Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bartlett Yancey Hight School 1962

(click on photograph for larger image)


Left to Right: Lytt Stamps, Ronnie Fitch, Johnny Lewis, Jack Pointer, Richard Rogers (head only), Ricky Frederick, Buck Page (head only), Ronald Aldridge, Larry Stogner, Earl Smith, Roger Coley, J. C. Winstead, Wayne Cross, Russell Watlington, Jimmy Foster. Possibly Pete McFarling in school bus door. Outing may be to a college football game. Bartlett Yancey High School (Yanceyville, North Carolina) in background.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Albert A. Mitchell and Alfred A. Mitchell

Two men lived in Caswell County, North Carolina, called A. A. Mitchell: Albert A. Mitchell; and Alfred A. Mitchell. Little is known about them, and there is much confusion because both were referred to in many records as A. A. Mitchell.

The index to Historical Abstracts of Minutes of Caswell County, North Carolina 1777-1877, Katharine Kerr Kendall (1976) states that the following items are with respect to A. A. or Albert Mitchell (as differentiated from Alfred A. Mitchell). However, it is certainly possible that the A. A. Mitchell entries have been confused:

April 1854: A. A. Mitchell appointed Ranger.

April 1861: A. A. Mitchell licensed to retail liquor.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Portrait of a Tough Guy: Yank Stewart

Following is a transcript of a newspaper article that appeared in The News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina) on November 25, 1962. The old newspaper clipping was provided by a relative of Charles Willis (Yank) Stewart (1906-1985) and was in very poor condition, with small, but important, sections of text missing along a fold line. The images that accompanied the article were barely legible. However, click on them to see a larger version. The photograph to the left appeared many years later.

"Portrait of a Tough Guy--Last In a Series: The Escape From an Escape-Proof Prison -- The Life of Prisoner Yank Stewart" by Gene Roberts Jr. The News and Observer, Raleigh, N.C., Sunday Morning, November 25, 1962, Section III, Page 2.

Prisoner Yank Stewart, who in 1959 already had six escapes on his record, swore he would boost the number to seven.

"Damn you," he told the deputy sheriff who recaptured him after his sixth flight from confinement, "I'll escape again the first chance I get."

Prison officials responded to Stewart's threat by shipping him immediately to Ivy Bluff, an "escape-proof" penitentiary which bore no resemblance to its name. Concertina wire, not ivy, was entwined around its outer wall of heavy gauge steel.

Newspapers labeled the prison "Little Alcatraz," and in the three years since its construction it had lived up to its reputation. It took only the toughest 30 or 40 prisoners from a State prison population of more than 10,000 and housed them securely. Not one had escaped.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Yanceyville Female Academy (Yanceyville, North Carolina)

The Yanceyville Female Academy apparently dates from the early 1830s (but Katherine K. Kendall says late 1820s) and existed in some form until at least 1900 (and possibly beyond). It seems to have offered classes in one or more buildings. See the excerpts below. It appears that several of the early Yanceyville schools were somewhat distant from the town center.

Part of the Yanceyville United Methodist Church cemetery apparently was the site of the Yanceyville Female Academy. The property was sold to Julius Johnston in 1909 (Caswell County Deed Book 64, pg. 7). The parcel subsequently was sold to H. F. Brandon and his wife, who in 1920 sold it to B. S. Graves. In 1941, B. S. Graves sold it to the Yanceyville Methodist Church trustees (with an agreement that the church move a pack barn that would be  on the property line). From information in those deeds, and another referenced when the land was purchased for the Yanceyville Female Academy (Caswell County Deed Book CC, pg 119), the Yanceyville Female Academy parcel appears to have been adjacent to (and possibly surrounded by the Yanceyville United Methodist Church property). The lot in question was originally sold by Paul A. Harralson to Azariah Graves, Dr. Allen Gunn, and Dr. Nathanial Roan Commissioners of the Yanceyville Female Institute.

Piedmont Railroad

Piedmont Railroad

As early as 1848 a bill was introduced in the state legislature to construct a rail line northward into Virginia. Again and again it failed for lack of support, many lawmakers fearing that such a route would shift commerce bound for western North Carolina out of state. In the meantime the North Carolina Railroad connection between Greensboro and Charlotte opened in 1856. At the outset of the Civil War it was apparent that completion of the forty-mile gap between Danville and Greensboro was a vital military need. In a message to the Confederate Congress on November 19, 1861, President Jefferson Davis stressed the importance of the connection.

