Donate to Brooks Historical

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Blackbeard's Land at Plum Point?

Does this terrify you?
Does the image at left terrify you?  Would red glowing, demon-like eyes do the trick? If you were confronted by this man, would you tremble with fear?  Maybe wet your garters?  Well, the image was supposed to do just that and many believed in this image and more.  Part of the image was of Edward Thache's own making... part the fantasy of his biographer, Johnson. Where the boundary lay is purely guesswork.

Legend has it that Blackbeard the pirate came to North Carolina, purposely wrecked a 40-gun frigate to murder his crew, marooned Bonnet's crew, partied/reveled... well, like a pirate, then accepted a pardon from Gov. Charles Eden, was married to Mary Ormond (for the 14th time) and finally "settled" on Plum Point, near the mouth of Bath Town Creek on the north side of Pamlico River.  

Actually, a lot of this image was due to the literary license of the man who wanted to sell more books: Capt. Charles Johnson, author of the 1724 book A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates.  In this book, Johnson says that the brutal "Teach," "while his Sloop lay in Okerecock Inlet, and he ashore at a Plantation, where his Wife lived, with whom after he had lain all Night, it was his Custom to invite five or six of his brutal Companions to come ashore, and he would force her to prostitute her self to them all, one after another, before his Face." 

True to the questionable nature of the historical value in this book, "Johnson" was also probably a pseudonym for Jacobite polemicist Nathaniel Mist, owner of the London newspaper Weekly Journal.

Incidentally, I'm writing a book, too. And I, too, would like to sell a few copies.  Still, I don't plan on brutalizing the truth for book sales.  I'm also a professional historian who found new records for Edward Thache that show him as really just a man... a sugar planter on the island of Jamaica... sans the theatrics.  This simple planter had a mother, step-mother, sister, two half-brothers and a half sister. He was also a junior who deeded his inheritance from his father's estate to his step-mother to help out his family, with little left after his part was taken out.  His grandfather may also have been an Anglican minister who studied at Oxford. He probably had a personal coach and driver, too...

So much for the terrifying image, right?  The red demon lights in the eyes just winked out!

What I try to argue in my new book is that, in reality, Blackbeard (yes, the red-eyed "notorious pirate") was probably more civilized than for which we give him credit. Other mariners, most notably James Robbins who was caught drinking rum in bed with Elizabeth Gooden and Sarah Montague, might not have measured up to the well-educated Thache.  Bath County courts investigated Robbins' indiscretions the year after Gov. Alexander Spotswood of Virginia had Blackbeard killed at Ocracoke in November 1718. Robbins was supposed to have been hung in Williamsburg as one of Thache's pirates... still, he came back to Bath and purchased half of the governor's old estate on the west side of Bath Town or Old Town Creek. He died there in 1725... not as wealthy as his old shanghaied pirate-mate, Edward Salter, but he had done alright for himself. Also, no red eyes...

Blackbeard, though credited with a great deal, in actuality, when studied through the records, rarely ever expressed those characteristics of which he was often accused... by, well... Johnson.  Character assassination was probably this author's greatest talent. Again, it sells books.

Plum Point, Bath, North Carolina

Three genealogists of Beaufort County have attempted to discover more about the noted pirate of the "Golden Age." One point: they attempted to find the owners of Plum Point at the time that Blackbeard would have been in Bath... and they were close. Archaeologists from East Carolina University, having located an 18th-century foundation in that location have spurred local speculation upon whether it might be the infamous pirate's home. One can just imagine the many dirty stinking syphilitic pirates lining up outside at Thache's plantation about a mile from Bath Town to have a turn at the vile pirate's 16-year-old child-like bride. Yeah, I'm laying it on thick, but, still, you'd think that Goodin and Montague would have given her a break, you know?

Mouth of Bath Town Creek today showing Plum Point
Jane Stubbs Bailey, Allen Hart Norris, and John Oden III surmise quite correctly that rebel proprietor Seth Sothel granted himself 12,000 acres including the whole of Bath Town and Bath Town creek, called "Pamtico Indian Town" and "Old Town creek" in 1684.  Patent records support this. And, the researchers also allege difficulty with interpreting early deeds.  No one knows this better than I after the two-year Hatteras Island project!  Many subsequent deeds were simply repeated word for word from the original, even though the actual transfer included only portions of the original.  The Indian Elks deeds on Hatteras stated the whole "200 acres" in three deeds, but included only 100, 50, and an unspecified amount respectively. It was easier just to assume the new bounds and copy the original wording. Also, a surveyor's compass, magnetically charged with lodestone, often varied in strength and could sometimes throw the survey off by as much as 30 degrees, maybe more.  Furthermore, the magnetic declination for 1730 was 10 degrees, quite a bit more than today's value.  So, yeah, there are many things to consider in interpreting these early deeds!

Illustration of Sothell's 1681 grant of "Pamtico Town and Creek"
What Seth Sothel did with his grants seems not to matter.  He left in disgrace, after trying to seize the government in 1691, was removed by the other proprietors and he appears to have had his many large grants revoked.

After Sothel's debacle, the three genealogists further surmise: "The first owner of Plum Point was Henderson Walker, who held it in partnership with John Buntin. When he died in 1704, Walker left his land in Yawpim in Perquimans Precinct to his daughter Elizabeth, who later married Henry Warren. Walker left the rest of his estate to his wife Ann (Lillington) Walker, daughter of Alexander Lillington. Ann married second [in 1704], by 4 Oct 1706, Edward Moseley, who on that date patented the Plum Point property that had become his in right of his wife." [Abstracts of Beaufort Deeds I, p. 172]

The problem with this assumption, however, is that Moseley never owned Plum Point. Moseley's own map of 1708 shows [Bunting]'s land to the east of Plum Point, just past a small creek:

1708 Map of North Carolina by Edward Moseley

Drawing the little creek is pretty specific... He also places Christopher Gale nearest to Plum Point. However, Gale's land, "Kirby Grange" was actually on the north side of "Back Creek" or "East branch of Old Town Creek."  This may have been a slight error on Moseley's part, intending merely to show the "Kirby Grange" area, but not having enough room to write it there. 

Still, the Buntin land is too far east to be Plum Point.  Was this also an error of Moseley's? Again, there's that creek....

Another Beaufort Deed for William Jones to carpenter William Adams for 228 acres - 17 Jan 1726 gives detailed information confirming Buntin's property and line and the creek that separates him from John Sullivant's property.  This 640-acre property was originally granted to John Barras in 1704, who split it half and half with John Sullivant in 1706. Barras still retained 100 acres of this property in 1726 on the waterfront which included his home.

The following diagram (approximation) shows this 1726 transaction and the Buntin line location:

William Jones to William Adams, 228 acres - 17 Jan 1726

Now, this becomes significant since the three genealogists argue that the land that Moseley owned, thanks to Walker was on "Old Town Creek," but it wasn't.  They say that John Buntin died in 1713 and deeded his land to Moseley.  This land was still east of Plum Point; it did not include it.

Furthermore, the William Reed deed of 1720 to Thomas Jewell wherein he states that he got this land from Edward Moseley says that it was "700 acres North side Pampticough River in Bath Co., adjoining on west land where William Jones now dwells, to east, land belonging to Daniel Holland."  So, it lay between two other properties... again, not on the creek.

Remember William Jones?  He sold the above plot to William Adams in 1726. Reed's 1720 deed confirms that Jones owned this property before 1726 when he deeded part of it to Adams. Jewell's purchase was east of this land (as the Reed deed also states).

That still leaves Plum Point.  Who the heck owned that!? Was it William Jones? Probably not.  I can say that with some assurance, too.

Another clue comes from another map of Moseley's in 1733 and this clue takes us back to 1708!  Moseley had worked on this map for many years, about a decade.  Names written by the creeks on such maps of the time appear because subscriptions were sold to them so that they may be included on the map, which was certain to be popular. It was advertisement.

1733 Edward Moseley Map of North Carolina

According to Moseley's new map, the owner of the area of Plum Point is named "Shute," with another Jones tract north of him and Isaac Ottiwell owning the land just east of Shute. Let's hope that Moseley had become more accurate since 1708 and isn't making an idiot out of me. Note also that Thomas Jewell is listed just east of him, again confirming the old Reed estate to be away from the mouth of the creek and Plum Point.

Looking back at the deed records, we do indeed find Gyles Shute, the son of tobacconist and merchant Gyles Shute of London, lately accused of stealing a horse in Maryland in 1703, when he hightailed it to Bath, apparently with his cash (why he needed to steal a horse is beyond me). Because, besides from becoming a Justice of the Peace for Beaufort County, he also bought a few lots in town and 852 acres (over the customary 640) including what we now call Plum Point. He was granted this land five days before Christmas in 1708. So, he just missed advertising on Moseley's first map of 1708!

