THE STATE OF ROBESON
THE STATE OF ROBESON
The State of
“As You Love Your State
ROBERT C. LAWRENCE
of the Lumberton Bar
LUMBERTON, NORTH CAROLINA1939
COPYRIGHT, 1939, BY
ROBERT C. LAWRENCE
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BY J. J. LITTLE AND IVES COMPANY, NEW YORK
THE BAR OF ROBESON COUNTY
so frequently mentioned in the following pages
THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED BY THE AUTHOR
Lumberton, March 1939
|BUILDERS OF ROBESON COUNTY|
|BUILDERS OF ROBESON COUNTY||3|
|Organization of the County and of the Town of Lumberton||3|
|Builders of Red Springs||22|
|Builders of Maxton||27|
|Builders of Rowland||29|
|Builders of Fairmont||31|
|Builders of Barnesville, Marietta, McDonalds||33|
|Builders of St. Pauls—Parkton||35|
|Builders of Lumber Bridge—Pates||38|
|Builders of Robeson—Finally||39|
|SOME INCIDENTS IN ROBESON HISTORY|
|THE MINUTES OF ASBURY CHURCH||45|
|THE VALLEY OF THE LUMBER||47|
|THE GOD BLESSED MACS||52|
|SOME ANECDOTES OF WILTON MCLEAN||54|
|ROBESON AND THE ADOPTION OF THE CONSTITUTION||57|
|AN OUTLINE OF THE ROBESON COUNTY BAR||60|
|MEMORIES OF BENCH AND BAR—IN LIGHTER VEIN||81|
|THE FAMOUS PEEBLES CONTEMPT CASE||88|
|AN EPISODE IN NORTH CAROLINA HISTORY||94|
|SOME ROBESON COMPANIES IN THE CIVIL WAR||100|
|ST. ALBAN'S LODGE NO. 114 AT LUMBERTON||106|
|LOST COLONY OF SIR WALTER RALEIGH||111|
|THE LOWRIE OUTLAWS OF ROBESON||115|
|GOVERNOR ANGUS WILTON MCLEAN||127|
|REVEREND CHARLES H. DURHAM, D.D.||137|
|RICHARD RHODES BARNES||144|
|KENNETH M. BIGGS||148|
|REV. WM. BLACK, D.D.||152|
|ROBERT D. CALDWELL||157|
|JOHN BETHUNE CARLYLE||161|
|REV. I. P. HEDGPETH||167|
|REV. HALBERT G. HILL, D.D.||172|
|DR. THOMAS C. JOHNSON||177|
|ANGUS DHU MACLEAN||182|
|ELIZABETH ANN MACRAE||188|
|SALLIE LOU MCKINNON||200|
|COL. NEILL ARCHIE MCLEAN||206|
|REV. R. L. MCLEOD, JR.||212|
|JUDGE THOMAS A. MCNEILL||215|
|MY INTRODUCTION TO JUDGE MCNEILL||221|
|DR. RICHARD M. NORMENT||223|
|CAPT. WILLIAM S. NORMENT||228|
|DR. GEORGE M. PATE||233|
|GILBERT B. PATTERSON||238|
|EDWARD KNOX PROCTOR AS A PROHIBITIONIST||243|
|COL. ALFRED ROWLAND||249|
|REV. CHARLES G. VARDELL, D.D.||258|
|WILLIAM CLIFTON WISHART||269|
|SIMEON F. CALDWELL||277|
|CHARLES B. SKIPPER||279|
BUILDERS OF ROBESON HISTORY
BUILDERS OF ROBESON COUNTY
Organization of the County and of the
Town of Lumberton
ROBESON COUNTY was formed from Bladen in 1786, and was named in honor of Colonel Thomas Robeson, revolutionary soldier and patriot, who lived at Tar Heel in Bladen county, and whose descendants still occupy their ancestral acres. His grave, near the banks of Cape Fear, was recently marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Josiah Barnes was the first clerk of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, the court of general jurisdiction which corresponded to what is now the Superior Court. Samuel Porter was the first high Sheriff of the county. There was no register of deeds, as deeds were then proved in open court and registered by the Clerk. The original minute book of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions has been taken to the Hall of History in Raleigh for Preservation.
John Willis (of whom more will be said later) was the first Senator from Robeson, serving four terms. Elias Barnes (of whom more later) and Neill Brown from the Philadelphus section were the first members of the House of Commons, as the House of Representatives was then known.
When Wheeler's History was published in 1851, all it said of Robeson county was that the Honorable Edward Harris, of Newbern, one of the Superior Court Judges, died at Lumberton in 1813, and was buried there. His
grave can still be seen in Meadowbrook, where his remains were reinterred from the old cemetery near the depot on Elm street. On the day of his death, the then Clerk, wrote an eight line poem in code. The writer deciphered it, after some difficulty, then had the code poem published and offered a reward to any schoolchild who would decipher it. It cost him $30.00, as six of them did—promptly!
In 1787, General John Willis, then Senator from Robeson, owned a large farm known as Red Bluff Plantation upon the banks of Lumber River, which was then known as Drowning Creek, and still retains that name in its upper portion. At a Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions held on May 12, 1787, General Willis submitted to the court a proposition for laying out on his lands a town to be called “Lumberton.” He proposed to give the town a square upon which to locate its public buildings, together with a town “common,” and suggested that the other lots be sold through a lottery to be conducted by managers under the supervision of the court. His proposition was accepted, and William Tatham, Henry Lightfoot, Elias Barnes, Jacob Rhodes and Sampson Bridgers were named to receive the deed for the property and conduct the lottery. For some reason Henry Lightfoot could not serve, and William Moore was appointed in his stead. The lottery was conducted, with much ceremony and many formalities, in the presence of the court, beginning on August 16th, 1787. The original book containing the names of those who drew the lots, the numbers of the lots drawn, and the original lottery tickets, were in the possession of the late James D. Proctor, and are, no doubt, yet in existence. Mr. Proctor possessed more knowledge of the town's history than any other man and it is indeed unfortunate that his intimate knowledge of its past has not been preserved for posterity.
Altho the town was established in 1787, it was not until 1794 that a postoffice was established, John Noyes being the first postmaster appointed by President Washington. He was the first postmaster in Robeson County. The office at Alfordsville was the second to be established.
Much of our early history has disappeared in the haze of obscurity. Even the old minute books of the town commissioners cannot be located. However, I have been at some pains to secure as complete a list as possible of the legislative acts relating to the town, and in this task have had the generous assistance of Hon. Henry M. London, Legislative Reference Librarian, to whom I am indebted for much of the information concerning these facts. Listed in the order of their enactment, the statutes are:
(a). Chapter 40, laws of 1786 created the county of Robeson, and by section six thereof John Willis, Patrick Travis, Elias Barnes and Alexander McNeal were named as Commissioners to select a site for the county seat. They located the site on the Red Bluff plantation of General Willis, as above set forth.
(b). Chapter 49, laws of 1788 incorporated the town of Lumberton. This act recited that a town had already been established and that John Willis, former owner of the land, had conveyed to Henry Lightfoot and the four other lottery managers above named, a tract of land for the townsite, which lands were to be sold by a lottery. The deed from General John Willis to the lottery managers is registered in book “A”-1 at page 60.
(c). Chapter 47, laws of 1794 provided that the citizens of Lumberton should meet each year and elect five “Directors.” These “Directors” were given authority to select the town officers. From 1794 to 1850—a gap of 56 years, we find nothing relating to the town.
(d). Chapter 322, laws of 1850 provides that the Sheriff
of Robeson should hold an election each year for the election of a Magistrate (Mayor) and four commissioners.
(e). Chapter 211, laws of 1852 provided that until their successors are elected, Robert E. Troy should serve as Magistrate; and Edward Lewis, Sr., W. W. Gunn, John M. Hartman and R. S. French as Commissioners. These are the earliest town officers whose names I have been able to locate. Robert E. Troy was a prominent Lumberton lawyer, Master of St. Alban's Lodge A. F. & A. M. Robert S. French was a grand-uncle of Duval D. French, prominent Lumberton citizen.
(f). Chapter 103, laws of 1866-67.
(g). Chapter 71, laws of 1868.
(h). Chapter 42, laws of 1869.
(i). Chapters 7 and 108, laws of 1873.
(j). Chapters 89 and 292, laws of 1883.
(k). Chapter 160, laws of 1889.
(l). Chapter 131, laws of 1891.
(m). Chapter 366, laws of 1893.
(n). Chapter 215, laws of 1899.
(o). Chapters 334, 386, 241, 244, laws of 1905.
(p). Chapter 343, private laws of 1907. This is the revised and consolidated charter of the town, prepared by the writer when he was town attorney.
(q). Chapters 314 and 276, laws of 1911.
(r). Chapter 54, extra session 1913.
(s). Chapters 229, 241 and 345, laws of 1915.II
In Ashe's History of North Carolina, volume 2, page 84, it is stated that General John Willis (father of Lumberton) was a soldier in the Revolution; a lawyer; civil engineer; a planter and mill owner; and that the town
of Lumberton was laid off upon his lands. He was evidently a General of Militia, as there is no record of a General of that name in the Revolutionary army. He also established an academy in Lumberton about 1791, the principal of which was Rev. David Kerr. Mr. Kerr was the first chairman of the faculty of the University of North Carolina, serving as such prior to the election of Joseph Caldwell as its first president. Mr. Kerr moved to Lumberton where he studied law and was admitted to the Bar, later removing to Mississippi, where he became a Federal Judge. He was a graduate of Trinity College of Dublin (Ireland) University.
After the establishment of Lumberton, General Willis sold most of his remaining lands to Jacob Rhodes and removed to Fayetteville where he died.
Jacob Rhodes, a surveyor by profession, and one of the five commissioners named to conduct the lottery when Lumberton was first established, surveyed the original town-site in 1786. This original map was in the possession of the late James D. Proctor, and is now in the possession of the law firm of Varser, McIntyre and Henry.
Elias Barnes was evidently a man of great influence in early Lumberton. He was one of the committee to select the county seat; he was one of the commissioners who laid off the town of Lumberton; he was one of the first members from Robeson in the House of Commons and he served several terms in the Senate. He, with John Cade (son-in-law of the famous Dr. Robin Adair) became sureties on the bond of an early sheriff of Robeson and petitioned the legislature not to sell them out.
Jacob Rhodes sold the mill near Lumberton (which once belonged to General Willis) to Col. Thomas J. Morrisey, whose ancestors came from Cork, Ireland. He married a grand-daughter of Colonel Richard Clinton, for
whom the town of Clinton was named. This mill was known for a century as the Morrisey Mill, but is now known as “McMillan's Mill.” Near this ancient mill is one of the oldest graveyards in Robeson. Here is buried Jacob Rhodes, Penelope, widow of Colonel Richard Clinton, and many of the Morrisey's, Rowland's, Blount's and prominent Robesonians of a past age. Many of the bodies have been re-interred in Meadowbrook Cemetery, but others yet remain in the ancient cemetery.
Like everything in nature, they have “one by one crept silently to rest” and the place that knew them once, now knows them no more.
- “The seasons change; the winds they shift and veer,
- The grass of yesteryear is dead. Empires dissolve,
- Peoples disappear. God passes not away.”
GENERAL ALFRED ROWLAND married a daughter of Col. Richard Clinton. He was a General of Militia and served several terms as Senator, beginning in 1811. His son, John A. Rowland, had the unique distinction of having been elected as Clerk of the Superior Court, Register of Deeds and Sheriff. I know of no other man in Carolina who ever held these three offices. He was also Senator in 1848. His son, John A. Rowland, and his grandsons, Alfred Rowland and Alex S. Rowland, were all Masters of St. Alban's Lodge A. F. & A. M. His son, Col. Alfred Rowland, was a Confederate Soldier, lawyer, legislator and congressman. A sketch of him appears in another part of this work.
William Tatham was originally a civil engineer but studied law and was admitted to the Bar in Virginia. He moved to Lumberton and became a member of the legislature. He was one of the five commissioners who laid off the town of Lumberton. He was a naturalist of reputation
and was a century ahead of his time in advocating the conservation of natural resources. He went to Spain where he wrote a number of pamphlets on plants and flowers, which are preserved in the archives at Madrid. He returned to this country and became storekeeper of the arsenal at Richmond, Va. He committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a cannon as it was in the act of being fired.III
Let us look for a moment at some of the lawyers of a former day who influenced the life of their town and country:
Col. Neill Archie McLean, Sr., was for many years an outstanding lawyer, but is probably best known to posterity as the father of his brilliant son, Colonel N. A. McLean, Jr., who led the Robeson Bar until his death in 1911. A sketch of Col. McLean appears in a different part of this book. The present law firm of McLean and Stacy can trace their legal ancestry back to the senior McLean in 1825.
Robert E. Troy was another outstanding lawyer of the ante-bellum period, and under the act of 1850, hereinbefore referred to, was named as Mayor of Lumberton.
Giles Leitch was another of the legal pioneers who had a large part in the affairs of his generation. His office was in the stone building which formerly stood at the corner of 4th and Chestnut streets. He was the legal preceptor and later the partner of Col. Alfred Rowland.
Judge Robert S. French, a first cousin of Judge Robert Strange, of Fayetteville, (for whom he was named), was another eminent lawyer of his day. His office was in a two room wooden building which formerly stood in a yard of the residence of Governor Angus W. McLean at the
corner of 5th and Chestnut. Later it was used as the law offices of McNeill and McNeill, (Judge Thomas A., and his cousin, Franklin, chairman of the Corporation Commission) and Stephen McIntyre used the building as a residence when he first moved to Lumberton. By the act of 1850, above referred to, Judge French was named as one of the town commissioners. In 1860 he was appointed by Governor Ellis as Superior Court Judge, and filled that office with ability until 1865, when he was removed by the Federal military power, following the surrender of Lee and the downfall of the Confederacy. He then moved to Wilmington where he practiced with Judge S. R. Person. He died in 1882.
While Charles Payne did not live in Lumberton, he should be here mentioned. His home was on the road from Lumberton to Maxton, near Alma, where his office was a small wooden building in the yard of his residence. A daughter married Judge Cameron MacRae.
Abner Nash, while not a practitioner in the courts, was especially skilled in the drafting of legal documents and in the abstracting of titles. He knew more about land titles than any man in the county, and was for many years employed in the office of the Register of Deeds. He was a descendant of the famous Nash family, of Hillsboro, numbering among its members General Francis Nash, killed in the Revolution, Governor Abner Nash and Chief Justice Frederick Nash. He married a daughter of the beloved Dr. Richard Lewis, whose ministry of healing is still remembered by a few of our older people. His widow yet survives, with his children.
Franklin McNeill was a distinguished lawyer, not only of Lumberton, but of the State. He practiced in partnership with his cousin, Judge Thomas A. McNeill, later removing to Rockingham, where he became the Solicitor
of that Judicial District. Later he became the first chairman of the North Carolina Corporation Commission, and had much to do with shaping the policy of the State in legislation relating to railroads and other public utility companies.IV
It is extremely difficult to locate with accuracy information concerning the leaders of Lumberton life during the first half century of its existence, which fact is in itself a striking commentary upon the transitory quality of human effort. We have, however, been able to secure meager data on certain outstanding individuals.
James Blount was an important figure in the life of early Lumberton. He accumulated a large estate and owned large tracts of farm land and much town property. His only child, Emily, married the late Alexander H. McLeod, ancestor of the present generation of Lumberton McLeods, among his children being George B. McLeod, Sheriff and Senator; Alexander H. McLeod (Sandy) and A. H. McLeod (Alf).
William B. Blount, altho not a citizen of Lumberton, was a large figure in his day and three of his daughters married prominent Lumberton men: Susan married Col. Alfred Rowland; Amanda married Thomas A. Norment, Sr., and Penelope married H. McE. McMillan. He owned a large part of the land on both sides of the Fayetteville road on which the residential part of Lumberton is located.
The Wishart family has long been prominent in the life of Lumberton. Col. Eli Wishart was Colonel of Militia prior to the Civil War and represented Robeson in the legislature of 1860. His son, Captain Wellington Wishart, was Captain of a militia district. Wishart's township is named in his honor. He was also an officer in Company
“A” 46th North Carolina, in the Confederate service. His brother, Captain Frank M. Wishart, Captain of Company “B” 46th North Carolina, was killed by the outlaw, Henry Berry Lowry. Wellington Wishart was a noted surveyor of his day and served as county surveyor for a number of years. He was the father of our townsmen W. S. (“C”) Wishart, John H. Wishart and Frank H. Wishart.
James T. Petteway was a leading ante-bellum merchant and man of affairs. As our people had no money and everything had to be bought on credit, he operated the leading “time” business of the section. As there was no bank in the county, and as he was a man of known probity, he acted as private depository for such funds as many of the people possessed.
John H. Caldwell was another large merchant and prominent citizen of his day who left a permanent impress upon the life of our county. He numbered among his children the late Luther H. Caldwell (outstanding citizen), Ambrose P. Caldwell (Mayor of Lumberton), and John H. Caldwell. The writer has seen a grant from King George III, of England, covering lands in Robeson now owned by the heirs of Mr. Caldwell. This grant was signed by Richard Caswell, who became the first Governor of North Carolina under the Constitution, and in whose honor Caswell County was named.V
Lumberton has indeed been fortunate in its citizens of foreign birth or descent, particularly those of German extraction, notably William Linkhauer (father of the late W. I. Linkhaw and others); Christopher von Glahn, of Hanover, Germany, (father of the late Mrs. John H. Wishart and others); G. E. Rancke, (father of the son of that name); Dr. Rudolph Vampill, (father of the late
Mrs. W. W. Carlyle); the Wessell family, and Arthur C. Melke, of Leipsic, Germany.
Arthur C. Melke came to Lumberton as a youth and began his remarkable career as clerk in a local store. His integrity, frugality and business sagacity was such that he soon acquired his own store and laid the foundation of what became the leading business of this section. He acquired a large estate and was known for his charitable disposition, and his willingness to assist and support any cause which he believed worth while. He was a brother-in-law of the late W. I. Linkhaw and of the late Frank Gough, and the business success achieved by them was largely due to the influence of Mr. Melke. C. B. Skipper, W. O. Thompson, and other prominent citizens of Lumberton were once employed by him. He was an early and loyal supporter of Robeson Institute, and in his will gave generous benefactions to that institution, and to the Baptist State Convention, Wake Forest College, Baptist Foreign Mission Board, and the institution now known as Meredith College. His will, written in his own handwriting, but prepared by the late Edward K. Proctor, will be an inspiration to anyone who will take the time to read it. It was witnessed by Robert D. Caldwell, John H. McNeill, Dr. Richard M. Norment and John H. Morrison. Mr. Melke died in 1891, within sixty days after the execution of his will, lamented by the entire town. He left no descendants.
The name of Berry Godwin looms large in any sketch of Lumberton. He was a native of Johnton county, but removed to Lumberton, where he engaged in the turpentine business, in merchandising, and in farming upon a large scale. He owned literally thousands of acres of farm lands and a considerable part of the town of Lumberton. He owned the land on which the First Baptist Church was
built, and the land on which Robeson Institute was located, as well as an entire block adjacent to the court house square, and many other valuable lots. He also owned what is now Meadowbrook Cemetery, and is buried there. He was the grandfather of the late George G. French, and of Mrs. Margaret French McLean, widow of the late Governor Angus Wilton McLean.
Alexander H. McLeod was another of the fathers of Lumberton whose influence still abides. A native of Moore County, he moved to Lumberton where he engaged in a wide variety of activities, among which was the large mercantile business of Pope and McLeod, Major John T. Pope being the senior member of the firm. His talent for business was such that he rapidly acquired a large estate, so that it was once said that when Lumberton lawyers examined a land title, they knew if the land did not come through Berry Godwin that it came through Mr. McLeod. He owned a large part of the land within the town limits and many hundreds of acres of farm lands. He was the founder of the First National Bank, and other corporate enterprises. He was the father of George B. McLeod, (for many years Sheriff, State Senator, etc.), Alexander H. (Sandy) McLeod and the late Alf. H. McLeod, and his numerous descendants still make the name of McLeod conspicuous in the annals of Lumberton.
J. A. McAllister was another whose name cannot be omitted when the roll of notable Lumbertonians is called. He was a school teacher and served for years as Superintendent of Public Instruction of the county, where he laid the foundation of our modern public school system. A man of high character, prominent in the life of his church, he continued until his death an influential figure in the life of his town. He married a daughter of Major John T. Pope, and among his children were the late Willis Pope
McAllister, (hardware merchant); Alex P. McAllister, (organizer of the National Cotton Mills); the late John D. McAllister; Hugh M. McAllister and Charles P. McAllister.
The name of Norment has long been conspicuous in the annals of Robeson County, among the notables of that name being Richard M. Norment, physician; Captain William S. Norment, lawyer, and Owen C. Norment and Thomas A. Norment, business men.
A sketch of Dr. Richard M. Norment, outstanding physician and politician, will be found in another part of this book.
A sketch of Captain William S. Norment, Confederate soldier, and prominent lawyer, will also be found in another part of this book.
Owen C. Norment was the senior member of O. C. Norment and Company, the other partners being Thomas A. Norment and Berry Godwin. He was one of the original directors of the Lumberton Cotton Mills and of the bank now known as the National Bank of Lumberton, and was president of the corporation that built the oil mill. He was for years county commissioner, and always voted consistently against granting license to anyone to sell intoxicants.
