Friday, December 19, 2014

Bartlett Yancey High School Basketball Team c.1938

Yanceyville high school boys basketball team was recently declared Caswell County champions, completing its county schedule without a defeat.

Members of the team are (left-to-right):

Front Row
____ Howard
Julius Clayton
Kenon Chandler
Pemberton Slade

Second Row
Herman Moore
Hermanan Vernon
Bob Fowlkes

Back Row
Buck Moore
W. D. Fulcher

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Providence Graded School (Caswell County, North Carolina)

Providence Graded School

"Soon after the turn of the century the General Assembly at various sessions passed additional laws to establish special schools or school districts in Caswell County. [One] such district was authorized in 1907 in Dan River Township under the guidance of J. W. Neal, A. C. Davis, Edward Ray, L. P. Goodson, C. B. Flintoff, and R. T. Wilson. . . . It was perhaps a sense of pride in their school that prompted the people at Providence in 1909 to persuade the General Assembly to change the prosaic name 'School District Number Seven' to Providence Graded School."

Source: Powell, William S. When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977. Durham (North Carolina): Moore Publishing Company, 1977. Print. Pages 387-388.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Caswell County Delegates to the 1908 North Carolina Democratic State Convention

The Farmer and Mechanic (Raleigh, NC), 23 June 1908, p5, "NC Dem State Convention Delegates"

Milton: Dr. J. A. Hurdle; W. T. Bryant; M. C. Winstead; R. L. Walker

R.F.D. Milton: Dr. M. H. McBryde

Allison: J. C. Allison

Quick: A. R. Blackwell; E. B. Blackwell

Leasburg: George Connally; B. F. Stanfeld; S. P. Newman; N. C. Yearby

Pelham: D. R. Hinton; C. E. Rawley; S. P. McKinney

No. 4 Danville: E. S. Carter

R.F.D. Pelham: J. D. Gatewood

Semora: J. Y. Thomas; J. P. Williams; W. S. Taylor; C. K. Thompson

Stoney Creek: Capt. J. A. Lea; W. A. Maynard; Ed. Watkins

No. 1 Yanceyville: Thos. P. Womack

Yanceyville: F. W. Brown; Julius Johnston; B. S. Graves; A. Y. Kerr; T. J. Henderson; R. H. Slade; B. H. Graves; T. J. Florence; J. H. Kerr; Dr. S. A. Malloy; A. E. Henderson. G. L. Williamson; T. N. Fitch

No. 5 Danville, Va.: R. T. Wilson; A. C. Davis

Blanch: J. F. Walters

Hightower: J. R. Smith

Prospect Hill: F. R. Warren

Dan River Institute

The Dan River Institute

The Dan River Institute in Yanceyville was incorporated in 1847 under the leadership of James Mebane, George Williamson, Thomas D. Johnston, Littleton A. Gwynn, Nicholas M. Lewis, N. H. Harding, Mitchell Curie, Nathaniel M. Roan, Robert B. Watt, and John H. Richard. The Institute was in operation to the spring of 1850, as the Milton Chronicle on June 6 announced that the "next session" would begin on July 8. The advertisement of this fact was signed by A. C. Lindsey and B. Gould, the latter undoubtedly the Benjamin Gould, graduate of the University of Vermont, who had joined the faculty of the Milton Male Academy in 1837. An 1867 directory lists 30-year-old Joseph Venable as principal of the Institute. Venable, a native of Oxford, was graduated from the University in 1857.

In 1872 Archibald E. Henderson was principal; he had attended the University in 1859-1861, but left to serve in the Confederate Army. He was superintendent of Caswell County schools during the period 1897-1905. In 1909 or soon afterwards, by act of the General Assembly, proceeds from the sale of the Yanceyville Female Academy were turned over to F. W. Brown, N. C. Brandon, and T. J. Florance to be used in repairing and improving the Dan River Institute which had been used as a public school since 1897. The original Dan River Institute was located on the grounds of the later Bartlett Yancey School.

Source: Powell, William S. When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977. Durham (North Carolina): Moore Publishing Company, 1977. pp.369-370. Print. [Paragraphs added.]

