Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Caswell County Historical Association: Presidents

CCHA History: Presidents

On March 28, 1956, twenty-four interested people met in the Agriculture Building in Yanceyville to discuss organizing a historical association for Caswell County. Were you alive then?

The stated purpose of the organization would be to “do all in its power to collect and preserve the available historical material connected with the history of Caswell County.”

Miss Anne Yancey (Annie) Gwynn was named chairperson of the group. At the next meeting she was elected president, with:

James Yancey Blackwell vice president

Mrs. John Yancey Gatewood second vice president (Maud Gatewood’s mother),

Ben Miles third vice president

Mrs. Alice W. Smith secretary and

James Ezekiel (Zeke) Anderson treasurer (Sallie Anderson’s husband).

There is much more on the CCHA’s history, but in this post we wanted to share a list of CCHA Presidents:

1. Anne Yancey (Annie) Gwynn (1891-1985)
2. Carolyn McLin Moore Upchurch Thomas (1915-2006)
3. Mary Yarbrough McAden Satterfield (1911-2003)
4. James Ezekiel Anderson (1914-2005) (elected but could not serve)
5. Mrs. Arthur Smith (not further identified)

6. Stephen Edward (Steve) Walker (1923-2004)
7. John Burch Blaylock (1909-1995)
8. Mary Skipwith Brown (1905-1995)
9. Mary Yarbrough McAden Satterfield (1911-2003) (served six months)
10. Sallie Banks Newman (1893-1993)

11. Millard Quentin Plumblee (1906-1987)
12. Florence Anne Taylor Daniel
13. James L. Ray, Jr. (not further identified; but apparently President on May 12, 1999)
14. Elizabeth Pierce Parker McPherson (1920-2019)
15. Karen Duzan Oestreicher

16. Sallie Gibson Smith
17. James C. (Jim) Hilton, Jr.
18. Jeff Nidle

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Caswell County, North Carolina: Top "50" List

Top "50"

Below, as determined by input to the Caswell County Historical Association, are the top fifty events relating to Caswell County, North Carolina. The order is approximately chronological:

1. Caswell County founded 1777
2. Leasburg established as first county seat

3. Milton established 1796

4. President George Washington slept at the Dudley Gatewood house 1791

5. Person County carved from Caswell County 1792
6. County seat moved to Caswell Courthouse (became Yanceyville)

Thursday, December 26, 2019

2020 Membership Drive: Caswell County Historical Association

On January 1, 2020, the Caswell County Historical Association (CCHA) will launch a drive to retain existing members and to attract new members.

Why stay or join?

CCHA Membership Benefits Include:

Newsletter published quarterly (four issues/year)
Free Museum admission
10% off price of items sold at Museum
One hour free research
$15 (instead of $25) for additional fixed-fee research
10% off additional hourly-rate research
Access to the Members-Only Area of the CCHA website

Not enough? Just consider the effort that goes into the following:

CCHA Website

Caswell County Genealogy

Caswell County Photograph Collection

CCHA Weblog

CCHA on Facebook

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865

North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster, Volume 20: Generals, Staff, and Militia. Edited by Matthew M. Brown and Michael W. Coffey. (Raleigh: N.C. Office of Archives and History, 2017. Preface, introduction, essays, rosters, illustrations, notes, index. 526 pages ($50.00).

Now in its fifty-first year and twentieth volume, "North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster" continues to chronicle the service of North Carolinians in the American Civil War. This half-century-long project has so far documented all of the Confederate artillery, cavalry, and infantry units raised by the Old North State during the years of conflict, including the Cherokee warriors of Thomas's Legion and the Junior and Senior Reserves. This current volume turns attention to some well-known and some little-known players in the struggle.

The first few pages of Volume 20 detail the service of the thirty-six Confederate generals from North Carolina, many of whom are well known. No fewer than eleven have had at least one biography written, and others are recounted in histories of the units they commanded or studies of battles or campaigns in which they participated.

The much larger, and more important, sections of this volume showcase army staff officers, unassigned enlistees, and a portion of the North Carolina Militia. Staff officers are men who worked behind the scenes to ensure that the army ran as smoothly, efficiently, and effectively as possible. Their work may go unrecognized, but it is the backbone of any military organization. The areas in which these officers served include commissary staff, chaplains, engineers, medical staff, ordnance, provost, quartermaster, signal corps, and more. In the higher echelon, staff officers served the field generals directly as adjutant general staff or aides-de-camp. All these positions were extremely important, if often overlooked. The introductory section detailing how military staff functioned efficiently outlines for readers how a min-nineteenth-century army was organized.

Unassigned enlistees comprise a very small but interesting segment of this volume. These men enlisted for service but were never assigned to a unit. Reasons vary, but include men being physically unfit for combat, others captured in their camp of instruction before being assigned, and yet others captured in hospitals while convalescing from illness or injury. The list, though small, is significant for researchers and genealogists.

The bulk of this volume deals with the generals and staff, as well as Regiments 1-61 of the North Carolina Militia. The volume's most valuable contribution by far is the 137-page history of the North Carolina Militia. This part of North Carolina's Civil War story can be extremely confusing, especially for researchers with little background in the structure of North Carolina's military forces during the war. Coeditor Michael W. Coffey is to be commended for writing a history of the North Carolina Militia that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. This section of the volume could stand alone as in individual history and should serve to help untangle the intricate web of militia, volunteers, and state units that existed early in the war.

Researchers, genealogists, and series enthusiasts will find much to like about this latest volume of the "North Carolina Troops" series. But this important work is not yet complete. Still to come are volumes on the remainder of the North Carolina Militia, Navy and Marine personnel, North Carolina Union Volunteers, and United States Colored Troops. Once finished, the series will truly represent all North Carolinians who served in any capacity during our nation's darkest hour. If this volume is any indication, the series is in good hands with coeditors Brown and Coffey.

Source: Book Review by Andrew Suppstadt (N. C. Division of State Historic Sites) in The North Carolina Historical Review, Volume XCV, Number 3, July 2018.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Johnny Gunn's "Hut" in Yanceyville, North Carolina

Johnny Gunn's Hut

The parents of teenagers in Yanceyville decided that having children driving on Old 86 to Danville could be dangerous and organized the group of their children into what became known as the Hut Hoppers. Dorothy Zimmerman came to instruct us in waltz and foxtrot. We gathered Saturday nights and danced the the night away. Johnny Green [Johnny Gunn, Jr.] was a "dancing fool" and a "smooth operator." It was a joyous time in my memory.

Source: Nancy Page Dunn 10 December 2019 Post to the Caswell County Historical Association Facebook Page.

The "Hut" also was used by the local Boy Scout Troop #18.

Photograph Date: Late 1950s. Left-to-right: Wayne Moore; Jim Upchurch; Jim Rice; Danny Carlton; and Gordon Satterfield. Obscured scout in rear has not been identified.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Ancestry.com Caswell County Birth Database Corrupt

Ancestry.com Caswell County Birth Database Corrupt

The Ancestry.com North Carolina Birth Index, 1800-2000 database has a serious coding problem that Ancestry.com refuses to address. I brought this to their attention several years ago and continue to inform them of the need to correct the corrupt database, all without success. Thus, until this is resolved, be wary of any search of this database that shows Catawba County as the county of birth. The person may really have been born in Caswell County. Look at the actual record and check the township. If you see the following abbreviations, the birth county is Caswell: P (Pelham); DR (Dan River); M (Milton); LH (Locust Hill); Y (Yanceyville); L (Leasburg); SC (Stoney Creek); A (Anderson); and HT (Hightowers).