Gyles Shute patent 20 Dec 1708 - reassignment to Provost Marshall Emanuel Cleaves "for a valuable consideration" 14 Feb 1709.

Incidentally, Gyles Shute gave a deposition against Elizabeth Goodin for having a bastard child... maybe the child of James Robbins (remember, he's the guy who slept and drank rum with her and Sarah Montague)?  Or maybe another.  Anyway, she claimed the child to belong to Capt. Roger Kenyon, who hotly protested.  Gyles' deposed in Kenyon's defense:

  • That on Dec. 24, 1719, “being at house of William JONES, Pamptico River, Capt. Roger KENYON, coming up the said house, desired my company to carry me home, upon which the said Deponent coming home with the said KENNYON), informed him that he was going to Core Sound and thereupon the said KENNYON desired the Deponent’s company thereto, offering him his cabin, and that upon the 28th Day of December (to the best of this Deponent’s remembrance) the said KENNYON in company with this Deponent, departed from Bath town creek in a small sloop, and sailed direct for Core Sound, and there remained in company with this Deponent, until the 5th Day of February following, at which time the said Deponent and the said KENNYON returned to Bath town creek, to the best of this Deponent’s knowledge.

It appears from this deposition that Jones and Shute were sort of neighbors. Gyles Shute dies in June 1730, but leaves his plantation at the "mouth of town creek" to his son Samuel Shute, who apparently is never heard from again.  Still, since Moseley sold subscriptions to his 1733 map probably well before 1730, the notation on the map may refer to Gyles and not his son Samuel.

Gyles Shute's Approximate Patent of 1708

The interesting part is that this land was turned over to the young provost marshall Emanuel Cleaves (b. 1681 and 27 years old) less than two months after Gyles' patent in 1708!  What did he do? Was this a bribe? There was no specific value specified. The land was offered for "a valuable consideration to me in hand paid."  Maybe the old horse thief needed a favor from the sheriff. It should be noted that the 1717 Beaufort Tax List shows Shute's land as only 182 acres at "town creek." Again, this tract to Cleaves did not have to include the entire 852-acre tract and the "182 acres," having the "2" at end is kind of odd.  The note in the records simply refers to the earlier grant but doesn't give bounds. It may only have been for only 670 acres (852-182) and not the 182 acres that Shute may have kept. Cleaves might have deeded this land to John Sullivant or William Jones later... in time for William Adams to purchase it and in time for Gyles Shute to hitch a ride with Jones to Core Sound in 1719!

Indeed, Emanuel Cleaves' will of 1718 (died at 36 years of age) says nothing about this land and by this, we almost loose track of it. There's neither deeds from Cleaves since 1708 , nor sales of this property from his son Benjamin afterwards.  These may have been lost to us.

Moseley's map also hints that Jones, in 1733, lay north of Shute, while in 1719, we know him to also be south of Shute's location, in the Ottiwell location in 1733. He may have purchased the 670-acre tract that Shute sold to Cleaves in 1709, surrounding Shute's home. This could explain the data on Moseley's 1733 map. Essentially, Jones' tract may have surrounded Plum Point. The diagram below shows this (keep in mind that this is purely speculation, placing Shute's bounds between Plum Point gut and Teach's Point gut. Shute does not have to be the owner of Plum Point, you understand. Still, his home is somewhere within his original 1708 grant and is 182 acres. It just makes sense and an 1874 map shows a structure just south of Plum Point gut and it's likely a good homestead location compared to the actual point which is low and swampy.):

Cleaves to Jones maybe? 1709-1719?

Gyles kept a portion, probably this 182-acre tract, which he willed to his son Samuel... including the house "whereon I now dwell." Apparently, Shute retired there, too. The 18th-century plantation located at Plum Point by archaeologists may have belonged to Shute.  Today, its just a big tree farm for a paper manufacturer.

So, it's at least possible that when Blackbeard arrived, he either squatted on the Shute property, maybe was entertained by the an old horse thief there at Plum Point, or somehow arranged to camp on it.  Maybe he simply careened there on the swampy point and thereby started a rumor. Maybe he was never there at all!

Then again, Johnson started all this speculation in 1724 and he was notoriously faulty when it came to elaborating with literary filler.  While he was accurate in regards to what details can be found in other records, i.e. newspapers, depositions, etc., the rest seems to be sheer fantasy. 

Still, he tried to sell books and was successful at it! He made a lot of money and left historians with a lot to weed through and sort out.  

P.S. Don't be afraid of Blackbeard...  His step-mom vouched for him.


The July issue of North Carolina Historical Review will feature an article by Baylus C. Brooks titled "“Born in Jamaica, of Very Creditable Parents” or “A Bristol Man Born”? Excavating the Real Edward Thache, “Blackbeard the Pirate”"

This publication will feature a genealogical chart of the Thache family, from Gloucestershire to Jamaica. Finally, after almost 300 years of misinterpretation, this genealogy is the documented and definitive family history of "Blackbeard the Pirate." This heavily researched and verified chart has been enhanced and reproduced in multiple poster sizes available on

Genealogical Chart of Edward Thache, aka "Blackbeard the Pirate" - Copyright 2015 Baylus C. Brooks

Keep a weather eye out for the journal article which explains the sources of these genealogical relationships. Also sight your spyglass on the book which expands upon this genealogy into his family and friends. It also explains the implications for this knowledge in relation to Blackbeard's birth, life, and death. Edward Thache and his world can finally be accurately realized!

Blackbeard Reconsidered:

Coming Soon!

Baylus C. Brooks' books:

#pirates #Blackbeard #eastindies #Levasseur #labuse
Facebook page for Sailing East:
Join us!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Quest for Blackbeard: A Preview

New Documentary Evidence!

The following is an excerpt from my new book on Blackbeard the pirate, showing the kind of world that he lived in, as dangerous and exotic as it may be.  This book was prompted by my discovery of documentary evidence showing the family of Edward Theach of Spanish Town, Jamaica.  This extraordinary find breathes life into a 300-year old legend that most historians assumed was played out.  We never thought that we would find anything new on the infamous pirate of the "Golden Age of Piracy."   


This excerpt details the piratical devolution of the Bahama Islands, the future home of pirates in the "Golden Age," calling themselves the "Flying Gang." Historian Colin Woodard called the ultimate gathering there in 1716-1718 the "Republic of Pirates." Many of these pirates had inhabited those islands for generations. Some had come there from all parts of the Caribbean. Few of us know that the Bahamas was a sister proprietary colony of the same Lords Proprietors to which King Charles II had given Carolina. We seldom get the chance to realize that proprietorships, or privatized colonies, were the ultimate reason for the degradation and neglect that turned the Bahamas and other colonies like them, including North Carolina, into havens for pirates.

Three hundred years later, we are perhaps forgetting the lessons of history and recreating the anti-government, "corporate" or monarchial rule of the Stuarts, where privilege trumped ability and power suppressed intellect.  Enough with the politics... on to the history and pirates!  May the wind be at yer backs! Yo Ho!


From Chapter 2: In the Swamps of the Spanish Main...


Vice Admiralty judge and Chief Justice of the Bahamas, Thomas Walker had a most interesting history.  Moreover, that history is directly linked to the Fairfaxes, also connected with the United States’ first president, General George Washington. “Suspicions are that Anne Fairfax, Mount Vernon's first mistress and the wife of Lawrence Washington, the President's brother,” tell researchers, “was a woman of colour whose mother was born in the Bahamas.”  There have been rumors of African blood in that line that descend from Thomas Walker, rumors that an attempt had been made to hide:
  • Despite the importance of the Fairfaxes to George Washington's formative years as a young man, the question of the Negro blood of those in this family who were closest to Washington has never been fully explored. True, a small number of the first President's biographers have broached the topic, but even these have treated it as nothing more than an interesting rumor. Of any number of scholars whose attitudes on race might have contributed to this omission, the most obvious culprit is Edward D. Neill. And it is his edition of the Fairfax papers published in 1868 which provides us with a smoking gun. Among the letters he transcribed was one which, if it had been printed in its entirety, would have prevented any doubt about the ethnic mix of this particular side of the Fairfax family.

Neill compiled the Fairfax papers at a time when race would have been a serious issue in the United States and he fell prey to a social resentment of African heritage in that time. 

