Friday, December 23, 2016

The Letter From Arkansas: Elijah Jacobs

The Letter from Arkansas

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and truth.  -Buddha-

Set forth below is the November 2016 account by Mary Linda Winstead Janke of her family's search for a long-lost relative, Elijah Jacobs/Elephelit Coleman:

Elijah Jacobs/Elephelit Coleman
The 1860 Letter (paragraphs added):

Fort Smith, Arkansas, March 9th 1860 To The Post Master at Yanceyville, N Carolina

Dear Sir.  Some time in December last a gentleman by the name of Benjamin Jacobs came to this place in company with his wife Catherine Jacobs and an infant son Elijah Jacobs.  He had two Negro Boys with him as I understand and stayed with a man by the name of Samuel Edmondson, alias Ginger.  Soon afterwards himself and wife was Boath Taken Sick and died.  I am almost certain there was Foul Play.  I think they was Poisoned.  This Pious old Ginger took the Negroes off and sold them.

I had taken out Letters of administration on the Estate of the Said Jacobs and yesterday I called on Edmondson for the Purpose of Taken an Inventory of the Property and find Nothing But two trunks of Clothing and one watch.  I find the Deguaritipe of Some Friend of theirs.  I learn the lady Said it was her Brother.  I have that and a lock of the lady's hare.  Edmondson has a bill of sale for the Negroes but I am Certain it was forged.  Because if he had bought the Negroes and paid for them there would have been money on hand.  There was not a Dollar.

 I have hired a nurse for the infant.  I find a receipt for Eighty Dollars in a bill of Sale from E. Jacobs to Benjamin Jacobs for a Negro Boy aged about 14 years which I suppose must have been one of the Negroes Sold By Edmondson.  What induced me to write to you is I find the Envelope of a letter that was mailed at Yanceyville, N.C. To Benjamin Jacobs, Dubuque, Marion County, Arkansas and from that infer there must be Some of the Relatives of himself or wife in that Country.  Please find out if you can and inform me Immediately.  I will do the best I can for the Child So help Me God.

Farewell Please attend to the above and if you find any of the Friends let them Correspond with me Immediately.

H. L. Holleman
Fort Smith Ark.

This letter, written in a strong, even, script, has been passed down in my family for 155 years.  Its watermarked paper has darkened from the original cream to tan; the ink has faded from black to brown.  Written on one sheet of paper, back and front, there was once an envelope where it rested between perusals.  That is long gone, but the letter and its poignant message remain.  It has been read so many times that the paper has given way in the folds; read over and over to see if maybe, this time, there will be something new to be discovered, something missed before.  Long ago my grandmother mended these separations with cellophane tape so that no precious part of it would be lost.

Always, when someone reads it for the first time, they ask the same question: "What happened to the child?"

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Anderson High School (Caswell County, North Carolina) Class of 1954


Front Row: Geneva Campbell Byrd; Didama Hooper Simmons: Ervin Simmons: Larry Terrell.

Second Row: Lona Nell Rice; Rachel Huffines Page; Dean Page Mansfield; Betty Jean Boswell; Kathlyn Rice Aldridge; Lois Massey Hall; Betty Lou Oakley Page.

Third Row: Franklin Simpson; Winford Page; Naomi Montgomery Cates; Marie Clark King; Johnny Strange.

Source: The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 21 December 2016.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

North Carolina World War I Service Cards Database

Click to See Larger Image
World War I Records

Nearly 100 years ago, thousands of North Carolina men shipped out to Europe to serve in the Great War. Who were they? Where did they come from and how did they serve? Who were the men and women who served at home and overseas?

A searchable database of North Carolina's World War I service cards, compiled after the war, is now available online at Family Search ( and can help answer those questions. Using data from cards maintained at the State Archives of North Carolina, the database, searchable by name, includes place and date of induction, residence, and place and date of birth for officers, enlisted men, nurses, medics and chaplains who served in an official military capacity during World War I. Branches of service include the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The actual service card is viewable through the database and contains additional information such as rank, unit, overseas service date and date of discharge from active military service.

“These service cards serve as a fundamental resource for those wishing detail about 80,000 North Carolinians who served their country during World War I,” said Matthew Peek, Military Collection archivist at the State Archives. "The searchable database created by Family Search makes our records freely accessible to everyone as we head into the 100th commemoration of American’s entry into World War I.”

Monday, December 19, 2016

Milton Bridge Toll Pass

Milton Bridge Company, Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina

This version has been retouched. The original is shown below.

Original version.

Milton Toll Bridge

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Caswell County Place Names

Caswell County Place Names (some still used; others long obsolete)


Bigelow Road
Blackwell's Store/Blackwell
Brown's Store
Buzzard Roost

First Ladies of Caswell County 1985

First Ladies of Caswell County 1985

Jame Armistead Scott [Mrs. Archibald DeBow Murphey]
Mary Lee Varner Carter
Ann (Nancy) Graves (1786-1855) [Mrs. Bartlett Yancey]
Janet Leigh Harris Cobb
[Mrs. Bedford Brown]
Mary Skipwith Brown
[Mrs. Romulus Saunders]
Maud Florance Gatewood
[Mrs. Solomon Lea]
Ann Newman Gunn Everitt
Mrs. John Kerr
Bea Gatling Gwynn [  ]
[Mrs. Thomas Day]
Dorothy Yarbrough Zimmerman
Henrietta Jeffries
Helen Payne
Lizzie Lownes
Helen Little
Ida Isabella Poteat
Geneva Williams Warren
Mrs. Barzillai Shufford Graves

Palmer Store (Caswell County, North Carolina)

Palmer Store (Intersection of Yarbrough Mill Road and Highway 57 -- Between Milton and Semora). The last of the Palmer family to operate the store was Sewell Palmer, son of Reverend Benjamin Boswell Palmer (1845-1915). Last use may have been a barber shop.

Nicholas Longworth Dillard (1906-1969) Monument

Nicholas Longworth Dillard (1906-1969)

Nicolas Longworth Dillard challenged his students to face life with the determination to succeed and to write their name on the face of time. The Caswell County High School Class of 1966 did just that as they worked on a memorial to the man who was a principal for 37 years; a man that changed the lives of African American children in Caswell County and made an impact throughout the world. On Friday, as over a hundred graduates from the school gathered, the monument to N.L. Dillard that now stays in Yanceyville’s Square was unveiled.

The granite monument is a symbol of the hard work, respect and love of Dillard’s former students who raised the funds and collaborated with designers to make their dream a reality. In December, Tresca Byrd and Betty Graves approached the Caswell County Commissioners with their plans for a class project. “We are graduates of Caswell County High School, Caswell County Training School Class of 1966 and for the past five years Tresca and I have been serving as chairperson and vice-chairperson of the class. We are getting ready for our 50th class reunion and we would like to leave a class gift,” said Graves. That gift, she explained, would be a monument to Dillard who “worked hard and his dedication affected the entire community and county and his ability to work with people to improve as a county.” Byrd added that the committee had been working for years on the plan, “We have worked with people at the national level and local level.” In fact, the stone is made from Virginia Mist Granite which is the same stone used in the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Totten Family: Making Molasses 1983

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"The County Visits"

"Making Molasses: An Age-Old Art"

When the wintry winds blow and the snow falls in the month of February, what could be more appealing than a big plate of steaming hot pancakes for breakfast, lathered with butter and covered with molasses? Not the usual kind of molasses you find n a store, mind you, but the rich, dark, homemade kind -- that kind made by the Waymon Totten family of Yanceyville.

The growing of sugar cane for the making of molasses has been known for centuries, and the Totten family uses that knowledge to the fullest. Every few years, the whole family -- Waymon and Beatrice, and sons Tommy, Henry, Otis, Robert, Waymon and J. C. -- gather together for the pleasant ritual of boiling down cane sap to make the molasses.

