Friday, June 19, 2009

Interesting New Book

An interesting new book was just published. Titled "The Nat Turner Insurrection Trials - A Mystic Chord Resonates Today", the work was written by attorney Walter L. Gordon III, and is available from for $13.99.

"Walter L. Gordon's A Mystic Chord Resonates Today: The Nat Turner Insurrection Trials is the first book by a legal scholar to examine the 50 trials of slaves and free blacks charged with insurrection. Of the 45 slaves tried, 15 were acquitted, an acquittal rate in excess of 30%. Of the 30 convicted slaves, nearly half were granted mercy. The Nat Turner insurrection was the crest of a wave of insurrections in Virginia between 1800 and 1831. After the Nat Turner insurrection trials there were no further slave insurrections in Virginia until John Brown's raid in 1859. In addition, it is the first book to compare the aftermath of the Nat Turner insurrection, the largest terrorist attack on American soil at that time, to 9/11, with an effort to draw lessons for today from the past. "

Although the book doesn't appear to mention Murfreesboro's role in the Nat Turner Story, it is an interesting account of the insurrection with special emphasis on the trials. For a detailed account of the events from Murfreesboro's point of view, consult Thomas Parramore's 2004 book "Murfreesboro, North Carolina and the Roots of Nat Turner’s Revolt".

Fannie Southall's Death

Raleigh Biblical Recorder, April 15, 1853:

(From Dr. Samuel J. Wheeler, on a visit to relatives in Mississippi. Samuel Wheeler at the time owned and lived in the Wheeler House.)

"My pen is sad to-night; news from Carolina renders me melancholy. A letter just received, contains the following morceau:

'When quiet and composure were brought about, they proceeded from giving away of the power of life. It was the calm preceeding death. As the lamp of life flickered in its socket for the last time, her consciousness returned, and reason reascended her throne; she recognized her father, who had been her constant attendant during the wild delirium that had supplanted her judgement, with her dying breath whisperedin his ear 'though I walk the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil' and died quiet and resigned. G.C.M.'

I had left this fair young being blooming in health and beauty but a few short months since, the life of every circle, the cynosure of all eyes;and hoped again to see her, and spend years of pleasure with her; but she is gone. I can only say, farewell, dear cousin. To relieve an aching heart, before closing my eyes in sleep, I penned the following lines:

'In memory of Miss .F. Southall, late of Murfreesboro N.C. ....

(Long poem follows. Dr. Wheeler had heard of Fannie Southall's death from his brother-in-law, Dr. Godwin Cotton Moore. She was the daughter of John W. Southall by his first marriage to Julia Johnson.)

"The Dr. Gary House" or "The Benjamin B. Camp House"

The historic Murfreesboro residence known as the "Dr. Gary House" is currently for sale.

Photographs and a description of the house (list price $399,000) can be viewed on the United Country Realty site.

I recall once having to give a tour of the Dr. Gary house to descendants, and not being able to find much of a written history. However, I recently came across something Thomas Parramore wrote in 1975. His research at the time left some questions unanswered (perhaps they remain unanswered ??) but I thought it might still be interesting to post his research anyway.

"This property was sold by James W. Hill in 1879 to Kader Biggs, a merchant from Martin County. Biggs sold it in 1881 to Cornelia Grimes and Mrs. Grimes, I believe, sold it to Dr. John Turner Eldridge. The 1881 deed states that Hill bought the property from heirs of Benjamin B. Camp (see Deed Book K, p. 228, at the court house).

Benjamin B. Camp was a native of Connecticut who came to Murfreesboro around 1821 and became a business partner of Joseph G. Rea, in "Rea and Camp's" store. They were also ship owners. Camp was colonel of Murfreesboro's militia unit, the "Governor's Guards', which escorted Lafayette in 1825. He died on October 9, 1833, at the age of 39.

Dr. Thomas O'Dwyer's diary for July 29, 1825 records that "Dr. O'Bryan called & says he sold his lot & buildings to J.G. Rea for B. Camp for $950." O'Bryan had offered the place to O'Dwyer on July 7th, "as he declines the Practice of Phisic & wishes to move to the Westn. Country - decline purchasing as I would rather sell." It is not certain that this is the same property that was sold by Camp's estate to Hill, but it could be.

In the 1845 Tax Census of Murfreesboro, James W. Hill is listed as owner of one piece of property valued at $120. He was also co-owner with Lewis T, Spiers, of "Hill & Spiers" general store at the northeast corner of Sycamore and Main, valued at $500.

The brick said to have been found in the main chimney bearing the numbers 1766 should not be taken as evidence of the antiquity of the house. The brick may have come originally from some other structure and the numbers may not refer to a date at all. It may originally have been a one-story, four-room house, as is thought, but there is no house in Murfreesboro that can safely be regarded as having been built before 1810. Earlier dates are claimed for many of the present structures there, but none will stand the test of critical analysis. When Murfreesboro was laid off in 1787, there is reason to believe that there was nothing in the vicinity except the Murfree home, which probably stood near the old landing. William Murfree sold the land to the state, 97 acres, for $1000, a price which suggests that the town-site itself was devoid of any structure. The "Dr. Gary House" stands to the west of this 97 acre tract, on land annexed to Murfreesboro in 1825, and it is conceivable that somebody had a small house on the site before 1787. But conceivable is by no means good enough to satisfy the purposes of historical scholarship.

