Monday, February 29, 2016

Theodosia Alston Lost At Sea

The Patriot, a refitted privateer schooner, slipped out of Georgetown, SC on 30 Dec 1812. There were two passengers—Theodosia Alston, wife of SC governor, Joseph Alston—prostrated by grief at the death of her 12 year old son the prior June, bound for a visit with her dearly loved father in New York—and physician Timothy Green. Captain Overstocks, assisted by NY pilot, Coon, planned to complete the journey in about 6 days. Because of the British blockade of the coast, Gov. Alston wrote a letter to the British navy begging safe passage for his wife.

In early January, the ship encountered the British fleet near Cape Hatteras, off the North Carolina coast. Gov. Alston's letter was offered, and the British officers allowed the ship to continue on its way. Howev­er, a strong storm that same night scattered the ships of the British fleet, and the Patriot disappeared forever. What befell Theodosia Alston? Legends grew around the disappearance of the ship and its ill-fated passenger. One story had the ship breaking up off Cape Hatteras. Was it lured there by ruthless Outer Banks looters with their false lanterns? Or was the ship boarded by pirates and its passengers and crew forced to walk the plank? Some residents of southern Virginia claimed that the body of a beautiful woman washed ashore after the storm. Theodosia?

          A less likely story has Theodosia buried in Alexandria, VA with a tombstone inscribed: “To the Memory of A Female Stranger Whose Mortal Sufferings Terminated The 11th Day of October,  1816 Aged 25 years, 8 months”. The story tells of a veiled woman leaving a river packet with a man in Oct. 1816. They took rooms in Gadsby’s Tavern. Later, a doctor was called and the mysterious lady, said to closely resemble Theodosia, died without revealing her identity. Was she making her way to New York in disguise?

            The true story will probably never be known, but one piece of evidence survives. In 1865, Dr. W. G. Poole of Elizabeth City, NC was called to treat an old woman at Nags Head, NC. As payment, she gave the doctor a painting of a lovely young lady — later identified as Theodosia. The woman said the Patriot had run aground at Ocracoke with her rudder lashed down, her cargo still in place, and a table still set in the cabin. Bankers stripped the ship; the portrait went to the woman’s husband as his part of the loot. What are we to believe?

The Nags Head Portrait of Theodosia Burr hangs
in the Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington, Connecticut

Who was Theodosia Alston?

            Theodosia Alston was the only daughter of Aaron Burr, Vice President of the United States under Thomas Jefferson, best remembered for the duel in which he killed Alexander Hamilton. Widowed early, Aaron Burr lavished his affection on Theodosia, planning in detail her intellectual and social development. She was one of the best educated women of her time and well-suited to her position as hostess and companion to her highly successful father.

Taken from an unidentified 1890 American History Book

            In 1801, Theodosia married South Carolina plantation owner Joseph Alston who entered politics at Burr’s suggestion. Their only child, Aaron Burr Alston was born the next year.

Theodosia's Northeastern North Carolina Connection

            Theodosia did not adapt well to the heat and humidity of the South Carolina Low Country and she made frequent visits to New York to visit her father—a journey that took 20 days. The route took the travelers through North Carolina by way of Fayetteville, Raleigh, Louisburg, Warrenton, and to Petersburg, VA.

Theodosia and Aaron Bur corresponded frequently. The following is taken from a letter Burr wrote to his daughter from Warrenton, NC on October 27, 1804: We parted at Fayetteville. The morning following I started one hour before day, the moon showing us the way, and, at about seven or eight in the evening, was at Raleigh, being full fifty miles. … I reposed till nine the next morning, and came the next day only to Louisburgh (twenty-nine miles), where I slept in the little up-stairs room which you once occupied; but there is a new landlord. The Jew is broke up. The wind had been two days strong at northeast, threatening a storm … So I lay abed again till nine, and, after breakfasting for two hours, set off at eleven in all the storm. At twelve it began to snow, and continued to snow most plentifully till night. …got here about five, being twenty-five miles.  … My landlord has just been telling me that Swartwent passed here eight days ago. They were three in the stage, all very apprehensive of being overset, as they were to start at two in the morning. In the excess of caution, they desired the landlord to give no rum to the driver. The landlord promised, and gave orders to the barkeeper. When the driver arrived, he called for a dram; was refused, and told the reason. Resenting this indignity, he swore he would get drunk, went to a store, bought rum, and got drunk. Set out at two, and overset the stage the first hour. The passengers were bruised, but not very seriously injured.”

This portrait of Aaron Burr was taken from "Aaron Burr," the Wikipedia article.
         Aaron Burr earlier had become enmeshed in unsavory deals that wrecked his fortunes and reputation. He went abroad for several years. When he returned in 1812, it was only to receive the news of his grandson’s death. A message from his son-in-law, dated Jul 26 said: “… One dreadful blow has destroyed us; reduced us to the veriest, the most sublimated wretchedness. That boy, …who was to have transmitted down the mingled blood of Theodosia and myself…that boy, at once our happiness and our pride, is taken from us… is dead. We saw him dead. My own hand surrendered him to the grave; …My present wish is that Theodosia should join you, … as soon as possible.” And, “Theodosia has endured all that a human being could endure, but her admiral mind will triumph. She supports herself in a manner worthy of your daughter.”

            Theodosia wrote to her father on 12 Aug: “…I wish to see you and will leave this [place] as soon as possible. I could not go alone by land for our coachman is a great drunkard and requires the presence of a master, and my husband is obliged to wait for a military court of inquiry. …”

            During the autumn, Theodosia’s health became precarious. Timothy Green, a physician and friend of the Burr family, journeyed to South Carolina and wrote Burr on 7 Dec 1812, “Mr. Alston seemed rather hurt that you should conceive it necessary to send a person here… you had learned your daughter was in a low state of health, and required unusual attention… I had torn myself from my family to perform this service for my friend. …” and on 22 Dec: “I have engaged a passage to New-York for your daughter… We shall sail in eight days.”

