Saturday, March 25, 2023

Re-Union of Confederate Veterans in 1895

 Re-Union of Confederate Veterans [1895]

"All the Confederate Veterans who enlisted in the various companies in Caswell County, all resident Veterans irrespective of command, are requested to go into camp with one day's rations at Harrison's church on Monday and Tuesday, July 29th and 30th, 1895. We go into camp Monday at noon and break camp Tuesday afternoon. Everybody, ladies especially, invited to come and bring rations and have a 'good old time.'"

H. S. Thaxton, Com. of Confederate Veteran Asso., of Caswell County

Geo. M. Burton, Secretary

The Reidsville Review (Reidsville, North Carolina), Friday, July 26, 1895.


H. S. Thaxton most likely is Henry Speck Thaxton (1834-1919).

Geo. M. Burton most likely is George Moses Burton (1845-1909).


Purley United Methodist Church, a little more than a mile south of the old Harrison's Meeting House, is a direct outgrowth of the meeting house.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Plug Tobacco in North Carolina

Plug Tobacco in North Carolina

"As a professor of history, I do not know where subscribers got the idea that in the 19th Century there was no difference between chewing and smoking tobacco. It is true that some late 19th Century tobacco manufacturers sold their smoking tobacco in small cans that were marked "For smoking or chewing" but these were not really considered chewing tobaccos by the average person. They were just an "emergency" source. Plug tobaccos were always intended solely for chewing and the process to make them goes back to the 1500's. The Days O Work brand is one of the oldest brands of plug tobacco, having its origin in the 1700's. Plugs were intended to fit in a man's vest pocket and were consumed by Eastern gentlemen cutting off a small piece at a time with a tiny tobacco knife. Pioneers carried the tradition westward where the common pocket knife took the place of the specialty pocket knife. The inner tobacco has always been Grade B but included smaller leaf stems, while the outer wrapper (described as paper here) was made from the finest cigar wrapper leaf. Original manufacture was by stacking leaves in a door sized form and covering it with a flat board. Weights were then added to press the tobacco over several weeks time, where it could then be cut into plugs with a roller knife before wrapping in the finer grade leaf. Today they use hydraulic pressing to speed up production but the remainder of the process remains the same as in the 1700's."

Source: Tobacco Reviews  [accessed 12 March 2023].


Plug tobacco is made up of tobacco leaves that have been pressed together and bound by some type of sweetener, resulting in a dense, square tobacco mass. (Some compare the look of plug tobacco to a brownie or similar pastry.) One can then bite directly from the mass or slice the tobacco into portions. Some types of plug may either be chewed or smoked in a tobacco pipe, and some are exclusive to one method of consumption or the other.

Plug tobacco was once a much more common product, available to many American consumers during the 19th century. Two tobacco companies that historically manufactured plug are Liggett and Lorillard. (The latter was known for its Climax brand of plug.)

Modern brands of chewing plug include "rustic" and simple packaging, as is the case with popular plugs like Apple Sun Cured, Brown's Mule, Cannon Ball, Cup, Days Work, and Days O Work. Some well-known loose leaf chewing tobacco brands, such as Red Man and Levi Garrett, have their own versions of plug tobacco, as well.

Source: Public Encyclopedia  [accessed 12 March 2023].


"Outside Intervention in Monopolistic Price Warfare: The Case of the 'Plug War' and the Union Tobacco Company" by Malcolm R. Burns in The Business History Review, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Spring, 1982), pp. 33-53 (23 pages). [accessed 12 March 2023].


Workers making plug tobacco (chewing tobacco) in a Winston, North Carolina tobacco factory. Several men in suits observe. Boxes, possibly finished product, are stacked on both sides of the room. Reproduced from: Heimann, Robert K. “Tobacco and Americans.” New York : McGraw-Hill, 1960. 173. Date of photograph: 1880-1910. [accessed 12 March 2023]; [accessed 12 March 2023].


Chewing Tobacco [accessed 12 March 2023].


Reynolda  [accessed 12 March 2023].


R. J. Reynolds 1850-1918  [accessed 12 March 2023]. In the late 1880s he added saccharine to plug chewing tobacco.


Chewing Tobacco  [accessed 12 March 2023].


Plug Tobacco Mill Patent Application  [accessed 12 March 2023].


Plug Tobacco Cutter Patent Application  [accessed 12 March 2023].


Plug Tobacco Press Patent Application  [accessed 12 March 2023].


North Carolina Tobacco Factories Pre-1865 

There were 97 tobacco factories in North Carolina reported in the 1860 Census, with $646,730 in invested capital, and producing $1,117,099 in goods annually. These companies employed 1,461 people. The total number of firms include one cigar manufacturer in Forsyth County, and two stemmery operations in Person County.

In 1860, tobacco manufacturers were located in the following counties: Alamance (4), Burke (2), Caswell (11), Chatham (1), Davie (3), Forsyth (2), Granville (16), Iredell (3), McDowell (1), Orange (2), Person (2), Rockingham (25), Rowan (1), Stokes (17), Surry (5), Wilkes (1) and Yadkin (1).

Source: North Carolina History  [accessed 12 March 2023].


Glass, Brent, Editor. North Carolina, An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites [North Carolina] (1975). Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation, Historic American Engineering Record.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

North Carolina Governor William Woods Holden Impeachment 1870-1871

 North Carolina History: Governor Impeached and Convicted

In 1870, Republican North Carolina Governor William Woods Holden (1818-1892) was impeached by the North Carolina House of Representatives. In his 1871 trial in the North Carolina Senate he was convicted and removed from office.

While the proceedings generally were partisan, he was not convicted by a strict party-line vote. A few Democrats voted not guilty on one article of impeachment [Article 1], and a few Republicans voted guilty on other articles of impeachment [Articles 5 and 6].

At the time, the North Carolina Senate was comprised of 50 senators. During the Holden impeachment proceedings one senator was absent (Republican Jesse Blythe from Northampton County). A two-thirds majority was required to convict (33 senators).