Col. William Fairfax served as chief justice with Walker and acting governor of the Bahamas immediately after Woodes Rogers and married Sarah Walker (b. 1700), Thomas’ daughter.  This began the speculation because Thomas Walker’s wife was probably of African heritage.  According to the church records from Jamaica that also reveal Blackbeard’s family, these unions were not uncommon in the West Indies and mainland America at the time, including in Blackbeard's own family.  African heritage truly became problematic after the United States gained its independence from Great Britain and especially after the Civil War.

Thomas Walker began his career under Read Elding, former governor of the Bahamas from 1699 to 1701.  Elding had been the deputy-governor under Gov. Nicholas Webb and succeeded to that office by virtue of Webb’s death. Elding was himself of African and European mixed blood.  He hailed from Boston, Massachusetts where he married Hannah Pemberton in 1695.   Walker became Judge of the High Court of Admiralty for the Bahamas on November 4, 1700, appointed by the Hon. Perient Trott, father of former Bahamas governor, Nicholas Trott. Walker noted soon afterward, that part of his duties were “to pay unto the King the tenths of all wrecks and other matters arising to the King by virtue” of his commission as Admiralty judge.  Wrecking was a profitable venture in the Bahamas, with over 700 islands enmeshed in shallow and dangerous shoal waters. 

New Providence Island in the Bahamas

Walker’s relationship with Gov. Read Elding, the “assumed Deputy Governor of the Bahamies,” as he referred to him, was tenuous.   Elding opted for that tenth to go to the proprietors and not the king.  Walker, like his friend, customs collector John Graves, both not fans of proprietaries, disagreed.  As he warned in summer 1701, “the Deputy Governor is resolved to take and receive for the Lords Proprietors, and he being too strong and potent will overcome us, [unless] we have further direction and protection from England.”

Walker’s fiery situation with Elding had grown worse. He related that his attempts to collect revenues for the king had angered Elding. He accused that “The Dep. Governor has lately attempted to murder me and the Vice-Admiral.”   Furthermore, the Spanish had lately threatened to attack Nassau and tear down the fort because they feared attacks from the English.  A precarious situation presented Walker with little choice, as he saw it. “I have imbarqued upon a vessel of my own well victualled and manned for the King's service,” he wrote, “and am in my passage to Virginia to Governor Nicholson, there to crave the aid and assistance of a man of war.”  

Walker landed in the Albemarle of North Carolina and sent his request from there, through the Dismal swamp roads, to Nicholson on April 24th.  He later related that Elding “privately supplied known pirates about those Islands with liquors and refreshment, and underhand hath taken their ill gotten money for the same, and enriched himself thereby.”  

A growing presence of pirates may have prompted the belligerent Spanish reaction. Still, Walker himself supplied perhaps the real reason the Spanish resented English presence in the Bahamas: “The port of Providence may be used for H.M. ships not over 17 foot draught, whence they may run to the edge of the Gulf, to attack the Spanish Plate Fleet.”  The “official” English West Indian agenda had been, since the early seventeenth century, stealing or pirating Spanish gold and silver. They considered all Englishmen to be pirates. Queen Anne’s War had not yet begun, either.  That was still two years away.

Gov. Read Elding had been removed from his office and arrested; Walker then returned. Still, in October 1701, nothing short of a revolution occurred in the Bahamas, led by Elding and many of his supporters, apparently a growing majority in the islands.  A new governor, Elias Haskett, 33-year-old son of Stephen and Elizabeth Haskett of Salem, Massachusetts, had been appointed, and subsequently deposed.  Haskett’s politics also favored the king, though he was a bit rough around the edges. Walker relates:

  • Col. Read Elding was a prisoner by a mittimus for piracy and dealing with pirates, and several other high crimes and misdemeanours, but to free himself he came first to the Governor, pretending to visit him. Immediately the people with arms followed him into the Governor's house, and seized the Governor. Then Elding headed them and carried the Governor into the Fort, prisoner, when two great guns were fired, whereupon the people, as in the nature of an alarm, came from their own homes with their arms to the Fort, where being in a body, the said Elding at the head of them, first motioned for the people to vote Thomas Walker, Judge of the Admiralty, to be put in irons. All the people with one consent said, no irons. Then Elding motioned for irons to be put upon the Governor. The people answered, Irons upon the Governor, wch. according were put upon his legs, were strong and heavy ones.

Walker was trapped. He dared not make trouble for the proprietary men, for he had a family and a daughter only a year old. To get word of what happened to other loyal governments, though, he hollowed an apple and placed a note inside, then used small metal pins to hold it together.  He passed this apple amongst a “half bitt’s worth” to Barbados councilman William Davie, master of the Sloop James City, who had loaded with salt and prepared to depart.   It just so happened that, Davie, on his way from New Providence to Virginia, was fired upon and plundered by pirates. Still, he made it to Virginia by November and delivered Walker’s message. Still, the most fantastic events of the Bahamian Rebellion were yet to come.

Capt. John Crawford delivered Haskett to New York in the Katherine and was subsequently arrested for treason upon Haskett’s quick accusation. In New York, Haskett successfully argued against his opponents, including John Graves who he alleged “forced me on board a small ketch, where they put me in irons, keeping my wife and sister still prisoners… In which ketch I continued untill I came to New York, but most barbarously treated by Graves, who did contrive severall times to murder me.”   The Chief Justice of New York declared the actions against Gov. Haskett  “amount to High Treason.”  Bahamas’ collector John Graves and naval officer Roger Prideaux were both jailed and held for five months, despite the evidence that they sent with the deposed governor.  Graves and Prideaux petitioned that they were “maliciously and falsely charged with High Treason and Rebellion, grounded on an information full of absurdities and obscure and general charges,” all lies of Elias Hasket.  Crawford, tried for piracy in Admiralty proceedings in New York, was acquitted, but he was still held for the act of treason.

Graves, ironically also a king's man,  alleged that Haskett tried to get rid of the documentary evidence. On December 24th, Graves called as a witness one “Downing, a mariner in the vessel they arrived in.”  Downing testified “that Hasket had offered him a considerable reward on his arrival here, if he would throw a box Mr. Graves' papers were in overboard, and give Hasket the largest packet therein.” Downing refused.  

Damning evidence, however, was collected by the people of New Providence and sent in those papers with John Graves, which Haskett was unsuccessful at having destroyed. In particular was the testimony of William Spatcher, master of Robert and Martha. On November 7th, Spatcher testified that Haskett gave him written orders to cut firewood on some of the Bahama Islands.  Spatcher attested to this being merely a ruse to trade with the French at Hispaniola.  Spatcher said that he was told to cut brazilleta wood and carry it to trade for “French commodities, as alamode silks particularly ordered, to be landed privately, short of” Providence harbor, clandestinely.  “So desire you to send me in English a letter,” Haskett wrote to the French governor, “by reason no person shall see it but myself, what will sell with you and the prices you will take the goods at, and also what you can furnish me with and at what rates.”  Naval officer Roger Prideaux confirmed the note having been written by Gov. Haskett. A written letter would be the most damaging evidence, like the letter from North Carolina’s Chief Justice Tobias Knight found on the body of Edward Theach when he was killed in 1718.

There were also allegations to the tyrannical activities of Bahamas’ six-month governor. Supposedly, he had caused Capt. John Warren, a privateer out of New Providence to capture Seaflower, a sloop intending to take in salt at Turk’s Island. Allegedly, Haskett wanted to know whether the master of Seaflower had been doing so under commission from the Lords Proprietors [as opposed to the king] and he “threatning withall that if they did not agree in their answers he would cut off their ears.”  Other accusations made that day against Haskett included one complaint from Seaman John Caverly.  Caverly said that Haskett accused him of trying to illegally rake salt and cut wood. Caverly alleged that Haskett “commanded a Negroe to put a halter about the said Caverly's neck.”


"The Wreckers" 1791

The governor gave his own account of the rebellion by the Bahamians.  His version sounded much less civilized. Haskett provided more detail that implicated others, including Customs Collector John Graves. “James Crawford, John Graves, Read Elding and Ellis Lightwood with some other confederates,” he said,  “did combine and seize and remove the Governor from his Government.” Still, the manner of their actions, as Haskett alleged, was far from civil.  Haskett testified that:

  • … with swords, pistols and other arms went to the Governor's House in Nassau, where he then was, and fired into it, at him, but the shot missing him, one of the Confederates was wounded, by which means they left off firing and betook themselves to their swords, with which they seized the Governor, wounded him in several places and immediately carried him away to the Fort, and there loaded with irons and confined him a close prisoner, and the same night drove his wife, sister and the rest of his family into the woods, and seized upon and took or shared amongst them all his gold, silver, household goods, plate, furniture, merchandize, Commission, Instructions, Bonds, Bills, Mortgages and whatever else belonged to him to the value of several thousand pounds, part of which was the King's money and Lords Proprietors'.

