Thursday, November 29, 2018

Barnett Brothers of Person County, North Carolina

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Born in Roxboro, North Carolina, on January 23, 1890, Jack W. C. Barnett was one of four sons of Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Barnett. His brother Herbert, born in 1898, was also a dwarf.

Jack entered show business at the age of 16, performing with the Ringling Bros. Circus under the pseudonym Dainty Dewey. In 1912 Barnett's sideshow was joined by a 19-year-old schoolgirl from Baltimore, Miss Dorothy David Warfield, who did an illusion act in which her head appeared to grow from a vase of flowers.

Dorothy was introduced to Barnett by Mrs. H.L. Morris, the sideshow's giantess who claimed to stand 7 feet, 4 inches tall. Within a few months Dorothy and Jack were married in St. Louis, Missouri, with Jack standing upon a stool as he said his vows to his 5'8"-tall bride. Mrs. Morris and her average-sized husband were maid of honor and best man at the wedding. The Barnetts had at least one child together.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Roxboro, Person County, North Carolina: 1855 Incorporation

Roxboro, Person County, North Carolina: 1855 Incorporation

The town of Roxboro apparently was incorporated on January 9, 1855. Subsequently, an election was held to chose town commissioners to function as the town's exceutive authority (similar to a town council). The following were elected:

G. D. Satterfield [probably Green Daniel Satterfield]
C. S. Winstead
James Wright
Chesley Hamlen
E. G. Reade [probably Edwin Godwin Reade]

Once elected and sworn in, these men became the Town of Roxboro Board of Commissioners. One of its first official acts, possibly the first one, was to appoint various town officers:

Magistrate of Police: W. R. Reade
Treasurer: Stephen M. Dickens
Constable: Henry Satterfield
Overseer Streets: John M. Winstead
Secretary: Benjamin A. Thaxton

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Person County, North Carolina, Bibliography

Person County, North Carolina, Bibliography

Resources: Books & Family Collections

Authors, Various. Durham & Person Counties, North Carolina: Complied from Historical Writings

Blaylock, John Burch. Wheely's or Upper South Hico Primitive Baptist Church in Person County, North Carolina. Manuscript, 1944. Housed at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Boatwright, Phyliss. Person County Past: Tales from the Central Piedmont. Charleston: History Press, 2006.

Bryant, Lawrence C. A Historical and Genealogical Record of Lee, Clay, and Related Families of Person County, North Carolina. Orangeburg (South Carolina): L. C. Bryant, 1972.

Bumpus, Shirley Anne and Townsend, James Richard. The Bumpass Family from Person County, North Carolina. 1972.

Clark, Jim. Person County Folklore: The Rock and the Nail. Raleigh: North Carolina State University Humanities Extension/Publications, 1994.

Daniel, Lucille. The Sharecropper's Wife: A Memoir. Morrisville (North Carolina), 2015.

Dunaway, Stewart. Caswell and Person County, N.C. - Mill Records. Morrisville (North Carolina): Lulu Press, 2014.

Dunaway, Stewart. Person County, N.C. Road and Bridge Records 1797-1888. Morrisville (North Carolina): Lulu Press, 2014.

Dunaway, Stewart. Person County, N.C. Miscellaneous Land Records Vol. 1 (1775-1940). Morrisville (North Carolina): Lulu Press, 2017.

Dunaway, Stewart. Person County, N.C. Miscellaneous Land Records Vol. 2 (1775-1940). Morrisville (North Carolina): Lulu Press, 2017.

Dunaway, Stewart. Person County, N.C. County Soil Map Atlas. Morrisville (North Carolina): Lulu Press, 2018.

George A. Anderson 1914 Stephens Letter

George Anderson 1914 Stephens Letter

Set forth below is a transcript of a 1914 letter from George Andrew Anderson (1869-1945) to Edna Earl Watkins (1885-1988). At the time she probably was a Caswell County school teacher. The original letter kindly was shared by JoAnne Watkins Warn (niece of Edna Earl Watkins).

Office of Superintendent of Schools
Caswell County
Geo. A. Anderson, Superintendent

Yanceyville, N.C.
Jan. 02/12 (day not clear), 1914

Miss Edna,

The rise & fall of Stephens are the most tragic events associated with our County's history -- the boldness of the assassination, the secrecy maintained, taken with the causes which brought bout the tragedy, all appeal to human interest.

Stephens was a magistrate and also a State Senator -- and a politician of that _____, developed by the passions and prejudices growing out of the war.

He held a complete mastery over the negroes in the County & they were ready to follow his lead. His speeches to them were said to have been inflammatory & incendiary. I have been told that barns & houses, as many as 3 or 4, could be seen burning from the Poteat House vestibule.

He was not a man of wealth -- and bore the cognomen of chicken thief Stephens, having been indicted, I am told, upon that charge in the courts of Rockingham county.

Friday, November 23, 2018

"The Rock and the Nail"

"The Rock and the Nail"

The following is from the "Herald-Sun" (Durham, North Carolina), 15 July 1995.

A North Carolina folklore expert tells unique stories of Person County, the area that sits on the Virginia border, in his new book.

Person County's oral tradition is unique because the county sits on the Virginia border, says an expert on North Carolina folklore.

James Clark, a humanities professor at N.C. State, is writing a book about the folklore of North Carolina's 100 counties.In Virginia, the law of primogeniture meant the eldest son by law inherited the entire estate from his father. The younger sons - with nothing - went across the state line to find land.

North Carolina, and especially the border counties, became a land of younger sons.

``The important boy stayed up here, the rest had to go to Carolina. It's still conversational in the tier of counties that separate Virginia,' Clark said. ``It's a sense of being caught between two worlds.'

The 19th century's Industrial Revolution - and Person County's perch just on the edge of it - also helped shape the county's character, Clark said.