Here are the eight articles of impeachment and the vote:

1. Unlawfully, wickedly, corruptly and falsely proclaimed and declared the county of Alamance to be in a state in insurrection. [30/19: not guilty]

2. Unlawfully, wickedly, corruptly and falsely proclaimed and declared the county of Caswell to be in a state in insurrection. [32/17: not guilty]

3. Unlawfully ordered and procured the arrest of Josiah Turner of Orange County. [37/12: guilty]

4. Unlawfully ordered and procured the arrest of John Kerr and other citizens of Caswell County. [33/16: guilty]

5. Unlawfully sent an armed force [Kirk's troops] to Alamance County and there arrested A. G. Moore, and refused to obey a writ of habeas corpus issued on Moore's behalf. [40/9: guilty]

6. Unlawfully sent an armed force [Kirk's troops] to Caswell County and there arrested John Kerr and others, and refused to obey a writ of habeas corpus issued on their behalf. [41/8: guilty]

7. Unlawfully recruited an armed force [Kirk's troops] and ordered the State Treasurer to pay $70,000 for the services of this army. [36/13:guilty]

8. Unlawfully disregarded and disobeyed a writ of injunction issued by Judge Anderson Mitchell forbidding the payment of any money out of the State Treasury for Kirk's army. [36/13:guilty]

Deposed and removed from office and forever disqualified from holding office under the State of North Carolina. [36/13: removed from office]

Had Republican Senator Blythe been present and voted along party lines, it is likely that Holden would have been found not guilty of Article 4 involving Caswell County. However, had the other votes remained the same his absence would not have affected the overall outcome.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Milton Baptist and Methodist Churches

 For the Advocate, Looking Backward by Rev. E. L. Perkins, M.D. [1891] *

"Fifty years ago (Oct. 9th, 1841), I preached my first sermon, in a new brick church in the town of Milton, in Caswell County, N.C. The church was afterward sold under a mortgage, and went into the hands of the Baptist denomination. My text was Luke IV-18. 'The spirit of the Lord is upon me, etc.'

"Wm. Anderson, who had charge of the Caswell circuit that year, was in the pulpit with me. Since then the changes which have taken place, both in church and state, have been very great.". . . .

"The church too has had its changes. In 1841 there were five bishops serving the undivided church, North and South. . . .

"Numbers who were school boys when I preached my first sermon have entered the Conference, finished their course, and are resting from their labors. Of such I can call to mind Numa F. Reid . . . .

"The N. C. Methodists had no college previous to 1841. The Greensboro Female College [now Greensboro College] was beginning to be talked about, and James Reid and S. S. Bryant were putting forth their energies to work up a sentiment in favor of the movement.

"Trinity College [now Duke University] was unknown; I think a log school house occupied the ground where Trinity was afterward built. All that has been done by the Conference in the way of college building has been done since the time of which I write."

Raleigh Christian Advocate (Raleigh, NC), 7 October 1891.


* Dr. Edgar Laurens Perkins, M.D. (1818-1895).

Photograph of the Milton Baptist Church [Meeting House] is not associated with the newspaper article.

Monday, March 06, 2023

"The Other Mount Mitchell Controversies: A Real Property History of North Carolina's Highest Mountain Range" by Gary V. Perko in The North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. XCV, No. 1 (January 2018)

 "The Other Mount Mitchell Controversies: A Real Property History of North Carolina's Highest Mountain Range" by Gary V. Perko in The North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. XCV, No. 1 (January 2018).

"As the highest point east of the Mississippi River, Mount Mitchell is one of North Carolina's greatest natural treasurers. The so-called "Mitchell-Clingman" controversy over the original measurement of the high peak is well documented, but it was not the only dispute involving Mount Mitchell and the Black Mountain range upon which it sits. For almost two centuries, North Carolina's courts and legislature were called upon to resolve disputes over who owned -- or should own -- the slopes of the Black Mountains and even Mitchell's high peak itself. The real property history of these lands involves an eclectic cast of land speculation, enterprising mountain folk, wealthy sportsmen and socialites, carpetbagging lumbermen, and, of course, lawyers and politicians. Their collective story is one of litigation, exploitation, legislation, and, ultimately, conservation.

Photograph: Mt. Mitchell in the distance. Courtesy Romantic Asheville.

. . . .*

"The records are clear, though, that in 1891 the Lusks, Moores, and Martins sold their interest in the Black Mountain lands formerly held by Stepp and Bailey to John Kerr Connally, a Civil War hero and graduate of Bailey's law school who had become a luminary of Asheville society after gaining a fortune in Texas and Virginia. [See Asheville Citizen-Times, February 2, 1904.] The deed transferring the Lusks' interest in the property to Connally perpetuated the confusion over the small parcel containing Mitchell's grave by specifically excepting the 'lot on Mitchell's Peak' they had purportedly 'conveyed to Miss Mitchell' three years earlier.'

"Not long after the sale of the Murchison Boundary, John Kerr Connally's widow, Alice T. Connally, followed suit, selling to Highland Spruce Company (for $18,410) almost all of the five hundred acres of Jesse Stepp's former lands that she held in the Black Mountains. In the deed conveying the property, Mrs. Connally reserved four small parcels, including a five-acre tract described as:

"Beginning on top of Mt. Mitchell at a stone lettered X standing North 35° 15' East of Mitchell's Monument and 8/10 of one pole from the same and runs with the top of Mountain South 62° West 14 poles to an upright stone and pointers; thence South 61° East 39 1/4 poles to a stake in the Eastern boundary line of Grant No. 659, thence with said line North 12° East 22.5 poles to a stake; thence North 60° 15' West 33.5 poles to a stake on top of the Black Mountain; thence up said top South 7° 30' East 13 poles to the Beginning. . . .

"Along with Jesse's Stepp's original reservation of 'Five acres on the Top of Mitchell's Peak and including the grave of Dr. Mitchell in his 1858 deed to Judge Bailey, Alice Connally's reservation would generate confusion when the State of North Carolina ultimately sought to preserve the summit of Mount Mitchell as a state park.

. . . .

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Rosa Parks and Homer Plessy

 Rosa Parks and Homer Plessy

Many have heard about Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955, refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white person. She was arrested, and her action precipitated a boycott of the Montgomery bus system by black residents, being led by, among others, Martin Luther King, Jr. Throughout the south, blacks refused to "move to the back of the bus." In 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court found segregated busing unconstitutional.