William Foster French was one of the ablest lawyers Robeson has produced. He was Lieutenant Colonel of the 73rd Regiment of Junior Reserves in the Confederate service. One of the most eminent lawyers of the Cape Fear section, he was senior member of the firm of French and Norment, its junior partner being Captain William S. Norment. This firm appeared in practically every important case tried in this section. It was to Colonel French, then county Democratic chairman, that General William R. Cox sent the famous telegram: “As You Love Your
State, Hold Robeson.” An account of this incident will be found in another part of this book. He was the father of Duval D. French and Mrs. Ira B. Townsend.
Colonel Alfred Rowland was another outstanding figure in Robeson. A sketch of him will be found in another part of this book.VI
General Thomas F. Toon, native of Columbus, was a Brigadier General in the Confederate service and was seriously wounded in the battle of Chancellorsville. A school teacher by profession, he served as professor in Robeson Institute. He was a man of such outstanding ability that when a vacancy occurred in the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, he was appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy and served in that capacity until his death.
The name of Professor John Duckett is closely associated with Robeson Institute, of which he was the first Principal, and for years he was in charge of the instruction of the youth of the community, and his life and example served to stimulate and inspire all with whom he came in contact. He was one of the educational leaders of the State, having ideas considerably in advance of his generation. When compelled to retire from the school room due to a throat trouble, he served as Secretary to General Toon during his tenure as Superintendent of Public Instruction, and continued in that capacity under superintendent James Y. Joyner until his death in 1908. He was the father of Mrs. K. M. Biggs, of Lumberton, whose husband has rendered such outstanding service to our town and county. A sketch of Robeson Institute will be found in another part of this book.
S. A. Edmund was a highly influential man in the life
of his town and county. A Republican in politics, he served as Clerk of the Superior Court, and was several times the candidate of his party for high political office. His was a potent voice in the councils of his party in the congressional and judicial districts. He was also a man of great business capacity and accumulated a considerable estate. He possessed the confidence of our people to such an extent that when the Bank of Lumberton—first bank in the county—was organized, he was one of its first directors, and he was also an original director of the Lumberton Cotton Mills. He was also a friend of the Carolina Northern (later Raleigh and Charleston) Railroad and of the Southern Saw Mills and Lumber Company, and rendered these companies much financial assistance in time of financial stress.
A sketch of Judge Thomas A. McNeill will be found in another part of this book.
It will generally be admitted that the two men who have rendered Lumberton the most service were Edward Knox Proctor and Governor Angus Wilton McLean. A sketch of Mr. Proctor's activities as a prohibitionist will be found in another part of this book. He was the father of public improvements in Lumberton, and it is believed that our town holds a unique record in that three generations of Proctors have served the town as Mayor: E. K. Proctor, Sr., his son, E. K. Proctor, Jr., his son James Dick Proctor. Mr. Proctor's leadership resulted in the installation of the first electric lights, the first waterworks and sewerage, and other public improvements. He caused the first artesian well to be bored (near Lumber River, at the foot of Third Street at the old Caldwell bridge), and was largely responsible for inducing our people to abandon the use of shallow wells for the deep artesian water. He laid out and improved a large part of what is
now the choice section of North Lumberton. He was an original director in the Lumberton Cotton Mill, the original officers of which were Robert D. Caldwell, president; A. W. McLean, vice-president, and Henry B. Jennings, secretary-treasurer. He was known for his interest in the cause of education, and was a founder and chairman of the Board of Trustees of Robeson Institute. The other members of the Board of Trustees of Robeson Institute were Robert D. Caldwell, secretary; B. Godwin, Q. T. Williams and Frank Gough. He served as trustee of Wake Forest College, and was chairman of the Board of Education of Robeson County.
His service to the cause of temperance was perhaps his greatest single contribution to Robeson County. In a day when prohibition was extremely unpopular, he went from church to church pleading for temperance, and it was under his leadership that Robeson became the pioneer prohibition county in Eastern Carolina, when an act was passed making it unlawful to sell intoxicants within three miles of any church in Robeson County.
Mr. Proctor practiced law in partnership with Stephen McIntyre, under the firm name, Proctor & McIntyre, which firm did an extensive practice and possessed the confidence of the people to a degree seldom possessed by lawyers. They were largely responsible for the building of the Carolina Northern Railroad and the Southern Saw Mills & Lumber Co., and were general counsel for those companies. After the death of Mr. Proctor, Mr. McIntyre assumed, in large measure, the position in the community held by Mr. Proctor during his life.
Mr. Proctor was a leading figure in the life of his church (of which he was chairman of the Board of Deacons) and the Robeson Association (of which he was clerk for years) and it was his christian statesmanship which
endeared him to our people. He was a tower of strength to both Church and State in his generation. His portrait was recently presented to the County and a monument has recently been unveiled to his memory at Proctorville—which was named in his honor. His four sons: James D., Edward Knox III, Robert W., and John G., all became lawyers, and they, with numerous other descendants, still occupy positions of prominence in the life of our section.VII
Colonel Neill Archie McLean was one of the most prominent lawyers, not only of Lumberton, but of the State. A sketch of him will be found elsewhere in this book.
Dr. Neill Archie Thompson was a forward looking, public spirited physician and one of the most popular men that ever lived in our town. He early realized the need for local hospitalization, and established the Thompson Hospital—first hospital in Robeson County. The present Thompson Memorial Hospital is named in his honor. His tragic death in an accident was deeply mourned throughout Robeson. He was the father of the present Neill Archie Thompson and other children.
Nor can the name of Dr. John D. McMillan, Sr., be forgotten in any list of the benefactors of Lumberton. Pioneer and loved physician of the horse and buggy days, he rode the roads of Robeson, day and night, winter and summer, upon his healing mission; and no matter what hour of the night, nor how long the way, nor how bad the roads, nor how poverty stricken the patient—Dr. McMillan went immediately and stayed until no longer needed. Of such men is the Kingdom of Heaven. He also established McMillan's Drug Store, one of the oldest businesses
in Lumberton. He was the father of Mrs. G. Ed. Rancke and the late John D. McMillan, Jr.
Frank Gough was a progressive citizen of Lumberton, who had a part in many things and took a prominent part in the life of our town. A brother-in-law of A. C. Melke, he succeeded to the business of that lamented citizen, of whose will Mr. Gough was one of the executors. Later he was associated with Mr. A. E. White in the large mercantile business of White and Gough. He had extensive farming and other interests, and was a trustee of Robeson Institute. He had a flair for the public service, and perhaps filled more positions than any other man in Robeson County. He served on the Lumberton Board of Audit & Finance for twenty years; upon the County Board of Elections for twenty-five years; he served two terms as State Senator; was a member of the State Prison Board and of the State Board of Agriculture; was a director of the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad, etc. He was the father of Miss Lina Gough and of Frank Gough, Jr., talented musician.
Governor Angus Wilton McLean was not only Robeson's only Governor, and not only made a deep impression upon the life of his State, but he was the only Robesonian who achieved a national prominence. A sketch of him will be found elsewhere in this book.
The name of Robert D. Caldwell must also stand near the top in any list of outstanding Lumbertonians. A sketch devoted to him will be found elsewhere in this book.
Stephen McIntyre was another outstanding man not only of his county, but of his State. A sketch devoted to him will be found elsewhere in this book.
Luther H. Caldwell is another notable citizen whose memory will not become beclouded by the passage of time.
He was for a number of years a leading merchant, having succeeded his father, John H. Caldwell, in that capacity. He was a man of high integrity, beloved of our people. Of great natural ability, he shunned the limelight, would never accept public office, but constantly went about doing good. He confined himself almost entirely to three interests: his church, his charities and his business. He had much business capacity and served as director in the bank, cotton mills, V. & C. S. Railroad, the oil mill, and other enterprises. He accumulated a large estate and had great influence throughout the county.
His chief pride and joy was his church and his religious activities. Not only did his home church receive generous benefactions at his hands, but other churches and Sunday Schools throughout the section. He was greatly interested in Sunday School work, and was primarily responsible for the establishment of a church and Sunday School in North Lumberton and at other points in this vicinity. Sunday was his heaviest day, and he always spent it entirely in the service of his Master.
I think our people like to remember Mr. Caldwell best for his abounding charity. He was the most charitable man I have ever known—charitable not only with his money, but in his views. I never knew him to speak ill of any man. If he could say nothing good—and he usually could—he spoke not at all. As for his charities, they were almost limitless. All Robeson knew that if money was needed for charity—go to Mr. Caldwell. He gave unstintedly and constantly. Even if he did not feel that the cause was entirely worthy, yet he gave lest he be mistaken in his own judgment. The monument Mr. Caldwell has erected in the hearts of Lumbertonians is for his abiding kindness. Like Abou ben Adhem, he loved his fellow man. Ave atque vale!
Quitman T. Williams was another notable man of his day. Altogether quiet, modest and unassuming, his judgment was always sought when any movement of consequence was afoot. A man of much ability and of high character, he lived a life of much usefulness. His business integrity was such that altho he was in the fire insurance business for over forty years, he never had a claim contested, or a suit in court. He was a director in the bank, cotton mills, and in other enterprises, and a trustee of Robeson Institute. He was devoted to his church which he served as deacon. He was one of the BEST men I have ever known. His children still occupy prominent places in the life of Lumberton.Builders of Red Springs
There was a settlement at the place now called Red Springs as early as 1775, when Hector McNeill received a grant from King George III covering the site of the present town, this grant being signed by Josiah Martin, Provincial Governor of North Carolina. John T. McNeill, Jr., a great-great-great-grandson of Hector McNeill, is still in possession of a substantial part of the lands embraced within this ancient grant.
For many years prior to and after the Civil War the town was known principally as a summer resort for the people of this section, who went thither to drink the medicinal waters from the springs from which the town derived its name. As early as 1852, Malcolm McNeill, grandson of Hector McNeill, built a large hotel for the accommodation of the summer visitors, and this hotel was in existence until the late S. R. Townsend, in 1891, erected the hotel which bore his name until it was recently demolished.
Also, prior to the Civil War a school building was erected in the grove of exceptionally fine pines near the hotel, and this was also used for public gatherings. Among the teachers in this old school were such men as D. A. Buie, William Stewart, Hamilton McMillan, Peter Shaw, Major Jesse R. McLean and others. For many years there was also an annual fair held in the town, and it was the place for the recreation enjoyed by the people of this section and upper South Carolina.
But for the past years Red Springs has been noted principally as the seat of the institution originally known as Red Springs Seminary, then as Southern Presbyterian College and Conservatory of Music, and more recently as Flora McDonald College, in honor of the immortal Scotch heroine of that name. It is in a very real sense the daughter of Floral College which was located at the village of that name between Maxton and Red Springs and which prior to the Civil War was a noted institution of learning for the young womanhood of the Cape Fear section. After the Civil War Floral College declined, and the oldest college for women in North Carolina finally ceased to exist.
In 1896, on September 30th, the institution now known as Flora McDonald College opened its doors under the presidency of that venerable, beloved and distinguished Robesonian, Rev. Dr. Charles G. Vardell, who is still active as president emeritus of his beloved institution, and who modestly wears the laurel wreath with which he has been crowned by his people after more than seventy years of conspicuous service to North Carolina. The influence of this institution upon the womanhood of the South has been simply incalculable. It is a grade “A” fully accredited school and one of the best colleges for women in the South.
While Dr. Charles G. Vardell took the initiative in the
founding of the institution, he had the whole hearted assistance and co-operation of Rev. S. M. Rankin, pastor of the Presbyterian Churches at Red Springs, Antioch and Philadelphus; the venerable Rev. Dr. H. G. Hill, and other men of vision of a former day who have gone to their rewards. Sketch of Dr. Vardell will be found elsewhere in this book.
At a future time I hope it will be my privilege to name some of the Robesonians who have been substantial benefactors of this institution—such men as Dr. J. L. McMillan, who donated the land upon which the institution is located; the late A. T. McCallum, of Red Springs; Locke Shaw, of St. Pauls; Governor Angus W. McLean, of Lumberton, and others.
The post office was known as Dora, up to 1885, when its name was changed to Red Springs. Prior to the construction of the Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railroad in 1884, (now the Atlantic Coast Line), mail for Dora was sent from Lumberton via horse and sulky twice weekly.
In 1887, Hamilton McMillan, Red Springs lawyer, legislator and historian, caused the enactment of legislation incorporating the town, and (Red) Hector McNeill, grandson of the original Hector, became the first Mayor thereof.
The Scottish Chief began publication at Red Springs in 1888, and so continued for many years until the paper was removed to Maxton. R. T. Covington was its able editor.
Here, in 1892, Fayetteville Presbytery established a Bible Institute which was conducted in a large tabernacle for a number of years.
S. R. Townsend was an early citizen who played a large part in the life of his section, as did his son, B. W. Townsend,
who was a man of fine business ability, a director in the bank, cotton mill and other enterprises.
A. T. McCallum was an outstanding man of his day. He was one of the best business men I have ever known and accumulated a large estate. He was a director in practically every corporation in his section and interested in many other concerns. He was deeply interested in Flora McDonald College and was a benefactor of that institution.
Dr. B. F. McMillan was for many years a leading physician of northern Robeson, who not only practiced his profession with conspicuous ability, but who was the friend and confidant of that entire section. He was the father of Sheriff B. F. McMillan, of Lumberton, and Dr. Roscoe D. McMillan and Zeb V. McMillan, of Red Springs.
His kinsman, Dr. J. L. McMillan, was a man of the same type, distinguished for his ability as a physician and for his usefulness to his people. He was the constant friend and supporter of Flora McDonald College, having donated the land upon which the institution was built.
Major George H. Hall, Confederate Soldier, was another who materially aided in the development of his section. He served in the House of Representatives. A son, Charles Hall, was killed in action during the World War.
J. G. and F. W. Williams were notable citizens of early Red Springs where they engaged in the saw milling business upon an extensive scale. They built the railroad from Red Springs to Wagram, originally known as the Williams, Vandergrift and Williams road; later as the Red Springs and Bowmore. W. F. Williams was the father of Mrs. Thomas A. McNeill, of Lumberton.
A. B. Pearsall was one of the finest business men Robeson County has produced. He was president of the bank,
a director in every important enterprise in his section, and greatly influenced for good the people of northern Robeson.
Martin McKinnon was another outstanding character; an excellent man of business, who left behind him a decided impress upon his community. He was an uncle of Henry A. McKinnon, prominent Lumberton lawyer.
Hamilton McMillan was another notable man of his day, who served with distinction in legislative halls. A man of literary taste, he devoted years of patient research into the origin of the Indians of Robeson County, and his history of these Indians is still the standard authority on that subject.
W. J. Johnson was another prominent man of large usefulness, whose tragic and untimely death in a railroad accident was lamented by all northern Robeson.
J. E. Purcell was the leading surveyor and civil engineer of his day, and his map of Lumberton, made in 1904, is still the official map of our town. He was the near kinsman of Governor Angus W. McLean, and Alex T. and Dickson McLean, of Lumberton; Bishop Purcell, of the Methodist Church, and many other prominent Robesonians.
I would that the space at my disposal would permit a more extended reference to other notable citizens of Red Springs, such as M. A. Buie, brother of my venerable friend, J. N. Buie; Rev. R. A. Moore, prominent Baptist preacher; D. P. McEachern, legislator; W. J. McLeod, (one of the God Blessed Macs in the legislature of 1909); James A. McNeill; N. B. McArthur, legislator, and others.
Builders of Maxton
Maxton (Mac's Town), metropolis of western Robeson, was originally known as Shoeheel and at a later date as Quehele. There was a settlement at this point from the time of the construction of the Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherford Railroad (now the Seaboard), during the Civil War. Josephus Daniels, North Carolina editor, journalist, statesman and Ambassador to Mexico, years ago dubbed the people of the section the “God Blessed Mac's.” Elsewhere will be found an article relating to the origin of the term. The late Col. N. A. McLean always affectionately referred to Maxton as “Sandy-Jackton” in compliment to two men who had such an outstanding part in the life of the town—A. J. McKinnon and J. W. Carter. The town is the seat of Presbyterian Junior College, which is doing such an outstanding work for the youth of Eastern Carolina.
Maxton is famous for the calibre of the men and women she produces. Elsewhere will be found sketches of that foremost of preachers, Rev. Dr. H. G. Hill; the lawyer-preacher the beloved William Black; Angus Dhu McLean, Assistant Attorney General of the United States; Gilbert B. Patterson, outstanding lawyer and Congressman; Sallie Lou McKinnon, in charge of Woman's work in the Southern Methodist Church; and Elizabeth MacRae, pioneer founder of the mission movement and of Lees-MacRae College in Western Carolina.
Maxton is also noted for the number of her prominent lawyers, who turned preachers, the list including not only Rev. William Black, but Sylvester B. McLean, former Solicitor of this District, now an outstanding Presbyterian divine of Mecklenburg County; and Rev. Dr. John Allen McLean, former law partner of the late Congressman,
John G. Shaw, of Fayetteville, who has been for years pastor of Ginter Park Presbyterian Church at Richmond, Virginia.
John Allen McLean, Sr., was a pioneer merchant and business man who possessed the confidence of the community and exercised much influence throughout that section. All his sons became lawyers. Two of them, Sylvester B. McLean and John Allen McLean, Jr., became preachers as above referred to. His other son, Angus Dhu McLean, was one of the most eminent lawyers North Carolina has produced. After a brilliant career at the Bar, and many years of notable service in the General Assembly (where he championed the cause of the common schools) he became Assistant Attorney General of the United States and rendered distinguished service in that capacity. Upon his shoulders was the task of upholding before the Supreme Court of the United States many of the policies formulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his first administration.
John C. McCaskill, another pioneer merchant of the early period left a permanent mark upon the life of that section. He accumulated a considerable estate for his day and had much to do with shaping the future life of his town. Buildings and streets in Maxton bear his name, mute memorials of his former service.
Gilbert B. Patterson was one of the most widely known lawyers of eastern North Carolina. He was an orator of parts and served this district many years in Congress. He was the father of Mrs. Johnnie E. Johnson, of Lumberton. Patterson avenue was named in his honor. A sketch of Mr. Patterson will be found elsewhere in this book.
Major A. J. McKinnon was one of the foremost business men of his day and there were few enterprises in
Maxton with which he was not connected. He was a man of fine public spirit and could ever be relied upon to support any movement for the public good. Major McKinnon was the father of Henry A. McKinnon, prominent Lumberton lawyer.
J. W. Carter, large merchant and successful business man was co-laborer with Major McKinnon to such an extent that the names of the two men became synonymous with that of Maxton. He served for many years as chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Robeson County. A man of high character, great energy, with the forward look, he contributed largely to every effort for the public weal in western Robeson.
Col. E. F. (Lila) MacRae was another man who should not be overlooked in the category of builders of western Robeson. He was a man of deserved popularity and served his people in several positions of trust and confidence, among these being member of the Board of County Commissioners and State Senator. He was a kinsman of Mrs. Elizabeth MacRae, of Alma, who founded Lees-MacRae College, of Banners Elk, N. C.The Builders of Rowland
Rowland is located on the very edge of South Carolina and is the last town as you leave North Carolina going south on the main line of the Atlantic Coast Line. It was named in honor of Colonel Alfred Rowland, Confederate soldier, member of Congress, and prominent lawyer, of Lumberton.
The pioneer builders of Rowland may be said to be the firm of A. & W. McQueen. These gentlemen were “time merchants” and when the Coast Line was built through southern Robeson they moved from Plainview
to Rowland and may be said to be the founders of the town. For many years they conducted an extensive mercantile business, serving not only southern Robeson but much of what is now Dillon County, S. C. They were the leading citizens of their day.
The firm of A. L. & W. F. Bullock, was another pioneer firm which removed from Alfordsville to Rowland. W. F. Bullock, altho interested in this firm, was primarily a farmer, and a very successful one upon a large scale. His brother, A. L. Bullock, was largely interested in every public movement, and was not only one of the most influential men of Robeson County but a man of great public spirit. He was for a number of years chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Robeson County. These gentlemen were both men of the highest integrity and left a lasting imprint upon the life of that section.
Perhaps the most dynamic personage of the Rowland section was Allen Edens. He was a business man par excellence, and laid the foundation for many of the enterprises which exist in Rowland to this day. He was one of the best business men Robeson County has produced, and Rowland owes his memory a lasting debt of gratitude.
William H. McLellan was another who had an influential part in the building of the town. Modest, quiet and unobtrusive in character, he took a leading part in any enterprise which promised benefit to his people. He was a prime mover in the corporate life of the section, and his untimely death cut short a career of great usefulness.
The name of Graham McKinnon cannot be omitted from any list of the builders of Rowland. A man of outstanding ability and high purpose, his counsel was sought and heeded whenever any movement was launched for the public good. He served as a member of the legislature
and in other positions of trust and confidence. He was the father of Graham McKinnon, of Lumberton.
William W. McCormick was another pioneer citizen whose name will ever be borne in mind when the history of the town is recalled. He was a man of sterling integrity, of extensive farming and mercantile interests and left his imprint upon the future of his town. Henry K. McCormick was a man of similar type.
L. Z. Hedgepeth was another Rowland citizen with the forward look. Serving the public in many capacities he had much to do with the improvement of the town and the upbuilding of its industries.
While Dr. Sinclair did not live immediately in Rowland, he lived in the immediate vicinity and was for many years the beloved physician of a wide territory in southern Robeson. He was the father of judge N. A. Sinclair, of Fayetteville.The Builders of Fairmont
Fairmont, metropolis of southern Robeson, was originally known as Ashpole. Later its name was changed to Union City, which name was retained until about 1905, when it became Fairmont.
