Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Book: Caswell County

To order this the book described below go to (then scroll to the bottom of the page):

Caswell County

Sep 29, 2009 - 04:51:50 pm CDT Caswell County was born in 1777 during the American Revolution and named to honor Richard Caswell, the first governor of North Carolina. Lying in the north central part of the state, Caswell's rolling countryside abounds with soil well-suited for many crops, particularly tobacco. The resulting wealth and influence produced institutions and structures unsurpassed elsewhere in the state. In a new pictorial history book compiled by The Caswell County Historical Association, more than 200 vintage photographs commemorate the many historical landmarks that have made Caswell County a popular destination for heritage tourism.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bell of the Old 97: James William King

The following is provided courtesy of the Greensboro News & Record (Jim Schlosser, 21 September 2009). That the James William King mentioned is the James Wil King of the Caswell County Family TGree hass not been confirmed (as the dates are not consistent), and the article is placed here for research purposes only.

The story has been told and sung a million times, the wreck of Old 97, which plunged off a trestle north of Danville, Va., on Sept. 27, 1903. Among the 11 dead was the locomotive’s fireman, J.A. Clapp of Guilford County. What most people don’t know about the wreck is how the facts got mangled afterward, even in the famous ballad recorded by Roy Acuff, Hank Williams Jr., Woody Guthrie, Boxcar Willie and others. First, engineer Joseph A. “Steve” Broadey wasn’t found dead in the locomotive with his hand still on the throttle, as the song says. Newspaper reports say he was thrown from the engine. Second, disagreement remains on how fast Old 97 — also known as “The Fast Mail” — was traveling when it went down a hill, turned a curve and entered 75-foot-high Stillhouse Trestle. The song says Broadey had the locomotive doing 90 mph. Another report said 70 mph. Newspapers cited witnesses who gave figures ranging from 35 to 50 mph. Regardless, Broadey was supposed to cross the trestle at 15 mph.

Southern Railway (now Norfolk Southern) at first said the train wasn’t going too fast and wasn’t under orders to speed up to reach Spencer, 166 miles away. The train, running an hour late, had a reputation for always being on time. It better be on time. The post office fined Southern for each minute The Fast Mail ran late. Two men claimed authorship of the song, and it took a lawsuit to settle that. “Encyclopedia Virginia” says David G. George of Pittsylvania County, Va., was the author. Finally, there’s the train bell — or what may be the train’s bell. It will be on public display this weekend for the first time at The Depot. Gene Lewis, a chiropractor and vice president of the Greensboro Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, says visitors will be told the bell has not been authenticated. It will be a conversation piece to highlight the chapter’s open house to collect railroad memorabilia.

The society asks visitors to bring railroad artifacts — hardware, papers, letters, photos — to be donated or to be copied, photographed and returned on the spot. Oral histories from old railroaders will be welcomed. The Carolina Model Railroaders’ elaborate layout also will be on display. Lewis says any donated artifacts of historical significance will be given to the Greensboro Historical Museum. Others will be kept by the society for display at the Model Railroaders’ headquarters. Now, back to the bell. The story goes that 18-year-old James William King of Caswell County on the Virginia border was in Danville at the time of the wreck. He was hired to clean up debris. He came home with the bell, which weighed about 85 pounds, and presented it to his family. He said it had been given to him for helping with the cleanup. The bell has been in the family ever since, and is now owned by Ed Powell of Alamance County. Powell is the son-in-law of James King, who died in 1938. But wait. The wreck’s ruins attracted thousands of spectators and scores of photographers. “Every picture we have seen has the bell still there,’' Lewis says. He says Powell has made every effort to authenticate the bell and sincerely believes the bell rang on Old 97 — and it may have.

“I don’t have any doubt that this is the bell on that locomotive,” Powell says, adding if someone can prove him wrong, he’ll accept the verdict. He believes the bell was removed after all the picture-taking of the wreckage was done. Lewis says that may be the case. He doesn’t know when some of the photos he has seen were taken. The answer probably can be found in a big room in Atlanta packed with uncataloged Southern Railway archives moved there after Southern and the Norfolk & Western Railroad merged in the 1980s. Lewis believes paperwork related to repairs to Old 97 would list what remained of the engine. Fireman J.A. Clapp, whose hometown has been given as Gibsonville, Whitsett and Greensboro, left a fiancee behind, a Greensboro school teacher. “She never married,” Lewis says. “She loved him that much.”