The Caswell County coverage in the North Carolina Birth Index is divided into three sections:

Roll Number: NCVR_B_CO20_66001

Roll Number: NCVR_B_CO20_66002

Roll Number: NCVR_B_CO20_68001

The Catawba County coverage in the North Carolina Birth Index is divided into four sections:

Roll Number: NCVR_B_CO21_66001

Roll Number: NCVR_B_CO21_66002

Roll Number: NCVR_B_CO21_68003

Various [Delayed Birth Records]
Roll Number: NCVR_B_CO21_68001

The problem for those researching Caswell County (CO 20) apparently is in the 1913-1956 period. When you go to Roll Number NCVR_B_CO20_66001 (see above under Caswell County) you are taken to the Catawba County births index.

The problem for those researching Catawba County (CO 21) apparently is in the 1960-1979 period. When you go to Roll Number NCVR_B_CO21_68003 (see above under Catawba County) you are taken to the Caswell County births index.

Some records obviously have been incorrectly indexed either by Ancestry.com or by the North Carolina State Archives.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Milton Female Academy 1819

Milton Female Academy, 1819.

The building for the Female Academy in this place, being nearly completed, the Trustees take this method to inform the public, that it will go into operation on the 2d Monday in January next under the special direction and superintendence of the Rev. Abner W. Clopton.

In employing Mr. Clopton to superintend the Academy, they have not only consulted their own feelings in regard to a public ministry, but they have had also particular regard to public sentiment in relation to the institution. Most parents choose to place their daughters at institutions where they may enjoy the advantages of religious instruction. And while the Trustees have acted with deference to this disposition, they have taken the necessary steps to secure the most efficient means of combining, with religious privileges, the best opportunities of the literary and ornamental branches of education. For this purpose they expect to have two of the best tutoresses that can be procured from Philadelphia or New York.

The prices of Board and Tuition will be regulated by those of the Oxford Female Academy, and will be required in advance. The first session will end on the second Monday in June.

By order, R. M. Sanders [Saunders], Sec'y.

Having been employed by the Trustees to superintend the Female Academy, in Milton, I submit the following remarks to the consideration of such as may be unacquainted with the prospects of this institution. While literary institutions are constantly multiplying, it must be a subject of pleasing reflection to pious parents, if not to others, that religious instruction forms a prominent feature in some of these institutions.

It is a fact too notorious to be doubted, and too serious not to be lamented, that many parents have awfully neglected the pious instruction of their children. The superintendent of the Salem Academy having been consulted on the subject gave it as his decided opinion, that a minister of the Gospel should take charge of our institution. And the Trustees, wishing to give to their system of education every advantage that the public might require, determined to follow his counsel.

We cannot, at present, name our Tutoresses. But it may be confidently understood, that none but such as are in all respects qualified, will be employed. The Trustees would not have delayed the procurement of them until this time, if they had not been disappointed in their expectations of obtaining some from Elizabeth Town. There will be public worship, in the Academy, regularly twice on every Lord's day — in the forenoon and at night; and the pupils will have religious exercises appointed them invariably, on the afternoon of the same day.

Parents may be well assured also, that their daughters, while here, will be as effectually debarred from all scenes of profane merriment, and revelling, as are the pupils of the Salem School. Milton, N. C, December 2, 1819, A. W. Clopton.

In addition to the above, the Trustees have the pleasure to announce to the public, that two young Ladies, by the name of Thomas, of the city of New York, having offered their services, will be employed as Tutoresses in our Academy. These ladies, being members of the Episcopal Church, whose pastor is the Rev. Mr. Lyle, will come recommended by him; and by the Rev. Dr. Spring, pastor of the Presbyterian Church; and by the Rev. Mr. Williams, pastor of the 2d Baptist church, in the city of New York.

Raleigh Register, December 31, 1819
(Source: North Carolina Schools and Academies, 1790-1840, By Charles L. Coon 1914)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Wake Forest College Board of Trustees 1852

Click to See Larger Image

Wake Forest College Catalog 1852, showing the Board of Trustees.

Trustees with Caswell County connections:

John Purify/Purefoy
Nathaniel J. Palmer
John Kerr
Rev. J. J. James
Calvin Graves

James S. Purify/Purefoy
Sidney S. Lea
Elias Dodson

And, possibly others.

Rev. Dr. George Washington Purefoy was a prominent Baptist Minister. He was involved in survival of The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill following the Civil War. He assisted in bringing the University back to life after two years of being closed. Purefoy Road is along the southern campus of UNC-CH. The Purefoy/Merritt Mill was in this location. The mill is gone, but some of the foundation stones are at the NC Botantical Gardens in Chapel Hill. His father was John Purefoy, one of the men responsible for the founding of Wake Forest University. George's brother, James Simpson, was also a trustee for Wake Forest University. As a leader of the Baptist movement he was the writer of "A History of the Little Sandy Parish," an account of the early beginnings of the Free Will Baptist movement in North Carolina. He was awarded an honorary Doctorate in 1870 by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In 1844, the Biblical Recorder wrote:

"The arm or branch of the Baptist Church of Yanceyville, located in Milton, N.C. was constituted into a separate and independent church on the Saturday before the fifth Sunday in the last month (June 1844) by the Presbytery of the Beulah Association. Elder S. Pleasant acted as Moderator. The examination was conducted by Elder G. W. Purefoy assisted by other members of the Presbytery. The right hand of fellowship was given by the Moderator and the charge to members by Elder J. Bradley of Virginia, late president of Newton College. Concluding prayer by Elder E. Dodson."

Source: Milton Baptist Church (Caswell County, North Carolina).

First Baptist Church of Yanceyville: The House Beside

Original Baptist Church
House Beside the Church

At some point Nathaniel Lea Lindsey, Jr., and his sister Mary Lindsey Cooke lived in an old wood-frame house near the First Baptist Church of Yanceyville (just west of the west church driveway entrance/exit). The house no longer stands, and the property eventually was sold to the church.

Here is correspondence that appeared on the Caswell County Historical Association Facebook Page 25/26 November 2019:

Brenda Hooper: “Uncle” Nat Lindsey (sp?) and his sister, Mrs. Cook, lived there. They lived behind the house I grew up in. I loved going over there and feeding the chickens. On Saturdays the ice truck would come and deliver a block of ice for their ice box.

Rick Frederick: This is great! Thanks for sharing. The Uncle Nat Lindsey most likely is Nathaniel Lea Lindsey, Jr. (1888-1958) who apparently never married. Oddly, he is buried at the Yanceyville Presbyterian Church.

His sister, Mrs. Cook, probably is Mary Lindsey (1891-1974). In 1918, she married William E. Cooke (1872-1938). Thus, she outlived her husband by many years, which helps explain why she was living with her brother in the house near the First Baptist Church.

Nathaniel Lindsey, Jr., and Mary Lindsey are children of Nathaniel Lea Lindsey (1851-1898) and Mary Davidson Smith (1853-1925). This explains how my grandmother Pearl Virginia Smith (1895-1969) was familiar with the old house. Mary Davidson Smith is her aunt. And, Nathaniel Lea Lindsey is her first cousin once removed. This made the occupants of the old house her first cousins.

That my grandmother referred to the house as a "Graves house" may be explained by the fact that both Nathaniel Lea Lindsey and Mary Davidson Smith descended from the Jeremiah Graves (1786-1868) who built "Dongola" in Yanceyville. Yes, Nathaniel Lea Lindsey and wife Mary Davidson Smith are first cousins. It is possible that Jeremiah Graves or one of his children built the house back in the day.

