Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Moses Jeffreys (1891-1918)

On the World War I memorial that stands at the Square in Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina, is the name Moses Jefress. That surname has been spelled various ways over the years, and most commonly is seen as Jeffreys, which we will use here.

Moses Jeffreys was born Christmas day 1891 in Semora, Caswell County, North Carolina, to George Washington Jeffreys (1865-1949) and Cornelia Farmer Jeffreys (1868-1922). His family farm was in the Semora Community of Caswell County, where as a young man he worked doing general farming. It is likely that his father rented the farm or was a share-cropper. Whether Moses had a job away from the farm is not known.

However, on June 5, 1917, when he registered for military service, he described himself as "farming" and working for his father. From this document we also learn that Moses was of stout build, medium height, with brown eyes, and black hair. He was not bald and reported no disability. Moses was a single African-American male who apparently could not write his name, as he signed the registration form with his mark. He was married to Irma Jeffreys. The person notified of his death: Mrs. Irma Jeffreys, Wife, R L Box 129, Milton, N.C.

Alexander Harris (1893-1919)

Image Courtesy Carolina Caswell
Alexander Harris was born September 25, 1893, in Caswell County, North Carolina, a son of Haywood Harris and Chlora Griggs Harris. On April 10, 1912, he married Annie Belle Wilson (1893-1956). The couple had at least two children: Pharlina Harris (1912-2003) and Daisy Harris (1915-1983).

According to his World War I draft registration card, Alexander Harris (who went by Alex) had brown eyes, black hair, was of medium height, and stoutly built. He was not bald and reported no disability. He registered on June 5, 1917, in Caswell County, North Carolina when twenty-four years old. At the time of his registration, Alex was working in Blanche, Caswell County, North Carolina as a railroad laborer, employed by the Southern Railway Company. He was a single African-American male, who apparently could not write (as he signed the registration form with his mark).

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Byrd Edward Fuller (1895-1918)

World War I Soldier

Private Byrd Edward Fuller (1895-1918), died serving his country in World War I. No he was not in combat, as few black soldiers were. He was assigned to Company D, 344th Quartermaster Labor Battalion, and provided critical support services to US troops and allies.

In September 1918, young Fuller sailed for France. Where he landed is not known. Nor do we know where he died. We do know that he died October 5, 1918, of pneumonia, and his life and service are memorialized on the tablets at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial just outside Paris, France.

Byrd Edward Fuller was born March 20, 1895, in Caswell County, North Carolina, the son of Mollie Fuller. He was a stout man of medium height, with grey eyes and black hair. When he registered for military service June 5, 1917, Byrd was living in, Guilford County, North Carolina, where he worked at Proximity Cotton Mill (part of Cone Mills that produced denim cloth). On his World War I Registration Card, Byrd listed no physical disability and was shown as single. He apparently never married.

However, he had his mother and many siblings to honor his memory.

Alvis Julian Chandler (1895-1918)

Courtesy Carolina Caswell
Alvis Julian Chandler (1895-1918)

We have not found a photograph of Alvis Julian Chandler. Hopefully, a relative can provide one.

However, we do know that he was tall, of medium build, with blue eyes and light brown hair. And, when he registered for military service June 5, 1917, he reported no physical disability. He was living with his parents in the Blanch community of Caswell County, North Carolina, and working on the family farm. He went by Alvis and never married.

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Alvis did not see overseas duty during World War I. He joined the Coast Artillery and was stationed at Fort Monroe in Virginia, where he died. Newspaper reports indicate that he died due to measles, followed by pneumonia. However, his family disputed this, claiming that he had the flu (influenza) and was forced to stand guard in the rain, and as a result developed pneumonia.

Although Alvis Julian Chandler died unmarried and without children, he was part of a large family. Moreover, as a tribute, his brother Clyde Thomas Chandler (1893-1956) named his first child Alvis Julian Chandler (1918-2006). The younger Alvis Julian Chandler was born December 23, 1918, less than a year after the death of his namesake uncle.

The World War I soldier, Alvis Julian Chandler, rests under the trees at the Yanceyville Presbyterian Church.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Caswell County World War I Memorial Controversy 2011

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World War I Memorial Dedicated in Yanceyville 1929

"A large number of people gathered in the public square at 3 o'clock to pay a permanent tribute to the Caswell men who while bearing arms for the nation died during the World war. A granite rock has been placed in the square and on it is a copper plate bearing the names of 16 men who gave their lives. There was a large turnout for the event and the ceremony was impressive. Allen Gwynn of Reidsville, himself a service man making the address. The memorial is not far from another, commemorating Caswell's part in the Civil war and it is near the German machine gun which Caswell secured as a war trophy."

Source: The Bee (Danville, Virginia), 7 February 1929, Thursday, Pages 1 and 3.

April 4, 2011 Meeting of the Caswell County Board of Commissioners


Mr. Wally Ewalt came before the Board to give an update on the “Lest We Forget” Plaque.

Mr. Ewalt stated “Thank you for giving me the opportunity this evening to talk to you about the monument out on the Square. If you will look at paper “A” that will give you an idea about what is on the Square right now. It is something that has been there for many, many years. We intend, if the Board agrees, to take that plaque down and put it in the Caswell County Historical Association and keep that plaque. Now we are proposing that we change that plaque and we have two options on how to change it. “B” is that we just change it by integrating all the names collectively and leaving something that no one has figured out yet which is “MKS”. We have even asked Sallie Anderson, who is our county historian, what it is and no one seems to know. We are proposing that we go with “C” because when people look at this plaque many do not know if it is World War II or World War I. Only by finding out by the dates of birth or the dates of death did we find out that it was World War I. So we changed the plaque only to take off “MKS” which has no meaning to anyone now and putting World War I there. If we do this it will cost nine hundred and seventy-five ($975.00) dollars to make the plaque a “shown and see”.

Rodie's Soda Shop (Kemper Road, Danville, Virginia)

Courtesy Frances Huff Barr
Rodie's/Rhodie's Soda Shop was a small family-owned restaurant on Kemper Road in Danville, Virginia, near the intersection with Luna Lake Road. Many hungry swimmers stopped there after spending the day at Luna Lake. Rodie's was famous for its ten-cent hot dogs, delicious hamburgers, and other fare.