The likelihood is that Dr. Lawrence O'Bryan built this house around 1822, or acquired it from someone who had built it only a short time earlier. In the light of our present information, the house might appropriately be known as the "Benjamin B. Camp House."

The Camp family seem pretty well to have been wiped out in 1833. Joseph R dying on Oct 2, Leonidas on Dec 25, and Juliet E. on Jan 22. J.R. was aged 5, and Juliet aged 12.

Thomas Parramore

Upon Her Pure and Gentle Dreaming ...The Shadow of Death Was Stealing

From " Memories over the Water, or Stray Thoughts on a Long Stroll" by Henry Maney. Nashville, Tenn: Toon, Nelson & Co. 1854

(This is about a trip to Europe in 1852 by the author, a son of Judge Thomas Maney, formerly a Murfreesboro attorney, who moved to Tennessee. The dedication of the book is to "Miss F.W.S. of Murfreesborough, N.C." and it is followed by a poem on her death.)

"On the morning of the 2nd of May we took the steamer down the broad-flowing Potomac .... Passed through Richmond and Petersburg, Va., and reached Weldon N.C. that night.

Here we got out, and in the old village of Murfreesboro', and on the banks of the Megerrin and the Chowan, we learned the hospitality of the old North State. Many were our evening rides on horseback, and many a cozy hour, with our lady friends and favorite poets, went magically by. But among those bright-eyed ones there was a being of youth and beauty, from out whose wild blue orbs broke a wild and spiritual light. Into the fair paradise of that young heart no thought of evil passes - over the glad canopy of her life no storm-cloud sent its frown. From out of the sweet, unbroken dream of youth she had ne'er awakened. She

Dream'd that earth was bright with beauty
Dream'd that hearts grew never cold,
Dream'd that all were true and worthy,
And dreaming sought the spirit-fold.

Upon her pure and gentle dreaming, and all unknown to the loved and loving ones about her, the shadow of death was stealing. We have stood by her side, at evening's blushing sunset, and by the grave of those who had gone before her to the spiritland; and we heard, as though it were the voice of an angel, her thoughts of the life that was, and of the life that is. At that lone spot, where weeps the willow, she slumbers now. She bloomed awhile, like some fair lily by the shore of death's dark stream. The envious current saw and bore away the flower. But the kind mariner looked upon the lily, tossed upon the turbid tide, and taking it up transplanted it to smile forever in his garden home."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Schooner "Two Brothers"

Edenton N.C. Oct. 1

The schr Two Brothers, of this port, Thos. Dough, master, from New-York, with dry-goods &c. for Danl. Southall, and others, Murfreesboro’, was cast away on the 30th ult. On cape Hatteras Shoals, in a heavy blow, after carrying away her foremast. Crew and cargo all saved. The vessel lies on the beach, but will probably be got off without much damage.

(Christian Secretary, October 18, 1823)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

MHA - 43rd Annual Meeting

The 43rd Annual Meeting of the Murfreesboro Historical Association will be held on Thursday, May 14, 2009. The lunch meeting will take place at John's Seafood and Steaks at 315 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, at 12 noon.

The theme of the day will be a look into the future of the Association. The keynote speaker will be Mr. Vann Rogerson, President and CEO of the Northeastern North Carolina Regional Economic Development Commission.

The cost of the lunch is $15.00 per person.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Attractive Young Miss Wahab and the Mystery of the Missing Piece Goods

I came across an interesting letter in the files of B.B. Winborne.

It was written almost exactly a hundred years ago, and I thought you might enjoy reading it:

Small, MacLean & McMullan
Attorneys at Law
Washington North

March 9, 1909

Hon. B.B. Winborne,
Murfreesboro NC

Dear Sir ---

We are in receipt of your favor of the 7th, in which you state that you will be glad to represent Miss Hattie Wahab in the event she is arrested upon the warrant sworn out against her by the Pittman's. Since we wrote you our last letter, we have heard nothing further as to an arrest being made, but do not think that the warrant has yet been sent to Hyde County or if this has been done, we have heard nothing of it, although we instructed our client to advise us by telephone as soon as he ascertained that the warrant had in fact been issued. For this reason, it is possible that the prosecution will not be started, and that there will be nothing for us to do in the
matter in such an event. However, we desire to give you a somewhat detailed statement of the matter so that you may be fully informed beforehand, and as you suggest, use your influence towards having the matter ended before the prosecution is begun.