This probably is more than you wanted to know. However, your input has helped me understand better this part of my family. Best regards, Rick

The man on the porch was called Uncle Lindsey by the children in the neighborhood. We played in his yard and ate cherries off their tree until his sister ran us off. He was our friend and he liked watching us play. The tree and well was the neighborhood meeting place and a great place to play marbles and park our bikes. I am sure Brent Neal remembers, he was part of the gang. Great memories. Source: Lee McMullen Shelton Email Post 18 March 2021

Monday, November 25, 2019

North Carolina Baptist State Convention: 1848

North Carolina Baptist State Convention: 1848

This body assembled at Rockford, Surry County, N.C., on Thursday the 12th instant [October 12, 1848], and adjourned on the Monday following. The Hon. Alfred Dockery of Richmond County, was re-elected President; Rev. D. S. Williams, Hon. Calvin Graves and Dr. G. C. Moore, Vice Presidents; N. J. Palmer, of Milton, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary.

A numerous delegation were in attendance from different parts of the State, and much harmony and good feeling characterized its deliberations. The next session is to be held in Oxford, N. C., commencing on Thursday before the third Sabbath in October, 1849.

Among other measures adopted, was a resolution recommending the establishment of a Male and Female Classical Institute in the town of Rockford, which was followed by a meeting of the citizens and friends of the object, and the appointment of a Board of Trustees, composed of the most respectable citizens in that section of the State. Much interest was manifested in the enterprise.

A resolution was adopted requesting the members representing the county of Surry in the ensuing Legislature to procure a charter for the Institution. A general meeting of the Board is to be held in Rockford on the 17th of November, to adopt measures to carry the School into operation, by employment of competent instructors, &c.

Rev. William Jones was appointed General Agent of the Convention.

The following appointments for the ensuing year, made by the Board of the Convention, were approved.

Rev. Elias Dodson, Missionary for the Beulah Association. Rev. Richard Jacks, for the Liberty Association. Rev. Samuel P. Smith for the Briar Creek Association, Rev. John Robertson to the counties of Rockingham, Guilford, Stokes and Surry. Rev. N. A. Purify to the towns of Salisbury, Mocksville, Lexington, and Statesville. Rev. J. J. James, Greensborough station.

Other appointments will probably be made at the meeting of the Board to be held in Milton, N.C., on Friday the 24th of November next.

Carolina Watchman (Salisbury, North Carolina), 26 October 1848, Thursday, Page 2.

Source: Carolina Watchman (Salisbury, North Carolina), 26 October 1848, Thursday, Page 2.

Those Mentioned with Caswell County Connections

Calvin Graves
N. J. Palmer
Elias Dodson
J. J. James

Saturday, November 23, 2019

North Road Bicycle Imports (Yanceyville, Caswell County, NC)

North Road Bicycle Imports

Gilbert Anderson's Bicycle Shop on the Square (Yanceyville, Caswell County, NC): A. H. Motz Building

Friday, November 22, 2019

Highway 48 (Became US Highway 158)

Highway No. 48 became US Highway 158.

The Bee (Danville, Virginia) · 29 Nov 1932, Tue · Page 10

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Upchurch Building Stores (Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina)

Click to See Larger Image

Upchurch Building Stores

In the background of this 1939 photograph is the Upchurch Building (just to the right of the tall Yanceyville Drug sign).

Not discernible in this low-resolution photograph is the window of the store that operated on the first floor of this building. The script is: "F. T. Whitfield." This is Franklin Thomas Whitfield (1894-1950). When F. T. Whitfield opened the store is not known. In the early 1940s he sold the business to Clyde Banks Rogers (1900-1980), discussed below.

However, there was an earlier store operating on the first floor of the Upchurch Building (east side of the Square in Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina). This was Dodson & Hunter.

This check, dated 12 December 1931, was signed by Norman S. Upchurch, son of the owner of the Upchurch Building, Ernest Frederick Upchurch (1877-1960). Ernest Frederick Upchurch, a lawyer by trade, moved to Yanceyville in 1906. Note: in today's dollars the check amount was $390 (quite a large sum in 1931). The purpose of the payment is not known. Also not known is when Ernest Frederick Upchurch built the Upchurch Building.

Little is known about the Dodson & Hunter business. The Dodson is Peter Tice Dodson (1856-1936). The Hunter is Thomas Parks Hunter (1894-1943).

When Dodson & Hunter sold the business is not known. However, as shown above, in 1939 the proprietor was W. T. Whitfield. And, this advertisement is from 1941. Thus, it was in or after 1941 that W. T. Whitfield sold to Clyde Banks Rogers.

Click Photo to See a Larger Image
In this photograph, Clyde Banks Rogers and son are standing in front of his Yanceyville store: C. B. Rogers Genl. Mdse. (C. B. Rogers General Merchandise).

Click Photo to See a Larger Image
(Left to Right): Clyde Banks Rogers, Franklin Thomas Whitfield (1894-1950), owner of a general store in Bushy Fork, Person County, N.C., his wife, Martha Susan Long Whitfield (1893-1974), and store clerk James Edward (Ed) Mise (1886-1946). Clyde Banks Rogers is related to the wife of Franklin Thomas Whitfield. She may have taken the photograph.

Clyde Banks Rogers (1900-1980) sold the store in 1973, retiring with his wife, Myrtle May Blalock Rogers (1906-1993), to Greensboro. The couple had four children: Curtis W. Rogers, Edith Ann Rogers, Carl Banks Rogers, and Richard Russell Rogers.

Photograph courtesy The Caswell Messenger and Curtis W. Rogers.

William Motley Parsons
To whom Clyde Banks Rogers sold his store in 1973 is not known. However, it appears that as of 1985 the owner of the store was William Motley Parsons (1945-2004). While this has not been confirmed with respect to any primary documents, it appears to be a reasonable assumption.

Store Chronology

Upchurch Building Constructed (probably 1920s)

1. Dodson & Hunter
2. F. T. Whitfield
3. C. B. Rogers
4. W. M. Parsons
5. Phillip Mabry Pawn Shop

United States Address Index
Name: Phillip Mabry
Residence Years: 2000-2002
Address: 168 Court Sq
Residence Place: Yanceyville, North Carolina, USA
Zip Code: 27379
Phone Number: 336-694-1291

Monday, November 18, 2019

Bartlett Yancey Elementary School: Mary Jane Jones Class 1948

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Bartlett Yancey Elementary School
Yanceyville, North Carolina
Miss Mary Jane Jones Class
May 1948

Left-to-Right (from bottom)

First Row
William Wallace Fitch
John Bradner
Norcott Pemberton
Frank Williams
Priscilla Barts
Joyce Jordan
Frances Mae Slade
Sandra Aldridge
Nina Lea McNary
James (Jimmy) Dailey

Second Row
Bill___ _____
Betty Guthrie
Bobby Day
Marshall Williams
Billy Smith
John Paschal
Nancy Gunn
Mary Ann Fuller
Jerry Cook
Nancy Page

Third Row
Ann Fuquay
Kenneth Rowland
Tommy Hodges
Carl Rogers
James Smith
Miss Mary Jane Jones
Faye Watkins
Edwin Thompson
Thomas Ford
Nancy Whitlow

Photograph courtesy Carl Paschal

Pearson Chapel AME Church (Yanceyville, Caswell County, NC)

The Pearson Chapel AME Church is on Highway 62S in Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina.

A quick look at the Pearson Chapel AME Church cemetery entries on Find A Grave showed the earliest grave marker dated 1913. Of course this may not be a complete survey, and markers with an earlier date may exist.