However, sixty-three years earlier in New Orleans, Louisiana, Homer Plessy purchased a railroad ticket for a "whites only" first-class coach, boarded the train, was arrested, and found in violation of a Louisiana law that required separate accommodations for black and white people on railroads. This case also made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, but with an outcome less favorable than that obtained by Rosa Parks. The Court, in the 1896 decision Plessy v. Ferguson, established the "separate but equal" principle that provided a constitutional basis for "Jim Crow" laws.    


U.S. Supreme Court

Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)

Argued April 18, 1896

Decided May 18, 1896

The statute of Louisiana requiring railway companies carrying passengers in their coaches in that State, to provide equal, but separate, accommodations for the white and colored races, by providing two or more passenger coaches for each passenger train, or by dividing the passenger coaches by a partition so as to secure separate accommodations;

and providing that no person shall be permitted to occupy seats in coaches other than the ones assigned o them, on account of the race they belong to;

and requiring the officer of the passenger train to assign each passenger to the coach or compartment assigned for the race to which he or she belong;

and imposing fines or imprisonment upon passengers insisting on going into a coach or compartment other than the one set aide for the race to which he or she belongs;

and conferring upon officers of the train power to refuse to carry on the train passengers refusing to occupy the coach or compartment assigned to them, and exempting the railway company from liability for such refusal,

are not in conflict with the provisions either of the Thirteenth Amendment or of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.


Justice Harlan Dissenting in Plessy v. Ferguson:

"I deny that any legislative body or judicial tribunal may have regard to the race of citizens when the civil rights of those citizens are involved. Indeed, such legislation as that here in question is inconsistent not only with that equality of rights which pertains to citizenship, National and State, but with the personal liberty enjoyed by everyone within the United States."

Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), Dissenting Opinion.

Friday, February 24, 2023

The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s by William Rawlings.

The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s by William Rawlings. Macon (GA): Mercer University Press, 2016.

"Founded as a men's fraternal group in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1915, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan eventually became one of the largest social and political movements in American history, attracting perhaps as many as four million members during the 1920s. In this excellent book William Rawlings examines the complex factors that grave rise to this unusual organization, the key individuals who were responsible for both the Klan's rise and decline, and the place of the 1920s Klan in American history. In contract to other recent scholarship on the second Klan that largely consists of detailed studies of KKK activities at the local level, the author focuses on the important, and often, sordid, developments that took place in the group's national headquarters.

"Nearly a third of the book is dedicated to detailing the historical factors that made the second Klan possible. In a series of brief but informative chapters, the author looks at the social and cultural impact of Reconstruction, the activities of the first Klan, and the gradual development of a Lost Cause mythology that convinced many Americans to see the Confederacy and the original Klan in a favorable light. This shift in opinion was well demonstrated in 1915 by the incredible popularity of the famous silent film 'The Birth of a Nation,' which completed the process of romanticizing the Klan of Reconstruction. Recognizing that the time was auspicious, William J. Simmons, an experienced recruiter for men's organizations, formed the new Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Atlanta shortly before the local premiere of 'The Birth of a Nation,' going so far as to sue artwork from the movie's posters in Klan flyers and designing robes for the new group that were virtually the same as those used in the film.

"For the first few years of its existence, the new Klan limped along with only a couple thousand members. As Rawlings emphasizes, the sudden upturn in group's fortunes in 1920 should be credited to Edward Young Clarke, an Atlanta advertising executive who completely overhauled the KKK's recruiting procedures and financial practices. Under Clarke's guidance the Klan became a huge money-making machine, raking in tens of millions of dollars. While this fueled the group's rapid growth across the nation, it also led to vicious infighting among the Klan's leaders and set off a stream of lawsuits and counter-lawsuits that discredited the secret order at the very moment that its size and influence were peaking. Although the KKK's new leader, Hiram W. Evans, attempted to reform the Klan and make it a more stable and mainstream organization, continuing disillusionment and scandals resulted in a rapidly dwindling membership. By the early 1930s, the second Klan had become largely insignificant in American life.

"This is a well-researched and splendidly written book. It should greatly interest both general and academic readers who want to know more about the dark tradition of organized intolerance in American history."

Book Review by Shawn Lay, Coker College in The North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. XCV, No. 1 (January 2018.


"Fifty years after the end of the Civil War, William Joseph Simmons, a failed Methodist minister, formed a fraternal order that he called The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Organized primarily as a money-making scheme, it shared little but its name with the Ku Klux Klan of the Reconstruction Era. With its avowed creed of One Hundred Percent Americanism, support of Protestant Christian values, white supremacy, and the rejection of all things foreign, this new Klan became, for a brief period of time in the mid-1920s, one of Americas most powerful social and political organizations. This original and meticulously researched history of Americas second Ku Klux Klan presents many new and fascinating insights into this unique and important episode in American History."

Source: Publisher 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Richmond-Miles Museum Building in Yanceyville

 Richmond-Miles Museum Building in Yanceyville, North Carolina

An article in The Caswell Messenger newspaper (Yanceyville, North Carolina) referred to the building that currently houses the Richmond-Miles Museum as the:

Graves-Poteat-Florance-Gatewood House

The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, NC), 25 January 2023.


Graves House

The house was built around 1820 by William Graves (1780-1845). It may have served as his Yanceyville home, being eventually converted into a hotel (the Village Hotel). The business was continued after his death by his second wife, Ann Lea Graves Graves (1794-1857).

We know the Village Hotel was in operation as early as 1838:

(From the Milton Spectator (Milton, NC), 9 October 1838)

Democratic Dinner,

Complimentary to the Senators and Republican Members of Congress from N. Carolina,

Agreeably to arrangements previously made, a sumptuous dinner was furnished by Capt. Wm. Graves, proprietor of the Village Hotel at Yanceyville, on Friday, the 28th ult.; a day which will long be remembered by the citizens of Caswell.

At 20 minutes past 12 o'clock, General Barzillai Graves, the President, took his seat at the centre wing of the immensely long table, which was richly and bountifully supplied with every good thing the market affords. Majors Wm. A. Lea and James Kerr assisted as Vice Presidents, and being seated at the right and left ends of the main table, at the centre of which and fronting the President, were placed the invited guests.

Richmond Enquirer (Richmond, Virginia), 16 October 1838.


Corbett & Richmond Owners

However, in 1851 the Village Hotel was purchased by Corbett & Richmond:

Village Hotel, Yanceyville, N.C.

