Saturday, March 17, 2018

Tobacco Warehouses: North Carolina

As Tobacco Slumps, Warehouses Close: The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), 3 August 2000

This year, another 15 tobacco warehouses have closed in North Carolina, bringing the number of active warehouses down to 89 - the lowest number in 50 years - and leaving the rural landscape littered with empty buildings where growers once celebrated or mourned the annual market season.

W. L. Hopkins Jr. kept the Piedmont Tobacco Warehouse in Mebane open for as long as he could; but this year, he and his wife, Lou, who kept the books, called it quits. Two years ago, he was down to two sales a week. Last year, his growers could produce only enough tobacco for one sale a week, and this year, he would have had one every three weeks. That's not enough to pay the workers it would take to run the warehouse.

His wife says she will miss the fellowship of the farmers and their families she used to see at the warehouse every year. "What I enjoyed about it, you'd meet all kinds of people, really nice people who worked hard," she says. "That's not an easy job. I enjoyed being around them."

Hopkins, 72, still raises tobacco with his son on the family farm in Alamance County. For now, he will continue to rent space in his warehouse for local manufacturers to store finished goods until customers are ready for delivery.

Warehouse operators have long relied on second incomes to supplement their tobacco earnings, which come mostly from a 2.5 percent commission on every sale. That rate, set by the General Assembly in the 1890s and unchanged since, may be part of the problem, Dunkley says. Though the costs of running a warehouse have steadily increased, warehouse owners have not been allowed to negotiate a more profitable cut.

Warehouses Close

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Deed of Trust: Historical View

Gazette and Roanoke Advertiser, 31 July 1830
Deed of Trust: Historical View

Gazette and Roanoke Advertiser, 31 July 1830.1

Here, a "deed in trust" (deed of trust/trust deed) was used to secure a debt created by a promissory note. By virtue of the promissory note, the borrower contractually was obligated to repay to the lender the amount borrowed (and interest if applicable). Without the deed of trust, the lender would be forced to sue the borrower in the event of a default on the note. However, the deed of trust provided a means of recovery by selling certain assets pledged under the deed of trust. And, often this was not real estate.

Here is how it worked. The borrower/debtor conveyed legal title to certain assets (including slaves in this instance) to the trustee (third party) to hold for the beneficiary (the lender) until the debt was satisfied. The trustee was able to sell the property if the borrower/debtor defaulted on the underlying promissory note. Of course, the borrower/debtor had the right to demand the return of the legal title when the debt was paid. Note, legal title to the trustee gave the lender a beneficial (equitable) interest in the property without right of possession.

You also will see in these older documents the creditor/lender/beneficiary referred to as the "cestui que trust" -- the person for whose benefit a trust is created. Although legal title of the trust was vested in the trustee, the cestui que trust was the beneficiary who was entitled to all benefits from the trust. Thus, "cestui que trust" = "beneficiary" = "lender".

While both a mortgage and a deed of trust were used to provide security for a debt, they were different. A mortgage did not involve the third-party trustee, and usually was enforced through judicial process in a court of law. A deed of trust involved the third-party trustee and could be enforced outside the judicial process. See the newspaper notice below where the trustee advertised sale of the property securing the debt. No court need be involved. Simply, a mortgage created a lien on the pledged property that must be enforced, while a deed of trust actually transferred title to the property.

"Looking Back" The Caswell Messenger, 7 March 2018

Click to See Larger Image

"Looking Back"

The Caswell Messenger (Yanceyville, North Carolina), 7 March 2018.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Clay-Lewis-Irvine House (Milton, NC)

The Clay-Lewis-Irvine Place House

When the Town of Milton was incorporated in 1786, Henry M. Clay bought lot number thirteen. The white clapboard house, which he built in 1820 [c.1815], is tall and steeply gabled; its portico is simple and well proportioned.

The house was bought in 1830 by Nicholas Meriwether Lewis and his wife, Lucy Bullock, of Granville County. There was another Lucy, Nicholas' [sic] sister, and it was she who loved the large square garden with its borders of box. It is said that the garden was laid out by the garden designer of Mount Vernon. Be that as it may, the box was arranged in a similar fashion, and for many years this was one of the noted gardens of North Carolina. A high brick [actually stone] retaining wall topped by a magnificent hedge of English boxwood separates the garden from the street, and behind this hedge grow iris and tulips, heartsease and forget-me-nots, violets and roses. Because she loved and tended it, to this day it is called "Aunt Lucy's garden."

In 1886, after the death of his wife and sister, Mr. Lewis sold the place to his nephew, John Lewis Irvine. Today it is the home of his two daughters, Miss Anne Irvine and Mrs. N. R. Claytor.

