Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Tobacco Cooperative Strife in Caswell County: 1908

 Caswell County Fears That Night Riders May Burn Tobacco Barns

Threatening Notice Posted on the Barns Terrify Tobacco Growers.


Reidsville, N.C., Oct. 3 [1908] -- "Outrages similar to the deeds of the night riders in Kentucky are threatened in Caswell County, and the independent tobacco growers, especially in the neighborhood of Purley and Blanche, are greatly alarmed as a result of notices which have been posted on tobacco barns and other places where they might be read. While as yet no deed of violence has been reported, a number of the farmers have grave fears that their crop might be destroyed.

"The notices appear to have been freely posted for a distance of about eight miles by some unknown parties, and all of them warn the independent growers to pool their tobacco and not sell it at auction on the warehouse floor. 'If you do, you must bear the consequences.' Another notice reads: 'Pool your tobacco or you will smell fire.' Neither of the above notices was signed, but the supposition is that they were inspired and written by parties who are in sympathy with the movement of the Bright Tobacco Growers' Protective Association of Virginia and North Carolina, the object of which organization is to discontinue the placing of tobacco on the warehouse floors to be sold at auction, but to place it in warehouses operated under the auspices of the association, to be held until prices deemed just and reasonable can be secured. 

"In short, the union farmers hope by this method of pooling tobacco to advance the price and believe that they, as producers, should fix the price rather than the buyer. In justice, however, the Farmers' Association, it can be stated that neither as a body nor as individuals have any deeds of violence or threatening methods been countenanced. The officers of the association and the leading members in public speeches made on various occasions have violently opposed any rash act, and declare that the purpose of the association was to advance the price of tobacco only by honest and legal methods. The Tobacco Growers' Protective Association is backed by some of the most prominent and respected farmers of this section, as well as many substantial business men, and the body should not be held responsible for the act committed by any individual.

"The fact that practically all of this season's crop of tobacco is not in the barns increases the alarm of the Caswell farmers, who are inclined to take the notice seriously. All efforts to find out who are responsible for the threatening notices have proved futile."

Source: Daily News (Greensboro, NC), 4 October 1908.


The photograph is not associated with the newspaper article. Click image to see a larger version.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Great Damage in Caswell County: 1908

 Great Damage in Caswell County. Special to The Observer.

Reidsville, Aug. 29. -- "It is learned that the damage in Caswell County resulting from the rain storms is very heavy. All of the corn crops located on the banks of the Dan River and the creek near Milton have been destroyed as well as the melon patches in the low grounds.

"The Country Line Creek, running between Rockingham and Caswell Counties, is about 30 feet above its normal height, the waters extending from 150 to 200 feet from the banks. The covered wooden bridge crossing the creek at Milton was in grave danger Wednesday of being washed away. One of the approaches was washed away, but the bridge was saved by the use of large cables, which were attached to trees. The toll bridge across Dan River at Milton is now out of danger."

The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), 30 August 1908.

The above photograph is not associated with the newspaper article. Click image to see a larger version.

The "Little Caswell County Child" - 1908

 The "Little Caswell County Child"

The Women Teachers Are Working to Rear Boys Who Will Be Successors of Murphey, Saunders, Yancey, Graves and Bedford Brown.

The following clipping from a Caswell newspaper will be interesting to teachers throughout the State:

"The Thanksgiving entertainment given by the Blackwell's school, near Quick, on the 26, we are advised, was a complete success in every particular. The day was an ideal one for the out of doors entertainment. The school house and grounds were beautifully decorated and arranged. Mrs. Graves, the teacher, and the children deserve great praise and commendation for their persistent and untiring efforts. Nothing was left undone by them that would add success and enjoyment for the occasion.

"It was indeed a great day for the 'Little Caswell County Child.' Among the teachers present were Mmes. Graves, Turner, and Misses Rice, King and Graves. Prof. Hickerson, of the Ruffin Graded School, was also in attendance.

"The children of Mrs Graves showed careful and painstaking training, and acquitted themselves with great credit. After the exercises by the children, Supt. Anderson was introduced. He took for his subject 'The Little Caswell County Child.' He paid a tribute to the little Caswell County child of the past, that develops in manhood into such lives and services as was given by Calvin Graves, Romulus Saunders, Bedford Brown, Archibald Murphey and Bartlett Yancey. In the course of his remarks he took occasion to say that North Carolina was possibly more indebted to Archibald Murphey and Bartlett Yancey than any other men, because it was the genius and wisdom of these Caswell County giants nearly a hundred years ago that made public education possible for all the children of all the people of North Carolina, and stated that if our people will respond to the cry of the little Caswell County child, as it begs for the light of learning and intelligence, there will arise worth successors of those men who in the past made Caswell matchless among counties."

