Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Red House

The Red House

Many records refer to a "Red House" in the northeast section of Caswell County that was in or near the community today called Semora. References are to "The Red House, "Red House," "Red House" Community, and "Red House" Presbyterian Church. Some have stated that the original "Red House" was the "Red House Tavern," which was painted red and gave the name to the community and to the Presbyterian Church.

Historian William S. Powell provided the following:
The Red House Tavern near Semora, owned by Lewis Shirley, was another populr center for horse racing. Shirley advertised in the Milton Intelligencer of May 6, 1819, that he had purchased "the celebrated Imported Horse EAGLE" and that he would be let to mares at Red House at $50 the season. "And as to a race horse," he said, "England never produced his equal in his day, which may be seen by reference to the English stud book, in my possession, together with his blood and numerous performances." By 1825 Shirley had moved to Kentucky where he raised thoroughbred horses. Afterwards he went on to Texas where it has been said he introduced thoroughbreds.

The account book for Red House Tavern contains entries that suggest the kind of entertainment dispensed there. Guests sometimes rented space at the tavern and gave balls. Other guests stayed for many days at a time consuming large quantities of cider, brandy, and whiskey. Glasses of toddy and julips appear often in the accounts. An extra fee was charged for oysters, and "dinners during the races" were more expensive than at other times; sometimes dinner was even served at the track. Ordinarily dinner might be forty to fifty cents, but at the track it would be $2.00. Many account book entries include a charge for the guest's horse, and occasionally during the season the book records that Shirley lent cash to his patrons. it was not unusual for many regular customers to charge drinks on an average of seven different days a month, but sometimes names appear up to eighteen days out of a month. Whiskey was the drink most often consumed, and it was not unusual for up to eight drinks or gills to be charged to a man in one day.

Source: When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977, William S. Powell (1977) at 160.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Samuel Fowlkes Cooper (1937-2009)

Newspaper Publisher Dead at 72
Mark Sage
Richlands News Press and Wytheville Enterprise
Fri Mar 27, 2009 - 05:43 PM

Wytheville Enterprise publisher Samuel F. Cooper died Friday, March 27, 2009, at his residence. He was 72.

Cooper, who was born in Caswell County, N.C., on Feb. 20, 1937, had worked for the paper since 2000. In November of that year he was named publisher of the Southwest Virginia weekly group, which included the Southwest Virginia Enterprise, Smyth County News & Messenger, Washington County News, Bland County Messenger, Floyd Press, Richlands News-Press and Clinch Valley News. Two years earlier, in 1998, he had been appointed publisher of the Richlands and Clinch Valley papers.

“He was so likeable and everybody thought the world of him,” said advertising manager Audria Leffel, who worked with Cooper in Richlands. “He was really well-thought of in the community here.”
Robert MacPherson, president of Media General’s Community Newspaper Group, said he’d worked with Cooper for 10 years. During that time, MacPherson got to know Cooper in a professional and personal manner.
“He was a fine person and loved what he did and loved the people he worked with,” MacPherson said. “He will be sorely missed.”

Before joining Media General, Cooper was an executive with Southern Entertainment Corp. in Danville, where he operated WPXX-FM. Leffel said Cooper had operated the Cedar Bluff radio station WRIC before his stint in Danville. Cooper had managed and owned several radio stations in his native North Carolina and in Virginia. He was also a former general manager and editor of The Caswell Messenger in Yanceyville, N.C.

Funeral services were incomplete on Friday.

One of nine children, Samuel Fowlkes (Sammy) Cooper was a son of Ord Cooper (1890-1971) and Della Mae Rigney Cooper (1893-1970).

Former Messenger editor dies at age 74
By Angela Evans
Managing Editor
Mar 31, 2009 - 08:20:28 pm CDT

Wytheville, Va. - Samuel Fowlkes Cooper, 74 of 555 Loretto Drive, Wytheville, Va. died Friday at his home following a brief decline in health.Cooper, a Caswell native and graduate of Bartlett Yancey High School, served as managing editor of The Caswell Messenger for nearly 20 years, until 1982. Though he left The Messenger nearly 30 years ago, Cooper kept up with his hometown, having the local newspaper delivered to his Wytheville, Va. home. Nell Page, of Yanceyville, remembers working with Cooper for seven years, from 1972 until 1979.

