Sunday, October 16, 2022

Milton, North Carolina, Fires

 Milton Fires

In 1856, the editor of the Milton Chronicle newspaper, Charles Napoleon Bonaparte Evans, appealed to the citizens of Milton, North Carolina, to obtain a fire engine. He was ignored, and it is amazing that  Milton has the buildings it does today, as the town continued to rely upon bucket brigades to fight fires. Milton did not have a volunteer fire department until the late 1950s.

So, when in November 1917 a fire broke out in the W. L. Thomas store was Milton prepared? No. The flames spread to the home of Mrs. K. D. Watkins and destroyed it. Milton had the railroad depot send a telegram to Danville for help, but a derailed train blocked the route.

Greensboro Daily News (Greensboro, North Carolina), 5 November 1917. Click image to see a larger version.


List of Milton Fires (partial)

1. 1880: Hatcher & Stamps Tobacco Factory

2. 1906: Milton Roller Mills completely destroyed.

3. 1917: Thomas store extensively damaged and Mrs. K. D. Watkins house destroyed.

4. 1920s/1930s: Lewis Walker House

5. 1932: "Glenburnie" destroyed.

6. 1938: WPA Sewing Room, Clyde Jones Building, W. T. Oliver Store, Smith Brandon Store.

7. 1940 (around): Gordon Saloon building burned, along with other buildings

8. 1940s: Archibald Murphey School 

9. 1944: Milton Roller Mills (burned again)

10. 1951: Milton Hotel completely destroyed.

11. 1989: Thomas Day House/Union Tavern

12. 2013: "Longwood" completely destroyed.


A number of tobacco factory/warehouse fires are not listed.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Milton Public School: 1910

Milton Public School: 1910

In May 1909, Milton voters approved a special tax for a school. R. L. Dixon, C. B. Newman, F. B. Jones, J. J. Lipscomb, and E. R. Burch were elected trustees. The old brick building formerly a female academy was repaired for use by the newly authorized school. The first term of the new school ended in April 1910, after what was described as a prosperous year, with full attendance.

Yanceyville Sentinel as reprinted in The Reidsville Review (Reidsville, NC), 19 Apr 1910.

Click newspaper article to see a larger version.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Manufacturing in Milton (Caswell County, North Carolina) Has Become a Memory: 1906

 Manufacturing in Milton Has Become a Memory: 1906

The Decadence of Milton

"The burning of the Milton Roller Mills, a mammoth plant at Milton, removes from that town the last of the manufacturing enterprises there. Milton was incorporated in the same year with Baltimore, and for some time so far as population and the amount of business transacted was concerned, was ahead of that city. Twenty years ago it was one the best towns in this section of the state.

"Until several years ago perhaps a dozen large tobacco factories were operated there and it was a thriving tobacco market. In recent years, however, the old town has been going down hill -- the population is diminishing, the business is decreasing, and what once was a progressive and up-to-date little city, is now but a quiet, slow village, with the rippling waters of the Dan as about the only thing to attract the attention of the natives."

Greensboro Daily News (Greensboro, North Carolina), 18 Marcy 1906.

Photograph of Milton Roller Mill is not associated with the above newspaper item. Click image to see a larger version. Courtesy Jean Bradsher Scott.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Tournament Near Purley (Caswell County, NC): 1877

 Tournament Near Purley: 1877

Back in the day, tournaments were held in Caswell County, often followed by a ball. Yes, these were somewhat like the tournaments of old held in England -- replete with knights and jousting. However, the jousting combatants did not face each other, but attempted to pick off a ring while riding a horse.

Such a tournament was held 7 September 1877 near Purley in Caswell County. Several hundred people apparently attended, with the "charge to the knights" delivered by Colonel George Williamson of Yanceyville, and the "coronation" address by Ed. M. Page of Danville. Twenty-two knights entered the contest.

