OLD TIME STORIES
OLD NORTH STATE
Wm. J. Andrews
NORTH CAROLINIANA COLLECTION B.W.C. ROBERTS
Map of NORTH CAROLINA for Old Time Stories of the Old North State.
OLD TIME STORIES
THE OLD NORTH STATE
LUTIE ANDREWS McCORKLE
“Carolina! Carolina! Heaven's blessings attend her!
While we live we will cherish, protect, and defend her.”
D. C. HEATH & CO., PUBLISHERS
Copyright, 1903, By D. C. Heath & Co.
PRINTED IN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
In sending out this little book, I deem it proper to state that it is in no way an imitation of any other. My manuscript was in the hands of the publishers before any work of similar character had appeared.
My purpose has been, not to give a history of the State, but to relate such stories as will impress upon the children of North Carolina those points in particular in which our colony took the lead of all the others. Thus we have the story of the first colony established in the New World, another of the first child born of English parents on American soil, and others telling of the first armed resistance to British tyranny, the first declaration of independence, etc. I have made the facts of the principal periods of the State's history the background for stories of persons, — children, as far as possible, — seeking thus to fix important events in the child's memory by investing them with something of personal interest.
These stories have all been culled from authoritative sources. No liberties have been taken with the facts in any case, save in the way of imaginative description and dialogue, for the purpose of placing
the incidents of history before the minds of the children in a more vivid light.
To Dr. Dillard's charming description of the Edenton tea party I owe the groundwork of my story of that incident; while Colonel A. M. Waddell's little book, “A Colonial Officer,” furnished the material for the chapter describing the reception of the Diligence. The other stories were all gathered from the standard works on the history of North Carolina, — Wheeler, Caruthers, Hawkes, and Foote.
I am constrained to make grateful acknowledgment of the kind help afforded by many friends while I was engaged in the work of preparation. To Hon. Kemp P. Battle, LL.D., of the University of North Carolina, I am indebted for unwearied kindness and many valuable suggestions. To Mrs. Robert S. Cotten, of Pitt County, I am under obligations for the loan of books containing very important information. To my beloved and lamented friend, the late Mrs. Bessie L. Dewey, of Charlotte, I am not only indebted for the use of many valuable books, but also for much helpful advice and for an enthusiastic and most cheering interest in the work from its inception.
LUTIE ANDREWS McCORKLE.
Charlotte, North Carolina, January, 1903.
|I.||The First View||1|
|II.||Granganimeo's Welcome|| 6|
|III.||Lady Granganimeo's Feast||11|
|IV.||The First English Baby||17|
|V.||The Little Lost Girl||23|
|VI.||The Lord of Roanoke||28|
|VII.||The Indian Massacre||34|
|VIII.||The First Church Bell||40|
|IX.||A Warm Reception||44|
|X.||A Young Hero||50|
|XII.||The Fatal Palace||59|
|XIII.||The Edenton Tea Party||65|
|XIV.||A Great Day in North Carolina||73|
|XV.||A Tory Beauty||78|
|XVI.||A Leap for Life||83|
|XVII.||A Daring Ride||88|
|XVIII.||The Hornet's Nest||94|
|XIX.||The Boy, the Bees, and the British||99|
|XX.||In the Shadow of King's Mountain||104|
|XXI.||Cornwallis’ Country Dance||110|
|XXII.||Old Bess and the Cypress Fort||115|
|XXIII.||A Brave Little Rebel||122|
|XXIV.||A Little Scotch Lassie||129|
|XXV.||The Old Town Clock||134|
|XXVI.||The Little Cook's Reward||141|
|XXVIII.||The Boy who had a Reason||153|
|XXIX.||The Old North State||158|
OLD TIME STORIES OF THE OLD NORTH STATEI. THE FIRST VIEW
We have all learned that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. Yet, do you know, he never set foot on the mainland of this country? The land that Columbus reached first was one of the West India islands.
The mainland of North America was first visited by John Cabot, another Italian, who was sent out by King Henry VII of England. The great news that Columbus had sailed “by the West into the East” spread very quickly from Spain into England. Hearing this, John Cabot felt in his heart “a great flame of desire to do some notable thing.” He found it an easy matter to persuade the king to furnish men and ships for a trip across “the Sea of Darkness,” as the unknown Atlantic was then called. This was five years after the first voyage of Columbus.
Cabot sailed farther north than Columbus, and landed at Cape Breton Island. There he planted a cross and the flag of England, and then went home to tell of the wonderful new country.
King Henry soon fitted him out for a second voyage. This time he took with him his son Sebastian, and sailed the northerly route, as before. Then they came down along the coast as far south as what is now the state of North Carolina. So it came about that the shore of our own fair state was one of the first points in the new world visited by the English.
As Cabot brought back neither gold nor spices, the English lost interest in this new country. For nearly a hundred years they made little effort to learn more about it.
In the days of Queen Elizabeth lived a great and wise man named Sir Walter Raleigh,—the gallant knight who spread his velvet cloak on the ground to keep his queen from stepping in the mud with her dainty slippers.
We learn that “Good Queen Bess,” as the people called her, gave letters patent to her “trusty and well-beloved servant, Walter Raleigh, to search, find out, and view remote, heathen, and barbarous lands.” Raleigh did not waste much time in getting ready two barks to “search and find out” the
strange land of which the whole world was talking. Captain Philip Amidas had charge of one vessel, and Captain Arthur Barlow of the other.
Sir Walter Raleigh
In 1584 Raleigh sent out an expedition which explored a part of what is now the coast of North Carolina. In 1585 and again in 1587 he sent colonists who settled on Roanoke Island.
These brave seamen left England the last of April, 1584. Smooth seas and favoring winds soon brought them across the Atlantic. The second of July found them in shoal water, where the breeze blowing from the land brought them “so sweet and strong a smell as if they had been in the midst
of a delicate garden, filled with all kinds of odorous flowers.” By this the sailors knew that they were not far from land.
How happy they must have been when two days later they came upon the coast! How gladly must
Shores of the Sound, Roanoke Island
The first colony settled by the English within the present bounds of the United States was on Roanoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina.
have fallen upon their eager ears the cry, “Land ahoy!” But their voyage was not yet ended, for they sailed along this coast one hundred and twenty miles to the north, before they could find a harbor for their ships. Then, coming to what seemed to be a river entering the sea, they sailed into a quiet haven and cast anchor.
The first thing the sailors did was to fall on their knees and thank God for bringing them safely all the way. Then they went in their boats to the land, and took possession of it in the name of Elizabeth, Queen of England.
From the sandy shore on which they landed the men went to the low hills near at hand, “to spy out this goodly island,” for such it proved to be. And what a paradise they found it! “The highest and reddest cedars in the world” grew there, the odorous pine, the feathery cypress, the spicy sassafras, and “many other goodly woods.” In these fair forests were found all sorts of game. From tree to tree flitted many strange and beautiful birds. But the greatest of wonders was the quantity of grapes. Everywhere they grew, climbing to the tops of the highest trees, running over every bush and shrub, “dipping their fragrant clusters in the very surge of the sea,” so great was their abundance.
This fair land was none other than the coast of our good old North State as first seen by the English.
II. GRANGANIMEO'S WELCOME
Our brave sailors were very thankful for this pleasant haven of rest after two months of weary sailing and eager watching for land.
Keeping by the island for two days, they saw no human being. On the third day the cry, “A boat! a boat!” rings through both vessels, and all the men rush on deck.
How eagerly the sailors watch the boat as it moves toward them! They well know that its coming means to them either peace or war.
A small boat with three men in it rows up to the land nearest the vessels. One man jumps out of the boat, and walks up and down the beach. Taking this as an invitation to come ashore, the two captains with a few men lower a boat and row to the land.
The friendly native greets them with a long speech, not one word of which they understand. By signs they invite him to visit their ships. He goes with them gladly, “making no show of doubt or fear.” On shipboard he is received with every courtesy. After showing him over both vessels the captains offer him meat and wine, and make him
presents of clothing. This kindness he repays by catching a load of fish, which he leaves on the shore, dividing them into two piles, making signs that one pile is for each vessel.
These Indians lose no time in spreading the news of the wonderful strangers on their coast. The next day the water near the two vessels is
COAST OF VIRGINIA IN THE TIME OF RALEIGH
alive with boats. One — two — three — a dozen flash into sight. Now the sailors are on the alert. How eagerly their eyes are fixed on the boats! Have the natives come to drive them from their shores? As the boats come nearer the fears of the strangers are entirely relieved, for they see no sign of war. The Indians are all unarmed — they have not a bow or an arrow among them. The sailors crowd to the sides of the vessels, and watch intently every movement of the Indians.
The largest of the boats, carrying forty or more men, pulls up to the shore, and they all land. This must be the chief and his body-guard. The men wear around their waists aprons of dressed deerskin, prettily fringed, and from their shoulders hang mantles of deerskin.
They spread a large mat on the ground. The chief takes his seat at one end of the mat, while four men sit at the other end. A short distance off stands the body-guard. The captains, feeling sure that the Indians have prepared to give them a welcome, take seven or eight men, and go ashore. Granganimeo (Gran ga nim’ eo), for such is the chief's name, beckons the white men to sit beside him, and tries in every way to express his joy in welcoming them, “striking on his own head and breast and then on theirs, to show they were all one, smiling and making show the best he could of all love and familiarity.”
He then extends his royal welcome in a long speech, to which the English respond by making him “divers presents.” No doubt this friendly greeting cheered the hearts of the Englishmen, who marvelled much at the behavior of these kindly and simple natives, finding them, as they said, “very handsome and goodly people, and in their behavior as mannerly and civil as any in all Europe.”
After a few days, Granganimeo honors them by visiting their vessels, coming in state, as he did before, with his forty or fifty unarmed warriors. The English make him welcome by showing him
A Virginia Indian
From the “Briefe and True Report of the New-Found Land of Virginia,” by Thomas Hariot, who came to the colony in 1585 and remained two years.
over their ships, and setting before him the best they have of wine and bread and meat. So well does he enjoy the good cheer that he comes again in a day or two to visit them. This time he brings with him his wife, the Lady Granganimeo, his two
daughters, and several little children. My Lady Granganimeo is not tall like her husband, but rather short. Captain Barlow tells us that the little lady “was very well-favored, though bashful.” Like her lord, she wears a long mantle and apron of fringed deerskin. On her forehead is a band of white coral. From her ears hang long strings of pearls. Her daughters are dressed as she is, except that in their ears they wear pendants of copper.
On shipboard the royal party is most kindly received. This is a day ever to be remembered by the bashful little mother and these shy children of the forest. They are shown many strange sights by the pale-faces. The jet-black eyes of the Indian children grow large with awe as they gaze on the wonders shown them by the English — the boats which have wings, the coats of shining mail, and the guns which, they are told, spit fire and belch thunder.
By their kind attentions the strangers fully win the good graces of the Lady Granganimeo. She comes often to see them, and sometimes she brings along her baby and nurse. When she visits the English she is always attended, as becomes her station, by a company of women who wait patiently on the shore while she and a few of her friends make their visit to the vessels.
III. LADY GRANGANIMEO'S FEAST
For some time the English kept up a brisk trade with these friendly Indians, giving tin kettles and trinkets for dyestuffs, skins, and coral. They would not, however, part with their swords, hatchets, and knives, nor with a suit of armor, though the chief offered a box of pearls for it. He had to content himself with a bright tin dish, in the rim of which he made a hole, and then hung it around his neck, to protect him from the arrows of his enemies.
In all their dealings with Granganimeo, the English found him a man who could be trusted. He never failed to keep his promises. When he came to visit them, he was attended by forty or fifty warriors, who were always unarmed. On every visit, to assure the English of his good faith, he would light along the shore the same number of fires that he had boats in his company. Every day he sent presents of royal bounty to the strangers: all sorts of game, “of fish the best in the world,” and an abundance of vegetables and luscious fruits such as they had never seen before.
After several visits from the chief, his bashful little wife and bright-eyed daughters, Captain Barlow thought that the time had come to pay a visit in return. One bright morning he rowed merrily away to Roanoke Island, which was Granganimeo's home. It was a long trip — twenty miles. But the
Palisaded Indian Village
The Indian village of Pomeiock, on Albemarle Sound, North Carolina, in 1585. After John White, copied in Morgan.
Englishmen would gladly have rowed twice as far to have received such a welcome as awaited them.
Granganimeo was not at home, but before the white men reached the shore his wife came running out to give them a most joyous greeting. Some of her people were sent to draw the boat
up to the shore, as it was beaten back by the surf, some to carry the strangers on their backs to the dry ground, and others to bear their oars into the house.
The Indians were a wonder to the Englishmen, but their houses were a still greater surprise. Here at the north end of the island was a village of “nine houses built of cedar, and fortified about with sharp trees driven into the ground to keep out their enemies.” Leading to the entrance of this fort was a well-made road. In Granganimeo's house there were five rooms, opening one into the other. The outer room was the hall where the guests were received; the next was used as a dining room. In the next two the family slept on mats spread upon the floor. The fifth and inner room was used only for worship, and here was kept the household god.
Captain Barlow and his men, in spite of the help given by the natives in landing, were wet and bespattered, and reached the house in sad plight. Their kind little hostess at once set to work to do everything possible for their relief and comfort. “She herself took great pains to see all things ordered in the best manner she could.” In the outer room she had the men sit down by a great fire to dry their wet clothes, and while some
of the women washed and dried their stockings for them, others bathed their feet in warm water. Thus with every kind attention the visitors were made comfortable for the rest of their visit.
Having seen to the comfort of her guests, Lady Granganimeo busied herself in preparing a dinner for the hungry men. You may be sure that all was now stir and bustle. The servants must bring fish from the weirs and vegetables from the fields. The daughters must help dress the meats and set the table. The children are hurrying here and there, for they know where to find the largest clusters of grapes and the most luscious melons.
A famous housekeeper was the Lady Granganimeo, and it was a right royal feast to which she invited Captain Barlow and his men in the inner room. The meal was served on a broad shelf placed along the wall. “The dishes were wooden plates made of sweet timber, and the pots were very large, white, and sweet earthen vessels.”
For the first course there was “wheat-like furmetti,” which no doubt was cornmeal gruel. Then roasted and boiled fish were brought on, with roasted and boiled venison. The vegetables were potatoes, now eaten by the English for the first time, and other sorts of boiled roots of which they did not know the names. For dessert, melons were
served both raw and cooked, with other kinds of fruit, and there was wine to crown the feast.
While they were in the midst of the meal two or three Indians came in from a hunt, carrying their bows and arrows. The English, now for the first time seeing weapons in the hands of the red men, were greatly alarmed. Fearing that they
“The Browyllinge of their Fishe over the Flame”
After a drawing made in Virginia in 1585 by John White.
might be attacked they reached at once for their own weapons. Their gentle little hostess was greatly moved by their want of confidence in her, and distressed that they could think that she would allow them to be harmed in her home. She had the hunters disarmed, and their bows and arrows broken and thrown upon the ground. She then
ordered the poor fellows to be beaten and driven out of the gate.
We can but feel sorry that by their lack of faith in her the visitors were, for the second time that day, to wound the kind heart of the Lady Granganimeo. When night came, although it was raining, Captain Barlow insisted on returning to the boat. Their hostess was much grieved, and “entreated them with many words to tarry for the night and rest in her house.” This the Englishmen would not consent to do, but entering their boat, they pushed off a safe distance from the shore, and spent the night on board. Still the good woman's kindness did not cease. She sent their supper to them in the pots in which it had been cooked, and also sent five mats to protect them from the rain. Then, in token of her good faith, she sent a guard of many men and thirty women to keep watch upon the shore all night. No wonder Captain Barlow afterward wrote, “A more kind and loving people cannot be found in all the world.”
When the English went back across the sea, as they very soon did, I doubt if they carried with them to their home land a sweeter memory, or one of which they loved more to tell, than that of Lady Granganimeo's feast.
IV. THE FIRST ENGLISH BABY
There was great rejoicing in old England when the two vessels came back, bringing news from the New World. They also brought along two Indian boys, who were named Wanchese and Manteo. Queen Elizabeth showed her pleasure in the discovery of the new country by naming it Virginia, in honor of herself.
Many people were eager to try their fortunes in the new land. They had heard from the Spaniards stories of its vast treasures of gold and pearls and of precious stones. Expeditions were sent out by Sir Walter Raleigh, all going to Roanoke Island, but no permanent colony settled there.
In 1587, more than thirty years before the Pilgrims landed in New England, a colony of about one hundred men, with their wives and children, came to Roanoke Island. This colony was led by John White as governor. He had visited the country two years before with Captain Amidas, on his second voyage.
On Roanoke Island they found a few houses left
by the men who had attempted a settlement at this place two years before, and who had called it Fort Raleigh. White and his men at once set to work repairing these houses and building new ones. The women and children needed to be protected
The Early Colonists often built Houses like these
from the weather. The men could camp out, as it was now midsummer, the latter part of July.
