Resources for Local History

Reminiscences of Randolph County, by J.A. Blair.  Raleigh: Reece and Elam, 1890.  (For almost a hundred years, the only history of the county, written by Asheboro’s only Republican lawyer at that time.  Since that time Republican lawyers have bred like rabbits but county histories are still “as rare as hen’s teeth.”  It’s interesting if only for the florid Victorian writing style.)

Randolph County, 1779-1979. Charlesanna Fox,, eds.  Winston-Salem: Hunter Publishing Company, 1980.  (The “Bicentennial Book,” Published by the Randolph County Historical Society and the Randolph Arts Guild.   A coffee table book hitting the high spots of local history, without footnotes or citations but with boatloads of lists and unattributed facts.)

Architectural History of Randolph County, North Carolina, by Lowell McKay Whatley, Jr.  Published by the City of Asheboro and the County of Randolph, 1985.  (Yes, I’m responsible for this one.  Publishing costs cut the historical essay in half and kept the histories of each municipality out of the book, but the essay on the history of the county up to 1900 is the only one you’ll find with sources cited and footnotes so you can track down where I found each tidbit of information.  That’s important to some people.) is a website built in 1999 during an attempt to create a “heritage corridor” down deep river from Forsyth County all the way to Lee County.  It includes an really interesting overview (even if I did write it myself) of the important themes of Piedmont North Carolina history:  Nature, Faith, Conflict, Craftsmanship, and Manufacturing. 

The Randolph Room, 201 Worth Street, Asheboro, NC 27203 (first floor of the public library). Phone (336) 318-6800.   The public library’s genealogical collection is one of the best in the state, and volunteers have worked to publish local records in the Genealogical Journal for more than 30 years.  If it’s family history you’re interested in, this is the place to go, but just as useful is the historical photograph collection, partially available online at . 

My Randolph County History Blog, just so you’ll have the cite, .  This page will be posted there for handy reference.


26 Responses to “Resources for Local History”

  1. Teresa Hogan Says:

    I’ve heard a story about a woman with the maiden name comer who when she was a little girl back in the early 1770’s witnessed indians massacre her entire family. She was spared because she hid in the woods. When grown with a family of her own she lost her husband and all her sons in the revolutionary war. The massacre was suppose to have taken place somewhere near coleridge and deep river cemetary. I have not been able to find any records or the Comer family cemetary in the area. Do you have any information on the Comer family or know where I may find it?

  2. Teresa Hogan Says:

    I heard a story about a woman whose maiden name was Comer who as a little girl watched her entire family of 13 get massacred by indians and as a grown woman lost her husband and sons in the revolutionary war. There is suppose to be a Comer family cemetary and the massacre occured somewhere near deep river in Coleridge. Where can I find information on the Comer family. I haven’t had any luck finding anything on the Comers.

  3. Teresa Hogan Says:

    Where can I find information on the Comer Family Massacre that occured near Deep River and Coleridge?

  4. Angel Smith Says:

    I have your book “Architectural History of Randolph County, North Carolina” and I love it. I appreciate the time and work you have put into preserving Randolph County’s history. Thank you!

  5. Roger Robbins Says:

    Blair’s book is available as a free download from Google Books

  6. aaron Says:

    Excellent and very detailed information. Very interesting. Wish i could explore the historic locations.

  7. N Jackson Says:

    In your blog on April 17, 2009 there is an article with photos regarding a sawmill “located in the neighborhood of the county seat of Randolph County.”

    Would it be possible to gain permission to use the photo of the sawmill and the diagram of the “saw in the sash” for an article on my website at ? The original sawmill in our area was built in 1834 and burned down in 1876. I can find no records of what it looked like, however I imagine it would have been very similar to the one shown.

    I will give full credit for the photo, and include weblink to your site.

    Sincerely, N. Jackson

  8. Cole Says:

    Any information on a murder in the 1930’s? Murdered in a bar in downtown Asheboro. Murdered man’s name was “Babe” Yow, married to Molene Yow and had a son named Robert Yow, three daughters named Betty, Louise and JoAnn. I was told “Babe” (not sure of the real name) was shot and killed while working in a bar/grill by a man named Hasty.
    I will be looking at the Randolph Library soon, but wanted to see if you had any idea about this, as the murdered man is my grandfather and I have been told several different stories about the circumstances. He is buried in the old city cemetery downtown Asheboro and I will be going there to try and find the grave also.
    Thank you so much for any information you might have or if you know of any other resources I can look to find the truth on this matter.

    • macwhatley Says:

      Hasty’s was a restaurant and bar which had several different locations over the years in downtown Asheboro. I think when the murder happened it was in the basement of 100 Sunset Avenue, which was (and is) entered from steps on Fayetteville Street at the corner of Trade Street. There were lots of bars before 1952 down the alley at Trade Street. If you know the year it happened, you’d find out the most by looking at the microfilm of the local Courier newspaper in the Randolph Room.

  9. Cole Says:

    Thank you for this information. I do remember something about the bar being located on the side street between Sunset and the Acme building, ran beside of what used to be called Jed’s grill I believe.
    Thanks again and I will go to the library soon!
    Keep up the good work, very interesting history…

  10. Mike Grant Says:

    Hey Mac,
    My name is Mike Grant, moved here from Winston-Salem about 16 years ago, to marry my wondeful wife Veronica(she refused to leave Asheboro), I have always been an amateur history guy, and would like to be involved in any way with the randolph county historic courthouse committe, the historical society, or the randolph county historic commision. do you know if this is possible? or whom i could contact?
    thanks for your time, Mike Grant

  11. Lois Walker Says:

    I have been trying to find pictures and information on the old schoolhouse in Red Cross, NC. I think it was called Red Cross School.

