Archive for the ‘legal history’ Category

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.

“Blockading”: The oral autobiography of Dove Coble

October 24, 2013
Ready to run the Blockade.

Ready to Run the Blockade, from http://www.louisville.com

This is about half of an oral history interview I recorded with Dove Coble (1900-2000) at his daughter’s house on 1 March 1997.  Dove was a delightful fellow who remembered just about everything that had ever happened to him.  I had a great time talking with him, and it was the only interview I ever did with someone willing to talk about the business of running moonshine, a big part of the economy of the county in the late Nineteenth and the first half of the Twentieth centuries.

The long and colorful tradition of moonshining in Randolph County ran from Black Ankle on the Montgomery County border, through Seagrove and Millboro all the way north to Level Cross.  After the Civil War the federal government established a system of licensed distilleries in which Treasury Agents would collect a tax on each gallon of whiskey produced.  There were many “Government Stills” established across Randolph, but for each legal still there were at least two illegal producers.  Moonshiners refused to run a “government still” and pay the excise tax.  In Prohibition days (and afterwards) running the illicit liquor from the stills deep in the Randolph County countryside up to the thirsty markets in the North was a major source of cash income.  Though glass “Mason” jars were invented before the Civil War (many were produced up into the 1900s with the mark “Patent Nov 30th 1858”), moonshiners kept many a Randolph and Moore county potter in business up until World War II.  And transporting those containers to the ultimate buyers was the province of the “Blockade Runner,” or “Blockaders,” a very conscious reference to the Civil War “greyhounds of the sea” which ran the federal blockade of southern ports to supply the Confederate war effort. 

Dove Coble died just a few weeks short of his 100th birthday, and was buried in Gray’s Chapel, or “York Town,” as he called it.

My name’s William Dove Coble.  Senior.  That’s my boy at Eastern Randolph [his son, Dove Coble Jr., was a teacher at ERHS].  I was born the 11th of June, 1900.  If I live to see June I’ll be 97.   I was born over there on Sandy Creek; Brower’s Mill.  It’s Kidd’s Mill now, on Sandy Creek, back in the woods there. My daddy, Rossie Coble, died in 1917, and was buried over at Gray’s Chapel, and I’ve been there ever since.  There was five of us boys and three girls.  I was the oldest child.  They’ve all gone but me and my youngest brother, Truman Coble, lives there in Ramseur.  Seventeen years younger than me.  My daddy died in March, and in June I was seventeen, and then Truman was born after that.  My father lived in the country.  Shelly Coble was my daddy’s brother, and Will Coble, and Clem Coble, they’re buried this side of Town, there where Joe Buie’s father is buried.  Charlie Coble and Ham Coble, they’re my closest kin.  I lived over here at Gray’s Chapel, not at the schoolhouse, but on up the road where that dairy barn is, at the rock wall.  Hackett Road.  That’s where Dove Jr. lives.  My wife passed away and I’ve been over here at Opal’s [his daughter in Asheboro] since ’82, when Curtis Coble passed away….

I never did get no education, never got to seventh grade.  I get more now out of the Upper Room than I can the Bible.  The stories, you know; I ain’t got no education.  I can read, and write my name.  I started off at Patterson’s Grove.  The schoolhouse was on what you called the Ferguson road, the road from Ramseur to White’s Chapel.  I went there four years, and then over to White’s Chapel, at a little schoolhouse there, didn’t go there but one.  Just five or six years.  I moved all over the country.  I wasn’t doing nothing but running around.  We just drug up, to tell the truth about it.  I’m lucky to be here.  I lost my daddy, and I wasn’t 17; there was nine of us, and no welfare nor nothing.  It was Hoover days.  Can you imagine how I lived?  Just drug up.

I lived over there in the country when the war ended, close to Brower’s Mill.  My daddy died in 1916, and the next year I had to register.  I was up plowing corn there in the back yard, plowing around saw logs in the field.  Momma come out in the field and waved at me; we heared the bells and whistles blowing at Franklinville.  We didn’t have any telephones.  They tied them whistles down; you can imagine the racket.  Both mills sounded the same; they both had whistles; you couldn’t tell one from the other.  I registered for the war in Ramseur.  I.F. Craven ran the draft board.  He lived in a big house behind the drug store beside Fred Thomas, who run the broom shop.  I’ve got that little card; it’s the only thing I’ve got to know when I was born; didn’t get no birth certificate.

My grandpaw W.H. Coble, William, is buried right there in that old cemetery, Old Salem.   I never remember any church there, I don’t know where it fell down or what.    He’s where the William come from.  Leeshy, my grandmaw, that’s where they got the Dove;  from Dunc Dove’s crowd; my grandmaw was his sister.  They lived up towards White’s Memorial.  Dunc and his son Tracy lived there on the hill next to Dr. Fox, on that street above Burnice Jones.  My grandpaw come down on a wagon and we went to that old wooden store [the lower company store]; went and got molasses out of a fifty-gallon drum with my grandpaw.  That was back before I went to school, Nineteen Five.  The Company stores were just old country stores.  They had everything in the world you wanted in there.  But I didn’t buy nothing.  Didn’t have to buy nothing.  Wasn’t nothing I could buy.  I didn’t have no money; what could I buy?

1924 Open Cab Express Body Model TT- Ford's first pickup.  Before that model year Ford only provided the truck chassis, and local wagonmakers purpose-built the bodies.

1924 Open Cab Express Body Model TT- Ford’s first pickup. Before that model year Ford only provided the truck chassis, and local wagonmakers purpose-built the bodies.

I come there to Franklinville in Twenty.  Ed Routh, Ernest’s daddy, and Paul, and Iula, found out I needed work.  I drove a truck, the first one they ever had in Franklinville.  One ton Ford truck, open bed, to haul flour and feed and everything they made.  Had a cover for it, but it was open, open bed.  Open cab, no glass.  I hauled flour to Seagrove and Siler City, and loaded it on the train.  They shipped it to the college up there.  Women’s College bought the flour direct from the mill, and had it shipped up there.  It was too far to drive then.  Wasn’t no such thing as a hard surface.  64 wasn’t built.  No road down to Ramseur, or anywhere.  Did without ‘em.  Parks Buie told me that Joe would order five gallons of oysters of a morning, tell them to put them on the train down on the coast, and they’d come to Greensboro and down to Franklinville on the second train, that run after dinner, and he’d get it of an evening.  Five gallons of oysters for a dollar and a quarter.  The train went up in the morning, met the trains and stuff in Greensboro, and come back after dinner.

Guess how much I made in six days.  Ten dollars a week for six days, ten hours a day.  All day.  Went in six in the morning, stayed till five in the evening.  An hour out for dinner.  If they didn’t fix for me I walked back to the house for dinner, next door to Burnice Jones, where he lives now.  That house above it.  I lived with my great aunts, Bell and Lizzie and Effie Luther.  They’re all buried around there.  They worked in the mill before I went down there. My aunts were fine people, but they was old then.  They was retired.  Two of them never married.  Old widow women.  They looked after me, they was good. I maybe paid $5 a week; if I wanted to pay them anything I did, but I didn’t have to.

Ed Routh was the head knocker and manager.  He was the flour man.  Bascom Kinney ground the corn meal.  Old Davis, across the river, he was there part of the time.  They’re all gone.  They bought the truck while I was there.  I was the first driver they had, anyway.  I could drive anything then.  The first job I had, I helped put flour in the sacks, meal, flour and everything.  Corn meal went in little bitty bags, ten pounds.  Plain corn meal. They didn’t have no self-rising to start with; they put it in after I went down there. Excelsior was the plain flour; Dainty Biscuit was the self-rising.  I bagged that flour, and Ernest helped before he went on the road.  Ten pound bags; twenty-five; and them big bags is what they shipped.  They put ninety-eight pounds in them.  The college got maybe ten bags in a shipment, every week, or whenever they needed it.  I first hauled stuff through the wooden bridge, the covered bridge.  Mr. Routh lived right up there by the mill.  Basc Kinney lived next door, that worked for Ed as a miller.…

[I] Went to work in the roller mill.  Me and Ernest worked there, and his daddy.  Ed Routh done the most of the work.  He could do most anything, kept everything just as clean as a woman.  He kept us wore plumb out to keep the spider webs and things cleaned up. That mill, it run by water then.  The water wheel was in the lower end, the back end.  The race run around behind the mill, and a chute come out of there, going under to the water wheel, and the shaft run back under the mill and the belts went on up.  All of it was ground by water then.  Didn’t have no lights to start with; they finally got up to date, and got electricity.  And the cotton mill run by water then, too….