The people fell to work with good-will, and there was work enough for all to do, — forests to clear, logs to hew, houses to build, and food to provide for more than one hundred people. Some of the men hunted and fished, while some worked on the houses, and others visited the friendly Croatan
Indians. A few kept guard, as some of the Indians had become unfriendly to the white people.
The women, too, were not idle, but must brew and bake and wash and mend. Very thankful they were that they could do this work, after having been shut up on shipboard for so many weeks. The children also had their share of the work, and ran about, bringing chips and fagots for the fire. water from the spring, and — what they liked far better — hunting in the forest for fruit, and climbing the high trees, seeking the first ripe grapes.
Although these people were far away from the churches in which they had been wont to worship, they had not left behind the fear of God, in which they had been reared. Every morning at drumbeat they met together under the pines and cypress trees, and were led in prayer by the good clergyman who had come with them to their new home.
At sunset on the 22d of July they had landed on Roanoke Island. On the 18th of August great news spread through the colony. To Eleanor, the wife of Ananias Dare, and daughter of the governor, John White, had come a dear little baby girl. Do you know that there has never been so much written and so little known about any baby in all the world — save one — as of this first baby born of English parents on American soil?
We may be sure that this baby had a warm welcome, though she first opened her blue eyes in a rude log hut in the forest, and there was no downy cradle for her to rest in. There were no pretty little things in that bare home, but there was loving care, for good Dame Powell and the other kind neighbors, Margery Harvie and Joyce Archard, were ready to help care for the little one.
Then there was Mistress Dare's merry-hearted maid, Agnes Wood, young girl though she was, ready to trot the baby on her knees, and quiet it with snatches of gay ditties. Little Tommie Archard would slip in with his mother, and beg to hold the baby just for a minute. Poor George Howe, whose father had been cruelly killed by unfriendly Indians only six days after they landed, would stop and ask for a sight of the baby, while Ambrose Vickers and his widowed mother made daily visits to the blue-eyed little stranger.
Even the men at their work felt glad that a baby had come to their midst. We can hear them as they go to their tasks.
“Hast heard the news?”
“Nay. Prithee, tell it.”
“Yea, that I will, right gladly. To Ananias and Eleanor Dare is born a daughter.”
“Truly, that is good news for our little colony.”
And now the good Dame Powell is saying, “This baby must have a name; for on the next Sunday she must be christened.”
“By what name shall we call her?” asks the proud mother.
“Why not Elizabeth, for our good queen?” says merry Agnes Wood.
“Nay, child, I like not the name,” speaks out Joyce Archard. “Call her not after so vain and worldly a woman.”
“Tut! tut! It will not do; for I hear tell that, Queen though she be, Elizabeth is the veriest shrew. Name her not for such an one,” exclaimed Margery Harvie.
“What is it, my good woman?” says Governor White, coming in. “You would not call the babe Elizabeth? Nor would I. Rather let us name her for this fair land to which she has come, our new home, Virginia.”
“Yes! Call her Virginia,” the women all agree.
“If so be her father wills it, we will call her name Virginia,” says the fond mother.
It was a strange company that gathered for worship in the forest shades of Roanoke Island on the next Sunday afternoon. There were Governor White and his chief men in their soldier's garb. Near them was a group of sailors from the vessels
in the harbor, so soon to return to England. There was the workman in his blouse, the Indian in fringed buckskin and feather head-dress, and the gentlewoman in silken gown and lace cap. There were the little dark-skinned children of the forest, and the fairer children of the forest, and the fairer children of the colonists.
All had come to witness the baptism of the baby. Eagerly they watched as the young father came forward, with Governor White as godfather, and placed the little one in the arms of the clergyman. Thus was the first child born of English parents in the new world christened Virginia Dare.
Drawing of Stone Monument to Site of New Fort in Virginia and birth of Virginia Dare]
V. THE LITTLE LOST GIRL
It was not long before trouble came into the home of Virginia Dare — in fact, it came to all the colony. The Indians, fearing that the white men had come to rob them of their lands, had turned against them. Only the Croatan Indians remained friendly to the whites. The others would no longer bring them food in trade, so the colonists found the supplies that they had brought from England would soon fail them.
Some one must go to England and bring back many things which they needed. But who should go? They all decided that Governor White was the man. He did not want to leave his daughter, Eleanor, and the dear baby, Virginia; but the people would have him go. So at last he consented.
The ships were to sail at once. The people had been busy for several days, getting ready their letters and tokens to send back to their loved ones in England. Governor White had only half a day to prepare for the trip, but the needs of the colony pressed upon him. He could not refuse to go, though no doubt it wrung his heart to leave his daughter and his little grandchild, who was only
ten days old. Sad as was the parting, it would have been still more sad if he had known that he would never again press a kiss on their dear lips, or look into their loving eyes.
The planters, as the people of the colony were now called, decided before Governor White left that this small island would not yield a support for so many people, and had planned to move to the mainland. It was agreed that if they left Roanoke Island before the governor's return, they would carve on the trunk of a tree the name of the place to which they had gone. If they should leave in distress, driven away by unfriendly Indians, they would cut a cross above the name.
When Governor White reached England, he found the whole country in a stir over a war with Spain. All the vessels that could be had were being used in this war. Sir Walter Raleigh could do nothing to help the little colony. So for three long, weary years John White made a vain effort to get a ship in which to carry back supplies to the planters on Roanoke Island.
How very long the years must have seemed to these poor planters as they watched and waited in vain for the ships that were to bring them food from over the seas! Day after day, week after week, they strained their eyes for the sight of white
sails on the distant waters, but they saw only the white-caps curling on the foaming waves. No ship ever came to gladden their hearts. No help ever came to them over those cruel waters.
In 1590, after many efforts, Governor White at last procured a vessel to take him across the ocean. He met with many misfortunes by sea, had many narrow escapes, and finally reached the shores of North Carolina at a very stormy season. When at last, late one evening, the boat bearing him and his party reached Roanoke Island, it was too dark for them to land. Seeing a light in the woods at the north of the island the sailors rowed near that point, fired off the cannon, and sounded a trumpet call. But no answer came to them from the silent forest. Then Governor White had a trumpeter sound “many familiar English tunes of songs,” but only the echoes of the forest answered back.
At daybreak the anxious father went ashore, only to find the place deserted. The houses were falling down, the people gone; and there was only silence and ruin to greet him. Where were the loved daughter and her little one? Where were the people who had trusted in Governor White's help? Where were the good friends, tried and true? Gone! all gone! The only clew to the fate of the colony was the word CROATOAN cut in fair
Roman letters on the trunk of a white-oak tree. There was one ray of light to cheer Governor White's sad heart, and that was the fact that there was no cross above the word Croatan. The cross would have meant danger to his loved ones — possibly death — from the Indians.
The ship's captain promised to take Governor White to the home of the Croatans, where the poor man felt sure that he would find his friends and his family. But a storm drove the vessel out to sea, and it barely escaped shipwreck. No entreaties could make the captain turn back when once his face was set toward England.
Poor John White, broken-hearted, and with fortunes ruined, could never make another voyage across the Atlantic. He soon died, grieving for his lost children whom the new world had swallowed up.
“But Virginia Dare?” you will say. “We want to know about Virginia Dare. Where did she go? What had become of her?”
Ah! I wish I could tell you. But we do not know. We like to think how her cunning ways and sweet smiles cheered her sad-hearted mother when she pined for the green fields and blooming hedgerows and cheerful firesides of the loved homeland. We like to think that the grim faces of the men who were fighting with starvation and the
Indians grew less grim, and softened into smiles, as their eyes fell on the golden-haired baby who played by her mother's doorstep.
We like to think that even the rough boys grew more gentle, as they stopped in their play to guide the tottering steps of the winsome little one, or to fill her lap with such playthings as they could find — pine cones from the forest and shells from the seashore. We like to think that when homesickness crept into the heart of Agnes Wood, she often drove it away by a merry romp with her pet.
The Indians called Eleanor Dare “the White Doe”; and her little Virginia, the first white baby they had ever seen, they called “the White Fawn.”
When Captain John Smith brought out an English colony in 1606, and settled at Jamestown, Virginia, we know that he tried to find Sir Walter Raleigh's lost colony. He heard of white people, clothed like the English, and living with the Indians farther south. But none of Smith's colony ever saw these white people. It was reported that with this party there was one young maid, who, it is thought, may have been Virginia Dare. But we do not know.
- “No answer comes from the ceaseless whirl
- Of the hurrying ages tossed,
- And the new world's first little English girl
- Is still a little girl lost.”
VI. THE LORD OF ROANOKE
After so much bad fortune in trying to settle colonies in the new world, the English gave it up for a time. But vast wealth was flowing into Spain from the mines of South America, and England hoped to find rich treasure in her province of Virginia.
Twenty years after the failure of the colony under Governor White, another party set sail in 1606, but this time not for Roanoke Island. That coast had proved so stormy and dangerous that it was thought best not to risk the vessels there. So they were sent farther north to Chesapeake Bay, of which the English had heard through the Indians. There they settled near the coast, calling the place James-town, in honor of King James. This was in what is now the state of Virginia. The colony, after many trials and hardships, flourished, and in a few years it sent out the first settlers into the northeastern corner of what is now our own state of North Carolina.
You all know the story about William Penn and how he bought his land from the Indians. But do you know that we also have a story of how a large part of eastern Carolina was bought by the English
from the Lord of Roanoke? Here is this story of ours, as it is given to us in 1654, by Francis Yardley, “a Virginian born.”
In September, 1653, a young fur trader came in great distress to the home of Francis Yardley at Lynn Haven. He asked help in finding his sloop, which had drifted away, and which he thought had
Jamestown in 1622
From an early Dutch account of Virginia
been carried toward Roanoke Island. The town of Lynn Haven stood about where Ocean View now stands, and not far from Currituck Inlet. Francis Yardley gave the needed help, and the young man with three others set out in search of the lost boat, and soon reached Roanoke Island.
We are not told whether they found the boat, but there they met the “great Commander of the Country, the Lord of Roanoke,” with a hunting party. The white men were greatly frightened,
no doubt, at thus coming upon a body of armed Indians, but their fears were soon quieted. The Lord of Roanoke not only received them very kindly, but taking them to the northern end of the island showed them the ruins of Fort Raleigh. The young men spent several days exploring the country, and then persuaded the Lord of Roanoke and some of his chief captains to go home with them and make a treaty of peace with the English.
They went to the house of Francis Yardley. Here the Indians were kindly received and entertained for a whole week. The Lord of Roanoke was greatly surprised by much that he saw in this Christian home. He was touched by the gathering of the household for family worship morning and evening. But the thing at which he wondered most was that the children could “speak out of a book and talk on paper.”
One day as he and Yardley were sitting together, the Indian, after a long silence, said: “Me one pappoose. Me bring him. Will pale-face take him?”
Yardley listened in wonder. What could it mean?
“Me want him learn speak out of the book and make a writing. Will pale-face teach pappoose?”
Without giving his host time to answer, he continued: “Me want him worship pale-face God. Will pale-face take Roanoke pappoose in his home?”
“Most gladly will I do all you ask,” answered Yardley, filled with surprise and delight; for he well knew that this would mean safety for his own little ones.
“In four moons me bring pappoose,” said the chief. That was his way of saying four months.
The, with many expressions of love, the chief went back to his forest home, loaded with presents from his kind host.
True to his word, the Lord of Roanoke came at the appointed time to see if they were ready to take the boy. A stirring time he caused in the little town of Lynn Haven. Francis Yardley had gone on a business trip up the bay, but brave Lady Yardley took the Lord of Roanoke into her home, and treated him kindly, as she knew her husband would do.
When Sunday morning came, the Lord of Roanoke went with her to church. As the fair English woman and her little ones showed the dusky Indian into their pew, and took their seats, many black looks and ugly scowls were cast in their direction. The men grasped their guns tighter, the women drew nearer their husbands, little children shrunk closer to their mothers, and hid their eyes with fear. Lady Yardley's brave bearing soon calmed them, and they settled down into quiet during the service.
No sooner was the service over than some wicked
men, pretending that they feared harm from the Indian, rushed up to him, crying out: “Whip him out, the Indian dog! Out with him! He means only mischief! He would work us harm! What business has he among us?”
The poor Indian, not understanding their threats, but seeing their ugly looks, trembled with fear.
Then Lady Yardley, taking him by the hand, kept him at her side, and turning to the angry crowd, gently said: “Nay, men, ye shall not touch him. I protest he means ye no harm. I am ready to pledge all my husband's property that no ill comes to you from him. He is my guest — ye dare not touch him.”
Still holding the frightened Indian by the hand, the brave woman walked proudly out with her children, and returned to her home with her guest unhurt. The Lord of Roanoke ever after proved himself worthy of her trust.
On Francis Yardley's return, he made a bargain with the great commander of the Roanoke for a tract of land, agreeing to give him for it “such a house as the English live in, furnished with English chattels and utensils,” and two hundred pounds in money. For this Yardley received “three great rivers, the Roanoke, the Tar, and the Neuse, and all such others as they should like, Southerly.”
When in May the six men sent by Yardley to build the house for the great commander came back to Lynn Haven, the Lord of Roanoke and some of his chief men came with them. The Indians brought as a sign of their purpose to keep their bargain in the sale of the land “a turf of earth with an arrow shot into it.” This they solemnly presented to Francis Yardley, who received it in behalf of the commonwealth of England.
So you see that a very large section of the state became ours by right of purchase. The Indians kept the bargain made for them by their chief, and moved with him farther west.
At the same time that “the Great Commander” brought the arrow and turf of earth to the English, he also brought with him to Lynn Haven his wife and little son. Here, on the third of May, in the very church from which they had threatened to whip him, in the presence of the congregation and the Indians who had come with him, the Lord of Roanoke had his only son, then six years old, baptized a Christian.
The father and mother then returned to their home in the forest, leaving their little boy, the future Lord of Roanoke, to be brought up as a Christian child, under the gentle training of Lady Yardley.
VII. THE INDIAN MASSACRE
I WISH that I could tell you only such peaceful stories of the Indians as that of the Lord of Roanoke. But they were often so cruel and blood-thirsty that many of the stories about them are stories of treachery, torture, and death.
While slow to forgive a wrong, and quick to punish one, the Indians were easily touched by kindness, and had a keen sense of justice. The first settlers in North Carolina paid them for their land, and treated them with due regard to their rights. This is the reason why our colony was more free from Indian troubles than any other except Pennsylvania.
So rich was the soil, and so great the abundance of good things to be found within its borders, that the colony grew rapidly. Settlers came hither from various parts of Europe, attracted by the wonderful accounts which they had heard of this land of plenty. Here all sorts of delicious fruits grew wild. The fields were filled with strawberries, blackberries, and plums. In the forest grew the
red “Indian peach,” and wild grapevines held out their juicy clusters from many a bush and tree.
The waters teemed with fish. The woods were full of game. The rich lands along the rivers yielded abundant harvests of corn. Wheat also was grown, and rice, lately brought from the colony of South Carolina, together with crops of tobacco, cotton, and flax. Herds of cattle grazed in the savannahs the year round, and there was, as we are told, “of butter and cheese a plenty”; while in the woods great droves of hogs fattened on acorns and roots.
In 1711 every settlement was a scene of busy life. On the rivers were many boats, carrying to England, the West Indies, and to the colonies of New England, the varied products of this favored country. Already the Old North State was making a name for its tar, pitch, and turpentine. Beef, pork, butter, tallow, and tobacco were shipped to other countries, return cargoes of sugar, molasses, and such articles as could not be grown or made in the colony, being brought from distant ports.
Many planters had built their homes on the northern shore of Albemarle Sound, and on the banks of the Roanoke, the Pamlico, and Neuse rivers, for the only way of reaching the outside world at that time was by boat.
Though very peaceful and quiet, life in these early settlements was busy. The axe rang out on the air, as the planters with their negroes cleared new ground for the next year's crop, or boxed the trunks of the tall pines for the flow of turpentine; while in the fields the busy ploughman turned the mellow soil.
Not the least busy person about the plantation was the woman. Her family must be clothed with home-made linens and woollens, so there was much carding, spinning, and weaving to be done. The knitting, too, was the work of her busy fingers. The unpainted chairs and tables, all home-made, must be scoured white and clean; the pewter dishes also must be kept bright and shining. All this, if not done with her own hands by the mistress of the house, was done under her eyes. Not many idle moments did she spend, this colonial dame of North Carolina.
The Indians also took part in this busy life, bringing in game and furs from the chase, and fish from their traps. Many of them lived among the white people, as members of their households. These friendly relations between the whites and the Indians in North Carolina had continued for more than fifty years. But a day came when over this peaceful scene there burst a deluge of fire and blood.
As time went by, more and more people had come over from England to take up the land bought by Francis Yardley from the Lord of Roanoke. The Indians found themselves pushed farther and farther west. The lands that had once been their own, were now in the hands of others. They began to hate the whites, and to plan for the recovery of their hunting-grounds. It is believed that they were encouraged to do this by some wicked white men; but neither by word nor look did the Indians show any change in their feelings toward the whites. Things moved on peacefully and quietly.