            When Joseph Alston heard nothing from his wife, he wrote to her from Columbia, SC on 15 Jan 1813: “Another mail, and still no letter! I hear, too, rumours of a gale off Cape Hatteras the beginning of the month. …” He wrote Aaron Burr on 19 Jan: “Tomorrow will be three weeks since, in obedience to your wishes, Theodosia left me. …in the privateer Patriot, … Is my wife, too, taken from me? … My wife is either captured or lost.” He wrote Burr again on 25 Feb: “…My boy—my wife—gone, both! This, then is the end of all the hopes we had formed. …”

            Matthew L. Davis, in his Memoirs of Aaron Burr (1836), said, “…the unfortunate Theodosia was never again heard of, except in idle rumours and exaggerated tales of her capture and murder by pirates. These reports, it is believed, were without foundation. The schooner on board which she had taken passage probably foundered, and every soul perished in a heavy gale which was experienced along our whole coast a few days after her departure from Georgetown.” Officially, Theodosia was never heard from again. However, some time later, two murderers who were hanged in Norfolk, VA are said to have confessed to being on a pirate ship that overtook the Patriot and sent all passengers and crew over the side. In 1850, an old resident of a Michigan poorhouse confessed to tipping the plank on which Theodosia walked into the ocean. He said: “…We captured the vessel in which this lady was. When told she must walk the plank into the ocean, she asked for a few moments alone, which was granted. She came forward when told her time had expired, dressed beautiful in white, the loveliest woman I had ever seen. Calmly she stepped upon the plank. With eyes raised to the heavens, and hands crossed reverently upon her bosom, she walked slowly and firmly into the ocean without an apparent tremor. …”

Last Will and Testament

            Joseph Alston died in 1816. His brother, William Alston, sent a trunk to Aaron Burr with a message: “…he never had the courage to open …some things that belonged to your daughter Theodosia; …” The trunk contained a letter from Theodosia written in 1805, directed to “My husband. To be delivered after my death. I wish this to be read immediately, and before my burial.” The letter reads, in part, “…something whispers me that my end approaches. …I have some few requests to make. … Burn all my papers except my father’s letters, which I beg you to return to him. …Speak of me often to our son. …I charge you not to allow me to be stripped and washed, as is usual. I am pure enough thus to return to dust. Why, then, expose my person? Pray see to this. If it does not appear contradictory or silly, I beg to be kept as long as possible before I am consigned to the earth. …”

[This story appeared in The Connector, Newsletter of the Tar River Connections Genealogical Society in the Summer 1999 Issue.]

Sunday, February 28, 2016



  Sixteenth Connecticut Volunteers

          B. F. Blakeslee wrote the History of the Sixteenth Connecticut Volunteers” (1875) which told about the Connecticut unit’s service during the Civil War, including time spent in North Carolina. The following is one of the stories from that book:
In January 1964, several companies of the Sixteenth Connecticut Volunteers boarded the steamers S. R. Spalding and Vidette in Portsmouth, VA on their way to Plymouth, Washington County, NC.
            “The weather was very fine and we had merry times and a fine sail around Cape Hatteras, reaching Morehead city on the morning of the 23rd and proceeded thence by rail to New Berne. We left New Berne at midnight on the “John Farron” for Plymouth, and arrived there at midnight on the 24th.” The Connecticut volunteers conducted several raids in the area of Plymouth “which the men enjoyed very much, as they had exciting times in breaking up rebel cavalry camps and capturing and burning up large quantities of cotton and tobacco, besides taking a number of prisoners.” The Union troops conducted “such fine dress parades that it called forth the entire town every evening.”
Plymouth 1864
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 14 May 1864 Page 116
            Blakelee included in his chapter about Plymouth the following story that was first written by Serg’t Maj. Robert H. Kellogg:
            “There;s one thing, at least, to be said in favor of Plymouth. It was the home of a few ‘true blue,’ loyal Southerners—a very few, however. They were hard to find, and I fear they are yet. The loyal men before spoken of, and some who were not loyal, were blessed with numerous daughters, fair to behold, but apt to hav a few little weaknesses, such as ‘dipping snuff’ and smoking corn cob pipes. One of these men lvied in a small house half way between the camp of the 16th and the western or left end of the town, and was blessed (or cursed, I doubt if he knew which at times,) with three daughters, and pretty ones they were. ‘The prettiest girls I’ve seen yet!’ was the emphatic declaration of each succeeding man who was lucky enough by dine of long watching or shrewd stratagem to get a peep at them. For be it know, the father was as watchful over these fair scions of his house, as any ogre, read of in fairy tales, could possibly have been over his captives. Perhaps he had read some sensation tale of ‘excesses of a brutal and licentious soldiery,’ and thereupon resolved to keep his household uncontaminated from the least approach of such an insidious foe. I can not think he had taken a good square look into the honestfaces of the 16th men, nor heard Chaplain Dixon preach to his crowded audience of boys in blue, every Sunday. At all events he seemed determined that no officer or soldier should form the acquaintance of his girls. On the other hand, or boys were quite as determined that they would become acquainted with them. But how was it to be done? That was the question which was presented to the mind of many a one who had cast ‘sheep’s eyes’ at that humble dwelling in the hope of getting a glimpse at its fair inmates. Many and various were the plans which were made, but alas!
‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men,
Gang aft a –gley,
And Lea’e us naught but grief and pain,
For promised joy.’
            “None had been successful until at last one day two members of Co. ‘A’ walked coolly and boldly into the forbidden cottage. First et me give the names of the ones who did it, then I’ll tell how they did it. The persistent and successful schemers were Corporal Sam Belden, (remembered by every one of his surviving comrades toay and by many friends in this vicinity,) and Private John Quinn. And this was ‘the way the fort was taken.’ After much polishing of buttons and brushing of uniforms, they obtained possession of the Company Clothing book and another volume of similar size, which they fond in the Orderly Sergeant’s tent’ and on a pleasant afternoon quietly left the camp, unnoticed, and proceeded to the scene of interest. A modest knock at the door brought out ‘pater famlias’ or ‘old tar heels’ as the unsuccessful besiegers spitefully termed him. Corporal Sam coolly informed him, with that imperturbable gravity of countenance and manner for which he was celebrated, that they were deputed by General Wessells, who was in command of the Post, to take the census of the town. There was no getting around that, for an order emanating from such a source was not to be lightly disobeyed; so they were rather ungraciously admitted to the heretofore unvisited house—couldn’t call it a mansion by any stretch of the imagination. Once seated inside, Corporal Sam as spokesman, commenced a series of questions which the U. S. Census commissioners would have hard work to equal, private Q. jotting down the replies of the blushing and confused girls, and of the astonished father. Of course, by this cool and ingenious method they obtained the names of all, their ages, and other interesting information, and moreoever they did it all with such suavity, and conducted themselves with such gentlemanly deportment, that from that day they were invited, happy, envied, and regular visitors at the forbidden house.”

