Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Yanceyville, North Carolina, in Life Magazine: 1941

Yanceyville in Life Magazine: 1941

In the fall of 1941, Life magazine photographer and staff writer Walter Sanders spent time in Yanceyville gathering information and taking dozens of photographs. Only a few (seven) were published in the magazine. For decades I (Richmond S. Frederick, Jr.) have attempted to locate the photographs not published, which probably number over ninety images (and possibly as many as two-hundred). I was not successful.

I donated my two copies of this Life magazine issue (December 8, 1941) to the Caswell County Historical Association (Yanceyville, North Carolina). Those interested can view it there. Unfortunately, the article focused on card playing being banned from the Caswell County Courthouse, thus ignoring more important aspects of Caswell County's history. Of course, the events of December 1, 1941, may have affected the focus of the magazine.

Here is a newspaper article on Life magazine in Yanceyville: 

Yanceyville To Be "Done" By Life: Staff Man Takes Pictures, Gathers Story Surrounding Post Bellum Days

(Special to The Bee). Yanceyville, N.C., Nov. 20. -- Yanceyville is to be the subject of a feature article in the nationally-known magazine Life, within the next four or five weeks. Walter Sanders, a staff writer for the magazine completed his hundredth picture of Yanceyville scenes yesterday and has gone North to write his story of the luminous background history of the seat of Caswell County. From the pictures taken will be made a selection to illustrate the article.

Featuring the story will be the renovated courthouse which seems to attract more and more attention as tourists come this way. The unique fantail spread dominating the portico has been proclaimed by passing artists as a rare instance of native American architecture and it is quite possible that the courthouse will be done in oils and in water color seen in its protective shade trees next summer.

Sanders "shot" the courthouse from every conceivable angle and seemed equally interested in the homes of A. Yancey Kerr, Sterling Graves -- pioneer families here -- and the old Poteat home owned by Mrs. Helen P. Stallings. The views include several worthies identified with the life of the town.

Sanders was given details of the Reconstruction history of Yanceyville, particularly the reign of carpet baggers here, culminating in the discovery one day of "Chicken" Stephens, the Gauleiter of his times, garroted in a courthouse room while upstairs a Republican mass meeting was being held.

Source: The Bee (Danville, Virginia), 20 November 1941, Thursday, Page 1.

It is likely that the "Special" submitted to The Bee was by Erwin Duke Stephens (1904-1991), editor of  The Caswell Messenger, or by George Andrew Anderson (1869-1945).

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Farm Security Administration: Caswell County, North Carolina, Photographs

 Farm Security Administration

The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was a New Deal agency created in 1937 to combat rural poverty during the Great Depression in the United States. It succeeded the Resettlement Administration (1935–1937).

The FSA stressed "rural rehabilitation" efforts to improve the lifestyle of very poor landowning farmers, and a program to purchase sub-marginal land owned by poor farmers and resettle them in group farms on land more suitable for efficient farming.

Reactionary critics, including the Farm Bureau, strongly opposed the FSA as an alleged experiment in collectivizing agriculture—that is, in bringing farmers together to work on large government-owned farms using modern techniques under the supervision of experts. After the Conservative coalition took control of Congress, it transformed the FSA into a program to help poor farmers buy land, and that program continues to operate in the 21st century as the Farmers Home Administration.

The FSA is famous for its small but highly influential photography program, 1935–44, that portrayed the challenges of rural poverty. The photographs in the FSA/Office of War Information Photograph Collection form an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944. This U.S. government photography project was headed for most of its existence by Roy Stryker, who guided the effort in a succession of government agencies: the Resettlement Administration (1935–1937), the Farm Security Administration (1937–1942), and the Office of War Information (1942–1944).

The collection also includes photographs acquired from other governmental and nongovernmental sources, including the News Bureau at the Offices of Emergency Management (OEM), various branches of the military, and industrial corporations.