The process is a simple one, but one that takes considerable time from start to finish. Beginning in mid-fall with a cane field grown on the family's farm, it takes at least seven or eight hours for the process to be completed.

Frogsboro, Caswell County, North Carolina

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Frogsboro is an unincorporated community in Caswell County, North Carolina. However, the origin of the name "Frogsboro" was long a mystery. Many speculated, and reasonably so, that it had something to do with frogs, but until recently the full story was not known.

According to Caswell County resident Donald Hightower, the following explains the name given to the Caswell County "Frogsboro" community:

"There was a frog pond on Warren Wade's farm that in later years was enlarged. However, some viewed it as an over-size mud hole! One could hear the bull frogs croaking, often resulting in some large and tasty frog legs. The frog pond remains today, across the highway from the Old Lea Bethel Baptist Church.

"This is what I was told many times by the older men that lived around Frogsboro. Back in the day, I enjoyed sitting around and listening to them talk: Floyd Harris; Warren Wade; Earnest Rudd; Speck Thaxton; Tom Fitch; and Shorty Hightower (my father). Those men knew a lot of Caswell County history."

Dated: September 12, 2016

1. Robert Warren Wade (1920-2006)
2. Floyd Owen Harris (1912-2007)
3. Ernest Rufus Rudd (1913-2002)
4. Henry (Speck) Thaxton (1926-1993)
5. Thomas Fitch
6. Daniel Lorenza (Shorty) Hightower (1909-1974)

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Courthouse Fire Made Many Heroes

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"The County History: Courthouse Fire Made Many Heroes" by Joshua Durham

The old Caswell County courthouse stands like a silent sentinel, overlooking the public square in Yanceyville. Built just prior to the Civil War by free and slave labor, the old structure has been the scene of many important and intriguing trials, and to most residents of Caswell County, stands as a reminder of the many-faceted history of Caswell.

But, without the hard and fast work of a few courageous men in 1952, the old courthouse could have been lost forever, the victim of a flash fire!

The morning of March 13, 1952 dawned cool and clear, and people went about their business in Yanceyville as usual, not suspecting that the day was going to be one for the history books.

Around ten o'clock that morning someone spotted a small column of smoke drifting from under the eave of the courthouse, on the southeast corner of the roof. This small column soon turned into a billowing cloud of thick, dark smoke. A call was put in for the Yanceyville volunteer fire department, then the only such department in the county, and firemen soon arrived on the scene.

An attempt was made to enter the attic of the courthouse through a doorway located at the top of the winding staircase in the front of the building, but without modern breathing apparatus, the firemen were forced back down.

Friday, September 09, 2016

1940 Caswell County Community and Neighborhood Grouping

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Community and Neighborhood Grouping of White Population Caswell County, North Carolina (1940)

In 1940 the Caswell County Land Use Planning Commission cooperated with the United States Bureau of Agricultural Economics in a "reconnaissance survey" of neighborhoods and communities in the county as the first step in discovering groupings of rural people which would provide the basis for the organization of community land use planning. By on the spot observations and by informal interviews it was discovered that there were forty nine fairly well defined large communities. These were determined in some cases by voting districts, consolidated school districts, and the topography of the area.

The communities were Anderson, Cobb's School, Dan River, Hightowers, Leasburg, Milton, Pelham, Stoney Creek, and Yanceyville. There were, of course, a great many more. At least forty-five places with their own distinctive names can be identified today on a map.

Source: Powell, William S. When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977. Durham: Moore Publishing Company, 1977. Pages 316-317. Print.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Milton High School Life (March 1, 1920)

Milton High School Life (March 1, 1920). Click on pages to see a larger image. Milton High School Life (March 1, 1920)

Note the possibility that the Editor, Graves Satterfield, is Mary Graves Satterfield (1902-1955), who married Waller Rhodes Morton. She apparently came by the name Graves from her maternal grandmother, Mary John Graves (1849-1962). And, she had Graves ancestors on both the maternal and paternal sides of her family. She is a second-great granddaughter of Bartlett Yancey, Jr.

John A. Tucker, Assistant Editor, most likely is John Archibald Tucker (1903-1970), a Caswell County lawyer who never married, became ill and destitute, and spent part of his last years in the Caswell County Home. Like Mary Graves Satterfield, he also was a Graves descendant. His mother is Dora Belle Graves (1867-1918). 

James T. Holt, Business Manager, probably is James Thomas Holt (1899-1998). He is the son of Calvin Lea Holt and Lucy Jane Dodson Holt, and had a long teaching career.

Winnie Taylor, Joke Editor, probably is Winnie Taylor (1904-1985), who married Delmas Dodson Chandler and was a much-loved Caswell County elementary teacher.

 Moorman Dalton, Sporting Editor, probably is Moorman Acuff Dalton (1902-1988). He was born in Virginia, son of William Douglas Dalton and Lucy Custis Goad.

 Cartoonist Joe Tucker probably is Joseph Conrad (Joe) Tucker (1905-1954), son of Dr. Frederick Preston Tucker, M.D., and Jennie Charlotte Hanes. He became an artist and lived in Washington, D.C.

"Death of Mrs. Hattie Connally"

This is Hattie Verona Paylor Connally (1861-1920), daughter of William C. Paylor, Jr., and Susan B. Williams. In 1882, she married William Hundley Connally (1852-1898). They had at least seven children. She rests at Cedars Cemetery in Milton, NC.

Note the High School Honor Roll: Eunice Barker, Rebekah Lipscomb, Bee McMullan, Ella Satterfield, Ila Warren, Ruth Oliver, James Holt, James Gillespie, Ernest Gillespie, Aubrey Pinchback, Gilbert Gillespie, and Julian Satterfield.

 Note advertisements by:

1. The Caswell County News
2. J. J. Lipscomb
3. Milton Mill Company
4. Lewis Walker, Druggist
5. W. T. Oliver
6. R. L. Dixon
7. W. L. Thomas & Sons
8. M. C. Winstead, Attorney at Law
9. James A. Hurdle, Dentist

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Caswell County Men's Group

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First Row (Seated): Thomas Scott Allen (1918-1988); Jack Lea Pointer (1925-1995); Walter Giles (Pete) Nichols (1919-1991); John Martin Scott (1915-2004); Melvin Grady Gusler (1925-2004).

Second Row (Standing): Unidentified; John Foster Pointer (1920-1999); Unidentified; Luther Price Hudson (1905-1977); Unidentified; Unidentified.

Photograph courtesy Jean Bradsher Scott.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Diary of Reverend John Sharshall Grasty (1825-1883)

Diary of Reverend John Sharshall Grasty

The Reverend John Sharshall Grasty (1825-1883) is the son of Philip Lightfoot Grasty and Jane White Clark Grasty of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. He attended the University of North Carolina, 1842-1843, obtained a license to practice law in 1844, and settled at Henry Court House, Virginia.

After a single entry of February 28, 1843, the diaries begin with irregular entries from January through December, 1844, when Grasty was nineteen years old. Daily entries begin in January, 1845, and continue through 1850. During this period he practiced law in Henry County, Virginia, attended Union Seminary in Farmville, Virginia, and early in 1849 was called to the Presbyterian Church in Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina.

The entries record his interest in law, religion, reading, conversation, phrenology, the temperance movement, courtship and marriage, visiting and "taking tea," backgammon, etc. Between the entries for September 27 and June 10, 1847, are a number of outlines for sermons. Generally there is little elaboration in the journal comments, although occasionally a remark on religion or courtship will be extended.