Some people left Person to work in mills in other towns, and some left to farm elsewhere.

More so than in other counties, Clark said. Person's physical remains of the past fill the countryside.

Old tobacco barns dot Person's landscape, and memories of old farm implements and tobacco-curing techniques are still vivid among the living.

``Traditional methods of farming, tobacco-curing methods - there are still people alive who can explain how daddy did this,' Clark said. ``Person County hasn't been urbanized in the way Wake, Durham and Orange have, but it's always been on the fringe of that.'

At the same time, the coming of textile mills also defines much of the county's folklore.

Residents still see the Person County city of Roxboro as divided into areas defined by the three textile mills that operated there. The mill house architecture of those three distinct areas still characterizes the city.

Clark said each county seems to have its own historian.

In Person County, Louise Winslow, who recently died, was a well-known keeper of the lore. Winslow, known as ``Mama Lou,' and her husband - Jimmy Winslow, known as ``Daddy Jim' - added a rusty nail and a rock to their Labor Day stew before cooking each year.

Grandchildren Mac and Tripp would listen as Mama Lou told the tale of a hungry soldier who showed up at a woman's door and offered to make magic soup with his magic rock.

The woman agreed and decided that adding some of her own ingredients would improve the magic soup, at that point only water and a rock.

After the woman finished the soup, many ingredients had been added, and the soldier had a full meal.

Person County Folklore: The Rock and the Nail. / Publisher: [Raleigh, N.C.] : Humanities Extension/Publications, North Carolina State University, 1994. / Description: 60 p. : ill. ; 28 cm. / Notes: Title from cover. "Dr. Jim Clark led the Person County folklore collecting seminar which Person County Extension Homemakers had organized in Roxboro during the spring of 1994." / Copy in North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Sheriffs of Person County, North Carolina

Bailey, Y. 17981
McKissack, William 1814
Barnett, John A. 1827-1838
Walters, Hardy 1838-1843
Winstead, John M. 1852-18552

Smith, W. H. 1855-1865
Barnett, John C. 1876-1880
Winstead, W. H. 1880-1882
Long, John S. 1882-1884
Mitchell, C. G. 1884-1886

Pulley, W. H. 1886-1890
Williams, S. P. 1890-1892
Carver, J. A. 1892-1896
Sims, J. R. 1896-1902
Thompson, N. S. 1902-1908

Winstead, T. D. 1908-1911
Newton, W. I. 1911-1912
Thompson, N. S. 1912-19203
O'Briant, J. M. 1920-1922
Long, J. M. 1922-1924

Brooks, N. V. 1924-1928
Clayton, Melvin Thomas 1928-1946
Holeman, Clarence C. 1946-1966
Palmer, Clifton Earl 1966- February 1970 [killed in line of duty]
Tingen, Wallace I. February 1970-December 1970

Graves, Garland Lee 1970-1974
Dixon, Ernest 1974-1990
Oakley, Dennis 1990-2008
Jones, Dewey 2008-current

Source (through Dixon, Ernest 1974): "Sheriffs of Person County" in Eaker, Madeline Hall, Editor. The Heritage of Person County 1981. Winston-Salem: Hunter Publishing Company, 1981; p. 63.
1 Note that a Major Yancey Bailey was awarded the contract to build the first Person County courthouse on the six-acre tract of land that would become Roxboro. Is this Major Yancey Bailey the Y. Bailey who may have served as an early Person County sheriff?
2 Date first elected uncertain, but was sheriff in 1852.
3 "In June 1915, the Courier reported that 'Yesterday afternoon Sheriff Thompson got wind of the coming of two automobiles loaded with corn liquor, and about four o'clock he summoned a posse and put out for the chase.'" Source: Boatwright, Phyliss. Person County Past: Tales from the Central Piedmont. Charleston: History Press, 2006, p.42.

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Source: The Courier-Times (Roxboro, North Carolina) 59th Anniversary Edition.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

McGehee's Mill Road 1807

McGehee's Mill Road: 1807

In 1807, the Person County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions instructed a group of men to establish a road that would run by McGehee's Mill. On October 1, 1807, a report was filed on the progress made. In that report are references to the following landmarks:

Mosse's Old Field
Barnet's Ford on Hico
Josiah Wood's Plantation
William Woods's Field
Mumford McGehee's Property
McGehee's Mill
Goodlow Warren's Property
Mrs. Gray's Property

Note: The report spelled McGehee as McGhee. Paragraph breaks added.

October 1st, 1807

"Agreeable to an Order of Court to us directed to view and lay off a road from Mosse's old field by McGee's Mill we have met accordingly and after being legally qualified have proceeded to the same:

"Turning out of the road leading from the Court House to Barnet's ford on Hico at the said Mosses old field from thence along a big path to Josiah Woods plantation striking the plantation near his barns thence through the plantation leaving said Wood's house about forty hands to the left hand through a small peach orchard leaving some graves on the left hand; thence striking a field of William Woods near a small skirt of woods and by a wild cherry tree striking the lane between said William Woods and Mumford McGhee;

"Thence on to McGhee's mill crossing the creek thence up a hollow from the saw mill along the fence striking the big path leading to Goodlow Warren's about one hundred yards above McGhee's house thence on as the path runs to said Warren's leaving said path again at the mouth of the lane thence on the main way to Mrs. Gray's assessing the damage of Josiah Woods ten pounds and William Woods ten pounds, given under our hand and seal the date above."

Zack. Hurt
E. Chambers
Joseph McGehee
Hann. Stanfield
Thos. Chambers
Allen Wade
Edmund Shelton
Goodloe Warren
James Williams
Cary Williams

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Roxboro Fire Department c.1929

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Roxboro Fire Dept (c. 1926)

Left to Right

Front row: Dick Woody (foot on running board), Gene Thomas, Clettis Oakley, Mat Long Jr. (boy), Baxter Mangum, L. D. (Dilley) Walker, and Wallace Woods.