What is the genesis of the name: Pearson Chapel. Who was Pearson? Who owned the land on which the church stands? Who were the ministers over the years? Much of the land in the area was owned by Sally Womack Wiggins.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Williamson Family of Yanceyville, Caswell County, NC

Williamson Family

Family of Reverend David Williamson (1875-1936) and Emma Rascoe Williamson (1881-1953). Below is a list of all known children. This family is closely connected to the Pearson Chapel AME Church in Yanceyville. Additions and corrections are welcome.

1. Calvin Williamson (1900-1987) m. Lelia Bolden (1896-1965)
2. John Adams Williamson (1900-1978) m. Beulah Miller (1902-1944)
3. Maria Louise Williamson (1902-1986) m. Tommie Hill (1896-1969)
4. Walter Williamson (1904-1980) m. Eleanor Lea (1908-1997)
5. Lottie Lavinia Williamson (1907-1949) m. John Albert Yancey (1900-1941)

6. Elbert Chesley Williamson (1907-1962) m. Virginia Bowe (1912-1994)
7. Ira Williamson (1909-1980) m. Leroy Graves (1906-1997)
8. Joseph Rascoe Williamson (1911-1953) m. Annie Theora Bigelow (1916-1982)
9. Edna Williamson (1913-2012) m. Charles Henry Couch (1893-2012)
10. Elvira Williamson (1914-1916) [died young]

11. David Williamson, Jr. (1917-2017) m. Pearl Williamson (1913-2007)
12. James Williamson (1919-1980) m. Nellie Johnson (1923-2014)
13. Janie Williamson (1919-1999) m. Morris Lloyd Richmond (1917-1972)
14. Stroud Calvin Williamson (1921-1983) [apparently never married]
15. Yancey Williamson (1924-2010) m. Doris Olean Graves (1927-2018)


Joseph Rascoe Williamson (1911-1953)

David Williamson, Jr. (1917-2017)

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Paving Road Between Yanceyville and Roxboro

The Bee (Danville, Virginia), 29 Nov 1932, Tuesday, Page 10.

This Highway No. 48 eventually became U.S. Highway 158.

Alice Finley Johnston Henderson (1852-1932)

Click for Larger Image
Henderson -- Died, Mrs. Archibald E. Henderson at the home of her daughter, Mrs. D. C. Nevitt, 257 28th Street [Atlanta]. Besides her daughter, she is survived by two sons, Mr. W. F. Henderson, Mebane, N.C., and Mr. T. J. Henderson, Yanceyville. N.C. The remains will be take to Yanceyville, N.C., this (Thursday) afternoon, January 7, 1932, for services and interment. H. M. Patterson & Son.

Source: The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia), 7 January 1932, Thursday, Page 18.

People Mentioned

1. Mrs. Archibald E. Henderson is Alice Finley Johnston (1852-1932) who in 1879 married Yanceyville lawyer Archibald Erskine Henderson (1843-1918). She is a daughter of Thomas Donoho Johnston (1800-1883) and Adaline Hannah Williamson (1820-1885). As a child she lived in "Clarendon Hall" in Yanceyville, North Carolina.

2. Mrs. D. C. Nevitt is Rebecca Lea Henderson (1885-1969) who in 1908 married Doddridge Chichester Nevitt (1876-1942). She was a founding member of the Caswell County Chapter #1152 United Daughters of the Confederacy.

3. W. F. Henderson is William Farrar (Will) Henderson (1880-1974). He never married, eventually lived in Yanceyville, was a "tobacco buyer," and had substantial agricultural lands in Caswell County.

4. T. J. Henderson is Thomas Johnston (Tom) Henderson (1883-1959) who was twice married: (1) 1912 to Alice Cleveland Slade (1884-1928); and (2) 1929 to Annie Bethel Chandler (1895-1970). Tom Henderson was a Yanceyville newspaper owner (The Sentinel), author, insurance agent, and a Republican in a heavily Democratic county.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Richardson's Barber Shop (Yanceyville, NC)

Courtesy Jerry Parks Cooper
Richardson's Barber Shop Observes 25th Anniversary

Howard Richardson, local barber, is observing his 25th business anniversary here this week. He came to Yanceyville on March 4, 1931, from southern Alamance near Saxapahaw and started in the barber business. His business establishment was burned out on January 6, 1932, and he moved to the Hooper Building on January 28, 1932, and resumed his business. He purchased his present building and moved in on March 1, 1938.

Howard, as he is known to his friends far and wide, has some interesting statistics about his 25 years here as a barber. He has spent during that period 103,520 hours at his trade and has never been away from his business more than four days at a time. To the little folk who have come for barber work, he has given 6,000 of chewing gum and 17,900 candy suckers.

Howard's hobbies includes farming, fishing and publishing advertising quips which have a wide reader audience.

Source: The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), March 1956. Clipping courtesy Jerry Parks Cooper.

Friday, November 08, 2019

U. S. Army Hospital Ships

U. S. Army Hospital Ships, 1 November 1944

Much of the therapeutic value of the homeward passage lies in the abrupt change from front-line hardship to the comparative luxury of the Army hospital ship. Clean beds, good food, the quiet comfort of an ocean voyage where every need is met, all this must be heaven to the returning soldier after long months in combat.

Once the patient is on board his spirits are never allowed to flag. A public address system carries the latest song hits through loudspeakers into every ward. All ships have musical instruments on hand, and on practically every voyage the ambulant patients stage their own amateur hour. The MARIGOLD boasts her own volunteer band with a crooner and with its own arrangements of everything from "boogie-woogie" to the ranking favorite overseas, the story of "Lili Marlene."

A ship's newspaper helps keep the patients both informed and entertained. The ACADIA, for example, publishes the "Fore and Aft," the LARKSPUR, the "News Buoy," and the WISTERIA, the "Salt Shaker." Issued in mimeographed form, such publications contain the latest news briefs, poems and stories contributed by patients, Army cartoons, and informational material on the hospital facilities at Charleston.

A Red Cross worker circulating through the wards lends a kindly hand, gives instruction in handicraft, and supplies reading matter from the ship's library. The Red Cross representative also provides recreational material, hometown newspapers and musical instruments, together with such necessities as combs, toothbrushes, shaving cream, and razor blades. Games, quiz programs, and similar entertainment serve to while away the hours at sea. The religious element is not forgotten. Protestant and Catholic Chaplains minister to the members of their respective faiths and aot as special service officers.

Larson, Harold. "Army Hospital Ships in World War II." Office of the Chief of Transportation, Army Service Forces, December 1944.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Sophia Ann Lea (1822-1899): Parents

Sophia Ann Lea (1822-1899)

Who are the parents of Sophia Ann Lea (1822-1899)? She was the person whose grave marker was "modified" to show a different birth year. See the post on the Caswell County Historical Association Facebook Page that shows the grave marker before and after it was butchered.