A typical entry is that of April 7, 1849:

"Walked up to Dr. Roane's--he and myself came down street--spoke of Miss Galloway, etc. I read Autobiography of Goethe--after dinner went down to Mr. Johnson's store--got Rice on Phrenology--went up to Dr. Roane's. Dr. Jones, Mr. Henderson and myself conversed--I then attended prayer meeting. I then went to McAlpin's store-then took a walk--after tea read Scottish tales."

There are passing references to many persons from prominent families in Caswell County, North Carolina, and in Danville, Virginia, where he frequently journeyed. An especially interesting account is given of a month's tour to Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; New York City; Niagara Falls; Lowell, Mass.; etc. in May-June, 1850.

Miscellaneous items include two letters of 1834 and 1852; a poem, 1871; and a brief history of the Grastys in Virginia, 1967.

As a result of efforts by Millard Q. Plumblee of the Caswell County Historical Association, a transcript of the diaries is preserved on microfilm at the State Archives of North Carolina (Raleigh, North Carolina). The Call Number is Mfp.124 (MARS ID 2634).

Monday, August 22, 2016

"Between The Bookends"

"Between The Bookends"

By: Valerie Powers
Hyconeechee Regional Library
Gunn Memorial Branch (Yanceyville, NC)

As a newcomer to the Caswell County area, I was immediately struck by the wealth of valuable history lying just beneath the modernism of the county today. Aware that the County Historical Society is very much involved in preparing a county history which is certain to quench the historical thirst of anyone interested in the "old" and how it became the "new," I, nevertheless, decided to do some digging on my own. In my last two columns, I have briefly surveyed the high points of Caswell County's past, but I can't help wanting to know more. So, for the next few weeks I will take a look at the individual communities of the county.

This study will be designed not only to help me learn, but also to test your memory of places, people and events in Caswell County. Try your hand at these true or false statements about the Milton community in Caswell County.

1. Jarvis Friou, a French Huguenot who resided in Milton, is credited with building several of the lovely old homes in Milton. T - F

2. Shuttered Bohemian ruby glass panels adorn the front door of the old "Hurdle Place" believed to have been built around 1800. T - F

3. The Irvin House, built in 1820, has magnificent boxwoods in its formal gardens, among the most noted in the state. T - F

4. The oldest building in Milton is the "Yellow Tavern" - a favorite stopping place during stagecoach days. T - F

5.The Cedars can tell the story of Milton's history, even family histories can be traced. T - F

6. Milton was incorporated in 1796 and has remained so since that time. T - F

7. The town name Milton came from Thomas's mill on the river where planters came to get their grain ground. T - F

8. Tom Day was believed to have organized the first Baptist girls' school in North Carolina. T - F

1. T; 2. T; 3. T; 4. T; 5. T; 6. T; 7. T; 8. F - Tom Day was a cabinet maker who had a shop in Milton.

Note that the original answer to #8 was: "Tom Day was a West Indian cabinet maker who had a shop in Milton." The West Indian reference was removed.

Source: The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), c.1975.

The Story of the Doughboys

The Story of the Doughboys by Laurence Stallings and M. S. Wyeth Jr. (Harper and Row) $4.50

The statement that truth is stranger than fiction has been so worn by repetition that its essential verity often is overlooked. And yet if proof is needed, one need go no further than the recorded exploits of Sergeant York at the close of World War I. In "The Story of the Doughboys," authors assemble a collection of episodes that for sheer excitement and demonstrated valor make fictional war narratives seem understated and thin. Consider the matter of Sergeant York. Of an original body of Doughboys, only eight were left, in York's command (which had rapidly descended to him as ranking officers were killed) when the main, heroic action began.

As German soldier after soldier sought to man the machine guns and wipe out York's little party, each was sent backward with a bullet in the head from York's gun. When the whole sanguinary business was over, York, with a pistol at a German major's head, marched his prisoners back to the American Lines. "Well, York," said the brigadier he met there, "I hear you captured the whole damned German army." "Nossir," replied York, "I have only one-hundred and thirty-two." The York story is but one of many to be found in this excellent, essentially anecdotal history of the American participation in World War I. The thesis of this fine book, I think is this: If the American soldier truly believes in what he is fighting for, he is unbeatable.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Computer Security

Better Internet Security

The following is not related to Caswell County but might be helpful to those who use online resources to research Caswell County history (or otherwise are active on the Internet).

1. Remove from your computer all sensitive data files, including emails that contain personal data. Check your document folders on all drives. Download to a thumb drive (or CD/DVD) what you do not want to share with the world. If it is on your hard drive it is at risk. An external hard drive is also acceptable for sensitive files so long as you do not leave it permanently connected to your computer. When using it, physically disconnect your computer from the Internet.

2. Remove from your computer Adobe Flash and Java. They are notorious for providing hacker access.

3. Do not leave your smart phone, tablet, etc., connected to your home's WiFi. Keep these devices "clean" so that if they are compromised nothing sensitive is at risk. This will allow you to use public WiFi with more confidence.

4. Do not store passwords on your hard drive. This includes using so-called secure programs as Roboform.

5. Make your logon credentials (user name and password) crazily complex, and change them every three months. Here is an example of an acceptable password: e&2DU53qcKNte#PUJ*

6. For your extremely sensitive sites, such as banking, use the increasingly popular double-security measures. One of the best is sending to your smart phone a logon code each time you access the site. You then enter this code to complete the logon.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rascoe House (Caswell County, North Carolina)

This house was built by William Junius Florance (1859-1930) for James Saunders Rascoe (1859-1925) on what is now the Rascoe-Dameron Road in Anderson Township, Caswell County, North Carolina. Construction began in 1888 and was completed over a year later. James Saunders Rascoe owned a store nearby (also on the Rascoe-Dameron Road), and the Rascoe family lived there while the house was being built.

William Junius Saunders was assisted by Pete and Si, both slave descendants who lived in Anderson Township. To support construction, a sawmill was erected on the site. However, some of the timbers were hewn. The gables were covered in split white oak shakes. James Saunders Rascoe paid William Junius Florance $900 after netting out purchases made by Florance at the Rascoe Store. This payment record is found in a book given to James Lee Florence, Jr., by a grandson of James Saunders Rascoe. James Lee Florence, Jr., is a great grandson of William Junius Florence. The house burned during the 2000s, being owned by a Mike Murray who lived there.
Photograph Courtesy Sandra Aldridge.


1. Mattie Lee Rascoe (1887-1972)
2. Fannie Geneva Rascoe (1881-1953)
3. Charles Arthur Rascoe (1884-1964)
4. Elizabeth Celesta Rascoe (1882-1966)
5. Mary Catherine Rascoe (1856-1928)
6. Henry Thomas Rascoe (1824-1906)
7. Nannie Reese Rascoe (1892-1977)
8. Esther Mae Rascoe (1895-1980)
9. Mary Elizabeth Rascoe Rascoe (1860-1937)
10. James Saunders Rascoe (1859-1925)
11. Benjamin Franklin Rascoe (1889-1957)

The second photograph shows the house after being remodeled c. 1975. The structure burned between 2003-2007.

My old house in the eighties. I submitted the picture from the 1970's, which was taken before my family renovated and restored the exterior. My bedroom was where the right side 2nd story window was and my brothers' room was on the left. The middle window was in the upstairs foyer. We had (closed off) fireplaces in our bedrooms. The original house consisted of 4 rooms and 2 foyers. The kitchen and bathrooms were added on at some point on the back of the house and a bathroom was added under the stairs for the downstairs bedroom. All 4 rooms had fireplaces. I loved that house!

Source: Melody Malone 22 May 2019 Post to the Caswell County Historical Association Facebook Page.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

George Berkley Daniel Files for NC Senate Run 1996


Anne Gayle Stuck Crumpton
William Harold (Bill) Daniel
Jacob Berkley Daniel (child held by Bill Daniel)
Taylor Anderson Daniel (held by her mother)
Cynthia Gail Long Daniel
George Berkley Daniel

Hycotee Post Office (Caswell County, North Carolina)

Hycotee Post Office [click on image to see a larger version]

Hycotee: A community in east central Caswell County. A post office operated there 1880-1904.

