Monday, August 20, 2018

George Andrew Anderson 1914 Letter

George Andrew Anderson
Office of Superintendent of Schools
Caswell County
Geo. A. Anderson, Superintendent

Yanceyville, N.C.
Jan. 02/12 (day not clear), 1914

Miss Edna,

The rise and fall of Stephens are the most tragic events associated with our County's history -- the boldness of the assassination, the secrecy maintained, taken with the causes which brought bout the tragedy, all appeal to human interest.

Stephens was a magistrate and also a State Senator -- and a politician of that _____, developed by the passions and prejudices growing out of the war.

He held a complete mastery over the negroes in the County and they were ready to follow his lead. His speeches to them were said to have been inflammatory and incendiary. I have been told that barns and houses, as many as 3 or 4, could be seen burning from the Poteat House vestibule.

He was not a man of wealth -- and bore the cognomen of chicken thief Stephens, having been indicted, I am told, upon that charge in the courts of Rockingham county.

The conditions in Caswell under his leadership became intolerable and it was determined to make way with him. The Conspiracy was a bold one. For some time it was impossible to get an opportunity -- but the opportunity came in this way -- On May 20th 1870, there was a public speaking in the Court room, a large crowd being present, -- Stephens was in the Court room and a man was sent to him professing to have a message from Frank Wiley -- in which it was stated that Wiley wished to meet him in conference regarding a political matter. Just the first time Stephens was taken off his guard and followed the messenger, they went to an unused room in the Court house, -- the room now occupied by Atty Julius Johnston.

As they entered the room, the door was closed, a rope thrown over Stephens' neck stifling his cries and someone taking a knife severed his jugular vein -- The Conspirators left his being on a pile of wood, locked the door, and one of the men carried off the key and threw it into the waters of Country line creek at a crossing known as Poteat's bridge.

You will understand, Miss Edna, that I cannot authenticate the scene of the tragedy, yes the above is a _____ the true story. Frank Wiley did not do the killings, was only used as a decoy.

This was not a __________ of the ________ though possibly these were Mr. Wiley's, among the conspirators.

Immediately after the murder, Gov Holden declared our County to be in a state of insurrection and the infamous Gen. Kirke was sent here, with an army of "________," collected from the mountain regions of the State. Our people were subjected to the most mortifying indignations.

Many of first citizens were arrested, incarcerated in the Court room -- being held there for quite a period -- being the men imprisoned, that I recall from memory were the following, J. M. Neal, Burch Holden, Daniel Weeden, D. A. G. Yancey, Sheriff Griffith, F. A. Wiley, T. J. Womack, Doc Graves, George Williamson, Tom Oliver, Jack _____, Wm Bowe, and D____ Moore.

These men were liberated, without bail, as a result of Habeas Corpus proceeding before Judge Brooks of the Federal Court at Raleigh -- that was the end of the proceedings, the men never being again called into court.

I failed to state that Stephens body was found by his brother.

I have given you a very meagre account, as I am very much _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ state -- that Judge Tourge colored his book to make it appeal to the prejudices of the North, or it is possible that he was led by distorted facts into error.

Stephens'' murder was brought about, in my opinion, ______ as a means of self preservation of our County. A volume could be written about this tragedy and circumstances thereto.

I trust what I may have written will give the assurances that our people were justified _____ _____ _____.

With best wishes,

Very truly yours,

George A. Anderson 

[Paragraph breaks added.]

Yanceyville Fire Department

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The Bee (Danville, Virginia), Thursday, 14 March 1940.

Danville Man Gives Yanceyville Its First Fire Engine: Traded In Engine Bought By Swicegood; Goes Friday

The nearby town of Yanceyville, N.C., is to receive, as a gracious gift, its first fire engine tomorrow morning, and the historic old town is preparing to whoop things up.

It all came about this way:

Danville is commissioning a new fire engine to replace an old 750-gallons-per-minute pumper which has done service since 1922. When the time came to trade, the value allowed on the old machine was only $100.

City Councilman D. W. Swicegood, chairman of the public works committee and who has a lot of sentiment for Caswell county, did some quick thinking and some close figuring. It would end up by his buying the old fire engine back from the manufacturing company out of his own pocket. He had the engineer to tune it up, had it repainted with the legend "Yanceyville Fire Department" and offered it to the town fathers as a gift with no strings tied.

Yanceyville accepted it without more than a minute's delay for it has recently installed a water system with fire hydrants and everything. Yanceyville bought 500 feet of hose and recruited a fire brigade. Housing for the engine near the town square was quickly secured and the deal was finished in no time.

Tomorrow Mr. Swicegood, Fire Chief John Long and Larry Lavell, engineer here from the Elmira, N. Y. factory, will carry the new engine to Yanceyville and will see that it is delivered. Mr. Lavell will post the new crew on the operation of the machine.

Presentation of the reconditioned engine which cost Mr. Swicegood a sum which has not been revealed, is expected to result in a material reduction in the Yanceyville fire insurance rates.


A Timely Gift To Old Caswell

Caption Under Photograph--Bee Staff Photo

This is the old city fire engine which has been purchased privately by City Councilman D. W. Swicegood, reconditioned and which is being given to the town of Yanceyville tomorrow.

The hood is off because the new gilt lettering "Yanceyville Fire Department" was not dry when the picture was taken. J. J. Mansfield, veteran Danville fireman poses at the wheel and Fire Chief John Long, who will go with the engine for presentation to Yanceyville tomorrow stands at the right.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

James Thomas Graves and Lucy Everett Family

James Thomas Graves
Had at least seven children.

Graduate of Thomas Jefferson Medical School, Philadelphia.

Graves Family Association Genealogy #270 (Caswell County, North Carolina): Dr. James  Thomas  Graves (5 October 1834 - 5 January 1914)

John Graves m. Unknown
Thomas Graves m. Mary Perkins
John Graves m. Isabella Lea
Thomas Graves m. Hannah Miles
James Graves m. Mary Slade
Thomas Williams Graves m. Mary Sims Graves
Dr. James Thomas Graves

Looking Backward by Hugh Johnston

Dr. J. T. Graves

James Thomas Graves, son of Thomas Williams Graves and wife Mary Graves of Caswell County, was born on October 5, 1834, and died on January 5, 1914, in Wilson. On August 14, 1860, he married Louisa Frances Barnes, daughter of Edwin Barnes and wife Elizabeth Simms of Wilson County. She was born on April 9, 1840, and died on July 10, 1904. (1) Mary Elizabeth, born in July of 1861, married Jesse Jackson Yates, (2) Franklin was born on November 14, 1862, and died on April 1, 1885, (3) Frances Simms, born on November 5, 1868, married James Edwin Woodard on February 12, 1891, (4) Leonora, born on May 31, 1872, married Henry Watson Wharton, (5) Edwin Barnes, born on February 7, 1874, married Cornelia Stallings, (6) William Williams, born on February 7, 1876, married Gladys Wells, and (7) Sarah Simms, born on August 18, 1879, married Robert Lee Bagley.

Dr. Graves received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and by 1860 was practicing his profession while residing with C. C. Peacock in the Town of Stantonsburg. He drove a span of fine horses and maintained a very successful appearance. About the same year Dr. R. G. Barham, born in 1835 in Virginia, bought a lot in the Town of Wilson and began to practice while living with Jesse H. Adams. Both young physicians immediately laid siege to the heart of Louisa Frances Barnes, who had small feet, a wonderful disposition, and the prospects of heiring a considerable property, but who could otherwise lay no claim to beauty.

