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Monday, September 30, 2013

To Which North Carolina "Moseley Hall" Are You Referring?

"Moseley Hall" is a name that has been given to at least three famous homes or places in North Carolina.  They have been hopelessly confused as a result.  One of those, the earliest Moseley Hall in present Pender County, home of the wealthy colonial surveyor, lawyer, and statesman, and early pioneer of the Lower Cape Fear, Edward Moseley has nearly been forgotten.  

Furthermore, one should not forget the "Moseley Old Hall" in Staffordshire, England (probably the ancestral Moseley's of our Edward Moseley and perhaps the other Edwards in Virginia) or the "Moseley Hall" on the campus of Nyack College in South Nyack, Rockland County, New York!

The term "Moseley Hall" is as popular as "Edward" is a given name in the Moseley family!

The most well known of the North Carolina "Moseley Halls" is the name in Lenoir County where "Moseley Hall Township" was erected, because of Matthew and Elizabeth Herring Dunn Moseley, originally from Virginia.  This family had two prominent Edward Moseleys in it and have become confused with the Edward Moseley who was born in St. Giles, Cripplegate, London, had arrived about 1700 in Charleston, South Carolina, and then transferred to North Carolina by April 1705 to marry Henderson Walker's widow.  Matthew and Elizabeth settled in the now defunct county of Dobbs, in the area of La Grange, "Moseley Hall Township" in Lenoir County.  In "La Grange - the Garden Spot Continues to Bloom" by Patsy M. Boyette in the Olde Kinston Gazette of September 1998, she writes:

Matthew Moseley, a captain in the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War, settled in Dobbs County in 1777. His brother Thomas had settled in northeastern Dobbs County in 1762. Matthew Moseley married Elizabeth Herring Dunn of Bear Creek sometime after moving to the area. The couple enjoyed the kind of prosperity available in colonial days and built a large home near a settlement called Rantersville. Their plantation was called Moseley Plantation and the home was named Moseley Hall. Moseley Hall manor was located at the north end of Caswell Street on the west side of Highway 903.

Either way, Matthew's son, William Dunn Moseley, just to confuse matters even more, opened his law practice in Wilmington after graduating from UNC in 1821.  Wilmington was the heart of the Lower Cape Fear "Brunswick" settlement begun in 1725 by members of the "Family" which... included the Edward Moseley who originally came from Charleston.  This Edward Moseley held property just north of Major John Walker's "Red Hill" plantation near Rocky Point... the former Ashe plantation of Green Hill.

Now, just to make matters worse, Margaret Isabella Walker Weber (born 1824), the daughter of Caroline Mary Mallet and Carleton Walker (and apparently a descendant of Edward Moseley; from Sprunt) has a collection of papers at the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill containing reminiscences of Walker's childhood at "Moseley Hall," on Walker's Hill, Chatham County, N.C., and in Hillsborough, N.C., as stated by the finding aid.

Let's not forget that Edward Moseley came to the Albemarle in 1705 to marry Ann Lillington Walker, the widow of Acting Governor Henderson Walker!  We also know very little about Henderson Walker's life and family.  He likely had a son named John, involved with Moseley in land purchases on the south side of Albemarle Sound near Kendrick's Creek and possibly in the Lower Cape Fear as well. 

"Moseley," "Walker," in and around the Lower Cape Fear... are there any more?  What a mass of confusion!  What were the mal-effects of this confusion?

John Hampden Hill (d. 1883) wrote two very similar versions of a popular history of the families and plantations of the Lower Cape Fear region in Pender, New Hanover, and Brunswick counties, N.C.  He included general descriptions of events, places, legends, families, and plantations. Among the families and plantations mentioned are the Strudwick family of Stag Park Plantation, the Ashe family at the Neck Plantation and Green Hill Plantation (later "Red Hill"), the Moseley family at Moseley Hall Plantation, the Moore family at the Vats Plantation, the Lane family at Springfield Plantation, the Williams family at Mount Gallant Plantation, the Swann family at the Oak Plantation, the Jones family at Spring Garden Plantation, and the John Henry King Burgwin family at the Hermitage Plantation. 

In the finding aid for Wilson Library's  "John Hampden Hill Papers, circa 1875," is the notation "Moseley Hall Plantation (Lenoir County, N.C.) ."  

No!!  It was not in Lenoir County, but Pender County, originally from New Hanover and formed in 1875.  Mon Dieu!

Edward Moseley lived in Edenton until the death of his first wife, Ann Lillington Walker, in 1732.  Soon after, he packed and moved to the Lower Cape Fear... and most likely lived in Brunswick Town (still, he was constructing numerous houses, including the mansion at Rocky Point).  There, he married Ann Sampson (incidentally, she is often confused as "Ann Hassell"), daughter of Col. John Sampson of Barbados, and, according to his will, he gave "unto my Eldest Son, John Moseley, my Plantation at Rockey Point, where I Frequently reside, on the West side of North East Branch of Cape Fear River, Together with all my Lands Adjacent thereto, Containing in the whole about 3500 Acres."

The will also states "It is my Will that my Wife Shall have the Use of my Lot & houses in Brunswick; and also of my Dwelling house, Kitchen &c. at Rockey Point, untill She shall Marry or that One of my Sons Shall Attain in the Age of 21 years, She keeping all my Houses in Repair. And when Any of my Sons Shall Attain 21 years of Age, then my wife Shall have her Choice Whether She will Dwell in my houses at Brunswick or at Rockey Point."  

Still, the most specific information that Moseley provides in his will about "Moseley Hall" is another reference to his second wife, "as She knows my mind with Regard to a handsome large Dwelling house to be built at Rockey Point, the Foundation whereof is Dugg, She may, if She pleases, Proceed thereon And use all the Materials Already Provided by me."  He left another unfinished "house at the Vineyard" for her to complete. 

The unfinished "handsome large Dwelling house" might be called a "mansion" on a future survey:

1916 survey of the Frank Sidbury estate showing "MANSION" near current Hwy 117.

Edward Moseley was certainly wealthy, a man of the colonial 1% who was made rich by his many appointments, occupations, indiscretions with land acquisition, and the work of his many slaves.  Hard to believe that he was broke when he got here in 1705!  He owned several dwellings within which he could live and often did.  

There was one "Plantation where I formerly Dwelt in Chowan County [Edenton], and the Lands adjacent thereto, Containing by estimation 2000 Acres" which he gave to his son Edward as well as "my Lot & house in Wilmington; Also, 600 Acres of Land Opposite to Cabbage Inlet; Also 500 Acres of Land in Tyrrel, Commonly Called Coopers; & 450 Acres of Land in Tyrrel County, Commonly Called Whitemarsh."  

He also willed his "Lot and Houses in Brunswick where my Habitation usually is at Present" to son John, and "my Plantation below Brunswick, Commonly Called Macknights."  This was formerly owned by Gov. George Burrington.

Sampson received "all my Lands On the East Side of the North East Branch of Cape Fear River, Lying Between Holly Shelter Creek and the bald white Sand hills, Containing by Estimation 3500 Acres" and "my Son, James Moseley, and his Heirs & Assigns, all my Lands on the East side of the North East Branch of Cape Fear River Opposite to my Rocky Point Plantation, Containing by Estimation 1650 Acres" [later, the estate of Rev. War General John Alexander Lillington and his final resting place]. This acreage was originally granted as "1875 acres," but well over 2000 acres, across from the "Great Island" where the Northeast Cape Fear River divides and rejoins further south:

Grant of 1875 acres on Northeast Cape Fear River at the "Large Island" (6 May 1730).  From the John Alexander Lillington collection held at the Pender County Library Annex in Burgaw, NC.  Conserved by Baylus C. Brooks.
Moseley grant of May 1730 showing "Large Island" detail.

1764 John Colson survey of Edward Moseley's May 1730 grant of "1875 acres."  From the John Alexander Lillington collection held at the Pender County Library Annex in Burgaw, NC.  Conserved by Baylus C. Brooks.
Exterior of 1766 deed of James Moseley to John Alexander Lillington for the land where Lillington Hall would be constructed (part of 1875-acre grant to Edward Moseley in 1730) and which would long remain in the Lillington family.  From the John Alexander Lillington collection held at the Pender County Library Annex in Burgaw, NC.  Conserved by Baylus C. Brooks.

Moseley gave to his wife, Ann, "my Plantation at the Sound which I bought of John Hodgson, Wheron there is a Large Vineyard Planted; Also 3200 Acres of Land in EdgComb, Called Alden of the hill, be the Same More or Less, Lying on a Branch of Fishing Creek, by Some Called Irwins by Other Butter-wood; Also 1650 Acres, be the Same More or Less, upon the West side of Neuse River, about Twenty four Miles above New Bern Town."

The other "Large Tract of Land in EdgComb County, Called Clur, Containing by Estimation Ten Thousand Acres" he gave to his five sons, John, Edward, Sampson, James & Thomas" because, I guess he just tired of getting rid of his massive land holdings to his heirs and decided to let them figure it out for themselves later.  

His last son William was born after his will dated 1745 and his death in 1749.  A codicil to the will gives him "the tract of Land in my said Will mentioned, lying in Edgecombe County, called Alden of the Hill, containing 3200 acres, be the same more or less; Also about 300 acres more, contiguous thereto, which I have Entred in Earl Granville's office. To hold the same, about 4000 acres, to him & his heirs forever."  This land was formerly part of his wife's inheritance. 

These Moseley boys were not hurting by any means.  

There were also houses mentioned in other records like the one lived in by James Hawkins on the East side of the NE Cape Fear River by a now dried up "Hawkin's branch" about a mile above Rocky Point.  This was originally part of the 1875 acres (southern tip), sold to John Porter (200 acres), who must have rented to Hawkins. 

