Archive for the ‘Asheboro’ Category

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

 

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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.

Mullins catalog3

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.

IMG_0422

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.

Vander staak

Hugo and Van der Staak, 1989

IMG_0420

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.]

Odd Fellows Cemetery

February 15, 2016

01faf35181a311ae44b06bd8480ef79e329e97b57cThis is the “Nomination for Cultural Heritage Site” I submitted to the Randolph Count Landmarks Commission that was approved in January 2016. It’s long, but it speaks to an entire segment of local history that has been lost, overlooked, or intentionally buried.

For the past several years the abandoned and overgrown cemetery has been cleaned up and made accessible once more by volunteer groups spearheaded by Don Simmons, owner of Magnolia 23 restaurant in Asheboro.  Don and I made a concerted effort to local any surviving Odd Fellows, but as Ross Holt discovered, the last one died years ago.  The City of Asheboro is now in the process of buying adjoining land and adding the entire tract to the existing Mt. Calvary public cemetery.

The best access to the Odd Fellows Cemetery is via the driveway entrance to Mt. Calvary cemetery adjoining the “Soul Saving Station” at 1124 Cedar Falls Rd., Asheboro. Follow the driveway to the end of the maintained cemetery grounds and the beginning of the wooded Odd Fellow tract.

015462fd5ccafe60ab0f4b2195e4426323dc49acdeIn February 1953, Mrs. Addie McAlister Keeling, the daughter of Col. A.C. McAlister and grand-daughter of Dr. John Milton Worth, deeded a parcel of land south of Cedar Falls Road to the Town of Asheboro; the lot was evidently already in use as a cemetery “for the Negro population of the Town” (DB 400, PG 637).  The cemetery was described as lying east of “Mt. Calvary Drive,” a private road which was also deeded to the Town, which also provided access to the “Odd Fellows Cemetery” (DB400, PG638).  For more than 60 years the City has maintained the Mt. Calvary cemetery property deeded to them, but the private “Odd Fellows Cemetery” area to the South, known for generations as “Potter’s Field” or the “Colored Cemetery,” was never officially deeded to the City and gradually became overgrown.  It comes as no surprise that the legal history of these tracts are a tangled mess, as in the post-Civil War period neither white nor black citizens took much care to preserve cemetery records.  This report attempts to gather together what can be found about this tract of land, and the fraternal order that it is associated with.

P1080271Before 1865, black and white citizens lived together and worshipped together.  Negroes, both free and enslaved, lived in and around the homes of the white population where they served, with blacks segregated on the Sabbath into the balconies of both the Presbyterian and Methodist Episcopal buildings.  Likewise, there were apparently no separate cemeteries.  In the old Asheboro Cemetery on Salisbury street, at or near the site of the original Methodist Episcopal Church, there is a marker headed “To the Memory of our Colored Friends.”  Presumably the names inscribed on that granite block are those of Negro citizens buried alongside white citizens  and whose original wooden or  rock grave markers had vanished.P1080272

Even after  churches separated, it isn’t clear that burials became segregated.  What appears to be the first church just for African Americans in Asheboro was “Bulla’s Grove,” an African Methodist Episcopal congregation located at or near the site of the present 801 South Fayetteville Street, on the southeast side of Bulla Street intersection.  The church was built on an acre of land deeded on January 15, 1869 to David Worth, Jesse Lytle, Donald Steth and J.H. Hoover by local attorney Bolivar B. Bulla and his wife Tibitha.  (DB/P- rec. 1-31-1877).  It is not known that a graveyard was established around the Bulla’s Grove church; even when the church was rebuilt in 1885 it is unclear if there was an actual Negro residential community around the church or if it was an unsuccessful attempt to create a new African- American neighborhood on what was then the far southern outskirts of the Town, far from both whites and blacks.[i]

In 1921 the Bulla family traded the South Fayetteville location for a new lot on the southeast corner of Burns and Greensboro streets, and Bulla’s Grove took on the name of St. Luke Methodist Church.  The history of the church states that the move was “due to the shifting of the Negro population,” but the area on North Main and Greensboro was much closer to the traditional center of Asheboro’s Negro community.  Free black citizens had apparently clustered in the North Main area even before the Civil War; the first school for Negro children in Asheboro was established there after 1865.[ii]

The area from Salisbury north to Burns Street and East to North Main, including Greensboro Street, was the subdivision of the Burns family, who lived in a large house on what is now the parking lot of First Methodist Church.  Earlier in the 19th century that site had been the home of Benjamin Elliott, whose surrounding farm including all four corners of the Salisbury Street/ Plank Road intersection, and ran North east to what is now Greensboro Street.

Allens Temple AME

Allen’s Temple AME Church, Summit Ave., Asheboro (destroyed)

The new Burns real estate development sold primarily to black families in the same way that that Bulla Street area was earlier developed for the same purpose by B.B. Bulla, and the Old Cedar Falls Road/ Glovinia/ Franks St. neighborhood of “East Asheboro” was developed by the McAlister family.  The fourth Negro neighborhood in late 19th century Asheboro was centered around Allen’s Temple A.M.E. Church on Peachtree Street just north of Bossong Hosiery Mill.  That church was organized in 1896, but is now gone and only marked by what remains of its graveyard.  All but the East Asheboro African- American neighborhoods have been gentrified out of most of their connection to African-American history.

St Luke Meth Ch

St. Luke Methodist Church, Burns St.

North of Abram’s Creek the African-American community in 19th century Asheboro spread out over the hill crowned by St. Luke’s church, down to the point where North Main forded the stream.  The town’s first public school for Negro children was halfway up the hill, established about 1882 and run by William Ernest Mead, a white Quaker missionary from New York.  Sidney Robins remembered him

“as master of ceremonies at a Colored Schools Commencement in the Court Room of the old courthouse of an evening.  I recall that the white people of the town had been invited, even urged or asked, to be present.  Again he was quite in evidence as master of ceremonies at large, with capable Negro teachers managing their classes or prompting their pupils.  It was a gala occasion, nothing left out except these gowns for graduates of lower schools that we see nowadays… the Colored schools, or the Negro people of Asheboro, outgrew Uncle Mead or his kind of leadership…. But the thing is natural enough anyhow.  I suppose that as our Negro people began to rise, they began to want to do their own flying.  They began to want to have teachers and officers of their own race…. He eventually resented a little their graduation in sentiment from his leadership,and that was natural too.  They came to seem to him not appreciative enough of that sort of missionary work to which he had given his life.  I wonder if all missionaries do not come to share this feeling of his in proportion as they have been successful.  If we succeed at all, we make self-starters and democrats out of our pupils.” [iii]

Feb09c 041

Cornerstone of the 1911 Colored Graded School on North Main Street, now in the foundation of Central High School.

Swaim’s gentle and gentlemanly explanation that the African-American community wanted “to do their own flying” may be the cause that more and more separate black inhe hillside after 1885.  But it could also have been the hidden hand of Jim Crow, excluding blacks from membership in white institutions.  African-American congregations may well have felt more comfortable with black ministers and black teachers in black churches and black schools.  But segregation decreed a separate school system for black children, a system which was not funded on an equal level to the white system.