"Corbett & Richmond, would respectfully inform the public that they have recently taken charge of this spacious Hotel, formerly kept by Mrs. Graves, which has lately been repaired and is now in complete order for the accommodation of Travelers and Boarders. The rooms are comfortably and neatly furnished; the Table shall always be provided with the best that the market affords; the Servants will be found polite and attentive, and their Stables will be constantly supplied with an abundance and variety of provender and unsurpassed Hostlers.

"This magnificent establishment is pleasantly located convenient to the Court House, and persons attending Court at Yanceyville and stopping at the Village Hotel, may rest assured that the Proprietors will spare no pains to please them. Their prices will be found moderate and precisely the same charged by the other Hotel in the Village.

"Drovers will find every accommodation that large and roomy Stables and  as spacious Lots can afford."

The Milton Chronicle (Milton, NC), 17 April 1851.


Poteat House

Based upon the recent item in The Caswell Messenger, referenced above, the next owner apparently was a Poteat. We know that James Poteat (1807-1889) moved his family to Yanceyville after the Civil War (moving from "Forest Home" on the Yanceyville-Milton Road). We also know that a Poteat Hotel eventually was constructed on the lot immediately east of the Village Hotel property. Was James Poteat an owner of the building that now houses the Richmond-Miles Museum?

The photograph shows the Poteat Hotel to the left of the Graves-Poteat-Florance-Gatewood House.


Florance House

The next owner was Thomas Jefferson Florance (1858-1926). He purchased the property in the 1880s and made his home there. For some thirty years Florance was a merchant on the Square in Yanceyville, eventually constructing what eventually came to be known as the "Dime Store." His wife, Nancy Kerr Lea (1869-1939) apparently remained in the house.


Gatewood House

At some point the property came into the possession of a daughter of Thomas Jefferson Florance and Nancy Kerr Lea Florance: Mary Lea Florance (1903-1995) and her husband John Yancey Gatewood (1893-1954). They are the parents of artist Maud Florance Gatewood (1934-2004), who was born in the house.

Maud Florance Gatewood inherited the property from her mother and in 1999 sold it to the Caswell County Historical Association. Funds for the purchase were provided by Thomas Richmond McPherson, Jr., and wife Kathy Sue Simmons. At the time, the mother of Thomas Richmond McPherson, Jr., Elizabeth Pierce Parker McPherson (1929-2019), was President of the Caswell County Historical Association.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Senator John Walter (Chicken) Stephens 1870 Death Location

 Where NC Senator John Walter (Chicken) Stephens Was Killed in 1870

Below is a floorplan of the first (ground) floor of the Caswell County Courthouse in Yanceyville, NC. South is at the top. The office shown as "County Agent" is the room in which NC Senator John Walter (Chicken) Stephens was killed in 1870.

The room once was the office of the Master in Equity, but at the time of the Stephens killing was used to store firewood (and possibly coal). In 1877, it was the office of lawyer (and Ku Klux Klan leader) Jacob Alson Long (1846-1923).

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Bartlett Yancey High School (Yanceyville, NC) Homecoming, October 16, 1959

Bartlett Yancey High School Homecoming
October 16, 1959
8:00 P.M.
Bartlett Yancey vs Cobb Memorial

BYHS Fullback Tommy Whitley #25


Tommy Whitley
Bill Niven
Judy Rice
Wayne (Bo) Brandon

BYHS Football Team

Academic Year 1959-1960

Bright Leaf Tobacco Discovery Controversy: Caswell County, NC

 Bright Leaf Tobacco Discovery Controversy

That bright leaf tobacco was discovered in 1839 by enslaved person Steven on the Blanch farm of Abisha Slade generally has been accepted as "history." See the North Carolina historical marker on the subject.

However, in 1876 Caswell County's William Long (1901-1876) took exception to this in his letter to the editor of "The Torchlight" newspaper (Oxford, NC):


Caswell Co., N.C., April 7, 1876

Dear Sir -- I delayed answering your inquiry as to who was the first man that cured yellow tobacco in Caswell, and I see you have learned that Mr. Abishai [sic] Slade was considered to be that man and more that it occurred in the year 1756. This is a great mistake.

I cured yellow tobacco myself as early as 1826, and I do not by any means claim to be the first man. Who the first man was I really do not know; but of this I am not mistaken as to the time. I married in 1828, and before I married (as above stated, in 1826), I cured yellow tobacco. The third curing I made after I was settled, namely, in 1831. I met W. N. Thomas of Pittsylvania County, Va., in the streets of Milton, and we both fell to bragging about our yellow. He went home with me, and as I had to cure my leaf that night, he went with me, and we cured it as handsomely as any I have ever seen.

The effort to produce this sort of tobacco was general among our planters at that time. The Slade family were the most prominent; they had very fine land, and their names were at the head of the list. I do not pretend for a moment to take away from those enterprising men the credit that is so justly their due, but write merely to set you right in the way of dates. If you could have recourse to the old warehouse books you would find that between 1830 and 1820 this fine yellow tobacco sold at figures as high as from $70 to $200 per hundred pounds.

William Long

Source: The Torchlight (Oxford, NC), 30 May 1876.


On October 21, 1828, William Long (1801-1876) married Sarah Donoho Johnston (1806-1851). 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

An 1875 Trip Through Caswell County by an International Organisation of Good Templars Lecturer

For the Spirit of the Age.
A Trip Through Caswell County,
Leasburg, Caswell Co.,
November 6th, 1875

Editor of the Age:

After leaving Wilson Saturday night last, I remained over in Goldsboro the Sabbath, heard a fine sermon by Rev. J. R. Brooks, dined with him and in the evening took the cars for Greensboro -- travelled with Rev. Mr. Willis as my companion from Raleigh to Hillsboro -- reached Greensboro at 2 o'clock -- took the Danville cars for Barksley Station -- reached this station at 7 o'clock, a.m., -- hired a horse and reached


at 11 o'clock safe. Immediately upon my arrival, I was taken in charge by Bros. Holder and Hines.

At night, I lectured to a fine audience in the Presbyterian church. At the close of the lecture several names were obtained for membership in Dawn of Hope Lodge. the Lodge met at their usual place of meeting and the candidates were initiated. This Lodge is in a fine healthy condition, with good, substantial officers.

After leaving Milton on Monday I visited


lectured at night in the Methodist church to a good audience -- and afterwards initiated two new members in the Lodge. Pelham Lodge is in good hands."