    If anyone has information or pictures please contact me.

    Thanks very much.

  12. Rick Carraway Says:

    Am lookinjg for info about the naming of Caraway Creek and Caraway Mountain…old maps show the spelling Carraway, as in my surname…I have pretty good track of ancestors back to England, but am interested in these Carraways who moved west into the Randolph County area

    • macwhatley Says:

      “Caraway” is not named after any family of Carraways. It is an anglicization of “Keyauwee,” the name of the Indian tribe in the area when explorer John Lawson first visited the area in 1701. I do not know of any local families named Carraway.

  13. Kay Coltrane Says:

    I have found references to a journal kept by Peter Dicks III. Does anyone know if it exists?

  14. Betty Bowes Says:

    I am looking for family members of Max C Auman, Randolph County or there about. He was killed in WWll. I have photo I would like to share with Family members. His grave site in Normandy. B. Bowes.

  15. The Red Oak Tree by Donna Hughes (Official) Says:

    […] Red Oak Tree&#8221. Is an original song by Donna Hughes. The video shot in North Carolina at the Asheboro City Cemetery in Asheboro. The home of Chad &#038. Barbara Hall (otherwise known as the “John Hughes” […]

  16. Rick Buck Says:

    Last entry is listed as August 2015…will this be continuing Mac? I have enjoyed it so much…and looking forward to more excellent writing.

  17. macwhatley Says:

    I have been writing so much for other places I haven’t had time to finish anything for the blog.
    I end up writing or editing everything for the Landmarks Commission, and anything about history for the Tourism Authority, and I’m working on a series of street signs for Franklinville… not to mention working on the Collections Committee for the American Museum of Textile History.
    I have about ten posts in various stages of completion.
    I think the next one done will be about the Oddfellows Lodge and cemetery.

    • Ann Says:

      Mac trying to research who the architect or builder was on our house, also our neighbors are doing the same thing. This is for the Randolph County Historic Society, but we haven’t had any luck in finding this information. Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated.

  18. Larry Says:

    My great grandfather was J. Samuel James who moved to an area near Liberty in Randolph County in the 1920’s. Who was originally from Pitt County where the James family had been farmers since the colonial period but I’ve always been curious what event may have transpired for J. Samuel James to move to Randolph county. The census documents of the period indicate he was a farmer in Randolph County. However, the old family lands in Pitt County were considered fertile and good for tobacco and cotton. I’m trying to uncover why he would have decided to move to Randolph County. There were no other family associates in Randolph County nor are there any family records to indicate he fell into financial hardship or if some other event may have led to his relocation. I was curious if you knew of any widespread population movement of displaced farmers or other migration patterns into Randolph county in the 1920’s. Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated.

  19. Archie Mcgee Says:

    There are a few accounts of Civil War era events that may or may not have taken place in the Buffalo Ford Community of Southeastern Randolph County.” One place with a very peculiar if not interesting account of events was known as “The Bull Pen at Buffalo Ford”.
    County Home Guard troops in collaboration with regular Confederate troops were searching for men known as outliers and or deserters from the cause to retain the institution of slavery by not fighting as a confederate soldier. The confederates made several unsuccessful attempts at appprehending these men.
    During one of many insurgences into the community by Confederates for the purpose of recovering these so called deserters and or outliers “Randolph men deemed of fighting age that were hiding out” their wives, children and elders were said to have been rounded up, tortured and forced to call out to these men to turn themselves in.
    Many of these men were of the Quaker belief and were contientious objectors to war while others were backcountry folks realizing no economic benefits from the Institution of Slavery. Social and economic hardship brought on by competing slave labor in the market place was historically a problem for Randolph’s small farmers even prior to the Revolutionary War. “See the Regulator’s of Randolph County”
    The Bull Pen at Buffalo Ford was said by some accounts to be in a school building near the Buffalo River Fjord.Some local historians have determined the school house building was located on the opposite side of the river from the Holly Springs community.
    Local elders from families in this vicinity located the stone pillars of the old schoolhouse at the fjord as on the opposite side of the river from HollySprings Community just up the hill from this historic Deep River Crossing.Visiting the site requires one to venture into the woods about 10 feet off of the main road just up hill of Buffalo Trail Rd. (up from Buffalo Ford Bridge) This very well fits the description and location as well as the time period of (The Bull Pen at Buffalo Ford).
    A 90 something year old Local elder & relative of John Pope (Civil War Era teacher at this school) gave conformation of the stone pillars just in the edge of the woods as the Buffalo Ford School site. Was this was truly the site where confederates tortured the women , children and community elders? It is the site of the School at Buffalo Ford.
    Archie M Mcgee

  20. macwhatley Says:

    Thanks, Archie! This is just what I was hoping to find. I will be writing something soon about the Bull Pen, a very interesting Randolph County Civil War story.

  21. pahshepherd Says:

    Dear L McKay,

    Two years ago I was in North Carolina for a vacation. Knowing my fifth-great-grandfather is buried in Randolph County at the Bell-Welborn cemetery I made time to visit his grave. His name is Soloman Wall and he died in 1863. I can research my family back to him but no farther. I can’t find his parents or a birthdate. I’m not sure if he was even born in Randolph County. He married Mary Saxton and had several children. Two of his sons moved to Grant County Wisconsin and I am a descendant of one of those sons.

    When I was looking up your book on Google, I read a small segment about the Gray family. A sister of Mary Saxton is Parthena Gray Dawson Saxton and was married to Joseph Welborn. I don’t know if this a clue or just wishful thinking.

    I don’t know what help you can give me but any help to break through the genealogy wall would be greatly appreciated.


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