Sunday, August 2, 2020

Every Town Has

A liar.
A sponger.
A smart Aleck.
A blatherskite.
Its richest man.
Some pretty girls.
A girl who giggles.
A weather profet.
A neighborhood feud.
Half a dozen lunatics.
A woman who tattles.
A man who knows it all.
One jacksonian Democrat.
More loafers than it needs.
Men who see every dog fight.
A boy who cuts up in church.
A few meddlesome old women.
A "thing" that stares at women.
A stock law that is not enforced.
A widower who is too gay for his age.
Some men who make remarks about women.
A preacher who thinks he ought to run the town.
A few who know how to run the affairs of the country.
A grown young man who laughs every time he says anything.
A girl who goes to the post-office every time the mail comes.
Men who had rather shed blood than be corrected in an error.
A legion of smart Alecks who can tell the editor how to run his paper.
Scores of men with the caboose of their trousers worn smooth as glass.
A man who grins when you talk and laughs out loud after he has said something.

All towns are blessed with the above to a greater or less extent. You can amuse yourself filling in the blanks for your town.

[Murfreesboro Index (Murfreesboro, NC) 24 Jan 1896]
Joseph Hewes Remembrance

     Mr. Minton H. Dixon, of Edenton (Chowan County), has caused to be placed in the outside wall of his new and elegant brick store, corner of Main and King streets in that town, a marble tablet with the inscription "Joseph Hew[e]s, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, owned and occupied this business site for many years." —Elizabeth City Falcon

"Joseph Hewes." N.C. Highway Historical Marker A-4, N.C. Office of Archives & History.
Joseph Hewes
[Picture taken from NCPedia at]

[Murfreesboro Index (Murfreesboro (Hertford County), NC) 29 Apr 1887]

 (Joseph Hewes came to Edenton, NC in 1755 and soon entered into a partnership to form the firm of Blount, Hewes and Company.)

Sunday, June 21, 2020


AMY BURFOOT, SR. ca 1734-1798
AMY BURFOOT, JR. ca 1760-1810
Mother and Daughter

     "When Amy Burfoot became a widow in 1780, she faced two conventional modes of procedure. She could remain more or less in retirement, performing such tasks as carding, spinning and weaving while managing her estate. Or after what was considered a decent interval, she could take another husband, leaving the management of the estate to him, while she still continued to card, spin, and such like. … Amy Burfoot … decided not to proceed according to the conventional pattern; she decided to employ her own talents in a business world which the menfolk considered reserved for their activities alone.
    " … Quite probably she encountered some masculine resentment at what was considered an improper feminine intrusion in an arena reserved heretofore for the male population. She also labored under another handicap in not being able to write her name … . Nothing daunted and with confidence, she embarked upon her career with vigor. Sometimes a deed reads as if she had dictated it, as, for an illustration, 'this being the very spot I bought of Josiah Gallop.' Her transactions were never large, … but they were regular and continuous until her death. …"

Map of Camden County
     Amy Sr.'s daughter, Amy Jr. was as practical as her mother. "She was a minor when her father died in 1780. About the same time the elderly John Griffin, well-to-do planter and millwright, became a widower. Before long he looked about him, as widowers often do, and proposed to the young Amy.
     "Now John Griffin was a highly respectable citizen and his possessions were sufficient to insure a wife a comfortable existence. Amy herself was not entirely destitute, having (received a small inheritance from her father.) Since a husband in those days practically acquired control of his wife's property, however, she may have been disturbed as to what provision an elderly widower with children might make for his second wife. … She may have felt that with her youth and the groom's advanced years, merely a marriage would hardly be a fair transaction for her. … Before she married (John), he deeded the prospective bride one hundred and fifty acres of land, ten slaves and a windmill, in fact all his possessions except the property he had acquired from his first wife.
     "… John Griffin and Amy were married. She bore him a son and a daughter. He seems to have been quite happy with the marriage inasmuch as at his death after nine years he left to his wife additional properties to those he had given her before the ceremony.
     "As a widow Amy Griffin faced a situation similar to that which her mother had known. She was still less than thirty years old and, unlike her mother, she decided to marry again. The situation was now somewhat in reverse to that of her first marriage. She had two young children, and there was the possibility that after marriage the control her husband would acquire over her property would deprive those children of what she considered rightfully theirs. Her fiance was an excellent young man, but before she married him she deeded to young Samuel and Fanny Griffin the real estate which had been given her by their father. …
    "Amy Griffin went on to marry Jonathan Lindsey of Currituck, and from all appearances they lived happily ever after. They negotiated several business transactions and they prospered, the husband no doubt receiving practical assistance from his astute helpmeet."

[Taken from Three Hundred Years Along the Pasquotank, A Biographical History of Camden County by Jesse Forbes Pugh, 1957]

Saturday, June 20, 2020


Thousands Saw Aviators, 
Flying From Washington to Fayetteville.

     Hundreds of Henderson (Vance County) people Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning got their first close up view of the big army airplane. Speaking of the incident the Henderson Daily Dispatch says:
     "The airmen circled over the city for ten or fifteen minutes Tuesday afternoon before they could find a place to alight. They viewed from aloft the race track at the fair grounds and also open lots to the south of the city, but none of these were suitable. The open field just to the left of the Middleburg road, beyond North Henderson, offered them their one best chance, and, as Lieutenant Murray said at  the hotel Tuesday night, it seemed so difficult to find a landing that he was 'beginning to pray for some soft trees to drop into.' It  would have been impossible for them to have remained in the air for more than a very few minutes longer, the flyers said, for gasoline was getting extremely low.
We don't know what plane landed in Henderson, but this is a Dayton-Wright DH-4 which was in use at that time.
Dayton-Wright Airplane Company

     "They said Henderson was on a direct air line between Washington and Fayetteville (Cumberland County), and that if it would prepare a landing field and let the army aviators know it, many of them would put in here for gasoline and spend the night when passing. It was their view, too, that there would be much flying from this time on through this section, the planes traveling between Washington and other points north to the artillery training station at Camp Bragg, at Fayetteville, which is to be a permanent camp for the future."
[Henderson Oxford Public Ledger ]

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Burning of the Steamer Greenville.