[Taken from History of the Sixteenth Connecticut Volunteers, (1875) by B. F. Blakeslee . The book was found at ]

Saturday, February 27, 2016


            “WHAT CAUSES THE HAIR TO TURN GRAY.— An English writer has recently asserted than an undue proportion of lime in the system is the cause of premature gray hair, and advises to avoid hard water, either for drinking pure or when converted into tea or coffee, or soup, because hard water is always strongly impregnated with lie. Hard water may be softened by boioling it: let it become cold, then use it as a beverage. It is also stated that a liquid that will color the human hair black and not stain the skin, is made by taking one part of Bay Rum, three parts of Olive Oil, and one part of Good Brandy, by measure. The hair must be washed with the mixture every morning, and in a short time the use of it will make the hair a beautiful black, without injuring it in the least. The articles must be of the best quality, mixed in a bottle, and always shaken before applied.”

            The same recipe was found in the Bible of Wallas Midyette in Hyde County, NC. A search of the internet found it in numerous locations, so it must have been often used.

[Newbern Daily Progress (New Bern, NC) 17 Jan 1860; HIGH TIDES: Hyde County Historical Society Journal, North Carolina,  Volume 4, No. 1, Spring 1983, Page 11; Scientific American, 22 September 1855]



H. D. G.

A GLANCE at the proposed route, as shown on the map, revealed so many waterways that fears were expressed as to our physical comfort on such a trip at the height of the cold season. Nothing daunted, however, we set sail, and found ourselves one sleety morning in January in Norfolk, en route for Eastern North Carolina via the Norfolk & Southern Railroad. Great was our surprise and pleasure upon finding the private car of the General Manager of the road placed at our disposal, and that genial gentleman himself ready to accompany us as host and companion.

Taken from "A Trip To Eastern North Carolina"

        Accustomed as the traveler he traveler in the North is to the superb management of its great railway corporations, he is apt to expect but little from the lesser systems not connected with the great centers of trade. It was, therefore, with no little surprise that we found ourselves speeding along at a rapid rate over a road-bed as firm and well ballasted as the best engineering skill could make it.
            Though the Norfolk & Southern R. R. has not as great length as some of its competitors, the excellent condition of its rolling stock and its general thriftiness have earned for it the enviable reputation of being one of the finest railroads of the South. The road skirts the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp, tobacco farms and cotton fields stretch out on either side and large sawmills here and there indicate the flourishing business of this section.
            An hour and a half of this pleasant travel brought us to the bustling town of Elizabeth City. Its rapid recent growth and progress impress all visitors, for there are signs of enterprise and newness on every hand. The water front crowded with storehouses and mills and docks give evidence to the approaching traveler that here is a town keeping even pace with the times in its development along the lines of trade and commerce. Nature, too, has favored the spot, for here we see the encircling forests, the curving banks of the Pasquotank river, rich in picturesque scenes of woodland beauty, with fruit groves and flower gardens, adding here and there their soft and bewitching influences.
Taken from "A Trip To Eastern North Carolina"

            The settlers of this “Queen City of Eastern North Carolina” were not without their tendencies toward sentiment. The town was named for the young and beautiful daughter of the owner of the favored tract, and she in turn was the namesake of England’s “Good Queen Bess.” This was upwards of one hundred years ago, when the town was well in the lead of trade with the West Indies, importing largely the staples of salt and molasses. In return she sent out many shingles and staves. Now her increasing thrift depends largely upon the crops of corn, cotton, potatoes, wheat, oats, hay, rice, sorghum and vegetables.

[Taken from "A Trip to Eastern North Carolina" contained in a booklet given Compliments of Old Dominion S. S. Co., 1898. The booklet was found at ECU Library in the Meyers Family Papers. More of this booklet will be published later.]

Vicks VapoRub and the Joshua Vick Connection

As Told By Durant Vick

            Joshua and Rosetta Vick had three children: Eudora Laurinda, George Davis and Edward Warren. George, who was my Grandfather, was also a doctor in Selma.
            Rosetta Richardson Vick’s brother, Lunsford Richardson, Jr., finished at Davidson College and came to Selma, Johnston Co., NC to teach at the private school. After four years, he realized that there was little money in teaching. He had $600 so he purchased a drugstore owned by Dr. Joshua Vick and an associate for $450 in 1880. With the extra $150, he restocked the store.