East Asheboro Public Library

Summer at the East Asheboro branch of the public library, ca. 1950.

Similarly, “fraternal institutions” and “benelovent societies” such as the Masons and Knights of Pythias began as all-white organizations, and when African-Americans sought membership, spun off independent black lodges.  Prince Hall, a former slave living in Boston, joined the Masons in 1775, and in 1787 the Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons were established there as the first African-American masonic lodge.  With freedom came the ability to freely associate, and more and more African-American institutions came into being.  Far from being mere social outlets, African-American fraternal lodges provided burial insurance for members, college scholarships, and assistance during times of illness or death.  From 1870 to 1920 these societies were the primary providers of mutual benefits, financial support and care to members and their communities in the days before public assistance and welfare.  The most prominent and active African-American fraternal organization in 19th-century North Carolina (and in Randolph) were the now almost-forgotten Odd Fellows.

Odd_Fellows_Lodge_Museum_of_HistoryThe name “Odd Fellow” indirectly derives from medieval merchant, trade or craft guild membership practices.  “Fellows” were masters of the “art and mystery” or their craft who, in larger communities and cities, banded together in professional associations such as the goldsmiths,  glaziers, masons, carpenters and textile workers.  In smaller communities where there were too few Fellows of any one trade to form a guild, “Odd Fellows” arose to join together in a “lodge” or union of miscellaneous workers to work together to protect and improve their position in society.

The Odd Fellows order is said to have been established by knights meeting in a London pub in 1452, but the earliest surviving records, dated 1748, are of “Loyal Aristarcus Lodge No. 9”, meeting at a London inn.  Unofficial lodges are said to have existed in New York in the 18th century, but American Odd Fellowship is agreed to have been founded in Baltimore on April 26, 1819 with the creation of Washington Lodge No.1, chartered by the Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows in England.  Their stated purpose was to “Visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan.” The Odd Fellows were considered one of the most liberal social organizations, and in 1851 became the only fraternity in the United States to include both men and women. [iv]

Peter-Ogden

Membership in the American lodges was limited to whites only, despite quite a bit of interest from black citizens.  African-Americans in Weldon, N.C. had begun meeting as indepenent Odd Fellows in March 1841, with a second informal lodge formed in Wilmington soon after. In 1842 members of the the Philomathean Institute in New York petitioned the British Odd Fellows to grant them a charter directly.  They sent an African American sailor named Peter Ogden to Manchester, where he received a warrant authorizing black Americans to form lodges.  The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows was organized in Philadelphia in 1842. Membership has always been open to people of any race, though it has remained a predominantly African American Order. That same year the white American lodges declared their independence from the British lodges, forming the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  The whites only clause was not removed by the IOOF until 1971.  The African American Odd Fellows lodges never separated from the English order.[27] 

FvilleMasonsParks

Franklinville Masons, circa 1890.

The period from 1870 to 1920 has been called the “Golden Age of Fraternalism” in America,[v] and Randolph County was no exception.  The county’s first  white Masonic group met at Hanks’ Lodge in Franklinville starting in 1850 (Hanks Lodge #128 of the Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons), with Balfour Lodge #188 established in Asheboro several years later.  By 1880 there were masonic lodges in Ramseur (Marietta #144); Coleridge (Deep River #164); Erect (Mt. Olivet #195); and Liberty? (Oakland #501).  The “Pride of Randolph #380,” established in Asheboro around 1880, was apparently the first African-American lodge of Masons.

April Misc 121

Hanks Lodge, Franklinville, built 1850.

Another popular national lodge, the Fraternal order of the Knights of Pythias was established as a white organization in 1864.  The African-American “Silver Star Lodge #29” of the Knights of Pythias was only established in Asheboro after 1890.[vi]  The K.O.P.  Met on a lot near St. Luke Church on “the street leading to the Colored Graded School,” a/k/a “School House Street” and now known as Burns Street.[vii]  In addition to those fraternities Randolph County in 1907 had lodges of the Loyal Order of Moose, the Woodmen of the World, the Junior Order of United American Mechanics (Trinity,  Caraway, Randleman and Franklinville), the “Royal Arcanum” (founded in Boston in 1877 to provide “Widows and Orphans Benefits”);  the C.M.A. or “Coming Men of America” (a secret society for boys, founded in 1894 under the motto “Our Turn Next”);  and the Improved Order of Red Men (Minnehana Tribe #64 met in Ramseur).  Just to confuse things more, there was also an Asheboro lodge of the all-white Odd Fellows, Randolph Lodge #272.[viii]

The Odd Fellows, with large black and white membership, were the largest of all fraternal organizations. From 50 active lodges in 1863, the African-American GUOOF expanded to 2,253 lodges and 36 Grand Lodges in 1897.  Although still in existence, membership in the US has declined, due to the mainstream IOOF no longer being segregated, and the decline in fraternal membership in general.  The national headquarters of the GUOOF is still in Philadelphia, but since 1981 the national headquarters of the IOOF has been in Winston-Salem.[ix]

grand-unitelodge-of-odd-fellowsA Grand Lodge of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows was organized in North Carolina in 1843, but  the first GUOOF lodge of record in the state was the Republican Star Lodge No. 1383 in Elizabeth City established on May 10, 1869 by the Free Virginia Lodge No. 963 from Portsmouth, Virginia. In Raleigh, the Vitru (also seen as Vitro and Virtue) Lodge No. 1616  first met on January 12, 1874.[x]

An un-named GUOOF Lodge (“#43”) purchased property in Liberty in 1895[xi],  and another (#6737) settled in Randleman in 1908[xii] but the best known and longest-lived Odd Fellowship in Randolph was  Diamond Star Lodge No. 3711, organized in Asheboro before 1894. In that year they purchased a lot and building on the west side of North Main Street, just north of the Ross and Rush livery stable.[xiii]  Before that time they were said to have been meeting in the upper floor of the McAlister store.  In an unusual move, in 1897 the state legislature passed a bill to officially incoporate the Diamond Star Lodge of Odd Fellows in Asheboro. [xiv]

Only a little information can be gained from deed records regarding the philanthrophic activities of the Odd Fellows in Asheboro.  In 1921 the Odd Fellows sold a half interest in their property to the “Pride of Randolph #380” Masons[xv]; this may have generated funds that allowed the Odd Fellows to purchase a lot on  Greensboro Street “adjoining the School House and Holiness Church,”[xvi] which they sold to the Asheboro Graded School District in 1925.[xvii]  This may have been a trade that ultimately resulted in the construction of the new Central School building that replaced the old school on Greensboro Street.