There were also the surveyed estates included in rare drawings done for Patent Book #7 at a time when royal decree had put a stop to land abuses during Sir Richard Everard's reign from 1726-1730.  They likely suspected Moseley of illegalities (there are almost no surviving surveys of his own, if there ever were, save for his own property)... certainly excess and possible abuse of the law.  These survey drawings must have been done later to assess certain properties owned by Edward Moseley.  Thus, they appear grouped together on a single page.  Page 2 shows:

Patent Book #7, page 2 showing surveys for Edward Moseley

 So, in all of this land which covers a significant fraction of early North Carolina, where was "Moseley Hall?"  Grab a magnet to hunt for that needle in the hay! 

Well, that is a question that some, not really that many, people have been asking for many years.  James Sprunt, famous Lower Cape Fear enthusiast and writer, stated that "the next place of note [after Green Hill, from which came Red Hill owned by Major John Walker] was Moseley Hall and he, thus, located it upon the west side of the NE Cape Fear River just above Major Walker's place.  John Moseley's daughter apparently married Carleton, son of John Walker and moved to the Chatham County area." 

Mattie Bloodworth, when she wrote A History of Pender County, North Carolina in 1947,  drew from Sprunt's impression and wrote on pages 38-9:

Moseley Hall
According to Wheeler's History of North Carolina, Edward Moseley was Surveyor General of the Province and his triumph over the Virginia Commissioners gave him a great reputation.

He took up large tracts of land and about the year 1735 moved to the Rocky Point section bringing his family and fortune and settled on a plantation a few miles from the Rocky Point depot.

He brought with him his library of valuable books which was a very superior collection of volume after volume of English and Latin, including standard works of that era, histories, travel, poetry, fiction, and French translations of the most celebrated authors.

It is said that in this section one found culture and refinement that was unsurpassed elsewhere in America.

Edward Moseley, in conjunction with Speaker Swann, a distinguished lawyer, compiled the first revisal of the Laws of the Province of North Carolina (called “the Yellow Jacket” from the color of the binding), which was the first book printed in the Province of North Carolina.

It is also said that many of the books of Rocky Point libraries appear to have been collected at Lillington Hall and the collection embracing books of Edward Moseley, printed before 1700, has been placed in the State Library in Raleigh.

Old Moseley Hall has changed hands many times and was owned many years by the Sidbury family of whom Miss Fannie Sidbury of Burgaw was a descendant.

Ms. Bloodworth's and James Sprunt's impressions are both verified by a deed in the Pender County Register of Deeds office, "Joy W. Sidbury and Hattie S. Sidbury to Frank P. Sidbury" (12 Feb 1880; Bk C, p 449), partly restoring a previous split of the "Moseley Hall Plantation" tract portion owned in 1875 by W. B. Sidbury, dec'd, in the first year of Pender County's existence (cut from New Hanover).  The lands of W. B. Sidbury were then split among his heirs because of his death.

"Joy W. Sidbury and Hattie S. Sidbury to Frank P. Sidbury" (12 Feb 1880; Bk C, p 449)
Pender Survey Book 2, page 63 "Frank P. Sidbury Estate"
1912 Soil Survey Map of Pender County showing "Ashton" on the old lands of Samuel Ashe directly west of "Moseley Hall Plantation"

 This survey (1916; Bk. 2, p 63) shows the location of a "Mansion" indicated by the red square in the bottom right corner.  The assumption is that this is the home that Frank P. Sidbury and his family lived in, as Mattie Bloodworth told, the former home known as "Moseley Hall."  Translating this survey to Pender County GIS and adding the detail for the land sold by Joy and Hattie Sidbury to Frank in 1880, we can also add various detail mentioned in the deed and not shown on any readily available maps.

Pender GIS showing Sidbury lands and those of "Red Hill Plantation" and Sterling Allen, all information annotated and obtained from Pender County deed records.

 The North Carolina highway marker for Edward Moseley sits just off Hwy 117 just 2.5 miles north of Rocky Point at the Hwy 210 intersection.  It says that "Moseley Hall" sits two miles east of the sign.  Actually, Google Earth calculates it at just over 500 feet from the sign's current location.  This is a stone's throw from the Sidbury-Sparkman Cemetery. :)

I have yet to look at the highway marker research files in the North Carlina Archives to see where they obtained their information, but I suspect that there was an error somewhere.  Still, it came close. I only know that, Edward Moseley, trained as a navigator until 14 years old, apprenticed to a merchant, his apprenticeship purchased by wealthy friends, came across the Atlantic and, then... appeared to stay away from the water!  He built his "Mansion" close to the road and not the river, an 18th-century norm.

 John Hampden Hill, who wrote before 1883, remembered that Major John Walker, just to the south of Moseley Hall Plantation purchased the former Green Hill of Gen. John Ashe, famous as a leader in the Stamp Act Rebellion.  Walker must have renamed "Green Hill" to "Red Hill Plantation."

He also said that Moseley Hall, just north of Walker's plantation, "was a large and quite a valuable place, and was said to have been handsomely improved, but all that the writer remembers to have seen, was the remains of what was said to have been fine old avenues."  

Hill knew these old residences quite well, at about the time that Frank P. Sidbury lived in them and worked.  Frank had just received an inheritance in 1875 and added to it from others of his family in 1880.  Plus, old Moseley Hall sat just a hundred feet or so off the main road that would become Hwy 117 one day.  How could Hill have missed it? Maybe it was farther north than what he was used to traveling?

Interestingly, a Richard Sidbury, age 55 lived on a rather large tract of land in the "Grant Township" of New Hanover County in 1870, the same township listed for Frank in 1880 Pender County, after Pender was formed.  A family of ex-slave Sidburys, Thomas and Alice Sidbury, and two dependents live nearby in Holden, in the "Rocky Point post office" area in that same 1870 census for New Hanover County.  Presumably, "Grant" was nearby.  Searches for Frank prior to 1875 reveal little, not even who his father was, even though he was born c1853 and the deed says that his father might be W. B. Sidbury.  Most of his family resided near Topsail Beach, including the Joy and Hattie Sidbury who sold him back some of the Moseley Hall Plantation land in 1880.  

Again, Edward Moseley indicated in his will as late as 1745 that the house at Rocky Point was yet unfinished and he indicated that his wife, Ann, could live at this house if she chose to, but she was given ownership in lands elsewhere.  His son, John Moseley was willed this land with the unfinished house and perhaps was expected to support his step-mother after Edward died.  Ann Sampson Moseley was still young, however and she met Hugh Munroe, a merchant who lived in Wilmington and married him (in will of John Swann Porter, 1770).  Munroe died in 1779. 

It is likely that Edward himself never really lived in Moseley Hall.  

Still, there is a possibility that the "Mansion" mentioned on Frank P. Sidbury's survey in 1916 is the house that Moseley was building c1745.  It would have been nearly 170 years old by then.  Houses of that time are rare, but still survive today.   The tradition since 1875 is that the house that Frank P. Sidbury resided in was indeed the house that Edward Moseley had built at Rocky Point.  Review of the tract sales and wills of New Hanover County might reveal more clues... a least a title line.

Until then, let's try to remember which Moseley Hall was which, shall we?  The oldest in North Carolina by far is the one at Rocky Point in Pender County.  And its owner was the richest man by far than any other in the colony or state.  That still doesn't make me like him, though.  :)


Dethroning the Kings of Cape Fear: Consequences of Edward Moseley's Surveys

Purchase an e-copy for $5 or get a print version among more titles by B. C. Brooks

Aristocratic Pyrates of the Albemarle

Purchase an e-copy for $5 or get a print version among more titles by B. C. Brooks







Brunswick Town and Wilmington

 Purchase an e-copy for $5 or get a print version among more titles by B. C. Brooks





Monday, September 23, 2013

Pender County Library Annex Opening and Conserving the Lillington Collection

This past weekend, I spent my time with good friends working on real pieces of history.  These are a collection of documents that date from as early as 1730.  They concern a huge piece of land on the Northeast Cape Fear River that once belonged to Rev. War General John Alexander Lillington (he's actually buried on this land).  It also includes a "large island" that is mentioned in many historical references, including William Hilton's 17th century exploration of the Lower Cape Fear region.  It was also, get this... first granted to Edward Moseley.  Now, am I interested or what?  

Henry Murphy historic home on S. Cowan Street in Burgaw, NC.  It is now the Pender County Library Annex and Genealogy and Local History Archives.  It is the new home of the W. Dallas Herring Carolina Heritage Research Collection.
Dr. W. Dallas Herring
This past Saturday, the 21st of September, was the grand opening of the Pender County Library Annex in Burgaw, NC.  It will function as a genealogical research facility as well as a local history archives.  This historic home, the Henry Murphy home directly across from the Pender County library on S. Cowan St. houses the W. Dallas Herring Carolina Heritage Research Collection.  Mr. Herring is known as the "Father of NC Community Colleges" and his entire life has been devoted to service and leadership in education.   I was fortunate enough to have met with this gentleman years ago at his home in Rose Hill.  He bequeathed his collection of research and genealogical materials to the Duplin County Historical Foundation upon his passing in 2007 (Obit). As funding was running out and no Duplin benefactors could be found, the foundation accepted Pender County Public Library’s offer to establish a separate facility to house the collection in Burgaw along with their own collection. A historic home owned by Pender County for about 20 years for offices was renovated for this purpose (details of the provenance of Herring's collection by Mike Taylor).

Library Director, Mike Taylor, was generous enough to invite me to conserve one of the most significant collections of written artifacts that has ever been discovered in our state.  This is the Lillington Collection.  It consists of a huge collection of deeds and surveys, many of them never before known, pertaining to the property granted to Edward Moseley in 1730 on the East side of the Northeast branch of the Cape Fear River and just north of Rocky Point.  Besides Edward Moseley, his sons James and Sampson, local merchants John Hawkins, John Arthur, George Reynolds, and Charles Hepburn, Samuel and Mary Ashe, John Porter, Massachusetts Bay resident George Minot, and many other names associated with the beginnings of the Lower Cape Fear settlement are included.  The "Great Island" property of Edward Moseley, near to Gov. George Burrington's "Stag Park" 10,000-acre estate, was later deeded to Rev. War General John Alexander Lillington in 1765 by James Moseley who received this land from his father upon his death in 1749.  

