Thursday, March 31, 2022

Caswell County Methodist Churches: 1906

Caswell County Methodist Churches: 1906

Methodist Church: Durham District Items

"The new church on Milton Circuit -- New Hope -- now in course of construction, will be one worthy of this fine congregation when finished. The pastor and the people of this community are to be congratulated. [See photograph. Click image to see a larger version.]

"The Prospect congregation on the Yanceyville Circuit will soon see the finishing touches go on their new church; and the Shady Grove people are also engaged in building. These two new buildings will add much to this fine old work.

"In addition to the above, the debts on the parsonages at Milton and Chapel Hill have been paid. This is counted worth while by every one who knows how troublesome church debts are. If anything, parsonage debts are worse."

North Carolina Christian Advocate (Greensboro, North Carolina), 7 March 1906.


1. New Hope United Methodist Church
2. Prospect United Methodist Church
3. Shady Grove United Methodist Church
4. Milton United Methodist Church Parsonage

For an extensive history of the churches of Caswell County, including those referenced above go to: Caswell County Churches History 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Milton Railway Depot Theft: 1906

Milton Railway Depot Theft: 1906

In 1906 two men "broke into and robbed" the Southern Railway freight depot at Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina. Special Detective White of the Southern Railway tracked the men for a year, finally apprehending them in Florida. After extradition proceedings, as of July 27, 1907, the two men were in the Caswell County Jail in Yanceyville, North Carolina, awaiting trial.

Source: The Charlotte News (Charlotte, North Carolina), 27 July 1907.

Click image to see a larger version.

Trial Results

"Caswell Superior Court has been in session at Yanceyville during the past week with Judge Moore, of Buncombe County, presiding, and Solicitor Graves [Stephen Porter Graves (1865-1937)] representing the State. Suitor and Gregory, two men charged with breaking into and robbing the Southern Railway depot at Milton, were sentenced to two years each in the State prison [at Raleigh]."

The Reidsville Review (Reidsville, North Carolina), 22 October 1907.

"Lively Politics and Pistols: A Republican Rumpus in Caswell County" 1892

 "Lively Politics and Pistols: A Republican Rumpus in Caswell County -- Adams Painfully Wounded"

Danville, Va., October 24 [1892]. -- "There was a lively political row at Miner's store, in Caswell county, on Saturday last. The particulars, as far as can be learned, are as follows: S. P. Womack [actually T. P. Womack] announced himself as Republican candidate for sheriff, and in the course of his remarks said that there was a Republican traitor in the camp who was trying to injure him. Reference was had to A. B. Adams [actually S. B. Adams; see photograph], a well-known Republican and clerk of the Superior Court for that county. After Womack had left the stand Adams denounced him, and Womack struck Adams in the face. B. Y. Womack, brother of the other Womack, then came up and Adams drew a pistol and shot at him. B. Y. Womack then drew his pistol and shot Adams in the arm inflicting a painful but not fatal wound."

Source: The Richmond Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), 25 October 1892.


The S. P. Womack [T. P. Womack] of the above article is believed to be Thomas Pancoast Womack (1861-1916), who already was Caswell County sheriff at the time, and apparently was announcing his intention to run for the office again. He was successful and served as sheriff 1891 to 1894. His pistol-brandishing brother is Bartlett Yancey Womack (1856-1897).

The brothers are sons of Thomas Jefferson Womack and Ann Elizabeth Yancey Womack, thus being grandsons of Bartlett Yancey, Jr. (1785-1828).

The A. B. Adams referred to in the article is S. B. Adams (Spencer B. Adams), who served as Caswell County Clerk of Court 1882-1896.

The location of Miner's Store is unknown.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Samuel Simeon Fels (1860-1950)

Samuel Simeon Fels (1860-1950) 

The entrance to the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.) Click Photograph for a Larger Image.

 Note that the building that now houses the Fels Institute of Government was a one time the Fels mansion on the west end of the University of Pennsylvania campus. Samuel Simeon Fels, the youngest son of Lazarus and Susanna Fels, was born in Yanceyville, N.C., on February 16, 1860. His family moved north to settle in Philadelphia, where in 1876 Samuel joined the soap manufacturing business established that year by his older brother. The firm, Fels & Co., was incorporated in 1914, and Samuel became its first president, holding the office until his death in 1950. (The company was sold to Purex Corporation in 1964.)

While remaining active in the affairs of Fels & Co., he also became one of Philadelphia's most prominent philanthropists. He took an active interest in, and gave generous support to, civic, scientific, cultural, and educational causes. In 1936 Fels established the Samuel S. Fels Fund to continue financial support in these areas. The Fund is still active (2005) and provides support through endowment to numerous non-profit organizations in the Philadelphia area.