Source: The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), 17 December 1908.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Yanceyville NC 9-11 Memorial

 By Debra Ferrell

The Caswell Messenger Editor 14 September 2023

It was an emotional day for many on Monday, September 11, as the Town of Yanceyville held the long awaited dedication service for the 9-11 Memorial that features a portion of a steel girder from Tower Two of the World Trade Center following the terrorist attack on September 11, 2011. Many eyes filled with tears as Mayor Alvin Foster welcomed the crowd for this "solemn remembrance of what the memorial means."

DH Griffin donated the core beam from salvage work the company performed on the Twin Towers. Senator Phil Berger, President Pro Tem NC State Senate, says he knew from the start that he wanted to help with the project to create this unique memorial in Yanceyville that is the third component of special memorials that includes monuments to veterans and fallen public service members. Those two monuments are directly in from of the Yanceyville Municipal Building. The 9-11 monument is across from them right next to Fidelity Bank.

Yanceyville council member Keith Tatum was relentless in pursuing funding for the project.

Interesting facts:

The beam weighs around 3,100 pounds per square foot.

The memorial is built upon the site of the old Ford building that DH Griffin demolished for the Town starting that relationship.

Mayor Foster pointed out that the memorial is part of the town's economic development that adds to the appeal of the area and promotes livability.

"The memorial reminds us of the attack on the United States by terrorists 22 years ago. Thousands have died whether from the attack itself or from the War on Terror that followed. Thousands still suffer from physical or mental ailments," said the mayor.

He asked the crowd if they remembered what they were doing on the day of the attack. "When the first tower was hit, we thought it was accidental. Minutes later when the second tower was hit, that illusion was shattered. Then came the flight crashing and the attack on the Pentagon."

VFW Post 7316 and American Legion Post 89 posted colors with Naomi Totten singing the National Anthem. Prayer was rendered by Rev. Paul Robinson.

Sen. Berger shared how his first idea of what the memorial would look didn't compare to the actual beauty of the beam and its setting. "I’m blown away with the design," he said as he complimented the landscape and visionary leadership that led to its creation. He pointed out that everyone was there to remember the lives lost and commended our country for demonstrating the resolve to stand against oppression.

"This is a piece of history whose purpose here is to signify strength and remind us of one of our darkest days. It will stand as a reminder to all of us. When I heard about it, I immediately went to work looking for funding."

Former Senator Hugh Webster was approached and said yes to showing strong support for Caswell County to acquire this coveted beam.

Following a ribbon cutting, everyone was invited next door at the Richmond-Miles History Museum where the Caswell County Historical Association hosted refreshments supplied by the Town of Yanceyville.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Rock Academy

Rock Academy

Perhaps the longest-lived and most influential school of this period was the Rock Academy and its successor. In 1867 James S. Dameron opened a school in northwestern Caswell County which he called the Ruffin Select School. Shortly afterwards a permanent building was erected and it came to be called the Rock Academy because it was constructed of rock.

Associated with Dameron at one time or another in the operation of this school were Miss Jennie Roberts, Miss Alden Combs, Miss Allen Courts, Elder P. D. Gold, and John W. Gilliam. A large number of young people in the neighborhood were educated here. Among them was John B. Cobb who afterwards left the county to seek his fortune. In 1921 he provided $20,000 for a school building nearby which became the first consolidated school in the county. The building was dedicated to the memory of Cobb's parents and was known as Cobb Memorial School. Cobb and his daughters made further gifts to the school and the plant was enlarged.

Coach Lindsey Philip Page

Former Bartlett Yancey Coach Lindsey Page has been selected for induction into the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame. As the 27th group of inductees to join the prestigious hall, bringing to 148 the number enshrined, Page joins seven others this year: Donnie Baxter of Asheboro, Ronnie Chavis of Pembroke, Lawrence Dunn of Raleigh, Doug Henderson of Greensboro, Larry Rhodes of Gastonia, Robert Steele of Salisbury, and Jim Taylor of Shelby. Page and the others will be honored during special halftime ceremonies at a football at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill on Saturday, Sept. 22, when North Carolina takes on East Carolina. The new class will be officially inducted at a special banquet next spring.

“I’m very humbled by this,” said Page. “As a coach, you never aspire to that.” The induction is two years in the making, and due in large part to the work of Donna Hudson and Kay Satterfield, and numerous local people who vouched for Page. “I share this honor with
the players I coached, the principals that supported me, and the superintendents. I share it not only with the professional people I’ve worked with, but with my entire family. It’s been a good run. So many people have helped me.”

Born in Caswell County and a 1962 graduate of Elon College, Page began his teaching and coaching career right after that at Bartlett Yancey. For 34 years, he was the head men’s basketball coach, winning seven conference championships and a North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 3-A championship in 1988. His teams posted an outstanding 519-325 record during that stretch and the gymnasium was named in his honor in 1988. He also coached baseball at the school for 15 seasons and was athletic director for 20 years. He came out of his coaching retirement in 1999 to coach the women’s team at BY and posted 65 additional wins including a trip to the regional tournament coaching through 2006.