Seated on ladder: Sam Byrd Winstead (with RHS Letter), Mr. Latta, Police Chief Sam Oliver, Unk, Mr. O'Briant (Standing on fender step), Edward Bowles, and Cary Adams.

Seated as driver is Fred Masten, behind him is Dick Baron. In passenger seat with driving cap is Munch Featherstone, next with no hat is Mr Broadhead, then Clyde Crowell (with glasses), Red Day and Johnny Tillman.

This photograph was taken about where the grass is on the north side of Merritt Commons today. The building behind the fire truck was the City Hall, Police and Fire Depts. Across the street is the original Winstead Warehouse that burned in the early 1940s.

Source: Douglas C. Robinson 14 April 2012 Post to Reminiscing in Roxboro Facebook Page.

Henry McGilbert Wagstaff (1876-1945)

Henry McGilbert Wagstaff (1876-1945)

Henry McGilbert Wagstaff, historian and university professor, was born on a farm near Roxboro, the son of Clement McGilbert Wagstaff (1840-1916) and Sarah Elizabeth Paylor Wagstaff (1840-1900). In 1895 he enrolled at the University of North Carolina, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, served on the "Daily Tar Heel" staff, and was awarded a Ph.B. degree (bachelor of philosophy) in 1899. After teaching for two years, he attended Johns Hopkins University for graduate work in history and received his Ph.D. in 1906. In 1907 he began a thirty-eight year career teaching history at the University of North Carolina. He rests at the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery (Chapel Hill, Orange County, North Carolina).

Wagstaff wrote two books about Person County's Concord Community:

Wagstaff, Henry McGilbert. Wiley Buck and Other Stories of the Concord Community.

Wagstaff, Henry McGilbert. The Concord Community: A Retrospective (1941).

A reviewer of Wiley Buck shared the following: "A gifted teller of tales sketches a lively picture of his boyhood in the old tobacco section of Person County, North Carolina, just south of the Virginia line. All the white grown-ups of the boy's childhood were former slaveholders and former soldiers who had come through the Civil War and had met the need for readjustment."

The publications may be available in libraries and possibly online.

The Concord Community in Person County, North Carolina, has no legal definition, but generally is thought to be the area northwest of Roxboro on Highway 57 (Semora Road) around the intersection with Concord Church Road. This is in Cunningham Township.

Photograph: 1899 staff of the "Daily Tar Heel" UNC campus newspaper. Wagstaff is bottom right.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Captain Herndon Haralson (1757-1847)

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Captain Herndon Haralson (1757-1847)

While the Haralson surname may today be extinct in Person County, North Carolina, one with this surname was important to the county's early days:

Captain Herndon Haralson (1757-1847) was born in that part of then Orange County that eventually became Person County. His father had moved the family from Virginia to property on Hyco Creek. Herndon Haralson served as a captain under General Nathaniel Greene in the Revolutionary War.

After the war, with the creation of Person County in 1792, Haralson became the county's Clerk of Court. In 1793 he was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons. Later he served as Superior Court judge. In 1816 Haralson began moving westward, ending in western Tennessee, where he died. He rests at a family cemetery in Brownsville, Haywood County, Tennessee.

For a letter from him to his son see: Haralson Letter

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Hester: More Wisdom than I Possess

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More Wisdom than I Possess: Life at Hester's Store, North Carolina.

A collection of articles edited by Randolph Hester, describes a community typical of scores of rural crossroads around Durham. The articles were written by James Earl Hester: a newspaperman, freelance writer, farmer, and trapper. He detailed everything he did, observing the most common aspects of everyday life. He details the values and rhythms of his era.

His insights sometimes surprised even himself, "As a writer, I sometimes pull a piece of copy from the typewriter and come to realize that what I have written contains more wisdom than I possess." Randy Hester grew up working on his family's tobacco farm in Person County. He retired from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Evironmental Planning at UC-Berkeley in 2010 and now lives in Durham. He runs the Center for Ecological Democracy with his wife Marcia McNally.

Hester, James Earl; Hester, Randolph T., Editor. More Wisdom than I Possess: Life at Hester's Store. Roxboro (North Carolina): Person County Museum of History, 2014.

James Earl Hester was an extremely gifted man and dedicated most of his life to writing.  This book is a magnificent account of his personal experiences growing up in a small community in Person County, NC.

Mail Carriage Proposals 1832

The following request for mail carriage proposals was published 1832 in various newspapers. Note: "c. h." stands for court house, as the Yanceyville name had not been adopted.


For carrying the Mails of the United States for two years, from the first day of January, 1833, to the 31st day of December, 1834, on the following past routes in North Carolina, will be received at this office until the second day of November next, inclusive; to be decided on the 9th day of November.

2192. By Hillsboro' by Picket's Oil [Old] Mill, Ths. Benchairs, Hester's Store, Rich'd. Bullick's and Potter's Bridge to Oxford, 40 miles and back, once a week.

2195. From Leasburg by Hightowers to Caswell c. h., 15 miles and back, once a week.

Leave Leasburg every Wednesday at 6 A. M. arrive at Caswell c. h. same day by 10 A. M.

Leave Caswell c. h. every Wednesday at 11 A. M. arrive at Leasburg same day by 3 P. M.

1. The Post Master General reserves the right to expedite the mails, and to alter the times of their arrival and departure at any time during the continuance of the contract, by giving an adequate compensation, never exceeding a pro rata allowance, for an extra expense which such alteration may require.

2. Seven minutes shall be allowed for opening and closing the mails, at each office, where no particular time shall be specified, but the Post Master General reserves to himself the right of extending the time.

