RECOLLECTIONS OF NEWBERN FIFTY YEARS AGO; WITH AN APPENDIX, Including Letters from Judges Gaston, Donnell, Manly and Gov. Swain.
BY STEPHEN F. MILLER.AUTHOR'S DEDICATION.
To Jacob Gooding, Esquire:
If you shall take the trouble to peruse this little sketch, you will find in it the names of several hundred citizens of Newbern, most of whom were personally known to you. After the lapse of fifty years the survivors are but few. I am gratified that you are among the number. Knowing your personal worth, and your high character as a merchant from my boyhood, I take great pleasure in inscribing these “Recollections” to you, with assurances of my profound esteem.
Columbus, Ga., Sept. 1873.
The Author.PUBLISHER'S PREFACE.
As an effort of memory, after the lapse of more than an ordinary lifetime, these “Recollections” may be considered somewhat rare in extent and variety, embracing more than fifty occupations and topics, with about three hundred names of residents of Newbern. The author, in his nineteenth year, removed to Georgia, November 1824. The following brief notice is copied from Appleton's “New American Cyclopedia:”
“Miller Stephen Franks, an American author and lawyer, born in North Carolina [Nov. 22, 1805]. In early youth he removed to Georgia where he was admittad to the bar in his twenty-second year, soon after which the Legislature elected him Solicitor-General of the Southern Circuit. When his term of office expired he became a citizen of Alabama, where he continued the practice of his profession until a severe bronchial affection compelled him to engage in other pursuits; and from 1840 to 1847 he edited the Monitor, a Whig journal published at Tuscaloosa. In 1848 and 1849 he resided in New Orleans, where he was associated in the editorial management of DeBow's Review and the Daily Commercial Times. His health failing, he removed to Oglethorpe, Ga. He is the author of the Bench and Bar of Georgia, (2 vols., 8vo., Philadelphia, 1858); “Wilkins Wylder: or, The Successful Man,” (1860); and of a Memoir of the late Gen'l David Blackshear.”
RECOLLECTIONS OF NEWBERN FIFTY YEARS AGO.
One of the sources of pleasure to a man whose experience runs through a period of three score years, or more, is to revive memories of the Past, when his youthful mind received its first impressions, which are indeed the most permanent and influential. My career in life, from imperfect health to some extent, but mainly perhaps from defective judgment, has not been satisfactory to myself, nor so useful to others as I desired to make it. As to what cause soever may have existed of failure or of misdirection, compared with the possibilities which environed my path, it is now useless to speculate. The competitions of life with me are ended, and the result, whether for good or evil, is upon me with a stability that cannot be shaken by any efforts, or by any probable turn of fortune now at my command.
The amount of physical strength which I at any time possessed has nearly departed, and the shadows of another world are daily increasing upon my spirit. Yet cheerful in my condition, and resigned, I have no complaints to prefer against my fellow-men for real or imaginary injustice. So far from it, I desire to communicate from the stores of memory and from the sympathies of my heart, whatever I can to please or entertain others, by a narrative of scenes hallowed in the freshness of youth after the lapse of half a century, or more.
I was born and reared seven miles above Trenton, in Jones county North Carolina, and was occupied on a farm until my seventeenth year when, in 1822, I went as a clerk to reside in Newbern. My “Recollections” then commenced (not on paper) and they will now be arranged for the most part, under separate heads, for more convenient reference to trades and professions.MERCHANTS.
1. Samuel Simpson was from the country, a portionless youth, whose good qualities attracted the friendly notice of Toggart & Torrans, leading merchants in the city. After serving faithfully as clerk for a number of years, Mr. Simpson succeeded these men in business, and became in his turn one of the most prominent and successful merchants. I was clerk for Mr. Simpson in 1823-’4, and had charge principally of his warehouses and the wharf attached to his shipping interests. His nephew, Henry W. Jones, was chief clerk in the store. My employer was upright in all his transactions, and very systematic and rigid as a businessman. His grandson, Captain John Kirkland, of Hillsboro, was Assistant Quarter Master at Milledgeville, Georgia, when I saw him in 1864,
engaged in collecting and forwarding supplies to Virginia. He stated that it required six thousand bushels of corn per day to sustain Gen'l Lee's army. Henry W. Jones, he said, then resided at Petersburg. I well remember when Mr. Jones was paying attentions to Miss Sophia Bryan, whom he afterwards married. She was a sister of William Green Bryan. Mr. Simpson had a clerk from Wilmington, named Lawrence D. Dorsey, who quitted the store a short time before I went into it, Gen'l Kirkland, who, in January 1865, acted a distinguished part in the defence of Fort Fisher, was also a grandson and the second wife of the Hon. M. E. Manly was a daughter of Mr. Simpson.
2. John Justice occupied the corner opposite to Mr. Simpson, and had a large country trade. He had two clerks, Benjamin and William Cheney, who, in 1835, were wealthy citizens of Greene county, Alabama. Mr. Justice married a daughter of the late Council Bryan in the vicinity of Newbern. Mr. Bryan had a number of interesting daughters, several of whom I shall have occasion to notice in the course of my narrative.
3. Stephen B. Forbes was a short man, but had a long head, if we may judge by the prudence with which he managed his affairs. James E. Bettner was his clerk and afterwards became his partner. Mr. Forbes, to the best of my recollection, also married a Miss Bryan, and subsequently a Miss Tisdale. (?) His son, Edward M. Forbes, became an Episcopal clergyman, and in February, 1844, delivered a sermon in Mobile before the Hon. Henry Clay, who was in the audience. A daughter of Mr. S. B. Forbes married Major George Bush Burgwyn Clitherall, who was Secretary of the Alabama Senate in 1845, and more recently in the quartermaster's department in the Confederate army.
4. Jacob Gooding was in business on Pollock street, and was popular among my neighbors for the good bargains which he offered, the sound quality of his goods, and for the perfect fairness of his dealings. I was directed to call on him when I had little commissions to execute for my neighbors; and I think I dealt more with Mr. Gooding, under such circumstances, than with any other house. He was then a pale, withered little man, with a kind face and very courteous manner. His efficient and obliging clerk, Matthew A. Outten, afterwards went into business on his own account. The image of Mr. Gooding has an agreeable distinctness on my memory, and I am gratified to learn that he is still living (1873) and quite active, though probably eighty years of age. He is one of the old landmarks of Newbern with which my boyhood is associated.
5. James G. Cuthbert was an Irishman, and had lost an arm. He usually kept a good assortment, and though somewhat eccentric in his manner and inclined to rough jesting, with a rich brogue, he had large transactions with country people who had great confidence in his integrity. He had sons growing up, who I think assisted behind the counter.
6. William Dunn had a conspicuous store on the corner opposite the old Episcopal Church, and appeared to be full of business, from the number of vehicles waiting for accommodation. He had a clerk by the name of Frank Shine, from Duplin county. Mr. Dunn was a strictly honest man who considered the common practice of “Jewing” as derogatory to the dignity of a man of integrity. On one occasion a customer commending
the goods exhibited to him asked the price, and then inquired, “Can't you put it lower, Mr. Dunn?” “No,” replied the honest dealer replacing the bolt on an upper shelf, “I'll put it higher!” But this was “fifty years ago.”
7. John and Thomas McLin, brothers, kept adjoining stores, nearly opposite the new (1824) Episcopal Church. T. McLin was particularly neat in the display of his goods, and always on the alert to trade profitably.
8. Joseph Oliver and Samuel Oliver, brothers, had separate stores near each other, between Dunn's corner and Simpson's corner, on Pollock street. Their two clerks, John and Samuel Battle, subsequently removed to Mobile, Alabama, where they acquired considerable wealth in commercial pursuits. One of the principal hotels in the latter city is called the “Battle House,” after one of the brothers. One of them, John, married a daughter of Mrs. Clitherall who was a sister of Mr. John F. Burgwyn, of Newbern, and subsequently married another daughter of Mrs. Clitherall, the widow of Geo. Jones, formerly of Newbern. I became acquainted with Mrs. Clitherall> at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1847, and also knew her son-in-law, Junius A. Moore, Esq., who died there, He was a graduate of Chapel Hill, in the class of 1816, and a member of the legal profession. A daughter of Mr. Moore married Joel Riggs, an officer in the State Bank, and afterwards Comptroller of Public Accounts. A son of Mr. Riggs is now Assistant Librarian of the Supreme Court, at Montgomery, and is named in honor of his virtuous grand-father, “Junius Moore” Riggs. Mrs. Clitherall was an English lady of great cultivation, dignity and refinement. Her son, Alexander B. Clitherall was for many years an officer of the General Assembly of Alabama, was a Judge of the Circuit Court, and the first Register of the Treasury under the Confederate Government.
9. John Sneed, John Coart, John G. Kincey and Mr. Pittman, occupied store tenements in a range of brick buildings opposite the Bank of Newbern. Mr. Kincey married Miss Bryan, a sister of Mrs. Justice. A daughter of Mr. Sneed married Dr. Samuel Chapman.
10. Michael H. Lentes was a very clever merchant. He married a sister of Gen'l John I. Pasteur. His store was near Mitchell's corner.
11. William S. Webb, who kept a fine store on Pollock street, dressed fashionably, and made a genteel appearance. He was cross-eyed, which seemed to increase the intelligent expression of his face. It was said that he was quite proficient in mathematics. He married Miss Mary Hall, one of the leading beauties of Newbern.
12. George Seelye & Co., held large stocks embracing a variety of goods so that any customer might be suited. Mr. Seelye was a handsome man, and married Miss Eliza Finlay, a Roman Catholic lady.
13. Robert Primrose & Co., were leading dealers in fancy goods, and were, of course, popular with the ladies, who in great numbers waited at the counter daily. Mr. Rob't Primrose married a daughter of M. C. Stephens, Cashier of the Bank of Newbern. The Messrs. Primrose (Rob't and John, who constituted the firm) were Scotchmen, and the remark is ventured that it was not their personal beauty which attracted the ladies to the store.
14. Jarvis B. Buxton had retired from business before I went to reside in Newbern, in 1822. He was one of the first merchants I traded with in my boyhood about the year 1818. I lost sight of him until thirty years afterwards, when I saw a volume of sermons written by him while Rector of the Episcopal church in Fayetteville. In 1865, I became acquainted with his son, Ralph P. Buxton, Esq., who was appointed Judge of the Superior Court under the reconstruction acts of Congress. My knowledge of the father and the son embraces a period of more than fifty years. The Rev. J. B. Buxton was a good and useful man, and his memory is held in affectionate esteem by his parishioners, and by all who knew him. In 1865 his widow still resided at Fayetteville.
15. Thomas Wadsworth sold goods near the county wharf. His eldest son, Thomas, went to New Orleans, where he became prominent as a lawyer and politician; and was supported for Congress. Pending the election he became involved in a quarrel and killed a sea-captain at the St. Louis Hotel, in 1847, or thereabout. He was tried for the offence, and acquitted through the exertions of the Hon. S. S. Prentiss, the eminent advocate and ex-member of Congress. Mr. Wadsworth died soon after the trial.
16. Francis Lamotte was a French gentleman, whose eldest son was of the paternal name, and chiefly managed his business. They were much respected in trade and in their social relations.
17. William Hollister dealt heavily in sugar, coffee, iron, salt, liquors, &c. He had two clerks, one of whom, John Johnson Simpson Mason Brickell, was a splendid accountant, formerly of Snow Hill. The other clerk was William H. Morning, whose mother lived opposite the market. Mr. Hollister married a daughter of Isaac Taylor, a wealthy retired merchant.
18. Jarvis, West & Co., were mostly engaged in shipping, and had extensive transactions. Mr. John Spence West died in 1822, and the firm thereafter was Moses Jarvis & Co., or Jarvis, Brown & Co., also probably carried on a larger business than any house in town. Mr. Jarvis had a son, Moses Jarvis, Jr., whose thorough mercantile training and regular habits bid fair to make him a worthy representative of his bold and enterprising father. Mr. Platt H. Wick, who married a daughter of Mr. Jarvis, was a relation of Platt Bull the fat book-keeper in the counting room, who sang bass in the choir of the Episcopal church.
19. Devereux, Chester & Orme belonged to the shipping class of merchants, and had heavy dealings in that line. They occupied a large brick store near Mrs. McKinley's residence. Mr. Stephen M. Chester removed to the city of New York, and was a member of the firm of W. W. Chester & Co., Carpet Dealers, Broadway, 1836. Through the influence of the Hon. Francis Xavier Martin, Chief Justice of Louisiana, (who in his youth was a printer in Newbern) Mr. Robert V. Orme removed to New Orleans where he was accidentally killed by falling through a trap door. Mr. George Pollock Devereux was stately in his deportment, and had nothing to do, I believe, with the labors of the counting room. His large fortune exempted him from that necessity.
20. James Saunders occupied the store next to that of Mr. Justice.
He was captured on board of an American privateer in the war of 1812-’14, and confined in Dartmoor prison, England. An eye-witness to the shooting of American prisoners by the British guard, he related to me all the circumstances of that unprovoked massacre. His health was severely impaired by his cruel imprisonment, which caused his death from consumption in 1823. Having acted as his clerk for several months, my next employment, after his death, was in the store of Mr. Simpson. Mr. Saunders was a clever gentleman, extremely neat in his dress, and up-right in his dealings. His devoted wife, who nursed him with great tenderness, was formerly Miss Avis, a grand-daughter of Nathaniel Street, senior.
21. Elijah Clark, and his son, William W. Clark, had a store up the Neuse, above Moses Jarvis’ residence. They were good merchants, and had a large country trade.
The list of names I have introduced under the head of “Merchants,” does not include all who were engaged in trade, many of whom will be mentioned under other titles in the course of these “Recollections.” But the principal houses have been noticed, so far as I can recall them.LAWYERS.
