The Power of Water: Hurricane Florence in Randolph County, September 2018

July 24, 2019

Hurricane Florence from space- NASA.

People often ask me why we don’t have a Randolph County museum. The short answer is that a decent museum would cost a lot of money and need staffing, neither of which the county wants to sponsor. Even private efforts take a lot of time just trying to raise money for one exhibit, as the following story will show. This is the text of a grant application I wrote to the NC Humanities Council last fall seeking to get the right to host a Smithsonian Institution travelling exhibit on “WaterWays.”  It would have been a great way to jump start a museum gallery and major exhibit in Randolph County, specifically in Franklinville, as the text indicates. It was tied to the amazing display of water power we all witnessed in September 2018 as Hurricane Florence blew through the area. Like 12 out of the other 14 applications I wrote last year, it was denied with a one paragraph letter. But the application is a bit of modern history that I am proud of writing.

Franklinville footbridge across Deep River, Sept. 18, 2018 (Tom Allen).

Preface

Recent events have underscored the fact that North Carolina cannot ignore the impact of water on human activity. According to radar estimates from the U.S. National Weather Service the slow passage of Hurricane Florence during the weekend of September 14-17, 2018 dropped 8.06 trillion gallons of rain on the state. That’s almost enough water to completely fill Lake Mead, the reservoir behind the Hoover Dam in Nevada.

When the Florence floodwaters peaked in Randolph County that Monday about noon, the Cedar Falls and Franklinville communities had water at or near the 500 year flood level- yet 160 year-old mill buildings and 140 year-old railroad bed were “high and dry.” Being just 30 miles from the source of the river, those communities were fortunate: as high as the waters rose, the flood actually came and went in less than 24 hours. By Tuesday the cleanup was underway in Randolph County, but the same hurricane waters wouldn’t find their way back to the Atlantic for at least a week.

Drone shot of the Deep River at the Upper Mill, Franklinville, showing the mouth of Walnut Creek where it enters the River. (Tom Allen)

Over three days Hurricane Florence put about six inches of water into rain gauges in Franklinville, where the average annual rainfall is 46.6 inches. That more than a month’s worth of rain fell in those 4 days was not in itself catastrophic: the greatest single day total in state history was the 21.15 inches of rain that fell on the town of Highlands in Macon County on July 29, 1879. Communities in Craven, Carteret and New Hanover counties received more than 30 inches of rain from Hurricane Florence, and then over the next ten days were forced to cope with even more water flooding down the estuaries of the Cape Fear toward the sea.

Florence floods Englehard, NC.

While it lasted, the blocked roads and flooded parks along Deep River attracted hundreds of spectators, looking out at scenes not seen in more than 50 years. One of the most common questions was “Why did they ever build a factory beside a river? That was stupid!” The vivid answer was in front of them, but 21st century residents have become so divorced from their history that the lesson was invisible. The river was the entire reason these mill communities came into existence: to harness the power of flowing water.

The Upper dam during Florence- the head of the dam is about 35 feet above the grist and cotton mill a quarter mile downstream. (tom Allen)

Head

To calculate the power of a river, we need to know the height it falls from source to exit point (the ‘head’) and the amount of water that travels down the stream channel in a given period of time (the flow rate). How much water is in a river depends on the land area which slopes toward the river; the drainage basin or catchment area describes the area that collects surface water and channels it toward a single discharge point into the ocean. The flow rate varies with both the amount of water in the channel, and the slope of the channel from point to point.

Deep River alone is 125 miles long; its twin the Haw River begins in northeast Greensboro and flows through Alamance, Orange and Chatham counties for 110 miles. The Deep and the Haw converge at Mermaid’s Point near Haywood in Chatham County, where they form the renamed Cape Fear and flow an additional 80 miles to meet the ocean at Bald Head Island.

The Deep, the Haw and the Cape Fear estuaries together make up the largest watershed in North Carolina, containing 27% of the state’s population. The name Cape Fear comes from the 1585 expedition of Sir Richard Grenville, and marks the southernmost tip of Smith (now Bald Head) Island. It is the fifth-oldest surviving English place name in the U.S (after Roanoke, Chowan, Neuse and Virginia.) Spanish explorers had named it ‘Rio Jordan’ in 1526, and the English tried renaming it the Charles River (1664) and the Clarendon River (1671), before reverting to the original name.

The Deep and Haw Rivers unite at Mermaid’s Point to form the Cape Fear River, which enters the Atlantic Ocean at Southport.

Deep River heads in a spring near a runway at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, elevation 925 feet above sea level. In 202 miles the water merges with the Atlantic Ocean.

It leaves Guilford County below Jamestown, where the reservoir lake level is maintained at a constant elevation of 675 feet from there to the Randleman Dam. After the dam, the river’s elevation is 600 feet at the US220 bridge in Randleman; at the Old Liberty Rd. bridge at Central Falls, it is 575 feet; at the lip of Cox’s Dam it is at 560 feet; and it descends to 500 feet by the time it reaches the Loflin Pond Bridge at Cedar Falls. Water flows over the Upper Dam at Franklinville at 475 feet; the Lower Dam at 450 feet; and at the US 64 bridge just below the mouth of Sandy Creek the water level sinks to at 439 feet.

The US Geological Service monitoring station at Gabriel’s Creek, the river’s only flow monitor in Randolph County is located just upstream of the Brooklyn Bridge in Ramseur, where the water is 425 feet above sea level. The drainage area above this point includes 349 square miles. From there the river continues to fall gradually; reaching 420 feet at Buffalo Ford; 400 feet at the Coleridge Dam; and 325 feet at the Moore County line just north of Howard’s Mill.

At Gulf in Chatham County the water level is 270 feet; at Moncure 213 feet; at the Buckhorn Dam at Lockville, where the Deep meets the Haw River to form the Cape Fear, the level has sunk to 160 feet above sea level. The drainage area above this point now encompasses 3,157 square miles. At Fayetteville the river elevation reaches 213 feet; at Lumberton 131 feet; until at Wilmington it is just 38 feet above the ocean. Southport, where the fresh water of the river reaches the Atlantic, is less than 15 feet above sea level. More than 9,000 square miles of North Carolina, 17% of the state’s total land area, drains into the Atlantic through the mouth of the Cape Fear.

Trash backs up behind the bridge at High Falls in Chatham County during Florence.

Flow

The power of flowing water is measured in cubic feet per second. The US Army Corps of Engineers maintains a gauge at Gabriel’s Creek near Ramseur that has been operating continuously since 1985, and can be checked in real-time on the internet. This monitoring station can record floods of up to 26 feet above normal river level, and discharge rates of up to 20,000 cubic feet per second. The median daily flow at the Gabriel’s Creek usually finds 60 cubic feet of water flowing downstream every second. The daily flow varies according to drought and rainfall; in 1943 the lowest recorded flow was just 6.5 feet per second at the meter; the largest flow in the last 60 years was 2,410 cubic feet per second in 1960.

Whiteville, NC.

The night of September 16, 2018 saw records broken at the Gabriel’s Creek station: both the flow and the height of the river exceeded the operational limits of the monitoring devices. The US Geological Survey Service estimates that the river that day crested at more than 31 feet above flood stage, with an estimated discharge of 32,000 cubic feet per second.

Power

The theoretically available power from falling water can be expressed as Pth = ρ q g h, where

Pth = power theoretically available (W)

ρ = density (kg/m3) (~ 1000 kg/m3 for water)

q = water flow (m3/s)

g = acceleration of gravity (9.81 m/s2)

h = falling height, head (m)

Fayetteville Police Dept. camera showing the flood cresting at the railroad bridge over the Cape Fear. The bridge is normally more than 40 feet above the water.

After converting cubic feet to cubic meters, we can estimate that on September 16th the 1,225 cubic yards of water flowing down Deep River, falling 100 feet from the Gabriel’s Creek station to the county line, represented 1,081,553 kilowatts of energy. Since a megawatt is 1,000 kilowatts, the flood waters of Hurricane Florence equaled a thousand megawatts, or a gigawatt of energy flowing through Randolph County; gathering force and heading into eastern North Carolina.

For scale, a gigawatt is enough electricity to power 700,000 homes, and in 2017 there were just over 62,000 housing units in Randolph County. Using another scale: a single modern nuclear reactor can generate about 1 megawatt. The largest nuclear installation in the United States, with multiple reactors, generates 4,000 megawatts. This means that, if harnessed to generate electricity, the 2018 flood waters of Hurricane Florence flowing down just one North Carolina river, would have equaled the output of a million nuclear reactors.

A sobering fact: since record-keeping began in 1901, Hurricane Florence is only the third highest flood peak on Deep River, slightly below Hurricane Hazel of 1954, and far below an unnamed storm in September 1945, when the peak flow at Gabriel’s Creek was estimated to have reached 43,000 cubic feet per second, or nearly 1.5 gigawatts of energy leaving the county.

This was the reason mills were located along rivers. The power of falling water, harnessed mechanically, can do the work of many men and many animals- even many nuclear power plants.

Franklinville Industrial History is powered by Water and Steam 

The new S. Morgan Smith waterwheel being delivered to Franklinville Manufacturing Company in 1909.

Our community’s history has been intertwined with the power of the river from its very beginning, and still today Deep River powers local businesses.  A large part of Franklinville was included within the National Register Historic District in 1985, and dozens of structures dating from antebellum times still stand in the town. Our new branding motto is that “History Lives Here.” But when we consider the community’s relationship to the river, we might just as well say “History Works Here.”

When Deep River ran free toward the sea, shad, herring and sturgeon were commonly caught here.  Fish such as these lived their lives in the ocean, but came upstream to lay their eggs in freshwater rivers and creeks. About halfway between Island Ford and Sandy Creek, an aboriginal fish weir, used to funnel fish into woven baskets, can still be seen at low water.

A medium-sized Atlantic sturgeon caught in the Pee Dee River in 2017.