Among the builders of Fairmont, the name of Stinson Ivey should have first place for his invaluable service to Robeson County as principal of Ashpole Academy. It has been said that the monument to Professor Quakenbush, which was erected on the court house square at Laurinburg, is the only monument in the United States built by public subscription in honor of the memory of a private school teacher. Whether this is true or not, Professor Quakenbush richly merited this tribute, and the people of Fairmont, even at this late day, would honor themselves
by erecting some form of public memorial in memory of Professor Ivey. Among his more prominent pupils may be noted the following: Rev. W. P. Pope, Baptist minister, brother of the late Dr. Henry T. Pope, of Lumberton; David J. Lewis, well known lawyer of Whiteville; Rev. Everett Ward, prominent minister who removed to Texas; John Bethune Carlyle, builder of Wake Forest College and professor of Latin in that institution, one of the greatest orators North Carolina ever produced, a man beloved by hundreds of Wake Forest alumni and by thousands of Robesonians (he once told the writer that he owed the inspiration of his life to Professor Ivey); Colin McLean, prominent lawyer and Solicitor of this District; Dr. John P. Brown, of Fairmont, (still very much alive) who has had such a large part in the building of Fairmont; Julian Williamson, lawyer, and his brother, Dr. Williamson, physician, both of Whiteville. There were many others who might be mentioned.
John D. McLean, with his brother-in-law, J. W. Carter, of Maxton, operated the then largest mercantile business. Mr. McLean was a man of intense energy, great public spirit, and took delight in contributing both his time and his money to the public welfare. He was the motive power behind many of the industries which survive to this day.
A. L. Jones was another of the founders of present day Fairmont. Saw miller, lumberman and extensive farmer, he had large interests throughout the Fairmont section and contributed much in his day to the prosperity of his section.
A. R. Bullock was one of the best business men Robeson has produced. He had a genius for business and whenever any new enterprise was to be planned or any new movement inaugurated, the wise counsel of Mr. Bullock was always sought and heeded.
Dr. John B. Brown, father of the present Dr. J. P. Brown, was the pioneer country doctor and beloved physician to all the Fairmont section. Father and son together have labored for the building up of southern Robeson for more than three quarters of a century.
To James P. Pittman belong the distinction of being the first grower of tobacco in Robeson. At that time there was no market for the weed nearer than Raleigh. It is a far cry from the day when Mr. Pittman planted his sole tobacco crop in Robeson to the present, when Fairmont with her 8 warehouses, 3 re-drying plants, and other modern equipment, sells around thirty million pounds of the golden weed each season, and bases her prosperity upon the crop which Mr. Pittman pioneered upon such a modest scale. We hope in the near future to see factories built in Fairmont which will manufacture the leaf into the finished product.
A. S. (Sandy) Thompson was another pioneer of Fairmont. Register of Deeds, large farmer, director in several corporate enterprises, his services could always be impressed for the public good.
There are other names at Fairmont which deserve mention, such as N. W. Jenkins, legislator; A. J. Floyd, merchant and public spirited citizen; Oscar Pittman, quiet, substantial citizen whose hand was one of those upon the helm at Fairmont.Builders of Barnesville, Marietta, McDonalds
The name of Richard Rhodes Barnes stands alone in his section. A sketch devoted to him will be found elsewhere in this book.
At Marietta, the name Oliver is the outstanding one. J. S. (Shep) Oliver was the commanding influence in
Whitehouse township. He served several terms as a Representative from Robeson County, always with distinction, and was known and held in affectionate esteem by all Robeson. A farmer upon a large scale, with an extensive mercantile business, and a wide field of activity in all his section, he led the life of Whitehouse in his day and generation.
C. A. Oliver was another member of the Oliver family who served his native section with fidelity and ability. He was for many years a County Commissioner, and was a wise and safe counsellor of his people. He was always consulted before anything definite could be done in Whitehouse, and his passing left a vacant place in the life of that section which has never quite been filled.
When we come to the McDonald-Raynham section the name Townsend will at once occur to those who know anything of the history of our county. Richard Townsend was a typical antebellum southern gentleman, who lived at home upon his broad acres, produced practically everything that his large family or his numerous slaves required, occupied a leading place in the life of the county and was generally looked to for leadership of both Church and State in his locality. He owned the land on which McDonald is built. He raised, educated and equipped a large family, and numerous descendants even to the third and fourth generation, rise up to call him blessed. His children were: Claude B. Townsend, of Lumberton, lawyer, banker, Clerk of our Superior Court, oldest living graduate of Duke University; Frank M. Townsend (deceased), planter, who lived at McDonald; J. A. Townsend (deceased), merchant of Hot Springs, Ark.; L. S. Townsend (deceased), planter, of Maxton; W. H. Townsend, telephone executive of High Point; R. W. Townsend (deceased), for many years in the Methodist ministry; J. L.
Townsend, large planter of near Richmond, Va.; Leonidas T. Townsend, prominent citizen, of Lumberton; Mrs. Agnes McCallum, widow of A. T. McCallum, one of the builders of Red Springs; Mrs. Susan McLeod of Lumberton (deceased); and Mrs. Elizabeth T. McLean (deceased), first wife of the late Col. Neill Archie McLean of Lumberton.
Lewis R. Hamer took a prominent part in the affairs of southern Robeson. A man of large means and extensive interests, of high character, he served for many years in the vanguard of the life of his section. He served as member of the Board of Education of Robeson County; as director of several corporations, and in other positions of trust and confidence. He assisted in the organization of several business enterprises and the life of that community shows the result of his labors to this day. He was the father-in-law of Dr. George M. Pate, of Rowland.The Builders of St. Pauls-Parkton
For many years there was a settlement grouped around the Presbyterian Church located in what is now the extreme western limits of present day St. Pauls. Here there was a large general store conducted by Locke Shaw.
Mr. Shaw was for many years the outstanding man of that section. The people looked to him for leadership, and received it from his capable hands. He was the friend, mentor and counsellor of his people, and when any new project was planned, always the first question was, what does Mr. Shaw think of it? He served for many years as County Commissioner of Robeson County, and was the friend and early benefactor of the institution now known as Flora McDonald College. When the Virginia & Carolina Southern Railroad was built, Mr. Shaw and his
brother-in-law, A. R. McEachern, who owned the land on which St. Pauls was built, laid off the townsite, sold many town lots, and, with others, organized the town. He conceived the St. Pauls Cotton Mills and became its first president, its other original officers being J. M. Butler, Sr., vice president, and A. R. McEachern, secretary-treasurer. When Mr. Shaw died after a long career of great usefulness, that section sustained an irreparable loss.
A. R. (Sandy) McEachern was connected with St. Pauls from early youth. After a period of service with his brother-in-law, Locke Shaw, in his mercantile business, Mr. McEachern assisted in the laying out and development of the infant town. He was prime mover in the establishment of the Bank of St. Pauls and was to the end a director thereof. With his kinsmen, James A. and Walter D. Johnson and L. A. McGeachey, he organized McEachern-Johnson-McGeachey Co., the largest mercantile business of the town. In fact, Mr. Sandy (as he was affectionately known) was connected with practically every enterprise of his section. His principal business, however, was textiles, and he served either as president or as secretary-treasurer of the original St. Pauls Cotton Mill and of the Ernaldson and McEachern Cotton Mills from their organization to his death. He was a man of high character, beloved by all who knew him and his recent death was lamented by all Robeson. He, too, served his county for years as County Commissioner.
Dr. Thomas L. Northrop was an early citizen of St. Pauls who must be named in any list of the leaders of northern Robeson. He was the leading physician of that end of the county. He was also an excellent man of business, a large landowner, and one who had a large part in the development of his section. He was a director in the Bank of St. Pauls, in the Cotton Mills and other enterprises.
His untimely death in the prime of a vigorous and most useful manhood, was a great loss to his section.
James A. Johnson also played a prominent part in the building of his town. He, with his brother, Walter D. Johnson, was a large farmer, and was interested in the cotton mill, the bank, the mercantile business of McEachern-Johnson-McGeachey Co., Johnson Bros. Lumber Co., and other enterprises. He was deservedly one of the most popular men who ever lived in that section.
When we get to Parkton, the name of Neill McNeill should head the list of those who wrought for that section and have passed away. He was a man of large farming and business interests and laid a great part of the foundation of his town. He was its leading citizen for many years, and his memory lives after him in our county.
James McNatt was another pioneer builder at Parkton whose name deserves more than passing mention. Of high character and great natural ability, he took and maintained a commanding position in the life of his section. He was the father of the late J. C. D. McNatt, and the son carried on the traditions of his father.
C. D. Williamson was another builder of Parkton who has passed from the scene of action. He was for years a Rural Carrier from the Parkton postoffice, and is perhaps best known for his great interest in community singing. But over and above this he was a guiding influence in the life of Parkton, and his recent death will be felt in that section for many years.
If those now living could be considered, we would of course, include such men as John B. McCormick, patriarch; Collier Cobb, legislator; Major John B. Malloy, national guardsman, and others, but this our limits preclude.
The settlement at Lumber Bridge dates back many years, and the military company at that point is one of the oldest in the State. Its citizens have done their full share in the building of Robeson.
Rev. Dr. P. R. Law, eminent Presbyterian divine, spent his youth and early manhood at Lumber Bridge, where he was a moulder of public sentiment and a forceful personality in the life of the county. His talents were such that he was called to a larger field of usefulness, and he became and continued until his death the editor of the Presbyterian Standard, organ of that church in North Carolina.
Angus L. Shaw was for many years a leading figure in the life of northern Robeson. He was a merchant and large farmer, and a man of such probity, force and energy that he was constantly called upon to serve the public. He served with notable distinction both as State Senator and as County Commissioner. One of his sons, Duncan Preston Shaw, Lumberton lawyer, married a daughter of Col. Alfred Rowland.
Maurice L. Marley was another leading citizen who wielded much influence in the life of the county. A leading merchant and farmer, of keen intellect and great business sagacity, he had a large part in the building of his section. He served for a long period as County Commissioner, and his descendants today continue to play a prominent part in the life of upper Robeson.
Henry M. John was another forceful citizen of his town. A man of utmost integrity, much interested in the cause of public education, he also served for many years upon the Board of Commissioners of the county. He was a brother of R. B. John, Presiding Elder of the Methodist
Episcopal Church; J. T. John, prominent merchant and beloved elder citizen of Scotland County; and Maxcy L. John, Laurinburg lawyer.
Dr. Thomas Stamps was another notable man of his day. He was the leading physician of his section, beloved by all who knew him. He was also a man of affairs, being director in the Bank of Lumber Bridge, St. Pauls Cotton Mills, and other institutions. His recent death was lamented by northern Robeson.
The pioneer citizen of Pates was R. W. Livermore. For many years he conducted a large general store there and acted as the friend, counsellor and guide to that entire section. White, Indians and Negroes looked to him for leadership. He was to the manor born, and continued to the end of his life the foremost figure of his section. He was the father of Russell H. Livermore, of Lumberton, who inherited his fine business sagacity from his father.Builders of Robeson
In concluding this series of thumb nail sketches, let me say there has been no effort to tell a connected story, or to be inclusive in the narrative. There has simply been an attempt to tell something of the men of the past whose lives have loomed large in the life of our State or County. And there has been failure even here, as I doubt not numerous names have been omitted which by all means should have been included. Memory is very treacherous. These names will occur to me later and will increase the mortification when such omission or oversight is called to my attention or is remembered by me.
Robeson is a great county—in fact a State within a
State. She is the largest county in North Carolina; she has more railroad mileage and more hard surfaced roads than any other county. She ranks near the top in the number of her inhabitants, and in the value of her annual products. She stands at the top as a rich agricultural county. She has rich traditions behind her, and a glorious future in front of her. But her greatest asset is the character of her citizenship and the forward look of her people.
I cannot close these sketches without calling the attention of the youth of our county to some of the names which are conspicuous in the history of our county, and without appealing to them to emulate the lives and the virtues of those men who made our county what it is and who have passed from the scene of action. Are there not hundreds of Robeson County youth who would like to be:
GREAT PREACHERS—such as Dr. H. G. Hill, or Rev. William Black.
GREAT EDUCATORS—such as Charles G. Vardell, John Bethune Carlyle, or Stinson Ivey.
GREAT LAWYERS—such as Col. Neill Archie McLean, Stephen McIntyre, Gilbert B. Patterson or Angus Dhu MacLean.
GREAT DOCTORS—such as Richard M. Norment, John D. McMillan, John B. Brown or Richard Lewis.
GREAT BUSINESS EXECUTIVES AND STATESMEN—such as Governor Angus Wilton McLean.
GREAT MERCHANTS—such as Arthur C. Melke or Luther H. Caldwell, both noted for their generosity.
GREAT PUBLIC SPIRITED CITIZENS—such as Edward Knox Proctor or Robert D. Caldwell.
GREAT BELOVED CITIZENS—such as Rev. I. P. Hedgepeth, Charles H. Durham, Charles B. Skipper, or W. S. Wishart (“C”).
GREAT MEN OF A LOST CAUSE—such as Col. Alfred Rowland, Col. William Foster French, Captain William S. Norment.
GREAT SERVANTS OF THE COUNTY AT LARGE—such as Richard Rhodes Barnes, of Barnesville; A. L. Bullock, of Rowland; J. W. Carter or A. J. McKinnon, of Maxton; A. T. McCallum, of Red Springs; P. R. Law, of Lumber Bridge; Locke Shaw or A. R. McEachern, of St. Pauls.
If so, or if the lives of any of these men proves an encouragement and an inspiration to even one Robeson youth, I shall feel that my effort has not been entirely in vain.
SOME INCIDENTS IN
THE MINUTES OF ASBURY CHURCH
RAYNHAM—down in Robeson, was named after the seat of the Townsend family in England, as the Townsends predominate in the neighborhood. Here Richard and Jackson Townsend raised their large families, and from hence came Nat Townsend, superior court judge, Parole Commissioner, and Washington lawyer.
The traveler may have some difficulty in locating Raynham, as there is nothing there but a small country store, and ancient Asbury Church, named in honor of Methodism's first American Bishop.
In the days before the Civil War, old Peter Doub, pioneer Methodist itinerant, ministered to the flock at Asbury, which numbered more slaves among its membership than whites. They worshipped in a gallery, high up under the roof, whence they could look down on the white folks below. Mr. Doub also ministered to FIFTEEN other Methodist Churches down in Robeson, preaching to each as often as possible.
And right after the Civil War came the mighty veteran John Tillett to minister to the spiritual needs of Methodism at old Asbury and he too undertook to preach to fifteen other congregations. He was gathered to his fathers over fifty years ago, but his shadow yet rests over two states: over Tennessee, where his son, Dr. Wilbur F., is Dean of Vanderbilt University; over North Carolina, where down Charlotte way there is a host of Tillett grandchildren who carry on the best traditions of their elders.
The minute book of the church conferences held at old Asbury contains much quaint and curious information. The Clerk recorded his views of the failures and
shortcomings of his brethren and sisters with a positive assurance which left nothing to the imagination. And those plagued Baptists! They had a way of making a raid on the Methodist congregation every now and then, and carrying off a sheep here and there. This irked the very soul of the Methodist clerk, and it was hard for him to control his indignation. A few of his comments set opposite the names of the members on the roster of the congregation will show the travail of his soul as he recorded the doings of the heartless Baptists:
Here a line is drawn through the name of an erstwhile member, and opposite it is written: “Turned out. No good nohow.” Another: “Gone to the Baptists. Never was no force.” Another: “She fell from grace.” Another: “Deep water.” This stumped me for a time, but as the Baptists immerse and the Methodists sprinkle, I concluded that the clerk knew the Baptists had got his member, but was too proud to admit it! Another: “Expelled. Good riddance.” Another: “Gone to the Baptists OR WORSE.” This held me for a time, but I reached the conclusion that the words “or worse” was simply a sly dig of the clerk at the Presbyterians!
And the pages bearing the names of the slave members of the congregation are marked across, and on the margin is written the annotation: “All gone to old Abe Lincoln.”
Mr. and Mrs. L. T. Townsend, of Lumberton, and their kinsmen have recently formed an association to protect and preserve this ancient landmark, where the only service now held is a “homecoming” once a year. I know the formation of this association is a comfort to the old church clerk of the sixties as he looks down on Asbury from his home on the other shore. For years he has been troubled less the heartless Baptists make another raid and carry off the very building!
THE VALLEY OF THE LUMBER
THE field of Culloden was disastrous for the Scotch who were disastrously and decisively defeated by the English, and its results dashed the hopes of bonnie Prince Charles Edward to regain the Scottish throne of his ancestors. But the battle resulted in immeasurable good to North Carolina, for as one result of this battle thousands of the Scotch emigrated to the new world, to North Carolina, and to the Valley of the LUMBER, where they people the valley to this good hour.
Our stream rises up in the foothills of Moore, near Jackson Springs, and it is perhaps most crooked of all Carolina streams. It ties itself into knots, twists and loops such as that master contortionist, the black snake, would deem impossible. And its crooked winding course continues until it loses itself in the broad Pee Dee down in South Carolina. Let us briefly trace its course through Moore, Scotland, Hoke and Robeson.
Scarce more than a spring branch it passes near Aberdeen, home of that great Carolinian, editor, publisher, founder of State College, Ambassador to the Court of St. James—Walter Hines Page, who with his brother Robert N., the Congressman, another brother, Henry A., Food Controller in war days; another brother, Frank, who built our hard surfaced highways; and another brother, J. R., the banker, all came from tiny Aberdeen.
Just a few miles lower down and Riverton is reached—not a town but a thickly settled community with the reputation of more college graduates per square mile than any country community in North Carolina. This was not an
accident. It has been often said that an institution may be but the lengthened shadow of some individual, and the same may be true of a community. It is true of Riverton, for the lengthened shadow here is that of John Monroe, pioneer preacher, mighty man of God, who ministered to the section for nearly half a century. His works do follow him today in the life of that community. To him and to the influence of Floral College, a few miles down stream, which produced the cultured womanhood so essential to the production of christian manhood, are due influences for good which compass the globe.
Glance at a few of the notable names coming from this community: Archibald Johnson, mighty editor, and his brilliant son, the nationally known author and editorial writer of the Baltimore Sun, Gerald W. Johnson; Livingston Johnson, mighty preacher, for years leader of North Carolina Baptists, and his distinguished son, Dr. Wingate M. Johnson, Winston surgeon, president State Medical Association; John Charles McNeill, Poet Laureate of North Carolina; John Arch McMillan, editor of Charity and Children; Hudson H. McMillan, veteran foreign missionary; Robert L. McMillan, prominent Raleigh lawyer; Jasper L. Memory, Jr., professor of education Wake Forest College. There are yet others.
A few miles down stream and we reach Floral College, seat of the oldest woman's college in North Carolina authorized to confer degrees. Here, prior to and after the Civil War, came the daughters of eastern North and South Carolina, and received the higher education which has made the section so notable for the broad culture of its womanhood. The college went down years ago, but its influence still abides, and its daughter Flora McDonald College yet lives at Red Springs—worthy daughter of a great mother.
Here at Floral College served that mighty man of God, Rev. Dr. Halbert G. Hill, who preached the Word until past ninety. He was several times Moderator of the Presbyterian Synod of North Carolina; for nearly fifty years a trustee of Union Theological seminary; and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church—the highest gift within the power of that church. HIS shadow extends over several counties.
A few more miles down stream and the hamlet of Maxton is reached. The town is a mere speck on the landscape, but I know of no similar town with a record such as that possessed by this village in the land of the “God Blessed Macs”. Consider a few names briefly: Sallie Lou McKinnon, veteran foreign missionary, but recalled from that service to head the Woman's Work of the Southern Methodist Church; Lillian Austin, foreign missionary to Korea; Mabel Currie, foreign missionary to China.
Now glance at the men of Maxton: Three successful lawyers all abandoned their legal careers and entered the Christian ministry: Sylvester B. McLean, Solicitor of his district, now prominent Presbyterian divine of Charlotte; his brilliant brother, John Allen, who was once the law partner of Congressman John G. Shaw, of Fayetteville, and who has been for years pastor of Ginter Park Presbyterian Church at Richmond; and Rev. Dr. William Black, who was for more than twenty years General Evangelist of the Presbyterian Synod of North Carolina; Rev. Dr. R. L. McLeod, Jr., president of Centre College, Kentucky. Cannot the brooding shadow of the beloved Dr. Hill be seen here?
From Maxton also came the brilliant Angus Dhu McLean, Assistant Attorney General of the United States, one of the really great lawyers our State has produced; Gilbert B. Patterson, Congressman, and other notable
men. All, mind you, from a town no larger than a handkerchief!
Two miles down the river and we reach Alma, from which comes the heroic figure of Elizabeth Ann MacRae. Pioneer home missionary was she, a great woman who was the mother of Woman's Work in the Southern Presbyterian Church. Bearing her own expenses she established more than sixty missionary societies in Fayetteville Presbytery alone! Then she moved into the deep Appalachians, and on faith alone established the institution known as Lees-MacRae College, out of whose walls have gone over 2500 underprivileged mountain youth. And her work goes marching on!