3. For every ten minutes delay in arriving at any point after the time prescribed in any contract, the contractor shall forfeit five dollars. If the delay shall continue beyond the time for the departure of any pending mail, the forfeiture shall be equal to twice the amount allowed for carrying the mail one trip. If it shall be made to appear that the delay was occasioned by unavoidable accidents, of which the Postmaster General shall be the judge, the forfeiture may be reduced to the amount of pay for a trip; but in no case can that amount be remitted. The forfeitures are otherwise unconditional, and will in all cases be enforced.

4. Persons who make proposals will state their prices by the year; payments to be made quarterly; in the months of May, August, November and February, one month after the expiration of each quarter.

5. None but a free white person shall be employed to carry the mail.

6. Proposals should state whether the person proposes to carry the mail in a 4 horse coach, a 2 horse stage, or otherwise.

7. If the person offering proposals wishes the privilege of carrying newspapers out of the mail, he must state it in his bid; otherwise he cannot enjoy that privilege.
. . . .

William t. Barry,
Post Master General
Central P. O. Department
July 24, 1832.

Monday, November 12, 2018

"Lea's Bridge"

"Lea's Bridge"

Drive east today from Leasburg, North Carolina, on U.S. Highway 158 (Leasburg Road) toward Roxboro and you will cross South Hyco Creek just before reaching Lea's Chapel United Methodist Church. A bridge apparently has been on or near that location for centuries.

When the area became Person County in 1792, it fell to the people thereof to maintain the bridge, located on the road to the commercially important town of Leasburg.

In 1806, the Person County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions appointed Nathaniel Norfleet, Moses Bradsher, John McMurry, and Reuben Walton commissioners for the purpose of letting to the lowest bidder the building of a bridge across "South Hico" where the old Lea's bridge stood.

In 1807 these commissioners reported to the court that the contract had been awarded to Edmund Shelton for the sum of £104.10.0, for which he was to construct a new bridge and keep in repair for seven years.

Shelton was to be paid upon completion of the bridge or "so soon as the County funds will admit."

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Given the location of "Lea's Bridge," two of the commissioners appointed by the court most likely are: Moses Bradsher (c.1755-1820); Reuben Walton (c.1777-1860). A daughter of Moses Bradsher, Elizabeth Bradsher (1780-1827), married Reuben Walton.

The bridge probably was called "Lea's Bridge" because it was on or very near property owned by Captain William (South Hico) Lea (c.1715-1804). He was granted land on South Hico in 1755.

The old Lea' Chapel bridge was actually about a quarter mile north of the current bridge in use. That narrow [current] bridge was built in 1933 and replaced the older bridge. The older bridge and [Highway] 158 at that time actually went down what is now McCain Drive and crossed Hyco Creek where the City of Roxboro's coffer damn and water pumps are located. One side is still there but, the other side was taken out when Roxboro built the damn there to back up the creek and pump the water to current City Lake.

Rolling Hills Road is not in the picture It is about a half mile to the right headed back towards Roxboro. South Hyco Creek does not cross Hester' Store Road. It comes from way up in Orange County and crosses Highway 49 and flows into Lake Roxboro. From Lake Roxboro it flows 5 miles down to Highway 158 where the current [1933] bridge and new one being built are.

Source: John Roy Williford 13 November 2018 Post to Reminiscing in Roxboro Facebook Page.

This is great information. Now, knowing what to look for, from the aerial view you can actually see the old road and where it crossed South Hyco at the location in your photos. Looks as if it then looped back south toward Leasburg. Since bridges often were built at the location of old fords, I wonder if there was a ford at the site of the original Lea's bridge, built around 1799.

1798 South Hico Creek Bridge

William Rainey contracted with the commissioners appointed by the Person County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions to "build a bridge on South Hico near Capt. William Lea's House. . . ." As no mention was made of a prior bridge, this may be the first bridge built across South Hico Creek between Lea's Chapel and Leasburg.

This bridge was completed on April 2, 1798.

Hyco or Hico is the shortened form of the Indian word, "hycotee" - which means "turkey buzzard's roost."

Leasburg Road

Leasburg Road

Even after Person County was split from Caswell County in 1792 and the seat of Caswell County government moved from Leasburg to what would become Yanceyville, it appears that Leasburg for some time remained a commercial center for the area surrounding it, including into the newly formed Person County.

In February 1799, the Person County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions was petitioned for a road from Paine's Tavern to the Caswell County line (somewhat inartfully drafted):

"We your petitioners do humbly pray your worships to grant us an order for a road from the county line dividing Caswell and Person beginning at the line between Capt. John McMullin and Phillip Sneed, running the nearest and best way to Paine's Tavern as it is extended through Caswell County to the line, it is the desire of the inhabitants of said county that it may be continued to Paines Tavern or as far as may be convenient for going to market. . . ."

Some of the Petition Signers

Andy Woods
Clayton Jones
James Eubank
George Burch
Thompson McKissack
Thomas Wilkerson
John Malone
Abraham Johnson
Edmund Burch

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Person County: 1792

North Carolina Statutes Adopted in 1791

Laws of North Carolina

At a General Assembly, begun and held at Newbern, on the Fifth Day of December, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-One, and in the Sixteenth Year of the Independence of the said State: Being the First Session of Said Assembly. 1791. Alexander Martin, Esq., Governor.

CHAP. LIII. An Act for Dividing Caswell County.

I. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That from and after the first day of February next, the county of Caswell shall be equally divided by a line already run, beginning on the Virginia line, and running from thence forth to the line of Orange county.

II. And be it further enacted, That all that part of said county lying west of the line aforesaid, including the four western districts, shall continue and remain a distinct county by the name of Caswell; and that all that part lying east of said line including the four eastern districts, shall be erected into another distinct county by the name of Person.