Many with family trees on Ancestry.com show Sophia Ann Lea as a daughter of Reverend Solomon Lea (1807-1897) and Sophia Ainger Lea (1810-1866). This appears unlikely as Solomon Lea and Sophia Ainger were not married until 1837. Moreover, as of 1822 (birth year of Sophia Ann Lea), Lea and Ainger had not met. It was over ten years later when Lea and Ainger met in Warren County, North Carolina. Their first child was born September 10, 1838 (Anness Sophia Lea). This information comes from primary-source public records and the memoirs of a known daughter of Solomon Lea and Sophia Ainger Lea: Wilhelmina Lea (1843-1936). Note that Wilhelmina Lea was alive during many of the years relevant to this inquiry. Presumably, she knew the identify of her siblings. See the notes at the end of this article.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

H. D. Foushee Property Division Survey: Person County, NC 1933

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H. D. Foushee
Nick Frederick
W. R. Blalock
J. D. Winstead
George Harris
B_____ Satterfield
_ R. Cates

1. H. D. Foushee is Haywood D'Arcy Foushee (1843-1918)
2. Nick Frederick is John Nicholas Frederick (1887-1955)
3. W. R. Blalock is Wayne Ruffin Blalock (1853-1938)
4. J. D. Winstead is John Daniel Winstead (1867-1959)
5. George Harris is George Edward Harris (1867-1945)
6. B______ Satterfield: unidentified
7. _ R. Cates: unidentified

Ghost Story: Leasburg, Caswell County, North Carolina

Leasburg Ghost Story

Mary D. Moore Whitlow, widow of Solomon Whitlow, Jr., breathed her last on January 29, 1891 She was 81 years old. Before her death she had expressed a desire to be buried in the yard of her home rather than in the Leasburg Community Cemetery. Until her death she resided with her three unmarried children, Susan 54, "Boy" 51, and "Pink" 41. Perhaps they felt that since this would be the only grave at the Whitlow home that it might not receive proper care after their deaths. Whatever their reason, they did not respect her wishes and buried her in the cemetery at Leasburg.

Shortly after her interment she began to publicly declare her dissatisfaction with her resting place. A light, said to be the size of a saucer, would rise from the cemetery at twilight and travel south. Sometimes bobbing and sometimes stopping to rest. It would roam around the Sugar Hill area. Once it frightened George Thompson's cook by sitting on the gate post at the Thompson house. After a time the light would turn to the northwest, traveling across Leasburg. it would turn down the road that ran beside the S. P. Newman house and then cross the woods to the Whitlow house.

Caswell County Meteorite

Caswell Meteorite

Locality— Caswell County

This stone fell at 2 p. m. on 30th January, 1810. It was  described by Bishop Madison (of Williamsburg, Virginia) as resembling other meteoric stones, especially the one which fell at Weston, Connecticut, in 1807. It was not only attracted by the magnet, but was itself magnetic. Whether the stone is still preserved anywhere and who possesses it is as little known as anything further with regard to its characteristics.

Literature—'Gilb. Ann., 41, 1812, 449; Chladin, 291; Buchner, 27; Kerr App., 56; Min. and Min. Loc., p.13.

So far as can be learned, twenty-three meteorites have been  reported as found in North Carolina. Facts with regard to these  have been collected under many disadvantages and with great difficulty. A complete list of references in scientific literature has proved an impossibility; still a great many such references  are given. It is also impracticable now to trace all of the possessors of portions of these meteorites. They have been divided often into many pieces, and widely scattered. Only occasional clues to their whereabouts can be gotten at the present time. One fact is made apparent, and that is, that nearly all have passed out of the State, not even fragments being preserved here.

It will be noticed that, with the exception of one from Nash County, all of the reported meteorites have come from Western  North Carolina. That many of these came to the light at all  has been due to the intelligent energy of General T. L. Clingman, to whom the State owes so much already for bringing to notice her minerals and other possessions.

It has been thought best to include in this list all reported falls and finds. In the case of all proved to be non-meteoric, or  about which doubt exists, note is made under the proper heading. If these doubtful ones be eliminated, as well as those not belonging properly to the State, the number is reduced to about twenty. There is doubt, however, whether the number should  be as great even as this, as there is cause for thinking the Madison County, and, perhaps, some of the Buncombe county finds  may belong to the same fall. Still the number is large when we bear ia mind the comparatively small number of recorded meteorites for the whole earth. Huntington in his catalogue (1887) places the number at 424.

Source: Venable, F. P. "A List and Description of the Meteorites of North Carolina." Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society, Vol. 7, No. 1 (January-June 1890), p. 41.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Hyco School (Caswell County, North Carolina)

Lauren Graves LaDota:

My Mother, Queen Esther Swann Graves went to that school  [Hyco Colored School" -- Corbett Ridge Road, Caswell County, North Carolina] before going to Caswell County Training School. Her teacher there was Ms Agnes McRay; who was my 5th grade teacher at Stoney Creek Elem School...she was then Ms Agnes Browning. Mrs Bean was the supervisor during her Hyco years, called her one of the best teachers in Caswell County.

Source: Lauren Graves LaDota 3 November 2019 Post to the Caswell County Historical Association Facebook Page.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Nethery/Poteat's Store (Caswell County, North Carolina)

Nethery/Poteat's Store

Location: intersection of Park Springs Road and Wildwood Lake Road in Caswell County, North Carolina.

"Lillian Nethery my grandma and her husband Wilson Nethery ran store for years then my mama Jane Poteat and my daddy Wade Poteat. My brother ran it for many years after my daddy passed away. The store was closed in 2000."

Source: Stacey Poteat Hamlett 1 November 2019 Post to the Caswell County Historical Association Facebook Page.

 Earlier the store was known as:

E. W. Nethery General Merchandise

"Back in the day it was Netherys store owned by Wilson and Lillian Nethery, my great aunt and uncle. Later it became Poteats store owned by her daughter Jane Poteat and her husband, Wade. The last to operate it was Tommy Poteat, Jane’s son."

Source: Brenda Pruitt 2 November 2019 Post to the Caswell County Historical Association Facebook Page.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Page Family Feuds Over Slaves: 1839

Page Family Feuds Over Slaves: 1839

In his Caswell County will, Thomas Page (1770-1837) bequeathed numerous slaves to his heirs (four children). However, it appears that daughter Millie Page (who married William Fullington and moved to Missouri) absconded with more than her allotted share. At least that was the view of her brother Josiah Page (1803-1870) who had been appointed by their father as executor of the will.

In 1839, Josiah Page brought suit against William Fullington (husband of sister Millie Page) with respect to slaves Milly, Mary, Eliza, and Mary's infant child. The Caswell County Superior Court issued a summons to be executed by the Caswell County sheriff commanding him "to take the body of William Fullington if to be found in your County and him safely keep so that you have him before the Judge of the Next Superior Court of Law to be Held for the County of Caswell . . . ."

How the dispute was resolved is not known.

The Caswell County Sheriff at the time was Thomas L. Lea (1806-1867), father of the John Green Lea who headed the Ku Klux Klan when Senator John Walter (Chicken) Stephens was killed in 1870.

This case was based upon a writ of detinue:

In tort law, detinue is an action to recover for the wrongful taking of personal property. It is initiated by an individual who claims to have a greater right to their immediate possession than the current possessor. For an action in detinue to succeed, a claimant must first prove that he had better right to possession of the chattel than the defendant and second that the defendant refused to return the chattel once demanded by the claimant. Detinue allows for a remedy of damages for the value of the chattel, but unlike most other interference torts, detinue also allows for the recovery of the specific chattel being withheld.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Caswell County Near Rock Bottom: The Community Clinic

Caswell County Courthouse
Caswell County Near Rock Bottom

The Community Clinic

In Carolina’s Piedmont, Yanceyville is just 40 miles northeast of Greensboro, 42 northwest of Durham. But it’s a different world. The ornate Caswell County Courthouse, completed in 1861, with its domed cupola and Romanesque arches, harkens back to an era when bright leaf tobacco (and later textiles) were king. That’s gone; nothing has replaced it. Once the wealthiest county in the state, Caswell is now near rock bottom; its small commercial strip has a vacant, defeated air. People who are employed drive well beyond Yanceyville to a minimum wage job or service sector job -- until the car breaks down and they can’t afford to fix it.