Rodie's was established by Samuel Krug (Rodie) Rodenhizer.

Name: Samuel Krug (Rodie) Rodenhizer
Birth: 4 Nov 1905, Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Death: 18 Jan 1991 (age 85), Danville City, Virginia
Burial: Highland Burial Park, Danville, Virginia

Rodie's apparently opened in the 1940s and was operated by Rodie Rodenhizer and his wife Peggy until around 1959 when they sold or leased the business to Bill Toler, who ran the business for twenty-five years.

Lettie Evans Rodenhizer, called "Peggy" by her friends and family, was born May 12, 1908, on a farm in Pittsylvania County, the eighth of 11 children of Isaac and Virginia Evans. She was a teenager when the family moved to Danville, where she spent most of her life. She married Samuel K. Rodenhizer (Rodie) in 1927 and they celebrated more than 63 years together before his death in January 1991. Many will remember her as Mrs. Rodie during the years that the two of them operated Rodie's Soda Shop on Kemper Road.

Peggy and Rodie 1920s
At the time of the 1940 United States Federal Census (April 16, 1940), Rodie, wife Peggy, and their two young children, Gareth and Rachel, were living with Rodie's mother, Rosa Tanksley Rodenhizer on Jordan Street in Danville, Virginia. Rodie's occupation was "Doorman" in "Moving Picture" industry.

Despite heavy opposition, Council approved a request from Mr. and Mrs. Langdon Gunter to rezone property on Berryman Ave. -- former home of Rhodies Soda Shop -- from R-3 residential to L-C Commercial, as recommended by the City Planning Commission. The re-zoning was opposed by 60 per cent of the affected property owners.

The Danville Register (Danville, Virginia), 12 January 1972, Wednesday, Page 9.

The Bee (Danville, Virginia), 31 Aug 1957
"Break-In Total For Night Tops Dozen Mark"

More than a dozen overnight break-ins, nine of them in different offices in the Medical Arts Building on S. Main St., were under investigation by police today, with one apprehension reported. That subject, a 16-year-old juvenile, was arrested on Watson St., where a break-in was discovered at 12:25 a.m. today.

Less than three hours later a break-in was reported at Rhodie's Soda Shop on Kemper Road. There, entry was gained through a side window, change was taken from two machines, and the back door was left standing open.

The Bee (Danville, Virginia), 28 June 1972, Wednesday, Page 1.

For some twenty-five years was owned by the Tolers.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Benjamin Franklin Brooks (1897-1918)

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World War I Memorial

The Square in Yanceyville contains a memorial to the men who died in military service during World War I. On that memorial plaque is listed Benjamin Franklin Brooks (1897-1918). Who was he? Who were his parents? How did he die?

Benjamin Franklin Brooks, nicknamed Jack, was born April 22, 1897, in Person County, North Carolina, a son of Samuel Matthew Brooks (1856-1919) and Leah Long Brooks (1861-1950). A few years later, his family moved to the Hightowers community of Caswell County, where young Jack Brooks attended the local schools. He grew tall, was of medium build, with brown eyes and black hair.

By 1918, he had struck out on his own, farming land in the Caswell County Corbett community, having married Clara Hensley in 1915.

The couple had one known child, Frances Louise Brooks, born September 24, 1917, in Alamance County. She married Rufus Virgil Nelson (1906-1986) and for many years was the face of the Caswell County Tax Office in the old Caswell County Courthouse.

Were there other children that we have missed? Please help.

Called to World War I military service in August 1818, Jack Brooks received his Army infantry training at Camp Wadsworth near Spartanburg, South Carolina. In October of that year, he was assigned to overseas duty, and sailed to Europe from Newport News, Virginia, landing at the harbor town of Saint-Nazaire on the west coast of France.

Having become ill on the Atlantic voyage, Jack Brooks developed pneumonia and died only three days after reaching France. He was buried with full military honors and rests at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery. He is not alone, but with 6,012 American war dead. Their white headstones are aligned in long rows, divided into four sections by wide paths with a circular plaza at the center.

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Here is the only image we have of Benjamin Franklin (Jack) Brooks. He is second from the left, with a shotgun over his shoulder. To the far left is his sister Mary Fannie Brooks (1889-1978). The others are believed to be siblings, but not identified.

Caswell County World War I Memorial

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Caswell County World War I Memorial

"Lest We Forget"

"This memorial is erected by the citizens of Caswell County with pride and grateful appreciation for the services of the Caswell boys who made the supreme sacrifice in the World War." M.K.S.

Benjamin Franklin Brooks
Alvis Julian Chandler
Byrd Edward Fuller
Alexander Harris
Moses Jeffress [Jeffreys]
John Lea
Lawrence Lea
Ruffin Lea
John Lynn
Edwin Moore
Algernon Sidney Neal
Roy A. Pattillo
Thomas Phelps

Gurney Matthew Smith
Henry Anderson Solomon
John Barker Thacker
George Thomas Warren
Willie Warren

Men from Caswell County who died in World War I but who are not listed on the memorial: John Evans; and Ed Simpson.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

North Carolina Highway Patrolmen Who Lived in Caswell County, North Carolina

NC Highway Patrolmen who lived in Caswell County

Bobby Bengston
Jimmy Burns
Mike Dodson
Frank Daniel
Jerry Fields

Wayne Frith
Eddie Gravely
Jimmy Griffin
Greg Ingram
Donald King

Ben Kirby
Bill Lancaster
Austin Lucas
Greg Mitchell
Frank Moody

Pete Norwood
John Pointer
Dan Printz
Sam Riddick
Jim Rowell

Ashton Smith
George Williamson

Tobacco Curing in Caswell County 1929

Tobacco Curing Begins: 1929

A mighty slashing of the superlative bright leaf is on in every section of Caswell this week. In every nook and corner of the county the fires are brightly burning under thousands of barns, and from reports coming in the leaf is being dried in matchless beauty.