Haskett made strong defense to Gov. John Nanfan and the court. That defense shows either an active imagination or something about the actual state of Bahamian society at the turn of century. He alleged that the people of the island framed him and Spatcher was coerced into a confession. He repeated that the confederates stole his property, worth £5,585. The Bahamians themselves, he said, were little better than pirates. Haskett also alleged that Elding and his men had fired on a vessel from Jamaica and pirated the goods. Samuel Thrift, he said had chased down a brigantine from New York. One Curtis, he told, at the Island Maraguana, left “a vessel burnt down to the water and near 20 men dead on the shore.”  The most astonishing testimony concerned Elding’s ship captain:

  • About a month before I was seized, a sloop of Elding's, Symms, a negro, commander, came into port after about 4 months' voyage among the Islands, who in her return found an English vessel that had lost her way, and whose men were ready to starve, upon which they plundered her, murthered the surgeon, and set the rest of the men adrift in a small boat and then fire to the vessel. All which appeared to me upon the oath of William Gibbons, one of the said sloop's crew, as also that Simms was the person that murdered the surgeon. Simms told me that the surgeon told him that he had undergone a great many hardships and was very ill, and desired that he would put an end to his life, and that thereupon out of charity he took a broad axe and cut off his head.

Unfortunately, the records contained no further reports and alleged no outcome to these quite remarkable proceedings.  Graves returned to the Bahamas where he would continue making pleas to the Crown to invalidate the proprietors’ charter for the islands. Back in England, Haskett’s creditors related that he had “absconded to the Bahamas” to escape them in the first place. Michael Craton tells that “Having fixed a rendezvous at the Rummer Tavern, Graceschurch Street, he had gone to Portsmouth instead.”  A bailiff sent in pursuit was repelled with firearms and Haskett fled England again. Still, having settled in St. Margaret Westminster, Middlesex in 1720, he became embroiled in further legal matters concerning the former Bahamian governor, then London merchant, Nicholas Trott. 

Just as Edward Randolph, Thomas Walker, John Graves, Francis Nicholson, and other administrators worked to have the proprietary colonies assumed by the Crown government, war began.  War with France and Spain would finish the ailing Bahamas and reduce them to a population of mere stragglers on the edge of the woods, fighting like guerrilla soldiers from modern-day Nicaragua. 

As the Haskett affair was playing out in New York, in February 1702, a draft proposal had been prepared for the surrendering of the proprietaries, East and West New Jersey to the Crown. King Charles II had originally given the Jerseys to his brother James after the English Civil War and the subsequent Dutch wars.  He, in turn gave them to two of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina, Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley of Stratton.  Private misrule had become evident in all of these proprietary possessions, palpable in the Board’s investigations into “requiring information relating to the conduct of Proprietary Governments,” particularly the Jerseys in 1702. 

On March 2, 1702, Anne, daughter of James II, succeeded William III of Orange, who had died from pneumonia complications after falling from his horse and breaking his collarbone. William’s Whig reign, however, had marked the beginning of a transition from the personal or privatized rule of the Stuarts’s supreme monarchy to a more parliament-centered or government-checked monarchy of the Hanoverians. Thus, it invigorated peripheral effects in the rest of the empire, including America with a tendency toward eradication of corrupt private colony charters, former indulgences of King Charles II. The Board of Trade and Plantations, formerly Lords of Trade and Plantations and the purview of the king’s Privy Council, was made a separate body independent of the executive in 1696. This reduced possible corruption.

In April, the Board of Trade sent the queen a synopsis of the American colonies in her realm.  In it, they included that both the Jerseys and Pennsylvania are “without fortifications” and unable to defend themselves.  Furthermore, “North and South Carolina are [also] under Proprietors, who do not take due care to put that country into a state of defence.”  They also suggested that the proprietors be encouraged to take care of their possession of the Bahamas for their preservation from an enemy, notably Spain.  This, like most endeavors, they never accomplished.  Furthermore, all they had ever done was to show favor to their questionable friends by granting them favors, governorships... as King Charles II had done for them. Obviously, they never fully investigated Haskett or they would not have hired him.

Gov. Haskett made the fourth corrupt governor in a row, perhaps more, beginning with the notorious Nicholas Trott.  Trott married Ann Amy and later claimed a Carolina proprietorship as well on the death of his father-in-law, Thomas Amy. He was refused for obvious reasons. Several representatives in the Bahamas, including several proprietors’ deputies and Read Elding, wrote to the proprietors late in March.  They elaborated on and complained of Haskett’s probable acquittal:

  • The unparalleled villainyes of your Lordships' late Governor Haskett have been so intolerably oppressive beyond all expression that for the preservation of our lives and fortunes, we were forced to suppress him, of which we gave your Lordships an account by the vessel hired by the country to carry him home to England to answer the sundry barbarous crimes we have to allege against him, [but] that in the proceeding of their voyage putting into New York he thereby bribing of the Master or sailors made his escape.  

The rebels or pirates who abused Gov. Haskett favored proprietors while most of the administrators of the island did not. Of course, many of them believed that the proprietors would favor them and took more of their interests to heart than the king. Moreover, they were freer to engage in illegal activities under the negligent proprietors, paying little attention to anything that happened on the islands.  Most everyone agreed: the proprietors had to go. Still, the proprietors, in 1702, did not lose their colony. The coming war distracted officials. Another sixteen years would pass before that happened.

Gov. Sir William Beeston became the next royal executive for Jamaica. An act "for the restraining and punishing Privateers and Pirates" passed as well.   Soon afterward, the Secretary of State Earl of Nottingham notified Beeston of the beginning of the war with France and Spain. The Lords Proprietors sent word directly to their colony “to annoy the subjects of France and Spain, and to preserve and defend our Colony.”  This, inhabitants would have to accomplish without funding or other aid from the proprietors, of course. Queen Anne’s War had begun.

The Bahama Islands were almost immediately devastated, which did not require much effort. September 17, 1703, John Moore of Carolina, in Pennsylvania with Robert Quarry, sent a letter to the Board informing them of New Providence’s final destruction. “Spaniards and French… had lately attacked the Bahama Islands, destroyed Providence, putting all the men to the sword, and designing to burn the women had not the humanity of one of the French officers interposed.”   Rescuers “brought off about 80 of the people (most women) with them, and in their passage took a Spanish ship about 150 tuns laden with cocoa and other valuable goods.”  Acting-governor Lightwood abandoned his post as well. Moore clearly blamed private rule of the proprietors for the destruction and mayhem on the Bahamas. He said “[Spain and France] had this notion that those Islands were out of the Queen's protection and independent from ye Crown (one of the ill effects of [proprietary] Charters).”

Edward Birch of Carolina deserves little mention as the next governor of the Bahamas, appointed in 1702.  The destruction of the Bahamas, however, occurred before his arrival, brought over by John Graves from Charles Town on January 1, 1704. He was to replace the acting and absent "proprietary president” Lightwood. Birch had returned to Carolina by June.

As if emulating the destruction of the nearby Bahama Islands by their mutual enemies, a dreadful fire struck Port Royal on Jamaica, only eleven years after the devastating earthquake of 1692. The chief seat of trade was moved to Kingston across the bay and refugees from Port Royal were being taken there. Then, the intent was to abandon the strategically-placed Port Royal, just as proprietary neglect had abandoned the strategically-placed Bahamas. The war in the West Indies had not begun well for the English.

Capt. Robert Holden, master of the Granville had sailed for the Bahamas to search for wrecks, as he held a patent from the Proprietors to look after the “whale fishings and wrecks in those parts.”   Disappointed in that search, he was raking salt on Exuma in early May 1704.  There, he was chased by a French ship and privateer, both running English colors to fool him.  The ship had 16 guns and 50 men, the privateer had but 4 guns and 60 men. Holden was taken that day. He later visited several of the islands in that chain, but never made it to New Providence, as it was destroyed and the fort in ruin.

The Bahamas were vital to the war effort and their dilapidated situation had grown desperate. The Board wrote the Queen in June 1706 to express that “We are humbly of opinion that the immediate Government of those Islands [Bahamas] shou'd be resumed into the Crown.”  They asserted that the “present defenceless state of those Islands hath been through the default and neglect of the Proprietors.”  Still, the proprietors insisted upon keeping the Bahamas. The wreck-hunting mariner Capt. Robert Holden, a two-decade veteran of the troublesome Albemarle in North Carolina and having knowledge of the Bahama Islands, was their choice for its next governor.

