Monday, November 30, 2009

Leola Williamson Watlington (1950-2009)

Leola Williamson Watlington

Yanceyville, NC – It is with profound sorrow we announce the death of Mrs. Leola Williamson Watlington 59, of 520 Dillard School Dr., who died Wednesday, October 28, 2009 in the Kindred Hospital Greensboro, NC. She was a native of Caswell County, NC the daughter of the late Robert Williamson and Earline Kimber Williamson, born July 3, 1950. She was a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Greensboro, NC. Leola received her formal education at Caswell County High School, graduating in 1968. She late attended Piedmont Technical College, where she earned a degree in Cosmetology. She was a self-employed beautician with her own salon located in her home, until her health began to fail. She was also a volunteered her services for several years as a receptionist at WYNC radio station 1540. She was preceded in death by one brother, Harvey Williamson; one foster brother, William (June) Dillard, one foster sister, Margaret Oliver; her best friend, Dianna (Lynn) Jeffries. Her survivors are Husband, Arthur Watlington (Spote) Watlington of the home; one son, Darrell Watlington (Virginia) of Eden, NC; 0ne daughter, Alexia K. Watlington of the home; one brother, David L Williamson (Lois) of Yanceyville, NC; three foster sisters, Hattie Wilson, Shirley Dillard, and Anne Terry all of Danville, Va.; three grandsons, Derrill Watlington of Burlington, Kevin Casey of Eden, NC and Donnell Casey (Angel) of Reidsville, NC; Also close to her heart, her soul sisters, Anita Woods and Rebecca Graves; a host of great grandchildren; aunts; uncles; cousins, nieces; nephews; and other relatives and friends. Funeral service for Mrs. Leola W. Watlington was Saturday, October 31, 2009 2:00 PM at Ebenezer Baptist Church 2700 West Vandalia Rd. Greensboro, NC. Pastor Howard Woods Jr. will deliver the eulogy. Interment was in the church cemetery. A viewing was Friday evening from 2 to 8 pm at Fulton Funeral Home Chapel. The family was contacted at her residence 520 Dillard School Dr. Yanceyville, NC. All arrangements for Mrs. Leola Williamson Watlington were entrusted
to Fulton Funeral Home.

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Caswell County Courthouses

1. First Courthouse. Located in Leasburg. A commission composed of James Sanders, William Moore, John Payne, Thomas Harrison, and John Atkinson was appointed by the Caswell County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions to find and lay off the place where the courthouse, prison, and stocks would be built and then to see that they were built. The sheriff was directed to collect the taxes levied for this purpose and turn the funds over to the commissioners, less his commission for collecting them.

With work apparently underway on the courthouse, Thomas Combs on October 19, 1784, petitioned for authorization "to builds a Shop on the Court House Lot," but the court postponed action for future "Consideration of the Commissioners Hereafter to be appointed." Finally, after nearly eight years without a proper building, the minutes of the Caswell County court for January 17, 1785, recorded that the justices "Adjourned to the New Court House." Until then, the court met in the house of Thomas Douglass. Perhaps in the interval the county had acquired the Douglass house. At any rate, the April court granted permission to "the subscribers of the old Court House" to remove "the said House off the public Lott."

2. Second Courthouse. After the creation of Person County from Caswell County, Leasburg no longer was in the center of what remained of Caswell County. In September 1792, a commission composed of Zephamiah Tate, Thomas Donoho, Solo. Parks, David Shelton, and William Rainey was appointed "for letting the building of the Court House and other Public Buildings . . . for the County of Caswell & the Court house to be planned on such a Construction as the building may not exceed Five Hundred pounds."

