Monday, May 21, 2018


North Carolina Highway Historical Marker

ID: G-12
Marker Text:


Was Minister to Spain, 1845-49; congressman, judge, and legislator. Lived 1/10 mile north.

Location: NW corner of Broad and Fairview in  Milton
County: Caswell
Original Date Cast: 1938


Romulus M Saunders acted as a public official from the age of 24 until his death at 76. Saunders was born in 1791 in Caswell County, but moved to Tennessee at an early age after the death of his mother. When his father died in 1803, Saunders returned to Caswell County and continued his education at Caswell and Hyco academies until he enrolled at the University of North Carolina in 1809. When Saunders was expelled from the University in 1810 for firing a pistol and throwing a stone at a professor, he returned to Tennessee to study law, becoming licensed in 1812. After joining the bar, Saunders returned to Milton and entered politics as member of the House of Commons in 1815.

Saunders joined the State Senate in 1816, but returned to the House of Commons in 1818, where he was elected Speaker in 1819 and 1820. Saunders then was elected to the United States Congress in 1821, serving two terms until 1827. He acted as the North Carolina attorney general between 1828 and 1831, although he officially held the post until 1834, at which time the office was declared vacant because Saunders was actively holding an alternate position, which violated the North Carolina law against dual office holding. In 1833, while still technically attorney general, Saunders joined the commission on French spoliation claims, stemming from the French seizure of American ships in the early nineteenth century. Saunders’ involvement in the commission gave him a national reputation, but he returned to North Carolina in 1835 to join the bench of the North Carolina Superior Court.

Saunders served as a justice for the North Carolina Superior Court between 1835 and 1840 and again between 1852 and 1867. In between, he ran for both North Carolina governor and U.S. Senator, twice, and was defeated in each election. Saunders retained a significant position nationally, partially through his sponsorship of a resolution in the Democratic National Convention in 1844 that a two-thirds majority be necessary for a political candidate to be supported by the Party. The resolution helped North Carolinian James K. Polk defeat Martin Van Buren. In 1846, Polk appointed Saunders as minister to Spain, a post Saunders held until 1849. While serving as minister, Saunders tried to purchase Cuba from Spain, but was unsuccessful in his bids. After his resignation, Saunders returned to Raleigh, rejoining the Superior Court bench in 1852.

Saunders resided in Raleigh from 1831, but spent his early adulthood in Caswell County. From his move to Raleigh in 1831 until his death in 1867, Saunders lived at “Elmwood”, built in 1813 for Chief Justice John Louis Taylor. Saunders was one of North Carolina’s most prominent political figures in the nineteenth century, and was best known for his fierce partisanship and long political tenure.


William S. Powell, When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County, 1777-1977 (1977)

Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, III, 386-393

Ruth Little-Stokes, An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina (1979)

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 285-286—sketch by H.G. Jones

Ronald Ray Evans (1936-2018)

Ronald Ray Evans (1936-2018)

Ruffin: Ronald Ray Evans (Papa), 81, of 161 Richmond Rd., went home to be with the Lord on Saturday, May 19, 2018, at his home surrounded by his family. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at Wilkerson Funeral Home. Burial will follow at the Evans Family Cemetery. The family will receive friends at Wilkerson Funeral Home on Monday, May 21, from 6-8 p.m., and other times at the home. Mr. Evans was born on November 4, 1936, in Caswell County to the late Marjorie Sue Hughes Evans and Otis Ray Evans. Ronald worked as an electrician for Cooper Electric. He retired from American Tobacco Company after 28 years of service.

He loved being outdoors on his tractor. After his retirement, he enjoyed doing many things with his grandsons. He was a very loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. In addition to his parents, he was also preceded in death by a son, Rodney Lee Evans, Sr. Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Shelby Travis Evans; grandchildren, Rodney Lee Evans, Jr., David Wayne Evans and wife Lindsay and Jonathan Ray Evans, girlfriend Samantha and Amanda Bailey and fiancé Craig; daughter-in-law, Jamie Bennett and husband Mike; great-grandchildren, Alexis, Bailey, Isabella, Colten, Emily and Case, and sisters, Sandra Evans Tate and Donna Evans Handy and husband Cory. Wilkerson Funeral Home is assisting the family and condolences may be made at

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Will of Henry Turner (1721-1809) Caswell County, North Carolina

Will of Henry Turner [Written 9 May 1807]

Will of Henry Turner
Book F, Page 82
December Court 1809 (Caswell County)

In the name of God amen, I Henry Turner of Caswell County & State of North Carolina, being very infirm in bodie, but sound in mind and memory do make & ordain this my last will & testament.