01025343713f03bb50e0ecf5c3bb9c92ea8bd2c1baAt some point in the early 20th century the lodge apparently acquired a lot south of Cedar Falls Road and north of what is now Martin Luther King Street for use as the first African-American cemetery in Asheboro.  When the cemetery was read by the Randolph County Genealogical Society, it was noted as “Oddfellow Cemetery (Also known as McAlister/ Potter/ Oddfellow Cemetery).  This cemetery is located behind Mt. Calvary City Cemetery.  McAlister Cemetery stars at the fence and goes about 50′. Oddfellow has 1 acre started at the end of McAlister and goes to the next street.  Potter is the area next to the brick house on the North end, per Mr. Buddy Matthews.  This is a Black cemetery.”[xviii] There were 81 marked graves found in the first two sections, with another 33 unmarked burials discovered from death certificates.  “Potter’s Field” is an ancient term for the burial site of paupers and indigent people, the phrase coming from Matthew 27: 3 through 27:8.  After Judas Iscariot had hanged himself, the Jewish priests used the 30 pieces of silver paid him to purchase the Akeldama, a pit  where potter’s clay had been dug, for use as a stranger’s burial site.

01e360035f35de0939601ab86136203dd3140c3443There is no deed on record for the Odd Fellows cemetery, nor the McAlister or Potter’s Field sections; early African-American deeds and wills were often lost before registration, and there is an example of the Odd Fellows themselves obtaining a new deed “to replace a deed that has been lost.”[xix]  But as early as 1932, a map of the Burns estate depicts an adjoining “colored Cemetery” between the Cedar Falls Road and the “Road to Franklinville.”[xx]  The area shown was generally within the property owned by the John Milton Worth heirs, and known as the “McAlister Estate” after the death of Col. A.C. McAlister.  When the Odd Fellows sold their lodge property in 1936, was it to pay for the cemetery?[xxi]  In 1953 Addie McAlister Keeling deeded a tract on Cedar Falls Road to the City of Asheboro that was named Mt. Calvary Cemetery, and has since that time been the primary burial ground for African-Americans in Asheboro.[xxii]  Its access driveway easement stated that it runs “to the Southwest corner of the Odd Fellows Cemetery.”[xxiii] There is a deed on record to the Odd Fellows from Addie McAlister Keeling, but it is for a lot on Vienna Street that was subsequently sold in 1989 in the last recorded legal transaction by the Trustees of the Odd Fellows.[xxiv]

Who were the local Odd Fellows?  From the deed records cited, the known trustee members of the Diamond Star Lodge from 1894 to 1989 are Henry McSwain, George Staley, Ches Thrift, Zachariah Franks, Wilson B. Baldwin, Charles T. Reed, Allen Garner (1921); George W. Staley, Isaac Craven, Hal Cranford, James T. Morrison, Jr. (1940); John Green, H.B. Cranford, H.L. Leak, John Jiminez (1946); Gladys B. Matthews, Grady Lane, Thomas Ritter (1989).   There were likely many more actual members than just the trustees, but unless lodge records surface, their names are not known.  Were they a mysterious, secret society like the Masons and Illuminati?  How were they regarded in the local community?

Gladis Buddy Matthews

Gladis “Buddy” Matthews, whose obituary in 1999 listed him as the last surviving member of the Diamond Star Odd Fellows Lodge.

One of the only published accounts of the public activities of African-American fraternal organizations is a rather biased, condescending and probably racist article published in 1894, largely describing the activities of African-American social organizations in New Orleans and Mobile.  I believe it is worth quoting at length for the vivid details it brings to life which are not otherwise available:

The negro now… has become a member of various societies and organizations, generally of a benevolent character, and to these he devotes all the surplus energy of his nature. They have taken the place of politics especially in the thoughts and aspirations of the city negro, and to ride on a gaily caparisoned horse as marshal of his society, wearing a dress suit and a silk hat, with a bright colored sash across his breast, and a truncheon decked with ribbons in his hand, is to reach the summit of the hopes and ambition of many an aspiring descendant of Ham. For one of the main ends and objects of these associations, Odd Fellows, Knights of Tabor, Heart of Hearts, Sons of Zebediah, Daughters of Deborah, Brothers of Lazarus, Sisters of Martha, is to have an annual parade and excursion or picnic. These exhibitions of pomp and pageantry generally take place in the summer, and it is a sight for men and angels to see a procession of colored brothers marching up and down the principal streets of a Southern city on a hot day in July or August, clad in broadcloth and stovepipe hats, with regalia gorgeous enough to call forth the admiration of the white enthusiast in mystic matters… The brass band blares, the horses of the marshals curvet and prance and whisk their plaited tails, and the men in regalia try to keep step to the music with the proud consciousness that the eyes of thousands are upon them. For this great day they have saved and stinted during the whole year, and there is pride and joy in every drop of perspiration that oozes from their foreheads. Crowds of colored people, principally women and children, accompany the procession on the sidewalks and cast admiring glances upon the members, while from hotel, restaurant, barber shop and private residence, members of other societies come out to view the parade critically with emulation in their eyes, and condescension in their approval…. [xxv]

Mention has been made of colored Odd Fellows. Their lodges are not recognized by the white Odd Fellows in this country. It is said that they received their authority, observances, ritual, &c, from an English source. It is certain that in their parades they carry the British flag alongside the stars and stripes. There are quite a number of them in the South. One of the largest processions witnessed by the writer last spring in New Orleans was that of these colored Odd Fellows. It seemed as if they would never get done coming up St. Charles avenue. But these societies are not confined to cities. They exist also in the country, and the negro house servant or laborer, male and female, would sooner go hungry than fail to pay his or her monthly dues. The etiquette in these country societies is very strict on one point, and that is that the members shall never fail to give the titles of “Mr.,” “Mrs.” and “Miss” when they meet or address each other. Occasionally they have candy pullings and other festive gatherings, but the most momentous occasions with them are when the funeral sermon of some member is preached after he or she has been dead some six months or more. For the negro enjoys the luxury of melancholy. His favorite melodies are plaintive, and the songs that colored children sing in their games are in a minor key.[xxvi]

Odd Fellows Masks 1900

Masks used in Odd Fellows Parades

That this kind of celebration was not limited to the urban South is found in an account in the Asheboro newspaper of the Fourth of July, 1907:

Patriotic Exercises Among the Colored People of Asheboro. 

                Although the morning of the 4th looked gloomy, at a very early hour numbers of people began to assemble, the first feature of the day being a game of ball between Mitchell and Asheboro.  The score was 11 to 18 in favor of Asheboro.  At half past seven o’clock the arrival of the Thomasville brass band was announced to the delight of all.

                At 2:00 in the afternoon a game of ball was called between Biscoe and Asheboro.  As usual the score stood 37 to 1 in favor of Asheboro.  The last but not least was at half past six when the band marched to [the] Public Square and played Abernathy and Victory Forever.  The music was enjoyed by both white and colored.

                The day passed off quietly.

                At 12 o’clock the band met the northbound train and escort the crowd to a point where the procession of [GUOOF] Diamond Star Lodge 3711 of Asheboro was formed, after which the band led a march to the First Congregational Church, East Asheboro, where the corner stone was solemnly placed, C.T. Reid acting as master of ceremonies.  This was very interesting to all present.

                At half past seven o’clock strains of sweet music were heard in the McAlister-Morris building- a high time for the Odd Fellows.  This was another marked occasion, everything being in good order.  Am glad to say we are advancing toward higher civilization.  May the work of God prevail amidst white and colored.