I had an old T-model, $150 copper head T-model, ‘Fifteen.  I got Joe Buie to let me have a little money, maybe a hundred dollars, and my aunt give me some. There wasn’t no bank, they put that in after I went there.  That store opened up, and the office for both mills.  I didn’t have to have but two or three hundred dollars, but I didn’t have none.  I got it the first year I was down there.  Twenty-one.  $150; drove it; kept it for five years, and I got that much out of it when I sold it.  Then when the A-Models come out, I got another one.  I had a A-Model when I got married….

1927 was the first production year for the Model A Ford.

1927 was the first production year for the Model A Ford.

[John] Clark changed everything [about Franklinsville in 1923].  But of course I was blockade running around all over the country, wasn’t married or nothing; didn’t stay down there much.  I was maybe in Siler City one night and somewheres else the next.  But I still worked every day, ten hours a day.  Back then, the hours weren’t nothing. Bob Craven, who lived in that last house by the trussell, said he could remember me going by there of a morning at daylight, going to the mill.  He said, “You was crazy as hell, then.”  I said, I didn’t have no choice.  I stayed at home there, piddled around so we didn’t starve.  You know what we had.  Just nothing.  Hoover Days.  I don’t care what your politics are. If you lived through Hoover Days, you won’t forget it, if you live to be a hundred.  I sold liquor of a night, when I was driving the truck [for the roller mill]; me and Benton Moon.  Did you know him?  Fanny Burke was his wife, and Roy Holliday married her later.  Me and Benton would go over in York Town and get a case every night.  All of them around there, Doc Cheek, that run the drugstore, he’d drink it just like water.  That’s what Franklinville was like when I went down there.

You could buy liquor anywhere you wanted it. There were a few government stills around, but I never did go to none of them. Over here in Lineberry where I live now, George Allred had one back up in the woods there.  And there was one there at Shady Grove.  Sharp Kivett, he’d give you the history of that.  Fletcher Pugh, owns that sawmill on that road, he could tell you the truth about it.  Sharp Kivett and George Allred, that’s the only two government-mades I ever went to, knew where the places were.

From the New Georgia Encyclopedia

From the New Georgia Encyclopedia

But I went to all these others, all over the country.  We had plenty of it around White’s Chapel. York Town, or White’s Chapel, it’s all the same to me.  People there made blockade whiskey, it wasn’t government liquor.  My daddy made liquor all his life.  Old man Warren Langley over here at Staley, down close to the government still at Staley; his boy Clarence died here last year;  Warren Langley was number one.  The Toomeses were good up in Level Cross.  But if you wanted good liquor, back in below Seagrove, down towards the river, old man Lucas was the one. Cross the railroad and go back down there by Luck’s, and wind around not more than a mile back over in there.  If he had bad liquor he’d tell you so.  He’d say, “I ain’t got nothing for you this week.”  I wouldn’t buy no burnt liquor.  And he

had enough sense, if had a little burnt liquor, he wouldn’t put it off on one of his customers.  You know, the mash, what makes the steam off the whiskey, if it stuck to the bottom of your still, it burnt.  It ain’t nothing to brag about, but they’d take me when I was little, and they’d poke me there after the fire was took out, and have me clean that still out.  I’ve been in one many a time.   If you make it right, you had copper from where you put it in the still.  Then it went to the wooden doubler, and then it went up in the cooler, and when it went on out down there where you catch it in a jug, it was liquor.  If it come out there, and there weren’t no bead on it, they wouldn’t save it.  You’d check the temperature by looking to see if it beaded up on the copper.  You’d shake it.  If it’s right fine on you, it ain’t rig

ht.  It all used to be made out of corn; they made out of sugar later.  That man in Staley, to start off with, he wouldn’t have no sugar liquor.  He made corn liquor.  Oscar Langley was one of Warren’s boys.  He used to play ball in Ramseur and he was drunk as a fool, and they couldn’t tell it.  He was a pitcher, I believe.  It’s all behind me, but I’ve seen lots of things in my time.   There ain’t a place between here and Staley, creek or branch or road nor nothing else that I ain’t been.  I’ve been down to a still on that Hickory Mountain road, from Siler City to Pittsboro.  It ain’t nothing to brag about, but I’ve been there.  It was the way to make money.  But I didn’t drink none of it.  I found out, it was to sell, not to drink.  I’ve never been drunk in my life.  My brother, he took enough for me and him both.  It just ruint him.  But you can’t convince him of that, even now.

Not many people would fool with brandy.  Some of them made it, and some didn’t.  I had the most brandy that’s ever been over in there.  I had twenty gallons up there in Lineberry, in the barn.  Clark Millikan made it for me, the first brandy he ever made in his life. That was R.C. Millikan, who died here recently.  I went to the mountains and got a whole load of apples, put it in the barrell, and kept it till it worked over.  Made cider.  Put them in a barrell, put your sugar in it, or after it sours you can make it without if you clear it up.  While it’s working you can’t still it.  It’s got to work over.  Clark made a little money.  But he died over here with his britches open [in the nursing home], just like me and you’s gonna do.

Moonshine run, from serbianforum.org

Moonshine run, from serbianforum.org

I could make $10 in a night.  That’s the reason I went home; I told Ed Routh I could make more than that by going to York Town one day a week.  Well, he said, you just come on and work for me while you’re here, and I’ll pay you as much again as you’re getting.  They paid me five out of the mill and five out of the Company.  It all went to different names.  Roller mill got credit for this; the mill got the other.  I still run around everywhere, but he didn’t know it.  I didn’t ever fool with it around there [the roller mill].  Ed would take a drink, but I didn’t know till after he was Register of Deeds that he ever did.  He wasn’t a drunkard, but after he’d come back to Ramseur, he told me, when you get some good, you can bring me half a gallon once in a while.  But politics didn’t change that man.  He didn’t change because he had an office job.  If you’d started down there where I did, barefooted, no daddy, you’d know about how you’d feel.  Then when you’d get up a little, you’d get above it.  But Ed was number one, and Joe Buie was just as good.  He wouldn’t tell you no lie, nor cheat you either.  And that old Spoon boy, one armed man, the banker there, run the bank beside the office; if I didn’t have a dollar I could go in there and get it.   The Sumners lived in that house across the road.  John, and George, the county doctor.  And two girls.  Dave Sumner let me put my new car in that shed behind the house, wouldn’t charge me a cent.  Edison Curtis lived up on that hill on Depot Street, and Henry Curtis, and Polly Newsom, and Will Thomas lived down through there.  There wasn’t anybody in Franklinville or between here and Staley I didn’t know.

A quart Kerr jar of white liquor.

A quart Kerr jar of white liquor.

Sometimes you’d pay $5 for six gallons; you’d take it and peddle it out; people would buy it, and you could double it.  I took it right down town there [Asheboro], where the bank used to be [Bank of Randolph], and people would give me orders to take some to Greensboro.  They couldn’t get blockade liquor in Greensboro.  They had to come out somewhere else and get it.  They could buy liquor, but they didn’t want that.  That man at the bank would say, “You go take Ben Cone five gallons.  He lives out there toward White Oak.  Just drive on out there like you own the place.  Drive in there like you have groceries.”  I had pretty good nerve then.  But they never caught me.  Tommy Brookshire that lived at Randleman was the deputy here one time.  I was going to town one night, right down here where the hospital is; I was in one of those A models.  Well, he just drove up to me and was gonna stop me, and I just turned round and went down that side street, and didn’t see him any more that night.  And he didn’t see me.  That’s as close as anybody ever caught me, but I didn’t stop.  Them days is all gone.