People Mentioned (in order of appearance):

James Mebane
George Williamson
Thomas D. Johnston
Littleton A. Gwynn
Nicholas M. Lewis
N. H. Harding
Mitchell Curie
Nathaniel M. Roan
Robert B. Watt
John H. Richard
A. C. Lindsey
Benjamin Gould
Joseph Venable
Archibald E. Henderson
F. W. Brown
N. C. Brandon
T. J. Florance

Friday, November 07, 2014

Trial of Franklin A. Wiley (1825-1888)

The State Against F. A. Wiley
The Weekly Standard (Raleigh, North Carolina)
31 August 1870 (Pages 1-2) [Paragraphs inserted]

At an early hour on Monday morning the Supreme Court room began to be filled with a large and interested audience, to hear the preliminary examination, before Chief Justice Pearson, of the witnesses in the case of the State against F. A. Wiley, charged with complicity in the murder of the late Senator John W. Stephens, of the County of Caswell.

The only business, however, which was transacted, was the calling and swearing of the various witnesses, whose names we append as follows:

Anderson Graves, Julia Robinson, L. Hall, H. Lawson, Benj. Shaw, Mac Leith, Ruffin Hill, Ham. Johnson, H. Lee, Dolly Lawson, Jerre Graves, Lewis Evans, George Rowe [Bowe], Daniel Johnson, Grace Harrelson, J. McKee, George Bigelow, John Williamson, George Pinnix. Lee Hensley, Jerre Smith, J. Kimbro. P. Roan, Thos. Kimbro, A. J. Hooper, J. A. Henderson, Branch Pinnix, Thomas Bigelow, Alex. Fuller, Wiley Turner, Calvin Miles, Jno. B. Memphill, Richard Graves, W. H. Stephens (brother of the deceased), Mrs. Martha F. Stephens (wife of the deceased), Iverson Gwynn and Zack Hooper.

Mrs. Stephens returned to the hotel, while the other witnesses for the prisoner and the State were divided into two parties, placed under the care of officers, and it was ordered that no person be permitted to approach them save their counsel.

We observed his Honor, Judge Dick, sitting upon the bench with the Chief Justice.

The following lawyers appear for the State: Messrs. Badger, Bailey and McCorkle, Olds, and Hon. Nathaniel Boyden. For the prisoner: Messrs. Bragg, W. H. Battle, K. P. Battle, R. H. Battle, Watt and Withers and John R. Winston.

We append to this brief summary a diagram of the Caswell County Courthouse (lower floor), in which the murder was committed. The explanation accompanies the plat.

"Wife Hunts Her Runaway Husband"

People Mentioned

__________ Woodson
"Uncle" Nick Lewis
Mr. Prindle
Fannie Prindle Hancock
Alonzo L. Hancock
Miss Brasco

The Milton Chronicle, 29 March 1883, p.3

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Caswell Academy

Caswell Academy (Yanceyville, North Carolina): Early Years

Source: Coon, Charles Lea, Editor. North Carolina Schools and Academies, 1790-1840: A Documentary History. Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Printing Company (1915).

During this period [1790-1840] Caswell County usually had a good classical school within its borders. The first one mentioned in these documents is the Caswell Academy of 1803. Rev. Hugh Shaw, a Presbyterian minister, was its principal and Bartlett Yancey, a young Chapel Hill graduate, was the assistant. Yancey soon quit teaching and entered upon the practice of law, much after the fashion still followed by many who use teaching as a stepping stone to some other profession. It has so often been asserted by North Carolina writers that Yancey was the author of the Literary Fund Law of 1825, that I hesitate to utter a dissenting opinion. But the credit for the authorship of that law belongs to Charles A. Hill of Franklin, as I have said above.

After two years Mr. Shaw left the Caswell Academy and went to teach in the Hyco Academy, another Caswell County school. From 1805 to 1807, Sanders Donoho and James Bowles conducted the Caswell Academy with indifferent success. In 1807, John W. Caldwell, a son of the Guilford David Caldwell, took charge. He was advertised as "a profound linguist and a good teacher." James Kerr was his assistant in 1810.

Caswell County Academies and Schools 1898

Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction 1898
North Carolina. Dept. of Public Instruction

Caswell County (Formed 1777 from Orange County)

Incorporated Schools.—Caswell Academy, chartered 1802; Hico Academy, chartered 1804; Milton Female Academy, chartered 1818; Milton Female Institute, chartered 1844; Dan River Institute, chartered 1846; Milton Male Institute, chartered 1849; Yanceyville Seminary, chartered 1864.