(Cor. of The News and Observer.)

     WASHINGTON, N.C., September 17, 1880.
     An alarm of fire was given at 8 o'clock this morning and the entire fire department turned out promptly. The steamer Greenville was found to be in flames, and although two streams of water were soon playing upon her, the fire gained headway for several minutes. The hurricane deck, various saloons, pilot house, engine rooms, &c., were composed of inflammable material, so that the flames shot with fearful rapidity from one part to another until all the woodwork above the lower deck was destroyed. The hull was saved almost intact and the boiler and engine are not materially injured. The loss is estimated at from $2,000 to $2,500. Current report at this instant says she is insured for $5,000. I can get no reliable information on this point, her owner being absent. The steamer Greenville is owned by Capt. A. W. Styron and runs from this point to Tarboro (Edgecombe County) in connection with the Northern Clyde line.
Steamship Greenville
Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center in Morehead City, NC
     The fire is supposed to have originated by the explosion of a kerosene lamp in one of the saloons. No other loss occurred, although several warehouses were in imminent danger.

[News & Observer (Raleigh, NC) 19 Sept 1889]

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Hardy Robinson
          Hardy Robinson of Pitt County, NC applied for a Revolutionary War pension on November 3, 1818. In his application, he gave an account of his service.
            Robinson enlisted in Bertie County and joined a company commanded by Capt. Redding Blount of the 10th Regiment of NC on July 20, 1778. He served until July 5, 1779 when he was discharged at Halifax, NC.
            Hardy Robinson was not in battle during the war. Instead, he spent much of the time working on a Fort at West Point.
            At the time of his application Hardy Robinson was in reduced circumstances and the following is a schedule of his property.
     one Horse bridle & saddle $70
     One pair of scissors $0.10
     One Cow & calf $15
     two chunk Bottles $0.20
     One Sow and Eight Shotes Seven or eight months old $8
     A ½ doz. Knives & forks $0.40
     one wheel and cards $1
     Two Benches one Small pot $0.50
     Fifteen Dollars owing $15.00
     one dutch oven $1.25
     one Axe $1
     one skillet $.50
     Two weeding hoes $1
     Two Cutter plows $2
     Two Baskets $0.50
     one scouter plow $0.75
     Corn standing in the field say about 20 barrels out of which $40 Rent is to be paid $5
     one shovel plow $0.75
     ½ Barrel flour $1.50
     one gimblet
Gimblet - Hand Drill
Taken from Etsy:

     15 or 20 lbs of salted Beef $0.50   
      half Dozen spoons $0.25
     half dozen earthen plates $0.25
     1 Pail 1 Piggin $0.50
Piggin - a small wooden pail with one stave extended upward as a handle
From Merriam-Webster Dictionary
      I certify that the above Schedule contains a true account of the whole of my property of every description.
S/ Hardy Robinson, X his mark
[Taken from Southern Campaigns Revolutionary War Pension Statements at]

Aeroplane's Limitations
as Seen by an Expert
[Orville Wright]
      In the opinion of one of the most celebrated air-sailors of the present day, the aeroplane, which he regards as the most practicable vehicle used for flights through the air,will never do much of a passenger business. And if this is true of the aeroplane as a common carrier, how much more true must it be when taken in connection with these military "invasions" about which so much has been written? Anyhow, this is what Orville Wright said just before he sailed for Europe this week to join his brother, Wilbur: 
     "I believe our machine is he best means of navigating the air. The aeroplane will fly faster, is cheaper to run and easier to handle than any other machine. The airship will have its uses, but will never be as practicable as the aeroplane.

[Soldiers at Fort Myer pull the 1909 Wright Military Flyer out of its temporary hangar.
Taken from Wright Brothers Aeroplane Compay website: ]

     "I do not think that air machines will ever take the place of trains and boats as passenger carriers. Our present machines, of course, are not built to carry more than four or five persons, but when the demand comes we will build machines that will carry a great many more. I would not begin to predict what the passenger limit of the aeroplane will be, but I believe it will eventually be used in special passenger service, to transport a small number of passengers from point to point."
     The English—even more so than the French—have been expressing alarm over the prospect of an aerial invasion by "the enemy." According to one estimate that has served to excite the London fire-eaters, an invading army of 100,000 men could be borne across the channel during the night. It sounds terribly practical to the layman, in view of the successes made by the Wrights; but Orville Wright now wakes the dreamers up rather rudely. Practicable as the aeroplane is, its use is apparently very limited. And this authoritative view is matched by the opinion offered by a foreign scientist, who shows that even if it were possible for all the aeroplanes that would be required to carry 100,000, an army of invasion, to make a massed attack, which, he argues, it is not, the still greater difficulty would remain of directing the movements of the aeroplanes safely and smoothly.
     These views are not merely conservative; they are eminently sensible.

[Raleigh Times (Raleigh, NC) 13 Jan 1909

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Who Stole the Pork?