It’s also the home of the Caswell Family Medical Center, which has seized on every tool it can to walk the value-based walk and improve the health of not only individual patients but its broader community. The Caswell clinic is what’s known as an FQHC, a federally qualified health center. Pretty much everyone who walks in is low-income, though not all are uninsured partly because even without Medicaid expansion Obamacare boosted insurance coverage in North Carolina. Working with Blue Cross, the clinic has brought in data and dashboards for “population health,” making it easier to track a patient due for a cancer screening, or immunizations, supporting prevention and chronic disease management. But coordination is hard when local people scatter for work across such a broad region.

Friday, October 25, 2019

O. Henry: Connection to Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina

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William Sydney Porter (O. Henry) Connection to Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina

Smith, C. Alphonso. O. Henry: A Biograpy. London/Toronto: Hodder and Stroughton, 1916.

O. Henry Biography: Ancestry

The image that accompanies this post is difficult to read. Here is the relevant text:

"The resemblances between O. Henry and his mother are still further revealed in these 'Memories of the Mother of a Gifted Writer,' sent me by Mr. William Laurie Hill:

"In the days of the old four horse stage coach and the up and down hill stretch of our country roads leading from one town or village to another, there were but fifty miles of road between the old Revolutionary village of Milton, North Carolina, and the more aspiring town of Greensboro. For a high type of social life old people, although 'stay at home bodies,' claimed many friends even in distant parts. In summer many of her homes were filled with visitors and in those halcyon days of peace and plenty it was a delight to keep open house.

"Milton could boast of having a spicy weekly paper known as the Milton Chronicle that carried its weekly message into all the neighboring counties. The editor was Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans, who originated the character of 'Jesse Holmes, the Fool-Killer.'* This character furnished sarcasm and wit in weekly installments that kept the young people always on the edge of expectancy. . . ."

* Readers of O. Henry will recall that in "The Fool-Killer" he says: "Down South when ever any one perpetrates some particularity monumental piece of foolishness everybody says: 'Send for Jesse Holmes.' Jesse Holmes is the Fool-Killer."  It is interesting to note that O. Henry was here quoting, unconsciously I presume, a saying originated by his mother's cousin. Charles Napoleon Bonapart Evans's mother was a Miss Shirley, sister of Abia Shirley. The familiarity of Greensboro boys with "Jesse Holmes" has here led O. Henry to ascribe a wider circuit to the saying than the facts seem to warrant. From queries sent out I am inclined to think that "Jesse Holmes" as a synonym for the Fool-Killer is not widely known in the South and is current in North Carolina only in spots. "I tried it out this morning in chapel," writes President E. K. Graham, of the University of North Carolina, 'on perhaps five hundred North Carolinians. Only three had heard of it." One of these was from Greensboro and cited Charles Napoleon Bonapart Evans as the author.

Source: "O. Henry Biography," pp. 30-31.

The famous author O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) and Milton's Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans (newspaper editor) are first cousins once removed. Evans's mother is a sister of O. Henry's grandmother (Jane Shirley and Abiah Shirley, respectively).

Want to read this book? It is available at the following libraries near Yanceyville, NC: Elon; Greensboro College; UNC-Chapel Hill; UNC-Greensboro.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

"Rebels and Refugees" Maury Family in Milton, North Carolina

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"Rebels and Refugees"

Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina

It appears the Maury family was fleeing Richmond, Virginia, during the Civil War. Note the interesting description of Milton and the Donoho family.

If the Maury family took one of the last trains from Richmond this would have been early 1865 on the Danville and Richmond Railroad.

It appears the author of the letter referenced (and published on pages we do not have) already was in Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina, as early as July 16, 1863..

The "Miss Bella" mentioned most likely is Isabella Glenn Garland Donoho (1832-1886). She lived at "Longwood" near Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina.

The Mrs. Huntington referred to as a Donoho grandmother was a challenge. However, Mary A. Williamson was married twice: (1) to Archimedes Donoho; and (2) to Martin Palmer Huntington. Thus, when the Maury family came to Milton, Archimedes Donoho had died, and his widow had married Martin Palmer Huntington. Thus the Donoho grandmother now was Mrs. Huntington!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Caswell County Sheriff Jesse C. Griffith Arrested in 1867

Caswell County Quiz: Other than as in charge of the military district that included Caswell County after the Civil War (during Reconstruction), how General Edward Richard Sprigg Canby (1817-1873) more directly affect the county?

A year behind Canby at West Point was a cadet named William Tecumseh Sherman. A few more years behind Canby was Ulysses Simpson Grant.

During the autumn of 1867, [North Carolina Governor] Worth and [General] Canby became embroiled in a dispute over the military's intervention in the state's judicial process. The case of Caswell County Sheriff Jesse C. Griffith marked the culmination of their disagreement. Griffith's case originated in a wartime incident that involved a Confederate deserter-turned-Union scout named William Johnson. In early 1864, Johnson and two comrades deserted from the Confederate army and headed for Union-held Tennessee. During their flight, the three men entered a house and stole about $20 worth of food and $5 in Confederate currency. Whereas Johnson succeeded in making his escape, his comrades were captured and tried for burglary. They received a pardon after agreeing to rejoin the Confederate army.

Johnson, meanwhile, became a lieutenant in a federal regiment in east Tennessee and later served as a guide for Maj. Gen. George Stoneman's Union cavalry during its raid through western North Carolina. After the war, Johnson returned home to Rockingham County. He was arrested, tried for burglary in the Caswell County superior court, and sentenced to die. Johnson was then incarcerated in the county jail at Yanceyville under the watchful eye of Sheriff Griffith.

Caswell County Reign of Terror in 1872

New York Times, 12 August 1872, Page 1.

A Reign of Terror Inaugurated in Caswell County

Colored Voters Kept from the Polls by Their Employers -- Intimidation by the Sheriff and Other Officials -- A Large Land-Owner Compelled to Sleep in the Woods.

Danville, Va., Aug. 11. -- A meeting of Caswell County, North Carolina, Republicans was held, last evening, in an old log hut on the edge of the woods outside of Yanceyville. Between forty and fifty persons were present, George Williamson, a white man, tried to raise a disturbance in the town, and by the false rumors he spread made many of the negroes afraid to attend. Thomas J. Foster, Representative elect, was in the chair. A resident of Leesburg [sic] reported that William Long would not let his hands leave work on the day of election. The threats he used prevented fifteen from going to the polls. From Milton Township it was reported that John Lea also intimidated his workmen, causing a loss of ten Republican votes.

About noon, Sheriff Griffith arrested John Mitchell, colored, on the ground that he was a resident of Virginia. Evidence was produced that he was a legal voter in Milton, but the Sheriff tied him with a rope in front of the hotel and swore at him, and so frightened the negroes in the streets that most of them went home without voting. Soon after the same official arrested another negro on the affidavit of Yarborough [sic], his former owner, that he was under twenty-one years of age. His mother, who was in Yanceyville yesterday, says that he is in his twenty-fourth year. Both these men were lodged in jail, but the former has been since liberated on giving $100 bail.

John Walter Stephens Became Known as "Chicken" Stephens

How John Walter Stephens Became Known as "Chicken" Stephens

"My homeplace in Wentworth was the location of one of Stephens' residences there. His name was quite familiar there during my childhood but today mostly forgotten. He was a member of our Methodist Church there as he was later in Yanceyville. Sometime around the end of the war JWS killed the chickens of the town postmaster and merchant, Thomas A. Ratliffe. Supposedly, the Ratliffe chickens had "strayed" over to Stephens' yard next door. JWS killed the chickens and so the story goes offered them to a much-upset Mrs. Ratliffe who then had Stephens arrested and placed in the Wentworth jail for theft. The next morning JWS was released next door to Ratliffe's Store and had an altercation with the merchant.

