Sunday, May 31, 2020

Ration Coupons Stolen at Yanceyville, NC: June 1945

Ration Coupons Stolen at Yanceyville

Caswell County History: In June 1945 "safecrackers" blew open the safe at the Caswell County Rationing Board in Yanceyville, NC, and stole a quantity of ration coupons (primarily gasoline and sugar). The thieves drilled the safe, wired it for a "nitro" charge then "blew it wide open." The early morning blast occurred during a rainstorm and was mistaken for thunder.

Source: The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), 9 June 1945.

Ration Coupon

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Holder House (Milton, NC)

Holder House (Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina)

House Sold on 7/23/2018: $40,000

Photo 356. Holder House. ca. 1830. 1.5 story frame Federal style house with exterior end chimneys with double stepped shoulders, beaded weatherboard. Considerably altered, with replacement front door, porch, and added shed dormers. Fieldstone retaining wall and large cedars.

Source: Little-Stokes, Ruth. An Inventory of Historic Architecture Caswell County, North Carolina. Waynesville (North Carolina): Don Mills, Inc., 1979, p.221.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Caswell Farmers Hen Profits 1943

Caswell County Farmers 1943 Hen Profits. The J. S. Shelton mentioned most likely is James Spencer Shelton (1895-1983). The Agricultural Extension Agent is Junius Ellard Zimmerman (1908-1969).

The News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina) · 27 Dec 1943, Mon · Page 8

Leasburg, NC, Glider Landing: World War II

Waco Glider
Leasburg Glider Encounter

During World War II a glider apparently separated prematurely from the tow airplane. The glider was "full of soldiers" and landed in a field in Leasburg near the Frogsboro Road. The soldiers were welcomed into local homes until another airplane came to rescue them. This rescue tow airplane purportedly had a device that looked like a "football goal" connected to a long tether. It swooped in low, hooked onto the glider, and it was gone.

Photograph: Waco CG-4A (typical glider).

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Seattle's Black Victorians 1852-1901

Sally Johnson Day (third wife of Thomas Day, Jr.) apparently was mentioned as a Seattle seamstress in the following book:

Mumford, Esther Hall. Seattle's Black Victorians 1852-1901. Seattle: Ananse Press, 1980.

Book Review

This book is not easy to find, but it's worth seeking out. It's an exhaustive study of every scrap of information the author-historian could find about blacks who lived in Seattle during the last half of the 19th century. She did interviews with elderly black residents and she combed through every newspaper of the time for any mention of black or "colored" people.

This book isn't a rollicking good time, but it is a thorough distillation of everything known about the black communities in a city during an era when not much was recorded about them. It's clear that so, so much about these people had already been lost to history when Mumford wrote this work in the late 1970's (it was published in 1980). I'm so happy that she took on this subject.

Overall, I found the book fascinating, but it's definitely a scholarly work. Mumford makes sure to mention the name of every black person she comes across in her research, and about most there is very little information, so there are sections where your appetite is whetted with the barest of details about people or families, but it can sometimes seem like a catalog listing: Something like "so-and-so practiced law at this address from 1888 -1892, and so-and-so practiced law there from 1890-1893. Nothing more is known about them."

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Annie Day Robinson Letter 1895

Set forth below is the text of a letter written to Annie Day Robinson concerning the death of her father Thomas Day, Jr. (1835-1895):

Franklin Washington
Oct 13th 1895

Mrs. Annie D. Robinson
#146 Fayettvill [sic] St
Durham, N C

Dear Madam

It is quite a sad affair which has happened here in our little town for the last two weeks.

I presume Mr. R. M. Gibson [Romulus Monroe Gibson] wrote you something concerning your father's death (or rather about the murder of him) which happened on Sunday night Sept. 22nd. But before Mr. Gibson could receive an answer from you he laid cold in the clay himself and his wife asked me to answer this letter and explain as near as possible the sad knews [sic] of both their deaths.

Mr. (or Bro) Day was firing a set of boilers which ran a fan which furnished air for the miners. It was situated about 1/2 mile from any ones house upon the mountain.

Some one, God only knows sneaked upon him and killed him while he was at his work late in the night. He was found by his Relief Monday morning. I swore out a complaint against the man who was living with Mrs. Day and arrested him, placed him in Jail. But wait, I am ahead of my story. Mr. Gibson and I found tracks leading away from where your Father layed. We measured the track and supposed them to be David Bannister's.