The Hyco River is formed in northwest Person County, North Carolina, by the junction of North Hyco and South Hyco Creeks. It flows northeast into Virginia, where it enters the Dan River. In 1728 William Byrd referred to the stream as "Hicootomony, or Turkey-Buzzard River, from the great number of those unsavoury Birds that roost on the tall Trees growing near its banks." It appears on the Moseley map, 1733, as Hyco-ote. Hyco Dam, completed in 1964, now impounds its waters to form Carolina Power Lake (also called Hyco Lake).

Caswell Insurance Services, Inc. (Yanceyville, NC)

Caswell Insurance Services, Inc., 38 West Main Street, Yanceyville, North Carolina (1989)


Carolyn Jean Hall Kimbro
Cecil Lee Page (seated)
Irvin Graham Dailey, Jr. (standing)
Norma Ann Troxler Simmons (1941-2005)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Anderson High School Basketball Team 1960s

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Anderson High School Basketball Team 1960s (Left to Right)

Front Row

1. Ernest Warren
2. Claude Allred
3. James Delbert Reagan
4. Ronnie Vinson
5. Dinky Walker

Middle Row

1. Gilbert Simmons
2. Herman Roberts

Back Row (including three people not in uniform)

2. Charles Gregory
3. Wayne King
4. Coach Littell
5. Jimmy Lee Harrelson

Bartlett Yancey High School Class of 1942 Reunion

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Bartlett Yancey High School Class of 1942 Reunion (possibly 50th)


Front Row

1. Dorothy Mae Watlington Stogner (Class Will)
3. Emma Alease Farmer Hibben
4. Mildred Webster Tatum
6. Fannie Mae Bowes Winstead

Middle Row

1. Hoyt Ray Moore
2. George Cleveland Daniel (Awarding of Diplomas)
4. Mary Joyce Slaughter
5. Frances Ann Fowlkes Smith
6. Virginia Malloy Powell (Valedictorian)

Back Row

3. Monroe Gwynn Myers
4. James Elwood Guthrie
6. Gilbert Carlton Chandler
7. James William (Bill) Powell (Class Prophesy)

Members of the Class (partial list):

Fannie Mae Bowes
Henry Norfleet Brandon
Gilbert Carlton Chandler
George Cleveland (Cleve) Daniel
Emma Alease Farmer
Mary Jane Foster
Frances Ann Fowlkes
James Elwood Guthrie
Hoyt Ray Moore
Monroe Gwynn Myers
Virginia Malloy Powell
James William (Bill) Powell
Unknown Slaughter (female)
John Thompson
Dorothy Mae Watlington
Mildred Webster

Friday, July 01, 2016

Black Cat Inn

The Bee (Danville, Virginia), Friday, 23 June 1933.

Old Highway 86 between Purley, Caswell County, North Carolina, and Danville, Virginia

Bartlett Yancey High School Public Speaking Club 1954

1954 Bartlett Yancey High School Public Speaking Club

Left to Right

Front Row: Dr. Holton, 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, Leon Faidherbee Lyday III, Wilson Allen Slaughter, Jr., Norman Stroupe Upchurch.

Photograph courtesy The Caswell Messenger.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Caswell County Bicentennial: 1977

"Everybody Celebrated In Caswell"

 By Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Yanceyville -- M. Q. Plumblee, president of the Caswell County Historical Association, panned the jubilant throng of people gathered around the town square and said "I've never in my life seen this many people in Yanceyville at one time"

Yesterday, all activity came to a screeching halt and what seemingly was the entire population of Caswell County gathered at this Carolina crossroads of the mind to celebrate the county's Bicentennial, its 200th birthday.

With people of all ages observing the gala event, Johnny Reb, who stands foursquare on his granite pedestal in the middle of the town square, seemed to embody the spirit of the townspeople -- "Bring on the next 200 years."

The day-long celebration got underway with a 45-minute parade through downtown Yanceyville around Johnny's statue delighting the crowd of onlookers that lined the sidewalks from Bartlett Yancey High School where the parade began to the courthouse several blocks away.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Proclamation Money

In his 1777 Granville County will James Yancey (1704-1779), grandfather of Caswell County's Bartlett Yancey, Jr., included the following provision:

"Item 6 - I give unto my grand-daughter, Nancy Baynes, ten pounds proc. money."

What is "proc. money"?

Proclamation Money

To get around the shortage of money, colonial governments printed paper money, and colonists used whatever foreign currency they could get their hands on — Spanish dollars, for example. Today, global trading in currency sets exchange rates, but there were no international banks to set exchange rates in the 1700s. Instead, each colony set an official value in pounds, shillings, and pence on paper money and foreign coin. Because their value was set by proclamation, these currencies were called proclamation money.

People could also simply barter or trade goods back and forth. But someone who wanted to buy a bushel of corn, for example, might not have anything the seller wanted in trade. To get around this problem, certain commodities like tobacco were used as a kind of currency. Everyone would take tobacco in exchange for other goods, because it could be easily sold again. Barter made accounting difficult, though. To manage a plantation or business, people needed to keep track of their sales, purchases, and debts.

To make accounting possible, proclamation money also set a value on “rated commodities” that were commonly used as currency. These official prices meant that exchanges conducted in tobacco could be accounted in pounds, shillings, and pence. Turning commodities into “proclamation money” also enabled cash-poor colonists to pay their taxes in goods they had available to them.

Source: Walbert, David. "The Value of Money in Colonial America." Learn NC [; accessed 17 June 2016].

A persistent lack of money prompted North Carolina and other colonies to print their own paper currencies and to rely on barter. In 1715 North Carolina's provincial government sanctioned a form of barter to sustain economic growth, approving the use of "the chief Produce of the Country" to pay public and private debts. Known as commodity money, this multitiered system had been used informally as early as 1694. In lieu of money, set quantities of tobacco, butter, tar, pitch, feathers, deer skins, beef, pork, whale oil, wheat, and other commodities could be used by citizens to pay their taxes and rents and to satisfy other expenses.

The North Carolina colony tried other means of increasing the supply of currency, or circulating medium. The legislature tried to increase the supply of coins, but North Carolina had no known supplies of gold or silver (until the discovery of gold near Charlotte in the 1830s), and Britain forbade the colonies to coin their own money. An available solution was to try to encourage the flow of coins into the province. As early as 1715, the North Carolina General Assembly declared the official value of British, Spanish, and other European silver and gold coins to be higher than their intrinsic bullion value in the hope that these coins would flow into the colony. This was not successful, however, since many British colonies were engaged in the same pursuit, and the British parliament subsequently made it illegal to rate coins at over one-third of their bullion value.

The most common and more successful solution, however, was the issue of fiat paper money, or "proclamation" money. Proclamation money was essentially a way of setting consistent values for the wide variety of currencies and commodities that served as money in the colony. To standardize this bewildering variety of currencies, the General Assembly would "proclaim" what the relative values of these kinds of money would be in North Carolina. In addition, proclamation money notes issued by North Carolina were essentially IOUs to cover the cost of necessary public works, such as fortifications. They were to be withdrawn from circulation when they were returned to the colony in payment of taxes, and the government would burn the bills they took in each year.

Source: deTreville, John R. and Fulghum, R. Neil. "Currency." NCPedia [; accessed 17 June 2016].