Prehistoric native Americans left the Deep River area before settlers began to arrive and record Indian names and legends, but geography can hint at their travel patterns. From Bush Creek to Sandy Creek on either side of Franklinville the river drops sixty feet in a series of rapids and shallows that created two crossings used by natives for hundreds or thousands of years. At the lower (downstream) crossing known as Island Ford, “Crawford’s Path” ran from the Great Indian Trading Path near Julian South to Cheraw, South Carolina. The “Ellison Road” crossed at the upper ford, branching off Crawford’s Path and running west towards Asheboro, Salisbury and Charlotte.

Settlers began arriving in what is now Randolph County in the 1740s, when the area was part of Bladen County. In 1752 it became Orange County, which in 1771 became Guilford and in 1779, Randolph. The earliest known settler in the Franklinville area was Solomon Allred, who in March 1752 applied to purchase 640 acres “at the mouth of Sandy Creek, including his improvements.” To the West, Herman Husbands in November 1754 entered 402 acres on Deep River “called the Cedar Falls.” In between Hercules Ogle, a blacksmith, received permission to build a grist mill on his property near Solomon Allred in 1759.

The first settler on the actual site of Franklinville was Jacob Skeen, who entered title to 400 acres on Deep River including the mouth of Bush Creek and “his mill seat” in December 1778.  This is the first indication that the obvious waterpower potential of the falls above Island Ford was already being developed, using the kinetic energy generated by falling water to grind corn and wheat, gin cotton, card wool, saw wood, and smelt iron ore. Another miller, Christian Moretz, rebuilt the mill in 1801, and Elisha Coffin, another miller, bought the property twenty years later. The community which grew up around this mill became known “Coffin’s Mills on Deep River,” and later Franklinsville (the final ‘s’ was dropped in 1918). The wheat and corn mill survived until 1913 when it was replaced by a roller process mill. The ‘Roller Mill’ made both plain and self-rising flour, sold under the “Dainty Biscuit” brand name until a year before the mill burned in 1987.

The three oldest cotton textile mill villages on Deep River are Cedar Falls (1836), Franklinville (1838) and Island Ford (1845), all located within three miles of one another. When Franklinville was incorporated by the legislature in 1846 it was North Carolina’s first textile mill community to become a municipality. The original Franklinsville factory was spinning yarn by late 1839, and began to weave cloth in February 1840. Another cotton mill was added at Island Ford in 1846, apparel production lines cut and sewed undergarments for soldiers during the Civil War, and for a time wool spinning and sock knitting took place. Textile production continued in Franklinville until the mills finally closed in 1978.

The mill first installed a supplement to the river’s power in 1883, when a wood-fired boiler began to run a mechanical steam engine. A later 1898 Harris Corliss engine still exists.

Worthville Covered Bridge abutments after the bridge was washed away, 1912

The river was first used to turn an electric generator in Worthville about 1886; Franklinville acquired a generator and put electric lights in the mill in 1895. In 1919 a steam turbine generator station fired by coal began supplying electricity to the entire Franklinville community. Deep River Hydro, headquartered in Franklinville, even today operates low-head hydroelectric generators there and in Coleridge which send electricity to the Duke Energy grid. The cotton mills may have closed in 1978, but Deep River is still powering homes, businesses and industry in North Carolina today.

Pier destroyed at Wrightsville Beach by Florence.

Our Pitch

From the 1770s to the present, Franklinville has been putting Deep River to work. This is why we want to host Water/Ways. 2018 is the 240th anniversary of the first known use of waterpower in our community. 2020 will be the 180th anniversary of using the river’s energy to weave cotton cloth. There is no county history museum or exhibit gallery in Randolph County; several communities have tiny local museums but none has any space appropriate for hosting a SITES display. Hosting Water/Ways would be a huge vote of confidence in our effort to brand Franklinville as the home of history in Randolph county.

Randolph Heritage owns 15 acres on Deep River including the site of the grist mill and 1838 cotton mill. The 1919 Power House located at 1295 Andrew Hunter Road includes a 1400 square foot space with 20-foot-high ceilings that can be configured to house the SITES show and additional exhibits. The Power House is part of a complex of buildings that we plan to configure into a visitor’s center and gallery space to tell the story of Franklinville and its water-powered industry. There are also plans to rebuild the adjacent Cotton Warehouse into four large multi-purpose spaces.

The Power House complex is located on the Deep River Rail Trail, a hiking and biking trail being built on the former right-of-way of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway. It also adjoins the Deep River Blueway, a state paddle trail, and a kayak and canoe access point is planned for another part of the Randolph Heritage property. All these points are planned to be connected by a string of wayside signage marking significant points in Franklinville’s relationship to the river—the dams, the head and tail races, the sites of water wheels, wool carding machines, cotton gins, and saw mills.

Local exhibits will make use of the Randolph Heritage collections, which include oral history recordings, archival photographs, historic textile machinery, and historic water wheels and turbines.

We are creating a special collection of Hurricane Florence images, including spectacular aerial drone video of Deep River in flood through Franklinville on Monday September 17, 2018.

A sailboat is shoved up against a house and a collapsed garage Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, New Bern, N.C. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Town of Franklinville and Randolph Heritage plan to construct a series of tours, lectures, events and programs that will allow the visiting public to explore water from both scientific and cultural perspectives. Our purpose here is to begin to reconnect local residents to the value of the waterway, and so give them the ability to be better guides and ambassadors for the heritage of the river. We hope to build a core group of engaged parties who will work together to reclaim, restore and reinvigorate our waterside communities. We will create these programs and activities in collaboration with local schools, 4H clubs, the Franklinville Public Library, the Franklinville Volunteer Fire Department, the Randolph County Public Health Department, and others.

Florence flooding the Cape Fear in downtown Wilmington.

Potential program and event topics include:

*Engaging students water quality monitoring, watershed ecology and environmental stewardship;

*The hydrology of water power, from dam to tail race.

*The power of steam.

*Tours of the Sandy Creek drinking water treatment and the Franklinville wastewater treatment plants

*The history of Busk Creek ironworks and exploring how it used water power to smelt iron ore

*Exploring the local history of alcohol production from moonshining apple brandy to brewing beer

*A fishing tournament at Sandy Creek- discuss what lives in the river, licenses needed, etc.

*How clean/dirty is our river water? Are there toxic legacies in Deep River mud and sediment? Randleman, Asheboro and Franklinville all at times used river water to bleach, dye and finish cotton cloth. Older residents remember when the river would run blue, green, yellow and red, based on what colors were being used upstream.

North Carolina National Guard soldiers sandbagging a bridge near Wilmington.

We believe that hosting Water/Ways will be an appropriate way to open our renovated gallery space and to kick start our campaign to bring the history of Franklinville and Deep River to vivid life. We hope that the Humanities Council and SITES will to partner with us to champion the incredible ongoing story of the power of water in North Carolina.

A Cajun Navy air boat rescuing a family near Kinston, NC during Florence.

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The “Factory Branch” of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway

May 3, 2019

The Franklinsville Depot, about 1900

The Main Line.

When the Civil War began Randolph County was without any direct rail connections. The North Carolina Railroad had opened in 1856, passing just 2 miles north of the county line and creating the new city of High Point. The Western Railroad to the Chatham coal fields was complete from Fayetteville to Sanford in 1861. In 1862 a proposal was made in the legislature to extend that line through Franklinville and Asheboro, all the way to Winston-Salem, but this never happened.[1]


The Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railroad was chartered in 1879 as a merger of the Fayetteville & Western Railroad and the Mt. Airy & Ore Knob Railroad, having plans to build a line stretching from Wilmington through Fayetteville and Greensboro to Mt. Airy. The original proposal was to build the main line up Deep River through the factory villages, but the final route ran directly to Greensboro through Staley and Liberty, with a future branch line to Franklinville.[2]


The original company suffered financial difficulties, went into receivership, and in July of 1883 was reorganized into the Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railway. Construction of the track south from Fayetteville finally began in 1883, reaching Bennettsville, SC by the end of 1884. The northern line reached Greensboro by 1884 and Mt. Airy by 1887; the line to Wilmington and the “Factory Branch” to Ramseur were complete in 1890.
The expense of building this network, together with a general financial depression in 1893, forced the railroad into foreclosure in 1894. The line was initially purchased by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and operated under the name of Atlantic & Yadkin Railway. However, the legal and corporate turmoil was only resolved by the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1924, when Southern Railway obtained the line from Fayetteville to Mt. Airy, while the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad retained the southern portion.

The Factory Branch
When the CFYV Main Line bypassed Randolph in 1879, efforts began almost immediately to extend the Western North Carolina Railroad from Raleigh to Pittsboro and on through “the thriving Franklinville section”[3] to Salisbury, “following the old stage road.”[4] The route was surveyed, but the line was never built.[5] In 1883 the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley sought legislative permission to borrow funds to build the factory branch, using “convict labor.”[6]
The Deep River line was approved in 1884,[7] but right-of-way acquisition only began in 1886.[8] The initial plan was to run from “the 85 mile post, about midway between Pleasant Garden and Julian” [the future community of Climax], south about nine miles “to a point about 1 ½ miles from Worthville, as the most convenient point to all the factories.”[9] In 1887 that convenient shipping point took on the name “Millboro,” and for several years that was the literal end of the line.[10]

Uniform Button, Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railway Co.