"Sam and I wrote the paper," she said. "His title was news editor and mine was features editor. "Page said Cooper was very good to work for and always appreciative of the work she did. "He was very supportive of me and made me feel like I was making an important contribution," Page said. Page said he had a real "nose for news" and although she majored in and taught English,it was Cooper who taught her how to write a news story." It was definitely on-the-job training; but I thought he did a good job of it," Page said. "He was as nice a person as I have ever worked for." At the time of his death, Cooper was employed by Media General Corporation as publisher of a group of community newspapers in Southwest Virginia, including the Southwest Virginia Enterprise, Smyth County News Messenger, Washington County News, Bland County Messenger, Floyd Press, Richlands News-Press, and Clinch Valley news.

Cooper is survived by his wife, Penelope Vernon Cooper, two sons; Samuel Lloyd Cooper and S. Keith Cooper and wife Vickie, and a daughter; Donna Lynn Hilton and husband Jay, two sisters: Thalia Bradley and Jane Walker.Funeral services will be held 1 p.m. Tuesday at Purley United Methodist Church. Interment will be in the church cemetery. Family will receive friends 7-8:30 p.m. Monday at Marley Funeral Home in Yanceyville.


Monday, March 02, 2009

Gooch Family of Caswell County

Captain John S. Gooch

The Murfreesboro Post (Tennessee) (2 March 2009): "Two Cousins Shared Nicknames But Not Fates"

Here’s the brief story of two Gooches from Rutherford County who served with distinguished units and undoubtedly deserved a better fate.

They were first cousins who shared the nickname “Jack.”

One Jack Gooch was from a doctor’s family in Smyrna. “Big Jack” Gooch hailed from Milton. His father ran Gooch and McKnight Mercantile on the Square in Murfreesboro.

Here’s a brief recounting of their service during the Civil War, told separately to be less confusing.

John “Jack” Gooch

John Saunders Gooch was the son of Dr. John Claiborne Gooch, builder and owner of Goochland, a large plantation home in Smyrna.

His father was born in 1800 in Caswell County, N.C. and came to Tennessee at age 18 with his parents, Nathaniel and Martha Tait Gooch.

Gooch became a physician practicing in North Rutherford County where he acquired 2,435 acres in Rutherford and Davidson counties, completing “Goochland” in 1845.

His son, “Jack” was a student at the Nashville Military Academy like his fellow Smyrna resident, Sam Davis.

Dr. Gooch allowed Jack and his friends to drill on his land and ultimately, young Gooch was voted captain of what became Company E of the 20th Tennessee Infantry regiment in Smyrna during the spring of 1861. Born in June 1842, he was 18 years old.

The company was formally trained at Camp Trousdale and ordered to Virginia. En route, the 20th Tennessee was stopped at Bristol and ordered into Kentucky via the Cumberland Gap.

From there, the unit was to fight in what is alternatively called the Battle of Fishing Creek or Mills Springs under the command of Brig. Gen. Felix K. Zollicoffer, CSA. The popular general was a newspaper editor, three-term United States Congressman from Tennessee and had served as an officer in the United States Army.

Zollicoffer had in mind to lead the first Confederate invasion of border state Kentucky until Maj. Gen. George B. Crittenden was placed in charge. But Zollicoffer was to meet his destiny in Kentucky by being the first Confederate general to die in the Western Theater.

Jack Gooch nearly joined him in death at Fishing Creek. The much more experienced Union Brig. Gen. George H. Thomas had received orders to drive the Confederates across the Cumberland River and break up Crittenden and Zofficoffer’s army.

Col. Joel Allen Battle lead the 694 troops of the 20th Tennessee at Fishing Creek. Most of the Tennesseans were ill-equipped, using flintlock muskets that weren’t reliable in the rain, and it was raining that day (Jan. 19, 1862) near the bend in the Cumberland.