Broadey was a seasoned engineer but new to the curvy route on Southern’s Washington-to-Atlanta main line. Southern Railway later took back its denial that the train wasn’t speeding. It blamed Broadey, alleging that the engineer had the locomotive running 70 mph at times. Gene Lewis says the families of crew members killed received a death benefit of $10,000 from the railroad — except for Broadey’s. They received nothing. Contact Jim Schlosser at 601-9879 or


Caswell County War Memorials

The Caswell County Board of Commissioners met in regular session at the Historic Courthouse in Yanceyville, North Carolina at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, February 2, 2009. Members present: George W. Ward, Jr., Vice-Chairman, Eric D. Battle, William E. Carter, Nathaniel Hall, and Kenneth D. Travis. Absent: Jeremiah Jefferies and Gordon G. Satterfield. Also present: Kevin B. Howard, County Manager, Michael R. Ferrell, County Attorney, and Angela Evans representing The Caswell Messenger. Wanda P. Smith, Clerk to the Board, recorded the minutes.

Mr. Eddie Davis, of Durham, NC came before the Board and stated that he is a retired school teacher and for the past few months has been working with a group called Inclusive North Carolina. Mr. Davis added that the group has been looking at several different aspects of inclusion in the State and one area has to do with Memorials on Courthouse Squares. Mr. Davis informed the Board that in some counties in the State there are listings of those who have been involved in the supreme sacrifice for their country, unfortunately in some of these cases, there is not a total inclusion of all ethnic groups. Mr. Davis stated that Caswell County is not guilty of this, however, the Lest We Forget statue on the Courthouse Square does segregate the races who were involved with the World War. Mr. Davis added that he recognizes that the Memorial was probably placed there at a time when separation of the races was what one would expect and there is something to be said for maintaining the historic integrity of that period of time. Mr. Davis suggested to the County Commissioners and other organizations in the County that they look at the possibility of using the next Veterans Day to have some kind of alphabetical listing of those troops who made that supreme sacrifice during the World War.

Coach Al Smith

Published: September 25, 2009 and shown here courtesy of the Register & Bee (Danville, Virginia). Photo courtesy Traci White, article Jason Wolfe

Al Smith trudges down the field, policing the Averett University sideline with the same cool, no-nonsense demeanor he’s displayed in each of the last 10 seasons.

“As he comes walking down that sideline you’ll see kids just, whew, they’ll jump out of his way,” wide receivers coach Max Roach said about Smith, an Army veteran and former Danville Police captain, “because they know if he’s coming down and you’re standing in his way, you’re not where you’re supposed to be.”

Smith, a specialists coach who works with the kickers, punter and long snappers, is the only member of the Averett football program who has been with the team from its inception in 2000 to where it is today, as the Cougars prepare for their 10th home opener, a homecoming game against Washington & Lee on Saturday. The part-time coach has experienced the trials and tribulations associated with starting a collegiate football program from scratch as he’s helped guide the Cougars through the years, from the highs of a conference championship through the lows of a winless season.

Smith, 66, is a relatively quiet and unassuming gentleman, especially compared to the barking coaches and bulked up young men whizzing around him during Averett practices and games. Sweat runs down his wrinkled brow following a humid day of practice earlier this week, but he can’t help but flash an enormous grin.

“I just like being with the kids,” Smith said, his words slowly drawn out. “I just wished I could have put more time into it than what I have, because when you’re working with a football team and you’re developing them to work as a team, you’re also developing them for life.”

Smith shares the same vibrant gleam in his eyes as Roach, a man 40 years his junior who can relate first-hand knowledge of the kind of effect Smith has on those fortunate enough to call him coach, because Roach punted for Smith for three seasons in the early years of the Averett program.

“He’s someone that you can come to who wasn’t going to be a screamer and yeller, but someone that’s going to get the best out of you by constantly working on your technique and also being there,” Roach said. “And now getting a chance to coach with him … you’re on the same level, but really between Coach Smith and I nothing much has really changed, because he was always that level-headed type of guy that you could talk to no matter what the situation.”

Averett head coach Mike Dunlevy, a former special teams coach in the World League who has guided the Cougars for eight seasons, explained why Smith’s steady demeanor and coaching style is vital to the team, especially considering the positions he coaches.

“Kickers are a different breed,” Dunlevy said. “He brings that ability the keep those kickers calm, focused on what they need to do. You get into a linebacker, you may yell at him and get after him and those kind of things, but that’s not really how you coach kickers, and Al has that temperament of being able to instruct but still be a strong leader…

“He understands hard work, dedication, trust. Being a Danville police detective and being in the military, he understands structure and how things have to be run, and that’s really how football needs to be run, is that same regiment and making sure your guys are on time and well disciplined.”

Smith retired in 2005 after 38 years with the Danville Police Department, where he was promoted as high as the rank of captain. And prior to his law enforcement career, he spent 18 months overseas with the Army, being discharged shortly before the start of the Vietnam War.

But even with those heady responsibilities throughout his life, he’s found ways to stay close to the game he loves, the game of football.

He played at Cobb Memorial High in Caswell County, N.C., which merged with the present-day Bartlett Yancey, and attended Lee-McRae College, where he kicked for the Bobcats from 1961-62 before transferring to Averett, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree.