Controversy arose in 1887 over the CFVYRR’s use of forced labor, at a time when “a great many laboring men of [Wilmington] would otherwise be idle.”[11] The company took pains to assure eastern North Carolinians that convict labor would only be used to complete the Main Line to Mt. Airy, and the branch line to Franklinsville, else “the company shall immediately forfeit all right and claim to work convicts, and they shall be immediately returned to the authorities of the State penitentiary.”[12]

Final extension of the Factory Branch from Millboro was approved in 1889, with survey of the route beginning in June,[13] and construction quickly following, with “four hundred convicts” put to work grading the trackbed.[14] In August a news article announced that “Work on the Millboro & Columbia Branch of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad is being pushed with great energy by Col. Hick. A new squad of 140 convicts was brought down last Friday and placed in the new stockade erected between Franklinsville and Columbia Factory. The force at present numbers over 400 strong, and additional force is expected… Dirt is being thrown as low down the line as the town of Cedar Falls, and all along the line above that point the work is going on.”[15]

Trestle Toward Cedar Falls (over Bush Creek)

Grading was completed to Cedar Falls by December 1890, with work continuing on the line to Ramseur, “formerly known as Columbia Factory.”[16] In March “The Asheboro Courier says that Franklinsville rejoices over the near approach of the railroad… It would not surprise the Courier to see one of these days Cedar Falls, Franklinsville and Ramseur linking together and consolidating as one big bustling and stirring manufacturing town.”[17] The first train running north from Franklinsville arrived in Greensboro on Monday morning, May 19, 1890. J. M. Ellison, one of the first passengers, said that “Franklinsville people are very proud of the railroad.”[18]

The Franklinville Riverside business district looking east from the Depot

——
1-Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer, 22 Jan. 1863.
2-The Chatham Record, 13 Nov. 1879.
3-Goldsboro Messenger, 12 Feb. 1880.
4-The Chatham Record, 27 Nov. 1879.
5-The Chatham Record, 4 Aug. 1881.
6-Alamance Gleaner (Graham, NC) 25 Jan. 1883.
7-The Chatham Record, 31 Jan. 1884, quoting the Asheboro Courier.
8-The Chatham Record, 10 June 1886.
9-The Chatham Record, 1 July 1886.
10-The Chatham Record, 25 Aug. 1887. Oliver F. Cox was the first “post-master.”
11-The Morning Star, Wilmington, 11 Feb. 1888.
12-Id.
13-The Leader, Jonesboro, NC, 5 June 1889.
14-Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 4 July 1889.
15-The North State, Greensboro NC, 15 Aug. 1889. Forty years later the site of that stockade became the Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Midway.
16-The North State, GSO, 25 Jan. 1890.
17-The North State, Greensboro, 20 March 1890.
18-Ibid, Thursday 22 May 1890.

A&Y Route Maps from the Library of Congress

WWI Aviation Mechanics: Ralph Whatley

November 11, 2018
Ralph Whatley 1st MM Brigade

Ralph Whatley, seated on the ground, lower right, with French and American members of the 1st Motor Mechanics Brigade of the US Army in France, 1918.

When the contents of my great-grandparents’ house in Ulah were finally distributed among the family, my father got a box of letters that my grandfather had mailed home to his parents and siblings from 1917 to 1919.  There are more than a hundred letters, all numbered so that the recipients could figure out if any were missing, and many are fragile, written on acidic YMCA notepaper which ages badly.

My grandfather, then about 26 years old, was not an introspective or particularly observant writer. He was obviously no worry to his Captain, whose job it was to censor his men’s letters, as few if any of Ralph’s notes and cards were redacted. Now that I have my own son in the army, I recognize the “I’m doing fine, the Sergeant says I should write home” style of correspondence.  Occasionally I could pick out some details of what he was experiencing in France, and these are set out in the article  published on the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources blog on World War I.

What began to interest me as much as the family connection was his membership in a forgotten pioneer groups- the very first American aviation mechanics. Ralph Whatley was one of several dozen North Carolina boys who were members of the 1st Motor Mechanics Brigade of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Under an agreement made between and US and France, his company spent the entire war embedded with French pilots and aviation battle groups, so that French mechanics could build the planes American pilots needed to get into the air.

Raph Whatley uniform jp

Ralph Whatley in uniform, 1918

I barely remember my grandfather even mentioning his World War service. My father and uncle heard a few stories, but by the time they repeated them to me, they were rather garbled. For example, my uncle was sure that my grandfather had gotten the flu in France, and that my great-grandfather had gotten a pass from his friend Josephus Daniels to visit my grandfather in his hospital in France.  In fact, my grandfather had scarlet fever, but at Camp Hancock in December 1917. My great-grandfather did visit him in the hospital, much more conveniently located near his cousins in Augusta, Georgia.

As most of the US Army records were destroyed in the disastrous fire at the St. Louis National Archives in 1972, piecing together not only my grandfather’s service record but the entire unit history is rather difficult. Fortunatley, ancestry.com has digitized the passenger lists of all of the ships which took soldiers overseas.  When I found the list of the U.S.S. President Lincoln, it disclosed the names and hometowns of the entire Motor Mechanics Brigade. I’ve tried to track down some of his fellow soldiers, but so far it appears that my grandfather’s letters, and his many photographs, are some of the few records of this unit that have survived.  I’d love to hear from anyone who has letters, diaries or photographs that can help flesh out this fascinating story.

Civilian Casualties of War, 1863

August 13, 2018
[Public Domain clip art from
https://www.wpclipart.com/American_History/civil_war/Various/hanging_during_civil_war__by_Pyle.jpg.html%5D
     The history of Randolph County’s turbulent civilian life from 1861 to 1865 is an aspect of North Carolina’s Civil War history that was first explored by Bill Auman in his meticulous and influential research, sadly only published after his death.  Auman recounted numerous stories of organized resistance to the war effort, often amounting to civil insurrection, that plagued local and state government all through the war.  Examples that made it into publication in contemporary newspapers have been known for many years; the well-known episode of Deputy Sheriff Alfred Pike’s torture of William Owen’s wife to find his hiding place has recited and published in numerous articles and books- perhaps the county’s best-known example of poor behavior during the war.
    Asheboro was the headquarters of the government and the military during the war, and Asheboro at the time had no local newspaper.  Events are only known when residents wrote to other newspapers, in Fayetteville, in Greensboro, or in Raleigh. Most events were never recorded in the news at the time they happened, and many stories are virtually impossible to confirm.  Such stories survived, if at all, as oral history.
    Local writer Ralph Bulla recorded one long after the event, the death of Alson Allred in 1863.  Bulla heard Allred’s story and was guided to his grave by elderly residents of the Coleridge area 113 years after it happened.  Alson, supposedly “hiding out” from the Confederate draft, was captured near Deep River South of Coleridge, taken to Buffalo Ford, tied up, stood on horseback, and hanged from a large maple tree.  Allred’s 17-year-old wife arrived after the execution, and members of the local Bray family who witnessed it could not forget her “hollering and screaming.”  Allred’s crime was said to be that “He laid out, they caught him and killed him,” and so it was justifiable.  [“Civil War Hanging Recalled,” by Ralph Bulla. The Courier-Tribune, Asheboro N.C., 2 June 1976, p10A.]
The basic facts of the story are easy to confirm. Alson G. Allred’s grave is to be found in the Gardner-Moffitt Graveyard, Brower Township, on the East side of Riverside Road, just past 5151 Riverside Rd., about 0.3 mile south of the bridge over Richland Creek.  The location is about a mile and 3/4 east of Moffitt’s Mill, the local post office located where SR 1004 crosses Richland Creek.

His tombstone shows that he died January 5, 1863, and was 20 years old (born 18 August 1842).  The graveyard is apparently in the close vicinity of what was the Elisha Allred homeplace.  Allred’s parents and close family members are buried here. In the 1860 census, the Elisha Allred family were neighbors of James and Louisa Gardner, who are also buried here. (Louisa or Levisa Allred, b. 1826, was Alson Allred’s oldest sister).