                Yours for good, H. DAVID, Pastor, First Congregational Church.[xxvii]

The overgrown cemetery adjoinging Mt. Calvary in East Asheboro is the last surviving remnant of  Diamond Star Lodge # 3711, the Asheboro chapter of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows.  It is emblematic of the charitable and beneficial work of what may be Asheboro’s first and oldest African-American frateral order.  Its history sheds light on a lost world of 19th century African-American culture.

 

[i]               Allen’s Temple AME Church was apparently the second Negro congregation.  It was located at the intersection of Chestnut and Peachtree Streets, approximately at the location of 301 Peachtree Street.  Allen’s Temple was consolidated with Bulla’s Grove to create St. Luke United Methodist Church.

[ii]               The trustees and members of Bulla’s Grove were a Who’s Who of African American Asheboro:  William Lytle, George McCain, Benjamin Smitherman, Jordan McCain, John Bell, & Andrew Smitherman; Charlie Reid, Harry Cox, Wesley Brower, Adam Brower, Jeff Hoover, and Thomas Carter.  Female members Harriett Hoover, Della McCain, Mattie Pitts, Delphinia Hill, Louisa Bell, Jennie Reid, and Cornelia Brower were responsible for placing the first organ in the church.

[iii]    Sidney S. Robins, Sketches of My Asheboro (Randolph Historical Society, 1972), page 27.

[iv]              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Order_of_Odd_Fellows

[v]               https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_age_of_fraternalism

[vi]              Silver Star Lodge #29, Knights of Pythias bought from Jesse Lytle land on East side Fayetteville street at the intersection of the street leading to the Colored Graded School (162/288, 1915) and a year later, another lot on “School House Street” (183/264, 1916) (This is now Burns Street).  The trustees of the Knights of Pythias were M.S. Brewer, Albert Henley and Ed Lynn).

[vii]             Randolph county Deed Books 162, Page 288 (1915) and 183, Page 264 (1916), purchased from Jesse Lytle. When the property was sold in 1930 (DB227, Pg 421) the KOP Trustees were M.S. Brewer, Albert Henley, and Ed Lynn.

[viii]             The Courier (Asheboro), 27 June 1907, “Odd Fellows Elect Officers”  C.A. Hayworth was elected Noble Guardian.

[ix]              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independent_Order_of_Odd_Fellows

[x]               See the RALEIGH HISTORIC LANDMARK DESIGNATION, 1985, of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows (GUOOF) Building, 115 East Hargett St.  http://rhdc.org/sites/default/files/Grand%20United%20Order%20of%20Odd%20Fellows%20Landmark%20App_web.pdf

[xi]              Randolph County Deed Book 90, Page 369.

[xii]             Randolph County Deed Books 125, Page 207 and 138, Page 247.

[xiii]             Randolph County Deed Book 86, Page 106.

[xiv]             House bill passed 1 March 1897, cited in Warrenton Gazette, 5 March 1897.

[xv]             Randolph Deed  Book 208, Page 316 (1921).  Trustees of the Masons: Gilmer Davis, J.W. Brown, George Phillips.

[xvi]            Randolph County Deed Book 190, Pg. 559 (1921)

[xvii]            Randolph County Deed Book 220, Page 212 (1925)

[xviii]           Randolph County Genealogical Society journal, date, pages 200-205.

[xix]             Randolph County Deed Book 327, Page 125 (1940)

[xx]             Plat entitled “Map #3 of the Burns Estate”, Randolph County Deed Book 268, Page 461 (15 March 1932)

[xxi]             Their Lot on N. Main Street behind what was the livery stable was sold to B.S. Morris at Randolph County Deed Book 278, Pages 84 & 232, 1936.

[xxii]            Randolph County Deed Book 400, Page 637 (25 Feb. 1953)

[xxiii]           Randolph County Deed Book 400, Page 638 (Right of Way for Mt. Calvary Drive, 25 Feb. 1953)

[xxiv]           A 7752 Square foot lot purchased from Addie McAlister Keeling & h/ Jeffrey “on East side Vienna St.” (Deed Book 354, Page 543, 1946); sold to Matthews  in 1989(Deed Book 1249, Page 232).  The last named Trustees, were Gladys B. Matthews, Grady Lane, and Thomas Ritter.

[xxv]            Ledyard, Erwin. “Social Life of the Southern Negro.” The Southern States: An illustrated Monthly Magazine Devoted to the South. Baltimore: Manufacturer’s Record Publ. Co., August 1894; p.299-300. http://digital.ncdcr.gov/u?/p249901coll37,12204  (accessed August 11, 2015).

[xxvi]           Ibid, p. 301.

[xxvii]           The Courier (Asheboro, NC), Thursday July 18, 1907, page 8.

What’s in a Name?

April 13, 2015

grant_sherman_15_cents

It is pretty common, living in Asheboro, North Carolina, for visitors to confuse our community with our cousin to the West, Asheville, North Carolina.

Both of us are named after the 9th Governor of the state, Samuel Ashe (1725-1813), who is best remembered for lending his name to Ashe County, Asheville and Asheboro.

People have had enough problems over the years just figuring out the spelling- “Ashboro” and “Ashville” are the most common variations, to those who don’t realize “Ashe” was a man’s name.

“Asheborough” was the official version during the Civil War, only shortened to “Asheboro” by the U.S. Postal Service in the 20th century.

But whether Ashboro, Asheboro or Asheborough, our town in central North Carolina is often mis-identified with our larger, more liberal and super-scenic cousin to the West.

There are numerous examples known to our tourism workers of people who call or show up in Asheboro, wondering where all those Blue Ridge mountains and beer brewers are…

What I consider as the most notorious example of this name confusion happened 150 years ago, in a letter between two well-known people:

WTS Orders 13 April 1865

 

The next move of Sherman’s army from Raleigh west was NOT, of course, to be Ashville, then Salisbury or Charlotte.  It would have been a relief to Randolph County if he had skipped over us, but the plan was to head for the cotton mills on Deep River, east of Asheboro, and capture the railroad connections in High  Point and Greensboro.  All were to be destroyed as thoroughly as had been done in Fayetteville.

If President Jefferson Davis had had his way, General Joe Johnston would have fought Sherman’s forces tooth and claw, laying waste to Piedmont North Carolina.  Davis ordered Johnston to prolong the fight as long as possible, to cover the escape of the Confederate leadership.  At a meeting with the President, then residing in exile in Greensboro, Johnston entreated him to face reality:

“I represented that under such circumstances it would be the greatest of human crimes for us to attempt to continue the war; for, having neither money nor credit, nor arms but those in the hands of our soldiers, nor ammunition but that in their cartridge boxes, nor shops for repairing arms or fixing ammunition, the effect of keeping in the field would be, not to harm the enemy, but to complete the devastation of our country and ruin of its people.  I therefore urged that the President should exercise at once the only function of government still in his possession, and open negotiations for peace.”

