Friday, November 17, 2017

Descendants of Samuel and Elizabeth Watkins

Descendants of Samuel and Elizabeth Watkins

As I take a stroll through the Milton Cemetery and read the familiar names -- Watkins, Lewis,Irvine, Stamps, Richmond, Hunt, and Donoho, I feel I am "home" even though I have never lived in Milton. All of these names are intertwined in childhood memories of maternal ancestors I have known personally or through conversation and reference.

My great-great-grandparents, Samuel Watkins and Elizabeth Frances Stamps, daughter of Anna Beaufort (nee Ragland) Lewis and Thomas Stamps, married and moved from Halifax County, Va. to Milton about 1836. There he was a tobacco farmer and merchant. A member of the Presbyterian Church, he was a man of spotless "integrity" to quote his obituary.

Samuel and Elizabeth left five children: Henry Thomas who married Anne Bullock and moved to Granville County leaving a heritage of many descendants in the Henderson area; Warner Meriwether, who married Kate Walker, parenting Emily Watkins Donoho, a life long resident of Milton, and four other children: Charles, who married Virginia Ober and eventually moved to Richmond, Va., was engaged in business with his brother, Warner, in Milton as a merchant and dealer in leaf tobacco; Anna Stamps, who married Eustace Hunt, a member of the Milton Blues which became a part of the 13th N.C. Regiment, remained a resident of Milton for her lifetime; and John Lewis, my great-grandfather, who married Claudia Alcesta (nee Williams) Benbury Fox, daughter of John Gordon Williams and Sarah Mason Lee Wiggins of Easton, N.C.

John Watkins, born in 1839, attended Hampden-Sydney College in Va. and the University of Va., studying medicine. He was a member of the Milton Blues and left with them in 1861 when they became a part of Co. C of the 13th N.C. Regiment of Volunteers. An unverified family story is that he was interning in N.Y. when war was declared and rushed out, leaving a partially used cadaver, and headed South. He served as assistant surgeon and after a year was transferred to the Signal Corps in the same capacity. When mustered out at the War's end, each man received $1.12 1/2 as his last pay. Unable to split a quarter, he and another flipped for that. He lost, but the silver dollar is in the Confederate Museum in Richmond. Another family legend is that John saw so much suffering during the war he did not wish to pursue medicine so became a druggist in New Bern, N.C. and later a buyer on the Durham, N.C. tobacco market, finally returning to Milton to be in charge of Milton Roller Mills.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Milton Roller Mill History

Milton Roller Mill

For decades, Caswell County millers converted grain to flour and meal by grinding it between rotating stones. This technology was replaced by the roller mill, which crushed the grain between rollers. The old Milton roller mill stood on Country Line Creek. Beside it was the high trestle bridge over the stream. The open-ended building to the left was used to store coal. Photograph courtesy Jean B. Scott.

When the mill in the photograph was built is not known. However, as of 2017 the remains of the foundation were still visible. The stone foundation walls were there, with at least three door openings and some smaller openings. One portion of the wall is seven-feet thick. The last mill to operate on this site was powered with a turbine, not a water wheel. The turbine is still there buried under the creek bank. Stone dam pillars were visible on each side of the creek. These pillars supported a wood and rock dam. The Atlantic and Danville Railway had a spur line to the mill.

Based upon the following newspaper accounts, it is possible that the original mill burned in 1906, was replaced, and that the replacement structure burned in 1944. When the original mill was built is not known, but the second article below suggest the foundation dates from the 1790s.


"The Milton Roller Mills near Milton and owned by W. B. Lewis of this city were totally destroyed by fire at 9:30 o'clock the lurid glare being visible from this city. The loss is estimated at $25,000. The mills were the largest in this section and had a capacity of 100 barrels a day and were very largely patronized. The equipment was of the latest approved type. Some insurance was carried."

And, although the item was published in 1926, it appeared in a section of the newspaper called: "The Bee 20 Years Ago Said:" Thus, this would have been 1906.