On Friday, the 21st of September, 1711, every house along the Roanoke, the Pamlico, and the Neuse rivers was visited by one or two Indians. They came, as usual, with smiles on their faces. The settlers, little dreaming of their hidden purpose, received them as friends. As night drew near, bands of Indians came, all smiling and friendly. The whites, thinking they had come to bargain for provisions, received them into their houses, as they had often done before. When night settled down on those happy homes, the people, though they knew it not, had given shelter to their bitterest enemies.
On Saturday morning, just as the first rays of
the rising sun rested upon those peaceful homes, a terrible whoop rang out on the still air from every house, and was followed by answering yells from the woods. In a moment the Indians swarmed from the houses, and joined by those who had been hiding in the forest, with axe and knife and whirling tomahawk struck down every man, woman, and child within reach. The settlers had not time to seize their arms. No one was spared by these cruel savages. The gray-haired old man, the mother with her babe at her breast, the sick and the feeble, all perished together in this savage onslaught.
After murdering all the people they could find, the Indians set fire to the houses, so as to drive from cover any who had been left alive. Then, forming themselves into bands, they rushed with horrid yells into the woods, and searched for those who had found shelter there. In two hours one hundred and thirty whites perished in this dreadful massacre.
For three days and nights this work of fire and blood went on in every settlement, until the savages were so worn out by their own fury and joy that they could keep it up no longer. The few white men who had escaped in each settlement brought together into one place the women and children who had been rescued, and stood guard over them
day and night. They dared not leave them exposed to the fury of the Indians, and so there were none to bury the dead, whose bodies, swollen, bruised, and hacked, were left where they fell, to be devoured by dogs, wolves, and vultures.
Thus in a single day our fair colony was almost swept from the earth, so many had been murdered and their homes burned. The few whites left outside the towns were now threatened by hostile Indians, who sought every opportunity to slay them.
At this time our sister colony of South Carolina sent a band of soldiers with a body of friendly Indians to help drive out our bloodthirsty enemies. It took two years to do this, and many more to restore to the colony the peace and security in which the people had lived before that awful massacre of the 22d of September, 1711.
VIII. THE FIRST CHURCH BELL
The good old town of Salem was settled by a very religious people called Moravians, who came from over the seas. They left their homes in Germany and came to this country, that they might enjoy their religion without being troubled by those who did not think as they did. In 1752 they bought a large tract of land in the heart of the forests of North Carolina, and called it after their old home, Wachovia.
Here they founded their first settlement, calling it Bethabara (Bethab'ara). They felled trees, cleared the ground of undergrowth, and built themselves rude log houses. One of the first things they did was to build a house for the worship of God. True, it was built of logs, but on this little church they placed a small bell, which they had brought with them from their far-away home. This, it is said, was the first church bell brought to North Carolina. As its tones rang out on the still air, they made glad music to the ears of the sturdy settlers, sweetly reminding them of their loved home across the ocean.
The Moravian settlers were a peaceful people, and tried to live on friendly terms with the red men, but the Indians did not wish to be friendly with them. They hated the pale-faces who were coming in, taking up their land, and driving them from their hunting-grounds. At last they made a cruel plan to kill all the white people at one time.
The Moravians had much faith in prayer, and trusted that God would take care of them in their new home, and deliver them from all danger, and so they were freed from fear. When the little church was finished, and the bell hung in the small steeple, the people were called together daily for morning prayer.
The home of the minister, Parson Peterson, was in a part of the church building; and under the same roof the village school was taught by the minister's wife. It was their son Hans, whose duty it was to ring the bell at five o'clock every morning.
Like most little boys, Hans thought that he would like to do some brave deed. His father told him that it was a great thing for a little boy to get out of his bed at five o'clock every morning to ring the church bell, and that if he learned to be always at the post of duty, he would make a good soldier.
After that Hans was always ready to jump out of bed, and go cheerfully to his task. One dreary
morning it was so dark and cold, Hans felt that he would like very much to stay in his warm bed. But then he thought that he would not be a good soldier if he did that; so he rose quickly when his father called him, and ran to the little belfry, and began to ring the bell with all his might.
“Ding-dong, ding-dong,” rang out the bell, and the people, young and old, came flocking from their homes at the sound of its sweet, clear call.
“Ding-dong, ding-dong,” it pealed forth again, and again; and the little throng of happy worshippers hurried on to the church. All were filled with thankfulness, but little did they think that the sound of their bell-ringing had fallen on other ears than theirs.
Not far from the church, in the shadow of the forest, a company of Indians were hidden. Quite frightful they were, with their head-dresses of feathers, and their faces smeared with war-paint. Over their shoulders were slung quivers of arrows. In their hands they carried the bow and deadly tomahawk. Flat on the ground they were lying, shut out from sight by the thick growth of trees and bushes. It was their plan to wait until the people went into the church, and then murder them all, men, women, and children. Not one was to be spared.
While the settlers were going to church, the red men watched in silence to see the last one pass in.
At the first stroke of the bell the Indians sprang to their feet, trembling with terror. It was to them an awful sound. They had never heard such a noise before. What could it be? Was it some strange voice from the skies, telling the white men of their plan to attack them?
“Ding-dong,” again rang out the bell. The terror-stricken Indians fled through the woods, wild with fright, the sound of the bell driving them farther and farther away into the depths of the forest, until at last it reached them no more.
The Moravians went peacefully and gladly through their morning service, and not until long afterward did they learn how near they had come that day to losing their lives at the hands of the Indians, and how they had been saved through the ringing of their church bell by faithful little Hans.
IX. A WARM RECEPTION
For more than a hundred years the people of North Carolina were under English rule. Their laws were made in England. Their governors, of whom some were good and some were bad, were appointed by England. The crops raised on their plantations were sent to England, and the prices were fixed there. After a time England said that the American colonists must pay taxes to help the English government protect and defend them.
Then the people of the colony said, “We must also have a voice in the making of our laws.”
“No,” said King George III, “you shall not.”
“Then we will not pay taxes, nor obey your unjust laws,” said this brave people.
So, with all the other colonies, North Carolina raised the cry, “No taxation without representation.”
“But you shall pay taxes,” said King George. “All your deeds and law papers must bear the stamp of the crown, and you must pay extra for this stamped paper.”
Then all over the land the wrath of the people blazed out. With one voice they declared, “We will not use your stamped paper.”
So strong was the feeling against the Stamp Act in the colony of North Carolina, that when Governor Tryon asked John Ashe, the speaker of the Provincial Assembly, if he thought the people would submit, he replied, “No; the Stamp Act will be resisted to blood and death.”
Stamps used in 1765
These were not like our modern stamps with gum on the back, but were impressions on the paper, like a magistrate's seal.
Tryon, who was then the newly appointed governor of the colony, soon learned that Ashe well knew the temper of the Carolinians. They had made up their minds that not one sheet of stamped paper should be used in the colony, and they soon proved to Tryon that they were in earnest.
Fifteen miles below Wilmington stood the town of Brunswick. This town had been for some years
used as the capital of the colony. Here Governor Johnston took the oath of office, here George III was proclaimed king, and here Governor Tryon had at this time his official residence.
The people heard that William Houston, the man appointed to sell the stamped paper, and called
Governor Tryon's Mansion atBrunswick
The ruins of the foundation have been laid bare by Mr. J. Sprunt. The house is modelled from pictures of residences of that day.
the stamp master, was at the home of Governor Tryon. On the 16th of November, 1765, an armed body of men, led by John Ashe, boldly marched to Tryon's house, and asked to speak to the stamp master. This, Governor Tryon refused to allow. The governor's refusal roused the people, who went
to work to set fire to Tryon's house. On seeing this, Tryon asked John Ashe into the house. Ashe soon came out, bringing William Houston the stamp master with him.
The whole crowd then went to the courthouse in Wilmington, where before the mayor and several aldermen Houston took oath never to sell the stamped paper within the borders of the colony. When he had done this, the delighted people gave three hearty cheers, and then took him back to the governor's house, after which they quietly returned to their own homes.
But the quiet lasted only a few days. News had come that his Majesty's sloop-of-war, the Diligence, carrying twenty-one guns, had sailed for Wilmington, bringing with it the hated stamped paper. The people of North Carolina felt that they must be ready to receive it, and they were.
In a few days the town was again astir. The military company of New Hanover County was gathering under the command of Colonel John Ashe, and that of Brunswick County under Colonel Hugh Waddell, both of them brave and tried soldiers.
On the 26th of November, 1765, the Diligence appeared off Fort Johnston, eight miles below Brunswick. Right merrily she sped before the
breeze, with all her sails set. As she passed Fort Johnston, she fired a thundering salute from her twenty-one guns, to which the guns of the fort answered back.
No doubt the captain was in high good humor as he paced the deck and gave orders for bringing the vessel safely into port. He smiled to think of the welcome awaiting him in the good town of Brunswick. What jolly company he would find at the governor's home! What good cheer he would enjoy at the groaning tables of the Cape Fear planters!
Ha! There is Brunswick now! “Heave-ho, men, with your anchor!” he cries. His eyes turn eagerly toward the shore to see — what? The shore lined with men. Two companies of armed men at that! He wonders what it can mean.
Here were the militia under Waddell and Ashe, ready to give him a very different reception from the one of which he had been dreaming. He soon learned the meaning of this gathering. A boat came out, and he was told that he could not send ashore one sheet of the stamped paper. He readily promised that he would not, and also promised to keep his vessel there at Brunswick for several days.
Leaving a small party to keep watch over the Diligence, the troops returned to Wilmington, taking with them one of the boats from the sloop.
Then such a time as they had! The boat, with a flag hoisted over it, was mounted on a cart, and was driven through the streets of Wilmington, followed by a long procession. The mayor, Moses John De Rossett, the militia, and all the best people of the town, joined this grand parade.
That night there was an illumination of the town, and the people made merry over their success in preventing the captain of the Diligence from sending the stamped paper ashore. This defiance of a sloop-of-war by two companies of North Carolina militia was the first armed resistance to a British force in the colonies.
The brave Carolinians had given King George to understand that they were free men, and would not yield their liberties to any king. This reception of the Diligence at Brunswick by the liberty-loving people of North Carolina took place eight years before the Boston Tea Party, when the brave men of Massachusetts threw overboard the tea brought by English vessels, rather than pay the tax upon it.
X. A YOUNG HERO
The people of North Carolina had been sorely tried by ten long years of weary struggle against the unjust rule of England. Their money was wrung from them by a horde of greedy officers of the law. When at length they could no longer endure this great wrong they rose up against it, though the struggle cost them tears and blood. Even the children caught the spirit of their fathers, and in this stormy time both girls and boys proved themselves of good courage.
One brave boy showed himself a true hero at the time when the first battle of the Revolution was fought.
We should feel proud that the soil of North Carolina is hallowed by the blood that was shed in the first battle fought for the cause of freedom in the colonies, and we are all glad that this young hero, whose story I shall give you, was a North Carolinian.
It seems strange that the trouble at Brunswick had not taught Governor Tryon the true spirit of the colony. He allowed his officials to heap taxes upon the people when money was very scarce in
the country. As one instance of this oppression, we find that they were made to pay fifteen dollars for a marriage license although the law allowed only one dollar for it. When the people complained to the governor, he treated their complaints with scorn.
At last the men of Orange declared they would no longer submit to this robbery. They resolved to find out whether their taxes were legal, and to pay only such as the law required. They met at Maddock's Mill, near Hillsborough, on the 4th of April, 1767, and formed themselves into a body called the Regulators. From this time on there was trouble between Governor Tryon's officials and the Regulators. With little excuse or none, Tryon threw their leaders into prison, while the Regulators in turn lost no chance of annoying his hated officers. The cause of the Regulators was popular through all the central counties, and numbered among its followers some of the best people in the colony. Of course there were some lawless men among them, as there always are in such bodies.
At length, hearing that Tryon had secured the arrest of their leader, Herman Husbands, the Regulators gathered two thousand strong to go down to Newbern to release him. But soon after starting they learned that he had been set free, so they quietly returned to their homes.
“Now,” said Tryon, when he heard of this gathering, “I must teach these Regulators a lesson. We must have no more such gatherings.” So with a force of three hundred men, six cannon, and a baggage train, he left Newbern to terrify the despised Regulators. He was joined at several points along the road by companies of militia brought up from other sections by his trusted officers. With eleven hundred men, on the 14th day of May, 1771, he encamped on the banks of Alamance Creek, in what was then Orange, but is now a part of Alamance County.
The news had flown quickly that Tryon was coming with this army to compel the Regulators to obey him. The alarm had been spread far and wide. It was the call of duty to all patriots. The whole country had been aroused. From far and near came crowds of brave men to whom freedom was dearer than life. So it came about that on the evening of the 14th of May, only five or six miles west of Tryon's camp, about two thousand Regulators were gathered.
Few of these men had come expecting to fight. They had no commander. Not more than half of them had guns. Tryon had again and again made them promises to right their wrongs, but had not kept his word. Still they hoped that he had come
now to hear their complaints and to settle their grievances. They wished to make one more appeal to him for justice, and if he refused to hear them, then they would defend their liberties with their lives.
On the morning of the 15th of May they sent a message to Tryon, once more asking him to regard their rights. He promised them an answer by noon the next day.
Early the next morning Tryon marched his army within half a mile of where the Regulators were encamped, and drew his men up in line of battle. He then sent a paper, which was twice read to the Regulators, declaring that they must lay down their arms, go home, and obey their king.
This they refused to do.
Both parties advanced. As they drew near to each other, Robert Thompson, who had been sent by the Regulators to treat with the governor, turned to join the ranks of the patriots. With his own hand Tryon shot him down, and then, turning to his soldiers, who were now within twenty-five yards of the Regulators, cried:—
This order was not obeyed, and Tryon called to his men:—
“Fire! Fire on them, or on me!”
His second order was obeyed by a volley directed
against the Regulators, who returned the fire; and so the battle began, and lasted for two hours. Having no leader, the Regulators did not keep in line of battle, but scattered and fought from behind trees and rocks as long as their ammunition held out. Then they fled, having lost about thirty-six men killed, and many were made prisoners, while Tryon lost, in killed and wounded, not less than sixty.
And so, before noon that day, the Regulators had received Tryon's answer to their petition — an answer written in their own blood.
“Now, I will show these rebels that they can't trifle with me,” said Governor Tryon. And that very afternoon at Hillsborough he had some of his prisoners hung.
“This man, Captain Messer, shall hang to-morrow,” said Tryon, speaking of one of his prisoners; “for he is a leader among them.”
The sad news was carried to Captain Messer's poor wife. Early in the morning she came to Tryon's camp, bringing with her the eldest of their four children, a bright and beautiful boy ten years old.
When the time came for Captain Messer to be hung, his unhappy wife threw herself on the ground before Tryon in an agony of grief. By her side was her beautiful boy, his body shaken with sobs, his poor heart well-nigh bursting.
Did the sight of this sorrow touch the heart of Tryon? No! He was not to be moved by such a scene. Just at the fatal moment when Captain Messer was to give up his life, the boy sprung to
Old Church at Hillsborough
This church was built with brick from England. On this hill the Regulators were hanged by Governor Tryon.
his feet, and stepping up to the governor, said, “Sir! hang me, and let my father live!”
With angry surprise Tryon turned on him, and demanded, “Who told you to say that?”
Monument on Alamance Battle-ground
Here was fought the first battle against English oppression in the colonies, May 16, 1771.
“Nobody,” replied the brave boy.
“And why do you ask that?” said the governor.
“Because,” answered the boy, “if you hang my
father, my mother will die and the children will perish.”
Even Tryon's stony heart was touched, and he said, much moved, “My boy, your father shall not hang to-day.”
I wish that I could tell you that the brave little boy's father that day went back to his happy home with his wife and children. But, alas! Tryon's heart was softened only for a moment. He marched Captain Messer with the other prisoners from Hillsborough to Salisbury and back again, showing them in chains at every village along the way.
When at last they returned to Hillsborough, Governor Tryon had Captain Messer and five other Regulators sentenced to be hung. In vain had been the pleading of his brave boy. In vain were the prayers and tears of his devoted wife. Just a month after the battle of Alamance, these six men, martyrs to liberty, gave up their lives on the gallows. Before the execution there was a grand parade through the town, the soldiers being led by the cruel governor himself.
I hope you will never forget the little hero who wanted to die in his father's stead. Nor must you forget that the first battle for American freedom was the battle of Alamance, which was fought on the 16th day of May, 1771.
The following poem by Seymour Whiting should be memorized by every child in North Carolina. When this poem was written, no monument had been placed on the old battle-ground. The monument which now marks the spot was erected in 1880.
- No stately column marks the hallowed place
- Where silent sleeps, unurned, their sacred dust —
- The first free martyrs of a glorious race,
- Their fame a people's wealth, a nation's trust.
- Above their rest the golden harvest waves,
- The glorious stars stand sentinel on high,
- While in sad requiem near their turfless graves
- The winding river murmurs moaning by.