A location for the new courthouse was settled by September 28, 1792, when the commissioners unanimously agreed that it should be built on the land of James Ingram, and they recommended the purchase of 100 acres from him. Work on the new county buildings apparently was underway by the fall of 1793 as William Sawyers, builder of the jail, was authorized to be paid half the costs of the buildings the following April and the remainder when the building was finished. At the same time it was directed that John Adam Wolff be paid fifty pounds, part of an allowance due to him as long ago as August, 1793, for work done on the new courthouse. In May, 1794, Wolff was paid an additional fifteen pounds; work must have been nearing completion as the list item of business for the session was to grant Hezekiah Rice permission "to occupy the House which the Court has set in this Court until further ordered by the Court." On July 29, 1794, the Caswell justices gathered for the first time in their new courthouse in the center of the county. "The Court Heartily approves of the Conduct of James Williamson their Commissioner," they agreed, "having fully settled and paid John A. Wolff for Building the Court house in Caswell County and that he be allowed for the same in the settlement and account."

John Adam Wolff, farmer and "reliable carpenter" from the Wachovia community, had come from Maryland in 1769 with his German-born parents who apparently were Lutheran rather than Moravian. He had been a constable and tax collector there for several years and was sometimes referred to as Major Adam Wolff. He obviously was well qualified to build the Caswell courthouse, as he also put up the timbers for the Moravian Church built in Salem in 1800 and still standing (as of 1977).

The second courthouse was completed in the spring of 1794. Presumably, it was in the area of the current Yanceyville Square and was constructed of wood. The first courthouse at Caswell Court House had been occupied in 1794, and by the 1830s both it and the jail were considered inadequate. In 1809, Solomon Graves for the Commissioners of Public Buildings recommended improving and repairing the courthouse. The clerk's table needed to be elevated to make it more convenient to the light, the court, and the bar. A seat and a small desk for the use of the sheriff were deemed essential. The underpinning and the windows needed to be repaired, the outside needed paint, and locks were recommended for the court house. The jail doors also needed repairing.

3. Third Courthouse. Architect John Berry from Hillsborough was awarded the contract for a new courthouse around 1831-1832. Professor Powell speculates that "the building he [Berry] erected probably resembled the handsome brick courthouse which still stands in Hillsborough." Powell added: "Caswell's new courthouse faced the east, it was two stories, built of brick, and finished in the Doric style with panelling, columns, cornices, and arches inside to make it a truly handsome structure when it was completed in the summer of 1933."

Hillsborough Courthouse


"[In 1831] [a] committee composed of James Rainey, Benj. C. West, John C. Robers, Q. Anderson, and James W. Jeffreys was appointed to plan a new courthouse. Two plans were submitted. One was for a structure 55 by 40 feet with two jury rooms at one end, each 15 feet square with a 10-foot passage between them. Over the jury rooms was a room of equal size for the clerk and register [of deeds.] There would also be a room, a "Gallery" the committee termed it, for the reception of a large number of people. These upstairs rooms would be reached by a stairway between the jury rooms. Walls would be 26 feet high and the court room would be 40 feet square."

"A second plan called for a building 45 feet long and 83 feet wide, 25 feet high. In this one the count offices and jury room would be on the first floor and the court room on the second reached by a flight of stairs between the jury rooms."

"In either case it was recommended that the walls be of brick, windows and door sills of dressed stone, doors and windows either circular or angular at the top, and the roof hipped and so constructed as to permit a belfry or cupola. The committee proposed that inside the walls of the court room might be formed a few niches in which might be placed the Bust of some of Caswell's most distinguished Jurists and Statesmen."

The court decided upon the first (larger) plan, the 55 by 40 foot building, and in April issued a call for bids. It was determined that the cost should not exceed $5,000. Captain John Berry of Hillsborough was awarded the contract, and work was far enough along in July 1832, that commissioners were authorized to award a contract for the inside work, the justices' bench, the bar and every other thing or matter necessary and proper to be done. One year later the commissioners reported that the new courthouse was finished in a masterly and workman like manner and that they had received the building for the county. The court ordered Captain Berry to turn over the keys to Azariah Graves, the commissioner of public buildings.