[Randolph County, 1865]
According to the story, Alson Allred was captured at or near the present site of 5795 Riverside Road, about a mile further South from the cemetery. The site is some 3.5 miles south of Coleridge, which didn’t exist in 1860, and about 6 miles south of Buffalo Ford as the crow flies.  Although I have yet to find official confirmation, the school house at Buffalo Ford was apparently used as a regional headquarters for the Home Guard, a base for their searches for conscripts and deserters, and a detention center for those captured.  After his arrest, Allred must have been taken directly past his own home on the way to Buffalo Ford.
    There is no record of Alson Allred’s wife’s name, or indeed of his ever being married.  There is no record of his service in the Confederate military, nor any record of his desertion.  Ralph Bulla’s record of the local oral history is literally the only record of Allred’s life and death that has been found.  Since no official record of his execution has been found, a fundamental question must be raised: was Allred’s death a legal execution, or an extrajudicial lynching?  Was he a civilian casualty of the war, or a harsh example of military discipline?
    The first step in answering the question lies in understanding the Confederate conscription system. In the federal system, devised for the Union army and used in every war since, men subject to “the draft” received a number chosen at random, and those lottery numbers are used to induct only the selected men into service.  The Confederate system was oddly and radically different.  In April 1862 the Confederate Congress created a program of compulsory national military service for all white males which required an elaborate, centralized governmental enforcement effort.
    Every white male within a stated age range was automatically considered to be in Confederate service unless released by a medical board or exempt as a public official (Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs, Constables, Coroners, Clerks of Court, judges, postal clerks, ministers, etc.)  Quakers were not exempt as conscientious objectors (they could pay a fee or hire a substitute). Men engaged in businesses or industries considered vital to the war effort were not exempt, but were considered soldiers “detailed” to work in their usual jobs unless and until called up for actual military service. Thus supervisors in cotton mills, millers, miners, blacksmiths, foundry workers, coopers, and etc. were “Detailed Men,” working at their prewar occupations.
[New York City draft riots, 1862]
    Randolph County is fortunate in that voluminous records of the 7th Congressional District Home Guard have been preserved in various institutions, and this gives us names of hundreds of “recusant conscripts” (what we now call ‘draft dodgers’) and deserters. Most of these relate to later periods of the war, 1864 and 1865, and nothing has yet appeared that relates to the possible capture, court martial trial or execution of Alson Allred.
    One fact argues that his death was in fact an execution: no records of an inquest into his death can be found in the Randolph County court records in the State Archives.  The Coroner or his deputies were legally required to assemble a jury and review the circumstances of any “unnatural death” in the county.  Two examples from the period are illustrative:
    When D.F. Caudle of Yadkin County died at the home of Claiborne Allred in Franklinville in September 1863, Acting Coroner Alfred Pike held an inquest, assembled a jury of prominent local men (headed by George Makepeace, the superintendent of the cotton mill), who heard evidence and determined that Caudle met his death “by exposure.”  [The legal record is bare of some of the most interesting facts: David F. Caudle married Mary Cooper in Yadkin County on 18 Sept. 1856. A conscript into service, he was listed as serving in the Confederate Navy in Wilmington as of 19 July 1863, yet within 6 weeks he is dead in Randolph County.  I believe that “death by exposure” during one of the warmest times of the year means that Caudle deserted his post in Wilmington, and on his way back to Yadkin county, contracted pneumonia walking home and was probably suffering from malnutrition which led to his death in Franklinville.  See Yadkin Men in the Military, 1861-1865, p 197; RC Gen. Journal Fall 1997, p 25.]
    When word of the death of Peter Garner was received by Coroner Ransom Lowdermilk, apparently weeks after the event, his body was exhumed on May 13, 1864 and a jury of southern Randolph County men assembled to view the cause- “Various gunshot wounds to the left side of head and body,” and to bring in a verdict of murder by person or persons unknown. [On April 24, 1864, Garner (“a detailed soldier from the army”) guided the Sheriff’s posse to arrest the leader of an outlier band (“the notorious Bill Owens has at last been captured,” said the Fayetteville Observer.)  Garner, born in 1833, was listed as an “overseer” in the 1860 census, and was known by the nickname “The Hunter” for his work in finding and capturing outliers.  Within a week of his assistance in the capture of Owens, he was assassinated while fishing in Richland Creek by some of Owens’ men.]
    When no inquest is conducted into the circumstances of a death, the assumption is that it occurred by natural causes– unless it was a public execution.
    A deeper examination into the family of Alson Allred also raises questions.  His parents Elisha and Barbara Allred had a family of five boys and four girls.  One other boy is buried in the Gardner-Moffitt graveyard, James M. Allred, born 6 October 1845, died 4 April 1865. What was a twenty-year old white male doing home in April 1865? There is no record of a Coroner’s inquest into his death, either- was it from natural causes? A note on his tombstone in the online service “Find a Grave” erroneously reports that he was a member of Company M in the 22nd NC Regiment- that is James A. Allred, who survived the war. The only record of a “J.M. Allred” among North Carolina troops is on the list of “Major Hahr’s Battalion” published in Walter C. Hilderman, They Went into the Fight Cheering: Confederate Conscription in North Carolina (Boone: Parkway Publishers, 2005), pp233-234).  Major Frank Hahr’s two companies of “light duty men” were part of Colonel Peter Mallett’s conscription bureau. In October 1864 they were sent to Wilmington, where they were stationed during both attacks on Fort Fisher, in December 1864 and January 1865.  The roster of Company B contains the name of “J.M. Allred,” listed as “Deserted.” If this is our James M. Allred, he must have made it back to Randolph County by April 4th, when he died- whether of disease or by execution, can’t be determined.
    In fact, a military service record can be found for only one of Alson Allred’s four brothers: William Harrison Allred, born 11 June 1840.  He is listed in Confederate payroll records as a teamster in Tennessee and Georgia in the fall of 1863, but on May 16, 1864 he was wounded in the shoulder at Petersburg, Virginia and taken prisoner.  He was sent to the military prison in Alton, Illinois, where he signed the Oath of Allegiance. He married Martha Moon in Randolph county in 1868, and died in 1925 in Benton County, Arkansas. [Fold3, Confederate conscript records. There appear to be two different Oaths signed, which may indicate that there are two different William H. Allreds  in the file.]
    None of Allred’s other brothers (Henry Branson Allred, b. 1825; Clarkson L. Allred b. 1827; and John Tyson Allred, b. 1831) have military service records.  Clarkson Allred is listed on a list (attributed to the Fall of 1864) of the hands detailed to work at the Salt Works near Wilmington.  Were the others “hiding out” from the army? Was Alson the only one caught, and executed as a lesson to his brothers?  Was James also caught and executed?  None of these questions have easy answers.
    One final quirk to the story of Alson Allred: on March 24, 1865, two weeks before the death of his son James, his father Elisha Allred committed suicide.  We know the facts, because, once again, Coroner Ransom Lowdermilk conducted an inquest. The body of 62-year old Elisha Allred was found hanging in his barn, his mouth filled with cotton. His wife Barbara testified that he left the house to feed their stock, “after having expressed the previous night his indifference to living.” Their daughter-in-law (perhaps Naomi Moffitt, who married Clarkson Allred on August 7, 1855) discovered the body.  The verdict was “death by hanging, having jumped from the tailgate of his wagon.”
    What made Elisha Allred so despondent that he took his own life? Why put cotton in his mouth- the rope around his neck would make it impossible to cry out. Was it because he had said something he felt remorse over?  There is only so much we can do to fill in the blanks around the life of Alson G. Allred- but the real story is no doubt much deeper and richer, and more sad, than the single newspaper account we have.
    And I believe that there were dozens of similar stories in Randolph County between 1861 and 1865, most of which we will never see even this much evidence to document. Randolph County during the Civil War was itself a battlefield, and there were dozens of casualties, whether civilian or military.

The Jonathan Worth House and Lot

July 9, 2018

Jonathan Worth (1802-1869) is usually cited as Asheboro’s most famous former resident, on the basis of his two terms as Governor of North Carolina from 1865-1868.  There is little in Asheboro to remind us of him, however, except a state historical marker, and that has been moved from the site of the original courthouse to a spot in front of the current courthouse.  (It still says ‘located one block south,’ which is now inaccurate).

This past winter and spring, one of the last living witnesses to Worth’s life and residency was lost.  The oak tree located in front of the Frank McCrary house on Worth Street was once located in the front yard of Governor Worth’s house.  After suffering storm and insect damage it was gradually removed over a couple of weeks, and now no trace of it remains. It was estimated to be more than 200 years old.

The Randolph Room in the public library has no photograph of the front, or North side of Worth’s house, but we do have a vintage view of the eastern side, that faced Main Street.

It belonged to Governor Worth’s grandson Hal Worth, and County Historian Laura Worth, Hal Worth’s widow, made notes all over the back of it.  “Home of Jonathan Worth in Asheboro, NC, 1824-1864. Located on site of C.W. and J.F. McCrary houses.  Picture made at a family gathering for the Silver Wedding anniversary of David G. and Julia S. Worth, who had moved from Asheboro to Wilmington.”  Julia Stickney, a native of New York, came to Asheboro to teach in the Female Academy. She and David Worth were married in June 1853, after his graduation from UNC-Chapel Hill, so the picture must date to the summer of 1878.  David Gaston Worth was the only son of Governor Worth and his wife, who also had seven daughters, and many of them can be assumed to have been present for the photograph.

Thirty persons have been caught by the photographer, and most of them are unknown.  Miss Laura notes that the lady seated in the center of the detail above, wearing a white bonnet and shawl, is Sarah Dicks Worth, wife of John Milton Worth, who must be the dark-bearded standing man two persons to her left- slightly out of focus since he must have moved during the exposure.  The standing group to the far right of the detail, who are to the left of the large tree in the original, are noted by Miss Laura as “Mrs. Elvira Worth, seen with the Walker children.”  The young man to her right must be Herbert Jackson, her son by Governor Worth’s law partner Samuel Jackson who died in 1875. Evelina then married Samuel Walker, who died just three months later, leaving her with three step-children. (She would later marry once more, in 1883, to Eli N. Moffitt.)

The couple to the right of the tree is not identified, but given the occasion the man and seated woman could be the anniversary couple David and Julia Worth.  They had eight children, of whom only sons Charles (b. 1861), George (b. 1867) and James (b. 1869) survived to adulthood. the 8 and 10-year-olds may be the boys seated on the grass in front of the couple, while the young man in uniform could be 17-year-old Charles. Another  young man in uniform standing behind Sarah Dicks is probably Hal M. Worth, grandson of John Milton Worth, the son of his only son Shubal, who died in the Civil War. The uniforms with U.S. Army-style kepi caps are almost certainly those of the Bingham School in Mebane, which had become a military school in 1873. The Bingham School was operated by Robert Bingham and his wife Delphine Worth, another daughter of Governor Worth. The Binghams and their two daughters and two sons are probably one of the other couples in the photo.

The odd structure in the left foreground is an ice house where pieces of ice cut from frozen ponds during the winter months could be stored below ground, packed in sawdust.  Here is a diagram of one from Fredericksburg, VA–

 

 

As interesting as this single photograph can be, it tells us very little about the Worth property.  Jonathan Worth was a successful lawyer in Asheboro for 40 years, and owned several other farms Randolph and a plantation in Moore in addition to his Asheboro home.  His home survived only a few years after this picture- Sidney Swaim Robins says in Sketches of My Asheboro that he saw it burn one winter night, around 1885.

For additional information we can turn to an advertisement posted in various North Carolina newspapers when Jonathan Worth began his move from Asheboro to Raleigh to take up his duties as State Treasurer in 1862.  It reveals, in great detail, that the house was only one part of a community of buildings and structures that encompassed an entire block of downtown Asheboro- from Worth to Academy Streets, and from Main to Cox Streets. Early Asheboro, as an antebellum southern courthouse town, was a village of clustered farmhouses rather than an urban collection of townhouses. The ad provides an insight to daily life in early Asheboro that no photograph can adequately coney.

VALUABLE PROPERTY FOR SALE.

THE undersigned baring recently undertaken public duties, incompatible with proper attention to the property hereinafter described, will sell at Auction, for Cash, (currency) at 12 o’clock M., on the 29th Jan’y next, (unless sooner disposed of at private sale,) his Tract of LAND in Moore County, on the Fayetteville and Western plank Road, about half way between Carthage and Asheboro’, containing about 507 Acres, of which some 50 or 60 acres is probably cleared, and well fenced. and some four acres good Meadow. It has on it a comfortable DWELLING, Kitchen, Smoke House, Barn, Store House, spacious Stables, &c.