In 1862 the route was surveyed and stock offered in the Piedmont Railroad, with a Virginia line, the Richmond and Danville, acquiring ninety-nine per cent of the interest. The work proceeded slowly. Engineers needed a labor force of 2,500, but had only a fraction of the number. Included in the force were a small group of slaves, a number which would have been larger had Governor Zebulon B. Vance not refused to impress them into service. Iron was difficult to come by. Eventually rails were ripped up from other lines to build the Piedmont. Even before it was finished, it was already a primary supply route, its gaps bridged by wagons. On completion in May 1864, its value to the Confederacy was incalculable. One writer has estimated that it “added months to the length of the Civil War.”

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Toliver Florance House

Toliver Florance (1785-1875)

This picture was taken for An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979). Litle-stokes apparently thought the structure dated from c.1895, but it was built much earlier. William Junius Florance (1859-1930) actually remodeled the house in 1896 when he added the ornate woodwork to the front of the house. A catalog from which was ordered the fancy sawnwork and turnings from a company in Ohio was found in a trunk belonging to William Junius Florance. He also ordered stained glass windows to go in the center gable. Florance also built a wing on the back of the house for a new kitchen. Before this, a log kitchen stood some twenty feet from the house.

"They Used To Kill 'em Quick Out Here."

"They Used To Kill 'em Quick Out Here."

The Quick Community east of Ruffin used to be known as Kill Quick because "They used to kill 'em quick out here." Hester Womack, left, and her sister, Willie Womack, are Quick natives with a lot of knowledge about the community's history. Staff Photo by Ted Nelson.

The Old Quick Store (first store photo above) still stands at the heart of the Quick community in Caswell County. The run-down building (second store photo above) was once known as the Row Town Store, but today is used only as a storage building. Staff photos by Ted Nelson.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ivy Bluff Prison Break 1959

UPI News Press Wire Photo (8 December 1959): Ivy Bluff N.C: Prison guards, their shoes in one hand and weapons in the other, chase through the swamps and hills surrounding the Ivy Bluff prison camp and the town of Yanceyville (Caswell County, North Carolina) in an effort to round up the 20 hardened criminals who escaped from the maximum security prison early December 8, 1959. This is part of a collection of a former UPI employee.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Dr. Bedford Brown, Jr., M.D. (1823-1897)

Bedford Brown, Tar Heel HealerLittle known today, one of North Carolina's most distinguished sons was a physician, Bedford Brown, born January 17, 185, in Caswell County, the son of Senator Bedford Brown who represented the state from 1825 to 1841 and Mary L. Glenn. When he was twenty he had already made a decision to be a physician, and in 1845 was sent to Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, where he took two series of lectures in the medical department of the university, and graduated from that institution as well.

After graduation he spent three or four years as a practicing physician establishing a fine reputation in Virginia, but like so many North Carolinians, wanted to live his life in his home state. In 1852 he married Mary E. Simpson of Washington, D.C. and that marriage produced three children, two sons and a daughter. One son, William Bedford Brown who practiced as a physician in New York. In 1855 he returned to Yanceyville where he practiced until the outbreak of the Civil War.

In the spring of 1861 he was appointed chief surgeon for the Confederate States training camp at Weldon, and after a period there was appointed inspector of hospitals and camps in the Confederate Army, a job he held until the end of the war. Bedford Brown after the Civil War returned to Alexandria, Virginia, and had a large and successful practice. He was a distinguished member of the Southern Surgical and Gynecological Association, and a member of the Virginia Board of Medical Examiners. He was elected president of the Virginia Medical Society in 1896.

He was a prolific writer, preparing papers on diseases and his techniques and methods of healing, including works on diphtheria, meningitis, pneumonia and a host of others as well. He died in 1897 after unsuccessful surgery, on September 13, at his home in Alexandria, Virginia.

Krochmal, Connie, "Bedford Brown, Tar Heel Healer." The State: Down Home in North Carolina January 1986: 29. Print.

Click on photographs to see a larger image.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Kill Quick and Other Caswell County Communities

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Article courtesy The State, 18 October 1952.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Bartlett Yancey High School 1954: Public Speaking Club

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Left to Right

Front Row: Dr. Holden, Camilla Sue Stuck, Janice Marie Powell, Eunice Lea Thompson, Mattie Jean Slaughter, Patsy Earp, Isabelle Crook.

Back Row: John Paschall Page, Dawson Emerson Scarborough, Jr., James Monroe Long III, Graham Allison Page (possibly), Leon Faidherbee Lyday III, Wilson Allen Slaughter, Jr., Norman Stroupe Upchurch.

Photograph courtesy The Caswell Messenger.