Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Some Customs, Incidents and Episodes of its Early Days.
By Richard Dillard Dixon

            The State magazine for August 5, 1933 carried the following about Edenton, Chowan County, NC.
            A marriage in those early days was something not to be entered into lightly but was a ceremony carrying many requirements and legal preparation. “That all regular Ministers of the Gospel of every Denomination, having the CURE OF SOULS, shall be empowered to solemnize the Rites of Matrimony; That any person applying for a Marriage License shall give bond, with sufficient security, in the sum of Five Hundred Pounds, with the condition that there is no lawful cause to obstruct the marriage; and that every Minister is authorized to publish the Banns three Sundays in the Congregation immediately after or during divine worship and may demand and take for his services the sum of four shillings, and no more.”
            In those days the process of getting a shilling changed into pennies took more time than is today required in getting a long-distance call to San Francisco. First the cashier at the old bank would unlock a small door in the brick wall; from this hole in the wall is taken a brass key (weight two pounds); with this key a massive wooden door is opened; then an inner door of steel is unlocked, exposing a vault built into the house, a dungeon-like place; then a lighted taper is brought and within the recesses of the vault an old hair-covered trunk is opened and the change made.
            Registrations of deeds and mortgages awaited the sitting of the court, meeting four times a year and presided over by the Chief Justice and the justices of the peace of the county. No deed or mortgage could be recorded until this court went through a long examination of the paper, heard sworn testimony of the witnesses to the transaction and questioned the parties thereto. If the instrument was found in order and ‘in compliance with His Majesty’s statutes in such cases made and provided,” the paper-writing was with deep solemnity ordered spread upon the records.

            … On a morning in April, 1781, as was his wont, Jeremiah Mixson, 80-year-old town crier, started on his daily rounds of the town. But that day unusually shrill and nasal was his voice and there was a nervous rapidity to the clang of his big bell with which he called the people to each corner before crying out the news. The citizens soon sensed that something out of the ordinary was in the air. Information had come that a strong British force, then near Suffolk, had orders to proceed to Edenton and to destroy it for having been one of the centers of resistance to English authority. Panic ensued. People ran to and fro, knowing not what to do. Alarms were sounded, bells rung and soon every man and woman had congregated on the green, seeking some way to escape their impending peril and the loss of their homes.
            A small speck is seen at the mouth of the Chowan (River) and soon a bateau touches the sand on the shore of the bay. Out jumped a messenger, telling the excited crowd: “I am from Windsor. We, too, have heard of Edenton’s danger. Our commissioners invite you to take refuge in our town. All public and private buildings are offered you as shelter. Come.”
            Renewed activity and hope. The people hastened to their homes and all night the streets were filled with the inhabitants, lugging their possessions to the docks. All craft of every kind were pressed into service. Into these piled the folks with their belongings. At dawn the strange armada moved westward, headed for Windsor. No living person was left in the town. Even the stock, dogs and cats were carried away. For seven days the town was like a city of the dead; houses empty, streets and stores deserted. Windsor was overrun, but the hospitable citizens received the refugees and made them as comfortable as means and facilities permitted.
            Then better news came. Cornwallis, hard pressed on his way to his last stand at Yorktown, recalled the Suffolk detachment to his army; the intended invasion and destruction of the town was rescinded; the people returned and Edenton still carries on.

[The State, August 5, 1938]

Monday, November 26, 2018

Crank the Camera

"Lost Colony" Filmed in 1921

            A town full of residents-turned-actors, $3,000 in grant funds, the hide of one ox, and other necessities were the makings of the 1921 film, Covering The Earliest English Expeditions and Attempted Settlements In The Territory Of What Is Now The United States: 1584-1591, aka The Lost Colony.
Elizabeth B. Grimball
Taken from "Women Film Pioneers"
            “Crank the camera, Mr. Peterson,” shouted Miss Grimball on the first day of filming—Tuesday, September 20, 1921. The final product was to be a five or six reel silent movie recounting the events that took place on Roanoke Island in the late 1500s filmed right there on the Outer Banks.
            The first day of shooting was pleasant, and the cast of local area residents—many of whom had never even seen a movie—went home thinking what fun it was to be a movie star.
            Not much film was shot that first day—only about 650 feet. The first scene depicted an old sailor on what purported to be the English shore telling stories about the marvelous New World to a young Walter Raleigh.  Another scene portrayed Governor White’s terrible grief when he returned to Fort Raleigh and found his daughter, Eleanor, and the other the colonists missing.
            Wednesday was slightly warmer, but still nice. However, some ill-fitting shoes began to pinch and the Manteo drug store sold out of corn plasters. Thursday was hot! The actors, dressed in velvet suits, petticoats, fake whiskers, and flowing wigs, began to lose their gusto for movie making.
            On Friday, the last full day of filming, the sun blazed down on Fort Raleigh and there was no breeze whatsoever. Virginia Dare, played by a Manteo baby, squalled at the top of her lungs, and, before the day was over, one of the overdressed ladies fainted.
            All that was left was the Indian war dance and this was filmed on Monday evening. The project, which had been months in the planning, was completed in just a few days.
A scene from the 1921 movie
The Virginia Pilot Online