Roads Rally at Yanceyville, North Carolina: 1924

Roads Rally at Yanceyville

In June 1924 a large rally was held at Yanceyville, North Carolina, to host the Governors of North Carolina and Virginia, Executives and Members of the North Carolina Highway Commission, and guests from South America. The purpose was to tour and inspect roads recently completed (principally by Nello Teer) in that section of North Carolina. Expected were between four and five thousand people from Caswell and adjoining counties, with fully two thousand automobiles. Five hundred cars will convey the party and followers from Greensboro over the hard road to Reidsville where the visitors paused for a short time before going to Yanceyville on the Rockingham and Caswell road which was recently completed. Click image to see a larger version.

R. L. Mitchell [Robert Lee Mitchell] and R. S. Graves [Robert Sterling Graves] were the Yanceyville hosts, with a barbecue dinner served "in the grove of the R. S. Graves homestead ["Dongola"]. Over two thousand pounds of pork, mutton, beef and chicken" was arranged for the barbecue with all the trimmings. After dinner had been served, George Anderson [George Andrew Anderson] formerly superintendent of Caswell County schools delivered an address of welcome. After the Yanceyville entertainment was over the whole party proceeded on Route No. 62 to Baynes Store and then to Hightowers to was the actual construction of roads.

The Bee (Danville, VA), 2 June 1924, Monday, Pages 1 & 3.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Yanceyville, North Carolina, Postmaster: 1916

Yanceyville Postmaster: 1916

Mr. Barzillai Shuford Graves (1854-1942) (photograph to left), agent for the surety bonding company, has designated his first cousin Mr. Robert Sterling Graves (1870-1962) Yanceyville postmaster, until an appointment can be made by the government. The Reidsville Review (Reidsville, North Carolina), 1 February 1916, Tuesday, Page 6.

This interim appointment was necessitated by the January 26, 1916, death (pneumonia) of Yanceyville Postmaster Henry Williams Perry (1869-1916). When the "government" did act, it appointed Mrs. Sallie Willie Graves Perry (1880-1960), wife of deceased Postmaster Henry Williams Perry (and sister of the Robert Sterling Graves mentioned above). She owned the building in which the Yanceyville Post Office was located. See photograph below. Click image for a larger version.

The next year (1917) she sold the building to Crowell Automobile Co., which eventually established a Ford dealership in Yanceyville. In the 1930s this dealership became Johnny Gunn's Caswell Motor Co.

In 1918 she resigned the postmaster position because she had married D'Arcy William Bradsher (1853-1929) and moved to Roxboro, Person County, North Carolina.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Methodist Church Will Be Dedicated At Yanceyville: 1917

Methodist Church Will Be Dedicated At Yanceyville: 1917

Yanceyville, May 4. -- "The new Methodist church at Yanceyville will be dedicated Sunday, May 6, and Rev. J. C. Wooten, presiding elder of the Durham district will do the preaching.

"This is the old Methodist church building that has been remodeled, stuccoed on the outside with a pure white finish, and finished on the inside in mahogany.

"Two new memorial windows have been placed in the church in memory of some of the pioneers of early Methodism in Yanceyville. This will be a regular home coming day for all friends of this church who reside at a distance as well as those who live near."

Greensboro Daily News (Greensboro, North Carolina), 5 May 1917, Saturday, Page 2.

Click image to see a larger version. This photograph did not accompany the above newspaper article and was taken much later. Note the clothes worn.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Blanch/Blanche, Caswell County, NC, Name Origin

Blanch, Caswell County, North Carolina

The following was posted by Rick Frederick 24 March 2022 to his Facebook Page:

Earlier, we had a lively discussion about the name of a community in northern Caswell County now called "Blanch."

Apparently, the spelling initially was "Blanche." Some believe the community took the name "Blanche" because the first postmaster there named the post office for his daughter. The postmaster was James Byrd Moore (1848-1900), and his daughter is Blanche Lydia Moore (1882-1960). However, we found no evidence the post office was named "Blanche."

After additional research here is what we did find:

Daniel Gunn Watkins (1857-1937) was a substantial land owner in the area now called "Blanch." When the area began to develop he named it: "Blanche." This apparently was in honor of his niece, the above-mentioned Blanche Lydia Moore. She was his niece by virtue of being a daughter of his wife's sister, Bettie Margaret Powell (1851-1938). Here is a photograph of his store. Note the name: "D. G. Watkins & Son Blanche, NC." Click image to see a larger version.

It appears in 1890 the United States Postal Service designated the post office in this community as "Blanch." Thus, spelling of the name eventually shifted from "Blanche" to "Blanch."

However, this transition took a while and apparently was ignored by the railroad that ran through the community. Note the spelling on the depot. Click image to see a larger version.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Caswell County, North Carolina, Rural Mail Carriers

Caswell County, North Carolina, Rural Mail Carriers

1. Walter William McGuire (Yanceyville)
2. John Abner Massey (Yanceyville)
3. Arthur William Moorefield (Yanceyville)
4. John Moore (Milton)
5. Sol Angle (Milton)

6. Hester Fowlkes (Milton)
7. J. T. (Jake) Bradsher (Milton)
8. Nathaniel Palmer (Milton)
9. J. V. Hudson (Milton)
10. Stephen E. Walker (Milton)

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Bartlett Yancey High School Class of 1929 (Yanceyville, NC)

Bartlett Yancey High School Class of 1929

Faculty on back row may include Sheffield Horace Abell (1899-1973) (third from left) (principal), and Norman Stroupe Upchurch (1904-1989) (fifth/last from left) (assistant principal).