I stayed there till the last day of Twenty-five.  Got married, and never did work any more down there.   I moved up here to Lineberry, Acie’s Store up above Gray’s Chapel.  I didn’t have no land, and I bought that schoolhouse for $200.  Put a new roof on it, and rented it since I’ve been over here.  I give it all to the young’uns, where Acie Lineberry’s store was.   And that Highway from Asheboro to Liberty wasn’t built then.  They built it with horses. That’s how long I’ve been there.  I met my wife over here at Grays Chapel.  She was a Hackett.  She come from over at White’s Chapel.  I got married the last week of the year.  Went up there and still run around all over the country and everywhere else after I was married.  Siler City and Seagrove, or below Seagrove, was as far as I ever went.  You know what they call Black Ankle?  I used to take to a store back in there, ten miles back on that river.  Mandy’s Store.  I’ve been in there and bought liquor since I been big enough to go back.  See, I stayed down there, sold liquor, peddled liquor, and everything else.  I don’t mind telling you.  All around Franklinville, and Black Ankle, and everywhere else.  I got pretty good on my feet then.  In 1928,  I had a little money I’d saved, and I got an A-model.  Paid for it peddling liquor.  But I went in debt building this bridge here in Central Falls in Twenty-eight.  That’s where I went in debt.  I made enough to get out there, but went in debt $500, and had to give my bootlegging car away.

But I had an old truck. Do you believe I drove an A model from Greensboro to Lancaster, Pennsylvania in one day?   I had that truck, and I knew a boy that had business up there, and he helped me buy a new truck here, and I went to South Carolina and sold liquor; earned enough to pay for my land over yonder in two years.  Now, then, what can you do in two years?  Go in debt, that’s all you can do. But there was money in trucks, if you worked it out.  I had to work it out; it wasn’t give to me.  I went to Greensboro and I told them, I gonna mark me a route to Pennsylvania.  He laid down a sheet of paper and said you just follow this highway till you hit the mountains.  You don’t go round them mountains, go right on through them till you get to Pennsylvania.  It’s seventy miles from where the President is over to Lancaster.  I drove up there from 8:00 till 9 that night.  I went by myself.  My old truck was up there; kept my new one here, and went to South Carolina.

When I got out of debt I quit fooling with it.  Old man Jewell Trogdon, a preacher here in town, he was the one caused me to get out.  He just told me, over here in Gray’s Chapel Church, “What if the Lord would take these two girls away from you?”  He knowed I was running around here and yonder and everything else.  Old man Trogdon showed me where I was wrong.  So I told the man over here who built this bridge, “Ed, you better make good of this liquor.  These two cases is the last.”  He said, “What do you mean?  You can’t quit!”  I said, “Yes, I have, I’ve done quit. You can drink it, but I ain’t even gonna sell this.”  I stayed and got enough to pay for my land off what I done that year.  I had $2,000 when I got done.  I got my first truck in ’28, over here at Central Falls.  And then went down there and got enough to pay for my land.  And I went on to carpentry work, and never fooled with no more liquor.

I know time changes everything, but I’ve seen a lot of things since ‘seventeen.

Benjamin Swaim and the “Man of Business”

January 17, 2012

[A comment on this blog last month asked for information on Benjamin Swaim.  I have written about him twice; the biogrpahy of him in Volume “S” of the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography is by me, and actually contains a portion of the following paper.  This study of his life and one of his books was originally written in 1981 as an assignment for my Masters Degree courses at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Library and Information Science.  For Mr. Powell at DNCB I abstracted the basic biographical information about Swaim.  The bibliographical information is here presented to the public for the first time.  One thing I realize is not clear from this paper is that Benjamin Swaim’s legal books are the first known Randolph County imprints– that is, they are the first books printed in the county.]

 
SWAIM, BENJAMIN (13 May 1798 – 23 Dec. 1844), lawyer, printer, author and newspaperman, was almost certainly the son of William (10 March 1770 — 1 June 1850), and Elizabeth Sherwood Swaim (8 Nov. 1773 — 14 Aug. 1835).  They and several other branches of the numerous Swaim clan were residents of the Timber Ridge Community, east of Level Cross in Randolph County. [i]

Life and Career.
Benjamin’s early life and education are obscure, although he perhaps attended schools taught by his uncle Moses Swaim.  Benjamin first appears in the records of the North Carolina Manumission Society, when, on August 27, 1819, he attended the society’s convention and began a sixteen-year association with the abolitionist group.[ii]   In the fall of 1822, he was hired to teach day classes of Mt. Ephraim schoolhouse in Guilford County.  Swaim, a law student at the time, was considered to be a teacher of great ability.  The number of students attracted to this school was so large that an assistant teacher was needed, and his second cousin William Swaim was hired for the position.  Benjamin and William organized a debating club at the school known as the “Polemic Society,” which became a forum for local men of all ages to join in oratorical contests.   In 1823, Guilford County Sheriff and state legislator Col. William Dickey asked Benjamin to take over Dickey’s private school.  Swaim instead successfully recommended cousin William for the job.

By  Line

Benjamin Swaim then relocated to the Randolph County town of New Salem, where he opened a law practice.  New Salem was (and is) located about a mile southwest of the Swaim family farms at Timber Ridge.  It was a crossroads community located at the point where the road between Asheboro and Greensboro intersected the ancient Indian Trading Path.  Land was conveyed to trustees of a Quaker meeting house there in 1815, but an informal group had probably met there as early as 1792.  New Salem was the commercial hub of Randolph County during the first quarter of the Nineteenth Century, hosting more stores and businesses than Asheborough.[iii]  The state legislature chartered town government in New Salem in 1816, appointing commissioners Benjamin Marmon, Jesse Hinshaw, Peter Dicks, William Dennis and Moses Swaim.

Moses Swaim, a brother of Benjamin’s father William and the only non-Quaker on the board, was the first president of the North Carolina Manumission and Colonization Society.[iv]    Benjamin, also a charter member of the organization, was in 1827 elected its President as well as delegated to attend the National Convention of the Abolition Society.  His opinions on the subject of slavery are revealed in his 1829 “Report of the President”, as printed in the Greensborough Patriot.  In it, he declares that “…the hour of Negro Emancipation is fast approaching.  It must and will assuredly come.  And all that we can do is prepare for its approach by a timely and gradual improvement of their debased condition….  Aided by Divine assistance, we may fearlessly encounter all the opposition of our enemies and confidently stand forth, the advocates of truth and justice, with such unyielding firmness and determined purpose as no earthly Interest, power or prejudice can successfully resist.” Swaim was reelected President of the Manumission Society until its discontinuance in 1835.

Perhaps as early as May, 1831, Swaim began planning a serial law publication, The Man of Business or Every Man’s Lawbook , a pioneer reference work of business law and legal forms.[v]   Swaim called The Man of Business “new in character and design’, and publicly appealed for the approval of other lawyers, since “the prudent and seasonable prevention of ruinous litigation is no less a professional duty than the skillful management of it.”  Benjamin’s partner in this venture was his cousin William, had founded The Patriot, Guilford County’s first newspaper in 1829.[vi]  William Swaim printed the first volume in 1833-31.  However, the successful reception of The Man of Business , and the trouble involved in traveling repeatedly from his home to the printing office in Greensboro, led Swain to open his own shop in October, 1834.  The New Salem operation was staffed by R.J. West, printer, and John Sherwood (a cousin)[vii].  Volume II of The Man of Business was produced there in 1834-35.
In February, 1836, Swaim began editing and publishing a newspaper from his office in New Salem.  Titled Southern Citizen, it had been proposed in November, 1834 by William Swaim. [viii]  William’s prospectus, published in the Patriot, lamented the low esteem in which Southern newspapers were held, and sought to supersede his Patriot with a new “splendid, superfine” publication, “the largest and most usefull family newspaper… devoted to the interest, amusement, and edification of the American people Swaim was roundly abused in the state’s periodical press for his pretentious statements, but within a year he had attracted enough subscribers to begin preparations for publication.  His death age 33 in December, 1835 threw these preparations into disarray.  The Patriot continued to be published for the benefit of William’s estate, while Benjamin took up the challenge of publishing the Southern Citizen.


The first issue of the Southern Citizen appeared in February, 1836.  The editorial content was of an uncompromising Whig political persuasion, promoting agriculture, internal improvements, universal education, and literature. (Its motto: “What do we live for but to improve ourselves and be useful to one another?”) An unusual feature was the “Legal Department,” subtitled “Ignorance of the Law Excuseth No Man.” Here Swaim, obviously inspired by the success of The Man of Business, answered the questions of subscribers on various points of law.

In December, 1836 Swaim moved his newspaper, printing business and law office to Asheboro, the Randolph County seat.  The Southern Citizen was issued from there weekly without interruption until April of 1842, when publication was suspended.  Either debt and financial instability or the recent death of Swaim’s wife following the birth of a daughter may have contributed to the shut-down.  Publication was resumed on 14 October 1843, and continued until 17 October, 1844, when Swain sold the newspaper and printing office to John Milton Sherwood.[ix]  Whether the newspaper continued after that date is unknown.