Milton Chronicle as reprinted in The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), 19 Sep 1877

North Carolina Tobacco Crop in 1901

 North Carolina Tobacco Crop Twenty-Five Percent Short: 1901

There is an eleven percent decrease in the acreage, but this is offset by better prices. Prices are higher than last year [1900]. Investigation shows that tobacco culture is more profitable than a year ago, but not so profitable as ten years ago.

A careful analysis of the conditions, size, and value of the crop with comparative statistics made by tobacco authorities both in and out the state [North Carolina].

The culture of tobacco has long been a leading staple in North Carolina. When the farmers in Caswell, Granville, Person, and surrounding counties began to get rich making bright tobacco, it was supposed that the bright tobacco would create perpetual wealth. Now the territory of the belt for growing bright tobacco has widened to keep pace with the increased demand for the manufactured tobacco made of the yellow leaf.

The price of leaf tobacco has been higher this season than for several previous years, though the crop has been short. Why is the price higher? How large is the crop? What was the acreage? Is it a profitable crop? These are important questions, not only to the growers of tobacco, but to all the people of North Carolina, for, next to the cotton crop, it is the largest money crop grown in North Carolina.

In answer to a series of questions printed below, sent to tobacco farmers, tobacco dealers, proprietors of tobacco warehouses, tobacco manufacturers and others enjoying special advantages to know about the crop, we print below a mass of valuable information.

Based upon this information the News and Observer is justified in saying:

1. The tobacco crop in North Carolina is less than a 75 percent crop.

2. The acreage is 89 percent of last year's [1900] acreage.

3. The tobacco is light as compared with last year's crop.

4. The average number of pounds grown per acre this year has been 549 pounds.

5. The prices are 61 percent higher than last year.

6. The amount of tobacco sold had fallen off in all the markets.

7. Tobacco culture is not so profitable as ten years ago. Tobacco manufacturing is carried on by fewer manufacturers than ten years ago, the tobacco trust having absorbed a number of the largest independent plants. Individuals are slow to enter into competition with the trust.

8. Tobacco culture is clearly more profitable than one year ago. The manufacturers of tobacco are increasing their business and are finding it pays better.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Liberty Warehouse (Milton, North Carolina): 1900

 Liberty Warehouse: 1900

Here is an interesting Milton newspaper advertisement. Note the names mentioned.

J. W. Lewis probably is John Willis Lewis (1831-1902), being a relative of Meriwether Lewis of Lewis & Clark exploratory fame.

E. D. Winstead most likely is Edwin Daniel Winstead (1852-1925).

I am struggling with Murray Ferguson; but the Ferguson family was well-known in Milton.

T. A. Donoho most likely is Thomas Archimedes Donoho (1862-1920).

Robert I. Newman most likely is Robert Ira Newman (1854-1934).

James L. McCrary most likely is James Lyman McCrary (1873-1956). He was from Arkansas, but in 1900 was living in Caswell County, North Carolina.

Click image to see a larger version.

The Milton Herald (Milton, NC), 29 Nov 1900

Monday, October 10, 2022

Milton Horse Racing

Milton Horse Racing

In reporting on a stakes horse race won by Milton's "Monsieur Tonsen" (owned by Mr. Clay), Ned Howard stated the following in the Milton Times:

"The winning steed on the occasion was one of a famous stud of racers owned by a Mr. Clay, of our town [Milton]. The writer remembers too that the lengthy and stirring accounts of the contest in the newspapers all closed with the announcement that Monsieur Tonsen was rode [sic] by Robert Wooding (uncle of our present Bob), with whom this writer afterwards had the pleasure of going to school to [with?] Malbon [Mablon] Kenyon, at that time editor and publisher of the Milton Gazette and Roanoke Advertiser.

"The printing office, the foreman's family [foreman of what?], and the school department were all in the same building -- the old landmark still standing at the east corner south side Main Street. Happy days, 'would I were a boy again!'"

Ned Howard in the Milton Times. Webster's Weekly (Reidsville, NC), 31 October 1895.