While just a little too soon to correctly appraise the 1929 crop, it is indicated that the crop will be a good one, and the dried leaf will fill the demands of the buying eye.

The rain which fell all over the county last week came at a most opportune time, producing a blanket of moisture and just the right sort of a condition to hurry on the graining and maturing period.

Farmers believe, should the rains run true for the next few weeks and the nights grow a little colder, that you may watch out for Caswell to keep alive its reputation of years for the growing of the ultimate leaf.

In the Country Line hills many barns of the matchless Caswell county cutter have been dried, while the news comes from the Pea Ridge section that the Caswell county sunburst wrappers are likely to abound. Excellent cures have been reported from the Gentleman's Ridge section, the high grounds around Pelham, from Semora and other bright areas.

The crop, while likely to be below normal in poundage, is believed will be one of the most saleable in years. Next week the real slashing will be on and it is generally believed that the cures will prove satisfactory.

The Bee (Danville, Virginia), 14 August 1929, Wednesday, Page 3.

Genealogy 101

Genealogy 101

Isaiah 30:8: "Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever."

Are you documenting your family's history?

Are you putting off talking to the elders of your family because you believe there will be time?

Have you recorded their stories with an inexpensive "tape" recorder?

Have you gone through old photos with your family elders?

Have you written on the back of old photographs who the people are and when the photo was taken? Make sure to use archive-safe writing implements.

Have you scanned these photos to make sure later generations could see them?

Have you placed online your family tree and its documents?

Do you care about your family's history?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

World War I Deaths (Caswell County, North Carolina)

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The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 31 January 2018.

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The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 14 December 2018.

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The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 14 December 2018.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Eugene Stokes Butler (1899-1973)

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Eugene Stokes Butler (1899-1973)

Reidsville -- Eugene Stokes Butler, 73, of Rt. 1, Reidsville [physically in Caswell County], died unexpectedly this morning at 2:45 o'clock in a Reidsville hospital following several years of declining health.

A native of Caswell County, he was the son of the late Mack Neal and Martha Francis Butler, and the husband of the late Florence Saunders Butler who died in 1965. He was a prominent farmer and civic leader of the Camp Springs Community in Caswell County, former chairman of the Caswell County Board of Commissioners and former member of the Caswell County Board of Education. He was a member of Camp Springs United Methodist Church, and a member of the Caswell Brotherhood Masonic Lodge No. 11 A.F. & A.M.

Survivors include two sons, Connie Mach (Tony) Butler of the home, Melvin C. Butler of Rt. 1, Reidsville; nine daughters, Mrs. Wilbert Paschall and Mrs. Frances B. Page, both of Rt. 1, Reidsville, Mrs. Freeman Somers Sr., and Mrs Robert Swift, both of Rt. 2, Elon College, Mrs Boyd Parker of Asheboro, Mrs. Wilbert Aldridge of Rt. 3, Burlington, Mrs. William Compton of Burlington, and Mrs. Jerry Rudd of Miami, Fla.; 25 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

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Final rites will be held Saturday afternoon at 3 o'clock at Camp Springs United Methodist Church. The Rev. Allen C. Ridenour, pastor, will officiate. Masonic graveside rites will be held at the church cemetery by Caswell Brotherhood Lodge No. 11 A.F. & A.M. following the service.

The body will remain at Strickland Funeral Home in Burlington until taken to the church 30 minutes prior to the service. Visitation will begin Friday morning at 10 o'clock. The family will be at the funeral home Friday night from 7 to 9 o'clock.

The Daily Times-News (Burlington, North Carolina), 3 May 1973, Thursday, Page 12.

Note that two children died very young, and are not mentioned in the obituary: Eugene M. Butler (1920-1920); and Eugene Stokes Butler, Jr. (1933-1934).

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Eugene Stokes Butler's store on the Cherry Grove Road in southern Caswell County, North Carolina. No longer in operation. May have housed a church after the death of Eugene Stokes Butler, but not confirmed.


1. Elijah Butler m. Linsey Unknown
2. John Thomas Butler m. Martha Carolina Parker
3. Mack Neal Butler m. Martha Susan Francis
4. Eugene Stokes Butler m. Florence Iona Saunders

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


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"Burch" by Dale Williams

John "Burch" Blaylock is well-known in Caswell County and will be well-remembered after he is gone also. He will be remembered because of his kindness to people but also for the valuable and helpful records that he is leaving behind.

Mr. Blaylock was elected to the Office of Register of Deeds in 1934. He held that office until 1976 when he retired. His duties in that office were to record births, deaths, and marriages but he went much farther than that. "Beginning in 1945, I started collecting and recording in four deed-book size books about 675 Family Bible records and hundreds of other records that dealt with people, such as cemetery records for the county." These records are located in the Register of Deeds office in the Caswell County Courthouse. There is a wealth of information to be found in these books, everything from death and birth certificates to articles about Caswell County and the people of the county.

The books are a valuable asset to the Caswell Register of Deeds office, Mrs Mary Lee Carter, current Register of Deeds, tells of the usefulness of these books. "We are very lucky to have these books. You can't find other records like these. They are valuable records because many times Family Bibles are lost and cemeteries get vandalized. These records are the only place to go to find out about their families." She added that people use Blaylock's research frequently.

Carter also remembers an occasion when Mr. Blaylock rescued school records that were about to be burned. "Before there was a law that said the schools had to keep the records, the school decided to burn old school records. They brought them to the courthouse to be burned. Mr. Blaylock realized they were valuable. He salvaged them and stored them. We have the school records here now. They are very important records for finding birth dates and parent's names."

There is also a large collection of delayed birth certificates for people who had no record of their birth. To obtain a delayed birth certificate, a person had to have two proofs of birthplace and one for parents' names. Blaylock tells that making the delayed birth certificates led him to a lot of research. "In 1945 the idea came to me these records are here so why not record it. There are a lot of things in them for future generations."

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Blaylock noted that the job was filled with long hours but was enjoyable. "I tried to be as accurate as I could I worked a lot at night. For the first 25 years I worked night and day with no help except for a few hours. It was hard but it was pleasant. It was not a chore, time went by fast."