1. John Stanly was foremost in age and natural gifts. His voice was strong, clear and musical, and his manner peculiarly graceful and dignified. In repartee and sarcasm I never saw his equal. His efforts in that line were absolutely withering. The composure of no suitor, witness, or rival advocate could survive his pungent criticism. Ever bold and fearless, he at once rose to the breadth of the occasion, always wielding a polished scimiter with the energy of a giant and the skill of an artist. He was a representative in Congress in 1801-’3, and also in 1809-’11, and is said to have given John Randolph trouble in his peculiar vein. Mr. Stanly was often in the Legislature, being twice elected Speaker of the House of Commons; and in January, 1827, while on the the floor in debate he was stricken with paralysis, and was caught in the arms of Robert Potter. He was taken to the Speaker's Chair, whence he adjourned the House. From that hour, he never was himself again. On a visit from Georgia to Newbern in 1829 I called on Mr. Stanly, whose noble features were distorted by affliction. He tried to converse in his former commanding way, but failed. On parting, he gave me a very correct lithograph likeness of himself, which I retained more than thirty years, until it was lost by the wanton depredations on my library and papers, in Oglethorpe, committed by Eederal soldiers attached to the Freedman's Bureau, in 1865. I much regretted the loss of this cherished memento. Mr. Stanly died August 3, 1833, aged fifty-nine years. His only daughter married Capt. Armstead of the United States army, in defiance of his opposition. It is said that he never forgave her. This worthy officer was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, and in her old age, Mrs. Stanley found a welcome retreat under his hospitable roof in Virginia, where she died about thirty years ago. Mr. Stanly had a number of sons,—John, Alfred, Frank, Edward, Alexander, Fabius,
Cicero, and James. The former was idiotic from his birth, and was confined in the house, helpless as an infant, until his eighteenth year, or thereabout, when he died. Alfred first removed to Alabama, and the last I heard of him he was residing in Fairfax county, Virginia, where he was badly treated by the Yankees in the early part of the late war.(?) Frank Stanly became a Methodist preacher. Edward was elected to Congress, and served from 1837 to 1843, and from 1849 to 1853. He was Attorney General of the State in 1847-’48, and was Speaker of the House of Commons from 1844 to 1847, from the county of Beaufort. After his removal to California he again appeared in his native State, holding a commission from President Lincoln as Military Governor, in the hope it was alleged, of prevailing on the people of North Carolina in 1862 to resume their allegiance to the Union. In this object he signally failed, and becoming disgusted by an association with the Abolitionists, and particularly shocked by Federal outrages in Newbern, he resigned his commission in despair and returned to California where he was subsequently defeated as the Republican candidate for Governor. It is said that he took orders for the Priesthood in the Episcopal Church. He died within the last four years. The career of Cicero Stanly has been mixed with much that is romantic and painful, from Texas to Europe. Of Alexander [dead] and Fabius, [now Admiral U. S. N.,] I have not heard in many years. Mrs. Stanly was a country heiress without cultivation, or opportunity, and inherited from Martin Frank, her father, large estates in Jones county which laid the foundation of Mr. Stanly's prosperity. His nature did not harmonize with the taste of his wife; for she was a shouting Methodist, and he a staid Vestryman of the Episcopal Church. During the tedious affliction of Mr. Stanly, his affairs became very much embarrassed, owing in a great measure to the improvidence of his sons. Debts were pressed to judgment, and in this extremity his warm personal and political friend, Mr. Gaston, protected from sale the fine mansion in which he lived and died. Few instances have occurred of reverses so unexpected to the public. The fate of Mr. Stanly was perhaps not exceeded in bitterness of spirit by that of Napoleon while lingering six years at St. Helena. Both were men of boundless pride and ambition, and of extraordinary gifts. Mr. Gaston wrote a beautiful eulogy on the character of Mr. Stanly, which was published. The last time Mr. Stanly addressed a Newbern audience was in July, 1826, when he pronounced an eloquent discourse on the public life of John Adams, which was published in pamphlet form, in connection with that of the Hon. John H. Bryan on Mr. Jefferson.
2. William Gaston was an ornament of the Bar, of Congress, of the State Legislature, and of the Bench of the Supreme Court, in all of which positions the ascendency of his virtues, intellect and learning was acknowledged. He was speaker of the House of Commons in 1803. In his admired description of great men whom he met in Congress in 1816, Mr. R. H. Wilder, of Georgia, referred to Mr. Gaston in company with Randolph, Lowndes, Clay, Calhoun, Webster, Forsyth, and Pinckney of Maryland. It was my privilege to hear Mr. Gaston frequently in court, wrestling with his great professional rival, Mr. Stanly, in all that constitutes
and tries the strength of character. I have heard no efforts since equal in ability, logic and eloquence. My youthful imagination was completely dazzled; and now, in my sixty-eighth year, I recall those scenes as the greatest forensic triumphs I ever witnessed. In some respects Mr. Gaston and Mr. Stanly were unlike. The former was diffident and when he first rose to address the court or jury, he trembled perceptibly, but in a few moments he was self-possessed, and commanded profound attention. In criminal cases he was often very pathetic, and I have seen the tears roll down his face, while the jury and audience gave like tokens of sympathy. He increased in the moral grandeur of his sentiments, and in the brilliancy of his reasoning faculties as his argument progressed. He was uniformly respectful to suitors and witnesses, to the Court and to his brethren of the bar. When he closed a speech, the whole subject matter, both evidence and law had been exhausted by analysis and the mind rested with perfect confidence in the conclusions uttered. There was no touch of sophistry to mislead, and no mysterious phrase or look to bewilder the jury. All was luminous as a sunbeam. His face expressed the benignity of soul which animated his whole life. Of his domestic relations my knowledge is limited. The first Mrs. Gaston was Miss Hay of Fayetteville. She lived but a short time. His second wife was Miss Hannah McClure, who died suddenly in 1814, (leaving a son and two daughters—Alexander, Susan and Hannah,) from an alarm at the reported entrance of the British fleet within Ocracoke bar, on its way to attack Newbern. I remember the excitement in the country, and also the sad incident referred to. His third marriage was with Miss Worthington, of the District of Columbia, and I think she also died suddenly, in 1819, leaving two daughters—Eliza and Kate. From that time Judge Gaston remained a widower. I do not remember to have seen any of Judge Gaston's daughters. They were probably at school in the Catholic Seminary at Georgetown while I resided in Newbern. One of them married Judge Manly, and another married Robert Donaldson, formerly of Fayetteville, and since a resident of New York, to which city he removed many years before the late war. Alelander F. Gaston, the only son, will be noticed more particularly under the head of “Law Students.” The third daughter, Eliza, became Mrs. Graham of the District of Columbia, and Kate, the fourth daughter—and only surviving child of William Gaston, the noble daughter of a noble sire—is still unmarried, of course voluntarily so, as she has always been greatly admired, and never more so than on a very recent visit to her old home of Newbern. Owing to a seeming disability imposed by the old constitution on Roman Catholics, Mr. Gaston never held any judicial office in the State earlier than 1833, when, after mature investigation, he accepted the office of Judge of the Supreme Court. For eleven years he graced that dignified tribunal, until his sudden death at Raleigh, in February 1844. A letter from Judge Gaston to myself, written in 1834, was published in the first volume of “The Bench and Bar of Georgia.” The original is preserved in my collection of autographs of distinguished men.
3. Edward Graham held a prominent rank at the bar, though when I knew him he had somewhat retired, and appeared only in important
cases. I heard him but once in court, which was sufficient to convince me that he possessed a vigorous mind and great elevation of character. He was apparently the senior of both Mr. Stanly and Mr. Gaston, and earlier in life was often employed. I loved to hear these renowned jurists on intricate legal questions. Mr. Graham maintained a very fashionable style of living. One of his daughters married the Hon. William H. Haywood, of Raleigh, and another married John P. Daves, Esq., of Newbern. His son, Hamilton, will be noticed elsewhere. I do not remember the year in which Mr. Graham died, as I then resided in Georgia. He was the second of Mr. Stanly in his duel with Governor Spaight.
4. Francis L. Hawks graduated at Chapel Hill, in the class of 1815, with John H. Bryan, Isaac Croom, Lemuel Hatch, Willie P. Mangum and Richard D. Spaight. In due time, after a course of legal studies, he was admitted to the bar, and at once stood among the leaders of his profession. His voice was the richest imaginable, his language copious and beautiful, and his manner very impressive. I was fond of hearing him in argument opposed to the veterans Stanly and Gaston, and my feelings were always on the side of the young prodigy, as I considered Mr. Hawks. In 1821 he was elected to the Legislature as the Representative of Newbern, and won laurels in debate. In 1823 he married a lady in Connecticut, and in a few years settled in Hillsboro where he became Reporter of the Supreme Court. From thence he removed to the North to New Haven, and thence to St. Stephen's Church, New York, and then to St. Thomas’, and had charge of St. John's Episcopal Church, Broadway, New York. By his exertions to build up a large Female Seminary at Fushing, under the patronage of his church, he became involved in heavy personal liabilities, so that in 1844 when he was before the Episcopal Convention at Philadelphia for consecration as Bishop of the Diocese of Mississippi, some of the unpaid contractors of the Seminary filed a complaint, which was triumphantly replied to by the Hon. John M. Berrie, a lay-delegate from Georgia. The Convention, however, declined final action, and referred the matter back to the Diocese of Mississippi. He afterwards was called to Calvary church 4th Avenue, which was greatly in debt; and by his unbounded popularity soon relieved it. I wrote and published in a newspaper at the time a vindication of Dr. Hawks, which is incorporated in the memoir of Judge Berrie, in “The Bench and Bar of Georgia.” The next I heard of Dr. Hawks he had been called to New Orleans on a salary of seven thousand dollars as Rector of the Church on Canal street. For several years he was also President of the University of Louisiana, with an additional income. From thence he returned to New York and occupied a pulpit in a church in 8th street, where he continued to discharge his functions as a clergyman until the war of 1861, when he changed his residence, temporarily, to Baltimore, from sympathy with his native South. After the war, he resumed his charge in New York, where he died, September 27, 1866, aged about seventy years. One of his sons, Major Hawks, was in the Confederate army. Not only was Dr. Hawks one of the most eloquent speakers in America, but he was also a chaste and voluminous author.
Some thirty years ago, with an introduction to the Archbishop of Canterbury, he visited England to collect materials for a History of the Episcopal church in the United States, a fragment of which may be seen in his biography of Bishop White. Dr. Hawks has edited some very large works, among them, I believe, the Expedition of Commodore Perry to Japan, and others whose titles I do not at present remember. The first volume of his History of North Carolina appeared many years ago, and a second has since been published; but the war prevented the completion of the work. The degree of LL. D. was conferred upon him in the prime of life, and most worthily, for he was eminent in letters as well as in oratory. He was the best reader I ever heard. Even a dry statute was interesting under the music of his voice. The church service no man could read better. In the absence of the Rector, Mr. Hawks, as early as 1822, used to read sermons from the pulpit, which, to me possessed an interest outside of theology. Subsequently I heard him deliver sermons of his own composition, first in New York, 1836, and again in New Orleans, 1848. A great change had taken place in his physical proportions. When I first saw him, attending court at Trenton in 1821, and during the time I resided Newbern afterwards, his frame was quite slender. When I saw him at New Orleans thirty years thereafter, he was quite corpulent, with an increase of fifty per cent over his former weight. His gifts and labors considered together, the ancient town of Newbern has never produced another son of such literary accomplishments to adorn the age of her Gaston and Stanlys. When once remonstrate’ with by a parishioner, who, (unwilling to resign his rector to a more lucrative field to which he had just been invited) reminded him that the “young ravens would be fed.” “Ah, yes!” replied the Reverend gentleman, “but unfortunately there is no such promise for the young Hawks!”
5. John Heritage Bryan probably came to the bar about the same time that Francis L. Hawks was admitted to the practice by the Supreme Court. I was not advised under whose direction, whether of Mr. Stanly or Mr. Gaston, they prosecuted their legal studies. Certainly no two young aspirants ever advanced more rapidly to professional distinction. Mr. Bryan was very logical and earnest as a speaker. His popularity may be inferred from his early service in the Legislature, and from the remarkable fact that almost as soon as he was eligible he was elected to Congress without his knowledge (he then being on a visit to Baltimore) and to the State Senate at the same time. Serving from 1825 to 1829 with credit, he declined a re-election to Congress. Mr. Bryan married a daughter of William Shepard, a wealthy citizen of Newbern. After I left in 1824 for Georgia, I lost sight of Mr. Bryan until I saw that he had removed to Raleigh, and that the Legislature had voted a sword to his son, Lieut. Francis T. Bryan, for his gallantry in the Mexican war. I have not seen Mr. J. H. Bryan within the last forty-nine years; but I have a distinct recollection of his ample forehead, his intelligent face and courteous manner. At a somewhat advanced age he died at Raleigh a few years ago, leaving a character and example of great moral influence.
6. Wright Stanly was an old bachelor, and as it often happens with that class of gentlemen, there was nothing particularly interesting in his history. He was the only member of the bar in Newbern who wore glasses all the time. I have heard him make speeches in courts, but I retain no impression of them half so clear as of the flashes of his spectacles whenever he turned his face in a new direction. His hair was red—his deportment refined and agreeable. He was a member of the State Senate in 1814. Perfectly honorable in his character, he had no enemies, so far as I know. For the last thirty years, or more, he has resided in Mobile as a practicing lawyer. His relations to the Hon. John Stanly was not nearer than that of cousin. Probably Mr. W. Stanly had experienced unkindness from the world, as I was informed by a gentleman who heard from his lips (while the topic of conversation was the habit of fishes, the large devouring the small) the remark, that “fishes were not the only specimens of animated nature that preyed on each other; for man acted thus toward his fellow man.” His widowed sister, Mrs. Ward, and her children, lived with him, for whom he provided with paternal liberality. His hospitalities were unlimited, and the colored race never knew a better or more considerate master than was “Uncle Rectus,” as the “boys” irreverently called him.
7. George S. Attmore had been recently admitted to practice, and gave promise, by his resolute will and active industry, to overcome disadvantages which were manifest in competition with such astute brethren as he had to encounter in the forum. By his marriage with a daughter of Mr. Isaac Taylor, Mr. Attmore acquired an influence which he turned to good account in his professional career. After Mr. Stanly was disabled by paralysis in 1827, and some years later when Mr. Gaston was elected Judge of the Supreme Court, when Mr. Hawks had gone into the ministry, and Mr. Bryan had removed to Raleigh, the field was clear to Mr. Attmore, and it was then that a high degree of success rewarded his labors. By this time a new race of lawyers had grown up in Newbern, of whom I cannot speak for the want of opportunity to witness their exertions. Mr. Attmore has been dead several years. He had a son to represent his professional character and good name.
8. Hon. John R. Donnell was in good practice when he was made Judge of the Superior Court in 1819, which office he held until 1836 when he resigned. He was the first judge I ever saw preside, which was at Trenton about the year 1820. On one occasion I had seen him before he came to the bench, and that was when I sold him a load of corn in market. After I had delivered it, he gave me a check for the amount; and such was my extreme youth, that he asked me if I could read writing? On my replying in the affirmative, he said, “You know then where to get the money.” It was the first bank check that ever greeted my vision. Judge Donnell was always in the habit of attending market to purchase what articles of produce he needed, and was a man of strict integrity, as well as a kind, considerate, generous neighbor. He was a rigid economist, and by the skillful management of the large property which he obtained by inheritance from an uncle, and by his marriage with a daughter of Gov. Spaight, he increased it probably to half a million
of dollars. His wife died more than thirty years ago. His son, Richard Spaight Donnell, was a Representative in Congress in 1847’-49, and in 1864 was Speaker of the House of Commons. Judge Donnell never married a second time. He was a quiet, unobtrusive, upright gentleman, and used to bear with great equanimity the biting sarcasm which Mr. Stanly was in the habit of thrusting at the court whenever it suited his policy. At the time of his death at Raleigh, October 15, 1864, while a refugee from his princely house and estates, after Federal occupancy in Newbern, Judge Donnell was perhaps not less than eighty years of age. His life was exemplary, and his abilities and integrity as a Judge secured him a spotless reputation.
9. Richard D. Spaight held a commission to practice law, and I have seen him attending the Superior Court in Jones county as well as in Craven, but I never heard of his appearing in a case. He was very rich and very diffident, and was not destitute of fair abilities as a graduate of the University. His object in associating with the lawyers from county to county, was no doubt to enjoy their society, and to improve his mind by legal discussions which constantly took place in his presence. I always suspected that Mr. Stanly was an obstacle to the professional success of Mr. Spaight, as the former was a man of imperious temper, and, as if not satisfied with having killed the father of Mr. Spaight in a duel twenty years before, he seemed to delight in torturing the son by look and gesture, and intonations of his voice, when other methods were not devised. Mr. Spaight, however, avoided an issue, and once had the pleasure of beating him for the Senate. By the death of his brother Charles G, (who graduated in 1820) Mr. R. D. Spaight had a large accession of property by inheritance. He first represented Craven county in the Legislature in 1819, and from 1820 to 1834—with the exception of 1823 and 1824 when in Congress—he served continuously in the Senate, and in 1835 he was elected Governor of the State, which was the last bestowal of the office by the Legislature, as elections subsequently have been by the people. Gov. Spaight the second died in 1850, aged fifty-four years, and his property came to Judge Donnell's children. I never heard of any impntation against his honor. He had filled some of the highest offices in the Masonic Fraternity.