        I THINK Mr. S. T. Jennings must be mistaken in his dates about “Who Stole the Pork?” for my regiment moved to Deep Creek, Virginia, on the 9th of March 1863. The reason I have the time so well fixed in my mind is that my father, who was in the same regiment, said to me, “You can remember this as long as you live, because it is your birthday.” We left there a few days before the battle at Gettysburg, and raided that country all the way to South Mills, [Camden County] North Carolina, and there were not ten loads of pork in all that country. Jennings says they stole ten loads of pork from th4e First New York Mounted Rifles, which they had captured from the farmers along the Deep Creek Canal. I went with a squad twenty-two miles out one day to look for some pork, and all we got was one small pig, and we had to kill that.
[Western Veteran (Topeka, Kansas) 8 May 1889]

Sunday, June 14, 2020


            Poughkeepsie, Dec. 19.—On Saturday Officer Thomas P. Bryant, of Hudson, came to this city and informed the Police here that, at 3 o’clock in the morning, he had arrested a well-dressed man in Hudson, who was suspiciously loitering about a store on Warren Street. On him were found letters which seem to indicate that a serious crime had been committed at Greenville, Pitt County, N. C. When arrested he gave his name as “John Y. Johnson, of Washington, D. C.,” but afterward said the last place he came from was Poughkeepsie, where he had been a student in a college. One letter found on him was addressed to “H. E. Nelson, Poughkeepsie,” and dated “Greenville, Saturday, Oct. 30,” and signed “Your devoted wife, Lizzie Nelson.” Besides other matters of a private nature are these sentences:
            “I do not know what to write you. In your first letter you expect me to believe you are coming home. You know that I know you can never, no, never, come home again. If you had given me more warning when you left, if you had intimated anything was wrong, if you had let me know it was an everlasting farewell, it would not have been so hard. *** You know I expected to go to the convention, and of course went to work to get ready. If you had only warned me. *** Let me hear from you. Do not run any risk to do so. I am afraid to send this. This may be the last you will ever get from me.”
            Another letter found on him was dated Poughkeepsie, Nov. 23, but not signed. It was addressed to no one, and seems not to have been enveloped. Among other things in it are the following:
            “I have only been a drawback to you ever since I was married to you. It is hard, so hard, to part with you. While I may have treated you wrong in a great man instances, your happiness was my only thought. But it is all over now. I have nothing more to look forward to. Our little boy is too young to know anything. My only hope is to see you and the baby once more and kiss you both and lay down and die beside my little girl. When you have received this I shall have solve the great mystery. I shall, the good God willing, be with my little girl and my mother in that better world. I shall have learned whether the good God is lenient or kind with such a wre3tched man as I am. I shall be before God to receive the reward; I am not afraid to go; not afraid to meet my darling little girl. And Oh, my darling, we will plead so much for your happiness. You must look as everything happening for the best. I would have only been a burden to you. You have no further risk to run in writing to me. This is the last letter a human being will receive from my hands, and this requires no answer, for in a few hours, if the Bible is true, I shall know what the future is. My last words and blessing, and a prayer to good God to watch over you that you may know no want or suffering. Kiss our little boy good-bye for me, and for God’s sake, for the love you have for me, don’t let him forget me. If I could take you in my arms and kiss you both, but to die so far away from home is hard. May God forever bless and keep you, and may we meet in that other world where all is brightness and joy and peace, is the last prayer and last words of your miserable husband.”
            The above, it will be seen, was penned a month ago. There was also found on the man a diary, in which was written the following:
            “Left Poughkeepsie on my tramp Dec. 14; roads full of ice and snow, and I walked 13 miles with nothing to eat. I passed through Pleasant Valley and Washington Hollow, and slept in a barn with a farm Laborer.
            “Dec. 15—Started at 8 A.M. and passed through Clinton Corners, where I bought 10 cents’ worth of crackers and cheese, and staid all night with a Mr. Case, at Case’s Corners, where I was well treated.
“Dec. 16—Started again at 8 A.M., and Dr. Herrick gave me a ride for a mile. Then I walked and passed through Rock City, Upper Red Hook, Clermont, and Blue Stones. Staid all night at this latter place, at a farm-house.”
            The diary contains no record of what he did on the 17th. When he was arrested he said he was looking for work. He said that the letters found on him were given to him in Savannah, Ga., by a man named Nelson to send to Greenville, but he had neglected it. While a student in Poughkeepsie he boarded in Crandell Street, and went away owing considerable board, and also took a student’s overcoat, which the Hudson Police have recovered. When he first came here he seemed to have plenty of money, and paid his tuition fee in advance and paid some board in advance. He also spent money freely among companions. Ion his diary also wee names of females known to the Police as disreputable. It also contained numbers of disreputable houses and sporting houses in New York City. One letter found on him was, apparently, from his sister, and in it she thanks him for a large sum of money sent her to complete her education at some college. The entire case is yet shrouded in mystery, though the Hudson police are of the opinion that the prisoner has committed a serious crime. Letters describing the case have been seen to Greenville, Pitt County, N. C.

[The New York Times, Published December 20, 1880]

Henry E. Nelson, the Defaulting Postmaster at Greenville, in Limbo Here—His Crime and its Consequences