Blaylock explained that he collected family histories and information for future generations. "Whatever I have recorded is available to anyone who wants it. I don't get a penny for it. I did it for two reasons. One was to save records for future generations. The other reason was by way of thanks to people for being so good to me."

Even though Mr. Blaylock has retired from office, he is still actively working on his books. "My main job since I have retired is indexing all of the material I collected." He has already over 40,000 index cards on file and is still not finished.

Blaylock was born on June 6, 1909 in Hightower township of Caswell County where he lived until he moved to Yanceyville to take the job of Register of Deeds. In October of 1917, Mr. Blaylock's legs became diseased and were removed. He tells of being pushed to school in a wagon by cousins. "I have not forgotten these boys for it meant a lot to me. My father would have carried me if the boys had not wanted to push me. The children in the neighborhood accepted me as a playmate as if I had two feet."

He graduated from Bartlett Yancey High School in 1928 and then attended Elon College to study business for one year.

In 1937 Blaylock met Miss Isla Mae Coward, who came to work at the Welfare Department of Caswell County. They were married in December of 1941. She died in February of 1963. In 1964 Mr. Blaylock met Mary Ethel Gordon from Greensboro and on November 6, 1966, they were married. He feels that he has been luck in his choices. "I have been blessed with two wonderful wives."

Blaylock tells that he likes meeting and talking to people. "People would come to talk. I like people. I don't know anybody I don't like. I just appreciate living. If you put all my friends in one group and gold in another pile. I don't think I would look at the gold. I value the friendship of lots of people. After all we're all kin when you go back to Noah."

Mary Lee Carter commented that people still stop by the office and ask about him. "Nearly everyday someone comes by and asks about him. He will never be forgotten. He has helped so many people through the years."

In addition to the family records, Blaylock has collected and recorded church histories of many of the Primitive Baptist churches. Both he and his wife are Primitive Baptists.

In talking about his years as Register of Deeds and his life in Caswell, Blaylock feels that it has been good. "When I grew up and came before people for office they were wonderful in electing me. They permitted me to work there 42 years without anyone running against me. Caswell County has and is full of warm-hearted people. I'm just thankful to the Lord for letting me live this long."

Williams, Dale. "Burch," The County Magazine, May-June 1984. Courtesy Frank G. Carter, Jr.

"The Legend of Sally Garland"

"The Legend of Sally Garland"

On a lost road that went from the Old Rock Academy, crossed John's Branch and Hogan's Creek, and ended at Lick Fork church in Ruffin, stand the ruins of what has come to be known as the Sally Garland House. Tales of murder and the intrigue of buried treasure drew people to the house for many years.

The house was originally built by Garland Blackwell, who will this "mansion" to his second wife Sarah, and upon her death to his children. The will also included lands purchased by Garland Blackwell from area landowners.

After Garland Blackwell's death, Sarah "Sally" Blackwell, who came to be known as Sally Garland, lived with a young slave girl in the house. This was probably the girl Margaret, who, along with a young boy named Bash, were willed to Sally, as noted in Garland's will, probated in April 1855.

According to the legend, Sally and the young Margaret were in the house alone one evening when they heard a scratching at the door. Upon hearing this, Sally asked the girl to let the cat in. When the girl opened the door, there was no cat, but rather a black man stood in the doorway. The sight of the man frightened the girl and she hid behind the door. The man entered the house and struck Sally with such force that the girl thought he had killed her. At this, the girl panicked and ran without getting a good look at Sally's assailant. According to one report, "He searched the house and punched the old lady's eyes out." Little Margaret had summoned neighbors, who found Sally alive, but she never regained consciousness and died a short time later. The girl named a man living on the farm as the assailant, but nothing could be proven, and no one was prosecuted for her murder.

Rumor had it that silver and paper money might have been hidden in the old house during the Civil War. Over the years people who heard the stories about the house ransacked it, tearing out walls and floors, the hearth, and digging in the basement. The "hidden treasure" has never been found, or at least never reported, and the mystery surrounding Sally Garland and her murder remains unsolved today.

"The Legend of Sally Garland," The County Magazine, May-June 1984. Courtesy Frank G. Carter, Jr.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Caswell County Board of Commissioners

Board of Commissioners
Caswell County, North Carolina

The Milton Chronicle, 14 October 1869
In 2018 we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Caswell County Board of Commissioners. Pursuant to the North Carolina Constitution of 1868 the executive authority of North Carolina's counties was shifted from the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions to the newly created board of commissioners. Initially, the commissioners were appointed, but eventually commissioners were elected.

Here we hope to list all the Commissioners who served Caswell County and eventually to publish a short biography of each.

Adams, William W. (c.1813-aft.1868)
Aldridge, Bobby Franklin (1936-
Aldridge, George Irvin (1934-
Aldridge, William Preston (1883-1941)
Allen, James W. (1834-

Allison, Edgar Archibald (1879-1955)
Allison, Joseph Carrithers (1837-1916)
Andrews, Bruce (not confirmed)
Barnwell, John Shelby (1823-1896)
Battle, Erik Donnell

Battle, Mel Ott (1945-
Blackwell, Faiger Megra (1955-
Blackwell, James Yancey (Jr.) (1928-
Blackwell, Rev. John Henry (1949-2016)
Boswell, Antiochus (1812-1885)

Brandon, Henry Field (1831-1900)
Burton, John Drewry (1877-1936)
Bowe, William B. (1808-1880)
Briggs, William Robert (1910-1974)
Burton, John Richard (1845-1921)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Terry Sanford Not Popular in Caswell County

Governor Terry Sanford
On the afternoon of January 18, 1963, in the ballroom of the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford opened his remarks to 200 reporters and editors gathered for the annual meeting of the North Carolina Press Association by saying, "I wanted to take this occasion, talking to people who have so much to do with the attitudes of the citizens of the state, to say something to you that I have long wanted to say, that I believe we must say and that I believe will mean much to the development of the life and character of our state." Then, he began.

"The American Negro was freed from slavery one hundred years ago. In this century he has made much progress, educating his children, building churches, entering into the community and civic life of the nation.