10. Vine Allen often attended the courts; but his modesty, or the boldness of Mr. Stanly, kept him in the background. I will here take occasion to remark that Mr. Stanly, with all his admitted greatness, was dictatorial and exacting toward young men, and even to those of riper age who did not pay willing homage to his judgment. It was a fearful thing to incur his displeasure—it was next to annihilation. Much as I admired his splendid gifts, I am not blind to this infirmity of his character. Whatever might have been the influence, Mr. Allen was protected by his wealth from the alternative of courting the favor of Mr. Stanly or of retiring from the profession. I think Mr. Allen was President of the Newbern Branch of the State Bank; at least I have seen his name on the bills to authorize this opinion. He was in the Senate from Craven as far back as 1813. When I changed my residence from Newbern in 1824, I lost sight of Mr. Allen, who has no doubt been dead many years.
He was very neat and dignified in his appearance, and of tall, athletic frame.
I have said nothing of the political opinions of any member of the bar, for the reason that I did not think it necessary, even had I been of an age sufficient to mark this phase of character. Messrs. Stanly and Gaston were both avowed Federalists. As to the other gentlemen I venture no speculation, whether they were Federalists or Republicans, the only parties in that day. My aim has been altogether different, and entirely free from political bias, in sketching a group of men who made the most vivid impressions on my youthful mind.PHYSICIANS.
1. Dr. John Boyd was prominent, if not the very leading member of the healing art in Newbern. He was a fine looking gentleman, his hair a little more than half grey, and his complexion fresh and pure. Apparently he was about forty years of age, and in 1864 when I again heard of him, he was still living, in good preservation among the Yankees who held Newbern since 14th March 1862 to the close of the war. Dr. Boyd made his daily visits on horseback, usually in a gentle lope. His fine bay horse, well groomed, and with elegant saddle and hangings, seemed to be conscious of the dignity of his rider; for every movement was graceful, even to the curve of the neck, and the manner of standing at the post. As a bachelor Dr. Boyd was extremely careful of his dress, which was of costly material and made up by skillful tailors. Nothing could exceed the whiteness of his bosom. He shaved, and changed his linen daily, and call on him at any hour, he looked as if just from his dressing room. A lady who happened to see his laundress at the ironing table, counted thirty-six fine linen shirts, elegantly frilled and crimped, belonging to Dr. Boyd. Yet there was no seeming display in his apparel. Every thing was in good taste, as became his grave and polished address. His practice was very extensive. Dr. Edward Boyd his brother, died in 1823, leaving a family in Newbern.
2. Dr. Peter Custis was highly popular, somewhat blunt and caustic in his manner, and the life of all social companies in which he appeared. I think he married a daughter of Dr. Daniel Carthy, whose death is said to have been occasioned by lock-jaw produced by the trimming of a corn. I have no recollection of the children of Dr. Custis. Dr. Thomas Carthy had just graduated in Medicine when I first saw him in 1822. He was a fine looking gentleman, high spirited, and inclined to the code of honor. An affair of the kind with Mr. R. D. Spaight, after I left Newbern, is said to have progressed to a journey by the principals and seconds, but was arrested hy the civil process before the parties had reached the scene of action in another State.
3. Dr. Edward Pasteur had, in a measure, retired from the practice in 1822, after a long and successful professional career. He had wealth and great social influence.
4. Dr. Randolph Dick claimed to be a Virginian, and a lineal descendent of the Indian princess, celebrated in history as shielding Captain
Smith from the uplifted tomahawk of her savage father. The complexion of Dr. Dick warranted the inference that his title of nobility was well supported. He was quite fashionable in dress, and fastidious in exhibiting his person to the best advantage. He had the tact, in his movements, of seeming to be always in full practice, and may have impressed the idea on others to his profit. His career soon terminated. Under the pretence of consummating a matrimonial engagement with a rich widow in one of the upper counties, he left Newbern in the Fall of 1822, never to return. He was apparently about thirty years of age. The deportment of Dr. Dick, with his grave, thoughtful visage, would attract favorable opinions anywhere on first sight.
5. Dr. —— Blount, somewhat peculiar in his habits and disposition, had apparently given up the active labors of his profession. He kept himself much at home, and was rarely seen in the streets, except on an occasional drive or ride for exercise. He married the mother of the Hon. John H. Bryan.SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS.
The Town Academy was large enough to accommodate several distinct schools. Among the teachers and classes in the Academy, and those who had rooms elsewhere for pupils, I remember the following gentlemen:
1. John Alonzo Attmore, whose acquaintance I formed in my seventh year, when he taught a school at the end of Parson's Lane in 1812 and ’13, nine miles above Trenton in Jones county. I was one of his tender pupils. The next time I saw my honored perceptor was in Newbern. He always had a large school. Among the pupils of the Academy, I remember Charles B. Shepard, who was called “Coney” by his schoolmates. Afterwards Mr. Shepard married a daughter of Frederick Jones, and his second wife was a daughter of Judge Donnell. He represented the town of Newbern in the Legislature in 1832 and ’33, and in 1839 and ’41 he was a Representative in Congress. In 1843 Mr. Shepard died at the early age of thirty-six years. Another pupil of the Academy was Frederick S. Blount who removed to Mobile. He married Miss James of a South Carolina family. In 1858 their daughter Emily became the subject of newspaper notoriety, from the attentions of Count Reviere who fought a duel (in armor) with Captain Maury. Mr. Blount opposed the matrimonial intent of the lovers; but his wife countenanced it from motives of family ambition, to give her daughter the eclat of a supposed noble alliance. The scheme involved many curious transactions in New York, Philadelphia, Savannah, and Mobile, of which the newspapers furnished many romantic details. Miss Blount was finally relieved from the persecutions of the Count, who has since disappeared from public view. Mr. Blount was a half brother of the Hon. John H. Bryan, and was long a prominent politician and lawyer in Alabama, where he was much respected for his talents and social worth. He has been dead several years. Mr. Attmore continued his vocation as a teacher more than forty years, and his memory is revered by hundreds of grateful pupils.
To be Continued.)
Descriptive and Statistical.
RECOLLECTIONS OF NEWBERN FIFTY YEARS AGO.
[Continued from Page 252.]
2. John McMaster was a Scotchman, and a complaining, harmless and learned sort of oddity. Even with the aid of glasses he seemed to be very limited in the scope of his vision. In the moral aspects of character, I was not apprised of any defects in this gentleman. His voice was shrill and piercing like that of John Randolph and Vice-President Stephens. He had a number of pupils in the class preparing for college.
3. Robert G. Moore was an Irishman who came to Newbern in 1818, and at once established a prosperous school. He was very urbane in manner, yet decided and persevering in the enforcement of his rules. I am informed that he had a long and useful career, as a teacher of youth and editor of a Whig journal, the “Newbern Spectator,” and that he raised quite an interesting family. His son, Purser Robert S. Moore, U. S. N., found an ocean grave, dying at sea, of yellow fever, in 1843. He was the worthy representative of an honorable father.
4. Rev. Frederick Freeman was engaged in preparing young men for college, which, I believe, was the distinct character of his school. Possibly he had pupils of another description, and at one time may have been principal of the female seminary, with assistants. I am not very positive as to the class of his scholars. He was regarded as an excellent teacher. His healthy complexion, serene face and gentlemanly appearance I can never forget.
5. Joseph Hutton appeared in Newbern in 1823 as a tragedian in the theatrical corps of John Herbert & Son. He retired from the stage and opened a private school. In 1824 I pursued a course of mathematical studies under his direction, to qualify myself as a land-surveyor. Mr. Hutton was a good writer and speaker, and of a very commanding presence. On the 4th of July, 1824, he delivered an oration in the Presbyterian Church, which was much admired by the large audience. He is favorably noticed in a volume giving biographical sketches of American Poets. He died about the year 1827, leaving a wife and grown daughter, to the latter of whom he had addressed, in the “Carolina Sentinel,” some beautiful stanzas, each closing, “My lovely daughter, Josephine.”
This daughter, was for many subsequent years, an honored and a beloved instructress, in the town of Pensacola, inheriting her father's talent for poetizing.
6. Daniel Drew, an Episcopalian, was a Latin, Greek and Hebrew scholar, who opened a select school for instruction in the classics. He had a number of pupils, but how many, or of what families, I do not remember. His profound learning and modest, refined manners secured him marked civilities from Mr. Gaston and other leading citizens. Mr. Drew, although only a layman, is said to have been quite a master in speculative theology, and was so gentle in his address that he seemed to be unconscious of his vast acquirements. He probably returned to England.CHURCHES AND MINISTERS.
1. The Episcopal Church was served by the Rev. Richard S. Mason as Rector. In 1824 the large new brick edifice on Pollock street was dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Ravenscroft, the only occasion on which I heard this excellent prelate. Among the clergy present who assisted in the service was the Rev. William Hooper, LL. D., Professor in the University at Chapel Hill from 1818 to 1838, at a later period Professor in the South Carolina College, Columbia. The choir of the church at the dedication was lead by Mr. James B. Ackroyd, as organist. Most of the influential families in Newbern were represented in the membership and pews of the church. Mr. Mason married Miss Bryan, and I think removed to Albany, N. Y., for a short time, but he has long since returned to North Carolina, and the last I heard of him, a few years ago, he was residing at Raleigh.
2. The Presbyterian Church had the Rev. Lemuel D. Hatch as Pastor, though I have heard the Rev. F. Freeman, and others, occasionally officiate in the pulpit. Mr. Hatch married Miss Dickson, of Duplin county, and removed to Alabama, where in 1835, he purchased, on long time, a large plantation and negro property amounting to $80,000. The place included Arcola, and a portion of the lands donated by Congress to French refugees for the cultivation of the grape and olive. Several of Napoleon's Marshals and Generals, with a few exiled noblemen, occupied the lands in Marengo county; but from some cause the experiment failed. Mr. Hatch bought this property of Col. Ravesies, a Frenchman, when the price of cotton seemed to warrant the trade. In a short time, however, the price of the great Southern staple declined, and left Mr. Hatch to struggle with embarrassments, as he had to pay the interest of eight per cent annually, besides providing for the principal. He was a good man, and the only member of the Hatch family who had assumed the labors of the pulpit. The church in Newbern had a very efficient choir, consisting of S. M. Chester, Charles Dewey, the two Misses Graham, Miss Mary Hall and Miss Wilkins, whose names I remember.
3. The Baptist Church was edified by the minstrations of the Rev. Mr. Warner, who succeeded the Rev. Mr. Meredith in the pastoral charge. Jas. C. Stevenson led the choir. He and Mr. Meredith married sisters—Misses Sears.
The last I heard of Mr. M. was many years ago, when he was pastor of a Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia. His fine abilities and christian character made him quite a favorite wherever he was known.
4. In 1822 and 1823 the Methodist pulpit was supplied by the Rev. Ethelbert Drake, who was a stirring and effctive preacher, with a slight impediment in his speech. While master of a good style, he cared very little for ornament. His predecessor in 1821, Rev. Amos C. Treadway, was on a different scale, being quite fastidious in his diction and delivery. In one of his sermons he declared, “I had rather be a poor Methodist preacher, travelling over the barren hills of Carolina, receiving my one hundred dollars a year, than to be a Prince seated on his throne.” At the next Conference Mr. Treadway withdrew from the denomination and soon attached himself to the Episcopal Church. I afterwards saw him in his robes, reading the service, and heard him deliver a discourse as a clergyman of the Church of England. In 1824 the Rev. Francis A. Ward filled the Methodist station, and at the ensuing Conference he was expelled for immorality. On his way to the Conference at Newbern in the early part of 1822, the venerable Bishop McKendree, attended by the Rev. Robert Flournoy, of Georgia, passed a night at the house of my father, James Miller, in Jones county.ROMAN CATHOLICS.
There was no house set apart by the Catholics for public worship in Newbern, the membership being too small to support an establishment on their usual scale of expense and ceremony. Attracted by a natural curiosity, and yet with motives of entire respect, I was among a number of spectators in the audience assembled at the house of Mr. Gaston on a Sabbath morning in 1822, to witness, for the first time, the form of worship peculiar to the Catholic Church. The priest who officiated, was, I think, the Rev. Mr. O'Donoho. Of the twenty persons, or thereabout, who took the consecrated wafer, kneeling, were a number of French, Spanish and Portuguese residents. There was a moral sublimity in the scene when Mr. Gaston partook of the sacrament in the midst of his Catholic brethren of foreign birth and humble pursuits. Among the communicants were Capt. Brugman and family, and Miss Eliza Finlay. Subsequently I heard the Rt. Rev. Bishop England preach in the Court-House, and also in the Presbyterian Church, in the gorgeous canonicals of his office. He was very logical and eloquent. A large golden cross was suspended from his neck. In the Spring of 1866 I reverentially stood by the tomb of this eminent prelate in the church-yard of St. Finebar, Charleston.JEWS.
There was no Synagogue in the town. The first Jew I remember to have seen was an old German trader named Davis, who in 1822 visited Newbern with jewelry, watches and articles of a similar kind, to sell. He had a very elegant dressing case which he said was manufactured for the
Emperor Napoleon, for which he asked $300, and he warranted it to contain forty ounces of silver in the finishing. I do not know that he found a purchaser. At his request I wrote several letters for him, addressed to merchants in New York, as he said he was unable to express himself in English, a fact to which I could testify from the specimen he gave me in dictation. Probably a number of Israelites resided in Newbern, engaged in traffic of some description, but whose names and localities have escaped my memory.QUAKERS.
The only members of the Society of Friends in Newbern, were the wife and daughter of my uncle Martin Miller, who lived up Pollock street in the house formerly occupied by Capt. Dempsey Wade. I have seen a number of Friends from Wayne, Randolph and other counties enjoying their hospitality. They called names without any prefix. For instance my uncle, who was a stately, grey-headed man (said by Allen Backhouse to be the exact resemblance of Gen. Washington when he visited Newbern in 1791) was styled Martin; my old aunt was called Cecilia, and my grown cousin answered to Maria, not only when addressed by the seniors, but when spoken to by the Quaker youths of fifteen and twenty. This seeming abruptness was no departure from courtesy or good breeding, in the estimation and practice of the Friends. Had they been introduced to President Monroe when he was in Newbern, in 1819, they would have called him friend James. Thee, and thou, and thine, was the language of conversation whenever their gravity would permit them to open their lips. At table they invoked a blessing in reverent silence. Their long faces and rigid solemnity of deportment seemed to evince physical suffering. Joseph Everett of Wayne county, was a rich Quaker who nominally emancipated his slaves, but contrived to obtain their labor by a system of compensation which is said to have been more profitable to him than slavery itself. Friend Joseph was in the habit of driving to Newbern every winter from 200 to 300 fat hogs, which he usually sold from 3 to 5 cents nett per pound. He was so skilled in estimating the weight of hogs on their feet, that he frequently sold without trying the scales, as all persons had confidence in his judgment and integrity. He had a son, John Everett, who was amiable and promising. I could mention other families in different counties were it necessary. My cousin Maria Miller married Samnel Hill of Randolph county, who gave freedom to her slaves, twenty or thirty in number, and sent them to Ohio. After his death she intermarried with John Martin Franks of Onslow county. By her first marriage my aunt Cecilia was the mother of James and Abner Harrison of Jones county, the latter of whom died in 1820, and the former in 1844. The widow of James Harrison, (Cassandra, my mother's sister) died in the John Stanly house in 1861, and her youngest son, John Martin Franks Harrison, late a merchant in Newbern, died at High Point in October, 1864 a refugee from his cherished home. He married a daughter of the Hon. William S. Blackledge. While on the subject of Quakers, I may notice that in
1822 a visiting lady of that sect preached in the Methodist Church in Newbern, to a large audience, the Hon. John Stanly being present. A few years previously the Rev. Lorenzo Dow occupied the same pulpit. Since my youth, in Newbern, I have become better acquainted with the Friends elsewhere, especially in Philadelphia, and this additional knowledge has caused me to entertain the highest respect for their opinions and character.TOWN OFFICERS.