III. And for the due administration of Justice, Be it enacted, That the courts for the county of Caswell shall be constantly held on the fourth Mondays in March, June, September and December, in each and every year; and the courts for the county of Person shall be constantly held on the third Mondays in March, June, September and December, in each and every year; and the court for the county of Caswell, after the first day of February next, shall be held at Joseph Smith's, on the fourth Monday in March next; and the first court for the county of Person shall be held at the house of John Paine, on the third Monday in March next; and the Justices for each of the said counties of Caswell and Person are hereby authorized to adjourn to such places in their respective counties as they shall think most convenient, to hold all subsequent courts, until court houses, prisons and stocks shall be built in each respective county.

IV. And be it further enacted, That the court houses in the said counties shall respectively be as nearly central as possible, regard being had to springs and situation.

V. And be it further enacted, That David Hart, Wyatt Stubblefield, David Shelton, Solomon Parks, John Graves and William Muzzle, be appointed Commissioners for the county of Caswell; and James Jones, Goodly Warrell, Samuel Woods, John Womack and Stephen Moore, be appointed Commissioners for the county of Person; which said Commissioners, or a majority of the, slall in their respective counties fix on the places where the buildings of said county shall be erected.

VI. And be it further enacted, That the Sheriffs and Collectors of the county of Caswell shall have full power and authority to collect, agreeable to law, all such taxes and arrears of taxes, and other dues, that may be due and owning from the inhabitants of said county at the time of dividing the same, in the same manner as if the said county had remained undivided.

VII. And be it further enacted, That the Justices of the county courts of Caswell and Person shall each appoint four freeholders, to serve as jurors at the superior curts for the district of Hillsborough; and the said counties shall compose part of said district.

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Friday, November 09, 2018

Byrd Edward Fuller

World War I Soldier
Private 895-1Byrd Edward Fuller (1918), died serving his country in World War I. No he was not in combat, as few black soldiers were. He was assigned to Company D, 344th Quartermaster Labor Battalion, and provided critical support services to US troops and allies.
In September 1918, young Fuller sailed for France. Where he landed is not known. Nor do we know where he died. We do know that he died October 5, 1918, of pneumonia, and his life and service are memorialized on the tablets at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial just outside Paris, France.
Byrd Edward Fuller was born March 20, 1895, in Caswell County, North Carolina, the son of Mollie Fuller. He was a stout man of medium height, with grey eyes and black hair. When he registered for military service June 5, 1917, Byrd was living in, Guilford County, North Carolina, where he worked at Proximity Cotton Mill (part of Cone Mills that produced denim cloth). On his World War I Registration Card, Byrd listed no physical disability and was shown as single. He apparently never married.
However, he had his mother and many siblings to honor his memory.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Lea's Chapel

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Rose, Ben Lacy and Satterfield, Preston III. Chapel on South Hyco: The story of Lea's Chapel United Methodist Church, Person County, North Carolina: 1750-2000 AD. Richmond: B. L. Rose, 2000.

The Sharecropper's Wife: A Memoir

Daniel, Lucille. The Sharecropper's Wife: A Memoir. Morrisville (North Carolina): Lulu Press, Inc., 2015.

Growing up in rural Person County, North Carolina, during the Great Depression, Lucille Daniel learned how to work at a very early age. Like most sharecroppers, her family moved almost every year, enduring harsh conditions and dishonest landowners.

She attended a one-room school house through the eighth grade, and married a sharecropper at age 19. Being a sharecropper's wife meant uprooting her family every spring and moving to a different tobacco farm. It meant using every ounce of creativity and resourcefulness to turn a shack into a home. It meant using her faith to make something out of nothing.

Through it all, she kept one dream in her heart: her children would get the education that she was denied. They would have a better life than she did. They would not be forced to work someone else's land. And they would leave the tobacco fields forever.



Wilhelmina is a feminine given name, the Dutch and German form of Wilhelm or William, which is derived from the Germanic wil, meaning "will, desire" and helm, meaning "helmet, protection."

The name is not often associated with Caswell County. As of this posting, the Caswell County Family Tree contains 75,138 people, and the name Wilhelmina is found only five times. Except for one person, the name is associated with the Lea family:

1. Wilhelmina Lea (1843-1936)
2. Cara Wilhelmina Lea (1890-1976)
3. Wilhelmina Shirley Lea (1897-1977)
4. Wilhelmina Lea Thomas (1897-1966)
5. Wilhelmina Ethel Rahner (1918-bef.2009)

Only two of these people actually lived in Caswell County:

Wilhelmina Lea (1843-1936), is a daughter of Reverend Solomon Lea (1807-1897) of Leasburg. Reverend Lea's father is William Lea (1776-1873), and this may account for his naming a daughter Wilhelmina. She never married and rests at the Leasburg Community Cemetery.

Wilhelmina Lea Thomas (1897-1966), born in Leasburg, is a great granddaughter of Reverend Solomon Lea and may be named in honor of her grandaunt Wilhelmina Lea. In 1920, Wilhelmina Lea Thomas married Frank Dixon Upchurch (1895-1968). She rests at Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, North Carolina.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

"Penelope's Papers"

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"Penelope's Papers"

Neuman, Sue Moore and Moore, Ruth Walker, Compilers. Penelope's Papers: Letters and Papers of the William and Penelope Moore Family Covering the Years 1803-1874. Glen Mills (Pennsylvania)/Cedar Grove (North Carolina): Neuman and Moore, 2000.

So, who is Penelope?