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Neal Watlington Honored by France

"Watlington Receives France’s Highest Military Honor"

At the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, North Carolina, French Consulate General Denis Barbet presented to Yanceyville's Neal Watlington and nine other WWII veterans France’s Legion of Honor medal. Initiated by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, it is the highest military honor France grants. To be eligible, a US veteran must have fought in one of the four main campaigns of the Liberation of France: Normandy, Provence, Ardennes, or Northern France. Only a few medals are awarded annually, and care is taken to select veterans with the most distinguished service records.

Before the awards ceremony, both the National and French Anthems were sung. Consulate General Barbet stated: “Each time, I can assure you that I was and I am deeply humbled and moved by the opportunity to meet those Veterans and express to them officially the eternal gratitude of the French for their brave service more than 70 years ago,” During the ceremony Mr. Barbet said the veterans also were knighted in France (which is part of the Medal of Honor procedure).

“I was so surprised,” said Neal Watlington. “It was so long since I was in the war.” Neal’s wife, Katherine, added: “It was a great honor and we are so appreciative.”

Neal entered the US Army May 10, 1943. On D-Day the unit he would join landed on Omaha Beach. He caught up to that unit in France on June 29, 1944. While in France he was assigned to the 69th Infantry, Company I, 60 MM Mortar Squad. Later, after being wounded by shrapnel, he was a jeep driver and machine gunner. Neal also fought in Germany and Belgium, including the Battle of the Bulge. Neal received the Purple Heart, Combat Infantrymen Badge, American Theatre Campaign Medal, Eastern Europe Campaign Medal(with four Bronze Service Stars), WWII Victory Medal, Driver and Mechanics Badge, and Good Conduct Medal. He departed France December 7, 1945, ending his military service December 21, 1945, when he was discharged at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

After the War, Neal played professional baseball for several years. Later he and Katherine operated “Watlington’s On The Square” in Yanceyville for many years. His love of baseball did not end with his major league career. In Caswell County he promoted youth baseball, both as a coach and teacher of the game. Neal has wonderful memories of his baseball career, including meeting Babe Ruth in 1947.

Neal is a charter member (1946) of local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7316 in Yanceyville. Fred Smith, VFW Post 7316 Commander, submitted the application that resulted in Neal's award. Accompanying Neal Watlington at the ceremony were his wife Katherine, son Stuart (and his wife Linda), and Fred and Sallie Smith.

Source: The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 22 June 2016. All rights reserved.

Richmond-Miles History Museum (Yanceyville, NC)

"Museum Looking for Artifacts"

By Angel Solomon (The Caswell Messenger, 22 June 2016)

Sallie Smith, President of the Caswell County Historical Association (CCHA), extends an invitation to visit the Richmond-Miles History Museum in Yanceyville. Sallie explained that the Museum was founded in the early 1980s by the CCHA and is operated by unpaid volunteers. Initially, the museum was housed in the historic Caswell County Courthouse. Later, using a generous donation from descendants of the Museum's namesakes (Richmond and Miles families), the current building on the Yanceyville Square was purchased and converted into today's Museum. That building, the Graves-Florance-Gatewood House, is itself historic.

Sallie Smith credited Sally Anderson (1915-2002) and husband Zeke Anderson (1914-2005) as being the first volunteer curators at the Museum. The Andersons lived in the Paul A. Haralson House (the "Clerk's House) just southeast of the Courthouse. Not only were they active in Museum matters, but they also helped increase CCHA membership and created the Genealogical Research Room at the Museum. And, for years Sallie Anderson edited the CCHA Newsletter.

Sallie Smith has been a member of the CCHA for many years. Since retiring from the Caswell County Finance Department three years ago (working in the Old Courthouse), she has been an active CCHA board member, now serving as CCHA President.

Sallie says that Paula Seamster (CCHA Treasurer) recruited her for the CCHA board. “I just followed her lead. And now I am very much involved. Which is a good thing, it keeps me busy.  We have a lot of older folks in Caswell, and their stories just need to be told. We have a lot of history in Caswell.”  Caswell County residents can share their stories by donating/lending memorabilia to the museum. “Any artifact or memorabilia that they can loan us or they can gift it to us as a permanent item for the museum. We have the African American room, the sports room, and the Maud Gatewood exhibit upstairs. We need anything from kitchen items to military items, and even things from now; in time they are going to be history. We can rotate items when we get more. We also could use donations of display cabinets and mannequins to show off these historical items.” Family histories always are welcome.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Teaching Chandler Sisters

"A Family of Teachers"

"The eight Chandler sisters became teachers, and they really stuck to their vocation. The eight of them have a total of almost three centuries experience. From left to right are Mrs. Mary Nelson, Mrs. Jewell Nelson, Miss Lessie Chandler, Mrs. Alice Nelson, Mrs. Lillian Mabe, Mrs. Foy Williams, Miss Elizabeth Chandler and Mrs. Bessie Scott." (Staff Photo by Jim Sparks)

Source: "Durham Herald" (undated)

1. Lessie Vie Chandler (1896-1990)
2. Foy Willis Chandler Williams (1898-1992)
3. Alice Maude Chandler Nelson (1900-1982)
4. Mary Emma Chandler Nelson (1901-1992)
5. Lillian May Chandler Mabe (1903-2001)
6. Bessie Barbara Chandler Scott (1904-1992)
7. Jewel Nelson Chandler Nelson (1909-1991)
8. Elizabeth Clyde Chandler (1912-

Parents: Lewis Garner Chandler (1867-1945) and Mollie Frances Clark Chandler (1869-1944). Three Chandler sisters married three Nelson brothers; and one of these sisters had the middle name Nelson!

Two of the sisters have importance for Caswell County, North Carolina:

1. Lillian May Chandler married Coy Ephraim Mabe (1903-1998). Coy Mabe taught thirty-five years in the Caswell County school system. Lillian Chandler Mabe was a Caswell County teacher for twenty-five years. They were married in 1928, lived on a farm in Prospect Hill, and had two sons: Coy Ephiram Mabe, Jr., and Harrell Everette Mabe.

2. Bessie Barbara Chandler married George Lea Scott (1908-1962). Bessie Chandler was born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia (near Nelson, Virginia), moved to Semora, North Carolina, around 1928 and taught school for many years in the Murphey school system. The couple had three sons: George Lea Scott; John Howard Scott; and Herbert Lewis Scott.

To see larger versions of the above images, click on them.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Unearthing Caswell County History

"Unearthing Caswell County History"

Recently, while plowing his garden, my cousin unearthed an "interesting rock." To his surprise, he had found a cannonball two-hundred feet from US Highway 119 in Leasburg, North Carolina. I was "gifted" this interesting item a few days later.

After researching and consulting with a friend who is expert in early North Carolina history and historic artillery and firearms, we concluded the "rock" is a British nine-pound solid shot from the Revolutionary War. In the late 1770s and early 1780s, the land where the cannonball was found was owned by my fifth-great grandfather, William Richmond, who purportedly was a Captain in the local militia.

Could this be an artifact of the Revolutionary War? Might it have been shot by General Cornwallis's forces during the "Race to the Dan"? Interesting to think about, to say the least. Next month I will have the rust removed and hopefully learn more.

Sterling Carter
Leasburg, North Carolina
June 2016

Friday, June 10, 2016

Caswell's Politics and Crops

Caswell's Politics and Crops

Caswell County, August 9. -- The Republicans have had their convention, to nominate county candidates. Wils Carey is snubbed, and poor Tom Harrison, who has been a mere speck, is a speck no longer. Bigelow takes the place as candidate for the Legislature in place of Carey, and no reason can be assigned except Bigelow is a mulatto, a little nearer white, and the niggers evidently are tired of niggers, and Carey is what he terms a "negro." John Barnwell is the white man who takes the place of Harrison on the ticket. Barnwell is ignorant and innocent; once was elected commissioner by the negroes, but was never re-elected. Bas. S. Graves, the present Sheriff, a good Democrat, was nominated, and Maj. Jeff Brown, the present incumbent, a brother of the old war horse Bedford, was nominated for Register of Deeds.

