Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

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.]

Notes to Independence Day, 1842.

August 3, 2015

IMG_2397Published in the Raleigh Register, Friday, 15 July 1842–

The Raleigh Register and North-Carolina Weekly Advertiser was published weekly in Raleigh beginning in 1799, and in various formats and title variations to 1852.  Its publisher, Joseph Gales, was a well-known British immigrant who was sympathetic to the French Revolution and Thomas Jefferson.  It was a leading poltical voice in North Carolina, first for Jefferson’s Republican Party and later for the Whig Party.  Gales became one of Raleigh’s leading citizens and advocated for internal improvements and public education.  He privately favored the emancipation of slaves and publicly advocated for the American Colonization Society.  He served several terms as Mayor of Raleigh, and was doing so when he died, 24 Aug. 1841.  His son Weston Gales was editor and publisher of the newspaper in July 1842.

Upper Mill before 1946 (no laboratory, b. 1946)

Upper Mill before 1946 (no laboratory, b. 1946)

“Celebration at Franklinsville, Randolph County”–

The writers had to be specific, as most readers in Raleigh and the rest of the state would not have been familiar with the tiny community, less than 4 years old.  Modern Franklinville is made up of two initially independent mill villages, Franklinsville and Island Ford, separated by about three-quarters of a mile of Deep River.   The original Franklinsville mill village was developed by the mill corporation beginning in 1838, on property adjoining the grist mill on Deep River belonging to Elisha Coffin.  Coffin, a miller and Justice of the Peace, purchased the property in 1821. [Deed Book 14, p.531 (Ward to Elisha Coffin, 25 Dec. 1821)] Coffin was the initial incorporator of the factory, and developed the new town on the slope between his house and the mills.  The community formerly known as “Coffin’s Mills on Deep River” had “assumed the name of Franklinsville” by March 8, 1839.   Officially named to honor Jesse Frankin, a former N.C. Governor and Congressman from Surry County, unoffically Coffin and his anti-slavery family and investors apparently meant to honor Franklin  for his crucial vote to keep slavery out of the Northwest Territory (now Ohio, Indiana and Illinois).  “Franklinsville” was officially recorded in the town’s 1847 legislative act of incorporation.[ Chapter 200, Private Laws of 1846-47, ratified 18 Jan. 1847].  The community surrounding the factory was the largest urban area in Randolph County until 1875.

“The Visitors… amounted to 1200 or 1500”-
The entire population of modern Franklinville is less than 1500;  the 1840 census of Randolph county found the total population to be 12,875 people, so if 1500 people actually attended this event, that would have constituted about 11% of the residents of the entire county in 1842.

OSV Marines 1812

OSV Marines 1812

“The Franklinsville Volunteer Company of Light Infantry”-
The state militia, organized by county and divided into “Captain’s Districts,” had been the foundational political body in North Carolina since colonial times.  The militia had been reorganized in 1806 (Revised Statutes, Chapter 73) to allow “Volunteer”companies raised by private subscription in addition to the official “Enrolled” companies made up of “all free white men and white apprentices, citizens of this State, or of the United States residing in this State, who are or shall be of the age of eighteen and under the age of forty-five years…”   Enrolled companies were known by the name of the commanding Captain, and Randolph County was divided geographically into about 12 Captain’s Districts, which functioned much like modern voting precincts.  Each district had its own “muster ground,” and four times each year were required to assemble and practice military drills.  One of the annual musters was usually also election day, and the men voted by district.

NC Militia Officer 1840

NC Militia Officer 1840

Prior to the creation of the new town of Franklinsville, men of that area of Deep River were considered to be part of the “Raccoon Pond District,” unusual in the fact that it was named after a geographical feature and not after its Captain.  As Captains often changed, making the location of muster fields and districts hard to pin down, this distinction allows to us pinpoint the area of the Raccoon Pond District, even though the pond has over the years silted up and is no longer known as a modern landscape feature.  Raccoon Pond (by the account of Robert Craven and other local residents) was situated at the base of Spoon’s Mountain, south of the modern state road SR 2607 and west of its intersection with SR 2611, Iron Mountain Road.  The Spoon Gold Mine was located in the area later in the century, and probably helped to silt up the pond.  The enrolled militia of the Raccoon Pond District in 1842 was evidently headed by Captain Charles Cox.

IMG_2393
Volunteer militia companies were considered the elite of the citizen army and their members were exempt from service in the enrolled companies.  Because they were organized and equipped by those who could afford to raise their own private company, volunteer companies enjoyed preferential placement in reviews, and were often the last to see actual service.  Volunteer companies also functioned as social organizations, sponsoring dances and suppers to entertain ladies; could dress themselves in elaborate uniforms, and were usually known with impressively martial names such as “Dragoons,” “Light Infantry,” or “Grenadier Guards.”  The “Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry,” formed in 1793, is a unique survivor of this type, and  is known as “North Carolina’s Official Historic Military Command”  They provide an honor guard at special events, funerals and dedications.
http://www.fili1793.com/  The Washington Light Infantry (WLI), organized in Charleston in 1807, is another of these old original militia units, named in honor of George Washington.

Independence Day OSV 2

Independence Day OSV 2

Technically, light infantry (or skirmishers) were soldiers whose job was to provide a protective screen ahead of the main body of infantry, harassing and delaying the enemy advance. Heavy infantry were dedicated primarily to fighting in tight formations that were the core of large battles.  Light infantry sometimes carried lighter muskets than ordinary infantrymen while others carried rifles. Light infantry ironically carried heavier individual packs than other forces, as mobility demanded that they carry everything they needed to survive.  Light infantrymen usually carried rifles instead of muskets, and officers wore light curved sabres instead of the heavy, straight swords of regular infantry.
The name “Franklinsville Volunteer Company of Light Infantry” was evidently a cumbersome mouthful, as it was officially reorganized in 1844 as the “Franklinsville Guards.”  See the Session Laws of the General Assembly of 1844/45:  The legislature went into session on 18 Nov. 1844, and Henry B. Elliott of Cedar Falls was accredited to represent Randolph County (Senate District 35).   (Thurs. 11-28-44) “Mr. Elliott presented a Bill, entitled A Bill to incorporate the Franklinsville Guards in the County of Randolph, which was read the first time and passed.” (p57). The Bill was passed a second time by the Senate on Monday 2 Dec. 1844 (p78); and passed and third time, engrossed and ordered to be sent to the House on Tuesday 3 Dec. (p84).  The House of Commons received the engrossed bill and a note “asking for the concurrence of this House” on 23 Dec.; it was read the first time and passed that day (p277), and was passed the final time on Jan. 1, 1845 at 6:30 PM. (p652).

Alexander S. Horney, circa 1870.

Alexander S. Horney, circa 1870.

Captain Alexander Horney”-  
Alexander S. Horney (26 March 1815 – 19 July 1891), was the son of Dr. Philip Horney (1791-1856).  Both sides of his family, the Horneys and the Manloves, were well-known Guilford County Quaker families. Like Elisha Coffin, Dr. Horney may have been forced out of communion with Friends by his marriage to Martha (“Patsy”) Smith (?-1871).  The small wooden factory which opened at Cedar Falls in 1836, was owned in partnership between the Horneys and Benjamin and Henry Elliot, father and son lawyers. Alexander S. Horney married the daughter of Elisha Coffin; their son Elisha Clarkson Horney was mortally wounded at Gettysburg.  Their daughter Mattie married Robert Harper Gray, the son of General Alexander Gray.  Robert Gray was the captain of the Uwharrie Rifles, a volunteer company raised in 1861 in the Trinity area.  He died in service in 1863.  Alexander S. Horney served as chairman of the county commissioners for many years after the war.

Muster Ground?

Muster Ground?

the area skirting the North side of the Factory”-
This must refer to the company muster ground, but I think that the writers must have meant the area to the East side of the factory, which was (and is) a level area of bottom land.  The area to the north would not have provided more than 50 feet of manuvering space.  Franklinville is sited on a penninsula bordered on the South by Deep River, on the east by Sandy Creek, and on the West by Bush Creek.  The land rises toward the northwest from the floodplain of the river, where the mills were located which provided the economic backbone of the village, together with their ancillary warehouses, storehouses, and barns.  On a level about ten feet above the mill to the north were located the company store and company boarding house; to the south and across the mill race were the homes of the miller and company president.  North of the store on a terrace about fifteen feet higher was the “Cotton Row,” housing built by the mill for the workers.   About ten feet higher still, and trending northwest up the hillside, were located the larger homes of tradesmen, craftspeople and professional men such as Dr. Phillip Horney.  The lots higher up the hill had been sold privately to friends and family members by Elisha Coffin, promoter of the factory and owner of all the acreage around the mill.   Lots for public institutions such as the school, meeting house, cemetery and town hall were located near the top of the river-front arm of the hill, with stores fronting the road leading north toward Greensboro.   At the crest of the hill was situated Elisha Coffin’s own house, surrounded by its community of “dependencies”—office, kitchen, smokehouse, well house, icehouse, dairy, animal sheds, stable, barn, and servant houses.

George Makepeace circa 1850

George Makepeace circa 1850

the Grove fronting the residence of Mr. Makepeace”-

George Makepeace (1799-1872) was a textile manufacturer and millwright born in Norton, Massachusetts.  He and his brother Lorenzo Bishop Makepeace had been owners and operators of a cotton mill in Wrentham, Massachusetts, which failed in the mid-1830s.  Lorenzo Makepeace was hired to work in a factory in Petersburg, Virginia, and Elisha Coffin may have heard from him about the availability of George Makepeace during his trip “to the North” on company business in 1838. Makepeace and his family were on their way to Randolph County when his daughter Ellen was born in Petersburg, Virginia, on Christmas Day, 1839.  As a skilled expert in textile technology, Makepeace was much in demand around the Piedmont.
The location of Makepeace’s residence in 1842 is unclear, as he rented from the factory corporation.  Given the description of the Coffin house as being “on the opposite hill” from the Makepeace house, I am assuming that one of the homes on the east side of Walnut Creek is indicated.  It could have been one of the three mill houses on the hill south of the modern Quick Check, or it could have been the Lambert-Parks House at East Main St., which at some time also became the residence of A.S. Horney.

Summer gowns 1840

Summer gowns 1840

unknown Franklinville girl, circa 1850.

unknown Franklinville girl, circa 1850.

The Young Ladies, all dressed in white, were arranged in a line”-

The majority of the employees of the factory were women and children, as one important reason for founding the factory in this age was to provide for the social welfare of widows and orphans who had no “breadwinner” to pay their room and board.  Though even at this early date women who worked in cotton mills of England were considered debased and lower class, the “mill girls” of New England had a reputation for being intelligent, well-educated and virginal.  Even Charles Dickens was shocked at the difference between the mill girls he met at Lowell, Massachusetts, and the slovenly illiterate workers he knew from the British workhouses.  The good character and morality of the workers along Deep River was one of the important selling points for the antebellum factory owners in attracting residents and new employees.

Mill Girls from the Weave Room

Mill Girls from the Weave Room

The historian Holland Thompson, whose mother worked in the mills in Franklinsville, and whose grandfather Thomas Rice was a contractor who built the factories and covered bridge, wrote: “Upon Deep River in Randolph county… the Quaker influence was strong. Slavery was not widespread and was unpopular. The mills were built by stock companies composed of substantial citizens of the neighborhood.  There was little or no prejudice against mill labor as such, and the farmer’s daughters gladly came to work in the mills.  They lived at home, walking the distance morning and evening, or else boarded with some relative or friend near by.  the mill managers were men of high character, who felt themselves to stand in a parental relation to the operatives and required the observance of decorous conduct.  Many girls worked to buy trousseaux, others to help their families.  They lost no caste by working in the mills.”  [Holland Thompson, From the Cotton Fields to the Cotton Mill.  MacMillan, 1906]

As the primary product of the factory was white or unbleached cotton “sheeting,” it is probable that the factory provided the raw materials for the dresses and the flags.

Regimental Flag 2nd Cavalry

Regimental Flag 2nd Cavalry

“beautiful white Flag”-

It was a tradition for young women of the community to design, sew and present to the militia company a banner which would identify the company when in formation with the battalion.  They usually were embroidered with inspirational and patriotic slogans or mottos.  In 1861 a group of young ladies presented a similar silk banner to the Randolph Hornets, organized by the Cedar Falls Company to represent both Cedar Falls and Frankinsville.  The banners mentioned in this article have been lost, but the Hornets banner is preserved in the Asheboro Public Library.

folk art Quilt

folk art Quilt

IMG_2389

presented… through James F. Marsh”-

In 1842 James F. Marsh (1920-1902) was evidently the “Agent,” or business manager, of the Cedar Falls Company.  He was newly wed, having married Mary Ann Troy (1825-1856 on January 27, 1842.  That made him a son-in-law of Franklinsville company President John B. Troy.  Marsh founded a business turning wooden bobbins for the factories in Cedar Falls in the later 1840s. The relationship of James F. Marsh and merchant Alfred H. Marsh  of Asheboro is unclear.  Genealogists state that James F. Marsh was the son of Robert H. Marsh of Chatham County, who has no apparent relationship to Alfred Marsh.  But Alred Marsh seems to have treated like a son, whatever their relationship.  JA Blair says that the original Cedar Falls partners were Benjamin Elliott, Henry B. Elliott, Phillip Horney, and Alfred H. Marsh.  James F. Marsh became a Director of the company in 1847.  Marmaduke Robins lived in the former Alfred H. Marsh house in Asheboro, originally containing 52 acres. Sidney Robins says the ell was added to the house for the wedding of “young Jim Marsh” (Robins, Sketches of My Asheboro.)  The county issued a Peddler license in 1845 to “Marsh, Elliott & Co.” (Randolph County 1779-1979, p43).  Alfred H. Marsh was listed as “merchant” in 1850 & 1860 censuses of Asheboro; he signed on to the 1828 Charter for the Mfg Company of the County of Randolph; was a Trustee of Asheboro Female Academy, 1839 (Southern Citizen, 6-14-39).  James F. Marsh moved to Fayetteville around 1850 and was involved in a number of businesses, including a wholesale freighting business with his father in law, a steam boat line on the Cape Fear, and supervising construction of the Fayetteville and Western railroad.

Coffin's Grove today, at 722 West Main Street, Franklinville.

Coffin’s Grove today, at 722 West Main Street, Franklinville.

proceeded to [the stand at] MR. COFFIN’S Grove, on the opposite hill”-

Mr. Coffin’s Grove was and is at the top of the hill leading up from Walnut Creek, known as Greensboro Road and West Main Street.  His house, built about 1835, is now my house.  There was an extensive grove of large oak trees, dating back to the 1770s, on the crest of the hill between the house and the school and meeting house across the street.  Only two oak trees survive from the grove; 3 have died since I came to town in 1978, and the depressed spots in the yard where several others stood can still be seen.   When the property became the home of the Makepeaces, residents began to refer to the “Makepeace Grove,” and the Courier newspaper in the early 20th century still mentions the church having entertainments and ice cream socials in the Makepeace Grove.

Elisha Coffin, circa 1860.

Elisha Coffin, circa 1860.

Coffin's House, with part of the oak grove, circa 1940.