Johnston recognized that the Confederate army was facing an age-old question: who wants to be the last man to die in a war?

Sherman’s men had been in the Randolph County area for weeks, whether spying or encouraging desertion and civil unrest is still under debate.  On March 22, 1865, state troops had surprised local outlier leader Alpheus Gollihorn meeting with a man near Page’s plank road toll house (now Seagrove).  Gollihorn was summarily executed by firing squad, but his companion gained a reprieve by identifying himself as Pvt. William F. Walters of Company L of the Third Indiana Cavalry.  Walters was brought to Asheboro, where his presence created a problem for Lt. Colonel A.C. McAlister, the commander of the local Confederate forces.  Better that Walters had been executed in the field than tried in public with Sherman on the way, thought McAlister, but he deferred to Governor Vance, who ordered a public court martial.  Walters’ trial began in Asheboro on March 28, 1865, and he was eventually found “guilty of robbery and of associating with armed bands of deserters and robbers- of resisting military authority of the Confederate States and of being a leader and counsellor of such armed resistance…”  Walters had been “shot to death with musketry” on April 1, 1865.

In Asheboro, not Asheville.

The Randolph County Courthouse Bell

January 22, 2015

 

Bell being replaced in 1909 Courthouse

Bell being replaced in 1909 Courthouse

From the earliest days, the Randolph County Court House had a bell to announce the beginning of its sessions of court.   Preserved and moved from building to building as county government expanded, it is one of the oldest artifacts of county government.  In August, 1838, Jonathan Worth, Hugh McCain and John Balfour Troy were ordered by the county justices to buy and hang a bell in the courthouse.  Re-installed in a belfry when the 1838 courthouse was remodeled in 1876, it was moved into the attic belfry of the 1909 building on Worth Street, where it remained for 90 years.  In 2002 it was removed, restored, and installed in a glass case on the second floor of the 2003 courthouse, no longer able to ring, but more visible than ever before.  Enhanced security measures limited access to the courthouse in 2009, and only those citizens paying fines at the Clerk’s Office on the second floor could see the bell.  In December, 2015, upon the recommendation of the Landmarks Commission, the county ordered the bell moved back to the lobby of the 1909 courthouse, where it can be viewed without restriction.  That move was accomplished on January 22, 2015.

2014-11-25 09.51.16The Randolph County Courthouse Bell is marked “G.H. Holbrook/ Medford, Mass”.  That refers to George Handel Holbrook, whose family ran a bell foundry in that town from 1822 to 1880.  There are evidently more than 120 Holbrook bells known to still exist, cast from 1816 to 1879.

One of the earliest professional bell founders in Massachusetts was Aaron Hobart of Abington, who was casting bells as early as 1770. Hobart learned from a man named Gillimore, a deserter from the British Navy, who had learned about bell casting in England.

Paul Revere StatueIn 1792, Revolutionary patriot, silversmith, and coppersmith Paul Revere volunteered to cast a bell for a Boston church. Knowing a lot about metal, but little about bell casting, he turned to Hobart for advice. Hobart sent both his son and Mr. Gillimore to Boston to help Revere, who subsequently became a professional bell founder. He obtained a large quantity of Revolutionary War cannon from the government and, in a “swords to plowshares” fashion turned the cannon into church bells (brass cannons and bells are made from a similar mixture of copper and tin). He remained active in the business until his death in 1818.

Paul Revere Museum of Fine ArtsPaul Revere was the master bell founder who trained George Holbrook, father of the creator of the Randolph County bell.  Major George Holbrook was born in Wrentham, Massachusetts on April 28, 1767, and The Grove Dictionary of Music states unequivocally that Holbrook was apprenticed to Revere.  The History of Medway Mass, states that Holbrook was apprenticed to Revere “to learn the machinist and clock-maker’s trades” and that they “entertained a warm friendship until his death.”

George Holbrook did not cast his first bell until well after he was established in other trades in Brookfield, and he listed his occupation as “clock -maker” for several years there before changing it to “bell-founder.” The earliest indication of his entry into the bell business is from an advertisement of 1803; the first Holbrook bell now known was cast in 1804.

The advertisement mentioned above, dated September 19, 1803, states:

George Holbrook respectfully informs the public that he carries on the business of bell-founding upon a plan recently discovered and known to very few people in this country or in Europe. A bell made upon this plan, and rightly hung, weighing 800 pounds will give a sound as heavy, clear, agreeable to the ear, and shall be heard as far as one of 1000 pounds made in the usual way.13

2014-11-25 09.50.57Hearing that a bell was wanted for the church in East Medway, he volunteered his services and cast a successful bell there in 1816 in a primitive shanty. The casting is described in The History of Medway:

Through the assistance of many friends the shanty was built out of refuse lumber, and the melting furnace was built out of the condemned bricks of a neighbor’s brick kiln. The bell was cast in the presence of almost the whole population of the vicinity, in fact, so great was the number of people, and so eager were all to see such an unusual sight, that the sides of the building were taken down and the space for the workman roped around, in order that the people might see, and the bell makers might have room to work.16

Frederick Shelley notes that “In December 1821 and January, 1823 the Holbrooks acquired land on both sides of the turnpike, (now Main Street) running through East Medway. They build a factory, blacksmith shop, and furnace on the southwest corner of what is now Main and Spring Streets.”17

George Holbrook married in 1797 and his son George Handel Holbrook was born on July 21, 1798, named after George Frederich Handel the composer. According to Shelley, he learned the clock-making and founding trade from his father.  He ran the business until 1871, having cast over 11,000 bells, including several hundred church bells.  The firm continued to cast bells until 1880.

Both older and younger Holbrooks were talented musicians. George played and made bass violins; G.H. played the violin and pipe organ, and he became very active in the Handel and Hayden Society, a Boston-area institution.  The Holbrook tradition in bell-casting improved upon the Revere tradition by casting a more musical bell.14

2014-11-25 09.51.09
The History of Medway
 editorializes:

Major George Holbrook, who established the foundry, was a man who had great ingenuity, and who could work his way out of any mechanical predicament, and could successfully plan and lay out the work for others, though he possessed no great faculty of doing the work himself. It is to his son, Colonel George H. Holbrook, who became an eminent musician, that is due the credit of improving the tone of the bells and changing them from noisy machines to musical instruments.18

January 22, 2015

January 22, 2015


It appears that the Holbrook firm was the first American founder to cast a tuned carillon of bells. Bells sound separate tones from different parts of the individual bell, and tuning a bell so these tones form a perfect chord is one of the most exacting tasks of bell making. One Holbrook catalogue said, ” … the different tones, which, sounding in unison, form one grand tone, each one of which shall be in perfect tune and harmoniously blended together, like several instruments in the hands of masters, sounding a chord at once—it is this quality which makes the bell pure and musical.”15

Four generations of the “Holbrook Dynasty” carried on the family business of casting bells until 1880, and manufactured pipe organs into the twentieth century.   There are at least 110 Holbrook bells known to survive according to one list http://www.chepachetfreewill.org/otherholbrookbells.htm

(which does not include the Randolph County bell).