            Lunsford Richardson roomed at my great grandfather’s [Dr. Joshua Vick] home in Selma on Massey Street and paid $10 per month rent. Joshua and Lunsford became good friends.
A Move
            After ten years in Selma, Lunsford Richardson felt that a larger area was needed so he relocated to Greensboro, NC. He and partner John Fariss bought the Porter and Tate drugstore on Elm Street and renamed it the Richardson-Fariss Drugstore. One of his employees was William Sidney Porter who was later known as O. Henry, the writer.
This ad appeared in the Greensboro Telegram on 16 February 1911.

            Lunsford Richardson was an innovator and he began to develop medicinal products or home remedies which he sold in the drugstore. In 1894, he introduced a product that was to make him a fortune, a cure for croup. It was first named “Richardson’s Croup and Pneumonia Salve.” This name was too long and did not have a good marketing ring to it. The name was later changed from Richardson’s to Vick’s, which was subsequently trademarked by Mr. Richardson for his products. According to family lore, the name Vicks was selected to honor his brother-in-law, Dr. Joshua Vick.
            After the name was changed to Vicks, the product we know as Vicks VapoRub was first called Vick’s Salve or Vick’s Magic Salve, but it was later changed back to Vicks VapoRub. As to how the name VapoRub was derived, I do not know but the combination of the two techniques of external medication — stimulation and inhalation were certain described with the word —VapoRub.
A New Business
            In 1898, Richardson’s interest in making remedies prompted him to sell his share in the thriving drugstore to his partner and start a new company, Lunsford Richardson Wholesale Drug Company, with three employees, in Greensboro. Richardson quickly tired of fighting with the other stockholders in the company about what to do with the profits. While he wanted to put any profits back into the business to finance more advertising, they wanted them as dividends. As a result, Richardson sold his share of the business in 1905.
Richard Lunsford

Junk Mail
            Richardson took his savings and opened a new business, Vick Family Remedies Company, this time owned solely by him. He made a number of different remedies under the Vicks name, and marketed them in twenty surrounding counties. In 1905, Mr. Richardson convinced the Postal Service to allow him to mass-mail his advertising circulars simply to “Boxholder” instead of individuals. Because this marked the first such mailing, Mr. Richardson gained the dubious distinction of also being known as “the father of junk mail.
            Despite his hard work, Lunsford Richardson’s new business did not prosper, and he began to run out of savings. In 1907, he asked his oldest son, Henry Smith Richardson (1885 -1972), who worked in New York, to be advertising and sales manager for the fledgling company in hopes that his son could rescue it.
New Ideas
            Smith Richardson was an aggressive Salesman and an innovative advertising manager. He traveled all over North Carolina, and then the southeast, from drugstore to drugstore, and country store to country store, selling VapoRub. First he and the sales force traveled by horse and buggy, and then by Model T Ford. For his efforts, Smith Richardson was made a partner in 1911. His prescription for a healthy company was to focus its efforts on selling the product that brought in the most money, Vicks Croup and Pneumonia Salve. By 1911, the other remedies had been dropped, and the company had changed its name to Vick Chemical Company and its product’s name to the catchy Vicks VapoRub.
Found at Center for Creative Leadership

Advertising Innovations
            The company’s advertising strategies were revolutionary. Vick Chemical Company was one of the first businesses to use such techniques as road signs, store displays, street car advertising, “mark out” slogans, and free samples. When the company began expanding its territory north and west, it was one of the first companies to take advantage of Rural Free Delivery, by sending samples through the mail.
Early Vicks Products
            My brother, Charles Vick, from Richmond, dropped me a note concerning a copy of L. Richardson Drug Company letter from Dec. 1901. It listed the Vick products as follows: Vick’s Yellow Pine-Cough Syrup, Vick’s Carolina Dead Shot Vermifuge, Kaduk Headache Powders, Vick’s Little Liver Pills, Vick’s Electric Hot Drops, Vick’s Tar Heel Sarsaparilla, Vick’s Croup Salve, Vick’s Aromatic Wine Cod Liver Oil with Malt Wild Cherry and Hypophosphates, Vick’s Turtle Oil Liniment, and Vick’s Perfected and Tasteless Pure Castor Oil.
This ad appeared in the Greensboro Patriot on 28 February 1906.

[This Story first appeared in The Connector, newsletter of Tar River Connections Genealogical Society, in the Fall 2007 issue. Durant G. Vick, great grandson of Joshua Vick, provided most of the information, including material from the Richardson family book Annals of an American Family.  The Smithfield, NC website was also helpful.]

Thursday, February 25, 2016


            Written by Mrs. Lucy Wheelock Myers of Washington, N. C. for the Woman’s Club of Aurora, N. C. [in 1916, 100 years ago.]

            Of the early days of Washington, I know very little. I have heard Miss Patsy Blount say that when her father Mr. John Gray Blount came here to settle he found already a flourishing tho’ scattered settlement. The members of this settlement belonged mostly to the Bonner family.
            These were prosperous people living in comfortable style in large hip-roofed houses, located within sight of each other, mostly outside of the present limits of the town, on the low hills surrounding it.
            One residence, however, and that I suppose of the most influential and prominent member of the family, was located on the bank of Pamlico river, facing it on what is now Water Street—this was the home of Col. James Bonner. Later this house passed out of the possession of his family and was occupied as a tavern and known as the “Old Mulberry Tavern.” It took its name from the double row of Otaheite Mulberry trees standing on each side of the walk leading from the gate to the entrance. This building stood I think until after the War between the States— and was then burned down when a warehouse next door was destroyed by fire said to have been set for the purpose of getting insurance on the warehouse. The Mulberry Tavern was a two story house, with double piazza across the front making both upper and lower piazzas. I remember going to this house when a small child with my mother to have some dresses made. It was then occupied by a Mrs. Pugh, born Whitecar, whose daughter married a Northern man, a Mr. Hamilton, who built the house now occupied by Mrs. Wynne on Main Street in front of the Mulberry Tavern lot.