I give and recommend my soul into the hands of almighty god, and my bodie to the ground to be buried after Christian like burial.

After all my just debt are paid, I give unto my beloved wife Anne Turner the tract of land including the plantation where on I now live, together with half the interest of the mill, and all the household and kitchen furniture, with the plantation tools of every kind; also three negrows, to wit, Sam; ___inney, and Abram, two good work horses, four cows and calves or with calf, four ewes and lambs, four sows and pigs and a sufficient quantity of corn and meet or provisions ___ to support her and her family and stock, for the term of one year after my decease; also I give to my beloved wife my cart of steers; all which I give to her during her natural life or widowhood; and after her death or marriage it is my will and desire that the whole of my perishable property not specially devised to any of my children or grand children, should be sold according to law and the money arising therefrom to be equally divided among my heirs. Except my sons John Turner & Henry Turner.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son Billey Turner one hundered and sixty acres of land, it being the tract of land on which I now live and including the tract which I gave to my son Henry Turner from whom he purchased the same together with half the interest of the mill, aforesaid, but not to intermelded with the mill or plantation on the South Side of the Creek till after the death of my beloved wife Anne Turner, also eight pounds Virginia currency to be drawn out of my perishable estate to his heirs and assigns forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my beloved son Thomas Turner, eight pounds Virginia money to be drawn out of my perishable estate to him and his heirs and assigns forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my beloved daughters, Elizabeth Lipscomb, Frankey Martin, Milly Jones and Nancy Kimbrough sixteen pounds Virginia currency to be raised out of my perishable estate, to them and their heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my beloved daughter Salley French, sixteen pounds Virginia currency to her, her heirs and assigns forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my daughter Mary Cochran twenty four pounds Virginia currency to her and her heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my grandson Yancey Turner eight pounds Virginia currency to him and his heirs forever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my grand daughter Mary French, eight pounds Virginia currency to be drawn out of my perishable estate.

Item.I give and bequeath to my grand daughters Fanney Turner, Delila Turner & Nancy Turner, daughters of John Turner, the sum of eight pounds Virginia money equally to be divided between them to be drawn out of my perishable estate.

Item. It is my will that my property, which I have not herein devised, shall be sold after my decease by my Executors to the highest bidder and also at the death or marriage of my wife, the perishable property which I have devised to her should be sold and after the several legacies are discharged which I have devised in money. It is my will that the overplus [surplus] should be equally divised among my following children and grand children, to wit. James Turner, Thomas Turner and Billey Turner, Elizabeth Lipscomb, Frankey Martin, Milly Jones, Susannah Donoho, Sally French, Mary Cochran, Nancey Kimbrough and my grand daughters Fanney, Delila and Yancey Turner, daughters of John Turner which is to draw one share between them.

Item. It is my will and desire that my son James Turner in consequence of a purchase _____ by him from my son Henry Turner by my knowledge and consent that the said James should draw two shares instead of one ______ part.

Lastly I constitute and appoint my sons James Turner and Thomas Turner sole executors of this my last will and testament, revoking all other wills heretofore by me made and confirming this to be my last will and testament. I[n] testimoney whereas I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 9th day of May AD 1807.

Henry Turner - Will - Written 9 May 1807. Wife Anne; sons John and Henry; sons Billey, Thomas, James; daughters Elizabeth Lipscomb, Frankey Martin, Milley Jones, Nancy Kimbrough, Sally French, Mary Cochran; grandson Yancey Turner; granddaughters Mary French, Fanny Turner, Delila Turner and Nancy Turner daughters of John Turner; daughter Susannah Donoho. Exec: sons James and Thomas. Wit: W. S. Webb, William Kimbrough.