The Asheboro Sit-Ins

January 18, 2013

AA Hops

On February 1,1960, four freshmen students from N.C. A&T asked for coffee at the lunch counter in the Woolworth’s “dime” store in downtown Greensboro, just 25 miles north of Asheboro. When they were denied service, they refused to leave, in a nonviolent protest that became known as a “sit-in.” The next day they were joined by twenty more students; on the third day there were more than 60 demonstrators, and on the fourth day, more than 300, as the protest spread down the street to the nearby Kress lunch counter. Within a week, the protest was joined by other cities in North Carolina; within a month, sit-ins were occurring all over the South. On March 16th, President Eisenhower supported the students, saying that he was “deeply sympathetic with the efforts of any group to enjoy the rights of equality that they are guaranteed by the Constitution.”

The first sit-ins, sponsored by the NCAACP Youth Council in 1958, had desegregated lunch counters in Kansas and Oklahoma. The Greensboro protests gathered wide media attention and resulted in the tactic spreading all over the South. Success came faster in some places: students in Nashville, TN achieved citywide desegregation in May, 1960. In Greensboro the black employees of Woolworth’s were the first to be served at the store’s lunch counter, on July 25, 1960. The entire Woolworth’s chain was desegregated the next day.

What is the history of the civil rights movement in Randolph County? With our history of Quaker anti-slavery activism and the Underground Railroad, was Randolph out in front of desegregation? Nothing has been published on this subject, and little research has been done. One exception can be found through the website of the Southern Oral History Project interview database, at http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/sohp/id/4046 . This is a recorded interview of Melvin Benjamin Marley, born in Ramseur in 1943, by Sarah McNulty, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill. Marley was a participant in a series of sit-ins that took place at businesses along Sunset Avenue that finally resulted in the desegregation of public eating establishments in Asheboro.

This is a uniquely valuable primary source document, available in a uniquely modern way, but it well illustrates some traditional challenges in taking oral history alone as the last word in research. Marley, as a freshman at NC A&T, also participated in the Greensboro sit-ins. He remembers the Asheboro demonstrations as part of the same continuum of social protest.

“So me and my brother was in college at A&T State University in Greensboro and the sit-ins there was going on at the same time, so we would actually go to jail up there through the week and come home on the weekend. So we was home one weekend and they were having demonstrations in Asheboro so some people approached us and said, since ya’ll… were in those in Greensboro, would you like to come help us organize? So we came over and organized with them…”

Newspaper accounts actually show that the Asheboro sit-ins were nearly four years after the Woolworth sit-ins in Greensboro, beginning Saturday January 25th, 1964, and still going strong as of February the 17th, 1964. While the Marley brothers may have joined the original sit-ins as freshman, Asheboro’s eating establishments remained segregated well into the end of their senior year. I think this is an example of the passage of time telescoping the time frame of history- fifty years later, the four-year time frame seems almost simultaneous in memory.

Burrell Hopkins

Burrell Hopkins

Melvin’s memory of the details seems unclouded, however. Two NAACP organizers, a Reverend Banks and a Robert Blow, of Thomasville, conducted meetings at the Greater St. John’s Baptist Church to map out the protests. Groups were sent to the Walgreen’s soda fountain, the Little Castle sandwich shop, and to Hop’s Bar-B-Que. Melvin and his twin brother Elvin were assigned to Hop’s, a restaurant in a converted taxi stand seating just 21 stools at a counter. Hop’s was the eponymous establishment of Burrell “Hop” Hopkins, who opened it in 1954 after four years as a cook at the StarLite Drive-In on Salisbury Street near Bossong Hosiery Mills. When Hopkins died in 1986, the community remembered him fondly. “He was one of the free-heartedest men you ever meet,” said Leon Strickland, an employee for 28 years. “He wanted to give folks the impression he was mean as hell, but he was 100 percent the opposite,” said Hal York, a long-time customer. (See article by Chip Womick in The Courier-Tribune, November 28, 1986). But whatever his eulogy, Hopkins was cast in the black hat role in this historic drama. He barred the door of his restaurant, saying, according to Marley, “No, you can’t be served here!” [Katie Snuggs, also arrested that day, remember Hopkins saying “You niggers can’t eat here!”]  In response, the demonstrators” just lay down in front of the door where nobody could go in… laying down at arm’s length, everybody touching the tip of the other’s hand, forming a big circle [around the building] where nobody could get through.”

The protest quickly attracted white bystanders. Marley recalled that the demonstrators took “a lot of abuse, just laying there. It was a really, really hard job to keep everybody under control, not to show anger or not to say anything to anybody… just lay there, a peaceful-type demonstration. My twin brother was laying beside of me and a lady came up and talked real big and spit in his face and when she spit in his face, I caught a’hold to his hand because he was about to get up and I held him down and I said, “No, No, No!” And while we were laying there, there was another incident; a lady walked up with her high heels on and took the shoe and started beating on one of the demonstrators…”

They didn’t react, said Marley, because “we had something in mind. It had to be nonviolent because you couldn’t accomplish anything by rolling up your sleeve and taking someone on. The hecklers called us many names, the one that was the most devastating to us was to be called niggers; niggers, go home, such as that was being said…. And with the name calling, it hurt to a point that you would want to do something, but you would realize that this was nonviolent and that was the only way it would work because these individuals that came to Asheboro were playing under the Martin Luther King system. And so… we took the abuse and laid there, spit upon, kicked, hit and stuff. It was hard, but we had a goal in mind… because we didn’t want anybody hurt, but we wanted justice.”

When the police came the demonstrators were arrested, but refused to walk to the police cars. “We tried to get as many people of size to help because that would not only make the lines larger but also the police would have a hard time picking them up; because we wouldn’t get up, we’d lay there; they’d have to bodily take us to the car to put us in. And we’d just lay limp and wouldn’t cooperate with being led from laying down to be put in police cars.” With the Marleys at Hop’s was “a lady named Emma Jean Stinson, she weighed somewhere about three hundred and some pounds… so they said, “Mrs. Stinson, will you please get up?” And she said no, and it took about four of them to get her up and put her in the car. And you know, by the time they had put all of us in the car the policemen were sweating and tireder than we were and probably wanted something to eat.”

“So they took us to jail, to the old Randolph County jail… And they would lock us up in cells that usually hold ten or twelve people, but at one time there was something like thirty-five of us in one cell… the women were downstairs and the men were upstairs. So the organizers were out in the parking lot and we would…call off our names, who all was in jail. And… they would go back and get people with property to come and sign our bonds so we could get out of jail…. our parents that had property would come and get us. And then other people that didn’t have kids, there was a man in the city back then named Mr. Tom Brewer and Mr. Lon Strickland who owned right much property on the east side… and they signed a lot of bonds.”

Almost Fifty Years Later

For an “objective” account of the event described by Melvin Marley, see the entry on this blog “60 Negroes Arrested in Sit-In Incidents,” from The Courier-Tribune, Monday, January 27, 1964.

What the Newspaper Had to Say…

January 15, 2013
the original article

the original article

60 Negroes Arrested in Sit-In Incidents

The Courier-Tribune, January 27, 1964.

