Sunday, July 25, 2021

 Lea Ancestry

Many people in Caswell County, North Carolina, and surrounding areas have Lea ancestors. And, in "The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina," Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) (hereinafter "Caswell Heritage Book") are ten articles directly relating to the Lea family, with many references to Lea in other articles.

I want to caution you about relying upon these articles without doing further research. While this obviously can be said for all articles written by laymen in publications such as a county heritage book, it is especially critical for the Lea family.

The following factors are the basis for this warning:

1. The Lea family came to North Carolina from Virginia (particularly King & Queen County). Many of the core records from that county were lost or destroyed.

2. The given names William, James, and John were used repeatedly and confusingly.

3. Much misinformation has been published about the Lea family, esepcially these books:

(a) "Amite County Missisippi 1699-1890," Albert E. Casey

(b) "Finding Your Forefathers in America," Archibald F. Bennett

(c) "How I'm Kin to Whom: The Leas," Martha Lea Grdner and Richard T. Gardner

(d) "Lea Family," Frances Powell Otken. 1952.

Note that several articles in the Caswell Heritage Book rely heavily upon Amite County Mississippi 1699-1890, Albert E. Casey, and even cite it as an "excellent authority."

An example of the mischief caused by Albert E. Casey is his unfounded assumption that all persons with the surname Leigh, Lee, and Lea are related -- that the names essentially are the same. This was a crucial error.

The proliferation of online Lea family "genealogies" has compounded the problem.

Good luck.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

The Great Dinner in Caswell County, NC: 1839

 The Weekly Standard (Raleigh, North Carolina),  2 October 1839, Wednesday, Page 2

The Great Dinner in Caswell [From the Milton Spectator.] [Editor's Note: This apparently was a Democratic Party political meeting.]

"Agreeably to arrangements previously made, a very large assemblage (estimated at seven hundred) of the people of Caswell, including a few from all the adjoining counties, met on Thursday last at the house of Mr. Zeri Gwyn,* a gentleman noted for his hospitality and kindness, in the vicinity of Yanceyville, and partook of a sumptuous and splendid dinner, prepared for the occasion, and served up in a style that drew applause from every one; the company separated about sundown, highly delighted with their  entertainment, nothing having occurred to mar the good feeling and social intercourse with each other.

"The front gate of the beautiful and spacious lawn, shaded by lofty and spreading forest trees, was thrown open about nine o'clock A.M. when the company began to assemble. At about one o'clock P.M. dinner was announced, and the invited guests and strangers in attendance were politely conducted to the centre wing of the table by Major James Kerr, and Dr. James E. Williamson, Marshals of the day; and although 250 plates were provided, not one-half of the company could be accommodated with a seat at the first table, but waited patiently and without murmuring, until they could be accommodated.

"Upon the removal of the cloth, the table was bountifully supplied with choice wines and good liquors. General Barzillai Graves was requested to preside, and took his seat at the middle of the main table, fronting the centre wing, at which were again seated the invited guests and strangers. Dabney Rainy, Esq., General Thomas W. Graves, Major Wm. D. Bethell, Major Wm. A. Lea, and Dr. John B. McMullen, having been appointed, resumed their proper seats and officiated as Vice Presidents, when the following sentiments were given in regular order, and responded to by the immense crowd with an unusual degree of cheerfulness, making the air ring with loud huzzas."


*Zera/Zeri Gwyn (1778-1840)