On 7 Feb. 1829 Swain married Rachel Dicks (Aug. 1808 – 3 March 18141), daughter of Peter and Rachel Seals Dicks. They were the parents of five children: Anna Dicks (b. 17 Apr. 1830), Thomas Clarkson (10 May l832- 1 March 18kb), Matilda Rosalie (8 March 1835 — 26 Feb. 1837), Charlotte (b. 9 Dec. 1837), arid Rachel Dicks (b. 21 Feb. 1841). Benjamin Swaim’s sudden death while on a trip to Raleigh revealed the fact that he was “indebted beyond the account of his personal assets.”[x](x)  Although his executors discovered more than 300 debtors owing money to Swaim’s estate, very little money could be collected and his property was sold in a futile attempt to pay his creditors.

Publications.

Swain’s legal career after 1836 consisted mainly of writing and publishing form-books and digests of North Carolina state law.  A proposed third volume of The Man of Business grew into Swain’s 540-page opus The North Carolina Justice, printed in Raleigh in 1839 [The North Carolina Justice:  containing a summary statement of the statues and common law of this state, together with the decisions of the supreme court, and all the most approved forms and precedents relating to the office and duty of a justice of the peace and other public officers].  In 1841 Swain published, “at the Southern Citizen office” in Asheboro his The North Carolina Executor . . . a safe guide to executors administrators in their practical management of estates. . .   And in 1842, Swaim likewise published  The North Carolina Road Law… with all the necessary forms and practical observations pertaining to the… responsibilities of overseers and road hands.

Swaim therefore made a career of writing and publishing form-books and digests of North Carolina state law related to various public offices and private professions.  All of his works seem to have been relatively popular;  The Man of Business was still in print in 1841 and offered for sale (along with Swaim’s Justice and Executor) in the catalog of law books of the Raleigh bookseller Turner and Hughes.  A second edition of the popular North Carolina Justice was updated by Swaim and published posthumously in 1846.  Another purported revision of The North Carolina Justice was edited by an Edward Cantwell and published by Henry D. Turner of Raleigh in 1856; although titled “Swaim’s Justice—Revised,” it was subtitled The North Carolina Magistrate, a practical guide to the laws of the state…under the Revised Code, 1854-55, and its preface states that the work is not a revision of Swaim, but a “new and original publication.”  That a “new and original publication” would wish to trade on Swaim’s name in its title twelve years after his death suggests that his reputation as a North Carolina legal authority was high.

Precedents.

The author of “Legal Practice and Ethics in North Carolina, 1820-1860” muses that “when one remembers that he was a lawyer, one is amazed that Swaim was eager to help the common man and to assist him in being his own attorney.”   Yet to some extent Swaim was following in the footsteps of legal predecessors in the state.  North Carolina’s first printer, James Davis, published in 1774 his  Office and Authority of a Justice of Peace.  And Also, the the duty of Sheriffs, Coroners, Constables, Churchwardens, Overseers of Roads and other Officers, Together with precedents for Warrants, Judgements, Executions and other legal process….  New editions by different authors appeared in 1791 and 1800 which were also subsequently revised and reprinted[xi]; Swaim’s North Carolina Justice therefore had a long pedigree.   Likewise, his Executor was preceded by Francois-Xavier Martin’s Treatise on the Powers and Duties of Executors and  Administrators according to the Law of North-Carolina, published in Raleigh by J. Gales in 1820.  However,  Swaim’s Road Law does not seem to have had North Carolina antecedents, and The Man of Business appears to have been a completely original conception.  An 1819 self-help book which could represent a parallel idea was J.H. Conway’s The North Carolina Calculator; or New Practical Arithmetic…  of utility to merchants, traders and others, in their general occupations; this was a prototype small-business accounting treatise.

Swain asserted, however, that The Man of Business was “new in character and design,” and worried that those in the legal fraternity might protest the popularizing of the law.  Though the work was “calculated to render every man his own counsellor in matters of ordinary business,” Swaim declared himself motivated by the desire “to improve the modes of doing business, and thereby to render the ends of justice more easy and accessible to all classes of the community…”  While today every state (except Louisiana) operates under the Uniform Commercial Code (a model state law package governing all commercial transactions), the nineteenth century operated under the burden of a bewildering array of local laws regulating business. Although business law is taught as a separate curriculum in modern business schools and economic departments, Swaim may have been an originator of the concept of uniform laws as a vital part of business administration and financial efficiency.  His most direct influence lay in the inspiration of imitators such as Franklin Crosby, who in 1860 in Philadelphia published Everybody’s Lawyer and Counsellor in Business:  containing plain and simple instructions to all classes for transacting their business according to law…. [xii]

Vol II Title Page

Characteristics of the Printed Page.
The Man of Business was considered by Swaim to be a periodical “published simultaneously at Greensborough and New Salem, N.C.  It will consist of four hundred and thirty-two duodecimo pages (in twelve monthly numbers) neatly printed, pressed, -folded, stitched and trimmed.”  Each monthly number consisted of 18 leaves or 36 pages made up of 9 signatures of 4 leaves each.  Four pages of type were printed at once on one side of an 8 x 13-inch sheet of rough-laid paper from the Emmanuel Shober paper mill in Salem.[xiii]

The joint publishing arrangement may have arisen from the difficulty of a single press publishing a weekly newspaper as well as a monthly magazine.[xiv]  Although the printing work for volume one was stated to have occurred at William Swaim’s Greensborough Patriot office, four versions of volume one exist.  This physical evidence indicates volume one was set in type by hand and printed four separate times, and perhaps only once in Greensboro.  Two versions of volume one exhibit a simple masthead on page one, and two begin with title pages.

The masthead design resembles a tiny newspaper masthead, with title, editor, and imprint information.  “THE MAN OF BUSINESS./ (motto)/ Benjamin Swain, Editor./ NEW SALEM, N.C. JULY, 1833/ VOL. I NO, 1/ PROSPECTUS…” Version one also includes the “TERMS” at the foot of the page, ending with “…stitched and trimmed.”  Version two does not include TERMS, ending instead with “…ordinary business.”  Version one of the ‘title page’ design ends “VOL. 1/ OCTOBER, 1834-5/ WILLIAM SWAIM, PRINTER,/ GREENSBOROUGH, N.C./ 1834.” Version two of the title page ends “VOL. 1/ OCTOBER, 1833,/ Reprinted,/ New Salem, N.C./ 1836.”

Vol II No. 6 Title Page

The imprint of version one of the title page is obviously incorrect. Volume one, number one is dated July, 1833, not October, 1834. The printer has taken the title page for volume two, printed in 1834, and replace the “II” of that “VOL. II’ with “I’, making no other corrections, This suggests that volume one originally appeared with no title or imprint information other than its masthead.  Moreover, since the title page of the 1836 reprint corrects 1834-5 to 1833, but has not corrected “October” to ‘July”, we may surmise that the type for the reprint was set from a copy of the 1834 title page, with some mistakes corrected and others overlooked. Which one of the two “masthead” versions may be original requires further study.

In volume one, number twelve, Swaim complains of the trouble and expense of traveling back and forth to the printing office, and says “I hope to find some relief in the location of the whole concern in one place… In future it will be printed and published in the town of New Salem, Randolph County, N.C., provided its patronage should be sufficiently increased to justify the purchase of a press, etc.” However, at least volume two, number one must still have been printed in Greenshorough, for in number two Swaim states “Since the appearance of the first number of this volume, I have engaged in the services of a young printer,[xv] who has recently set up, and is commencing business in this place… it is therefore hoped, and confidently expected, that the publication will, in future, go on with more promptness and regularity, as the whole concern is now at home.”