1765 Deed from James Moseley to John Alexander Lillington transferring ownership of the "Great Island" property on the East side of the NE Cape Fear River in (now) Pender County, NC

The deeds reveal that the lands of many others were added to this original grant land over the years.  These documents have been passed to the subsequent owners of the property which has, until recently, remained in the family of Daniel Shaw (see photo below) since the late 19th century.  The property is part of the original Lower Cape Fear settlement begun 1725 in a broad expanse across the region, the first permanent settlement known as the "Brunswick Settlement."  This area near Rocky Point served as a prominent location for many plantations of the day, including Moseley Hall, the home of Edward Moseley, incidentally just across the river from this land grant of 1730.   

1764 survey and Shaw Tract (formerly the Lillington Tract)
While preparing for the grand opening, Mike Taylor and I were discussing the collection and he remembered that there was a large map that was retained by the properties new owners.  Being the excellent facilitator and historian that he is, he called the present owners and asked if we could come over and view it.  The two terms "Moseley" and "map" were just too enticing for us to avoid!  

Of course, the chances were slim that we would discover another Moseley map, but what we found was equally intriguing and spectacular!  It was an 1895 survey performed for the heirs of Daniel Shaw.  The poster-sized survey is certainly a treasure that is here compared to a survey from 1764 by James Colson (conserved on Friday and Saturday) of the original Moseley tract of 1730 for 1875/2000 acres.  With some changes, most of the original land is still intact, though divided into numerous tracts for the Shaw heirs in 1895.  

A title analysis of this land would be a fantastic history to see and the documents in the Lillington Collection provide that history.  As the conservation proceeds, the collection will also be processed and a finding aid developed to help other researchers find this information.  The benefits for genealogical and historic purposes about an historic plantation that has never before been made public are enormous! 

The conservation process began on Friday, September 20th in preparation for the grand opening and proceeded through the weekend.  Seven documents in all were finished during this visit.  Below is the 1764 survey again, seen before and after the conservation process.  The document was fraying at the edges, tearing in some places, split in two, and a smaller backing had been attached to the back of it with glue that permeated the paper itself, leaving an unsightly appearance.  Also, the acidity required neutralization to prevent future damage of the paper.  The document was washed, neutralized, and attached to Japanese tissue paper for support.  

Survey of 1764 before and after conservation.

The most damaged piece was a double deed from 1735 and 1736 involving land transactions between John Arthur and John Porter and two merchants by the names of George Reynolds and Charles Hepburn.  The paper was literally written on almost every free area, front and back.  The iron gall ink had eaten through the paper in a process called "lacing" where the letters fall out of the paper first while the general acidity of the paper reduces to stability of the whole document.  This piece required extreme caution.  As indicated below, the document is shown as it was removed from an envelope and placed on the light table.  The following photos show the conserved document front and back.  There were several smaller pieces that could not easily be identified, especially with writing on the front and back!  This was a long process that was eventually halted and the document and individual pieces were scanned to be reassembled digitally.  The "puzzle" pieces can be inserted into the scan of the entire document, leaving them a slightly different color on screen that will help in the identification and reassembly of the actual document itself.  This is a painstaking process!

1735/6 deed broken by "lacing"

Aside from the document fun, we had many guests visit on Saturday and there were good eats, too!  Another added plus, thanks to Mike Taylor, was a meeting with Matt Hillman, a local history buff and expert on the plantations of the Lower Cape Fear.  Matt has been instrumental in the Cemetery Transcription Project For Pender County.  He has transcribed many a cemetery on the Pender County, NCGenweb site.  

The benefits of collaboration were immediately apparent in our short discussion.  Matt had read the Rev. War papers of a British general who had used Moseley Hall as his headquarters.  Those papers described the home as painted red!  Most homes of the 18th century were not painted at all because of the expensive paint required.  It was a symbol of great wealth and position to have your home painted.  Mike mentioned that many homes of that time and in that area were painted red to show off the wealth.  Red was a pigment that required extensive preparation (see previous blog entry on British Red-Coats).  Matt thinks he knows where Moseley Hall was located and we all eagerly look forward to locating that estate!  He has promised to take me there in his boat one day.

Pender County is in for an historical Renaissance... if there are any more collections like the Lillington's just waiting to be discovered... and I'm sure there are!  Thanks to Mike Taylor, John, Cindy and the rest of the staff for their work with the library and annex and for inviting me for this terrific opportunity!  Thanks as well to Matt Hillman for his intrepidity and exploration!  

I might also mention that Mike gave a recent talk on the William Hilton expedition at the Topsail Historical Society and I'll be there myself December 12th.  I will also be speaking at the Pender County library on at least two occasions, about Edward Moseley and George Burrington... times TBA.  Another talk on the Lillington Collection and/or its conservation would also be a great suggestion!  

Monday, September 02, 2013

Stanly News and Press: "Old King Pharoah Was Stoned For Goring Man"
Stanly News and Press Albemarle, NC
Tuesday, December 20, 1955

"Old King Pharoah Was Stoned For Goring Man"

"Bull Was Given Trial by Farmers"
by Fred T. Morgan

(included in Brooks Family Documents)
A few of the older people in Stanly county remember when a bull was stoned to death.
He was brutally tortured and tormented and beaten and battered into the dust of the earth by stones hurled by a hundred men.
    The bull had killed a man by goring him to death.
    So the people of the community mobbed the bull, tried him, sentenced him to be stoned to death, then carried out their sentence.
    Was that justice?
    Did the bull know why he was being tortured?
    Why did his human captors impose such sadistic treatment on the dumb beast?
    Never in the history and tradition of Stanly county has there been such an unusual case as that of Pharoah the Bull, which was stoned to death.

Ecclesiastical Trial

    Also, the ecclesiastical trial which preceded the stoning was a thing of unprecedented uniqueness for Stanly county.
    The time was wintertime and the year was about 1880.  The place was in southwestern Stanly county on a hill up from Rocky river.  Action begins at the pole fence corral near the log barn of the old Sampson Hinson homeplace, located about two miles south of the present Mineral Springs Baptist church.  Bill, or "Billy" Hinson, descendant of Samp. lived there at the time.
    Not long past the noon hour on the cold and clear winter day, King D. Brooks (BCBNOTE: King David Brooks, b.1836, son of David and Mary Brooks of Stanly Co, NC), 50-year old farmer and prominent man in the community, walked up to the barn lot to borrow old King Pharoah, the Hinson bull.  He intended to take Pharoah back to his farm and turn him loose with several of his cows, since the bull was a noted breeding animal.

King Pharoah

    Everyone borrowed King Pharoah.  He was a "gentleman" bull, docile and meek as you could ask for.  Children played around him.  Adults petted and favored him.  He was an all-around fine animal.  Despite his vicious-looking horns and his rough countenance, he had never been known to deliberately harm anyone.  His owner even worked him to the plow.  In fact, just that morning, one of the Hinson women had used old Pharoah to plow under some oats in a new ground.
    People on both sides of the river borrowed Pharoah for breeding purposes, for plowing, and to hitch to their wagons to pull grain to the river mill and logs from the woods.

Cartoon accompanying article.

    This particular morning, only an hour or two before, Brooks had killed and dressed several hogs at his home and now as he approached the Hinson barn he and his clothing smelled strongly of raw blood and fresh meat, which is often offensive to domesticated animals.

Didn't Have A Chance

    Brooks, a wiry outdoor man, had entered the pole fence and fastened a lead rope to the bull's halter and turned to lead him to the gate when Pharoah charged.  Taken wholly by surprise, Brooks didn't have a chance.  The bull slammed into his back, knocked him against the fence, and the wicked horns jabbed through his body again and again, long after all life had left it.
    The commotion attracted the folks at the nearby Hinson home and they came running, although too late to help Brooks.  They found his mangled body impaled on the fence.
    News of the goring spread rapidly throughout the community.

Crowd Gathers

Hard working devout farm people left their wood cutting and their grain sowing and ran to the Hinson place to view the bloody sickening thing that had once been a man.  Unmasked hatred glittered in their eyes as they glanced at the snorting, panicked, wild-eyed bull which had backed into a corner at the barn entrance and now stood glowering and tossing its head.  The crowd swelled and dark mutterings were heard as more baleful stares were thrown at the wild King Pharoah.  Threats were heard.  Nor did the kin of Brooks take it lightly.
    Brooks was scraped off the fence and later buried in the Brooks family plot, located a few miles upriver at the present Shuford Burris plantation.  Today, two giant cedar trees, bigger than most, soar toward the heavens above his neglected grave.

Religious Folk

    Farmers all up and down the river hills left their work and walked to and fro from house to house discussing the goring of King Brooks by Pharoah the bull.  It took a day or two for sentiment in the community to reach the action stage.  Then it came furiously.  The people populating these hills were of a very religious sect, descendants of pioneers in North Carolina and Virginia.  They had grown up guided by the teachings of the Bible and taught to find sanction in the Scriptures for their actions.
    Here, they were faced with a situation in which a bull with a previous clean record, had brutally and without cause, gored to death one of their fellowmen.  What did the Scriptures say about it?  They were not long in finding it in the Mosaic law of the Old Testament.
    The 21st chapter of Exodus, beginning at the 28th verse, describes at some length what action to take in case an ox gores a person to death.  The first two verses read as follows:
    "If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die, then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit.
    "But if the ox were wont to push with his horns in time past and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death."

Mob Gets Bull

    A group of indignant men, including some of the church elders and leaders, gathered and demanded of Hinson that he release the bull to them for punishment.  One version of the tale says that Hinson refused even after the mob offered to pay him for the animal.  Thereupon, they ignored Hinson and, like a determined lynching party, they took possession of Old King Pharoah by main force.
    Another version of the tale says that Hinson agreed to turn the bull over to the mob, although he wouldn't have done so had he known how they were going to treat the animal.
    "He would have taken the bull off and shot him himself if he had known what the mob intended doing with him," a descendant of the Hinson clan said.