I swore out a warrant against him, arrested him, and put him in Jail after holding him until the sheriff and prosecuting attorney came and took the shoes from off his feet and found them to fit the track. I think it is a clear case against him. The Brethren are doing all in the power to find out who did do the Cowardly Crime. Tho it is the supposition of every body here in the Camp that David Bannister did kill him and he is now in the County Jail awaiting trial without Bail.

I am allmost [sic] certain he will be convicted of murder in the first degree, which means death to him also.

Do not worry, for if there is any way in the world for your Father's death to be avenged it will be did, for there is men here who would do anything almost to satisfy their minds about the way he was so brutaly [sic] murdered.

Now concerning Mr. R. M. Gibson's death, which happened Friday morning Oct the 4th. He was watchman here at one of the plants -- the Boilers Exploded and scalled him to death. He lived until Saturday morning the 5th and died. He was buried Sunday the 6th. He was looking after the Old Man's business. He had all of the papers and things and all of his wearing appearals [sic].

Some of the Brethren was thinking of having an administrator appointed to look after his business and also after the little child. From what I can learn he has some land down in what is called the Yackama Valley. I can't say how it stands. I know he bought land down their about  2 or 3 years ago.

If I was you I would look after this matter and not let her (his wife) get her hands on a cent of his money or his yearning [earning?]. The little Girl is still living and is well.

If there is anything I can do towards helping you out in this matter let me know.

I am Respectfully yours.

G. A. Whitney

Black Diamond Fan ("Fan on the Hill")

Black Diamond Fan
Black Diamond Fan

The structure is the fan at the Black Diamond Coal Mining Company in King County, Washington (east of Tacoma). The fan provided fresh air to the mine shafts. It was steam-driven and operated continuously. Thus an operator was required 24 hours. Thomas Day, Jr. (1835-1895) was one of these operators. Due to a marital dispute he purportedly was killed by David Bannister. Day was maintaining the fan when bludgeoned. Bannister apparently was acquitted.

Here is how we described it in 2017. We posted the comment to the Black Diamond History Facebook Page:

This is the "fan on the hill" in which Thomas Day, Jr., was killed September 23, 1895. The fan apparently provided ventilation to shafts at the coal mine in Franklin, King County, Washington. The fan may have been powered by a steam engine, as a fireman was on duty at all times to operate the boiler. This was the job of Thomas Day, Jr., when he was killed. As the photograph was taken in 1894, it is possible that Day is one of the men in this image. Day was born c.1837 in Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina, son of famous cabinet maker Thomas Day.

Franklin, Sept. 24.--Special--This afternoon Coroner Askam and J. J. Smith held an autopsy on the body of Thomas Day and found that he came to his death from a fractured skull. The skull was horribly fractured from the right ear to the left across the top of the head. Shortly after the autopsy a coroner's jury was impaneled and Coroner Askam and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Morris conducted the examination. The jury returned a verdict that deceased came to his death from blows willfully and feloniously inflicted by a blunt instrument in the hands of David Bannister. Shortly after the coroner's jury returned its verdict, Day was buried in Franklin cemetery.


Black Diamond History Facebook Page

Caswell County Genealogy

Killing of Thomas Day, Jr.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Salzman Jewelry (Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina)

 The two  houses east of the Union Tavern/Thomas Day House in Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina, have been confusing. The one that remains generally is called the Friou-Hurdle House.

It apparently was built around 1860 by Jarvis Friou (1806-1896), a shoe manufacturer and later the owner of the Milton Hotel. However, some reports indicate that Dr. James Augustus Hurdle, D.D.S. (1849-1925) was a subsequent owner.

If Dr. Hurdle lived in the house that no longer stands, query when he purchased the house next door (that still stands). And what happened to the house that no longer stands? When was it demolished, burned, etc.? This was before the early 1970s when Ruth Little and Tony Wrenn began taking photographs for the Caswell County architectural book (published 1979).

The house that no longer stands has been referred to as:

"Salzman Jewelry/Town Hall"


Friou-Hurdle House
Otto Howard Salzman (1841-1916): Jeweler in Milton, North Carolina c.1880. Note that a building that housed Salzman Jewelry once stood in Milton -- on the south side of Broad Street between the Union Tavern and the Friou House. Apparently the Milton Town Hall also once stood on the same site (or was the same building).