Coffin’s House, with part of the oak grove, circa 1940.

Elisha Coffin (1779-1871) was a member of the well-known Quaker family of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.  His father had emigrated to North Carolina after beginning a career in whaling, and married Hannah Dicks, the daughter of a Quaker preacher.  In North Carolina Elisha’s sea-faring father became a miller, and Elisha too learned to follow that trade. In 1807 he married Margaret McCuiston, also perhaps a miller’s child, and also something worse: a Presbyterian.  Such an alliance was not sanctioned… Elisha was disowned “for marrying out of Unity.”  He was never again officially a Friend, but never does he seem to have strayed far from their influence.  This seems to have been especially true in regard to the Friends’ testimony against negro slavery.  During the ‘teens and ‘twenties Elisha was several times a delegate to the meetings of the North Carolina Manumission Society, an organization which sought to gradually “manumit,” or free, slaves.  At times he took a more active role, according to Levi Coffin, Elisha’s first cousin and the so-called “President” of the Underground Railroad.  While he was engaged in purchasing the Franklinville property in the fall of 1821, Levi writes that Elisha, his father and his sister smuggled an escaped slave named Jack Barnes from Guilford County into Indiana, trailed all the while by Levi and the angry slaveowner.
Coffin was presiding Justice of the county court in 1833 and 1834, and was involved in several schemes for the improvement of transportation and education.  When pro-slavery investors Led by Hugh McCain took control of the governing board of the Franklinsville factory in 1850, Coffin sold his home and property to George Makepeace, superintendent of the cotton mill.  See Deed Book 28, pages 479 and 483.  Coffin bought what is now known as “Kemp’s Mill” on Richland Creek about 5 miles south of Franklinville.  See Deed Book 28, page 489.  His son Benjamin Franklin Coffin lived not far away.  Elisha Coffin subsequently seems to have turned back towards the Friends of his youth; in 1857 he sold his rural Randolph County mill and moved back to New Garden in Guilford County, the community of his birth.  See Deed Book 30, page 515, Randolph County Registry, and Deed Book 37, page 670, Guilford County Registry.  There he ran the college grist mill until his death in 1871.

Fife Drum OSV

Fife Drum OSV

led by their Band of Musicians in the front”-

Milita companies of the time would have had boys playing fife and drums, which were used to keep up a marching rhythm and beat.  In a light infantry company, orders were sent by bugle or whistle instead of drum, since the sound of a bugle carries further and it is difficult to move fast when carrying a drum.  There were many tunes written and performed by fife and drum bands.  “Huzza for Liberty” by George K. Jackson (1796) was rousing song used by militia men on marches.  Old Sturbridge Village, which recreates the period of the 1830s and 1840s New England, maintains such a band for regular performances. See the following:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPd3L5QJQT4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlBasZfmD2I

Fa sol La Mi

Fa sol La Mi

the Sacred Harp

the Sacred Harp

a Hymn was read and sung”-

For a hymn to be “read and sung,” it would have been done in an ‘a cappella’ call-and-response manner, as in shape-note singing. In that style of singing a Song Master “sang the notes” pitched to his set of tuning forks; then “read out” the words to the group, line by line, with the group alternately responding by singing the hymn, line by line. The practice of singing music to syllables designating pitch goes back to about AD 1000. Shapes to indicate the tone of a note were developed in New England, and used as early as the 1698 edition of the Bay Psalm Book (first published in 1640 and the first book printed in North America).  They were designed to facilitate community singing at a time before hymn books, and for people who could not read standard musical notation. The system that became most popular in the South was the “Sacred Harp” tradition (first published in 1844) of four shapes — triangle-oval-square-diamond–  corresponding to the “fa-sol-la-mi” syllables of the C-major scale.  After 1846 a seven-shape notation grew in popularity.

The familiar hymns of today were just beginning to be sung in the 1840s.  One of the earliest known printings of the tune for “Amazing Grace” is an 1831 shape note hymn book published in Winchester, Virginia.   It is titled “Harmony Grove” in The Virginia Harmony and is used as a setting for the Isaac Watts text “There Is a Land of Pure Delight”.  The modern “Amazing Grace” text was not set to this melody until the 1847 Southern Harmony, where the tune was called “New Britain”.

For this occasion, I assume that a ‘patriotic’ hymn was the order of the day.  “America the Beautiful,” now widely considered as the American patriotic hymn, was not published until 1910.  “Chester,” written by William Billings (1746-1800) of Boston and first published in 1771, was unofficially considered the national hymn of the American Revolution, so I offer it in this place:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqQrWKfLNcw

Minister OSV

Minister OSV

a Prayer delivered by the Rev. MR. HENDRICKS”-

Hendricks must be the person previously referred to as “the Chaplain,” but the “Rev. Mr. Hendricks” is something of a mystery. The “Preacher in Charge” of the Franklinsville Methodist Church from its creation in August 1, 1839 until his transfer in 1847 was T.R. Brame.  A John Hendricks was one of the named Trustees of the Franklinsville Methodist Church when Elisha Coffin deeded them land “for a burying ground”, on November 2, 1844.

John Hendricks (1796-1873) was listed as living in Franklinsville (adjoining Elisha Coffin, Leander York, Philip and Alexander Horney) in the census of 1840. In 1817 he was to married Nancy Macon (1800-1853), daughter of Gideon Thomas Macon of the Holly Spring area.  Their son Thomas Alston Hendricks (1823-1879) was one of the 15 initial stockholders of the Island Ford mill in 1846.  Thomas A. Hendricks md. Permelia Johnson, 1 March 1845, and his bondsman was Dr. Alfred Vestal Coffin.  The census of 1840 lists 15 residents of his home, 5 of whom worked in manufacturing.  This indicates that he may have operated the factory’s boarding house, although the 1850 census lists 12 family members by name.  That census lists John Hendricks occupation as “carpenter” and his son Thomas as “manufacturer.”

The tombstone of Nancy Macon Hendricks in the Franklinsville Methodist cemetery reads “Nancy/ wife of Rev. John Hendricks/ born March 30, 1800/ died March 18, 1853.”  There is no other record of John Hendricks as a recorded minister.

Fife Drum OSV2

Fife Drum OSV2

A National Air was then played by an excellent Band”-
Our current “National Air” or anthem is of course The Star-Spangled Banner, but it probably was not the song played in this position on the program.  President Woodrow Wilson ordered first ordered the SSB to be played at military and naval occasions in 1916, but it was not designated the national anthem by an Act of Congress until 1931.   Before that time, “Hail Columbia” had been considered the unofficial national anthem.  The words to “Hail Columbia, Happy Land!”   were written in 1798 by Joseph Hopkinson (son of Francis Hopkinson, composer and signer of the Declaration of Independence), and set to the tune of “The President’s March,” a tune composed by Philip Phile for President George Washington’s inauguration.  ‘Hail Columbia’ is still used as the official song for the Vice President of the United States of America.

Independence Day OSV

Independence Day OSV

The Declaration of Independence was read”-

[Of course this was the whole point of the day, reminding the crowd of the founding of the country 66 years before.]

Norfolk Guards QuickStep Sheet Music

Norfolk Guards QuickStep Sheet Music

after Music” the Orator spoke-

Whether vocal, instrumental or military, there is a wealth of American Independence Day music that could be inserted here.  “The Liberty Song”, written by Founding Father John Dickinson in 1768 and set to the music of William Boyce’s “Heart of Oak” was perhaps the first patriotic song written in America. The song contains the line “by uniting we stand, by dividing we fall…”  Others written in the 18th century were “Ode for the 4th of July” and “Ode for American Independence” (1789).  “The Patriotic Diggers,” published in 1814 was popular in the period. If it was another ‘patriotic hymn’ read and sung, “The American Star” is a good possibility because it is one of the few non-religious songs published in the original Sacred Harp hymnal (#346, 1844 ed.).  The first publication of the song was in an 1817 collection entitled The American Star, which was inspired by the War of 1812 and also included the first printing of the Star Spangled Banner.   White and King’s “The Sacred Harp” was first published in 1844, but it was based on William Walker’s “Southern Harmony” (1835).

Henry Branson Elliott, circa 1850

Henry Branson Elliott, circa 1850

“the Orator Henry B. Elliott”-

Henry Branson Elliott (11 Sept. 1805- 14 Jan. 1863) was one of the most progressive figures in antebellum Randolph County.  His father Benjamin Elliott (1781- 27 Feb. 1842) had been Clerk of Superior Court and the commanding Lt. Colonel of the enrolled militia.  Elliott graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1826 and did post-graduate work at Princeton (Mrs. Laura Worth, History of Central Hotel, August 1940).  The Raleigh Register noted on March 14, 1837 that “Messrs. Elliott, Horney and others have been for some time actively engaged in erecting a Cotton Factory at the Cedar Falls on Deep River… we understand they are making rapid progress, and likely to get the machinery into complete operation some time during the prssent spring.”  By mid-June the 500-spindle factory  was making “superior quality cotton yarn” for sale to hand weavers. (Southern Citizen, 17 June 1837).  In November 1838 the Elliotts purchased the ownership interest of the Horneys, who had invested in the factory in Franklinsville (Deed Book 22, Page 89), and in December of that year they sold a one-quarter interest to Alfred H. Marsh, an Asheboro merchant, and their son- and brother-in-law.   Elliott was elected to a term in the state Senate in 1833, and campaigned across the state in favor of the first public school referendum in 1839.  He served as Clerk and Master in Equity in 1841 while Jonathan Worth campaigned for Congress, and in 1842 was elected to replace Worth in the state Senate.  In the Senate Elliott served as chairman of the committee on the State Library, and of the committee “on the subject of a state Penitentiary,” a state-funded prison which was proposed as a progressive alternative to the stocks, pillories, and whipping post.  Of his service in the Raleigh Register noted that “Mr. Elliott, of Randolph, is one of those industrious, hard-working members, who, though qualified to shine in debate, seldom occupies the time of the house in displays of that kind, but is content to pursue the even tenor of his way, in discharging the not less useful, but less attractive, duties of a thorough business committeeman.” (Greensboro Patriot, 18 Jan. 1845, quoting Raleigh Register).  Elliott continued to own and operate the Cedar Falls factory until a series of financial reverses in the 1850s.  He moved his family to Missouri in 1859, and in the census of 1860, his occupation is listed as “Tobacconist.”

Mark Antony's Funeral Oration for Caesar (c) Hartlepool Museums and Heritage Service; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Mark Antony’s Funeral Oration for Caesar (c) Hartlepool Museums and Heritage Service; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

As a candidate for the state Senate, it was natural for Henry Branson Elliott to agree to speak to such a crowd, even at short notice (the speech was “hastily prepared”).  As a graduate of the state university and of Princeton, Elliott would have been familiar with preparing and delivering classical orations as a normal and typical part of the educational process.  Even in modern classrooms the oratorical model is still used as a persuasive model for argumentative papers.  The text of Elliott’s speech is unknown, but its format would have been clear to every educated man in 1842.  Any classical oration consists of six parts:

Exordium: The introduction
Narratio: Which sets forth facts of the case.
Partition: Which states the thesis of an argument
Confirmatio: Which lays out and supports the argument
Refutatio: Which examines counter arguments and demonstrates why they aren’t compelling.
Peroratio: Which resolves the argument and makes conclusions.
[http://www.public.coe.edu/wac/classicalessay.htm ]

Orations were a staple of antebellum Independence Day celebrations.  One of the most famous was delivered by the lawyer Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on the 4th of July, 1831.  The author of the poem “The Star Spangled Banner” addressed a city divided by the policies of President Andrew Jackson and counseled moderation and a focus on the history of the day.  “The spectacle of a happy people, rejoicing in thankfulness before God and the world for the blessing of civil liberty,” said Key, “ is no vain pageant.”
Another historically significant oration took place on the same day at nearly the same time that Elliott was speaking in Franklinsville.  Horace Mann (1796-1859), educator and statesman delivered the annual oration at Fanueil Hall in the city of Boston, on July 4, 1842.  Mann broke with the traditional oratorical expectation that the speaker would glorify America, and instead stressed the importance of educational reform and the principle that effective self-government depended on a well-educated populace.  Mann’s oration runs to 44 printed pages, printed as part of a July 4th tradition that began in 1783 and continues to this very day.

https://archive.org/details/orationdelivered00mann

Shape Note Choir

Shape Note Choir

A patriotic Song was then sung  by a Choir of Ladies and Gentlemen selected for the purpose”-
As distinct from the hymn “read and sung” by the entire crowd, this was apparently a group concert performance.  I submit that the appropriate ‘patriotic song’ here would have been “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”, also known as “America”, which served as one of the de facto national anthems of the United States during the 19th century.  Its lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith, and the melody used is the same as that of the national anthem of the United Kingdom, “God Save the Queen.” The song was first performed in public on July 4, 1831, at a children’s Independence Day celebration  in Boston. It was first published in 1832.   Interestingly for the anti-slavery background of the Franklinsville crowd was that additional verses of an Abolitionist nature were written by A. G. Duncan in 1843.  Jarius Lincoln, [ed.] Antislavery Melodies: for The Friends of Freedom. Prepared for the Hingham Antislavery Society. Words by A. G. Duncan. (Hingham, [Mass.]: Elijah B. Gill, 1843), Hymn 17 6s & 4s (Tune – “America”) pp. 28–29.

$10 gold piece

$10 gold piece

the following Resolutions were offered”-

A resolution is an official written expression of the opinion or will of a deliberative body, proposed, considered under debate and adopted by motion.  To modern politicians resolutions have become a rote and usually pointless part of the parliamentary process which merely states something obvious and has no legal impact or meaning.  But in antebellum America the process of considering a voting upon a resolution, even as simple and seemingly pointless as this one thanking the speaker for his address and the village for its hospitality, was a vital and important part of the Independence Day celebration.

Why?  Because the Declaration of Independence itself was actually  the Resolution of Independence, ratified by the Continental Congress in 1776 as a public statement by the 13 American colonies expressing their consensus that they were now independent of the British Empire.  What became known as the “Lee Resolution” was was an act of the Second Continental Congress first proposed by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia on June 7, 1776.  Jefferson’s draft of a formal declaration was presented to Congress for review on June 28. Lee’s resolution was actually adopted on July 2, 1776; Jefferson’s edited Declaration for final signing on July 4.
The process of adopting the sense of the assembly in the form of resolutions was a reminder to all attending of the process and procedure of democracy.  Even though the civics lessons were part of formal schooling, going through the formal process of proposing and adopting resolutions was a tangible reminder, at least annually, of the mechanics of government.

IMG_2391by John B. Troy, Esq.”-

Likewise, appointing a committee to complete additional business of the meeting was a another part of formal parliamentary procedure.
John Balfour Troy of Troy’s Store (now Liberty) was the grandson of Revolutionary War hero and martyr Colonel Andrew Balfour.  He made an extensive investment in the founding of the Franklinsville factory and was elected President of the company.  Troy was a Steward of Bethany Church near Liberty, built on the site of the former “Troy’s Camp Ground.”  His son-in-law  James F. Marsh was already on the program; his other son-in-law J.M.A. Drake was one of the founding Trustees for the Frankinsville Methodist Episcopal Church.  James Murray Anthony Drake (ca. 1812-?) was a lawyer and married Eliza Balfour.  Drake later served as county jailer and operated a hotel in Asheborough.

