Friday, November 17, 2017

Descendants of Samuel and Elizabeth Watkins

Descendants of Samuel and Elizabeth Watkins

As I take a stroll through the Milton Cemetery and read the familiar names -- Watkins, Lewis,Irvine, Stamps, Richmond, Hunt, and Donoho, I feel I am "home" even though I have never lived in Milton. All of these names are intertwined in childhood memories of maternal ancestors I have known personally or through conversation and reference.

My great-great-grandparents, Samuel Watkins and Elizabeth Frances Stamps, daughter of Anna Beaufort (nee Ragland) Lewis and Thomas Stamps, married and moved from Halifax County, Va. to Milton about 1836. There he was a tobacco farmer and merchant. A member of the Presbyterian Church, he was a man of spotless "integrity" to quote his obituary.

Samuel and Elizabeth left five children: Henry Thomas who married Anne Bullock and moved to Granville County leaving a heritage of many descendants in the Henderson area; Warner Meriwether, who married Kate Walker, parenting Emily Watkins Donoho, a life long resident of Milton, and four other children: Charles, who married Virginia Ober and eventually moved to Richmond, Va., was engaged in business with his brother, Warner, in Milton as a merchant and dealer in leaf tobacco; Anna Stamps, who married Eustace Hunt, a member of the Milton Blues which became a part of the 13th N.C. Regiment, remained a resident of Milton for her lifetime; and John Lewis, my great-grandfather, who married Claudia Alcesta (nee Williams) Benbury Fox, daughter of John Gordon Williams and Sarah Mason Lee Wiggins of Easton, N.C.

John Watkins, born in 1839, attended Hampden-Sydney College in Va. and the University of Va., studying medicine. He was a member of the Milton Blues and left with them in 1861 when they became a part of Co. C of the 13th N.C. Regiment of Volunteers. An unverified family story is that he was interning in N.Y. when war was declared and rushed out, leaving a partially used cadaver, and headed South. He served as assistant surgeon and after a year was transferred to the Signal Corps in the same capacity. When mustered out at the War's end, each man received $1.12 1/2 as his last pay. Unable to split a quarter, he and another flipped for that. He lost, but the silver dollar is in the Confederate Museum in Richmond. Another family legend is that John saw so much suffering during the war he did not wish to pursue medicine so became a druggist in New Bern, N.C. and later a buyer on the Durham, N.C. tobacco market, finally returning to Milton to be in charge of Milton Roller Mills.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Milton Roller Mill History




Milton Roller Mill

For decades, Caswell County millers converted grain to flour and meal by grinding it between rotating stones. This technology was replaced by the roller mill, which crushed the grain between rollers. The old Milton roller mill stood on Country Line Creek. Beside it was the high trestle bridge over the stream. The open-ended building to the left was used to store coal. Photograph courtesy Jean B. Scott.
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When the mill in the photograph was built is not known. However, as of 2017 the remains of the foundation were still visible. The stone foundation walls were there, with at least three door openings and some smaller openings. One portion of the wall is seven-feet thick. The last mill to operate on this site was powered with a turbine, not a water wheel. The turbine is still there buried under the creek bank. Stone dam pillars were visible on each side of the creek. These pillars supported a wood and rock dam. The Atlantic and Danville Railway had a spur line to the mill.

Based upon the following newspaper accounts, it is possible that the original mill burned in 1906, was replaced, and that the replacement structure burned in 1944. When the original mill was built is not known, but the second article below suggest the foundation dates from the 1790s.

1906

"The Milton Roller Mills near Milton and owned by W. B. Lewis of this city were totally destroyed by fire at 9:30 o'clock the lurid glare being visible from this city. The loss is estimated at $25,000. The mills were the largest in this section and had a capacity of 100 barrels a day and were very largely patronized. The equipment was of the latest approved type. Some insurance was carried."

And, although the item was published in 1926, it appeared in a section of the newspaper called: "The Bee 20 Years Ago Said:" Thus, this would have been 1906.

Source: The Bee (Danville, Virginia), 17 March 1926, Wednesday, Page 3.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ferries at Milton, North Carolina

Click for Larger Image
Milton Ferries
The following is from: Motley, Charles B. Milton, North Carolina: Sidelights of History (1976):
"Several ferries operated across Dan River in the Milton area including Staton's Ferry which operated across the river about where the dual bridge is being constructed.
"Pictured on buggy on ferry is Robert Fleming. Picture made July 21, 1903. Staton's Ferry was purchased by a stock company in 1906. Dr. J. A. Hurdle was a stockholder and served as President. A single lane toll bridge was erected by this group to replace the ferry.