He has been recognized by the NCHSAA before, with a Special Person Award in 1997 and a Distinguished Service Award a year later. He also coached in the North Carolina Coaches’ Association East-West basketball all-star game in 1988. Page has a lot to reflect upon over his stellar career. After playing one year at Elon, he decided he wanted to be a high school teaching coach. “I never deviated from that goal,” said Page. Superintendent Tom Whitley offered him a job at BY, with Buck Page, one of his mentors. The two coach Pages decided the younger would coach girls the first year, and they’d switch the next year, giving him boys. He taught Spanish, math and science for a year, then just health and P.E.

“I started at BY in 1962, and within two years, all the high schools in the county were consolidated into one school. In the late 60s, we had a ‘freedom of choice plan’, and had six or seven black students at our school. And in 1969, we were totally integrated.” Page said everyone had a lot of adjustments to make, and it was the most difficult time of his career. “We had to blend in players from all the different schools, to function as a unit. I told them, ‘you don’t have to like each other, but you have to respect each other,” he said. “These athletes had played against each other. But we were very successful.”

The 1971-72 basketball team went 24-2. “We had a real good ball club. People really caught on to Sleepy (Claude Taylor). When you’re a superstar, you’re sometimes hard to coach. But he was very likeable. And it helped with integration, to be honest.”

By the 80s, Page was proud to have Keith Claiborne and Dana Elliott on his team. “We played in the Dean Dome. I believe everyone in Caswell County was there,” he laughed. “We had a tremendous following. The place would be full. That was the golden era of our basketball.”

Several BY athletes have had their jerseys retired, and have played some college sports. “I’ve always enjoyed watching and following them. I hope they do well. That’s the biggest thing, to be productive citizens. The fact that they’re good athletes just adds to it.”

Through the years, Page has had opportunities to leave Caswell County. “But there was always something that kept me here. Mainly my family He and his wife Myra have four children, Barry, Steve, Carla, and Leslie. “When you are a coach, it’s not a job, it’s a way of life. I spent an awful lot of time away from home. But Myra was very supportive, and my sons played for me. Leslie played basketball, and Carla cheered for a couple of years. So it was always a family affair. That’s what helped me survive as long as I did.”

For the last 15 years at BY, Page’s teaching load was lightened, and he served as industrial coordinator, keeping tabs on students with jobs. He retired in 1998 after being full-time for 38 years. But the new superintendent asked him to teach driver’s ed. “I’ve been doing that for 14 years, and enjoy it. I go to BY two to three afternoons a week.”

Still being involved with students, Page sees differences in the teens through the years. “This is the ‘me’ generation. But you gotta have collective goals to be successful.“ He offered some advice to the athletes. “You always want be a good representative of yourself, your family, and your school. You always want to be presentable. A pet peeve of mine is sagging britches.” And it brings back a memory from the 70s. “We were in the middle of the Vietnam war, which we couldn’t win. Hair got long. Our team was very good. It was Tim Jernigan and Sleepy’s last season. Tim had long hair. Now, I really liked the kid. But when the season was about to start, I asked him to cut it to a neat length. He said he’d cut it, but wouldn’t cut it again until we lost. But we won 18 in a row! His hair had gotten a little long!”

Page, who turned 73 a few weeks ago, said he doesn’t work for the money, but for good health. He participated in Senior Games, softball, and 3-on-3 basketball. “I’m really taking it one year at a time. I don’t want to be sitting in the house with a remote in my hand all day long. I enjoy getting out,” he said. “I hope to stay active. It would be nice to die at second base, or playing golf, said Page. “It shows you were productive until you passed away.”

Source: The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina) 22 August 2012.

Womack's Mill

"Womack's Mill was a treasure--a memory for many people of the past. It was where we took our grains to be ground. The millpond was where we waded in the cooling waters and it was there I had my first real date with my future husband--we spread a checked tablecloth on the sandy edge picnicking on cheese sandwiches and cold Pepsi Colas in glass bottles. For our 25th wedding anniversary present, my brother Bill, a photographer, enlarged and framed a beautiful photo of the old mill that was in his archives. I remember well the miller's house across the road--mama would visit the lady of the house, passing the time of day, while the corn was being processed. I am told that Papa (Will Farthing) took bags of grain to Womack's Mill on the family wagon, and the trusty family mule was smart enough to take Papa there with nary a "giddap" ! The trip was so familiar to the four-legged critter that he knew exactly where to turn from the highway, proceeding on his own, the reins in Papa's lap. Such a loss for the community, and would have been a wonderful historical edifice if it could have been preserved...."

Source: Helen Jean Farthing Ledford 26 February 2014 Post to the Caswell County Historical Association Facebook Page.