She is Penelope Cobb (c.1785-1872) who married William Elias (Bill) Moore (c.1777-1847). Here is how Sue Neuman Moore described the find that resulted in the publication:

"In 1975, Bill Moore had reached the point that he had to go into a nursing home. His wife Mandy had died and he was not able to care for himself. His children, in clearing up his possessions, opened a trunk that was known as 'Aunt Penny's' trunk. In this was a small pine box about the size of a business envelope and two inches deep. The box had probably remained unopened for almost one-hundred years. It contained letters and papers that had been saved by Penelope Moore, spanning three-quarters of the nineteenth century. Although there are many descendants of this couple in Person County, NC this is the only source showing all of their children. A history of the family could be written using just these papers. With the addition of marriage, deed, and estate records, an almost complete story can be told."

Neuman, Sue Moore. "William and Penelope Cobb Moore" in Mikat, Eileen M., Ph.D., Chair Book Committee. The Heritage of Person County Volume III 2001. Winston-Salem: Jostens Publishing Company, 2001, pp. 163-164.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Bibliography: Person County, North Carolina

Person County Bibliography

Kendall Books

Kendall, Katharine Kerr and Donaldson, Mary Frances Kerr, Compilers. Person County North Carolina Compilations: Land Grants, 1794, 1805, 1823 Tax Lists, Record Books Abstracts 1792-1820, Letters of Attorney. Raleigh: Kendall and Donaldson, 1978.

Dedication: "Our parents, Mary Johnston Oliver Kerr of Yanceyville, North Carolina, and the late Albert Yancey Kerr proudly traced their lineage to Person County."

Kendall, Katharine Kerr. Person County North Carolina Marriage Records 1792-1868. Raleigh: Kendall, 1983.

Introduction: Person County, North Carolina, was formed from Caswell County by act of the General Assembly in late 1791. The compilation of 3286 marriage records is from bonds, licenses, and minister's returns. The bonds were issued by the County Clerk of Court. Extant original bonds are filed at the North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC. Minister's returns are on film and taken from a marriage register required after 1851. The abstracts herein include all information found on the record except in some cases the name of the Clerk of Court or Deputy Clerk was not included."

Kendall, Katharine Kerr. Person County North Carolina Deed Books 1792-1825. Raleigh: Kendall, 1993.

Introduction: Person County, North Carolina, was formed from the eastern part of Caswell County 1791 [1792]. The first meeting of the County Court was March 1792. Deeds recorded for present Person County from 1777-1791 appear in the Caswell County Deed Books. Abstracts were published in 1989. Prior to 1777, both Person and Caswell were in the northern part of Orange County.

Person County is bounded by Caswell County on the west, Granville County on the east, Durham and Orange Counties on the south, and by the state of Virginia on the north, mainly Halifax Co. Deed Books are at the office of the Register of Deeds, Roxboro, NC, 27573. Books A through G total 2899 pages covering 33 years of land transfers, some grants from State of North Carolina, deeds of slaves and other personal property, powers of attorney, division of land to inheritors, and migration of inhabitants.

John Wesley Jenkins: Methodist Orphanage

The North Carolina Legislature on March 6, 1899, granted a charter to the Methodist Orphanage at Raleigh, N. C. On Thanksgiving Day, November 29, 1900, with proper religious ceremonies the orphanage was officially opened for the reception of children, and on January 7, 1901, the first child was admitted.

Reverend John Wesley Jenkins (1832-1906) who in 1891 married, as his third wife, Caswell County's (or Person County's) Elizabeth (Betty) Bradsher (1839-1901). For years, against great odds, Methodist minister Jenkins fought for the orphanage. And, his third wife, Betty Bradsher, contributed $800 toward the establishment of the orphanage. Note the following from The State magazine 22 March 1947:

"Today the orphanage owns 96 acres in the home tract, a farm of 241 acres, eighteen buildings, with a total valuation of approximately $1,500,000 and is caring for three hundred children. A man had a wonderful vision of a home for orphaned children of the Methodist people, an unfailing faith in the abilit of the [Methodist] conference to build and maintain such a home, and a strong determination to see it done."

Footnote: The author of the article is E. S. Yarbrough, with no further identification. While not confirmed, this could be Edwin Seach Yarbrough (1881-1964) or his son Edwin Seach Yarbrough, Jr. (1907-1976). The Betty Bradsher Jenkins discussed above is the aunt of the elder Yarbough and the grandaunt of the younger Yarbrough.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Wilson Carey: Archives of Gravity

Note name is Wilson Carey, not Wilkes Carey. The State Magazine, 7 January 1939. Click article to see a larger image. For more on Wilson Carey go to: Wilson Carey

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Convict Labor: Milton and Sutherlin Narrow Gauge Railroad 1877

North Carolina Sessions Laws 1876-1877: Milton and Sutherlin Narrow Gauge Railroad


Section 1. The General Assembly of North Carolina do enact, That the penitentiary board are authorized and directed to farm out to the president and directors of the Milton and Sutherlin Narrow Gauge Railroad Company forty (40) able-bodied convicts to work on the construction of said railroad, and the bridge over Dan river, and the said penitentiary board shall require a bond, with good security, that the said railroad company will feed, clothe and guard said convicts, and provide them with medicine and medical attendance and comfortable quarters, free from any expense to the state, and return said convicts on or before the fifteenth day of December, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven.

But the said convicts shall be at all times under the control of the sheriff of Caswell county, as to their government and discipline under the rules and regulations established for the government of convicts: Provided That said convicts shall in no case be worked beyond the limits of the state: Provided, That there shall be an estimate made of the nett value of the labor done by said convicts on the road of the said company, to be fixed on a just and equitable basis by the president of said company, and a person appointed by the Governor on the part of the state, and the nett value of said labor shall be a first lien on all the property and franchises of the said company.

Sec 2. That this act shall be of no effect unless at least 500 convicts are left to work on the Western North Carolina railroad.

Sec. 3. This act shall be in force from and after its ratification.

Ratified the 27th day of February, A. D. 1877.