The intendant was David Shackelford, who, with a half dozen commissioners, formed the police government. I do not recollect the names of the commissioners. Stephen B. Forbes was city clerk, to the best of my remembrance, and James McMain, city constable.REPRESENTATIVES IN THE LEGISLATURE.
In 1822 there was a very animated canvass, F. L. Hawks being defeated by Edward E. Graham, his competitor for town representative, and R. D. Spaight succeeded over John Stanly for the Senate, owing mainly, it was believed, to a hand-bill issued by the latter, declaring that through five hundred gallons of liquor was started against him he would not treat, as was then customary in elections. At night there was a procession with music and illuminated banners. On one of the latter Mr. Stanly was represented as stricken down by the Goddess of Liberty, who held a drawn sword over him. After the street parade there was a great abundance of punch given to the public at the residence of Mr. Spaight. John M. Bryan and James C. Cole were elected Representatives for the county. In 1823 Mr. Stanly, and 1824 Mr. Gaston, was elected borough representatives.COUNTY OFFICERS.
I was present in the court-house when James C. Cole was elected Sheriff by the Justices of the Peace, the Hon. John Stanly among the number, who voted for Mr. Cole. The latter gentleman married Miss Kittie Sneed, a half-sister of Dr. James G. Rowe. James G. Stanly was Clerk of the County Court, and Claiborne Ivey chairman of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, whiel, tribunal consisted of Justices of the Peace, and who were addressed by the lawyers as “Your Worships.” The names of the Clerk of the Superior Court, Tax Collector and Coroner have slipped my memory.BANKS.
At the time of his sndden death on the fourth of February, 1819, Jas. McKinley was President of the Bank of Newbern. John Stanly was elected his successor. Marcus Cicero Stephens was the cashier, and Juo. W. Guion was the teller. Among the officers of the Bank was Alexander Henderson, whom I saw in 1840 on a visit to his son-in-law, Dr. Robert H. Dalton,
of Livingstone, Alabama. Lieut. Henderson, who perished in the massacre of Dade's command by the Indians in Florida, in 1835, was a son of Wm. Henderson. Samuel Gerock, senior, a gentleman of the olden school, who wore knee breeches and cocked hat, was a book-keeper in the Bank.
Of the branch of the State Bank, John M. Roberts was cashier and James Carney teller; Charles Dewey and Frederick J. Jones were bookkeepers. Mr. Roberts married a daughter of John Jones, Mr. Dewey married Miss Webber, and Mr. F. J. Jones married Hannah, only daughter of Col. James Shine, of Jones county. Mr. Dewey's beautiful penmanship was first known to me by his entries in the hand-books furnished depositors, stating their account in Bank.HOTELS.
1. The Washington Hotel, near the market, was owned and kept by Mr. Joseph Bell. He had a number of regular boarders, besides a large transient custom. The family name of his wife was Slade, which accounts for the name of their oldest son, Samuel Slade Bell, who graduated at the State University in the class of 1823. He had another grown son, Washington Lovett Bell, and two grown daughters, Nancy and Drusilla. The last time I saw Mr. Bell and his family was about the year 1841, in Mobile, where they then resided.
2. Mitchell's Hotel, on the corner opposite the old Episcopal church, was a good deal patronized. Three of the sons of the proprietor, Jacob, Charles and Harry Mitchell, removed to Alabama, where they acquired wealth. One of Mr. Wm. Mitchell's daughters married Dr. Loomis, and another married Basil Orme, of Trenton, who drowned himself in Hatch's mill-pond. Robert V. Orme, of the house of Devereaux, Chester & Orme, and William Orme, merchant at Trent bridge, were brothers of Basil Orme.
3. Moore's Hotel, kept by Wallace Moore, at the head of Broad street, was a popular resort for farmers, and other members of the community who preferred quiet accommodations, with a slight reduction of the usual charges. After the death of Mr. Moore, the house was continued by his son, Lovick Green Moore, who married Miss Nancy Hazzard, of Trenton. His oldest sister, Miss Sarah, removed with him to Alabama. The other sister, Eliza, married Joshua B. Oliver, son of James Oliver, sr., who lived across the bay opposite Newbern. Samuel Moore was the youngest brother.
The rates of the hotels in Newbern fifty years ago, and within a somewhat later period, were: $12.50 per month for board and lodging, and $10 for board alone. To transient persons the charges were $1.50 for man and horse-feeding; $1 for man alone; 30 cents a single meal, and 10 cents for lodging. Horse fed, 75 cents per day, or 30 cents for a single feed.MARKET.
There was a large quantity of produce from the country offered each
morning (except on Sundays] at the Market House. Corn and meal varied from 40 to 50 cents per bushel; flour, $5 to $6 per barrel; pork 4 to 6 cents per pound; beef. from 5 to 7 cents; bacon, 8 to 10; chickens, 20 cents each; turkeys, from 50 to 75 cents, and for extra large, 10 cents per pound; butter, 15 to 20 cents; eggs, 10 cents per dozen, and other articlos in like proportion. The stalls were kept regularly supplied with butchers’ meat of different kinds by Wallace Moore and others who had slaughter-pens in the vicinity. Fish were also in abundance; large white shad often at 10 cents a pair, and fresh oysters at 50 cents per gallon. At the wharf, oysters in the shell usually sold at 20 to 30 cents per bushel, at which rates almost every country cart and wagon carried home a quantity. No market in the State was better furnished, generally, and in no town was living so cheap to those who practiced a judicious economy. The house keepers of Newbern were noted for comfort and plenty at all times, and for a liberal hospitality.CUSTOM HOUSE.
The entry and clearances of shipping formed an important item. Francis Hawks was the Collector, and kept his office on Pollock street. He was the father of the distinguished Dr. F. L Hawks, and also of the Rt. Rev. Cicero S. Hawks, since Bishop of the Diocese of Missouri, and of the Rev. Wm. N. Hawks, Rector of the Episcopal church in Columbus, Ga. In 1822 one of the daughters of Mr, Francis Hawks married Walker Anderson, of Hillsboro, who removed to Florida, and whose sons acted with distinguished gallantry in the late war between the States. I am inclined to believe that Mr. Taylor, brother of James F. Taylor, and Mr. Wilkins, were officers in the Custom House.APOTHECARIES.
The principal establishment for the sale of drugs and medicines was owned by Dr. Elias Hawes, when I went to Newbern in 1822. That Fall he brought with him from the North a gentleman, Dr. Sanders, who suceeeded him in business. Dr. Sanders married Miss Drusilla Bell. After his death she removed to Alabama, where I saw her in 1845—her bachelor brother, S. S. Bell, residing in her family. It was common for practicing physicians in Newbern to keep their own medicine in a shop for the purpose, and to sell in small quantities when persons preferred buying of them, to ensure a genuine article. Dr. Hawes was a very active and useful man, and after he retired from the drug store he was appointed by the County Court to superintend the poor house in the vicinity.MERCHANT TAILORS.
1. Charles Stewart had the largest establishment of any merchant tailor in town, constantly employing a number of journeymen and apprentices. A daughter of Mr. Stewart married Major Cook, and for awhile business was carried on under the firm of Stewart & Cook.
After the death of his wife, Mr. Cook removed to Alabama, and in 1836-’40 was in mercantile partnership with Thomas W. Kornegay, son of Robert Kornegay, of Trenton. Mr. Stewart had several grown daughters, all of whom, with himself, were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
2. Spencer P. Willis and George W. Dixon, just out of their apprenticeship, formed a connection in 1824 under the style of Willis & Dixon, and had quite a run of patronage. They were good workmen, prompt and faithful in the execution of jobs. Mr. Dixon married Miss Antoinette Hunt, and I think had a large share of public favor for many years. He was a member of the Methodist Church.
3. John Lewis Durand worked in his shop opposite the Bank of Newbern. He was a sedate man, very rarely seen in any promiscuous crowd where light and jovial conversation was carried on. He employed skilful journeymen, and always delivered faithful work and fashionable styles to his customers. Mr. Durand was much respected for his personal qualities.JEWELLERS.
1. Col. Nathan Tisdale carried on the watch repairing business, and was a gentleman of great reading and intelligence. He was commander of the Fort at Beacon's Island, near Portsmouth, in the war of 1812-14, where hundreds of soldiers died from exposure, and where nearly all the rest of the garrison had their constitutions ruined. Col. Tisdale had several daughters, one of whom, I believe, married Jacob Gooding, and another became the second wife of Stephen B. Forbes. His son, Joseph W. Tisdale, was clerk in Mr. Gooding's store, and in addition to his elegant penmanship, he was very expert in making bales and boxes. The pews in the Episcopal Church were numbered by his pencil in the first style of art. Col. Tisdale, with his sons Joseph and Nathan, and several unmarried daughters removed to Mobile, where I saw them about 30 years ago.
2. Thomas W. Machen, had a shop for similar work, and for the sale of articles of jewelry. He was very industrious and regular in his habits. His son, Henry D. Machen, was a young gentleman of intelligence and of great propriety of deportment.
3. Allen Fitch, near the market, was an ingenious man, and prided himself on his literary attainments. I think he was from the North, and a relative of Mr. Fitch of Pennsylvania, who, many years before Robt. Fulton applied steam as a motive power, gave specimens of success in that line, and predicted the triumph of steam in the propulsion of machinery. Mr. Fitch was inclined to solitude, or at least he manifested no taste for society. He married a sister of Miss Louisa Morning and of William H. Morning.
4. Nathaniel Waples, a gaily dressed widower and fashionable man, came from Philadelphia in 1822, and lived at the Washington Hotel several months before he indicated his artizan qualifications as a watchmaker. He opened an office seemingly for the mere employment of his
time, and afterwards married Maria, the heiress of Edmund Mumford, a wealthy citizen of Jones. Mr. Waples had seen the world extensively, and was quite interesting in his social relations. His second wife was a most exemplary, refined and gentle lady, Miss Susan Green, a daughter of Dr. —— Green, of “Green Hall,” Craven county.CABINET MAKERS.
1. Gabriel M. Rains had the largest Cabinet works in town. His son, John Rains, graduated at Chapel Hill in 1823, and studied law, and his sons, Gabriel and George, (since both Generals) completed a course as cadets at the West Point Military Academy. Of the other members of his family I have no knowledge, although I believe he had two daughters besides the sons above mentioned. Gen. Gabriel Rains joined the Confederate army in the late war, still lives in South Carolina, and is the inventor of the “torpedo” system of warfare, which should insure him an immense fortune, and for which Russia and some other foreign countries have been negotiating with him. He is also the inventor of other warlike systems, one of which he calls the “Peacemaker,” as it must, if carried into operation, command and control opposing armies. The world will learn more anon of the deep researches of this man of science; it is hoped that the knowledge will be acquired soon enough to inure to the benefit of the deeply-thinking soldier and engineer. Gen'l George Rains, a brother of the above, who was also a graduate of West Point, and who quitted the U. S. service for that of the Confederate States, was a brave and gallant soldier, and extremely useful during the war in the manufacture of powder in Augusta, Ga., exemplifying clearly that “the boy is father to the man,” for as a mere boy, his mother was wont to say of him, “George is certainly one of the best of sons, but I can't keep the boy decent; he burns up with his ‘chemicals,’ as he calls them, the best clothing I can have made for him. I never feel sure that he has a single suit not in holes.” Gen. George Rains is still an honored citizen of Augusta, and there are perhaps in the whole land few men who are more exemplary, and more intellectual than Generals Gabriel and George Rains.
2. Mr. Louis Oliver was also a cabinet maker, but on a smaller scale, doing most of the work himself, which work exhibited skill and fidelity. He was somewhat advanced in years, and had a son who passed considerable time at the North, learning the art of shaving and hair cutting, who, after his return, opened a shop in Newbern. He was the first white man I ever saw acting in the capacity of a barber.CARRIAGE MAKERS.
1. Robert Hay, an elderly gentleman, had a shop near the site of the Colonial Governor's Palace, for the manufacture of vehicles of all sorts—chairs, gigs, coaches and wagons. I have seen much of his work in use, which was generally approved. He was a pions man, an Elder, and a regular attendant on the services of the Presbyterian church. A more devout
or better man than Robert Hay has scarcely lived on earth. Leading a life of hard manual labor, his thoughts and communings seemed always to be of Heaven. And there was nothing of the Pharisee about him, although he continually spoke to the most worldly, even to infidels who visited his work-shop, (and all, from highest to lowest, loved to visit Father Hay), of “the dear Savior who gave his life for our sins,” of “that blessed Mary who chose the blessed part,” of “John, that gentle, favored man, beloved of Christ,” of “Peter, the sad, presumptuous wight, depending on his own righteousness, which was but filthy rags!” One characteristic anecdote of this good and honest man occurs to the writer. In his old age, the earnings of his life of industry were swept from him to pay the debts of a brother-in-law, an insolvent bank officer. A leading lawyer of Newbern, grieved, as were all men there, at this catastrophe to a man so blameless, visited Mr. Hay, at his work-shop, where, bent with age, his face furrowed with care, and hair whitened by the snows of perhaps eighty winters, the good old Christian still wrought on, day by day. Greeting him sympathisingly, the lawyer exclaimed: “This will never do, Mr. Hay. Your house must be saved; you cannot be turned out homeless in your old age, without a shelter for your family. We must devise ways and means to save your house, if nothing more.” Leaning upon his implements of toil, with bent head and deeply thoughtful, the old man suddenly turned his face, full of emotion, towards his friend, exclaiming, in his strong Scotch accent: “Weel, George, my mon, save my hoose if ye can, George; but, mon, save my conscience first!” How many in this age would utter such sentiments?
2. Samuel Gerock, jr., was also engaged in this branch of manufacturing, and I believe connected a blacksmith-shop with his establisment, where most of the carriage springs and particular work came under his own inspection in the process. His younger brother was named Clarles.
3. John W. Chadwick carried on the same business, confining himself mainly to making family carriages and fine gigs, which he painted and finished with considerable skill. His work compared favorably with that of Northern shops.MASTER BUILDERS.
1. Martin Stevenson occurs most readily as one of the leading mechanics of Newbern. He was much employed in the construction of fine dwellings and offices where a great deal of ornament was necessary. He was prompt, skilful and industrious, and highly respected. James C. and Martin Stevenson, jr., were his sons.
2. Mr. John Dewey, father of Charles, superintended, if he did not personally work at the carpenter's trade, and possibly he connected with it the manufacture of cabinet articles. I know that he was usefully engaged in the mechanic arts, and that he maintained a good reputation.
My recollection of the other carpenters and builders in town is too indistinct to enlarge the list.
1. Joshua Mitchell was a brick mason, and as master workman made many of the brick houses and chimneys erected in town. He had a large family, consisting of his wife and four sons and seven daughters, all of whom attained man and womanhood, and some are still living. Alexander was not a son of either Alexander, the elder brother of Joshua, or of the latter, but of a yonnger brother, Elisha. Joshua and Elisha married sisters, daughters of Joshua Willis, of Swift Creek, in Craven county. Isaac C. Patridge married Elizabeth, third daughter of Joshua, who died at Chapel Hill in 1872, leaving two sons and a daughter, Gales and Isaac and Sarah. Gales is dead, Isaac has disappeared from the view of his relatives, and Sarah still lives and resides at Chapel Hill.