"It later was determined that approaches to the bridge should be changed which would require additional capital. E. B. Foote (father of J. B. Foote of Milton) purchased substantial stock and served as President of the Milton Bridge Company.

"This toll bridge operated until the 1930's when it was purchased by the State of North Carolina for a nominal amount.

"The State of North Carolina erected another single lane bridge about 1940-41. This bridge was moved from a Virginia location and is being used today (1976).

"Just north of this bridge the State is erecting the first dual lane bridge across Dan River at Milton. This bridge is scheduled for completion July 1, 1976."

Abraham Pope: Milton Cabinetmaker

Milton Intelligencer (Milton, NC),
6 Apr 1819, Tue, p. 4
Abraham Pope: Milton Cabinetmaker

The population of Milton, North Carolina prompted the North Carolina General Assembly to expand the town boundaries in 1818, and Milton also became part of a north-south road system that facilitated the movement of people and goods between Virginia and North Carolina. People on the move required accommodation, and in 1818 Union Tavern, a newly constructed and substantial brick building on Milton's Main Street, began offering the traveling public a place to rest and dine. Soon the town became a magnet to men engaged in business and commerce, attracting additional merchants, tradesmen, artisans, and mechanics to relocate in Caswell County, including fancy-chair maker Isaac Hutchins and cabinetmakers Abraham Pope and John Day Jr., initially, and Thomas Day, eventually.

Hutchins, who arrived in 1819, announced that his establishment, the first of its kind in Milton, could produce as well as repair elegant chairs, sets of chairs, and settees, could embellish them with paint, and could also provide fancy, ornamental, and sign painting. That same year Pope, an emigrant from Taunton, England, opened his shop on Main Street, promising to supply (and ship) an elegant and stylish assortment of mahogany furniture such as sideboards, secretaries, bookcases, bureaus, dining tables, breakfast tables, bedsteads, drop-leaf tables, and washstands.

In 1818 twenty-two-year-old Pope became a naturalized citizen. In 1822, for reasons unknown, Pope sold off the contents of his shop, including twenty-eight mahogany furniture pieces, along with raw material and personal household goods. The timing and scope raise the possibility that Pope had incurred substantial debt during the economic depression brought by the panic of 1819. The fate of Issac Hutchins remains a mystery, as he disappears from existing records.

Source: Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color, Patricia Phillips Marshall and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll (2010) at 12-13 (and related footnotes).
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North Carolina State Archives
Title: Ad for Cabinet Business of Abraham Pope, Milton, N. C.
Years: 1819 (1998)
Creator: Milton Advertiser, Alan Westmoreland
Call Number: N.98.10.31
MARS Id: 4.1.16.1580 (Folder)
Quantity: 1 Item(s)
Scope/Contents: Photograph from a newspaper shows an advertisement for the Cabinet Business of Abraham Pope at Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina. Photo taken from the Milton Advertiser [newspaper], 14 April 1819.
Subjects: Business; Furniture; Industry and Trade; Furniture Making; Mahogany
Personal Names: Pope, Abraham
Corporate Names: Abraham Pope Cabinet Business
Geographical Names: Milton
Source/Donor: Milton Advertiser [newspaper]

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bridges at Milton, North Carolina

Working Hypothesis (Milton Dan River Bridges):

1. The first "public" way to cross the Dan River at Milton probably was a ferry, but this early ferry has not been documented.

2. Pursuant to the 1822 charter, a toll bridge was constructed (construction date unknown), and this bridge washed away in August 1850.

3. Pursuant to the 1851 charter, another toll bridge was built (but not until after March 1859), and this probably is the bridge referred to as being twelve inches under water during the May 1873 Dan River "freshet."

4. Something, unknown, apparently happened to the 1851 bridge as a ferry was in operation just before the 1906/1907 steel toll bridge was built.

5. The 1906/1907 steel toll bridge was purchased by the State of North Carolina, and in 1936 the toll was discontinued.

6. The 1906/1907 bridge was replaced in the early 1940s by a new steel bridge. This bridge may have been donated by the City of Danville (but not confirmed).

7. The final bridge (concrete) was completed and dedicated in 1976 and remains in operation today (November 2017). In 2013, the bridge was named in honor of William Claire Taylor (1901-1988).
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Milton, North Carolina in 1854

Correspondence of the Dispatch. Milton, N.C. June 5th, 1854

"Mr. Editor: As your readers have from time to time been favored with descriptions of several places, it may not be amiss to give you a description of our town and its vicinity.