Bull Protected

At any rate, the mob, probably numbering half a hundred men or more, subdued the raging bull with heavy chains and shackles.  They tied him away from his pole fence enclosure.  He resisted every inch of the way despite the straining mules which dragged his protesting 1800 pounds over the rough wagon road and the men behind who prodded him with pitchforks and sharp tools.
    Finally, after hectic struggles and clever maneuvering, they secured him in a stout stable in the almost impregnable log barn of Arch Hinson, nearly a mile away.
    Then, they gathered to hold counsel, with the most prominent religious men of the day dominating the discussions.
    "We must give him a trial," one pious oldster declared, his white mustache puffing out under his firey eyes as he spoke.  "We must do better than the scriptures.  We must give him a trial, the we'll know we're right."

Hold Trial

    And so, while the maddened bull threatened to reduce the nearby barn to shambles, they held a trial.  And what a trial!
    First, a judge was named, he being one of the most revered Christians of the community.  The judge named a jury.  Then he appointed a prosecutor and then named a man to defend the bull.  All the appointees, the judge included were ignorant and untutored in their duties.  But it made no difference.  None of the men in the group had any knowledge of the laws of the land anyway.
    "What say ye?" the judge said to the prosecutor.
    "Why, I say the bull's guilty and that he ought to be kilt," the brawny, jacket-clad farmer-prosecutor said.  He was definitely a Brooks man.  "The bull kilt a man.  Everybody knows it.  Let's kill him.  The Bible says an eye for an eye, don't it?"
    Then it was the defense lawyer's turn.
    "I object," he yelled, "on the grounds that the bull is a bull and not an ox like it says in the Scriptures."
    The judge overruled it, "A bull or an ox, or an ox or a bull, makes no difference," he said.


     It is possible that Hinson, seeing a way of saving his bull after all, put bugs in the ear of the acting defense lawyer and connived with him to save the animal, because, after all, the fees he received for loaning old Pharoah for breeding purposes were not inconsequential.
    Some people hold to the belief that there was indeed a trial and that the arguments waxed long and loud and consumed the better part of a day.
    The jury members were solidly opinionated.
    "Guilty," the jury spokesman said.  "We recommend that the bull be put to death according to the law of the Scriptures."
    There was a chorus of approving yells from the crowd.

Sentence Given

    The judge held up his hands and his white beard and his coat collar hunched up on either side of his neck giving him a buzzard-like appearance.  "Order, order," he commanded.
    "I will now pronounce the sentence," he announced when the uproar subsided.  He held an open Bible in his hands.  He read from Exodus the passage about he ox:  "Then the ox shall be surely stoned…"
    "I sentence Pharoah, the bull, to be stoned until he is dead," the little judge shouted, "Tomorrow at noon."
    Appealing the decision of the judge was an unknown instrument of the law in those days.
    "Heck, no sense protesting," was the attitude of the losers, "let's get in on the fun."

Bull Guarded

    Pharoah was placed under a guard the night through. "Guard him with your lives," the judge instructed the volunteer guards, "He must be ready for execution tomorrow."
    The crowd dispersed.  Many men struck out for remote farms to spread the news and invite everyone to the stoning.
    Next morning, men arrived from everywhere.  Farmers came from miles up and down both sides of the river.
    The spot chosen for the stoning was a big oak tree on a rocky hillside beside the public road from Big Lick to Coble's mill on Rocky river.  A detail of men had been assigned to assemble a huge pile of stones to be used in the stoning and they were in readiness.

Wounds Negro

    The bull, now a raging, violent, terrorized monster, threatened to wreck the barn when they went to get him shortly before noon.  Men had to climb up in the loft over the stable and lower a heavy log chain over his neck and draw his head up close to the loft before they could control him.  Then, old Alec, a "white folks" Negro, went in the stable to shackle the bull's feet.  Alec got too close and a powerful twist of the bull's head opened a painful scalp wound on the black man's head.  The wicked tip of the bull's horn dripped blood.  Had Alec been a mite closer, the horn would have gouged him squarely in the face and undoubtedly killed him.
    Alec jumped back cursing, his black eyes blazing.  "I'll get even with you for that big boy," he vowed.
    His head chained down between his forelegs, his legs shackled so closely that only very short steps were possible, and with a dozen men manning guide chains on either side of his head in case he did try to break away, Pharoah was dragged by the stout wagon and six mules up to the big oak beside the public road.  There he was tied firmly and closely.

"Shall be Stoned"

    Sharply at noon, the little judge read again the Mosaic law from his open Bible… "And he shall be surely stoned…"
    Baseball-size stones battered the bull from every direction, striking him again and again with the full power of the throwers on every part of his body.  His leathery hide, toughened by years under the work whip, could stand a lot of punishment, however.
    A hundred men bounced stones off his hide for an hour and Pharoah was still on his feet.  Boys, too, hurled stones with puny effort as if they were playing an important part in the destruction of the great animal.  Women and children watched from far off.
    By mid-afternoon, the bull had weakened and dropped to his knees.  But his bellow still rang out defiantly and his enormous roar could be heard for miles up and down the river hills.  Some of the men were tiring of the sport.

Tired of Sport

    "Read the Scriptures again, Judge, and see if it don't say to use something besides stone," someone suggested.
    "It'll take to dark to kill'im like this," another muttered.
    "Look at'im," a sweat-streaked overalled farmer said.  "His ears are knocked off, his eyes are blinded, his face is ground into sausage meat, and his hide is jelly.  But, he's still bellering at us and mocking us."
    It was more than they had bargained for.  It was work.  It was an ordeal.  Some of the men left.  Others with weak stomachs were vomiting their heads off at the sight of the bloody bull.  The sun was sinking lower toward the trees.
    "I'm leaving," the white-bearded judge said.  "If you want to use anything besides stones on him, go to it, but remember, the Lord might not approve."

Used Tools

    When the judge got out of sight, the men brought out their pitchforks, spears and sharp blacksmith tools and plunged thim into the bull's sides, his back and rear.  Other men kept pounding his head with stones
    Gradually, the bloody unrecognizable head of the gallant animal sank lower and lower.  His great body shuddered.  Nowhere was his hide unbroken.  His knees collapsed slowly like a giant balloon deflating, and he sprawled on his side with a loud sigh.  The men closed in.
    But old King Pharoah had not given up.  The battle was not over.  His voice came again, loud and long, resounding over the river hills, mocking his tormentors.  But his strident voice was the only life left in him now.  His great strength had been beaten out of him.

Alec Carves

    Alec, the black man, called a lull in the stoning.  "Let me at 'im a minute," he said.
    Armed with a handspike, he went to the bull's now immobile head and knocked off the long horns, one of which had inflicted his scalp wound.
    "Now I'm even with you, you big devil," he growled.
    But his lust for additional revenge surged again and grabbed along, dagger-sharp butchering knife and began carving hunks of flesh out of the side of the mutilated animal.  Alec tossed the raw meat to a pack of hound dogs nearby and the dogs had a feast.
    While the bull bellowed more fiercely than ever, Alec carved and carved, his black face a frozen mass of vindictiveness.
    And nobody had a mind to stop him.
    Down late, when the western sky was streaked with the rosy glow of a clear, clean sunset, householders, mostly women, for miles around, while going about their evening chores, could still hear the pitiful and weakened bellowing of tormented old King Pharoah.

Shoot Bull

    When the crowd, dwindled now to a dozen men, could stand it no longer, they stopped Alec, and someone took a muzzleloader and mercifully put a ball through the bull's brain.
    Silence came like a welcome blanket to the people thereabouts.  They heard the shot and knew what it meant.
    The men had just time enough before darkness to drag the gruesome carcass and dump it into a gulley in a field at the edge of the woods and topple off an embankment of earth over it.
    In a lot of homes, sleep was evasive and troubled that night.
    Uneasiness was apparent in the community for days afterward.  There was talk that the treatment of the bull had been too cruel, too unjust, too unrighteous.  There seems to be some faint recollection of criticism of the act from some court official of the land.  There are other recollections, too , that some of the Hinson clan tried unsuccessfully to "law" some of the men who had played a big part in stoning the bull.

Bad Luck

    Though there is nothing to substantiate it, tradition says that many of the men who took an active part in the stoning and torturing of the bull met with bad luck and calamities later in their lives.
    In succeeding months and years, never was there a hotter topic of discussion and argument in the river country than the case of the bull stoning.  Some sanctioned it;  others hotly condemned it.
    Until in recent years, there stood on the now abandoned Coble mill road, a huge oak referred to as the "Bull Tree", marking the spot where the stoning occurred.
    Also, there was a mound of stones, solid, jagged, and round, which people said had been used on the bull.  The stones had been piled up as a sort of monument to the valiant animal.

All Signs Gone

    But, the oak is gone now and the stones have long since been scattered in the fields.  The gulley, too, is now under cultivation.  And a mile away, where the bull first saw the light of day, the old pole fence which was his province, has crumbled long ago.  The old Hinson homeplace is still occupied, however.
    Only a very few people remain today who were alive and remember when the stoning of the bull took place.
    One of them is Adam N. Springer, of Albemarle, who remembers hearing his mother tell him, when he was a five- or six- year old child, how she heard the bull bellow so pitifully late in the afternoon of the day they stoned him.
    Another is Mrs. Teal Brooks, who lives on route 1, Mt. Pleasant.  Now 91 years of age, she was a girl of about 15 when the stoning happened.  As was true of Mr. Springer, she lived within easy hearing distance of the stoning grounds.
    Each night for weeks after the stoning, she said the cows and other cattle, which ran loose in the community, would gather at the spot where the bull was stoned and join in a mournful chorus of almost human-like wailing and moaning and calling.
    "It was enough to make the hair rise on your head," Mrs. Brooks said, "to hear all them cows up there grieving so for old King Pharoah, the bull that was stoned to death."