The sale will be made at the premises, and immediate possession will be given to the purchaser. He will aIso sell, at private sale, his Lots and Residence in the town of Asheboro’, with, or without Two Farms near the village. One of the farms about a mile from the village, contains about 100 acres, 80 acres of which is in cultivation. It has on it some 8 or 10 acres of good meadow. About 40 acres is seeded, in good order, with a superior variety of wheat and with rye and winter oats. The remainder is in a good condition for a corn crop. Three-fourths of the outside fence of this place is built of stone. The other tract, about 3 miles from the village, contains about 305 acres;– about 60 acres in cultivation, some 16 acres of which is seeded in Winter oats– the rest intended for corn next year.

The property in Asheboro’ consists of several contiguous lots, containing about 10 acres, all of which is in excellent condition; has on it an orchard of more than 200 trees, in bearing condition contesting of choice varieties of apple, peach, pear, cherry and other fruit trees;– about 3 acres of highly fertilised and productive meadow.

The dwelling is 62 x 20 feet, with a wing 18 x 26 feet, both two stories high. The rooms of the main building are all plastered in plain hard finish style; four of them spacious and with good, fire places; one a dormitory, without fire place, and one a library room, fitted up with moveable shelves, &c. The wing has two rooms with fire places, a dining room and one room without a fire place, with fixed wardrobes, and a spacious and dry cellar under the building. The out-buildings consist of a kitchen, three negro houses with two rooms in each of them, four of the rooms having each a fire place, and one of them a stove; well house with pantry, a large smoke house, carriage house, wood house; two offices each with two rooms and one fire places; a framed barn 54 x 80 feet, with stable room for 8 horses, space for sheaf wheat enough to produce 600 bushels; two ceiled garners capable of holding each 600 bushels of grain, with a basement story to shelter cattle; and also separate cow houses; a stone milk house supplied with a constant stream of cool spring water. The buildings are all in excellent condition, and have been recently painted.

Persons desirous to make further inquiries, can apply to me at Raleigh, to my son or brother residing in Wilmington or to my brother in Fayetteville, or to my son in- law S.S. Jackson in Asheboro’, who is duly empowered empowered to make a sale.
As I am about to remove lo Raleigh l can give immediate possession.
JONATHAN WORTH.
Dec’r 27 1862

 

Mill Power: Steam

November 6, 2017

Harris Corliss

I realized today that there is a major Franklinville anniversary coming up this month. One hundred twenty years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1897, the “Upper Mill” started up its second steam engine- an engine that still exists, though no longer in Franklinville, and still has lessons for us about powering manufacturing.

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The interior of P&P Chair Company in Asheboro, where the lineshaft down the center of the building was originally powered by a Corliss engine.

Before the advent of individual electric motors to power machinery, finding the energy to manufacture goods involved harnessing natural resources to mechanical processes. The most important requirement was a plentiful source of water, required by steam engines and boilers as well as by water wheels. Whether turned by the force of flowing water or high-pressure steam, a rotating flywheel pulled a leather belt, transmitted through a complicated system of shafts, belts, ropes and pulleys to connect each individual machine to the rotating wheel.

Breast wheel at destroyed Richmond paper mill 1865.

Breast wheel in ruins of Richmond Va. paper mill, 1865

The mill’s original power came from one or more wooden water wheels of the breast (or “pitch-back”) type, the usual form of water wheel usually found in British and New England textile mills. . The entire reason to locate the factory at this spot on Deep River was to take advantage of the potential for water power, so a water wheel had to have been part of the original construction of the mill. The earliest written reference to any Deep River factory wheel comes in 1848, when a reporter mentions the two metal breast wheels installed in the rebuilt Cedar Falls factory, built by the Snow Camp Foundry. The wheel in Franklinville was probably covered at least with a shed to protect it from ice, but it is not clear what, if any, structure covered the water wheel until July, 1882, when the capital stock of the corporation was increased by $20,000 to allow construction of a two-story “Wheel House.” A new water wheel was installed in the basement of the Wheel House at that time, almost certainly some kind of turbine wheel. The original water wheels installed in the Union Factory in Randleman were early turbine wheels, but the low flow of water made them inefficient. For that reason the Union factory installed the first steam engine on the river, by 1881 if not before.

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But water power is another story; this post is about steam, and the first steam boiler started to power the Franklinville factory in 1882. The records of the William A. Harris Steam Engine Company of Providence, Rhode Island (now in the New England Museum of Wireless and Steam) indicates that an 87-horsepower right-hand drive girder frame Corliss-type engine with a flywheel eleven feet in diameter was ordered by the Franklinsville Manufacturing Company on March 29, 1882.

George Corliss

George Corliss

The reciprocating steam valve patented by George Corliss in 1849 allowed for uniform speed and more efficient cutoff of steam, and quickly became the preferred industry standard for large mill engines. William Harris, formerly a superintendent in the Corliss factory, opened his own firm in 1864. Between 1874 and 1899 he delivered 18 engines to North Carolina manufacturers, including one to Randleman in 1881, one to the fomer Island Ford factory in Franklinville in 1896, and one to Cedar Falls in 1898.

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William A. Harris

Corliss engines were the workhorses of manufacturing in America. Franklinville alone, circa 1890, had four– at both cotton mills, the Bush Creek rock crusher, and the Makepeace Millworks. All of the big smokestack industries in Asheboro were powered by corliss engines; yet by 1950, all had been replaced by cheap electricity powering motorized equipment. The Age of steam-powered prime movers, 1880-1940, was barely one man’s lifetime.

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Franklinsville Mfg. Co. 1897 boiler room and smokestack

The 1882 Franklinville engine was located in the Wheel House, and a Boiler Room was added to the south of the wheel house, together with a 69-foot-tall brick chimney flue for the boiler, fired by wood. The steam engine operated for the first time on November 24, 1882. An electric dynamo was attached to the water wheel in the fall of 1896, and in October the first electric lights were installed in the mill. (The superintendent noted that “then tallow candles and kerosene lamps became a thing of the past.”)

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1897 FMC Harris Corliss Engine, front view, 1995

In 1895 the mill began an expansion plan which resulted in doubling the size of the factory by 1899. To prepare for that, in 1897 the boiler room was expanded, a taller smokestack was erected, and a new engine house was built to house a bigger 150-horsepower Harris Corliss engine. Evidently satisfied with the performance of its 1882 engine, the mill went back to the William A. Harris Company and ordered a new engine even larger than the old one.

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1897 engine, rear view

Ordered on July29, 1897, the engine boasted an 18” cylinder and a 42” stroke, and provided more than 100 horsepower to the flat-belt pulley on its 13-foot flywheel. A new engine house was built, with granite bed stones anchored in a wheel pit deep beneath the mill. The engine was started for the first time on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 1897, “by Benajah T. Lockwood of Providence, Rhode Island.” The engine turned continuously until December 23, 1920, when the new coal-fired Power House was built, and electric motor drives were installed in the mill.

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1897 FMC engine, showing steam chest with corliss valve gear, Nov. 2017

The Franklinville engine then began a remarkable journey around North Carolina- remarkable for a machine the size of a box truck and weighing many tons. In July, 1921 it was sold to Builder’s Sash and Door Company of Rocky Mount, where it operated until April of 1933. It was then purchased by the Williams Lumber Company and moved to their mill in Wilson. Williams Lumber became Stevens Millwork in 1965, and the engine continued to run their saw mill and millwork shop until 1971, when the company closed. Scrap dealers disassembled the engine and sold it to someone who moved it to Smithfield, NC, but never set it up. There it was discovered by Shell Williams of Godwin, NC, who used a crane and lowboy to move it to Cumberland County in 1977, where it remains.

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1897 FMC engine, showing governor

November 25, 2017 will be the 120th anniversary of this workhorse machine first coming to life in Franklinville, NC. It powered at least 3 different North Carolina manufacturers for more than 75 years, and could still go on for years more. It is a monument to American mechanical design and craftsmanship, as well as to the manufacturing power that built our modern economy.  A good reason to pause and remember the hard work of all the people who designed it, built it, moved it, operated it, and cared for it for more than five generations in Rhode Island and North Carolina.

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Robert Merriam, of the New England Museum of Wireless and Steam, operating their 1892 Harris Corliss engine.

Women’s War Work: Julia Thorns

August 30, 2017

Thorns

In my job at the library I write a lot of stuff, but most of it doesn’t end up on this blog.

For example, here is an article I wrote for the NC Department of Natural and Cultural History blog during the centennial of World War I.

Julia Ann Thorns (1864-1939) was often described as a “Clubwoman,” and indeed she at one time served as President of the Asheboro Woman’s Club. But she was also a vigorous early proponent of environmental action, especially in forestry, and served as the first female president of the N.C. Forestry Association.

She was the aunt of my old friend Marion Stedman Covington, who first asked me to write about her many years ago.

The Randolph County Confederate Monument

August 17, 2017

Confed Monument Ron Baker Photo CT

The Randolph County chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was organized in 1906 at the suggestion of Mrs. E.E. Moffitt, the daughter of Governor Jonathan Worth.  “The paramount interest of the organization” was to erect a monument to Confederate veterans in Asheboro.  The ladies raised money for the statute through numerous public events: “Bazaar” sales, a “Biblical cantata,” an “Old Maids’ Convention,” a “Batchelor’s Congress,” a “Spinster’s Return,” a “home talent concert,” and through sales of post cards.

IMG_0421Their final appeal to the general public was published in The Courier of 26 Feb 1909: “We have set our hands to the sacred task of erecting in the town of Asheboro, near our beautiful new courthouse, a monument to commemorate the bravery and valor of the Confederate Soldiers of Randolph County who fell in the War between the States.”

IMG_0423“We would that all men in looking upon it might feel that it was a fit expression of the glory of the dead and of the love and reverence of the people for whom they died. It will speak to generations yet unborn of the simple loyalty and sublime constancy of the soldiers of Randolph county who fought without reward and who died for a cause that was to them the embodiment of liberty and sacred right.”