Celester Badgett (1933-2018)

Celes Badgett Sellars Passes at 85

By Luke Burris, Messenger Writer
The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 10 October 2018

Internationally acclaimed singer Celester "Celes" Badgett Sellars of Caswell County passed under the care of her son Stanley in Alexandria, Va., on Monday, Oct. 1 at the age of 85, but in her family, the music must go on and her youngest sister Connie Badgett Steadman is set to release an album by the end of the year. The women, with a third sister, Cleo Badgett Graves, were best known as the African American gospel trio the Badgett Sisters, who performed from 1978 to 1991 when Graves passed. The sisters had sang all their lives and were apart of a musical family of four brothers and four sisters, orchestrated by their prodigy father Cortelyou Odell Badgett Sr., who started each of the siblings singing a cappella at the age of 5.

"In the tradition of the Baptist church back then, when a child reached the age of 12, if they weren’t members of the church, they couldn’t participate in church activities," said Steadman. “The group was my dad, Cleo, an older brother Rick, and an older sister Ella. When Ella turned 16, she no longer wanted to be apart of the group and I was five and had been around them all the while and knew the songs so dad put me in to sing. When my brother turned 12, since my father didn’t want to do wrong with the church and Rick wasn't a part of the church, that was when my sister Celes started singing with us. That's how it was with our father. So from that point on, it was my dad and the three of us."

The father could play any instrument, said Steadman, and he had a range of voices so distinct and pure that those that listened to his recordings refused to believe it was just one man singing. In Steadman's upcoming album, she plans to sing the parts of her sisters in overlay to pay homage to her father. "This album is something meant for me to do," she said. "My mom was the storyteller in the family and my dad was the singer. As time went on, we always incorporated both a story and a song into our performances. Celester was the storyteller, but since her passing, I've incorporated the whole thing. I'll continue the tradition on my own with the same storytelling format," she said.

Henderson's Store in Yanceyville, North Carolina

"Vermont Yankee Ruse"

Closing a deal requires salesmanship. When James A. Henderson, for many years a successful merchant in Yanceyville, decided to pull stakes and go into the tobacco business in Danville, he was anxious to sell his store and stock of goods to his splendid young clerks, Tom Florance and Walter Harrelson. Those boys, who afterwards attained success, hesitated and dillydallied, fearful of making the plunge. "Uncle Jimmie," to me, via the marriage altar, went over to Danville and made plans to expedite the sale. The next day, a Jew, in frock coat and beaver hat, appeared in Yanceyville, seated in a fine carriage, drawn by two handsome horses and chauffeured by a liveried Negro.

The entourage stopped in front of Henderson's store. The Jew alighted with great dignity and rare display of rich apparel. He entered the store, looked around and began to ask questions about the stock. Tom Florance and Walter Harrelson grew wild-eyed, called a caucus, went into a huddle and fifteen minutes later had bought the store, lock, stock and barrel.

The ruse worked and all hands profited. I have understood "Uncle Jimmie" paid the Jew $25, which included carriage hire. There was probably nothing of dishonorableness in the transaction, just sort of a "Vermont Yankee" ruse.

Source: Henderson, Tom. "Vermont Yankee Ruse," Plain Tales from the Country. Yanceyville, North Carolina, 1943; p. 14.

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Caswell County Elections: 1808

Caswell County Elections

The earliest noted legal machinery for conducting elections in Caswell County is found in the North Carolina Sessions Laws of 1808 in a chapter titled: "An Act to establish four separate Elections in the County of Caswell." Commissioners were appointed for each of the four districts into which the county was divided, and they were charged with locating a suitable place to hold elections. The commissioners were:

Gloucester District: Robert Parks, William Mizall, William Lea, John Hightower, and Thomas Turner

St. David's District: Robert Blackwell, Joseph Scott, Malan Stacey, Lewis Sheperd, and Jethro Brown

Caswell District: Dudley Gatewood, Gregory Durham, Josiah Womack, John Cobb, and John Green

Richmond District: Josiah Lamuel, John Burton, Thomas Harrison, Captain John Lea, and John Johnston

Source: Powell, William S. A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977. Durham: Moore Publishing Company, 1977, p. 154.

United States Congressmen Born in Caswell County

Name those born in Caswell County, North Carolina who served in the United States House of Representatives.

Bartlett Yancey, Jr. (1785-1828) served 1813-1817
Romulus Mitchell Saunders (1791-1867) served 1821-1827
John Hosea Kerr (1873-1958) served 1923-1953

Robert Williams. While not born in Caswell County, as such did not exist at the time, mention should be made of Robert Williams (1766-1836) who apparently was born in that part of Orange County, North Carolina, that became Caswell County. Robert Williams served in the United States House of Representatives 1797-1803. He later was appointed Territorial Governor of the Mississippi Territory by President Thomas Jefferson.

Marmaduke Williams. Similarly, Marmaduke Williams (1772-1850), brother of the Robert Williams discussed above, appears to have been born in that part of Orange County that eventually formed Caswell County. He served 1803-1809 in the United States House of Representatives. He moved to Alabama and became a judge.

John Kerr, Jr. And, some Caswellians claim John Kerr, Jr., (1811-1879) as a Congressman. However, while he did indeed live in Yanceyville and represent Caswell County 1853-1855, he was born in Halifax County, Virginia. I rests at the First Baptist Church in Yanceyville.

Primitive Baptist Association Caswell County Meeting 1911

Primitive Baptist Association

The Upper Country Line Primitive Baptist Association was held with the church at Lynch's Creek, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. From several points of view this was one of the best associations held in recent years. Lynch's Creek church is in one of the finest sections of Caswell county. The people are amply able to take care of an association and they manifested to the greatest extent their willingness to do so. The church authorities and their neighbor friends were diligent in their determination that no person should be without a home and the hospitality of these good old Caswell homes poured out in abundance. In short, the people were cared for, and cared for well.