The contest became extremely heated, and a state of ill feeling existed. The rivals maintained something like an armed truce until Dr. Barham stated publicly his expectation of being the lucky man. Dr. Graves with fiery impetuosity challenged him to a duel so "the best man would get her." Dueling had long been contrary to the laws of North Carolina, but Virginia was conveniently near. Franklin Washington Barnes, brother of the young lady in question, acted as Dr. Graves's second and an early meeting was arranged for Emporia. Graves and Barnes actually took the train to Emporia and waited for Barham to appear, but mutual friends had in the meanwhile argued the latter out of going. It is interesting to note that Dr. Barham was in another year the Assistant Surgeon of the 28th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, Confederate States Army, and that he never returned to Wilson to live.

1850 United States Federal Census
Name: James T Graves
Age: 14
Estimated birth year: abt 1836
Birth Place: Caswell
Gender: Male
Home in 1850 (City,County,State): Caswell, North Carolina

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Caswell Lea (1802-1874)

Caswell Lea b.1802-1874 (Son of Major Lea and Rhoda Jarnagin)   by Barb White (July 19, 2018)                           


 1802    Birth1

1830    Census:  Jefferson County TN2
              2 Males 20-29

Sept 5, 1839  Marriage: Miss Elizabeth Johnson   Salem, Virginia3

Sept 23, 1839 Marriage: Elizabeth B Johnston      Salem, Virginia4

1840    Census:  Jefferson County, TN5
              1 male 30-39, 1 female under 5, 1 female 20-29

1850    Census:  Polk County, TN6
              Caswell Lea        48      Tennessee         
              Elizabeth B Lea   37        Virginia
              Jane A J Lea            13        Tennessee
              Martha E Lea          12        Tennessee
              John H Lea               9         Tennessee
              Joseph W Lea           6         Tennessee
              James P Lea             4               Tennessee
              George P Lea           1         Tennessee
              Eliza A D Lea          25        Tennessee  {sister}

 Feb 25,1857     Bradley County TN Chancery Court Case7

                Caswell Lea Appointed Guardian to Eliza Adelia Lea,
                She is declared of unsound mind. Caswell appointed trustee for his
                Children's interest in sale of property by his wife as she only has a
                life interest in this land. Children named are John H Lea, Joseph W Lea,
                James P Lea, Elizabeth B J Lea and George P Lea.  Negroes of Eliza Adelia Lea sold to Charity Lea,
                wife of Houston H Lea, decd., With John Allison as security
               {children named must be only those living at home yet}

  1857   Tennessee Supreme Court Case8

              Character of Caswell Lea questioned in case of Eliza B Lea vs John G Carter
              regarding sale of town lots to Elizabeth Johnston, her mother. Elizabeth B Lea
             and Caswell Lea's children mentioned are :John H, Joseph W, James P, George P,
             and Elizabeth.  {children named must be those living at home yet}

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Lea Family: Obituaries and Marriage Notices from the Tennessee Baptist 1844-1862

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Obituaries and Marriage Notices from the Tennessee Baptist 1844-1862, Compiled by Russell Pierce Baker 1979

LEA, ELIZA d. march 16, 1859 in Desoto Co., Miss., mother of Eld. William M. Lea* age 70
Oct 1, 1859
* William Moore Lea, son of John and Eliza Vaughn Lea

LEA, ELIZA VAUGHN d. March 16, 1859 in Desoto Co., Miss wife of Eld. John Lea*, age 41 (sic)
Nov 9, 1861
*John Lea, son of James (Shooboot)Lea & Frances  Rucker

LEA, ELIZABETH d. march 27, 1860  in Haywood, TN    widow of James R Lea*    b. 1794
May 5, 1860
*James Rucker Lea, son of James Shooboot Lea/FR and  sp of Eliza Graves

LEA, JAMES RUCKER* d. July 28, 1855  in White Co., Ark age 45                                                    April 14, 1855
*Son of John Lea/Eliza Vaughn

LEA, ELD. JOHN d. Juy 28, 1861 in Conway Co., Ark  age 73                                                              Nov 9, 1861
*son of James(Shooboot) Lea/Frances Rucker

LEA, MARY A. d. March 23, 1860 in Haywood Co., TN wife of Solomon P. Lea, age 23                    May 5, 1860
*Mary Ann Pender

LEA, S. P*. married to Mary Ann Pender Oct 1, 1856 in Haywood Co., TN                                          Dec 13, 1856
*Solomon P Lea, son of James Rucker Lea/Elizabeth Graves

LEA, ELD. W.M*. married to Sallie Barrett June 3, 1861 in Little Rock, Ark                                        June 29, 1861
*William Moore Lea, son of John Lea and Eliza Vaughn

Friday, July 20, 2018

Colonel John Patton (1765-1831): The North Carolina - South Carolina Border Surveys - 1730 to 1815

It appears that the dispute between the two Carolinas as to boundary lines began around the year of 1720, "when the purpose to erect a third Province in Carolina, with Savannah for its northern boundary," began to assume definite shape.

However, nothing was done until January 8, 1730, when a line was agreed on "to begin 30 miles southwest of the Cape Fear River, and to be run at that parallel distance the whole course of said river." In the following June, Governor Robert Johnson of South Carolina recommended that it run from a point 30 miles southwest of the source of the Cape Fear, shall be continued "due west as far as the South Sea," unless the "Waccamaw river lyes within 30 miles of the Cape Fear river," in which case that river should be the boundary.

This was accepted by North Carolina until it was discovered that the "Cape Fear rose very close to the Virginia border," and would not have "permitted any extension on the part of North Carolina to the westward." Meanwhile, both provinces claimed land on the north side of the Waccamaw river."

In 1732, Governor George Burrington of North Carolina published a proclamation in Timothy's Southern Gazette, declaring the lands lying on the north side of the Waccamaw River to be within the Province of North Carolina, to which Governor Robert Johnson of South Carolina replied by a similar proclamation claiming the same land to belong to South Carolina.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thomas Day Wardrobe on Display in Milton

Thomas Day Wardrobe on Display in Milton
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An 1856 Thomas Day wardrobe from the estate of Lois Sydnor Angle Love (1925-2018) now is on display at the Milton Renaissance Foundation Museum in Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina. 

Thomas Archimedes Donoho (1827-1887) apparently purchased various pieces of furniture from Milton cabinetmaker Thomas Day. On a bill of sale dated 25 February 1856, Day charged Donoho $95 for a rosewood wardrobe. Because most of the other Thomas Day wardrobes sold for between $25 and $35, the increase in price suggests the use of expensive wood.

The wardrobe was used by the Donoho family at their "Longwood" home, which burned a few years ago. "Longwood" was the home of the Donoho family until November 1954 when the last surviving child of Thomas Archimedes Donoho and Isabella Glenn Garland (1832-1886) died. It was once the home of Romulus Mitchell Saunders (1791-1867), who traded it to Dr. John Tabb Garland, M.D. (c.1795-1874). And, it presumably is through this ownership that the "Longwood" property came into the hands of the Donoho family. The daughter of Dr. Garland, Isabella Glenn Garland, married Thomas Archimedes Donoho 19 April 1854.
Courtesy The Caswell Messenger

Thomas Archimedes Donoho and Isabella Glenn Garland Donoho had the following children:

Mary Lowry Donoho (1855-1929) m. John M. Shepard
Isabella Garland Donoho (1856-1858)
Kate Morrison Donoho (1858-1869)
John Tabb Donoho (1860-1937) m. Nannie Graves Mebane
Thomas Archimedes (Arch) Donoho (1862-1920)
Isabella Victoria Donoho (1865-1950)
Glenn Garland (Doney) Donoho (1867-1945) m. Emily H. Watkins
Ellen Smith Donoho (1869-1954)
Grace Donoho (1871-1954) m. John Edward Tucker
Romulus Saunders Donoho (1873-1947) m. Annette Cotter

Several of these children rest at Cedars Cemetery in Milton, North Carolina.


Milton Renaissance Foundation Museum and Visitors Center (169 Broad Street, Milton, NC).