There were 60 Negroes—24 juveniles and 36 adults—arrested here Saturday at Hop’s Bar-B-Que and the Little Castle in the first wave of sit-ins.

All 60 were charged with breaking a local ordinance dealing with congregating in the doorway of a business.

The Negroes posted bond Saturday night of $25 each to appear in Recorder’s Court Feb. 13.? A sheriff’s department spokesman said most of the Negroes posted bond on an individual basis, but that Rev. I.C. Everett and Mabel Haskins posted bond for some members of the group.

The names of the 36 adults are as follows:

Russell Siler, Ramseur; Archie C. Leak, 411 Woodlawn St; Mackie Lewis, 621 Loach St; Queenie Greene, 823 Cross St.; Dexter L . Trogdon, Rt. 1, Asheboro; Grady Ritter, Jr., 728 Frank St.; Tommy McMasters, 503 Loach St.; Melvin Marley, Rt.2, Ramseur; Robert Lee Bostic, 706 Tucker St.; and Shelly Manuel, Rt. 1, Asheboro.

Also, Elvin L. Marley, Rt.2, Ramseur; Edward McNeil, 426 N. McCrary St.; Joe Bell, 608 Greensboro St.; Archie Lee Little, 534 Greensboro St.; Woodrow Everetts, 501 Washington Road; Clinton McQueen, 460 Glovenia St.; Charles Farr? 1316 Forest St.; James Freeland, 508 Cross St; Lionel Baldwin, 443 Watkins St.; and Thomas Timmons, 427 N. Spring St.

Also Troy Franklin, Rt.1, Asheboro; Joe Morrison, 502 Cross St.; Macy Holley, Thomasville; George Lowery, 818 Brewer St.; Floyd Chalmas Thomas, Jr., 429 Loach St.; Ann Ledwell, 511 Loach St.; Barbara Ann Bostic, 706 Tucker St.; Brenda Ewing, 161 Greensboro St.; Grace Massey, 103 Washington Road; and Lille Mae Snuggs, 544 Loach St.

Also, Penny Bennett, Cedar Falls Road; Barbara Massey, 100 Washington Road; Earlene Crowder, 827 Railroad St.; Ollie Mae Little, 534 Greensboro St.; Clara Davis, 402 Loach St.; and Daisey Crump, 823 Cross St.

The Sunset Theater Incident

January 12, 2013

The “Little Castle,” 232 Sunset Avenue, Asheboro, date unknown.

Despite his detailed memories of the Hop’s Barbecue Sit-In, Melvin Marley said that the most memorable event of the Asheboro sit-ins was the night “when they would not let the young girls out of the Sunset Theater.”   His interviewer (who was actually the grand-daughter of Burrell Hopkins) didn’t question him about that incident, which was evidently the one time where the peaceful protests threatened to get out of control.

“It was nonviolent for a long time until one day some black girls went to the Sunset Theater, which is right beside of Little Castle and Hop’s, in that area.  And they went upstairs, you know [Negroes could only sit in the balcony], to see a movie, and when they got ready to come out, they wouldn’t let them out.  They [white people] had them surrounded and said they were going to kill them and all that stuff, and called them all sorts of names, and so somehow the word got back to the church that they were being held and the police wasn’t doing anything about it.  And so that’s when, actually a little bit of violence came into play.  The way they had them get out of the theater was that somebody went up and shot a shotgun in the middle of town and fled, and so they came out running and just kept on running and they were hitting them and kicking and all that, but they got away.”

That’s all of Marley’s account, but the next day’s local newspaper adds some detail to this or a similar incident:

[The Little Castle was under the canopy to the right.  The roof of Hop’s is visible to the left.]

Drug Store, Theater hit By Sit-In Wave

Courier-Tribune, Feb. 17, 1964

Arrests continued here this weekend as Negroes sat-in at the Little Castle, Walgreen’s Drug Store and the Carolina Theatre.

There were 52 Negroes arrested and charged with trespassing and resisting arrest.

Two white men were also arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon, interfering with an officer performing his duty, inciting a riot and one of the men was charged with using indecent and profane language.

These arrests came at 4:10 p.m. in front of the Little Castle and the men arrested are Charles Douglas Deese of Salisbury and Edward Donald Powell of 416 Levairn Drive. Deese is 32 years old and Powell, 29.

Sgt. B.S. Cagle reported that “while I was assisting in the arrest of demonstrators… [Deese] called [the demonstrators] s.o.b.’s…”

Deese was arrested, and while he was being placed in the police car, passed a .22 caliber pistol to Powell. There were approximately 120 persons in the area at the time.

Both men were placed in Randolph County jail and later released on $1000 bond each for appearance in court March 17.

Of the 51 Negroes arrested, 40 were adults (19 females and 21 males) and 11 were juveniles (8 males and 3 females). One person was arrested three times.

The names and addresses of the adults are as follows:

Sandra K. Nicholson, Rt. 4, Asheboro; Phyllis Ann Lineberry, 327 Dunlap St.; Irlean Williams, Rt. 1, Siler City; Helen Fox, 814 Frank St.; Queenie Green, 623 Cross St.; Pauine S. Laughlin, Rt. 1, Asheboro; Gracie Massey, 109 Booker Washington Road; Rosa Marie Siler, Siler City; Barbara Ann Massey, Rt. 4, Asheboro; and Judy Brooks, Siler City.

Also Mattie R. Laughlin, 107 Booker Washington Road; Annie Ruth Laughlin, Randleman; Katie Snuggs, 544 Loach St.; Ann Ledwell, 511 Loach St.; Callie Lowery, 818 Brewer St.; Christine Hallmon, 815 Brewer St.; Elzie Coble, Rt. 4, Asheboro; Pauline Coltrane, Rt.2, Asheboro; Cacille McMaster, 503 Loach St.; and Russell Lee Siler, Ramseur.

Also William Percy Shoffner, 610 Greensboro St.; Elven L. Marley, Ramseur; Thomas Lee Timmons, 422 Spring St.; Tommy Lee McMaster, 503 Loach St; Macy Holly, Thomasville; Howard Junior Spinks, Siler City; Lionel Baldwin, 443 Watkins St.; Edward McNeil, 426 N. McCrary St.; and Eugene Hoover, 730 Tucker St.

Also Harry D. Laughlin, Rt. 1, Randleman; Charlie Harrison Laughlin Jr., Rt. 1, Asheboro; Wilber Franklin JR., Rt.1, Asheboro; Lemuel C. Brady, 451 Loach St.; Charlie Leak Jr., 411 Woodlawn St.; Charles Wilson Harris, 410 Spring St.; Eddie Tom Horton, Siler City; Lindo O. Mason, Siler City; Shelton Rogers, Siler City; and Floyd C. Thomas Jr., 429 Loach St.

All the demonstrators were detained in jail overnight and released on bond between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday.