Lucy  Wheelock Myers' Home

            The house in which I now live stands in “Bonner’s Old Part” of the town—on a part of Col. James Bonner’s farm. I have heard that a fence ran about on the line of Bonner street and that when Col. Bonner would be at home on a furlough from the Continental army he would have a half-witted negro servant keep watch-sitting on this fence, for any suspicious looking parties which possibly might be British or Tories. If the negro saw signs of danger he would gobble like a turkey which was the signal agreed upon and the Colonel would retreat to a place of safety.
            My earliest personal recollections of the town is of its beautifully shaded streets—the English elms which in that day were used almost exclusively for shade-trees, here forming a perfect arch the whole length of the streets. I have been told that persons who visited the town before the War preserved that picture as their foremost recollections of it.

Main Street, Washington, NC in 1915, about the time this stsory 
Picture found at: Lithographic Designs, Washington, NC

            Another characteristic was its closely fenced yards. All back yards had high, close board fences which shut out all view of gardens, kitchens, and out-houses  — of which there were necessarily many (the smoke-house a very important one.) on each lot, —as every family kept many servants—cooks, house servants, laundresses, stable and lot boys, most of whom lived on the lots. These fences had closely barred gates with locks and chains, and were usually locked at 9 o’clock at night, after which time negroes were not allowed on the streets without a written permit from their owners. These permits they were required to show to the watchmen who were called the patrol. The negroes had a derisive song about this beginning — “Run, nigger, run, the patroller catch you!” Ever if it were necessary to send a servant for doctor in haste at night, he dared not venture on the streets without this permit.

River Traffic

            Some of my most vivid recollections have to do with the water traffic, both on the upper and lower river—and at sea.
            In fact, in early days, water communication was the principal way of keeping in touch with the outside world, except by stage-coach for the passengers, and by large canvas-covered wagons for the inland traffic by road. In my childhood a great event of the day was the passing through of the stage-coach from New Bern to Plymouth and the reverse trip. These stage coaches were almost as large and heavy—and as gaily painted — as a circus band wagon of these days. The driver felt his importance and took great delight in blowing at the foot of the bridge a large horn to herald its approach, and would come into town dashing and cracking his whip over the four or sometimes six horses required to draw the heavy vehicle.
            In these days, too, there was only one small steamboat plying on the upper river, but great quantities of products from the rich counties of Pitt, Edgecombe and Nash were freighted down on the flat-boats, consigned to middlemen here called commission merchants, to be shipped away on sea-going vessels. These merchants found this business very lucrative—and were among the wealthiest and most prominent men of the town. Among them I recall Mr. E. F. Havens, Mr. W. A. Willard, Mr. S. R. Fowle, Mr. G. H. Brown, Mr. John Myers. The flat boats brought a very important part of the trade of the town. These boats were propelled by man-power, they were poled along by negroes, who walked along a plank footway along the side of the boat, as they walked they chanted a most peculiar mournful song. These flat boats came down the river piled high with bales of cotton, barrels of tar, pitch and turpentine, bags of corn, sides of bacon, stacked up like bricks, staves and shingles. The making of the barrels was an important industry here, and the town was dotted with noisy cooper shops. These barrels were used by the large distilleries located here.
            The commission merchants, many of them owned large sea-going sailing vessels — two and three vessels which traded along the coast northward to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, and southward to the West Indies. All the ice we had in these days was natural ice, brought from Maine on these sailing vessels. I can well remember how interesting it was to watch the stevedores unloading the great blocks of ice and storing them away in the two big ice houses owned by Mr. B. F. Havens and Mr. John Myers. Then still more interesting was the coming of vessels from the West Indies, with sugar, molasses, oranges, tamarinds, limes and a treat of sticks of sugar cane for the children—with also an occasional monkey or parrot for sale.

Haven's Warehouse in Washington, NC. " The warehouses were constructed in the early mid-nineteenth century. The warehouses are rare survivors of a once common building type in port towns. The buildings lie within the boundaries of the Washington Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places"
The picture was found at North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office

            Foreign sailors who came on these vessels were one of the bug-bears of the little children in my day. They were a drunken, noisy crowd, swaggering about the streets making things very disagreeable when they were in port. Many of them were Portuguese who looked very outlandish with their long hair and the big gold hooped ear rings they wore.

Mr. Louis Labarbe

            The block on which Mr. Jonathan Havens’ oil mill stands was closely built up with stores kept by merchants who did large business. On the side of Mr. Jonathan Havens’ mill (the lot and the buildings on it belonged at the time to Mr. Macon Bonner) Mr. Louis Labarbe carried on a business. Mr. Labarbe came here—a small orphan boy—whose parents had been murdered by the blacks in a negro insurrection in, I think, the French West India Island of Martinique. He and a little negro or mulatto boy managed to elude the frenzied blacks and made their way to a ship from this town which was lying in harbor. The captain treated them kindly and brought them with him. Mr. Lewis Le Roy (who married Miss Palmer, a granddaughter of Sir Robert Palmer) took charge of the little Labarbe, raised him in his family—and Mr. Labarbe grew up to marry Miss “Peggy” Le Roy, daughter of his benefactor. The little negro was sold and bought by my great grandfather, “Parson” Bowen and became a trusted and valued servant in his family. My Grandmother (Elizabeth Bonner, nee Bowen) always spoke of him as “good uncle Phil.”
            Other refugees from these insurrected islands found their way here and had much influence upon social life and manners in Washington.