Wednesday morning I rode Bro. Pierce's horse [from Pelham], with a little boy behind me with my valase [sic], a distance of ten miles, until I reached the residence of Samuel Harrison, Esq., formerly representative in the State Legislature from Caswell county -- dined with him -- and after dinner he kindly took me to


At night, I lectured to the citizens of Yanceyville, in the new Court House. Several were initiated into this Lodge at the close of the public meeting. Yanceyville Lodge continues to flourish. It is in the hands of such men as Capt. Jordan, J. A. Long, Esq., Dr. Allen Gunn, Col. Pinnix, and a host of other good men.

Before leaving Yanceyville I visited in the Court House in which Mr. Stevens [John Walter Stephens] was found murdered in 1870. I found the following lines written with a pencil, by Hon. Josiah Turner, while confined in the same room as a prisoner during the kuklux days:

"The love of liberty with life is given,
And life itself, -- the inferior gift of heaven."
August 13, '70
"Established violence and lawless might
Avowed and hallow'd by the name of right."
Aug. 10, '70.
Josiah Turner, Jr., Prisoner

During my stay in Yanceyville, I was the guest of Dr. Allen Gunn.

On Friday the rain prevented my trip to


but Saturday morning was clear and beautiful, and through the kindness of Bro. Jordan I reached this place in time for dinner.

Notice was given through the town that I would lecture at the Methodist church at night. Accordingly the meeting was held, and after the lecture the Lodge was called to order when the unwritten work of the order was exemplified. Leasburg Lodge is working finely. Bro. Paylor, the Worthy Chief Templar, is regularly at his post.

This closes my trip through Caswell. There are four Lodges of Good Templars in Caswell County, and all are doing well. I have just heard that Bro. Henry T. Jordan has made an appointment for me to lecture at Mt. Pisgae, in Person County, on Monday. Tomorrow I go to Roxboro.

. . . .

I am filling all my appointments. Crowds turn out to hear the temperance question discussed. Men of prominence in all parts of the State are being enlisted under our banner, and in a little while victory will perch on its beautiful folds,

Yours fraternally,

Theo. N. Ramsay,

State Lecturer

Spirit of the Age (Raleigh, NC), 13 November 1875.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Confederate States Ceded States' Rights to Confederate Government: Ironic or Predictable?

 Ironic or Predictable?

Is it ironic (or predictable) that the southern states who seceded from the Union claiming "states' rights" as the rationale, immediately conceded those rights to a centralized Confederate government?

See: This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy by Matthew Karp. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press (2016).

North Carolina Civil War Refugees

 North Carolina Civil War Refugees

It appears both Union and Confederate governments failed to anticipate the North Carolina refugee problems caused by the Civil War (estimated 250,000 to 1 million displaced people). Categories of refugees include:

1. Enslaved African Americans who fled to liberty within Union lines.

2. White Unionists who escaped to Union lines from eastern North Carolina (including the Piedmont).

3. Pro-Confederate whites who fled from the Union army into the Confederate interior.

4. Enslaved African Americans whose "owners" forcibly moved them away from Union lines and into the Confederate interior.

5. Female boarding schools where many pro-Confederate southerners sent their daughters during the Civil War.

Interesting reading: Driven from Home: North Carolina's Civil War Refugee Crisis, by David Silkenat. Athens: University of Georgia Press (2016).

Testimony of Dr. Nathaniel Moore Roan, M.D.: Death of John Walter Stephens in 1870

 Testimony of Dr. Nathaniel Moore Roan, M.D.

James Thomas Mitchell, Felix Roan, and Franklin A. Wiley were arrested in connection with the 1870 killing of NC Senator John Walter (Chicken) Stephens. At the probable cause hearing before a panel of justices of the NC Supreme Court Felix Roan's father, Dr. Nathaniel Moore Roan, M.D. (1803-1879) (see photograph) was called by the prosecution as a witness. His testimony provides the most detailed description of the scene of the killing. Dr. Roan described himself as a County Commissioner. However, he also may have been part of the coroner's jury.


Bench Warrant Cases Before Judge Pearson

Fourth Day, August 20, 1870

State vs. F. A. Wiley et al, charged with the murder of John W. Stephens

In Response to Questions by Prosecutor

Dr. Roan was sworn and testified; gave a description of the Court House building of Caswell, position of the various rooms and surroundings. Resides in Yanceyville, is one of the County Commissioners, was in Yanceyville on the day Stephens was said to have been murdered; went into the room with the jury of inquest on Sunday morning; saw the body; there was a small grass rope, nine feet long, doubled, drawn tightly round the neck with a noose; there were three stabs, one on each side of the windpipe and one in the breast. Saw the knife said to have been found near the body, it was nearly new, double-bladed, the largest blade about three inches long.

The body was drawn up, the knees toward the breast, placed in a gap in a pile of wood at the end of the room, as if it had been pushed down there, head resting back on the wood, the side toward the wall.

Has no doubt the murder was committed in the room; saw blood on the wood and on the wall as if it spirted on them. Saw blood on the window sill and a box under the window, and one drop which appeared brighter than the rest on the granite foundation. There was no blood on the floor except near where the body was found.

In Response to Cross Examination Questions by Defense

Am a County Commissioner, was applied to about 9 or 10 o'clock on Saturday night by Thomas Stephens and a colored man named Cook for permission to search the Court House for Stephens, gave the permission and went with them; there were a large number of persons about the Court House, especially near the room in which the body was afterwards found, mostly inside the iron fence, but some were outside.

In searching, thinks they went first to the Court room, not certain as to that; also looked through the rooms below, except the rooms of the Clark and Master [in Equity], and two others occupied as law offices.

Tom and Henry Stephens and Mr. Groom were in the company. When they came to the [room of the Clerk and Master in Equity] the Stephenses looked in at the windows by standing on a box which he had brought and placed for the purpose -- looking in at both windows by aid of candles. Saw no blood that night on the window; the box was brought some 30 or 40 feet; heard no one speak of seeing any blood; left the box under one of the windows.

Went back about 8 o'clock next morning, then saw blood on window sill and on the box, and the drop on the granite foundation; this was at the north window where the box had been left. The windows were down the night before, don't know whether they were fast, they are usually fastened by a stick over them. --- Was not present when the room was first entered on Sunday morning, went in with the jury soon after; saw no key.