"Now is the time in this hundredth year not merely to look back to freedom, but forward to the fulfillment of its meaning. Despite this great progress, the Negro's opportunity to obtain a good job has not been achieved in most places across the nation. Reluctance to accept the Negro in employment is the greatest single block to his continued progress and to the full use of the human potential of the nation and its states.

"The time has come for American citizens to give up this reluctance, to quit unfair discrimination, and to give the Negro a full chance to earn a decent living for his family and to contribute to higher standards for himself and all men.

"We cannot rely on law alone in this matter because much depends upon its administration and upon each individual's sense of fair play. North Carolina and its people have come to the point of recognizing the urgent need for opening new economic opportunities for Negro citizens. We also recognize that in doing so we shall be adding new economic growth for everybody.

"We can do this. We should do this. We will do it because we are concerned with the problems and the welfare of our neighbors. We will do it because our economy cannot afford to have so many people fully and partially unproductive. We will do it because it is honest and fair for us to give all men and women their best chance in life."

He then announced he was that day appointing 24 individuals to the Good Neighbor Council he had proposed months earlier to work toward the elimination of discriminatory hiring practices. To show good faith on his part, he was asking the heads of all state agencies to immediately write nondiscrimination hiring policies for their departments.

Dead-End Road (Caswell County, North Carolina)

Brown, Deborah F. Dead-End Road. Bloomington (Indiana): Author House, 2004.

DEAD-END ROAD may be more aptly entitled, "Another Brown vs. Board of Education." This book captures the historical, educational and political events surrounding Jasper Brown and his struggles to integrate the public schools in Caswell County, North Carolina. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Jasper Brown, a God-fearing man, husband, father and community leader, took a bold stand in pursuit of justice, freedom and equality of education for his four children and other black children living in Caswell County. Starting in 1956, Jasper, and other freedom lovers, throughout the auspices of the Caswell County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), initiated desegregation of the Caswell County School System. After exhausting all administrative means to integrate the schools, Jasper and others filed a lawsuit and embarked upon a bitter court battle.

Six years later, the Federal 4th Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia ordered Caswell County officials to integrate the public schools. On January 22, 1963, the first day of school integration, Jasper shot two white men in self-defense and was arrested to stand trial. Ebony and Newsweek magazines ran stories about the shooting. During the trial, the late, Honorable Thurgood E. Marshall assisted with Jasper's defense. Although the civil rights movement initiated by Jasper and others was successful, Jasper and his family suffered humiliation, degradation, dehumanization, financial loss and even threats on their lives. Yet, through it all, Jasper and his family held fast to their faith and trust in God that His justice would prevail.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Harry Elmo Bray (1921-1962)

Harry Bray Dies; Caswell Civic Leader

Harry in WWII
Providence, N.C. -- Harry Elmo Bray, Caswell County civic leader and owner and operator of the Harry E. Bray Insurance Agency, died Monday afternoon at 12:15 in Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem. He was 41. Mr. Bray died less than 24 hours after undergoing heart surgery at the hospital Sunday night. Although he had been in ill health for several months, his condition had not been considered critical until last week. His death was unexpected among the many persons who knew him as a vigorous worker on numerous civic projects. A native of Caswell County, he was born Oct. 17, 1920, and was the son of W. E. and Annie Williams Bray of Blanch. He was educated in county schools.

In 1955, the Caswell County Junior Chamber of Commerce presented him its Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his numerous civic activities. At the time of death, he was serving his second term on the Insurance Advisory Board of North Carolina. He was a past president of the Yanceyville Kiwanis Club and a former member of the Caswell County Board of Health. He also was president of the Cobb Memorial Parent-Teacher Association and was a life member of the PTA. He was equally active in the Providence Baptist Church where he was a member and served as teacher of the Young Men's Bible Class and as president of the church Brotherhood. In recent years, Mr. Bray headed numerous safety campaigns and frequently worked with North Carolina highway patrolmen in promoting highway safety.

Providence Baptist Church History

Providence Baptist Church (Providence, Caswell County, North Carolina)

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Centennial Observation 1962

"The founding of Providence Baptist Church 100 years ago and its history down through the years will be dwelt upon during the centennial observance about to start at the modern brick church located just off the old Yanceyville Rd.

"There will be three phases of the anniversary observance: a cornerstone laying tomorrow, homecoming the following Sunday, and a revival to follow throughout the week.

"The cornerstone ceremony will be held at the conclusion of tomorrow's morning services. The new auditorium was completed two years ago, but the ceremony was delayed to coincide with the centennial observance, according to the pastor, the Rev. Charles O. Jenkins.

"Sunday, Sept. 30, will be the big day with six former pastors expected to participate in the centennial homecoming. They are returning from as far as Florida and California.

"The Rev. Roy D. Keller of Apex, N.C., a former pastor, will deliver the Sunday morning sermon, with dinner on the grounds to feature the cutting of the centennial cake -- which is to be baked in the form of the new church building.

"An afternoon service starting at about 2 o'clock will feature special music by the choir and the congregation, brief opening remarks by each of the former pastors, a resume of the church's history, a memorial service and recognition of all members past age 65.

"Each day of the ensuing week is named after one of the former pastors and the honoree of the day will speak at the morning (10 a.m.) service on his day and will also speak briefly at the evening service.

"Principal speaker each evening at the 7:30 services will be the Rev. W. T. Smith, former pastor currently serving in Fayettevylle, N.C.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Caswell County Blacks to Get More Representation

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Caswell County Branch - Unit #5372
P.O. Box 1032
Yanceyville, NC 27379

Blacks Will Get More Representation

Greensboro -- The NAACP has scored another victory in its efforts to get more black representation on local elected boards in North Carolina, this time in Caswell County. To settle a lawsuit with the NAACP, Caswell County's board of commissioners and board of education agreed to expand each board from five to seven members, with five members elected from districts and two members elected at large.