Numbers three through twelve of this volume all bear the imprint “R.J. WEST PRINTER,/ New-Salem, N.C.” No versions of the volume two title page exist. Version one bears the imprint “VOL. II/ NEW SALEM,/ OCTOBER/ 1834’5.” The page is printed in six different point sizes of type, including two versions of an unusual ball-serif italic, one slanting to the left, the other slanting right.[xvi]  Title page version two has already been mentioned, bearing the imprint “VOL. II/ OCTOBER, 1834-5/ WILLIAM SWAIM, PRINTER./ Greensborough, N.C./ 1834.”
Volume one is indexed by a simple contents list following the numbered page sequence. This is complicated by the fact that pages 37 through 48 are misnumbered 1 through 12 (noted in an Erratta on page 72), and by the fact that “Pages from 352 to 417 are erroneously numbered by mistake. The index, however, is made out as the pages are, and not as they should be…” This indexing system cannot have been very satisfactory. Volume two provides a classified alphabetical index to both volumes; it indicates both the true page number and the erroneous page number (bracketted). The mistakes were probably perpetuated due to the exigencies of legal citation, which demands that page numbering be uniform from copy to copy— even uniformly incorrect.
Swaim ends volume two hinting at a third volume which was, however, never published and probably grew into his North Carolina Justice, which appeared two years later.  He indicates throughout volume two that complete files of both volumes could be bought “in good law binding.”  Therefore, in addition to “young printer” R.J. West, Swaim also evidently secured the services of a bookbinder.  A copy of The Man of Business in the Peacock collection at Duke has the damaged label “(torn)/ BOOK BINDER/New-Salem, N.C.”  A copy of Volume 2 now in the possession of the author includes a paper label inside the front cover, imprinted “JOHN SHERWOOD/ BOOK BINDER,/ New-Salem, N.C.”  This is evidently his cousin John Milton Sherwood who was subsequently the purchaser of the Southern Citizen printing office.[xvii]

In view of the numerous pleas throughout the work asking subscribers to pay their bills, and from the fact that none of Swain’s subsequent works appeared serially, it may be assumed that his experience with subscription sales was an unhappy one.  The problems of sale and distribution of such published materials in the early nineteenth century must have discouraged many local printers from even attempting a project of the magnitude undertaken by Benjamin Swaim— nearly 900 pages of material related to the study of business law. [xviii]

Copies Examined.
UNC-CH, North Carolina Collection (call number: C347.05-M26)

Vol. I
(c.i) New Salem reprint, 1836.
Stephen B. Weeks Collection.
Number 1, p.1 ends “…ordinary business.”
(c.2) Greensborough, 1834.
Stephen B. Weeks Collection.
(c.3) No title page (t.-p.); rebound.
Gift of the N.C. Baptist Historical Commission.
(c,4) No t.-p.; ‘S’ dropped from masthead: “PROSPECTU .”

Vol. II
(c.l) Greensborough, 1834.
John Sprunt Hill Collection.
(c.2) New Salem, Oct. 1834’5.
Stephen B. Weeks Collection.
(c.3) Greensborough, 1834.
Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies.

UNC—CH, Law Library (Rare Book Room) (call number: S971m-1834)

Vol.  I
(c.1) New Salem reprint, 1836 (#241180),
Bound in calf; black label; stamped “1” on Spine.

Vol. II
(c.1) No t.-p. (#180548),
Bound in calf; red label; stamped “2” on spine.
Duke University Library, Peacock Collection (call number: 347.6—3971-P)

Vol, I
(c.1) Greensborough, 1834 (#23290)
Rebound in red library bindings
(c.2) New Salem reprint, 1836 (#23291),

Number 1, p.1, ends “…In short it will be calcu-“

Signed on t.-p.: “Wm. M.B. Arendell”

(c.3) No t.-p. (#23292)
Number 1, p. 1 ends “. . .and trimmed.”
“B.F. Swaim/ A.D. 1852” in ink on front cover.

Vol. II
(c.1) Greensborough, 1834 (#23293)
On flyleaf: “B.F. Swaim’s/ Law Book/ May the 2nd. 1852” In ink on cover: “B.F. Swaim/ 1852”
(c.2) Greensborough, 1834 (#23294)
Inside front cover: “(torn)/ BOOK BINDER/ New-Salem, N.C,”

“DICK” stamped (in ink?) on spine.

Bibliography.
1. Arnett, Ethel Stephens, William Swaim, Fighting Editor: The Story of O. Henry’s Grandfather. Greensboro Piedmont Press, 1963.

2. Blackwelder, Fannie M. F. “The Bar Examination and Beginning Years of Legal Practice in North Carolina, 1820-1860.”  North Carolina Historical Review XXIX (April, 1952), pp. 159-170.

3. ——-, “Legal Education in North Carolina, 1820-1860.” N.C.H.R., XXVIII (July, 1951), pp. 271-297.

4. ——-, “Legal Practice and Ethics in North Carolina, 1820-1860.” N.C.H.R. (July, 1953), pp. 329-353

5. Davis, Jewell Faye, Bibliography of North Carolina Imprints, 1801-1820.  Washington, D.C. Catholic Univ., M.S.L.S. thesis, 1955.

6. Fox, Charlesanna M., ed., Randolph County 1779-1979. Winston-Salem: Hunter Publishing Co., 1980.

7. Gibson, Virginia E. Salmon Hall, N.C. Printer, 1800-1840, UNC School of Library Science: MSLS paper, 1967.

8. Gress Edmund F.  Fashions in American Typography, 1780-1930. New York Harper and Bros., 1931.

9.  Hall, Francis H. Public Printing in North Carolina, 1816-1861.  UNC School of Library Science: MSLS thesis, 1957.

10.  Jones, H.G.  Union List of North Carolina Newspapers. Raleigh, N.C., Dept. of Archives and History, 1966.

11.  McFarland, Daniel M, “North Carolina Newspapers, Editors and Journalistic Politics, 1815-1835.” N.C.H.R., July, 1953.

12.  McMurtrie, Douglas C.  Eighteenth Century North Carolina Imprints, 1749-1800. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1938.

13.  Paschal, George Washington.  A History of Printing in North Carolina. Raleigh: Edwards and Broughton Co., 1946.

14.  Raleigh Register, 16 Feb. 1836, 16 March 1841, 24 Dec. 1844.

15.  Sherrill, P.M., “The Quakers and the North Carolina Manumission Society,” Trinity College Historical Society Papers, Series X, 1914.

16.  Robert N. Tompkins, ed., “Marriage and Death Notices from Extant Asheboro, N,C., Newspapers, 1836—1857”, N.C. Genealogical Society Journal (Nov. 1978);

FOOTNOTES


[i]  Swaim Bible Records, published in Randolph County Genealogical Society Journal, Vol. X, #2, p.28 (1986); Sidney Swain Robins, A Letter on Robins Family History (nd.); Swaim family genealogical records (possession of Mrs. Francine Holt Swain, Liberty, N.C.)

[ii]  H.N. Wagstaff, ed., “Minutes of the N.C. Manumission Society, 1816-1831”, The James Sprunt Historical Studies, Vol. 22 (1934)

[iii]  Peter Dicks was a storekeeper in the Town, as well as the operator of a mill on Deep River some 2 miles southwest. William Dennis was a potter of slip-decorated redware whose home and kiln were sited half a mile east of town. Dr. John Milton Worth, born in the nearby Centre Friends Meeting community just north across the county line, opened his first practice in New Salem.  William Clark, a future organizer of the Union Factory, operated a “flourishing” tannery and store in the town.  (J.A. Blair, p. 50)  The Adams family, who employed Naomi Wise as a servant girl, lived just South of town.

[iv] At that first meeting, says Levi Coffin in his autobiographical Reminiscences, Moses Swaim, “a lawyer of Randolph County, delivered a lengthy and able address, which was afterward printed and widely circulated.  It was a strong abolition speech, and would not have been allowed a few years later.”  (p.74)  Moses Swaim was elected Clerk of Superior Court in Randolph County in 1837 and served for several years.

[v]  The phrase “Man of Business” had come into English writing as early as 1660, but it had only begun to assume its modern form, “business-man,” in 1829.

[vi]  William Swaim also happens to have been the grandfather of novelist O. Henry, and so has merited the monograph William Swaim– Fighting Editor by Ethel Stephens Arnett (1963). William’s cousin Lyndon Swaim later took over editorship of his newspaper. “The Life of William Swaim” was a multi-part biographical series written by Lyndon Swaim and published in the Patriot from May 18 to June 22, 1866. In transmogrified form, the Patriot survives today, becoming the Greensboro Daily News, now known as  The News and Record.