This third Caswell County courthouse must have been a rather impressive building. It was constructed of brick and stood in front of the handsome old courthouse still standing that was completed in 1861. The 1831 structure faced east and west, however. Some of the windows and perhaps some of the doors were saved from the 1831 building building and are now used in private buildings in Yanceyville.

The John Berry courthouse was damaged by fire in 1857, and for a time there was local disagreement over whether to repair it or to build a new courthouse. By early 1858 the decision had been made to abandon the old building and erect a new one.

4. Fourth Courthouse. This is the building, completed in 1861, that we still have today. Note that for years the architect was erroneously reported as John W. Cosby. The actual architect was William Percival. Taxes were of course necessary to finance construction of a new courthouse, and some protested. The Milton Chronicle on January 8, 1858, had a telling comment to make on the topic of the day. "We don't relish that word 'tax,'" the editor said, "although we pay more in one month for a filthy weed called Tobacco, and the chewing of which is killing us piece-meal, than we would be called on to pay for building the new Court House." That same issue of the Chronicle announced that the contract for the new building had not been awarded on the day designated by the commissioners in order to allow the architect further time to work on plans.

This handsome building, constructed between 1858 and 1861 is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Architecturally it is considered one of the most distinctive courthouses in North Carolina. It is described as an eclectic Victorian structure with an unusually striking main facade dramatized by the recessed entrance porch on two levels, the brightly painted capitals of corn and tobacco, and the fine arched corbel course of the cornice. At a cost of about $28,000, it was completed in the year that the state seceded from the Union. Stone used in it was quarried about half a mile away and the bricks which it required were made near the quarry. Local legend, perhaps stimulated by the magnificence of the building recounts that the builder went broke before the yard was filled in and the rear retaining wall constructed, and that he later committed suicide.

Originally an ornate cast iron fence from the Yarbrough Foundry enclosed the courthouse, but it was taken down during the first half of 1941 either to be repaired or reproduced. World War II began before the fence was ready to be erected again, and it was sold for scrap iron, deemed essential for the war effort. It also was in 1941 that the courthouse was extensively repaired and painted as a WPA project. The ancient brown sandstone exterior was covered with grey paint. In 1953 the courtroom was severely damaged by fire, but skilled workmen were brought in from Atlanta to repair the delicate plaster decorations.

(click on photograph for larger image)

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Caswell County Sheriff Officers

Ray McGuire of Yanceyville identified three of the four officers pictured in last week’s photo, above, as Lacey Smith, James “Snake” Ashby and George Hodges. Share your old photos with your Caswell neighbors. Bring them by The Caswell Messenger for publication. Photos can be scanned and returned immediately.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards


Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards is living the example of her own advice to local students, “you are limited only by your imagination.” Edwards, a Yanceyville native, represents Maryland’s 4th Congressional District comprising portions of Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. Edwards was sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 110th Congress in June 2008, when Rep. Albert Wynn resigned his office, and began her first full-term in the 111th Congress in 2009. Edwards grandparents and mother are from Caswell, and many of her relatives still live here. The congresswoman says she doesn’t get out of Maryland as much as she used to, but does come to Caswell for family reunions. When she’s here, Edwards said she loves to visit the church founded and named for her grandfather Henry Albert Graves, Graves Chapel Baptist Church. Edwards said she didn’t stay in Yanceyville long after she was born, since her father was serving in the Air Force, the family moved around a lot. But, in what she calls “a sort of round trip,” Edwards came back to North Carolina to attend Wake Forest University, where she graduated in 1980. After working a stint at NASA, she decided to go to law school in New Hampshire at Franklin Pierce Law Center. Edwards then did a lot of non-profit work, centered mostly around issues of domestic violence and founded the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

