Saturday, January 21, 2012

Trial of Henrietta Jeffries

Still another illustration of the sympathetic relationship that has existed between the races in Caswell County is found in the files of the Caswell County Historical Association, Inc. The account is typed but unsigned, and the facts related in that source are substantially as follows: At the December, 1911, term of Superior Court in Caswell County a case of unusual interest was scheduled for trial. A true bill had been found by the Grand Jury on an indictment of an old black woman named Henrietta Jeffries charged with practicing medicine without a license. The case had been widely discussed in the county and when the case was called the courtroom was filled to capacity.

Judge Charles M. Cooke was presiding and the solicitor or state prosecutor was S. P. Graves. The state carefully picked its jury, but when the defendant was asked if she was satisfied with the jury she replied: "If the Judge has no fault with the jury, it suits me all right." The solicitor then began the usual questions: "Are you ready for trial?" "Yes, I'se ready." "Are you guilty or not guilty?" "I don't know zackly what you mean by that, but if you mean that I helped these white women when they needed me the most, the I'se guilty." As she said this Judge Cooke became quite interested. A tear glistened in his eye, and his old wrinkled face took on a glow. It was evident that she had the judge's sympathy. He looked at her for a moment, and he realized that she was "an old granny woman" and a midwife of the old school. Then he asked: "Aunt Henrietta, who is your lawyer? You'll need one." In her childish way, and with a faith that was beautiful to behold, she said: "Judge, I'se got no lawyer, but you am Judge and I'se depending on nobody but you." Judge Cooke, as if manifestly affected, said in a husky voice: "You have done chose the right lawyer this time."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lea Family of Caswell County, North Carolina

Perla Clay Otken stated: I am a granddaughter of James Lea, son of Zachariah Lea and Sabrina Clay; son of Luke Lea and Elizabeth Wilson; son of James Lea and Anne Talbot. Thus, she places herself in line of James (Country Line) Lea.

Letter from Perla Clay Otken, McComb, Mississippi, 27 August 1931

James Lea, according to tradition, emigrated from England and settled first in King and Queen County, Virginia, and then moved about 1750 to North Carolina in what is now known as Caswell and Person County. He located about two miles west of Leasburg, a village subsequently established and named for the family. My sister, Frances, is quite a genealogist. Were she at home now I'd ask her to write you, as she is better versed in family history than I, and has a great deal of data which is authentic, as she secured it in person from records on file in Hanover Court House, Hanover, Virginia, the Lawson-McGhee library in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the courthouse in Rutledge, Granger County, Tennessee.  While in Tennessee, she copied the marriage license of great grandfather Zachariah Lea, who with his wife, his wife's mother, my grandfather James and his wife, are all buried at my mother's old home about twelve miles from here in Amite County, Mississippi.

Two cars full of Lea grandchildren visited this sacred spot last Sunday afternoon. Four generations are sleeping beneath those gnarled cedars on that lonely hill-top.

Your friend, Perla Clay Otken

Comment: This was the depression, cars and roads of the time in southern Mississippi lend a certain "pathos." I am grateful that sister Frances traveled to several states in her determined search for the proof necessary to prove descent. My guess it was for DAR as they required copies of originals.