How It Came To Be
            The movie never would have happened were it not for W. C. Crosby, Secretary of the Community Service Bureau—part of the State Department of Education—and Mabel Evans, the determined and resourceful Superintendent of Dare County Schools. (Yes, there was a female Superintendent in 1920!)         
            Crosby was captivated by movies from the get-go, and he convinced the Department of Education to produce a series of educational movies depicting historical events for the state’s schools. A $3,000 grant was awarded to finance the first movie—not nearly enough to make a full-length movie, even in 1921; but Crosby was used to making a dollar go a long way, and he set about making it happen.
            When Mabel Evans heard about the proposed project in the spring of 1921, she approached State School Superintendent Brooks to ask him to begin the visual education series with the story of Roanoke Island. He was reluctant at first, asking her if she thought there was enough talent on Roanoke Island to carry out such a large venture. Evans was able to convince him that the people in the northeastern corner of the state were up to the task.
John White’s Drawings
            Roanoke Island was a remote place, reached only by boat, with few amenities and few North Carolinians had never been there. The challenges of organizing and preparing to make a feature film in such a rugged place were staggering, but the local people rose to the occasion with vigorous enthusiasm.
            The collection of watercolor drawings done by John White in 1585 provided the filmmakers with a unique and valuable record of the original colony on Roanoke Island.  There were dozens of drawings of the fort and the Indians— their villages, their food, and their ceremonies. These drawings made it possible to present an extremely realistic view of the original settlement. 
A Lot of Work
            Planning for the big event got underway during the summer. The months of August and September passed in a whirlwind of activity. Evans wrote the script. She also recruited numerous bit players to act the parts of Indians, colonists and sailors, helped design costumes, and organized the preparation of the various scenes.
            Elizabeth Grimball, who had staged several dramas in the state, was selected to direct the movie. She chose players for the main characters: Gov. White; Ananias Dare, father of the baby Virginia Dare; Amadas and Barlowe, explorers who were sent by Walter Raleigh in 1584 to find a suitable place to start the first settlement; Manteo and Wanchese, native Americans who visited England; Eleanor Dare, daughter of Gov. White and mother of baby Virginia; Virginia Dare, Eleanor’s baby played by the squalling Manteo baby. Mabel Evans was given the part of Eleanor.
            Local seamstresses were lined up to make costumes for Indians, colonists, and sailors. Many costumes for the fine gentlemen were ordered from Philadelphia
           On September 9, the Elizabeth City newspaper, The Independent, described the Indian costumes: “Many untrimmed furs and skins will be utilized, and at least one ox will lose his hide in the costuming of A. J. Willis, who will represent Insinore, one of the Indian chiefs. Shredded strands of hempen rope will be dyed for Indian wigs, and beards will be made from crepe-hair, bought by the yard and dyed. For the complexion a special dye made by one of the big film companies and costing $5 a gallon will be used.”  The cost was about $1 each for the locally made costumes.