When her son was graduating high school in 2006, Edwards said, she decided to run for congress. That attempt failed, as she took on a seven-term incumbent. Edwards continued to work hard and tried again, defeating Rep. Albert Wynn in 2008. Wynn resigned, so Edwards took over in the middle of a congress, and then won her first full term in Nov. of that year. Edwards said spending a summer working on her great uncle Willie Frank Phillips’ farm in Mebane was an experience she will never forget. “It’s where I learned to become a gardener,” she said. “My mother was always a gardener but it’s because of her farm roots.” Edwards said her mother, Mary Edwards, and an aunt now live near her, having migrated to the Washington D.C. area. Edwards said of all her accomplishments, she is most proud of being a mother. For those who, like her, hail from Caswell, Edwards says, “They have to stretch their imaginations.” “They have to imagine themselves where they want to be. I come from really humble beginnings ... I studied a lot in school ... I read a ton ... if you work really hard, it doesn’t matter how you start; it matters how you finish.”
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Source: The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 11 November 2009

Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards of Fort Washington represents Maryland’s 4th Congressional District comprising portions of Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. She was sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 110th Congress in June 2008, and began her first full-term in the 111th Congress in 2009.

She serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee where she sits on:

• Subcommittee on Highways and Transit
• Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
• Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management

She serves on the Science and Technology Committee where she sits on:

• The Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation
• The Subcommittee on Energy and Environment
• The Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics

She also serves as a member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

Rep. Edwards has enjoyed a diverse career as a nonprofit public interest and in the private sector on NASA’s Spacelab project. Just prior to serving in Congress, she was the executive director of the Arca Foundation in Washington, DC. During her time at Arca, she gained national prominence in her efforts to:

• Secure a "living wage" for working people.
• Ensure the independence of the federal judiciary.
• End capital punishment.
• Protect Social Security, and
• Promote labor and human rights both nationally and internationally.

Rep. Edwards was the co-founder and executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence where she led the effort to pass The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Rep. Edwards completed undergraduate studies at Wake Forest University and received her Juris Doctor from Franklin Pierce Law Center. She is the proud mother of her son who is currently attending college.
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Beatrice Foster Gwynn (1917-2009)

Beatrice Foster Gwynn

Nov 17, 2009 - 06:26:15 pm CST (The Caswell Messenger)

Yanceyville, NC - Mrs. Beatrice Foster Gwynn of 1044 Foster Rd., died Sunday, November 15, 2009 in the Brian Center Nursing Facility in Yanceyville, NC. She was a native of Caswell County, NC the daughter of the late James Madison Foster and Lillie McKinley Foster, born January 30, 1917. She was a member of Mineral Springs Baptist Church, where she was mother of the church and a member of the missionary circle. She was also a former member of the senior choir, Pastors Aid, and Sunday school. She was a member of the Order Of Eastern Star #624. She was a homemaker.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Nolden Gwynn; one son, Robert Gwynn; one foster son, Walter Totten; six brothers, Edgar, Jack, Bill, Dorsey, and Jody Foster; five sisters, Anna Watlington, Honey Totten; Maggie Turner, Rebecca Watlington and Nannie Simpson. Her survivors are one daughter, Barbara Gwynn Brown of Yanceyville, NC; one daughter-in-law, Mrs. Louise Gwynn of Blanch, NC; 6 grandchildren; 6 great grandchildren; 2 great great grandchildren.

Funeral services will be Thursday, November 19, 2009 2:00 PM in the Mineral Springs Baptist Church. Pastor Everett Dickerson will deliver the words of comfort. Interment will follow in the church cemetery. A viewing will be Wednesday from 2 to 8 pm at Fulton Funeral Home Chapel. The family may be contacted at her residence 1044 Foster Rd. Yanceyville, NC. All arrangements are entrusted to Fulton Funeral Home.
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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Watlington Reunion 1928


(click on photograph for larger image)

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Above are two photographs taken at a 1928 reunion of Watlington and related families. The location is the Caswell County, North Carolina, home of Otis Oscar Watlington (1872-1929) and Martha Elizabeth Page Watlington (1876-1965). The first photograph is a separate view of the younger people. The second photograph includes all attendees. To the extent known, the identities of those in the larger group photograph are set forth below:

First Row

1. Clarence Wright Watlington (1904-1979)
2. Not Identified [initially thought to be Wilbur Jones Page (1913-2009)]
3. Marion Arnold Nethery (1906-1990)
4. Albert Edgar Rice (1904-1967)
5. Virginia W. Dix (c.1918) (daughter of Felix Dix and Gertie V. Dix)
6. Bedford Page Dix (born c.1919) (son of Felix Dix and Gertie V. Dix)
7. James A. Dix (c.1915) (son of Felix Dix and Gertie V. Dix)
8. Mary Catherine Gunn (Jones) (1916-2003)
9. Margaret L. Shelton (born c.1918) (daughter of George Henry Shelton and Elizabeth Nethery Shelton)
10. Mary Lou Shelton (born c.1918) (daughter of George Henry Shelton and Elizabeth Nethery Shelton)
11. Barbara Ann Roberts (born c.1928) (believed to be a daughter of Hilliard Woods Roberts and Rosa Shelton Roberts)
12. Ruby H. Roberts (born c.1919) (believed to be a daughter of Hilliard Woods Roberts and Rosa Shelton Roberts)
13. Dorothy Mae Watlington (Stogner) (1924-1993)
14. Anna Elizabeth Watlington (Odell) (1923-2007)
15. Oscar Bryan Watlington, Jr. (1921-1990)
16. Julius Neal Watlington (born 1922)
17. Margaret Susan Watlington (1915-1997) (Hodges, Brown)
18. James Irvin Watlington (1924-2003)
19. Harvey Wilson Watlington (born 1917)
20. Nannie Mae Allison (believed to be the daughter of John Samuel Allison and Martha Ollie Shelton Allison)

Second Row

21. Herman Gunn Page (1904-1979)
22. Robert H. Jones
23. Josie Rudd
24. Betty F. Walters (Rudd) (daughter of Robert F. Walters and Emma Page Walters)
25. Emma Page Walters (1857-1933) (wife of Robert F. Walters)
26. Nettie Alice Page Dix or Gertie Dix (who may be the same person and the wife of Felix Dix)
27. Effie Lenora Page (Gunn) (1882-1954)
28. Sterling Page Gunn (1923-2006)
29. Not Identified
30. Mamie Page
31. Elizabeth Wilson Gunn (1847-1931)
32. Nancy Elizabeth (Nannie) Rudd (Gunn) (wife of Richard Griffin Gunn)
33. Maniza Ann Page (Rice) 1870-1959)
34. Hattie Wilson Page (Vaughn) (1880-1968)
35. Mary Mamie Page (Nethery) (1878-1967) (wife of Joseph Enoch Nethery)
36. Martha Elizabeth (Mattie) Page (Watlington) (1876-1965) (wife of Oscar Otis Watlington)
37. Otis Oscar Watlington (1872-1929) (son of James William Watlington and Laura Ann Jones)
38. Caroline Wimbish Bennett (1872-1952) (Jones) (wife of Robert Henry Jones)

Third Row

39. William Edwin (Willie) Gunn (1910-1987) (son of Thomas Edwin Gunn and Effie Lenora Page Gunn)
40. Bedford Allen Gunn (1906-1994) (son of Thomas Edwin Gunn and Effie Lenora Page Gunn)
41a. Benjamin Franklin McKinney, Jr. (1905-1967) (husband of Annie Belle Watlington)
41b. Adolphus (Doth) Page
42. Annie Bell Watlington (McKinney) (wife of Benjamin Franklin McKinney, Jr.)
43. Willard Holderby (this may be the husband of Zettie May Dix Holderby)
44. John Henry Gunn (1882-1962)
45. Zettie Holderby (this may be Zettie May Dix, daughter of Felix Dix and Nettie Alice Page Dix)
46. Louis Oscar Daniel (1904-1973) (husband of Martha Ann Gunn)
47. Felix Dix (born c.1881) (believed to be the husband of Nettie Alice Page Dix)
48. Thomas Earl Gunn (1914-2004)
49. Bill Dix
50. Martha Nethery (possibly the daughter of Joseph Enoch Nethery and Mary Mamie Page Nethery)