- But holier watchers here their vigils keep
- Than storied urn or monumental stone;
- For Law and Justice guard their dreamless sleep,
- And Plenty smiles above their bloody home.
- Immortal youth shall crown their deathless fame,
- And as their country's glories still advance,
- Shall brighter glow, o'er all the earth thy name,
- Our first-fought field of freedom — Alamance!
XII. THE FATAL PALACE
Governor Tryon's Palace at Newbern.
The palace was at the foot of George Street, and occupied the entire width of the street. It was burned in 1798. The foundation walls and the building on the right are still standing.
This picture does not look like a very fine house. We should hardly call such a house a palace; yet it was the wonderful palace built by Governor Tryon at “New Berntown,” as Newbern was then called. We may well call it the fatal palace, for it not only cost the people of North Carolina a large sum of money, but also tears and bloodshed, and it cost Tryon his place as governor of the province.
Governor Tryon was very fond of show, and did
not think that a plain framed house, like those in which country gentlemen lived at that day, was suited to the dignity of his high office. He wanted a more stately mansion of brick or stone.
When he told the Assembly that the hated Stamp Act had been repealed, it put them into such good humor that they at once voted the £15,000 which he asked of them for the purpose of building a palace “suitable as a residence for a royal Governor.”
This palace was built at Newbern, one of the oldest towns in the province. On account of the learning of its leading men, it was called at that time “the Athens of America.” Here the first printing-press ever brought to the colony was set up in 1749, and here the first newspaper, called the North Carolina Gazette, was printed. Here, too, in 1764, the first schoolhouse in the colony built with public funds, was erected by order of the Assembly.
No doubt Governor Tryon was pleased to have his lordly palace built under the spreading elms of Newbern, in sight of the sparkling waters of the Neuse and Trent rivers. He must have been glad to leave the unfriendly towns of Wilmington and Brunswick. He could not forget how the people of those towns had made him give up the stamp master, and had not allowed the Diligence to land its stamped paper. Nor had he forgotten that when
he tried to quiet their angry feelings by giving them a feast, they had shown their contempt for him by throwing his roasted ox into the Cape Fear River, and emptying his barrels of beer into the streets.
So it rejoiced his heart to see the brick walls of his new home rising slowly in the goodly town of Newbern. But soon more money was needed for the building, and the people were very poor. Lady Tryon and her beautiful sister, Esther Wake, came to the rescue. By giving fine dinners and grand balls, and using all their arts of pleasing, they persuaded the Assembly to give the money needed for the completion of the palace. This the tax-collectors had to “squeeze and extort from the wretched poor.” But the building went bravely on, and at last Governor Tryon had the pleasure of seeing it finished. “The finest thing of the kind in America,” it was said.
From the street door the visitor was ushered into a hall in which there were four niches for statues. In the council-chamber, dining-hall, and drawing-room, the mantelpieces and the cornices were of white marble, beautifully carved. Over the inner door of the entrance hall were inscribed some Latin words, which, when turned into English verse, were as follows:—
- “In the reign of a monarch who goodness disclosed,
- A free, happy people, to dread tyrants opposed,
- Have to virtue and merit erected this dome.
- May the owner and household make this their loved home,
- Where religion, the arts, and the laws may invite
- Future ages to live in sweet peace and delight.”
Here the proud governor, with his charming wife and beautiful sister-in-law, entertained with great pomp. The palace became the centre of social life in Newbern. Here gathered the beauty and wit of the colony for the splendid balls and “drawing-rooms” in which the governor and Lady Tryon delighted. At these receptions Lord and Lady Tryon sat on a raised platform at one end of the room and received their guests in almost as much state as did the king and queen in London.
Music and Dancing at the Palace
But they were not long left to gratify their vanity and enjoy their splendor in peace. While there was feasting and music and dancing in the palace,
the people of the colony were growing more and more restless because they were compelled to give up so much of their scanty living to keep up the show in Newbern. This was a wrong not easy to bear; nor did the rumors of the merry-makings and social splendors of Newbern do much to soothe their ruffled spirits. From their plain homes went up a murmur of discontent, which finally reached the ears of the haughty governor. But when asked to lighten their burdens, his only reply was, “Curse your burdens!”
At last the spirit of the people, who for years had been robbed of both their liberty and their money, blazed out, as we have seen, in the battle of Alamance. So it was that the bricks and the marble of the palace cost the lives of many good men, and Tryon saw that he could not treat as slaves the free men of North Carolina. A few months after the battle of Alamance he left the palace in Newbern, and went to be governor of New York.
He was followed by Josiah Martin, who was the last royal governor of the colony. Governor Martin occupied the palace, and entered upon his official duties with great parade. Newbern still enjoyed its heyday of social life, and the palace was the scene of many festive gatherings.
But clouds were gathering over this fair scene of
social gayety. The people had made up their minds to elect their own rulers. Governor Martin said that they should not do this, but they did not listen to him. When the Assembly met in the Legislative Hall of the palace, it chose John Harvey, of Perquimans, to preside over its sessions. This the governor did not like. Finding that they were all against him and bent on ruling themselves, the governor tried to protect himself and frighten them by having a number of cannon placed in front of the palace. This was too much for the people of Newbern, who were now growing bold, so they seized and carried off six of the cannon.
Soon the governor found the people everywhere making ready for war against King George. He took refuge at Fort Johnston, and when the storm of war broke, he fled to a British vessel.
Many years after the Revolution, Tryon's palace was used as a school-building. In the cellar hay and wood were stored. One day a negro woman took a torch and went down into the cellar to hunt for eggs. The hay took fire from her torch, the building caught, and the greater part of the beautiful palace which had cost North Carolina so much, went up in flame and smoke. One wing still stands, and is shown to visitors in the old town, as “Governor Tryon's palace.”
XIII. THE EDENTON TEA PARTY
Edenton, on the northeastern shore of Albemarle Sound, was the first capital of North Carolina. It was named for Charles Eden, one of our royal governors. Having a fine harbor and a direct outlet to the sea, this place, early in the history of the colony, became the market town and shipping port for wealthy planters.
Lying on a bay famed for its beauty, its white houses looked out from under spreading elms, over the sparkling waters, and its sloping lawns were kissed by the lapping tides. In its yards evergreen hedges enclosed bowers of jessamine and clematis, with thickets of roses and japonicas. In the centre of the town stood the buff brick courthouse, surrounded by a wide green.
Here in the colonial capital was to be found society such as might be the boast of any town. Here “there were a greater number of men eminent for ability, virtue, and learning, than in any other part of America,” says a writer of that day, “while the women were models of virtue, refinement, and highborn courage.”
Since 1708 the town had enjoyed the use of a library of valuable books, ordered from London and given to it by Edward Moseley, our first Chief Justice. We may well take pride in the fact that North Carolina had two public libraries before the Revolution, one at Bath and one at Edenton.
The Dining Room of a Wealthy Planter in Colonial Times
In the homes of the people there was a quaint blending of English elegance and colonial thrift. Beside the heavy mahogany table, and the sideboard with its tankard of silver, and the slender-legged spinet, stood the flax-wheel and the reel. These colonial dames of Edenton did not think
their hands too white and delicate to set the spinning-wheel and reel going merrily. From the cards, too, handled by their deft fingers, the “carded wool fell like a snowdrift.”
There was much merry-making in the colonial capital in those early days. There were quilting-parties, cotillon parties, and afternoon tea parties. To the latter the men came in their long square coats, satin waistcoats, knee-breeches, long blue or scarlet silk stockings, and square-toed shoes with silver buckles. The ladies came in their short-waisted, low-necked gowns, their throats covered with snowy kerchiefs or lace tippets, and with headdresses of lace and ribbon. Then, while the favorite tea, the fragrant Bohea, was sipped from cups of dainty china, there was much pleasant exchange of merry jests and social gossip. The women would spin, reel, and talk of the fashions, while the men talked over news from London or from their plantations.
On the 25th of October, 1774, the idlers on the courthouse green of Edenton were much interested in the stir about the door of Mrs. Elizabeth Green, whose house fronted on the green.
“I'll warrant Mrs. Betsy is giving a tea party to-day, from the crowd that is flocking there,” said one of the bystanders.
“Yes,” said another; “it seems to me a'most every woman in the neighborhood must be there, for many's the coach and saddle-horse I've seen stop at that door this last hour.”
“Dame Betsy is always giving tea parties. A pretty penny Thomas Green must make of his merchandise, to keep up with her fine ways.”
Old Tea Party House, Edenton
The residence of Mrs. Elizabeth Green.
“Tut, man! Let the women have their dish of tea and their bit of gossip. We all know they are modest and thrifty, as becomes women.”
“There'll be no lack of talk, I'll wager, for there goes Dame Penelope Barker, and her tongue never fails to wag, and that right merrily. See what state she takes on! No countess could carry a head so high, or hold herself more proudly.”
“And that gentle little lady just stepping from the coach — who can she be?”
“What, don't know the sister of Samuel Johnston, the beautiful Mistress Isabel? A more gentle and lovely lady never lived. The gossips have it that she will soon be wed to Joseph Hewes — him we sent to the Continental Congress but now in session in Philadelphia. She has come in the coach from Hayes, her brother's place, about a mile off. A fine house it is, with its walls covered with books and pictures.”
“There is Mistress Sarah Valentine, walking up from her home at the end of the street. I'll warrant it is her knitting that the maid carries in her bag. Dame Sarah never can sit with idle hands.”
“No, nor with idle tongue either, for that matter.”
“Upon my word, there is the coach from Paradise. Friend Hoskins has well called his home by such a name, with such a woman to adorn it. No woman in Edenton doth wear such caps and gowns as Dame Hoskins, and they say her wedding-dress was spun and woven from flax grown on her father's farm in Halifax County. So fine and delicate was the warp that when preparing it for the loom she passed the whole chain of the web through her engagement ring.”
“Ay! and she is no mean horsewoman, either.
She sits her horse like a very queen. ’Tis said her bridal trip was made on horseback from her father's home in Halifax to the home at Paradise.”
With many like remarks the idlers watched the ladies swarm into the house of Mrs. Green, until it seemed as if the house could hold no more. True enough it was a tea party, but such a tea party as was never held on American soil before or since.
Times in the colony were growing stormy. In spite of the protest of the royal governor, the Provincial Congress had met at Newbern, and declared that the colonists would not send their goods to England, nor bring English goods to North Carolina. And now came word that the tax on tea would not be removed, though the English government had repealed the hated Stamp Act.
Now these women had met to talk matters over, and to see what could be done to prove that they, too, were true and loyal patriots. They had not met to drink tea together. No, indeed! but to declare to all the world that they could live without tea.
After the crowd had gathered, the busy hum of voices was hushed, and the meeting was called to order. Mrs. Penelope Barker was made president. A long paper was drawn up, in which
these brave women declared themselves in perfect sympathy with their husbands and brothers.
“A Society of Patriotic Ladyes at Edenton, North Carolina”
From an oil painting from the original fragments of a painting on glass, presented to the Virginia Dare Memorial Association, and now in the State Library at Raleigh.
They then drew up and signed the following “resolves”: —
“We, the ladyes of Edenton, do hereby solemnly engage not to conform to ye pernicious Custom of Drinking Tea, or that we, the aforesaid Ladyes, will not promote ye wear of any manufacture from England, untill such time that all Acts which tend to enslave this our Native Country shall be repealed.”
This paper was signed by fifty-one ladies. Think of it! No more gossip over their tea, for the dames and daughters of Edenton; and instead of the fragrant Bohea, they must drink a brew from the dried leaves of sage, raspberry, or yopon.
All honor to the brave women of Edenton, who, on the 25th of October, 1774, proved to the world not only that they were not slaves to the teacup, but also that they were unwilling to be slaves to England!
XIV. A GREAT DAY IN NORTH CAROLINA
Not quite ten years before the battle of Alamance a new county had been set off from a part of Anson County in western North Carolina. Where two stage roads crossed, one going east and west, the other north and south, a little town was founded. It was called Charlottetown, after the wife of King George III. The county was called Mecklenburg, as that was the home of the Princess Charlotte.
This part of the country had been settled by a very stanch people called Scotch-Irish. They served God faithfully, planted schools, and were law-abiding, but they loved liberty better than life.
In the town of Charlotte, under huge oaks and spreading elms, they opened the first college in North Carolina. They called it Queen's Museum, also in honor of Queen Charlotte, hoping thus to please their king. Afterward, when they had determined to stand for their rights against King George, they changed the name of their college to Liberty Hall.
In 1775 Charlotte was a village of about twenty
houses. In the middle of the square, where the two stage roads crossed, stood the courthouse. It was a frame building, raised high above the ground on brick pillars. Two flights of steps led up from the outside, one on either side of the building.
In this courthouse, on the 19th of May, 1775, the General Committee chosen by the people of Mecklenburg to look after their rights was called together by Colonel Thomas Polk to talk over the sad state of the colony.
Many of the men of Mecklenburg had been with the Regulators at the battle of Alamance. Since that time, for four long, weary years, matters had been growing steadily worse in the colony. There was no law in North Carolina. All her courts were closed. The Assembly which made the laws was forbidden to meet by the governor. The brave men of Mecklenburg felt that they could no longer suffer their rights to be thus trampled on.
Something must be done, and done at once. So on this 19th of May not only was the little courthouse filled to overflowing, but a vast crowd filled the open square around it. Here were gathered people from all parts of the county. Old and young were there, and men of every calling. Here were the colonial magistrate, in broadcloth coat and knee-breeches; the farmer in homespun made by
his thrifty wife or mother; the hunter in buckskin leggins and moccasins; the minister in sober black.
Even the women were here, some of them with their babies in their arms. Never before had the people of Mecklenburg been so roused. Papers were read, telling of the wrongs that were being done to the people of the colony, and speeches were made by several of the Presbyterian preachers present.
As if to add fuel to the flames, a man on horseback dashed up, and read in a loud voice from a handbill which he carried. It was a story of bloodshed and death from the distant colony of Massachusetts, telling how the farmers of Lexington, just one month before, had been cruelly shot down by British soldiers, and how eighty-eight of them were killed in the fight which followed. The story flew from lip to lip. The fire in their hearts leaped higher and higher. Indignation ran riot.
Then with one voice the people shouted, “Let us be independent! Let us declare our independence, and defend it with our lives and fortunes!”
But the rule of England was not to be lightly thrown off. Every point must be talked over. So these earnest men, without food or sleep, sat in the courthouse all night long, and discussed the matter. Their excitement grew greater as the night wore
on. The next morning the people gathered again in the square — men, women, and children. They could not wait quietly at home for news from the Convention. This was to them a matter of life and death.
At noon five resolutions, drawn up by Dr. Ephraim Brevard, were read to the Convention and adopted. These resolves declared the people of Mecklenburg to be free and independent, no longer ruled by the British crown. To the cause of independence they pledged “their lives, their fortunes, and their most sacred honor.”
Colonel Thomas Polk then read the “resolves” from the courthouse steps to the excited crowd.
“Three cheers!” shouted some one in the crowd. Three rousing cheers rang out from the vast throng. Hats were thrown up. The people were wild with delight at having thrown off the yoke of subjection to Great Britain.
Thus on the 20th of May, 1775, was the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence made.
Never was there such a great day in North Carolina, and never did the people of any of the American colonies do a braver deed.
Monument to the Signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration at Charlotte, N. C.
XV. A TORY BEAUTY
The good people of Wilmington were all astir on a certain fair day in June, 1774; for the latest vessel from Scotland had brought to their town that beautiful Scotchwoman — Flora MacDonald.
After the fatal battle of Culloden, a great number of Scots had found refuge among the pines of eastern Carolina. All knew and loved the name of the brave lassie who, when the defeat of his army at Culloden had forced the bonnie Prince Charlie to flee for his life, had risked death to enable him to escape.1 Now there was great rejoicing at the news that she had come with her husband, Allan MacDonald, to make her home among them.
They at once made ready to give a grand ball in honor of their brave countrywoman. All true Scots wanted the pleasure of being permitted to pay her their respects. Such a brushing up of tartans as there was among the gallants of the town, and such an overlooking of silks and ribbons and laces among the fair dames and fairer maidens of Wilmington,[note]
there had never been before. All must make ready to look their best on such an important occasion.
For many years afterward the good dames of Wilmington liked to tell about that ball: how the fair Flora's beauty and gracious manners won every heart; how her bright eyes sparkled, and how the soft golden ringlets fell on her snowy brow; how the roses of her cheek rivalled the rose on her breast. One told how the MacDonalds had ever been a dark people, with black hair and eyes, but Flora was as fair as any maid of English blood. Another remembered that Governor Martin had claimed her hand for the first dance, and with her had himself opened the ball. All were agreed that no heart could resist her charms, and every man among them was ready to do her bidding.
The original portrait was painted while she was the guest of Lady Primrose, awaiting her trial.
Flora and her husband did not tarry long with her kind friends at Wilmington. They went higher
up the Cape Fear River, and made their home at Cross Creek, where a large colony of Highlanders had settled. There, as at Wilmington, Flora won the love of all, and it was not long before the loyalty of the Scots to this beautiful woman was put to the test.