Collector John Graves chose to defend his home, despite the proprietors. For him, they were negligent of such a strategically-placed resource even in a time of war when England needed it most. He addressed the Board in December 1706.  He told them in “December last there was about 27 families remaining on the Island of Providence and about 4 or 500 inhabitants scattered in the other islands.”  Graves assured that they were not necessarily defenseless, with “about 14 sloops at Providence.”  Graves needed a hundred soldiers with officers and provisions.  With those, “he did not doubt but that in a little time, with the assistance of the inhabitants who may be all summoned to Providence, they would be able to defend themselves against the Spaniards,” and repair the fort.

John Graves, however, not at all in favor of the proprietors, told the Board that he “had heard that Mr. Archdale, one of the proprietors of Carolina, had given a bad character of Mr. Holden.”  Archdale later informed them that he found Holden in jail when he first arrived in Carolina, but realized that he had been placed there by John Culpeper’s rebels in the 1670s. He, therefore, had no problem with Holden.  In fact, most of the proprietors were enamored with their old friend. Archdale also agreed that the Bahamas needed a great deal of repairs for which he doubted he and the other the proprietors would be willing to pay. 

Capt. Samuel Chadwell of the Flying-Horse sloop, understanding that the proprietors considered Holden as their governor for the Bahamas, thought to acquaint him with the colony’s current situation as of October 1707. The inhabitants there were “about 600 (300 freemen),” he said, dwelling upon Eleuthera, Cat Island, Little and Great Exuma, Providence Island, and others.  They live scattered, in little huts, ready to secure themselves in the woods when attacked.

Their trade consisted chiefly of braziletta-wood, tortoise-shell, hunting for wrecks, raking salt, and staying alive. Most trade came from Jamaica, some from Curacao, St. Thomas, Carolina, and Bermuda for liquor and dry goods.  About twenty vessels trade there in a year, Chadwell said, generally of abt. 40 tons burthen, which load with salt and wood. Exuma and Eleuthera are the main places for trade since Nassau was burnt. Only about three houses remain there. He assured Holden that the fort was strong, but the houses within it were burnt.  Only about twenty men were left on the whole island. Woodwork and iron will be the greatest expense to secure the Fort, he said. The people survived by using guerrilla tactics against their attackers, using the natural cover of the woods.

Chadwell described the harbors. Vessels of about 300 tons could trade at New Providence. Ryall Harbor could accommodate 100 tons. Harbor Island had about three fathom of water and could take 200 tons, although somewhat shoal-ridden within the harbor. Hockin Island could accommodate 70 tons.

There were about a dozen small vessels there, some about 16 tons. They fitted out a privateer of about 20 tons the past January.  Capt. Thomas Walker as commander went upon the coast of Cuba with thirty-five men, took about five small vessels, and made about £50 per man. The people of the Bahamas held out the best that they could, living on the front line in a war zone, without aid.  

Chadwell supplicated and practically begged the proprietors for any money or supplies that they might send. He assured Holden that the people would flourish if a new government were settled there; but, at present, their situation declined.  Chadwell yet blamed the Crown for this. His words, though, belied the truth. “They are very desireous of a Governor, and wonders ye Lds. Propriators sends [them] not one,” he said, “they seem devoted to ye Lds. Propriators and loves [them], for their great privilidges.”  These poor people waited in vain upon unsympathetic “gentlemen” owners in London, 3,000 miles away and safe. There was no profit in the Bahamas. The proprietors would not help.

For whatever reason, probably money and the sad state of the islands’ present condition, Robert Holden never arrived in the Bahamas.  He appears in London by the end of 1707 when he wrote a description of Carolina for the Proprietors.  Afterwards, however, he was not heard from again but briefly. He did not attend the meeting of the Bahama residents with their council, Mr. Ayloff, and the proprietors with theirs, Mr. Phipps, in London at the Board in Whitehall in December 1708.  The Board offered that “they need not unnecessarily take up time in setting forth the advantage of the Bahama Islands to this kingdom, or the ill consequence it might be were they in the possession of the enemy, their lordships being fully apprized thereof.” 

At that meeting, Mr. Phipps defended the proprietors by saying that “the revenue of the said islands was about 800l. a year, which their lordships have wholly applied to the defence thereof.”  Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper spoke for the proprietors at the accusation that they did not support the Bahamas.  He only referred to the profit of the colony being no benefit to them. Robert Holden, Phipps said, told him that the “Lords Proprietors did not intend to send over any stores of war; but that he intended to carry over a small quantity himself for sale.”  Obviously, profit trumped national defense. The Board easily recommended, again, the resumption of the proprietors’ charter and, still, they argued to keep it, despite the danger that their private profiteering posed for Britain’s wartime affairs in the West Indies. Human lives never figured into the economic equation. The Bahamas, under private ownership, created a perfect environment for pirates.

Even by 1708, according to John Oldmixon, Bahamian inhabitants were “living a lewd licentious Sort of Life, they were impatient under Government.”  If Elias Haskett was accurate in his complaints about these allegedly piratical islanders, they were certainly pirates by 1708. Oldmixon also commented on their subsistence activity of “wrecking,” or a “Scandal, but it is most notorious, that the inhabitants looked upon every Thing they could get out of a Cast-away Ship as their own.”   This activity they also share with the North Carolina Outer Banks’ early residents. Then again, the Carolinas were also retained by private owners. 

From its proximity to Spanish possessions of Florida and Cuba and also adjacent to the Straits of Florida where all shipping to the eastern seaboard of America or Europe must pass to follow the currents and trade winds, the Bahamas created essentially a “toll gate” for all fleets that must pass right by them.  This was possibly the most important tactical locale in the West Indies and vital to Britain’s war efforts. Anyone who wished to raid Spanish gold and silver shipments would find the Bahamas ideal with 700 islands to choose from for careening, hiding, obtaining fresh water and fruit, and other supplies.  It contained shallow waters with deep channels only known to local pilots.  Pirates could hide there and be assured that no large vessels would dare follow them within the intricate and deadly maze.  Colin Woodard reassured that, “The Bahamas, as every Jamaican knew, was a perfect buccaneering base.”

The old fort at Nassau, however, built and supplied by Gov. Nicholas Trott, had crumbled to ruin by the beginning of Queen Anne’s War in 1702.  The Bahamas was never able to mount any real defense or offense during that war. The sea had undermined the wall of Fort Nassau and it had plunged into the water. No cannon remained that were not spiked by enemy forces. Only twelve families persisted out of 150 that used to reside there. The Bahamas, the sentinel of the British West Indies, was in tatters. The government had disappeared. The few residents that still lived on, including the former Admiralty Judge and Chief Justice Thomas Walker and his family, Customs Collector John Graves, and other older residents resisted the urge to leave their home. Perhaps they refused to abandon the colony for the sake of their country. Perhaps they possessed more patriotism than the proprietors were willing to express. Still, the Bahamas had become a haven for pirates.

King Charles II behaved no differently than Queen Elizabeth or the Lords Proprietors when it came to furthering piracy.  By the early eighteenth century, fellow Englishmen had to deal with the irresponsible atmosphere that they created in America. Their selfish ideology differed little from merchant-pirates who now infested the Caribbean.  Furthermore, few of them and their many lackluster officials had intentions more noble than pirates of the “Golden Age.”  Claire Jowitt stated that, whereas earlier, “the margin between licit and illicit activities at sea was fluid, before the more definite criminalization that ‘piracy’ came to possess in the Golden Age of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.”

Who really were the greatest pirates? Were they the corporate shills that raided other businesses and cared more for their profit and possessions than for their country’s security and the safety of its people?  Or were they the brigands who raided other ships and spread the wealth at reasonable prices?Who could really tell the difference?

In our desire to dissect our past from the deeds of careless profiteering in the Caribbean, reinventing the history of America as we do, we have lost the meaning and context for piracy in the West Indies.  In the process, we have also lost ourselves. We can attempt to recapture our past, to clear it from the rhetoric… and so begins the quest in the oddest of places… the quest for Blackbeard's  true being amidst his truly decadent world.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Rev. Baylus Cade, Progressive North Carolinian and Inventor

Added 6 Sep 2020

Capt. Samuel A'Court Ashe of Wilmington, former Confederate soldier, conservative North Carolinian apologist, defender of slavery, and, not surprisingly, considered "eminent" North Carolina "[redeemer] historian," told in Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas of the Nineteenth Century (1892) that "Rev. Baylus Cade, a prominent citizen of Raleigh, was born in Barker's settlement, Va (now West Virginia), September 3, 1844."  Ashe, in his desire to reflect the prominence, dare I say "greatness" of the "Lost Cause" and the "extraordinary" men who exemplified it with distinguished honor, told how Rev. Cade joined the Confederate Army and surrendered with Lee at Appomatox.  He then went on extolling the many virtues of the supposedly great conservative ex-warrior, turned Baptist minister and lawyer. 