Question by Defense: Have you been arrested about this affair? Objected to [and apparently not answered].

In Response to Questions by Chief Justice Pearson

The blood on the window sill seemed to have been left by the pressure of some bloody object, as a hand or foot, and the same of that on the box. Don't think the body could have been seen from the window.

In Response to Direct Examination by Prosecutor Resumed

We made no examination at the South window because of its height, some 7 or 8 feet from the ground -- it was Thomas Stephens and the negro Cook who asked permission to search the Court House, and I went with them.

In Response to Question by Justice Dick

The granite would not absorb the blood as readily as the wood, which may account for the fresh appearance of the drop of blood on the stone, but feels certain that the blood fell there in an uncongealed state; it struck the edge of the stone and divided, a part trickling down the face of the stone; thinks the action of the atmosphere would change the color of the blood more than anything else.

Source: Raleigh Sentinel (Raleigh, NC).

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Bank of Yanceyville Civil War Note

Bank of Yanceyville Civil War Note

For much of its history, the Bank of Yanceyville had its distinctive banknotes printed by northern companies, including in New York and Philadelphia. When the bank depleted its stock of more elaborate notes is not known. However, below is an example of what has been described as an "emergency Civil War note." It is dated May 1, 186_.

This note is rare (and expensive).

Friday, February 10, 2023

NC State Senator John Walter Stephens: Men Participating in Killing

Based upon the confessions of Felix Roan in 1891 and John Green Lea in 1919, the following men participated in the 1870 killing of NC State Senator John Walter Stephens:

Denny, James G. (Jim) (born c.1847)

Fowler, Joseph Robert (Joe) (born c. 1844)

Lea, John Green (1843-1935)

Mitchell, James Thomas (1828-1898)

Morgan, Pinkney Kerr (Pink) (c.1849-1930)

Oliver, James Thomas (Tom) (c.1843-1883)

Richmond, Dr. Stephen Tribue (1824-1878)

Roan, Felix (1837-1891)

Wiley, Franklin A. (1825-1888)

All purportedly were members of the Caswell County Ku Klux Klan, which had "tried" Stephens in absentia, found him guilty, and sentenced him to death.

Here is a portion of the 1819 John Green Lea confession [paragraph breaks added]:

"Stevens was tried by the Ku Klux Klan and sentenced to death. He had a fair trial before a jury of twelve men. At a democratic convention he approached ex-sheriff Wiley and tried to get him to run on the republican ticket for sheriff. Wiley said he would let him know that day. He [Wiley] came to me and informed me of that fact and suggested that he would fool him into that room in which he was killed. He did so and ten or twelve men went into the room and he was found dead next morning. A democratic convention was in session in the court room on the second floor of the courthouse in Yanceyville, to nominate county officers and members of the Legislature. Mr. Wiley, who was in the convention, brought Stevens down to a rear room on the ground floor, then used for the storage of wood for the courthouse.

"I had ordered all the Ku Klux Klan in the county to meet at Yanceyville that day, with their uniforms under their saddles, and they were present. Mr. Wiley came to me and suggested that it would be a better plan, as Stevens had approached him to run on the republican ticket for sheriff and he had told him that he would let him know that day, to fool him down stairs, and so just before the convention closed, Wiley beckoned to Stevens and carried him down stairs, and Captain Mitchell, James Denny and Joe Fowler went into the room and Wiley came out. Mitchell proceeded to disarm him (he had three pistols on his body). He soon came out and left Jim Denny with a pistol at his head and went to Wiley and told him that he couldn't kill him himself Wiley came to me and said, "You must do something; I am exposed unless you do." Immediately I rushed into the room with eight or ten men, found him sitting flat on the floor. He arose and approached me and we went and sat down where the wood had been taken away, in an opening in the wood on the wood-pile, and he asked me not to let them kill him.

"Captain Mitchell rushed at him with a rope, drew it around his neck, put his feet against his chest and by that time about a half dozen men rushed up: Tom Oliver, Pink Morgan, Dr. Richmond and Joe Fowler. Stevens was then stabbed in the breast and also in the neck by Tom Oliver, and the knife was thrown at his feet and the rope left around his neck. We all came out, closed the door and locked it on the outside and took the key and threw it into County Line Creek."


While Felix Roan purportedly confessed to participating in the killing of John Walter Stephens and was arrested in connection with the event, he is not listed as a killer by John G. Lea.

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

George & W. E. Williamson, Guardians vs. L. Fels (1870)

State of North Carolina, Superior Court
Caswell County

George & W. E. Williamson, Guardians


L. Fels 

This 1870 lawsuit is interesting in several respects:

1. The defendant is former Yanceyville merchant and postmaster Lazarus Fels (1815-1894) of Fels Naptha Soap fame.

2. Fels no longer lived in North Carolina but apparently owned property there. He moved to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1866.

3. George Williamson and W. E. (most likely Weldon Edwards) Williamson were suing to collect $300 from Fels for slaves "hired" by Fels (and apparently owned by the Williamsons or the person the Williamsons represented).

4. The lawsuit was brought to enforce a contract with respect to people no longer enslaved. Would not such an action be against public policy under the 13th Amendment?

5. Was property owned by Lazarus Fels in North Carolina (most likely in Caswell County) seized and sold to pay the alleged $300 debt.

6. Why did Fels "hire" ("lease/rent") slaves from the Williamsons (or the person represented by them)? How many enslaved people were involved?

7. Note the debt apparently became due December 25, 1865. Why did it take over four years for the lawsuit to be brought? Presumably, the legal chaos immediately following the Civil War contributed to this delay.


The Greensboro Patriot (Greensboro, NC), 24 March 1870.

North Carolina Government in 1869

North Carolina Government in 1869

William W. Holden of Wake County was Governor. He was elected in 1868, with a four-year term running from January 1, 1869.

The General Assembly began its annual session in November each year and was composed of 50 Senators and 120 Representatives. These legislators were elected every two years on the first Thursday in August.

The Supreme Court included a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices, with two terms held each year in Raleigh: commencing the first Monday in January and the first Monday in June (and continuing as long as the public interest required).