Query the identity of the men mentioned, the location of the building described, and whether the school was Hyco Academy.

Webster's Weekly (Reidsville, North Carolina), 31 October 1895.

Click image to see a larger version.

Mablon Kenyon, M.A., graduate of a Northern college, succeeded John H. Hinton in 1821 as master/teacher at Hyco Academy and remained at least through 1824. He previously had taught in public academies and had been a private tutor for several years, so the college preparatory program of the Academy continued. Kenyon was soon termed Principal and Dabney Rainey was his assistant. Rainey was also experienced and was cited for his "capability for governing and instruction." In 1824 Rainey departed Hyco to join the teaching staff of the Caswell Academy, and Kenyon apparently left at the end of the 1824 session. It was in that year that he became editor of the Milton Gazette & Roanoke Advertiser newspaper, a position he filled until 1831.

Source: Powell, William S. When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County North Carolina 1777-1977. Durham (North Carolina): Moore Publishing Company, 1977 at 358.

Sunday, October 09, 2022

Atlantic and Danville Railroad

Atlantic and Danville Railroad

The Atlantic and Danville Railway (reporting mark AD) was a Class I railroad that operated in Virginia and North Carolina. The company was founded in 1882 and opened its mainline between Portsmouth, Virginia, and Danville, Virginia in 1890. The Southern Railway leased the company from 1899–1949. The Norfolk and Western Railway purchased the company in 1962 and reorganized it as the Norfolk, Franklin and Danville Railway.

Atlantic and Danville Railroad Tragedy Near Milton: 1893

Not long after the Atlantic & Danville Railroad began service from Danville through Blanch, Milton, and Semora, tragedy struck. On August 16, 1893, a trestle over Country Line Creek just east of Milton, North Carolina, collapsed. Two passenger coaches and a sleeper coach fell into the creek, killing seven and wounded others. The train departed Danville, Virginia, at 1:35 a.m. bound for Portsmouth, Virginia. The crash occurred at 2:30 a.m.

"After passing through Milton and going over the trestle, the engineer, Peyton Tunstall, who says he was running at the rate of ten miles an hour, felt the bridge give way; he threw open the throttle, and the engine, tender, and a box car got safely over, but the passenger car was too late, and the span went down under its weight, the second passenger car and sleeper following. The cars were shivered into kindling wood, and the escape of any of the passengers was a miracle. The water in the creek had risen to a depth of twelve or more fee, and it is the general belief that the rise had undermined the foundation of the iron piers, causing the trestle to settle. On the train at the time were about sixteen persons, including the train hands.

"The dead were removed to the railroad depot at Milton, where they were kept until the arrival of the coroner from Halifax Court House [Virginia], the accident occurring on the Halifax [County] side of the creek. The loss will be very heavy to the railroad company, as the cars and a full span of the bridge are a total loss."

The Weekly Star (Wilmington, North Carolina), 18 August 1893.

Atlantic & Danville RR. The Reidsville Review (Reidsville, NC), 3 Apr 1889

Atlantic & Danville RR. The Norfolk Weekly Landmark (Norfolk, VA), 25 Sep 1889

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Dabney Terry Notice as Thomas Day Trustee: 1859

Thomas Day's Trustee Notice: 1859

Earlier I posted this "Notice," stating I did not understand it. However, I made the mistake of not consulting the "Book." 

This is the book:

Marshall, Patricia Phillips and Leimenstoll, Jo Ramsay. Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

There the authors explain that due to the financial crisis that began in 1857 debtors of Thomas Day could not pay. As a result, Day could not pay his creditors and he declared insolvency (essentially bankruptcy). The court issued an insolvency deed and placed Day's business affairs under the trusteeship of local house carpenter Dabney Terry.

The court allowed Day to remain in his shop and carry on his furniture trade to support his family and pay off debts. However, this was the beginning of the end of Thomas Day's business. He died in 1861.

Source of Notice: The Milton Chronicle (Milton, North Carolina), 10 March 1859.