"No official documents or contemporary news articles have survived from the time of the event as this happened around the end of the war - in nearly forty years research in local history and I've yet to find any documentation. Nevertheless by the time JWS moved from Wentworth to Yanceyville his nickname was duly applied. His mother soon joined the family in Yanceyville and suffered a very strange death - falling out of her sickbed and cutting her throat on the broken edge of a chamber pot. Many Caswell and Rockingham County residents suspected that her throat was deliberately cut - possibly by JWS.

"Ratliffe's family lived in Wentworth until 1987 and the story about JWS in Wentworth was essentially what has been given in other accounts."

March 15, 2011 AT 9:56 AM, Michsel Perdue

Posted to the weblog of Charlotte Observer Associate Editor Jack Betts.

Killing of John Walter Stephens: John B. Hemphill Testimony (1870)

Weekly Standard (Raleigh, North Carolina
Wednesday, August 31, 1870
Afternoon Session
State vs. J. T. Mitchell
State Evidence

John B. Hemphill examined. He lives in Person county, about one or two miles from the line; he arrived in Yanceyville about 9 o'clock on the day of the murder; went to the courthouse and went into the grand jury room and in the meeting in the morning, but do not know when it adjourned; he had his dinner with him; he first saw the deceased in grand jury room; he was on good terms with the deceased and believed his was my friend; he did not stay in grand jury room very long; went there to pay Mr. Jordan the balance on fee for levying on horse; he was in the meeting but once in the evening and saw Wiley and the deceased coming down as he was going up the steps; he stayed about five or ten minutes in the meeting; he saw Mr. Kerr standing up but he being deaf, could not tell who was speaking, and wanting to see Mr. Stephens on business he came down and looked for him at the front of the courthouse, and then from room to room, and all the doors were locked; saw Wiley in the passage; he, Mitchell and John Lee [sic] at the south door; they were talking and laughing; the sun was then was about 1 or 1 1/2 hours high.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

John Walter (Chicken) Stephens

Chicken Stephens

My homeplace in Wentworth was the location of one of Stephens' residences there. His name was quite familiar there during my childhood but today mostly forgotten. He was a member of our Methodist Church there as he was later in Yanceyville. Sometime around the end of the war JWS killed the chickens of the town postmaster and merchant, Thomas A. Ratliffe. Supposedly, the Ratliffe chickens had "strayed" over to Stephens' yard next door. JWS killed the chickens and so the story goes offered them to a much-upset Mrs. Ratliffe who then had Stephens arrested and placed in the Wentworth jail for theft. The next morning JWS was released next door to Ratliffe's Store and had an altercation with the merchant.

No official documents or contemporary news articles have survived from the time of the event as this happened around the end of the war - in nearly forty years research in local history and I've yet to find any documentation. Nevertheless by the time JWS moved from Wentworth to Yanceyville his nickname was duly applied. His mother soon joined the family in Yanceyville and suffered a very strange death - falling out of her sickbed and cutting her throat on the broken edge of a chamber pot. Many Caswell and Rockingham County residents suspected that her throat was deliberately cut - possibly by JWS.

Ratliffe's family lived in Wentworth until 1987 and the story about JWS in Wentworth was essentially what has been given in other accounts.

March 15, 2011 AT 9:56 AM, Michsel Perdue

Posted to the weblog of Charlotte Observer Associate Editor Jack Betts.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice in Yanceyville: 1950

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Note the names:

Clyde V. McKinney
Reverend H. J. Womeldorf
Jno. O. Gunn
Larry McMullen
S. M. Bason

Charlie Justice
Ralph Sadler
C. V. McKinney
Sam Shaw
Hoyt Moore

Donald Carver
William Lee Gunn
William Pittard
Duke Foster
Felix Cobb

Larry McMullen
James Slade, Jr.
Eilly Pressley
Johnnie Gunn, Jr.
John Fuqua, Jr.

Bobby McKinney
Fred Hinton
John Woods, Jr.
Andy Woods
John R. Nelson

Jimmie Hodges
Walter Rudd

Thursday, October 17, 2019

"Warm Supper"

"Warm Supper"

The day I [John Green Lea] was arrested I was carried to Yanceyville and all the prisoners had been sent over to Graham except a few from Alamance who had confessed being Ku Klux. I was carried over to Graham the next day and all the other Caswell boys started to Raleigh next morning.

Late that afternoon Judge James Boyd, United States Judge, came and asked me how I would like to take a walk; that he had permission to take me out provided I would agree to come back. I agreed, so we walked awhile, finally coming to his house. he asked me to have a seat on the porch.

In a few minutes the bell rang for supper. I told him I had plenty to eat at the courthouse, that my friends had sent it to me, Mr. Banks Holt and others, but he insisted on my taking a warm supper and as soon as we finished eating he said to me, "Lea, I was a Ku Klux. I have disgraced myself and my little wife." I asked him how. "I turned State's evidence." Why did you do it? He replied "Moral cowardice."

When Kirk's men hung Murray up by the neck and they let him down he was apparently dead (he lived 20 years after this, but really died from the effects of this injury), they then came to me and put the rope around my neck and I wilted." He and his young wife both cried like a baby and Boyd said, "Lea, I will never expose you. I know you are the county commander in Caswell." I said, "Oh no, there are a great many Leas in Caswell; I am not the one."

Source: John Green Lea 1919/1935 "Confession" to the killing of John Walter Stephens.

"Bravest Man" -- Frank Wiley: 1870

"Bravest Man" -- Frank Wiley: 1870

The day the arrest was made in Yanceyville, late that afternoon, Lt. Col. Burgin with eight men went down after ex-sheriff Wiley, nine miles from Yanceyville; went in his tobacco field where he was standing and told him they had come to arrest him. He asked them by what authority. Burgin shook his pistol at him and said, with an oath, "This is my authority."

His men rushed on Wiley, who knocked down seven of them, but one slipped up behind him with a fence rail and knocked him down; they then put Wiley on a horse, bareback, tied his feet to the horse and whipped him nearly all the way to Yanceyville.

The blood flowed freely, he being in his shirt sleeves. Burgin told me that Wiley was the bravest man he ever saw. When they arrived in Yanceyville, that afternoon, Burgin took him into a room in the courthouse, ordered his men to draw their guns on him, and told him that if he did not tell who killed Stevens [Stephens] they would kill him. With his head straight as could be, he opened his coat, slapped his chest and dared them to shoot.

Source: John Green Lea 1919/1935 "Confession" to the killing of John Walter Stephens.

"Crowed Like a Rooster"

"Crowed Like a Rooster"

The night I [John Green Lea] reached Graham they put Sheriff Wiley and Josiah Turner in jail with a crazy negro who hollered all night long. They didn't sleep a wink. Next morning they were taken out to go to Raleigh and Mr. Turner kept repeating that the powers of the judiciary were exhausted and Col. Kirk told him to shut his mouth. He then flapped his arms and crowed like a rooster and said, "Well, I reckon I can crow."

Kirk then said, "Hush up that, fool" The militia detachment were terribly frightened, thinking that they would be attacked in Durham. They closed all the windows and barred all the doors.

Source: John Green Lea 1919/1935 "Confession" to the killing of John Walter Stephens.

"Dem Things Got Me Last Night"

"Dem Things Got Me Last Night"

The night after Jones was whipped the Ku Klux went up to see if he had moved, having been ordered to do so. There were three very worthy darkies living in the neighborhood, named Stephen Taylor, William Garland and Frank Chandler. They were carried up to the grave yard by the Ku Klux, where we had left our horses. I [John Lea] walked through the grave yard, placed my hands on Will's naked shoulder and it nearly scared him to death. He shook all over.