IMG_2383John R. Brown”-
Apparently this was John R. Brown (17 Jan. 1811 – 30 October 1857), son of Samuel Brown (1762-1843), both residents of the Holly Spring Friends Meeting community.  Brown was one of the 15 signers of a petition to the Randolph County court dated January 8, 1842, which attested that William Walden and his four sons, “free persons of colour” and residents of the county, were of good character and were recommended to be allowed to carry fire arms.  [Randolph County, 1779-1979, p. 73.]

IMG_2394
Wm. J. Long”
William John Long received a degree from UNC Chapel Hill in 1838; born in Randolph County in 1815, he was the son of Congressman John Long of Long’s Mills, north of Liberty.  A lawyer, he served as a member of the General Assembly in 1861.  He died in Minneapolis, MN in 1882.   His brothers were James Allen Long (1817-1864) UNC AB 1841, a “journalist,” and John Wesley Long (1824-1863) UNC AB 1844, MD, Univ. PA.

Dinner on the grounds

Dinner on the grounds

A large number set down to a sumptuous dinner, prepared by MR. HENDRICKS, and many others shared the hospitality of the Citizens of the place.”-
With 1500 people in attendance, I am assuming that perhaps only the invited guests who took part in the program were fed by Hendricks (perhaps in his boarding house?)  Everyone else would have scattered all over town.  There is no indication that there was a massive outdoor barbecue or “ox roast,” but that is a possibility.

the upper Mill, circa 1875

the upper Mill, circa 1875

The Factory building is a large and imposing brick edifice.”

The three-story factory was modeled on the typical “Rhode Island Plan” factories of New England.  It must have been imposing to the visitors, as it was larger than the courthouse or any church in the county.  Both the factory and the Coffin mansion were built of brick made in the village.  The foundations of the factory, and the “Picker House” where bales of cotton were opened, were made of stone quarried from the bluff at the mouth of Bush Creek.  No larger factory was built until the Cedar Falls mill was remodeled in 1847, and the “Union Factory” (now Randleman) was built in 1848.  The Island Ford factory (1846) and the Columbia Factory (Ramseur, 1850) were about the same size.

Boston Mfg Co.mill at Waltham, Mass., shows the type of  dormer windows used on the Franklinsville factory.

Boston Mfg Co.mill at Waltham, Mass., shows the type of dormer windows used on the Franklinsville factory.

“between the dormant windows”-
This is an archaic form of the word “dormer;”  referring to the small windows which lit the fourth or attic floor of the mill.   In 1806, the British House of Commons paid for repairs to the slates, “valleys and flashings to dormant windows” of Dr. Stevens’s Hospital (Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. 61, p755)
Accounts of the April, 1851 fire that destroyed the factory noted that the fire began on this floor of the mill, in the “Dressing Room.”  The dressing machine (later called the “slasher”) was a machine that brushed hot starch, or “sizing,” on the cotton yard which was to be used as warp in the looms.  The liquid starch was then dried by hot air or steam, meaning that a source of heat had to be present.

Folk Art flag

Folk Art flag

a white flag…upon which was painted a large Eagle… protector… of industry”-
The American Eagle was perhaps the most common motif in early American political art.  Early labor unions often portrayed an Eagle draped in or “guarding” a flag and gear wheel, to indicate that America protected and supported its nascent industries.

Temple of Venus and Rome

Temple of Venus and Rome

“the lamp of freedom… the sacred altar of liberty… more favorable auspices…”-

The flowery language of the final two paragraphs was a very common peroration or exhoration in public speech of the time, and might even have been copied from Henry B. Elliott’s oration of the day.  All of the images were intended to invoke the history, mystery and splendor of Imperial Rome, very familiar to the audience from school lessons.  “Taking the auspices,” for example, referred to the process which a civil priest, the Augur, interpreted signs and omens from the observed flight or internal organs of birds. The Roman historian Livy stresses the importance of the Augurs: “Who does not know that this city was founded only after taking the auspices, that everything in war and in peace, at home and abroad, was done only after taking the auspices?”  The general sense is all that omens indicate a bright future for the United States as long as the present generation respects previous generations such as those who signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in Charlotte in 1775, or Herman Husband of Liberty and his fellow tax protestors who fought the War of the Regulation at Alamance Battleground in 1771.

 

Independence Day, 1842 (Part 2).

July 29, 2015
Recreated 1830s Fourth of July Celebration at Old Sturbridge Village, Mass.

Recreated 1830s Fourth of July Celebration at Old Sturbridge Village, Mass.

1842: One hundred seventy three years ago; a lost world that is oddly similar to our own….

It is Monday, July 4th, 1842, and John Motley Morehead has been Governor of North Carolina for 18 months.  A fellow cotton mill owner, Morehead is well known to those in Franklinville, and has probably already visited there.  He lives in Blandwood Mansion in Greensboro and is related by marriage to General Alexander Gray of Trinity, the wealthiest man in Randolph County.

John Motley Morehead

John Motley Morehead

Morehead is a member of the Whig party, and the Whigs are firmly in control of the politics of Randolph County, and of North Carolina.  Their hero is Henry Clay, congressman of Tennessee.  Whig party members are progressive proponents of government taking an active role in economic development or, in the terminology of the times, “internal improvements.”  They lobby for the creation of corporations to spin and weave cotton and wool, develop iron, copper and gold mines, and to build plank roads, canals and railroads.  North Carolina, in fact, was in 1842 the home of one of the largest railroad networks in the world.  The Wilmington and Weldon Railroad was built due north from Wilmington to Weldon on the Roanoke River near the state line.  When completed in March 1840, it was at 161.5 miles long, the longest railroad in the world.  A month later the Raleigh and Gaston line was completed running northeast from Raleigh, making Weldon a railroad hub. The Seaboard & Roanoke (east to Portsmouth, VA) and the Petersburg & Roanoke (north to Petersburg, VA) soon followed.  It is now possible to buy a ticket in Raleigh and take the train, with numerous stops and changes, all the way to New York City.

Central Georgia Railroad 1840s

Central Georgia Railroad 1840s

The Erie Canal

The Erie Canal

John Tyler is President of the United States, the 10th man to serve in that office.  Tyler, a Virginian, is not held in high regard by the Whig party rank and file.  Vice President just 15 months ago, he succeeded President William Henry Harrison in April 1841.  General Harrison, a hero of the Indian Wars and the oldest man ever elected President, caught pneumonia during his inauguration and died barely a month later.  He was the first President to die in office.  In the contentious “log cabin and hard cider” campaign of 1840 General Harrison beat the highly unpopular incumbent Martin van Buren.  Van Buren had been Andrew Jackson’s hand-picked successor, but he had the bad luck to take office in March 1837 just as the “Panic of 1837” sabotaged the economy.  Private speculators who bought land trying to capitalize on the railroad boom lost everything when the bubble burst; businesses failed and unemployment was widespread.  Even worse, state governments had borrowed heavily from foreign banks to finance construction of new canals, turnpikes and railroads, and without those tolls and fees they found themselves unable to pay their overseas creditors.

President William Henry Harrison

President William Henry Harrison

President Martin van Buren, 1837

President Martin van Buren, 1837

In the summer and fall of 1841, Michigan, Indiana, Arkansas, Illinois and Maryland all defaulted on their payments to London banks.  Florida and Mississippi defaulted in March 1842, and Pennsylvania and Louisiana would soon follow suit.  In June treasury agents in London were unable to sell U.S. bonds despite the fact that the federal government had completely paid off its national debt six years earlier.  Parisian banker James (Jakob) Rothschild sent word, “You may tell your government that you have seen the man who is at the head of the finances of Europe, and that he has told you that you cannot borrow a dollar, not a dollar.”

James (Jacob) Rothschild, head of the Paris branch of the family bank.

James (Jacob) Rothschild, head of the Paris branch of the family bank.

Anger over the defaults renewed America’s negative attitudes toward Britain, the country’s original enemy. State politicians were outraged at the thought of imposing additional taxes on citizens already in the depths of a financial depression, just to honor commitments to European bankers.  The governor of Mississippi proposed to repudiate the debt to “the Baron Rothschild… the blood of Shylock and Judas flows in his veins.  It is for this people to say whether he shall have a mortgage on our cotton fields and make serfs of our children.”  [Note: Mississippi still has never paid that debt.]  An Illinois legislator named Abraham Lincoln called for Federal assistance to the western states, “in the midst of our almost insupportable difficulties, in the days of our severest necessity.”

President John Tyler

President John Tyler

President Tyler refused to intervene.  After all, it was those Democrats Andrew Jackson and his minion Van Buren who had promoted all this speculation and unwise public investment.  Congress twice attempted to ease credit by voting to re-establish a central bank for the country, and twice Tyler vetoed the bills, leading to the resignation of almost all of his cabinet in September 1841.  Tyler was burned in effigy outside the White House.  Charles Dickens, who arrived in Washington in March 1842 on his first tour of the United States, wrote that the President looked “worn and anxious, and well he might, being at war with everybody.”

Charles Dickens, 1842.

Charles Dickens, 1842.

And apparently financial conditions were going to get worse.  A decade earlier Congress had promised to reduce federal tariffs on foreign imports and exports. Those tariffs had been designed to protect the infant industries of the Northern states, but rankled the agricultural South who wanted free access to the huge British demand for cotton.  The date for reduction had been fixed by the law: June 30, 1842.  But with incomes reduced by five years of depression, tariffs now account for 85 per cent of federal revenue, and any reduction in the tariffs would require big cuts to the federal budget.  Just before the deadline, Congress passes a bill to temporarily preserve the tariffs, and provide aid to the West.  But Tyler, sympathetic to southern cotton interests, vetoes it.  A London newspaper reports, “The condition of the country is most appalling.  The treasury is bankrupt to all intents and purposes.” [All quotes come from the best work on this subject, “America’s First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder After the Panic of 1837,” by Alisdair Roberts (Cornell Univ. Press, 2012).]

The Royal Mint, London, 1842.

The Royal Mint, London, 1842.

Panic in New York 1838

Panic in New York 1838

So why, in the midst of this depression and governmental breakdown and international credit crisis, was the tiny new town of Franklinsville hosting what might be the biggest celebration in its history?

Merrimack Mfg Co Lowell 1841

Merrimack Mfg Co Lowell 1841

The simplest explanation is to look at Franklinsville as a little outpost of New England in the countryside of North Carolina.  The tariffs had been designed to promote and protect the industrial revolution in the United States, and it just so happened that its birthplace was in New England. The tariff that protected a cotton mill in Massachusetts also protected the cotton mills in North Carolina- what few there were.  Randolph County Whigs, in particular, had little love for the plantation cotton economy, and its exploitation of enslaved African labor.  The local economy was built on production of wheat and corn, and these were not export items.  As early as 1828 Randolph County Whigs had proposed building a cotton mill, but not until 1836, after the tariff was in place, did investors build the first small factory at Cedar Falls.

That first mill had started with cotton spinning equipment inserted into the grist mill of Benjamin Elliott, a former Clerk of Superior Court.  With the financial support of Dr. Philip Horney and his son Alexander, and under the management of his son Henry Branson Elliott, the tiny new factory at Cedar Falls made “bundle yarn” which was sold at the Elliott store on the courthouse square in Asheboro.

The Franklinsville Factory, as rebuilt after the 1851 fire.

The Franklinsville Factory, as rebuilt after the 1851 fire.

The “Randolph Manufacturing Company,” organized in March, 1838, built on the successful experiment at Cedar Falls.  Located at “Coffin’s Mills,” the site of Elisha Coffin’s wheat, corn, and saw mills and cotton gin about 2 miles downriver from Cedar Falls, the new factory was built on a New England plan.  For example, after being chartered by the legislature, it was operated not as a loose partnership but as a corporate body of stockholders-  the first corporation ever to conduct business in Randolph County.   Second, it was designed using a completely new scale.  The three story, 40 by 80-foot “Factory House” was the first building built in the county textile manufacturing purposes, and was probably one of the first ten in the state.  It was also one of the first brick structures in the county, and was certainly the largest building in Randolph County when completed.  Finally, the cotton mill would have the first looms in the county, weaving cloth where Cedar Falls could only spin.  The Franklinsville factory thus was the first “integrated” manufacturing operation (the first to manufacture cotton in all stages “from bale to bolt” of woven cloth.)

That it still made good financial sense to build the Franklinsville factory even after the Panic of 1837 took hold shows that the Randolph County economy was different from the rest of the South.  None of this investment would have been possible without the protection of the tariff; otherwise the American market would have been flooded with British cloth and yarn, made and imported more cheaply than the small local factories could compete with.  The Asheboro newspaper reported that “Since the commencement of their works but one short year ago, a little village has sprung up at the place which has assumed the name of Franklinsville, embracing some eight or ten respectable families.  A retail store of goods has just been opened here on private capital.  And the company have now resolved to establish another one on part of their corporate funds.” [Southern Citizen, 8 March 1839.]

Samuel Slater Spinning Frame 1790s

Samuel Slater Spinning Frame 1790s

In 1840 Benjamin Swaim, the editor of the Asheboro newspaper Southern Citizen, reported that he “had occasion to visit Franklinsville last Monday, which gave us an opportunity of viewing the Work.  It appears to be going finely.  The Factory House, (a very large brick building) is nearly completed; and they are putting up the Machinery.  It is expected they will commence spinning in a few weeks – by the first of March at furtherest.  Success attend their laudible enterprize.” [Southern Citizen, 21 Jan. 1840.]

A letter from a Randolph resident to his son in Texas (LF William Allred to son Elijah Allred), written in July 14, 1843 but perfectly capturing the lingering spirit of the times of a year earlier, wrote that “produce is plenty and market low Owing I believe to the Bad economy of Our Government Rulers for ever since the contest has raged so high about Moneyed Institutions that people is afraid to engage money on account of the Scarcity of that article; Before that Embarasment, I thought this Old Country was Improving verry fast; the two Cotten factories one at the Cedar Falls and the other at Coffin’s Mill, now called Franklinville, they Manufacture vast quantities of Cotton thread and Cloth and sells thred at ninety cents for five pounds and cloth from eight to ten cents per yard.”

Hatbox with Rising Sun wallpaper motif from the 1840 log cabin campaign

So, while times seemed dark for much of the country, times in the new town of Franklinsville were looking sunny, and the owners and stockholders had arranged to celebrate the success of their risky investment.  It is a short news article, but it has much to say about the times, and perhaps about our own.

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).

Unconventional Warfare

April 29, 2014

Pineland Money

Confession:  About fifteen years ago, when I was Mayor of Franklinville, I secretly collaborated with the Pineland Resistance Movement, guerrilla freedom fighters seeking to destabilize the civilian government.  They had me in return for a pig-picking in some hot, forsaken section of Montgomery County, and a helicopter ride.  Looking back, maybe I sold myself cheap.