Mullins catalog1

More than a hundred individual and business donors contributed to the final cost of $1700.  The monument was ordered through the “Blue Pearl Granite Company” of Winston-Salem.  The base of Mt. Airy granite is 9’6” square and 22 feet tall.  The 6’ tall statue itself was purchased from the W.H. Mullins Company of Salem, Ohio. 

Mullins catalog2

It was Number 5608 in their catalog, “Confederate Infantryman/ Six Ft. high from top of base to top of head. One-eighth plate base 20x20x5 inches. Made in sheet copper, antique bronze finish; also in sheet bronze.” The company’s 1913 catalog featured a full-page photograph of the Asheboro statue atop its granite pillar.

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The Mullins Company sold statues of all varieties of soldier, both Union and Confederate, officer and enlisted man.  After World War I they sold many more modern tin soldiers to memorials around the country. One page of the 1913 catalog prints a poem, “The Blue and the Gray”:

By the flow of the inland river,

When the fleets of iron have fled,

Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,

Asleep are the ranks of the dead;

Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the judgment day;

Under the one, the Blue;

Under the other, the Gray.

 

No more shall the war cry sever,

Or the winding rivers be red,

They banish our anger forever,

When they laurel the graves of our dead.

Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the judgment day,

Love and tears for the Blue,

Tears and love for the Gray.

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The monument was unveiled Sept 2, 1911 at the two-year-old county courthouse, at a public event attended by an estimated 3,000 persons (about twice the population of Asheboro at the time).  The keynote speaker was North Carolina Chief Justice Walter M. Clark, a Confederate veteran and author of the Regimental History series N.C. Troops.  Congressman Robert N. Page delivered a “Eulogy to Old Soldiers,” and the President of the Randolph Chapter of the UDC, Miss May McAlister (the grand-daughter of Dr. John Milton Worth), unveiled the monument. It was “presented by” E.L. Moffitt, the President of Elon College; “accepted for the veterans” by the State Auditor, W.P. Wood; “for the county,” by county attorney H.M. Robins; and “for the town” by Mayor J.A. Spence.  Bands played, songs were sung, and the UDC hosted a dinner on the grounds of the Presbyterian Church across the street, at which 250 watermelons were cut and served to the crowd.

Walter Clark b1846Chief Justice Clark in the war

Chief Justice Clark’s speech was a lengthy and meticulous account of the regimental histories of each of Randolph County’s companies. “To some this recital of bare facts will seem tiresome, but to these veterans they recall memories that will never die. The ‘days of our youth are the days of our glory.’ Bear with me then as I recall the battles, marches and sieges of not long ago.”

IMG_0419He closed by saying “From what I have already said, it will be seen that from the very beginning of the war to its close, wherever there were hardships to be endured, sufferings to be borne, and hard fighting to be done, there the county of Randolph was represented, and represented with honor, in the persons of her gallant sons.”  Absent from Clark’s speech was any “waving of the bloody shirt,” or any reference to “the Anglo-Saxon race” (features of many other such dedicatory addresses). Clark’s only overt political remarks concerned the perceived unfairness that southern states were taxed to provide pensions to Union veterans, but not to Confederate veterans- a position that no doubt resonated with the hundred or more Confederate veterans in his audience.

One hundred years later, just before Veteran’s Day in 2011, an additional footstone marker was installed at the monument to correct the misidentification of Company M, the “Randolph Hornets,” as Company D.  The marker goes on to note eight additional companies which included large groups of Randolph County men.

Hugh falls CT

In mid-September 1989, the remnants of Hurricane Hugo swept up from Charlotte and nearly toppled the statue from its granite pedestal.  An iron armature inside the sculpture had corroded over the years, allowing the hollow statue (which weighs less than 100 pounds) to flip over.  Ad Van der Staak of Van der Staak Restorations of Seagrove, reconstructed the shattered shoe, rifle butt and arm crushed in the fall. The statute was also cleaned and coated with a preservative, under a bid of $4,880. Cablevision of Asheboro donated half the expense, with the county covering the remainder.  Alice Dawson, Clerk to the Board of Commissioners, told the newspaper that the statue would have to be known as “Hugo” thereafter, in recognition of his near ‘death’ in the hurricane.

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Hugo and Van der Staak, 1989

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Is Randolph County’s Confederate Monument a monument to White Supremacy?

August 17, 2017

Silent Sam N&OMany Confederate monuments erected at or around the same period were used overtly to advance a racist agenda. “Silent Sam,” on the Chapel Hill campus, for example, was dedicated in 1913 by Civil War veteran Julian Carr of Durham, then the president of North Carolina’s United Confederate Veterans.  Carr stated that he and his fellow veterans , Carr applauded rebel soldiers for preserving “the very life of the Anglo-Saxon race in the South,” and ensuring that the “the purest strain of the Anglo Saxon” lived there.

Carr concluded with an overtly racist and threatening anecdote:

One hundred yards from where we stand, less than ninety days perhaps after my return from Appomattox, I horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds, because upon the streets of this quiet village she had publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady, and then rushed for protection to these University buildings where was stationed a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers. I performed the pleasing duty in the immediate presence of the entire garrison, and for thirty nights afterward slept with a double-barrel shotgun under my head.

My reading of the record does not find any evidence that this was the case when the UDC planned or dedicated the Asheboro monument.

Elvira Worth MoffittElvira Evelina Worth Walker Moffitt, Governor Worth’s daughter, was involved with community improvement projects at all stages of her life.  During the Civil War, she organized the women of Asheboro to sew tents out of material woven by the mills in Cedar Falls and Franklinville. During the Spanish-American war she helped establish the Soldiers’ Aid Society in Raleigh; during World War I she was a leader in the War Relief Society of Richmond, Va.

Besides being honorary president for life of the Johnston-Pettigrew Chapter of the UDC, she was honorary state regent for life of the DAR.  She was an early member of the NC Literary and Historical Association and served as editor of the North Carolina Booklet, its history magazine. She was one of the first to suggest that Asheboro and Randolph County needed a public library; she was a founder of the Randolph County Historical Society and of the Women’s Club of Raleigh.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe was instrumental in having a bronze tablet to “Ladies of the Edenton Tea Party-1774” placed in the rotunda of the state capitol; and she was the chief fundraiser in building the Stanhope Pullen Gate, which stands at the entrance to the grounds of NC State University. When she moved to Richmond to live with her son, she joined the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities and personally launched the movement to organize the Matthew Fontaine Maury Association, presiding just a few months before her death at the unveiling of a monument to America’s first and foremost oceanographer.  Maury’s statue is perhaps the least Confederate of any on Richmond’s Monument Avenue, excepting that of Arthur Ashe.

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I think Mrs. Moffitt and the UDC members would have agreed with Chief Justice Clark (considered one of the most progressive political figures of his era) that the Asheboro Confederate Monument was first and foremost a Veteran’s Monument.  It depicts only a common infantry soldier, not any general or divisive political figure.  While Confederate history can and has often been co-opted to advance a racist agenda, and lately has also been hijacked to provide rallying points for domestic terrorism, the history of the Confederacy is unavoidably the history of the American South, just as much as is the history of slavery.  Monuments such as ours have been part of the civic landscape of the country for decades, and have now become intertwined with the history of two world wars, civil rights battles, and courtroom drama of all kinds. It may be unintentional that Asheboro’s Confederate monument faces South, while the norm was to site them facing resolutely North.  I prefer to see it as a subtle and intentional reference to Randolph County’s reluctant participation in the war, and to the constant desire of its men to come back home.

stalin_budapest_1956_3The NC General Assembly in July 2015, passed the “Historic Artifact Management and Patriotism Act,” (Senate Bill 22), which prevents the removal of monuments such as the Confederate Statue in Asheboro. But protestors in Durham recently ignored the law and pulled down a similar statue at the old Durham Courthouse.  If such a law did not “protect” our monument, what would be a valid argument against removing or destroying it?

LeipzigBattle of Nations 1945

For an apt comparison out of history, consider the actions of the Allied forces occupying Germany after World War II.  Directive 30, issued in May of 1946, directed the “de-nazification” of Germany by ordering the removal of all National Socialist emblems and insignia, and prohibited the “design, erection, installation or other display” of any monument, memorial, poster, statue, edifice or highway name marker “which tends to preserve and keep alive the German military tradition, to revive militarism or to commemorate the Nazi Party, or which is of such a nature as to glorify incidents of war…”

Denazified monumentHowever, Article IV of the Directive states:

“The following are not subject to destruction and liquidation:

  1. Monuments erected solely in memory of deceased members of regular military organizations, with the exception of paramilitary organizations, the SS and the Waffen SS.
  2. Individual tombstones existing at present or to be erected in the future, provided… the inscriptions… do not recall militarism or commemorate the Nazi Party.”

I would argue that the Asheboro Confederate monument was “erected solely in memory of deceased members of regularly military organizations”, albeit members who served in a losing cause in rebellion against the constituted government of the United States of America. If it was removed at the request of any individual or group which is offended or disagrees politically with the history of the monument, I think a precedent would be created that would make it difficult to refuse an identical request made by any anti-Vietnam War activists.

But don’t people have a point? Isn’t Confederate history racist history?

Heritage of Hate

Yes. 

Despite many modern attempts to re-write history, the war that began in April 1861 was fought by Southerners to defend and protect their “peculiar institution.” Attempts to recast and redefine the roots of the war began in Reconstruction and have continued ever since, particularly during the Jim Crow era in the South.  The only reason for states to leave the federal Union was to keep slaves in bondage. “State’s Rights” was an excuse put forward to maintain the system of Negro slavery.  That was wrong then, and we fought a war to end it. The United States won. The Confederacy lost. 

The more pertinent question in regard to this particular monument is whether Confederate history is Randolph County history.  My opinion as a Randolph County historian is that our local history was significantly different in many important ways from traditional Confederate history.  And our unique local history has never been recognized, commemorated or memorialized in ways that would give it the educational value it deserves.