The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), Wednesday, 18 July 2018, Pages 1, 6, and 14.

Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color, Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll (2010) at 243 (footnote 134).

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Lewis Marion Graves (1826-1902)

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Whether Lewis Marion Graves is part of the following collections is not known:

Emory University
Graves Family Papers, 1818-1939 (Bulk 1835-1910)
Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library
Atlanta, GA 30322
Permanent Link:

University of North Carolina
The Southern Historical Collection
Collection Number: 02606
Collection Title: Charles Iverson Graves Papers, 1831-1962

University of North Carolina
The Southern Historical Collection
Collection Number: 02716
Collection Title: Graves Family Papers, 1815-1901

A quick look at the online descriptions of these collections revealed no reference to a Lewis Marion Graves (or a Marion Lewis Graves).

Lewis Marion Graves (1793-1854) is a grandson of the Solomon Graves (1766-1830) who built "Mt. Pleasant" in Covington, Newton County, Georgia, Lewis Marion Graves being the son of Dr. John Lewis Graves, M.D. (1793-1854) and Martha W. Graves Graves (1801-1868).

This Dr. John Lewis Graves, M.D., is a brother of Iverson Lea Graves (1799-1864) of the Emory University Graves Family Papers collection. Thus, Iverson Lea Graves is an uncle of Lewis Marion Graves, and it would seem understandable that Lewis Marion Graves (or Marion Lewis Graves) was referenced in the collection.

Find A Grave memorial link:

Graves Family Association Gen #270 text:

Children of John L. Graves (532) and Martha W. (Graves) Dick

Lewis Marion Graves (1759), also known as Marion Lewis Graves, was born 14 July 1826 in Newton Co., GA, and died 13 Nov. 1902 in Ponce de Leon, Holmes Co., FL.  He has two headstones at his gravesite.  He married Martha Lisco.  She was born 13 March 1837 in AL, and died 5 July 1904 in Ponce de Leon, FL.  They were buried in Old Ponce de Leon Cem., Ponce de Leon, FL.  From his application for a Civil War Pension:  "I was shot through the right thigh with a minney ball at Tenson Mountain and remained sick in hospital at Atlanta, Ga. for a long time, and I am still sufering [sic] and can only walk on one foot., and I am not able to do any work att all."  His pension of $96 per year was granted on March 19, 1902, back dated to January 16, 1902. He died on 13 Nov. 1902, having only collected eleven months of his disability pension.

It was believed for some time that Lewis was descended from Capt. Thomas Graves of VA, and that the most likely connection was either from Lewis7 Graves (Robert6, Thomas5) who was born 1760 in Spotsylvania Co., VA, and died 1839 in Newton Co., GA, or from Solomon7 Graves (John6, Thomas5) who was born in 1766, married Frances Byrd Lewis, and lived in Newton Co., GA, perhaps through Solomon's son John L. Graves, born 1793.  Although none of the sons of Lewis Graves (b. 1760) is obvious candidates to be the father of Lewis Marion Graves, John L. Graves did have a son of the right age to be Lewis Marion Graves.  DNA testing in 2002 confirmed that Lewis Marion Graves was from this part of the family (although the testing could not distinguish between the two lines suggested here).  Lewis Marion Graves was probably the male in the household of John L. Graves listed as under 5 in 1830, and 15-20 in 1840.

This family was recorded on the 1880 census in Holmes Co., FL; their first two children were born in AL and the last three in FL.  (R-473, R-446).

Source: Graves Family Association Website (, Accessed 24 February 2014.

Note the Find A Grave discrepancy with the above, showing Mary Unknown Graves (1837-1904) as the wife of Lewis Marion Graves. Of course these may be (and probably are based upon the life dates) the same person.

The research documents R-473 and R-446 may prove helpful.

The following census record lists five children.

1880 United States Federal Census
Name: Louis Graves
Age: 60
Birth Date: Abt 1820
Birthplace: Georgia
Home in 1880: Precinct 1, Holmes, Florida, USA
Dwelling Number: 177
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Self (Head)
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: Mary Graves
Father's Birthplace: Georgia
Mother's Birthplace: Georgia
Married During Census Year: Y
Occupation: Laborer
Cannot Read: Yes
Cannot Write: Yes
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
Louis Graves 60
Mary Graves 40
Samantha Graves 19
Emoline Graves 15
Nansey Graves 12
Lizzie Graves 8
Columbus Graves 5

Note that William Columbus Graves is shown on the Find A Grave site.

See: 1979 Katherine Kerr Kendall letter concerning the Solomon Graves family.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Bible Record of Solomon Graves (1784-1861)

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Bible Record of Solomon Graves (1784-1861), Graves Family Association Genealogy #270. At left is page three.

Much has been attributed to the following Bible record of Solomon Graves (1784-1861), the most significant being that Joseph Graves (c.1715-1774) and Thomas Graves (1691-aft.1767) are brothers. While the Bible record may indeed give support to that conclusion, researchers are admonished to realize that, not like many other family Bibles, this record appears to be an attempt by Solomon Graves to describe his Graves family. And, unlike other family Bibles, many of the "records" were not recorded contemporaneously with the event. Note also that part of the Bible record apparently was written by someone other than Solomon Graves (without date).

Moreover, the Bible record makes no mention of a third brother, John Graves, Jr. (c.1685-aft.1772), who has better real-world primary documentation than Joseph Graves or Thomas Graves. And, no mention is made of the parents of Joseph Graves and Thomas Graves.

Note the following from Graves Family Association Genealogy #270 with respect to the earliest known member of this line:

"John Graves (1) was born about 1665 and died after 1737. His wife's name is not known. It is believed that he was an immigrant to Virginia from Northamptonshire, England (based on DNA testing, and the Bible record of Solomon Graves in the Appendix) . . . . "

The problem is that nothing in the transcript of the "Bible record of Solomon Graves" supports the conclusion that this John Graves was an immigrant to Virginia from Northamptonshire, England."

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Battle of Alamance (North Carolina)

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Battle of Alamance (North Carolina)

At a site six miles southwest was fought on May 16, 1771, the Battle of Alamance. Opposing forces were Colonial Militia, mainly from the eastern part of the province, commanded by Governor William Tryon, and a band of frontier dwellers known as Regulators, who had risen in arms against corrupt practices in local government.

On May 14 Tryon’s force of 1,100 men, arriving in the heart of Regulator country to subdue these uprisings, made camp on Alamance Creek. Already some 2,000 Regulators, armed with old muskets and makeshift weapons, had come together five miles southwest of Tryon’s position. Messages were exchanged between the camps, the Governor demanding immediate and complete surrender of the Regulators and the Regulators petitioning the Governor for reforms. Nothing came of the negotiations and on the morning of May 16 Tryon ordered his force to march. His route led along the old Hillsborough-Salisbury road which connected the two camps.

After marching about three miles, Tryon halted the militia and ordered a practice battle formation. After this maneuver the force re-formed in marching column and continued down the road. At ten o’clock Tryon’s men arrived within half a mile of the Regulators where they formed battle lines. Tryon sent ahead messages offering surrender terms while his militia marched slowly forward. When three hundred yards from the Regulators, they halted. The messengers returned to say that the Regulators had scornfully rejected surrender. Much time was then consumed in an attempt to exchange prisoners taken by both sides, but this effort failed.

Tryon feared that the Regulators were stalling for time to improve their battle position and ordered his troops to draw closer. He then sent a final warning that he was ready to open fire. To this message the Regulators replied, “Fire, fire and be damned.” A barrage from the Governor’s artillery, consisting of six swivel guns and two brass field pieces, began the engagement and was the signal for concentrated musket fire from the militia ranks.