[vii]  John Sherwood (27 Sept. 1806 – 5 July 1895) was the son of Benjamin Sherwood (1783-1865) and Sally Swaim (b. 29 Sept. 1787).  Sally Swaim was the daughter of distant cousin Michael Swaim; Benjamin Sherwood was evidently a brother of Benjamin Swaim’s mother Elizabeth Sherwood Swaim.  On 26 Sept. 1835 John Sherwood was the grantee of a deed of trust (Randolph County Book 20, Page 111) encumbering property described as “one quarter acre lot in New Salem adj. B. Swaim (formerly Jesse Watkins”.  In 1837 John Sherwood was a candidate for Randolph County Clerk of Superior Court, printing circulars on June 10th , decrying prejudice against candidates who were not Randolph natives and on July 29th,  printing a diatribe against “racing candidates” and describing himself as a “man in limited circumstances, with an extensive family.”  Moses Swaim was the victor in this contest (see Deed Book 21, Page 151).

[viii]  In October 1834, Williams Swaim proposed merging the Patriot into the Southern Citizen beginning July 4, 1835.  He planned to enlarge the weekly paper with three times the editorial material, “printed in new type, on a new press.”  The prospectus of the new paper was printed Nov. 19, 1834; in it he said 2.000 subscribers would be required to begin publication.  Lyndon Swaim, “The Life of William Swaim,” in The Patriot (Greensboro, NC) published from May 18 to June 22, 1866.

[ix]  From The Southern Citizen, Vol. V, #52 (17 October 1844)—“We have recently sold out to Mr. John Milton Sherwood, a young gentleman who was partly raised in this office, and , for the past year, has been the foreman in the establishment.  He will issue the first number week after next./  This number of our paper concludes the Fifth volume of the Southern Citizen, and closes, for the present, at least and very probably forever, the Editorial Career of its present Editor and Proprietor.”

[x] From the Patriot, Greensboro, 12-28-1844:  “Died/ In Raleigh, on Monday the 22nd inst., about 12 o’clock, BENJAMIN SWAIM, of Randolph county, counselor at law, and author of several legal works.

“A friend who watched his dying bed informs us that the deceased ‘had been indisposed about two weeks ago, but had got much better, so as to consider himself well.  On Friday night he was taken with a violent cholera morbius, which proved fatal on Monday.  His suffering was intense.  He had the best medical aid, and attentive nursing, but all failed.  He retained his senses in a most remarkable degree, and submitted to his fate without a murmur- observed, after he was conscious of the near approach of death, that he had no disposition to complain of any act of Providence.  He had but few friends present, but these few gave every possible attention that could be bestowed.’

“Always under the depressing influence of pecuniary want, and afflicted from his birth with a radical defect in his sight, he labored under more of the difficulties of life than fall to the lot of most men.  But nature had endowed him with a remarkably clear intellect and a patient disposition, which enabled him to press forward in the attainment of knowledge to an extent highly creditable to himself and useful to the community.  His mind, patient to investigate, delighted to follow the old law writers through the mazes of their learning into the latent recesses of truths and right reason.  The law was his favorite study, and in it he had made uncommon proficiency for one of his age and proscribed opportunities. He enjoyed the reputation of a clear and correct legal theorist and a safe counselor.  And the practical legal works which he compiled and published will long be used and appreciated by the business public.  He was a man of inoffensive manners and most amiable disposition.  Peace be to his ashes!

“We have deemed this meager public tribute due to one who was, during a portion of our youth ‘our guide, companion, and familiar friend.’—EDS. PAT.”

[xi]  i.e., Francois-Xavier Martin, The Office and Authority of a Justice of the Peace of Sheriffs, Coroners, &c., According to the Laws of North-Carolina (1791) ; or The Office and Duty of A Justice of the Peace and A Guide to Sheriffs, Coroners, Clerks and Constables and Other Civil Officers  According to the Laws of North-Carolina (John Haywood, ed., printed in Raleigh by William Boylan in 1806; and Henry Potter, ed., published by J. Gales and Son of Raleigh in 1828 (2nd ed.).

[xii]  Interestingly, Brantley York (1805-1891), Randolph County native, teacher and founder of Trinity College, is credited with authoring The Man of Business and Railroad Calculator:  Containing such part of arithmetic as have a special application in business transactions (Raleigh: J. Nichols & Co., 1873).  The work contains legal forms edited by Richard Watt York, “A.M. and Counsellor at Law,” but it does not appear to relate to Swaim’s Man of Business in anything but title and subject matter.

[xiii]  On Feb. 7, 1838, in the midst of a financial crisis, Benjamin Swaim mortgaged his house and lot in New Salem, his household property in Asheboro, and “also the printing press, cases, gallies, and all other Materials belonging to the printing office of the Southern Citizen of Asheboro, including the Dog Press, also the Library of books belonging to the said Swaim, consisting of about 200 volumes.”  Swaim owed 4 local businessmen $770, as well as $33.87 to printer R.W. West, and $260 to Salem paper mill owner Emanuel Shober.  “Dog Press” was evidently a generic name for a traditional wooden screw-type printing press.

[xiv]  According to Ethel Stephens Arnett, William Swaim used a Ramage press to print The Patriot (Greensboro, North Carolina, The County Seat of Guilford (1955), p. 240).  Adam Ramage of Philadephia  built wooden printing presses from about 1800 until he died in 1850.  They were available in three sizes: a full-size common press, an intermediate free-standing press which he called his “screw press,” and the smallest, the “foolscap,” named for the size of sheet paper it could print.

[xv] Identified on all subsequent monthly title pages as “R.J. WEST, Printer/ New-Salem, N.C.”

[xvi]  A modern “trutype” version of this typeface is available on computers as Elephant Italic, an adaptation of early 19th century “fat face” types made by designer Matthew Carter.

[xvii]  Swaim’s reference of October 17, 1844 to the purchase of the Southern Citizen by John Milton Sherwood is the only known use of that middle name, but the buyer appears to be the same as the “John Sherwood, Book-Binder” of the Man of Business.  While Sherwood’s latter career with the Southern Citizen is not clear, he also is apparently the same man responsible for another first in N.C. journalism.  A John Sherwood, editor of The Farmer’s Advocate and Miscellaneous Reporter, published in Jamestown from Aug. 1838 to June 1842, is cited by James Oliver Cathey as publishing North Carolina’s first agricultural journal.  [see “Agricultural Developments in North Carolina, 1783-1860,” published in James Sprunt Studies in History and Political Science, Vol. 38; Chapel Hill, UNC Press, pp. 84, 102-103] .  Says Cathey, “John Sherwood… was one of the leading advocates of greater efficiency in farm operations. ‘What you undertake, do well,’ he urged.  Farmers were encouraged, in the interest of efficiency, to keep business-like records of their activities, to include notations of stock on hand, implements, methods used, weather conditions, time of planting, time and methods of culture, and of all experiments conducted…. Sherwood, in his Farmer’s Advocate, was the most forceful and persistent in advocating this feature of the reform program.”  Sherwood’s program to make farmer’s more business-like seems very much akin to Swaim’s program to codify and demystify business law.

And as regards book binding, Swaim’s estate papers indicate that Daniel Clewell of Salem in 1842 bound 29 copies of the N.C. Executor and 4 sets of the Man of Business.

[xviii] Swaim’s estate papers in the NC State Archives contain records of an auction sale of his assets held in August 1845; for sale were 185 copies of the N.C. Road Law, which sold for 5 cents each; 8 copies of the Man of Business which sold for $1.35; 53 copies of the N.C. Executor, and 1 N.C. Justice.  5 bound volumes of the Southern Citizen were sold to Joseph P. Julian.  At least one of these bound volumes survived into the 21st century, which the local owner, refusing to sell to the local historical society, auctioned it off to a paper dealer on eBay who cut the pages apart and sold them as “SLAVE ADS!!!”  Among the law books in Swaim’s sale were Haywood’s Justice; Haywood’s Manual; a Revised Statutes (of N.C.); Iredell’s Digest; N.C. Reports; Battle’s Reports; Martin’s Sheriff; N.C. Sheriffs, and “Right’s M of B.”  This last title is intriguing; if “M.O.B.” is short for “Man of Business” then this might indicate some other work related in title or subject to Swaim’s periodical.  But so far nothing under that title or author (either Right or Wright) has been found in union catalogs.