Smith went on to coach special teams at George Washington High for 16 years before being contacted by Averett’s first coach, Frank Fulton, who inquired about Smith’s interest in joining the upstart program.

“Of course I saw that as a challenge,” Smith said.

“We started the program and after some time, a couple of years, the players started believing in it and some school spirit and support from the school and some things started picking up,” he said. “There were a lot of players coming in, and it kept progressing each and every year. I think we have accomplished a great deal at this school in 10 years, with the program from nothing to what we have right now.”

Smith has prided himself on helping players build relationships while teaching them discipline, teamwork and dedication. His police and military background have also proved a boon for the team in many ways. He’ll occasionally regale the players with war stories or demonstrate “crazy police holds,” Roach said, like how to take a man down by simply grabbing his wrist.

But he’s also always good for advice as far as what not to do, where not to go and instilling in the players a sense that they’re always representing the university.

“He’s one of those guys that doesn’t say a lot,” Dunlevy said, “but when he does say something it’s usually meaningful.”

Prior to his retirement, Smith’s law enforcement career provided a challenge at times, as far as juggling his responsibility to the community while still helping coach. And as a member of the Pittsylvania County Community Emergency Response Team, there’s still always the possibility that he’ll need to bolt from the sidelines.

But even in a part-time capacity, Smith has unquestionably provided a tremendous influence on kids’ lives over the years while helping guide the Averett football program from its infancy through its first decade of existence.

“All of the kids, you see them come in as young and right out of high school, and four years later, oh, they have changed. And for the better,” Smith said. He chuckles. “Obviously the wins are good. Seeing the program and understanding a higher level of football than high school, and seeing the kids coming in and seeing them develop and seeing them become a cohesive team, instead of individuals, really has been the highlight.”


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ray Nowicke (1926-2009)

Born: April 04, 1926
Died: September 18, 2009
Services: Tuesday, September 22, 2009, 10:00am at the Allen Park Chapel Martenson Family of Funeral Homes
Service Location: Allen Park Chpl-Martenson Family of Funeral Homes (Map)
Visitation: Monday, September 21, 2009 3:00pm-9:00pm at the Allen Park Chapel Martenson Family of Funeral Homes.
Visitation Location: Allen Park Chpl-Martenson Family Of Funeral Homes (Map)
Obituary: Nowicke, Ray, age 83 September 18, 2009 formerly of Allen Park. Loving husband of the late Edna. Dearest father of Robert (Susan), Joanne (David) Cooley, Patricia (Mel) Wallace, and Nancy (Jon) White. Proud grandfather of Lisa (Kris) Neiger, Brad, Nicholas, Emily, Scott, Natalie, and great-grandfather of Kyla and Lexi.
Ray was a Seaman 1st Class-U.S. Navy WWII,and was awarded the Purple Heart and Campaign Ribbons. Ray was also a lifelong member of VFW Post #5572. In memory of Ray Nowicke, the family asks that you extend an act of kindness to someone in need.
Cemetery Location: Glen Eden Memorial Park (Map)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

John Delbert Swann III

Caswell native named Eagle Scout during ceremony

John Delbert Swann, III, of Blanch, NC was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout, Boy Scouting's highest honor, in a ceremony held May 3, 2009 at the historical Caswell County Courthouse in Yanceyville, NC. John is a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 300, sponsored by Mount Vernon United Methodist Church in Danville, Va. Scoutmaster Jesse Wyatt, II, presided over the ceremony where members of the troop reflected on John's trail to becoming an Eagle Scout.

The rank of Eagle Scout is achieved by only two percent of all the boys who join the scouting program. It is the scout's responsibility to coordinate activity with the sponsoring organization, carry out all planning, fund raising, procuring all materials necessary to complete the project, and meet the approval of the organization, his troop's leadership, and the district's approval team. With the help of Pat Ewalt of the Caswell Horticulture Club, John determined the wording, size, number and placement of five wrought iron directional signs to be placed at the historical Caswell County Courthouse gardens. John raised the funds for his project from donations and by selling bluebird houses he and his parents built from red cedar. Pete and Eric Keck of Keck Logging furnished the red cedar lumber needed for the bluebird houses. The metal framework and scrolls were created by John and his parents. John worked with Power Signs of Danville, Va. to manufacture the wording of the signs. Under John's leadership, members of Troop 300 and family and friends gathered at the Courthouse to install the signs. To compliment the garden signs, John also designed a brochure for a self-guided walking tour of the gardens. The brochure is available at the historical Caswell County Courthouse and from a kiosk located on the fence. John spent a total of 158 hours on his project.