The Regulators responded with volley after volley from their nondescript weapons. For half an hour they held their position in the open, then retreated to the protective covering of the woods at the edge of the clearing. For another hour and a half the battle raged, then the Regulator fire slackened. Tryon immediately ordered a charge and soon drove the Regulators from their positions. The fleeing frontiersmen were pursued half a mile. There Tryon halted his men and turned back toward the camp on Alamance Creek.

Two wounded militiamen, as well as many of the wounded Regulators, were brought into camp and treated by the Governor’s physicians. Regulator losses were nine killed, upward of two hundred wounded and between twenty and thirty taken prisoner. Nine of Tryon’s men were killed and sixty-one wounded. On May 17 James Few, one of the captured Regulators, was hanged as an outlaw after refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the king.

With the Battle of Alamance the Regulators were decisively crushed, but the effect of their campaign for reforms was embodied in the North Carolina Constitution. Newspapers throughout the colonies gave the battle wide publicity. In Boston and Philadelphia they cited the Regulators as martyrs and used their example to encourage the American cause on the eve of the Revolution.


William S. Powell, James K. Huhta, and Thomas J. Farnham, eds., The Regulators in North Carolina, A Documentary History 1759-1776 (1971)

William L. Saunders, ed., The Colonial Records of North Carolina (1886-1890)

William S. Powell, The War of the Regulation (1949)

Paul David Nelson, William Tryon and the Course of Empire: A Life in British Imperial Service (1990)

William S. Powell, ed., The Correspondence of William Tryon and Other Selected Papers, 2 volumes (1980-1981)

Alamance Battleground State Historic Site website:

ID: G-2
Militia under Governor William Tryon defeated Regulators on May 16, 1771. Six miles S.W.

NC 62 at I-85 south of Burlington
County: Alamance
Original Date Cast: 1936

Friday, June 22, 2018

John Graves of Northamptonshire and Virginia

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John Graves/Greaves of Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom and Virginia, United States of America

Northamptonshire is a landlocked county located in the southern part of the East Midlands region which is sometimes known as the South Midlands. The county contains the watershed between the River Severn and The Wash while several important rivers have their sources in the north-west of the county, including the River Nene, which flows north-eastwards to The Wash, and the "Warwickshire Avon," which flows south-west to the Severn. In 1830 it was boasted that "not a single brook, however insignificant, flows into it from any other district." The highest point in the county is Arbury Hill at 225 metres (738 ft). There are several towns in the county with Northampton being the largest and most populous. At the time of the 2011 census, a population of 691,952 lived in the county with 212,069 living in Northampton. The table below shows all towns with over 10,000 inhabitants.

Source: Wikipedia

Graves Family Association Genealogy #270

John Graves, presently shown as the earliest known ancestor in this genealogy, may have been a son of William Graves and Ann, who were named as headrights in 1658 in New Kent Co., Virginia.  The background and evidence for this is discussed in a Research Study.

"The authors are inclined to believe that John Graves Sr. was the son of William and Ann Graves, that he was the owner and operator of Graves Ferry across the York and Pamunkey Rivers between about 1703 and 1730, and that he finally relocated to Spotsylvania County in [possibly with his son, John Graves Jr. in 1729] to be nearer his sons and grandchildren where he likely died shortly after 1737."

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Jesse Franklin Graves (1829-1887)

Jesse Franklin Graves (1829-1887)

Honorable Jesse Franklin Graves

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Of a distinguished family, the late Jesse Franklin Graves made his own career distinctive as an upright and capable lawyer, a wise counsellor, a courageous leader in public life, and one of the ablest, most painstaking and conscientious judges who ever sat on the Superior Court bench of North Carolina.

He was born in August 1829, and death came to him in the maturity of his usefulness, on November 9, 1894.

Barzillai Graves, grandfather of the late Judge Jesse Franklin Graves, was born in 1759. He became a Baptist minister, distinguished for his eloquence and powerful intellect. He married a lady of like mind and heart and culture, Ursula Wright. Their seven children were: Solomon; Barzillai, who died unmarried; Elizabeth, who married James Lea; Isabella, who married Hosea McNeill; Margaret, who married William Lipscomb; Jeremiah, who married Delilah Lea; and Mary, who married Thomas W. Graves. Reverend Barzillai Graves died July 14, 1827.

General Solomon Graves, father of Jesse Franklin Graves, was born in 1784, and died April 28, 1862. He acquired the title of general through his service in the state militia.

After completing his literary education, Solomon Graves studied law under Honorable Bartlett Yancey of Caswell County. When admitted to the bar he moved from Caswell and located in Surry County. There he soon became prominent as a lawyer of sterling worth and ability, and for several terms was a member of the General Assembly, serving both in the House and Senate. For thirty-two years he was clerk and master in equity for Surry County, and was also for many years a trustee of the State University. Patriotism was a keynote to his character and he possessed a depth and sincerity of conviction beyond most of his contemporaries.

In a time when little attention was given to the subject he was a strong advocate for temperance. About 1818, General Graves married Mary Cleveland Franklin, daughter of Jesse Franklin, whose career as an early governor of North Carolina and subsequently United States senator is the subject of a sketch for other pages of this publication. Mrs. Solomon Graves died about four years before her husband. They had seven children: Meeky Ann, who married Reverend Miles Foy; Sarah Emily, who married Major J. W. Hackett; Mary Ursula, who married Colonel Harrison M. Waugh; Elizabeth Franklin; Jesse Franklin; Margaret Isabella; and Barzillai Yancey.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Reverend Raymond Lee Graves (1928-2010)

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Defiant Graves Fights "System" with Fiery Flair

Sixty-two years have passed now and the death of Herman Graves, sharecropper, bootlegger and emerging social activist, is as resonant in his son's mind as ever.

His death gave rise to a story, which over the years has been burnished into legend, of a passel of angry white men forcing a German Luger into the hand of a black man and giving him no choice but to pull the trigger and kill his friend.

The story of the father's death has, in turn, fueled in the son an anger so strong it has yet to be tempered. It also has yielded a great distrust, particularly of something he calls the system.

"It was the system that killed my daddy," he says.

So it was that the Rev. Raymond Lee Graves was propelled into a life of the ministry and social activism. And so perhaps it is fitting, if not at least a little symbolic, that the New Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, where he is pastor, stands just outside Rochester's Inner Loop.

For nearly three decades now, Graves has stood defiantly outside the city's downtown boundary and established power structures, hurling angry criticism at targets large and small.

He has attacked the city police department for what he describes as a pattern of harassment and discrimination against minorities. Following the Calvin Green shooting in 1988, he dismissed as a sham the grand jury investigation and state probe that cleared the officer who killed Green, an unarmed black man. The officer was white, and many charged the killing was racially motivated.

Once, he called for the razing of the Hyatt hotel, saying its skeleton was unsafe. Another time he took to the airwaves to warn young black men not to wear watches for fear the glint of the metal would be mistaken by police officers for a weapon.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Back To Slavery: Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina

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Back To Slavery

Donald Henderson, president of the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers, C.I.O., has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate and take action in the case of a "slave" notice which appeared in the Yanceyville, (N.C.) Caswell Messenger. The notice read:

"Notice: I forbid anyone to hire or harbor Herman Miles, colored, during the year 1939. -- A. P. Dobbs, Route 1, Yanceyville."

Said Mr. Henderson: "This seems to me to involve violations of civil rights so atrocious that I am calling it to your attention in the hope that the F.B.I. can investigate and take some action. It seems that this procedure is based upon an archaic statute, yet on the books, although declared unconstitutional, and maybe several times, as smacking of peonage or slavery and abridging the liberties of human beings."

The advertisement first came to notice through being quoted by the Chapel Hill Weekly, published in the home town of the University of North Carolina.

"To satisfy my curiosity," wrote the editor of the Chapel Hill Weekly, "I wrote to a friend of mine in Yanceyville, who frequents the county offices and the law courts and knows almost about everything that goes on in Caswell County and asked him what it meant.