The Democrats hold their convention on the fourth Saturday in August, and according to the present organization of the party, no doubt representative and working men will be selected. Caswell will try to redeem herself, and be no longer classed as a certain Republican county.

The late heavy and continuous rains have done considerable injury to the corp of tobacco, and corn on the bottom and creek flats, which could not have been much better, has been somewhat damaged. Tobacco in its growing state needs but little rain, an occasional shower is all that is necessary. Exceeding wet causes cessation of growth, and frequently kills. The crop with the most favorable season hence, will be late, and not an average.

Sidney L. Stephens was shot accidentally, it is said, a few days ago in Yanceyville. The gun was loaded with shot, one shot taking effect just below the eye on the nose. It was so deed the doctors declined to probe for it, thinking the probing would endanger the eye. Stephens is deputy sheriff, and was in the act of delivering Nat Powell into the hands of the jailer when the gun was discharged in the hand of Solomon Corbett. Corbett did not, after the shot, see Stephens, but it is said he was shooting at a coon. The prisoner had a shot or two, and the deputy's horse was badly shot, so much so as to disable him. Here's a chance shot that may afford a chance shot for the lawyers.


The Raleigh News (Raleigh, North Carolina), August 12, 1880, Thursday, Page 2.

Smallpox in Caswell County, North Carolina

Smallpox in Caswell County, N.C., During December, 1900.

Raleigh, N.C., January 8, 1901.

Sir: In reply to yours of the 7th instant, just received, I beg to say: The report of the county superintendent of health of Caswell County shows a total of 77 cases of smallpox with 2 deaths for the month of December, 1900. In a letter from him, dated January 4, he says: "We will not have but 15 cases under quarantine after Monday, 7th, unless more develop. I have vaccinated 600 people in the smallpox region during the last month." Farther on he says that "the citizens of Pelham township will meet the county commissioners here Monday and ask them to have compulsory vaccination ordered in certain portions of the township." I would be glad to keep a supply of the Bureau pamphlets "in stock."


Rich. H. Lewis, Secretary State Board of Health.

U.S. Small Pox Epidemic of 1900

At the turn of the 20th century, the United States had managed to avoid a major smallpox epidemic for the better part of a generation. Then a small wave of illness washed over communities of black farmers and laborers in a few southeastern states. The white community was nott alarmed however, believing the disease would stay contained to that population. As one local newspaper put it at the time: “Up to the present, no white people have been attacked and there is positively no occasion for alarm.”

Then of course the disease began spreading to white people. The smallpox virus, it turns out, was colorblind. Yet although white people did become alarmed at this point, they did not turn out in droves to get vaccines. Instead, a vocal minority argued vehemently that the vaccine was of no benefit. They were wrong.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Caswell County Education in the 19th Century

19th Century Education in Caswell County

The Milton Spectator
(Milton, North Carolina), 6 September 1854.

Office of Board of Superintendents
Common Schools for Caswell County
January 2, 1854

Those interested are hereby informed that since the first of October last or the time of the notice given by the former Chairman of the Board of the amount of funds on hand belong[ing] to each School District in the County of Caswell, a dividend has been received from the tax levied by the County, which gives nineteen dollars and forty-seven cents to each District and also the Fall Dividend from the Literary Fund of the State, which gives twenty-eight dollars and eighty-four cents to each district. The Milton District in consequence of the number of pupils receives double the aforesaid amount.

The Committee on giving orders to teachers will see that the report of the number of scholars taught, length of time, &c., accompanies this order.

Nathaniel J. Palmer, Chm'n
January 10, 1854

While the following describes the educational situation in 1835, little changed by the time of the above 1854 Caswell County report. The electorate was decidedly anti-education. Taxes of any sort were vehemently opposed.

In the State in 1835, there was not one school house for every 15 miles square, not a single high school, and only a few good academies, the whole number of the latter being certainly less than half and possibly less than a third of the number of counties. In the whole State . . . nearly every tenth white man was totally illiterate and nearly one-half the white people of every county were uneducated. The people had no thirst for knowledge; in many cases it was dreaded, despised, and hated.

Source: Hamilton, J. G. De Roulhac and Wagstaff, Henry McGilbert, Editors. "Party Politics in North Carolina 1835-1860," The James Sprunt Historical Publications. Durham (North Carolina): The Seeman Printery. 1916.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Caswell County Bibliography

Caswell County, North Carolina, Reference Books

Anderson, George A. and House, Robert B. Caswell County in the World War, 1917-1918: Service Records of Caswell County Men. Raleigh: Edwards ns Broughton Printing Co., 1921. Print.

Brandon, Lawrence. The Scott Family of Halifax County, Va., Caswell & Person County, 2001 (412 pages).

Brown, Deborah. Dead-End Road.

Butler, Florence Roberta Walker. The Thomas Jackson Walker, Sr., family of Caswell County, Rockingham (North Carolina): Dorsett Printing Co., 1991 (716 pages).

Byrd, William L. In Full Force and Virtue: North Carolina Emancipation Records, 1713-1860. New York: Heritage Books, Inc., 1999.

Caswell County Historical Association. Images of America: Caswell County. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub, 2009. Print.

Collie, Bettie Cox and Smith, Virginia Cox. The Cox family from Caswell County, 1995 (473 pages).

Black Businesses in the South: Milton, North Carolina

This item is posted because it refers to two Milton businesses. Note, however, the incorrect assertion that Milton, North Carolina, as of the early 1880s had never had a black business. The author appears unaware of the successful business of Thomas Day.  Photograph: Milton Business District.

"Most historians agree that only a small share of southern blacks experienced economic gains in the fifty years following the Civil War. Little attention has been focused, however, on the minority who successfully acquired property and conducted business during this time. In Enterprising Southerners, Robert C. Kenzer examines the characteristics of North Carolina's African-American population in order to explain the social and political factors that shaped economic opportunity for this group from the Civil War until 1915."

"What is surprising, Kenzer asserts, is that his research does not support lingering theories that the "heritage of slavery" adversely affected blacks' performance in the market economy. Instead, he blames economic barriers to development, such as lack of capital and poorly developed markets. This study not only provides a valuable history of one state's black population, but also paves the way for similar scholarship in other southern states."--Jacket.

Roxboro Meeting of Confederates

Roxboro Meeting of Confederates

On June 28, 1873, a public "Meeting of Confederates" was held at Roxboro, Person County, North Carolina. The purpose was to consider measures for preserving the record of Person County in the Civil War. The meeting was chaired by J. J. Lansdell, with John L. Harris and N. N. Tuck acting as secretaries. Five were appointed to a committee to report steps necessary to preserve the Person County Civil War records: H. T. Jordan (chairman), James Holeman, Jr., S. C. Barnett, James M. Burton, and Samuel A. Barnett.

Committee Chairman Jordan reported to the meeting:

"Whereas, we have learned with pleasure that the Sentinel newspaper published at Raleigh, and the Journal of Commerce newspaper published at Newbern, have determined to rescue as far as they may be able the record of North Carolina in the late war; and whereas, many soldiers went from Person county into the war and we are thereby enabled to contribute to the work of the Sentinel; and whereas, no battle was fought in this county, and we are thereby unable to contribute anything to the labors of the Journal of Commerce, except subscriptions to its list of patrons,

Resolved, That we heartily commend the purpose of both these useful and patriotic journals.

Resolved, That in furtherance of the plan of the Sentinel we appoint a committee of one in each school district to gather up, arrange and report all facts, names, &c, as called for by the plan of said newspaper, and that said report be made at the earliest day possible to the committee provided for in the next resolution.

