Saturday, February 29, 2020


            Pinhook was a small community in Durham County that, by 1906, was a suburb of the city of Durham. Why the place was called Pinhook is not known, but it went by that name for a number of years before the Civil War.
Some questionable characters kept a resort at Pinhook, and near by was a grog shop. Close by this place was a camping place where wagons stopped on their way to Raleigh (Wake Co.) and other eastern towns before the time of railroads. The campers got water from the Pinhook well and made use of the grove near by where they tied their horses and were protected somewhat by the trees from the weather.
It is said that a man, who later was a citizen of Durham and became quite rich, was a pale, sallow-looking boy at the time Pinhook was experiencing its balmiest days. He carried watermelons out to the old camp ground, piled them up in the fence corners, and sold them to the wagoners who doubtless found them refreshing after their long draughts of fiery corn liquor which they bought from the Pinhook grog shop. In this way, he started a fortune which became quite considerable before his death.
[Taken From "Buy Garden Plants Online" website:]
            Besides being a favorite stopping place for the wagoners, Pinhook was known for miles around. Its fame spread as far as twelve or fifteen miles northwest, as may to this day be learned from the old inhabitants of the country communities and even the students of the University at Chapel Hill had the habit of coming over when they wished to go off on a lark. It was known as a place of brawls and rough-and-tumble fights, drinking, gambling and other forms of amusement, where the natives and visitors met to have a rough, roaring, and to them, glorious time.

[Taken from An Annual Publication of Historical Papers: Published by the Historical Society of Trinity College
, Durham, N. C. 1906]

Stage Coach Accosted

     Daring Outrage.—On Saturday evening last, the Fayetteville (Cumberland County)
stage was interrupted in its progress towards Murfreesborough (Chowan County), when about two miles distant (on the south side) from that town, by four men, each driving a cart, who on seeing the stage approach, formed a line across the road with their carts and began shouting like savages and uttering the most horrid oaths. The driver begged them to make room for him to pass, and not endanger the lives of his passengers and perhaps their own by attempting to stop him; but he was only answered by a fresh volley of shouts and imprecations; finally, he made a dash between two of them, but unfortunately broke some part of his gear in the attempt to pass and was compelled to draw up in order to repair it. There were three gentlemen passengers in the stage, who remonstrated with the carters on the impropriety of their conduct, and entreated them to desist, but to no purpose; they continued their yells and abuse, to which they now added threats of assassination, (declaring they were armed with daggers,) and were in fact about to attack the stage, each carrying a heavy club, when the driver took his seat and drove on. The assailants then in a trice disengaged their horses from the carts, mounted them and pursued the stage at full speed till they overtook it, when the passengers, in order to intimidate them, threatened to fire upon them, though in reality they had nothing to fire with. This probably had the desired effect, for the pursuers soon after took off and left them, at the same time calling out to the driver that they would “do his business for him the next time he came along that road.”
[Taken from 123RF]
            On the arrival of the stage at Murfreesborough, and the above adventure being related, it was ascertained that the men were all of one family, of the name of Johnson, and that they had left Murfreesborough that evening in a state of riotous intoxication. It is hoped, for the peace and safety of the community and the dignity of the laws, that the public authorities will not suffer this flagrant outrage to pass unnoticed. It is wonderful that the stage horses (four in number,) composing one of the finest teams in the country, did not take fright and run away with the stage; but it appeared as if these noble animals were abashed at seeing the degradation of their miscalled superiors, or deemed it a disgrace to run from such yahoos.—Herald.

[Fayetteville Weekly Observer (Fayetteville, NC) 8 Mar 1826]

Friday, February 28, 2020

In an Unmarked Grave Lies the Bones of One Who Years Ago Was Jeered For Foretelling Modern Inventions

[A prophet is not without

honor save in his own country.]