CASWELL ACADEMY was located in Yanceyville. Rev. Hugh Shaw and Bartlett Yancey were the teachers tor the first two years. It then languished until 1808, when it was made prosperous by John W. Caldwell, son of Rev. Dr. David Caldwell. Yancey was afterwards a speaker of the senate for ten terms, and member of the Federal House of Representatives. He drew the act for the creation of the Literary Fund in 1825. James Kerr assisted Mr. Caldwell in 1811. In 1818 John H. Hinton, who had been tutor in the University, was principal. Dabney Rainey also taught here, highly respected.

HICO ACADEMY was near the "Red House," in the southeast part of the county. Rev. Hugh Shaw was the first teacher. In 1813 Abel Graham was in charge, assisted by Holbrook. In 1820 Mahlon Kenyon, a "graduate of Northern College," advertised to teach the classics, preparator to entering the State University.

Tournament and Ball 1887

Tournament and Ball.

The young men of Yanceyville and vicinity are making arrangements for a grand tournament on the 15th (next Thursday). They have secured a splendid track near the academy from Mr. Evans, and Knights are expected from Milton, Prospect Hill, Danville, Pelham, Ruffin and elsewhere. The whole to wind up with a big ball and supper at Kerr's hotel. To give you some idea that the supper will be no second-class affair it is only necessary to state that Mrs. Kerr has that in hand. Let everybody come to Yanceyville that day. Col. A. E. Henderson will charge the Knights.

Source: The Caswell News (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 9 December 1887.

Tournament and Ball

The rain early Thursday morning kept many from attending the tournament, but by noon the men came out and very good crowd turned out from town and the surrounding country. If it had been a fair day there would have been 12 or 15 Knights, but only seven reported: Chas. Vernon, Knight of "Sunny South"; S. H. Williamson, "Night Before Last"; R. A. Pointer, "Silver Cross"; J. W. Vaughn, "Cosnicpelne"; E. L. Graves, "Yanceyville"; J. C. Pinnix, Jr., "Caswell': G. L. Williamson, "Billy Bowlegs." Col. A. E. Henderson charged the Knights. Every word was appropriate and it was clearly and impressively delivered. After several trial rides the contest began and in three rides Mr. Pinnix took 9 rings for Mr. Vaughn but his last ride was ruled out as not in time and first honor given to Mr. Graves with 8 rings, 2d honor to Mr. Vaughn, Mr. Pinnix 3d, and Mr. G. L. Williamson 4th.

Miss Nannie Mebane was made queen, Miss Alice Crowder 1st maid, Miss Ella Graves 2d, and Miss Annie Winston 3d.

The real pleasures of the occasion, to the greatest number, were at the ball -- enjoyment to those who danced and entertainment to those who went to look on, and, all, after appeasing the demands of the inner man from the well laded table in Mrs. Kerr's dining room, declared the tournament and ball a big success.

Source: The Caswell News (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 9 and 16 December 1887.

Click to See Larger Image
Whether this photograph is of the tournament described above is not known. However, it is of a tournament held at some time in Caswell County, North Carolina. The location may have been the original fair grounds in Yanceyville, North Carolina, but this has not been confirmed.

Photograph Courtesy: Florance Family of Yanceyville, North Carolina.


Click to See Larger Image
Ivanhoe in Warren: Ring Tournaments at Shocco Springs

On September 15, 1857, the resort town of Shocco Springs in Warren County held the first known medieval jousting tournament in North Carolina. It did not involve riders knocking each other off their horses. Instead participants used lances to spear a three-inch ring off a post.

Such "ring tournaments" became fashionable among the well-to-do in North Carolina in the late 1850s and, after a hiatus during the Civil War, they experienced a revival that lasted until the 1870s.

The 1857 contest attracted contestants from as far away as Florida and Texas. Pageantry, costumes and assumed titles (like "the Knight of the Black Cross") combined with themes of chivalry, honor and the virtue of womanhood at the festivals. Many times they culminated in the crowning of a "Queen of Love and Beauty."

A newspaper account described the scene: "The Knights were splendidly accoutered, and as they flew past the stand with lances in rest their success was announced by loud cheers mingled with bursts of martial music, which irresistibly carried our thoughts back to the thrilling pages of Ivanhoe…"

Source: "On This Day in North Carolina History," North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural History, 15 September 2018/ [; Accessed 15 September 2018].

