13 July 1855, aged 86 years
Ruth Murray, his wife, was b. in Amelia Co. Va. in 1765 & d. at Germanton NC 25 May, 1869, aged 103 1/2 years
Their children were
Lucinda b. Jan. 8, 1803
James b. Aug. 13 1804
Sophia b. March 28, 1807, d. Feb 1856, aged 44 years. She m. James Glenn Rainey & had 15 children.
Rebecca B. b. July 16 1810 & m. Charles Hendrick, her cousin
William H. b. 23 ? 1812 m. Susan Bennett, sister of Judge Caswell Bennett of NC & Ky & mother of Hon. John Kerr Hendrick, M.C. of Ky. b. March 21 1841. Named for Hon. John Kerr of Caswell, NC.

John Hendrick was removed from the Montgomery burying ground near Estelle Caswell Co., & his daughter Sophia Rainey from near Shady Grove, Caswell Co. by her sons Thomas, Virgil & Josiah to Germanton, North Carolina & Henry Harrison Rainey, whose body was buried beside that of his mother at Shady Grove was removed by them at same time to Germanton.

The odd final paragraph reflects the consolidation of family graves at Germanton. The large family of James G. and Sophia Rainey moved a lot as he sought to make a living as a farmer. Finally Tom and his brothers were able to buy their father a permanent home at Germantown where he and his mother-in-law died and were buried at the Methodist Episcopal Church. JDS


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