When Governor Martin, who was the last colonial governor of North Carolina, found that the people of the province were ready to stand for their country rather than for King George, he made a last effort to hold them to his royal master.
Hearing that the patriots had gathered an army under Colonel James Moore, Governor Martin knew that he must have a loyal army to meet them. So Donald MacDonald, chief of the Highland clan of that name, was instructed to form an army of all those who were true to the king, and put down the rebellion in North Carolina.
Now was the time for Flora MacDonald to work, and now came the time when the love of the Scotch people of the Cape Fear region for their brave and beautiful countrywoman was to be tested. She had been in the colony hardly two years, and so knew little of the wrongs which the people of North Carolina had suffered. She only knew that King George was their lawful sovereign, and with all her heart she believed that it was wrong for them to rebel against him.
She wrote many letters, pleading with them not to turn against their king, and sent stirring messages all over the colony. Wherever a Scotchman could be found, there came to him from Flora some word to fill his heart with ardor for the king's cause.
Her pleas were not in vain. Here was a brave woman, they said, who, when only a girl, had risked her life to save her prince. Should they, strong men as they were, stand back when their king needed their help?
So the Highlanders of the Cape Fear country flocked to the camp of General MacDonald at Cross Creek, and enlisted under the standard of the king. It was General MacDonald's purpose to lead his army to Wilmington, there to join the British army.
The day before their departure Flora went with her husband to the camp at Cross Creek, to bid her friends farewell. Mounted on a milk-white horse, she rode along the lines, urging the soldiers to be faithful to the king. She looked a very queen, the men thought, and they cheered her wildly as she passed their ranks.
On their way to Wilmington the Tories were met at a bridge over Moore's Creek by a patriot army commanded by Colonels Caswell and Lillington. The two armies camped for the night on opposite banks of the creek. Each could see the camp-fires
of the other. At daybreak the wild notes of the Scotch bagpipes smote the air, and the blast of their bugles summoned the Tories to the conflict.
The patriots had not slept, but had worked all night in throwing up breastworks, and had taken the precaution to remove the planks from the bridge, leaving only the stringers. This greatly hindered the Highlanders in their attack.
Both forces fought bravely, but the patriots finally won, driving off the Tories, and taking a large number of prisoners, among them Allan MacDonald, the husband of Flora.
The battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, fought on the 27th of February, 1776, was the first victory gained by American troops in the Southern colonies in the war of the Revolution. After this battle the loyalists were so disheartened that they did not make another stand until near the close of the war.
Flora MacDonald had so many trials in her Carolina home, that at last, with her husband and four sons, she returned to her old home in Scotland. Her name is still held in reverence by the people of North Carolina, and especially by those who are descended from the Scotch settlers of the Cape Fear region. The memory of the Tory beauty, so brave-hearted, and yet always so gentle and kind, is fragrant as the pines among which she lived.
XVI. A LEAP FOR LIFE
While the French and English were fighting about the boundaries of their lands in this country, the Indians became very troublesome along the western border of North Carolina. Bands of them would swoop down upon the people, murder men and women, scalp them, and burn even little babies. Those who were kept as prisoners were tortured in the most inhuman manner. The fields of the settlers were laid waste and their houses were burned.
A number of forts were built along the border for the safety of the settlers; and when the people found that the Indians were prowling around, they would take refuge in the forts. Each of these was a group of log huts built around a square. Around all a stockade was often made, by driving stakes into the ground, and throwing earth up against them. The stockade gate was carefully guarded day and night.
Many sturdy settlers had come to the beautiful valley of the Watauga, in the heart of the mountain country of western Carolina, attracted by its fertile soil. “They opened paths across the mountains, felled the forest, cleared fields, and built houses.” Here a fort was built by John Sevier.
You must know that John Sevier was one of the bravest men who figured in the early history of our state. Handsome, gay, and generous, he was much beloved. He was called by his friends and neighbors, “Nollichucky Jack.” They gave him this name because his home was on the Nollichucka River. He led many a band of soldiers against the Indians, and never failed to punish them after one of their raids upon the settlers. And yet, such was his kindness of heart, that when, after one of their fights, he brought back a number of Indian women and children as prisoners, he supported ten of them at his own home for three years.
After General Rutherford had at last subdued the Indians, it was John Sevier who was sent to make a treaty of peace with them. In later years he received the rank of colonel, and afterward that of general, for his gallant defence of his state against the British in the Revolutionary War. Being one of the first settlers in the region embraced in the state of Tennessee, he became the first governor of that state.
But what has all this to do with a leap for life? I must tell you.
In June, 1776, old Abraham, the chief of the Cherokee Indians, came down with his braves and attacked Fort Watauga. Creeping stealthily through the shades of the forest, the Indians
suddenly appeared before the little log fort with whoops and yells. Women and children were hurried into the houses for safety, while every man sprang to his gun. The deadly fire which the settlers poured from the loopholes of the log houses soon drove the savages back into the woods.
The women soon found that one of their number was missing. At once there was great anxiety. “Where is Catherine Sherrill?” both mothers and children began to ask. “Does any one know where Catherine is?” Catherine Sherrill was a light-hearted girl of fifteen, and a great favorite.
A Fort such as the Pioneers Built
The log houses were sometimes built close together and surrounded by a high stockade.
Some one remembered hearing her say that she was tired of being shut up in that old fort, and she was going out to gather flowers. Nobody had seen her since. “Then she will fall into the hands of the Indians, and be killed! Poor girl! Poor girl!” was heard on every side.
Outside the huts John Sevier and Captain James Robertson went here and there, directing the men in their defence of the fort, and keeping a close watch upon the Indians. Suddenly their blood turned cold, for running toward the fort was the young girl. Tall, slender, fleet as a deer, she sped toward the gate. On she came, followed closely by a number of savages. She found that she could not reach the gate, for between her and it there were Indians. So sure were they of their prey that they lifted neither bow nor gun against her.
On she fled like the wind, her pursuers close behind. The two men breathed hard as they beheld this race for life. But, look! She had turned away from the gate, and was speeding toward another part of the stockade. Instantly John Sevier rushed to that point. With one leap she cleared the stockade, and fell, panting and breathless, into the outstretched arms of the gallant Sevier.
And now this story ends in true story-book fashion. John Sevier could not forget the winsome face of the young girl to whom he had received so romantic an introduction, nor could Catherine Sherrill banish from her mind the memory of the brave soldier whose strong arms had received her in the moment of her escape from the Indians. They were married about three years after, and Catherine
was often heard to say that she was “ready to have another such race, and to leap over the pickets, to enjoy another such introduction.”
We can well believe what was written of her — that she “could outrun, outjump, walk more erect, ride more gracefully and skilfully than any other female in the mountains round about, or in the continent at large.”
In her old age both children and grandchildren loved to listen as she told them again and again this “really true” story of her wonderful leap for life.
The Southern Colonies in 1776
XVII. A DARING RIDE
The battle of Camden, South Carolina, which was lost to the American cause, brought great suffering to the people in the upper part of that colony. The country was overrun with British soldiers, the homes of the patriots were robbed and burned, and that dread disease, smallpox, was spread by the soldiers far and wide.
The prisoners taken by the British were penned like cattle at Camden, and stripped of most of the few clothes they wore, their wounds went undressed, and they were nearly starved.
This stormy time brought dark days to the home of the Lenoirs. While the father slowly starved in the foul prison at Camden, the mother sickened and died of smallpox, leaving a family of four helpless children to the care of the negro slaves. The eldest of these four was Martha, just twelve years old. She was a brave, good girl, and a true and loving daughter.
Hearing how her dear father was starving in the prison at Camden, Martha's heart was wrung by the
thought. She made up her mind that he should have something to eat. Going to their old negro cook one day, she said:—
“Maum Dinah, I want you to fill me a basket with victuals, for I am going to take it to my father.”
“Why, missy,” replied the old woman, “you can't do dat; you're jist a little gal. It's thirty-five miles f'om here to Camden, and de country is full of redcoats who'd sho’ kill you. No, honey, ole Dinah can't let you do dat.”
“But, Maum Dinah, you must. My father shall not starve if I can get to him with food. I must go to him.”
“O little missy! How can I let you go? Didn't I promise my po’ mistis ’fo’ she died, to take good care o’ you? How'd you go, and who'd go wid you?”
“Why, Uncle Cæsar can go with me. He's been so good to us since mother died. I know he'd take good care of me and not let any harm come to me.”
“O honey! honey! I can't let you go! Dem Britishers will sho’ kill you. Dey'd never let you gib de vittals to yo’ father, nohow. I know my ole man'd do his bes’, but he couldn't stan’ out ’g'inst dem Britishers.”
“But I'll go right straight to General Cornwallis,
Maum Dinah. I know he will let me take my poor father something to eat.”
“Good sakes, honey! Marse Giner'l Cornwallis! You'd never set eyes on him. Dey'd never pester a big man like him ’bout jist a little gal. No, no, honey; if you'd happen to see him I ’spect he'd e'en a'most snap yo’ head off. Don't you go foolin’ long o’ Marse Giner'l Cornwallis.”
“Mammy, you need not say another word, for I am going. And when I get there I will go right straight to General Cornwallis. Do you think I can eat and know that my dear father is starving? Boil a ham, cook several chickens and plenty of biscuits, just as much as a big basket will hold. I am going to-morrow morning, and Uncle Cæsar is going with me.”
“Well, missy, you's tuck de bit in yo’ teeth. If harm comes to you, ole Dinah'll not be faulted.”
“Don't you worry, mammy, Uncle Cæsar will take good care of me.”
The next morning all were early astir on the Lenoir plantation. Before sunrise the brave Martha, mounting her gentle saddle-horse, was ready for her long journey. Old gray-headed Cæsar led the way, riding a plough-horse, and carefully holding a large basket of food in front of him.
It was a long ride of thirty-five miles, but by sunset
Martha and her faithful old servant have come in sight of Cornwallis's camp. Slowly they picked their way to the general's headquarters through groups of wondering soldiers. “What can that little girl be doing here with only that old darky?” they said.
When in the presence of the guard pacing up and down before headquarters, Martha's courage almost failed her. But taking heart, she rode up to him and said, “Please, sir, may I speak with General Cornwallis?”
“No,” gruffly answered the guard. “What business can you have with him? My Lord has no time to waste on a chit of a girl like you.”
“But, please, sir, I should like to see him for just a moment. I have come a long journey to see him. I must speak with his Lordship. It is a matter of great importance.”
A British Soldier
“Ha! ha! Very likely, miss,” laughed the burly guard. “His Lordship will never whip these cursed rebels if he stops to speak to every strip of a lass who comes along. Move on, my little lady;
move on there, you gray-head. Do you hear? Move on!”
“What is that guard blustering about?” asked the general within. “Please say to him that I desire quiet.”
“Your Lordship,” said his aide, coming in, “it is a young miss with an old negro man; and the girl wishes to speak with you.”
“Show her in,” said Lord Cornwallis.
Martha, blushing and trembling, was shown into the presence of the great general. There he stood in his scarlet uniform, seeming so tall and grand, that when she looked up at his keen eyes and stern mouth, her courage failed her. Not a word could she speak, but falling on her knees before him, she burst into tears. The general kindly patted her on the head, and taking her by the hand, lifted her from the floor. “Do not weep, my little maid,” he said gently. “You need not fear me. What can I do for you?”
“My father! my poor father!” sobbed Martha.
“What is it about your father? Tell me all about it, my child.”
Thus encouraged little Martha poured into his ear the whole sad story of the father held in prison, the dead mother and the helpless children.
Lord Cornwallis listened patiently. Then placing
his hand kindly on her head, he said, “My little miss, your father shall not only have this food which you bring, but he shall accompany you home.”
Think what joy must have filled the heart of Martha Lenoir as she heard those gracious words! She was more than repaid for all the perils of her daring ride, and for all the terrors of the meeting with General Cornwallis.
Of course there was the happy journey home with her father on the next day, and a joyous greeting when home was reached. To show how much he thought of his little daughter's brave deed, Martha's father had a pair of gold earrings made for her in the blacksmith's shop; for in that day there were no jeweller's shops in the country.
Martha Lenoir's Earrings
Do you wonder that in all her life Martha Lenoir never had anything which she prized so much as those gold hoop-earrings? When she grew to be an old woman she loved to show her home-made earrings, and tell of her daring ride, and of her talk with Lord Cornwallis.
XVIII. THE HORNETS’ NEST
This was the name given by Lord Cornwallis, commander-in-chief of the British army, to the little town of Charlotte — a name which still clings to it. It was in this town that the “heady and high-minded people of Mecklenburg county” made the first Declaration of Independence on the 20th of May, 1775. Even the young ladies of the town were full of the love of liberty. No young man could win their smiles, or be favored with their company, who was not loyal to his country. So they said, in a paper which they drew up after their fathers had signed the famous Declaration of Independence.
It is not strange that five years later, when Cornwallis came with his British troops to subdue the country, he found it no very easy task. When he tried to occupy the village of Charlotte he found the spirit and fighting qualities of the people such that he ever afterward spoke of that little town as the “hornets’ nest of the rebellion.”
On this September day in 1780, these hornets were buzzing. The whole nest was stirred up. Word had been brought that Cornwallis with his
army was on his way to the town. The battle of Camden, which had been won by the British, had made them feel sure of success in North Carolina. So Cornwallis turned his face toward that colony, deciding to make his first stop in Charlotte.
Cornwallis's Headquarters, Charlotte, N. C.
General Greene was hurrying to Virginia with what was left of the American army in the South. Cornwallis would move on, and soon conquer the rebels in North Carolina — so his Lordship thought; but he did not know the mettle of the liberty-loving
Scotch-Irish people of Mecklenburg, and he did not find it such an easy matter to whip the rebels as he had fancied.
True, General Greene had left in the country a handful of troops under the command of the fearless Colonel William Davie, while Major Joseph Graham, then only twenty-one years of age, had charge of the few men of Mecklenburg who were not already in the field. These men were now gathered to defend their homes, their wives, and their helpless children.
Word came one evening that Cornwallis's army was only a few miles from the town. “Let the redcoats come on!” said these brave men; “we'll have a welcome for them.”
“Yes! and a warm one,” shouted a ragged patriot. “We can't forget how the British murdered our poor men at Waxhaws, giving them no quarter.”
“No, nor how they starved the poor fellows at Camden,” said another. “Waxhaws and Camden are not very far away.”
“No, no! Death to his Lordship and all his redcoats!” shouted the crowd.
While they shouted thus to each other they were busy filling powder-horns and bullet-pouches, and looking to their rifles, and taking orders from young Joe Graham.
At ten o'clock the news came that the British
army was in motion. There was no sleep for Charlotte that night. Women were hurrying to and fro with scared faces, seeking places of safety for themselves and their little ones. Soldiers were lining up by the road on which the British must come. The hornets were preparing to give Cornwallis a warm welcome.
At midnight the steady tramp of a column was heard, as the British troops filed up the silent street. Suddenly from behind trees, and bushes, and fences a deadly fire flashed out. Bang! bang! went the rifles, while the bullets whizzed through the air. The British halted for a moment, then pushed on toward the heart of the town. The firing along the line kept up, but the troopers moved on in unbroken ranks to the courthouse in the centre of the public square.
There they were met by a blinding fire from Davie's men, who had been concealed behind a brick wall at the back of the courthouse. This so surprised Tarleton's men that in a panic they turned and dashed back down the street. Their trumpet sounded a charge, and they rallied and returned, only to be driven down the street again. A third time they charged, cheered by Cornwallis himself. Again the withering fire leaped from the rebel guns, and again the British took to flight.
But Davie and Graham, knowing that with their handful of men they could not hold out against the British forces, ordered their buglers to sound a retreat. The British then took heart, and rushed down the street in hot pursuit. When they came within a few feet of the retreating patriots, the fleeing column turned and poured a deadly fire into them and then scattered in the woods.
That night a mere handful of patriot soldiers had kept at bay, and three times driven back, the advance guard of the whole army under Cornwallis. The British gained the town, it is true, but not until they were badly stung by the hornets of Mecklenburg.
XIX. THE BOY, THE BEES, AND THE BRITISH
The hornets made it so hot for Cornwallis and his army that they stayed only nineteen days in the “Hornets’ Nest.”
Five years before, these people had declared themselves free from the rule of King George, and they were not yet prepared to submit to his yoke. Nor did the presence of Cornwallis and his army make them any more ready to surrender the freedom which they had claimed as their right.
King George III.
The British sent soldiers out into the country to obtain supplies for their army, drove the patriots from their homes, robbed them, and burned their houses. This made the people of Mecklenburg more determined than ever not to go to Charlotte
and take the oath of allegiance to King George. Cornwallis promised to protect their property, and to pay money for their provisions if they would do this; but they had pledged their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” to the cause of freedom, and they would not break that solemn oath. So they saw their live-stock killed, their barns emptied, their homes sacked and burned, and their families driven into the forest.