The End

Memories of Rev. Edgar Marcelus Brooks

Rev. E. M. Brooks
Reverend Edgar Marcelus Brooks was my grandfather.  He was born February 5, 1861, only son of Culpeper "Cullen" P. and Louisa Lowery Allen Brooks of Union County, North Carolina, 100 years and one month before me.  He had two sisters.

Yes, he was born three months before South Carolina shells struck Fort Sumter, beginning the Civil War!  Three generations, 100 years apart, in itself, has been touted as quite an achievement.  However, my grandfather may deserve a great deal more credit than simply being a verifiable historical figure himself. 

E.M. Brooks was a baptist minister from Union/Stanly/Anson Counties, not unlike many religious folk from his day.   Which county a Brooks hailed from depended upon which side or end of the Rocky River he happened to be on at the time.  As a minister, he served many localities in North Carolina, including Albemarle, Norwood, Palmerville, Lumberton, and Fayetteville where my father made his mark as a pharmacist and where I was later born, 100 years and a month after Grandpa! 

Aside from serving the state's baptists as a brother reverend, Grandpa wrote articles and contributed to the Biblical Recorder, the noted publication of the Southern Baptist Association.   His first article, titled "Good Reasons For Writing," appeared in the June 27, 1900 issue, detailing his great welcome as pastor with a flood of practical gifts: sugar, salt, flour, etc. in a ceremony they locally called "pounding."  

My father, Baylus Cade Brooks Sr. was named of course for a renowned local historical figure, minister, lawyer, inventor, and former governor's secretary Baylus Cade of Shelby, held in high regard by my grandfather.  Dad was born on January 1, 1916 in Palmerville, North Carolina and the following 26th, appeared this article in the Biblical Recorder, telling of the family's recent move from Norwood to Palmerville before he was born:

Page 14 from the January 26, 1916 edition of the Biblical Recorder including "From Norwood to Palmerville," by E. M. Brooks

Rev. Brooks' station at Palmerville left him in charge of three churches (Palmerville, Ebenezer, and New London) in that district which also included the town of Baden, very important as the location of the aluminum plant still in operation today.  Apparently, baptists owned two acres in the center of town that they refused to sell, "at any price!"  

To say that my grandfather had a flair for the historic is simply not to do his strong feelings justice.  At the end of his letter here mentioned, he congratulated his "predecessors, both immediate and remote" as worthy men.  Then, he listed six of them by name, obviously having dug deep into his facility's local history.  Not surprisingly, nine years later, he produced a full history of the Brooks family.  

Scholarship may separate him from the general herd.  In 1925, he wrote History of the Brooks family of Union County, North Carolina which has been republished by Eden Press in 1991.  I, as the later family historian, have attempted to verify the information in this book and, with only minor exception, he turned out to be quite the historical scholar.  This fact greatly appealed to me.  

Grandpa collected records from 1814-1881 that pertained to the family, including sales of slaves, wills, and letters from which he drew material for his book.  I have since published these documents as Brooks Family Documents Collection, through Cafepress in 2004 and most recently, Lulu Press of Morrisville, in 2007.  

Grandpa saved a collection of newspaper articles, personal anecdotes, and facts that he collected during the latter years of his life.  They date from about 1931-1939.  Grandpa died four years later, in 1943 in New London.  By this act of fate, I never knew the man with whom I had so much in common.  This scrapbook, however, held many of the memories and stories that a grandfather might share with his wide-eyed grandson in front of the crackling fireplace one evening after supper.  His secrets simply awaited to be unlocked by an historian like myself, trained with the ability to pick that lock and travel in time.  H.G. Wells, get ready to learn something!

Also, as a budding paper conservator, I found a unique opportunity to practice my craft and restore this frail scrapbook while exploring its many secrets.  This article is but the first in a series of many to come, describing the scrapbook kept by a man of such historical knowledge.  Grabbing my starch paste, Japanese tissue paper, and the many tools and soaking pans, and, like my grandfather, my great love of the historical, I set about keeping his memories safe and sharing a few experiences with him at the same time!  Pull up an easy chair beside Grandpa and me, smell the pungent odor of the hickory firewood, listen to the occasional light pops and crackles as the warmth spreads around us, and share these stories with me... 

This is a page from the Rev. Edgar Marcelus Brooks Scrapbook Collection (1931-1939) - it holds great memories for my grandfather.  He wrote captions beside each of these articles, one which describes the "Ezekiel Wallis House" (c1778), one of the oldest extant houses in Mecklenburg County. 

My grandfather remembered seeing the house as he passed it, on his way to Charlotte one day, no doubt, with his father Culpeper, perhaps rolling along in a horse and buggy at the age of 10 in 1870-71.  Grandpa writes this at the margin beside the picture of the old stone home.  Fortunately the degradation that reached from the open edges of the page had not reached the inner part of the scrapbook and the detail survived.  Still, the pages were extremely frail until restoration could be effected by patching it with the Japanese tissue paper and starch paste after careful washing and de-acidification.  This picture came from a newspaper (most likely Charlotte Observer) from about 1933.  

Photo circa 1955 - Library of Congress
Library of Congress photos show the house in 1955 and the decorative stonework on this unique structure. The North Carolina State University digital collection page where detailed plans and interior shots can be seen also holds the architectural plans drawn by Clyde Rich and Earl Pope in 1955.

Ezekiel Wallis had been born in 1735 in Somerset, Maryland, built this sturdy home, and died January 24, 1813 in Mecklenburg, North Carolina.  

"East elevation and details, Ezekiel Wallis House,
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina," 1955.
He had come down the Pennsylvania-Carolina Wagon Road with many of Mecklenburg's early residents, including the Alexanders, one of whom Wallis married, Miss Margaret McKnitt Alexander from Cecil County, Maryland.  The Wallises and Alexanders became long-term
pioneers of (then called) western Anson County.  

Rev. Brooks may have thought about his great uncle Alexander Brooks who was likely named for this family.  Alexander Brooks may even have been the son of one Lydia Alexander, who may have been the first wife of William Brooks I, my grandfather's grandfather, born 1736 in Virginia.  Lydia was the daughter of James Alexander, a signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration on May 20, 1775, one of the dates on the North Carolina state flag.

Passing this old stone structure, looking as strong as any that he had likely ever seen, with its heart shaped figure eight decoration on the side, must have been memorable for my grandfather, dreaming of the family whose history he would one day write.  It grounded him to his western Carolina roots.  The house was nearly 100 years old when he saw it c1870.  The area had a long history and several generations of Wallace/Walllises, Alexanders, Allens and Brooks had passed together there.  

Matthew Wallis, a son of Ezekiel's had also married Mildred Allen, perhaps a relative of Rev. Brooks' mother Louisa Lowery Allen.  Rev. Brooks mother was the daughter of Darling Allen, reputed to have been killed by Moses, one of his slaves "at the chimney end of the house."  

This old home meant something to my grandfather and he might have told me these stories by that fire...

Photo: Real photo postcard by Alorice (sp?), Tacoma, Washington, ca. 1918. Stamped on reverse in blue ink "World's Smallest Mother Dolletta and my two Caesarian Babies: Lucretia E. Boykin [13] yrs., Charles J. Boykin [7] yrs." Handwritten in black ink, "I am 37 yrs., 28 ins., 37 lbs." and the ages of the children. Elizabeth J. Anderson's collection.

Dolletta Buck Article
The other article that Rev. E. M. Brooks included on this page involved Mrs. Dolletta [Dodd Boykin] Buck, 52, of Burlington.  He recalls meeting and speaking with this woman, known for being the world's smallest mother at 2'4".  Her son, Charlie married in Danforth, Virginia about the time of this article, in 1933. Despite being the son of two dwarves, Charlie was six feet tall!

Dolletta must have fascinated my grandfather such that he would include an article about her attending her son's wedding in Danforth on the same page as an article that held such family significance.  

Elizabeth J. Anderson, "sole proprietess" of Phreequeshop, can tell us more about Dollettta's life:

There have been many "World's Smallest Mothers", but perhaps the smallest of all was little Dolletta Dodd, a 28"-tall dwarf from Quincy, Illinois. Dolletta was born October 14, 1881, to the wife of B.F. Dodd, a civil engineer. The third of ten children, Dolletta was said to be so small at birth that she fit in the palm of her 5'9"-tall father's hand and could be completely covered with the other hand. She was precocious, however, and could walk and talk by the age of 11 months. By the time she was 18 months old, she weighed but four pounds and was nine inches tall, less than half the weight and length of her newborn baby brother.

Dolletta's parents insisted that she receive a normal college education despite her diminutive size. She attended school in Fremont, Nebraska, and taught school there for three years after her graduation. Around 1900 she left her teaching job to become a lecturer with a circus sideshow. As a performer, she was quite successful. She rode a miniature chariot drawn by Shetland ponies, trained dogs, and played the harmonica and piano. In her spare time she wrote and recited poetry. Her sideshow resume included Greater Alamo Shows, H.W. Campbell's Shows and Frank Taylor Circus.

Dolletta, Charlie & Lucretia
Dolletta married Major James A. Boykin, a 42"-tall dwarf, around 1904. Their first daughter, Lucretia, was born January 16, 1906 by Caesarian section. A son, Charles, followed on February 12, 1912. Dolletta and her "two Caesarian babies" travelled together as an enormously popular sideshow attraction and were featured in Robert Ripley’s Believe it or Not?! comic strip. 

After Major Boykin died, Dolletta remarried to 6'-tall circus trick roper C.H. Buck, who carried his wife in his arms like a small child. Buck, it seemed, liked unusual women, for he had previously been married to Hungarian bearded lady Sidonia de Barcsy. Dolletta underwent a third and final Caesarian section at Rochester, Minnesota's, prestigious Mayo Clinic on August 8, 1924. Her baby daughter was named Dottella Mayo Buck in honor of the clinic. All three of Dolletta’s children later married and chose to remain in showbusiness.