The plan, approved late Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Richard Erwin in Greensboro, must also be approved by the General Assembly and the U.S. Justice Department before it can be implemented. The settlement calls for the phase-in of the system to begin next year, with the election of two new members to each board. Those members will be elected from two districts with a black majority, located in the northeastern and western sections of the county.

The five current members of each board will continue serving until their terms expire in 1990 or 1992. When terms of three members of each board expire in 1990, new board members will be elected from three districts. When the terms of the two remaining members of each board expire in 1992, they will be replaced by two members elected at large. Board members will serve four years.

The district method is designed to allow more black representation on both boards. Although Caswell County is 42 percent black, no blacks have ever been elected to the board of commissioners, and only one black has been elected to the school board.

Source: Rocky Mount Telegram (Rocky Mount, North Carolina), 17 April 1988, Sunday, Page 12.

Note: The article is incorrect with respect black representation on the Caswell County Board of Commissioners. During Reconstruction a black was elected to that board.

Caswell County, North Carolina: School Integration

Caswell County School Integration

If the US Supreme Court in 1954 ruled that segregated public schools were unconstitutional, why did it take until 1963 for comprehensive school segregation to begin in Caswell County, North Carolina, and until 1969 for a county-wide integration plan to be adopted?

It took fifteen years for the Caswell County Board of Education to comply with the US Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). In 1969, the Board of Education implemented a county-wide integration plan. For the fall term, Yanceyville's white and black first through third grade students were assigned either to Oakwood or Jones Elementary Schools. Bartlett Yancey Elementary housed fourth through seventh grades. Caswell County High School (formerly Caswell County Training School) functioned as N. L. Dillard Junior High School, serving eighth and ninth grade students. Tenth through twelfth grade students attended Bartlett Yancey High School.

From a legal viewpoint "all" the US Supreme Court did in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was to decree that the plaintiffs were deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. The Court asked for further argument as to what should be done about it.

And, in its next pronouncement on the issue in 1955 (a case generally referred to as Brown v. Board of Education II) the Court kicked the matter back to the lower federal courts with the direction that desegregation proceed “with all deliberate speed.”  It was during this period of slow-walking the decrees of the US Supreme Court that the modern Civil Rights movement was born. Rosa Parks did her thing in 1955, was arrested, and sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. Marches and other forms of protest followed, some led by a little-known Baptist minister who had a dream.

So,what was happening in North Carolina during this period. Governor Umstead was ill and died. He was replaced by Luther Hodges, himself a segregationist. Hodges wanted to appease his political base while still adhering to the decrees of the US Supreme Court. This resulted in the Pearsall Plan: a system of local—not state—control, freedom of choice, and vouchers. The freedom-of-choice system allowed students to attend the school they wanted, and the voucher system allowed parents to use state money to support their child’s education in a private school. In effect, the Pearsall Plan did little to integrate North Carolina’s public schools. With a few exceptions, such as in Greensboro, most schools in North Carolina remained segregated.

Caswell County Needlepoint Wall Hanging

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Caswell County Needlepoint Wall Hanging
Made by Members of the Caswell County Chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild

1. Court House: Various Members
2. Dairy Farm: Donna Pointer
3. Cardinal: Annice Davis
4. Tom Day Chair: Edith Wilson
5. Womack's Mill: Gray Miles
6. Asariah Graves House: Helen Payne
7. Tobacco Barn: Virginia Blackwell
8. Spinning Wheel & Trunk: Iris Tate
9. Red House Church: Jane Thomas
10. Dogwood: Jane Thomas
11. Milton Stores: Annie Laurie Wilkinson
12. Quilt Square: Thelma Hicks
13. County Seal: Virginia Blackwell

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Piedmont Academy (1969-1984)

Piedmont Academy

Piedmont Academy
Caswell County, North Carolina

Scholars estimate that, across the nation, at least half a million white students were withdrawn from public schools between 1964 and 1975 to avoid mandatory desegregation. Reasons why whites pulled their children from public schools have been debated: whites insisted that quality fueled their exodus, and blacks said white parents refused to allow their children to be schooled alongside blacks.

The drive to establish a private white-only school in Caswell County, North Carolina, apparently began in February 1963, after sixteen black students transferred to formerly all-white schools. Until then, local whites opposing an end to segregation believed that delaying tactics would continue to work. After all, those tactics had been successful since 1954.

However, the Civil Rights Act of 1974 changed the rules, resulting in Piedmont Academy. This memorandum explores the history of that school and concludes that the evidence supports the conclusion that quality of education was not a concern - Piedmont Academy was created so white children would not be forced to attend schools with a majority black enrollment.


At a February 1963 meeting at the Caswell County Courthouse in Yanceyville referred to above, several spoke in opposition to further integration and advocated private schools, using Virginia as an example. Here are excerpts from newspaper reports:

Yanceyville -- Further plans are being made by the North Carolina Defenders of States Rights to determine what may be done in establishing private schools in this area, according to Bernard Dixon, a farmer who was among the leaders at a meeting yesterday.

The pro-segregationist organization met yesterday in the county courthouse here to discuss the private school system, following admission two weeks earlier of 16 Negro children to previously all-white schools.

Among speakers here yesterday were Allison James, a Winston-Salem pharmacist; Lon F. Backman of Richmond, Va., public relations director of the Virginia Education Fund, Inc., which sponsored private schools in Virginia; and W. N. Jefferies of Burlington, hosiery executive who also is a director of the States Rights organization.

More than 400 people, an overflow crowd, attended the meeting here and heard the speakers denounce integration. The meeting was interrupted at one point when Jim Graves, a Negro who was standing at a rear corner of the courtroom, was asked to leave. He left without protest.

The second speaker was Blackman. He said the "choice of association . . . a basic right under the consittution," is being denied white people by the Supreme Court decision: that the federal government is "usurping the power of the states."

Virginia met the problem with "massive resistance laws," he said by voiding compulsory attendance laws and finding a means of financing private independent schools, which he challenged Caswell Countians to establish.

"My point is that it has been done and it can be done," said Backman. If such schools were established here, he continued, "you will find you are a villified community. The press will be against you. You will be called arch-segregationists, renegades, diedhards who are opposed to education."