Source: The Bee (Danville, Virginia), 17 March 1926, Wednesday, Page 3.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ferries at Milton, North Carolina

Click for Larger Image
Milton Ferries
The following is from: Motley, Charles B. Milton, North Carolina: Sidelights of History (1976):
"Several ferries operated across Dan River in the Milton area including Staton's Ferry which operated across the river about where the dual bridge is being constructed.
"Pictured on buggy on ferry is Robert Fleming. Picture made July 21, 1903. Staton's Ferry was purchased by a stock company in 1906. Dr. J. A. Hurdle was a stockholder and served as President. A single lane toll bridge was erected by this group to replace the ferry.

"It later was determined that approaches to the bridge should be changed which would require additional capital. E. B. Foote (father of J. B. Foote of Milton) purchased substantial stock and served as President of the Milton Bridge Company.

"This toll bridge operated until the 1930's when it was purchased by the State of North Carolina for a nominal amount.

"The State of North Carolina erected another single lane bridge about 1940-41. This bridge was moved from a Virginia location and is being used today (1976).

"Just north of this bridge the State is erecting the first dual lane bridge across Dan River at Milton. This bridge is scheduled for completion July 1, 1976."

Abraham Pope: Milton Cabinetmaker

Milton Intelligencer (Milton, NC),
6 Apr 1819, Tue, p. 4
Abraham Pope: Milton Cabinetmaker

The population of Milton, North Carolina prompted the North Carolina General Assembly to expand the town boundaries in 1818, and Milton also became part of a north-south road system that facilitated the movement of people and goods between Virginia and North Carolina. People on the move required accommodation, and in 1818 Union Tavern, a newly constructed and substantial brick building on Milton's Main Street, began offering the traveling public a place to rest and dine. Soon the town became a magnet to men engaged in business and commerce, attracting additional merchants, tradesmen, artisans, and mechanics to relocate in Caswell County, including fancy-chair maker Isaac Hutchins and cabinetmakers Abraham Pope and John Day Jr., initially, and Thomas Day, eventually.

Hutchins, who arrived in 1819, announced that his establishment, the first of its kind in Milton, could produce as well as repair elegant chairs, sets of chairs, and settees, could embellish them with paint, and could also provide fancy, ornamental, and sign painting. That same year Pope, an emigrant from Taunton, England, opened his shop on Main Street, promising to supply (and ship) an elegant and stylish assortment of mahogany furniture such as sideboards, secretaries, bookcases, bureaus, dining tables, breakfast tables, bedsteads, drop-leaf tables, and washstands.

In 1818 twenty-two-year-old Pope became a naturalized citizen. In 1822, for reasons unknown, Pope sold off the contents of his shop, including twenty-eight mahogany furniture pieces, along with raw material and personal household goods. The timing and scope raise the possibility that Pope had incurred substantial debt during the economic depression brought by the panic of 1819. The fate of Issac Hutchins remains a mystery, as he disappears from existing records.

Source: Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color, Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll (2010) at 12-13 (and related footnotes).

North Carolina State Archives
Title: Ad for Cabinet Business of Abraham Pope, Milton, N. C.
Years: 1819 (1998)
Creator: Milton Advertiser, Alan Westmoreland
Call Number: N.98.10.31
MARS Id: (Folder)
Quantity: 1 Item(s)
Scope/Contents: Photograph from a newspaper shows an advertisement for the Cabinet Business of Abraham Pope at Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina. Photo taken from the Milton Advertiser [newspaper], 14 April 1819.
Subjects: Business; Furniture; Industry and Trade; Furniture Making; Mahogany
Personal Names: Pope, Abraham
Corporate Names: Abraham Pope Cabinet Business
Geographical Names: Milton
Source/Donor: Milton Advertiser [newspaper]

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bridges/Ferries (Dan River) at Milton, North Carolina

Working Hypothesis (Milton Dan River Bridges/Ferries):

1. The first "public" way to cross the Dan River at Milton probably was a ferry, but this early ferry has not been documented.