In total, the black-and-white portion of the collection consists of about 175,000 black-and-white film negatives, encompassing both negatives that were printed for FSA-OWI use and those that were not printed at the time. Color transparencies also made by the FSA/OWI are available in a separate section of the catalog: FSA/OWI Color Photographs.

Source: Wikipedia


Caswell County FSA Photographs by Marion Post Wolcott: Caswell County Photograph Collection

Photograph: Marion Post Wolcott

Land Use Planning: Caswell County, North Carolina -- 1940

Caswell County: As Poor and Eroded as Possible to Find: 1940

In 1938, US Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace believed all the government programs* were confusing to farmers and decided to experiment with a plan that worked from the bottom up -- and called it Land Use Planning. Farmers would ask for what they needed instead of sitting still and having the government make the decisions.

Secretary Wallace wanted a "guinea pig" to test his theory:

"He wanted an area as poor and eroded as it was possible to find. An area where rain gullies and the one cash crop system had forced the majority of farmers on relief. He found it in Caswell County [North Carolina]."

"If Land Use Planning will work here, it will work anywhere," said Wallace.

The Durham Herald-Sun (Durham, North Carolina), 24 November 1940. Republished: The News and Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina), 19 January 1941.

*Plethora of federal programs, including but not limited to the following:

Farm Security Administration
Agricultural Adjustment Administration
Bureau of Agricultural Economics
Production Credit Association
Rural Electrification Administration
Civilian Conservation Corps
Soil Conservation Service
State University Extension Service
Seed Loan Corporation
Forestry Service

Monday, April 18, 2022

William Louis Poteat Family

 Poteat Family Photograph

Left-to-Right: Addison Foster Purefoy (with beard and bow tie, standing); Araminta Virginia Allen Purefoy (wife of Addison Foster Purefoy), Louie Poteat (young girl standing), Hubert McNeill Poteat (young boy seated), Julia Annes McNeill Poteat, Ida Isabella Poteat (standing), Emma James Purefoy Poteat (holding daughter Helen Purefoy Poteat), William Louis Poteat.

Date: c. July 1896

Location: Wake Forest, Wake County, North Carolina

Monday, April 11, 2022

Yanceyville, North Carolina, Liquor Dispensaries: 1905

 Caswell County Quiz Answer (April 11, 2022)

Question: Here we have discussed the erratic history of Yanceyville incorporation -- becoming an organized town rather than just a village.

In 1905 Yanceyville was again incorporated. But the reason was liquor. Do you know why liquor was behind this incorporation?

Answer: An issue in North Carolina in the early 1900s was to chose, at the local level, between dispensaries and saloons. Yanceyville apparently had to be incorporated for its residents to be able to vote on the dispensary issue.

Many churches and prohibition groups favored the dispensary system over licensed saloons. They believed this was a first step toward full prohibition.  The modern North Carolina ABC store can trace its ancestry to the early dispensaries.

Of course, North Carolina adopted absolute statewide prohibition that became effective January 1909. Thus the Caswell County dispensary system experiment was short-lived, and little is known about it.


Some NC towns/counties had dispensaries bottles/flasks manufactured with identifying information on it. They are very collectible. None is known for Yanceyville. Below is a bottle from the Raleigh dispensary. Click image to see a larger version.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Caswell County Takes Graves Land Twice

Caswell County Takes Graves Land Twice for High School: Eminent Domain

By 1935, Yanceyville needed a new high school building. The Bartlett Yancey School built in 1923 was inadequate for the growing student population. High school student overflow had been forced into the old academy building, which had been condemned.

The Caswell County Board of Education wanted the new high school building near the 1923 Bartlett Yancey School on East Main Street but did not own the coveted land. It was owned by Yanceyville resident Robert Sterling Graves (1870-1962), who refused to sell. So, Caswell County instituted successful eminent domain proceedings and "took" the property from Robert Sterling Graves. See the below newspaper article.