Twice each year the center of North Carolina becomes the fictional country of Pineland as part of the Robin Sage training exercise, the final test for students at the Special Forces Qualification Course held at the U.S. Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, based out of Fort Bragg.  Several hundred servicemen and women from the base act as the People’s Republic of Pineland home defense forces, and the aspiring Green Berets play the resistance.  Civilians volunteer to be “trained” as resistance forces by the Special Forces “advisors;” I was a Mayor role-playing an elected official for what they called a “key-leader engagement.”   Using citizen volunteers adds realism; on the flip side, so does seeing a squad of black-clad ninjas crawling up through one’s pasture, or hearing gunfire and flash-bang grenades at midnight.

Pineland Resistance, Fayetteville Observer photo

Pineland Resistance, Fayetteville Observer photo

From the Special Forces press release:  “Candidates are placed in an environment of political instability characterized by armed conflict, forcing Soldiers to analyze and solve problems to meet the challenges of this ‘real-world’ training.  With the help of civilian authorities and local citizens, Robin Sage has been conducted since 1974; before this, similar exercises were run under the names Devil’s Arrow, Swift Strike, and Guerilla USA.  The exercise’s notional country of Pineland encompasses 15 counties in North Carolina, including Alamance… Chatham, Davidson, Guilford… Montgomery, Moore, [and] Randolph…  Special Forces candidates and Robin Sage role-players live, eat and sleep in these civilian areas.”

People's Republic of Pineland

People’s Republic of Pineland

The mythical country of Pineland comes to life for two weeks twice a year, and by the time it’s over, maybe the new Green Berets have learned enough to stay alive in some place like Afghanistan.  As the father now of a son in Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., I hope they learned a lot.  Whenever I hear of a Green Beret in a casualty report, I hope it wasn’t anyone I ever knew in Pineland…

University of Pineland

University of Pineland

The Army calls this an exercise in “unconventional warfare,” though it seems as though the unconventional has become the norm nowadays.  The irony of this part of North Carolina, these central counties, being the heart of the fictional resistance movement is not lost on me as a historian, however.  Pineland has brought the teaching of guerilla warfare into 20th and 21st century Randolph, where the real article inflamed the same ground during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Bloodshed and politics went hand-in-hand here during the War of the Regulation in 1771; during the Whig-Tory War of 1780-1782; and during the War of the Rebellion of 1861-1865  There is no accurate count of casualties from any of these eras of internecine conflict, but it is no exaggeration to estimate the dead in the hundreds.  An actual body count would put Randolph, Moore and Chatham counties into the lead as North Carolina’s bloodiest battlefield- yet we don’t even make the list.

Pineland Guerillas

Pineland Guerillas

Colonel David Fanning’s assassination of Randolph County’s militia leader, Colonel Andrew Balfour, wasn’t Fanning’s first murder, or his last.   In his one circuit of the county in March, 1781, Fanning killed Balfour, the head of the militia infantry, seriously wounded John Collier, the head of the cavalry; burned houses and barns, and generally decapitated civilian government by scattering the justices meeting at the county court.  He did the same in Chatham County, and for good measure he attacked state government in Hillsboro, capturing the Governor and Council and taking them prisoners to the British in Wilmington.

Head of the Resistance Forces, Pineland Bob Snyder, retired Green Beret.  AP Photo, Gerry Broome.

Head of the Resistance Forces, Pineland Bob Snyder, retired Green Beret planning an attack in Ramseur. AP Photo, Gerry Broome.

The lack of government and justice after the Revolution insured that simmering desires for revenge would survive in family lore for more than four score years, to surface in Randolph of the 1860s.  A county that overwhelmingly resisted secession continued to resist Confederate government.  Though the county sent large numbers of soldiers into the southern army, it also sent many into the Federal forces, and as many more refused to fight for either side.  As I have written before, North Carolina’s first recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor was Howell G. Trogdon of Franklinville.  Many others left the county to fight for the Union or to protect their Quaker families in Indiana or Ohio.

Randolph County was under martial law for much of the war, with government forces supporting the tenuous control of civilian authorities while they searched for deserters, draft dodgers, “recusant conscripts,” “Holdenites,” “Lincolnites,” and other undesireables.  Purgatory Mountain was honeycombed with the underground hide-outs of the “hiders out of the army.” The county had a shadow government, the Heroes of America or Red String, whose members after the war formed the nucleus of the Republican Party.

Chief Kidd's Hideout

Chief Kidd’s Hideout

As civilian officials tried to cope with “an environment of political instability,” some went too far.  Deputy Sheriff Alfred Pike of Franklinville finally captured the leader of the resistance, “Colonel” Bill Owens, only after obtaining information on his hiding place by torturing Owen’s wife and children.  A Deputy for 15 years, Pike was so roundly censured in the press for his tactics that he resigned and moved his family to Texas, and the blow-back cost his boss, Sheriff J.W. Steed, his job in the election of 1864.

Robin Sage 3

This is just part of the story of Randolph during the Civil War that was researched and written by Bill Auman for his PhD dissertation.   It has recently been published by MacFarland, and is available on Amazon.   [http://www.amazon.com/William-T.-Auman/e/B00GXSW0IS  ;  William T. Auman, Civil War in the North Carolina Quaker Belt: The Confederate Campaign Against Peace Agitators, Deserters and Draft Dodgers (2014).]

WTA Civil War Quaker Belt

Buy his book, and read the real story of Randolph’s war.  You will never look at the Confederate flag decal on some ratty pickup truck in the same way again.  Maybe if they knew their own family history, they’d have bumper stickers for The People’s Republic of Pineland, instead.

 

The True Lost Cause: The Battle for Peace in February, 1861

April 11, 2011

Fort Sumter from the Battery in Charleston.

April 11, 1861 was America’s last day of peace.

On April 8th, President Lincoln’s envoy to the Governor of South Carolina announced the President’s intention to resupply the besieged garrison at Fort Sumner with food and water, threatening to prolong indefinitely the stalemate that had begun the previous December 26th.  The implication of Lincoln’s action was that, if war was to come, then the Southern firebrands who had advocated for a state’s right to leave the Union would have to turn push into shove.

The cascade of fear and anger that had begun with Lincoln’s election in November had almost run out of steam by April, 1861.  South Carolina, ever fast to take offense, led the way on December 20th, followed by Mississippi (Jan. 9), Florida (Jan. 10), Alabama (Jan. 11), Georgia (Jan. 19), Louisiana (Jan. 26), and Texas (Feb. 1).   But there the flood tide had run out, and in the months since it seemed that overwrought tempers and heated words had cooled and even begun to recede.

The rock on which the initial secession wave broke was the Upper South, the border states possessing a majority of the southern populace, natural resources and industry.    Even there the vocal minority of men of property and power had advocated for secession.   But Unionists held back the flood, pointing out that the United States had been created by state constitutional conventions, authorized by a vote of the people, which then ratified (or not, in the case of North Carolina), the U.S. Constitution.  They argued that secession, more simply known as “Disunion,’ could only be achieved by following a similar process.  They hoped this delaying tactic would provide time to think, consider the consequences, and allow the possibility of compromise and new understanding.

On February 9, 1861, Tennessee voted on whether to send delegates to a State Convention to decide on secession.  88,803 votes were cast for pro-Union candidates and 22,749 votes were cast for Secession candidates, but the actual proposal for a secession convention was defeated by a vote of 69,675 to 57,798.

On  February  13th a convention assembled in Richmond to determine whether Virginia should secede from the Union.  More than two thirds of the delegates refused to vote for secession.

On Feb. 18th, the day that Jefferson Davis was inaugurated president of the Confederate States, the citizens of Arkansas approved holding a convention to consider the question, but when an ordinance of secession was put to a vote on March 16th, it was rejected by a vote of 39 to 35.

Anyone reading the returns of the election of 1860 could have discerned the pro-Union sentiments of the voters of North Carolina.  When the final vote totals were published in the Greensboro Patriot on February 14, 1861, John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, the Southern Democratic candidate, had received the most votes (48,533); second was John Bell of Tennessee, the Constitutional Union nominee (44,039); and far behind was the Democrat Stephen A. Douglas (just 2,690 votes).   When their totals are combined, more than 97% of North Carolina voters arguably approved the pro-Union positions of Bell and Breckinridge.  (Abraham Lincoln probably didn’t get a single vote in Randolph County during the election of 1860; the new Republican Party had not garnered enough votes in the previous election to even be allowed on the North Carolina ballot.)

On January 29th the North Carolina General Assembly scheduled a referendum on whether to call a secession convention.  “Whereas, the present perilous condition of the country demands… that the sovereign people of this State should assemble in Convention to effect an honorable adjustment of existing difficulties whereby the Federal Union is endangered, or otherwise preserve the honor and promote the interests of North Carolina; and Whereas, this General Assembly, on matters of such grave import, involving the relation of North Carolina to her sisters in the Confederacy, is reluctant to adopt any settled policy without the sense of the people in whom, under our governance, all sovereignty resides, being first ascertained.” [The act was  published in the Feb. 14th edition of the Greensboro Patriot.   The Yoda-like sentence structure of its preamble is a potent combination of florid Victorian language and turgid legalese.]

The act required the Governor “to issue a proclamation commanding the Sheriffs of the respective counties… to open polls… on the 28th day of February, A.D. 1861, when and where all persons qualified to vote… may vote for or against a State Convention:  those who wish a convention, voting with a printed or written ticket, ‘Convention,’ and those who do not wish a convention, voting in the same way, ‘No Convention.’”

At the same time, potential delegates were to be elected in case the Convention was approved.  Further complicating the process, even if the Convention met and approved an Ordinance of Secession, the bill still would require ratification by yet another vote of the people before it could take effect.

Campaigning against the Convention- against “Disunion”- began immediately in The Patriot, the old-line Whig newspaper serving Randolph and Guilford counties.  On Thursday, February 6th, the editor wrote “TO THE POLLS!  The bill calling a Convention, having provided that it shall be left to the people to say, through the ballot-box, whether or not they desire said Convention, we hope and trust that every man who loves his country, who desires the perpetuity of this Union, will resolve, if possible, to be at the polls and record his vote against a Convention.  Let no one be deceived:  The real question is Union or Disunion…. Let no one say, that it is useless to vote… It may be, and we think it probably that a majority will be cast for a ‘Convention,’ yet it is of the utmost importance, that as large a vote as possible should be cast against a Convention, for every vote so cast will be a vote for the Union…”

On January 31st, Jonathan Worth, leader of the Randolph Whigs and newly-elected to represent the county in the state House of Commons, issued “a circular to his constituents” which took a strong stand against the Convention.  “Every artifice will be employed to make you believe that the Convention is to be called to save the Union.  Believe it not…. If war begins, it will probably be brought on during the sitting of the Convention.  It is now the policy of the disunionists to postpone hostilities till President Buchanan goes out and President Lincoln comes in.  They will probably court a fight as soon as Lincoln takes the reins…. Believe not those who may tell you this Convention is called to save the Union.  It is called to destroy it.  If you desire to preserve the Union, vote ‘No Convention.’” [Worth’s Circular was excerpted in the Patriot of Feb. 6, 1861, and printed in full in the Feb. 14th issue.]

The last issue of The Patriot before the referendum (Feb. 21st) was full of articles and editorials seeking to get out the vote of faithful Whigs.  “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!  …Believe not those who tell you, that the question is, whether North Carolina shall go with the North, or the South.  The issue, and the only issue, is Union, or disunion… If we are but true to ourselves, the stars and stripes will yet continue to wave over the freest and happiest people upon whom the sun ever shown.”

The editorial quotes multiple stanzas of a poem,

“Stand like an anvil, when the stroke

Of stalwart men falls fierce and fast,

Storms but more deeply root the oak

Whose brawny arms embrace the blast.

Stand like an anvil, when the sound

Of ponderous hammers pains the ear;

Thine, but the still and stern rebound

Of the great heart, that cannot fear.”

“The Convention will be the first step toward revolution…” another editorial blasted.  “The vote…will be the most important ever polled in North Carolina.  We hope and trust the people will follow the example set them by Tennessee… [and say] in a voice that cannot be misunderstood, that this Union ‘must and shall be preserved.’”

When the great day of battle arrived, the voters of North Carolina joined in electoral combat at the polling places, and the forces of Union achieved a narrow victory, rejecting the Convention by a vote of 47,705 (No Convention) to 47,611 (Convention).   The traditional Piedmont Quaker counties overwhelming voted for the Union and against the Convention.  Chatham County cast 283 votes for the Convention, but 1,795 against it.  In Guilford County, the margin of victory was 25 to 1.  And in Randolph, editor E.J. Hale exulted in the Asheboro Herald of March 3, 1861,  “Listen to the thunder of Randolph!

“Convention…………………..45

“No Convention……………..2,436!

“The honest democracy of this county have showed that they love their country better than their party; and the Whigs, who detest the accursed doctrine of secession, have made their action conform to their principles, by voting against convention—the instrument, solely relied upon by secessionists to make their heresy effectual, and impotent to do anything else.”  [The Asheboro Herald is a newspaper which has not survived, except as copied in the Greensboro Patriot of March 14th]

Alongside the results of the referendum printed in the March 14th Greensboro Patriot was the inaugural address of President Lincoln, delivered on March 4th , and agreeing with the pro-Union sentiments of North Carolina voters in his assertion that “the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy.”

The final canvass of the Randolph County vote was 2,570 to 45, a ratio of 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.”

“There must be something wrong in the vote cast in Randolph county for and against Convention.  In 1856 Randolph cast for Bragg and Gilmer 1842 votes, in 1860 for Ellis and Pool she gave 2015 votes; in November for President she gives 1589; and in February 1861, six months later, on the question of Convention, they run up to 2514, showing a clear gain since August last of 497 votes.  Now when you consider that the vote in August last was by far the largest ever polled in the state and that every county strained its full strength, we come deliberately to the conclusion that there is something wrong about the Convention vote in Randolph… We hope the matter will be sifted and that we will have new light on the subject.”

The editor of the Fayetteville Observer, in a lengthy defense of the Randolph vote, replied [again, quoted in the Patriot of April 11th], “We have heard what perhaps the Progress has not– the county of Randolph was more thoroughly canvassed, and the people more thoroughly aroused, at the late elections, than ever before.  They are attached to the Union, and they felt that the Union was in danger.”

The terrible irony of this rousing defense of the pro-Union vote in Randolph County is that it was published on the last day of peace.  Early that next morning the hungry defenders of Fort Sumter saw their supply ship approach, and be turned away by the start of a two-day bombardment by the Army of South Carolina.

On April 15, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation, calling for as many as 75,000 troops to crush the rebellion.  That call to bear arms against fellow Southerners was too much for the upper South states.  On April 17th, Virginia’s Secession Convention (still in session since January) saw former Governor Wise seize the podium and announce that he had ordered the state militia to capture federal installations in the jurisdiction, and pulling out a pistol, dared the Convention to stop him.  Within minutes the delegates had voted 88 to 55 to recommend disunion to the state’s voters.

Arkansas voted to leave the union on May 6th.   The last state to join the Confederacy, on June 8th, was Tennessee, and even then eastern half of the state overwhelmingly voted against it.

On May 1, 1861, the North Carolina General Assembly bypassed the voters to call directly for a Convention.  The Convention delegates passed an Ordinance of Secession on May 20th, but the eager Confederate Congress, already meeting in Richmond, had “provisionally” admitted the state to the Confederacy three days earlier.