"He replied that such advertisements are still employed to 'put the fear of God into Negroes and ignorant white folks.'

"Many of our magistrates still hold it is 'good law' and zealously support its use in upholding contentions of landlords, who resent any dissatisfactions on the part of tenants to whom they have advanced as much as 50 cents for rations. Few landlords will risk incurring the wrath of some Christian, Democratic freeholder by hiring his hand after he warned us not to. As long as folks don't know the statute is unconstitutional it can be made to serve its intended purpose. The Caswell legislator who would try to take that law off the books would lose many votes."

It would appear that the advertisement in the Caswell Messenger certainly is specific enough for the G-Men to take action through its civil liberties division as this would appear to be an open and shut case of peonage. It if weren't for publication of this, it would be difficult to conceive, however, that such a condition existed in so liberal a state as North Carolina.

The editor of the progressive Chapel Hill Weekly deserves credit for bringing this condition to light and for his research as does the president of the UCPAW for filing the formal complaint with the F.B.I. It remains now for the G-Men to get busy and give us some action on the matter as it is definitely at variance with federal laws. If such a matter is allowed to remain winked at, then we're not so far removed from slavery as we think we are.

"Back To Slavery," The New York Age (NY, NY), 20 Jan 1940, Sat, Page 12.

The Herman Miles mentioned may be the person born 1918 in Caswell County, NC, and died in 1964. He is the son of Moses Miles and Willie Ann Richmond Miles. In 1957, he married Ruth Iona Tate.

The A. P. "Dobbs" mentioned probably is Arthur Pinnix Dabbs (1891-1961).

Caswell County Board of Commissioners (2 November 1959): Left-to-right: Arthur Delbert Swann (1907-1985); Arthur Pinnix Dabbs (born c. 1891); William Wallace Pointer (1909-1965); James Worsham White (1919-2000); and Clyde Banks Rogers (1900-1980).

See: The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) at 94-95 (Article #25 "James White Arnold Family" by Donna Coleman Little).

Thursday, June 14, 2018

National Register of Historic Places: Caswell County, North Carolina

National Register of Historic Places: Caswell County, North Carolina

According to the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office the following twenty-three entities are on the National Register of Historic Places. To see the formal application, follow the link provided.

Brown-Graves House and Brown's Store (Locust Hill)
Application Form

Old Caswell County Courthouse (Yanceyville)
Application Form

Caswell County Training School (Yanceyville)
Application Form

Garland-Buford House (Osmond vicinity)
Application Form

Graves House (Yanceyville vicinity)
Application Form

Griers Presbyterian Church and Cemetery (Frogsboro vicinity)
Application Form

William and Sarah Holderness House (Yanceyville vicinity)
Application Form

John Johnston House (Yanceyville vicinity)
Application Form

Longwood (Gone) (Milton vicinity)
Application Form

James Malone House (Leasburg vicinity)
Application Form

Melrose (Williamson House) (Yanceyville vicinity)
Application Form

Milton Historic District (Milton)
Application Form

Milton State Bank (Milton)
Application Form

Moore House (Locust Hill vicinity)
Application Form

Poteat House (Yanceyville vicinity)
Application Form

Red House Presbyterian Church (Semora)
Application Form

Rose Hill (Bedford Brown House) (Locust Hill)
Application Form

Union Tavern (Yellow Tavern) (NHL) (Milton)
Application Form

Warren House and Warren's Store (Prospect Hill)
Application Form

Wildwood (Semora vicinity)
Application Form

Woodside (Milton vicinity)
Application Form

Bartlett Yancey House (Yanceyville vicinity)
Application Form

Yanceyville Historic District (Yanceyville)
Application Form

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

WWI African Americans Remembered: William Earnest Warren

WWI African Americans Remembered

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In preparation for the Heritage Festival on June 23, Sandra Aldridge with the Richmond-Miles History Museum in Yanceyville, researched the late William Earnest Warren, an African American who served in World War I. According to Aldridge a book was written about Caswell County veterans in 1921, but African Americans were left out. Aldridge's biography on Warren will be one piece of many on African Americans available for view next Saturday.

African Americans, who were back then called "colored" or "negroes," had a corner of the draft card folded, said Aldridge, They were made to be quickly sorted out and segregated, she said. "Guess which ones got sent off at a higher percentage?" she said. "A bad thing is that many volunteered to serve their country to prove that they weren't second class citizens. Yet, they were given labor and service roles, because people believed they shouldn't carry a gun back then. They dragged dead bodies and performed hard labor and when they came back home, nothing had changed."

Warren registered for the draft on June 5, 1917, in Yanceyville. He was listed as being 23 years old and single. There is no exact date listed for his birth, although census records indicate 1893. His occupation was listed as farm laborer, on his father's farm in the Topnot community. Warren's draft card was signed by Julius Johnston, who was serving on the Local Draft Board. Warren was inducted into military service on March 30, 1918. He was sent to Camp Grant in Rockford, Ill., for his training and was attached to the 22nd Co. of the 161st Depot Brigade until April 28, 1918.

"Most of the African Americans here went off to Charlotte, to Camp Greene," said Aldridge. Warren then served with the 24th Co. of the 161st until May 27, 1918. His last days of service were with Co. D. of the 323rd Quartermaster Labor Battalion. He departed from Hoboken, N.J., aboard the U.S.S. Manchuria on July 10, 1918. Warren died a private on July 22, 1918, as a result of a brain concussion. He is commemorated in perpetuity at the Oisne-Aisne Cemetery in Seringes-Et-Nesles, France. The 35.5 acre cemetery contains the remains of 6,012 American soldiers who lost their lives while fighting in the vicinity.

Warren is memorialized on the WWI Monument that stands in Yanceyville Town Square. His parents were Rev. Spencer P. Warren and Dina Johnson Warren. The federal census records indicated his siblings as Mollie Warren, Lunie Warren, Fannie Warren, Sam Warren, and Eurie Warren. His father served as the pastor of Sweetgum Missionary Baptist Church.

For more information or to provide information on African Americans who served in WWI, contact 336-421-9524;

Source: The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 13 June 2018.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Roxboro Cotton Mills Employees in 1923 Portrait

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Roxboro Cotton Mills Employees in 1923 Portrait

On Oct. 17, 1923, employees of Roxboro Cotton Mills East Roxboro mill posed for Roxboro photographer Dan Oakley to take this photo during the noon lunch hour. The East Roxboro mill had been expanded during 1923, doubling its capacity, and 25 new mill homes had been built in the area. The photo does not show all the mill's workers since some declined to be included and watched the proceedings out the mill windows, as did Lottie Morris Harris, who was employed at the mill "off and on for 51 years."

Mrs. Harris, along with Mrs. Webb Frederick and Mr. and Mrs. Graham Morris provided the following identification for the picture (from left):

Front Row:

Jeff Solomon
Leonard Hobgood
Mancy Walker

Mr. Jackson
Elmo Powell
Red Hudgin
Henry Carver

Cruder Carver
Jack Harris
William Harris
Ozie Morris

Hudie Robertson
Tom Hudgins
Howard Morris
Charlie Knott
Oscar Jordan

Jake Cozart
George Long
Johnny Shelton
Andrew Clayton
Graham Morris

Calvin Carver
Ed Carver
Will Freeman

Back Row:

Neal Carver
Ed Walker
Pink Cozart
Henry Owens
Trick Owens

Charlie Morris
Bob Day
Tommy Taylor
Minnie Seamster
Flora Smart Cozart

Alma Davis
Mrs. Jackson
Mattie Walker
Mamie Freeman
Myrtle Kirkman

Jenny Clayton
Gracie Shelton
Ada Frederick
Nettie Long

Laura Robertson
Mamie Munday
Lula Carver
Mary Hicks

Ethel Shotwell
Beatie Morris
Sallie Walker
Kate Phillips
Addie Carver

Beulah Neighbors
Sally Bett Walker
Whitey Carver
Banks Cozart (boss
Leroy Jones

Where this article was published is not known.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Caswell County: Westward Railroad Expansion in North Carolina

How Caswell County Affected Railroad Expansion into Western North Carolina

Before the Civil War

Caswell County's involvement in North Carolina's railroad history must begin with the vision of Archibald DeBow Murphey (1777-1832). Murphey was born in Caswell County the same year it became a county, being created from Orange County. By 1919, he was a lawyer and legislator who promoted education and internal improvements. These internal improvements focused on transportation, a vision that would result in the railroad movement that came to fruition after his death.