I’ve been told by those who object to the Confederate statue that their biggest objection is to the inscription, “Our Confederate Heroes.”  I think this is a valid point.  There were many more heroes in the conflict than just Confederate heroes.  Randolph County history of the period is full of examples.

Salt WorksQuaker COs were sent to the Salt Works, run by John Milton Worth.

Our county had one of the lowest slave population percentages of any North Carolina county east of the mountains.  It had one of the highest percentages of “free people of color,” former slaves who had been emancipated before the war years.  This was due to the fact that Quakers historically made up the predominant religious group in the county, and the Friends had been in the forefront of manumission and abolition activities in North Carolina since the 18th century.  The Quakers from Randolph and Guilford counties were in the forefront of those smuggling slaves out of the South on the Underground Railroad.  It is perhaps no surprise that there are no Quaker monuments, as Friends did not even mark their own graves with more than an uninscribed rock until after the Civil War.

The Eagles NestWhen the war did finally come, Randolph County residents were reluctant to embrace it.  When the state legislature called for a referendum on secession, Randolph County’s state senator Jonathan Worth actively campaigned against it. The Greensboro Patriot editorialized, “The 28th of February, the day which perhaps will decide the fate of the Union, is close at hand.… Let every man then who loves his country be at his post… There is a battle to be fought.  A battle upon the result of which hang the destinies of this Nation.  The enemies of our Union have been marshaling their forces.  The hand is already uplifted to strike down the flag of our country!  Union men, to the rescue!  To the rescue!  ….” 

Kabbalistic_red_stringOn that election day, the voters of North Carolina narrowly rejected the secession Convention.  But in the Piedmont, the traditional Piedmont Quaker counties overwhelming voted for the Union.  Chatham County voted against by a margin of 15 to 1; Guilford by a margin of 25 to 1. In Randolph, editor E.J. Hale exulted in the Asheboro Herald of March 3, 1861: “Listen to the thunder of Randolph!” The final vote of 2,579 against to 45 in favor of secession was the largest in the state– 57 pro-Union  voters to every one pro-Confederate secessionist.   That lop-sided proportion struck newspapers in eastern North Carolina as fishy… the New Bern Progress [quoted in the April 11, 1861 Greensboro Patriot], headed its editorial “Something Wrong.”

But whatever it was continued to be wrong throughout the war. Several times each year during the war, government troops were sent from Raleigh to restore civil order and arrest deserters and “outliers,” or draft dodgers.  The county was under martial law for much of the war.  In the election of 1864, the anti-Confederate Peace Party or “Red String” candidates won every elected office in the county, from Confederate Congress to Governor to Sheriff.  Again, the state newspapers cried foul.  But that was the true voice of Randolph County, despite sending more than a thousand of its boys off to war.

red-string            Historian Bill Auman points out that Randolph County in 1861 had the third-lowest volunteer rate in the state.  The enlistment rate for North Carolina as a whole was 23.8%; in Randolph it was 14.2%.  As the war went on, conscription acts were passed by the CSA to force men into service; 40% of the state’s draftees in 1863 came from the recalcitrant Quaker Belt counties, with Randolph contributing 2.7% of its population to the draft that year.  North Carolina as a whole contributed about 103,400 enlisted men to the Confederate Army, about one-sixth of the total, and more than any other state.  But this does not mean those troops were all loyal Confederates; about 22.9% (23,694 men) of those troops deserted, a rate more than twice that of any other state.

engraving      The Confederacy did not publish statistics on desertion, but at least 320 of Randolph’s nearly 2,000 men deserted from their regiments, with 32 deserting twice, five deserting three times and one deserting five times!  Forty-four of these deserters were arrested, 42 were court-martialed, and at least 14 were actually executed. So many deserters and outliers hid in underground dugouts, with their camp fire smoke seeping up out of the dirt, that their rugged mountain hideout took on the name Purgatory Mountain- wreathed in the fires of Hell. Even when they returned to Confederate duty, there was no guarantee that these men would stay.  196 captured Randolph county Confederates took the Oath of Allegiance to the Union before the end of the war, with 67 joining the Union Army.

 

southernvolunteers C&I

Southern “Volunteers”. Currier and Ives illustration, Library of Congress.

A case in point is the service history of Frank Toomes, great-grandfather of Richard and Maurice Petty. William Franklin Toomes (Jr.) was born October 25, 1838 in the Sumner community of Guilford County, less than a mile north of the Randolph County line. Frank followed his father into the blacksmithing trade, and when the Civil War broke out, both of them were working as blacksmiths, probably at one of the factories in Franklinsville. Male employees of the Deep River cotton mills and ironworks qualified as exempt “indispensable” employees until late in the war, but at some point the regional Enrolling Officer decided the cotton mill could do without one of its blacksmiths. When the Enrolling Officer came for him, Frank Toomes hid, submerged in the mill race, breathing through a straw. But on December 2, 1863 Frank Toomes was captured and forcibly drafted into Company E of the 58th North Carolina Infantry.  Within days Toomes was sent to the Tennessee western front, and within days, he deserted. On or around February 1, 1864, 23-year-old Frank Toomes entered the Union lines, surrendered and was taken prisoner to Nashville. On February 12th, he took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States and was assigned to Company H of the 10th Tenn. Cavalry regiment. There Toomes apparently became a good soldier, as he was promoted to 1st Duty Sergeant of Company H on July 16, 1864, and then to Quartermaster Sergeant on June 30, 1865.

Bucked Gagged

There are also numerous stories about Quaker Conscientious Objectors, who even though drafted, refused to bear arms despite humiliation and torture in the army ranks.  Thomas and Jacob Hinshaw, Ezra, Nicholas and Simeon Barker, Simon Piggott and Nathaniel Cox, all Friends from Holly Spring Meeting, were forcibly enlisted in the 52nd NC Infantry when they refused to pay $500 each as an exemption fee.  They refused to hire substitutes and they refused to fight, even after being repeatedly “bucked down”- tortured by having their arms and legs bound so they could not move for hours.  In camp they were harshly disciplined for refusing to carry guns or participate in military training.  An officer wrote that “these men are of no manner of use to the army.” But they were kept in the ranks as virtual prisoners, hands tied and made to march at bayonet point.  Finally left on the battlefield at Gettysburg, where they were nursing the wounded, the Quakers were captured by Federal cavalry and imprisoned at Fort Delaware as prisoners of war. A concerted effort by Quakers of Wilmington, Delaware resulted in their pardon and release by Secretary Stanton and President Abraham Lincoln himself. 

111109_2313_HowellGilli11.jpg

Perhaps the most glaring omission in the Randolph County narrative of its Civil War history is the story of Howell Gilliam Trogdon (1840-1910), a native of the area south of Deep River between Cedar Falls and Franklinville.  The Trogdon family is a classic example of one with divided loyalties; half a dozen served in Confederate uniforms and died on the battlefield or served all the way to Appomattox. Many of those who stayed at home became ring-leaders of the secret anti-confederate Peace movement, the Red String.  Reuben F. Trogdon, who in 1866 won the vote for Sheriff and served as Randolph County’s first Republican elected official, was said to have been the leader of the Red String during the war.  His cousin Howell Gilliam Trogdon, on the other hand, moved to Missouri and became a Zouave in the Union Army.  In the seige of Vicksburg, under orders from Ulysses S. Grant, Trogdon led the nearly-suicidal charge against “Stockade Redan,” a Confederate fort.  Of the 250 men involved in the charge, only Trogdon and two others made it to the top of the parapet.  For his actions in 1863, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor- the first North Carolinian and the only Randolph County soldier ever to win that honor.  Where is his monument?

Memorial_Hall_-_Harvard

When I was at Harvard from 1973 to 1977, we took exams in Memorial Hall, a huge Victorian dining hall built in 1869 to honor the 136 Harvard graduates who died while serving in the US Army during the Civil War. 

We southerners would morbidly joke that Memorial Hall was the country’s largest monument to Southern marksmanship, a pointed gibe at the fact that nowhere among the marble tablets inscribed with the names of those dead Harvard boys were to be found the names of the 71 southern graduates who also gave their lives.  

harvard-memorial-hall-transept

The Memorial Transept. The names of 136 Harvard Union dead are on those marble plaques.

This is still a bone of contention on campus.    http://www.vastpublicindifference.com/2011/05/confederates-in-harvards-memorial-hall.html

Southern monuments aren’t the only one-sided stories of that conflict.  But perhaps the lesson is that we need to learn from multiple perspectives, and tell many stories, to get the full picture of history.  Erasing one side is just as harmful to real education as is ignoring another.

Conscientious objectors 2.jpg

Thomas McGehee Moore: First Mayor of Asheboro?

December 30, 2016
Signature of Thomas M. Moore

Signature of Thomas M. Moore

[I apologize for not posting here since I began at the Randolph Room, but I’ve been busy. Case in point: in August the City of Asheboro asked the library to provide biographies of all of the Mayors of Asheboro. Ross Holt and I actually found two names which had previously been overlooked in former histories, and I compiled this biography of the man who was probably the town’s first mayor, although he had been virtually lost and ignored.]