But they did not stand by and see all this done without resisting. There were no soldiers to depend upon, for Colonel Davie and his men had gone back to the army. Young Joe Graham had fallen in a skirmish the day after the battle at Charlotte, bearing in his body nine sabre wounds and three bullet holes. At the home of Mrs. Susan Alexander he was kept in hiding for a few days, but was soon carried to his mother's home, and there, after weeks and months of tender nursing, he struggled back to life and health. Without a leader, his men had disbanded.
But the men and boys of the neighborhood had joined together and made things so lively for the redcoats, that the British soldiers feared to be sent into the surrounding country on any kind of errand. No matter how large their company, they were sure to lose some of their number before they got back
to the village. From behind trees, and bushes, and fences the deadly rifle-fire of the patriots poured into them, almost every shot taking a man. The drivers were picked off, and the horses in the wagons killed. Whenever the British tried to punish these daring rebels, they would leap on their horses and soon be lost to sight in the forest.
One morning, while Cornwallis was yet in the town, a twelve-year-old boy was ploughing in a field not far from his father's house at McIntyre's farm, about seven miles from Charlotte. Hearing a great clatter down the road, he looked up and saw what seemed to him to be the whole British army coming. He dropped the lines, left the horse and plough in the field, and fled to the house.
“Run!” he cried; “run! the British are coming! Here they come, right down the road, the whole of them!” The frightened women needed no second warning, but without stopping to save anything, fled to the woods.
The alarm was given, and twelve men and boys, all that were left in the neighborhood, gathered in the woods near the house, every man bearing his rifle. Young George Graham was chosen as their leader.
From their hiding-place they watched the British swarm over the place. They saw the wagons driven
into the yard, and the soldiers load them with furniture, provisions, and bedding from the house, and with corn and forage from the barn. They saw the bellowing cattle driven up and killed. Squealing pigs taken from their pens, and men chasing chickens about the yard, added to the uproar. Reckless soldiers laughed and jested, but hurried at their task, not knowing what moment the sneaking rebels might swoop down upon them.
In the hurry and confusion some one upset a beehive. Then, such a scene! The enraged bees at once attacked men and horses. Their angry hum soon emptied every hive in the yard, and the bees swarmed everywhere. The horses, maddened by their stings, plunged, kicked, and reared; the men with oaths and yells ran hither and thither, trying to escape their winged foes. Upon hearing the hubbub, the captain came to the door of the house, and stood there, laughing at the funny sight that met his eyes. The rebels could stand it no longer. “Take good aim!” cried George Graham. “Pick out officers, if possible. I shall shoot the captain. Fire!”
Down went the laughing Captain, pierced by Graham's bullet. By that one volley nine other men and two horses were killed. A panic seized the British. Leaving much of their plunder behind,
they hurriedly got together what wagons they could, and left the place to the rebels and to the bees. Helter-skelter they fled down the road, the little band of rebels following them nearly all the way to Charlotte. From behind fences and bushes they poured such a deadly fire into their fleeing enemy, shooting down men and horses, until the panicstricken redcoats thought that a whole company was pursuing them.
This was one of the most remarkable events of the Revolution in our state. For on this day, at McIntyre's farm, twelve Americans with the help of the bees put to flight four hundred British soldiers.
XX. IN THE SHADOW OF KING'S MOUNTAIN
In the shadow of King's Mountain lived a young girl named Susan Twitty. Only seventeen years old, she was yet brave to a fault, and took delight in saying that she “feared neither redcoat nor Tory.”
During that “dark and doleful time to the South,” just after the battle of Camden, Lord Cornwallis had sent the “fierce Ferguson” to ravage upper South Carolina and western North Carolina.
Susan and her brother William, who was two years older, lived in daily fear of seeing their house robbed and burned, and their cattle driven away, by the lawless mob of British soldiers, or by their still more cruel Tory neighbors. Sad tales had come to them of the sufferings of friends and kinsfolk, and they could scarcely expect to be spared when the houses of patriots were being plundered and burned in every direction.
But for all that, Susan Twitty was fearless. Her brother had taught her to ride the swiftest horse without a saddle, and to shoot his Deckard rifle with true aim.
“No cowardly Tory or bold Britisher shall be rude of speech to her,” William had declared.
She well knew that she must take care of herself in any time of danger, for only a few old men and boys were left to protect the homes of the patriots. The Tories were becoming every day more cruel and rapacious, plundering the homes of the patriots and shooting down many in cold blood.
Already the home of Colonel William Graham, on Buffalo Creek, about seven miles from the present town of Shelby, in Cleveland County, had been turned into a fort. It was understood that at the first threat of a raid by British or Tories, all the women and children in that part of the country were to flee to Fort Graham for safety.
One bright September day Susan Twitty found herself hurrying to Fort Graham with a company of helpless women and children. Word had been brought that a party of Tories was coming to raid that section.
Hardly were they safe within the walls of Fort Graham and the door securely barred, when up rode a band of twenty-three Tories, yelling and shouting, and shooting into the house. After each volley they would shout with oaths, “Won't you surrender now?”
The women crouched low in the room with
the frightened children, seeking to keep themselves and the little ones out of the way of the bullets which were coming through the cracks between the logs of the wall. Only three men were there to defend them, Colonel Graham and his stepson, and young William Twitty.
But the stout-hearted Susan was not daunted by the shrieks of women and children, nor by the cracking rifles of the foe. She was on the alert, keeping an eye on the enemy, while she helped the men to load their guns.
While thus engaged, she saw one of the Tories run up to the house, stick his gun through a crack, and aim at her brother.
“Look out! He'll shoot you!” she cried, and suddenly seizing him by the arm she snatched him out of danger, as the Tory's rifle flashed, and the bullet whizzed past William's head and buried itself in the wall beyond.
“Oh, brother! but for me he would have killed you!” cried Susan.
“Wait a minute, and I'll make him pay for that,” said William.
Looking out just at that moment, Susan saw the man kneeling as he reloaded his rifle.
“Now, brother William, now's your chance! Shoot the rascal!” she called. Bang! went William's
gun, and the bold Tory fell over, shot through the head.
Before any one could think what she was about, Susan had unbarred the door, darted into the yard, picked up the young Tory's rifle and ammunition, and with a shower of Tory bullets raining around her, rushed back into the house.
These three men, with the help of this young girl, made such a brave defence of Fort Graham, that soon the Tories rode away and left them.
Susan Twitty returned to her home, where she could look across the hills upon the wooded slopes of King's Mountain, on whose summit within a month took place the battle which destroyed forever the hope of the Tories in the success of the royal arms.
Often did she hear her father tell of the battle of King's Mountain. She heard of Colonel Ferguson's haughty message to the “over-mountain men” that he would “march his men across the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay waste their country with sword and fire, unless they would submit to the king.”
She heard how this message, instead of making them afraid, was like a bugle blast, calling to arms those sturdy soldiers of the mountains, to fight under the command of Shelby, Sevier, and Cleveland.
She heard how, when these brave men were ready to march against Ferguson, Parson Doak had led them in prayer, calling on the God of battles to bless their arms; and how, when he cried out, with great fervor, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” tears stole down the weather-beaten cheeks of those hardy mountaineers, and they went forth strong for the battle.
Her cheeks flushed with pride as she heard how nobly these brave men kept Cleveland's charge, “Go in, resolved to fight till you win or die!” and how they surrounded Ferguson and his command, who were encamped on the summit of the mountain, and climbed the slopes, determined to kill or capture every British soldier there.
She shuddered as she heard how Ferguson had wickedly boasted, “I am on the King's Mountain, and God Almighty himself can't drive me from it!” Nor could she fail to think soberly about the fate of this profane boaster who, though brave as the bravest, and fighting with the skill for which he was so well known, fell before the battle was over, pierced by seven bullets.
She heard how his troops were utterly routed, many killed and wounded, and the greater part taken prisoners.
As often as she heard this story, Susan Twitty's
heart rejoiced that Parson Doak's prayer had been answered, and that the blessing of God upon the arms of the patriots had delivered them at last from all fear of British or Tory.
As she watched in the evening light the shadow of King's Mountain creep over the hills, she felt thankful that even so from the bloody battle on its heights the blessing of peace had fallen on the land.
A Revolutionary Powder-horn
Used in the battle of King's Mountain.
XXI. CORNWALLIS'S COUNTRY DANCE
- “Cornwallis led a country dance —
- The like was never known, sir;
- Much retrograde and much advance,
- And all with General Greene, Sir!
- They rambled up and rambled down,
- Joined hands, and off they ran, sir!
- Our General Greene to old Charlestown,
- And the Earl to Wilmington, sir!”
Cornwallis's country dance, the battle of Guilford Courthouse, was one of the battles that helped to decide the Revolutionary War.
It is true that it could be said justly of the American and British armies in that battle that —
- “They both did fight, they both did beat,
- They both did run away,”
as the old ballad puts it. Yet the battle of Guilford Courthouse, which lasted only two hours, was one of the most fierce and bloody of all that were fought in North Carolina during the Revolution. The British claimed the victory, but Cornwallis was driven across the state to Wilmington, leaving his dead and wounded behind him. After spending some weeks in Wilmington, he once more marched
his army across North Carolina to meet his fate at Yorktown.
Not many miles from the battlefield of Guilford Courthouse lived that good patriot, the Rev. Dr. David Caldwell. He was physician, teacher, and preacher. For sixty years he was pastor of Alamance church and lived to be ninety-nine years old. He was with the Regulators at the battle of Alamance, and tried in vain to make terms for them with Governor Tryon.
So well was he known as a leader among the patriots that Lord Cornwallis offered a thousand pounds to any one who would bring him into his camp. You may be sure that many efforts were made by the Tories to do this, but all in vain.
General Nathanael Greene
Not long before the battle of Guilford Courthouse he hid for about two weeks in the dense undergrowth on the banks of North Buffalo Creek. One escape of his is so wonderful that I must tell you about it.
One afternoon, near sunset, a half-dozen men
rode up to Dr. Caldwell's door, and begged to speak with his wife. When she came out, they asked, “Where is your husband, Mrs. Caldwell?”
“I suppose he is in General Greene's camp,” she replied.
“That can't be,” they said; “for we have come directly from there.”
“When I saw him last,” she answered, “he said he thought he'd go to join General Greene.”
“But he is not there,” said the men. “General Greene has many sick men in his camp, and having heard that your husband is a good doctor, he sent us to ask him to come and help in the care of the sick.”
“I am very sorry that he is not here,” she replied; “but you might find him in a certain thicket on North Buffalo Creek,” and she described the place.
“Thank you! thank you, madame!” said the men, and with many bows they rode away.
These men were not out of sight before Mrs. Caldwell felt that they were only pretended friends, and that she had betrayed her husband to his enemies. She was so distressed that she could not sleep, and spent the night in praying for the safety of her husband.
During the night, while she prayed, Dr. Caldwell dreamed that he was not safe in that place, and must leave. Three times he had this same dream. So
sure did he feel that his life was in danger that as soon as daylight came he left the spot and went to General Greene's camp. After leaving his home the evening before, it had been too late for the men to find his hiding-place. When they reached it the next morning, they found that the thicket was deserted and their expected prisoner had escaped. So they failed to gain Lord Cornwallis's thousand pounds.
Few women in those dark days suffered more than Dr. Caldwell's devoted wife. On the Sunday afternoon before the battle a company of British soldiers rode up to the gate. Asking for Mrs. Caldwell, they told her they must have the use of her house for a day or two, and took possession of it at once.
Mrs. Caldwell, with her three small children, one a young infant, and her housekeeper, Margaret, was turned into the smoke-house. Here for two whole days they were kept without a bed, a chair, or food. A few dried peaches, which the poor mother carried in her pocket, was all they had to eat.
One morning a young officer went to the smoke-house door to taunt them in their distress.
“You are rebels and cowards,” he said, “and dare not fight his Majesty's army.”
“Wait and see what the Lord will do for us,” said Mrs. Caldwell.
And before Thursday night the British had found the “rebels and cowards” a pretty good match for “his Majesty's army,” in the Battle of Guildford Courthouse.
At last Mrs. Caldwell, worn out by hunger and the want of rest, distracted by the famished cries of her little ones, and distressed by the rudeness of the soldiers, went to a man who seemed to be an officer, and asked him for protection from the soldiers and food for her children. With an oath the man said: “What right have you to expect favors? You women are as cursed rebels as the men.”
But she was not to be daunted. Her children must have food. She could not stand their wails, and she could no longer endure the rudeness of the soldiers. So she turned to another officer, who she thought looked like a gentleman. When she told him of her sad condition, he at once sent a bed to the smoke-house, with cooking-vessels and food. Then he set a guard there to protect her from the rough speeches of the soldiers.
So much did the British hate Dr. Caldwell for his work as a good patriot that his house was the only building standing when they left the place. Every panel of fence on his plantation was destroyed. They burned his books and his sermons, and carried off all his movable property.
XXII. OLD BESS AND THE CYPRESS FORT
There was in the city of Wilmington a point of land which separates the northeast from the northwest branch of the Cape Fear River, and known as Negro Head Point. During the Revolution this little tongue of land was a cypress swamp. Here grew a very tall cypress tree, which looked sound from the outside, but was in fact only a shell, and so large at the ground that a small family could have lodged comfortably in it. The fact that the tree was hollow was discovered by Colonel Thomas Bludworth, a good patriot then living in Wilmington.
Near the close of the war this huge cypress tree became a fort, and one whose garrison never surrendered to the enemy.
After the battle of Guilford Courthouse, the British, who did not want another taste of North Carolina fighting, made their way in a hurry to Wilmington, which was then in their hands. Now, it made Colonel Thomas Bludworth's patriot blood boil to see the redcoats marching about the streets of Wilmington. He made up his mind that if he could not drive out the whole British army, he would at any rate rid the earth of a few of the enemy.
Colonel Bludworth was a skilful gunsmith. He could make the very best pistols, rifles, and swordblades.
“If I could only make a rifle long enough to send a ball from the big cypress to the Market Street dock, I'd have them,” said Colonel Bludworth to himself. “I'll try it anyway.”
So he set to work, and soon had a very long rifle, with which he could shoot a ball into a tree which he thought was about as far from his door as the cypress tree was from Market Street dock. This rifle he lovingly named “Old Bess.”
One July morning Colonel Bludworth called to his young son, Tim, and Jim Padgett, a small lad who worked with him, “Come, boys, let's see if we can't start a fox or tree a raccoon this morning. But, as it may be a long hunt, we must take some prog [food] along. Here, Jim, you take this sack, and, Tim, you take this one. I'll shoulder Old Bess, the auger, and a jug of water.”
“This is jolly,” said the boys, as they trudged off to the canoe, and then headed the boat for Negro Head Point.
“Not so jolly as you might think,” said the colonel. “See that big cypress tree yonder, boys? That tree is to be our home for three weeks, and mayhap our everlasting home. That tree is hollow,
and big enough to lodge us all. Let's make a fort of it. We can build a scaffold inside, and make an opening in the tree fronting on Market Dock. There the pesky redcoats strut up and down and take their grog every day. We'll introduce Old Bess to them, and when she speaks, somebody's head may ache, but not ours. Now, if you think you can stand it, say so; and if not, say so, and Old Tom will try his luck alone.”
“No, sir!” cried the boys. “No! We'll not go home. We'll stand by you to the last, and help all we can in bringing down the proud Britishers. Hip, hip, hurrah! Three cheers for Old Bess and the Cypress Fort!”
“Good for you, boys!” said the colonel. “I thought you'd stand by Old Bess and me.”
Reaching the Point, they soon fell to work on their fort. They bored a hole into the trunk of the tree, in which Old Bess's muzzle could rest, and others to let in light and air. Then they brought in branches and leaves of the cypress to make their bed, and soon got things ready for their housekeeping in the hollow tree. To-morrow would be the 4th of July. They must be ready to celebrate.
Bright and early Jim and Tim were awake to see what Old Bess would do. But Colonel Bludworth said they must wait till ten o'clock. At that hour
the wind would set up the river, and would blow away the smoke so that their hiding-place was not so likely to be found out. At last the hour had come, and everything was ready for the introduction of Old Bess to his Majesty's loyal subjects.
“Boys,” said the colonel, “you see that group of Britishers with their red coats, standing before Nelson's liquor store on Market Wharf? Now, I'll just send a ball to ask what they are doing there this morning, and to ask after the health of that old Tory, Captain Gordon.”
Crack! went the rifle. “See!” said Tim. “There is a man down, and four others are lifting him into the shop.”
“Very good!” said the colonel, wiping out the gun, and putting in another load. “Fix my seat, Tim, and I'll see if I cannot send another man into the shop to look after the first.”
Another flash of the rifle. “There!” said Jim Padgett, “if another ain't down! See! They are taking the redcoat into the shop!”
On the wharf men were hurrying here and there in the greatest confusion, some pointing one way, some another. The soldiers had been struck down by an unseen and unknown hand. A column of soldiers came down to the wharf, with drums beating, fifes playing, and colors flying.
“Now, Colonel, suppose you let me try my hand this time,” said Jim.