            As was mentioned in this paper yesterday, Col. T. B. Long, superintendent of the United States mail service for this district, on Sunday brought H. E. Nelson, the defaulting postmaster at Greenville, N.C., to this city from New York, and placed him in the care and keeping of Sheriff Nowell. We had an interview with Nelson in his cell, and he was quite outspoken. Entering the jail, we gained access to the upper floor through a tiny doorway, and thence to a cell at the northwest angle of the building. In this lies the prisoner, in company with two other culprits.
            There was a clank and a clash of bolts and bars and the double doors swung open. Entering the cell, the first thing observable in the uncertain light was the figure of a man standing with pipe in mouth at a window slit. This proved to be the prisoner Nelson, about whom so much has been said. He is a man 36 years of age, and looks all of it. Rather squat in figure, he has a tolerably heavy beard, and is poorly clad. His manner impresses one by its uncertainty, for while at times he looks at one squarely, at others there is a sinister shifting of the glance, coupled with a dogged look.
            The man speaks in a mater-of-fact way of his crime and its consequences, acknowledging his faults, reproaching himself bitterly for his cowardice and expressing a willingness to accept the consequences, how hard so ever they may be. His statement of the facts of his life and the crime is as follows:
            … He was appointed postmaster at Greenville, Pitt county, in February of the present year. He held the office until August, when he was horrified, he says, to find that he was behind in his accounts. He was too great a coward to go and face the sureties on his $10,000 bond and tell them of his deficiency. His only idea was to get away, and, as he declares, get into some employment in which he could make enough money to set his accounts square by reimbursing his sureties. He went to New York, therefore, in the latter part of August, and in a day or two went thence to Poughkeepsie, on the Hudson, where, under the name of J. Y. Johnson, he entered as a pupil of the great business college there. He had in earlier life studied bookkeeping, and his desire was to perfect himself. He only remained at the school about nine weeks, and then concluded to come home. He had gotten as far as New York City, when his pocket was picked of all his money, which was but little, he declares. He managed to get back to Poughkeepsie in a few days. He knocked about there for a space, finding no employment, until finally he met a man who informed him that work was probably to be had at Hudson, a town forty miles away.
            To this town of Hudson Nelson then tramped, arriving there about two weeks ago. He reached the place late at night and started out to walk the streets until morning. About 3 o’clock in the morning a policeman arrested him and took him to the station house. There the officer charged him with being with a couple of men who were engaged in an attempt to enter and rob a jewelry store. These two men had been watched by the policeman and had finally run off. Nelson declares that he neither knew nor saw the two men, but was merely walking along the street. The authorities searched him, and on his person were found [the letters presented above.]        … Col. Thos. B. Long at once went to Hudson after him. He … was brought to this city. Nelson … refused an offer of bail which was made.
            The prisoner throughout the interview reproached himself bitterly for “not being man enough to face his sureties.”  He declared that in all the months he was absent life was a terror and a curse to him. He was glad to be back in North Carolina, though he lay in jail, for he had had more peace of mind since Col. Long got hold of him. “Life had been a perfect hell,” said he, and remorse and shame struggled for the mastery. He declared that he would not give bail unless he became seriously sick.
            In regard to the shortage of his accounts as postmaster, he was rather reticent, saying that in his hurried examination in August last, when he first discovered it, he estimated it at about $600. Col. Long estimated it at $1,800, and that amount his sureties were called on to pay. Both the post office and money order accounts were involved.
            Nelson says he wrote his wife only once while away, signing his own name to the letter. This he did while at Poughkeepsie as J. Y. Johnson. She had written him once using his own name. He did not tell her of the deficiency in his accounts before he left home, but the investigation by Col. Long in August showed her the facts in the case.

[News & Observer (Raleigh, NC) 31 Dec 1880]

Monday, June 8, 2020

Chowan River Bridge

            A map of northeastern North Carolina shows a small cluster of counties dangling from the southeastern corner of Virginia, cut off from the rest of the state by the Chowan River. Until 1927, these counties were only accessible by boat or from Virginia. The isolated counties were Gates, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, and Currituck. 

Six NC Counties Cut Off By Chowan River

            A bridge between Windsor (Bertie County) and Edenton (Chowan County) was approved in 1925 and the Chowan River Bridge was opened to the public on 2 July 1927. It was 1.5 miles long, the longest bridge in the state, and reduced the distance between Edenton and Windsor from 89 miles to 21 ½ miles.
            The official opening of the bridge on July 20 was a spectacular event. The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC) 21 July 1927 said: 
No Such Spectacle Seen By This Generation In State As That Yesterday at Eden House; While Bands Play, Throng Yells and Aircraft Motors Buzz, Ribbon Is Cut Removing Last Symbolic Hindrance To Union of Rich North East With The State; Admirals of The Navy, Generals of The Army and Men High In Public and Private life Present For Momentous Occasion; Edenton Distinguishes Itself Forever In Manner In Which It Handles Big Undertaking.
            Ben Dixon MacNeill, a reporter with the News & Observer, described his experience at the opening in his column, “Cellar and Garret” on 26 July 1927:
            “… most magnificent spectacle I have ever witnessed, and … the most delightful experience I have had this year. It was almost worth living a generation for. …I climbed aboard a naval torpedo airplane in Edenton Bay and after a little was wandering around in the sky above the bay and the river and the bridge. It was a big ship, and I could walk around and poke my head out first one window of the big cabin and then another.
            Scarcely had Lieutenant Commander Moloney pulled the craft gently out of the water when we began to have company in the air. Flying low over the great oaks at Hayes came the army dirigible TC-5, almost dragging its anchor-lines on the tree tops. Then its sister ship the TC-9i came over, and together we went toward the bridge where the celebration was to be presently staged. Beneath us the revenue cutter Pamlico was steaming its way slowly, and from its decks came faithfully the strains of martial music.
            At first the bridge looked like a spring stretched across the two miles of water, and as we drew nearer it widened. We came lower and swooped down, almost touching the masts of the cutter and soaring upward. The torpedo ship rode the air smoothly and easily, its great motor roaring. The slower dirigibles wee coming along in the rear, seeming scarcely to move. The bridge became a bridge, and there were automobiles crawling along its length. If you looked carefully enough the ceremonial ribbon across the Bertie end of the bridge could be seen. From out of the mists came a squadron of army observation ships, swift and magnificent, sweeping out of the haze in wild-goose formation. They wheeled and turned back, circling for their bearings. The dirigibles cruised over the scene and the navy ships zoomed and climbed up. Then the hour of the ceremony came, and the pilots of the aircraft, observing the time, moved across for the processional. The official parade arrived at the eastern end of the bridge.
            The dirigibles crossed over and turned, flying close together and low over the bridge. The squadron of army ships came over and took up position above and behind the dirigibles, and the big torpedo planes of the navy above and behind them, with their motors throttled back and drifting serenely. The parade moved across the bridge—the groundling automobiles bearing a distinguished company, and above them the silver dirigibles and above them the yellow-winged observation squadron and above them the navy’s craft.