Henderson, Archibald. Old Homes and Gardens of North Carolina. Photographs by Bayard Wootten. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1939.

Caswell County Tobacco Season 1929

Tobacco Curing Begins: 1929

A mighty slashing of the superlative bright leaf is on in every section of Caswell this week. In every nook and corner of the county the fires are brightly burning under thousands of barns, and from reports coming in the leaf is being dried in matchless beauty.

While just a little too soon to correctly appraise the 1929 crop, it is indicated that the crop will be a good one, and the dried leaf will fill the demands of the buying eye.

The rain which fell all over the county last week came at a most opportune time, producing a blanket of moisture and just the right sort of a condition to hurry on the graining and maturing period.

Farmers believe, should the rains run true for the next few weeks and the nights grow a little colder, that you may watch out for Caswell to keep alive its reputation of years for the growing of the ultimate leaf.

In the Country Line hills many barns of the matchless Caswell county cutter have been dried, while the news comes from the Pea Ridge section that the Caswell county sunburst wrappers are likely to abound. Excellent cures have been reported from the Gentleman's Ridge section, the high grounds around Pelham, from Semora and other bright areas.

The crop, while likely to be below normal in poundage, is believed will be one of the most saleable in years. Next week the real slashing will be on and it is generally believed that the cures will prove satisfactory.

The Bee (Danville, Virginia), 14 August 1929, Wednesday, Page 3.

Merchants and Planters Bank (Milton, North Carolina)

Click to See Larger Image

Merchants and Planters Bank (Milton, North Carolina)

Check/Note No. 48 drawn by on Merchants and Planters Bank (Milton, N.C.) in the amount of $17.58 for 1900 taxes, payable to John Tabb Donoho (1860-1937).

While the payee is known, the drawer of the check is not known. The first initial may be "T" or "J" or "L". The middle initial may be "M" or "W".

Click to See Larger Image
Thus, one possibility is Thomas Moore Allen (1859-1926), who lived in the Semora Community of Caswell County, North Carolina.

Merchants and Planters Bank of Milton

In 1889, the Merchants and Planters Bank of Milton was chartered for operation, with up to $200,000 authorized in capital. This bank was given the option of establishing branches or agencies as its president and directors so designated. Among the incorporators were several men from Danville, Virginia, as well as the following from Milton: H. T. Riggs; W. M. Watkins; R. L. Walker; E. Hunt; George W. Thompson; J. S. Cunningham; John L. Irvine; W. T. Farley; W. W. Luck; and J. A. Hurdle.

According to Professor Powell: “The Merchants and Planters Bank flourished into the next century under the presidency of J. A. Hurdle and with J. L. Walker as cashier.” Whether this bank flourished or not is unknown; however, it apparently did exist as a banking entity until at least September 6, 1904. That is the date of the North Carolina Bank Annual Report for 1904, which included information on the Merchants and Planters Bank, Milton, as the only bank operating in Caswell County (which also was the status for 1903). However, the Report for 1905 contained no information of this bank, which presumably had shut its doors. The following from a newspaper of the time may provide the answer:

"The Merchants’ and Farmers Bank at Milton, Caswell county, a State bank, has failed. The assets in sight are about $31,000, $27,000 of this being in notes. The capital stock of the bank was $3,000."

However, unclear is the bank identified in the newspaper item. Milton had a Farmers Bank. It had a Merchants and Planters Bank. But, it did not have a Merchants and Farmers Bank; at least no record of such a bank has been found. The failure of a Milton bank around November 1904 would be consistent with the history of the Merchants and Planters Bank discussed above. Based upon the annual bank reports for 1903 - 1905, the bank was in business at the time of the 1904 report (September 6), but not when the 1905 report was prepared on May 29. Also, the Farmers Bank of Milton apparently discontinued business before 9 April 1903. Query whether the Merchants and Farmers Bank was a successor to the Farmers Bank.

An 1893 map of Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina, identifies the building generally known as the “Milton State Bank” building as housing the “Merchants & Planters Bank.” This would be reasonable as the Bank of North Carolina succumbed to bankruptcy in 1868, thus ending the use of the Milton bank building as a branch of that bank. With its builtin vault and dedicated public areas, this building continued suitable for banking activity.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Leasburg Tavern (Leasburg, North Carolina)

After this photograph was taken, Carolyn Moore Upchurch Thomas repaired the roof. Eventally, the Tavern was purchased from a later owner by a lady in Virginia. Her plan was to reconstruct it as a home. She purportedly took everything, including the bricks from the chimneys. So, the old tavern may still be "standing" somewhere in Virginia.

Photograph courtesy James B. Upchurch, Jr.