Crittenden was to receive the blame for being unable to concentrate the Confederate forces, but Zofficoffer, who was leading his brigade into action, fell during the opening moments of the battle. “Old Zolly” mistook Union troops for his men and was shot to death apparently by Union Col. Speed Fry.

For more than an hour, the 20th Tennessee and the 15th Mississippi fought the Union army.

Jack Gooch led Co. E in a charge against the Yankees and was shot down and initially left for dead on the battlefield as the 20th was pushed back. His men ran forward to recover his body and discovered that he was still alive.

Gooch was sent home to Smyrna to recover from his grievous wound. During his absence, he was elected lieutenant colonel of the 20th Tennessee while the army regrouped at Corinth, Miss. Still recovering, Gooch reported for duty, but his wound was slow to heal. With no prospects for a quick recovery, he resigned his commission and was honorably discharged in July 1863.

He returned home to Goochland and lived there until his death. After the war, he was a farmer and breeder of thoroughbred harness and trotting horses. He was also Postmaster of the 1st District in 1886 and served in the 1889 Tennessee House of Representatives.

After his death, the home passed to his only daughter, Mary Eliza Gooch Neely. The home remained in the Gooch family until 1942, when it was purchased by the state of Tennessee and razed.

Seward Air Force Base was built on the property. Gooch and his wife, Evie Hume, were buried at Cannon Cemetery, but their remains were re-interred at Mapleview Cemetery to make way for the impoundment of Percy Priest Lake.

John C. “Big Jack” Gooch

“Big Jack” Gooch was the second child (born Sept. 6, 1829) of Allen Tait and Elizabeth Venable (Morton) Gooch. Allen was the younger brother of Dr. John Claiborne Gooch.

Allen chose a business career and owned a successful mercantile shop on Murfreesboro’s Square. His son, Jack, after attending schools in Milton and Murfreesboro, joined the family business as a clerk.

“Big Jack” married Martha Jane Randolph, the daughter of Beverly and Lucy Wade (Searcy) Randolph of Walter Hill. The Randolph home, “Riverside,” still stands on Jefferson Pike near Cut-off Road. Beverly Randolph was a native Virginian and was kin to founding father, John Randolph of Roanoke.

But the charms of Murfreesboro and Walter Hill failed to hold “Big Jack,” and in 1860 he moved south to Valhermoso Springs, Ala., where his sister and her husband ran the successful Cedar Resort Hotel. Mary Lucinda Gooch was married to Jean Joseph Giers, a German who was an artist, music teacher and correspondent for the Washington Post newspaper.

While in Alabama, he performed a stunt that reinforced his nickname. The big, stout man bet and won a jug of whiskey by swimming across the Tennessee River with his son on his back. He was over 6-feet-tall with auburn hair and blue eyes.

Giers’ brother, C.C. Giers, was to win fame as a photographer in Nashville.

But “Big Jack” didn’t escape the impending Civil War. On Aug. 1, 1862 he enlisted with Co. K, Russell’s Alabama Cavalry at Guntersville, Ala. The unit was combined with six regiments of Tennessee cavalry. By 1863, he was serving in Co. I, 16th Tennessee Cavalry commanded by Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. By Oct. 1, 1863 he was commissioned captain of the regiment.

He served with Forrest the remainder of the war. Meanwhile, his family had returned to Walter Hill to live with her parents at “Riverside.”

He was nursing a wound in the leg, when his unit surrendered at Gainesville, Al. On the long trip back to Walter Hill, Capt. John’s wound turned to illness as he visited at his sister’s, Harriet Acklen, home near Huntsville.

Family members kept his illness from his wife, Martha, who was ill and pregnant with their sixth child.

Before his death, “Big Jack” told his family of his final request to be buried in a suit made of cotton that was picked, spun, woven and tailored in the South. He wanted to buried with his face to the South and his back to the North.

His wishes were honored.