This past February I told a group of local high school students that February 28th was the anniversary of one of the most important votes ever taken in Randolph County:  to secede and join the Confederacy, or to stay with the Union.  How did they thing their ancestors of 1861 voted? How would they have voted?

Without hesitation, they all voted to join the Confederacy, “of course.”

It is a huge loss when the modern residents of Randolph County have no idea of the true struggles of their forebears during the “Civil War” period.  It is a terrible mis-use of history that teaches children some muddy “big picture” and completely loses the details.

We still fight a war of words over what to call the conflict that began April 12, 1861.  The “winning” side prefers to call it “The Civil War;” unreconstructed Southerners insist it was “The War Between the States.”  The poet Walt Whitman simply called it “The Secession War,” and that best describes what happened in North Carolina.  One of the bravest battles of the war which would last 4 years and kill more than 600,000 Americans  was the very nonviolent, yet very verbal battle for the Union which was fought in Randolph County in the spring of 1861.  As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the breakdown of peaceful conflict resolution, no finer memory of the Quaker heritage of our county can be found than in its struggle to preserve, not destroy, the United States of America.

Notes on A Confederate Christmas

December 8, 2010

“Santa Claus in Camp, 1864” by Thomas Nast in Harper’s Weekly.

Introductory Note:
“Mrs. James Lafayette Winningham…”
On 24 May 1876 Nancy Hannah Steed married James Lafayette Winningham (ca. 1853- 1930), the son of Siebert Francis Marion Winningham and Laura Ann Lyndon.  Winningham was born at Union Factory, now Randleman, North Carolina.  [Internet geneaological research on the Winningham and Steed families was largely posted by Donald Winningham.]

“…was the daughter of John Stanley Steed and Rachel Director Swaim.”
John Stanley Steed (22 Feb 1829 – 3 May 1899) was the son of Charles Steed (15 May 1782- March 1847), who served Randolph County both as a member of the North Carolina Senate and as a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives.  His mother Hannah Raines (born circa 1788- died after 1850) married Charles Steed on 25 Jan 1806.  John Stanley Steed married Rachel Director Swaim (15 Nov 1835 – 27 Nov 1880) about the year 1852.

Paragraph 1:
“As I was born in 1857…”
Nancy “Nannie” Hannah Steed was born 14 June 1857.

“My mother always took the children home to her father’s for the holidays”
Rachel Steed’s parents were Joshua Swaim (1804-1868) and Nancy H. Polk (1808 – 14 April 1865), who married in Guilford County on 1 September 1824, but lived in the Cedar Falls area (the area west of Franklinville, south of Grays Chapel, and east of Millboro).  The Christmas of 1864 may have stuck in Nannie Steed’s memory because it was the last she would have with her maternal grandmother Nancy Polk Swaim.

Maternal grandfather Joshua Swaim was the son of William Swaim and Elizabeth Sherwood, and nephew of the Clerk of Court Moses Swaim (1788-1870).   Joshua and Nancy Swaim were buried in the old Timber Ridge cemetery near Level Cross.  Here is a link to photographs of their tombstones: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~davidswaim/TimberRidge.htm

“In their home were our three young aunts and a young uncle, all full of life and fun, and about ten grandchildren.”
Nancy and Joshua Swaim of Cedar Falls had the following children, several of whom had moved West before the time of the Civil War.  Numbers 7 through 10 are Nannie’s “young aunts and uncle”:
1.  James Polk Swaim (November 21, 1825 – February 04, 1890); m. Sarah McDonald about 1848; died in  Franklin County, Ark.
2.  Elizabeth Swaim (September 30, 1827-  June 28, 1846).
3.  Margaret J. Swaim, b. March 22, 1829- February 29, 1848.
4.  Mary Swaim (b. ca. 1831); md. Mr. Glass before 1854.
5.  William Walter Swaim (February 10, 1833 – died October 17, 1905 in Eldora, Hardin County, Iowa); m. Mary Ann Davis, ca. 1859, in Hamilton Co., Indiana.
6.  Rachel Director Swaim, (November 15, 1835 – May 27, 1880); m. John Stanley Steed on October 07, 1852.  [Nannie’s Grandma Swaim]
7.  Luther Clegg Swaim (b. ca. 1837, d. ca. 1868) [Nannie’s Uncle “Luther Clegg”]
8. Susannah Swaim (b. ca. 1840); m. J.L. Coble, September 04, 1862.
9. Hannah Swaim (b. ca. 1841); m. Henry C. Green, October 06, 1864.
10. Martha Swaim (b. ca. 1847).

{The family information is Included in the Polk family genealogy, posted by Kathy Parmenter at http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/POLK/1999-07/0931116431 }.

“Of us there were my three brothers and myself.”
As of this time in the story, John and Rachel Steed had the following children:  Emily, born 1853, who died in infancy; Wiley Franklin, born 1855; Nancy Hannah, born 1857; Henry Luther, born 1860; Joshua Nathaniel, b. 1862.

Paragraph 2:
“The young people had wheat or potato coffee…”
Imports of coffee and other delicacies were reduced almost to the point of nonexistence by the federal blockade of southern ports.  According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_substitute ), Roasted acorns, almonds, barley, beechnuts, beetroots, carrots, chicory, corn, cottonseed, dandelion root, figs, okra seed, peas, Irish potatoes (but only the peel), rice, rye, soybeans, and sweet potatoes have all been used as coffee substitutes.  Roasted and ground wheat as a non-caffeinated substitute for coffee was popular again in the United States during both World War I and II, when coffee was sharply rationed.   “Postum”  was the brand name of an instant-style coffee substitute made from wheat bran, corn and molasses which was popular in North Carolina in the 20th century, but production was discontinued in October, 2007.

Paragraph 3:
“In our stockings were…ginger cakes…”
Ginger is a tropical root imported from Africa, Jamaica, India or China.  It was a much-loved spice during the Civil War era; ginger beer, ginger ale, and all sorts of ginger cakes and breads were popular.  Some recipes could be rolled out, cut into shapes and hung on the tree; some were soft like bread and others were hard and crisp.  The following recipe from a Civil War reenactor group makes crisp, sugar- coated cookies suitable for putting in a stocking:

3/4 cups shortening

1 cup sugar

1 beaten egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

2 cups flour

Combine shortening and sugar into a cream; add the egg and molasses and mix well. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the shortening mixture. Mix until combined. Roll into walnut sized balls and roll in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 – 10 minutes.

Paragraph 4:
“…my aunties started the eggnog…”
Various milk punches were known in Europe and brought to America, so the exact orgin of Egg Nog is obscure.  “Nog” is an old English word with roots in East Anglia dialects that was used to describe a kind of strong beer which was served in a small wooden mug called a “noggin”.   “Egg nog” is first mentioned in the early nineteenth century but an alternative British name was “egg flip,” a punch made with milk and wine, particularly Spanish Sherry.
Internet sites repeatedly cite an unnamed and unsourced English visitor who wrote in 1866, “Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nogg for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging…It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended.”
The English author Elizabeth Leslie regularly published cookbooks on both sides of the Atlantic from 1837 to 1857.  Her Directions for Cookery, published in 1840, introduced the concept of the “sandwich” to America.  This recipe for Egg Nogg comes from the edition of 1851:
“Beat separately the yolks and whites of 6 eggs. Stir the yolks into a quart of rich milk, or thin cream, add half a pound of sugar. Then mix in half a pint of rum or brandy. Flavor with a grated nutmeg. Lastly, stir in gently the beaten whites of three eggs. It should be mixed in a china bowl.”

Perhaps the last word on Confederate egg nog would be the recipe of Mary Custis (Mrs. Robert E.) Lee herself::

-10 eggs, separated

-2 c. sugar

-2 1/2 c. brandy

1/2 c. and 1 tsp. dark rum

-8 c. milk or cream

Blend well the yolks of ten eggs, add 1 lb. of sugar; stir in slowly two tumblers of French brandy, 1/2 tumbler of rum, add 2 qts new milk, & lastly the egg whites beaten light (very fluffy).  Allow to “ripen” in a cold but not freezing place; an unheated room or porch was the common location for Mrs. Lee.

From The Robert E. Lee Family Cooking and Housekeeping Book (UNC Press, 2002), by Anne Carter Zimmer.

Paragraph 5:
“…expressed in those days as ‘Christmas Gift’…”
The phrase “Merry Christmas” was popularized around the world following the appearance of the Charles Dickens’ story, A Christmas Carol in 1843.  Robertson Cochrane, Wordplay: origins, meanings, and usage of the English language, p.126. (University of Toronto Press, 1996).  “Christmas Gift!”  is an earlier Southern tradition, used as a greeting.   The first person saying it on Christmas morning traditionally received a gift.  See “Whistlin’ Dixie: A Dictionary of Southern Expressions” by Robert Hendrickson (Pocket Books, New York, 1993).

Paragraph 6:
“Which is it, the old bad man or the Yankees?”
She is using a euphemism for “the Devil,” a word considered to be so much a curse word at the time that a well-bred young lady was not allowed to use such language.  The Devil was on the side of the Yankees, just as God was supposed to be on the side of the Confederacy.

“Little Christmas Waifs Are We”- 19th century Christmas Card

“…the old English custom of the waifs of England.”
It is unclear whether Nannie has here conflated two distinct Christmas rituals from medieval England, or whether the traditions had previously merged in the antebellum South.
The surviving English tradition is of the Christmas “Waits,” musicians and singers who go from door to door “waiting,” or caroling.  According to the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica, “wait” is the name of a medieval night watchman, who sounded a horn or played tunes to mark the hours.  By the 15th century waits had become bands of itinerant musicians who paraded the streets at night at Christmas time, and became combined with another ancient tradition, “wassailing”.  It gradually became expected that the musicians would receive gifts and gratuities from the townspeople, and often “those who went wassailing would dress up like street waifs or ragamuffins.”  http://www.cafepress.com/+christmas_waifs_sticker,320599343
One other British custom of the Christmas season was specifically aimed at soliciting alms.  “Thomasing” anciently occured on 21 December (St Thomas’s Day) when the village poor people visited the homes of their better-off neighbours soliciting food and provisions to help them through the winter. Also called “Gooding,” “Mumping,” and “Doleing,” the earliest reference is from the year 1560, but the custom gradually declined through the 19th century as poor relief was institutionalized, and laws were passed against ‘begging’.
In the South this tradition may have inspired a tradition of inviting local orphans or “waifs” to spend Christmas afternoon with rural families or in urban church socials. [books.google.com/books?isbn=0253219558 ]  In 1864 the “ crowning amusement” of Christmas day for the Davis children in Richmond was “the children’s tree,” erected in the basement of St. Paul’s Church, decorated with strung popcorn, and hung with small gifts for orphans.   (First Lady Varina Davis’s 1896 article “Christmas in the Confederate White House” makes an  interesting contrast to Nannie Steed Winningham’s story of Christmas in rural Randolph County;
http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/on-the-homefront/culture/christmas.html ).

The First Confederate States Flag

Paragraph 7:
“ The Bonnie Blue Flag”
-is a marching song associated with the Confederacy.   The song was written to an Irish melody by entertainer Harry McCarthy during a concert in Jackson, Mississippi, in the spring of 1861 and first published that same year in New Orleans.  The song’s title refers to the unofficial first flag of the Confederate States, the symbol of secession from the Union bearing the “single star” of the chorus.   The “Band of Brothers” mentioned in the first line of the song is a reference to the St. Crispin’s day speech in Shakespeare’s play Henry V.
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bonnie_Blue_Flag]
Here is the song:  http://www.gutenberg.org/files/21566/21566-h/music/bonnie.midi

“The Girl I left behind me”
-is a popular folk tune.  The first known printed text appeared in an Irish song collection in 1791; the earliest known version of the melody was printed in Dublin about 1810.   It was known in Britain as early as 1650, under the name “Brighton Camp”.  It was adopted by the US regular army as a marching tune during the War of 1812 after they heard a British prisoner singing it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl_I_Left_Behind
The song can be heard here:  http://www.contemplator.com/england/girl.html

“Hurrah for the Southern Rights, Hurrah! Hurrah!”
-Hurrah! Hurrah!/ For Southern rights, hurrah!” is actually the first two lines of the chorus of  “The Bonnie Blue Flag.”  ‘Hurrah! Hurrah! For the Southern Rights, hurrah!’ is an alternative reading of the line that is only found in Gone With The Wind, page 236.  Both undoubtedly reflect the way singers at the time added ‘the’ to mirror the same article in ‘the’ Bonnie Blue Flag.

“Hurrah! for the Homespun Dress the Southern Ladies Wear”
-”The Homespun Dress,” also known as “The Southern Girl,” or “The Southern Girl’s Song,” is a parody of The Bonnie Blue Flag that oral historians have found in variant versions all over the South.  Most authorities attribute the words to Miss Carrie Belle Sinclair of Augusta, Georgia.  See Songs of the Civil War, by Irwin Silber, Jerry Silverman; Dover, 1995, p.54.  The lyrics can be found at http://www.lizlyle.lofgrens.org/RmOlSngs/RTOS-HomespunDress.htmlv

Oh, yes, I am a Southern girl,

And glory in the name,

And boast it with far greater pride

Than glittering wealth and fame.

We envy not the Northern girl

Her robes of beauty rare,

Though diamonds grace her snowy neck

And pearls bedeck her hair.

CHORUS: Hurrah! Hurrah!

For the sunny South so dear;

Three cheers for the homespun dress

The Southern ladies wear!

Paragraph 8:
“…Mars Luther Clegg had drinked too much eggnog.”
“Mars,” short-hand for “Master,” was used by enslaved people as a general title of respect, in the same way that white people would use “Mister.”
Luther Clegg Swaim was born in Cedar Falls in 1837.  On February 1, 1866 he married Dorcas Aretta Odell (1828-1918), daughter of James Odell and wife Anna Trogdon.  This was the second marriage for Dorcas Odell, the sister of J.M. Odell and J.A. Odell who worked for George Makepeace in the factory stores at Cedar Falls and Franklinsville.  John M. Odell was the first Captain of the Randolph Hornets, Company M.  Her brother Laban Odell became Major of the 22nd Regiment, and was killed at Chancellorsville.  Her first husband was her second cousin, Solomon Franklin Trogdon, who died in 1860.  She had two sons in the first marriage, and a daughter with Luther Clegg Swaim before he died in 1868.  Dorcas’s son Williard Franklin Trogdon became the original geneaologist of the Trogdon family, publishing the family history which provided this information in 1926.

Paragraph 9:
“My father and my uncle owned and operated a large tannery, shoe and harness shop.”
The J. S. Steed family is the very first one listed in the Western Division of Randolph County’s 1860 census; his occupation is listed as “Tanning,”  and a 17-year-old boarder living with them is listed as “Apprentice Tanner.”  Family #2 in that census is David Porter, a buggy manufacturer and grandfather of author William Sidney Porter.  I believe the Porters lived on the southeast corner of the intersection of Salisbury Street and the Plank Road (Fayetteville Street)- where First Bank is today.