Down the winding course of the river, and we come to Lumberton, which also has rendered the State some service. From here came Angus Wilton McLean, distinguished business man and lawyer, Chairman of the War Finance Corporation; Assistant Secretary of the Treasury; great Governor of a great State. From here came that veteran jurist, Judge Thomas A. McNeill, Scot of the Scotch. From here came Colonel Neill Archie McLean, most brilliant of all lawyers I have known after forty years at the Bar. Here dwelt Edward Knox Proctor, pioneer in civic righteousness, whose efforts banned intoxicants from Robeson and enabled it to become the pioneer prohibition county of eastern Carolina. Here also dwelt Stephen McIntyre, powerful lawyer, legislator and civil leader, who introduced in the State Senate the bill appropriating the first $100,000.00 ever appropriated from the State treasury in aid of the public schools. He served as trustee of Wake Forest College, of Meredith College, and of the Baptist Orphanage at Thomasville—the only man in the State to hold these three important positions. These are
but a few of the high lights of Lumberton's contribution. I could go over into South Carolina, but I forbear.
The stream of the Lumber may be narrow and crooked, but the stream flows deep. And, as the Book says, “DEEP CALLETH UNTO DEEP.”
THE GOD BLESSED MACS
THE honorable Josephus Daniels, veteran former editor of the News and Observer, former Secretary of the Navy, and present Ambassador to Mexico, has long been North Carolina's most distinguished citizen.
It is well known that many years ago, Mr. Daniels dubbed the representatives from the Cape Fear section as the “God Blessed Macs.”, but the present generation is not acquainted with the circumstances which rise to that expression. I remembered quite well that it was in connection with some bill pending in the legislature in which Mr. Daniels was intensely interested, and wherein the votes of the representatives from this section saved the day, but I was somewhat vexed when I could not remember what the bill was, or the attendant circumstances. I was forced to appeal to Mr. Daniels for assistance, and His Excellency has courteously placed the desired information at my disposal, with many kind words for the people of this section. I think our people will be interested in the circumstances which gave rise to the phrase.
Prior to the legislature of 1909, Mr. Daniels had been conducting a campaign to require the railroads to reduce their passenger rates from three to two cents per mile, but the Railroad Commission had refused to require the roads to make the reduction. When the legislature met in 1909, E. J. Justice, of Greensboro, member of the House from Guilford, (son of the late Judge M. H. Justice, of Rutherford) and one of the ablest lawyers North Carolina ever produced, promptly introduced a bill to require the railroads to reduce their fares. The fight raged bitterly, and
for many days, and long before the vote was then taken it was evident that the contending forces were about evenly divided. The vote as finally taken resulted in the passage of the measure by the close vote of 61 to 59—every member of the House being present and voting. An analysis of the vote showed that every representative whose name began with “Mac” voted in favor of the bill. Next morning the jubilant News and Observer had a flaring headline extending across the entire front page, proclaiming that “The God Blessed Macs Saved The Day.” The phrase has been used by Mr. Daniels many times since that day, and has become a classic in North Carolina history.
Mr. Daniels probably had a ledger in which he kept a list of his “God Blessed Macs.” If he kept books properly, as no doubt he did, he must have had a “per contra” page whereon the “God D—d Macs” were also listed! But if Mr. Daniels kept such a list, the names were few and far between, whereas his list of the “God Blessed Macs” would fill many pages.
SOME ANECDOTES OF WILTON MCLEAN
(Long Before He Became Governor)
WILTON was before judge Charles M. Cooke, trying to get a juror excused from serving because of important business out of town. “Bring him up,” said the judge. So the juror was brought up and introduced to the court. “Aren't you the son of my old Confederate comrade, Colonel so-and-so?” asked the judge. “I certainly am,” replied the juror, now certain that he would be excused. “I have often heard my father speak of his service in the Confederate army with your honor, and of his affection for you.” “This moves me deeply,” said the judge. “I feel I must become better acquainted with the son of my old comrade. HAVE A SEAT IN THE JURY BOX AND SPEND A WEEK WITH ME.”
* * * * *
Wilton was cross-examining Tom Pate who was appearing as a witness in an action for damages growing out of an automobile accident. Pate testified that Wilton's car was travelling seventy miles an hour. “Why don't you know you can't travel that fast on our dirt roads?” asked Wilton. “But you can. I have done so myself,” replied Pate. “Just tell the jury when you travelled that fast,” smiled Wilton, looking at the jury knowingly. “Well, gentlemen, it was this way,” said Pate. “I was driving Mr. McLean over to court at Elizabethtown and I accidentally ran over some chickens. The farmer ran out with a shot gun, and Mr. McLean told me to step on the gas, which I did. He kept saying go faster, go faster, and faster I went. I know we went at least seventy miles an hour.”
Wilton began tearing up paper into small bits as was his habit when things were not going just right.
When Wilton was about to build the V. & C. S. into Lumberton, I was local counsel for the Seaboard. We heard it was his intention to lay his track on the Seaboard right of way so as to get between the Seaboard depot and the town. We had instructions to prevent this by legal proceedings. One day the Seaboard office at Hamlet telephoned us that three cars were en route to Lumberton from Hamlet, loaded with steel rails consigned to the V. & C. S. I knew I would not have time to prepare papers for an injunction, take them to Fayetteville and have them signed by the judge, before the rails would arrive in Lumberton. I therefore met the freight train on its arrival, hurriedly explained the situation to the conductor, told him to have his train pull out immediately and take the three cars of rail down to Allenton and put them on the sidetrack there. This was done, and I went back up town, smiling to myself at the way I had arranged to circumvent Wilton and his new railroad. That afternoon I prepared my papers, went to Fayetteville, got the injunction signed by the judge, and late that night returned to Lumberton. Early next morning I sought out the sheriff and told him I wanted an injunction served. “On whom and for what?” said the sheriff. I told him. “For heaven's sake,” said the sheriff. “Didn't you know they laid that track last night? Wilton McLean hired every mule and wagon he could lay his hands on, went down to Allenton, got those rails, hauled them up here through the country, and laid that track before day this morning. Go see for yourself.” I hurried down the street toward the depot. Wilton and his partner, Col. N. A. McLean, were evidently expecting me to pass, and were lying in wait for me. When I got opposite their office they called to me. I pretended
not to hear and kept going, but they continued to call so loudly that I realized everyone in sight would know that I heard them. So I reluctantly looked up to where Wilton and the Colonel were standing at the windows of their offices. “YOU DIDN'T SEND THEM FAR ENOUGH,” yelled Wilton. “SEND THEM TO WILMINGTON NEXT TIME,” yelled the Colonel. Then Wilton and the Colonel both laughed derisively.
I think this was the only instance during my forty years at the Bar when I really felt like committing a homicide!
* * * * *
One afternoon I told Wilton of the desperate plight of one of my friends who was not a resident of Lumberton or of Robeson. He said nothing, but two days later I received a plain envelope through the mail containing twenty five dollars in currency. I did not have to be told who sent it. Wilton had. Under at times a somewhat gruff exterior, there beat as kindly a heart as I have ever known.
ROBESON AND THE ADOPTION OF THE
WHEN the Constitutional Convention met at Hillsboro in 1788 to consider whether North Carolina should ratify the Federal Constitution, the delegates from the new county of Robeson were: General John Willis, Elias Barnes, Neill Brown, John Cade and John Regan. These delegates voted in favor of ratification with the exception of John Regan, who voted against it. The opponents of ratification had a large majority in the Convention and ratification was rejected. The next Convention to consider the question met at Fayetteville in 1789. Robeson was represented by the same delegates with the exception of John Regan. His action in voting against ratification was evidently displeasing to his constituents, and he was succeeded by Sion Alford. Prior to the holding of the Fayetteville convention, the Bill of Rights (first ten amendments to the Constitution) had been proposed, so the Fayetteville convention by a large majority ratified the Constitution and North Carolina became the twelfth State to be admitted to the American Union.
A glance at the Robeson delegates to these conventions may be of interest: John Willis is well known as the father of Lumberton, our town having been laid out upon his lands. He was a Major General of Militia, and was the first Senator from Robeson County, serving several terms. Elias Barnes was also a prominent man. He was on the committee which located the county seat of Robeson; he was a commissioner to conduct the lottery when the town
was established; he was the first member of the House of Commons from Robeson, and succeeded John Willis as Senator, serving seven terms.
I am unable to trace Neil Brown, but the chances all are that he was from the Philadelphus section. John Regan was afterward clerk of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions. Sion Alford was a son of Jacob Alford, progenitor of the Alford family in Robeson, in whose honor Alfordsville township was named.
John Cade was a distinguished man. He was a son-in-law of the famous Dr. James Robert (Robin) Adair, in whose honor a memorial was recently erected by the Colonial Dames at Ashpole Presbyterian Church near Rowland. Cade was a large land owner, even in that day of large land holdings, and owned thousands of acres on Ashpole, Wilkinson and Shoeheel Swamps. He was the second largest slave-holder in the county. While not a lawyer, he was acquainted with legal terms to the extent that he was a skilled conveyancer. Several deeds, more than 150 years old, written in his own hand, are in the possession of my friend David Townsend, of Rowland. Cade's handwriting was beautiful, but his spelling was simply atrocious!
The signing of sheriff's bonds has always been risky. Samuel Porter was the first high sheriff of Robeson, and gave bond with John Cade and Sampson Bridgers as sureties. Bridgers was also one of the commissioners who laid out the town of Lumberton. A few years after Robeson was established, General Willis, Senator from Robeson, presented to the Senate a memorial from Cade and Bridgers reciting that they were sureties on Porter's bond, that the State treasurer was about to issue execution against them on a judgment and they were threatened with ruin. They prayed the General Assembly to give
them time to pay up! A resolution was duly passed by both houses to that effect! But the sheriff did not fare so well. His lands were sold under execution, and as they were bid in by Elias Barnes, a friend of John Cade's, it must be presumed they were bid in for the benefit of the unfortunate sureties.
AN OUTLINE OF THE ROBESON COUNTY BAR
I HAVE been unable to prepare a history of the Robeson Bar, but have undertaken to sketch an outline in the hope that a copy may be preserved in the vault in the Clerk's office to the end that at least the names of the members of our notable Bar may be preserved for posterity. Even this has not been done heretofore, and there are even new names on the old appearance dockets of lawyers I have been unable to trace. Fame is a most transient quality, and almost as soon as a man passes from the scene of action, his glory fades away.
“Change and decay in all around I see.”
The only source of the names of the early lawyers who appeared in our local courts is the old “appearance dockets” in the clerk's office. Even here you have to guess, as there were no typewriters in those days, and things were shortened and abbreviated as much as possible. Only the surnames of the lawyers were listed, such as McLean for plaintiff; French for defendant. This was not very helpful as there were several McLean's and two lawyers named French. However, I think I have succeeded in tracing most of the old appearances.
In these early days there were not even any pleadings, the courts of law and equity being separate; and the lawyers noted in latin what their pleas were: “not est factum” (he did not make it); “nil dicit”; “indebitas assumpsit,” and the like. And when there were any pleadings they were of the common law type—John Doe v. Richard Roe—such as is described in Warren's famous novel for
lawyers “Ten Thousand a Year” which should be read by every young lawyer who would know anything of the common law.
It has been hard to even determine the manner in which to mention the various members of our Bar, or the order in which to place them. I have tried several ways of doing this, and am utterly dissatisfied with the following plan, but have been unable to find a better one. Firm names change, partners retire, go elsewhere, or pass away; others take their places and the picture changes from year to year. Someone criticised the proverbs of Solomon, whereupon the critic was requested to write a proverb of his own. So if my method of arrangement is unsatisfactory, choose a method of your own.
The earliest appearance at the Robeson Bar was largely by lawyers from the older Bars of Fayetteville and Elizabethtown. The following names occur frequently upon the old dockets:
1. JOHN D. TOOMER, of Fayetteville. Justice of the Supreme Court.
2. ROBERT STRANGE, of Fayetteville. Superior Court Judge and United States Senator.
3. JAMES C. DOBBIN, of Fayetteville. Speaker of the House, Congressman; Secretary of the Navy; father of hospitals for the Insane in Carolina; outstanding statesman of his day. See my article on Secretary Dobbin in my book “Here in Carolina” under the caption “The Naming of Dix Hill”.
4. JAMES J. MCKAY, of Elizabethtown. United States District Attorney; Congressman and Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
5. WILLIAM DUFFY, of Fayetteville. Seriously
wounded in a duel with another outstanding Fayetteville lawyer, Judge Duncan Cameron.
The first homicide case ever reported in North Carolina came from Robeson and Duffy appeared for the defendant. His client was convicted, sentenced to be hung, and Duffy appealed the case to the old “Court of Conference” before its name was changed to the Supreme Court. See State v. Carter, 1 N. C. 121. Duffy moved in arrest of judgment for that: (a) in the indictment the term of court (1800) was written in numerals instead of letters; and (b) because in the indictment which fixed the location of the lethal wound, the word breast was spelled “brest.” The court held that our brother Duffy was just too technical on his first points; but four out of five Judges were with him on the second. He won his case—quite a habit with practitioners at the Robeson Bar!
6. THOMAS C. FULLER, of Fayetteville. Confederate officer; Congressman; Judge United States Supreme Court of Claims. Colonel Fuller was the father of Williamson W. Fuller, general counsel for the American Tobacco Company, and attorney for James B. Duke; Frank L. Fuller, general counsel for Liggett and Myers; and James Fuller, prominent member of the Durham Bar.
The names “Haigh” and “Winslow” also appear, and as these are both Fayetteville names, undoubtedly the lawyers so named were of the Cumberland Bar.
7. JOHN D. SHAW, of Rockingham. Major Shaw was one of the outstanding lawyers of his day, and appeared in most of the important litigation, including the famous “McDougald” capital felony at Fayetteville. For nearly 50 years he represented the railroads now known as the Seaboard Air Line. He was the father of the brilliant John D.
Shaw, Jr., of the Laurinburg Bar, who tried the famous McDougald case.
The late James McNeill Johnson of the Moore county Bar once wrote a history of the “McNeill family,” one of its branches being the “Proud McNeills.” He said father Noah invited one of these “Proud” McNeills to have a seat in his ark, but that the McNeill politely declined his invitation, saying “I have a boat of my own”. So Robeson soon acquired a Bar of her own.
Undoubtedly the oldest legal firm in Robeson County, and one of the oldest in the State, is the firm now known as McLEAN AND STACY, which can trace its title back to 1840. Beginning with Alexander McLean its membership has included Col. N. A. McLean, Sr., Col. N. A. McLean, Jr., Claudius B. Townsend, Governor Angus W. McLean, W. B. Snow, J. Gilchrist McCormick, Judge L. R. Varser and its present members Dickson McLean and Horace E. Stacy.
1. ALEXANDER McLEAN was one of the leaders of the Cape Fear Bar beginning the practice around 1840. From his family a line of lawyers extends to today.
2. COLONEL NEILL ARCHIE McLEAN, SR., who came to the Bar in 1855 and was for years an outstanding legal figure. But he is best known to present day Robesonians because he was the father of the brilliant:
3. COLONEL NEILL ARCHIE McLEAN, JR. He was the most powerful trial lawyer I have ever known.
4. CLAUDIUS B. TOWNSEND, for many years Clerk of the Superior Court; bank president and business executive. He is the oldest living graduate of Duke University. Long since retired, he ranks yet as Dean at our Bar.
5. GOVERNOR ANGUS WILTON McLEAN, Chairman of the War Finance Corporation, Assistant Secretary
United States Treasury; Governor of his state; nationally known banker, business executive, master builder. See sketch elsewhere herein.
6. WILLIAM B. SNOW, native of Raleigh and son of one of the State's most distinguished lawyers, George H. Snow of the Raleigh Bar. Mr. Snow practiced several years at our Bar as a member of the McLean firm before returning to Raleigh.
7. J. GILCHRIST McCORMICK, one of the most talented men of his day, possessing one of the brightest minds of any man of my acquaintance. He moved to Wilmington becoming an executive of the Acme Fertilizer Company, of which his uncle, William McCormick, was the titular head.
8. JAMES DICKSON McLEAN, who has followed the example of Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson, and shortened his name to simply Dickson. He is a cousin of Col. Neill Archie McLean, Governor Angus Wilton McLean, and the host of the Maxton McLeans hereinafter referred to. He is a lawyer of conspicuous ability, not merely at home but throughout the State, distinguished as much for his high character as for his legal ability. Member of the Council of the State Bar. Examplar of all that is best as associated with the name McLean.
9. HORACE E. STACY, who is an outstanding leader in other fields as well as in law. One of the best trial lawyers Carolina possesses, he has also found time to render excellent service to yet two other causes: (a) the public schools; and (b) the Methodist Church. When anything is needed to be done along educational or religious lines, a hurry call is sent out for Stacy. He is as fine a man and as big a lawyer as his brother, our Chief Justice.
Now let us dip back into the past and bring up some of
the lawyers who were contemporaries of Alexander McLean when he founded the firm above referred to:
10. NATHANIEL McLEAN, outstanding member of the Robeson Bar for many years, actively engaged in the practice, his name often appearing upon the dockets. Said to have been a man of outstanding character as well as of large legal ability.
11. GILES E. LEITCH, a notable figure at our Bar, and it was in his office that numerous lawyers received their legal training and education. His office stood on court house square on the southeast corner of Fourth and Chestnut streets.
12. ROBERT E. TROY, another of the towering figures of the ante-bellum Robeson. In the act of 1812, setting up a municipal government for Lumberton, elsewhere referred to in this volume, he was designated as Magistrate (Mayor). He was also Master of St. Alban's Lodge A. F. & A. M.
13. ROBERT S. FRENCH was likewise a prominent figure of the old Bar, and in the act above referred to he was named as one of the Lumberton Commissioners. He later moved to Wilmington and was elected as Judge of the Superior Court.
14. COLONEL WILLIAM FOSTER FRENCH, was one of the most famous trial lawyers of his day. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Confederate service (73rd. Junior Reserves); legislator; leader of the Democratic party in the days of reconstruction. It was to him that General William R. Cox sent the famous “As you love your State hold Robeson” telegram. See the article “Hold Robeson” elsewhere in this volume. His junior partner was:
15. CAPTAIN WILLIAM S. NORMENT, of the Confederate army; Solicitor; a man in the van of the famous
Robeson family of that name. See a sketch of his career elsewhere in this volume.
16. COLONEL ALFRED ROWLAND, Confederate soldier; Congressman; outstanding lawyer and distinguished citizen, descendant of a long line of ancestors associated with Robeson from its beginning. See sketch of Colonel Rowland elsewhere in this volume. His son:
17. JOHN A. ROWLAND, was one of the finest men I have ever known. Disabled by physical disability in early manhood, he served with high distinction as Mayor of Lumberton and as the first Recorder of our local court. He had as fine a sense of judicial temper as any man could possess. There were few appeals from his decisions.
18. JUDGE THOMAS A. MCNEILL, sturdy example of the hardy Scotch stock from which he sprang, and from whose Presbyterian ministry he inherited the strength of his rugged character. See sketch of the Judge elsewhere in this volume. His son:
19. THOMAS A. MCNEILL, the younger, former Solicitor of this District, and one of the ablest of present day trial lawyers. He had certain outstanding qualities during his sixteen years of service as Solicitor: his absolute fairness; and if he did not believe a defendant guilty he would not prosecute. One of the few Solicitors I have known who thought it his duty to see that the defendant had justice as well as the State.
20. JOHN CHARLES MCNEILL practiced his profession here for several years, also editing a newspaper known as the “Argus.” One of the few pure geniuses our State has produced. Famous man of letters and Poet Laureate of Carolina.
21. Next to the McLean firm above referred to, the oldest legal firm in Robeson is that to which I will refer as the PROCTOR FIRM, established originally as
“PROCTOR AND MCINTYRE” in 1898, of which firm there have been various members including, in order of time, Robert C. Lawrence, James D. Proctor, Robert A. McIntyre, Judge L. R. Varser and Ozmer L. Henry, the firm as now constituted being VARSER, MCINTYRE and HENRY.
22. EDWARD KNOX PROCTOR, senior of the original firm was one of the largest figures of his day, both in Lumberton and in the county, known for the high quality of his public service, for his devotion to the cause of prohibition and to the Baptist Church. An imposing monument has but recently been erected to his memory at Proctorville (named in his honor), thirty five years after his death. This, in itself, is a striking tribute to the manner of man that he was. He was a trustee of Wake Forest College, a founder of Robeson Institute, connected with every worthwhile movement of his day. See a sketch of him elsewhere in this work. His four sons all became lawyers: James Dick, hereinafter referred to; Edward Knox III, outstanding member of the Whiteville Bar; John G. (Gillie) hereinafter referred to; and Robert W., leader of the Marion Bar where he was in partnership with Supreme Court Justice J. Wallace Winborne. The junior partner of Edward Knox Proctor was:
23. STEPHEN MCINTYRE, eminent trial lawyer; outstanding educator; leader of civic and religious causes upon a Statewide field. Outstanding member of an outstanding Bar. See sketch devoted to him in another part of this volume.
24. ROBERT C. LAWRENCE, author of this outline, who moved here from Raleigh in 1903 and became the partner of Mr. McIntyre which continued until his death in 1926. He was thereafter a member of the firm now
known as Varser, McIntyre and Henry, until forced to retire from the practice due to ill health.
25. JAMES DICK PROCTOR, one of the most careful, thorough and painstaking office lawyers. He was I think, the most popular man of his day, and the sweetest spirit I have ever known. His family had the unique distinction that his grandfather, his father, and he himself, all served as Mayor of our town. He had been nominated to the Senate when an untimely death cut short a career of large usefulness.
26. ROBERT A. MCINTYRE, son of Stephen McIntyre, follows in the footsteps of his distinguished father along many lines. As did his father, he served as Senator in the recent legislature; as was his father, he is a trustee of and attorney for the Thomasville Baptist Orphanage (Mills Home); as was his father, he is a Deacon in the First Baptist Church. Still young.