“But, Jim,” said the colonel, “do you think you can hold the gun steady?”
“To be sure I can. ’Tis true my legs and arms are none of the biggest; but I think I can do that thing.”
The Cypress Fort
Jim took steady aim and pulled the trigger. In a moment there was a flutter among the soldiers on the wharf, and they scattered in every direction. Jim was delighted.
“Colonel,” he said, “Old Bess must have been rude to them folks! They do not seem to be at all fond of her company! I've always heard them Britishers
are mighty well-bred, clever folks, and don't like to have rough-shod rebels coming among them.”
“But see, Jim,” said the colonel; “they are taking to their boats, and we may have to leave here in double-quick time. But wait and see.”
Boats were sent across the river to scour the swamp, but in vain. Fortunately none came toward Negro Head Point.
The next morning on waking they found the town deathly still. Even after the usual hum and bustle began in the streets, every one seemed to shun the fatal wharf.
“What! Ye have got shy, have ye?” said Jim. “Wait till grog time, about ten o'clock, and if you don't see Nelson's liquor shop crowded with redcoats, then I'm mistaken.”
Sure enough, it was as Jim said. Just at ten o'clock several soldiers were seen to slip quickly into the shop, as if fearful of being shot down. Toward twelve o'clock, they grew more bold, and gathered in groups before the door.”
“Now, colonel,” said Jim, “suppose you introduce Old Bess to ’em again.”
Crack! went the rifle, and another British soldier fell. The gun was reloaded, and a second soldier dropped, and in a few seconds a third. Again, as on the day before, the drums beat to arms, the
swamps were searched, but the hidden foe could not be found.
For more than a week Colonel Bludworth and the two boys kept up this work of striking terror into the hearts of the British soldiers, and many a redcoat bit the dust, thanks to Old Bess. Then a Tory neighbor reported that Colonel Bludworth and the boys were away from home, and he thought they were hiding at Negro Head Point.
The British sent a party to hunt them. They cut down the undergrowth, and some of the cypress trees. All this time the brave garrison of three were keeping very quiet in their cypress fort. So near did they come to being caught that just at sunset one evening a soldier struck his axe into the tree in which they were hiding. Then they thought their doom had come; but with joy they heard the soldier say:—
“Well, as it is sundown, we will let this big fellow stand until morning. Then it must come down. It is so large that one cannot see beyond it into the swamp.”
When the soldiers cut into the big cypress tree next morning, great was their surprise to find it an abandoned fort. Much to their sorrow, the brave garrison had escaped during the night.
Note. — In our day such shooting by a citizen would be punished by death if the citizen were caught.
XXIII. A BRAVE LITTLE REBEL
You would almost have known she was a patriot, when you looked into the frank eyes and open face of fourteen-year-old Maggie McBride. The love of liberty was her native air, for she belonged to the congregation of Dr. David Caldwell, one of the truest patriot settlements in the colony of North Carolina.
Her young friends had often heard her say, as she shook her pretty head with determination:—
“I would never drink a drop of tea while the world stands, if it would make the British think they had a right to tax us. I would gladly live on bread and water all the time, that the men who are fighting for our country might be fed and clothed, till these hated redcoats are driven from our shores.”
It was easy to see that there was no love in her heart for King George and his red-coated soldiers.
To this frank avowal her young friends all declared their approval. Like Maggie McBride, they were Whigs, and hated the very name of Tory. She
was a great favorite among them, too, this fair young rebel; they liked her sprightly ways, her friendly manner, her outspoken patriotism.
Where the city of Greensboro now stands, and for miles around, the country at that time was like a Western prairie. From the fact that thickets of pines grew here and there, the section was known as the “Pine Barrens,” or “The Barrens.” The earth was covered with a growth of grass and pea-vines, so here the farmers of the neighboring country gathered their crops of hay and here their cattle grazed the year round. No highway ran through these Barrens, and there was not a house on them. At intervals in damp hollows grew dense clumps of small oaks, with a thick undergrowth, all festooned with grapevines, making thickets in which a company of men might hide for weeks.
In the early autumn of 1781 it began to be whispered around in Guilford that a band of Tories had come in from another section and had pitched their camp in one of these glades in the Barrens. At night they made raids on the neighboring farms, stealing horses, cattle, forage, provisions, pigs, and poultry. They visited some of the weak Whig families, and used bribes to bring them over to the king's side. These things were known to
the people of the neighborhood, and they felt that the country should be rid of their evil presence. The patriots were agreed that something must be done, but so well had the Tories kept the secret of their hiding-place that no one knew exactly where to find them.
One night it was rumored that they were in the southeast part of “The Barrens,” and a troop of horsemen started out, bent on hunting them down. Hantz McBride's house being the nearest to that section, they went there, thinking that McBride would be likely to know something about the Tories. It was after dark when they reached the house. The captain rode up to the gate and halloed. McBride was away from home, but his wife came to the door, followed by Maggie and the younger children.
“What is wanted?” asked Mrs. McBride.
“Are you not good and true Whigs?” asked the captain, “and am I not talking to friends?”
“Certainly,” she said; “if you are a Whig, you have nothing to fear from us.”
“Have you anybody in the house who favors the Tories?”
“Not one that I know of.”
“Do you know if there is a camp of Tories near by in the pine woods?”
“I have heard there is, but have not seen them. They know us too well to show their faces here, the rascals.”
“How far is it to their camp? Can you direct me so that I can find the place? We'll teach them better than to take up their quarters in a Whig settlement.”
“It will be hard to give you directions, as only a path leads there, crossed by so many other paths that I fear you will miss the way.”
During this talk bright-eyed Maggie stood by, all eager interest and excitement, now and then putting in a word to make her mother's directions plainer. The captain, seeing the interest she took in the matter, turned to her, and said: —
“Well, now, my little miss, couldn't you go along to show us the way?”
“How could I?” said Maggie. “Suppose you should find the Tories and get to fighting, what should I do? How could I get home? What would the people in the neighborhood say when they heard that I had led a company of men to the Tory camp at night.”
“Tut! tut! miss, they would say that you were a brave girl to help rid the country of these pesky Tories. I'll warrant your father would be proud of you.”
“But if the Tories find out I led you to their camp, they'll kill me,” objected Maggie.
“Never you fear, my good girl; I promise you no harm shall come to you. If once we get a good look at those cowardly Tories, they'll not soon trouble you or any one else in this country again.”
“Well, I reckon I can go,” said Maggie.
“That's my brave girl!” cried the captain; “we've come a long way to drive out these thieving Tories, and now by your help we'll do it.”
Throwing on her bonnet, Maggie climbed the low fence in front of the door, jumped on the horse behind the captain, and off they all dashed down the road. A brisk ride of two miles brought them so near the Tory encampment that the horses must be reined up, and they went slowly and as silently as possible, lest the Tories should take alarm. Maggie looked eagerly over the captain's shoulder, and as they drew near the dark clump of trees, whispered, “Yonder they are!” and slipped from the horse.
Hardly had she touched the ground when bang! bang! bang! rang out the twenty or thirty muskets, and whizz! whizz! went the bullets. The air was filled with shots and shouts, and cries, and clashing of swords. Off darted Maggie toward home, as fast as her feet could fly. On, on! she
sped as if followed by Tory bullets. Nor did she stop till she reached her home, and rushed in, panting for breath.
“Well, mother,” she said, as soon as she could speak, “those miserable Tories have got a lesson to-night which they will not soon forget, and I hope they will no longer be a pest and a reproach to this country.”
“Why, my daughter, you didn't stay to see what was done.”
“Why, no, mother, as soon as we came in sight of them, I jumped down and started back as fast as I could, but I had come a very little distance — it didn't seem to be a minute — when I heard ever so many guns, and then such slashing and halloing, — you never heard the like. I just know the ugly things are used up, and now we shall be clear of them. Well, I do feel sorry for them, after all — really sorry. Just think how they will be cut up and run off. But then, they had no business to be Tories. If they are so mean and low that they want to be slaves to King George, let them not stay here and try to make us as degraded as themselves, but go to his country and serve him there. We have no use for them here, and I am glad they are gone.”
“Yes, my dear, we are all glad they are gone.
And I am truly glad to have had you help in driving them out, and yet return unhurt to your mother's arms.”
Maggie was right. The Tories were indeed “used up” that night, and the people in that section were not again troubled by them.
Both Whig and Tory are long since gone. The “Pine Barrens” have given place to flourishing towns and noisy mills. The hunting, the hay-making, the flower-clad glades, and the singing birds have all passed away like a dream of the night, but the name and the deed of Maggie McBride are still remembered. As long as we cherish the fame of those who loved the cause of freedom, we will remember this brave little rebel, Maggie McBride.
Note. — Much of the dialogue in this chapter, and that on “Old Bess and the Cypress Fort,” is adapted from Caruthers. — L. A. McC.
XXIV. A LITTLE SCOTCH LASSIE
Over in bonnie Scotland, in Edinboro’ town, a baby girl opened her blue eyes on the world in the early part of 1772. She came to gladden the hearts and brighten the home of Andrew Balfour and his young wife, Janet. They gave her the name of Matilda, but as that seemed too stately for a rolypoly baby, they called her by the pet name, Tibbie.
“But what has a little Scotch baby to do with the story of North Carolina?” you will ask. That is just what I am going to tell you.
Little Tibbie did no heroic deed, but she suffered much during the last year of the Revolutionary War, from the fight which was waged in North Carolina between the patriots and the Tories.
Young Balfour was not allowed to rejoice for many months, in his happy home, and dear wife, and sweet baby Tibbie. Business troubles beset him; so one fair May day he kissed the young mother and the blue-eyed baby good-by. Then he sailed away to America, hoping to mend his fortunes in that new land of promise.
After a year spent in New England the sad news
came to him of the death of his young wife left in Scotland. His sister Margaret then took charge of the little Tibbie.
The Revolutionary War broke out. New England was laid waste. Provisions there became scarce and high, corn selling at thirty dollars a bushel in current money.
Andrew Balfour had married again, and now felt that he must go where he could make better provision for his family. The South was at that time free from war, and so he concluded to go and take charge of a plantation of nineteen hundred acres which his father had bought for him in the colony of North Carolina. There he hoped to make a comfortable home for his wife and little ones.
In those days travel was slow, and mails were very uncertain. Letters were months, sometimes a year, in going from New England to the far-away colonies of the South.
A long journey, made partly on horseback, partly by stage-coach, and partly by slow-sailing vessels, finally brought Andrew Balfour to Charleston, in South Carolina. Here his brother John was living, and here also he found his sister Margaret and his darling little five-year-old Tibbie. With great joy he clasped to his heart again the dear child whom he had left a tiny babe in Scotland.
One thought now filled his heart — to make a home for his united family. He took charge of the plantation in North Carolina. He built a comfortable log house on the banks of Betty McGee's Creek, in Randolph County. Here he brought his sister and little Tibbie, gathered a company of negro servants, and wrote to his wife, whom he had left in New England, that he was coming soon to bring her to his Southern home.
But the dreadful war now moved south. Charleston was taken by the British, who marched across that province into North Carolina.
Mr. Balfour was a true patriot. He entered the service of his adopted country and was made a colonel. Everywhere known as active in the patriot cause, he was cordially disliked by the Tories.
In the year 1782 the state was scourged by a band of Tories, led by one of the most infamous men ever known within its borders, Colonel David Fanning. A native of North Carolina, he was yet a colonel in the British army. He hated bitterly every one who bore the name of patriot, and none more than Colonel Balfour.
The men Fanning had gathered around him were as lawless and cruel as himself. Idle and reckless, delighting in murder and plunder, they scoured the country, murdering or making prisoners of the
patriots, burning their houses, sometimes killing even women and children.
Our little Scotch lassie had now grown to be a bonnie ten-year-old girl, and was the light and joy of that home in the wilds of Carolina.
The peaceful stillness of a Sunday morning in the early spring rested upon the happy home of the Balfours. The negro servants had gone to a neighboring church for the day. Colonel Balfour, just recovering from a fever, was with his sister Margaret and little Tibbie, enjoying the peace of the holy day. Suddenly the silence was broken by the steady beat of horses’ hoofs. Nearer they drew, and still nearer. Some one was coming in great haste. Colonel Balfour rushed to the door to see one of his neighbors dash up.
“Run, Colonel! Run!” cried the man; “Fanning is upon you!”
At the same instant Fanning with twenty-five of his men galloped up to the gate. One man fired, and Colonel Balfour was shot through the arm. He stepped back into the house to protect his sister and little daughter. They threw their arms about him, as if they would shield him from the ruffians who surrounded them, clinging to him in an agony of fear and despair. The brutal followers of Fanning dragged Colonel Balfour from
the sheltering arms of his sister and daughter threw them on the floor, and held them down with their feet until they could shoot him. After Colonel Balfour, pierced by many bullets, had fallen, Fanning pulled out his pistol, and put a ball through his brain. The unhappy sister and little Tibbie were beaten, trampled upon, hacked with swords, and at last driven from the house, penniless and without food. The Tories then robbed the house of everything that could be carried away.
Afraid for their lives, Tibbie and her Aunt Margaret made their way to the house of a neighbor, who lived some miles from the Balfour home. The poor aunt was thrown into a long fever by the shock of her brother's death and by the brutal treatment that she herself had suffered at the hands of the Tories. Little Tibbie proved a faithful nurse, and after many weeks was made happy by seeing her aunt well once more.
After the war Tibbie and her Aunt Margaret were gladdened by the coming of Mrs. Balfour, with her little son and daughter, from their distant home in New England. Tibbie was delighted with the brother and sister, whom she had never seen, and the reunited family ever after made its home in North Carolina.
XXV. THE OLD TOWN CLOCK
“You say that I look old and shabby? Well, that is not to be wondered at, for I have been keeping time for this good old town of Hillsborough for nearly one hundred and fifty years.
“My face, you think, looks scarred and ugly?
“Yes, it can hardly be called a beauty, for it has stood the scorching heats of summer and the storms of winter for almost a century and a half.
“How did I come here, you wonder?
“Why, that is quite a story. They say that I was given to the town by King George III in the year 1766. So you see that I am a travelled clock. I came all the way from Birmingham in England, where I was made, to this little town in the heart of North Carolina. A long journey it was, but I have had a good rest.
“Have I always looked down on the town from the courthouse cupola?
“Oh, no! When I first came, they put me in the church tower. But as I had been given to the town, and not to the church, I was not allowed to stay there very long.
“Just across the street from where this courthouse now stands the old Market-house was built about the year 1767. I was then taken from the church tower, and placed over the Market-house,
The Old Town Clock at Hillsborough
Given to the town by King George III and still in use.
where I kept time for the people of Hillsborough during the stormy days of the Revolution.
“And did I work all that time?
“Well, most of it. Once for a little while my tongue was silent, and my hands stood still.
“When was that?
“Why, about the close of the Revolutionary War, when the fight was waging hotly in North Carolina between the Whigs and the Tories. The story goes that my leaden weights were taken off and melted and moulded into bullets for use in good Whig muskets. And when that infamous David Fanning, with his Tories, raided the town in 1781, they threw my bell into the Eno River. But as soon as peace came, the people fished my bell out of the river, gave me new weights, and set me going again.
“You would like to know when I was moved to the courthouse cupola? How many things you do want to know!
“That was in the year 1820, and I have been keeping time for this steady-going little town ever since; and very good time, too, they say, with just a little coaxing.
“You think that I must have seen many wonderful things from my high perch? Why, so I have; a great many more than my tongue can tell.
“My tongue seems to wag right steadily, you say, and ought to be able to tell many a tale of this old town! That it could, but I hardly know which you would like best.
“Tell you any story I can think of?
“Now, if you will keep still and listen, I will try to tell you some of the things I have seen.
“No other town played such a part in the Revolution as this village, nestling in its valley on the banks of the Eno River, and shut in by the Oconeechee hills. It was surrounded by what was, for that day, a thickly settled country, and stood midway between the eastern and western settlements of the colony. For that reason it was made the seat of a county, and a court was held here. This drew to the town from a distance a number of men of ability, who came with the hope of bettering their fortunes.
“Among them was Edmund Fanning, a lawyer from Long Island, who did more than any other man to bring on the trouble with the Regulators. He was a great favorite with Governor Tryon, was made clerk of the court, and grew rich on unjust fees wrung from the people.
“Money was scarce, and fifteen dollars at that day was a sum equal in value to forty or fifty dollars now. The people were willing to pay such fees and taxes as were just and legal; but they said, ‘We are not willing to have our living torn from us by those monsters whose study is to plunder us.’ So they sent a petition to Governor Tryon, asking him to correct these evils. As you have learned, these men had organized themselves into a band called the
Regulators, being determined to resist unjust taxation, by force if necessary.