The 1860 Census  of Manufacturing for Randolph County lists “J.W. & J.S. Steed” as engaged in “Tanning… Boot and Shoe Making…[and] Harness Making.”  6 employees in 1859 cured “1400 sides of harness, sole and upper leather” worth $2000; made 40 pair of boots worth $300; 250 pair of shoes worth $500; and 50 setts of harness worth $900.

The Steeds probably lived on Salisbury between Cox and the Plank Road, but the location of his tannery is unclear.  The only tannery I am aware of that was ever located in or around Asheboro itself is the one located on the site of the present-day Frazier Park, across Park Street from Loflin Elementary School.  The branch that heads in a spring (now piped underground) on that site is called Tan Yard Branch.

“My uncle” probably refers to the “J.W. Steed” listed on the Census of Manufacturing; this was Joseph Warren Steed, born ca. 1806, and little else is known about him.   It could also refer to John Stanley Steed’s brother Nathaniel Steed (3 May 1812 -10 Nov 1880).  In 1832 Nathaniel married Sarah (“Sallie”) Redding (9 Oct. 1811 -10 Aug. 1852), daughter of John Redding and Martha Jane Swaim.  They are buried at Charlotte Church, on Old Lexington Road west of Asheboro.

“Early in 1864 my father… was drafted and sent to eastern Carolina, where he was in the service..”
[Some of you Civil War experts, trace his service record, please.]

Paragraph 10:
“…our faithful family physician, who on account of advancing years bad about given up his practice until the war began…”
Could this have been Dr. John Milton Worth, (28 June 1811 -5 April 1900), who studied at the Medical College in Lexington, Kentucky and practiced in Asheboro up to the time of the war?  A substantial part of Dr. Worth’s war years were spent overseeing the Salt Works near Fort Fisher, so this may be some other faithful family physician.

“On the morning of the 10th we were told we had a little brother named for his daddy…”
John Stanley Steed, Jr., born December 1864.  The Steeds would have five more children over the next 15 years.  Rachel Steed evidently died during childbirth in 1880.

A view of antebellum New Bern from the Neuse River

Paragraph 12:
“There was a man in our town called Captain Pragg, who owned a dry goods store…”
The name “Pragg” is not found in the Randolph County census records for 1860 or 1870, but “Isaiah Prag” does appear in Randolph County marriage bond records for April 19, 1865, when he married “Mrs. Jane Sugg.”  This was apparently the second marriage for each of them, as according to family genealogical records “Mrs. Sugg”‘s maiden name was Jane Adaline Andrews (1841-1907).  She may have a family connection to Lt. Col. Hezekiah L. Andrews of western Randolph, who was killed at Gettysburg.
Isaiah  Prag was born 20 October 1824 in the town of Hadamar in the state of Hesse, Germany.  He first appears in America in the 1850 census of Annapolis, Maryland, with wife Rose Adler (1827-1864), and a new baby, Mary.  Prag would ultimately have 8 children by his first wife, and 7 by his second.  By 1860 Isaiah and family have relocated to New Bern, NC, where he is in business as a “merchant.”   From June 1, 1861 to February 10, 1862, the state Quartermaster’s office paid receipts totalling $13,113.20 for purchases from Isaiah Prag.  He evidently provided most of the “dry goods” or clothing needed to equip at least two companies of Craven County volunteer troops: Company F and Company K (The Elm City Rifles):  98 suit coats and pants; 74 flannel shirts and 199 striped shirts; 218 caps, 141 pairs of “drawers” and 160 pairs of “pantaloons;” not to mention 556 overcoats- enough for 5 companies!
Isaiah Prag is also listed as an “Ordinance Sergeant” in Company B of Clark’s Special Battalion of the North Carolina Militia, but further details of his military service are not yet known.
Prag’s initial connection to Randolph County is also unclear.  It is possible that he was involved with the local factories in the production of underwear under contract to the Quartermaster.  His work supplying the army may have forced him to leave New Bern after its capture by federal forces on March 14, 1862.  It doesn’t seem likely that Prag would have been allowed to frequently cross enemy lines if his family remained in New Bern, but  Rose Adler Prag is said to have died in New Bern on July 20, 1864.
The 1870 census finds Isaiah and Jane Prag in Calvert County, Maryland.  The 1879-80 city directory of Baltimore (p. 625) lists 6 separate families of Prags, with Isaiah listed as selling furniture.  The 1880 census finds him settled in Cambridge, Maryland, the seat of Dorchester County on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  This is where family records place him at the time of his death, April 18, 1889.
It appears that Isaiah and Rose Adler Prag were Jewish, and may have been one of the first Jewish families to reside in Randolph County.  That may be why Isaiah gave the Steed family as valuable a gift as the ham would have been in 1864- religious dietary laws would have prevented him from eating it.
[Sources:  US Census records for the years cited; Randolph County Marriage Bonds; Miscellaneous Records of the North Carolina Quartermaster’s dealings with Isaiah Prag or Pragg, preserved in the National Archives at Confederate Papers Relating to Citizens or Business Firms, 1861-65 ; the Park Service online list of Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, at http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/>; Prag family geneaology records on Ancestry.com at http://trees.ancestry.com/pt/person.aspx?pid=1078239925&tid=16758860&ssrc= .]

Paragraph 13:
“My present was a balmoral (petticoat) which she had carded, spun and woven herself…”
A Balmoral was a long woollen petticoat which was popularized by Queen Victoria at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.  Usually of striped fabric, it was worn immediately beneath the dress so that it showed below the skirt.

The woman wearing a Balmoral in this “carte de visite” is Rachel Bodley (1831-1888), the first female chemistry professor at Philadelphia’s Women’s Medical College from 1865 to 1873.

Paragraph 14:
“…a bowl of mush or … plate of thick corn pones.”
Corn Meal Mush was made two different ways, and it appears that Mr. Winningham liked both of them.  The first was prepared in rolls like sausage or in loaf pans like modern liver pudding.  The cook would cut it in slices, dredge in egg yolk, dust in flour, fry and serve with butter, molasses, syrup or powdered sugar.  The second method was to boil the corn meal in a saucepan just as if preparing raw oatmeal or grits.  It was then served hot in a bowl topped with milk, sugar, fruit, raisins, nuts or ice cream.
“Corn Pone” is corn bread made without milk or eggs, and either baked in hot coals (as described by Nannie Winningham) or fried.

Modern Corn Pone Recipe (makes 4 servings):

Ingredients:  3 cups cornmeal; 3 teaspoons salt; 2-3 cups water; 3 tablespoons lard

Directions:  Bring water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add cornmeal and salt and immediately remove from stove. Mix well.  Melt half of lard in a baking pan to coat. Stir remaining lard into corn meal mixture. Pour mixture into baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until golden brown.

Reuben Wood’s Library

March 27, 2010

[Because of the length of this research paper, I divided it up into five sections; actually six now, because the footnotes wouldn’t register with the blog software, so I but them in a separate post.  I and II deal with Reuben Wood and his family and career; the footnotes follow; and II, IV and V is the inventory of his library, transcribed by me from the handwritten text in Will Book 4.  Not every title has been recovered- if you have any ideas for one of the odd titles, email me.]

With no diaries and other first-hand accounts available to tell us of daily life in 18th-century Randolph County, one of the only alternative sources is to look in the Will Books maintained by the county Clerk of Court.  The series of books, dating back to the formation of the county in 1779, preserve more than just the Last Will and Testaments of county residents; those who died without a will (“intestate”) often provide even more information.  A typical first step in the administration of any estate was compiling an inventory of the deceased’s personal property, and one of the next steps was often to sell it all at a public auction.  These inventories and sale accounts are the best window into early American domestic life we have as local historians.

While looking for something entirely different many years ago, I noticed that one of the very first inventories in Will Book 4 (the blank book was started in November, 1812) was the “Inventory and Account of the Sale of the Estate of Reubin Wood, Esq., Dec’d”, which took up 14 of the first 15 pages in the book.  I knew nothing at the time about Reuben Wood, other than he appeared to have owned a remarkable number of books, and the fact that many of them were law books indicated that he must have been an attorney.  I filed the Reuben Wood papers among the many hundreds of interesting Randolph County curiosities pending further research.

[Home spinner- a dozen yarn ends at the time]

Last fall I stumbled across it again, because one of the items of farm equipment sold at Wood’s 1812 auction sale was an unusual piece of textile production equipment.  “1 spinning machine — 9.0.0 [9 pounds sterling/ no shillings/no pence] ” was purchased by Benjamin Elliott, an Asheboro merchant who would go on, with his son Henry Branson Elliott, to convert his grist mill at Cedar Falls into Randolph County’s first textile mill.  Every estate at that time included numerous items of textile production equipment, and the Wood estate also sold “1 loom & apparatus” at 2.10.0, two spinning wheels (at 0.18.7 [probably a flax wheel] and 0.7.0 [probably a cotton or ‘walking’ wheel]), and one “flax machine” at 0.5.0 (probably a flax “brake,” an ironing-board-sized contraption that removed the hard outer husk from raw flax).

[36 yarn ends at once- more like a factory!]

The “spinning machine” was by far the most expensive piece of textile equipment, and was probably what was commonly called a “spinning jenny” or “plantation spinner,” used by slaves to mass-produce cotton yarn needed to weave clothes and domestic textiles.  This is the only reference I have seen to such a device in Randolph County estate records.  Its presence raises a number of questions:  was it meant to be used by the family’s slaves (there were nine)?  Does it indicate a long-standing family bias against imported English or European textiles?  Did Reuben Wood perhaps affect cotton “homespun” clothing, as Thomas Jefferson and North Carolina’s congressman Nathaniel Macon?  Or was this a recent acquisition indicating the effect of anti-English trade embargoes preceeding the War of 1812?  We’ll never know.

[Colonial Williamsburg coachmakers build a riding chair]

The Spinning Machine caused me to take a closer look at the Wood inventory.  One other unusual item stood out:  “1 Riding Chair”, purchased by the widow Charity Wood at the premium price of 22.0.0 Pounds Sterling!  (compare “1 Waggon,” at 15.0.0, or “1 Cart with Oxen” at 16.5.0!).  This indicated the upscale status of the Wood family just as much as the fact that Reuben Wood owned nine slaves at the time of his death.  Just recently the wheelwrights at Colonial Williamsburg reproduced a riding chair for the collection of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and explained that

[Child’s riding chair for horseback use]

“Riding chairs were popular in the 1700s… These vehicles typically had two wheels and seated one or two people…  Riding chairs were more comfortable than riding on a horse…  In a riding chair, you could move a bit, shift your weight. You didn’t have to sit on the back of a sweaty horse in August.  Also, it was easier on the horse, which didn’t have the weight of a human on its back. ”  [See http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/Winter04-05/wheel.cfm#webex ]

Not so extraordinary for the times was that a slave auction was part of the sale– in fact, the major financial aspect of the whole estate.  70.86% of the total auction proceeds of 2,272 pounds, 7 shillings, 11 pence represented the value of nine human beings (1,610 pounds, 12 shillings, 6 pence).  All but one of the nine were purchased by the widow or by family members, so this particular sale did not represent the catastrophic separation of slave families that many such auctions did.  No comparable research has been conducted in other Randolph County estates, so it is not clear whether the high proportionate value of the enslaved blacks was unusual in this case.

What was without a doubt unusual was the high proportionate value of Reuben Wood’s Library to the total value of his estate.  Almost fifteen and three-quarters percent of the total auction proceeds was made up of the price paid for books.  While that may not sound impressive, look at it this way:  when the value of enslaved people are subtracted from the total estate, the sales total just 661 pounds, 9 shillings and 9 pence; and out of that total, 357 pounds, 9 pence represented books—54% of all personal property excluding slaves.  Two hundred twenty-three separate titles are listed by name, and due to the book-binding practices of the time, it can be safely assumed that the vast majority of these titles were multi-volume sets.  My study of the collection indicates that it probably represented approximately 800 volumes, a large private library even by modern standards.

To understand how mind-boggling this percentage is, we must check out other Randolph County estate inventories.  A comprehensive comparison was beyond my available time these past 6 months, but a random check of 50 or so estates in the first four will books indicates that not one in three Randolph County decedents at the turn of the 19th century even listed books as part of their estates.  Typical of those was Joseph Hill (d. 1794, WB 2, p.18) and Barnaby McDade (d.1812, WB4, P17), both of whom list simply”1 Bible.”   Elizabeth Wright (Feb. 1813, WB4, p.22), lists “1 Hymn book” and “3 books.”  Stephen Cox (August 1814, WB4, p.92) listed “1 spelling book” which sold for 4 shillings, 7 pence and “1 Arithmetick & Testament” worth 1 shilling.

Only four take the trouble to list books by title, as did Joseph Wilson when he inventoried the Wood estate.  Haman Miller of the Farmer community, who died in  1814 (WB4, p.97), was one of the wealthiest men in the county.  His wife listed “1 Testament”, “1 Hymn Book,” and 18 assorted law books in her inventory, indicating his status as a Justice of the Peace (what we would today consider a county commissioner).  His sale listed “1 Dictionary… 1 Pilgrim’s Progress… 1 Little Boston Collection… Acts of Congress… Acts of the General Assembly… and Laws of the United States.”  Col. John Brower, another JP (d. 1814, WB4, p.100) had an estate sale which raised $2,312.48, of which just $37.41 was attributed to the sale of his 71 books, including “Dutch [German] Books,” “Acts of the General Assembly,” “Martin’s Justice,” “Hutchinson’s Works,” and “Carver’s Travels” comparable to those Reuben Woods’ collection.  William Tomlinson (1812, WB4, p.74) unhelpfully lists “1 lot of old books” and “1 lot of pamphlets” and a book on Landlord-Tenant law, but also features a volume of “Christian Philosophy” and 4 volumes of “Newton’s Works” (Sir Isaac Newton? Unclear).  In none of these estates is the proportion of books to the total anywhere near that in the Reuben Wood estate.

Before researching the man himself, I decided to look closely at the contents of his library.  As best I could, I transcribed each title, alphabetized them, and then sought to classify them by subject matter.  It became obvious that the inventory had been based on the short title embossed on the leather spine of a book or series, which was probably called out aloud by one person while being transcribed phonetically by another- a process that inevitably led to mis-spellings and odd transpositions.   I attempted to match each short title from the inventory with the author and exact title of an edition which might have been the one listed.  The most useful resource for this purpose was the British Library’s English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) of items printed before 1801 [ http://estc.bl.uk/ ]; I also used the Law Library of Congress Rare Book Collection [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/awlaw3/rare_book.html ] for specialty law titles.  Three early-19th century library catalogues provided interesting comparisons:  the 1822 printed catalogue of books in the UNC-Chapel Hill Philanthropic Society library; the 1828 catalogue of the University of Virginia library; and the 1831 catalogue of Harvard’s Porcellian Club Library.

Twenty-eight titles have so far defied my analysis- either no specific title was given [“A Lott of Books”/ “A Dutch Book”/ “A French Grammar”]; or the original listing is perhaps in error [Grolisque?  Canuclad?]; or the information given was vague or inadequate [“A Small View,” “Christ”?], or I have been unable to match the title to any known comparable book [“Astrolhology,” “Sullivant’s Lectures,” “Thiston’s Memorials,” “Jennings Works,” etc].