27. JUDGE LYCURGUS RAYNER VARSER, born in Gates county. There is a contention as to who is the biggest man Gates ever produced, some contending it was William P. Roberts, youngest General in the Confederate service. I knew both men and I am committed to Varser. He came to Lumberton from Kinston and became at first a member of the McLean firm above referred to. His ability was such that Governor McLean placed him upon the Supreme Court Bench. Following the death of Stephen McIntyre, he resigned from that bench and returned to Lumberton to head the firm of Varser, Lawrence and McIntyre, hereinafter referred to. For his ability to tell you what the law is, I rank him but slightly lower than Dean Samuel Mordecai, founder of the Duke Law School, who knew more than any man I have ever known. The Judge is chairman of the Board of Law Examiners and connected with practically everything that goes on in
circles in which either the law or the Baptist church is connected.
28. OZMER L. HENRY began the practice at Rockingham, coming to Lumberton in 1930. He is an excellent lawyer, a safe counsellor, an outstanding leader in civic and religious affairs. Still young and growing.
29. INGRAM P. HEDGPETH is also associated with the Varser firm—one of the youngest members of the Bar, who, if he cannot tell you what the law is has the power to locate it. He is a young man of much promise, toward whom Robesonians feel kindly not only on his own account but on account of his beloved father, the venerable Rev. I. P. Hedgpeth.
30. ROBERT EDWARD LEE is the dean of those now practicing at our Bar. He has an excellent record behind him and I hope my friend lives many years, as he is the only one who stands between me and the deanship, an office I do not covet. His junior partner is his son:
31. W. OSBORNE LEE, quite at home both in his office and in the courts, still young, vigorous and active both at the Bar and in the business life of the town.
32. EVERETT J. BRITT, two days the writer's junior at our Bar; for many years County Attorney; legislator; Sunday School superintendent; trustee of Meredith College; Baptist Deacon; one of the largest farmers in the county; one of its most trusted leaders. Man of outstanding character and ability, who has lived a life of great usefulness. His junior partner is:
33. LUTHER J. BRITT, trial lawyer noted for his ability as a speaker. If your windows rattle it may not be a storm brewing, it may be Luther just getting under way before a jury. Excellent trial lawyer.
34. CHARLES B. SKIPPER, for the past twenty years Clerk of the Superior Court; and even more popular now,
both as a Clerk and as a man, than he was even then. An efficient man in any capacity; no enemies; thousands of friends, a man who can look back upon his life without regrets. He also sings. Since these lines were written Charlie has passed away.
35. R. A. MCLEAN, known to his intimates as “Gus.” Son of Col. Neill Archie McLean, Sr., and a young lawyer of much promise when an untimely death cut short a promising career.
36. WILLIAM S. BRITT, better known as “Billy,” excellent trial lawyer; Senator; large farmer; man of wide usefulness. When I came to Lumberton his partner was his brother:
37. EVANDER M. BRITT, who looked largely after the office practice leaving most of the courthouse work to Billy. Died many years since, when hardly in his prime. Associated with the firm of Britt and Britt there was also:
38. CHARLES BRITT, their kinsman, a young lawyer of promise who moved to Elizabethtown and met an untimely death in an automobile accident; and a nephew of Billy, the present:
39. JAMES C. KING, young lawyer of promise and ability who has an attractive career in front of him.
40. WADE HAMPTON KINLAW, who in addition to the active practice of the law has served as Postmaster, as United States Commissioner, is now Conciliator in Bankruptcy and occupies an influential position in the councils of the political party to which he belongs. A man of high character, trusted by all who know him.
41. THOMAS L. JOHNSON moved to Lumberton after the time the writer did, and later a firm was established known as the JOHNSON FIRM. Associated with which were several members including J. Abner Barker, E. Moseby Johnson, William Y. Floyd, William E. Timberlake
and others. Mr. Johnson was a lawyer of outstanding ability and was appointed to the Supreme Court Bench, later removing to Asheville where he is now a leader of the Asheville Bar. Associated with him in his early days was:
42. J. ABNER BARKER, native of Robeson; excellent lawyer who later moved to Sampson county where he became Senator, and in the last election was elected as Solicitor of his District.
43. E. MOSEBY JOHNSON, brother of Judge Thomas L., for many years and now Mayor of Lumberton; outstanding leader at the Bar and in civic and religious life; man of the highest character. After the removal of his brother to Asheville he founded the firm of Johnson and Floyd, the junior member being:
44. WILLIAM Y. FLOYD, excellent office lawyer, whose death at an early age was a distinct loss to his profession. Associated with the Johnson firm at the present time is:
45. WILLIAM E. TIMBERLAKE, one of the best examples of the younger Bar; a man of high character and great promise. I look for him to become a leading member of the Bar when he catches his full stride.
46. DAVID H. FULLER, graduate of Harvard, served as Captain during the World War, and in the front line trenches in France. Since then he has served as Senator and as Attorney for the Board of Commissioners of our county, which position he still holds. The Captain is good at the trial of cases at nisi prius, or in the briefing of cases for the Supreme Court. But I think his best day's service for himself was when he married Miss Wilma, daughter of our beloved townsman Rev. Dr. Charles H. Durham.
47. JOHN G. PROCTOR, affectionately known as “Gillie,” a balanced lawyer, with the judicial temperament.
He was for many years Recorder here, holding that position until his voluntary retirement.
48. W. BERT IVEY, who has long been a member of the Lumberton Bar, now serving as Recorder, a man popular with his brethren and with all who know him.
49. F. ERTLE CARLYLE, has developed as rapidly as any lawyer of my acquaintance, and at the last election was elected as Solicitor of this District, which important post he is filling with distincton. He should advance far along the road which he now travels.
50. FRANK D. HACKETT, Jr., who has been at the Lumberton Bar for many years and who is an excellent lawyer, and resourceful in finding any hidden point in any case, and in finding an opposite authority.
51. HENRY A. MCKINNON, started in the practice at Maxton, but moved to Lumberton some years since where he is now senior member of McKinnon, Nance and Seawell. Henry is a fine all round lawyer, a man of high character; large usefulness. The next member of his firm is:
52. JAMES R. NANCE, one of the best of the younger trial lawyers. He was formerly Solicitor of the Recorder's Court, and one of the best equipped of our younger brethren. The junior member of the McKinnon firm is:
53. MALCOLM SEAWELL, who but lately removed from Raleigh, having married a daughter of Prof. J. R. Poole. He is a son of Supreme Court Justice A. A. F. Seawell, and those who know him best say that he inherits a large measure of his father's ability.
54. ELLIS E. PAGE, native of Lumberton, where his father of the same name was an outstanding business executive. A young man of fine character and excellent promise of success in his chosen profession.
55. WESLEY C. WATTS, now Solicitor of the Recorder's
Court, and one of the ablest of the younger members of the profession—perhaps I should say middle aged members, because Wesley is not as young as he once was. But his increasing years have also brought increasing professional knowledge and ability.
56. GEORGE T. DEANS, one of the outstanding men of the young trial lawyers; a man of great energy; large capacity with a promise of usefulness already being fulfilled.
57. J. E. CARPENTER, Captain during the World War, began the practice at Maxton; hard worker; rendering his clients able and conscientious service.
58. LESLIE J. HUNTLEY, also a man of restless energy and large capacity, religious leader also. He served as Recorder until his voluntary retirement.
58. (A) WILLIAM H. HUMPHREY, Jr., son of the father of the same name, who was for so many years Clerk of the Superior Court; a hard worker, as capable as he is energetic.
58 (B) B. M. SIBLEY, one of the best business men at our Bar, with a background of efficient and highly capable service in business before he came to the Bar.
59. ROBERT E. FLOYD, seriously handicapped by bodily infirmity, his mind retains its full vigor, and notwithstanding his handicap he went to the University, studied law, passed a severe examination and was admitted to the Bar. He makes a most creditable showing in the courts and possesses an excellent knowledge of the law.
60. ROBERT WEINSTEIN, son of our townsman Aaron Weinstein. I had the honor of introducing Robert to the court when he was admitted to the Bar, and I do not believe our Bar ever acquired a finer gentleman or a lawyer of more promise.
61. A. C. WALKER, native of Maxton, a young man
of high character and fine legal ability, who should go far in the field of the lawyer.
62. CASWELL P. BRITT, member of the Britt family which has furnished so many members of the Robeson Bar. He once practiced at Fairmont where he was Solicitor to the Recorder's Court. A man of large promise.
63. FRANK MCNEILL, one of the ablest of the young members of the Bar, member of the recent legislature, at home either before the court or in the consultation chamber. Moreover an excellent man of business, and interested in more than one enterprise of promise to our town.
Now for a moment let us go back into the past and bring up several men who passed away many years ago:
64. ABNER NASH, scion of the famous Nash Family of Hillsboro, which produced so many famous Generals, Governors and other outstanding men. He knew more about land titles than any man of his day. He was a gentlemanly gentleman.
65. BRUCE MORRISON, son of Register of Deeds John H. Morrison, full of promise but died young.
66. WADE WISHART, one of my classmates at Wake Forest law school. Wade was a good lawyer too, and when I came to Lumberton his junior partner was:
67. DUNCAN PRESTON SHAW, son of Angus L. Shaw of Lumber Bridge. Press was also a good lawyer, represented his county in the legislature, and would have gone far had not an early death shortened a career of great usefulness. He married a daughter of Col. Alfred Rowland.
68. JUNIUS J. GOODWIN, native of Raleigh, moving here was at first associated with the McLean firm, but later practiced alone. One of the most careful, industrious and capable lawyers I have ever known.
69. NORMENT PREVATT, son of “Little Jimmie”
Prevatt. A young man of great promise, he died at an early age after only two years at our Bar.
Let us now take leave of the Lumberton Bar and catch just a glimpse of the COUNTY BAR, beginning at Maxton:
70. JAMES PAYNE, ante-bellum lawyer of whose record I have been able to learn little. He lived near Alma, where his office can still be seen in the yard of his residence by the side of the Lumberton-Maxton road. One of his daughters married Judge Cameron MacRae.
71. GILBERT PATTERSON, legislator; Congressman; man of outstanding ability, foremost figure in his section. See sketch of him elsewhere in this volume. A portrait of Gilbert Patterson should by all means by added to those now in our court room.
72. WILLIAM BLACK, affectionately known as “Captain Willie,” man of large ability, who left the law for the ministry, becoming evangelist of the Presbyterian Synod. See sketch of him elsewhere in this volume.
73. ANGUS DHU MCLEAN, who passed his legal career at Washington, N. C., was a native of Maxton and became an outstanding legal figure in the State. He also became distinguished as a legislator, and served with brilliancy as Assistant Attorney General of the United States, where he argued the famous “Gold case” and other cases of large importance for the government. See sketch of him elsewhere in this volume.
74. SYLVESTER B. MCLEAN, brother of Angus Dhu, was also an outstanding lawyer, Solicitor of this District. He followed the example of William Black, and entered the Presbyterian ministry, being the beloved pastor of Wilmore Presbyterian church at Charlotte. His younger brother:
J. PLUMMER WIGGINS, a man of great ability
who started in the practice at Maxton with Solicitor S. B. McLean. Wiggins could have gone far at the Bar had not the call of other vocations lured him thither. He was for years president of the Bank of Maxton; he served as editor of the Laurinburg Exchange; and he now ably edits “The Voice” here in Lumberton.
75. JOHN ALLEN MCLEAN was one of the most brilliant lawyers I ever knew, embarked upon a promising career as partner of Congressman John G. Shaw of Fayetteville, when he too decided to enter the Presbyterian ministry. He has served for many years as pastor of Ginter Park church at Richmond, Va., and is one of the outstanding preachers of the Presbyterian faith.
76. B. F. MCLEAN, a lawyer of the “old school.” While he appeared frequently in court, he liked the office practice better. He was long postmaster at Maxton, United States Commissioner, and held other positions of trust and confidence.
77. JOHN H. COOK, a man of large capacity was once an editor, and as editor of the Laurinburg Exchange, headed the movement which placed a monument on court square there to the memory of Professor William G. Quakenbush. His junior partner was his brother:
78. LEON T. COOK, who was developing into a lawyer of much promise when he moved to Oklahoma.
79. JAMES A. SHAW has practiced his profession with success for the past decade and is now Solicitor of the Recorder's Court. A man of high character and large usefulness.
80. ANGUS MEDLIN, one of the younger members of the Maxton bar, is a man of high character and bids fair to develop into one of the outstanding men of his section. His twin brother practices at Pembroke, but I shall list him here under the Maxton Bar:
81. GILBERT MEDLIN possesses the same characteristics which distinguish his twin brother Angus above referred to.
Now let us go to Red Springs and take a view of the members of its Bar, at the head of which must be placed a conspicuous figure of a former day:
82. HAMILTON MCMILLAN, cultured and scholarly gentleman doing more of an office than a court house practice. As legislator he was responsible for the enactment of legislation giving our Indians their separate racial status and separate schools. A lover of literature, he was author of an authoritative monograph on the “Lost Colony of Sir Walter Raleigh” from which was condensed my own article of the same title. See this sketch published elsewhere in this volume.
83. A. P. SPELL, veteran leader of the Red Springs Bar, where he has practiced for many years, and where he has served both his county and his community, enjoying the confidence and esteem of all who know him.
84. ZEBULON V. MCMILLAN, son of the beloved Dr. B. F. McMillan, brother of sheriff B. F. McMillan and Dr. Roscoe D. McMillan. He inherited a large measure of his father's ability and has a friendliness of spirit which popularizes him with all his acquaintances.
85. C. D. RATLEY, one of the younger brethren, now Solicitor of the Recorder's Court; a young man of excellent promise, both as a man and as a lawyer.
Now let us go to Saint Pauls where we sketch through its Bar, headed by its veteran Dean:
86. JOHN S. BUTLER, who has practiced there for many years. John S. has served as legislator; Recorder; Cotton Mills President; and in other useful capacities. He is a good trial lawyer, a safe and sane counsellor and an all round useful man.
87. JOHN D. CANADY, has also practiced his profession for many years with conspicuous ability. He also served as Recorder at St. Pauls and enjoys the confidence and esteem of the community.
88. D. SCOTT HOWIE is a rising figure at the St. Pauls Bar; a man of large capacity; energetic and useful. Former Solicitor of the Recorder's court; all round useful man.
89. JOHN REGAN, young member of the Bar, member of the outstanding Regan family of the St. Pauls section, is now Solicitor of the Recorder's court. He is a young man of much promise, enjoying the confidence of all who know him.
Now come to Fairmont, where those who were at the Bar when I was in practice have all passed away, but where a new generation has come upon the scene of action:
90. V. H. TAYLOR, best at home in trying a criminal case in the Recorder's Court, which he could handle with skill and ability.
91. GEORGE L. GRANTHAM, better in the office than in the courthouse, excellent man of business and highly esteemed everywhere. George died but a few days ago, lamented by a wide circle of friends.
92. WAYLAND FLOYD, a younger member of the Bar, who has entered upon the practice since my own retirement, but I learn from others that he has promise of wide usefulness and has both the ability and the power to make use of that ability.
93. DAVID M. BRITT, outstanding member of the rising bar in Southern Robeson. Those who know him say that he is a man of large ability and much legal capacity and should go far in the profession.
94. M. L. PAGE, member of the Page family so prominent in the life of Southern Robeson. But recently come
to the Bar; spoken of well by all who know him, both as to his gifts as a lawyer and his character as a man.
Now we close the legal circuit at Rowland where its Bar is headed by the veteran Dean:
95. WILLIAM E. LYNCH, Senator, man of fine ability, who holds the confidence of his community and who has, I trust yet before him years of useful service to his people.
96. R. L. CAMPBELL, an active and rising young lawyer, now Solicitor of the Recorder's court; well regarded by all who know him, and with a growing practice which he handles with ability.
97. F. L. ADAMS, son of my old friend S. L. Adams, so many years a leader of the Rowland community. Report has it that the son is following in the footsteps of his father and bids fair to take the place in legal circles which his father occupied during his life as a merchant and large farmer.
I doubt not the foregoing contains errors of omission and that I shall be mortified hereafter to find that I have omitted the name of some friends who should have been included. Such omissions as may have occurred are, of course, due to lapse of memory.
The Bar of Robeson from the beginning has occupied a high position as one of the outstanding Bars of the State, a Bar which has possessed the confidence of our Judges as few Bars have done. Today it worthily maintains the traditions of its great past. The dedication page of this volume shows that it bears a word in honor of my brethren of the Bar.
Even as I write these lines there comes the news of the death of my friend, of fifty years, the venerable and loved Frank A. Daniels. “The seasons change: the winds they shift and veer.” Judge Henry Groves Connor; Judge Charles M. Cooke; Judge Oliver H. Allen; James H. Pou,
Sr.; my friends of former days, have “one by one crept silently to rest.”
I would I could recall the days when Col. Neill Archie McLean, Stephen McIntyre, Gilbert Patterson, Governor Angus Wilton McLean and other great lawyers of a day that is gone, occupied the front line trenches along the lines of the legal battlefield. These were not only fine lawyers, they were fine gentlemen—men with whom agreements did not have to be put into writing; they were men of high character and lofty ideals. I can but commend their example to their younger brethren, for the inspiration of their lives and service.
But two men are left of the Robeson Bar as constituted when I first knew it: Robert E. Lee and Everett J. Britt and soon I too must join the “innumerable caravan” of my friends of former days who have gone on before.
- “I feel as one who treads alone,
- Some banquet hall deserted,
- Whose lights are fled and garlands dead,
- And all but me departed.”
MEMORIES OF BENCH AND BAR—
IN LIGHTER VEIN
WHEN I enter the court room in Robeson's courthouse, I seem to feel the spirits of the great lawyers of a former day hovering over me—Robert E. Troy, N. A. McLean, Sr., Giles Leitch, Franklin McNeill, Col. William F. French, Judge Thomas A. McNeill, Col. Alfred Rowland, Capt. William S. Norment, Edward K. Proctor. And I seem to hear once again the voices of the great lawyers of my own day—the cold, incisive logic of John D. Shaw, Jr., the brilliant cross-examinations of Col. N. A. McLean; the impassioned eloquence of my partner Stephen McIntyre; I sense once more the calm reasoned arguments of Wilton McLean; I feel once more the mighty power of Gilbert Patterson when finally roused to action. Memories sweep over me.
Today Robert E. Lee is the dean of the local Bar, but Everett J. Britt and I follow closely after him. I too am growing old:
I came to Lumberton in 1903, to form a partnership with Stephen McIntyre. My first client appeared next morning. He asked for the lawyer, and Mr. McIntyre was courteous enough to point to me as such. He was an aged man who was having trouble with a neighbor over a land line. He laid before me something over a peck of old deeds and ancient documents. He discoursed at length upon his claims to the land and the evil disposition of his neighbor. I heard him with interest and examined his papers with attention. Late in the afternoon I reluctantly gave him my opinion that he had no case. He then inquired what my
charge was. I was young then and green—not to say verdant. Modestly I requested him to fix the charge himself. He said he always believed in paying his lawyers, and reached down into his pocket he pulled out—fifty cents. But I still retained just a little of my legal schooling: I took the money!
* * * * *
The following week I tried my first case before Squire W. H. Graham, near Rowland. I was prosecuting a man for letting his hogs run at large; Colonel McLean was defending. The Colonel and I drove out there behind a pair of horses, and quite a trip it was in those days. The Squire called the case, and the Colonel said his client would plead guilty. The Squire fined him $1.00 and costs. I felt highly elated. The Colonel had laid down without a struggle. He must be scared of the young lawyer who had just moved to Lumberton from the big city of Raleigh! My client and I were a short distance off chortling over the discomfiture of our adversary, when the Constable appeared. He had a warrant to serve on MY client. What for? For letting his hogs run at large. Who was the accuser? Colonel McLean's client! I asked my client what about it. He said he was guilty. We went back into court and I submitted him. The Squire fined him $1.00 and costs.
The net result: Squire Graham collected two bills of cost; I got $15.00; the Colonel got $25.00; our respective clients—well they got satisfaction. They had fought each other to a standstill. Big litigation!
* * * * *
I soon saw Judge Thomas A. McNeill. I had met his honor before and under different circumstances. In 1898 I was a clerk in the office of Col. John W. Hinsdale of
Raleigh, and he was employed to appeal a case which Judge McNeill had tried in Harnett County. There were no court reports in those days, but the Judge took down notes of the testimony and wrote out his charge to the jury in long hand. We got the papers and the Colonel told me to copy the Judge's notes on the typewriter so that he could make up the case on appeal. I tried to do this, but could make neither head nor tail to the writing. Thinking that perhaps I had the paper upside down, I reversed it but it looked even worse that way than the other. The Colonel tried his hand at it but with no better success. Judge McNeill was at Hendersonville—300 miles away—but I was sent there with instructions to have the Judge read his notes and copy them down. I got there all right, saw the Judge, had a lovely time, but did not get what I went after. THE JUDGE COULD NOT READ HIS NOTES EITHER!
* * * * *
Sibbie McLean of Maxton (now the Rev. Sylvester B. McLean of Charlotte) was Solicitor many years ago and a very able one. Sibbie was one of the finest men I ever knew and an excellent lawyer, but he had all the sternness of the Puritan and if he believed a man was guilty, he would not only prosecute him vigorously, but sometimes insist on adequate punishment.