The early history of railroads in North Carolina is, to say the least, confusing. Many railroads were proposed, but few were built. A local group would petition the legislature for a charter (authorization) to create a railroad company and seek investors -- purchasers of stock in the new company. Few of these early efforts were able to generate sufficient funds to proceed. Several such early plans were floated in Caswell County, but no railroads were constructed.1

William Marshall Graves (1865-1941)

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William Marshall Graves (1865-1941)

William Marshall Graves was born March 4, 1865, in Caswell County to slaves, Bural and Henrietta Graves. Marshall along with his parents and older brother Henry, were freed by proclamation of General John M. Schofield, early in May 1865, which followed the Emancipation Proclamation 1 January 1863. Little is known about his ancestry except that his father had five brothers and three sisters, Eshman, Silence, Iverson, Joe, Sam, Mary J., Margaret and Joyce. Iverson fought in the Civil War.

Marshall grew up on the farm and along with his parents and Henry, were employed as laborers by their former slave owners, Lee and Dock Graves. He attended Martin School, later named Fitch School, located on Old 62 South of Yanceyville. His parents instilled in their sons the importance of working hard to earn a living, as well as a deep faith in God. Both parents died before Marshall reached adulthood and as family ties were strong, his Aunt Susan Graves provided a home for him. Henry also died before reaching adulthood. Marshall married Maggie Elizabeth Graves, born 1867, daughter of Gabriel and Edith Carr Graves in 1887 and they had twelve children, eight sons and four daughters: William Albert 3 December 1888, Gabriel Parker 5 September 1890, Edith Henrietta 30 June 1892, Johnnie Pleasant 1 July 1894, Henry Thomas 4 May 1896, George Abriel 29 May 1898, Burlie Owen 15 September 1900, Joseph Ezra 12 November 1902, Hattie Lou 22 January 1905, Mary Mageline 16 June 1906, Fannie Gertrude 29 November 1909, and Samuel Vinson 18 November 1911.

Marshall was a hard worker and an enterprising man. In 1907 he purchased 305 acres of land from B. S. and Mallie Graves, which had formerly been owned by Lee Graves, slave master. At that time there were two old barns on the farm. He and his sons cleared the land and cut timber to build his home in 1909. The children provided the labor also to attend many acres of tobacco, corn, wheat, other grain, to raise animals, poultry, orchards and to raise most of the food they ate. They prospered and were able in 1917 to purchase a sawmill. The business enterprise was owned jointly by Marshall and four sons Albert, Gabriel, Thomas, and George, each having a one-fifth interest, with each assigned specific responsibilities for its operation. This sawmill provided timber for the Yanceyville Bank built around 1917-1918, for the dwelling homes of Fred and Walter Harrelson in Yanceyville, the Stokes family in the Cobb Community, homes in Alamance County and four homes on his farm. The sawmill also provided the lumber for all the bridges on Highway 62 South from Yanceyville to the Alamance County line.

Misfortune struck Marshall in 1919 when his sawmill burned down about two o'clock one morning. He was able to track two sets of footprints in the lightly fallen snow, which suggested arson. The mystery was never solved but Marshall suspected foul play from an old grudge in 1909 when he had seated blacks and whites together in his dining room to eat, following a "barn raising." This violated custom. He had also won a lawsuit around 1918 against a white man in an argument about ownership of a log wagon that he had purchased during the sawmill transaction. He was considered a "smart nigger" who thought he was as good as anyone else. On the first Sunday in January 1920 he lost the house by fire his son Burlie lived in, while they were away at church. Again in 1923 a vacant house belonging to his son George, and situated on the same farm was burned completely. Marshall and sons rebuilt the sawmill but later sold it.

Albert, the oldest son was a mail carrier around 1901-1902. His route ran from Yanceyville to the Anderson area. He traveled by foot daily, with the mail bag on his shoulder. Marshall and his other sons also worked to help build the first prison camp in Yanceyville, around 1932-1933, walking about 14 miles daily round trip for $.90 per day wages; the same for labor to build the elementary school in Yanceyville. Three of his sons, Gabriel, Johnny, and Thomas served in World War I.

Church played a very important part in Marshall's life. A member of Graves Chapel Baptist Church, he helped haul the logs that built the second church, 1897. He served the church as treasurer for eight years, Sunday school treasurer, and as a deacon for thirty years, until his death in March 1941.

Like many blacks at that time Marshall was a registered Republican, but did not hesitate to vote democrat, if that candidate represented his best interests. he made sure his family voted and personally saw that they got to the polls, by taking them. he worked at the polls to help count the votes. Marshall instilled in his children the pride of ownership, the honesty of labor, the need for a closeness between man and God, and an independence of the spirit. Family prayer every morning, "Blessings" before each meal, frequent visits with relatives, strong discipline in the home, and responsibility for one's "kin," were areas he had strong convictions about. He and Maggie reared many children who were not their own.

Many of Marshall's descendants still live on the property he purchased. The highway that passes through the property was named in his honor in 1883. Secondary road number 1120 is now known as Marshall Graves Road. However, his descendants are distributed throughout North Carolina and the United States. Two of his sons, Henry and Gabriel, became ministers. Several of his grandsons are ministers, many of his descendants have become well educated by attending colleges and universities throughout the United States. They hold degrees in engineering, nursing, teaching, social work, and law. They are business person, owning and operating their own businesses, such as dry cleaners, day care centers, barber shops, and boarding homes. They are secretaries, brick masons, printers, welders, plumbers, and mechanics, and serve as managers and supervisors. Many own their homes, farms, and other property.

Source: The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) at 243-244 (Article #275, "William Marshall Graves" by Ethel Fuller).

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Thomas Williams (Little Hickory) Graves (1801-1877)

Thomas Williams (Little Hickory) Graves (1801-1877). Graves Family Association Gen. #270: John, Thomas, John, Thomas, James, Thomas Williams

The following 1850 census record has caused some confusion, and this confusion has resulted in incorrect assumptions. The confusion is not helped by Ancestry making mistakes in the online transcription, including shuffling the order of the household members. Corrections and addditional information are in brackets below.