Undoubtedly more titles will become clear with additional research, but some things are obvious.  At least 67 titles were those used by a working lawyer, representing what appears to be one of the largest private law libraries in Piedmont North Carolina.  Four books were reference works [such as Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary] and six were in German or French.  Sixteen were Classical Literature, with Greek and Roman authors in translation.  Ten related to religion, with a strong bias toward Presbyterianism, with a large number of titles from the Scottish Enlightenment.  Another 18 can be classified as contemporary philosophical and ethical works, including Locke, Helvitius, Lavater, Chesterfield and Edmund Burke.   Twenty-one titles would then have been classified as “Political Economy,” titles that were standard currency among the Founding Fathers: Junias, Burke, Adam Smith, Burlemaqui, Joseph Priestly, Thomas Paine.  Twenty-eight titles were in the realm of History and Biography: not just ancient history, but a number of contemporary works indicating an interest in foreign policy, especially of France, Ireland, Scotland, India, and Prussia.  Finally, twenty-three titles were purely for entertainment, with classics of English Literature such as Paradise Lost, The Spectator, and The Rambler; early novels such as Clarissa Harlow, Tristam Shandy and Tom Jones; and a number of volumes of poetry.  Oddly missing are standard titles and authors such as Shakespeare [neither plays nor sonnets], Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey.  Perhaps these titles were in the “1 Lott of Books” which sold for the amazingly large price of 37 pounds, 2 shillings and 6 pence- more than the Riding Chair, more than “1 Bay Horse, 26.10.0” and half the price of “1 Negro Girl, Eleanor, 75.0.0”.

Reuben Wood’s Library II

March 22, 2010


When I turned toward researching Reuben Wood himself, I was surprised to discover that a genealogical sketch of his life had been written by none other than Senator Sam Ervin, Jr., of Morganton, a great-great-great-grandson of Reuben Wood.  An entry in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, summarized a manuscript written by Senator Sam, which stated :

“My mother’s… great-great-grandfather, Reuben Wood [was] an old-time lawyer of Randolph County, North Carolina, who practiced as a trial lawyer in virtually every superior court and county court of pleas and quarter sessions which sat in the vast region lying between his home in Randolph County and Jonesboro, Tennessee.”

It appears that Reuben Wood was the first resident of Randolph County actually licensed to practice law in Randolph County. How had this man been so thoroughly forgotten in his own home county?

Reuben Wood’s father, John Wood (b. 23 May 1716- May 3, 1794), was a native of Middleborough, Massachusetts. He had four children by his first wife Sarah Clement, one of whom, Zebedee Wood (26 Feb 1745- 11 July 1824), became Reuben’s partner in Randolph County government.  Soon after the birth of Zebedee, John Wood moved his family to the town of Mendam in Morris County, New Jersey, where his next son was born and Sarah died, perhaps from complications in childbirth. With four children under ten, John Wood quickly remarried and father four more children by his second wife Sibbel [Sybil] Wilborne. Reuben Wood (circa 1755- July 1812) was born to John and Sybil in New Jersey, but his brother David, who arrived in 1759, was born in North Carolina, indicating that the family had moved once again.

Surely the boy Reuben came to North Carolina with his family; but the “History of Morris County, New Jersey” lists a Reuben Wood from Mendham as a member of Captain Cox’s Company of the 3rd New Jersey Regiment in 1776. Perhaps he returned to attend school—Princeton is close by—and lived with his mother’s relatives. Even if so, both Reuben and Zebedee were soon involved with the militia in Randolph County. Zebedee Wood was one of Randolph County’s first militia captains in 1779, at a time when the militia captain’s district was the fundamental governing unit of the county.  In 1779 Reuben served as lieutenant (second in command) of Captain Thomas Clark’s infantry company, which “rendezvoused at Salisbury & marched to Charlestown under Col. Archibald Lytle a Continental Col. & joined General Lincoln” in the defense of Charleston. Whether Reuben was still there when Charleston fell to the British in May, 1780, is unknown, since in November 1779 he had married Charity Hinds, probably a sister of his militia commander Captain John Hines, whose “Light Horse” Company Wood joined as lieutenant in 1780.  Hinds was one of the most active captains in the new county, and spent a great deal of time in 1781 and 1782 jousting with the Tory guerrillas led by Colonel David Fanning.

By 1782 Wood was no longer serving in Hinds’ company; he must have taken time in the early 1780s to further his education.  There is no mention of him in county court records before1782, and those minutes are missing between 1783 and 1787; but suddenly when Book 3 opens in September 1787 Reuben Wood is listed as “State’s Attorney,” the equivalent of the modern District Attorney.  The educational gap between 19 year-old militia lieutenant in 1779 to State’s Attorney by 1787 was not as deep then as now; no law schools and graduate degrees were available, so a prospective lawyer apprenticed to his trade by “reading” law with an established attorney. It could not have hurt his chances for employment that brother Zebedee was by then one of the Justices of the Peace who ran the county court.


[Rowan County Courthouse in Salisbury]

Where Reuben Wood received his legal education is an open question, but closely available was his immediate predecessor as Randolph County State’s Attorney. When the county was formed in March 1779, one of the very first orders of business was to hire as State’s Attorney Spruce Macay [McKay] (?-1808), who also served as the Rowan County State’s Attorney. Macay was the son of Rowan County Sheriff James Macay, and graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1775. He served as State’s Attorney in Rowan until 1785, when he may also have resigned his Randolph position. Macay left the practice of law in 1790 when he was elected a Superior Court Judge, but in the 1780s at least one soon-to-be-famous lawyer read law with him: Andrew Jackson (1767-1845). The 17-year-old Waxhaw native moved to Salisbury to live with McKay and study the law in 1784. After two years with Macay, Jackson moved on to study one more year with another Salisbury lawyer John Stokes (March 20, 1756 – October 12, 1790), a crotchety veteran who would emphasize his points in court by banging the silver knob that replaced a hand he lost in the Revolution. In September 1787 Jackson was licensed to practice law in Rowan County, and on December 11, 1787, “Andrew Jackson, Esquire, produced a license from the Honorable the Judges of the Superior Court of Law & Equity Authorizing him to practice as an Attorney in the Several County Courts.  Took the Oath prescribed and proceeded to practice in said Court.” One of the Justices of the Peace sitting at that session of court was Zebedee Wood, and Reuben had been practicing as States Attorney for the County since at least June of that year. So perhaps Reuben Wood and Andrew Jackson were classmates in the law office of Spruce Macay; that they were practicing members of the Randolph County Bar at the same time is a fact.


[Bust of Andrew Jackson, ca. 1812]

Reuben Wood temporarily resigned his office as States Attorney several times in the 1788 so that other attorneys could handle particular cases. One of his replacements in 1788 was John Louis Taylor (1769-1829), a Fayetteville resident and graduate of William and Mary. Taylor became a Superior Court Judge in 1797 and in 1810 was appointed the first Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Part of the reason Wood couldn’t represent Randolph full time was that he had also been appointed State’s Attorney in Burke County for the years 1788 and 1789. Burke County then encompassed all of western North Carolina, including the huge undeveloped territory which would become Tennessee. Burke County’s quarter sessions began on the first Monday of the month, so Wood may have had trouble getting back home in time for the regular second Monday beginning of Randolph Court.


[Burke County Courthouse]

There are claims among some secondary sources that Reuben Wood and his brother Zebedee were both attorneys. I have seen nothing to indicate this, and the confusion apparently begins with a misreading of the suffix “Esq.” which court records attach to both their names. In modern American useage “Esq.” [an abbreviation for ‘Esquire’] indicates that the subject is a lawyer. In the 18th century America it was used to denote anyone who held an office of trust under state government, such as Justices of the Peace, Sheriff, Clerk of Court, Register of Deeds, etc., also including all attorneys. In English useage of the time, “Esquire — A rank next below that of Knight… this title is held by all attendants on the person of the Sovereign, and all persons holding the Sovereign’s commission being of military rank not below Captain; also, by general concession, by Barristers at Law”. Reuben Wood was entitled to the honorific as an attorney; Zebedee Wood as both a militia captain and as Justice of the Peace. According to NC law at the time, an attorney was not allowed to practice as an attorney if he accepted a commission as a Justice of the Peace, so obviously in the Wood family, brother Zebedee was the politician and brother Reuben the lawyer.

That didn’t mean that they didn’t serve together at times. Both were among the county’s delegates to the North Carolina Constitutional Conventions of 1788 and 1789.
The first, meeting in Hillsborough, considered the arguments of Federalist party managers and overwhelmingly rejected ratification of the proposed U.S. Constitution. The Anti-Federalists, who feared a strong central federal government, objected to the document without some guarantee of basic personal freedoms. Ratification was rejected by a vote of 184-84, with six members abstaining to vote. Interestingly, Reuben Wood was Randolph County’s sole abstention; the rest of the county delegation voted unanimously to reject.

The second convention, meeting in Fayetteville, ratified the Constitution upon the promise of the future Bill of Rights. An attempt to add amendments to the Constitution strictly limiting the Federal government’s control over the states was defeated 187-82. Then the Constitution was ratified by a vote of 194-77. On this occasion, Reuben Wood voted with the majority both times, and Zebedee Wood voted with the losing Anti-Federalists. Nathan Stedman, their Randolph County co-delegate who had voted against ratification in 1788, abstained from both votes- therefore not siding with either brother!


[Early Buncombe County Courthouse]

Their tours of service together didn’t end with the Constitutional Conventions- in 1791 both brothers were elected to represent Randolph County in the General Assembly: Reuben in the House of Commons and Zebedee in the State Senate. The next year Reuben continued his long-distance commutes to court, as he was hired by the Justices sitting at the organizational meeting of the Buncombe County Court to serve as that county’s first State’s Attorney. With Randolph court being held beginning on the second Monday of each quarter, and Buncombe court being held beginning on the third Monday of each quarter, Wood’s travel time on horseback must have made continual service in both next to impossible. But riding the circuit of the county courts became Wood’s professional life. As Sam Ervin writes in the DNCB:


[Jonesboro,”The Oldest Town in Tennessee”]

“With horse and saddlebags, Wood attended virtually all of the courts that sate in the vast territory between his home in Randolph County and North Carolina’s westernmost county town, Jonesboro, which now lies within the boundaries of Tennessee. He was among the lawyers considered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1788 for appointment as attorney for the Washington District, embracing practically all of the territory that subsequently became the state of Tennessee.” The man Reuben Wood lost the Tennessee District Attorney job to: his brother at the bar, Andrew Jackson, who used it as his springboard into state politics and ultimately, the Presidency.


[President Andrew Jackson, 1844]

Reuben Wood resigned the Buncombe County position in April of 1795.  He was at least 40 years old at the time, and either the harsh demands of life in the saddle or his growing family must have dictated that he stay closer to home. The number his books which were authored or published in the 1790s also argue that he then had more time to read and expand his library. Starting in the 1780s Reuben and Charity Wood had a family of eight children, four sons and four daughters, half of whom were still living at home at the time of the Census of 1810. With more than 600 acres of land to tend in the Polecat Creek/ Sandy Creek area, with eight children, and with the head of the family often gone for weeks or months at a stretch, it’s understandable that Reuben Wood gradually became a substantial slave owner.


[Burke County looking towards Tennessee]

Senator Sam Ervin observed of his ancestor, “Unlike most of his contemporaries at the early NC bar, he devoted his chief efforts to the law rather than to politics. As a consequence, he became noted as a wise counselor and skillful advocate.” Wood’s politics in truth may not have been suitable for either federal or state politics: his vote in the 1788 constitutional convention did not benefit the Federalist positions of James Iredell/ Alfred Moore/ William R. Davie, who later received appointments from Washington and Adams; his vote in 1789 also would not have endeared him to the Jeffersonian party where his brother Zebedee had voted the straight line. One political plum that Reuben Wood did receive late in his career was an appointment by the legislature as a “Counselor of State” from 1800 through 1806, which apparently was a something of an “in-house counsel” position giving advice to the Governor.

It’s possible that one reason he accumulated such a large personal collection was so that he could accept young men as law students.  When Andrew Jackson switched over to study law with John Stokes, he was following Spruce Macay’s recommendation to study with the man whose law library “exceeded any other in the region.” Wood’s collection would certainly have given him that reputation; even in 1821 the library of the Dialectic Society at the University in Chapel Hill was just a little more than twice its size.  Looking at the men who married his daughters gives us some evidence that Wood set about training a new generation of lawyers.  Joseph Wilson (1782-1829), a Quaker native of Guilford County, was Reuben Wood’s only confirmed student; he was licensed to practice law in 1804 and settled in Stokes County, where he served in the legislature. From 1812 until his death he served as State’s Attorney in the western district of North Carolina, the same job Reuben Wood had started twenty years before. Wood became so identified with bringing law and order to Western North Carolina that he was subsequently known as “the Great Solicitor.” Wilson’s brother Jethro Starbuck Wilson also likely studied with Wood; he married Wood’s daughter Laura (b.ca.1786), became a lawyer and went into practice in Charlotte. Further along the distaff side of the family tree, Senator Sam Ervin’s mother Laura Theresa Powe was the great-grandaughter of Mary and Joseph Wood’s daughter Laura Theresa Wilson (1808-1848), a family line which included five additional lawyers.


It’s not clear that any of Reuben Wood’s own sons followed him into the practice of law.  In fact, their relationships do not appear to have been close.  Oldest son John L. Wood was excluded from the draft will his father wrote, and appears to have left Randolph County for the western territories at an early date. When his father died, he was contacted in Tennessee, and his descendants settled in Arkansas.  Son Albert L. Wood was left only a life estate in part of the family property by his father, and soon followed his brother West; his family settled in Missouri.  There is some indication Joseph Wood became a frontier doctor; his family settled in Texas.  Youngest son Edwin may have been his father’s favorite; could he have been working to follow his father into the law?  Unfortunately, Edwin only survived his father by two years, the only one of the children to die so young.

Some sudden illness apparently came upon Reuben Wood in the summer of 1812; as is the case with many lawyers, his own personal affairs were not in good order.  He owed a number of outstanding debts, and he was owed payment for work done for clients on credit.  He drafted a will, obviously on his sick bed, which was not properly signed or witnessed, and was never probated.  Reuben Wood died at home in late July, 1812. Though he had wanted young Edwin to settle the estate, his brother-in-law Joseph Wilson took over, appointing guardians for the three minor children, settling the widow’s petition for dower support, conducting the inventory and the sale of Wood’s personal property. It is unknown how long Charity Wood survived her husband. All of the children had left Randolph County and all of Reuben’s real property had been sold by 1825, and so far no reliable records mention Charity. The location of the burial plot of Reuben Wood, Edwin Wood and perhaps Charity Wood is also unknown. Brother Zebedee and his family, who lived not far away from Reuben, are buried at Shiloh Methodist Church, near Julian.