     Some times it seems that one is seized with a longing to drop into Gods Acre and read the inscriptions on the lonely tombs. It affords one food for thought to gaze upon these last resting places of those who have gone before—gone into the eternity the knowledge whereof is shrouded in mystery that only the sounding of the last trumpet will unravel. But often it is the unmarked grave that holds the greatest story.
     In the Episcopal Cemetery a few years ago the writer halted by a mound of earth that, only by its faint outlines, told that 'neath it a soul lay sleeping. A passer by said: "Old man Fred Proctor is buried there." Something in my informant's tones implied that Fred Proctor was more than an ordinary man in his day and a query confirmed my supposition.
     Fred Proctor is well known to many of our residents, though he passed into the long sleep ten or fifteen years ago.
     He was once a young man with thousands of dollars at his command. Wine and women consumed his fortune and left him penniless and without a home. He spent his last days in the poor house and it was there that he breathed his last. Kind friends laid his remains away in the Episcopal cemetery.
     Mr. Proctor made predictions, in his day, that were hooted. Many of these have since come to pass and are we to doubt that others are yet to become realities.
     He often said to listeners that the time was coming when the people of Pasqotank could stand in their houses and talk to people in Camden [Camden County]. Over twenty five years ago did he venture to thus prognosticate. He also predicted that the twentieth century would see the horseless carriage and trolley car. He predicted the setting of type by machinery and expressed no hesitancy in saying that five days would soon suffice to accomplish the trip from New York to London. He was hooted and jeered because of his firm belief that messages would be transmitted without the use of wires. People in those days, called him crazy.  He was laughed at by the shrewd business men of the day and hooted and jeered by children. The venerable scholar also predicted that ships would be built to sail in the air and boats constructed to run under water. All of these things have come to pass and people who have not forgotten him feel repentant now; that they should have treated his talk with so little credence.
    (Fred Proctor died 2 April 1888.)

[Tar Heel (Elizabeth City, NC) 24 Oct 1902]


     Raleigh, Jan. 30.—While attempting to take to the air again on the trip to Raleigh, airplane No. 24, of Langley field, Norfolk, in charge of Lieutenant James, pilot, and his mechanic, Sergeant Pemberton, crashed into a persimmon tree at Wendell [Wake County] Thursday, breaking the arm and dislocating the shoulder of Sergeant Pemberton and badly damaging the machine.
     The airmen alighted at Wendell for gas and repairs about 1 o'clock. The landing was made safely, but it was when attempting to start the flight toward Raleigh that the machine crashed into the tree.

[Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC) 31 Jan 1919]

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Thomas B. Littlejohn and Co.
A SMALL, but well assorted quantity of Dry Goods, Hardware and Crockery, which they will sell at wholesale only, on very low and convenient terms of payment.—They have also, Carpeting, and Carpets of various sizes, Black Pepper in bags of 40lb. each, Allspice in bags of 20lb. Chocolate in boxes of 50lb. a few chests Hyson Tea, a few boxes short Pipes, a few boxes of Tea China, in full sets, a few ditto Glass ware, Madeira and Tenerife Wine by the pipe or quarter cask, a few barrels Apple Brandy, Coffee in bags, Pork and Herrings by the barrel, a few barrels excellent pickled Salmon, and very good Northern Butter, in small firkins [casks], Bar Iron per ton or smaller quantity.
     Edenton [Chowan County], Jan. 10, 1797

[The State Gazette of North-Carolina (New Bern [Craven Co.], NC) 30 Mar 1797]


Oysters Destroyed by Thousands of Bushels Through Negligence of Inspectors

Belhaven (Beaufort County), N. C., Jan. 26
Correspondence of The Morning Post.

     Oysters plentiful, ten thousand bushels per day or more, but a great many under-sized and not culled. Two or three inspectors here, but they never have inspected yet, or it is so stated by the packers, and the cull law is ignored altogether. Your correspondent heard a man say that he had been in the oyster business here and at other places in the State eight years, and that he would take an oath that no inspector had ever inspected a bushel of oysters at his place of business, nor proposed to inspect any; but, on the contrary, he had asked the chief inspector to examine some at one time, for his own protection, and that he had only laughed at him, saying it was only a trick the boatman had played to get them off on him.
“Oyster pirates” are depicted dredging at night. Image: From “The Oyster War in Chesapeake Bay,” Harper’s Weekly, March 1, 1884; Library of Congress

     Other oyster men who are here in the business make similar statements as to the inspectors not doing their duty. This negligence of duty is chargeable to former inspectors also, two or three of theses at this place drawing pay, and if they ever earn a cent in the interest of the state it is yet to be known.
Men gather oysters using tongs and “under difficulties.” Image: From Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, February 8, 1879; Library of Congress
     Unless something be done to enforce the cull law the oysters in Pamlico Sound will be destroyed. The bottom of the sound is being scraped of small oysters, as well as the large, and carried away regardless of law, only to be destroyed, as they are entirely too small for shucking at a profit, and thousands of bushels of these are simply being cast aside. What a shocking waste! What wanton destruction!
[The Morning Post (Raleigh, NC) 28 Jan 1900]