 Mr. Chapeau

            One of them, a Mr. Chapeau, a very accomplished gentleman, taught here the French language and dancing—especially the stately minuet—for which the young ladies had a skirt especially made opened on the sides, so that in one of the figures they could catch up the skirt with the tips of the fingers and hold it out at arms-length. Mr. Chapeau married a Miss Singletary, a sister of the Rev. Mr. Singletary, a clergyman of the Episcopal church. After order was restored to the French West India Islands, Mr. Chapeau went to France and recovered a portion of his estates. We own some silver which belong to Mr. and Mrs. Chapeau—marked with their initial “C” which was bequeathed to Miss Patsy Blount by her life long friend Mrs. Chapeau.
            The founders of the town early made provision for the education of the young. Shortly after the founding of the town, they built a school house where the Graded School now stands—this building was on the extreme upper end of the town and was surrounded by huckleberry ponds.
            The Le Roy house remembered by many was the residence of one of the most cultured and prominent families of this section. Mrs. Le Roy after the death of her husband and son became much reduced in circumstances and took boarders for a living. She was a very noted housekeeper—and high bred lady. Her daughters—three in number, were educated in a convent and were very accomplished, —fine musicians, linguists and needle-women. The only descendants of this family that I know of are the children of Mr. Amos Labarbe, son of Mrs. “Peggy” Le Roy Labarbe, who live in Asheville, N. C.

[Washington Progress (Washington, NC), 6 Apr 1916, Page 1]

Picture Haven’s ware house found at North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, in the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) held by North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office 

Main street 1915 found on Lithic Designs, Washington, NC

N O T I C E .

     Thanking my many friends for their kind patronage since I have been in the Livery and Sale business, I ask a continuance of the same. Over a year ago I purchased from Mr. Joe Skittletharpe his livery, trade and good will in this place. I have served my friends and the people faithfully by square and honest dealings.
     My business has at all times my personal supervision; my stables are nicely situated on Main street nearest hotels and boarding houses. They are not a "Palace," but nicely kept with comfortable box stalls and are free from dangers of fire. My horses are no through-bred, but are reliable, prompt drivers, with head always up and heels always down. My buggies and wagons are nice and comfortable.
     I respectfully solicit a continuance and large share of the public patronage by square, honest dealings and not by blowing and misrepresentation.
     My prices shall be as low as any one elses. My business is run by myself and polite, social drivers, well acquainted with this whole section and all the merchants at every point, and not by street bummers to falsely represent and delude the traveling public. My horses, buggies and prices will speak for themselves. I am receiving new horses every week and will keep 20 or 30 head of horses and mules during the coming season for sale for cash or on time.
     I am making arrangements to keep a buggy and harness depot. Can sell top buggies at $57.50 open buggies for $32.00.
     Call and examine stock before going else where is all I ask.

Respectfully, B. F. Owens, Agt.

[Roanoke Beacon Newspaper (Plymouth, NC), August 2, 1889 Page 3]

Plea for Aid
Local Militia in Dire Straits

War of 1812

The following counties of the Detached Militia were called into service at Norfolk, Virginia by orders in September of 1814 - Bertie, Chatham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Gates, Granville, Halifax, Hertford, Johnston, Martin, Nash, Northampton, Orange, Person, Wake, and Warren. Those from Chatham, Orange, and Person were ordered to return to their respective homes before they arrived at Gates Court House, the place of rendezvous.


To the citizens of the counties of Hertford, Bertie, Martin, Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Edgecombe, Johnston, Warren, Franklin, Granville and Wake, and to the patriotic citizens of North Carolina generally.

The undersigned take the liberty of addressing you in behalf of the volunteers and drafted militia, detached from the several counties above named for the service of the United States, and now stationed under your command at Norfolk. — It is known to you that these men were suddenly called from their homes, without being afforded an opportunity, and many of them not possessing the ability, to make the necessary preparations for a six months tour of duty at an unknown season. The United States do not furnish clothing to the militia in their service—most of your friends and neighbors, therefore, who have repaired hither, to the post of danger, are entirely destitute of the clothing necessary to protect them from the inclemencies of the approaching season. Already they have suffered much from the want of these conveniences which their situation required, and we take pride in saying they have born those sufferings with a cheerfulness, patience and constancy, highly honorable. It will be impossible for them, however, to withstand the rigor of the approaching season unless they are provided with blankets and comfortable woolen clothing.

The only means by which we believe the wants of these troops can be speedily and effectively supplied, is by the appeal which we now make to your benevolence, patriotism and humanity—an appeal which we are sure will not be made in vain. We cannot believe that your patriotism will suffer the brave men, who have marched with such alacrity to the post of danger, and who are willing to risk their lives in their country’s defense, to perish by the severities of the season for want of the common conveniences of life… when it can be so easily afforded—We seek voluntary contributions from you, therefore, either in woollen clothing and blankets, or in money, at your discretion. Let receivers be appointed in each county, and let them transmit, without delay, the amount received, together with the names of the generous donors, to one of the field officers, who will be responsible for its faithful distribution. You will thus enjoy the sweet reflection of having snatched from the grave many a suffering soldier, and of having performed your duty to your country, to your friends and neighbors, whose gratitude will follow you through life.