Teacher to far left may be Ralph Holton Vance (science). Female teachers second from left and fourth from left (white sweater) may be Mrs. Giles Mebane (mathematics)* or Miss Laura Oliver (English).**

Location: Bartlett Yancey School (Yanceyville, NC). Click image to see a larger version.

Female Students: 16
Male Students: 5
Total: 21

At the time the school included only grades 1-11. Thus, the graduates could age 16-18, depending upon birth date (1911-1913). It appears that grades 8-11 were considered "high school."

And, while elementary school covered grades 1-7, there was an odd grade called "high first grade" in addition to the "regular" first grade.


* Possibly Edna Earl Watkins (1885-1988)

** Possibly Laura Esther Oliver (1881-1959)

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Yanceyville Well (Yanceyville, Caswell County, NC)

Howlett Well Fixture: Yanceyville Well

"If you want a cheap and durable apparatus for your well don't fail to examine the Howlett Well Fixture before you purchase, and see those who have them and ask them what they think of them. One can be seen in operation at the public well here [on the Yanceyville Square]. W. H. Thompson agent."

Source: The Caswell News (Yanceyville, NC), 19 February 1886.

Motor Service, Inc. (Yanceyville, NC)

In our discussion of the businesses that operated on the same side of Main Street in Yanceyville, NC, as Joe's Charcoal Burger I posted the following:

"There was a building with a bar upstairs. It may have sold food. I remember going there with my Uncle Arthur Moorefield, Jr., and his son Bill Moorefield. Bill and I were just lads, so it would have been in the mid-1950s or so. I vividly recall walking up stairs and my uncle having a beer."

Thanks to JC Winstead for providing the photograph. That is the building, which apparently was the old/original Motor Service, Inc. business. Click image to see a larger version.

Gordon Satterfield: Bill brown from Danville ran parts store next to it NAPA parts I believe farm bureau is where red pig was

Mike Davis: Gordon G Satterfield that's right brown did in the place the hunting store is now

Carroll Aldridge: I think the NAPA store opened in the old ABC store after the ABC store moved to the intersection of Old Hwy 86 and New Hwy 86 (often referred to as the bypass).

Ken Darnell: The building beside Bill Browns "Motor Service" was once a convenience store called "Jiffy Mart". I worked there for Brown back in the day. Beside the Jiffy Mart, in the same building was a laundromat. The upstairs portion was apartments...later the first location of Caswell Family Medical Center.

Yep. That was the building that Bill Brown made into "Jiffy Mart"...on the right...and a coin operated laundry on the left. The upstairs were apartments for a time and then the first (as I know of) location of the Caswell Family Medical Center.

Luther Fowler: He was one of the best parts man in the business. Bill's computer was in his head.

Rick Frederick: I also recall the old building being directly across the street from Johnny Harwood's house. Johnny's father, of the same name, built a baseball diamond/field beside his house (east of). At one time Johnny Harwood, Sr., was Yanceyville VFD Fire Chief. He would take a group of boys to Danville to see minor league baseball.

New Motor Service, Inc., building with old building to left.
Newspaper advertisement showing both old and new buildings.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Roanoke Navigation Company

Roanoke Navigation Company

The North Carolina Legislature passed a bill in 1812 entitled: "An Act for improving the navigation of Roanoke River from the Town of Halifax to the place where the Virginia line intersects same." The capital stock was fixed at $100,000 divided into 1,000 shares of $100 denomination each. The next year a meeting of stockholders held at Halifax, N.C., on October 25, 1813, the company was declared organized. It was styled the Roanoke Navigation Company.

The North Carolina Legislature in 1815 opened new subscription books for $300,000, or 3,000 shares of $100 each, with the State of North Carolina subscribing 250 shares.

On November 11, 1816, Roanoke Navigation Company was chartered by Virginia's Legislature and a further addition of $200,000 was made to the capital stock.

Another act of the North Carolina Legislature assented to the Virginia Act and enacted: "That the exclusive right to improve the navigation of said River (Roanoke) and its branches within the state of Virginia shall be, and the same hereby is vested in the Company incorporated by the several acts of the Legislature of North Carolina, passed in 1812, 1815, and 1816."

Construction of the canals and locks was to be completed by January 1, 1843, and the property was to be exempt from taxation forever.

Virginia and North Carolina legislatures both concurred in the provisions of the 1817 ACT and each state reserved to itself the right to subscribe $800,000 to the stock.

The Roanoke Navigation Company accepted all the legislative conditions at a meeting of directors on May 6, 1817.