Samuel A'Courte Ashe

Ashe wrote this in 1892.  Only six years later, things changed... 

By 1912, Eugene Clyde Brooks edited a book of poetry in which a short biography was included on each poet.  Rev. Cade was a poet of some state-wide renown and he was listed with two poems in Brooks' book. 

Rev. Cade's biography in that book told the same details as Ashe's, with the added detail of his age at the time of enlistment in the Confederate Army: the tender age of eighteen.  It also told of his subsequent education from 1866-1869 at Richmond College and his becoming a Baptist minister in 1868.  Being a good conservative North Carolinian, Eugene Brooks also expressed some regret after extolling the many virtues of Rev. Cade when he said "But when Daniel L. Russell was elected Governor of North Carolina, he became the governor's private secretary." 

Always makes me cringe when a racist Southern Democrat (or Republican today) says "But.." when describing anything...

Shortly after his death, the Williamston Enterprise, on June 7, 1918, apologized for Cade's service under Russell, saying that financial matters necessitated him taking the position.  "The appointment as private secretary came unsought," stated the Enterprise, "His brethren in the Baptist denomination, ministers and laymen as well, understood the circumstances and motives and maintained their high respect for him and appreciation of his worth."  Still, this does not explain Cade's later service as head of the liberal Lincoln Republicans, to which Russell belonged, at the Waynesville Convention.  Furthermore, his finances were never uncertain, as he purchased the University at Chapel Hill's printing business in 1895, earned $50,000 and a 17-yr royalty from the sale of one of his inventions just before he left for North Carolina.  Cade had money.  Brooks and the Enterprise almost made it sound like there was something seriously wrong with being Russell's secretary... 

Daniel Lindsay Russell (1897-1901)

I should mention that conservative North Carolinians tried to assassinate Gov. Russell when he defended unionist policies in the state and the enfranchisement of African-Americans, against the wishes of the state's-rights ex-Confederates, part of whom were retaking Wilmington's government in 1898 and murdering black citizens without any consequences whatsoever.  Russell was not held in high favor by citizens of the state, who opposed any black enfranchisement policy as "ungodly." The Williamston Enterprise assumed every one of their readers to agree. 

We now call this affair, the only coup d'etat ever to occur in the United States, the "Wilmington Race Riot of 1898."  Conservative U.S. Congressman (and ex-Confederate soldier) Alfred Moore Waddell installed himself as mayor of Wilmington after his declaration that he would "choke the Cape Fear River with carcasses" if blacks weren't "put in their place" like they were before the war.  Conservatives may not have been able to enslave blacks as before, literally, but there were other ways (like Jim Crow laws and Black-laws) to prevent their political empowerment and force their suppression in the great white Godliness of "Progressive"-era North Carolina and today.

Add caption
Ashe supported the classical North Carolinian  conservative agenda... he certainly had no problem with Waddell's group's massacre of blacks.  Ronnie Wayne Faulkner tells that, in the latter years of his life after the riot, "Ashe became obsessed with the War between the States."  Faulkner's thesis, "Samuel A'Court Ashe: North Carolina Redeemer and Historian, 1840-1938" tells that "Ashe did not purposely distort the facts," but his lack of training as a professional historian opened him to bias and Wayne assures that "he often gave a somewhat unusual interpretation to them."  

Ashe was, after all, first a lawyer, not an historian.  Late in his life, he published the short treatise "A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern states and the War of 1861-65" to reiterate the virtues of slavery and the right of the South to engage in it.  He included much rhetoric in this polemical pamphlet, much of it sheer conservative bias.  

Compare Ashe's cherry-picking style of self-congratulatory rhetoric to today's conservative apologist entertainment of FOX NEWS and their intentional distortion of facts.  1898 began the 100-yr long conservative re-entrenchment in our state that still affects us today... still leaves us open to snake oil salesmen like FOX NEWS, not unlike the "redeemer history" of Ashe's day.  It was a battle for conservative control that almost killed Daniel L. Russell (attacked by a force of paramilitary Red Shirts on a train while traveling back from Wilmington after casting his vote) and lowered the local opinions of those associated with him... like Rev. Baylus Cade... and like any professional historian today who attempts to tell the truth... the "good ol' boys" simply say it's my "interpretation" of the truth, so much like their forebears.  A great deal of propaganda is pushed by conservatives, very much afraid of change. Yes, I get this propaganda daily on Facebook... ;)

William L. Saunders tombstone showing the word "patriot" although for which country is not clear: The USA or the CSA.  It also has the phrase "I refuse to answer" carved into it, a reflection of the trial in which he used the 5th amendment.
Populism, "popular" opposition politics, in the South has generally taken the form of white-supremacy, like George Wallace in 1968 or David Dukes, KKK leader in 1984.  A form of Populism, the Farmer's Alliance (formed in Texas in 1876), called for collective economic action against elites: brokers, railroads, and merchants and for reform in national politics, notably, by 1890, the exclusion of African Americans from politics.  

In December 1890, Rev. Cade became associate editor of the Progressive Farmer, the Farmer's Alliance organ in North Carolina under editor Leonidas L. Polk, who pushed the "Sub-treasury bill,"  This position lasted six months.  Still, Cade would not support Polk's policies, particularly the Sub-treasury bill, which he and Gov. Zebulon Vance viewed as unconstitutional (6 Sep 2020: compare to the un-Constitutionality of most of Donald Trump's policies today):

"After a careful and patient study of the sub treasury bill, I am convinced that its enactment into a law would be disastrous to the country, and especially to the agricultural interests.  Holding this view, I cannot write one word in favor of that bill. The dominant sentiment of the Alliance upon this measure is in irreconcilable conflict with my views, and the only manly and honorable course left for me is to retire and let some other editor take charge whose views are in harmony with the friends of the sub treasury bill." [Cade, quoted by The State (Columbia, South Carolina), June 25, 1891]

How much of this quote of Cade's was accurate and how much the words of the Farmer's Alliance supporters, is impossible to tell.   The "manly and honorable" part, however, about stepping down to make room for supporters of the sub treasury bill, makes this sound suspiciously like the Farmer's Alliance "booted" out a non-conformist Rev. Baylus Cade.  The news coming directly from South Carolina, who supplied the Red Shirts a few years later during the Wilmington Race-riot affair, also makes it sound suspiciously like white-supremacists who didn't like the Reverend.  This was the only article from South Carolina to include a reference to "Rev. Baylus Cade" that I could find and it sounds very much like "good ol' boy - make us sound better-than-thou" politics.   

Populists and liberals had certain common goals that brought them together... 

In the elections of 1894, a Fusionist coalition of anti-elitist Populists and early liberal Republicans led by Populist Marion Butler swept state and local offices in North Carolina.  The coalition would go on to elect Republican Daniel Lindsay Russell as governor in 1896 against conservative Southern-Democrats.  

Fusionists were seen as an "unholy" alliance of Populists with "Negro-loving" liberals, reviled by staunchly conservative ex-Confederates.  They were not Farmer's Alliance men.  To the point, they were not wholly white-supremacists, concerned more with economics than social conservatism. 

Due to his close association with Russell, Rev. Cade, already "tainted" in the ultra-conservative Alliance's eyes, was no longer seen as a true ally.  These included men like Polk, Ashe, and William L. Saunders, the infamous leader of the North Carolina Ku Klux Klan who became the first person to make use of the 5th amendment in a Congressional hearing.  "I refuse to answer" is on his tombstone... literally "written in stone." 

These white-supremacists were the political winners of 1898 and perhaps why no one was ever prosecuted for the Wilmington-riot massacre of black citizens.  Still, that never explained the federal ignorance of justice.  Literally, these murders were ignored by everyone!  In the one-sided political apathy, truth and justice lost meaning. We continue to fight that same fight against ultra-conservative white-supremacists in the North Carolina of today, but perhaps with a bit more hope of winning this time. 

Reflecting Ashe's new opinion of Rev. Cade's more progressive sympathies after the war, in 1908, the prolific ex-Confederate (he seemed anxious to make his point) published his Biographical History of North Carolina from Colonial Times to the Present in eight volumes and, in this post-riot work, Ashe only mentions Cade once: his reference to Cade's actions as lawyer defending Elias Carr, president of the Farmer's Alliance.  There is no mention of his association with Governor Russell, assuredly his most prominent work to that date.  There was also no mention of his leading the state's Republican party after Russell's leaving office as governor.  