When this 1935/1936 Bartlett Yancey High School building became inadequate in the late 1950s, the Caswell County Board of Education had its eyes on property across the street. And, of course, it was owned by the Graves family. So, Caswell County again began eminent domain proceedings, prevailed, and "took" the Graves property. This is the site of the "new" Bartlett Yancey Senior High School. 

Interesting: The person for whom the school is named, Bartlett Yancey, Jr. (1785-1828), married Ann Graves (1786-1855), and it was her family from whom the real property described above was taken through eminent domain proceedings. The Caswell County Board of Education was not satisfied that the site of the original Bartlett Yancey School (became the Bartlett Yancey Elementary School) was donated by the Graves/Yancey family -- with only one condition: that it be named for Bartlett Yancey, Jr..

"A case of unusual interest is to be heard here [Yanceyville] during this week in [court] Chambers. In the proceeding the [Caswell] county board of education is asking that a site be condemned [eminent domain] for a projected school building on the land of R. S. Graves, in the village of Yanceyville. The school authorities have been served with a restraining order and the outcome of the action is creating wide-spread interest." The Bee (Danville, Virginia), 3 July 1935.


Bartlett Yancey High School Building 1935

Bartlett Yancey High School Building 1960s [demolished 2020]

Yanceyville Square Well

Howlett Well Fixture: 1886

"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.

Photograph: Well on the Square [Yanceyville, North Carolina] much later than 1886. Click image to see a larger version.

Saturday, April 09, 2022

Caswell County White Caps Assault Women: 1897

White Caps: 1897

"A gang of white caps met a few nights ago and whipped a gang of lude women, known as the 'Tates,' who have lived about two miles north of Yanceyville. It is said that they have left the county.

"They were on trial at the last term of the Superior court and the judgment of the court was that they should leave the county in ten days. They failed to go, but the white cap remedy proved more effective, and the community was rid of a great annoyance." -- News and Commercial

Reprinted in The Reidsville Review (Reidsville, North Carolina), 26 November 1897.

Whitecapping was a movement among farmers that occurred specifically in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was originally a ritualized form of extralegal actions to enforce community standards, appropriate behavior, and traditional rights. However, as it spread throughout the poorest areas of the rural South after the Civil War, white members operated from economically driven and anti-black biases. States passed laws against it, but whitecapping continued into the early 20th century.

Whitecapping was associated historically with such insurgent groups as The Night Riders, Bald Knobbers and the Ku Klux Klan. They were known for committing "extralegal acts of violence targeting select groups, carried out by vigilantes under cover of night or disguise."

Source: Wikipedia

Friday, April 08, 2022

Nathaniel Kerr Graves (1875-1899) Death

 Nathaniel Kerr Graves (1875-1899)

A white-owned and controlled Reidsville newspaper reported the following with respect to the death of twenty-four-year-old Nat Graves in Mississippi:

"The remains of Mr. Nat K. Graves passed Reidsville yesterday en route to Yanceyville, the former home of the deceased. Mr. Graves was murdered at Round Lake, Miss., Sunday night [12 November], by a crazy negro, as was also Arthur Maxman, a gentleman with whom Mr. Graves lived. The deceased was well known here [Reidsville]. His remains were buried yesterday at Yanceyville."

The Reidsville Review (Reidsville, North Carolina), 17 November 1899, Friday, Page 3.


Nathaniel Kerr Graves is a son of William Blair (Billy Hickory) Graves (1827-1894) and Sarah H. Lea (1844-1907). He rests at the First Baptist Church of Yanceyville. What young Nat Graves was doing in Mississippi is unknown.

Photograph: Yanceyville Baseball Team. Click image to see a larger version.