He related the experience of his organization in financing private schools in several localities, including an academy in Prince Edward County. Prior to this, he said, Negro children there had far superior facilities to those of white children, and he bitterly condemned the nation's press for not taking note of this.

"I believe we can maintain segregated schools in Caswell County," said Dixon, "But we've got to use our heads."

Dixon then got the floor again to introduce the final speaker, W. N. Jefferies of Burlington State Defenders. Jefferies said that "the obligation we owe to our children is the reason we are here. It is to protect society, not to hurt the Negro.

"I'll put it bluntly. We want to keep them from making bedfelows for our sons and daughters. That's the real reason. Destruction of the race. This amalgamation is not right in the sight of God!"

He expressed the opinion that the people of South Carolina will "win" their fight against integration, and then declared he had a fond feeling for Negroes.

"I will do anything for him if he is a decent upstanding citizen. I like decent self-respecting niggers. but I also know, if he comes in my house and sits on the sofa with my wife, I am going to kill him, so help me God!"

The Daily Times-News (Burlington, North Carolina), 4 February 1963, Monday, Page 12.

In 1973, Mr. Davis of Piedmont Academy stated: "Piedmont's library isn't up to the standards required for eventual accreditation." But, Davis said: "We can't afford to expand on the library at that rapid a pace." The school was facing accreditation problems.

In 1973, Piedmont Academy lacked gym facilities. However, Mr. Davis stated that that problem "ain't high on the list of priorities."

Source: The Danville Register (Danville, Virginia), 12 August 1973, Sunday, Page 17.

Many Caswell residents played "catch up" Friday as former students and friends of Piedmont Academy shuffled into the Yanceyville Rotary Hut on Club House Road for the school's second reunion since its closing in 1985. "We haven't had a reunion in more than 10 years so this was well overdue," 1974 graduate of Piedmont Academy Keith Blalock said. "We have been trying to plan one for years. This one is kind of impromptu so we have no idea who will show up but I think we will have a nice crowd."

Entertainment for the evening was provided by the Paul Roberts Band of Reidsville, friends of 1976 Piedmont Academy graduate, Jean Wright Antoniades. "My fondest memory of the school is playing sports there, we played all the sports," Blalock said. "That and the friends that we made through the academy, not just students but parents as well."

Danville Register, 21 Dec 1969
Piedmont Academy opened to students in 1969 with the beginning class size reaching four to five students. "We didn't have a high school when we first started, it was just first grade through eighth," Lunch Wagon Manager and bus driver for Piedmont Academy for seven years Wilma Campbell Gauldin said. "I think the largest graduating class we had was 21 students. We were very close, like family."

The Academy was located on Old N.C. Highway 86 North where the Providence Fire Department now stands and cost approximately $1,000 a year to attend.

"There were 13 people in my graduating class so we were a close knit group," Blalock said. "You didn't have to be from Caswell to attend though. A lot of students were from Rockingham County and Virginia."

Many sited low enrollment as the reason for the school's closing in 1985 but former students still remember the site, which brings back fond memories with each passing. "I loved getting to know all the people and getting to know all the children," Gauldin said whose own daughter Michelle attended Piedmont Academy. "I loved all of them. I felt like they belonged to me. They were like home away from home from kindergarten to twelfth grade. I loved every one of them."

Source: The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 20 January 2009.

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Academy Slates Bronc Rodeo This Weekend [1977]

Piedmont Academy will hold its second annual bronc-riding, calf-roping, steer-dogging rodeo Saturday at 8 p.m. on the grounds of the Providence, N.C., school.

. . . .

Participants will come from all over the southeast to participate first in a parade down Danville's Main Street at noon.

Source: The Danville Register (Danville, Virginia), 28 May 1977, Saturday, Page 12.

Piedmont Academy High School Commencement [1972]

Piedmont Academy High School graduation exercises will be held at the school in Providence, N.C., on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Guest speaker will be the Rev. Ellis Adams of Brightwood Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C.

Top honor graduates in the class are Marthann Carroll, valedictorian, and George Malloy Shelton, Jr., salutatorian. Both will speak at the commencement before diplomas are awarded by Headmaster A. A. Willette, Jr.

The valedictorian, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Carroll of Providence, is a past president of the Student Council, editor of the French Newspaper, member of the French Club, and of the yearbook staff.

The salutatorian is the son of Mrs. Louise P. Shelton of Yanceyville, N.C. He is a member of the football team, and Monogram Club, served as treasurer of the junior class, and is a member of the yearbook staff and homeroom representative for Student Council

Source: The Bee (Danville, Virginia), 3 June 1972, Saturday, Page 3.

Piedmont Academy

Headmaster in 1969: Boyd Barrier
Headmaster in 1970: Al Willette
Headmaster in 1977: Jeff E. Warner

Who was in the group of Caswell County residents who purchased the Providence Elementary School and formed a non-profit corporation to operate it for their children as a private school? In 1969, parents pay a $100 application fee and a tuition of $300 for a child in grades one through six; $400 in grades seven through ten.

Initial funds for the purchase of the school building and lot were raised by the sale of $22,000 in bonds, which were sold out four hours after being put up for sale.

Piedmont Academy school policy is adopted by an 18-member board of directors elected from the parents of the children who attend the school. They delegate to the headmaster the actual operation of the school, but retain the final authority on all his actions.

In 1969, the Piedmont Academy Board of Trustees was headed by Ira Dameron, Jr. In 1970, David Sartin was a member of the Piedmont Academy's Board. Sartin was president of the Piedmont Patrons Association and a member of the Board of Directors of Piedmont Academy.

Piedmont Academy's operation is modeled after that of private schools in Enfield, N.C., and Lawrenceville, Va.

The Danville Register (Danville, Virginia), 21 December 1969, Sunday, Page 15.

Raleigh -- North Carolina Defenders of States Rights, Inc., was chartered today in the office of Secretary of State Thad Eure. Dedicated to the preservation of "national and racial integrity, state's rights and individual liberty," the organization lists among its board of directors men prominent throughout the state.

Directors whose names appear on the charter included Bernard H. Dixon of Providence, Caswell County, North Carolina.