White supremacists won.  Russell's, Cade's, and Lincoln's party of liberal Republicans were thoroughly suppressed.  They even gave up on getting African-Americans into politics; the conservative white-supremacist opposition was simply too great.  

What happens when you oppose the powers-that-be in any particular political entity?  Well, like Rev. Baylus Cade, you become the "wayward" young idealist who didn't know any better... according to voluminous "redeemer history." 

Like most of these amateur "historians" of North Carolina's so-called "Progressive Era" (now, there's a misnomer), many truly progressive personalities of North Carolina's past were cast into a political bonfire.  Their contributions were no longer admired by a state full of white-supremacists who could no longer stomach them and their anti-slavery, unionist views.  They became lost in a sea of rhetoric.  "State's rights" or Anti-Union sentiment won North Carolina's future and continues to choke our democracy to death.  

History makes the present.  Southerner conservatives, officially the "Tea Party" today, call themselves "patriots," wave the stars and bars, display the American Eagle on their websites, all the time while waving a Confederate flag, some even promoting groups like the KKK... you'd think they'd realize that this is incompatible, even dysfunctional, but... it's most certainly traditional.

My grandfather, who was born at the start of the Civil War, respected Rev. Baylus Cade, enough to name a child after him.  This child was my father (born in 1916 while Cade was still alive), Baylus Cade Brooks Sr. and I also possess the man's name as "Baylus Cade Brooks Jr."  In my view, the progressive nature of Rev. Baylus Cade lives on in myself and, no doubt in his own descendants.  

Understanding this historical sense of resistance to white-supremacist conservatives in my own lineage makes me proud and I think that it's time that North Carolina should recognize and restore Rev. Cade's contributions as scientist, inventor, minister, poet, lawyer, editor, journalist, and thoughtful North Carolina progressive. He began as most southerners, believing as they did in state's rights, even fought the federal government in the Civil War while too young to even be allowed a drink to celebrate today, but had slowly changed his outlook through his mental acuity, education, exposure to social inequalities, and his opposition to North Carolina's harsh suppression of African American justice. 

One of the characteristics that distinguished Rev. Cade above the lawyers and politicians of polite (meaning "white") conservative society was his scientific prowess.  He obviously focused more upon electrical and practical inventions rather than using his prominence and legal abilities to oppose the wishes of the people in the form of the federal government.  As the Ku Klux Klan and Red Shirts rode across the country frightening blacks and supporting Southern Democrats like Furnifold Simmons, William L. Saunders, and Charles Aycock in their conservative agenda, Baptist minister Rev. Cade sought to better our world through science and technology. 

Cade began his scientific work while still living in Scott's Depot, West Virginia.  In 1883, he proposed a better railroad car coupler.  It was a simple start, involving a "peculiar construction" of the duplex pin and bifurcating bar in traditional couplers.  

His interest in rail continued.  Cade's first invention while living in Louisburg, Franklin County, North Carolina involved telegraphy and he proposed to use the rail system to carry the transmission.  On March 6, 1888, he proposed his ideas for the "Railway Telegraphy" idea, "to provide simple and effective means whereby telegraphic communications may be established between moving trains and the stations along their tracks, or elsewhere.":

Baylus Cade's "Railway Telegraphy" patent

This was closely followed by the actual telegraph device.  In February 1890, eight years before the state's conservative coup d'etat in Wilmington, the Scientific American reported on Rev. Cade's "Electric Railroad Telegraph:"  He sold this device in 1889 for $50,000 plus royalties for 17 years!

Scientific American (February 1, 1890), 76.
Cade's "Railroad Telegraph" patent

Carolina Watchman, October 24, 1889

Carolina Watchman, December 12, 1890

In 1890, Cade involved himself in Populist, or anti-federal government politics and became assistant editor of the Progressive Farmer magazine, under editor Leonidas L. Polk.  Another of their publications included the Carolina Watchman, from which the ad above is taken. 

However, Rev. Cade was also interested in social reforms and had a growing progressive streak ("Progressive" Farmer was something of an intentional misnomer to distract from the white-supremacist conservative agenda of the organization).  

While serving as chaplain for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Cade witnessed a serious failure of the prison system and offered solutions.  In 1897, the Proceedings of the Annual Congress of the National Prison Association of the United States, Rev. Baylus Cade submitted an article that revealed a bit of his progressive nature.  


  • Excerpt: "When society creates conditions which make either starvation, or theft to satisfy hunger, necessary in a given case, it cannot innocently punish him who takes bread to escape death by hunger.   In that case society is the criminal, and is as guilty before God, and in the esteem of all righteous men, as any other criminal ever was guilty."

Cade argued for welfare and food stamps, long before they ever became available.   Although the ex-Confederate soldier, Private Cade still regarded himself Populist, his social sentiments became increasingly progressive.  While Cade was still in Kansas, Daniel Russell "battled several detractors in both the Republican and Populist parties before he received the fusion nomination for governor. In a resounding victory for the fusionists, Russell was elected to the state's highest office."  Cade would continue the metamorphosis into a Lincoln Republican upon his return to North Carolina and during his tenure as Gov. Russell's private secretary, beginning in April 1898.  

As the Raleigh News & Observer, under Josephus Daniels was the mouthpiece for the conservative white-supremacists, the Charlotte Observer served as opposition and printed the following on October 26, 1898:

Charlotte Observer, Oct. 26, 1898
Where as it has been made known to me by the public press, by numerous letters, by oral statements of diverse citizens of the State, and buy formal written statements that the political canvas now going forward has been made the occasion and pretext for bringing about conditions of lawlessness in certain counties in the State, such, for example as Richmond and Robertson County, and...

Whereas it has been made known to me in such a direct and reliable way and that I cannot doubt its truthfulness, that certain counties lying along the southern border of the State have been actually invaded by certain armed and lawless men from another State [South Carolina, invited by the conservatives of North Carolina]; that several political meetings in Richmond and Halifax County has been broken up and dispersed by armed men in using threats, intimidation, and in some cases actual violence; that in other cases property has been actually destroyed and citizens fired on from ambush; that several citizens have been taken from their homes at night and whipped; that in several counties peaceful citizens have been intimidated and terrorized by threats of violence to their persons and their property until they are afraid to register themselves, preparatory to exercising that highest duty of freedmen - casting of one free vote at the ballot box, for men of their own choice, in the coming election...

Now, therefore, I, Daniel L. Russell, Governor of the State of North Carolina in pursuance of the Constitution and laws of the said State and by virtue of its already vested in me by the said Constitution and laws do any issue this my proclamation commanding all ill-disposed persons, whether of this or that political party, or of no political party, to immediately desist from all unlawful practices and all turbulent conduct and to use all lawful efforts to preserve the peace and to secure to all people the quiet enjoyment of all their rights of free citizenship; and I do further command and enjoin it upon all good and law-abiding citizens not to allow themselves to become excited by any appeals that may be made to their passions and prejudices by representatives of any political party whatsoever, but to keep cool heads and use their good offices to preserve the public peace and protect the humblest citizen in all his rights, political and personal, and I do further command and enjoin it upon all judges and all the other civil magistrates and upon all solicitors, sheriffs, and other officers of the law to use the best efforts under the Constitution and laws of the State to apprehend and bring to speedy trial all the offenders against persons and property and political and civil rights of any and all persons in this state whosoever...

(signed), Daniel L. Russell

By the Governor, Baylus Cade, Private Sec.

Two weeks later, on November 8, "Russell traveled home to Wilmington and cast his ballot without incident, but he barely made it back to Raleigh. A group of armed Red Shirts boarded the train at Hamlet looking for the governor, but Russell had been tipped off and was hiding in the baggage car. With the [conservative Southern] Democrats once again in control of the legislature, Russell considered resigning but eventually served out the remainder of his term, leaving office in 1901."[North Carolina Election of 1898]

Compare these events to Tea Party groups like "Operation American Spring" who now plan a May 16th, 10-million-strong invasion of Washington, DC to demand President Obama's surrender of the government.  This time, it's not just North Carolina, but the entire Tea-Party portion of crazy America.  Of course, the Tea Party's last Washington "invasion" amounted to a slumber party, so, certainly, times have changed. 

Still, at the turn of the 20th century, times were different (undoubtedly more aggressive and unfair) and North Carolina, a strongly conservative and white-supremacist state, easily resorted to violence to disfranchise blacks and prevent their service as leaders in the community, much like the reaction to President Obama today.  In that respect, North Carolina has not yet changed enough.  