Dolletta retired in 1939 to Joplin, Missouri, after her vision began to fail. She was active in the Joplin Service Club for the Blind and a member of the South Joplin Christian Church, and she got around using a custom-built wheelchair. Although she strove to "remain active" in her declining years, a stroke in December 1947 left her bedridden. After living for seven years in a nursing-home room custom furnished to her size, she died in her miniature bed on January 10, 1948. She is buried in the Ozark Memorial Park Cemetary. A beloved mother, wife and entertainer, Dolletta claimed she could do anything an everage-sized person could do – her only regret was that she couldn't drive a car.

This is but one side of one page in a set of 35 double-sided pages in my grandfather's scrapbook, which includes several loose newspaper articles as well.  The richness of his life and experiences come alive with just a bit of research to fill out the missing pages of his life's book.  Thanks for spending time with Grandpa and me... next time, we'll prepare some hot apple cider, fresh from the orchard with a cinnamon stick!  Stay tuned, for there's plenty more to come!

Emma Eugenia and Rev. Edgar Marcelus Brooks at their last home together in New London, North Carolina.  Photo circa 1941 by Baylus C. Brooks Sr.
Dad says "Hi!"
The photographer, Baylus Cade Brooks Sr. behind his Kodak 35mm camera, taking a shot in a mirror at Matthews Pharmacy on Hay Street in downtown Fayetteville, NC, circa 1939.

Monday, August 19, 2013

North Carolina: The Subtle Politics of Slavery Before and After the Civil War

Charlotte Story Perkinson
Charlotte Louise Story Perkinson (picture at left from biography provided by granddaughter Helen Poole Fontsere'), a celebrated prohibitionist and political writer, born 1884 in New Hampshire married her husband, native of Wise, North Carolina, Richard Terrell Perkinson, and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1907.  There she began writing newspaper articles and became involved in state politics.  By 1933, she was the state editor for the new and short-lived Durham, North Carolina's State's Progress newspaper and served on various committees concerning women's rights.  She was also the campaign manager for Furnifold M. Simmons in his failed 1930 run to keep his Congressional seat against the challenger, Josiah W. Bailey. 

Upon her arrival in Raleigh, Perkinson encountered the peculiar lifestyle of the post-Civil War South.  Freed slaves were still alive and able to tell their story about slavery before and after the war, about re-invented slavery under "Jim Crow," and its eerie dichotomy of racial paternalism mixed with, at times, the violent underpinnings of resistance to change.  

This resistance has become a North Carolina tradition, never more obvious than in today's controversial battle over education, voting laws, teacher's rights and so many other issues that should not really be issues.  North Carolina has always been the quintessential "stick in the mud," refusing to change, especially when it comes to race.  Furthermore, North Carolinian conservatives react strongly and defiantly when pressed into a corner.  Whether as Southern Democrats or, now, as Republicans, conservatism in North Carolina has always been about maintaining the "peculiar institution," or at least keeping it's memory... its "heritage" alive.  

My grandfather, an elderly Baptist minister from Union County, even in 1933, must have read State's Progress, not one of the most popular newspapers in North Carolina, I'm sure... it ran for just over one year.  Grandpa was a well-read gentleman.  He also read the liberal Charlotte Observer.  He collected newspaper clippings and various historical and fascinating tidbits in a scrapbook that I still have in my possession.  In it, he placed this article "'Black Mammy' Tells Graphic Story of Slavery," from the 19 March 1933 issue of the Charlotte Observer.  The title does not do it justice... it's not simply about the old slavery days, but also about the story of a woman who saw horrors all about her, happening to others in her position, and a woman still capable of pride about her life as a slave and ex-slave.  It's a bittersweet and eerie story about herrenvolk mentality, psychology, and denial.  It instantly caught my attention.  

Article written by Charlotte Story Perkinson titled "Black Mammy' Tells Graphic Story of Slavery," Charlotte Observer (North Carolina), 19 March 1933
Rev. Edgar Marcellus Brooks, as a man of truly progressive thought, was much intrigued by this article.  As a  historian (a love that he passed to his grandson) and as a member of a former slave-owning family... and as man who experienced the Civil War, even though he was a child (born February 5, 1861), this article carried great meaning for him... and for me.  I never knew him, but I find great pride in being his grandson and in being able to share his experiences in articles like this one.  

Ironically, my grandfather passively held more in common with Josiah W. Bailey than his opponent, Furnifold M. Simmons, even though Bailey was the more conservative candidate in 1930.   He probably voted for Simmons, however.  Fifty-seven years of age in 1930, Bailey graduated from Wake Forest College in 1893 and immediately afterward had become editor of the Biblical Recorder, the weekly newspaper of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, a paper that my grandfather wrote for on occasion.

Charlotte S. Perkinson served as Simmons' campaign manager.  She supported the man responsible for the disenfranchisement of North Carolina's black citizens during the 1898 radical conservative takeover (then, calling themselves "Democrats") of the state that, with few exceptions, still maintains power today (now, calling themselves "Republicans").  That Perkinson was a liberal and wrote this article is a strange contradiction and tells us about the overall conservative nature of the state, not unlike today's far-right trends.  

Then again, many things about North Carolina have been a strange contradiction.  Race relations are foremost on the list.  The Biblical Recorder's current editor, Tony W. Cartledge stated that "Bailey was sometimes hard to figure out. In North Carolina, he was considered to be a progressive Democrat, but in Washington, he opposed Roosevelt's New Deal and helped compose what became known as the 'Conservative Manifesto.'" "Progressives" in the South of this time, especially in North Carolina, were the conservatives of the nation, due almost exclusively to issues of race and bitterness over the old conflict in the 1860s.   

When she came to North Carolina, Charlotte Perkinson had bumped into this "Solid South," a term that described the former member states of the Confederacy and their political ideology since the Civil war.  This state might have been thought the champion of that "Solid South," what with the number of troops that it supplied to the Confederacy in that age-old conflict that is politically still raging today.  Southerners of this breed draw together to resist almost any change, especially involving race relations.  They resisted Northern legislators long after losing that war.  Perkinson had arrived after Simmon's anti-African-American activities of 1898 and, perhaps did not join with him in those sentiments.  Also, she was staunchly prohibitionist and the more conservative Bailey supported a "wet" (anti-prohibitionist) Catholic for president.  Simmons would have been her obvious choice, but also obviously not for racial reasons.

Initially, at the beginning of the ironically-named "Progressive Era," (lots of irony in politics) there was great violence, which North Carolina characteristically experienced in the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot, the only coup d'etat to ever occur in the United States.  Nothing half-done here!  Hundreds of African-Americans died in that grave injustice when conservatives took over the city government at gunpoint.  Furthermore, lynchings occurred all across the United States after Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896.  "Separate but equal" was the law of the land and that repressive scoundrel "Jim Crow" moved into the neighborhood and would repress the African-American for more than half a century by 1930 (legally, it continued until 1954).  This was the political climate that encouraged and in which flourished the Ku Klux Klan.  For North Carolina, to name one state, these were the white-supremacist champions and redeemers of conservative Southern Democratic government who rebelled again after their abrupt release from justice, Reconstruction... a federal policy which had forced observance of civil rights on the South for twelve years following the war. They're still very much an active entity today, ever growing in response to the election of the first African-American president.

Lynchings and racially motivated murders in each decade from 1865 to 1965 -  The Great Migration drained off most of the rural black population of the South, and indeed for a time froze African-American population growth in parts of the region. A number of states experienced decades of black population decline, especially across the Deep South "black belt" where cotton had been king. In 1910, African Americans constituted more than half the population of South Carolina and Mississippi, and more than 40 percent in Georgia, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana; by 1970, only in Mississippi did African-American representation remain above 30 percent. “The disappearance of the ‘black belt’ was one of the striking effects” of the Great Migration, James Gregory wrote.  Still, it was only a change of 37%, leaving a slight majority in the South aat 53%.  Note from this chart that the violence in the South was strongest right after the Civil War, picked up strongly in the decade of Plessy v. Ferguson, and faded drastically after the Great Migration ended by 1930, with that 53% still in the South.

The violence ended, to be replaced with stringent paternalism... but only after a certain event that occurred in the first two decades of Perkinson's time in Raleigh.

Perkinson came to North Carolina at an ominous period in its history.  She arrived before Congress's many years of failed attempts to pass the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill of 1917 and  before a Southern bloc of conservative Senators filibustered and killed the Anti-Lynching bill during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's (Northern) Democratic administration.  None of these attempts (begun in 1909) during the period known as the "nadir of American race relations" ever passed.  None of them ever became law.  To this date, no federal anti-lynching legislation has ever been passed. Only a Congressional "apology" for slavery in 2005!  Not exactly the "penitent" bunch, I assure you.

For North Carolina specifically, it's reigning conservative Southern Democrats had become kings with virtually no opposition at the polls for more than a century.  Until Brown v. Board in 1954 and the Civil Rights Act in 1964, finding a Republican in the South was nearly impossible.  Afterwards, Republicans slowly took over the already quite conservative South, as Lyndon B. Johnson predicted after the Civil Rights Act.  By 1980, but especially after 2008, the Southern Democrat had suddenly and almost completely disappeared, to be replaced with... solid Republicans in the "solid" South!  By 2012, North Carolina was at the top of that conservative Republican list and the only battleground state of eleven to vote for Mitt Romney (Republican) over the first African-American president Barack Obama (Democrat).

Filibuster against anti-lynching bill. Washington, D.C., Jan. 27. Members of the bloc of Southern Senators who have been filibusting against the anti-lynching bill for the last 20 days and are still going strong, left to right: Senator Tom Connaly, of Texas, Sen. Walter F. George, of Ga.; Sen. Richard Russell of Ga.; and Sen. Claude Pepper of Florida, 1/27/38
  [from: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.]