During last fall Mrs. Pittman employed Miss Wahab to work with her as a milliner. At the time of making the contact of employment, Miss Wahab was working for a firm in Baltimore, who make it their business to train young ladies for positions as milliners and get them a job after they have been instructed. The contract of employment was made by Miss Wahab, Mrs. Pittman and the Manager of this institution. Miss Wahab went to Aulander and worked with Mrs. Pittman for two or three months, or until a few weeks before the time she contracted to work would expire. About this time the relation between Mrs. Pittman and Miss Wahab became unpleasant on account of some accusations made by Mrs. Pittman against Miss Wahab in connection with some young men of the town. Thereafter she accused Miss Wahab of taking from her store certain pieces of goods or remnants, about five or six pieces. Miss Wahab states that Miss Pittman locked her in her house and held her there for some time after this accusation was made, and demanded that she pack her trunk and leave town without letting the people of the town know what had become of her. This Miss Wahab refused to do and was held in confinement in Mrs. Pittman's house until she was taken away through the efforts of Dr. Harrell and Mr. Dunning . These two gentlemen were very kind to Miss Wahab and interested themselves in her protection. They seem to think that she was unjustly accused and that the accusations were made against her for some sinister purpose. Miss Wahab went to Dr. Harrell's house and stayed there for a few days, having in the meanwhile wired to her father in Hyde County to come to her rescue. The writer went with Mr. Wahab to Aulander in response to this telegram and when we arrived there, found that Miss Wahab was staying at Dr. Harrell's and that her trunk was held by Mrs. Pittman, who refused to give the same up after being demanded by right.

After Mr. Wahab had brought his daughter back, suit was instituted in the Superior Court of Hyde County by Mr. Wahab and his daughter against Mr. and Mrs. Pittman for false imprisonment, slander, etc. and in this suit arrest and bail proceedings were issued and served on the male defendant. Bond was given by him and the proceedings now stand in that shape. After that time, claim and delivery was taken out in this action pending in Hyde County for the recovery of the trunk. After considerable correspondence with the Sheriff of Bertie County, and some confusion in regard thereto, the trunk finally turned up here in Washington, being sent by express in care of us. When the trunk was opened in Hyde County, it appeared that the goods claimed by defendants had been taken out, and that the trunk had been inspected by someone unknown to us.

Miss Wahab states that the goods claimed by Mrs. Pittman were given to her by certain friends who worked with her in the store in Baltimore, whose names she gives and states that she can prove this fact by them. She is about twenty years old and quite an attractive young lady.

We did not know her personally before this occurrence but her people are of the highest standing and regarded in their County as having the highest sense of honor. Mr. Wahab was at one time Clerk of the Superior Court of Hyde County and a very good old man. However, they are people of very moderate means. The purpose of the suit brought in Hyde County was merely to vindicate Miss Wahab from the accusations made against her. At any time Mr. Wahab would have been willing to settle this suit upon a full and fair retraction being made by the defendant and his actual loss compensated. Messrs. Mann & Jones, of Swan Quarter, appear with us, representing the plaintiffs in this case. When the writer was at Aulander, he found that the sympathies of the people generally were altogether with Miss Wahab and most people seems unwilling to place any credit in the charges made by Mrs. Pittman and freely stated that they regarded her as unworthy of belief. We sincerely hope that the prosecution will not be undertaken, but in the event it is, we are glad that you will co--operate with us, as we are particularly desirous of doing all in our power to vindicate Miss Wahab. We will advise you as soon as we hear anything further about the warrant. In the meanwhile, we will be glad to hear from you.

Yours very truly,
Small, MacLean
& McMullan

I wonder what happened to the "attractive and young" Miss Wahab? Or Mrs. Pittman ?

Tune in next time and I'll try to have some of the answers for you.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009 ... HAPPY NEW YEAR .... !!!!

Happy New Year !

I'm afraid we may be in for a bumpy ride in 2009, but as these historic manuscripts show - "the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same".

Littleton Mission School
Littleton NC
3/17 1897

Mr. Winbourne,
Please don't take any steps yet. I can not get all the money together until Sat. the 20th and will forward at once.

Yours, Virgil N. Bond

North Carolina Insane Asylum
Geo L. Kirby M.D.

Raleigh NC ..... 189 ...

R.W. Winbourne Esq.
Murfreesboro NC

Dear Sir:

Kindly advise me if Murfreesboro is a good location for a physician and if not can you tell me where to find one. I expect to lose my place here in next few days whether by legislative action or by action of incoming Board of Directors to be appointed by the Gov. Kindly advise me at once as my days here are numbered
and oblige.

Very respectfully
J.A. Faison M.D.

Allison & Addison
Manufacturers of Fertilizers
1322 Cary Street
PO Box 365
Richmond VA
April 19, 1897

Dictated by J.H.A.

Mess. Winbourne & Lawrence
Murfreesboro NC


Replying to your favor of the 16th inst., we note that you have collected a check from A.B. Adkins, Esq., for $100 on account, and we hope that the check will be paid and that we will soon have the remittance in hand. In regard to granting his request for the extension until next fall we have to say that we are not willing to do so, unless he can give us gilt edge security for the balance due; if he cannot do this we will ask that you push the matter as previously advised and secure a judgement before a magistrate and have the execution issued at once. If, however, he can give you a new note for the balance due with gilt edge security for the payment of the same, interest to be added, we would be willing to extend the time until next fall, otherwise, we wish the matter pushed to a speedy conclusion.

Yours truly,
Allison & Addison