R. M. Pearson (Yadkin County) [Chief Justice]
Edwin G. Reade (Person County)
Wm. B. Rodman (Beaufort County)
R. P. Dick (Guilford County)
Thomas Settle (Rockingham County)

The Superior Courts operated in twelve judicial districts, with one judge per district. Judges were elected by the voters of the district and served an eight-year term (annual salary $2,500). This court was required to hold two sessions annually. Caswell County was in the Seventh Judicial District (with the following counties: Alamance, Chatham, Guilford, Orange, Person, Randolph, and Rockingham). Court in Caswell County was held the fourth Monday after the first Monday in March and September.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Caswell County, North Carolina: Years Immediately Following Civil War

Civil War Stripped Caswell County of Pride and Spirit

"Events of the brief span of time between 1861 and 1865 completely changed the course of the history of Caswell County as it did for much of the state and the South. What the effect was of the price paid with the life of so many young men can never be determined, of course. The loss of many thousands of dollars invested in slaves was regarded as significant only briefly; mere dollars were soon forgotten in the face of more pressing concerns.

"The totally changed pattern of life throughout the county, however, was a different matter. For blacks it meant freedom from the bonds of slavery, a brief period of rejoicing, and then a resumption of a life of hard work. For many whites it meant the abandonment of the familiar plantation life style; for the previously poor small farmer it meant even greater poverty; and for the whole county it meant a reduced standard of living all around, abandoned land, and a public revenue inadequate for the services that governments ordinarily were expected to provide.

"The character of the county underwent a metamorphosis that perhaps would not have surprised Bedford Brown, Willie P. Mangum, or Jonathan Worth had they lived to recognize it; but most people were stunned by what had happened, and they lost the pride and the spirit that had made Caswell a leader among counties for so many years."

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 225.


Caswell County Suffers after Civil War

Entries in the diary kept by John F. Flintoff [1823-1901] portray very realistically the situation which many people in Caswell County faced at the end of the war. On August, 17, 1865, he wrote:

"The people have had scarcely bread to supply them till harvest fall -- they will live on what there is -- very little meat anywhere to be had -- altho I have corn sufficient to supply my wants until Nov, when new corn will be dry enough to grind -- we have had 3 bad crops -- Years 1862-3-4 -- this year so far promises good for corn & tobacco for which I am worst by hard work -- this summer I am feeble as to health and only weigh 136 lost 12 lbs. in 4 months tho I am still at work -- My negroes all stay with me while the most of others are running about from home to home believing they are free -- many of them are killed and dieing for want of money and protection -- poor creatures -- I have to ride often after them and arrest them for trial, for their fighting, stealing and other meaness they are very troublesome to the white people."

Five days before Christmas he noted that he then had plenty of grain and pork and 85 bushels of wheat. "Bete, Sarah and William left me as free folks -- John, Mary, Sally & Henry stays with me yet -- I have to hire them as free Negroes." For Flintoff the situation may have been stable for the better part of a year, but on Christmas Day, 1866, his diary entry begins: "Allen left me. . . ." And in January, 1868, he noted: "All my negroes have left me -- I hired 3 hands this year. . . ."

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 228-229. 


It appears the population of Caswell County remained somewhat stable between 1860 and 1870 (at least on a net basis), decreasing only 134 people.

Caswell County Population

1860: 16,215 (Enslaved: 9,355; Free Black: 282; White: 6,578)

1870: 16,081 (Free Black: 9,494; White: 6,587)

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, p. 543.

Friday, January 27, 2023

"Lost Cause" Myth

"Lost Cause" Myth*

It did not take long for southern newspaper editors to launch the "Lost Cause" myth.

Note the following from the accompanying newspaper item:

"The radicals sometimes declare that the negroes are the only loyal people in the South, but the Southern people believe that, during the war, the colored people were about as loyal to the Confederacy as any class."

"Caswell County Black Mail Carrier." The Day Book (Norfolk, VA), 21 June 1866.


* The Lost Cause of the Confederacy is an American pseudohistorical negationist mythology that claims, among other things, the cause of the Confederate States during the American Civil War was just, heroic, and not centered on slavery. Source: Encyclopedia Britannica.


Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War's Most Persistent Myth by Kevin M. Levin (2019).

More than 150 years after the end of the Civil War, scores of websites, articles, and organizations repeat claims that anywhere between 500 and 100,000 free and enslaved African Americans fought willingly as soldiers in the Confederate army.

But as Kevin M. Levin argues in this carefully researched book, such claims would have shocked anyone who served in the army during the war itself. Levin explains that imprecise contemporary accounts, poorly understood primary-source material, and other misrepresentations helped fuel the rise of the black Confederate myth. Moreover, Levin shows that belief in the existence of black Confederate soldiers largely originated in the 1970s, a period that witnessed both a significant shift in how Americans remembered the Civil War and a rising backlash against African Americans’ gains in civil rights and other realms.

Levin also investigates the roles that African Americans actually performed in the Confederate army, including personal body servants and forced laborers. He demonstrates that regardless of the dangers these men faced in camp, on the march, and on the battlefield, their legal status remained unchanged. Even long after the guns fell silent, Confederate veterans and other writers remembered these men as former slaves and not as soldiers, an important reminder that how the war is remembered often runs counter to history.


2019 Eugene Feit Award for Excellence in Civil War Studies, New York Military Affairs Symposium

Levin, Kevin M. Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War's Most Persistent Myth. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2019.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Yanceyville Meeting to Discourage Growing Tobacco During Civil War: April 1863

Yanceyville Meeting to Discourage Growing Tobacco During Civil War: April 1863

After a few years of the Civil War, the Confederate States of America experienced difficulty feeding its military troops (and its civilian population). North Carolina Governor Zebulon Vance issued a "Proclamation" requesting North Carolina farmers to divert some agricultural production from tobacco to edible crops. In response to this, a meeting was held in Yanceyville April 13, 1863, that resulted in the following:

"That it is the duty of all to devote themselves with self-denying zeal to the production of breadstuffs of every sort, and to use their best land for this purpose. And to these ends, we who are now here assembled do pledge ourselves to devote our farms to the production of food, making only such quantity of tobacco as cannot interfere materially with the fullest production of corn and other grain, and vegetables of every sort.

"We pledge ourselves not to plant and cultivate in the present year, more than twenty-five hundred plants of tobacco to the efficient hand on the farm, and in ascertaining the number of hands by which to govern ourselves in planting we will have reference to, and be controlled by the lists recently returned to the Colonel of the regiment of our county, on the occasion of the first call made for slaves to work on the fortifications in our State."