In 1900, 90% of African-Americans lived in the South.  Moving away from oppression seemed reasonable.  Not surprisingly, 1.6 million blacks left from the fourteen traditional states of the South to northern cities in the "Great Migration"(1910–1930), resulting in a 37-point drop... their reaction to a "progressive" South.  Historian James Gregory Bennett calls this the first phase of the Southern Diaspora, similar to the massive Biblical exodus from bondage as Egypt slavesOnly after this migration did the violence fade away... did Pharoah relent on the whip.  Still, lynchings were not the only type of violence that they had experienced.  There were subtle forms that neither made the news nor affect the statistics.  

Still, 53% of African-Americans surprisingly remained in the South after migration and, nevertheless, the lynchings nearly stopped (as the graph clearly shows)... the obvious violence had still faded.  This enigma must have intrigued the veteran political activist Perkinson, who interviewed many ex-slaves around Raleigh whenever possible.  Always the investigator, Perkinson was determined to arrive at the truth of their existence and learn the reasons why they remained in such a repressive atmosphere yet, somehow, got along.  

North Carolinians of varying hues in the 1930s didn't exactly "get along" equally, but not as would appear from the apparent lack of resistance.  The herrenvolk, or "master race" finally won the Civil War in the "progressive" North Carolina of the 1930s.  Such irony in these politics!

Perkinson certainly met with resistance from her subjects during the search.  She found that many ex-slaves would lie to her for fear of being punished for blabbering to an "outsider." 

The atmosphere was adversarial, yes, still wrapped in the ideological enigma of a conservative "Solid South" that permeated the state after the war, after the immense resentment of Reconstruction, and before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The South was still immersed in "Jim Crow," Plessy v. Ferguson, the segregationist laws and practices that kept ex-slaves poor, submissive, and "in their place," especially after Bennett's "Great Migration." Predominantly, Perkinson found a passively aggressive environment, one in which she said "there is still a great tendency among these old darkies [a typical reference of the day] to say only those things pleasant to the ears of former slave owners." 

Was this a detente reached at gunpoint or was it more subtle?  What exactly must these ex-slaves fear?   

She interviewed many elderly ex-slaves whose memory of events were "blurred," she wondered whether by age or fear, suspecting that it was intentional, to avoid retribution.  Their fearful resolve was difficult to overcome.  She gave up on hearing "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" and tried to read between the lines... that is, until she met Sally Parham.  

Sally surprised her.  Perkinson believed her to be the most candid ex-slave that she had yet interviewed in North Carolina.  Sally was the former property of one Asa Parham from a large plantation five miles from the small town of Oxford on the Oxford-Henderson road in Granville County.  It was in the small farming community of "Tabb's Creek."  

Also surprising and contrary to other interviewees, Sally proudly preferred the honorary title of "Black Mammy."  Thus, the title of Perkinson's newspaper article, "'Black Mammy' Tells Graphic Story of Slavery."  The title, however, was too simple... it did not represent the content at all!  It only expressed the mechanics, not the fruit of her discovery. 

The first county seat was called Granville Court House. Other records indicate that the town of Harrisburgh served as the county seat from 1746 to 1764, when at that time the location became unsatisfactory. Therefore, it was ordered that the courthouse be located on a branch of the Tar River called Tabb's Creek. Oxford was made the county seat in 1811, and it was incorporated in 1816.  Photo from "Find-a-grave" website.
Perkinson interviewed Sally, or "Black Mammy," at the extraordinary age of 102, blind and being cared for by a great-grandaughter of her former master, Mrs. Elizabeth Dorsey Walters, daughter of Asa's grandaughter Cynthia, from his younger son Gaston.  Sally's memory, even at 102, was still sharp and she was direct, apparently unafraid of the truth.  Perkinson rejoiced at finally finding the object of her search!  In Perkinson's words, Sally, without fear, told her "the more or less familiar story of having a good master, how and when she got religion, her memories of the Civil War, and the part she played during that period."  She got details!

As the interview wore on, however, Perkinson must have begun to realize that Sally's answers and joyful affirmations betrayed a deep sense of denial, a disassociation from reality, made possible, perhaps, by the comparably comfortable circumstances in which she found herself throughout her long life, even before the Great Migration.  

Asa Parham, by Sally's description, of course, was one of the "good masters." He was born in 1792, in Granville County upon the very plantation where Sally was also born.  He married Delia Hawkins Reavis on 22 March 1824 and had four boys and one daughter between 1829 and 1841.  According to 1860 slave census records, Asa owned twenty-four of them, ranging in age from 1 to 78.  The female slave listed as 27 years old was Sally, born in 1833.   

Sally, since her birth, had always lived on Asa's plantation, even for sixty years after his death in 1870.  She cared for five generations of his family and was proud of it.  It was on this plantation that Charlotte Perkinson interviewed the proud old "Black Mammy," still living there so long after emancipation. 

Sally's exuberant tale exposed that the life of a slave was far from ideal, even wretched.  Fortunately for her, perhaps, she merely witnessed the horrors and, therefore, did not mind telling the stories.  She seemed unaffected by a life in which she apparently did not belong.  Sally openly exposed to Perkinson a "most revealing description of the slave 'speculator,' of how crime was punished, of the 'pattyrollers,' and of many other subjects not often touched upon."  Perkinson listened intently to Sally's story. 

Reflected in the interview, Sally's earliest memories were of as a little girl in the "big house" being trained as a house servant.  She remembered trying to resist returning to the slave quarters when her mother came to fetch her and was dragged down the front steps.  "My head counted those steps," as she jokingly told Perkinson, "and I'll never forget them!"  This kind of treatment from Sally's own mother may have shocked Perkinson.  She may have thought it only a joke, an exaggeration.  The remaining details perhaps gave her a different perspective.

Nevertheless, Sally felt special.  She reflected on how she would sometimes accompany her master's children to school, with a "pass" from him, and could sometimes bring home books, like the "Blue Back Speller."  From this book, Sally learned to spell and pronounce some words.  She was quite proud of knowing the alphabet, which she repeated in its entirety for her interviewer.  Most slave owners preferred not to educate their slaves for fear of them gaining confidence and independence, eventually revolting. 

Sally was more than happy to relate all the details of a slave's life.  A "pass," she said, was vital to prevent a slave from being caught off the plantation by a "pattyroller," slang for "patrol," a gang of five to six white men designated by the local government to prevent slaves from gathering at night and possibly organize a revolt. "If a slave went courting or to a candy stew or a prayer meeting," they had to have a note or pass saying where they were going and why, otherwise they were beaten and sent back to the plantation.  Perkinson was told by her informant that slaves "feared and hated 'pattyrollers' intensely." 

Always in intimate identification with her former owner's family, Sally told Perkinson that slave owners seldom had respect for the patrol as well.  Giddily, she related how the slave and white children alike would play pranks on these "pattyrollers."  She related how "one night they stretched ropes across the lane leading to the negro quarters and then hid and waited for the gallop, gallop of the night patrol."  She heard each horse fall with a "heavy thud" as the ropes tripped them.  Needless to say, she remarked smiling, "there were no boys of either color visible when once the riders and horses set out again upon their spying errand."

About her own family, Sally was perhaps more reticent.  She only married once, having "higher ideals" in that regard, as she told it, "patterned after the white folks."  Her husband's name was Harry, a slave of Asa's younger brother, Albert Parham, who lived on the neighboring plantation.  Being perhaps less candid for the only time during the interview, she turned her words away from her husband.  Perhaps aware of Sally's subtle deflection from an emotional subject, Perkinson informed her reader that "marriage in slavery days was hardly more than an agreement to live together."  Of course, in this case, they were barely allowed even that.  The capitalistic requirements of the peculiar institution was conducive to polygamy, "inasmuch as the more children a slave woman had, the more value she was to her master." It was just a business, still, one aspect that she may have deeply regretted. Some emotion peeked through Sally's glittering facade.

This aspect of slave breeding explains the thirteen babes and adolescent slaves (54% of the total) living on Asa Parham's plantation in 1860.  The master needed his female slaves to produce babies... more slaves to continue working the plantation, for sale, or trade.  That was the business, like breeding cattle.  The idea of the "marriage" itself was incidental.  If this bothered Sally, it was isolated and personal, less candid.  She merely showed a glimpse of her discomfort as she talked around the subject of her husband, Harry.

Sally did, however, relate the details of a dark incident that affected her brother-in-law's family, a "particularly pathetic scene that had fixed itself upon" her memory, as Perkinson perhaps encouraged, thirsty for detail.  This involved an aspect that Perkinson called the "most despicable aspect of slavery, the thing which aroused the abolitionist the most," the slave trader, the slave driver, or the "speculator."  

Surely, this affected Sally.  It had to.

Continuing from a detached aspect, however, Sally casually informed her interviewer, this middle-aged white Yankee reporter, that the "speculator" was the "most abominable species of humanity."  As though giving a scholarly presentation, she told that they "trafficked in black flesh."  They "sold and bought men and women and children for profit."  Slaves hated to see the "speculator's" wagon pull up, she said, "covered with canvas and drawn by several mules."  "Into it were herded," as Sally calmly related, "much as sheep or dogs might be, often as many as 17 unwashed and half-clad negroes."  Such an event strongly affected Harry's brother, Tom and his family.  

Sally, however, spoke of it as normal, matter-of-fact... 

One day, she told, a speculator arrived at Albert Parham's farm.  Tom watched in horror as his wife and children were loaded into the "speculator's" wagon.  He begged his reluctant master to sell him, too, so as not to split them up.  His master replied that Tom was a good worker and he would not let him go.  This incident might have emotionally defeated Tom, had it not been for the "speculator's" insistence upon buying Tom as well.  Albert Parham finally gave in... for the right price. 

When Perkinson inquired as to why Tom's wife and kids were sold in the first place, Sally replied that they had "Injun" blood, which was thought undesirable.  As in the business of animal husbandry, breeding was essential to profit and Indians were considered poor or problematic workers.  "The blackest skin brought the best price," Sally said. 