A summary of the purpose for which the organization was formed is found in the Preamble of its Platform, the chief purposes being the preservation of a white society and culture and preservation of white and Negro racial integrities.

"We are of the belief that the western European culture which is our heritage is superior to the African and Asiatic. it is, in any event, our preference, and we are proud of our heritage."

"A gigantic movement is afoot to destroy Constitutional Government, to seriously curtail the rights of the individual States of the Union, to foster a form of Socialism at the expense of our traditional American freedoms, and to destroy the social mores of our country and thereby both the White and Negro races by encouraging the integration of them. We believe these things to be evil in themselves and to serve the interests of the Communist Party program to dominate this country."

Statesville Record and Landmark (Statesville, North Carolina), 21 November 1958, Friday, Page 1.

Planning a Caswell County All-White Private School: 1963

The drive to establish a private segregated school in Caswell County, North Carolina, apparently began in February 1963, after sixteen black students had transferred to formerly all-white schools the previous month. Until then, local whites opposing an end to segregation believed that delaying tactics would continue to work. After all, those tactics had been successful since 1954.

Bernard H. Dixon, a Providence farmer (and father of a four-year-old son), was chairman of the Caswell County chapter of the white-supremacist North Carolina Defenders of States Rights in 1963 when he hosted a meeting at the Caswell County Courthouse in Yanceyville. High-ranking organization speakers were invited, along with those familiar with private academies in other states (especially Virginia).

Newspapers of the time reported: "Further plans are being made by the North Carolina Defenders of States Rights to determine what may be done in establishing private schools in this area, according to Bernard Dixon, a farmer who was among the leaders at a meeting yesterday."

Among the speakers at the meeting were Allison James, froma Winston-Salem; Lon F. Backman of Richmond, Va., public relations director of the Virginia Education Fund, Inc., which sponsored private schools in Virginia; and W. N. Jefferies of Burlington, hosiery executive who also was a director of the States Rights organization.

More than 400 people, an overflow crowd, attended the meeting at the Caswell County Courthouse and heard the speakers dencounce integration. The meeting was interrupted at one point when Jim Graves, a Negro who was standing at a rear corner of the courtroom, was asked to leave. He left without protest.

"I believe we can maintain segregated schools in Caswell County," said Dixon, "But we've got to use our heads."

Lon F. Backman then told the meeting that Virginia had been successful in creating segregated all-white private schools and that it could be done in Caswell County. "My point is that it has been done and it can be done," said Backman. If such schools were established here, he continued, "you will find you are a villified community. The press will be against you. You will be called arch-segregationists, renegades, diedhards who are opposed to education."

Dixon then got the floor again to introduce the final speaker, W. N. Jefferies of Burlington State Defenders. Jefferies said that "the obligation we owe to our children is the reason we are here. It is to protect society, not to hurt the Negro.

"I'll put it bluntly. We want to keep them from making bedfelows for our sons and daughters. That's the real reason. Destruction of the race. This amalgamation is not right in the sight of God!"

He expressed the opinion that the people of South Carolina will "win" their fight against integration, and then declared he had a fond feeling for Negroes.

"I will do anything for him if he is a decent upstanding citizen. I like decent self-respecting niggers. but I also know, if he comes in my house and sits on the sofa with my wife, I am going to kill him, so help me God!"

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Milton Airport (Milton, NC)

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Milton Airport (Milton, NC)

Name: Site 35A

Owner: E. B. Foote

Operator: Dept. of Commerce

Position: 2 miles north of Milton

Size: 62 acres

Landing Strip: 2,400' x 500'

Marking and Identification: Standard 50' white circle, with runway indicators in center of field; wind-direction indicator is an illuminated cone on beacon tower.

Lighting: Beacon, 24" rotating, 6 r.p.m., 2,000,000 c.p., to south of field, operated from dusk to dawn; boundary lights surround field; approach lights, two green; flood lights for landing, none.

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See Related Article:

Airplanes Over Yanceyville

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Taylor House

The following is from "The Rainey Gals," by Mary Harding Rainey Swearingen (1880-1959). It describes the house of her grandparents, William Woods Taylor (1817-1904) and Sallie Banks Bradsher Taylor (1836-1913).

Grandpa and Granny Taylor lived about a good walking mile from us, just at the fork of the Milton and Yanceyville Road and the "round the lane" road to Purley. . . Grandpa's house was a steep-roofed three storied building with a cellar beneath it. It had tall rock chimneys at each end. On these chimneys was the inscription 1776. There was a basement, or cellar of two rooms. The front room was the dining room and the back room was used for storage. . . Years before Grandfather bought the Plantation the house was used as a Tavern or Inn to accommodate travelers riding in the stagecoach that carried the mail to Yanceyville and Hillsboro. "Old man Hop Lea" as he was commonly called, the proprietor of the Tavern or Inn was said to be very cruel to his slaves. . . .

The first story or ground floor, which was two very big rooms and a wide hall between, was ceiled with very wide boards . . . perhaps twelve or fourteen inches wide. In my Grandmother's room, where we always sat unless there was real company, there was a huge rock fireplace with a big mantle over it. Beside the fireplace Grandpa sat by a little window that looked out on the main road and the tobacco barns, the well, the stables, and the back yard. . . . Across the hall was the parlor, sacred to strange company, parties, funerals, Sundays and beaux; and where peddlers were allowed to spread out their packs. . . The stairs were very narrow and very steep, beginning with two steps up, then a platform and a turn to the main flight. Back of the platform there was a door without knobs or hinges. I think it must have opened in to my Grandmother's room at one time but was now closed up on her side. . . When we got to the head of the stairs there was the boys room on the right hand side and on the left was the room for the girls, this room was big enough to hold four double beds.

William Woods Taylor (1817-1904) married Sallie Banks Bradsher (1836-1913). Their daughter, Elizabeth Woods Taylor (1858-1952), married Nathaniel Thomas Rainey (1849-1896), and this couple is the parents of the author: Mary Harding Rainey Swearingen (1880-1959). On April 22, 1908, she married John Joseph Swearingen.