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Surrender of Fort Macon
Edgecombe Native Takes Fort Without Fight

            It was April 14, 1861. The sun was low in the west when the 54 men from Beaufort and Carolina City [Morehead City], Carteret Co., NC marched from the steamer Cora onto the sandy beach at Fort Macon. The newly recruited company, led by Edgecombe Co. native Josiah Solomon Pender, was there to capture the federal fort that protected the port of Beaufort. The take-over was a gentlemanly, quiet affair. No shots were fired and the fort was turned over with a minimum of ado.
            What led to this quiet change of command?
Josiah Solomon Pender
Taken from "Find A Grave"
            Prior to the start of the Civil War, with no threatening enemies, forts along the coast of the US had been all but deserted. Older soldiers, as a reward for years of faithful service, had been assigned caretaker duties. Most of the forts had fallen into disrepair. Fort Macon was no different.
            There was only one man on duty at Fort Macon in April 1861—William Alexander, 50 years old, a 30-year veteran who had served gallantly in the Mexican War. His wife, Ann L. Livesay Alexander, a Morehead City native, also lived at the fort.
Alexander knew trouble was on the way. Other forts along the southern coast had been captured by state forces. He was part of the Beaufort community, and he had heard the secessionist rumblings. In fact, on April 2, Alexander wrote Col. H. K. Craig in Washington, D.C. asking for a revolver for his protection. On April 12, the day the war began at Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C., Alexander learned from Col. Craig that he was on his own. There were no revolvers available.
By the morning of April 14, Sgt. Alexander had already received word that Pender intended to capture the fort. He wrote Col. Craig again: “… A company of secessionists led by Josiah S. Pender of Beaufort are today going to seize this fort …am at a loss how to act, in premises, what to do, or where to go. I have served the US Army for the last thirty years, and am now no longer fit for any active service, have my family at the Post, and all of my property. The latter I expect to lose—having no where to move it—and cannot at this time convert anything into money.”
Cover of  Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
May 17, 1872
 From North Carolina County Photographic Collection #P0001, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill .
Josiah Pender was a fervent secessionist. It was clear to him that there would be a need to keep the port at Beaufort in southern hands. In anticipation of this, he formed the Beaufort Harbor Guards, a 17-man militia company. He was acting with no official authorization. NC had not yet seceded from the Union and, in fact, would not do so until May 20. On January 9, when local citizens seized Fort Johnston and Fort Caswell near Wilmington [New Hanover Co.], NC, Gov. Ellis, who was not ardent in support of secession, sent state militia to restore the forts to US control. Obviously, Pender could not assume Ellis would support the take-over of Fort Macon.
When news of the Fort Sumter, SC attack was telegraphed to Beaufort, Pender was ready to act. His company, along with other local volunteers, boarded the Cora for the short trip across Bogue Sound to Fort Macon. Sgt. Alexander had no choice but to surrender. He and his wife remained at the fort to pack their belongings and were removed to Beaufort on April 17. Alexander was ordered to remain there to await orders. Those orders never came, and he remained where he was until Union forces re-took Fort Macon in March 1862.
After Alexander’s surrender, the triumphant Pender telegraphed S.C. Gov. Francis Pickens of his actions. He also requested guns for the fort. Apparently, he did not notify N. C. Gov. Ellis.
State Takes Fort
It is not clear when Gov. Ellis learned of the take-over of Fort Macon. However, on April 15, when President Lincoln requested troops from N.C. and Ellis realized that the Union was ready to use force against the South, a decision had to be made. Would N.C. fight with its friends, neighbors and kinfolks, or against them? Gov. Ellis made the decision and ordered the seizure of all federal operations within the state. The Goldsboro Rifles, under the Command of Capt. Marshall Crafton, were ordered to take Fort Macon. In short order, Crafton’s company and the newly formed Goldsboro Volunteers [Wayne County] were on their way to Beaufort. The next day, they assumed control of the fort from Capt. Pender.
Fort Macon was falling apart. The moat surrounding the fort had collapsed. Only 4 cannons were mounted, and their carriages so fragile as to be unusable. The backbreaking work of reinforcing the fort began on April 17. By the next week, there were more workers than could be accommodated. Capt. Henry T. Guion had brought 61 free negro volunteers and 21 slaves. The Elm City Rifles [Wilson County], The Neuse Cavalry [Craven County], The Wilson Light Infantry, The Edgecombe Guards, The Guilford [Guilford Co.]Grays, The Orange Guards, and the Warren Guards had all arrived. Many of them were soon disbursed to other assignments.
Fort Macon today as taken from the shore.
The work continued throughout the summer, and by the end of August, the fort had been completely restored. The refurbished fort was officially turned over to the Confederacy on August 20.
Pender’s volunteer company joined the state forces on May 16 as Company G, Tenth NC Artillery with Pender as their captain. After NC seceded, the unit became part of the Army of the Confederacy. Pender’s son, Walter, only 17 years old, was a lieutenant in the Beaufort Harbor Guards. He was accidentally shot the next year. Some say the accident happened while he was instructing troops in the use of the bayonet. Another story is that he was playing around when he was shot.
Pender was not entirely happy with the situation after the state took over Fort Macon. On June 18, he tendered his resignation unless he was given a better position. The letter, contained in the William & Emmet Robinson Collection at Johnston Co. [NC] Heritage Center, includes the following: “… I have been promised time & again … Men have been promoted … neither practice nor theory in military matters. … I have submitted to be ruled & insulted even by those that knew nothing in regard to their military duties & in all human probability never will. …” The position he wanted was that of Lieut. Col. of Artillery.
Pender did not resign, but there were still problems. His wife was seriously ill in Beaufort; life at the fort was dull. In November, when his request for leave was denied, he left without permission. He falsely claimed that Gen. D. H. Hill had given him leave. He was also accused of having taken items from the Union with a forged requisition.  A general court martial at Morehead City found him guilty, and on 29 Dec 1861 he was dismissed from the Confederate Army for “Conduct unbecoming an officer & a gentleman.”
Col. Lawrence O’Bryan Branch wrote of Josiah, “ … I know him to be brave, enterprising and intelligent, and devotedly anxious for the success of the Cause. …” However, it is likely that Pender was relieved to be free of the restraints of military life.
[Taken from The Connector, Newsletter of the Tar River Connections Genealogy Society, Vol. 8, No. 2, Spring 2004]