Color Photograph: Medieval tournaments like this one were the inspiration for the tournament at Shocco Springs and similar events across the South. Image from Tallahassee Magazine.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Alexander, Motz, and Robertson Families

The Caswell News, 16 Sept 1887.

Mrs. Alexander is Mary Royal Robertson (1830-1896), daughter of Dr. George W. Robertson, M.D. (1807-1855) and Sarah F. Allen (1803-1871). Both parents are buried in the Robertson Family Cemetery (Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina).

In 1850, Mary Royal Robertson married Wallace Henderson Alexander (1824-1872). Two of their six children are mentioned in the article:

1. Mrs. Motz is Ella Alexander (1853-1910) who in 1884 married Charles Hampton Motz (died before 1900).

2. Mr. Frank Alexander (1868-1888).
The Misses Robertsons mentioned are sisters of Mrs. Alexander (Mary Royal Robertson). These six sisters never married and lived their entire lives together in Yanceyville at the Robertson family home, which probably stood at the corner of NC Highway 86 and Fire Tower Road. Of course, then there was no NC Highway 86, and Fire Tower Road was just a short dirt road that quickly turned into a trail that ran to the County Home Road. The Robertson Family Cemetery is adjacent to the home site.

Not mentioned in the article, but nevertheless interesting, is that Mrs. Motz (Ella Alexander who married Charles Hampton Motz) would eventually move to Yanceyville to live with her six aunts after both her husband and parents died. A mentally handicapped brother, George R. Alexander, had already moved to Yanceyville to live with the six spinster Robertson sisters.

While living in Yanceyville, the widow Ella Alexander Motz came to know locally prominent widower Walter Nathaniel Harrelson (1859-1933), whose first wife Fannie Delilah Graves died in 1898. Ella Alexander Motz and Walter Nathaniel Harrelson were married in October 1902. No children are known.

Walter Nathaniel Harrelson was a very prominent Yanceyville merchant. He married Fannie Delilah Graves (1861-1928), a member of the pioneer Caswell County Graves family. His store building became Watlington's On the Square, initially operated by Julius Spencer Watlington.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Highway 86

City Is Making Much Progress in Campaign for Road Improvement

[Special to The Times-Dispatch]

Danville, Va., July 29 [1909] -- Danville is keeping pace with other cities in Virginia and North Carolina in the improvement of the public roads, and considerable work is in progress now and more contemplated on the various highways leading into the city.

At a meeting of the board of directors of the Caswell County Macadam Road Company, held here yesterday, it was decided to start work as soon as possible on the construction of the new road from Yanceyville, N.C., to Danville, a distance of nearly fourteen miles. The Caswell County Road Company will build as far as the Virginia-North Carolina line, a distance of about eleven miles, and Danville, by an agreement, will build to the State line, a distance of about three miles beyond the corporate limits. A committee has been appointed with full authority to act for the road company, and to award the contract. The City Council at the next regular meeting is expected to make the appropriation for the building of Danville's part of the road. The construction of the Danville-Yanceyville road will cost approximately $40,000.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Gretna Green of Caswell County, North Carolina

Eleven Eloping Couples Married at Pelham Christmas Day
(Special to The Times-Dispatch)

Danville, VA., December 27 [1904] -- Justice of the Peace S. A. Pierce, of Pelham, N.C., the gretna green of this section, did a rushing business Sunday, uniting various couples in the bond of wedlock. On that day alone he performed eleven marriages, which is a record breaker.

The couples began to arrive in vehicles early in the morning, and Mr. Pierce was kept busy until a late hour that night. All of the brides are described as being young and pretty and most of the contracting parties were run-away couples.

Woman With a Horn

Woman With a Horn Not a Myth

One of the greatest living human freaks in the country is to be seen in Caswell County, N. C., which is in Representative W. W. Kitchin's district.

The other day Mr. Kitchin received in his mail a letter from the chairman of the Caswell County commissioners requesting him to go and see some dime store manager and make arrangements for exhibiting the freak, which is a woman with a horn growing from the back of her head.

The horn is six inches long and very hard. It strongly resembles the horn of a goat.

Mr Kitchin saw the woman some time ago in a museum in North Carolina. The member from the Tar Heel State, however, has not yet made up his mind whether or not he will embrace this opportunity and embark in the dime museum business as a side issue.

The woman with a horn is no myth but a living reality.

Source: The Washington Times (Washington, D.C.), 9 June 1906, Page 6.