Trying to reconstruct a man’s private and professional life almost 200 years after his death is not an easy task even when sources are plentiful. With the early founders and leaders of Randolph County, the sources are scattered, many puzzle pieces are missing, and without personal letters, journals or diaries, intellectual opinions and internal motivations are hard to imagine from the bare legal records that remain. Reuben Wood’s library offers a rare window into his mind, his interests, and his education- the only insight available, since absolutely nothing remains of his home, his grave, his physical existence. Perhaps the list of his books in Will Book 4 really is Reuben Wood’s most appropriate memorial.

Thankfully, the internet has now made research into Reuben Wood’s library much easier than it was just a decade ago. A study of the books Wood read and chose to purchase adds color to the picture of him outlined by Senator Sam Ervin in 1972: not just a hard-working, circuit-riding trial lawyer, but a philosopher of the law, a deep thinker on topics of constitutions and government, economics, and ethics. Well-educated in the classical tradition, and committed to educating others, he established a tradition of professional and public service that has endured down to the present day. Even after uncovering, sifting, and organizing all this information about Reuben Wood, it still surprises me that he and his brother Zebedee have been so completely forgotten by the county they served. A contemporary of the Founding Fathers, Reuben Wood should have been remembered as our Randolph County Adams, Jefferson or Madison. This is an attempt to correct that oversight.

Reuben Wood’s Library III

March 17, 2010

Reuben Wood’s Library, Listed in Estate Sale

223 titles sold at his auction, November 1812

Transcribed from Randolph County, NC, Will Book 4, beginning at Page 2, by Mac Whatley.

Reference Works -4


Johnston’s Dictionary    0.10.0
[Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language: In Which the Words are Deduced from their Originals and Illustrated in their Different Significations by Examples from the Best Writers;  (London: published 15 April 1755) was the most influential English dictionary prior to the publication of the Oxford English Dictionary 173 years later.]
Atlas                     2.13.0
Domestic Medicine    0.9.0
[Buchan, William. Domestic Medicine, or A Treatise on the Prevention and Cure of Diseases By Regimen and Simple Medicines. Exeter: J.B. Williams, 1785.  Homeopathic remedies and preventative medical practices advocated by a Scottish physician.]
Murrays Introduction             0.5.0
[Lindley Murray (1745-1826), Murray’s Introduction to English Grammar: Compiled for the Use of the Youth in Baltimore Academy, Tammany Street: To Which is Added, An essay on Punctuation.  Baltimore: Printed by S. Engles & Co. at the Academy Press, 1806.]
Art of Speaking            0.10.0
[James Burgh, The art of speaking: containing, I. An essay; in which are given rules for expressing properly the principal passions and humours, which occur in reading and public speaking; and II. Lessons taken from the ancients and moderns (with additions and alterations, where thought useful)… Printed by Joseph Bumstead, for Ebenezer Larkin, 1793 (2nd ed.), 322pp.]


English Literature – 23

Akinses Letters    1.0.0
[John Aikin, M.D. (1747-1822), Letters from a Father to his Son, on various topics, Relative to Literature and the Conduct of Life.  London, 1796-1800.  Aikin was a prominent Unitarian-Universalist.  Porc-Aiken’s Letters, 12mo.]
Bells Poems                    0.2.1
[George Bell, A collection of poems on various subjects. By George Bell, Wright in Jedburgh.  Edinburgh: printed by William Turnbull, 1794; 34pp. 12mo.]
Blairs Letters                2.0.0
[Possibly Letters on Dr. Blair’s sermons.  Edinburgh:  printed for C. Elliot, and W. Coke, Leith, 1779; 35pp. 8vo.  “Dr.Blair” would be Hugh Blair (1718-1800), Scottish professor and Presbyterian preacher.]
Churchills works         0.2.7
[The Works of C. Churchill.  In 4 Volumes.  London: Printed for John Churchill (Executor of the Late C. Churchill) and W. Flexney.  5th ed., 1774.  Charles Churchill, 1731-1764, was an 18th c. poet and satirist.)]
Clarisa Harlow            2.3.0 [probably The history of Miss Clarissa Harlowe, comprehending the most important concerns of private life, and shewing wherein the arts of a designing villain, and the rigour of parental authority, conspired to complete the ruin of a virtuous daughter. Abridged from the works of Samuel Richardson, Esq. Author of Pamela and Sir Charles Grandison. Philadelphia, 1798.  Samuel Richardson (1689-1761) published the very popular early novel “Clarissa, Or, The History of a Young Lady” in 1748 in 8vol,
and there are many editions.  Only those published in the 1780s and 90s appear to use the title “Clarissa Harlowe”.]
Critical Essa on poetry        0.5.6
[perhaps William Duff (1732-1815), Critical observations on the writings of the most celebrated original geniuses in poetry. Being a sequel to the Essay on original genius. By W. Duff, A.M.  London, 1770; 372pp. 8vo.]
Eppagoniad             0.4.2
[William Wilkie (1721-1772), Epigoniad (1757), an epic poem on the Epigoni, sons of the seven heroes who fought against Thebes.]
Paradise Lost            0.8.0

[John Milton, Paradise Lost, A Poem in Ten Books. London, 1667.]
Hudibras                1.0.0
[Samuel Butler, Hudibras, In Three Parts.  Written in the Time of the Late Wars. First Ed., London, 1684.  First American edition. Troy (NY): Wright, Goodenow, & Stockwell, 1806. 12mo, 286pp.  CH Phil Soc has “Butler’s Hudibras”]
Goldsmiths Essas    0.10.0
[The Bee, A Select Collection of Essays, on the Most Interesting and Entertaining Subjects.  London: 1759.]
The London Magazine        1.1.0
[The London magazine: or, Gentleman’s monthly intelligencer.  London: printed by C[harles]. Ackers in St. John’s Street, for J[ohn]. Wilford, behind the Chapter-House in St. Paul’s Church-Yard; .T[homas]. Cox [sic] at the Lamb under the Royal-Exchange; J[ohn]. Clarke at the Golden-Ball in Duck-Lane; and T[homas]. Astley at the Rose over-against the North Door of St. Pauls, 1732-36; 4 vol.]
Peter Pindar            1.0.0
[perhaps John Wolcott, writing as Peter Pindar: Odes to Kien Long, The  Present Emperor of China; with The Quakers, A Tale… London, 1792- price 3 shillings.  Wolcott was a satirical comic author in late 18th c. society.  Uva- Pindar’s (Peter) Works, London, 1797, 3 vol. 12mo.]
The Pleasures of Memory 0.8.6
[Samuel Rogers, The Pleasures of Memory with Other Poems. First Ed., London: 1793]
The Rambler           2.2.0
[Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) , The Rambler, 4 volumes, published in London, 1750-52;  perhaps the 1791 London 12vo edition “printed for J. Hodges, W. Millar, R. Tonson, T. French, J. Ottridge.”]
The Rambler            0.3.0
[2nd copy?  perhaps an older edition, in bad condition…]
Sterns Works            1.5.0

[The Collected Works of Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) were first published in 1779.  He was best known as the author of Tristram Shandy, but also wrote A Political Romance and A Sentimental Juorney Through France and Italy, as well as multiple volumes of sermons.]

Sheritons Poems        0.6.0

[Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the Irish playwright and author of The Rivals and The School for Scandal, doesn’t seem to have written poems…]

Spectator                        0.3.8
[The Spectator, an influential daily literary magazine edited by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele and first published 1711, and reprinted many times later in the century.  Each ‘paper’, or ‘number’, was approximately 2,500 words long, and the original run consisted of 555 numbers. These were collected into seven volumes, and a revival published in 1714 was collected to form an eighth volume.]
Thomsons Seasons        0.7.6
[James Thomson, The Seasons (1730), a very popular book-length poem]
Tom Jones            1.18.0
[Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling.  London, 1763.  many editions.]
Temple of Nature        1.0.0
[Erasmus Darwin, The Temple of Nature: Or, The Origin of Society: A Poem, with Philosophical Notes.  1802.  Charles Darwin’s grandfather- poet, philosopher, naturalist and one of the leading intellectuals of 18th c. England.]
Tristam Shandy            0.13.0
[Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.  orig. 9 vol. 1759-1767.  many editions.]
Youngs Knight Thoughts    0.5.3
[Edward Young, The Complaint; or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality. 1st Ed. 1745; partial 1797 ed. by Richard Edwards was illustrated by William Blake.]

Classical Literature – 16

Ciceros Morals                    0.11.3
[Marcus Tullius Cicero, The morals of Cicero. Containing, I. His conferences de finibus: or, concerning the ends of things good and evil. In which, All the Principles of the Epicureans, Stoics, and Academics, concerning the Ultimate Point of Happiness and Misery, are fully discuss’d. II. His academics; or, conferences concerning the criterion of truth, and the fallibility of human judgment. Translated into English, by William Guthrie, Esq.  London: Printed for T. Waller, at the Crown and Mitre, opposite Fetter-lane, in Fleet-street, 1744; 44pp., 8vo.]
Clarks Nepos               0.5.0
[Cornelius Nepos (c. 100-24 BC) was a Roman writer and biographer. Cornelii Nepotis Vita excellentium imperatorum: cum versione Anglicâ, in qua Verbum de Verbo, quantum fieri potuit, redditur: notis quoque Anglicis, & indice Locupletissimo; Or, Cornelius Nepos’s Lives of the excellent commanders. With an English translation, as Literal as possible: with English notes, and a large index. By John Clarke, Master of the Publick Grammar School in Hull. In Pursuance of the Method of Teaching the Latin Tongue, laid down by him in his Essay upon Education.  London, 1734; parallel English and Latin texts, 280pp. 8vo.;15th ed. 1797.]
Clark Salest            0.7.6
[Sallust (86-34 B.C), C. Crispi Sallustii Bellum Catilinarium et Jugurthinum; cum versione libera. Præmittitur dissertatio, … et vita Sallustii, auctore … Joanne Clerico. I.E. The history of the wars of Catiline and Jugurtha, by Sallust; with a free translation. To which is prefixed a large dissertation … as also, the life of Sallust, by … Mons. Le Clerc. By John Clarke.  London: 1755.  245pp. 8vo. Parallel English and Latin texts.   Part of Benjamin Franklin’s printed inventory left with Mr. Hall in 1748 were “Clark’s Grammar; Clark’s Erasmus; Clark’s Esop; Clark’s Sallust; Clark’s Justin; Clark’s Horus.]
?Juvaniles Letters        1.10.0
[Juvenal wrote Satires…
Deonizeas?            0.2.6
[possibly Dyonisus, translated into blank verse, from the Greek of Dr. Wells’s edition, containing both antient and modern geography. By B. D. Free, M.A. and a student of Lincoln’s-Inn.  London: 1785? 66p. 12 mo.  This is apparently an adaptation of Edward Wells’ ‘Treatise of antient and modern geography’, first published in 1701, however, no Greek language edition is known.]
Duncans Cicero        1.15.0
[(Marcus Tullius) Cicero’s Select Orations, Translated Into English with the Original Latin, from the Best Editions, on the Opposite Page; and Notes, Historical, Critical and Explanatory Designed for the Use of Schools as Well as Private Gentlemen.  By William Duncan, Professor of Philosophy in the University of Aberdeen.  New Haven: Sidney’s Press, 1811.  Duncan’s first edition featuring parallel text was published in Edinburgh in 1801.]
Davidson’s Horace        1.3.6
[The odes, epodes, and carmen seculare of Horace, translated into English prose; with … notes, and a preface to each ode… London: Printed for Joseph Davidson, 1740.  400pp., 8mo.]
Davidson’s Virgil                1.6.0
[The works of Virgil translated into English prose, As near the Original as the different Idioms of the Latin and English Languages will allow. With the Latin text and order of construction in the opposite page; and Critical, Historical, Geographical, and Classical Notes, in English, from the best Commentators both Ancient and Modern, beside a very great number of notes intirely new. For the Use of Schools as well as of Private Gentlemen. In two volumes. London: printed for Joseph Davidson, at the Angel in the Poultry, Cheapside, 1743.  2 vol. 8 mo.]
Davidson’s Ovid                    0.12.6
[Ovid (43 B.C.-17 or 18 A.D) The epistles of Ovid translated into English prose, as near the original as the different idioms of the Latin and English languages will allow. … For the use of schools as well as of private gentlemen.  London: Printed for Joseph Davidson, 1746 (et. seq.).  Or an American edition:  Ten select books of Ovid’s Metamorphoses; with an English translation, compiled from the two former translations, by Davidson and Clarke; a prosody table and references, (after the manner of Mr. Stirling) pointing out, at one view, the scanning of each verse; and Davidson’s English notes.  Philadelphia: Printed by William Spotswood, 1790.  4 vol., 12 mo.]
A Greek Grammar            0.2.0
[perhaps Caleb Alexander (1755-1828), A Grammatical System of the Greek Language, Printed at Worcester, Massachusetts : at the press of, and for Isaiah Thomas, 1796.]
Guide to Classical Learning    0.6.0
[Joseph Spence Spence (1699-1768), A Guide to Classical Learning. London : printed for J. Dodsley, in Pall-Mall, and R. Horsfield, in Ludgate-Street, 1764. (Last ed. 1786).]
Latin Grammar                    0.2.6
[Davidson, James. Short introduction to Latin grammar for the use of the the university and academy of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Exeter, [N.H.]: By and for J. Lamson, 1794. 12mo; 108 pp.  First published in 1781 and the most successful Latin grammar of late 18th-century U.S.; there were ten editions published before 1800.  James Davidson was a professor at the school later known as The University of Pennsylvania. Since Wood owned three other translations by Davidson, I’m hypothesizing this generic title describes the same author’s Latin Grammar.]
Oveds Art of Love        0.12.0
[Ovid, Ars Amatoria (“The Art of Love”), is an erotic tale set in Rome, 8 AD.]
Plutarchs Lives            6.2.6
[Mestrius Plutarchus (circa  45 – 125 A.D.), Priest of the Delphic Oracle, wrote a very lengthy book of “biographies” of Gods and Heroes which is one of the most popular Greek works of all time. The first printed edition of Plutarch was published in Paris in 1572, and was made up of 13 volumes.  Sir Thomas North prepared the first English edition of Plutarch’s Lives in 1579, and Shakespeare borrowed heavily from it to write his plays.  Wood’s version could be any one of many editions, but the high price paid indicates that it was a complete multi-volume set.
Wartrons Virgil                1.17.6
[Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) (70 – 19 BC); The Works of Virgil in Latin and English, 4 vols. [vol. i, The Eclogues and Georgics, tr. Joseph Warton], London 1753.  Joseph Warton (1722–1800) translated Virgil’s ten pastoral poems known as the Ecologues into rhymed couplets.] (David Watson was also a mid-18th c. translator…)

Youngs Dictionary            0.15.0
[Rev. William Young (d. 1757), A new Latin-English dictionary: Containing all the words proper for reading the classic writers, with the Authorities subjoined to each Word and Phrase. To which is prefixed, a new English-Latin dictionary, Carefully Compiled from the best Authors in our Language. Both Parts greatly improved, beyond all the preceding Works of the same Nature; supplying their Deficiencies, and comprising whatever is useful and valuable in all former Dictionaries. By the King’s Authority. Designed for the General Use of Schools and Private Gentlemen. By the Rev. Mr. William Young, Editor of Ainsworth’s Dictionary.  London, 1757; 1,024pp., 8vo.]