Footnotes to Reuben Wood’s Library

March 20, 2010


[Wordpress doesn’t like footnotes. It strips them out of the text and they vanish. Here are all the footnotes from both sections, but they’ve lost their connections to the text. Believe me, there was a mountain of research behind these blog entries. If you want a copy of the whole research paper, with the footnotes in the correct places, email me directly. Otherwise, you can puzzle through the footnotes here:]


http://docsouth.unc.edu/unc/uncbk1027/menu.html


http://xtf.lib.virginia.edu/xtf/view?docId=2005_Q4_1/uvaBook/tei/b004123185.xml;brand=default;


http://www.archive.org/stream/catalogue00clubgoog/catalogue00clubgoog_djvu.txt

Or perhaps this was his travelling law library. Thomas Jefferson had a special travelling book collection which he’d take with him when travelling to and from Monticello; it was a stackable set of wooden boxes which, when opened up like “Lawyer’s Bookcases”, made its own bookshelf.

Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. Volume 6, T-Z. Edited by William S. Powell. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1996. (DcNCBi 6).

Samuel J. Ervin, Jr., “The Woods of Plymouth County, Massachusetts and Randolph County, North Carolina”. Unpublished manuscript given to the Randolph County Public Library, 13 Oct. 1972, by the author. [Quoting his “Prefatory Note”]. Henry Wood, great-great-grandfather of John Wood, was one of the Pilgrims who came to Massachusetts on the Mayflower in 1620.

Spruce McCay, States Attorney, was the first to be licensed to practice in the Randolph County court on 14 June 1779. He was a resident of Salisbury. On the same day, Nathaniel Williams became was the first licensed trial attorney, and his brother James Williams was the second on 15 Dec. 1779. They were evidently from Hillsborough. A William Locke was licensed on 9 Sept. 1782; then there is an information gap, after which Reuben Wood is already practicing on 13 Sept. 1787. See the Randolph County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions Minute Books 1 and 3. Book 2 has been missing and presumed destroyed for more than 100 years.

From ancestry.com: John Wood Jr. was born May 23, 1716 in Middleboro, MA. He died May 3, 1794 in Randolph Co, NC. He married Sarah Clemons (born March 2, 1717) at Taunton MA on 28 Apr 1738. They lived at Middleboro MA until 1744, when he and Sarah took Letter of Transfer from the First Church and went to Berkley, Bristol County. They had four children, the first three are in Middleboro Records. Sarah was born in Freetown, MA, daughter of John CLEMONS Jr. & Judith WITHERELL; she died in Morris Co. , New Jersey. Wood ‘s second wife was Sibbel Wilborn/Wilborne who died August 13,1791. Her connection to the Wilborn/Welborns of Randolph County is not known, but they were close neighbors to John, Zebedee and Reuben.

“The Woods of Randolph County,” Randolph County Genealogical Journal, Vol. IV, #2, Winter 1980.

Genealogical information on the John Wood family is posted on at least a dozen family trees at www. ancestry.com. The first mention of John Wood in North Carolina records is from Guilford County Deed Book 1, Page 92, where he witnessed a deed from Joseph Hinds to Simon Hines for 30 acres on Polecat Creek on 5 March 1770. There are no land purchases by John Wood on record in Rowan County (which included part of Randolph from 1755-1771) or in Guilford County (1771-1779). The first deed to John Wood is found in Randolph Deed Book 2, p.76, for 330 acres on Polecat Creek on the Trading Road. Witnesses were Joseph Hinds and Jesse Wilborn. On the other hand, Zebedee Wood’s first purchase, 100 acres on Sandy Creek formerly belonging to Herman Husbands, was recorded 6 April 1774 in Guilford County Deed Book 1, p.253. See also North Randolph Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. 3, #3, page 144.


The History of Morris County, New Jersey, published by W.W. Munsell & Co., 1882. Cited without a page number on ancestry.com.

Princeton, then “the College of New Jersey”, is 34 miles due south of Mendam, NJ.

Randolph County Court Minutes refer to Capt. Wood’s tax district (1779, 1780, 1781); in Sept. 1781, Christian Brower was appointed Constable “for Capt. Zebedee Wood’s dist.”

Revolutionary War Pension Application of Andrew McPheeters, # S16950, Transcribed by Will Graves, 2/26/09. McPheeters was a resident of Grainger County, Tennessee, in August 1832 who swore “that in the last of October 1779 he substituted for a 3 months tour of duty in the place of Samuel Clark under Capt. Thomas Clark Lieut. Reuben Wood Ensign Simeon Garian we rendezvoused at Salisbury & marched to Charlestown under Col. Archibald Lytle a Continental Col. & joined General Lincoln at Charlestown he remained at Charlestown until the expiration of his service…”

A long tradition among Wood decendants is that Reuben married “Charity Haynes from South Carolina.” Both the Joseph and John Hinds families were neighbors of John, Zebedee and Reuben Wood, and Zebedee and Reuben served with both Hinds in the Revolution. Genealogical sources say that Hinds and Haynes are different ways of spelling the same family name. Hinds family papers found in Tennessee and transcribed in the Fall, 2007 issue of the Randolph County Genealogical Journal, p.16: “List of Capt. John Hinds Co. that completed a Tower of duty in the Regiment of horsemen, commanded by Co. Luttrell by order of the Board of War in the year 1780…  John Hinds, Capt.; Reuben Wood, Lieut.; Wm. York, Ensign; Wm. Alred, Sgt…” The following marriage license was kept in the same group of John Hinds family papers and must indicate a connection to his family: “State of North Carolina/ Randolph County

To any Minister of the Gospel Regularly called to any Congregation—or to any Justice within this State—You or any of you are hereby authorized an impowered to Solemnize the rights of Matrimony between Reuben WOODS and Charity HINDS agreeable to Act of General Assembly in that Case made and provided.  Given under my hand at office this 18th day of November Anno domini 1779.


Absalom TATOM CCC ”


long tradition among Wood decendants is that Reuben married “Charity Haynes from South Carolina.” Both the Joseph and John Hinds families

———–

A List of The Company Who Served Under Capt. John Hinds in Randolph County by Coll. Collier, Ordered in 1781: John Hinds Capt.; Wm. York, Lt.”

RC Ct of P&QS Minutes, 9-13-1787: Reubin Wood, Atty at Law, serving as States Attorney.

“Spruce McCay” appointed States Attorney. 6-14-1779 (RCCt P&QS Minutes,p. 5) Paid $100 pds for attendance at 4 courts as States Attorney (3-14-80, p.18). His DCNB entry (Vol 4, p. 119) recounts the facts of his life.


http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/nc/bio/public/jackson.htm and http://www.thehermitage.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=69&Itemid=92 .


http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/jackson/section3.rhtml . After North Carolina ratified the Constitution, Stokes was appointed by President Washington to serve as the state’s first U.S. District Court Judge.

RC Ct of P&QS Minutes, 12-11-1787.

There is another possibility for Reuben Wood’s supervising attorney: Waightstill Avery. Spruce Macay (licensed 1778) and John Stokes (licensed 1784), may have studied with Avery (1741-1821), the first Attorney General of North Carolina. He graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1766, taught there for a year, then read law with Lyttleton Dennis, a prominent Maryland attorney. He moved back to North Carolina in 1769, finally settling in Charlotte. He served on the committee that drafted the state constitution of 1776. He moved to Burke County after the war and practiced law in the western district. In 1788 he was a nominee, along with Reuben Wood, for the state’s attorney job there. See his DNCB article, in volume 1.

RC Ct of P&QS Minutes, 9-15-1787, “Reuben Wood, Esquire, attorney for the State in said county resigns his appointment… and John McNairy, Esquire, appointed in his Room.”; 6-9-1788, Reuben Wood appointed attorney for the state; 6-12-1788, Reuben Wood, Esquire, resigned his appointment as attorney for the state and John Louis Taylor appointed in his room.”


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Louis_Taylor. Taylor’s brother-in-law was another future Supreme Court Judge, William Gaston.

Boutell, Charles (1899) English Heraldry, page 120.

Zebedee Wood was sitting on the county bench on 13 Sept. 1787, and must have been appointed at some time between 1783 and then. RCCt P&QS, Minutes 1787-, p.2.

Delegates in 1788 from Randolph:  William Bowden, Zebeedee Wood, Edmund Waddill, Reuben Wood, Nathan Stedman, Thomas Douglas, Jeff Henley, William Bailey. In 1789 only Zebedee Wood, Reuben Wood, and Nathan Stedman returned.

Proceedings and Debates of the Convention of North Carolina, convened at Hillsborough on Monday the 21st day of July, 1788, for the purpose of Deliberating and Determining on the Constitution Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia… (Edenton: Printed by Hodge & Wills, 1789).