Children in 1921 movie
Village Realty Blog, 7/23/2013
            There was brouhaha over the design of the costumes of the Indian maidens. On August 5, 1921, in the Elizabeth City Daily Advance, Mabel Evans was quoted, “It makes one blush just to look at pictures of the original Indian dresses. We have decided upon certain modifications, the most radical of which will be the addition of shoulder straps.”                  
             Volunteers labored to rebuild Fort Raleigh, to construct Indian villages, and to rig a borrowed shad boat to simulate a ship of the late 1500s. Most importantly, it was necessary to remove all signs of modern civilization from the view of the camera.     
            By late August, the preparations were in high gear.  Props were being borrowed from private citizens, museum collections and, where necessary, improvised. The 150 to 200 costumes needed were almost ready.
            Miss Grimball claimed to have solved the riddle of why the colonists left. Miss Grimball had been at work in the woods on the island, “close by the site of the original Fort Raleigh and small denizens of the forest—mosquitoes, redbugs and the like—have shown her particular personal attention. She is sure that the colonists left to escape being eaten alive.”[1]
            Another amusing mishap was reported: “…A few days ago, … leaders in the [film] undertaking, made a hurried trip to Kitty Hawk Bay aboard the Gretchen … . The Gretchen was brought as close to the shore as the shallow water would permit; all divested themselves of shoes and hose and began to wade ashore.
            “As they neared the beach, the party found an underwater area covered with short grass, literally alive with crabs. Brooks, Crosby and Williamson, proceeding cautiously ahead, were making creditable speed, when they were halted by a call from Miss Grimball.
            “I’m afraid of these horrid crabs,” she said, “and I’m going to put on my shoes.”
            “No, don’t do that,” said Williamson, “you’ll ruin them. I don’t mind carrying you ashore.” Miss Grimball consented and he picked her up. 
            Williamson, who is director of mechanics for the school extension division, of the State Department of Education, is a strong man, and well able to carry a woman of medium size any reasonable distance under ordinary conditions. However, he is afraid of crabs, and in avoiding a particularly big crustacean with outstretched claws, he stepped into a hole, and partly lost his balance. The result was that Miss Grimball fell full length into the water, with a resounding splash!”[2]
The Making of the Movie
            The Atlas Educational Motion Picture Company of Chicago was contracted to film, edit and produce copies of the movie. Captain A. O. Clement, a well-know photographer from Goldsboro, was appointed the task of taking hundreds of still pictures, or “slides,” during the filming. And, of course, W. C. Crosby was everywhere, supervising everything.
            And then, at last, it was September 20 and the camera rolled—or actually, was cranked, and filming began.
The filming of the movie
Taken from "Women Film Pioneers"

Watch the Movie
            The 1921 movie disappeared for many years, but in 2011 a pristine copy was found and digitized. It can be viewed at https://digital.lib.ecu.edu/51195

[1] News & Observer, Raleigh, NC; September 16, 1921, Page 5
[2] ibid

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The First Black Professional 
Writer in America

George Moses Horton

            George Moses Horton was born in what is now the Rich Square Township of Northampton County, NC, the property of William Horton, Sr., who owned his mother and all her children. As a rule slaves did not know their ages, but it is generally agreed that George Moses Horton was born about 1797 and used the last name of his owner, William Horton.
            The Horton family moved to Chatham County, NC when George Moses was about six years old. Horton taught himself to read using the Bible, a spelling book and a hymnal. The  hymns became examples from which he composed his earliest poems. 

NC Historical Marker in Pittsboro

            In 1814, William Horton gave George Moses to a relative. When his owner died, the Horton family was separated and years later, he wrote a poem about this traumatic experience. The title was “Division of an Estate.”
            When he was about 19 or 20, George Moses began making regular visits to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where he sold fruit for his owner at the farmers’ market. He would compose poems in his head, say them out loud and sell them to university students. A student would tell him the name of his sweetheart and George Moses would compose an acrostic* on that name and pay Horton a small amount for the poem. These transactions led to Horton being known as the first Negro professional man of letters in the country and one of the earliest southern writers. For the rest of George Moses’ life, he was largely supported by his writing.
            It soon became evident that he had unusual talent and many, including James K. Polk, who later became President, encouraged him. They began giving him books and Mrs. Caroline Hentz, wife of a faculty member and an author herself, transcribed his poetry and helped him get his work published in her hometown paper, the Lancaster Gazette in Massachusetts. Horton’s first published poem was "Liberty and Slavery” which appeared on April 8, 1829.

            Friends backed Horton’s first book, The Hope of Liberty, in 1827. This made him the first African American man to publish a book in the South. He had hoped to buy his freedom with the profits from the book, but his master thought he was too valuable, and he remained a slave.
            In the early 1830s, his works were appearing in the Raleigh Register. By the time he learned to write in 1832, he had a weekly income of about $3 a week. He arranged to pay his master 25¢ a day to remain in Chapel Hill to carry on his writing and work as a handyman and servant at UNC. This arrangement continued for over 30 years until he was freed in 1865.
            Governor Swain, along with other sponsors, made possible his second book, Poetical Works (1845). His third, largest, and last book, Naked Genius, (1865) was sponsored by Union soldiers.
            After the war, Horton settled in Philadelphia where he continued to write until he died in 1883. Some of his best poems are protests against slavery. He also wrote a poem, "Forbidden to Ride on the Street Cars," that recognized that the end of slavery did not truly mean freedom.

*The first letter of each line of the poem was the corresponding letter in the girl’s name.