The next day Will came by my house and Capt. Graves, my brother-in-law, asked him where he was going. Will said, "Lordy, Mars' Billy, I'm going across the creek." "What's the matter, Billy?" asked Capt. Graves. "Dem things got me last night. They were as tall as the eaves of this house. I knows they came out of the graves, for I saw them with my own eyes and one came up and put his hand on my shoulder and his hands chilled me clean through."

Source: John Green Lea 1919/1935 "Confession" to the killing of John Walter Stephens.

"Cannon Were Fired"

"Cannon Were Fired"

While I [John Green Lea] and the three others referred to were being tried before the Supreme Court, on the lower floor of the Capitol, on the bench warrant issued for us, the trial of the prisoners from Caswell County taken by the writ of Judge Brooks, which was the third writ, was being held in the Senate Chamber, directly over us. Our case was dismissed and we left, cannon were fired, tar barrels burned, and speeches by a great many prominent men were made.

Judge Kerr's speech created great excitement and enthusiasm. Only Wiley and Josiah Turner went to jail. When I reached home, Sheriff Griffith, who had been a prisoner, came and summonsed me to go with him and we ordered the heads of the Union League of America to leave the county within twenty-four hours and they did so without exception, going to Danville.

Source: John Green Lea 1919/1935 "Confession" to the killing of John Walter Stephens

"No Pistols, It Was Raining"

"No Pistols, It Was Raining" 1870

"They failed to arrest me [John Green Lea] on the day of the general arrest, so I went home and the next day they came and arrested me and brought me to Raleigh. Major Yates came to my house with ten or twelve men and when he came to the house I was lying down, asleep. It was raining and my sisters came running into the house and told me there was a crowd of Kirk's men out in the yard. I rushed to a drawer and got my pistols, but my sister grabbed me and told me not to go out in the yard nor to try to use my pistols."

Source: John Green Lea 1919/1935 "Confession" to the killing of John Walter Stephens

The statement by John Green Lea that his "sisters" were at "the" house, his home, when Kirk's men arrived deserves further examination. First, one sister, Rebecca Anne Lea (also seen as Anne Wright Lea), married in 1865, and in 1870 was living at her own house, with husband William Griffin Graves.

But, it appears that John Green Lea may have been living with this sister at the time of the 1870 United States Federal Census (as was the baby of the family, George Addison Lea):

1870 United States Federal Census
Name: Ann Graves
Age in 1870: 26
Birth Year: abt 1844
Birthplace: North Carolina
Dwelling Number: 245
Home in 1870: Milton, Caswell, North Carolina
Race: White
Gender: Female
Post Office: Milton
Occupation: Keeping House
Inferred Spouse: Griffin Graves
Inferred Children: Bettie Graves, Graham Graves
Household Members:
Name Age
Griffin Graves 32
Ann Graves 26
Bettie Graves 3
Graham Graves 1
John Lea 25
George Lea 13

Perhaps the two Lea brothers were living with their sister in 1870 because their father, Thomas L. Lea, had died in 1867. But, if so, where was the other sister? In his "confession" John Green Lea refers to "sisters." Of course, it is possible that Lea misspoke or that the transcriber inaccurately made the sisters plural. There was another sister: Sarah J. Lea. But, was she alive in 1870? Her history is incomplete.

Until now, we had assumed that Kirk's soldiers had arrived at "Leahurst," the ancestral home of this family. That now is in doubt. See photograph of "Leahurst." However, the 1870 census shown above was taken July 12, 1870. The Kirk episode related by John Green Lea apparently occurred before that date. Were Lea and his two sisters actually at "Leahurst" when Kirk's men arrived?

"Leahurst" still stands and magnificently so. It is just across from the New Hope United Methodist Church (on Daniel Dairy Road, off Long's Mill Road).

Kirk Soldier "Deviltry"

"More Deviltry.--A correspondent from Yanceyville says, Kirk's Major arrested three more men yesterday (Sunday)--John G. Lea, Nat. Lea and Capt. T. N. Jordan, the last named for refusing to lend the Major a horse. That is a pretty piece of business, to arrest a man because he didn't choose to lend him his horse; yet it is no worse than a thousand other acts of lawlessness and indignity that have been practiced on our citizens."

The Wilmington Journal (Wilmington, North Carolina), 26 August 1870.

The John G. Lea arrested most likely is John Green Lea. His "confession" helped explain the 1870 killing of John Walter Stephens that resulted in the presence in Yanceyville of Kirk and his soldiers. See photograph.

Nat. Lea probably is Nathaniel Preston Lea, younger brother of John Green Lea. He was born c.1849. No death date is known.

Captain T. N. Jordan most likely is Captain Thomas Norfleet Jordan (1842-1903), who lost an arm in the Civil War. He served as Caswell County, North Carolina tax collector and treasurer 1870-1871.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

John Walter Stephens Killing 1870

Implicated in the 1870 Killing of John Walter (Chicken) Stephens

Bennett, Tucker
Denny, James (Jim)
Fowler, Joe
Hubbard, Clay
Lea, John Green

Mitchell, James Thomas
Morgan, Pink
Oliver, Tom
Richmond, Stephen Tribue (Dr.)
Roan, Felix

Totten, Logan
Wiley, Frank A.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The "Key" to the John Walter Stephens Killing

The "Key"

In his 1919 "confession" (released to the public in 1935), John Green Lea stated:

"Stevens was then stabbed in the breast and also in the neck by Tom Oliver, and the knife was thrown at his feet and the rope left around his neck. We all came out, closed the door and locked it on the outside and took the key and threw it into Country Line Creek."

Who had the key? Was the person who provided the key an accomplice?

Marmaduke Williams Norfleet apparently was in possession of the key to the Master's Office/Room on the ground floor (southeast corner) of the Caswell County Courthouse when John Walter (Chicken) Stephens was killed in 1870 -- kept either at the Register of Deeds Office in the Courthouse or at Norfleet's retail grocery store in Yanceyville, North Carolina.

In 1891, Felix Roan confessed to being a party to the killing, and all relevant testimony supports the door to the Master's Office being locked when Stephens's body was found May 22, 1870. Thus, a reasonable assumption is that one of the killers had the key. Only one key is known to exist.

Felix Roan is a son of Nathaniel Moore Roan (1803-1879) and Mary B. Henderson (1817-1896). The sister of Nathaniel Moore Roan, Mary Comer Roan (1811-1859) is the mother of Marmaduke Williams Norfleet.

Thus, Felix Roan (who claims to have participated in the killing of Stephens), and Marmaduke Williams Norfleet (who had possession of the key to the Master's Office at the Courthouse) are paternal first cousins.

Did Norfleet give the key to his cousin Roan? Or did Roan by virtue of his family relationship with Norfleet have access to where the key was kept at Norfleet's Yanceyville retail grocery store?

Then there was some very convoluted and confusing 1870 court testimony about this famous key.

Norfleet, both Register of Deeds and Yanceyville merchant stated there was a cold snap in April 1870 and that he instructed his clerk, Robert Roan, to send Calvin Miles to the Courthouse to borrow some wood to use at the store. The wood was stored in the courthouse room where John Walter Stephens was killed the next month. This indicates that the key was at the store. Calvin Miles (col.) testified he got the key to get the wood from Robert Roan, that he got only one key, that he carried three "turns" of wood from the Courthouse to Norfleet's store, and that he returned the key to Robert Roan.

This Robert Roan is a younger brother of the Felix Roan who admitted the killing of John Walter Stephens.