Saturday, August 27, 2016

Caswell County Men's Group

(for larger image, click on photograph)

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.