1850 United States Federal Census
Name: Thomas W Graves [Thomas Williams Graves]
Age: 49
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1801
Birth Place: North Carolina
Gender: Male
Home in 1850 (City,County,State): Caswell, North Carolina
Household Members: Name Age
Thomas W Graves 49 [Thomas Williams Graves]
Mary Graves 52 [Mary Sims Graves]
Frances M Graves 17
Franklin Graves 8 [John Henry Franklin Graves]
Franklin Graves 34
James T Graves 14 [James Thomas Graves]
John S Graves 27 [John Slade Graves]
Major H Graves 33 [Major Henry Graves]
Mary M Graves 13 [Mary Ursula Graves]
Mary S Graves 0 [40] [Mary Slade Graves]
George R Swift 17 [student; no family relationship shown]

Four younger siblings of head-of-household Thomas Williams Graves apparently were living with him at the time of the 1850 census. Their parents had died some years earlier:

John Slade Graves
Major Henry Graves [Major is not a title, but his given name.]
Franklin Graves
Mary Slade Graves

Thus, the children of Thomas Williams Graves and Mary Sims Graves Graves listed in the above 1850 census record are:

John Henry Franklin Graves
Mary Ursula Graves
James Thomas Graves
Frances M. Graves

A more correct version of the census record follows (all born in Caswell County):

1850 United States Federal Census
Name: Thomas Williams Graves
Age: 49
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1801
Birth Place: North Carolina
Gender: Male
Home in 1850 (City,County,State): Caswell, North Carolina
Household Members: Name Age
Thomas Williams Graves 49
Mary Sims Graves 52
John Henry Franklin Graves 8
Mary Ursula Graves 13
James Thomas Graves 14
Frances M Graves 17

John Slade Graves 27
Major Henry Graves 33
Franklin Graves 34
Mary Slade Graves 40

George R Swift 17 [student; no family relationship shown]

Note: Thomas Williams Graves and Mary Sims Graves Graves [yes, her maiden surname is Graves] also had a child not shown in the above census record: Barzillai J. Graves (1830-1831). Also note they may have named two sons James Thomas Graves, as one apparently died young:

Family Data Collection - Individual Records
Name: James Thomas Graves
Parents: Thomas William Graves, Mary Graves
Birth Place: Caswell County, NC
Birth Date: 1836
Death Date: 1837

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Albert Eugene Casey (1903-1982)

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Dr. Albert Eugene Casey (1903-1982)

Albert E. Casey, one of the pioneers of modern pathology in the state of Alabama, died on December 26, 1982, in his 79th year. He suffered a severe stroke several months prior, from which he never fully recovered.

Albert Casey was born in New York City in 1903, son of Eugene Joseph Casey and Anna Alma Powell. This heritage of Irish and deed Southern blood later was to inspire him to publish voluminous works, 16 in all, on family-related history in County Cork, Ireland, and Amite County, Mississippi. While the ancient records of the homes of his ancestors delighted him, he also was to apply modern anthropological techniques to the problems of human migrations throughout the globe.

Source: Edmund A. Dowling, M.D., University of South Alabama Medical Center (Mobile, Alabama).

Casey, Albert Eugene, Compiler. Amite County, Mississippi 1699-1890 (Volume #3), The Environs. Greenville (South Carolina): Southern Historical Press, Inc., 2001 (reproduced from a 1957 private edition).

The first volume of this history of Amite County contains: the censuses of 1805, 1810, 1816, 1830 and 1850; the marriages,1810-1869 (with the exception of Book 2A 1820-38); the land claims and land grants 1789-1830; "to and from" index of conveyances 1810-60, abstracts of wills, orphan's court records, and letters of administration, 1809-60, and an index of wills, 1809-1922; additional information in Volume I includes maps of Amite County, distribution of wealth and slaves, birthplace of original settlers, frequency of surnames, etc.

The second volume concerns Amite County churches 1796-1870. It contains the minutes of East Fork, Jerusalem, Line Creek, Galilee, Ebenezer, New Providence, Tangipahoa, Zion Hill, Mount Vernon, Plymouth, Mars Hill, Bogue Citto and Liberty Baptist Churches and Pisgah,Bethany, Liberty and Unity Presbyterian Churches. Records of the early Methodist Churches and stations are to be found in the abstracts of the diaries of Rev. Learner Blackman, Rev. William Winans, Rev. Jacob Young and Rev. Lorenzo Dow. The second volume also contains abstracts relating to Amite County from the minutes of the Fayette Circuit Minute Book, (Methodist), General Conferences Journal of the Methodist Church, General Conference of the Methodist Church South, Annual Mississippi Conferences of the Methodist Church, minutes of the Mississippi River Baptist Association, West Tennessee Presbytery, the Amite Presbytery, the Mississippi Presbytery, General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the United States, General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America, Mississippi Baptist Association. Biographies of some churchmen are included.

The present or third Volume contains marriages, military records, estate papers and genealogies. The marriages are from Amite County 1820-38 (Vol. 2A) and 1867-90 and from the adjoining Louisiana Parishes of St. Helena and East Feliciana, and in the adjoining Mississippi Counties of Wilkinson, Franklin and Pike; also . . . .

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Bright Leaf Tobacco: Caswell County Highway Historical Marker #1

Bright Leaf Tobacco
Caswell County Highway Historical Marker #1

In 1935 the North Carolina General Assembly authorized the establishment of the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program (Public Laws, Chapter 197). From that time forward, the program has been administered as a cooperative venture among state agencies. It is presently the joint responsibility of the Historical Research Office, Division of Historical Resources, Department of Cultural Resources, and the Traffic Engineering Branch, Division of Highways, Department of Transportation. The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program is one of the oldest such programs in continuous operation in the United States.

Caswell County has fifteen highway historical markers, all of which will be discussed on this weblog in the order of dedication.

  1. Bright Leaf Tobacco
  2. Caswell Courthouse
  3. Bedford Brown
  4. Romulus M. Saunders
  5. Bartlett Yancey
  6. Red House Church
  7. Calvin Graves
  8. Solomon Lea
  9. Bethesda Church
10. Jacob Thompson
11. William L. Poteat
12. Griers Presbyterian Church
13. Thomas Day
14. Archibald Debow Murphey
15. Washington's Southern Tour

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1. Bright Leaf Tobacco

ID: G-5
Location: SR 1511 (Blanch Road) west of Blanch [Blanch Road at Bertha Wilson Road]
County: Caswell
Original Date Cast: 1936


In 1839, a twist of fate led to one of the most important breakthroughs in North Carolina agriculture history. Tobacco had always been a major crop for the region, but not until the accidental development of the “bright leaf” variety did the market for the product really start booming.

Stephen was a slave on the farm of planter Abisha Slade near the Virginia border in Caswell County. He worked as a blacksmith on the Slade farm. Another of his jobs was overseeing the curing process of the tobacco crop. On one occasion, due to the warmth created by the fire, Stephen fell asleep during the process. A few hours later, he woke up to find the fire almost completely out. To try to keep the heat going, he rushed to his charcoal pit (part of his blacksmithing operation) and threw hot coals on the fire which created a sudden, immense heat. The heat from the charred logs cured the tobacco quickly, leaving it with a vivid yellow color.

The trade press in the late nineteenth century investigated the discovery of the process, interviewing those still living with firsthand knowledge of the events. The account is one which has fascinated North Carolinians for generations.

The flue-cured tobacco became known as bright leaf tobacco and the variety became popular with smokers. Other farmers learned of and used the new process as well. Although the discovery took place on a piedmont plantation, farmers in the coastal plains soon adopted the process and constructed curing barns by the hundreds. By 1857, Abisha Slade was harvesting 20,000 pounds annually and making some of the highest profits ever. Bright leaf tobacco led North Carolina to a dominant position in the tobacco industry.


Nannie May Tilley, The Bright-Tobacco Industry, 1860-1929 (1948)

Southern Planter (May 1876); Gold Leaf, November 10, 1887, and other articles cited by Nannie May Tilley

Letters from Nannie May Tilley, December 10, 1971; O. A. Smith, January 13, 1972; Dot Slade, September 10, 1973 (marker files, Research Branch, North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh)

Point of View (PBS) website: Point of View

Monday, May 21, 2018


North Carolina Highway Historical Marker

ID: G-12
Marker Text:


Was Minister to Spain, 1845-49; congressman, judge, and legislator. Lived 1/10 mile north.