John's scouting career began in 1998 with Cub Scout Pack 325 of Yanceyville. As a Webelo scout, John earned all 20 of the activity badges and received Webelo's highest award, the Arrow of Light. In 2002, John "crossed over" to Yanceyville Boy Scout Troop 390, and later transferred his membership to Troop 300. While a member of Troop 300, John served as Assistant Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Quartermaster, Assistant Sr. Patrol Leader and Senior Patrol Leader. Along the way, John also earned 25 merit badges; 21 are required for Eagle. In 2006, John was inducted into scouting's National Honor Society, the Order of the Arrow. Ten months after being inducted, he sealed his membership in the OA as a Brotherhood Honor member. John also enjoyed working for four summers at the Blue Ridge Scout Reservation in Hiwassee, Va. His duties ranged from dining hall steward, waterfront lifeguard, scout craft instructor, Brown Sea Island Guide, office assistant and zip-line assistant.

John is a 2009 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Bartlett Yancey High School. He was elected Senior Class President, ran cross-country, played varsity soccer for four years and was a member of the Student Government Association, Beta Club, and FFA. Along with his school and scouting responsibilities, John volunteered for his church, Purley United Methodist Church and worked at Caswell Pines Golf Course. John is currently at North Carolina State University where he is majoring in Engineering.

John is the son of Bud and Shelly Swann of Blanch, NC and the grandson of Delbert Swann and the late Nancy Payne Swann.



Monday, September 21, 2009

Drugs in Caswell County

Published: September 21, 2009

YANCEYVILLE, N.C. — Sheriff’s deputies arrested two Semora residents Friday for growing marijuana in their home, according to a news release from the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office.

Dawn Marie Dantonio, 43, and Kevin David Judy, 35, were charged with felony maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance, felony manufacturing marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.

Investigators searched the home and found one of the bedrooms was being used to grow marijuana. They also found artificial lighting, a water table, growing agents, marijuana residue and books about growing marijuana, according to the release.

Dantonio and Judy are being held in the Caswell County Jail under a $10,000 bond. Their first court date is scheduled for Sept. 23.



NAACP in Caswell County

Caswell County, NC -- A call to action against a suspected hate crime brought out hundreds of people in the Caswell County community. On September 5, Sheriff's deputies arrested John Fuqua in connection with the shootings of two children. He is charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of inflicting serious injury. In addition, the Caswell County Sheriff's Department has listed it as a suspected hate crime. Fuqua is out of jail on a $140,000 bond.

Meanwhile, the children's parents called on the NAACP for help. The state conference president, William Barber, met with the community Sunday night to discuss what action the organization has taken so far. "We've requested a full FBI justice department investigation, and our letter was sent directly to Attorney General Holder's office in Washington D.C.," said Barber to the crowd that showed up Sunday.

Barber also told WFMY News 2's Ashley Smith, "We also have a group of lawyers now that are reviewing the charges and reviewing the bond."

Community members signed petitions and donated money to support the families involved in the shooting. The group raised a total of $4018. Letitia Thompson, a victim's mother, said she was surprised by the showing, "Just the amount of people just showing their love and coming out for somebody else's child. People that are not even kin to us. Just wanted to help and do what's right." Barber said his main goal is to keep this case focused on the children and to ensure a thorough investigation by federal and local authorities. He says his organization and its lawyers plan to meet with the local district attorney in the upcoming week.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stanley, Terry, and Black

Published: September 15, 2009

Yanceyville, North Carolina — A missing persons investigation spanning three sheriff’s departments in two states has led to the arrest of three people. Angela Crowe Stanley, of Semora, and Mary Jo Terry and Kevin Black, both of Blanch, have been arrested in connection with the disappearance and death of Bryant Kevin Newcomb, 44, of Chase City, Va., according to a news release from the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office. The arrests were the result of a collaborative investigation by the Mecklenburg County, Va., Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Caswell County and Person County sheriff’s offices in North Carolina. The case began when Newcomb’s family reported him missing Sept. 7. He was last seen leaving Chase City on Sept. 5, police say. On Sept. 9, the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office, responding to a report of an abandoned vehicle near Lucky’s Bar on N.C. 86 in Providence, found a 1993 Chevrolet truck registered to Newcomb. Investigators from Caswell County, Mecklenburg County and the Person County sheriff’s offices responded to the scene when evidence of suspicious circumstances was found in the vehicle. The Caswell County Sheriff’s Office seized the vehicle and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation processed it for evi-dence, the release stated. On Sept. 11, a body investigators believed to be Newcomb was found in the Dan River near a boat landing on N.C. 62 in Milton, N.C. The body was taken to the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy and identification. Stanley was arrested Saturday and is charged with first-degree murder, according to the release. Terry and Black each face a charge of accessory to first-degree murder and are being held in the Person County Detention facility under a $1 million bond. Police say the investigation revealed that the homicide occurred in Person County near the Hyco Lake area. The district attorney’s office is handling the change of venue to Person County.