We are, with sentiments of the highest respect, Your obedient servants,

D. McDonald, Col. 1st Reg. NCDM
A. Joyner, Lieu. Col.
Jos. F. Dickinson, Major
John C. Green, do. (?)
James Iredell, Captain
John J. Inge, Captain
John Bell, Captain
Harry Bryan, Captain
John Green, Captain
Isaac Watkins, Captain
John L. (?) Laughter, captain
John F. (?) Walker, Captain
H. G. Williams, Captain\
Cantonned near Norfolk, 20 Oct 1814

[Political Synopsis, 17 Nov 1814, Tarborough and North Carolina – The War of 1812 website:]

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

David Arnott (Arnold
Revolutionary War Pension Application
Halifax County

On February 19, 1829, in Halifax County, NC, David Arnott (or Arnold) applied for a Revolutionary War pension. In order to secure the pension Arnott related the following about his war experience:
            He enlisted in early 1778 to complete the term of a private, Bythal Haynes, who had deserted. This term was to last until April 1780. His commander was Lieutenant Fitzgerald or Gerard. The regiment was led by Colonel James Hogun.
Within the regiment, the company of light horse commanded by Captain Cosmo Medici or Medicie, was severely lacking in equipment such as bridle bits, stirrups, saddle backs and such. David Arnott, a blacksmith, was assigned to the Quarter Master General to make the necessary items. He continued in this job until the North Carolina Brigade returned from the north on its way to Charleston, SC, which was in February 1780.
            David recalled that he marched to Charleston with Lieutenant Col. Davidson’s company in the 1st NC Regiment commanded by Col. Clark. He was at Charleston when it was blockaded by the British and continued to serve until April 1780 when he was discharged in Charleston, SC. It would seem that he barely missed the end of the “Siege of Charleston” which began on April 1 and ended with Gen. Lincoln’s surrender to the British on May 12, 1780.

After the War
            David Arnold had returned to Halifax in 1880 and continued to work there as a blacksmith until he applied for his pension in 1829 at the age of 75. He had been turned down for a pension in 1827 because of a question about his name and had not applied again because “by his own labor as a blacksmith he was enabled to provide for himself & family, and though earnestly urged by his friends, he never could consent to throw himself upon the bounty of his Country, so long as he was able to provide for his household by his own exertions: -- neither did he conceive his circumstances so utterly hopeless as to justify it.”
            A schedule attached to David Arnold’s application for a pension listed the property he had amassed over a lifetime:
“One tract of Land containing 256 acres
One Negro woman & child
One set of Blacksmith Tools
Three unimproved Lots in Gainsborough
One cow, calf & yearling
One cart, a few hoes, an axe and some household furniture of little value.
All the above property except the Blacksmith Tools have been conveyed by deed of trust now of record in this Court for the benefit of Thomas Burges Esq. to secure the payment of a debt which is justly due him amounting to $1245 with interest on $1025 until paid.”
            In the end, “the infirmities attendant on disease & old age render him incapable of much exertion – that his family residing with him consists of three daughters, to wit: Mary about 28 years old, Dorothy 21 & Martha 14. -- that they were tenderly raised & only accustomed to perform the ordinary duties relating to housekeeping … .”

His Name Was A Problem

        Mr. Arnott had difficulty being approved for his pension because he applied as David Arnott while he was listed on the muster rolls as David Arnold. James Grant wrote on David Arnott’s behalf that he had known him as David Arnold for 20 years and had never known that David himself spelt his name Arnot. Grant went on to say that “I found him when I first grew into manhood, a very worthy, respectable man, residing in the County of Halifax, & from the Circumstance of his being uniformly called Arnold, I think the mistake arose,”…  from the spelling of his name.
            William Hill wrote that he had examined the Warrant Book and found no David Arnot, but had found David Arnold, and that he believed, based on the fact that Arnold received a warrant for 274 acres of land, the quantity allowed for 3 years service, and other facts in the application, that David Arnot was the same as David Arnold.
            David Arnold received a pension of $8 per month for his service during the Revolution.

[Taken from the Pension application of David Arnot (Arnold or Arnott) S41417 which was transcribed by Will Graves and can be found on the internet at  Southern Campaigns American Revolution Pension Statements and Rosters]

Sunday, February 21, 2016



            At Penny’s Hill Life saving Station on May 27th beginning at 3 o’clock P.M. a box supper and school entertainment will be given for the benefit of the public school.
            Refreshments will be served from 3 to 7:30 P.M.
            The entertainment which consists of two plays, a pantomime and vocal and instrumental music will begin at 7:30 P.M.
            The program which has been selected and planned with much care, is interesting, instructive and amusing.
            The play first on the program is an historical one, called, Carolina. The other play is “Our Awful Aunt” …  keep you laughing from the beginning to the end.
            Excursionists and Beach Parties are specially invited.

[Taken from The Advance (Elizabeth City, NC) 19 May 1911, Page 1]

What's the Total?


What's the Total?

            A Yankee, describing an opponent says “I tell you what, sir, that man does not amount to a sum in arithmetic. Add him up, and there is nothing to carry.

[Perquimans’s Record (Hertford, NC), 2 Sep 1891, Page 1]

Legend of Batz's Grave


            Near Drummond’s Point (Perquimans County) on the upper waters of Albemarle Sound, lies a solitary island, now uninhabited (Chowan County), once the home where the goat browsed and the gull built its nest and defied the storm with its discordant scream. Its name is “Batz’s Grave.” Within living memory no man has dwelt thereon, but, within living memory it was the roost of myriads of migratory gulls, who held undisturbed possession of their island home.

            There is a legend about that desert island that furnishes food for the contemplative, a legend of love and sadness, a legend of Jesse Batz and Kickowanna, a beautiful maiden of the Chowanoke tribe of Indians.

            Batz was a hunter and trapper on the upper waters of Albemarle Sound, and was one of the earliest settlers that made a home in that paradise of the Indian hunter, where the wild game alone disputed his supremacy.