            Never has there been such a parade anywhere. It almost made one delirious to look down upon the spectacle. I guess I behaved like a child at a Christmas tree. Anyway, I had my head poked far out of the rear cockpit, in the full stream of the exhaust from the great motor that was carrying us. I got dirty, but I had an enormous time. The procession moved on and came to the place of ceremony. The pilots gave their mounts full throttle and they soared up and broke the magic formation.
            Time may bring me to witness such another spectacle and I shall hesitate at no length of accumulating grim to be able to witness it. My white pants can get as black as Egypt and such hair as I have accumulate all the exhaust a motor can discharge and all the talkative females in Christendom can assemble to discuss my deplorable condition, but I shall give the, no mind. It was worth it.”

Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Ghost That Makes Booze
Officially Buffalo City, A Lumber Camp in the Carolina Swamps, Died Years Ago. But Today It Has Risen From the Grave to Haunt the Federal Drys—A Ghost that Keeps Its Stills Hidden in a Thick, Tangled Jungle and Refuses To Be Laid by Any Amount Of Raiding

By Ben Dixon MacNeill

     "The ghost makes liquor. Makes liquor with a prodigality and completeness that is without parallel anywhere else in the country, and liquor of an exceedingly high and desirable quality. … They call it Buffalo City (Dare County, NC). It is a ghost because a great lumbering corporation died there. And in its place has grown up what is perhaps the most extensive distillery in the United States.
     "Agents of the Department of Justice who have begun to turn gray above the temples puzzling over Buffalo City declare that annually, from this swamp-hidden village of 250 persons in the northeastern corner of North Carolina, 1,500,000 quarts of liquor find their way to markets in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Norfolk. Most of it is retailed in bottles that bear imported labels. No protest is made about quality. The ghost makes good liquor.
     "Time and again it has been raided, time and again a dozen big distilleries have been burned to the water's edge and thousands of gallons of distilled liquors and hundreds of thousands of gallons of 'mash' have been poured into the dark creeks that thread the jungle. But before the invaders have disappeared below the horizon the ghost has emerged from its hiding and gone back to work.
     "Lately an expedition was sent numbering fifty men, armed and equipped for invasion and siege. They succeeded in finding eleven huge stills. They burned the plants and wrecked with dynamite such machinery as could not be destroyed by fire. They discovered and destroyed more than 250 five-gallon glass containers full of new liquor. They took no prisoners.
     "Satisfied that a notable victory had been achieved, the prohibition forces withdrew to their larger boats and returned to their bases. The ghost would be sterile for a time at least, they felt.
     "Inconvenienced it may have been by the raid, but Buffalo City blandly fell back upon its reserves, relit the fires under the boilers that were left and continued to manufacture and ship the usual quantities of the usual qualities of rye liquor for the more discriminating demand and sugar-and-meal liquor for such of the trade as is satisfied with lesser qualities. The phantom of the swamp may resent raids, but it is not diverted by them.

These 11 North Carolina Ghost Towns Will Send Shivers Down Your Spine
[Taken from website "Only In Your State" at]
     "Innumerable times heavily laden trucks have been seized en route to remote markets with cargoes taken from a small swift boat in some hidden estuary of the broad sounds that encircle this ghostly town. Officers know that it is Buffalo City liquor. They know that it was loaded somewhere in the jungle in which Buffalo City stands hidden on its lonely creek. They know, too, that for every truck they capture a dozen or a score have slipped through their fingers.
     "LIke all proper ghosts, Buffalo City somehow belongs to another world—aloof, remote, inaccessible and not very much concerned about the periodical shoutings of those who would do something about it. At no time since the town's renascence has it caused an uprising of public sentiment. No sermons have been preached against it, no letters have been written to members of Congress by outraged neighbors—Buffalo City, happily for itself, has no neighbors. …
     "With the help of physical geography and its own ghostliness, Buffalo City makes liquor. The ghost has another powerful ally—civil geography—which has happily placed within easy reach dense and thirsty centers of population. …
     "Buffalo City, or East Lake, liquor is widely celebrated for a suggestion of excellent gin in its aroma and taste. The gin taste comes from the soft, densely colored fresh water of the creeks that tyread the illimitable juniper swamps. It is perfect water for use in the fermentation process preliinaty to distillation."
     Buffalo City's bootlegging operations thrived during the period of Prohibition. Before that, it had been a thriving community centered around the lumber industry. After prohibition, it died away. I will publish a story about the history of Buffalo City in a later post.

[Taken from the article written by Ben Dixon MacNeill in 1931 and published in several major newspapers, including The Des Moines Register,  and The Charleston [W. VA] Daily Mail.

Monday, May 25, 2020

    As the public mind has been agitated with a report that the SMALLPOX is in the FACTORY at the Great Falls of Tar River: We, the undersigned, residing in the neighborhood of the Falls, feel it a duty incumbent to efface this impression, by giving a correct statement of factsas it might produce both a local and general injury.
        There has been one case of Smallpox, about 4 or 5 miles from the Falls, quite remote from any public road; but the Kinepock (cowpox) has been introduced into the family, and has proved completely predominant—Not the least danger can therefore be apprehended in this case. And from the assiduous attention of Mr. Donaldson in timely vaccinating his private family, the hands of the Factory and the neighboring families, we feel a confidence in assuring the Public, there is no probability, and we might add no possibility, of the Smallpox making its appearance either in the Factory or its vicinity.
REDMUN BUNN,        
S. WESTRAY               
Great Falls of Tar River.
     January 25, 1822

[Weekly Raleigh Register (Raleigh, NC) 15 Feb 1822]