2. Bennett Flanner was among the leading men of his line, and completed the new Episcopal church edifice in 1824. He was bold, fearless and persevering. He moved on the scaffolding high in the air, apparently with as much indifference as if standing on the pavement below. I saw him stand erect nearly a half hour on the apex of the steeple, not less than 150 feet high, with no other surface of support than the twenty or thirty inches diameter on which his feet rested. Mr. Flanner afterwards removed to Wilmington, where I saw him in 1858. His son, Joseph Flanner, killed Dr. Wilkins in a duel. The affair, I learn, originated in no personal malice, but was entirely the result of political influences.HOUSE PAINTERS.
Though I have seen a number of persons, with brush in hand, painting houses in Newbern, all their names have vanished from my memory except that of William Charlotte, who lived at the head of Pollock street. In my tenth year I saw Mr. Charlotte painting the fine new mansion of Col. James Shine, in Jones county, in which he entertained President Monroe and suit in 1819, including the Hon. John C. Calhoun, then Secretary of War.GUN SMITHS.
Upton Smith was the only workman of this class whose name occurs to me. He was a Northern man, and seemed to understand the business. He proved very useful to persons in the country, as well as to city sportsmen, in repairing locks and other injuries to their fowling-pieces.MACHINISTS.
Charles Roach was by far the most skilful artizan in town. He was the son of an Englishman, and born on Swift Creek, with a head and physiognomy of striking cast, very much resembling the busts of Shakespeare. There was nothing in the most delicate machinery which his genius could not accomplish. He made and repaired all kinds of locks,
from a valise to a bank. It has been said that merely for amusement he used to pick the locks of a night, and next morning the officers would find the doors of the bank open, with old Roach standing guard, and with polite saluation, assuring them that nothing inside had been touched, which proved to be the fact, although Roach had a bad moral character, and was frequently put in jail for receiving stolen goods and trading with slaves. He was a fine landscape painter, and would copy any object from nature with wonderful accuracy. Had better principles influenced his life, and had he applied himself to higher aims, there is no telling what his marvellous faculties might have achieved for the good of mankind. But he had chosen to degrade himself, and his name was coupled with infamy. He was an object of terror to all who were acquainted with his character and exploits; yet in his ordinary deportment he appeared to be the gentlest and most inoffensive of all human beings, while his large black eyes glistened like diamonds, and the expression of his mouth indicated the pleasure which he felt in mysteriously annoying men beyond redress.SADDLERS.
1. Daniel Shackelford had an extensive tannery, and a number of workmen employed in manufacturing saddles and harness. His store was near the market, and his sales were large, owing to the variety and faithful character of his work. He was for many years chief magistrate of the city. By his first marriage with Miss Ernul he had several grown children, when in 1824 he found a second companion in Miss Minerva, daughter of Lott Humphrey, of Onslow county, a son of whom, Lott Humphrey, Jr., afterwards married Mary, the eldest daughter of Mr. Shackelford, and removed to Tennessee. The principal clerk and agent of Mr. S. in his large business, was Brice Battle, who was fond of literature, and excelled in mathematics. He married Miss Dudley in the vicinity, and removed to Alabama.
2. John Templeton occupied the corner opposite the State Bank, where he carried on the saddle and harness manufacture. He was a jolly, fat, red-faced Irishman, and quite a wag in his disposition, expending his wit and humor with decided success in company. He had a very efficient English foreman named Hutchinson, whose wife superintended a neat confectionery opposite the Washington Hotel. Mr. Templeton's favorite toast, in the days when “toddy” was frequently offered—(and yet there was but little drunkenness in the land,) was “here's to all our absent friends, at home and abroad, present or elsewhere.” A great source of pleasure to him was to fill the pockets of his broad, squaretail coat, with oranges, confectioneries, &c., and when he met his favorites among the little school-girls on the street, he would “to the right-about-face,” turn his back, and busy little hands were soon rummaging in said deep pockets, bringing to light the palatable treasures. There was, of course, no more popular citizen, among the juveniles, than the kind-hearted Irishman.
James Riggs manufactured hats opposite the Bank of Newbern, and was proprietor of the only establishment of the kind in town. I remember seeing large quantities of skins at his door, such as beaver, otter, mink and raccoon. Forty or fifty years ago silk hats had not been introduced, and all genteel coverings for the head were wrought of fur material. Even the ladies adorned their heads in winter with beautiful fur or plush bonnets.BOOT-MAKERS.
1. Adam Scott was engaged in the boot and shoe manufacture, and turned out handsome, substantial work. He had a son named Oscar. His daughter, Amauda Melvina Fitzallen, married Andrew H. Richardson, a member of the Legislature.
2. Elijah Scott, brother of Adam, followed the same occupation, and his work was equally popular. He had several beautiful danghters who were very much respected and admired. Brice Scott, his son, was a clerk in the store of T. McLin.
3. Francis Alexander kept a shoe store, though I have no certain recollection of his carrying on the manufacture. He married Miss Nancy Bell. He had a brother named Enoch who, I believe, assisted in the store. John G. Willis was a boot maker, just out of his apprenticeship, who I presume set up for himself. A man named Hutchins also worked at the trade. I remember his son, a sprightly lad, who was educated by some benevolent persons, and I have understood that his future talents and culture fully justified the kindness.SAIL MAKERS.
The shipping in port required sails to be made, adjusted and repaired, all of which was under the direction of Lucas Benners Heritage, a gentleman of religious character, who in my presence committed to the flames the first copy of Paine's “Age of Reason” I had seen, which he had found on the table of a young friend in whose spiritual welfare he took an interest. Mr. Heritage married Miss Eliza, daughter of Rev. Rufus Wiley, a Methodist preacher.FAMILY GROCERS.
1. Bothic Campbell Gillespie, a Scotchman, had a store near the market for the sale of sugar, coffee, tea, molasses and articles of prime necessity to housekeepers. I learned the alphabet under his tuition when in 1810 he taught school in Jones county, where he married Mrs. Penelope Hargett.
After her death he removed to Newbern and engaged in business. His second marriage was with Mrs. Lane. He had a nephew at school with me, Dr. James G. Rowe who married in Charleston a daughter of Judge William Johnson of the Supreme Court of the United States, and
removed to Alabama, where he died in 1863, aged 58 years. Mr. Gillespie was pious and kind hearted, though very grave and somewhat austere in his deportment. He was a member of the Methodist Church, in which he held official relations.
2. Allen Backhouse (pronounced Backus) also kept a store near the market, stocked with articles for family use. He was a half-brother of Mrs. Chapman. His son, John A. Backhouse, went to Mr. Hutton's school when I did, and was a youth of great intellectual promise. He was an orator from his boyhood. After graduating at the University in 1830, he entered the ministry.
3. James A. McMain, in addition to the office of Town Constable, exercised the vocation of a merchant in the sale of family articles. He was a tall, muscular, well formed man, and kept his handsome portrait where it could be seen by persons visiting his store. He was good natured and popular. There was a corporation tax on dogs, which required the constable to kill all the canine species who were found in the street without collars furnished by the Treasurer. By this regulation I have seen many fine dogs, from the Newfoundland to the common Spaniel perish under the club of the constable as with his strong left hand he inflicted the penalty of the law in open market, and elsewhere.
4. Mr. Jones, near the market, was represented by his wife, (who had children named Morris by a former marriage.) She did the purchasing of produce and articles in the market, and the drumming for customers, and officiated as principal behind the counter,—Mr. Jones acting as chief-clerk to his more active companion. Their son, Alfred Jones, was a Methodist.
5. Captain Wicker was also represented by his wife in the same vicinity. He was at home only during the intervals between his voyages at sea. Their grown son, William, was something of a beau in his dress, and quite pompous in his walk. All this was a mere matter of taste, without in the least degree impeaching his moral worth. I was then inclined to admire the grand carriage of Mr. Wicker, junior, as he was so full of vitality and self-approbation.
6. William Duncan belonged to the market group of operators. Besides keeping up his provision establishment, he was a note shaver whose profits may be inferred by his exacting a discount of twenty-five per cent on ninety days paper well endorsed. Persons in distress for money at particular times yielded to his rates, and no fraud was imputed to him. Of course he flourished in his finances.
7. George A. Hall, James C. Stevenson, Daniel Jackson, Henry Dewey and Charles Slover were severally in trade, but whether in the dry goods line, or as family grocers, I do not remember. The names of a few dealers near the wharf, and also in the upper part of the city, I never ascertained, or have forgotten.
8. Nathaniel Street, Sr., had a store in which he kept the leading articles for family consumption. He was the father of John Street, the lawyer, of William R. Street and Samuel Street, the latter of whom owned a bridge across Neuse river known by his name. He had a son,
Nathaniel Street, Jr., who was a cadet at the West Point Military Academy. Mr. William R. Street married a sister of James Saunders.BOARDING HOUSES.
Although it is quite probable that several housekeepers took private boarders, I cannot recall but one—Mrs. Conner, who resided between Justice's corner and the dwelling of Mr. Lamotte, on Pollock street. One of her permanent boarders was Mr. Kay, a Scotch gentleman, whose employment I have forgotten. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church; and a story is told of him, that at a prayer meeting, while leading the devotions, he suddenly paused in the midst of his prayer, when it was discovered that he had accidentally blown out the candle by which he was reading his beautiful petition. At one time Mrs. Conner had a class of boarders who, though of very decent behavior, were not usually given to religious observances; several of the actors of Mr. Herbert's Theatrical Company in 1823, having become members of her family for the time being, among whom was Mrs. Waring, the perfection of youth and beauty on the stage. As I passed the door of Mrs. Conner daily, I had the opportunity of seeing the popular actress unpainted. Her artificial charms had entirely vanished.
James Barney, near the county wharf, kept a house of entertainment for sea-faring people, whose boisterous merriment, and good natured, singular phrases afforded amusement to passers-by, except when these sons of Neptune quaffed too freely the fumes of Bacchus. On such occasions they often had to be quieted by the police. Mr. Barney was a droll wit himself, and knew well how to manage his noisy guestsFRUIT SHOPS.
A number of persons, mostly foreigners, had shops for the sale of West India fruits. As I never had occasion to know much about them personally, all their names have perished from my memory, except that of Antonio, an Italian, who kept a handsome sail-boat which he was in the habit of hiring to pleasure parties. In this way I formed his acquaintance. After I left Newbern he killed a Mr. Johnson and was executed for murder. Poor Antonio had deep blue eyes, a lively and expressive face, and was obliging to patrons. The stiletto, so much used by his countrymen in passion or revenge, proved his ruin.
RECOLLECTIONS OF NEWBERN FIFTY YEARS AGO.
Continued from Page 352.STEAM MILLS.
The first steam mill erected at Newbern, or in its vicinity, was that of William Shepard, who is said to have applied to this object his share of the valuable cargo of a British merchant ship captured as a prize in the war of 1812 by the celebrated privateer “Snap Dragon,” commanded by Captain Otway Burns, in which vessel Mr. Shepard was a large share holder. His mill was situated on the Trent, about one mile from the Court House. It was worked prosperously until a rival establishment, on a larger scale, sprung up at Union Point, where the Neuse and Trent rivers come together, which proved a great public accommodation, as well as a source of liberal income to the owner, Frederick Neasted, a very enterprising German. I once saw Captain Burns on his way to Raleigh, as a Representative from Carteret county. At the close of the epitaph on the monument over the remains of Mr. Shepard, are these words—
- “How silent the sleep of death!
- How low the pillow of dust!”
Claiborne Ivey, presiding Justice of the Quorum, was also public surveyor, and had the reputation of skill in his employment. John Street had qualified himself, by diligent study and practice to execute any description of land surveys that might be required. After I had prepared myself in Trigonometry and the usual branches of Navigation and Surveying, I took private instruction from Mr. Street, which enabled me to manage the compass and field notes for that gentleman in a most intricate survey of about three thousand acres of land on Swift Creek, embracing several water courses where triangulation was necessary. This work was performed in the summer of 1824. I calculated the area by latitude and departure, purposely avoiding the more convenient, but less accurate method of using Gunter's scale. When I was on the eve of leaving Newbern for Georgia, Mr. Street was kind enough to hand me the following paper:
“This is to certify that Stephen F. Miller having prosecuted and completed the study of surveying (both theory and practice) under my direction, I believe him to be a good and accurate surveyor.
Newbern, N. C., October 29th, 1824.”
With this certificate to introduce me, I was fully of opinion that it would make my fortune in Georgia, as fresh domains of land were acquired
from the Indians for distribution and settlement. But circumstances prevented an offer of service, and after the lapse of forty-nine years, disease has obliterated my early skill, and I am now in a measure incapable of working out the necessary tables as a surveyor.MILLINERS.
Mrs. Tisdale, wife of the Colonel, contributed the ingenuity of her needle to the service of her lady patrons, and usually kept a handsome supply of articles in the millinery line. Mrs. McLin (widow) had a similar establishment, and I believe Mrs. Conner added to her boarding house cares her skill as a mantua-maker. At all events the fashions were well maintained in Newbern, as the ladies were fine examples of taste and propriety in dress.THEATRE.
The first performance I ever witnessed was in the Newbern Theatre, when in 1823 Herbert's dramatic company gave a series of representations. The actors whose names I remember were Messrs. Herbert, Sr., J. Herbert, Hutton, Page, Drummond and Richards, and the lady performers were Mrs. Waring and Mrs. Hutton. Mr. Herbert played Richard III, and was quite successful in genteel comedy in the character of an old man. His son, J. Herbert excelled in low comedy. Mr. Hutton wrs stately in “Virginius,” and in dignified situations, especially as a Roman Senator. Mr. Page sustained his character handsomely, and was a good singer. I can never forget the melody of “Those evening bells.” Mr. Drummond was most effective in gay scenes, representing fast young men, and Mr. Richards was exquisite as “Billy Fribble.” In Goldsmith's admired comedy, “She Stoops to Conquer,” Mrs. Waring made a brilliant display as widow Cheerly. Mrs. Hutton exhibited good judgment and fidelity to nature in her personations of an elderly dame. Such, I think, is a just outline of the leading qualities of each player. Thomas A. Pasteur, a graduate of West Point, who commanded the “Newbern Guards,” derived so much pleasure from seeing Mrs. Waring on the stage, that he followed her to Charleston to feast upon her dramatic exhibitions. The last I heard of him, he edited a paper in Washington, Georgia.
There was a Thespian Society in Newbern, composed of young men whose representations I also witnessed. In the “Honey Moon,” James W. Bryan did full justice to the young Duke Avanza, in the costume of a Spanish cavalier. In the play or in the afterpiece, Alexander F. Gaston sustained a character in knee-breeches. Persons who have seen the figure of thts gentleman, stooped in the shoulders, yet six feet and four inches high and his knees bent inward, can well imagine the comic effect he produced on the audience. It was the climax of the entertainment. John Rains was admirable as “Caleb Quotem.” The other characters I have forgotten.
In the upper part of town, the brothers John Jones and Frederick Jones each had turpentine distilleries which turned out large quantities of naval storss. When the wind passed over them, the atmosphere in the vicinity was pleasant and refreshing from the odors exhaled as the stills were emptied of their boiling contents, and the pure rosin remained in solution.