"The town of Milton is 12 miles below Danville, situated in the county of Caswell, on a beautiful and commanding situation, in the fork of the Dan river and country line creek,, the latter a stream of some size and length, having fine water power and lined with manufacturing mills from its mouth to its head. The stream nearly surrounds the town, and is crossed on its eastern border over a fine covered bridge. A few hundred yards below the bridge is a large manufacturing flour mill and saw mill on one side, and a large cotton factory on the other, both now owned by James D. Newsom, Esq., and in successful operation, employing quite a number of hands. About 12 feet from the factory is the Virginia and North Carolina State line.

"The population of Milton is one thousand or more, having two academies, a hotel, a branch of the Bank of the State, a savings bank, a fire insurance company, four large tobacco factories, where the finest tobacco is put up from the choicest crops of the country, the largest cabinet makers establishment in the State with its steam machinery, supplying the country for nearly a hundred miles around Milton. Also several other manufacturing establishments usually found in towns. We have also five dry goods, two groceries and two druggist stores, and a merchant tailor establishment, one male and one female academy and a primary State school for young persons.

"Milton is situated in the midst of the wealthiest and most productive portion of North Carolina, having on the low grounds of the Dan river the hycos and county line, the finest and best lands which our State afford, yielding an abundance of tobacco, corn, wheat, &c.

Caswell County Chapter #1152 United Daughters of the Confederacy

Caswell County Chapter #1152 United Daughters of the Confederacy

The United Daughters of the Confederacy, founded in 1894, at first included wives, widows and sisters as well as daughters and nieces of Confederate veterans or officials. One of the purposes of organization was to minister to the needs of veterans and their families and to perpetuate their memories. Today, UDC offers educational scholarships to descendants and among its many other charitable and educational causes, ministers to the veterans of all our country's wars in government hospitals.

Chartered in 1908, the Caswell County Chapter #1152 had twelve charter members. To date the membership has included nearly 100 Daughters.

Charter Members:

No. 1. Mrs B. S. (Mallie Graves) Graves, was the daughter of Jesse Franklin Graves, a member of the Governor's wartime Council of State, and a niece of Capt. B. Y. Graves, afterwards Lt. Col. of the 21st Regt.

No. 2. Mrs. F. W. Brown, was a daughter of George O. Williamson, Co. C, 3rd N. C. Cavalry.

No. 3. Miss Marnie Kerr, was a daughter of John H. Kerr, Co. B, 12th Regt.

No. 4. Miss Rebecca Lea Henderson, was a daughter of A. E. Henderson, Co. B., 12th Regt.

No. 5. Mrs Willie Myers Kerr, was a granddaughter of C. A. Myers of Co. H, 46th Regt., Virginia Volunteers.

No. 6. Mrs. Nannie Neal, was a niece of Wilbur T. Womack, Co. A "Yanceyville Grays" 13th Regt.

No. 7. Mrs. T. J. Florance, was a daughter of Capt. J. A. Lea, Co. H, 6th Regt.

No. 8. Mrs. J. W. Wiggins, was also a niece of Wilbur T. Womack.

No. 9. Mrs. Alice Waldo Rood, was a daughter of Samuel Price Waldo, Co. K, 3rd Cavalry.

No. 10. Mrs. T. P. Womack, was a daughter of Allen L. Hatchett, Co. K, 45th Regt.

No. 11. Mrs Mary W. Lockett, was a sister of D. S. Lockett of Co. 1, 13th Regt.

No. 12. Miss Katy May Compton, was a daughter of T. Y. Compton, Co. H, 6th Regt.

Active in Red Cross work in WWI, the Chapter renewed its efforts to erect a statue on the Square in Yanceyville to the memory of the Confederate veterans. The goal was finally accomplished in 1921. Caswell's first public library was started by the Daughters in 1939 and grew to the present Gunn Memorial Library. The chapter continues its charitable, educational and memorial objectives in the present day.

In memory of all the members of Caswell County Chapter #1152, United Daughters of the Confederacy who have honored their patriotic heritage during their lives, we respectfully reproduce here the membership certificate of our latest deceased member, Miss Fannie Sue Wilson, REAL DAUGHTER of John Gunn Wilson, Co. I, 5th Regt. N.C. Infantry, C.S.A., who died September 21, 1983.

Source: Whitlow, Jeannine D., Editor. The Heritage of Caswell County North Carolina 1985. Winston-Salem: Hunter Publishing Company, 1985, Page 629.
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