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Revolutionary War Pensions

            The subject of pensions for veterans of the Revolution was discussed from the earliest days of the conflict. Pensions were provided for soldiers disabled in the war, but not for the average veteran. The first pensions were offered to officers to keep them from deserting. Gen. George Washington worked for half-pay for life for officers who remained in service until the end of the war. However, by 1783, the treasury was not able to pay the pensions. Because a pension was often characterized as a “giveaway,” it was usually called back pay, and since the government had stopped paying its soldiers in 1777, it was true that they had not received the remuneration they had been promised.
            In 1818, Congress passed legislation providing pensions for indigent veterans and then, in 1832, all veterans could apply for “back pay.” This meant that a veteran had to survive forty-nine years after the war to receive a pension for his service. Beginning in 1836, widows of veterans could receive a pension.
            The records of veterans’ applications for pensions are available and provide insight into the lives of the men who won freedom for America.[1]

John Williams
Revolutionary War Veteran
Pension Application W18436

            John Williams, born in Princess Anne County, VA, lived much of his life in Currituck Co., NC. On 29th of August, 1832, he applied for a pension for his service in the Revolutionary War.
            Williams first volunteered for service in the militia in September 1775 in VA. He was stationed at Kempsville, Princess Anne County, VA.  
            Soon after John Williams signed up, the militia set up an ambush for the British troops, hoping to keep them from advancing to Great Bridge. However, on Nov. 15th, Lord Dunmore moved against the militia, and John Williams and his fellow volunteers were routed. After this defeat, according to Williams’ pension application, most residents of Princess Anne County took an oath of loyalty to the British.
            Williams left Virginia and moved his family to Currituck County, NC. There, he joined the army and fought in the battle of Great Bridge, serving under Capt. Alexander Whitehall. He remained with the NC militia and was often sent to find refuges. He was also employed as a blacksmith making handcuffs for refugees and repairing guns. He was eventually appointed captain of a company and continued in this capacity until peace was declared.
            John Williams was awarded a pension of $80 per year, to be paid in semiannual payments of $40. In 1833, he was awarded $160 from payments in arrears, plus his payment of $40, or a total of $200. John Williams died 7th Nov 1835. In 1838, John’s widow, Abiah Williams, applied for a widow’s benefit. She received the pension from the time of John’s death. She received 186.67 in arrears and $40 for her semiannual paytment for a total of $226.67.[2]

[1] Review: America’s First Veterans and the Revolutionary War Pensions by Emily J. Teipe, reviewed by Joanna Short: December 2002.

[2] Southern Campaigns American Revolution Pension Statements and Rosters: North Carolina Pension 6984; John Williams.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

     General Jeremiah Slade was born in 1775 in Martin County, NC. He served in the state House of Commons from 1797 to 1800 and as a state senator from 1809 to 1815. He was a Brigadier General in the War of 1812. He commanded the Fifth Brigade of the Seventh NC Division of Militia which included recruits from Martin, Edgecombe, Halifax and Northampton Counties. Slade died in 1824.
    Beginning on June 27th, 1819, Gen. Slade traveled from Martin County, NC to Nashville, TN. His daily diary of the trip seems to present a curmudgeon who found fault with many things along the way. We will not go all the way with him, but will follow him until he reaches the University in Chapel Hill.
 Dined at John Griffin's, stopped at Wilson Sherrod's, fed and rested my horse, bill 25cs., and arrived at Tarboro [Edgecombe County] that evening.
After arranging some private business and visiting my friends with whom I had some agreeable conversation on the subject of my journey, set out about 10 o'clock, bill Mrs. Gregory $1.50, McWilliam $1.20. By 121/2 arrived at Mr. W. Parker's to dinner, spent about 2 hours in very agreeable conversation with him and his amiable lady; bill 50cs. Set out at 3 o'clock, stopped at Daniels a few minutes to have my horse watered and get some grog, went on, met very unexpectedly an old acquaintance, Mr, James Blount, from Georgia. After usual ceremonies went on and arrived at sundown at the well known stand in Nash County, Mr. J. T's, where I put up the night. Went to bed supperless. Saw there all the features of uncivilized life and that Mr. T 's daughters though unmarried all had separate names, as Polly H , Ann B &c. 
Set off from T 's before sunrise. Bill 50cs. Memo. a lame man with a blind horse staid last night at T's who had been eight days traveling from Raleigh there, only thirty-five miles. Arrived at Major Alford's to Breakfast, where I met with every attention, and treated very hospitably. Bill 50cs. Arrived at Raleigh [Wake County] at 12 o'clock, at Col. Cooke's. After dinner having dressed strolled out to stroll up and down the principal streets without appearing to notice one of the puffed little great men of the city, being resolved to observe as little ceremony towards them as they are usually in the habit of showing to all strangers, and after visiting my cousins at Mrs. Pullum's, conversing with them for a while, I returned to my lodgings. In course of the day had occasion to call on the deputy clerk of the Federal court on business, was ushered into his office with all the hauteur of a French exciseman, and treated with every mark of supercilious pride and haughty arrogance and finally dismissed with contempt. After supper I retired  to my room where I was visited by J. B. Slade, my relation, who staid with me all night & we pass the time much more agreeable than I had done during the day. 
Left Raleigh at Sunrise, Bill $2.00 with a perfect confirmation of former opinion "that the citizens are a perfeet set of blood suckers who prey upon the vitals of the State and wallow in luxuriant indolence." Arrive at Jones' to brkft, ; bill (60cs. Arrived at Chapell that evening in a severe shower of Rain ( which tho' not so agreeable to my situation was most acceptable to visitors to that part of the country, as it was and had been for some time so dry as to endanger the crops of corn in all the upper country. Wheat crops uncommonly good, price 25cs per bus. & and little or no demand for it at that or even any price). At Mrs. Mitchell's Hotel was met and greeted as soon as arrived by cousin Jeremiah and Thomas B. Slade, dined, after the shower was over went with Cousin Thomas to Mr. Mooring's Hotel, was introduced to several collegiates of respectability & to Mr. Mark Henderson, attorney at law, whom I found particularly agreeable, polite and attentive, & as we returned to Mr. Mitchell's invited us to his father's, Pleasant Henderson's Esqr. to sup & spend the evening, which we accepted, (Cousin Thomas from an inclination to be with the young ladies of the family & I for the gratification of an acquaintance of so respectable a family). On entering the house I was introduced by Cousin Thomas to a Miss Kittrell & to Miss Eliza Henderson, only daughter of Mr. P. H., who, take her all in all (tho' not a Venus di Medici in form & feature) is as pretty, agreeable, and desirable as is rarely to be met with. She was easy in her manners, gracefull in her actions & movements, condescending and affable in conversation, still modest and unassuming. We spent the evening till late bed-time in very agreeable conversation, when we retired to Mrs. Mitchell's & rested for the night.
[As that appeared in The Raleigh Minerva (Raleigh, NC) 2 Jul 1819. This was about the time that Jeremiah Slade passed through.]
Thursday, July 1st.
After breakft. visited college which appeared almost deserted, except now and then a solitary Bachelor silently gliding across the long passages. The Dialectic Hall appeared much improved since my last visit, the library has received a large acquisition of books to the amt. of five hundred dollars within the last year. Met there Mr. Thomas Green, ov Va., late of the senr. class. He appeared very much reserved, and tho' we had been formerly acquainted he seemed not disposed to renew it. Returned to Mrs. Mitchell's to dinner and shortly after set out for Hillsboro, accompanied by Cousin Thos. Bill with Mrs. Mitchell $2.00. We arrived at Thompson's Inn in Hillsboro at sunset, disappointed in our expectations of meeting Mrs. Doctr. Pugh & others on their way to Louisiana, nor did they arrive during my stay in Hillsboro.
Lef Hillsboro after Breakft, Bill $1.80. Crossed Troliner's Bridge about 12 o'clock: had a smart words with Mrs. Troliner about the toll, paid 20 cs and parted in friendship.