One of the Fayetteville lawyers tried a criminal case at Raeford and lost. Sibbie got up and demanded the maximum punishment, which the Judge imposed. The attorney for the defendant walked down the street with me and remarked gloomily: “That durn Sibbie McLean gets down on his knees every morning and prays God for strength for just this one day to be as hard on poor criminals as he can be.”
Sibbie and his brilliant brother, John Allen, were both able lawyers and both had attractive legal careers before them, but abandoned the law for the Presbyterian ministry. And they have been eminently successful in this, Sibbie in Charlotte; John Allen in Richmond. SIBBIE HAS NOW QUIT PROSECUTING AND IS APPEARING FOR THE DEFENDANTS.
I was just kidding you about Sibbie's being a Puritan. His heart is very mellow.
* * * * *
Judge Charles M. Cooke was an excellent man and a great lawyer, but he sometimes had a rough tongue which could be quite disconcerting to a young lawyer. The Judge was holding court in Bladen, when up jumped a young lawyer to make a motion. “Who are you?” asked the Judge. “Why my name is thus-and-so,” replied the young attorney. “Your honor must remember that I met you down in Wilmington a month ago.” The Judge shook his head solemnly. “You can't put that over on this court. IF THIS COURT HAD EVER SEEN THAT FACE ONCE, THIS COURT WOULD NOT HAVE FORGOTTEN IT.”
* * * * *
Judge Cooke once decided a question of law against me, and I was young and foolish enough to get mad about it. Next day we were hearing an injunction case. Dickson McLean read affidavits all that morning, and that afternoon as I read mine the old Judge was apparently fast asleep. My feelings were still ruffled, and I quit reading and sat down. “Wake him up,” loudly whispered Dickson across the table. “Let the old fool sleep,” I loudly whispered back. The Judge did not move or open his eyes, but said: “Go on boys, I'm listening.”
When court adjourned, I sought to apologize to the court. His honor heard what I had to say and then remarked brightly: “Oh that's all right, I USED TO BE A YOUNG FOOL MYSELF.” And I began to feel foolish myself!
* * * * *
I walked with Judge Robert B. Peebles from the court house at Fayetteville. Ahead of us walked one of Carolina's most brilliant lawyers, but a man whom his honor did not like. Said the judge: “You see so-and-so yonder? He is one of the ablest lawyers I know of, but he is so cold blooded that aye Gad IF YOU WERE TO STICK A KNIFE INTO HIM ICE WATER WOULD RUN OUT.”
* * * * *
It was to Clinton that an eminent lawyer came to try a case. He got to playing a game I understand they call “poker”, and to imbibing a little too freely, with the result that he was hors du combat for two days. The local paper got hold of it, and had something to say. The eminent lawyer was mortified, humiliated—in fact desolated. The local lawyers gathered in his room to console him, but the gathering was thick with gloom until the eminent one began to laugh heartily. “It's all right, boys,” said he, “Next week someone else will do some fool thing and the PUBLIC WILL TAKE AFTER HIM AND FORGET ALL ABOUT ME.” All of which is worthy of Will Rogers in its homely philosophy.
* * * * *
Wilton McLean was trying to get a juror excused upon the grounds that he was so deaf he could not hear what the witness said. “How long has the poor fellow been deaf,” asked Judge Oliver H. Allen in a low voice. “Five
years,” piped up the juryman. “TAKE A SEAT IN THE BOX FOR ONE WEEK” replied his honor.
* * * * *
Judge Harding was holding court at Laurinburg. A member of the local bar was arguing a question of law. Said the Judge, “Brother so-and-so, have you read the case of Doe v. Roe? I think it meets your case squarely.” “No, your honor,” replied the Laurinburg lawyer, “I NEVER READ THE AUTHORITIES. THEY SIMPLY CONFUSE ME!”
* * * * *
It was also at Laurinburg, that this same lawyer, a most successful practitioner, was arguing a legal question before the court. Said the Judge: “Brother so-and-so, do you really think this is the law?” “No, your honor,” said the lawyer, “BUT I DID NOT KNOW HOW IT WOULD STRIKE YOUR HONOR.”
* * * * *
I was trying a case at Lumberton before a very able judge, but a man who had no sense of humor whatever. When the time came to argue the case to the jury, Horace Stacy proceeded to lambast my client as only Stacy can. I happened to look at the judge and he was smiling broadly. The jury very promptly decided the case against me, and I groped in the dark for some reason for a new trial. But the judge had made no mistake in the admission of evidence, and none in his charge. But it suddenly flashed across my mind, that smile! I would take a million to one shot at it and make a motion for a new trial because the judge had smiled where the jury could see him. Solemnly I made the motion. The court listened gravely and said
“Right, brother Lawrence, the court did smile. Mr. Clerk, let the verdict be set aside.” Up jumped Dickson McLean: “Your honor give us two hours to prepare affidavits that your honor did not smile.” “Oh no, I could not think of it, brother McLean. The court knows of its own knowledge that it did smile!”
We tried the case again, and Dickson and Stacy beat me again—the mean things!
THE FAMOUS PEEBLES CONTEMPT CASE
AS I look back on this famous case after the lapse of thirty-five years, I am chiefly impressed with the foolish things done by those involved on both sides of the controversy. The parties were all lawyers, and should have known how to restrain themselves. But reason does not reign when anger has its sway, and anger certainly had its sway at that time. I do not feel that the final results reflected credit upon either side.
Judge Robert B. Peebles of Northampton county was a captain in the Confederate army, served with distinction in both branches of the legislature, and was the foremost figure in his section of the State. He was a brave and incorruptible man and an able lawyer. But he was lacking in judicial temperament, was inclined to partizanship in the trial of cases, and was intemperate in his habits. In 1904, he had but recently tried a famous murder case at Raleigh, where his conduct had brought down upon him severe criticism from the Bar and press of the State. When the time approached for him to hold court in Robeson, our Bar, under the leadership of Col. N. A. McLean, determined not to set a calendar, and not to try any cases before him.
Court convened. There being no printed calendar (as we had not set a calendar) his honor got out the original docket and one by one called over every case upon it—several hundred in number. As each case was called, Col. McLean would say “continued by consent.”
When the entire docket had been called, his honor turned a cold and fishy eye upon Col. McLean and demanded
to know why the entire docket had been continued. The Colonel declined to say unless forced to speak by the court. His honor ruled that the Colonel must speak. The Colonel then said that the reasons impelling the Bar were his honor's want of judicial temper, his intemperate habits, and his partisanship. “Very well,” said the Judge, “court is adjourned.”
His honor proceeded to his home, where he wrote an affidavit charging that the conduct of our Bar was such as to bring the court into disrepute, and the Judge had this affidavit signed by one of his friends at Jackson. Upon this affidavit, the Judge signed an order requiring our Bar to show cause before him, at Fayetteville, why we should not be attached for contempt of court, and either fined or imprisoned in the discretion of the court. This order was served by the Sheriff, and the Lumberton law offices hummed with activity. Our Bar prepared to give battle to the court. As I now recall, the members of our Bar served with this rule were:
Colonel N. A. McLean, (Governor) Angus W. McLean, J. Gilchrist McCormick, Stephen McIntyre, E. J. Britt, Robert E. Lee, Wade Wishart, D. Preston Shaw, R. B. Morrison, B. F. McLean, Leon T. Cook, the writer and possibly two or three others.
The Bar employed as counsel: Charles W. Tillett, of Charlotte, outstanding North Carolina lawyer; Charles M. Busbee, prominent member of the Raleigh bar; John D. Shaw, Jr., shrewd trial lawyer, of Laurinburg. Numerous lawyers volunteered their services, including that able lawyer, Union L. Spence, of Carthage, whose proffer of aid was gladly accepted. Judge Peebles was represented by Col. Charles W. Broadfoot and Hon. George M. Rose, both able Fayetteville lawyers, acting as “friends of the Court.”
We did not care to try the case at Fayetteville where public sentiment was perhaps not unanimous in our favor, so in order to get an entirely friendly atmosphere, we made a motion for removal to Lumberton. As the law on this was clearly with us, his honor necessarily granted our motion.
Each side then proceeded to ransack eastern North Carolina for affidavits. Governor McLean and the writer secured most of the affidavits for our side, many in number, all containing allegations of intemperance on the part of the Judge. His honor, assisted by Charles U. Harris of the Raleigh Bar, secured voluminous affidavits from scores of people to the effect that the designers had never seen the court under the influence of liquor. The affidavits got so voluminous that the writer carried ours in the largest brief case he could find, whereas those filed by the Judge were so numerous that a large basket was required to hold them. Wherever the Judge went he would be closely followed by Mr. Harris, carrying the basket containing the affidavits.
Court convened for the trial at Lumberton, both sides as angry as men can get. The “prisoners” were all present—many accompanied by their wives. His honor gallantly came down from the bench and shook hands with the ladies, but simply glared at their unfortunate husbands. A throng of people were present, crowding the court room and overflowing into the corridors and court yard.
Our counsel proceeded to read our affidavits. Among these were ones from Col. E. W. Kerr and R. C. Sutherland, prominent members of the Sampson Bar, and one from a Duplin lawyer whose name I cannot now recall. These affidavits, along with many others, alleged intemperance on the part of the Judge. When these were read, his honor stated that the hearing would be suspended
temporarily until he could prepare some papers. The court began writing, and curiosity, especially on the part of the Bar, mounted. The Judge finally inquired of the Sheriff (George B. McLeod) if he could carry out any orders the court might give him. The Sheriff (naturally a warm partisan of the Bar) replied that he did not know. “Well, make up your mind quick before I get a new Sheriff,” said the Judge, in the face of a bitterly hostile audience. The Sheriff then said he would serve any papers the court wished served, and the court handed down papers which proved to be attachments for contempt against the Sampson and Duplin lawyers whose affidavits we had read.
But we did not allow these gentlemen to be arrested. We phoned them what had happened, and they came immediately to Lumberton to be met by a host of people, attended by a brass band, and were escorted to the best rooms our hotel provided,—to such an extent did feeling have its way!
The next day, his honor, “of his own knowledge” found as a fact that the Sampson and Duplin lawyers had signed affidavits which were untrue and which reflected upon the court. The court therefore found them guilty of contempt and fined each $250.00 and costs.
Of course our counsel also acted as counsel for the gentlemen who had given us affidavits, and we determined to apply to a supreme court justice for writs of habeus corpus. The Sampson and Duplin lawyers therefore refused to pay their fines and went into the technical custody of the Sheriff. Writs of habeas corpus were at once sued out before that great lawyer and beloved North Carolinian, Justice Henry G. Connor, of the Supreme Court.
Came the hearing on the writs of habeas corpus. Justice Connor invited his colleague, Justice Robert M. Douglas,
to sit with him. Charles W. Tillett of our counsel opened the argument, and his speech was so fiery, and his attack upon Judge Peebles so caustic, that justice Douglas left the bench and did not return. Justice Connor heard Mr. Tillett's argument, then adjourned the hearing for a few minutes, and sent for counsel on both sides. At the hearing before Justice Connor, Judge Peebles was present himself, and was represented by ex-chief justice James E. Shepherd as his counsel.
Justice Connor told counsel for both sides that in his opinion the affair had gone far enough and should be stopped. He suggested that the Bar sign a statement that it meant no disrespect to the court (our grievance was with the man, not the court) and that Judge Peebles strike out his judgment against the Sampson and Duplin lawyers, and dismiss the proceedings against them and against us. This suggestion was accepted by both sides and the case was ended. The final judgment further provided that all the proceedings be “expunged” from the records. This was done by drawing a red line diagonally across each page of the record!
* * * * *
Years rolled by. Judge Peebles again came to hold court in Lumberton, and this time a calendar was set. The Judge was then about 75 years old, and was just out of the hospital. Lumberton then had no hotel worthy of the name. It was January and bitterly cold, with eight inches of snow on the ground.
Monday night of court week I went to the Judge's room to get some papers signed. His honor lay on his bed groaning, covered with his overcoat. No fire in the room; two panes of glass out of the window. His plight moved me to compassion. Said I, “Judge, with your permission,
I will continue my cases at this term of court and take you up to my house where you can be more comfortable than here.” Said the Judge: “Do you mean that, or are you just trying to be polite?” “I mean it,” said I. “Well I'll surprise you by going,” said the Judge. I bundled him into a hack and tried to make him comfortable at my house. Knowing the Judge as I did, it occurred to me that possibly he might like a drink, and I gently inquired if such was the case. His honor responded in the affirmative with enthusiasm. He would indeed! I secured the necessary ingredients (I will not say from where) and brought them to his honor. He mixed a sizeable drink and regarded it with affectionate interest. Then he stirred it up, rolled his eyes at me, and said “Now d—n your soul ARE YOU GOING OUT AND TELL THIS?”
* * * * *
Years later I was at the meeting of the State Bar Association at Wrightsville Beach. Judge George P. Pell, of Raleigh, was making a speech during which he repeatedly referred to the intemperate habits of a judge from northeastern North Carolina. No names were called, but everyone knew that Judge Peebles was referred to. The President rapped with his gavel and asked Judge Pell to suspend until the Secretary could read a telegram. It was from the Clerk of the Court at Jackson, announcing the death of Judge Peebles!
I learned to admire the old Judge very much notwithstanding his infirmities, and I cannot say that I am especially proud of the part I took in the famous encounter between our Bar and his honor.
AN EPISODE IN NORTH CAROLINA HISTORY
THE origin of the phrase “Hold Robeson and Save the State” was once known from the mountains to the sea, but the haze of the years and the mist of time has obscured its origin until now but few Carolinians know whence it came.
We boast of having been “First at Bethel; furthest at Gettysburg; last at Appomattox.” A part of this modesty is due to the troops of General William R. Cox, of Edgecombe, whose thin brigade made the last desperate charge against the impregnable Federal lines during the Confederate retreat from Petersburg. Failure of this charge finally satisfied General Lee that the war must be ended.
It was the proud boast of General William T. Sherman while marching through Georgia, that his troops would leave Georgia so bare that a crow flying over the State would have to carry its own rations. He made good his boast, but the carpet baggers of reconstruction made an even cleaner sweep in North Carolina. Like a cloud of vultures they hovered over the prostrate state and gorged themselves fat.
But a supposedly exhausted people quickly reasserted themselves economically and politically. In the election of 1874, the Democrats redeemed the State, having a majority in both branches of the Legislature. But they were fettered and hampered by a Constitution enacted by a Republican Legislature in 1868. One of the first measures enacted by the Legislature of 1875 was one calling for the election of delegates to a Constitutional Convention.
The campaign which followed was the most bitter ever waged in North Carolina, each making an intensive state-wide campaign, contesting every inch of ground and bringing into full play their foremost leaders and greatest orators. For some days prior to the election it was known that the result would be close, so close that even one or two votes might turn the scale. It finally became apparent that the fate of the election would turn upon the result in Robeson. It was then, on August 3, 1875, that General William R. Cox, State Democratic chairman, sent his famous telegram to Col. William Foster French, Democratic County chairman: “AS YOU LOVE YOUR STATE HOLD ROBESON.”
On receipt of this message, Col. French, Judge Thomas A. McNeill and other Democratic leaders set out for Blue Springs township, and there was little sleep in northern Robeson that night. History does not record what these Democratic leaders did as they toiled through the night, but it does record that the Democratic candidates in Robeson were finally declared elected by the slimmest of majorities. Robeson was saved, but how about the State?
The final returns gave: Democrats 59; Republicans 58; Independents 3. But before the Convention could meet, William A. Graham, former Governor, Secretary of the Navy, United States Senator, foremost Democratic member, died leaving the Democrats and Republicans tied, with the Independents holding the balance of power.
The Convention spent days trying to organize. The Democrats voted for Edward Ransom, an Independent from Tyrrell county for President of the Convention. The Republicans unanimously supported Col. Oliver H. Dockery, of Richmond. The Independents divided, and the Convention was deadlocked for days. Finally Ransom
voted for himself and was elected. Henceforth he voted with the Democrats.
On account of their precarious majority, no Democrat dared absent himself from the Convention for even an hour. The final result was that while the Democrats secured a few of the reforms for which they labored, they were not able to accomplish anything like what they wished. It is the Constitution of 1875 under which our State still operates, and periodically there arises a call for another Constitutional Convention.
THIS institution once occupied such a large place in the life of our town that I think a few facts respecting same, taken largely from its catalog of 1894-95, will be of interest to present day Lumbertonians and to Robeson County generally.
In 1891, Edward K. Proctor and A. C. Melke conceived the idea of a Baptist school at Lumberton. Mr. Proctor made the first contribution of $1,000.00 and Mr. Melke contributed $5,000.00. Mr. Berry Godwin donated the site, a valuable lot containing two and one half acres, being the land now occupied by the primary grades of the Lumberton schools. Mr. Melke left the institution a valuable legacy in his will, and members of the Board of Trustees and Baptist churches over the Robeson Association made substantial contributions. Its original Board of Trustees were: E. K. Proctor, President; R. D. Caldwell, Secretary; Berry Godwin; Frank Gough; Q. T. Williams. It opened in 1893 and continued in operation until 1907 when its property was purchased by the Town of Lumberton and a graded school organized.
Prof. John Duckett was the first principal. He was the father of Mrs. K. M. Biggs. Gen. Thomas F. Toon (who later became State Superintendent of Public Instruction) was principal of the Intermediate Department. Miss Sara Johnson (Mrs. Dr. Henry T. Pope) was teacher of the Primary Department. There were then 166 pupils, of whom 51 were boarders. The price of board ranged from $3.00 to $4.00 per month, but this did not include washing. If any washing was done, it cost 25¢ monthly. A
charge of 10¢ per month was also made to cover fuel and other incidental expenses. Tuition cost primary pupils $1.50 monthly; high school pupils $3.00. French cost 50¢ per month extra and instruction in bookkeeping and commercial law could also be had at the same price. Art students were penalized by having to pay $3.00 monthly.
The school was co-educational and among other things its catalog stated: “We believe the separation of the sexes in school is fruitful of evil in many respects; that rough and immodest deportment cannot be successfully excluded in any other way than by the mutual influence of the sexes.” However, the catalog cautiously added: “Lady boarders will not be allowed to receive visits from young men,” and added “Do right” is our motto.
F. V. Birthright made the highest scholastic average in the High School; Ed. F. Ward (Smithfield lawyer) in the Intermediate Department; and Ethel Higley in the Primary Department. Those on the honor roll included: Miss Minnie Lennon, E. J. Britt, John T. Biggs, Jessie R. Lennon, John D. McMillan, John A. Rowland, George G. French, James D. Proctor, Archie Ward, Jessie G. Fuller, Pearl Floyd, Ethel Williams, Leslie Proctor, and others.
Among its then students were: John T. Biggs; E. J. Britt; Wheeler Stone; Mamie Duckett; Minnie Lennon; Annie Neill McLean; Mary McNeill; Vivian Townsend; Janie von Glahn; Duval French; Wingate M. Johnson (outstanding Winston surgeon, son of Dr. Livingston Johnson, who was then pastor of the Baptist church); (Rev.) E. A. Paul; Gerald Pittman; Clarence Redmond; G. E. Rancke; Frank A. Wishart; Archie Ward; Jessie Fuller; Pearl Floyd; Eva Williams; Mike F. Caldwell; Justin McNeill; Ethel Higley; Ethel Williams; Vivian
Townsend—to name only a few of the then students now living.
The catalog closed with testimonials from Dr. Kemp P. Battle, President of the University, Prof. John B. Carlyle, Professor of Latin at Wake Forest, J. A. McAllister, county Superintendent of Public Instruction, and others, closing with an extract from an editorial in the Biblical Recorder which stated: “If we had a Robeson Institute in every Association, Wake Forest would be overrun with well prepared young men.”
I am indebted to Mrs. K. M. Biggs, who owns the catalog, for the above information.
SOME ROBESON COMPANIES IN THE CIVIL WAR
ROBESON furnished so many troops for the Confederate service that it will be impossible to mention all of them, or recount the deeds of valor performed by Robesonians upon the fields of battle. All I can hope to do is to point to a few names and facts which may be interesting to Robesonians.
The 18th North Carolina Regiment was commanded by Colonel Thomas J. Purdie of Bladen. Company “D” of this regiment was recruited at Lumberton in May, 1861, with the following officers:
(a). William S. Norment. Later Captain of Co. “F” 51st N. C. Regiment. Severely wounded. See below for 51st regiment.
(b). William Foster French, 1st Lieutenant. Later Lt. Colonel 73rd North Carolina Regiment. Distinguished lawyer and legislator. Father of Duval French of Lumberton.
(c). Alfred Rowland, 2nd Lieutenant. Captured in 1864 and confined at Fort Delaware. Later distinguished lawyer, legislator and Congressman. Rowland was named in his honor. Father of Mrs. May R. Shaw and Misses Pennie and Winifred Rowland.
(d). Owen C. Norment, 2nd Lieutenant. Later prominent business man, county commissioner, etc. His venerable widow still lives in Lumberton.
(e). John B. Rowland, 2nd Lieutenant. Brother of the mother of Mrs. A. E. White of Lumberton; father of Dr. John M. Rowland, distinguished Methodist minister and
editor, whose recent death in an accident is fresh in the public mind.
(f). Neill Townsend, 2nd Lieutenant.
(g). Allen A. Inman, 2nd Lieutenant.