2. Pursuant to the 1822 charter, a toll bridge was constructed (construction date unknown), and this bridge washed away in August 1850.

3. Pursuant to the 1851 charter, another toll bridge was built (but not until after March 1859), and this probably is the bridge referred to as being twelve inches under water during the May 1873 Dan River "freshet."

4. Something, unknown, apparently happened to the 1851 bridge as a ferry was in operation just before the 1906/1907 steel toll bridge was built.

5. Steel toll bridge constructed 1906/1907 by the Milton Bridge Comany.

6. The 1906/1907 steel toll bridge was purchased by the State of North Carolina, and in 1936 the toll was discontinued.

7. The 1906/1907 bridge was replaced in the early 1940s by a new steel bridge. This bridge may have been donated by the City of Danville (but not confirmed).

8. The final bridge (concrete) was completed and dedicated in 1976 and remains in operation today (November 2017). In 2013, the bridge was named in honor of William Claire Taylor (1901-1988).

Milton, North Carolina in 1854

Correspondence of the Dispatch. Milton, N.C. June 5th, 1854

"Mr. Editor: As your readers have from time to time been favored with descriptions of several places, it may not be amiss to give you a description of our town and its vicinity.

"The town of Milton is 12 miles below Danville, situated in the county of Caswell, on a beautiful and commanding situation, in the fork of the Dan river and country line creek,, the latter a stream of some size and length, having fine water power and lined with manufacturing mills from its mouth to its head. The stream nearly surrounds the town, and is crossed on its eastern border over a fine covered bridge. A few hundred yards below the bridge is a large manufacturing flour mill and saw mill on one side, and a large cotton factory on the other, both now owned by James D. Newsom, Esq., and in successful operation, employing quite a number of hands. About 12 feet from the factory is the Virginia and North Carolina State line.

"The population of Milton is one thousand or more, having two academies, a hotel, a branch of the Bank of the State, a savings bank, a fire insurance company, four large tobacco factories, where the finest tobacco is put up from the choicest crops of the country, the largest cabinet makers establishment in the State with its steam machinery, supplying the country for nearly a hundred miles around Milton. Also several other manufacturing establishments usually found in towns. We have also five dry goods, two groceries and two druggist stores, and a merchant tailor establishment, one male and one female academy and a primary State school for young persons.

"Milton is situated in the midst of the wealthiest and most productive portion of North Carolina, having on the low grounds of the Dan river the hycos and county line, the finest and best lands which our State afford, yielding an abundance of tobacco, corn, wheat, &c.

Confederate Monument: Caswell County UDC 1921

Monument Name: Caswell County Confederate Monument, Yanceyville
Type: Common Soldier Statue
Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Creator: J.F. Manning and Co., Washington, D.C., Designer; American Bronze Foundry, Chicago, IL, Foundry
City: Yanceyville
County: Caswell
Dedication Date: September 10, 1921


This monument, located in front of the Caswell County Court House as a memorial to the county's Confederate veterans, displays a Confederate soldier standing atop a pedestal. The bronze soldier looks northward and defiantly grasps his gun in both hands while he steps forward with his left foot. He wears the Confederate uniform complete with hat and is depicted as a man with high cheekbones, a full mustache, and a goatee.

Confederate monuments in North Carolina erected in the years prior to World War One frequently reflected bitterness and praised the rectitude of the "lost cause." The inscription on this later monument was written by Reverend James Preston Burke of Reidsville and described as "deeply thoughtful." That it focuses on the sincerity and steadfastness of the soldiers more than the division caused by the Civil War, reflects a more moderate view, perhaps brought on by the unifying effects of the United States participation in World War One.