Source: Caswell County North Carolina Will Books 1777-1814, Katharine Kerr Kendall (1986) at 116.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Jesse Richardson Siler (1793-1876)

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Jesse Richardson Siler (1793-1876)

Jesse, the fourth child of Weimar and Margaret Siler, was born January 31, 1793, in Pendleton District, S.C. The following sketch of his life was written by himself:

I was brought up by affectionate, and God fearing parents, with four brothers and four sisters. My parents being religious, from my earliest recollection, I was of course restricted in my conduct. I remember very distinctly one violation of their laws. William and I were gathering grapes when little boys. He was in a tree, and I below holding a hat, which had holes in it. As he would throw the grapes in, they would fall through, which aggravated me so much, that, to my shame be it said, I used language which was a very considerable breach of the order of the family. I was aware of the crime, and of the punishment that awaited me if father found out. William availed himself of this advantage and my weakness and kept me "under his thumb" by threatening to report what I had said. So, finding I was in his power or must suffer punishment of my father, I concluded it was a bad business, consequently have never used profanity since to my recollection.

Thus passing through the scenes of childhood and school boy days, I was scarcely ever ten miles from home, until the year 1805. In the spring of that year, my father took me to spend the summer with my brother-in-law, James Lowry, the husband of my sister Esther, who was living in Buncombe county, N.C. This separation from my home, the tender caresses of my mother, and the society of my brothers, from whom I was scarcely ever absent a night in my life, was to me a great trial; but I summoned up fortitude and bore it until the winter of that year, when my father moved to Buncombe county.

In November, 1814, I commenced clerking for J. M. Smith, of Asheville. Being awkward, uncultivated and timid, and unaccustomed to confinement, I would have been much happier with my parents in the country. But having set out with the determination to succeed, I looked forward with bright hopes, and by dint of application, became tolerably expert in business. I determined not to push myself into society, but to act industriously and honestly, with the hope that I should rise by true merit to rank with those of the highest family. I still retained in a good degree, the religious impressions of my education, and, determined not to disgrace myself, or my parents by immoral conduct, I covenanted daily with my Maker, that if He would protect and direct me, and crown my efforts with success in business, I would endeavor to be useful to the church and society.

After serving four years as clerk, Mr. Smith gave me an interest in business for three years, during which time I made the acquaintance of Miss Harriet D. Patton, sister of Mrs. Smith, who became my wife June 23, 1818. At the expiration of the three years, I bought land in the Tennessee Valley, and in the fall of 1821 moved to what is now Franklin, Macon county, and commenced business on my own footing. With gratitude I acknowledge that God's blessings have been showered upon me. In 1829, I joined the Methodist church. We had no house erected for the worship of God, and remembering my promise to Him, I set to work to build a church. I proposed to give the site and build the house. The good people aided me and in 1830, it was dedicated by the Rev. John Barringer. I felt happy in being able to aid in erecting a little monument dedicated to God, where my aged parents, who had moved to Macon county, with my children and friends, could assemble together in a comfortable situation and devote a portion of their time to the worship of God; and where, in the graveyard nearby, out bodies will rest together, when time with us shall be no more.

Mrs. H. T. Sloan adds to this sketch: "My parents lived happily together nearly sixty years, and were ever faithful in their attendance at our family reunions, and while their vacant seats in our family circle cause a pang of sorrow and regret, yet we know they have gone to fairer regions, and await us in the family above."

Harriet Siler died August 19, 1877.

Source: Arthur, Mrs. N. C., Siler, F. L., Jones, Paul, Johnston, T. J., Committee Members. The Siler Family: Being a Compilation of Biographical and Other Historical Sketches Relating to the Descendants of Plikard and Elizabeth Siler and Read at the Jubilee Reunion of the Siler Family Held in Macon County, North Carolina August 28, 1901 (Addition August, 1926). Franklin (North Carolina): Franklin Press, 1906/1926, pp.6-7 [some paragraph breaks added].

"Fairview" (Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina)

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Fairview Lot (Milton, North Carolina)

Deed Book U, Page 109/Kendall #2 at 77

Bartlett Yancey, Henry M. Clay, Warner Williams to R. M. Sanders all of Caswell County, for $100, 1 acre in Milton at the northwest corner of the stable of R. M. Sanders on Water Street to the bank of Country Line Creek, said land north of the R. M. Sanders house and lot on High Street. 1 June 1822. Witness: Benjamin Oliver.