["Slade Genealogy" at ;

Monday, March 16, 2020

Remarkable escape.

     By a dispatch received here on Monday, we learned of a terrible accident on the Wilmington & Weldon Rail Road near Whitaker's Station (Nash, Edgecombe Counties).
     By our exchanges, we learn the following facts.
     While proceeding along on schedule time, and when just over an embankment some twenty feet high, the engineer observed that a rail was misplaced on the track. He immediately blew his whistle and shut down the engine, but could not check its speed sufficiently to prevent thee accident. The engine and tender, second and third class cars, and ladies' coach all were tumbled down the embankment and literally smashed. The sleeping car alone remained on the track, and to this the ladies' coach was held by the coupling pins and greater damage prevented. The engine was turned wheels in the air, and is seriously damaged. The engineer, Mr. John Hewett,
escaped without injury, how it is unknown. Captain Geo. Morrison, the Conductor, was in the second class car, and also escaped unhurt. The passengers and train hands also escaped as by a miracle, no serious injury having been sustained by anyone. On the whole, the escape of all on board is the most miraculous thing on record.

[Whitakers, NC Train Station 1966
Piedmont and Western Railroad Club ]
     To Capt. Morrison, the passengers unite in ascribing great credit for his attention to them during the whole affair,—he speaks in high terms of the assistance rendered him by his engineer and the sleeping car conductor.

[The Tarborough Southerner (Tarboro, NC) 4 Jun 1868]

Sunday, March 15, 2020


Captain Swain's Body Cast Up by the
Sea—No Light Thrown on the Affair

     Four lives were lost at the wreck of the three-masted schooner, M. and E. Henderson, on the coast of North Carolina, about a mile and a half south of Station No. 17, 6th District. The circumstances attending this disaster were singular. It appears from the evidence taken, that on the 30th of November, 1879, patrolman Tillett, who had the morning watch on the beat south, returned to the house a few minutes after five o'clock in the morning, lit a fire in the stove and called the cook, then went upstairs, and looking with the marine glass from the south window, perceived, at some distance in the clear moonlight which lay upon the beach, a man whom he at first thought was a fisherman. Presently noticing that the man was without a hat, it at once occurred to him that he might have been washed ashore from a wreck. He immediately aroused the keeper and the crew, and starting out in advance, soon came up to a haggard and dripping figure, a sailor, tottering along very much exhausted, and only able to feebly articulate, "captain drowned—masts gone." The patrolman's surmise had proved correct, and this man was one of the three survivors from the crew, seven in number, of the schooner M. and E. Henderson, which, as was subsequently ascertained to be probable, had struck and gone almost immediately to pieces within an hour before.
     The survivor come upon by patrolman Tillett was at once conducted to the station and put in charge of the cook, and the keeper and crew started for the beach. They had gone about a mile and a quarter south of the station when they came upon a great strew of debris from the wreck, and saw, at the same time, some part of the vessel rising and falling upon the sea in the moonlight, about 300 yards from shore. Continuing on three-quarters of a mile further, searching for bodies among the fragments of wreck stuff with which the beach was strewn, the arrived at New Inlet, where they met some fishermen who reported having found one of the sailors floating in the channel, whom they had rescued and taken to their camp on Jack's shoal, a small island back in the inlet. They were now looking for others, and were joined in the search by the life saving crew, except the keeper and two of his men who boated over to the camp on Jack's Shoal where they found the sailor rescued by the fishermen. In crossing the inlet to the camp they saw what appeared to be a sitting figure upon the beach behind them, and the keeper, upon reaching the island, sent back the twoo men to discover what this object was. They found it to be another sailor, the third survivor. He was quite insensible, but although far gone, still breathing, and no time was lost in conveying him to the camp, where restoratives from the station medicine chest gradually revived him. The man first found, nearly dead when taken from the water by the fishermen, having been given hot coffee and rubbed and wrapped in bedclothes by them, was already so far restored as to be out of danger.
[May be Metropolis wrecked on Outer Banks in 1878. Taken from "Shipwrecks are still seen on the North Carolina Outer Banks," by David Rolfe, Winston Salem Journal (Winston Salem, NC) 29 Nov 2015. ]