Monday, February 24, 2020


            A wireless message from the Standard oil steamer Bayway when 150 miles at sea, was received here Saturday requesting that a physician be sent aboard the vessel as soon as she arrived in striking distance. In response to this call Captain John Moore carried Dr. C. L. Swindell off to the ship Sunday morning, she having arrived and anchored off the bar. The sick man was first mate C. R. Morgan. It was found that he needed an operation and so he was taken to the hospital at Morehead to get the necessary attention.
            The vessel, which was bound from Baton Rouge, Louisiana then proceeded on her way to an Italian port.
[The Beaufort News (Beaufort, NC) 12 Feb 1920]

Sunday, February 23, 2020


          “Fancy Shooting on Goat Island” announced The Advance (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County, NC; 20 Oct 1911.) “Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Topperwein, the celebrated marksmen, will give an exhibition of expert and fancy shooting here on Goat Island next Monday afternoon, which everybody out to see, as no such marvelous shooting has ever been done in this section.” The exhibition was sponsored by the Adylett Bros., retail and wholesale grocers in Elizabeth City.
Adolph and Elizabeth "Plinky" Topperwein
Taken from "Texas Co-op Power
and Trapshooting Hall of Fame & Museum
Who were the Topperweins? Adolph, born in Texas and son of German immigrants, began honing his marksmanship after seeing a famous sharpshooter, William Frank “Doc” Carter perform. In 1889, he began demonstrating his expertise in minstrel shows, later joining the Orrin Brothers Circus.
In 1901 he became a representative of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. While performing in New Haven, Connecticut in 1902, he met Elizabeth “Plinky” Servaty and they were married in 1903. Elizabeth took an interest in her husband’s work and began shooting. Soon, she became part of the team. They were billed as “The Famous Topperweins.” They traveled the world exhibiting their shooting talents.
            Adolph set several records, but it was in San Antonio, during a 10-day exhibition, that he made what the San Antonio Daily Express described as “the greatest shooting exhibition ever given.” He used three 1903 Winchester .22 automatics. During that time, an associate tossed 72,500 2 ½ in. square wood blocks into the air for Adolph to shoot. During that time, he missed only 9 times. The feat took 68 ½ hours of shooting and he used all the ammunition available in the San Antonio area.

[Taken from Mouse Guns]

1903 Winchester 22
Picture from Homestead Firearms
           Plinky Topperwein died in 1945, but Adolph toured until 1951. He died in 1962.

[Texas State Historical Association,
The Advance (Elizabeth City, NC) 20 Oct 1911]