The players and coach (left-to-right beginning on back row):

1. Jim Slade

2. John Graves

3. John H. Kerr

4. B. S. Graves (coach/beard)

5. Steve Richmond (first seated player, far left)

6. Pomp Richmond (with bat)

7. Nat Graves (has ball in his hand; could be the pitcher)

8. Bob Roan (apparently the catcher)

9. A. Yancey Kerr

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Family of Lewis Washington Graves (1904-1970)

Left to Right:

Dr. Stephen Arnold Malloy (1872-1944)

Mary Louise Poole Graves (1904-2009)

Lewis Washington Graves (1904-1970)

Lewis Washington Graves, Jr. (young boy)

"That is my Grandmother, Mary Poole Graves and my Grandfather, Louis Graves. My Mom told me they were getting a physical for a home loan. This physical led to the establishment of my families farm on Marshall Graves Rd. The young boy in my Grandfather’s lap is my eldest living Uncle."

Source: David Smith 5 April 2022 Post to Rick Frederick Facebook Page.

The loan came through the Farm Security Administration.

Photograph Source: Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, Marion Post Wolcott (1940). Dr. S.A. Malloy examining Louis Graves and his family on their front porch. They are FSA (Farm Security Administration) borrowers. Caswell County, North Carolina. Click photograph to see a larger image.

The Graves family apparently had an earlier association with Dr. Malloy. It named a daughter: Catherine Malloy Graves (1929-2001). Presumably they knew that Dr. Malloy supported the 1900 amendment to the North Carolina constitution that disenfranchised many black North Carolina citizens.

Monday, April 04, 2022

Bucklen's Arnica Salve: Sold in Milton and Yanceyville (1900)

Bucklen's Arnica Salve: Sold in Milton and Yanceyville (1900)

"A FRIGHTFUL BLUNDER Will often cause a horrible Burn, Scald, Cut or Bruise. Bucklen's Arnica Salve, the best in the world, will kill the pain and promptly heal it. Cures Old Sores, Fever Sores, Ulcers, Boils, Felons, Corns, all Skin Eruptions. Best Pile cure on earth. Only 25 cts a box. Cure guaranteed. Sold by R. L. Dixon, druggist, and Perry & Graves, of Yanceyville."

The Milton Herald (Milton, North Carolina), 29 November 1900.

Robert Lee Dixon (1861-1926) - Milton druggist

Henry Williams Perry (1869-1916) was a Yanceyville druggist. However, his Graves partner in the business is not known. On July 5, 1900, he married Sallie Willie Graves (1880-1960). Was she or a member of her Graves family the partner of Perry? If the latter, is that how they met?

Dr. Malloy Changes Mind on "Negro Issue" -- To Effectively Disenfranchise North Carolina Black Citizens

Dr. Malloy Changes Mind on "Negro Issue" -- To Effectively Disenfranchise North Carolina Black Citizens

Webster's Weekly
(Reidsville) tells of the conversion to the [North Carolina constitutional] amendment of Dr. S. A. Malloy, of Yanceyville, Caswell County. 

It says: "Dr. S. A. Malloy, of Yanceyville, who was brought up in the Republican faith, sends a message to his father, Colonel David Malloy, and his brothers, Messrs. Thomas S. and Robert M. Malloy, to the effect that he used to believe that there was nothing in the negro issue, but having lived in Caswell and seen with his own eyes negro magistrates and negro county commissioners, and negro politicians running Republican conventions, he has changed his mind and proposes to vote the straight Democratic ticket." 

The Semi-Weekly Messenger (Wilmington, North Carolina), 3 July 1900.

Dr. Stephen Arnold Malloy, M.D. (1872-1944)

Colonel David Morton Malloy (1833-1901): large enslaver and Confederate officer

Thomas Settle Malloy (1864-1941)

Robert Martin Douglas Malloy (1870-1908)

See: The Heritage of Rockingham County, North Carolina, Charles Dyson Rodenbough, Editor (1983) at 380-381 (Article #660, "Col. D. M. Malloy Family" by Celia L. Stockett).