  1. Documenting the American South; George Moses Horton, 1798?-ca.1880, https://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/hortonlife/bio.html
  2. Poetry Foundation: George Moses Horton, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/george-moses-horton
  3. Wikipedia: “George Moses Horton,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Moses_Horton
  4. North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame: “George Moses Horton,” http://www.nclhof.org/inductees/1996-2/george-moses-horton/
  5. Footprints in Northampton: Northampton Bicentennial Committee, 1976.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Hero of Withlacoochee

Duncan Lamon Clinch

Nash County, NC Native

Seminole Indians Prevail in Western Florida

            It was a moment of indecision for the 27-year army veteran, Gen. Duncan Lamon Clinch, as he sat on his horse watching the Withlacoochee River, in western Florida, swirl before him—deep and 150 feet wide. He had expected to find a place where his men could ford the river, but torrential rains had made that impossible. The Seminole Indians, led by Osceola, were somewhere on the south side of the river, while he, with his 750 soldiers, was on the north side with no boats or rafts. What led to this dilemma?
Seminole Chief Osceola
[Taken from Legends of America
https://www.legendsofamerica.com/seminole-wars/ ]
            In 1834, Clinch was assigned to oversee the "peaceful and harmonious removal of the Indians [from Florida], according to their treaty with the U. States." He soon became convinced that "… they have not the least intention [of leaving] … unless compelled to do so by a stronger force than mere words." At a conference in March 1835, Clinch met with individual Seminole chiefs, hoping to persuade them to agree to move the following spring. He tried to convince them "of the utter folly of attempting to resist …; as it would bring misery and ruin upon their wives and children and on their Nation."
            At a council on April 22 the Indian chiefs all expressed opposition to the proposed move. However, Gen. Clinch declared that "he had been sent here to enforce the treaty; he had warriors enough to do it, and he would do it." The next day, 8 chiefs agreed to abide by the treaty, while 6 refused. The Indian agent, Wiley Thompson, declared the 6 resisters were no longer chiefs, and scratched their names from the roll of council members.
            During the summer of 1835, as plans were made for the Indian removal, it became evident that many of the Indians would not go peacefully. By October, Cinch was convinced there would be war. The settlers felt threatened and were demanding protection. There were not enough troops to fight the Indians and patrol the settled areas. The government, underestimating the number of Indians in the area, thought a "show of force would cow the Indians into submission; they utterly failed to comprehend what a determined band—even a band of poor fighters—could accomplish. …"

            In November, in preparation for war with the Indians, General Clinch began to move his men to his plantation, Auld Lang Syne, where he built Fort Drane. There were six companies of regular army troops, totaling about 250 men. On Dec. 24, Gen. Richard K. Call arrived with 560 mounted militia. Clinch was confident of his ability to defeat the Seminoles. However, the optimistic General was unaware that the militia under Call had only agreed to serve until Jan. 1, 1836—only a few days more.
            An Indian scout informed Clinch that the Indians were gathering at a town about 35 miles south of the Withlacoochee River and plans were made for an immediate attack. Unknown to Clinch and Call, however, the Seminoles had attacked first. On December 25, the Second Seminole War began with furious Indian attacks on plantations across Florida.
            Gen. Francis Dade had been ordered to march his troops along the military road from Fort Brook in southern Florida to Fort King in the north to assist Clinch. When Gen. Call learned of this, he told Clinch that the only thing that would save Dade was to have disobeyed the order to march. "Disturbed as the country is through which he must pass, he can never reach you."
            Call was right. On Dec. 28, the Indians ambushed and massacred the troops on their march, leaving only 2 survivors to tell the story. On the same day, Osceola killed Indian Agent Wiley Thompson. Gen. Clinch was unaware of those developments as he prepared to leave Fort Drane.
            On Dec. 29, Gen. Clinch, Gen. Call and their force of about 750 men left Fort Drane, marching south toward the Withlacoochee River. Gen. Call advised Clinch to move speedily to reach the Indian town, but Clinch did not agree. Call later declared that Clinch "… set out with every cart and wagon, mule and horse, he could raise on his plantation, or among his troops." With the noise of "horses pulling wagons out of the mud, and men struggling to carry supplies through the swamps," along with dogs running back and forth, flushing birds and barking fiercely, the army's arrival at the river would be no surprise to the enemy. It took three days to reach the Withlacoochee River instead of the expected one day.
Clinch Makes a Decision
            As Clinch surveyed the raging river, trying to decide whether to continue his march or to retreat to Fort Drane, he was certain he had the superior force, and that the destruction of the Indian village would make the Indians agree to the migration. However, the one thing he had not included in his supply train was boats or rafts. The only vessel available to the army was one abandoned, leaky canoe. With two men paddling, no more than 5 men and their equipment could be carried across on each trip. The transfer would take hours. Unaware that war had already begun and that the Indians were waiting in ambush, he decided to move his men across the river. After all, this was the only day he would have the volunteers as they would be free to leave the next day.
            The canoe made trip after trip, moving the regular troops to the south side of the Withlacoochee River. With no Indians in sight, the men who had been transported marched about 500 yards and stacked their guns and rested. Scouts pointed to signs that a large band of Indians had been there recently, but the transportation continued.
            It was 12:30 by the time the regular army was safely on the south side of the river. They made their way to a clearing surrounded on three sides by hammocks [elevated areas covered in trees] thick enough to conceal enemy warriors. The open terrain presented a perfect killing zone, and the Indians took full advantage of it. The regular force, resting in the middle of the open field, was ambushed by an army of 250 Seminoles led by Osceola. "… [T]he woods seemed to belch shot and sound. … Soldiers grabbed their guns and quickly formed a two-man-deep line of battle. … The regulars returned a devastating fire that drove the attackers back among the protecting trees."
            When Clinch reached the scene, he ordered the men to spread out and charge the Indians. At one point, the general shouted, "Men, I am ready to die on the spot if necessary, but not to retreat."
            The Seminoles fell back to regroup. During this time, about 50 volunteers managed to cross the river to aid the regulars. The volunteers quickly formed two companies and anchored themselves on the flanks of the regulars to prevent them from being cut off from the river. Clinch led his men in two more fierce charges, walking back and forth along the line after his horse was wounded. Finally the Indians retreated into the trees and swamp. The soldiers had held their line.
            The battle lasted about an hour. Clinch reported that he had 4 men killed and that over 100 Indians had died. The number of Indian casualties was never verified. One soldier, Lt. Chubb, displayed 2 scalps. His wife was not the most "credulous of wimen" and he needed evidence to convince her and his neighbors of his bravery.
Fierce Warriers