As a personal reminiscence, I may add, that George L. Jones, son of F. Jones, was a pupil of Mr. Hutton's school where I took lessons in mathematics, The last time I saw him was about twenty-five years ago in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where his mother-in-law, Mrs. Clitherall, then resided. After his death his widow married Mr. John M. Battle of Mobile, whose first wife was her sister.LAW STUDENTS.
During several years, with more or less constancy, several young gentlemen were engaged in a course of reading in Mr. Gaston's law office some of whose names I remember, viz: John Rains, Edward G. Pasteur, Samuel S. Bell, Spyers S. Smith and Alexander F. Gaston. I am not certain that Bryan S. Croom belonged to the law-class. He was much in their company, and his taste, like theirs, was quite convivial.
John Rains removed to Alabama where he married Miss Bondurant, of a French family, and was several years a Senator from Marengo county in the Legislature, acquiring for himself a high reputation in debate. His life was closed in its meridian, in 1839.
Alexander F. Gaston married Eliza, a highly educated, beautiful and accomplished young lady, daughter of Dr. Hugh Jones. After marriage the lovers were settled on a rich plantation remote from city influences. The young wife became an admirable manager, sold the crops, laid in supplies, and by water-craft visited Newbern on business whenever necessary.
After the death of his first wife he removed to Burke county, in the mountains, where he formed a second marriage. He has been dead many years.
E. G. Pasteur, son of Abner Pasteur, was sober, studious and exemplary, and was for many years Judge of the county court of Greene county, Alabama.
P. S. Bell, though not a toper, never applied himself with energy to any business, and, if living, is no doubt a dried up bachelor in spite of his social disposition.
Of Spyers Singleton Smith I have heard nothing within the last forty years. So far as I know he was not addicted to open intemperance.
There was no competition, and the courteous Salmon Hall had the entire market to himself. He kept the usual variety of books, in which the trade was somewhat active. He had a “Circulating Library,” volumes from which he allowed to be taken away for a specified time at the rate of five or ten cents for perusal. The first novel I ever read was “Bracebridge Hall,” by Irving, which I obtained from this library in 1822. Mr. Hall had a son named William, who, I think succeeded his father in business.LITERARY MEN.
Several gentlemen in Newbern deserve notice under this head, especially Hardy B. Croom and Stephen M. Chester, who carried on a newspaper controversy on some moral topic with the elegance of scholarship and the dignity of gentlemen. Mr. Croom was the son of Gen. William Croom, of Lenoir, and graduated at the State University in 1816. He married a daughter of Nathan Smith, a wealthy citizen of Newbern. In 1837, while returning with his wife and two daughters from New York, where the latter had just completed their education, they all perished on the steamer Home in a gale off Cape Hatteras. A law suit lingered in the courts fifteen or twenty years, was the consequence of this calamity, which left no lineal heir to a very large estate. The main question was, Who survived the other, Mr. Croom or his wife? If he survived for even one minute, the inheritance was cast on his next of kin; and if she survived, all the property which she brought to her husband on marrïage would enure to her next of kin, the Smith family. As to the fact of survivorship the testimony was not conclusive. The last that was seen of Mr. Croom and his family group on the wreck, he was standing motionless as a statue, his wife clinging to his neck, and his daughters clasping his knees in the agony of despair. The next wave carried them all overboard together, and they disappeared from view. On the part of Mr. Croom's kindred the argument was advanced that as he was physically the stronger party, it was natural to conclude that he held out the longest while struggling in the sea. On the other hand it was contended, that from the buoyancy of her dress, the wife remained afloat beyond the strength of her husband, who had been for many years in feeble health, and of a consumptive habit. The case was tried in Florida, where Bryan S. Croom, brother of the whole blood, resided in charge of the property. The decree or judgment was taken up by a writ of error to Supreme Court, and in the course of the proceedings I believe the litigation was compromised—on what terms I am unable to state. My impression is, that the deceased gentleman was bred to the law. If so, his fine talents and acquirements would no doubt have secured him a high position at the Bar, had not his ample fortune and delicate health rendered the profession irksome to his genius, and induced him to forego that sphere of
ambition. His walk in society was that of a hightoned and chivalrous gentleman.
His antagonist, Mr. Chester, who in newspaper controversy was different in many respects, yet not the less worthy in all the essentials of character, has been already noticed as a merchant.LEADERS OF SOCIETY.
While I have adopted this title to indicate a certain line of charaeter which must necessarily exist in all communities, I am somewhat at a loss to apply it to Newbern where there was so much general respectability. I will venture, however, to mention a few individuals who, more than forty years ago, were prominent in fashionable life, and wielded much social influence.
To begin with the ladies, I find myself drawn to Miss Caroline Chapman and the two Misses Graham, who were equally conspicuous in all the advantages of person and accomplishments which give precedence. The style they maintained was rather in advance of any other single ladies. The equipage of Mrs. Asa Jones was perhaps more costly, and her dressing was in proportion; but of course she did not aspire to any conquest, and only preserved the exterior dignity of wealth. The daughters of Mr. Gaston were then from home at school, and Mr. Stanly's only daughter was married, and resided in Virginia. Several other families furnished handsome and intelligent young ladies. Miss Chapman married Mr. Waring, a merchant of New York.
Of the gentlemen then unmarried, whom I may designate as leaders of society, were R. D. Spaight, F. L. Hawks, George Pollock Devereux and S. M. Chester. There were others as worthy, and perhaps not second in intelligence, who had not so good an opportunity to assert their claims to attention. There was no contest for leadership by individuals, and each was arranged in the social scale according to merit and the force of circumstances.DUELLING TRADITIONS.
1. In 1783, Gen. Richard Dobbs Spaight was a member of the Continental Congress; in 1785 he was Speaker of the House of Commons’ in 1787, as a delegate he signed the Federal Constitution; in 1788, he was a member of the ratifying Convention; in 1792, he was elected Governor of the State, and in 1798-1800, he was a Representative in Congress when the Alien and Sedition Laws were passed under the administration of John Adams. In 1802, Gen. Spaight and John Stanly took opposite sides in the political canvass. In common with the Republican party Gen. Spaight denounced the policy of President Adams, and Mr. Stanly vindicated it, and accused Gen. Spaight of “dodging,” on pretense of sickness when the vote was taken on the objectionable measures. This led to bitter personalities in the canvass, and to a challenge which was sent by Mr. Stanly and accepted, and the duel
was fought on the same day, Sept. 5th, 1802 (a Sabbath afternoon) behind the old Masonic Hall in the outskirts of Newbern. An eye-witness (Thomas Brown, since Postmaster at Trenton) informed me that on the second fire the bullet pierced the coat collar of Mr. Stanly. On the fourth fire Gen. Spaight fell, mortally wounded and died the next day. Dr. Edward Pasteur, whom I have frequently seen, was his second on the field, and probably his surgeon. Criminal proceedings were instituted against Mr. Stanly, who, in a communication to Gov. Williams, stated the circumstances and the compulsion under which he acted, and his right to Executive clemency. I never heard of his being brought to trial. At the time the duel was fought, Gen. Spaight was perhaps not less that fifty, and Mr. Stanly was about twenty-seven years of age.
2. Of the duel in which Thomas Stanly was killed by Louis D. Henry, I have no precise information. It probably occurred about the year 1812 when Mr. Henry was not exceeding twenty-four years of age, and Mr. Stanly was perhaps not his senior. The origin of the difficulty is said to have been the playful toss by Mr. Stanly of a piece of cake across the table which fell into a cup of tea, and splashed the liquid on Mr. Henry's vest, at a party given by Mr. Gaston. A lady at the side of Mr. Henry made a thoughtless remark which aggravates the trifle between personal friends. An insult was imagined, a hasty reply given, and then followed a challenge to mortal combat which terminated fatally. On being consulted by his young brother, it is said that the Hon. John Stanly advised the hostile meeting. Mr. Henry died at Raleigh in 1846, at the age of fifty-eight years.
3. Another tragedy occurred in which Richard Stanly, brother of the preceding gentlemen, also perished by the code of honor. The name of his antagonist, if I ever heard it, has escaped me, as well as the time and place of the duel. My impression is that small swords were used, and that the fatal meeting was in one of the West India Islands. I remember that the widow of Mr. Richard Stanly resided in Newbern at the time her daughter married George W. Howard, about the year 1824. As to the pursuits or intellectual promise of the brothers Thomas and Richard Stanly, or the moral qualities of either, I have no knowledge or information. I conclude that they were pupils of the Harry Hotspur or Percy school, who needed a counsellor less impetuous than their elder brother, whose brow had been encircled by a bloody wreath of honor.
While the Hon. Edward Stanly was a member of Congress, he fought a duel with the Hon. Samuel W. Inge, a Representative from Alabama. Fortunately, neither party was injured by the exchange of shots.SWISS NOBILITY.
Baron de Graffenried from Switzerland planted a colony in Eastern North Carolina, the town of which, founded in 1709, he called “New Berne,” after the canton of Berne in his native country. Several
of his lineal descendants are living in the South. The late Dr. De Graffenried of Columbus, and Col. B. B. De Graffenried, late Mayor of Milledgeville, Georgia, and the late K. De Graffenried of Macon, belonged to this family stock. The Hon. Christopher B. Strong, of still nearer blood, was entitled to the large possessions of the Baron in Switzerland which he would probably have recovered had his claim been reported a few years earlier. A history of this claim by the late Col. Samuel T. Bailey, who visited Switzerland in 1840 to make the investigation, is given in the memoir of Judge Strong, in the second volume of “The Bench and Bar of Georgia.” I am not apprised that any families now in North Carolina trace their descent to the Baron, though I think it quite probable that such relatives exist.
While in Newbern I frequently saw the Ipocks who lived in the vicinity. They were regarded as a very obscure class of people. From their features, complexion and habits they had the appearance of Gipseys, and seemed to keep entirely to themselves, having as little communication with others as their necessities would permit. I was not aware, then, that the Ipocks belonged to the Swiss nobility who came over with the founders of Newbern. I have since been informed, however, that such is the fact, and I make this allusion for what it is worth,—the original name being Ebach in Switzerland, which has degenerated into Ipock in the marshes and brambles of Craven county.FINE ARTS.
1. In 1822 a collection of wax figures was brought to Newbern, and displayed in Broad street,—two box wagons being placed side by side, and the partitions removed. I read the bills announcing the exhibition of the fine arts, and I became a patron. The Emperors Alexander and Napoleon, King George IV, Queen Caroline, and Sir Henry Brougham her Attorney General,—the Rev. John Wesley, John Eleves, the eccentric miser, the Duke of Wellington, Empress Josephine and Maria Louisa, Andrew Jackson, and other historical personages, were listening in respectful silence to the hand organ which was grinding delightful music within, and to the anxious group of boys outside who clamored for admission. I had never before seen life size imitations of men and women dressed neatly and fashionably in broad cloth, silks, laces and ornaments proper to their rank as if living persons. To my artless mind it was quite a triumph in scientific manufacture. Many families and other persons visited the collection, which was really a good thing of its kind.
2. The next display of the “Fine Arts” was altogether different. A Spanish ship, laden with indigo, had been driven by stress of weather into the port for repairs. Many of the crew seem to have cultivated their musical faculties, and of nights perambulated the streets singing, and playing on their guitars in a strain which would have done credit to the troubadours. The words were in Spanish and Italian, and the various qualities of the voice, from the baritone to the falsetto, accompanying
a dozen guitars, formed a style of music as novel as it was pleasing to the inhabitants of the good old town of Newbern. But these entertainments were closed by a frightful tragedy. A man named Berry from a neighboring county was killed by one of the Spaniards. The offender was committed to prison, and in due time was tried for murder. He was acquitted through the exertion of that truly great lawyer, Mr. Gaston, who appeared for him on receipt of one thousand dollars in doubloons, his fee on the occasion.
3. Departing from music an instant, I notice the visit of an accomplished miniature painter whose name, I think, was James A. Wiseman. In many families no doubt specimens of his work may be found. In his fine personal appearance, he was himself a representative of Nature's best school. He had a seat in the Presbyterian Church.
4. And now from painting I pass again to music, merely to observe that James B. Ackroyd, a skilful composer, gave lessons on tne piano and organ to the entire satisfaction of his many patrons. He was organist in the Episcopal Church, and married Miss Bettner. The last I heard of him, he was residing in Memphis, where he raised an interesting family of daughters.BEAUTIFUL WOMEN.
But one opinion has prevailed among those who have seen the ladies of Newbern—that they were exceedingly beautiful. Such I know was the fact forty or fifty years ago, the period to which I refer. When so many could be named to advantage, I will not discriminate, as comparatively few are now living to contest my opinion. One incident will dispose of this delicate question, which, though it places one lady on a high eminence, leaves the rest in the sunshine without being at all obscured by the comparison:
Thomas H. Daves had deposited 125 loads of fertilizing materials on a single acre of land in the purlieus of Newbern, which he planted in corn. The crop was truly luxuriant, and refreshing to behold. Nothing like it had been seen in that part of the country. Mr. Graham, the sound lawyer and finished gentleman, was in raptures over the growing corn which he declared, next to Mary Hall, was the most beautiful sight he ever beheld. So I pronounce on good authority, knowing the force of the complimeut, that Miss Mary Hall was the leading beauty of Newbern. The production of the acre was 13 barrels (65 bushels) which was considered without a parallel in upland agriculture. I think proper to add, that after her marriage with Mr. Webb, this admired lady became deeply pious, and that for more than twenty years her companionship has been with angels in Heaven.HANDSOME MEN.
No merit is claimed for the gentlemen I introduce under this head, on account of their advantage of person; but I refer to names for the
purpose of letting the present generation know, who, in the past, were looked upon as handsome young men in Newbern. In this connection I may specify Hamilton Graham, Alfred Stanly, George W. Howard, Bryan S. Croom, Richard N. Torrans, James W. Bryan, and Furnifold Heritage Green. My sketch of them will necessarily be brief:
1. Mr. Graham was the son of the lawyer I have frequently mentioned, and as to figure, complexion and gentility he was one of the finest specimens of young manhood. Having just returned from college, he had not engaged in any pursuit at the time I used to reside in Newbern, in 1824. What has been his career, or whether he is now living, I have no means of stating.
2. Mr. Stanly has been noticed in the sketch of his father, and I have very little in addition to remark concerning him. I formed his acquaintance slightly in 1821 on board the schooner “Collector,” Captain Francisw W. Nelson, on the passage from a Methodist camp-meeting on Adams Creek, thirty miles below Newbern. The Hon. William S. Blackledge and his family were on board. Mr. Stanly expressed a warm preference for Mr. John P. Daves who was then a competitor of Mr. Blackledge for Congress, which was natural, as his father had always been opposed to the Blackledges, who were Republicans. Mrs. B. was the daughter of Edmund Hatch who resided within six miles of Newbern. Miss Maria Hatch, the daughter of “Tennessee” Edmund Hatch, of Jones county, was also a passenger, and the young Captain of the vessel was paying her special attentions. Twenty five years afterwards I saw Captain Nelson in Alabama, who was then a grandfather, and his wife Maria a grandmother. At a later period I shared the hospitality of “Tennessee” Edmund Hatch in Mississippi. So much by way of association on the “Collector.”
3. Mr. Howard was a great admirer of John Stanly, and to the best of my impression pursued legal studies by his advice. At all events he married his niece, and I think removed to Tennessee, since which time I have entirely lost sight of him.
4. Mr. Croom had fortune and leisure at his command, and if he studied law at all, it was merely for form's sake without any desire to make it a profession. He was the centre of gay companions in high life, and freely criticised all church establishments and church people as being under the influence of superstition. He married Miss Evelina Hawks, daughter of the widow Hawks, of Newbern, and removed to Florida where he added to his property, though the settlement he was called upon to make with the Smith family somewhat diminished his revenues. He was open hearted, intelligent and agreeable in social intercourse. From Florida Mr. Croom removed to Alabama, and now resides near Montgomery.