The general behavior on the grounds was better than usual. Of course there was some misconduct on the outskirts where those who went for base pleasure stayed; but near the preaching stand the order was better than in recent years. This was due largely to the fact that the stand was far removed from the throng.

Elder Lemuel H. Hardy
The preaching itself was of a very high order, there being present several of the ablest preachers of the denomination. The introductory sermon was preached by the Moderator of the Association, Elder L. H. Hardy. The sermon was worth to be beginning of the several excellent sermons that followed. Having mentioned Elder Hardy, we want to add that he is one of the best executive and presiding officers that the Association has ever had. The excellent order, the care for the people, and the general success of the occasion was largely due to his splendid management.

The Association closed Monday at 12 o'clock and the people who had stayed to the end began to move toward their homes, carrying with them an admiration for the fine country that they had visited and full appreciation of the kindness of the people.

The crowd was estimated at between five and seven thousand, Sunday as usual being the chief day.

The Association will meet next year at Lickfork.

Webster's Weekly (Reidsville, Rockingham County, North Carolina), 22 August 1911, Tuesday, Page 1.

Group Photograph

Broad Creek Church at Laurel, DE - about 1910

(Back) Elders J M Fenton, W S Alexander, C W Vaughn, J W McConnell, J T Picsrowe, H C Ker;

(Sitting) Elders J G Eubanks, A B Francis, Silas Durand, L H Hardy, B F Coulter;

(Front) Elder John Shaw

Caswell County, North Carolina
Deed Book N, Page 108

James Murray to Congregation of Baptist order and faith at Linches Creek Meeting House formerly Stone's Meeting House and to John Landers of the Congregation, a spring as long as it continues a place of worship with penalty of $100. 17 August 1802. Witnesses: Larken Herndon, Alexander McMinnemy.

Source: Caswell County North Carolina Deed Books 1777-1817, Katharine Kerr Kendall (1989) at 244.

Lynch's Creek Primitive Baptist Church, sometimes called Hyco Primitive Baptist Church, located on the Corbett Ridge road about twelve miles southeast of Yanceyville, was organized in 1799 according to its original minutes. This church is now extinct. Source: When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977, William S. Powell (1977) at 457.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Escape From Johnson's Island: John Reynolds Winston

Escape From Johnson's Island

By Mrs. Sallie Winston Morton, Ardmore, Oklahoma

In the November Veteran there was an article on "Famous War Prisons and Escapes," but there was no mention of the escape of prisoners from Johnson's Island, in Lake Erie, near Sandusky, Ohio, which was one of the most noted of such escape adventures.

I have in my possession a small book with the title, "An Escape from Johnson’s Island," which was written by my father, the late Col. John R. Winston, of the 45th North Carolina Regiment, who was a descendant of some of the builders of the nation, namely, Sir Edward Spottswood, first governor of Virginia, and Patrick Henry, of Revolutionary War fame.

Colonel Winston was captured at the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, and sent to Fort Johnson, where two thousand officers and three hundred privates were confined. This prison was inclosed by a wall fifteen feet high, and contained thirteen frame buildings, of which some were ceiled, but most were only weather boarded.

Many ineffectual attempts were made to escape from this cold, gloomy prison, which was repulsive to the sons of the fair Southland. The one successful effort was made January 1, 1864, by Colonel Winston, of North Carolina, Captain Davis and Captain Robinson, of Virginia.

This was accomplished by digging a tunnel with pocket knives from the prison cell through the "dead line" to the outer wall, which was scaled by means of a ladder made of bench legs joined with clothes lines. Here they were successful in evading both the upper and the lower line of sentinels.

With the thermometer at 30 degrees below zero, and the lake covered with ice, they crossed to Ottawa County, Ohio, a distance of one mile. With little more than $2 to defray the expenses of three men, they set forth on the perilous journey of three thousand miles, of which the most hazardous events was the crossing of the Detroit River. This necessitated a crawl of two miles over ice which was broken into large blocks, and air holes that could not be discerned because of the darkness and the newly fallen snow. After traveling one hundred and five miles in four days and nights, having eaten only two meals and three very light lunches, and slept but twelve of the ninety-six hours, they reached the Canadian border, where they were extended a hearty welcome. On their departure, the Canadians presented them with a purse containing $1,350 in gold. After a voyage down the St. Lawrence River and on the Atlantic ocean, they finally ran the blockade into Wilmington, N. C.

When these brave officers arrived at their homes, through loyalty to their cause they again offered their services at the battle front, where they received a warm welcome and congratulations from their comrades in arms.

Source: "Confederate Veteran," Vol. XXXII (January 1924)

His maternal grandmother is Prudence Morehead (1792-1860), grandaunt of the John Motley Morehead for whom is named the Morehead Planetarium, the Morehead Scholarship, etc. Needless to say, John Motley Morehead was a UNC graduate.

Mary Parke Blair Hodges (1888-1988)

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75 Years of Teaching

"This century was just six years old when young Miss Parke Blair first came to Caswell County to begin her career as a teacher. Little did she realize that she was about to begin a chain of educators that would continue to teach Caswell students for the next 75 years and beyond.

Born  in Chatham, Virginia, in 1888, Parke Blair was educated in her young years like many other children at that time, with a private governess. Formal schooling didn't come til later, when she attended Chatham Episcopal Institute (now Chatham Hall) in 1905. A year later, classes at Roanoke Academy (now Averett College) rounded out her education, and she was ready for the teaching world.

The year 1907 found the Bill Neal family of Providence living in a house near Walter's Mill, and it was to this home that Parke Blair came for her first taste of teaching, as a private tutor. Boarding with the Neals, Blair taught the Neal children and some others from the community in the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.