Minutes of the North Carolina Constitutional Convention at Fayetteville, pp. 46-49; http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr22-0002.

N.C. Manual.

Records of Buncombe County Court from April Term 1792 Til April Term 1796, Inclusive.

North Carolina, Buncombe County
April 16th AD 1792.
Agreeably to a commission to us directed the county Court of said county was begun opened and held at the house of Col. William Davidson Esquire…. On the motion that an attorney for the State in Buncombe county be appointed, Reuben Wood Esqur was duely Elected.”

Ibid, DNCB, vol. 6.

No comprehensive family history exists. The story of the three daughters who remained in North Carolina is set forth in the Ervin manuscript. Ancestry.com has fragmentary records from the older boys, who all migrated West. My reconstruction of the family, from Federal Census and other records, is as follows: John L. and Sarah, called “Sally,” must have been the oldest as they are named after Reuben’s parents, following the custom of the day. John L. (b. Apr. 1783) was in TN at time of father’s death, married Sophia McDaniel and settled in Arkansas; Sarah (c.1780- c.1820) married Augustine Willis; Mary (called “Polly”, c.1785-Oct. 1834, married Joseph Wilson); “Dr.” Joseph (c.1789-d.Texas after 1850, in the home of his son Reuben D. Wood).; Alfred L. (Feb. 1791-1861, married Nancy Proffitt and died in Missouri); Edwin (c.1795-1814); Evelina (b.ca.1799, md. Augustine Willis in 1822 after death of Sally); Laura or “Laury” (b.ca.1802, md. Jethro S. Wilson, brother of Joseph Wilson).

The census of 1790 shows him owning 2 slaves; 1800 – 9; 1810 – 11; and there were 9 sold at his estate auction.

Biography of John Stokes, DNCB Vol. 5, p.454.

The 1821 catalogue of the Dialectic Society Library shows that it had about 500 titles, with a total of 1673 books. http://docsouth.unc.edu/unc/uncbk1026/uncbk1026.html . Wood’s library had 225 titles, with perhaps 700 books. The Di and Phi libraries had more books than the University library at the time.

Joseph Wilson was elected to the NC House of Commons from Stokes County in 1810, ’11, and ’12. North Carolina Manual, 1913.

See Samuel A’Court Ashe,  Biographical history of North Carolina from colonial times… Vol 7, p.499: “AMONG the celebrated lawyers in western North Carolina of the olden time, the name of Joseph Wilson stands preeminent. His ancestors on the paternal side were Scotch; they came to North Carolina about 1730, and settled in Perquimans, near Edenton. William Wilson, of this family, moved first to Guilford County, then to Randolph County, where he married Eunice Worth. She was of English descent, and like himself was of the Society of Friends. They were the parents of Joseph Wilson, the subject of this sketch, who was born in 1782. His early education was directed by Rev. David Caldwell. He chose the profession of law and studied under Reuben Wood, a lawyer of note in Randolph County, whose daughter Mary he married. He was licensed to practice law in 1804 and settled in Stokes County. By native talent, force of character and application, he soon rose to the uppermost ranks of his profession. He was elected to the legislature in 1810. 1811, 1812, and was distinguished as a firm advocate of American rights in the troubles and controversy then existing between this country and England.  In 1812 he was elected solicitor of the mountain district, then embracing nearly the entire western part of the State.”

See also http://www.wncheritage.net/WNC_biography/wilson_joseph.htm .

The Wilson brothers were Quaker descendants of John Worth of Nantucket; see http://history.vineyard.net/worthw3.htm:

671. Joseph WILSON (235.Eunice5, 69.Joseph4, 9.Joseph3, 2.John2, 1.William1) b. abt. 1780, New Garden, North Carolina, m. Mary WOOD, b. abt. 1780. Children:

1258. Abigail WILSON b. abt. 1800, New Garden, N.C., m. 1818, Thomas SIMONS, b. abt. 1800.
1259. Samuel WILSON b. abt. 1801, New Garden, N.C, m. 1819, Ruth THORNBURY, b. abt. 1801, (daughter of Thomas THORNBURY and Miriam THORNBURY).
1260. Sarah WILSON b. abt. 1815, m. Coatsworth P. CALDWELL, b. abt. 1815.
+ 1261. Laura L. WILSON b. abt. 1817.

674. Jethro WILSON (235.Eunice5, 69.Joseph4, 9.Joseph3, 2.John2, 1.William1) b. abt. 1786, New Garden, N.C., m. Laura WOOD, b. abt. 1786. Children:

+ 1263. Jethro WILSON b. abt. 1810.
+ 1264. Evalina WILSON b. abt. 1813.
+ 1265. Cornelia E. WILSON b. abt. 1815.
+ 1266. Orianna WILSON b. abt. 1818.
1267. William J. WILSON b. abt. 1820, m. Mary CATHEY, b. abt. 1820.

Laura Theresa Wilson (1808-1848) md. 1. Marshall Tait Polk (atty of Charlotte, younger brother of James Knox Polk); 2. Dr. William Caldwell Tate (1808-1869) of Morganton; her daughter Catherine Elvira Tate (1848-1918) md. Willam Ellerbe Powe (1829-1903); their daughter Laura Theresa Powe (1868-1956) md. Samuel James Ervin (1855-1944), an attorney in Burke Co. for 65 year; their son Samuel J. Ervin, Jr. was the well-known “country lawyer” who as chairman of the U.S. Senate committee investigated Watergate; his son Samuel J. Ervin III was a U.S. District Court Judge; his son Samuel J. Ervin IV is yet another Burke County attorney….

It is unclear whether Augustine Willis (b.1770), the quondam husband of both Sarah and Evalina Wood, may have been a lawyer. Someone of the same name represented Halifax County, NC in the General Assembly in 1779 and 1786, but it appears that the parents of our Augustine Willis were John Austin Willis II and Mary Hayes Plummer. See http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~willis/gena.htm . A son of Sally and Augustine was born in Maury County, TN in 1810; this is the same county where her brother John L. Wood lived at the time their father died. The Willis family subsequently moved to Madison County, Miss., where Augustine married the widowed Evalina Wood Moore in 1822.

Randolph County Deed Book 12, Page 156: I, John L. Wood of the State of Tennessee, Maury County, here… Quitclaim unto Alfred Wood and Edwin Wood of the State of North Carolina, Randolph County… all the Right, Title and interest that I have… as heir to any part of a tract of land on Sandy Creek formerly the property of Reuben Wood, Dec’d. –viz., the tract on which he Died… November 28, 1812. John L. Wood, Seal. Witness: Joseph Wood. Filed Feb. 1813.

Edwin Wood died before his father’s estate was closed; his own estate was probated 10 Feb. 1814 (RCGJ, op.cit., p.10).

In his estate file in the state archives in Raleigh is the “Will of Reuben Wood” dated 6-25-1812 which was not probated by the court (RC Gen. Journal, op.cit, pp.7-8).  The signature, if that’s what it was, is nearly illegible and there were no witnesses. There might have been some competency issues with probating the will; it named as Executor his minor son Edwin Wood, which Wood should have known was a legal impossibility; it specifically disinherited oldest son John L. Wood and fails to mention his youngest daughters Laury and Evelina.

From The Star, 7 Aug 1812: “Died In Randolph County, Reuben Wood, Esquire, Attorney at Law.” File at: http://files.usgwarchives.org/nc/randolph/obits/w/wood875gob.txt .

Alexander Gray, Guardian of Edwin Wood;  Jesse Harper Guardian of Laury Wood, Joseph Wilson, Guardian of Evelina Wood. Gray, the wealthiest man and largest slaveholder in the county, would soon become a militia General during the War of 1812; Jesse Harper was the Clerk of Superior Court.


Charity Wood’s Petition for Dower, RCGJ, op.cit, p. 8, Nov. 1812

When Reuben died he possessed of 350 acres on Polecat Creek and 300 acres on Sandy Creek adj. Isaac Lane, Alfred Wood, John Brower and Jacob Brower. The property was divided among the children. The last 300 acres of the Wood property, the portion of Alfred, John and Joseph, were sold to Joseph Staley in 1821 (DB 14:108) and 1825 (DB19:202).


RCGJ, op.cit., p.7.

Painfully researching each title through the ponderous volumes of the Library of Congress’ National Union Catalog, as I did in Library School in 1981, would have been impossible to do and keep a paying job today. The British Library’s Short Title Catalog is a modern miracle!