            Jesse Batz made his temporary home on the island that the Indians sometimes visited and called Kaloha, from the innumerable flocks of sea-gulls that disturbed its solitude. Batz was friendly, and sometimes joined the Indians in their hunting parties. He was young, comely and athletic. He became familiar to the Indians in their wigwams, and the chase.

This is a portion of the 1733 Moseley Map showing the tiny island, Batts Grave.
The map is at East Carolina University.
      There was one who was the light of the wigwam of the Chowanokes—who sometimes looked at Jesse Batz with the love-light in her eye—the pretty, nut-brown Kickowanna. Her eye was as a sloe, and her long and glossy hair was as a raven’s wing. Her step was agile and graceful as the “down that rides upon the breeze.” 

      While Batz, the hunter, let fly the bowstring that brought down the antlered stag of the forest, a better archer aimed at Jesse’s heart the fatal arrow, and he, too, fell, a victim of Cupid’s unerring aim. The insidious poison rankled in his veins. He was a changed man in every look and tissue of his being. The chase had lost its charm. His eye would droop when Kickowanna came. She was daughter of the old King of the Chowanokes, Kilkanoo, the jewel of his eye. Kickowanna was a peri [sic] of beauty. Famed she was throughout the land. The great Pamunky chief of the Chasamonpeak tribes to the north had sought her hand, and had offered alliance to Kilkanoo, chief of the Chowanokes, but his suit was rejected and he sought to obtain by violence what he could not by courtly supplication. 

      War raged for a time between Pamunky and Kilkanoo. Batz fought with the Chowanokes. His valor, his strategy and his success were conspicuous. He led the Indian braves. In a hand-to-hand personal encounter with Pamunky he clove him down with his Indian club, but the prostrate Pamunky sued for mercy. Batz’s ire softened, and he gave him his life. For Batz’s deeds of bravery Kilkanoo adopted him as a member of the Chowanoke tribe, under the adopted name of Secotan, which, interpreted, is— “The Great White Eagle.”

            Batz grew in favor and influence with the Chowanokes. He was always present at their councils, at their harvest dances, their war dances; and when they smoked the calumet he was given the biggest pipe of peace. Batz became an adopted Indian of the Chowanoke tribe. He adopted the Indian dress and customs. 

     The pretty Indian maiden, Kickowanna, whom he loved, and by whom he was loved, with winning words of love distilled into his willing ears the siren voice of ambition, and whispered low that when her father, Kilkanoo, should be beckoned up to the “happy hunting grounds,” he would be his chosen successor, King of the warlike Chowanokes. Batz and Kickowanna lived and loved together. She penciled his eyebrows with the vermilion of the cochukee root. She put golden rings in his nose and ears. She wound long strings of priceless pearls around his neck. She put the moccasin shoes and leggings around his feet and limbs. She folded his auburn locks in fantastic folds around the top of his head, and decked it with the eagle’s feather, emblematic of his rank and station. And then she gave him the calumet of peace and love. And while he smoked the calumet of peace and happiness, eye met eye responsive in language known alone to love. He then looked the big Indian indeed, and the dream of love encompassed them.

           While this dreamy delirium prevailed the stream of love ran on in its varying smooth and turbulent current. Batz, now a recognized power with the Chowanokes, made frequent visits to his old island home, sometimes prolonged. While there in his solitude, the waves and the seagulls sang a lullaby to his weird fancies. The beauteous Indian maiden sometimes came from her home at the upper broad waters, and her visits were love’s own paradise. She came from the opposite shore of the mainland, paddling her light canoe. No season knew her coming. Sometimes in the silent watches of the night, sometimes in the glare of midday. Always alone. Always aglow with love. And when she came it was love’s high pastime. The scream of the white gull was the chant of love. The monotone of the waves was the lullaby of love. The sighing of the winds as they swept through the pendant mosses was a sigh of love, the very solitude and silence of the forest was love’s chosen temple, and every nook and recess was a shrine.

            One night—alas, it was a night of destiny! The Indian maiden came, as was her wont. The angry clouds looked down, the storm raged, every scream of every sea-bird betokened danger nigh. The wind blew as ‘twas its last, the lightning flashed, thunder pealed and the welkin rang with the echoes of the blast. But love defies danger, and the pretty Indian maiden pushed through the storm to the lone island, with the roar of thunder for her watery funeral requiem.

            Batz never left the island more. He remained there till he died, a broken-hearted man, shattered in mind and body, and he rests there in his final rest till the resurrection note calls him to meet his loved Kickowanna.

[This was taken from Literature in the Albemarle by Bettie Freshwater Pool, 1915. 
The story was written by Col. R. B. Creecy.]

Nathaniel Batts (1620–1679) was a fur trader. In 1655, he was the first recorded European to permanently settle in North Carolina. His deed from King Kiscutanewh for “all ye Land on ye southwest side of Pascotanck River from ye mouth of ye sd. River to ye head of new Begin Creek” was witnessed by George Durant in September, 1660. Later he purchased an island in Albemarle Sound near the mouth of the Yeopim River that became known as Batts Island. Some charts refer to the island as Batts Grave since he lived a solitary life on the island and was buried there. The island eroded through the years and was totally destroyed by a hurricane in 1950.   Quaker missionary, George Fox, noted that Nathaniel Batts “hath been a Rude, desperate man.” In his later years, Nathaniel  spent more time with Native Americans than he did with other European settlers.  A 1650 map  identifies “Batts House” on the western bank of the Chowan River and the northern bank of the Roanoke River where the two intersect.

               A 1696 Chowan County Deed documents the sale of 27 acres known as Batts Grave.  The 1733 Mosley Map of North Carolina and the 1770 Collett Map both show an island in the Albemarle sound near the mouth of the Yeopim River and identify it as “Bats Grave.”

[Taken from Native Heritage Project Website:]