Among the privates in this company were Rev. Furney A. Prevatt (oldest living Robesonian) and William H. Barnes of Lumberton (only two Confederate veterans of Robeson now living); Amos Britt (uncle of E. J. Britt of Lumberton); Augustus E. (Gus) Floyd of Fairmont; Joseph Prevatt (father of W. J. Prevatt of Lumberton); John J. Russ, who lost a leg in the service; Needham J. Thompson (father of Mrs. L. T. Townsend of Lumberton), severely wounded; and Bunyan Stansel (father of B. H. and J. C. Stansel of Allenton and John P. Stansel of Maxton), who lost a leg in battle.
Thomas J. Hedgpeth (father of the late L. Z. Hedgpeth of Rowland) lost a leg in the Confederate service, and after the war upon the strength of his war record was elected register of deeds. This was not pleasing to the other political party, so in the next campaign they put forward as their candidate John J. Russ, member of the above company, who also lost a leg in the Confederate service. Naturally both these one-legged Confederate veterans could not be elected, but nevertheless both served their county as register of deeds.
* * * * *
The 31st North Carolina regiment had as its Lt. Colonel, Daniel G. Fowle, distinguished lawyer, who after the war became Governor of North Carolina.
Company “A” of this regiment was commanded during part of the war by Condary Godwin of Lumberton (brother of Berry Godwin) and during the latter part of the war by W. H. Hartmann, also of Lumberton. Its 2nd
Lieutenants were: Raibon Steagall, Moore J. Sealey, W. R. Freeman and John C. Barnes. Its Sergeants were: Dr. Edmund McQueen (first elected mayor of Lumberton); W. W. Glover; Hugh B. Reagan and R. M. Floyd. Its Corporals were: Jackson M. Freeman, John H. Collins, Durham Lewis (father of sheriff Robert E. Lewis), and H. C. Mercer.
This company was heavily engaged at Battery Wagner near Charleston, where several of its members were killed or wounded.
* * * * *
The 46th North Carolina regiment was commanded by Colonel William L. Saunders. He was wounded at Fredericksburg, and again in the Wilderness, where he lost a leg. After the war he was elected as secretary of state, where he rendered invaluable service in the compilation and publication of the Colonial Records of North Carolina.
Among the field officers of this regiment was Major Richard M. Norment, veteran of the Mexican war, better known to our readers as Dr. Richard M. Norment, father of Dr. Thomas A. Norment of Lumberton.
Company “A” was commanded by H. R. McKinney. 1st Lieutenant: Frank M. Wishart, later Captain of Co. “B.” 2nd Lieutenants: Wellington Wishart (father of W. S., John H., and Frank H. Wishart); J. H. Freeman and John Hammond. Sergeants: D. H. Meares, W. H. Sutton, L. L. Phillips (killed at Sharpsburg), and R. R. Jones. Corporals: W. J. Smith, John C. Meares, Stradford Hammond and W. H. Ivey.
This company was heavily engaged at Sharpsburg and lost there many of its members who were killed or wounded.
* * * * *
Company “B” was commanded by Frank M. Wishart of Lumberton, altho it was recruited from other counties. Captain Wishart was an uncle of our Wishart towsnmen, and after the war he was murdered by the outlaw Henry Berry Lowrie. He was the father of W. C. Wishart, vice president of the New York Central railroad. The widow of Captain Wishart married W. B. Harker of Maxton, former editor of the Scottish Chief.
* * * * *
Company “B” of the 50th North Carolina regiment was recruited from Robeson, with the following officers:
Captain: E. C. Atkinson. 1st Lieutenant: Atlas Atkinson. 2nd Lieutenants: R. P. Collins and W. B. Jenkins. Sergeants: W. A. Lewis, Irvin Jenkins (well known to older Lumbertonians) and H. Williams. Corporals: Elias Jenkins, Richard Rhodes Barnes (father of K. M. Barnes of Lumberton); J. D. Hedgpeth and A. G. Britt.
This company sustained but few casualties.
* * * * *
The 51st Regiment was recruited from southeastern North Carolina, its successive Colonels being: John L. Cantwell, of New Hanover; William A. Allen of Duplin (father of Supreme court justice William R. Allen, and Superior court judge Oliver H. Allen); and Hector McKeithan of Cumberland. Robeson was represented upon its staff by Dr. Samuel W. Morrisey, surgeon, of Lumberton.
Company “D” was from Robeson, its officers being: Captain: Robert J. McEachern, who was killed in 1864 and who was succeeded by John D. Malloy. 1st Lieutenant: Hector McEachern. 2nd Lieutenants: James B. McCallum, Francis S. Currie and William R. Boone. Sergeants: Archibald
Johnson, Peter P. MacRae, Murdock McKimmon, and Timothy D. McPhaul. Corporal: James A. McNeill.
This company was from northern Robeson and sustained few casualties, with the exception of its Captain, who was killed.
* * * * *
Company “E” was recruited from Robeson, its officers being: Captain: Willis H. Pope, died in service; Camp of Confederate Veterans in Lumberton named in his honor; uncle of the Lumberton McAllisters and of the late Dr. Henry T. Pope and Ira L. Pope of Lumberton. Captain Pope was succeeded by A. J. Ashley, who was killed in action in 1864. 1st Lieutenant: James A. Pittman. 2nd Lieutenants: Francis E. Floyd and William A. Bullock. Sergeants: W. G. W. McLean, George A. Smith, Richard H. Moore, Joseph H. Bullock, W. W. Prevatt. Corporals: William Harrell, Giles B. Williams, Zach H. Miller, Randolph Pittman.
Among the privates in this company were: Caswell Britt (father of E. J. Britt); Neill Carter (father of the late J. W. Carter of Maxton); W. R. French (of the Lumberton family of that name; Emory D. McNeill (well known to older Lumbertonians); Jackson Townsend of McDonalds.
* * * * *
Company “F” was recruited in Robeson, its officers being: Captain: William S. Norment. Severely wounded at Fort Harrison, near Petersburg. Later distinguished lawyer, legislator and solicitor. Father of Mrs. A. T. Parmale and Misses Laura and Emma Norment. 1st. Lieutenant: A. C. Fullmore. 2nd Lieutenants: G. P. Higley (father of register of deeds T. N. Higley, G. P. Higley and
others); and J. W. Hartmann. Corporals: W. B. McLellan (father of the late W. H. McLellan of Rowland) and Faulk J. Floyd (later sheriff of Robeson, father of Mrs. Duval French of Lumberton).
Several of this company were killed or wounded, and during the heavy fighting around Petersburg in 1864, numerous members, including Lieutenant G. P. Higley, were captured.
- “On fame's eternal camping ground
- Their silent tents are spread.”
ST. ALBAN'S LODGE NO. 114 AT LUMBERTON
ST. ALBAN'S LODGE was named in honor of the protomartyr of England who lived in the third century of our Christian era. He was the first who suffered martyrdom during the great persecution which raged during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. Masons are especially interested in his history, as he was especially interested in our order. He obtained from the King a Charter for the Free Masons and the privilege of holding an Assembly, of which he himself was made GRAND MASTER.
Masonry has been held in high esteem in this country from its earliest days, and Washington, who was “first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” was also Worshipful Master of the Masonic Lodge at Alexandria, and the chair then occupied by him is preserved by the ancient Lodge at Edenton. John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States and great expounder of our Federal Constitution, lent dignity to his high position by serving as DEPUTY Grand Master of Virginia Masons. Practically every President of the United States has been a Master Mason.
Our Lodge was chartered December 8th, 1847. Its records prior to 1875 do not exist as they were destroyed by fire. Limits of space preclude more than a bare reference to those who have served as Master, and do not permit mention of some of the noteworthy sons of Robeson who bore the regal title of Master Mason, but who never sat in the East.
One striking fact about our Lodge is the number of Masters bearing the same names, or members of the
same family. The name of Norment has long been associated with Robeson county and with Lumberton, and one of that name was the first Master of our Lodge—Thomas A. Norment—and there has been a Norment bearing the same initials from that day to the present. Others of that name who served as Master include Dr. Richard M. Norment, soldier of the Mexican war, Major in the Confederate army, distinguished legislator, veteran politician, beloved physician. Another was William S. Norment, captain of the Confederacy, outstanding lawyer, solicitor of this district. Another was Thomas A. Norment, prominent merchant and business man, father of our townsman Clinton Norment.
The second Master was John A. Rowland, the only man in the history of our county to fill the three major offices in the court house, for he was, at different times in his career, clerk of the Superior court, register of deeds and sheriff. Two of his sons also served as Master. His son Alfred Rowland was Lieutenant Colonel of Confederate infantry, a distinguished lawyer and member of Congress, whose memory is preserved in our town of Rowland. Another son, A. S. Rowland, merchant, also served as Master.
The third Master was John McK. Alford, its fourth was Robert E. Troy, a distinguished member of the bar, who was mayor of Lumberton in 1852. He was followed by another prominent member of the bar, Robert S. French, who later became a judge of the Superior court. He was followed by Eli Wishart, progenitor of the prominent Lumberton family of that name, which included Wellington Wishart, the gallant Captain Frank M. Wishart, who was killed by the Lowrie gang, and our present townsmen John H., W. S., and Frank Wishart.
Then followed Captain William P. Moore, John R. Carter
and Dr. William A. Dick. Dr. Dick was from Greensboro, a brother of Supreme Court Justice Robert P. Dick. Dr. Dick became clerk of the Supreme court and one of his daughters married Charles B. Skipper, now and for the past 25 years clerk of the Superior court, himself a Master of our Lodge.
Then came Col. N. A. McLean Sr., prominent Lumberton lawyer, perhaps better known as the father of Col. Neill Archie McLean Jr., the partner of Governor Angus Wilton McLean, one of the most brilliant lawyers our State has produced. He was followed by Dr. Edmund McQueen, descendant of the famous Col. James McQueen, common ancestor of so many Robesonians. He was followed by T. N. Bond, father of the venerable R. S. Bond of Rowland, and of Mrs. Fannie Peterson, so well remembered by our older citizens. This brings us down to the Masters who were better known to the present generation.
Frank Gough was a prominent Lumberton merchant, state senator and he perhaps held more public directorates and sat on more public boards than any other Lumbertonian. He was on the board of elections for 25 years, on the board of audit and finance, on the State board of agriculture, on the State prison board, director of the A. & N. C. Railroad, etc. Quitman T. Williams was a man of outstanding character, an insurance executive and prominent churchman and one of the most influential and best-loved men of his day.
John P. Stansel, B. H. Stansel and J. C. Stansel all served as Master, all being men of high character, descendants of the well-known Confederate veteran and county commissioner, B. H. Stansel of Allenton, who lost a leg in the Confederate service.
Dr. Robert T. Allen has had a long and varied Masonic
career. He has served not only as Master, but he is now and has been for 21 years the secretary of our Lodge, and he is also District Deputy Grand Master since 1927. He has held high rank in other branches of Masonry, having been illustrious Potentate of Sudan Temple in 1938.
John P. McNeill was a prominent merchant, and he was followed by Everett J. Britt, who served twice as Master, who also served as Grand Orator, and as District Deputy Grand Master. He is an outstanding member of the bar, chairman of the board of trustees of the deaf, dumb and blind institution at Raleigh, trustee of Meredith college, superintendent of the Sunday school of the First Baptist church, one of the most useful men our town has ever had.
He was followed by John T. Biggs, Lumberton merchant, nephew of Prof. John B. Carlyle, of Wake Forest college, Grand Orator and outstanding Mason. Then came the beloved Dr. Neill Archie Thompson, pioneer founder of Lumberton hospitals, in whose honor the present Thompson Memorial hospital was named.
Two brothers followed—Willis P. McAllister and Charles P. McAllister, of the prominent Lumberton family of that name. They were followed by James D. Proctor, prominent lawyer, churchman, mayor, man of great usefulness, elected to the senate, probably the most popular man of his day. His brother, John G. Proctor, lawyer and Lumberton recorder, also served as Master.
G. E. Rancke Jr., Marcus W. Floyd (son-in-law of Quitman T. Williams); John S. McNeill and W. G. Pittman followed. Then came B. F. McMillan Jr., popular sheriff of Robeson; T. W. Bullock, merchant; Ben G. Floyd, so long in the office of the county superintendent of public instruction; and J. C. Bryant.
Then came Robert A. McIntyre, senator, trustee of Thomasville orphanage, prominent lawyer; E. Mosby Johnson, now and for many years mayor of Lumberton, leader of the bar; J. Pope Stephens, N. H. Biddell, W. H. Humphrey Jr., William Y. Floyd (the two last named being of our bar); R. B. Harper; D. L. Whiting; Charles O'Quinn and D. T. Lambeth.
Hitler has scattered the German Jews to the four corners of the earth, but we treat those of that race somewhat differently here in Lumberton, for the present Master of our Lodge is Jacob Dunie.
St. Alban's Lodge has long been noted for its interest in the cause of the orphan. It may be of interest to note here that the Constitution of 1868 has been criticised as the work of carpetbaggers, and so it was. Judge Albion W. Tourgee was one of these. He has been much abused for indulging in politics while on the bench, and this also he may have done. But he was a most influential figure in the Constitutional Convention of 1868 and be it said to his everlasting credit that he was the author of the present clause in the Carolina Constitution under which it is possible for the State to make its contribution to our orphanage at Oxford.
Our Lodge has had a long and an honorable history, and a perusal of the names of those who have served as Master should arouse in us the feeling, “Blest Be the Tie that Binds,” and to this we should add: SO MOTE IT BE.
LOST COLONY OF SIR WALTER RALEIGH
HAMILTON McMILLAN of Robeson county was a lawyer by profession, but the quest of scholarship was his avocation, and he devoted much time to a painstaking effort to solve the problem of Raleigh's Lost Colony. He was the only Carolinian who could be properly called the father of a race, for in the legislature of 1885 he sponsored the law which gave to the people then called Croatan Indians, a separate racial status and their own separate system of public schools—a privilege they still enjoy.
Raleigh made several efforts to settle a permanent colony on Roanoke Island. One of these expeditions, under the governorship of John White, landed in 1587; on August 15th of that year the savage Chief Manteo was christened and called Lord of Roanoke; and on the 18th of the same month there was born to Eleanor, daughter of Governor White, a child named Virginia Dare—of whom we have recently heard so much in the splendid pageant of Paul Green.
Governor White soon sailed for England to accumulate fresh supplies, but before his departure the colonists had been invited by the Croatan Indians to visit them, and had tentatively accepted an invitation to remove FIFTY MILES INTO THE MAINLAND. When White left it was understood that if the colonists went to Croatan they would carve that word on some large tree; and that if they were in any distress at the time of leaving, the Christian cross would be carved above the word.
Three years later when Governor White returned, he
found the island a scene of desolation, and not a sign of the colonists save the word CROATAN carved on a tree, WITHOUT ANY CROSS OR SIGN OF DISTRESS. From this he inferred that the colonists were safe at Croatan, where Manteo was born and where the savages were the friends of the English. The pertinent question arises, where was Croatan?
Croatan was one of the long islands, or banks, between the ocean and Pamlico sound, and was within the present county of Carteret. It is so called and located on maps dating back to 1666, and a sound of that name is still so called. But the colonists were not only to go to Croatan, but FIFTY MILES INTO THE MAINLAND. This would locate them between Pamlico and Neuse rivers, and there in 1660 Rev. Morgan Jones found among the Tuscaroras a tribe known as “Doegs,” light of complexion and who could understand the Welsh speech—proving beyond a peradventure some earlier association with the whites. Then in 1714 Lawson, early historian, relates that he was told by the Hatteras Indians that some of their ancestors could TALK IN A BOOK, and that they had GREY EYES, a feature possessed by no other tribe.
French emigrants as early as 1690 settled between the Pamlico and Neuse, and here the first settlers found a native race to whom they gave the name “Melange,” meaning “Mixed.” At the earliest coming of the white settlers into what is now Robeson county, there was found along the waters of the Lumber a tribe of Indians SPEAKING ENGLISH, owning slaves, and practicing many of the arts of civilization, who call themselves “Malungeans.” I doubt not these were descendants of the mixed race above referred to, who had moved from Neuse and Pamlico to other hunting grounds in the valley of the Lumber.
These ancient people scattered over Robeson and adjacent territory; here may be found their great trails and highways, such as the Lowrie road, near which was found numerous large burial mounds, skulls from which are all of Caucasian type, with cranial development far in excess of that of the savages. Confirmatory evidence is found in the names prevalent among these people and which are also found on the roster of Raleigh's colony, such as Sampson, Brooks, Chavis, Lucas, etc. And they use many old English words, dating back to the days of Chaucer, such as hit for it, hwing for wing, aks for ask, hosen for hose, housen for house, lovend for loving, mension for measurement, mon for man. And at the first coming of the whites they found numerous Indians with BLUE EYES AND AUBURN HAIR. They also possess many of the characteristics of the true Indian: They never forget a kindness, or forgive an injury.
Members of this tribe served our country in the war of 1812 and subsequent conflicts. Prior to 1835 they possessed the elective franchise and other rights of free citizens, but by the amended constitution of 1835 this was taken from them. Under the new constitution of 1868 the franchise was restored to them, but by legislative enactment they were denied the right to attend the white schools and hundreds grew up in ignorance rather than attend the schools of the negro race. This situation was remedied in 1885 when Mr. McMillan had enacted the legislation which gave these people their own system of schools, a right they have since enjoyed; and they have always had their own separate churches, pastored by members of their own race. They are now legally known as the Cherokee Indians of Robeson County.
These people have made and are still making much
progress, due largely to the excellent normal school provided for them by the state and located at Pembroke.
It remains to acknowledge my indebtedness to the excellent brochure of Mr. McMillan for much of the information herein contained.
THE LOWRIE OUTLAWS OF ROBESON
THIS is a story as thrilling as ever came out of Missouri concerning the Jesse James gang; a tale of an outlaw band which terrorized an entire county for a decade; one which defied the County, State, Confederate and even the Federal authority. It tells of a time when the people of an entire section sat at night with weapons by their side, with drawn blinds, not daring to stir outside, and when any footfall was heard, they feared it was that of the dreaded murderers and robbers. It will tell of an era when the very court house itself was robbed; when the jails no longer could hold their prisoners; when Judges from the bench commended the slaying of the outlaws.
HENRY BERRY LOWRIE was as famous an outlaw during the era of reconstruction as was Edward Teach, the pirate, during the Colonial period. His ancestor, James Lowrie, moved from Franklin to Robeson county in 1769, and with his half breed Tuscarora wife, took up a residence on the Lowrie swamp. He had three sons: William, Thomas and James. William fought in the Revolution under the command of Col. Thomas Robeson (in whose honor Robeson county was named) and received a severe sabre wound, in consideration of which he later received a pension from the Federal government. This William had a son named ALLEN, who married Polly Cumba, a woman of Portuguese extraction, and they raised a large family of which four became members of the famous gang of outlaws: WILLIAM, STEVEN, THOMAS, and above all HENRY BERRY LOWRIE—leader and captain of the band.
It will be seen that the blood of strange races coursed through the veins of the Lowries. Outlaw though he became, Henry Berry had certain good qualities for which due credit should be given: His word, once passed, was his bond; he never offered an insult to a white woman altho they were at his mercy; he never fired the buildings of any man. In addition to the Lowries there were other members connected with them by blood or marriage. There were a few not related to them in any way.
What caused the Lowries to embark upon their bloodthirsty and lawless career? In 1864 the flower of Robeson manhood was in the Confederate service, those left at home being the “Home Guard,” consisting of men too old for the regular army. Certain robberies and other crimes had been committed in Robeson and a search of the home of ALLEN LOWRIE disclosed a quantity of the stolen property. A court martial was held by the “Home Guard,” Allen and his son William were found guilty, sentenced to death, and were then and there shot. The spirit of revenge, engendered by this execution, inflamed the heart of Henry Berry and is believed to be the cause of the reign of terror which followed.
The rendezvous of the outlaw gang was near Harper's Ferry, close to Pembroke, where now is maintained a stately Normal School maintained by the State for its Indian people—a section then known as Scuffletown. Here the outlaw gang had its headquarters, which had both front and rear entrances, a trap door and a tunnel which communicated with an almost impenetrable swamp, a swamp with whose recesses the outlaws were thoroughly familiar. Through this trap door and tunnel they escaped more than once when hard pressed by the authorities.
The martial equipment of Henry Berry and members of the band consisted of five six-barreled revolvers, a
Henry rifle which carried sixteen cartridges, a double barreled shot gun, and a long bladed knife. For ten years the band operated as an organized gang and carried on a career of daily crime, protected by some people through friendship, but living mostly behind the screen which fear produced in the hearts of a terrified citizenry.
The murder of James P. Barnes and others was laid at the door of Henry Berry and on the very night of his marriage to his cousin Rhoda, he was arrested and taken to jail at Whiteville (Lumberton was too near the gang) and was locked in a barred cell, heavily ironed. He filed his way out of this cell, and out of the jail, escaping to the woods still wearing his handcuffs. Again he was captured in 1868, but escaped by threatening the life of the jailer at the point of a cocked pistol. When, as a precaution, the authorities ordered the arrest of his wife, he wrote: “If she is not released, I will retaliate on the white women of Burnt Swamp township.”
A northern detective, John Sanders, sought to entrap and capture the entire gang. Discovering his purpose, the gang captured the detective, blindfolded him, tied him to a tree. Then Steven Lowrie took deliberate aim and shot him to death. They surrounded the home of exsheriff Reuben King of Robeson, killed him in cold blood, and seriously wounded a neighbor who was visiting the King home. Declared an outlaw Steven Lowrie was captured, tried at Whiteville, found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. He took an appeal, pending which he escaped, only to be later killed by the authorities.