Dade Massacre, Florida
[Taken from Legends of America
https://www.legendsofamerica.com/seminole-wars/ ]

            In his book, Aristocrat in Uniform, Rembert Patrick described the Indian warriors: "The savages … made a most terrifying picture; their almost naked bodies painted in brilliant colors of war, their heads shaved except for a tuft of hair on top (which seemed to indicate both their willingness to be scalped and their desire to take souvenirs from the heads of the soldiers), and their bloodcurdling yells that echoed through the forests." Later, those who took part in the battle were to recall the "continual screeching and yelling of the Indians. … Their war cries began with a low growling noise and rose to a final crescendo that burst into a fiendish, nerve-shattering yell. After each shot the Indian uttered his frightful whoop, threw himself leftward to the ground (to confuse the soldiers who often fired directly at the flash of the Indians musket), and in his prone position hastily reloaded his gun."
Return to Fort Drane
            Clinch decided not to continue his march. Their supplies were inadequate to continue, the term of enlistment was over for the militia, and there were many injured soldiers that would hinder any movement of the command. Cypress logs had collected at a bend in the river and these were lashed together, along with the canoe, to form a crude bridge across the river. By evening, all the men were safely back on the north side of the river. Some horses and many guns were left behind and retrieved by the Indians. On Jan. 1, 1836, the army retreated back to Fort Drane. The Seminoles now believed that they could hold off any invader in their homeland.
            This was Gen. Clinch's largest battle during nearly 28 years of army service. He had underestimated the enemy and had suffered what many deemed a defeat. However, he could be proud of his performance under fire and the fact that he brought his troops home with only 4 casualties.
            Later, Osceola sent Clinch the following message: "You have guns and so have we; you have powder and lead and so have we; you have men and so have we; your men will fight, and so will ours until the last drop of Seminoles' blood has moistened the dust of his hunting grounds."
            A private who served under Clinch wrote the following to a New Hampshire Paper: "General Clinch received several balls in his clothes, and one through his cap, passing not an inch above his head. … when the balls pored like hail around him, not a muscle of his face moved …; a majority of the Indians present, probably knew him personally; … their fire was directed particularly at him—but he quailed not, calmly giving his orders and attending to their execution. … " In later years, he became known as the "Hero of Withlacoochee" and "Old Withlacoochee."
            This marked the beginning of what would be 7 years of savage war with the Seminoles that finally ended in 1842. The army captured many Indians, especially women and children, and moved them to the Indian Territory. About 500 Seminoles managed to hide in the Everglades and swamps of southern Florida where the white men were afraid to venture. The price of the war was the lives of over 1,500 solders and $20 million. It is unknown how many Seminoles died.
Life of Duncan L. Clinch
            Duncan Lamon Clinch was born in Nash County, NC on 6 April 1787. His parents were Mary Lamon and Joseph John Clinch. Mary was the daughter of Duncan Lamon who was well known in Nash and Edgecombe Counties. He received a grant in 1761. He served in the provisional congresses of NC and was a justice of the peace in Nash Co. after its establishment in 1777.
Portrait of U.S. General Duncan Lamont Clinch - New Smyrna, Florida
Portrait of U. S. General Duncan L. Clinch - New Smyrna, Fl. 18--
Black & white photoprint, 8x10 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.
https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/31295,accessed 17 November 2018.
            Duncan's father, Joseph Clinch, moved, as a child, with his family to Edgecombe County, NC from Isle of Wight Co., VA. The family settled near Tarboro, NC. Joseph joined the Continental forces on April 22, 1776 and family records indicate he was briefly an aide to Gen. George Washington. He returned to Edgecombe Co. and raised and equipped a militia regiment. After the Revolution, Joseph acquired land in Nash Co. and built a house on Swift Creek near the present-day Rocky Mount, NC. A bridge across the creek is still known as Clinch's Bridge. Joseph's wife, Mary, died in 1792, and Joseph died in 1795. Thus, Duncan Lamon Clinch was left an orphan at the age of eight. He received 378 acres of land from his father's estate, which he sold to William Bellamy in 1809 for $1200. No other records of his childhood have been found.