“Once Governor Tryon sent his officers to talk with them and settle their troubles. While the Regulators, in good faith, were preparing to meet Tryon's officers, Fanning with a party of thirty horsemen went to their houses and arrested Herman Husbands and William Hunter, the leaders of the Regulators, and threw them into jail. The people were so roused by this treatment that a large body of them marched toward Hillsborough, determined to release Husbands and Hunter. They had for their leader Ninian Bell Hamilton, a brave Scotchman, who was then seventy-three years old. When Fanning heard of their approach, he was frightened, and released his prisoners just when the Regulators reached the banks of the Eno opposite the town. Taking a bottle of rum in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other, he walked down to the river, and begged Hamilton not to lead his men into the town.
“ ‘Send me over a horse,’ said Fanning, ‘that I may come and talk matters over with you.’
“ ‘Ye're nane too gude to wade, and wade ye shall if ye come over!’ shouted the old Scotchman. Fanning did wade across, but Hamilton's men were too angry to talk with him, nor would they touch a drop of his liquor.
“I saw these same Regulators, grown desperate, come into town one day, and drive the judge from the bench and the lawyers from the courthouse. Then they dragged Fanning by his heels from the courthouse, beat him with rods, and shut him up in jail all night. The next morning, learning that the judge had fled the town during the night, they broke up Fanning's costly furniture, and tore down his house, and then, returning to the courthouse, they held a mock court, compelling Fanning to act as judge. All this was very wrong, but they had so often seen injustice made a farce in the courthouse that they were goaded on to such lawless deeds.
“On a hill near where the Presbyterian church now stands is a spot where in the following year Tryon, with great parade and show, hanged six of the Regulators who were captured at the battle of Alamance. (See picture, page 55.)
“I wish that I had time to tell you of the gay scenes I have witnessed when the gallant beaux and fair belles of the colony were gathered for feast and dance at Governor Tryon's. Then as now the young men and maidens managed to find time for merry-making. There were gay times the summer following the battle of Alamance, when the new governor, Josiah Martin, brought his family and spent three months in Hillsborough. Then all the gentlemen
from the country round about came to welcome the governor. There were dinner parties and tea parties, horseback rides and drives. The town was filled with famous beauties and their brave gallants. So often were young couples of that time seen walking under the overhanging trees along the river's bank opposite the town, that to this day the old path there is called Lovers’ Walk.
“I must tell you how Lord Cornwallis came, after he had chased General Greene for a time out of the colony, and made his headquarters here. Hillsborough was then the capital of North Carolina. Cornwallis marched into the town with banners flying and bugles blowing. He hoped by offers of money and lands to induce many of the men of this section to fight under his banner, but failed in this. Pickens and Lee with a few American troops made frequent attacks upon his men, so he tarried only six days. During his short stay here, however, he had one of the streets paved with cobble-stones, and the people of the town would now almost as soon part with me as with this pavement.
“Tell you another story?
“Really, I cannot to-day. I can only tell you that after the Revolution the state capital was moved east, and we had peace and quiet for many, many years in good old Hillsborough town.”
XXVI. THE LITTLE COOK'S REWARD
After eight years of fighting, the Revolution was ended by Lord Cornwallis's surrender to General Washington, at Yorktown, in Virginia. Our colonies
The Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1781
From the painting by Trumbull, in the Capitol at Washington.
became states, and after a time joined themselves together under one government as the United States of America. Of course George Washington was made the first President, for it was he who led the American army to victory. You can hardly realize
how the people at that time admired and loved that great hero.
When he had been President two years, Washington made up his mind to take a journey through the Southern States. He wanted to see the people who had been so loyal to the American cause. He well remembered that the first Declaration of Independence was made in Charlotte. He also remembered how two companies of North Carolina troops had come to his aid just after that terrible winter at Valley Forge, in which so many of his poor men had perished with cold and hunger. So on this trip he passed through our state, visiting Halifax, Tarboro, Newbern, and Wilmington, on his way south, and stopping at Charlotte, Salisbury, Salem, and other towns on his return.
The people were wild with delight at having with them their beloved President. Everywhere he went they delighted to honor him. In every town great crowds gathered to greet him, and he was received with cheers, patriotic songs, and speeches of welcome. The officers of the State, with the militia and great processions of little children, and vast crowds of people, came out to meet him. At some places immense arches of flowers spanned the road for him to pass under, and little girls strewed flowers before him as he rode along.
This gay party was a sight worth seeing, as it made its way through our southland. There were no railroads then; so General Washington rode in his great cream-colored chariot of state, with its gilt trimmings, green blinds, leather curtains, and soft black-leather cushions. This coach was drawn by four large white horses. Should the general tire of his coach, there was his milk-white saddle-horse led along for his use. An escort of four outriders accompanied the chariot, and five servants, all wearing white livery with yellow trimmings. A light baggage wagon, drawn by two horses, followed the escort.
In order to get a good view of the country, Washington sometimes took the driver's seat, and he tells us that once, when the driver fell sick while passing up through western North Carolina, he himself took the reins for a distance of twenty miles or more.
We do not wonder that men, women, and children gathered in crowds at every town through which he passed, and lined the roads and streets before the expected arrival of this great man. Nor do we wonder that the heart of pretty little Betsy Brandon was heavy and that her steps were slow, as she went about her tasks that bright Monday morning in May, 1791, when the President was
expected at Salisbury. Had she not reason to be heavy-hearted? For all the family had gone to Salisbury, six miles away, to see General Washington pass by on his way north, while to Betsy had fallen the sad lot of staying alone to look after the house.
And such a grand time they were to have at Salisbury! The military would be drawn up in line to receive him. There would be a speech of welcome. Forty little boys, dressed like men, in long coats and high hats, her own brother Robert among them, would march with the soldiers, and one of them would also make an address of welcome to the President.
We may be sure it was a sad trial to a bright young girl of fourteen not to be allowed to see all this. How she longed to look on the tall figure and fine face of the great general! How she longed to have just one glance from his fine blue eyes! How she would like to see that beautiful chariot, with its four milk-white steeds, and the servants in livery of white and gold! But here she must stay, and she would never have another chance to see the first President of the United States. Such thoughts filled Betsy's heart, as she sat on the bench on the shaded porch under the great oak.
How still it was! How could she endure this quiet all day long, for it was not yet nine o'clock!
But what sound was that? Surely it was some one coming. Yes, there, galloping up the Charlotte road, were horsemen. After them came a chariot, and then more horsemen. The cavalcade stopped at the gate. Betsy's heart stood still. A tall, handsome man stepped from the carriage, and came up the walk. Betsy blushed and made a curtsy as he reached the steps.
“Good morning, my little maid!” said the tall man. “I know it is late, but could you not give an old man some breakfast?”
Poor Betsy blushed more than ever, and curtsied again as she replied:—
“I don't know, sir. All the grown folks have gone to Salisbury to see General Washington, and I am the only one left on the place.”
“Never mind, my pretty maid, if you are alone. I am sure you are quite as brisk as you are pretty. Just give me a breakfast, and I will promise that you shall see General Washington before any of your people.”
“Well, sir,” said Betsy, her heart beating wildly, “I will try to do for you the very best I can, though our fare is quite plain.”
With swift hands and nimble feet she set to
work, and it did not take her long to spread the table with snowy cloth of homespun linen, and put out the best of her mother's china and silver. Then she ran to the spring-house for golden butter and foamy milk. Fresh honey, savory ham, and new-laid eggs, with the wholesome loaf, and the milk and butter, made an ample breakfast for the hungry stranger.
When he left the table, her unknown guest thanked her for her hospitality, and stooping over, kissed her, saying, “Now, my dear, you may tell your people when they get home that you not only saw General Washington before they did, but that he kissed you.”
XXVII. OLD HICKORY
About the time the county of Mecklenburg was set off, a baby boy was born in the southern part of that county, near the border of South Carolina. This boy, Andrew Jackson, grew up to be one of
The House in which Andrew Jackson was born
the greatest generals and one of the best Presidents our country has ever known. He was a North Carolinian of whom we may all feel proud. I could tell you many stories of him, for he lived through a stormy period of our country's history, and passed through many sad as well as many glorious scenes.
Andrew Jackson's father died a few days before Andrew was born, leaving a widow with two sons,
Hugh and Robert. As the widow with her little boys could not be left alone in the little log house which the father had built, after the birth of Andrew they made their home with relatives in the Waxhaw settlement in South Carolina.
There never was a boy who loved fun and frolic better than “little Andy,” as his friends called him. He was fond of all such active sports as foot-races, leaping the bar, and jumping. He liked mimic battles and, above all, wrestling. One of his schoolmates used to say, “I could always throw Andy three out of four times in wrestling, but he would not stayed throwed.” He found much time for such sports with the boys who went with him to the old log schoolhouse which he attended as a child.
Andrew was certainly not a handsome boy. He was tall and slender, with a freckled face, bushy, sandy hair, and bright blue eyes. He was of a quick, fiery temper, and woe to the boy that he found trying to ill-treat or bully a younger boy. Although full of fun when in school, Andy learned well. His last schooling, when a youth, was at Liberty Hall in Charlotte, and he was so poor at the time that his clothing was almost in tatters. But the chief lessons which prepared him for his great career were learned amid the sad scenes of a bloody war.
When Andrew was only thirteen years old his
eldest brother, Hugh, a youth of seventeen years, died from the heat and fatigue of battle. At this time, too, the terrible massacre of Buford's men happened in the Waxhaw settlement, turning the old log meeting-house and all the other houses of the neighborhood into hospitals. Here Andrew and his brother Robert helped their mother wait on the sick and dying soldiers.
Not long after this they were driven from their home by the coming of the British army, and took refuge with relatives living near Charlotte. Here Andrew made himself useful in many ways. One of his duties was to take the grist to mill, and another was to take the farming utensils to the blacksmith shop to be mended. He never came back from the shop without bringing with him some new weapon he had made with which to fight the British. Sometimes it was a club, sometimes a spear or a tomahawk. One day he took the scythe and began cutting down the weeds with great fury, crying out, “Oh, if I were a man, how I would sweep down the British with my grass blade!”
At the age of fourteen Andrew took up arms in defence of his home. He and his brother Robert joined a party of Whigs gathered to meet the British soldiers who had been sent to subdue the rebels of this troublesome neighborhood. The two boys were
captured by the British after having been chased by them into a thicket, where they spent a day and a night without food.
The officer in charge of the prisoners ordered Andrew to clean the mud from his boots. This the boy refused to do, saying, “Sir, I am a prisoner of war, and claim to be treated as such.” The officer turned on him and struck a blow at his head with his sword. Andrew threw up his hand to ward off the blow, and thus got a gash on both his head and his hand. The officer then ordered Robert to clean his boots. He, too, refused, and received a sword-cut on the head, which felled him to the earth.
These two wounded boys, with other prisoners, were placed on horses and marched forty miles to Camden, in South Carolina. Not one mouthful of food nor one drop of water were they allowed through the whole of this weary march. When, in crossing a stream, they would try to dip up a few drops of water in their hands to quench their raging thirst, the guard would order them not to do so.
After staying in prison for months, half starved, robbed of their scant clothing, surrounded by many who were sick and dying of smallpox, the poor boys were reduced to mere skeletons. Their mother then came and secured their release.
A pitiful sight they were as they returned home,
the mother riding one horse, while Robert, too weak to sit up, was held on his horse by a kind neighbor. Behind them, almost too feeble to walk, trudged Andrew, a sad figure, indeed. He was barefooted, bareheaded, and the only two garments which he wore were both ragged and dirty. Robert died soon after reaching home, but Andrew struggled through a long illness and recovered.
That same summer his mother went with some of her neighbors to carry medicine and food to the
After the portrait painted while he was President, by R. W. Earl, in the United States National Museum.
poor men perishing of hunger and fever in the prison ships at Charleston. On the way home she was herself stricken with fever, died, and was buried by the wayside. And so, at the age of fourteen,
Andrew Jackson was left alone in the world, without father, mother, or brother.
All his life long he honored the memory and remembered the teachings of his heroic mother. One of her precepts he often quoted, “Never wound the feelings of others, nor suffer your own to be outraged.”
Is it any wonder that “Little Andy,” who so early learned to fight the battle of life, should at last have become a great general?
During the war with England in 1812, while bringing his Tennessee troops back from the South, he gave up his horses to the sick soldiers, and marched on foot with his men day after day. Because he could endure the steady marching, some one said that he was “tough as hickory,” and after this the soldiers began to call him affectionately “Old Hickory.” By this name he was known as long as he lived. He was twice made governor of Tennessee and twice President of the United States.
XXVIII. THE BOY WHO HAD A REASON
All the children in our State like to sing:—
- “Carolina! Carolina! Heaven's blessings attend her!”
And they like to make the welkin ring with the chorus:—
- “Hurrah! Hurrah! The Old North State forever!”
Perhaps you would like to know something about the great and good man who wrote this beautiful song for us, — a song that will live as long as the good Old North State lives.
His name was William Gaston. He was born in Newbern, and spent his life in the service of the State.
Life began for him in a very sad way. His father, Dr. Alexander Gaston, was a native of Ireland, and a man of letters. He came over to this country, and settled in Newbern some years before the beginning of the Revolutionary War. During all the stormy times of the Revolution he proved himself a true patriot.
It is now hard to realize how high the feeling
ran between Whigs and Tories during the last years of the war. Many dark deeds and cruel murders were committed all over the country by both Whigs and Tories. Old Newbern, which had witnessed so many stirring scenes in the days of Governors Tryon and Martin, endured also the worst horrors of the strife that was waged between the two parties during the Revolution.
In August, 1781, the Tories gathered to attack the town. Of course a man who had been so active in the American cause as Dr. Gaston could not hope to escape their fury. Well knowing that he would lose his life if he should fall into their hands, he took his wife and two little ones, and tried to get away from the town. It was his purpose to go down the river to a place of safety. But, alas! he was too late. Just as he stepped into the boat a party of Tories came up. He pushed his boat out from the wharf, where his wife and little children were standing, and a heartless Tory, levelling his rifle over the poor woman's shoulder, shot down her husband before her eyes.
In this cruel way, William, when only three years old, was robbed of his father. To his widowed mother fell the sole care of her son and daughter. Most faithfully did she perform that trust.
As a boy William Gaston was very bright and
quick. When he was only seven years old, a little schoolmate said to him one day, “William, how is it that you are always at the head of the class, and I am always at the foot?”
“There is a reason,” said William, “and if I tell you, you must keep it a secret, and do as I do. Whenever I take up a book to study I first pray a
Judge Gaston's Office at Raleigh
In which he wrote “The Old North State,” and where he died. Still standing.
little prayer my mother taught me, that I may be able to learn my lesson.”
His mother had early taught him the lesson, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God,” and William heeded that lesson. So it was that the little boy who had a reason for knowing his lessons
and standing at the head of his class, had also a reason for all the success of his after life. He remembered the teachings of his devoted mother, and looked to God for help in doing his duty.
At school he studied so well that when he left Princeton College it was to come home and kneel before his mother, and tell her that he had graduated with first honor. This, he afterward said, was the proudest moment of his life.
He studied law, and rose to the head of his profession. After filling many positions of trust in the state, he was elected a judge of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. Of him, Judge Ruffin, the late Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, said, “He was a great judge and a good man.”
Judge Gaston's end was fitting. He was at Raleigh, engaged in performing the duties of his position as one of the judges of the Supreme Court. In the morning in the courtroom he had suffered from faintness. He had been carried to his own room, where he soon rallied but kept his bed. That evening a few friends gathered around his bedside to talk with him, and found him more cheerful than usual. In the course of the conversation, the question whether there was any God came up, and raising himself from his bed, so as to speak with greater force, he said, “We must believe and
feel that there is a God, All-wise and Almighty.” As he uttered the last word he fell back dead.
It was for Judge Gaston that the county of Gaston was named. North Carolina will ever cherish the memory of his talents and his virtues; and perhaps more than for anything else he did will he be remembered as the author of our state song. And while the Old North State shall last, may all her children, with one heart and one voice—
- “Raise aloud, raise together, the heart-thrilling chorus!”
XXIX. THE OLD NORTH STATE
Carolina! Carolina! Heaven's blessings attend her! While we live we will cherish, protect, and defend her. Though the scorner may sneer at, and witlings defame her, Yet our hearts swell with gladness whenever we name her.
Hurrah! Hurrah! The Old North State forever!
Hurrah! Hurrah! The good Old North State.
Though she envies not others their merited glory, Say, whose name stands the foremost in Liberty's story? Though too true to herself e'er to crouch to oppression, Who can yield to just rule a more loyal submission?
Chorus: Hurrah! etc.
Plain and artless her sons, but whose doors open faster To the knock of the stranger or the tale of disaster? How like the rudeness of their dear native mountains, With rich ore in their bosoms, and with life in their fountains!
Chorus: Hurrah! etc.
And her daughters, the queen of the forest resembling, So graceful, so constant, to gentlest breath trembling, And true light-wood at heart, let the match be applied them, How they kindle and flame, oh! none know but who've tried them!
Chorus: Hurrah! etc.
Then let all who love us love the land that we live in, As happy a region as on this side of heaven, Where plenty and freedom, love and peace smile before us, Raise aloud, raise together, the heart-thrilling chorus!
Chorus: Hurrah! etc.