Bedford Brown, Chairman
James E. Williamson, Secretary
Anderson Willis, Secretary

Semi-Weekly Standard (Raleigh, NC), 17 April 1863 [Click image below to see a larger version.]

Friday, January 20, 2023

Yanceyville, North Carolina, Celebrates Fort Sumter Firing: 1861

All Dressed Up, But No Where To Go

"In Yanceyville, Caswell County, the news [presumably the firing on Fort Sumter] was received with loud and long cheers for the Southern Confederacy and Jeff. Davis. The people turned out en masse. Bells were rung, eight rounds were fired by the Yanceyville Greys, -- one for each seceded State [of which North Carolina was not one] and one for the secession party. Our correspondent adds that 'many and loud were the curses heaped upon the head of our quandam [former] friend of the Standard, and the Black republican ape, old Abe.'"

The Semi-Weekly State Journal (Raleigh, North Carolina), 17 April 1861.


At the time, the seven seceded states were:

1. South Carolina: December 20, 1860

2. Mississippi: January 9, 1861

3. Florida: January 10, 1861

4. Alabama: January 11, 1861

5. Georgia: January 19, 1861

6. Louisiana: January 26, 1861

7. Texas: February 1, 1861

North Carolina Civil War Secession History

North Carolina Civil War Secession History

On January 29, 1861, the North Carolina General Assembly decided to put the issue of a secession convention to a vote of the people on February 28, 1861. By the date of the convention vote, seven southern states already had seceded and formed the Confederate States of America.

Unionists defined the issue of a convention as a question of “Union or Disunion.” Secessionist attempts to redefine the campaign in terms of self-defense were not successful. The unionists defeated the secessionists by a vote of 47,323 to 46,672, carrying the northeastern counties and most of the piedmont and western counties. Caswell County's NC Senator Bedford Brown was opposed to a convention.

Civil War: State Secession Dates

1. South Carolina: December 20, 1860
2. Mississippi: January 9, 1861
3. Florida: January 10, 1861
4. Alabama: January 11, 1861
5. Georgia: January 19, 1861

6. Louisiana: January 26, 1861
7. Texas: February 1, 1861

Confederate States of America Established: February 4, 1861
North Carolina Secession Convention Not Authorized: February 28, 1861
Civil War Began: April 12, 1861

8. Virginia: April 17, 1861
9. Arkansas: May 6, 1861
10. North Carolina: May 20, 1861 (Secession Convention)
11. Tennessee: June 8, 1861

While North Carolina voters had rejected a secession convention in a vote held February 28, 1861, by May sentiment had changed, and a secession convention was convened May 20, 1861.

Proceedings of the North Carolina State Convention

Day 1 (May 20, 1861): Elected Weldon N. Edwards (1788-1873), a Democratic planter from Warren County, as president; voted to secede from the United States of America (by repealing the state’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution); voted to join Confederate States of America.

Day 2 (May 21, 1861):

Day 3 (May 22, 1861):

Day 4 (May 23, 1861): Mr. Brown, of Caswell, presented a letter from his colleague, John A. Graves, Esq., resigning his seat in the Convention and the same being read and accepted, Mr. Brown offered a resolution requiring the President of the Convention to issue a writ to the Sheriff of Caswell County, authorizing him to hold an election for a delegate to supply the vacancy created by the resignation of Mr. Graves. Adopted.

The convention had not been restricted and met three more times before finally adjourning on May 13, 1862, almost a year after first convening.

The above reports John Azariah Graves (1822-1864) resigned his seat at the NC Secession Convention. He did so to accept a commission as captain in one of the Caswell County regiments being formed to fight the Civil War (Company A -- Yanceyville Grays). A lawyer in civilian life, he attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, was captured, and died at Johnson's Island Prison, Lake Erie, Ohio.

When John Azariah Graves resigned his seat at the NC Secession Convention May 23, 1861, he was replaced by Dr. James Edward Williamson, M.D. (1799-1867). The new delegate took his seat June 10, 1861, a couple of weeks after the secession decision had been made.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Caswell County Court of Oyer and Terminer: 1861

Oyer and Terminer Court: 1861

In a December 1860 session of the North Carolina General Assembly a bill was introduced authorizing a session of an Oyer and Terminer Court in Caswell County, North Carolina. This apparently passed the next month (January 21, 1861). [See below].

On January 26, 1861, The Tarborough Southerner newspaper (Tarboro, NC) reported the following: 

"His Honor, Judge Saunders, has been appointed to hold the special term of Oyer and Terminer, appointed for Caswell County, 21st inst."

These courts of Oyer and Terminer were used by some southern states before the Civil War to hear criminal cases against enslaved people charged with capital crimes (where a death sentence could result).

The Judge Saunders referenced most likely is Romulus Mitchell Saunders (1791-1867), who already was serving as Caswell County's Superior Court Judge. See photograph.

Unknown is why an act of the North Carolina General Assembly was required to authorize for Caswell County a special term of Oyer and Terminer to hear cases over which the Caswell County Superior Court already had jurisdiction. Query whether this somehow was in response to the recent election of US President Abraham Lincoln and the secession discussions being held in North Carolina and throughout the southern slave states.


An Act to Authorize the Holding of a Court of Oyer and Terminer in Caswell County

Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the governor of this State shall issue a commission of oyer and terminer to one of the judges of the superior court of law, to try all slaves that may be now confined in the jail of Caswell county, charged with rape or any other felony, which said court shall be held forthwith; and the judges shall be clothed with all the powers necessary for the trial.

Section 2. Be it further enacted, That the said court shall be held at Yanceyville under the same rules, regulations, powers and restrictions as govern the courts of oyer and terminer appointed to try slaves for insurrection, rebellion, or conspiracy.

Section 3. Be it further enacted, That the clerk of the county court, and sheriff, assisted by two justices of the peace, shall draw a jury of thirty-six persons, who shall be summoned by the sheriff, from which shall be made the grand jury and petit jury; and the court shall have power to order a special venire, as in other cases of felony.

Section 4. Be it further enacted, That this act shall be in force from and after its ratification. [Ratified the _____ day of January, 1861.]

Chap. 77-78.
Passed By The General Assembly, At Its Session of 1860-'61.