At this point in the interview, the proud old slave woman, "Black Mammy," might have reached her core sense of inhumanity and injustice.  If so, Perkinson saw no sign of it.  

The most chilling tale was yet to come.  How were slaves punished for severe crimes?  

Sally then spoke of two slaves, Joe and Martha, who hated their master intensely and decided to murder him by pouring scalding hot coffee down his throat, which killed him almost instantly.  Sally verbally reprimanded them for their actions, which was "in no way" justified, she said.

Sally told that the local community decided to make examples of Joe and Martha by holding a public execution in the old courthouse square at Harrisburg Creek and every slave from far and wide was forced to watch.  Sally was piled into a wagon crowded with slaves and she and her mother became afraid and started screaming.  Her mother finally calmed down, but not young Sally.  Sally said her master told her mother to "let the little fool out" and she did not attend the hanging.

Her mother, however, did and told Sally about it.  So, she knew that when they arrived at the courthouse, her mother saw Martha, "sitting on her coffin with a rope around her neck," suckling a newborn baby that she had while in jail awaiting her execution.  A large gathering of the community of Tabb's Creek turned out.  As her death approached, Martha began to sing:

"I'se travellin to the grave, my Lawd,
To lay this body down."

"Sister, you'd better watch and pray,
I'm huntin for Jesus night and day..."

At that point, someone in the crowd hollered out "You ought to a thought a that 'fore you scalded your moster."  

Then, Martha handed her baby to a nearby slave woman and kept singing until the "suddenly taughtened rope" choked off her voice.  The image of a recently alive woman hanging from a rope with a broken neck and her crying newborn nearby is strikingly horrible and difficult to bear.  Still, Sally went on with her casual recollection...

Sally informed Perkinson that when "a slave killed a white man, he was dealt with in short order."  Sally almost made the horrifying seem civilized by saying that the state was required to pay the slave's owner for the financial loss, "the same way that a corporation nowadays has to pay damages for injury to property, perhaps for running over a horse or cow."  

Sally understood business and the place of a worker in the master's business.  After all, slaves were nothing more than expensive farm implements. They had been considered such since 1671 in Carolina... almost 200 years before the war.  The business model went back a few decades further.  There was a long tradition of chattel slavery used for the lucrative sugar production reaching back to the 1640s in Barbados, founders of Carolina.

As horrible as the story already read, there was yet more to come.  Sally told about another slave who had been branded on each palm for his crimes.  The painful branding was done as he was forced to slowly recite  "The Lord save the State - the Lord save the State - the Lord save the State" three times while the hot branding iron seared deep wounds into his palm flesh.  If he said it too quickly, they made him stop and begin again.  Unable to use his hands for a full year after this brutal treatment, his owner had little use for him and sold him. Few farmers had ever broken a plow on purpose, or maimed a horse out of spite.  Why destroy this slave's usefulness?  This type of "conditioning" never made the papers or official records.  The hidden fears were revealed in Perkinson's interview.

Sally disassociated herself from the horror that she witnessed every day.  She saw herself as not "white," but not a slave, either.  She lived like Cinderella in a castle.  Clearly, her master treated her with uncommon compassion.  Sally saw herself as somehow different from other slaves and, therefore, exempt from the punishment and the horrid treatment that they usually received.  She cared for and protected her master's family and their belongings during the war, proud of the way she fooled the Yankees by placing molasses jars in front of the whiskey and buried his money all around the yard until he and his boys came home from the war.  

After the war was over, emancipated slaves in the South had to deal with Southern revenge, the KKK, hatred, mobs, and lynchings.  So, the horrors of which Sally spoke had not included those later events, the assuredly more intense violence.  The events that she described involved slavery before and during the war... they occurred before emancipation... before the real dangers began! 

Sally's subtle deception tainted the historical value of her testimony.  The images they invoked contrasted strongly with the words themselves, the terrifying life of a typical slave as she saw it... as she felt it... from afar.  Did Sally realize that she regaled a life that, for others, was a literal hell on Earth?  She may not have seen herself as a slave at all, but a part of Asa's natural family, always a child... though with limited rights.  Sally would never have left the South like the 37% that fled from 1910-1930! After all, she had a home in the "castle."

Charlotte Perkinson perhaps had achieved that for which she had searched; she understood Sally Parham much better by the end of the interview.  The ex-slaves who remained in the South, perhaps, were not as confident or independent as the people who fled in the Southern Diaspora.  Many found it easier to accept the terrible life that they had known so well rather than the life in the unknown... and they mentally compensated.  As Perkinson listened to Sally, she began to glimpse the reason that "Black Mammy" spoke so freely of slave mistreatment, all the while living into a ripe old age in the very house in which she was born a slave, was freed, and yet remained until her death. 

Perkinson interpreted the experience from a standpoint of a front-line war reporter, buried within a highly-reactive culture, but also from the restrictions of 1928.  These horrors were perhaps too vivid for print.  After all, the KKK was at the height of their power then.  "They are those of old slavery time," Perkinson justified, "when the finest points of etiquette were observed by the white people, and whose manners were imitated by the house servants, generally."  

Perkinson commented further, "Even now, the old woman feels it within her province and a part of her duty to the old family, to admonish and advise her young mistress, when occasion demands, and most of all to tell her 'bout the way her family did and lived befor' de war.'" Such devotion... to please the white establishment who certainly would be reading the paper.

Sally became a member of the white church, "Tabb's Creek Baptist Church," constituted just before the Revolution.  She was baptised in Cheatham's Pond with whites and slaves, only praying in private, "no one dar' but me and Gawd!"  Living together was normal to her, but keeping their distance was only right, she also believed.  Sally witnessed the "not unusual" practice of mulatto children born of the masters and their slave mistresses and felt it was the greatest cause of "unhappiness and misery for both races."  

Unabashedly, she repeated the mantra of the Ku Klux Klan, the white supremacist, abhorring miscegenation of the races, or "race-mixing," as it was called.  "Gawd" never intended that! Sally might say.

Modern Tabb's Creek Baptist Church.  Photo taken by Pat Garrett, Brittany & Ross Cifers. From "Find-a-grave" website.
Ex-slaves in the South were cultural captives of the South for decades after the war.  Modern psychologists define "Stockholm Syndrome," or "capture-bonding" as "a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them."  This certainly explains Sally's interview.  It explains Sally's strong defense of the white Southerner's way of life during the era of "Jim Crow," of her joyful preference for the nominally derogative term "Black Mammy,"now considered to be an ethnic slur. 

Any group of people politically consist of about 20-60-20%; 20% are those who will go one way that will be good for them, the other 20% are those who will never advocate for themselves... the 60% in the middle are those that must be "convinced."  It's simple human nature.  In this case, it worked out about half and half after the "convincing."  53% stuck around.

Sally was one of those who, like Patty Hearst in the 1970s, identified with her captors and began working with them, supporting them, even defending them.  In a way, she was strong-willed, but used that strength to re-enslave herself.  

For Sally, it was an easy pattern for her to fall into, Asa Parham being such a relatively nice guy.  Still, when you belong to the dominant demographic and have never suffered the centuries-long dehumanization of being a slave, you can afford to be a little nicer. 

In her defense, Asa was, indeed, one of the "good" ones, again, relatively speaking, and times have changed since Sally's days, especially after the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  

Again, it's a slow process and it's not nearly over.  With each successive generation, a little more of the fervent belief passes into the ether of historical memory.  The fact that African-Americans remained in the South is actually facilitating that change.  Peaceful movements like Martin Luther King Jr.'s in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, etc. are changing American society for the better... never more apparent than today.  One day, skin color, or relative melanin pigment production, will not matter.  Phenotypical differences may actually become respectable and not debilitating. 

Still, the realities of "separate but equal" kept the status quo for nearly 100 years in North Carolina and it certainly will not end overnight... especially when the strongest opposition initially fled north.  The ghost of "Jim Crow" haunts us still.  Changing that for good will yet require many more years, decades, or even a century!  Yes, social progress is a slow process.  

Richard and Charlotte Perkinson left Wake County for Mecklenburg in 1940At least Perkinson lived long enough to see the Civil Rights Act passed, hear Luthur's "I have a dream..." speech at the Lincoln Memorial, passing away in 1970.  She witnessed a future that she helped to create.  Nice legacy!

Perkinson's cultural examination revealed the barriers and the horrors that Sally witnessed during her life that should have made any former slave reject that kind of life.  Being a slave was obviously no badge of honor.  Then again, Sally had not met Martin Luthur King, Jr., nor W.E.B. Dubois.  She had no examples in that regard.  Might she have changed her opinion if she had?  Well... probably not this proud ex-slave, indoctrinated since birth to believe that it was her God-given rightful place.  She had only her delusion to support her.  That was the reality in the South of Sally's post-migration day... the day that the South finally recovered their lost territory... the day the violence stopped, the battle had ended... until 1964, and again in 2008. 

As Grandpa knew, Charlotte Story Perkinson certainly got a story from 102-year-old Sally Parham, even if not the one she had expected.  As Sally would say, it was "the Gawd's truth!"  Well, almost.

Thanks Grandpa!

------------------------------ Afterward about Charlotte's son Richard Terrell Perkinson Jr.:

Richard was born September 23, 1908, a year after his parents' marriage in 1907 and while they still lived in Plymouth, New Hampshire.  On the 9th of April 1934, at the age of 25, the young farmer was shot by 63-year-old William Lonnie Collins of Raleigh with a shotgun before Collins turned the gun on himself:

The Robesonian (Lumberton) 12 Apr 1934
 Charlotte's granddaughter, Helen Poole Fontsere' tells "the whole story was much more horrific, as is shown in the many N.C. newspaper reports of his murder by a madman who then killed himself.  I'm sorry that the man took his own life, because I know my grandmother would have taken that opportunity to back up her sincere opposition to the Death Penalty.  This murderer would surely have been convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to death.  But my grandmother would have opposed his execution."

Quite the lady, indeed! 

Richard T. Perkinson and his daughters, ca 1930