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.