[Taken from Faith and Heritage: A compilation of Nash County historical notes]
            In 1808, US Congressman Thomas Blount recommended Duncan for a commission as a First Lieutenant in the Third Infantry of the U.S. Army. He was promoted to Captain in 1810, Lt. Col. of the 43rd Regiment in 1813, Col. of the 8th Regiment in 1819, and Brigadier General in 1829.
            After the Battle of Withlacoochee, he continued to fight the Indians as part of Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines' force until he retired September 21, 1836. He settled on a plantation near St. Marys, GA and was elected as a Whig to the Twenty-eighth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of John Millen.
            In 1847, Georgia Whigs selected the "Hero of the Battle of Withlacoochee" to be their candidate for governor. He was defeated.
            Duncan Clinch was married first to Eliza Bayard McIntosh. Theirs was a love match and they had 8 children: 1) Eliza Bayard Clinch, who married Robert Anderson, who defended Fort Sumter in 1861; 2) John Houstoun Clinch, married Elizabeth Higbee Waldburg, of Georgia; 3) Mary L. Clinch; 4) Duncan L. Clinch, married Susan Hopkins, of Georgia; 5) Catherine M. Clinch, married Barnwell Heyward, of SC; 6) Henry A. Clinch, married Ella Ford; 7) Nicholas Bayard Clinch; and 8) George W. Clinch, married Catharine Ferris, of Florida.
            In 1834, when Clinch was transferred to Florida, Eliza remained in Mobile, AL with the children. In March, 1835, their son, Duncan, 9 years old, contracted scarlet fever. Eliza sent the other children away and nursed little Duncan until he began to recover. On April 10, she joined her other children for a shopping trip. The next morning, she was stricken with fever, and, tired and worn from her son's illness, she died on April 15.
            After his retirement in 1836, Clinch married Elizabeth Bayard Houstoun, who had helped to care for Clinch's children after the death of Eliza. Elizabeth was in her mid-thirties and had never married. She was a good mother to the children and helped Duncan refurbish his home. She died in August, 1838.
            Duncan Clinch married a third time, to Sophia Hermes Gibbs Couper, an attractive 33-year-old widow, in February 1846. His third marriage, like his first, was a love match. Sophia lived until 1903.
            In 1849, Damon Clinch and his family stayed later than usual at their summer home in Habersham County, GA. They left by stagecoach in November, taking a train from Athens, GA to Atlanta. From Atlanta, they went on to Macon where Clinch was forced to rest. He died there on Nov. 27, 1849. He was buried in Bonaventure Cemetery, in Savannah, GA. The Southern  Whig reported, "The distinguished patriot and soldier is no more."
            In 1851, Clinch County, GA was established on the Florida border in honor of Duncan L. Clinch.

            (The Seminoles were Creek Indians who fled to Florida, controlled by Spain, to escape being enslaved by the British. They adopted many ways of the white man. Many blacks that had escaped slavery in Georgia and the Carolinas came to Florida and lived near the Seminoles. A union was formed between them because they had a mutual fear—slavery. The bond was so strong that the U.S. could not break them apart. The blacks became known as the black Seminoles.)
Much of the Seminole Wars were fought in the swamps of Florida
[Taken from Legends of Americahttps://www.legendsofamerica.com/seminole-wars/ ]

[Primary Sources: Aristocrat in Uniform; General Duncan L. Clinch, by Rembert W. Patrick; American Military Strategy During the Second Seminole War, by John C. White, Jr.]