Rev. Baylus Cade had aspirations of running for Congress on the Populist ticket before the violence in New Hanover County.  Upon leaving office, Russell tried to secure Cade the position of "court reporter," but that failed and Cade moved away from Raleigh briefly to Baltimore, Maryland before heading back to North Carolina in Morehead City.  He had adopted a clearly progressive mindset, joining Lincoln's Republicans and heading the Waynesville convention in 1902.  He became the state's leader in that party briefly before realizing the futility of fighting against the white-supremacists who ran the state.  

Baltimore Sun, January 30, 1901

Charlotte Observer, July 25, 1902

By the end of 1902, Cade had begun publishing his work on poetry and the next few weeks, he had announced his removal from politics.  He and Lincoln's Republicans were thoroughly beaten in North Carolina.  The state would remain conservative until this very day, when, ironically, conservatives have switched from the old traditional Southern Conservative to the modern Republican party, which has no resemblance whatsoever to Lincoln's Party.  So, now the white-supremacists have joined the Republicans.  I know, it gets confusing... but, that's politics! 

Charlotte Observer, December 21, 1902

Charlotte Observer, January 9, 1903

Six years after leaving politics and moving to Shelby, North Carolina, the ever-faithful Charlotte Observer announced Cade's newest invention.  It was a typesetting machine that promised to revolutionize printing.  The "inventive genius" Cade took numerous trips to Philadelphia to negotiate a contract for developing it.  

Cade filed the original patent August 10, 1908.  The mechanism was much more complicated than his previous inventions.  The patent paperwork was 13 pages long.  

"Composing and Line-Casting Machine," U.S. Patent Office patent for Baylus Cade, August 10, 1908.
Charlotte Observer, July 12, 1909
Charlotte Observer, August 2, 1909

Asheboro Courier, November 10, 1910

Charlotte Observer, March 22, 1911

Charlotte Observer, September 10, 1911

The real trial came in Philadelphia in 1911 and Rev. Baylus Cade was said to be quite pleased by it.  In the short interview between train stops at Lincolnton, Cade said, "the test was in every way satisfactory and if the present plans materialize the machines will be on sale one year hence."  Cade told the reporter that the decision had not yet been made whether to manufacture it in Shelby at his own facilities or in Philadelphia at those of his investors.  

Manufacturing a new product is always filled with numerous delays and Cade's "Compotype" Typesetter was no exception... apparently the price of its manufacture also increased, which, again, is no shock... 

Charlotte Observer, September 13, 1911
Charlotte Observer, January 7, 1912
Still, Cade returned from Philadelphia in March of 1912 with glowing news!  The Charlotte Observer reported that "He has a number of line slugs cast on the new machine and left one here which will be published in the Cleveland Star and will be the first printing done by the Cape Typesetting Machine."

"The inventor's friends have the sincerest confidence in its success.  Experts have visited the shop in Philadelphia and declare it a marvel. Mr. Cade has been working out the principles of his machine for 20 years or more and now the dream of its life is about to be realized in perfecting a machine that will revolutionize the printing industry."

My grandfather was a Baptist minister himself and an avid reader of the Charlotte Observer.  He followed Rev. Cade's success almost daily.  When his fourth son was born, Rev. E. M. Brooks and his wife, Emma wrote to Rev. Cade informing him of their decision to name their son after him.  Rev. Cade wrote back:

Letter: "Rev. Baylus Cade to Rev. Edgar M. & Emma Morton Brooks of Palmerville" (January 12, 1916)
Not long after my father, Baylus Cade Brooks Sr. was born, on January 1, 1916, this ad came out in the Charlotte Observer on July 15, 1917.  Another article from the Statesville Landmark shared the enthusiasm that the "returns will be marvelous."  A new patent had been filed on November 15, 1917 possibly due to the many changes that had been made by either Cade or the manufacturers in Philadelphia, Arnold and Frank D. Nacke, machinists (A. Nacke & Sons at 236 S 9th Street), or it could have been an added mechanism that was required to make it work better.  Another ad came out the following March 28, 1918.

Charlotte Observer, July 15, 1917

Statesville Landmark , July 13, 1917

"Casting Mechanism for Typographical Machines," U.S. Patent Office for Baylus Cade, November 15, 1917.
Charlotte Observer, September 9, 1917

Charlotte Observer, March 28, 1918

Charlotte Observer, May 27, 1918

Charlotte Observer, May 28, 1918

Reverend, lawyer, poet, politician, and inventor Baylus Cade died at the age of 74, on May 24, 1918 while seeking to further the manufacture of his typesetting machine.  The Charlotte Observer's obituary appeared in the May 27th issue, but the most complete biography appeared the next day.  That thoughtful friend/writer assured us that his invention would continue:

Rev. Baylus Cade

By far one of the most interesting characters in North Carolina passed away in the death of Rev. Baylus Cade who came into fame in recent years as the inventor of Cade typesetting machine and invention over which he had wrought in hopeful expectancy for more than 15 years. There were many who had faith in the invention and from time to time Mr. Cade was financed in the progressive steps towards attaining the perfected machine. This, it was understood, had been accomplished and the more recent efforts were in the direction of building a factory for the making of the machines.  At this writing it has not developed what effect the death of the inventor will have on the future of the Cade typesetter, but the possibilities are that it had been forwarded to such a state of completeness that there will be no difficulty in going on with it. Mr. Cade was a Baptist preacher, a man of great stature, and in his clerical coat, top hat and side whiskers was a personage of imposing appearance on the country circuit or on the crowded city streets.  He was a man of marvelous energies in the long years he devoted to his invention he did not neglect the pulpit.  He was the father of a large family having been blessed by 14 children of whom three daughters and two sons survive.  In the earlier days of his inventive work he received but little encouragement, but he never relaxed his efforts. He was handicapped by lack of proper machinery for the construction of the various parts of his machine, and for a time had to be content with the ordinary facilities of a Philadelphia machine shop, where there was finally turned out several years ago, his first crude typesetting machine. The "slugs" turned out he brought home as evidence of his triumph, but he did not contend that the machine was complete.  It needs adjustment of several kinds, and upon this finishing task patiently and hopefully set to work. Later came word that the imperfections in the machine had been removed and the stockholders had passed the stage of disappointment. The Cade typesetting machine stood a completed invention and the next move was the founding and equipping of a plant for its manufacture.  For several months Mr. Cade had been in Philadelphia superintending the making of the machinery which was to go into this factory and he was engaged in the supervision when called to its final abandonment.

The career of Cade, the Baptist preacher, was uneventful; the life of Cade, the inventor was picturesque - romantic. People with whom he came into contact could not resist the depth of his faith. He would never here to the suggestion of failure.  He persisted in convincing a man even against his will, and so, people came to have faith in both Cade and the Machine. It was a hard fate that directed the taking off of the inventor when the reward of all his years of labor and expectations seem to be within his grasp.


The Cade Manufacturing Company of Shelby, North Carolina lived after Rev. Baylus Cade, under its president, E. B. Hamrick, president also of Shelby Cotton Mills; another Shelby Cotton Mill man, Vice-president J.C. Smith of Shelby; Secretary-treasurer J. H. Quinn, and many other officers and investors across the state.  By 1918, they were seeking new manufacturing facilities in Greensboro on the corner of Lithia and West Lee, with frontage on the Southern Railroad line... the former Arctic Ice and Coal Company.   

Inland Printer/American Lithographer (1917), 698-9

Editor & Publisher, 51 (August 10, 1918), 24.

Many times, I have been told that my telling of history is overshadowed by my progressive politics.  This is the absolute truth and my intention!  My point is not to tell our history the way that North Carolinians have traditionally viewed it or want me to tell it, but to tell the truth instead.  In order to do that, I have to give the old historians a thorough reaming from a political point-of-view.  "Redeemer" history or "Revisionism"is a blight on professional history and a purposeful avoidance of justice.  Samuel A'Court Ashe and his "good-ol-boys" have reduced real progress to the realm of the distant "ether" and intentionally maimed our state's past.  Those with the wrong politics have been left out of the history books.

Rev. Baylus Cade made his contributions to society and because of his association with Daniel Lindsey Russell and liberal politics, conservative North Carolinians, who won the final battle of 1898, drove him into insignificance.  He was seen as a political traitor, a castaway, and eventually gave up on politics.  He devoted his energies to his scientific inventions and the Baptist ministry - he was largely successful as an inventor.  Despite his later scientific successes, even to this day, almost no one has heard of him.  Mine is an "odd name," people say, but it would not be if white-supremacists hadn't taken over the state at the turn of the 20th century and robbed Rev. Baylus Cade of his rightful recognition. 

I'm not bitter... well, maybe a little. ;)