Note that Otto Howard Salzman married Fannie Malinda Hines (1842-1979), daughter of prominent Milton tailor Benjamin Hines (1808-1887). Census records (1880) indicate that Otto and his three daughters lived in the Benjamin Hines household (see below). Thus, it is possible the building that no longer stands was just used as the Salzman jewelry business and not as a residence.

Current Configuration
But, this is not a certainty. Fannie Hines Salzman died in 1879 as a result of giving birth to her third child: Josephine Salzman. Thus, it is possible that Otto Salzman moved his remaining family (three young daughters) to live with his father-in-law. While the mother-in-law had died, remaining in the Hines household at the time of the 1880  US Census were two unmarried sisters of the deceased Fannie Hines Salzman. They could have assisted with the three Salzman daughters.

The 1870 US Census is not instructive as Otto and Fannie were married in 1872. Otto Salzman arrived in the US from Hamburg, Germany, 27 June 1865. At some point after Fannie died Otto apparently moved to Danville, Virginia, where he owned and operated a retail jewelry business. He died 1816 and rests at Green Hill Cemetery (Danville, Virginia). Otto apparently was Swiss, which is appropriate for a jeweler.

Of interest is the mother of Fannie Malinda Hines Salzman: Sarah Price Holder (1810-1853). Yes, she is the daughter of the James Holder (1774-1836) who built the Holder House now owned by Danny and Kimberly Cash!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Caswell County Courthouse Fire 1916

Caswell County Courthouse Fire 1916

Photograph of Courthouse is in 1920, four years after the fire. It appears that all repairs had been completed. Note the absence of a formal square. Reports of the day described it as horribly dusty when dry and a muddy mess when wet.

"Caswell's Historic Court House Is Hit By Bolt"

For a while Friday afternoon the courthouse of Caswell county, at Yanceyville, was menaced with destruction by fire, which was started when a lightning bolt struck the pinnacle of the belfry. Happily the persistent efforts of Yanceyville citizens, who prize the substantial structure with a sentimental value which knows no computation, succeeded in quenching the flames with a bucket brigade. The belfry was ruined. The courthouse is heavily insured and there will be no monetary loss.

An hour after the lightning struck the courthouse the Danville fire department was asked to make the 18-mile run with one of the automobile engines. Two large chemical extinguishers were sent, but the man carrying the extinguishers when about half way to the Caswell capitol was flagged down and told that the flames had been subdued. The bucket brigade had proved effective after strenuous efforts.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Wooding Place (Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina)

Wooding Place
The Weekly Review (Reidsville, Rockingham County, North Carolina) April 10, 1889 - Col. John E. Wooding, a native of Halifax county, Va., but who had for at least thirty years made his home in Milton, died quietly at the home of his son, Mr. R. S. Wooding, last Friday evening at the age of seventy-nine years. Col. Wooding was a quite remarkable man, he possessed a fine intellect, had an almost perfect memory, kept well posted on all topics of current interest, was well read, and we think one of the most interesting conversationalists to whom we ever listened.

Wooding Place (Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina). Built around 1840. One of a group of raised-basement houses built in the mid-19th century in Milton. Built by John Wooding who operated the Milton brickyard. Flemish bond brick basement, exterior end brick chimneys, pedimented gable ends, Greek Revival trim and Italianate bracketed porch which may be a replacement. At the rear are two unusual square brick dairies with pyramidal roofs which recall the outbuildings of 18th century Williamsburg.

Source: Little-Stokes, Ruth and Wrenn, Tony P., An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County North Carolina -- The built environment of a burley and bright-leaf tobacco economy. Waynesville (North Carolina): Don Mills, Inc., 1979, p. 216.

Hyco Lake — Vol 2, 2013

The Wooding Place

The Past Meets the Present in a Serene Country Setting

Residents, visitors, and preservationists alike cherish the rich historical heritage of Milton. The quiet town of around 130 people, located along the Dan River in northern Caswell County, holds fast to its motto: "the museum without walls, where preserving the past is our future". This motto rings loud and true, displayed in the number of National Historic Landmarks throughout Milton, along with charming antique shops, a general store, and stately 19th-century homes. The town's history is deeply rooted in the prosperity of the tobacco warehouses and mills that dotted the Dan River during the 1800's, when most of the town's buildings and homes were constructed. Many of the homes also exhibit the exquisitely detailed millwork of Thomas Day, the Milton-native and well known African-American craftsman whose signature work can be found throughout the Tar Heel State.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Pelham (Caswell County, North Carolina)