Friday, November 16, 2018



An Extract from Cowper’s Reminiscences of the Good Old Times Before the War in Northampton County.

            In his reminiscences in the Patron and Gleaner (Rich Square, Northampton County, NC) this week, Mr. Pulaski Cowper tells of some practical jokes played in the old times in Jackson (Northampton Co.) by Mr. John M. Calvert, who had a keen sense of the ridiculous and a quick perception of a practical joke. After giving some of the jokes Mr. Calvert played on others, Mr. Cowper does not spare himself, but adds the following story, which appeared in the Washington Post some years ago:
            “Some years ago Col. Pulaski Cowper… was reading law in the town of Jackson, the county seat of Northampton County.
            “In the vicinity of Jackson lived Uncle Tom Wheeler. …It is said Uncle Tom was possessed of considerable means though somewhat miserly. At any rate, very few people saw him spending money.
           “One characteristic of Uncle Tom was, when away from home he was never seen without his gun, ‘Old Betsy,’ as he always called it. … Though he never went anywhere without his gun, no one ever saw him with any game.
            “It made but little difference in what direction Uncle Tom started from home to take a ‘little hunt,’ it was always nearer to go via Jackson; and some of his neighbors insinuated that the ‘wet groceries’ had some attraction for him, as it was almost a daily occurrence for him to be seen in town, and while he was ever ready, if drinks were proposed, he was never known to ‘set ‘em up.’
The occupation of Jackson, Northampton County, in 1863.
Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, August 29, 1863, p. 368. Neg. 80-455. FP1-46-W79-C582w-C18.
            “This reminiscence occurred during a court in Jackson, and, on account of an important case to be tried, there were a large number of people in attendance, estimated by some at five thousand. Near the court house was the store of Mr. John Randolph. … In the South, the storehouse in the towns and villages is not considered complete without a piazza in front. Randolph’s store had a very large one, on which were seated some fifteen or twenty men, including Uncle Tom. He had set ‘Old Betsy’ inside the store near the door, and he was sitting in the porch. …  
            Col. Cowper had become somewhat weary at the wrangling of the lawyers, over the admission of some evidence, so he took up his hat and walked out of the court house over to Randolph’s store, where he found the crowd in the porch teasing Uncle Tom about always carrying his gun and never having any game and some intimated that they did not believe he could kill anything. 
          Col. Cowper, seeing Mr. John Calvert, who was inside the store, take up the gun, and draw out the shot, leaving only the powder in, and set it back where Uncle Tom had left it, and being confident he had a ‘sure thing’ on the old man, joined in with the others in teasing him. Col. Cowper proposed to bet treats for the crowd that Uncle Tom could not hit his hat, if placed on a large oak stump about fifteen feet off. (Col. Cowper had on a fine silk hat, for which he paid $5.00 the day before.) Uncle Tom said ‘Well Laski,’ (that’s what he always called the Colonel) ‘I don’t want to hurt your new hat, but as you insist upon it, and propose drinks for the crowd, and as I feel a little dry, if you will let me take a rest, I’ll see what Old Betsy can do.”  
            “The Colonel said, ‘All right, you can take a rest, and sit down too, if you like.’ He sent five of six boys around town to tell everybody to come quick round to Randolph’s store, there was going to be a ‘free treat.’ He and Uncle Tom then went to the oak stump to put the hat in position. It was some little time before Uncle Tom could place the hat just exactly as he wanted it. While all this was going on, John Calvert took up the gun, which was near to the shot pouch, and filled her about half full of shot and set it back in place.

Starting from the 1890s, the blazer wasintroduced, and was worn forsports, sailing, and other casual activities.Throughout...
Taken from "Fashion in the Victorian Era and Regency Period"
            “Everything in readiness, Uncle Tom took up his gun, remarking, ‘Old Betsy, you have never failed me. Now do your best.’ Seating himself in a chair he rested the gun on the railing, took aim, pulled the trigger. Uncle Tom was picked up at the other end of the piazza, and the gun went cavorting through the air, and landed on the other side of the street. The hat, not a piece of it as big as a ten cent piece, could be found in the whole town. ‘Snaked by jings,’ exclaimed Col. Cowper. ‘A conspiracy—some one has played fool on me, but I’ll set ‘em up.’ All were invited to a saloon near by, where he arranged with the proprietor for drinks for the crowd. The Colonel then went to the hotel to get his dinner, and about two o’clock p.m. the line was formed, and the drinking commenced. They would go in at the front door, get a drink, and pass out at the rear.
            “About sunset the colonel went over to settle the bill, when to his astonishment, the drinking was still going on. The line had resolved in a ring, and was repeating, and ever and anon there would go up a yell, ‘Rah for Cowper.’ He called a halt on the bar-tender, who, knowing the Colonel’s ability to pay, was keeping the glasses filled. He asked for the amount of the bill. The proprietor told him it would take some time to count it up, as he had chalked it down on the side of the house. The Colonel asked how many barrels they had drank, and was told about two. He said he would pay for it at wholesale prices, and it was compromised for $117.50.
            “Colonel Cowper became so disgusted with the whole affair that he resolved to give up the study of law, and immediately packed his trunk, and hired a man to take him to the railroad. Just outside the town, on ascending a hill, an obstruction was noticed in the road. The driver got down to see what it was, and reported that a cart was bottom upwards. They took hold to remove it, when a voice underneath stammered out, ‘Hic: come in boys, free treat—rah for Cowper.’
            “Reaching the station, the colonel took the first train for Raleigh, (Wake County) where he opened an insurance office, and he is today considered one of the best and most reliable insurance men in or out of the State.”