On August 2, 1900, North Carolina approved a constitutional amendment that required residents to pass a literacy test in order to register to vote. Under the provision, illiterate registrants with a relative who had voted in an election prior to the year 1863 were exempt from the requirement.

These provisions effectively disenfranchised most of the state’s African-American voting population. At the same time, the rules preserved the voting rights of most of the state’s poor and uneducated white residents—who were much more likely to have a relative eligible to vote in 1863, before the abolition of slavery and passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments. To the drafters and supporters of the amendment, this outcome was by design.

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Caswell County, North Carolina, Schools Text Books 1901

Caswell County Schools Text Books 1901 

Caswell County. Yanceyville, N. C., Feb. 28, 1901

"This is to certify that at the last county adoption of Caswell County, among the books adopted for the public schools were Maury's Geographics, Sanford's Arithmetics, Holmes' Readers and Finger's Civil Government.

"These books are generally used throughout the county and are giving satisfaction. In fact all the books adopted at that time are in satisfactory use and no change is desired. "A change would bring unnecessary expense to the people, confusion and slower progress for some time in the schools."

(Signed)                W. N. Harrelson,
                              R. L. Mitchell, School Directors.

The Morning Post (Raleigh, North Carolina), 9 June 1901.

Friday, April 01, 2022

Yanceyville Telephone Company (Yanceyville, North Carolina): 1903

Yanceyville Telephone Co.

"The Yanceyville Telephone Company, of Yanceyville, Caswell County, was incorporated yesterday in the [North Carolina] Secretary of State's office, to operate a line from Milton via Hamer, Yanceyville, Purley, Gatewood, to Danville, VA, and from Yanceyville to Reidsville, Greensboro, Burlington, Graham, Hillsborough, Roxboro, and other points. The capital stock paid in is $1,000, which may be increased to $3,000.

"The incorporators are G. T. Hubbard, of Hamer; B. S. Graves and S. A. Malloy, of Yanceyville, and S. G. Woods, of Purley."

The North Carolinian (Raleigh, North Carolina), 17 September 1903.

In 1931, the Yanceyville Telephone Co. was operated from the second floor of the Florance Building (became the Dime Store).

1. Grattan T. Hubbard (1855-1905) (Hamer merchant and postmaster)

2. Barzillai Shuford Graves (1854-1942) (Caswell County Sheriff, among other positions held)

3. Dr. Stephen Arnold Malloy (1872-1944) (Yanceyville medical doctor)

4. Samuel Green Woods (1853-1935) (Purley farmer, lumber mill owner, merchant)

Bank of Yanceyville: Overly Optimistic 1909 Construction Plans

Bank of Yanceyville: Overly Optimistic Construction Plans

While the lot was purchased September 1909 and a request for construction bids issued October 1909, the bank building was not completed until 1923. Query what happened. See US financial conditions summary below.

"The Bank of Yanceyville this week purchased a lot between Florance's [became Dime Store] and Hooper's [W. H. Hooper & Son] stores, and will at once proceed to erect a handsome home for itself of concrete foundation, glass and pressed brick front. 

"Outside of the Courthouse, it will be the prettiest building in town, being modern in all respects. Every citizen who has a hope and faith in the future of this good old town will rejoice at this progressive move on the part of our wide-a-wake bank. -- Yanceyville Sentinel."

Reprinted in The Twice-a-Week Dispatch (Burlington, North Carolina), 8 September 1909.

Photograph: Construction in 1922/1923. Click image to see a larger version. Note the empty lot to the right on which the Yanceyville Drug Store was built.

Here are the US economic conditions during the period, which provides context.

Panic of 1907

The first global financial crisis of the century, the Panic of 1907—also called the Knickerbocker Crisis—was a three-week collapse of the stock market that caused a number of financial institutions to close their doors. A failed takeover attempt of United Copper by two speculators led to a run on Mercantile National Bank, the financier of the venture. The 13-month recession eventually led to the creation of The Federal Reserve system in 1913.