Images (courtesy of Rusty Long): Contemporary view of the monument | Side view of the monument





Supporting Sources

"Caswell County Court House and Confederate Monument, Yanceyville, N.C.," in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill, (accessed March 13, 2012)

"Caswell Courthouse," The Historical Marker Database,, (accessed August 29, 2016)

"Confederate Monument," Caswell County Historical Association, Inc., hosted by RootsWeb,, (accessed March 13, 2012)

"Program of the Unveiling of the Confederate Monument" in Caswell County in the World War, 1917-1918; Service Records of Caswell County Men, (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., 1921), (accessed May 16, 2012)

Broaphy, Alfred. "The Confederate Monument on the Courthouse Square," The Faculty Lounge,, July 01, 2014.

Butler, Douglas J. North Carolina Civil War Monuments, An Illustrated History, (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2013), 138, 161, 196, 222

North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. "North Carolina Civil War Monuments, Confederate Soldiers Monument, Yanceyville, NC," (accessed March 13, 2012)

Powell, W.S. When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977 (Durham, NC: Moore Publishing Company, 1977)

United Daughters of the Confederacy, North Carolina Division. Minutes of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy North Carolina Division, Held at New Bern, N.C., October 13, 14, 15, 1920 (Charlotte, N.C.: Queen City Printing Company, 1920), 143, (accessed September 10, 2012)

United Daughters of the Confederacy, North Carolina Division. Minutes of the Twenty-Third Annual Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy North Carolina Division, Held at High Point, North Carolina, October 8, 9, 10, 1919 (Raleigh, N.C.: Edwards & Broughton Printing Co.), 100, (accessed September 10, 2012)

“Caswell County Is Coming to Front,” The Reidsville Review (Reidsville, NC), September 12, 1921

Monday, November 13, 2017

Caswell County Reserve Militia: World War I

Caswell County Reserve Militia: World War I

Immediately following are the names of the men who were selected to make up Company 51 of North Carolina Reserve Militia. This roster was furnished by Mr. T. H. Hatchett, First Sergeant. Captain Wilson gave much valuable service training the men of his Company, and was very ably assisted by First Lieutenant, H. S. Turner. There were frequent drills on the Court House Square and on the Academy Campus. The men of the company were filled with the best of morale and, had occasion demanded, would have given a good account of themselves.



1st Lieut: H. S. Turner
2nd Lieut: J. L. Warren
1st Sergeant: T. H. Hatchett
2nd Sergeant: J. M. Williams
3rd Sergeant: A. Y. Miles
1st Corporal: J. W. James
2nd Corporal: A. W. Moorefield
3rd Corporal: S. B. Moore
4th Corporal: Bruce Bradner
5th Corporal: H. M. Yarborough
6th Corporal: W. P. Aldridge
7th Corporal: W. O. Smith
8th Corporal: M. C. Winstead
9th Corporal: R. L. Jones
Chaplain: Rev. C. M. Murchison

"Little Baltimore"

"Little Baltimore"
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"Little Baltimore"

In Caswell County, North Carolina, the area near the intersection of Highway 62N (between Yanceyville and Milton) and the Blanch Road has from at least 1931 been called "Little Baltimore." Highway 62N is the road between Yanceyville and Milton.

One Caswell native familiar with the area reported the following in 2007:

Clyde Willis (age 86) remembers hearing people talk about "Little Baltimore." He said it is located on 62 N and Blanch Road. The two-story house at the intersection is still standing. Mr. Claire Taylor was born in a little cabin behind this house. Clyde said there was a Horse Race Track there and lots more. He said, John Lea and the Matlock boys handled the horses and races, The stage coaches would stop there as they passed by this way and he remembers there was gambling, of course some "spirits," and with a chuckle, he said most anything else was going on. It was thriving place.

But, why the area was called "Little Baltimore" remains a mystery.

"Lea's Tavern"
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The two-story house referred to by Clyde Willis was called "Lea's Tavern."