Medical Doctors: Caswell County, North Carolina

Early Caswell County Medical Doctors

In the early 1800’s, medical training was by apprenticeship. By 1810 there were five practicing physicians in Caswell County, North Carolina:

Dr. John McAden
Dr. William S. Webb
Dr. Samuel Dabney
Dr. James Smith
Dr. Edward Foulks.

Perhaps Solomon Debow, as well as his son, Archibald Debow, apprenticed under one of these Caswell County physicians.

Source: Biography of Dr. Solomon Debow, M.D. (1780-1831), Caswell County Historical Association.

Subsequently, the University of Pennsylvania Medical School became a source of medical training for several Caswell County doctors.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Glennburnie by Mary S. Royster, 1938, is a handsome little privately printed 17-page, one-sided, loose-leaf piece, tightly bound through three holes with a doubled silk rope with tassel. It is so tightly bound that it cannot be opened wide enough for photocopying (the pages would break) without being completely disassembled, including undoing the intricate ribbon with tassels, copying the pages singly, then reinserting and retying the double silk rope (that in itself would require a delicate hand to prevent further damage). (Toward the back of the 17 pages is a two-page poem titled "The Scions of Glennburnie," composed and sung by Mrs. E. J. Stamps and dedicated to her children.") The text is double-spaced, so hand copying the entire 19-page item would not be a terribly lengthy job if one of the girls would come to the North Carolina Collection for several hours. A sandbag (furnished by the staff) would be needed to hold down the left hand bent pages during copying---again careful to prevent breaking the paper. The piece was put together obviously as a keepsake or artifact rather than a cataloged library item---beautifully done but without consideration of its preservation potential. H. G. Jones 14 August 2012.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Rock Academy

Rock Academy

Perhaps the longest-lived and 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.

The original building burned in 1948 but was shortly replaced. With integration in 1969 Cobb Memorial School's role in the county system was changed leaving only grades four through seven there. In 1971, however, an Occupational Education Program was established there and its service to the community thereby enlarged.

Source: Powell, William S. When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977. Durham (North Carolina): Moore Publishing Company, 1977. Pages 396-397.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Semora (Caswell County, North Carolina)

The following is from Whitlow, Jeannine D., Editor. The Heritage of Caswell County North Carolina 1985. Winston-Salem (North Carolina): Hunter Publishing Company, 1985 ("Semora" by Mary McAden Satterfield).


Semora is a community located in the northeast corner of Caswell County, North Carolina, bounded on the north by Virginia and on the east by Person County. There was settlement there as early as 1755, known as Campbell's Crossroads. Two major stage coach lines crossed there, one running east-west, and the other following a north-south route.

The history of many American communities can be traced by studying the history of the area's churches. One of the oldest Presbyterian churches in North Carolina, Red House, is located approximately one mile from the center of Semora. The church dates from before 1755. Another early church is Lebanon Christian Church of Christ, dating from 1845. Later churches include the Baptist Church, established in 1906, and the Methodist Church, organized in 1920.

Thursday, January 09, 2014


You probably do not know that my family bought Woodside in the early 1980's and then asked ourselves "What will we do with it?" A friend said, "You may know as much about what you will do with it as if my dog would catch the cars he loves to chase. What would he do with the car?" We really hadn't give thought to that. When we moved to Yanceyville, my husband's mother told us: "My grandfather Richmond was born in Caswell County. I want you to find the Richmond home where he was born." This was the first Richmond home posted we found, but we didn't know whether it was the right one. A few days later it was posted "For Sale" and my husband was anxious not to miss purchasing it in case it was his Richmond family home place. He called me and said, "I'm going to buy it! I can get it for $16,000. That's a good buy!" SO, We bought it! We sold it ca. 1994 and I won't get into what we spent, but it wasn't cheap!

"Changing America" Exhibition: Caswell County, North Carolina

"Changing America" -- New Traveling Exhibition Tells a Story of Liberty and the American Experience

The Caswell County Historical Association (CCHA) presents - "Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863, and the March on Washington, 1963," a traveling exhibition opening at the Yanceyville (North Carolina) Town Hall on January 31, 2014, examines the relationship between two great people's movements that resulted in the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and the March on Washington in 1963. Both grew out of decades of bold actions, resistance, organization, and vision. One hundred years separate them, yet they are linked in a larger story of liberty and the American experience - one that has had a profound impact on the generations that followed.