Thomas McGehee Moore (8 Aug 1806 – ca. 1881)

Probably served as Mayor from 1869-1877

The History of Asheboro (written in 1938 by Mrs. W.C. Hammer and Miss Massa Lambert for insertion into the cornerstone of the new Asheboro City Hall), says “The first mayor of Asheboro, holding office probably in the 1860s or 1870s was Col. Moore. It seems the town got along without a mayor before that time.” (p11) The Rev. J. Frank Burkhead agrees, saying in several of his published reminiscences that “Col. Moore was the first mayor of the City” [The Courier, April 3, 1936.] He also tells the story of Peter Page, a friend and fellow student who made up the doggerel verses “Colonel Moore is the mayor of our town; he keeps things in order by walking around. Mr. Frazier is a very busy man; he goes to the post office whenever he can.” [Rufus Frazier being the headmaster of the Asheboro Male Academy at the time. From The Courier, 1937 and The Tribune, 1938– undated clippings in Mrs. Worth scrapbook].
Though incorporated by the legislature in 1792 there were apparently no elections held and no city government to speak of before 1855, when the General Assembly authorized the election of five town commissioners, and in 1861 established a framework for municipal government. The Mayor was not separately elected, but was chosen by the town commissioners from among their number.
When the 1835 courthouse was demolished in 1914, two different letters signed by “Thomas McGhee Moore, Justice of the Peace” were discovered which had been inserted into the cornerstone of the 1876 entrance pavilion. The editor’s note when these letters were published said that
“Col. Thomas McGehee Moore was a prominent figure in Asheboro for many years, and his memory is revered by many of our older citizens who recall his familiar figure upon the streets, and remember him as the foremost Justice of the Peace of his time.
“He was a cultivated, polished man, a gentleman of the old school, being closely connected with the Mumfort and McGehee families of Person and Caswell counties, prominent and wealthy citizens in the old days.
“Col. Moore lived, with his son Frank, for many years in a residence then across the street and opposite the present residence of Mrs. M.S. Robins. He was entrusted with the drawing up of many of the most important contracts, deeds, mortgages, etc., during his day and time. He was well posted in the law, and wrote a most attractive hand, his work being much in demand in those days long before the general introduction of the typewriter.” [The Courier, 30 April 1914.]
Thomas M. Moore was born in Caswell County, one of ten children of Capt. Robert B. Moore (1752-1816) and Elizabeth McGehee (1769-1852). [Daniel Moore family tree, ancestry.com] On January 13, 1841 he married Elizabeth Hoover, the daughter of the then-Sheriff of Randoph County. “General” George Hoover (c. 1795- 28 May 1842) was a former commander of the county militia regiments who represented the county in the state legislature, 1823-1825. The General and his wife, Nancy York Hoover (c. 1805- 23 March 1863) were the proprietors of Asheboro’s most prominent hotel, the Hoover House, situated at the northwest corner of the Courthouse Square. When the county built a new brick courthouse in 1830, it sold the old wooden courthouse to General Hoover, who moved it across the street and added it to his existing hotel. The string of buildings comprising the General’s family home, boarding house, dining hall and corner barroom added up to the Town’s common name for the inn, “the Hoover Long House.” Hoover served as Sheriff from 1827 to his death in 1840.
Moore seems to have been successful and relatively wealthy during the early part of his life, but by the 1860s seems to have experienced a decline in his fortunes. An anonymous writer stated in that “Across the street west of M.S.Robins lives Thomas Moore; I remember him as a man having a business capacity, in appearance; but I don’t now call to mind his vocation in life. He was a son-in-law of General Hoover, who kept the hotel.” [“Randolph,” “Asheboro Fifty Years Ago,” The Courier 1901.] The earliest records of Hoover’s new son-in-law call him a “merchant.” [The Southern Business Directory (Charleston, 1854), p 391] The source of his title “Colonel,” may have been from early militia service, or it may have been a honorific title related to his service as a Justice of the Peace. A number of Randolph county wedding announcements published in newspapers all over the state during the 1850s list “Thomas M. Moore, J.P.” as the magistrate performing the wedding.
Moore was also a well-known Whig politician, serving as secretary of the Whig State convention in 1854 [2-21-1854] and the county convention of 1860 [The Patriot, GSO, 25 May 1860]. His father-in-law, however, was a well-known Democrat. “General Hoover and A.S. Crowson were the only Democrats in Asheboro,” wrote Peter Dicks Swaim about growing up in the town in the 1840s. [published in the Courier May 11, 1880 and republished October 4, 1951.] Moore was also one of the officers of the local “Good Shepherd Lodge of Good Templars,” a temperance organization. [The Patriot, GSO, 12 Nov 1873].
Moore and his wife Elizabeth had four children who survived to adulthood, three sons and a daughter. The census of 1860 describes Moore as a “retired merchant,” but he was evidently also a widower, as Elizabeth Hoover Moore is not listed. She may have died in childbirth, as her youngest son was born in 1858.
As with many Randolph County Unionists, Thomas Moore was caught in an inescapable situation by the war. When it was over, amnesty was offered to most soldiers and citizens of the Confederate States, but “office-holders” were exempted. This left Moore in a precarious state, as he had come to depend on the income from minor government positions. His application for a Presidential Pardon, filed July 3, 1865, states that-
“He was always before the war commenced opposed to secession. He [was?] both opposed to the [utmost?] of his influence and by his vote [to] the calling of a convention for that purpose in February 1861, nor did his opposition to it cease till by the action of the convention of the state in May 1861, the state was carried out of the Union without any [agreement?] of his, and contrary to his most ardent wishes; but then notwithstanding he regarded it as fraught with the most serious consequences to the people. He felt himself compelled to acquiesce to the actions of his state; but would at any and all times, have been pleased to have seen the Union reconstructed upon honorable terms.
“He is aged 58 years, and a poor man, and found great difficulty in supporting himself and family in the condition of things brought about by the rebellion till in July, 1862, when the office of tax assessor for his county was, at the instance of friends compassionate [to] his situation, tendered him by the authorities of the so-called Confederate States, which he, for the reasons before mentioned, accepted and continued to perform till the surrender of Gen. Johnson’s army last spring; but he performed the duties in a manner as little onerous and oppressive to the citizens as possible.”
[Case file of Applications from Candidates for Presidential Pardons (“Amnesty Papers”), 1863-67. The National Archives, Record Group 94, Cat# 656621, Roll 41.]
Nowhere in Moore’s application does he reveal that, despite what may have been his personal opposition to secession, he had lost both of his oldest sons to the war. When war broke out in 1861, his 19-year-old son George H. Moore son was living and working as a carpenter among his Hoover relatives in Thomasville. George Moore joined Company B of the 14th NC Regiment, the “Thomasville Rifles,” on April 23, 1861. On the 1st of December 1861 his younger brother Robert A. Moore joined the same company at their camp in Fort Bee, Virginia. George Moore was killed in action at Spotsylvania Courthouse on May 12, 1864. Robert Moore, who was promoted to Sergeant a month before his brother’s death, was “killed on picket” on the North Anna River less than 2 weeks after his brother.
Immediately after the war Moore spent a considerable amount of time working with his brother-in-law Benjamin F. Hoover (1818-1884), a lawyer and Clerk of Court, in straightening out the estate of his mother-in-law Nancy York Hoover, who died during the war. Mrs. Hoover owned not only the hotel, but a lot of real property on the west side of Asheboro (what’s now Church and Hoover streets). Most of her personal property had been in 13 enslaved people, whose value in 1863 declined 100% by 1865. Moore’s wife’s portion of the estate would have passed to her 4 children, sadly reduced by 1865 to two children. Moore only began administration of his wife’s estate in 1868 in connection with administration of the estates of Nancy Hoover and his sons.
That may have provided a dowry of some kind for his daughter Elizabeth Cornelia Moore (28 June 1846 – 13 April 1882), who married Richard Simpson Smith of Guilford County on October 31, 1872. His only surviving son, Benjamin Franklin Moore (1858- ?) is something of a mystery. One reference to him is from one of his father’s cornerstone letters, which states that the 1835 courthouse “was covered in tin this year and painted by Benjamin F. Moore.” [The Courier, 4-30-1914] The 1880 census says that the 22-year-old “works in a buggy shop.” His contemporaries seemed to remember him with a lingering air of sadness. Writing many years later, Mrs. James (Nannie Steed) Winningham wrote that “Col. Moore lived opposite the Marsh place, and after his daughter Cornelia married and went elsewhere to live, he and his son Frank(“Bud”), continued to live there and everyone who lived in Asheboro then will remember good-hearted, unfortunate “Bud” Moore.” [The Courier, 3 Sept. 1931 and manuscript copy in the Randolph Room.]
Thomas Moore’s personal popularity continued to provide him with public work that helped support his family, but often with some unexpected reversal. In 1865-68 he served as Register of Deeds, then as now an elected position. [NC Business Directory for 1867-68, p. 93] He lost that job, as did Governor Jonathan Worth, in a Republican landslide after all 1865 elections were voided by the Military Governor of North Carolina, Ben Butler.
The published financial accounts of the 1876 Randolph County Board of Commissioners list Thomas M. Moore as the “County Ranger,” the official charged with taking stray animals into custody (similar to a dogcatcher, but all livestock ran loose in those times before fencing) [Randolph Regulator, Sept. 27, 1876]. Earlier that same year he had been elected as one of the first three Justices of the Peace for the newly-created Asheboro Township. Before the Constitution of 1868, Justices of the Peace had been appointed by the Governor; afterwards they were elected by township. Randolph County was divided into 16 equally-sized townships in 1868, a survey which put the town of Asheboro in the far northeast corner of Cedar Grove Township. Democrats alleged that this was the result of a plan by the Republicans in control of state government to minimize the voting power of the county seat, which could be expected to vote “Conservative” Party (Southern Democrats didn’t regain the use of their pre-war name until after the presidential election of 1876). Protests resulted in 1876 in the creation of a new 17th township for Asheboro, carved out of parts of Franklinville, Grant, Cedar Grove and Back Creek. David W. Porter and R.M. Free, a Republican, were elected JPs with the Democrat Moore in that first election.
Thomas McGehee Moore evidently died in the fall of 1881, survived by his daughter Cornelia and his son Benjamin. [Application for Letters of Administration by George S. Bradshaw, Public Administrator, 17 December 1881] His wife’s tombstone in the Asheboro City Cemetery is simply titled, “Elizabeth, Consort of T.M. Moore.” She is buried beside a child who died in infancy, and one would expect her husband and parents and perhaps her youngest son to be buried around her. But no markers of any kind are known for General George Hoover, Nancy York Hoover, or Thomas McGehee Moore.

[My biggest surprise in this research was in discovering that both of Moore’s adult sons had died in the War.  Yet more evidence of the devastating impact that the war had on the next generation of leadership in Randolph County- virtually every family in a position of power lost a son or sons.

My current research project: the Sheriff wants biographies of all of the former sheriffs!  I’ve already found one not on that list, too.]