5. Mr. Torrans was the son of an old and successful merchant, of the firm of Taggart & Torrans, who had gone out of business and had been succeeded by Mr. Simpson before my day in Newbern. All that I know of young Mr. Torrans, was in 1822, when I frequently saw him in company with his friends R. S. Croom and F. H. Green, and understand
that he had just returned from a Northern college. In person he was decidedly handsome, and from that circumstance he is named in this classification. He was reputed to be wealthy and highly cultivated; but I have never since heard of him either in business or in any of the learned professions. I think it probable that he died early in life.
6. James W. Bryan, brother of the Hon. John H. Bryan, was tall and slender and always made a fine appearance. He came to the bar after I left Newbern, having graduated in the State University in 1824 in a class of thirty-four with Thos. Bragg, afterwards Governor of the State and Senator in Congress; William A. Graham, likewise Governor, and also Secretary of the Navy; Mathias E. Manly, late a Judge of the Supreme Court, and Edward Dromgole Simms, who died in 1845 while Professor of English Literature in the University of Alabama. Mr. Bryan represented Jones county in the House of Commons in 1836. I have not heard of him in many years. I am under the impression that he removed to New York and engaged in commercial pursuits.
Mr. Green was the personification of chivalry and was as observant of the rights of others as he was tenacious of his own. I believe he was a graduate of the West Point Military Academy. He was tall and spare in person and deliberate in his movemeats, as if every word and gesture had a classical bearing. The first time I saw him was in 1821, at the wedding of his relative, Furnifold Green Herritage, who married Penelope, daughter of Richard Koonce, of Jones county. Mr. Green married Miss Laura Pearson from one of the upper counties, who was so beautiful that complimentary verses were addressed to her, through the Carolina Sentinel, on her queenly appearance in the dress circles of the Newbern Theatre. The last intelligence I had of him he commanded a government vessel stationed at the mouth of the Mississippi river, and at New Orleans, for the enforcement of the revenue laws before the war. Whether Captain Green is now living, and in service, I am not prepared to say. He was a native of North Carolina.SHIPPING.
A number of vessels belonged to the port of Newbern, mostly engaged in the coasting trade and in commerce with the West Indies. The docks were frequently filled with shipping, and business on the wharves was quite animated. I remember the names of only two schooners, the Collector, owned by Captain Dempsey Wade, and the Java, owned by Captain John D. Frion, a Frenchman. A son of the latter, bearing his exact name, removed to Wetumpka, Alabama, where he was killed by a Mr. Jennings, in 1841. His widow married D. Lyman Beecher, a lawyer of Wetumpka, whose memory was so retentive, and his faculties for imitation were so perfect, that he electrified the Tippacanoe Clubs in the Presidential canvass of 1840, by repeating almost word for word, with voice and gesture, so like the original, that persons who heard the great speech of Col. William C. Preston, at Macon,
Georgia, pronounced it a faithful counterpart. Mr. Beecher afterwards settled in New Orleans, where, in 1848, at a public dinner given to Gen. Persifer F. Smith, on his return from Mexico, he offered as a sentiment—
“The universal Smith family. Although their name is legion, the Hero of Contreras has performed deeds of valor sufficient to immortalize them all.”SHIP CHANDLERS.
It is quite probable that other merchants were in the habit of furnishing ships with stores for their voyages, and supplying other articles in the line; but I remember only the firm of J. Brown & Co., which which consisted of Jeremiah Brown and his brother Parsons Brown, whose business location was near the county wharf. They had a clerk named Jeremiah Allen. Mr. J. Brown was clerk of the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, over which Judge Henry Potter presided.SHIP MASTERS.
These gentlemen were usually excellent citizens, though some of them were stern and reserved in their manners, while others of the craft were pleasant in society, and full of wit and humor. I remember Captain Jerkins, whose son Alonzo was a promising youth, Captain Willis, who was the father of Abner D., and John G. Willis. His daughter Mary was quite handsome. And there were Captains Wade, Frion, Wicker and Brugman. The latter had retired from command. His son obtained great celebrity afterwards as a traveller in the East. I think that Captain Morris was also in the merchant service. Captain Hinkley had been disabled by a wound in the war of 1812, and received a pension from the Government. He boarded at the Washington Hotel. In 1824 I formed the acquaintance of Captain Alexander Jones, who, after an absence of twenty years had returned to Newbern on a brief visit. He was a gentleman of the older school, about sixty years of age, wore large frills in his bosom and similar ornaments on his wrists. He had commanded vessels a number of years from the port, and knew all the old merchants, of whom he gave me a history. I walked with him to several wharves, and he pointed out the changes that had taken place. He was very polite and dignified in his manners, and interesting in conversation. During his stay he called on many families, all of whom seemed gratified at his visit. Capt. Jones resided in the West Indies where he possessed a competency for old age. The only regret I heard him express concerning himself, was, that he had remained a bachelor.
WEST INDIA TRADE.
Large quantities of rum, brandy, sugar, coffee, molasses, and articles of tropical production, were imported from the West India Islands in exchange for naval stores and lumber shipped from Newbern. The retail prices varied occasionally; but the average may be stated at $1.50 per gallon for best Jamaica rum; $3 for brandy; 10 cents per pound for sugar; 14 cents for coffee; 45 cents per gallon for molasses and 50 cents per bushel for salt. Oranges, pineapples, figs, bananas, almonds, raisins, filberts, cocoanuts, &c., were in great abundance, at very moderate prices.FREE PERSONS OF COLOR.
Previous to the amended Constitution, in 1835, free persons of color were allowed in North Carolina to vote in the same manner as white men voted, for President of the United States, for Representatives in Congress, and in the General Assembly without restriction; and for the Senate on possessing the same freehold of forty acres of land which entitled a white man to vote for Senator.
I have seen Messrs. Stanly, Gaston, Hawks, Spaight, E. E. Graham, and other candidates paying special civilities to the colored voters; nothing, however, to the extent of undue familiarity. The most prominent free persons of color in Newbern were—
1. John C. Stanly, (known as Barber John, to distinguish him from the great lawyer) was originally a barber by trade, and had acquired a large property. He owned two or three plantations or farms, and a considerable number of slaves, two of whom, Brister and Boston, were skilful barbers, and kept the shop in good reputation. They were both polite and dressed neatly. Brister related the circumstance of Dr. Hugh Jones once taking his seat for a shave, and, drawing the sword from his cane, threatened that if he was cut or scratched by the razor, he would run his sword through the body of the operator. The shaving was completed without any accident. On being asked if his hand did not tremble with such danger before him, Brister replied, that he had made up his mind to save his own life by cutting the throat of Dr. Jones, if it became necessary. He also made a remark as to the peculiarity of Bishop England's beard, which I have forgotten. J. C. Stanly was a man of dignified presence, and lived in fashionable style, his sons and daughters being well educated, and always making a good appearance as bright mulattoes. No citizen of Newbern would hesitate to walk the streets with him. He was uniformly courteous and unobtrusive.
2. John Stewart Stanly, eldest son of the preceding, had a large store well stocked with goods, and transacted a heavy business. He was correct in his dealings, and customers had great confidence in his integrity.
3. John R. Green was a tailor, employing several journeymen and apprentices, who turned out a good style of work. He was much respected for his modest, unassuming behavior, though he possessed wealth enough to put on airs, had he been less deserving of public favor. He was a bright mulatto, and always dressed in the latest fashion, making his own figure an advertisement of his proficiency in the art of improving the looks of men.
4. Donum Mumford was copper-colored, and carried on the bricklaying and plastering business with slaves, a number of whom he owned. Whenever a job was to be done expeditiously, he was apt to be employed, as he could always throw upon it a force sufficient for its rapid execution. He owned a farm in the vicinity, and several houses and lots in town.
5. Sylvester Pimborton, the butcher, was in market at early dawn each morning. His stall was plenteously supplied with meats which he handled and cut with great dexterity, as he was called upon to try his scales, from one pound to one hundred. He was uniformly patient and accommodating, and always had a pleasant remark for those he served in his vocation. Besides his trade as a butcher, he was a good drummer, and on military occasions he was a conspicuous figure in the band.
There was quite a large population of the free negro class, who lived chiefly to themselves in the outskirts of the town. Some of them were industrious and inoffensive; but the greatest number were idle vagabonds who picked up a precarious living, honest or otherwise, as circumstances permitted.YANKEE INFLUENCE.
The Northern character was not so infused into the business, or schools, or churches, or society of Newbern, as to constitute any recognizable element. There were some half dozen merchants from the North, such as Mr. Lente, George Seelye, W. S. Webb and Mr. Pittman, and a small proportion of mechanics and artisans; but they all seemed to be content with our domestic regulations, and never interfered, or even expressed opinions showing that reform was necessary. At the period to which I refer there was no Yankee intermeddling with slavery, and Northern men and women were received into confidence, and admitted to all social privileges, as their moral and intellectual worth might render just and proper, without any discrimination as to nativity.NEWSPAPERS.
The Carolina Sentinel had been established many years before I became a resident of Newbern, and I had been a reader of it from my boyhood. Thomas Watson and John I. Pasteur were the editors and proprietors. The former was a mild, business gentleman who attended
to the mechanical details of the office, while his partner was a Major General of militia, and a vigorous writer. The first time any of my manuscript appeared in print, was in the Sentinel of November 21, 1831, as follows:
“Married in Jones county on 19th instant, by Benjamin Harrison, Mr. James B. Shine to Miss Rebecca Harrison, daughter of Simmons Harrison, Esq.
I had been a schoolmaster of the young couple, and I felt gratified at giving their happiness publicity, and in seeing my own words in print. Mr. Shine afterwards resided in Newbern, and thence removed to Mississippi where two or three of his sons volunteered in the Mexican war, and died in the service.
In 1822 a few numbers of the Miscellaneous Register appeared,—a very small sheet issued by Isaac Cheek Patridge, who was learning the trade of a printer in the office of the Sentinel. Several communications were inserted, one signed “Juventis,” written by Frederic S. Blount, a pupil of Mr. Atmore's academy. Two or three columns of poetry, by Allen Fitch, adorned the little Register. The publication proved troublesome to the office, and not at all remunerative, and was soon discontinued. Mr. Patridge had rendered me service in proposing my name for a clerkship, and had given other proofs of his attachment. He removed to Chapel Hill where he published the Harbinger in 1834 under the management of the students of the University. The last time I saw him was in the Summer of 1838 at the Brandon Springs. He then resided in Mississippi, and was connected with a paper published by Mr. L. A. Besancon of Natchez. In the following year he died of yellow fever. At the commencement of the late war, his son, Gen. Isaac M. Patridge, edited a paper at Vicksburg, and was subsequently an officer in the Confederate army.PLANTERS RESIDING IN TOWN.
I do not pretend to remember all the gentlemen in Newbern who owned plantations in the country. Some of their names occur to me:
1. George Pollock was among the wealthiest men of the State, owning a half dozen plantations or more, and some fifteen hundred slaves. He kept a well furnished mansion in town, in which President Monroe and his suite, including Mr. and Mrs. Calhoun, and their two children Andrew Pickens and Ann Maria, were entertained in 1819. At the public dinner given to the President, Mr. Stanly proposed—
“Our distinguished guest, the President of the United States. The laurels of his youths, unwithering as the amaranth, retain all their luxuriance amid the snows of age.”
Mr. Pollock passed his summers generally at Philadelphia and in Europe, and was probably in Newbern but once a year for a short time after having inspected his plantations and their management. It was said that the order of knighthood had been conferred on him by the
King of Great Britain, and that his true title was Sir George Pollock. As he never sought or desired office, he was not incommoded by the constitutional prohibition as to titles of honor and nobility from foreign Princes. I saw Mr. Pollock only on two occasions, once in Newbern, and at another time in his carriage on the road attended by two outriders in livery. He was a tall square built man, of striking physiognomy, and was a fine specimen of Nature's nobility, without the aid of Royal letters-patent. He was accidentally killed in 1839 at his Roanoke plantation, by a spirited horse rearing up and falling back upon him while he was in the saddle. Mr. Pollock never married. His immense property was inherited, I believe, by the Deveraux and Burgwyn families his next of kin. Connected with the visit of Mr. Calhoun to Newbern, I may remark that his son, then apparently about ten years of age, afterwards married a daughter of Gen. Duff Green, and that Anna Maria, then aged about eight years, became the wife of Mr. Clemson, late charge de Affairs to Belgium.
2. John Devereaux was the father of George P. Devereaux, merchant of Newbern, and of Thomas P. Devereaux, a lawyer of Raleigh. His wealth and dignified character had a sensible influence on society, and in business circles his name was similar to that of Rothschild in Europe. When I was a boy, he entrusted me with a package of deeds which I delivered to Thomas Spright, Register of Jones county.
3. John Fanning Burgwyn was by marriage connected with Mr. Pollock and Mr. Devereaux, and was an Englishman by birth, or of English extraction. He was somewhat haughty in his manner, and judging by his fresh looks and ruddy complexion, he was do doubt fond of good things at table, including wine which then formed part of every gentleman's hospitality. I have seen accounts of the gallantry of Captain J. H. K. Burgwyn, who was killed in New Mexico in 1847 while attached to the first regiment of U. S. dragoons; but whether he was a son of John Fanning, or of George Burgwyn, who resided near Wilmington, I am not informed. The family was high minded and patriotic, and I have no doubt wherever the blood prevails there are good fighting qualities.
4. John P. Daves was of the number who held the highest rank in society, as well from individual character as from wealthy connections. He was a brother of the whole blood to Mrs. Collins, of Edenton, whose husband was said to be the largest property holder in the State. Mr. Daves was also a half brother of Mrs. McKinley, widow of James McKinley who died without issue, leaving the most valuable estate owned by any citizen of Newbern. Aside from these influences, Mr. D. was constitutionally of great elevation of character, and though popular in high circles, he was by no means a favorite with the masses. It was impossible for him to condescend to electioneering ingenuity, and his defeat for Congress, in 1821, by Mr. Blackledge was the natural result. His first marriage was with Miss Hatch; his second wife was a sister of Louis D. Henry, and the present Mrs. Daves was Miss Graham. Mr. John P. Daves died in 1839. The late Gov. Ellis married his daughter.
The residence of Mr. Daves, in Newbern, was on, or very near the site of the Palace of the Royal Governors of North Carolina, previous to the Revolution of 1776. By design or accident it was burned down long before my day; but it must have been a costly edifice, judging by the size and quality of the stables, the brick walls of which were more than twenty feet high. The roof had fallen in, or was destroyed by the conflagration; yet the walls remained in 1824, and I presume still remains, as a vestige of Royalty interesting from the associations of the past. Josiah Martin, an Englishman, was the last Royal Governor who occupied the Palace. John Hawks, the grandfather of F. L. Hawks, was the architect. General Miranda visited the Palace in 1783, and assured Judge Martin, the historian, “that the structure had no equal in South America.” A beautiful engraved representatition of it is given in Lossing's Pictoral Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. II, p. 364.
5. Thomas H. Daves, a brother of the preceding gentleman, was the very reverse of him in popular favor, and had been sheriff of Craven county just for the sake of mixing with the people, and doing them acts of kindness. His fortune was sufficient to enable him to do without office of any kind. He had a pleasant word for everybody, and seemed to declare, by the benevolent expression of his face, that his own happiness consisted in making other people happy. I am not clear enough in my recollection to state positively whether he married Miss Bryan, or a daughter of General Durant Hatch. I believe he married both, as he was at one time a widower. Mr. Daves removed to Greene county, Alabama, where he died. I do not remember his children, except that he had a son named Durant Hatch Daves.