 

Confederate Christmas in Randolph County

December 10, 2010

This is best-known of the autobiographical reminiscences of Nancy (“Nannie”) Steed Winningham.  It is been reprinted over the years in various sources, without much editing or explanation.  Once it was erroneously reprinted as “A Confederate Christmas in Asheboro,” despite the fact that Mrs. Winningham clearly recites the wagon ride to her grandparents home in the country.  As a “Christmas Gift” to you blog readers I am offering the original text here, and will serve up footnotes and explanations in another post.  I hope to track down the rest of the Winningham letters and publish them here, with annotations.

This illustration by Thomas Nast, entitled “Christmas Eve, 1862” appeared in the January 3, 1863 issue of Harper’s Weekly, published in New York City.  The appearance of our modern American “Santa Claus” was largely the pictorial creation of Thomas Nast, and this engraving includes two of his earliest depictions of him and his reindeer in both upper corners.

A CONFEDERATE CHRISTMAS IN 1864

By Mrs. James Lafayette Winningham

Note to the original from Miss Laura Worth:  “Mrs. James Lafayette Winningham was the daughter of John Stanley Steed and Rachel Director Swaim. She wrote several letters in 1919 about old Asheboro which were published in the Courier in response to other reminiscences. Her daughter brought the original letters to the Historical Society in 1959. During her last years she lived in Greensboro.“


As I was born in 1857, I can remember Christmas of 1862-3-4. The first two were much the same. My mother always took the children home to her father’s for the holidays. In their home were our three young aunts and a young uncle, all full of life and fun, and about ten grandchildren. Of us there were my three brothers and myself.

On the morning of Christmas Eve what a scurrying there was to get our home-made things packed. A hasty lunch and by the time one of my married uncles came with his team, everything was ready and we arrived in good time for supper, which to us children was a feast indeed, but I suspect it was a little of the pig killed for Christmas, if one was left by that time; lye hominy, sweet potatoes, persimmon pudding, pumpkin fried in pork gravy with maybe a taste of “good coffee” for the elders. This was kept carefully hidden away in Grandmother’s lowboy. The young people had wheat or potato coffee and the children mugs of milk.

Grandmother owned a little black girl who was a year or two older than I. Her mother, a young slave girl, had died at her birth and Grandmother had reared her on a bottle, and kept her for her personal waiting girl. Like most southern children, I loved Harriet as much as if she had been my own sister.

At last, after much excitement, the stockings were all hung — Harriet’s too with the rest, and the sand man came along. Then in about seventeen seconds the pine knots were blazing in the big fire-place and Santa Claus had been there, for wasn’t there the tracks of his sleigh in the big, wide chimney — made by my uncle with the poker “as was a poker”.   In our stockings were “goobers”, as we called the peanuts, walnuts, ginger cakes and Oh Joy! two or three sticks of striped candy. I’m wondering to this day where it came from for we had not seen a stick of striped candy in a year.

After breakfast my aunties started the eggnog; then about ten o’clock their friends, mostly young boys, came in to wish all a merry Christmas, but expressed in those days as “Christmas Gift” and to get a drink of eggnog.  It was there in the big bowl all the morning and we were all given a generous taste.

Just before the one o’clock dinner we were playing in the yard, when from the front porch my aunt Sue exclaimed: “Oh, Look! There they come!” I looked and until my dying day I shall never forget the fear and horror that filled me. There were sixteen or eighteen old bony horses with trappings of anything that could be found, with strings of rags of black, blue, red or white. The riders were young boys, with their coats turned wrong side out and wearing horrible—looking false faces, singing and making all kinds of discordant noises. I made one dash to the side of my boon companion, Harriet, and asked in a trembling voice: “Which is it, the old bad man or the Yankees?” which to a southern child at that time meant much the same thing, the bad man, if anything, playing on the winning team. Being assured it was only the boys, my fears were allayed and I enjoyed the strange spectacle. They rode around the village several times and disappeared. As I look back upon it, I suppose it was a scraggly, pitiful attempt to carry out the old English custom of the waifs of England, which had been handed down from their English ancestors.

After dinner some old men and boys came in with flutes, banjos and fiddles (not violins) and played for an enthusiastic house full of friends and neighbors. Sometimes I almost seem to hear now the sweet, sad music played so martially – “The Bonnie Blue Flag”, “The Girl I left behind me”, “Hurrah for the Southern Rights, Hurrah! Hurrah!” and “Hurrah! for the Homespun Dress the Southern Ladies Wear”.

Through all this trying to have a little fun ran an undercurrent of solemnity and anxiety, and many questions of “Have you heard any more from husband, father or son?” were heard.

Late in the afternoon I passed the open kitchen door and Grandmother stood leaning against a cupboard with her head in her arms crying as if her heart would break and it almost broke mine. I asked Harriet why she was crying and she said, “Mars Luther Clegg had drinked too much eggnog” — her baby boy, just a youth. I wondered why she allowed them to make it but it was a Southern custom hard to break.

My father and my uncle owned and operated a large tannery, shoe and harness shop. They had a contract with the Confederate government to furnish shoes to some of our soldiers and that kept them in the service at home.  Early in 1864 my father sold his interest in the business to my uncle and in a few months was drafted and sent to eastern Carolina, where he was in the service, though not in the line.

It seemed to me that Christmas in 1864 began about December 10. We were told on getting up in the morning, that our mother was sick and during the day she became much worse. One of our kind neighbors brought her black woman, “Aunt Patsy”, and they stayed through the night. Soon they sent for our faithful family physician, who on account of advancing years bad about given up his practice until the war began and the younger doctors were all in the service of their southland. He gave my mother tender care and attention, with no thought of ever rendering a bill- his payment being the service of my father to the flag. On the morning of the 10th we were told we had a little brother named for his daddy. Oh! I suppose he was welcome but Christmas loomed darkly ahead. No daddy, no trip to “Grampys”, no shoes, no clothes hardly, no picture books, no dolls, no candy and just no “nuthin”.

On Sunday morning my uncle rode by while we were playing in the road, and be asked: “Boys, where are your shoes?” “We haven’t got any”, my brother answered. He told them to go to the shoe shop Monday and be measured for shoes. I was sorry my own were not a little better or else worse so that I could have a new pair.

There was a man in our town called Captain Pragg, who owned a dry goods store. A few days before Christmas he sent one of his men to the house to tell my mother that if she would send for it he would give her a nice ham for a present. She was very pleased and never forgot the courtesy.

My aunt from the country came and brought us all something for Christmas.  My present was a balmoral (petticoat) which she had carded, spun and. woven herself. I never told anyone but I could never drum up enough patriotism to like that coarse, scratchy petticoat. And that wasn’t the only thing I could never learn to like.

To this day when my husband occasionally likes a supper of milk and mush or corn bread and milk, the vision of a big, grayish-brown earthenware jar of milk and a bowl of mush or the plate of thick corn pones, with perhaps smudges of ashes on the brown crust, that depending on the skill of the one who lifted the lid with its burden of coals and ashes from the skillet, comes to me and I say “You may have it all,” I’m afraid it will give me indigestion.

And the Christmas baby — well, his father never saw him until he came home after General Lee’s surrender and by that time he was almost five months old.