Fourth Row

51. Pattie Griffin Gunn (1895-1956)
52. Mary Lucinda Dix (possibly daughter of Felix Dix and Nettie Alice Page Dix)
53. Elizabeth Rice
54. Willard Jackson Page (1874-1962)
55. Robert Hayes Vaughn (1885-1957) (husband of Hattie Wilson Page)
56. Joseph Enoch Nethery (1874-1959) (husband of Mary Mamie (Nannie) Page)
57. Julius Spencer Watlington (1895-1972) (husband of Laura Mae Jones Watlington)
58. Laura Mae Jones (Watlington) (1903-1989)
58. Sara Lou Watlington (Gunter) (born 1926) (being held by her mother Laura Mae Jones Watlington)
59. Fannie Sue Roberts (Watlington) (1897-1981) (wife of Oscar Bryan Watlington)
59. Thomas Earl Watlington (born 1927) (being held by his mother Fannie Sue Roberts Watlington)
60. Oscar Bryan Watlington (1897-1973)

Fifth Row

61. Hubert Hodnet Page (1897-1974)
62. Eugene Rice (1895-1974) or William Gunn
63. Clyde Philip Page (1910-1982)
64. Ludolphus Graham Page (1902-1970)
65. John Oliver Gunn (1892-1992)
66. Not Identified
67. Rosa Shelton Roberts (1893-1972) (wife of Hilliard Woods (Hill) Roberts)
68. Hilliard Woods (Hill) Roberts (1897-1969) (husband of Rosa Shelton Roberts)
69. Martha Ann (Marnie) Gunn (Daniel) (1904-1985) (against post; wife of Lewis Oscar Daniel)
70. Annie Gunn (possibly Annie Elizabeth Gunn, daughter of John Henry Gunn and Hattie Florance Smith Gunn)
71. Hattie Gunn (possibly Hattie Florance Smith Gunn, wife of John Henry Gunn)
72. Janie Page (possibly daughter of Willard Jackson Page and Mary E. Gwynn Page)
73. Louise Page (possibly daughter of Willard Jackson Page and Mary E. Gwynn Page)
74. Virginia W. Dix (believed to be the daughter of Felix Dix and Nettie Alice Page Dix)
75. Elizabeth Page
76. Annie Nethery (possibly Annie Elizabeth Nethery, daughter of Joseph Enoch Nethery and Mary Mamie Page)
77. Marnie Page (possibly Martha Ann Gunn, daughter of Thomas Edwin Gunn and Effie Lenora Page Gunn)
78. Ella Shelton
79. Martha Dix
80. Emma Rice or Eva Page
81. Mamie Roberts
82. Annie Page or Mamie Roberts (against post)
83. Mrs. Adolphus (Doth) Page
84. Katie Shelton
85. Bentley Page (possibly John Bentley Page, son of Ludolphus Brown Page and Parthenia Phillip Hodnett Page)
86. Nettie Shelton (possibly Nettie Malloy Shelton, daughter of William Thomas Shelton and Martha Elizabeth Page Shelton)
87. Nettie Rice (possibly Nettie Page Rice, daughter of Albert Edgar Rice and Maniza Ann Page Rice)
88. Lillie Frances Jones (Fowlkes) (born 1910; wife of Robert Jennings Fowlkes)
89. Naomi Jones (1911-1943) (daughter of Robert Henry Jones and Caroline Wimbish Bennett Jones)
90. Percy McKinney
91. Nellie Althea Jones (Hodges) (born 1913; daughter of Robert Henry Jones and Caroline Wimbish Bennett Jones)
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