Resolved, That a committee of seven be appointed to whom the district committees shall report, who shall aggregate, collect, arrange and write out in connected historical form the materials furnished by the sub-committees and prepare them for publication.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

North Carolina Railroad 1848/1849: "The Baptist Enigma"

The "Baptist Enigma"

A major issue before the North Carolina Legislature during the 1848/1849 term was funding the North Carolina Railroad. Some favored a north-south line, while others supported extending the railroad to Charlotte to open the western parts of North Carolina.

When the bill proposing the east-west route to Charlotte came before the North Carolina Senate, Caswell County's Calvin Graves was Speaker. Following is Senator Rufus Barringer's account of the episode, which effectively ended the political career of Calvin Graves as his constituents favored a north-south route that would pass through Caswell County (on to Danville and Richmond):

"The chances in the Senate were all in doubt. That body was Democratic; and up to this time, no special effort had been made to draw the old ship from its Jeffersonian moorings. And such men as Henry W. Conner, John H. Drake, A. B. Hawkins, John Berry, George Bower, W. D. Bethel, George W. Thompson, and John Walker were hard to lead and could not be driven. And above them all sat Speaker Calvin Graves, a recognized force from a county just under the nose of Danville, and devoted to Richmond. The speaker was tall, angular, and singularly ugly in feature; but his character was high; he was strictly impartial, and with all courtesy in bearing.

1835 North Carolina Constitutional Convention

Thomas Day Lost Right to Vote

On June 4, 1835, a convention called to modify the North Carolina Constitution of 1776 opened at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Raleigh. A special election was held in April 1835 to select 130 delegates to attend the convention in Raleigh. The Caswell County delegates were William A. Lea and Calvin Graves (1804-1877). And, Caswell County's Major James Kerr (1788-1848) served as temporary president (chairman) of the convention until the delegates could select a permanent president (Nathaniel Macon of Warren County).

After about five weeks of debate and votes, a slate of constitutional amendments was adopted. The main changes made by the convention had to do with elections and who could hold certain offices. Under the new constitution, free African American men, who had previously been able to vote, were disenfranchised. Elections for the General Assembly shifted from being held annually to be held every other year, and the way each chamber's membership was apportioned changed. Balloting for governor shifted from the legislature to popular vote, the governor's term was extended from one to two years, and all Christians, not just Protestants, became eligible to hold public office.

North Carolina's state constitution would not be completely overhauled again until Reconstruction (1868).

William A. Lea and Calvin Graves voted with the majority (vote: 66 to 61) to take the right to vote from "free blacks, free people of color, and descendants of Native Americans."

William A. Lea has not been identified. One possibility is William Archer Lea (1786-1843), a wealthy Leasburg farmer (and slave owner).

Monday, May 30, 2016

Census Records

Census Records

Summaries of census records on subscription services such as provide helpful information. However, the summary does not exhibit all the data captured by the census enumerator. Take a look at the actual record.

Example: The census summary does not show the amount of personal property owned. For southern records before the Civil War this item can be revealing. A southern farmer with a large amount shown as personal property in 1860 may have been, and probably was, a slave owner. While slave schedules also exist, they are spotty and not always reliable.

As many slaves took the surname of their owners, this could be helpful for African-Americans researching their roots.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Yanceyville, North Carolina, Medical Doctors

Yanceyville Medical Doctors (draft list):

1. Thomas Lea Gwynn (1928-
2. Houston Lafayette Gwynn (1896-1963)
3. Stephen Arnold Malloy (1872-1944)
4. William Oliver Spencer (1863-1938)*
5. James Scott Doak (1864-1892)
6. William Henry (Buck) Henderson (1828-1909)
7. Albert Gallatin Yancey (1817-1887)
8. Allen M. Gunn (1807-1884)
9. Preston Roan (1842-1882)
10. Nathaniel Moore Roan (1803-1879)
11. Bedford Brown, Jr. (1823-1897)**
12. John Edmunds Brown (1800-1846)
*Left Yanceyville around 1906.
**Practiced in Yanceyville until start of the Civil War.
*** Dr. Lancelot Johnston (1748-1832) is Caswell County's earliest known physician/surgeon, but he is associated with Locust Hill and not Yanceyville.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Caswell County Sheriff: Interesting Facts

Caswell County Sheriff Michael Welch was in office 2002-2018, thus becoming one of Caswell County's longest serving sheriffs (16 years).

1. However, which sheriff holds the record term of office?
2. Which sheriffs held the office more than once?
3. Which sheriff intended not to run for re-election but changed his mind due to personal circumstances?
4. Which sheriff lost his badge only to have it found years later?
5. Which sheriff is a grandson of Bartlett Yancey, Jr.?
6. Who was the first sheriff of Caswell County?
7. Who was Caswell County's first African-American Deputy Sheriff?
8. Who was Caswell County's first African-American Sheriff?

1. James Isaac Smith, Jr., is Caswell County's longest serving sheriff, holding office for some 24 years (1978-2002). In second place is John Henry Gunn, with two terms totaling 23 years.

2. Five held the office twice: David Shelton was the first. Then Jesse C. Griffith. Later, John Henry Gunn and John Yancey Gatewood traded the office back and forth for over 30 years (1920-1951). Note that Sheriff Jesse C. Griffith was arrested by Colonel George Kirk during the Kirk-Holden War.

3. It was John Henry Gunn who decided not to seek re-election but changed his mind when he learned that his pension was not available unless he reached retirement age while still in office. He ran again, and was re-elected, presumably with pension intact.

4. Lynn Banks Williamson lost his badge:

Sheriff Lynn Banks Williamson (1918-1987), Caswell County Sheriff 1953-1958. His badge was found by an operator of a Garrett Metal Detector, who returned the badge to the Williamson family (believed to have been lost by Sheriff Williamson while quail (bob white quail, of course) hunting).

5. The sheriff who is a grandson of Bartlett Yancey, Jr., is Thomas Pancoast Womack (1861-1916), who served 1891-1894. He lived in the Bartlett Yancey House and is buried in the Yancey Family Cemetery there. It was his widow that gave the land for the school in Yanceyville on the condition that it be named for Bartlett Yancey, Jr.

6. David Shelton was the first Caswell County Sheriff, first serving two years (1777-1779); and then another term 1780-1783.

"Oaths having been taken, the [June 1777] minutes tell us, 'Mr. John Lea was appointed to open Court which he did accordingly.' The justices who had recently qualified then ballotted for a clerk and William Moore was chosen. Soon afterwards David Shelton was appointed sheriff. The following day before the court both of these new county officers entered into bond. For Clerk Moore the securities for his bond in the amount of £1000 were David Shelton and Hugh Dobbins, Jr. For Sheriff Shelton they were William Lea, William Moore, Hugh Dobbins, Jr., Adam Saunders, John Lea, and Matthew Jouett, and his bond, a little later, was set at £5,000."

7. James Edward Gwynn (1919-1980) was appointed a Caswell County Deputy Sheriff in 1966 (by Sheriff Bobby Poteat), and is believed to be the first African-American to serve in that capacity.

8. In 2018, Tony Durden was elected Caswell County's first black Sheriff.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Thomas Jethro Brown Tobacco Warehouse

The following is from Cameron, J. D. A Sketch of the Tobacco Interests in North Carolina. Oxford (NC): W. A. Davis & Co., 1881.