Page 111-112

R. M. Sanders of Milton to John T. Garland of Halifax County, Virginia, for $4,000, lot in Milton on High Street at intersection with Water Street, being the lot purchased at sale of W. Williams where Sanders lived with 1 acre of land adjacent the stable. 1 October 1822. Acknowledged in open court.

Elijah Graves Sale to Paul Haralson: 1839 Caswell County, North Carolina

The following deed contains a lot to unpack. The abstract apparently does not do the actual record justice as the full conveyance covered part of three pages in the official deed book.

Elijah Graves Sen, of Caswell County, to Paul A. Haralson of Yanceyville, for $1035, 93 acres partly in Yanceyville adjoining the public square, Williamson & Smith, Thomas D. Johnston, Phillip Hodnett, William Graves, N. M. Roan -- beginning at the Yanceyville public square at Williamson old store house, then south to Johnston's spring branch on Ridge Path corner, Thomas Haralson (now Hodnett) crossing Courthouse Road with Azariah Graves (now Elijah Graves), John H. Graves (now Silk Manufacturing Company), Corbit (now Poteat). 6 August 1839. Witnesses: James M. Neal, Chesley D. Turner.

Caswell County, North Carolina
Deed Book EE, Pages 419-421

The Elijah Graves Sen (1778-1855) is so designated not because he had a son of the same name, but because there were younger relatives with that name. This is the brother of Azariah Graves (built the storehouse that still stands in Yanceyville and died in 1837). They are sons of Captain John Herndon Graves (1746-1829), who apparently owned the land on which operated the Silk Manufacturing Company.

Interesting is that this purchase of 93 acres by Paul Haralson is not described as adjoining property already owned by Haralson in Yanceyville. One of the most historic houses remaining in Yanceyville is the Clerk's House just southeast of the Caswell County Courthouse. This house apparently was build by Haralson in 1836, the first Clerk of Superior Court to occupy the house. The Thomas Haralson (whose property apparently had been conveyed to Hodnett) referenced has not been identified, with identification complicated by the various spellings of Haralson/Harrelson.

Where was Williamson's old store? Who was Williamson?

The Johnston in "Johnston's spring branch" probably is Thomas Donoho Johnston (1800-1883).

What was "Ridge Path corner"?

Was "Williamson & Smith" a business?

Eubank Family Marriages (Caswell County, North Carolina)

Caswell County, North Carolina, Marriage Bonds: Eubank Family

James Eubank - Elisabeth Eubanks
1 December 1791
Clayton Jones, J. Womack

George Eubank - Dicey Malone
3 September 1799
William Burch

 Stephen Malone - Celey Parks
 1 October 1804
 George Eubank

William Burch - Betsey Eubank
21 June 1805
William Hester

Loney Malone - Nancy Eubank
27 March 1811
Philip Burch

Roward Larkin - Frances Eubank
3 March 1816
Thomas Tindil, Isaac Rainey

Stephen Bowles - Mary Eubank
16 October 1818
Miles Wells, Jr.

Jacob M. Graves, Jr. - Polly Eubank
13 September 1827
Miles Kimbrough

Thomas Eubank - Nancey Graves
16 December 1828
Abel Faulks

David Ellison - Lucretia Eubank
24 December 1818
Robert McKee

William J. McDaniel - Priscilla Newbank [Eubank?]
23 May 1832
Solomon Whitlow

William B. Anderson - Sophia Williams
14 December 1858
George W. Eubank


1. The earliest Eubank/Eubanks Caswell County marriage record is in 1791.

2. William Burch served as a bondsman or witness in the 1799 marriage bond of George Eubank and Dicey Malone; and in 1805 a William Burch apparently married Betsey Eubank.

3. George Eubank served as a bondsman or witness in the 1804 marriage bond of Stephen Malone and Celey Parks, possibly underlining the relationship between the Eubank and Malone families, which is underscored by the Loney Malone/Nancy Eubank 1811 marriage bond (with Philip Burch as bondsman/witnesses).  A Malone family is associated with Leasburg, Caswell County, North Carolina.

4. Eubank/Graves family relationship: Jacob M. Graves, Jr./Polly Graves in 1827 (Miles Kimbrough bondsman/witness); Thomas Eubank/Nancey Graves in 1828.

5. A George W. Eubank was available in 1858 to serve as a bondsman or witness in a Caswell County marriage bond.

6. Nancey is a nickname for Ann. Polly is a nickname for Mary.