[From the News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) 8 April 1897]

*Pulaski Cowper (1832-1901) was the son of  Lewis Meredith and Annice Collins Cowper. He grew up in Murfreesboro, Hertford County and studied law under Thomas Bragg of Jackson, Northampton County. He became private secretary to Thomas Bragg when he became governor. During the Civil War, he was clerk to Gen. Mallet in the conscript Dept. in Greensboro. After the war, he became involved in the insurance business, and for a number of years was the president of the North Carolina Home Insurance co. of Raleigh

            Cowper write for the University Magazine in Chapel Hill and for several newspapers. He also wrote biographies of Gov. Bragg, Judge David Caldwell, and compiled letters of Gen. Bryan Grimes to his wife during the war.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Root Hog or Die

        I have come on foot-back to fill my engagement (at Goose Creek, Pamlico County). I did not think when I left home yesterday, after finishing my week’s washing, that I would find such an assemblage of ladies and gentlemen, boys, girls and children. As I started to remark before I commenced, that as Mondays are my wash days, I could not get here any sooner on account of yesterday being ironing day and it did seem to me that my wife and daughters had more frocks, more petticoats, more dresses than any wash day ever before. I told my wife that she ought to have put off washing till later as I had been invited to deliver my famous address on the great and well known subject: “Root Hog or Die, or Words to That Effect.”
            Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to see you out today in such great numbers. Why, this hall is nearly full and I must say this is the largest audience I have had since I have been a stump speaker.
            There’s only one thing that worries me, my devoted friends, and that is that everlasting wash day. Every Monday morning, like the sun, that wash day comes around, and if I don’t get rid of it soon it will carry me to an early grave although I carry gray hairs of sorrow and trouble on my brow and fifty-four years of age to my credit. Still I live in hopes that some day I will either break my arm or have consumption and that pest of a wash day will be a thing of the past and a joy forever, amen.
            But like the North Carolina hog, I have got to root or die. Therefore, in order to save my bacon and also make money enough to be able to hire someone to do the family washing, I have taken to lecturing. And what a time I have. At times I have to walk to the speaking place, but that is on account of the committees who have to meet me failing to do so. Then, again, after hearing my lecture it is almost impossible to get board, and I have to leave between two suns. That is humiliating, but I’d rather do that than get in a wash tub, wouldn’t you?
            Now, what we need, ladies and gentlemen, is a hog that doesn’t root. If there had not been rooters this subject of mine would not have been known to fame and fortune. It is said, so Col. Fred Olds* says (Col. Olds is one of the best known men in the United States) that the origin of “Root Hog or Die” was started by Senator Butler. It is said that a good many years ago Col. Butler had a hog that was seven feet long and sixteen hands high or sixteen feet high, I forget which Col. Olds said, and Col. Butler used this hog as a fox-horse. That is, he rode him like a horse, saddle, bridle and all, and there wasn’t a horse in Sampson County that could beat him running. 
Image result for hog largest
            Col. Olds says this hog has been known to jump a ten-rail fence and never touch a rail. Well, time passed on, as time and wash days have a right to do, and this famous hog-trotter became old, as usual, and Col. Butler turned him loose in the huckleberry swamps with this parting injunction: “Good-bye, old hog. You will have to root now or die!” And the poor hog was turned away from his home in all his sins and a warm bed into the wide, wide wicked world and huckleberry swamp to root or die. Not a friendly voice to cheer him on his aged days. …

[Frederick Augustus Olds, 1853-1935, historian, newspaper columnist, lecturer, and editor, was born in Pitt County, North Carolina. ]

[Taken from the Raleigh Post (Raleigh, NC) 5 April 1900
The author was not named.]