The owner of the tavern was James (Hops) Lea (c.1781 - c.1834). He apparently also was known as Hopping Jim Lea, son of John Lea and Elizabeth Bradley. He is a great grandson of one of Caswell County's founders, James (Country Line) Lea (1707-1792). The Lea family used and reused the given names James, John, and William to such an extent that nicknames were needed to keep them separate. And, yes, Leasburg is named for one or more members of this Lea family.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Caswell County Pharmacists

Pharmacists: Caswell County, North Carolina

Tommy Davis at The Drug Store (Yanceyville)

The purpose of this article is to identify all the druggists/pharmacists who practiced in Caswell County, North Carolina, both those who self-identified as such and those who were licensed by the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy.

While not confirmed, it appears that the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy (or its predecessor) dates from around 1880. Some of those licensed pharmacists listed below were "druggists" well before 1880. Were they grandfathered in and licensed automatically?

Yanceyville Druggists/Pharmacists

Henry Williams Perry (1869-1916)
Nathaniel C. Brandon (1863-1919)
Dr. James Scott Doak, M.D. (1864-1892)
Abner Miles Gunn (1846-1935)
Thomas Jones Ham, Jr. (1896-1967)
Robert Gardner Ham (1922-1977)
Joseph Dameron Davis (1936-1998)
Thomas Peete Davis
Hubert Vernon Massengill, Jr.
James B. Miller III
Melissa Renee Massengill Jones
Kimberly Ann Fuquay-Pickens

Leasburg Druggists/Pharmacists

William Riley Hambrick (1859-1941)

Milton Druggists/Pharmacists

James Robert Callum
Robert Lee Dixon (1861-1926)
George S. Barnes
Russell D. Apple
J. C. Walton, M.D.
Robert Lewis Walker
Lewis Walker
Leonard Henderson Hunt

Prospect Hill Druggists/Pharmacists

Dr. John Roger Hester, M.D. (1890-1918)
Joan Whitfield Floyd

Monday, October 23, 2017

Thomas Day, Jr., Killing

The Asheville Weekly Citizen (Asheville, North Carolina), 19 April 1882, Wednesday, Page 1: Report of the Committee on Manufactures to the Asheville Board of Trade at the First Quarterly Meeting of the Board, April 10th 1882.

Day Jno, c, cabinetmaker A F F
Day Thos, c, A F F, res 112 Pearson ave
Day S J Mrs, c, res 112 Pearson ave
Day Berta, c, res 112 Pearson ave
Day Jno, c, carp, res, extension of Atkin
Day Sallie Mrs, c, res extension of Atkin
Day Thos, c. res extension of Atkin
Day Robt, c, res extension of Atkin

c = colored
A F F = Asheville Furniture Factory
carp = carpenter
res = residence

Source: Asheville City Directory, 1887 (Southern Directory Co.)

The 1880 US census shows that Aquilla Wilson Day was around 75 years old when living in Asheville, Buncombe County, North Carolina, with her son, Thomas Day, Jr. But, the 1887 Asheville City Directory does not list her. Did she die between the enumeration of the 1880 census and the record gathering for the 1887 Asheville City Directory? That she did so die would be a reasonable assumption for one of that age. If she died in Asheville, where is she buried? Riverside Cemetery in Asheville does indeed have a large African-American section. Perhaps not all those buried there have been documented. And, not all graves are marked. However, Riverside Cemetery is not the only possible burial site.

Paddy Rollers

Paddy Rollers

During the April 1822 session of the Caswell County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, the justices enacted the following:

Patrollers appointed for 1822: Richmond Dist. John Thompson, John Long, John Kitchen, John Adams, Abraham Wright, James Whitlow; Gloucester Dist. Jerre Crisp, Paul Terrel; Caswell Dist. Joseph Cobb, John Cobb, John Nunnally, William Ray; St. David's Dist. Thomas Givson, Elisha Paschal, William Moore, Nicholas Willis, Joseph Carter, Jr. and Thomas Penick.

Slave patrols called patrollers, patterrollers, pattyrollers or paddy rollers, by the slaves, were organized groups of white men who monitored and enforced discipline upon black slaves in the antebellum U.S. southern states. The slave patrols' function was to police slaves, especially runaways and defiant slaves.

See: Slave Patrols