    Of the four men lost from this vessel, the bodies of two only were recovered. The first came ashore on the 16th of December, and was that of the master, Silas Swain. The hair and face were gone from the skull. The body was identified by certain marks upon it, and also by articles found in the clothing. On the 29th of December following, another body, much decomposed, came ashore and was buried, like the other, by one of the station keepers. This body could not be identified.
     The names of the four men drowned, as reported to this office, are Silas Swain (the captain), Hess and Prentice (probably the two mates), and William (which would seem to be the first name of the cook). The names of the ship's company, excepting the captain, were unknown to the owners, and were obtained from the survivors in imperfect form given the three men being Spanish … .
     They constituted the crew, and this circumstance combined with their survival as a body when their officers all perished … gave rise to the belief, held particularly by some of the owners, that they had murdered the officers and run the vessel ashore. This suspicion of foul play subsequently caused their arrest and imprisonment in Baltimore, MD, but after a long detention they were released, no evidence of criminality having appeared.
     The cause of the loss of the vessel remains mysterious. She had been seen at sunset working along the coast in a northerly direction, and had attracted attention by her nearness to the shore. As the disaster involved loss of life, it was made, as is usual in such cases, the subject of special investigation, in the course of which the fact was established that the patrolman had left New Inlet on his return beat a little before four and reached the station a little after five o'clock, encountering no wreck upon his way. It is certain, therefore, that the vessel must have grounded on the bar where she went to pieces about the time when the patrolman reached the station, a mile and a half distant, and it is equally certain that she must have been almost immediately demolished by the surf, since a short time after the patrolman's return to the station she was found in pieces on the beach, the rottenness of her fragment also showing that a vessel in such condition of unsoundness, heavily laden beside with phosphate rock and pinioned on a bar, could not have held together under the blows of the breakers.
    Although the surf was heavy and a stiff breeze blew, it was a clear, moonlight night, and how a vessel could have stranded when the atmosphere was lit to the horizon is unaccountable, except upon the supposition that she was navigated with the grossest carelessness or purposely run ashore. The unintelligible English spoken by the three survivors made it impossible for the life saving crew to obtain from them any explanation of the disaster.
[Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1880; The Raleigh News, (Raleigh, NC) 2 Jan 1889]

Friday, March 13, 2020

Chowan Association
Report on Temperance

            Rev. B. B. Williams submits the following report on temperance:
            “At the session of the Association held at Gatesville [Gates County], 1874, we find adopted the following recommendations:
1.     When drinking houses are kept by church members that they be earnestly and faithfully admonished by the churches to abandon the wicked traffic, and that when the admonition of the church is rejected, the church withdraw its fellowship.
2.     The association earnestly recommends that the churches withdraw fellowship from those members who visit and drink habitually at tipling shops.

            We suppose the Association adopted these recommendations because she believed that the retail of spirituous liquors encouraged intemperance. This leads us to ask what is intemperance? Mr. Newcom defines temperance to be the “moderate use of things useful, and total abstinence of things pernicious.” Is intoxicating liquors pernicious? The assertion [sic] has more than once answered the question. Elder Babb calls it (in his report on temperance adopted 1876), “This more than Lernaean Hydra **** that has blasted the fondest hopes and laid waste the fairest fields of our Zion.”  Elder Overby says (report adopted 1874): “It is the bane of our churches.”—Both these reports the Association adopted; thereby declaring that Intoxicating drinks are pernicious, hence its use as a beverage is intemperance. Your committee instituted such inquiry as they thought would enable them to obtain the information necessary to report how the churches had received and acted upon the recommendations of the Association. They addressed letters of inquiry to nearly all the pastors in the Association’ for some cause unknown to your committee, the information sought has been by a large majority of the pastors withheld, only six responding. We are therefore unable to make a satisfactory report. So far as we have been able to learn, there are eight members now selling this “more than Lernaean Hydra” in quantities less than a gallon and it is frequently drank in their stores.
            Two have been expelled during the past year for refusing to abandon the sale of spirituous liquors. One has reformed. About seven-tenths of the entire male membership use intoxicating drinks as an occasional beverage, and a majority of these drink at tipling shops.
            It is a great pleasure to your committee to be able to report one church that all her members abstain from its use as a beverage. We believe that reform is greatly needed, and would recommend all lovers of Christ and sobriety to use every tenable means in their power to use every laudable means in their power to crush this many headed monster.”

[Biblical Recorder (Raleigh, NC) 19 May 1875]

Thursday, March 12, 2020

How Col. Pulaski Cowper Lost his bet on Uncle Tom's Shooting.

     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, who was as well known in Northampton as Col. Cowper is in the State. It is said that 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, as well as his dog, always accompanied him. And 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."
     This reminiscence occurred during a court week 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 … .
     Randolph's store had a very large piazza on which were seated some fifteen or twenty men, including Uncle Tom. He had set "Old Betsy" inside the store and near the door, and he was setting in the porch, about midway between the two front doors of the store.
     Col. Cowper …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, it 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."
[From FineArtAmerica Website: ]
     The Colonel said, "All right, you can take a rest, and sit down too, if you like."
     The Colonel sent five or six boys around town to tell everybody to come quick around 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 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.
     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, and — 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, someone has played fool on me; but I'll set 'em up," and all were invited to a saloon nearby where he arranged with the proprietor for drinks for the crowd. The Colonel then went to the hotel to get his dinner. 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 into a ring, and was repeating; and ever and anon there would go up a yell, "Rah for Cowper." He called a halt on the bartender, 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 little 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. 
     Disgusted with Jackson, he took the next train for Raleigh (Wake County).

[The Smithfield Herald (Smithfield, NC) 15 April 1897]