Brown's Warehouse

In 1872, Mr. T. J. Brown was encouraged by the increasing cultivation of tobacco in this section to venture upon the enterprise of opening a warehouse in Winston, which he did in an old barn of small size, 30x40 feet. The sales were advertised to take place daily, but supplies were irregular and small, and sale days were few and far between. There was then only one plug factory in the place, whose yearly output was not more than twenty thousand pounds. The culture in the surrounding country was small, conducted in primitive methods, without the use of artificial fertilizers, and curing was effected by the air or the sun or by wood fires. The introduction of coal curing, and more recently of flues, has completely revolutionized the whole system, the result of which is the abundant production of fine yellow tobacco, as well as a very superior article of dark grades. The increase of production compelled an increase of accommodations, and Brown's warehouse is now a building 70x200, with full skylight and abundant convenience within and without. The sales take place daily during the season. The house is known under the name of T. J. Brown & Co., and is formed by Messrs. T. J. Brown, W. B. Carter and J. R. Pearce. Mr. R. D. Mosely is auctioneer and Mr. P. A. Wilson bookkeeper.

Mr. Brown reports that the condition of the growing crop is very superior, and greatly increased in quantity. Many new men have gone into the business this year, and older planters have enlarged their operations. In characterizing peculiarities, he describes the tobacco of Stokes County as remarkably rich and waxy. He estimates the sales of Winston for the current year at seven millions of pounds, of which home manufacturers take about one-half; the remainder is bought on orders for Canada, the Western cities, Baltimore, etc., some large houses in the latter city, such as Gail & Ax, obtaining a large proportion of their stock here.

Mr. Brown adds that when he embarked in business in 1872 there were no banks in Winston, and no facilities whatever to aid a struggling enterprise. All this is now changed, there being ample bank accommodations, and also the convenient addition of a revenue office. The growth of the town in size and in business is more marked within the past five years than at any previous period.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Civil War Salt: Caswell County, North Carolina

Civil War Salt

During the Civil War salt became a scarce commodity. It was used to preserve meat, and no substitute was readily available. By early 1863 the price of salt in North Carolina had jumped from $12 to $100 for a two-bushel sack. Residents depended upon small private saltworks and state-run saltworks on North Carolina's coast, including a large operation at Wilmington.

It took two bushels, about 110 pounds, of salt to cure 1,000 pounds of pork, and 1.25 bushels to cure 500 pounds of beef. And salt was useful in myriad other ways, from tanning leather to fixing the dyes in military uniforms and feeding livestock.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Old Man Not Outfoxed by Children

Old Man Not Outfoxed by Children

In the 1820s Joel Cannon lived and farmed in Caswell County, North Carolina. While not an extremely wealthy man, he was of some means and owned five slaves. In 1829 by written deed he conveyed to trustees (Elijah Cannon and James Cannon) for the "sole and separate" use of his daughter Annie Cannon Powell a female slave named Peggy and her two slave children, John and Milly. Annie was to be the beneficiary of the trust during her life, with the remainder going to her children upon her death. Annie had married Thomas B. Powell in 1820.

At some point the trustees named in the deed left North Carolina, and in 1848 Dr. Allen Gunn was by order of the Caswell County Court of Equity appointed trustee. In that capacity for many years he received the proceeds from hiring out the slaves, with only a small portion ever paid to Annie Cannon Powell. By the mid-1850s this amount had grown to around $1500.

Annie died in 1855 without a will, and Samuel M. Cobb became administrator of her estate. He was a son-in-law of Annie, having married her daughter Matilda J. Powell.

In his role as administrator, Samuel M. Cobb (with the other sons-in-law of Annie Cannon Powell) sought legal advice with respect to their rights to the accrued funds in the hands of trustee Dr. Allen Gunn. Counsel advised that the "profits and hires" of the slaves that had been held in trust for the benefit of Annie Cannon Powell during her lifetime now went, not to the husband of Annie Cannon Powell, but to the administrator of her estate for the benefit of her children. The lawyer advised, just to be cautious and to make it easier to proceed against the trustee, to have Samuel M. Cobb formally waive his rights. To accomplish this following document was drafted:

"Whereas, Joel Cannon, late of Caswell county, conveyed by a deed of settlement, on 29th day of December, 1829, to Elijah Cannon and James Cannon, trustees, a negro woman by the name of Peggy, and her children, Milly and John, to hold to the exclusive and sole use of Annie Powell during her life-time, and after her death said slaves, with their increase, to be divided between her children; and whereas, Elijah Cannon and James Cannon left the State of North Carolina, and settled in some distant State, whereby it became necessary to appoint other trustee or trustees, and Doctor Allen Gunn having been appointed, who has had control of said slaves for many years, and the said Annie having died in the month of July last, and being willing to carry out to the full extent the wishes of my late father-in-law, Joel Cannon, in his provision for his daughter and her children: Now, therefore, this indenture witnesseth, that for and in consideration of one dollar to me in hand paid, . . . I have bargained and sold, delivered, transferred, made over and assigned, and by these presents do bargain, sell, deliver, transfer, make over and assign, to Samuel Cobb and his wife Matilda, Jeremiah Rice and his wife Mary Anne, Andrew J. Cobb and his wife Jemima, and Josiah Powell, all the right, title and interest which I have, or may have, in the slaves Peggy, Milly and John."

Then follows a conveyance of the "profits, hires or issues of the said slaves, which accrued in the life-time of his wife."

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Highway Robbery?

Highway Robbery?

Matthew Brooks lived in Caswell County, North Carolina. He was a farmer and grew tobacco. On June 19, 1857, he hauled a portion of his prior year's crop (or a portion of his early current-year crop) to Milton, North Carolina, and sold it. His load was on a wagon pulled by two horses. With cash in hand he made several purchases in Milton and drove out of Milton late in the day, intending to camp at a crossroads about three miles distant.

On his way to the intended campsite Brooks stopped to water his team. While watering his horses at just about dark a negro came over the bridge from Milton and asked which road Brooks intended to travel. Brooks provided the information, and the negro moved along the indicated road. Brooks soon overtook the negro with whom he had spoken while watering his horses and they traveled a while together, sometimes in conversation. The negro was afoot and Brooks sitting in and driving his wagon.

"Privileged Negroes" -- Disputed Will of Nathaniel Lea

"Privileged Negroes" -- Disputed Will of Nathaniel Lea

Nathaniel Lea was born around 1793, in Caswell County, North Carolina, a son of John (Canebrake) Lea (1766-1839) and Hannah Slade Lea (1767-1850). He never married, died in 1855, and through a will written earlier that year left his property to certain relatives (including siblings, nieces, and nephews). As he came from a large family, siblings, nieces, and nephews were plentiful.

Sister Rebecca Slade Lea married Royal George Williamson and lived at "Melrose."

Sister Delilah S. Lea married Jeremiah Graves and lived at "Dongola" in Yanceyville.

Sister Elizabeth Lea married Calvin Graves and lived in the Brown-Graves-Yarbrough in Locust Hill.

Brother Thomas L. Lea married Ann Blount Wright, and resided at "Leahurst" which still stands across from the New Hope Methodist Church in Caswell County.

Brother Sidney S. Lea married Fannie Elizabeth Torian and inherited the home place from his father.

Sister Mary Lea married George Willson who owned the Red House Tavern in Semora. Oddly, their daughter, Mary Lea Willson, became the second wife of Calvin Graves after the death of her aunt Elizabeth Lea Graves.

A brother, John G. Lea, apparently never married.

Nathaniel Lea had been advanced substantial property by his father, John (Canebrake) Lea, before the father died in 1839. He also participated in the residue of John (Canebrake) Lea's estate, receiving a one-eighth share according to his father's will, in which he was named as one of the executors. And, when assets of his father's estate were sold as part of the estate's administration, Nathaniel Lea was, with many others, a purchaser. Thus, Nathaniel Lea died a very wealthy man.

During his life he had a special relationship with a family of eight slaves. They may have been his "house" slaves as he owned others. They were treated almost as "free," being given special privileges and even money. They became the center of a legal dispute that went to the North Carolina Supreme Court.