6. Josiah Howard owned an extensive plantation in Jones county, and had his family residence in Newbern, where he passed a portion of his time. His wife was Narcissa Hatch, who was a pious lady and a member of the Episcopal Church, while her husband was averse to religion. At her request the Rev. R. S. Mason attended the bedside of Mr. Howard in his last illness, to offer him spiritual consolation if he desired it. The minister, it was said, met with no encouragement in his labor of love. Mr. H. died in July, 1822. A post mortem examination was made by Doctors Boyd and Custis, which showed a complicated disease of the chest. He left two sons, George W. and James W. Howard, the latter of whom represented Jones county in the House of Commons in 1831, 1835 and 1836, and in the Senate in 1842 and 1846.
Mrs. Howard was occasionally visited by a beautiful relative—Miss Narcissa Whitfield, of Lenoir, just matured into womanhood, who was highly accomplished, particularly excelling in musical gifts and culture. She was too pure for earth—her disposition was angelic—and in 1823 her gentle spirit ascended to Heaven. An intelligent writer (Mr. Lovick Vail) published in the Sentinel, a glowing, yet merited tribute to her memory, in which he introduced with happy effect, a passage from the touching lines of Dr. Young on the death of his step-daughter, “Narcissa.” The parallel between the lovely maidens, rendered
the quotation from the “Night Thoughts” very appropriate, aside from the identity of names:
- “Sweet harmonist! and beautiful as sweet!
- And young as beautiful! and soft as young!
- And gay as soft! and innocent as gay!
- And happy (if aught happy here) as good!”
7. John Frink Smith was a gentleman somewhat advanced in age, and had quite a large family of children. His eldest son I have noticed under the head of “law students.” The grown daughters were handsome and pious, and with their father were members of the Methodist Church. The first time I saw them was at a camp-meeting near Trent bridge in 1820, when the Rev. Lewis Skidmore, the presiding elder, preached with his accustomed success in revivals. Two of the Misses Smith became happy, and embraced their father, who mingled his rejoicing with theirs at the altar. The scene had a sympathetic influence, and many other Christians were similarly affected. Mr. S. has long since passed to his reward, and his daughters are probably with him to celebrate in heaven the joys which began on earth in the service of their Redeemer. At this camp-meeting I heard a very impressive discourse by the Rev. Henry B. Howard, of Wilmington, who had been educated for the bar. His infidelity had been subdued by a perusal of the Scriptures induced by an old Christian servant, whose serene countenance after death told that he was happy. A full account of the experience of Mr. Howard appeared in the Methodist magazine.
8. Eli Smallwood was successful in accumulating property. His marriage with Mrs. Blackwell, a Northern lady, took place just betore my removal from Newbern, and his character for shrewd financial management was then well-established, although he was not, in 1824, probably over thirty years of age. Whether he is still alive I have no definite information. When I last saw Mr. Smallwood forty-nine years ago, I considered him a fine looking gentleman. Time is quite capricious in its work on man, however lenient toward the softer sex whose faces, if permitted to represent the youthful condition of their hearts, never grow old.
9. Asa Jones was a goodly specimen of the wise planter and the courteous city gentleman. He was uniformly neat in his dress, as much from his own individual taste, no doubt, as to pay tribute to that of his fashionable wife, who was Miss Bryan, one of the half-dozen sisters, so frequently noticed in these “Recollections.” Whatever may have been the congeniality of disposition between Mr. and Mrs. Jones for their mutual happiness, there was a very great disproportion in their size, as the former was a withered, diminutive specimen of humanity, weighing about one hundred pounds, while his better half was probably not less than two hundred on Fairbank's patent. Nothing in the way of personal contrast could have been more remarkable. He was pale and emaciated, yet from the buoyancy of his movements his general health
seemed to be good, while Mrs. Jones had a complexion rivaling the rose in freshness, and was not less cheerful than her consort, though from necessity not so active. It has been said by those best acquainted with her, that she was quite entertaining in the drawing-room, with an address of peculiar affability. She appeared almost daily in her superb carriage and equipments, which rather eclipsed all competition in town. The milliners liberally participated in her large expenditures for the adornment of her person. She had no children to share her affections, and therefore she was compelled to lavish them upon some other object. Next to loving her husband, of which she gave abundant proof, it was natural that she should cultivate the fashions. The last time I saw Mr. Jones was in New York in 1836, cordial and gentlemanly as ever. Newbern could boast no worthier citizen.OLD CITIZENS.
Nathan Smith, Isaac Taylor, Nathaniel Street, Abner Pasteur, John Jones, Samuel Garrick and John Frink Smith, were gentlemen more advanced in age, apparently, than any other citizens of Newbern, within my knowledge, in the years 1822, 1823 and 1824.PASSING REMARKS.
From the multiplicity of names introduced it is possible that some errors may have been committed, especially in Christian names; but I think the errors, if any, are not frequent. The events and circumstances as related are accurate in substance, and I have no doubt many of them will be recognized by most of the inhabitants who were then old enough to remember, and who still survive. My object in referring so minutely to pursuits, marriages, children and family incidents will not, I hope, be misapprehended. The pictures in my mind have been given, not only to recall the past more vividly as a source of agreeable entertainment to myself, but to afford the new generation which has sprung up in Newbern, or from Newbern ancestors, a kind of local knowledge, more or less biographical in its scope, which probably might not be communicated by any other witness. Nothing has been mingled with these “Recollections” either to reflect on the memory of the dead, or to wound the sensibilities of the living. What I have said touching manual occupations can certainly give no offence to a healthy mind, which has worked its way to position from a subordinate origin. Success of this kind is more honorable and meritorious in those who achieved it.
I have no doubt omitted names which ought to have been specially noticed, and failed to chronicle many interesting particulars; but as I have depended on memory alone in the narrative, after the lapse of half a century, or thereabout, I may reasonably expect that no such omission will be attributed to design. On the contrary, I have endeavored to preserve as many names and occurrences as I could remember,
which I thought would be interesting to others, as they certainly are to myself after so long an interval.
With much propriety I could have introduced the names of many gentlemen having a social and business connection with Newbern who resided in adjoining counties. Among these I might include Gen. N. B. Whitfield, John Washington, John A. Cobb, and Blount Coleman, of Lenoir; and Dr. Alexander Sledge, Dr. Levi B. Lane, Simmons Harrison, Joseph Bryan, Nathan B. Bush, Daniel Y. Shine, Simmons Koonce, John B. Hargett; Isaac B. Hathaway, William B. Hatch, Frederick Isler Becton, Hardy Brown, Jacob Giles, Nathan Foscue, and William Harrison Green, of Jones county.
As an act of justice merely, I here mention James W. Carney and Thomas B. Carney, brothers, who were clever and intelligent young gentlemen, but whose vocation I am unable to specify. They were excellent scribes, and well skilled in accounts and book-keeping, and I believe they were employed in the Banks, or in some public office in Newbern. James Knight Green was likewise a pleasant young man, apparently well read, and blended in his manner something of the tragico-comico, if such an expression may be allowed to denote a very original and singular character.CONCLUSION.
Having completed my “Recollection,” I may be excused for a brief allusion to the misfortunes which came upon the people of Newbern, on the capture of the town by the naval and military forces of the enemy, on the 14th of March, 1862. From an article in Harpers's Weekly illustrating the conquest, I make the following extract:
“The fruits of the victory were six forts, thirty-four heavy guns, six steam boats, and public property to the amount of two millions of dollars. * * * * * * The next day (March 15th) was the Sabbath. By order of Gen. Burnside, all the churches were thrown open, the army chaplains officiated, and thanks were returned to God for the signal victory he had granted the patriot armies.”
Knowing the practices of the Union army, to desolate and plunder wherever they marched or conquered, I thought at the time of reading the order of worship, that there was more form than piety in these Federal ministrations in the sanctuary. While the army chaplains were proclaiming “peace and good will to man,” through muskets and cannon the terrified inhabitants were flying from their cherished homes, with bleeding hearts,—many of them to suffer more than language can express, and some to die in exile. The gloom of that calamity still lingers over the town, and a similar fate to the entire South is yet spreading its pestilential vapors. I speak without malice to the invaders and the spoilsmen. Newbern was the home of my youth, and it is enshrined in my affections. I love its ancient prestige; I love to think of the great and good men I have seen and heard there, and I sincerely hope it may be my privilege to visit the dear old place once again, and meditate among its hallowed monuments.
RECOLLECTIONS OF NEWBERN FIFTY YEARS AGO.
Continued from Page 467.APPENDIX.
It has been my privilege to receive letters from several distinguished citizens of Newbern, three of which I here subjoin—one from Judge Gaston, in 1834, marked No, I; from Judge Donnell, in 1855, No. II; and from Judge Manly, in 1858, No. III. I also received a letter in 1858, No. IV, from ex-Gov. Swain, who was then President of the University of North Carolina. As all these letters are so many connecting links with the Past, the occasions of which are pleasant to recall, I make free to insert them in the Appendix to my “Recollections of Newbern,” as a tribute to my native State.NUMBER I.
Raleigh, Feb. 25, 1834.
Dear Sir: I received, a few days since, your very polite letter of 28th of January, and have been in daily expectation ever since, of receiving also the pamphlet to which you refer as accompanying your letter, but which has not yet come to hand. Sensible of the proof of your esteem which is given, by thus deferring to my opinion in a matter which concerns the honor of the legal profession, I have not a little curiosity to see the pamphlet, and trust that you will have the goodness to transmit it to me.
Your admiration of my deceased friend, Mr. Stanly, is well-founded. He was, indeed a great man, distinguished pre-eminently for acuteness of intellect, capacity of conception, a bold, vigorous and splendid eloquence. How unfortunate it has been for his family, that he lived so much for others and so little for himself!
For the flattering sentiments you have been pleased to express towards me individually, I am very grateful. Although I have ever been anxious that my conduct should be regulated by a higher and more certain standard of right than the opinion of any set of men, I cannot but feel much satisfaction whenever I discover that I have obtained the appreciation of those who are qualified to decide upon what is just and honorable. I am, dear sir, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant.
Burlington, N. Jersey, Sept. 23, 1855.
Dear Sir: Your very kind letter of the 11th instant, addressed to me at Newbern, has been forwarded to me at this place, where (and at Philadelphia) I usually pass my Fall months.
The number of the Review* has not been forwarded to me, but I shall meet it at home, a month hence, and will value it for the article to which you refer. The memory of my relative, Gov. Spaight, is very dear to me, because I knew him to have been one of those pure, amiable and excellent men, and true patriots, so seldom found among the public men of the present day. His son, my deceased brother-in-law, the last Gov. Spaight, whom you may probably recollect, was, in all respects, worthy of his name and parentage. He has been taken from me within a few years, and left me almost without a very near, or dear old friend.
I recollect your uncle (Martin Miller) very well, a very retiring, unassuming and respectable man, with whom. I think, I never had much acquaintance. The incident to which you refer, of the check given you, I do not recollect; but that you were the “obscure country lad,” as you say of yourself, would neither then, or at any time, have been any reproach in my estimation. I was an “obscure lad” myself, so far as fortune, or distinguished parentage—distinguished, I mean, in its usual acceptation. My Father was distinguished, in its true and better sense, for integrity, and all that makes the truly good man; and though not highly educated, endowed with a good mind, well informed.
The Almighty has blessed me with a very large share of good fortune through life. “Mens sana in corpore sano,”† were enough; but in addition to these, I have had much to be thankful for—good, kind, and useful friends at the time I needed them and, true, I had to give up the best and most valuable friend of all others, the portion of my joys and sorrows at middle age—the period of life at which such a separation is the most severe. May you never have any one, of what I recollect to have seen stated to be the three greatest ills of life—“In youth to bury one's Father; at middle age to lose one's wife; and being old, to have no son.” I thank my Heavenly Father that he has, as yet, visited me with only one of these ills. My Father, at a ripe and honorable old age, has been buried but a few years. I am blessed with a son, a respectable member of our Bar, and three dutiful and beloved daughters. Enough of myself, however.[note]
Of the names you mention at our Bar, Gaston, Stanly, F. L. Hawks, J. H. Bryan and G. S. Attmore, only the latter remains at Newbern, a worthy, respectable man, and still a member of the Bar. J. H. B. resides at Raleigh, and the destiny of F. L. H. is a matter of history. You are right in saying that my deceased friend and preceptor, in whose office I studied law, was the greatest of all the distinguished members of our Bar. I knew him well, and loved him much. I have had much opportunity of seeing and hearing distinguished men. Our Gaston deserved better the enviable title of the “truly great man,” than any person I have ever known.
Very respectfully and truly yours,
John R. Donnell.NUMBER III.
Hillsboro, July 12, 1858.
Dear Sir: I was gratified a few days since (before I left home) at the reception of your letter of the 2d instant. The books to which you refer, “The Bench and Bar of Georgia,” were duly received at my house in Newbern; and as my leisure afforded opportunity, I have taken pleasure in looking over their pages. I am indebted to them for much agreeable reading and information.
You are remembered in the Simpson family with kind and respectful regards; and I may add, with a sympathy in, and a solicitude for, the success of your pursuits. All take an interest in your welfare, and desire for you a long life of eminence and usefulness.
The amount of judicial labor which a Circuit Judge in North Carolina is at this day called upon to perform, is so great as to exclude almost any thing else. I have not seen, and have not therefore had an opportunity of reading the letters as published in the Times.* I hope to be able to do so before long. The object of these letters, as indicated by you, is the great want of the day—“to give high moral tone to the youth of the country, and to direct their energies aright.” In this object you have my hearty sympathy, and shall have such co-operation as my station will enable me to give.
No apology is necessary for what you are pleased to call troubling me with your letters. They are received with pleasure, and I desire to assure you of my sincere esteem.
M. E. Manly.[note]
Chapel Hill, June 7, 1858.
Dear Sir: Saturday's mail brought me your letter of the 1st, and the mail of this date your two volumes, “The Bench and Bar of Georgia,” to which your letter refers. The volumes will be placed in the University Library, as you requested, and will be regarded as a very welcome addition to our collections. I leave home to-morrow morning on a journey to the extreme western counties of the State, undertaken at the instance of the Trustees, who desire my personal attention to important interests there. I regret that the numerous and pressing demands on my time will not leave me an hour, previous to my departure, to examine your work even in the most cursory manner.
I knew the late Judge Gaston, and his friend, Mr. Stanly, personally, familiarly, and, I may add, for one so much younger than either of them, intimately. It may probably amuse you to learn that Judge Gaston's letter to which you refer, is not new to me. I resided in Raleigh in 1834, and well recollect his calling my attention to your note, and the pamphlet which you subsequently sent him. I believe, moreover, that I may make slight pretensions to a personal acquaintance with you, having spent an hour at an humble cabin at the Blue Ponds in Alabama with Judge Porter and yourself in June, 1847.
It is a source of great gratification to me to witness very frequent evidences of the devotion which the natives of North Carolina, wherever I find them, in prosperous or adverse circumstances, cherish for the good old State. This institution owes no small proportion of its patronage to the undying loyalty of her children. “Coelum non animum mutant.” Their allegiance they may change—their affection is never withdrawn.
I sat down simply to write an acknowledgement, and am afraid that if the smallest opportunity was allowed me, I would run into a dissertation. Perhaps it is fortunate for you, that the necessities of my position impose limits which at present I cannot pass.
Yours very sincerely,