Pelham (Caswell County, North Carolina)

Townships Established

In 1868 North Carolina adopted a new state constitution that enacted a system of county townships, thus abandoning the district structure is use for almost a century. Caswell County's four districts were replaced by the following nine townships:

1. Pelham
2. Dan River
3. Milton
4. Locust Hill
5. Yanceyville
6. Leasburg
7. Stoney Creek
8. Anderson
9. Hightowers

Post Office and Weather Station

Pelham, a community in the northwestern corner of the county, was established during the Civil War as a station on the Piedmont Railroad and was named for 25-year-old Major John Pelham of Alabama, a gallant soldier who was killed in battle on March 17, 1863. His mother was a McGehee from Person County. Young Pelham had almost finished the course of study at West Point when he left in 1861 to serve the Confederacy. He commanded a battery of horse-drawn 

field artillery and served under Generals Joseph E. Johnston and J. E. B. Stuart.

By 1865 a post office was serving the community and in 1872 it had the services of two doctors and a wheelwright; a general store and two churches also served Pelham.

William Byrd's famed "Land of Eden" included this area, and it is now farming land of importance and contains the rural homes of many people who work in Danville. In 1888 a Pelham Croquet Club met every Saturday afternoon and the Caswell News reported that "the lads and lassies say they have enjoyed those meetings and games hugely." Today a large commercial stone quarry sometimes mars the otherwise quiet days at Pelham.

Source: Powell, William S. When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977. Durham: Moore Publishing Company, 1977, pp. 335-336.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Danville, Virginia: Not Last Confederate Capitol/Capital

Not Last Confederate Capitol Nor Capital

This historical marker, erected in 1939 on the grounds of the Sutherlin Mansion in Danville, Virginia, incorrectly claims the former home of Major W. T. Sutherlin is "regarded" as the last capitol of the Confederacy. At least serious historians do not "regard" it as such.

It appears that CSA President Jefferson Davis did stay there, but it was not the site of the last "full cabinet meeting."

While Jefferson Davis "roomed" at the Sutherlin Mansion, it appears that the last meeting with his cabinet did not occur there:

"The final Confederate Cabinet meeting was held at the Benedict House (since destroyed) in Danville."

Thus, the most that can be claimed with respect to the Sutherlin Mansion is: "Jeff Davis slept here."

"The executive offices for the president, the secretary of state and, I believe, some other departments of the government had by this time been established in a large brick building on Wilson Street."

This is a statement by William Pinkney Graves describing his return to Danville to report that Lee had surrendered.

Thus, the executive offices of the so-called last capitol of the Confederacy were not at the Sutherlin Mansion. It appears that the only connection the Sutherlin Mansion had to the "last capitol" was that CSA President Jefferson Davis slept there. The CSA executive offices were elsewhere, members of the cabinet slept elsewhere, and the last meeting of the CSA cabinet in Danville was elsewhere.

So, how can the Sutherlin Mansion fairly be described as the "last capitol of the Confederacy"? It cannot.

Source: Cozzens, Peter and Giraldi, Robert I., Editors. New Annals of the Civil War. Mechanicsburg (Pennsylvania): Stackpole Books, 2004.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

The Caswell Messenger Circulation Contest Results May 4, 1929

The Caswell Messenger Circulation Contest Results May 4, 1929

While the numbers are not totally understood, the overall winner was Mrs. Dewey Swicegood (1904-1937) [Margaret Lee Staley]. The Swicegoods operated a funeral home in Yanceyville, NC.

The second prize of a Ford car went to Mrs. Henry Hooper. This is Katherine Gertrude Everett Hooper (1908-1982), wife of Yanceyville merchant Henry Writch Hooper (1905-1981).

Third place went to Mrs. W. A. McKinney, who most likely is Maude Ellen Boswell (1889-1938), wife of Caswell County farmer William Andrew McKinney (1884-1939).

The fourth prize was won by Mrs. John Stephens, who remains unidentified.

Fifth prize went to Miss Mary Neighbors, who may be Mary Leigh Neighbors (1908-2001), sister of the much-loved school teacher Ruby Neighbors Hodges (1911-2006).

Thanks to Teresa Hooper for sharing this item.