Location: NW corner of Broad and Fairview in  Milton
County: Caswell
Original Date Cast: 1938


Romulus M Saunders acted as a public official from the age of 24 until his death at 76. Saunders was born in 1791 in Caswell County, but moved to Tennessee at an early age after the death of his mother. When his father died in 1803, Saunders returned to Caswell County and continued his education at Caswell and Hyco academies until he enrolled at the University of North Carolina in 1809. When Saunders was expelled from the University in 1810 for firing a pistol and throwing a stone at a professor, he returned to Tennessee to study law, becoming licensed in 1812. After joining the bar, Saunders returned to Milton and entered politics as member of the House of Commons in 1815.

Saunders joined the State Senate in 1816, but returned to the House of Commons in 1818, where he was elected Speaker in 1819 and 1820. Saunders then was elected to the United States Congress in 1821, serving two terms until 1827. He acted as the North Carolina attorney general between 1828 and 1831, although he officially held the post until 1834, at which time the office was declared vacant because Saunders was actively holding an alternate position, which violated the North Carolina law against dual office holding. In 1833, while still technically attorney general, Saunders joined the commission on French spoliation claims, stemming from the French seizure of American ships in the early nineteenth century. Saunders’ involvement in the commission gave him a national reputation, but he returned to North Carolina in 1835 to join the bench of the North Carolina Superior Court.

Saunders served as a justice for the North Carolina Superior Court between 1835 and 1840 and again between 1852 and 1867. In between, he ran for both North Carolina governor and U.S. Senator, twice, and was defeated in each election. Saunders retained a significant position nationally, partially through his sponsorship of a resolution in the Democratic National Convention in 1844 that a two-thirds majority be necessary for a political candidate to be supported by the Party. The resolution helped North Carolinian James K. Polk defeat Martin Van Buren. In 1846, Polk appointed Saunders as minister to Spain, a post Saunders held until 1849. While serving as minister, Saunders tried to purchase Cuba from Spain, but was unsuccessful in his bids. After his resignation, Saunders returned to Raleigh, rejoining the Superior Court bench in 1852.

Saunders resided in Raleigh from 1831, but spent his early adulthood in Caswell County. From his move to Raleigh in 1831 until his death in 1867, Saunders lived at “Elmwood”, built in 1813 for Chief Justice John Louis Taylor. Saunders was one of North Carolina’s most prominent political figures in the nineteenth century, and was best known for his fierce partisanship and long political tenure.


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

Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, III, 386-393

Ruth Little-Stokes, An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina (1979)

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 285-286—sketch by H.G. Jones

Ronald Ray Evans (1936-2018)

Ronald Ray Evans (1936-2018)

Ruffin: Ronald Ray Evans (Papa), 81, of 161 Richmond Rd., went home to be with the Lord on Saturday, May 19, 2018, at his home surrounded by his family. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at Wilkerson Funeral Home. Burial will follow at the Evans Family Cemetery. The family will receive friends at Wilkerson Funeral Home on Monday, May 21, from 6-8 p.m., and other times at the home. Mr. Evans was born on November 4, 1936, in Caswell County to the late Marjorie Sue Hughes Evans and Otis Ray Evans. Ronald worked as an electrician for Cooper Electric. He retired from American Tobacco Company after 28 years of service.

He loved being outdoors on his tractor. After his retirement, he enjoyed doing many things with his grandsons. He was a very loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. In addition to his parents, he was also preceded in death by a son, Rodney Lee Evans, Sr. Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Shelby Travis Evans; grandchildren, Rodney Lee Evans, Jr., David Wayne Evans and wife Lindsay and Jonathan Ray Evans, girlfriend Samantha and Amanda Bailey and fiancé Craig; daughter-in-law, Jamie Bennett and husband Mike; great-grandchildren, Alexis, Bailey, Isabella, Colten, Emily and Case, and sisters, Sandra Evans Tate and Donna Evans Handy and husband Cory. Wilkerson Funeral Home is assisting the family and condolences may be made at

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Will of Henry Turner (1721-1809) Caswell County, North Carolina

Will of Henry Turner [Written 9 May 1807]

Will of Henry Turner
Book F, Page 82
December Court 1809 (Caswell County)

In the name of God amen, I Henry Turner of Caswell County & State of North Carolina, being very infirm in bodie, but sound in mind and memory do make & ordain this my last will & testament.

I give and recommend my soul into the hands of almighty god, and my bodie to the ground to be buried after Christian like burial.

After all my just debt are paid, I give unto my beloved wife Anne Turner the tract of land including the plantation where on I now live, together with half the interest of the mill, and all the household and kitchen furniture, with the plantation tools of every kind; also three negrows, to wit, Sam; ___inney, and Abram, two good work horses, four cows and calves or with calf, four ewes and lambs, four sows and pigs and a sufficient quantity of corn and meet or provisions ___ to support her and her family and stock, for the term of one year after my decease; also I give to my beloved wife my cart of steers; all which I give to her during her natural life or widowhood; and after her death or marriage it is my will and desire that the whole of my perishable property not specially devised to any of my children or grand children, should be sold according to law and the money arising therefrom to be equally divided among my heirs. Except my sons John Turner & Henry Turner.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son Billey Turner one hundered and sixty acres of land, it being the tract of land on which I now live and including the tract which I gave to my son Henry Turner from whom he purchased the same together with half the interest of the mill, aforesaid, but not to intermelded with the mill or plantation on the South Side of the Creek till after the death of my beloved wife Anne Turner, also eight pounds Virginia currency to be drawn out of my perishable estate to his heirs and assigns forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my beloved son Thomas Turner, eight pounds Virginia money to be drawn out of my perishable estate to him and his heirs and assigns forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my beloved daughters, Elizabeth Lipscomb, Frankey Martin, Milly Jones and Nancy Kimbrough sixteen pounds Virginia currency to be raised out of my perishable estate, to them and their heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my beloved daughter Salley French, sixteen pounds Virginia currency to her, her heirs and assigns forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my daughter Mary Cochran twenty four pounds Virginia currency to her and her heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my grandson Yancey Turner eight pounds Virginia currency to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my grand daughter Mary French, eight pounds Virginia currency to be drawn out of my perishable estate.

Item.I give and bequeath to my grand daughters Fanney Turner, Delila Turner & Nancy Turner, daughters of John Turner, the sum of eight pounds Virginia money equally to be divided between them to be drawn out of my perishable estate.

Item. It is my will that my property, which I have not herein devised, shall be sold after my decease by my Executors to the highest bidder and also at the death or marriage of my wife, the perishable property which I have devised to her should be sold and after the several legacies are discharged which I have devised in money. It is my will that the overplus [surplus] should be equally divised among my following children and grand children, to wit. James Turner, Thomas Turner and Billey Turner, Elizabeth Lipscomb, Frankey Martin, Milly Jones, Susannah Donoho, Sally French, Mary Cochran, Nancey Kimbrough and my grand daughters Fanney, Delila and Yancey Turner, daughters of John Turner which is to draw one share between them.

Item. It is my will and desire that my son James Turner in consequence of a purchase _____ by him from my son Henry Turner by my knowledge and consent that the said James should draw two shares instead of one ______ part.

Lastly I constitute and appoint my sons James Turner and Thomas Turner sole executors of this my last will and testament, revoking all other wills heretofore by me made and confirming this to be my last will and testament. I[n] testimoney whereas I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 9th day of May AD 1807.

Henry Turner - Will - Written 9 May 1807. Wife Anne; sons John and Henry; sons Billey, Thomas, James; daughters Elizabeth Lipscomb, Frankey Martin, Milley Jones, Nancy Kimbrough, Sally French, Mary Cochran; grandson Yancey Turner; granddaughters Mary French, Fanny Turner, Delila Turner and Nancy Turner daughters of John Turner; daughter Susannah Donoho. Exec: sons James and Thomas. Wit: W. S. Webb, William Kimbrough.

Source: Caswell County North Carolina Will Books 1777-1814, Katharine Kerr Kendall (1986) at 116.