The gang was composed of Indians but there were one or two white men including Zach T. McLaughlin. Henry Berry Lowrie paid him $50.00 to murder one of Robeson's outstanding citizens, Owen C. Norment. When Dr. Richard M. Norment tried to reach the side of his mortally
wounded brother, the gang waylaid him and killed his mule. McLaughlin was finally killed by a posse after a long manhunt.
Their usual method of murder was ambuscade. In this manner they killed Brantley Harris; James P. Barnes; Owen C. Norment; Murdoch A. McLean and his brother Hugh; John Taylor; Archibald A. McMillan; Hector McNeill; Alexander Brown; Captain F. M. Wishart and others. Nor did they confine themselves to murder. The flames of arson flamed nightly along the horizon; and as for their robberies, to list them would be almost to list the citizenry of one section of Robeson. Going to the McDonald section they not only robbed the home of Richard Townsend, but that of his brother Jackson and that of his brother David. David was prepared for them and in defending his home, he shot and killed one of them.
Posses scoured the countryside for members of the gang. Finally Henry Berry was induced to surrender to the Sheriff of Robeson and to an agent of the Federal Freedmen's Bureau. Several members of the gang were captured and all were taken to Wilmington for safekeeping and placed on trial there. One of the gang, John Dial, turned State's evidence; all the defendants were convicted and sentenced to be hung. Pending the appeal Henry Berry and four members of the gang escaped from the Wilmington jail. This was the third escape for Henry Berry. He was never taken again.
In 1871, a posse captured Henderson Oxendine and brought him to jail at Lumberton. He was tried by Judge Daniel L. Russell (later Governor), found guilty and hung. He was the only member of the gang to be executed. He made a full confession before his death. Two others were convicted but escaped before their execution.
In March, 1871, eleven young men of Robeson, under the leadership of the gallant Captain Frank M. Wishart, entered into a covenant to rid the county of the band, and a determined hunt was begun for each of its members. They had already been declared outlaws; the county offered rewards for their capture, dead or alive, as did also the State; even the Federal government sent a detail of troops into Robeson to assist the local authorities. The manhunt was on.
One by one the several posses killed off the outlaws, but they retaliated fiercely, killing by an ambuscade the gallant Captain F. M. Wishart, leader of the law enforcing authorities. A detachment sent to arrest the wives of certain members of the gang was ambushed and three of the party were killed. Notwithstanding this the women were carried to jail, but were released after the Sheriff received this note: “If our wives are not at home by Monday morning we will commence and drench the county in blood and ashes.” This message was signed by Henry Berry and Steve Lowrie and Andrew Strong.
The Federal detachment, with the local posse, surrounded the remaining gangsters at their desert in the edge of the swamp, but they escaped through the trap door and tunnel above referred to. Just to show his undaunted spirit, Henry Berry personally ambushed and murdered Murdoch McLean and his brother Hugh on the public road near Maxton, and dangerously wounded another brother, Archie. The posse retaliated in kind, and James MacQueen shot Boss Strong, one of the gang, pointing his gun through the cat hole in the door. For so doing he received a reward of $5,000.00 from the State. The man slain was a brother-in-law of Henry Berry.
A posse killed the outlaw Tom Lowrie. From his body was taken three pistols, a Spencer rifle, a gold watch
(which belonged to a prominent citizen) and a large sum in currency. In December, 1873, a detachment killed Steve Lowrie as he sat strumming his banjo. The body was taken to Lumberton where, superior court being in session, the Judge commended the young men for their services, and extended to them the thanks of the State.
In the winter of 1872, the very court house at Lumberton was robbed, the safe being stolen from the office of the Sheriff himself. Several stores were broken into and robbed, and the safe of the leading mercantile firm was carried away. A blacksmith shop was robbed for the tools necessary to open this safe. Sensing pursuit, the gang gathered at the home of Tom Lowrie in Scuffletown and prepared for the coming of the authorities. While drawing the load from his double-barreled shot gun, Henry Berry Lowrie in some way allowed the hammer to strike against the sill of a crib and the weapon was discharged, the load taking effect in the face of the outlaw, who thus perished by his own hand and through accident.
In 1874 the last member of the gang had been hunted down and slain, with one or two exceptions, these fleeing the State. The sun of the gang had set; henceforth Robeson citizens breathed more easily. I hasten to add that this was long ago, and you may now ride the roads of Robeson by night or day in perfect safety, and if you will stop and abide in her midst, a cordial hospitality will be extended you.
- “Sublime tobacco! which from east to west
- Cheers the tar's labour or the Turkman's rest.”
- Lord Byron: The Island.
FROM the Hatteras Indians of North Carolina, the first English settlers of the new world under Amidas and Barlowe, obtained “uppowoc” or tobacco; “pagatour” or Indian corn; “openauk” or the “Irish potato.” It was from Carolina, in 1584, that these three gifts were first introduced into England. In return for these great gifts, our ancestors presented the native Indians with some strange presents: whiskey; smallpox; and various vices of the whites.
Tobacco was the first staple crop of the Albemarle; so much so that as early as 1679 the Virginia assembly passed an act preventing the importation of North Carolina tobacco into Virginia. The Virginians simply could not compete with the bright leaf of Carolina!
By the middle of the seventeenth century men of all classes and women of the lower class, sought both health and solace in the free use of their pipes. Snuff sniffing was a mark of breeding, and proclaimed the aristocrat. Lawyer James Millen of the Albemarle had eight snuff boxes, while a “Mother of pearl snuff box sette in gold” was required to satisfy the nose of Colonial Governor Gabriel Johnston. Bequests of snuff boxes are of frequent occurrence in ancient wills.
The end of the Civil War found a considerable demand for two products for which Carolina was famous: tobacco
and corn liquor. Both Wilkes and Craven counties (so it is said) produced a superior brand of that species of corn which can be bottled. At Durham, James R. Green had a small wooden building in which he prepared smoking tobacco for the market, and raiding Union soldiers, while they carried off his stock, advertised his product so that the close of the war found him swamped with orders. Julian S. Carr and W. T. Blackwell acquired this business, and under the name of W. T. Blackwell and Company, they acquired the Green business, and with the trademark of the “Durham Bull,” they made the Bull City famous over the land. Reynolds at Winston, Duke and Sons at Durham, and the Hanes Brothers at Winston, not only pioneered in its manufacture, but peddled their product from house to house.
Cigarettes were not introduced into this country until 1869, and less than two million were used that year in the entire country. But a decade later their use had jumped to four hundred million—all made by hand. Then came James Bonsack, with a practical machine for making them, and the consumption of the weed in the form of cigarettes, increased to an amazing extent. Our farmers of today find a market for their weed as the result of this increase. For Carolina tops the nation in the value of its products of tobacco, producing more than 50 percent of all the cigarettes produced in the United States. Liggett and Myers at Durham and Reynolds at Winston have the largest factories of their kind in the world.
Here in Robeson, we were a one crop county until the early ’90s. Then Henry F. Pittman and James Pittman, at a point near Fairmont, made the first Robeson experiments in the cultivation of tobacco. They undertook to cut down the entire plant and sun-cure it, but their experiments were not a success. Later they adopted flue-curing
and it worked. They built the first tobacco barn in Robeson county.
This was truly an humble beginning, but the cultivation of the weed spread steadily and was greatly stimulated by the low price of cotton. In 1898 Caldwell and Carlyle, L. H. Caldwell and Q. T. Williams built the first warehouse at Lumberton, and the first warehouseman was Mr. Faucette, father-in-law of our townsman Henry B. Jennings. Four years later A. L. Jones, A. J. Floyd and Chambers opened a warehouse at Fairmont. From these small beginnings our Robeson tobacco markets have grown until tobacco is far in the lead as our major crop; and our numerous warehouses and re-drying plants furnish steady employment for hundreds of people; and the buyers pay out millions to Robeson county farmers.
While on this subject, the service rendered by our townsman Kenneth M. Biggs to our local market should neither be overlooked nor forgotten, for it was he who nursed our infant market into its present state of robust strength.
On behalf of the entire citizenship of Robeson, thanks are hereby extended the great tobacco companies for the consideration shown by them in not curtailing either our days of sale or our number of hours of the daily market. In connection with this, may I not venture to express the hope that the companies will yet heed our plea for an additional set of buyers so sorely needed on the local market.
Soon the chant of the auctioneer will be heard in the land—and how we do hope the crop brings a good price!
GOVERNOR ANGUS WILTON McLEAN
- “. . . strong in will
- To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.”
A GREAT North Carolinian was dead. At Raleigh the flags on the dome of the capitol dropped at half mast. At Lumberton ten thousand people gathered to pay their last tribute of respect at his funeral. Hither came the Governor, ex-Governors, Congressmen, high officials, judges and a vast throng of lesser folk who had known and loved the man. The scene was impressive, and more than one newspaper correspondent commented upon it. But John Arch McMillan, editor of Charity and Children was not so much impressed with the scene, not so much with the eulogies, not so much by the wealth of the floral offerings, not so much by a people's grief, as by the memory of the fact that when he and ANGUS WILTON McLEAN were in school together, Wilton always protected the small boys against the bullying of the larger ones.
When Wilton died tributes were paid to his memory by the country's press from the New York Times to our local newspapers, many couched in eloquent terms of tribute to his service to his country, but I feel that the most eloquent tribute of all was this memory of his schoolmate Arch McMillan, and I think it fairly reflects the outstanding trait of a great Carolinian.
To all Robeson throughout the years he was known as Wilton McLean, and few are aware that he became known
as Angus in his latter years simply because of the government's requirement that those in its service be designated by their first christian name. By the name of Wilton I first knew him in 1903; by that name I first admired, then loved him; by that name I shall write of him here.
He was born in Robeson County, April 20, 1870. His ancestry was a notable one. His grandfather, Dr. Angus D. McLean, early graduate of Jefferson and pioneer physician of the Scotch, was not only a landmark of the section, but the ancestor of a distinguished progeny. His paternal grandmother was Jane McEachin, daughter of Sallie McEachin and her husband Col. Archibald McEachin, she being a daughter of Col. James McQueen, founder of Queensdale, and the ancestor of such a long line of notable descendants. His maternal grandparents were Alexander Torrey Purcell and Harriet McIntyre Purcell, this grandmother being a daughter of John McIntyre, outstanding pioneer Presbyterian minister, and the grandfather being a son of John Purcell and a grandson of Malcolm Purcell.
His father was Archibald A. McLean, Confederate soldier and county official. His mother was Caroline Purcell. Through this ancestry he was closely related to many who have made the valley of the Lumber River so notable for the high quality of its citizenship and the notable men it has produced. Among his near kinsmen may be noted: Col. Neill Archie McLean, Judge Thomas A. McNeill, Dickson McLean, Angus Dhu McLean, Henry C. McQueen, Rev. Dr. J. Edwin Purcell, Bishop Clare Purcell, Rev. Sylvester B. McLean, Rev. Dr. John Allen McLean and other notable men.
He received his preparatory education in the schools of Scotland county, and under the famous preceptor Prof. W. G. Quakenbush at Laurinburg. He attended the University
of North Carolina and took his degree in law with the class of 1892. He came immediately to Lumberton, which thenceforth became the scene of his life's labors, and which became his monument when he died.
He began life as a lawyer; he finished as a master builder of his State, and even the Nation felt the impress of his consummate business ability. He was associated in the practice of law at various times with his kinsmen, Judge Thomas A. McNeill, Col. Neill Archie McLean and Dickson McLean; and with other prominent lawyers such as J. Gilchrist McCormick, Judge L. R. Varser and Horace E. Stacy.
I do not say that Wilton was a great lawyer, or a great advocate. He was not an eloquent speaker, and his tastes and talents did not run in the direction of the rough and tumble contest of the average court room. While he could and did direct with ability the trial of important litigation, his hand was usually most apparent in planning and mapping the technique and strategy of the case, and he was usually content to leave the execution of his tactics and strategy in the hands of his associates. Yet North Carolina lawyers recognized him as one of the ablest exponents of his profession, and in 1917 paid him their highest honor in electing him as President of the State Bar Association.
From his early manhood he was the friend and benefactor of the cause of education, and although through the years a multitude of cares and duties pressed in upon him, and although necessity forced him to relinquish some of his multitudinous tasks, he continued to serve as a trustee of the University, as a trustee of Union Theological Seminary, and as chairman of the Board of Trustees of Flora Macdonald College. This last institution felt the warmth of his sheltering care. He gave to it much
of his time, means and energy serving for years as chairman of its investing committee. And he privately contributed to the education of numbers of Carolina's youth.
He early took a commanding position in the political life of his section, and served as County Chairman of his party as early as 1892. After 1920 he was a member of the State Executive Committee. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions of 1905 and 1912. Having served an apprenticeship as a politician, he emerged as a statesman.
While he was known throughout the State as a lawyer, influential political leader, and public-spirited citizen, his local fame began when he became a master builder—the builder of Lumberton. His business genius made itself felt at an early age, and his restless energy was such that one achievement did not satisfy him, but he at once proceeded to a yet larger accomplishment. Yet even here he kept behind the scenes to a large extent. He often fathered an enterprise although his name did not appear either as officer or director. His fertile brain conceived an enterprise; his legal ability formed it; but he often allowed another to head the organization, merely retaining the direction and control in his own capable hands.
Thus he conceived and planned, and thus under his able guidance such outstanding men as Robert D. Caldwell and Albert Edward White carried out his plans, these three (with others) working in close harmony. As early as 1897 he organized the first bank of Robeson, the Bank of Lumberton, later nationalized as the National Bank of Lumberton, which has a banking record second to none in this state. His partner, Judge McNeill was its first President, but upon his elevation to the Bench in 1898, Wilton was elected to its presidency and so continued until his death. And he planned and organized
the cotton mills which have meant so much to our town—the Lumberton and Dresden mills, later merged into the present Mansfield Mills, and the Jennings Mill. He continued as officer and director therein until his death; and these mills for a long number of years furnished the bulk of Lumberton payrolls.
Perhaps his greatest single contribution to our business life was the building of the Virginia and Carolina Southern Railroad from Lumberton to Hope Mills and from St. Pauls to Elizabethtown. This road has played a tremendous part in the development of Bladen and northern Robeson. He was also interested in the Atlantic Coast line system, and was for years its District Counsel and trusted adviser in this section.
He organized and became the President of the Atlantic Joint Stock Land Bank at Raleigh, and remained as head of this institution which meant so much to the farmers of eastern Carolina. He was also a director in the Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Company and other large corporations.
While the foregoing may be cited as perhaps his largest contributions in our economic and business life, there were a host of smaller enterprises which felt the touch of his business genius. In fact there was scarcely an enterprise in Lumberton or in Robeson with which he was not connected; and those enterprises in which he was not directly interested were in most cases mapped and planned by him.
When our country entered the maelstrom of the World War, and President Wilson searched the country for five men of great business ability to have direction of financing the industries of the Nation for the period of the war, Wilton was one of those so chosen and he became a member of the War Finance Corporation, eventually becoming
the chairman thereof. In this capacity he won new laurels as a business executive, drew national attention to his great ability, and earned his promotion as Assistant Secretary United States Treasury. In both capacities he rendered such conspicuous service as to evoke the warm praise of both President Wilson and Secretary of the Treasury McAdoo. He went to Washington a North Carolina figure; he returned a National figure.
In 1925 he was elected Governor of North Carolina, receiving the largest majority until then given any candidate for that high office. Here there awaited him a task which taxed even his great powers. North Carolina had been on a spending spree; her debts piled mountain high; her finances in disorder; her treasury exhausted; her credit strained; lack of system was felt on every hand. Governor McLean applied to this condition that same fine business sagacity he had shown while in Washington. He reorganized the State's finances; he inaugurated the budget system; he checked the wild orgy of spending; he restored the State's credit; he introduced order and system into a chaotic financial system. During his four years tenure in office he gave to our State a great business administration, one which attracted attention far beyond our own borders, one which focused him in the public eye as a man of national importance.
After completion of his term as Governor, upon appeal of leading business men and bankers, and in an effort to improve a bad banking situation, he led in the organization of the North Carolina Bank and Trust Company, an amalgamation of several leading banks at Greensboro, Raleigh, Wilmington, and other points, becoming President of the institution. The final failure of the bank in no way reflected upon the character or the quality of his leadership, or upon his business ability. He was called
upon to save a situation in a time of stress and even then the ship he launched would have weathered the storm had not the unprecedented panic of 1932 created a situation for which he was not responsible and which no man could control. Under these conditions banks in North Carolina went down literally by the hundreds.
Governor McLean was a great burden bearer. He knew the via Dolorosa. As he came into prominence in Robeson, those who needed money, those who desired government position, those with relatives or friends in trouble—these with one accord applied to Wilton for help. As he rose to fame, this local condition became wider even than the limits of the State. I once heard a Governor say that before his election he knew he would be under obligation to North Carolinians, as a majority of her people would vote for him, but that after his election he found to his surprise that he was under obligations to the people of Virginia and South Carolina, also, and this upon the ground that had they been allowed to do so, they also would have voted for him! So, especially after he was Governor, every mail brought its appeals for assistance; all troubled Carolinians trod the beaten path which led to his door. He became bowed and bent under this load of carking care, piled as it was on top of a heavy burden of professional and business cares and anxieties. But he did not break. Patiently he toiled through the day and far into the night, trying as best he could to help each and every one of those who threw themselves upon his bounty. Here a letter went to the Governor requesting that some prisoner be paroled; here a letter to some Washington official seeking a position for a North Carolinian; here a letter giving sage advice in some complicated question of business administration; here a letter requesting financial aid for some acquaintance; and all too often
there was enclosed the personal check of that great hearted gentleman who rose from the poverty of reconstruction himself.
So many and so varied, so urgent and pressing the business demands upon him that he did not have time or opportunity to develop the social side of his character as would otherwise have been possible. He was widely read, tolerant in his ideas, broad in his views, a genial companion and a brilliant conversationalist. He delighted in the few hours of relaxation he permitted himself, and was happy when surrounded by those to whom he had given of his confidence.
Wilton was an earnest and a sincere Christian. He was for years a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian church here in Lumberton, and only his pastor and his co-laborers know what his passing meant in the life of his church.
I admired Wilton as a lawyer. I wondered at his business genius. I marvelled at his power as a financier. His power over men must have come from inspiration. But I loved the man for the quality of his friendship; for the breadth of his generosity. Once you were admitted to his confidence, once you had passed the acid test of his keen scrutiny, you passed into his complete friendship, and nothing was withheld from you. Just what this means can be known only to those who experienced it. And there was no limitation upon his generous nature. When the recent memorial to Will Rogers was unveiled at Claremore, Oklahoma, Eddie Cantor said: “If you gave Will a biscuit, he would want to give you a whole barrel of flour.” No sculptor could carve a more perfect likeness of Wilton McLean. A more generous soul never lived; and while I have applied to him scores of times for financial aid for this person or that cause, never once did I apply in vain.
He was married April 14th, 1904 to Miss Margaret French, of Lumberton, and to this union was born three children:
Angus Wilton Jr., Lumberton business executive.
Margaret French, Alumni Secretary Salem College, Winston, N. C.
Hector, student at Davidson College.
He also had a brother Hector who died many years ago; and another brother, Alexander Torrey McLean, prominent Lumberton business man. And three sisters: Mrs. J. F. L. Armfield of Fayetteville (deceased), Mrs. J. I. Sutphen of Columbia, S. C., and Miss Sallie McLean of Maxton.
When Governor McLean died, June 20th, 1935, hundreds of papers all over the country paid eloquent tribute to his genius, to his services to his State and Nation, to the manner of man that he was. Some of these tributes were compelling in their eloquence, but I liked best the conclusion of an editorial in the Charlotte Observer:
“A kindly man, large-souled, he goes over the River with the hearts of a people he served and led rising in sorrowed emotion to chant a hymn of gratitude for his fine gifts and leadership.”
Eulogies are sometimes fulsome, but the words of his friend O. L. Hall of Chicago, which are graven upon his mausoleum in Meadowbrook cemetery, scarce do justice to the man whose noble nature they commemorate. I quote them here:
“His friendship ennobled all who knew him. He was a tower against which the weary leaned and which the oppressor could not throw down. His great heart gave hope to the poor and restrained the self-seeker. His leadership was informed with Christian kindness and human understanding. He combined wisdom with energy, charity
with enterprise, sympathy with decision. He led his commonwealth to new glory.”
Robeson's greatest son, my friend: ANGUS WILTON McLEAN.
REVEREND CHARLES H. DURHAM, D.D.
- “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high
- calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul: Phil. 3-14.
CLEVELAND COUNTY is famous in American history, for on her soil was determined the fate of American Independence. Here, on the slopes of Kings Mountain, the Continental army under Cleveland Shelby, Ferguson and Sevier, met the British red coats, and when the shades of night had fallen, those slopes no longer belonged to the King but to the patriot forces.
The hills of Cleveland are rugged, and she produces rugged men. From these hills came the Webbs: the father, George M., mighty minister of the Word, pioneer Baptist preacher to an entire section; a son, Edwin Yates, fifteen years in Congress, co-author of the Webb-Kenyon act, distinguished judge of the Federal Court for the western district of North Carolina; another son, James L., able and fearless solicitor, who for many years adorned the Superior court bench of our State.
From these hills came the Dixons: Thomas, world famous author and playwright; his brother, Clarence, the George W. Truett of his day; his brother Frank, noted lecturer, whose son has but recently been elected as governor of Alabama; their sister, Dr. Delia Dixon-Carroll, pioneer woman physician.
From these hills came also Governors of North Carolina, O. Max Gardner, and his brother-in-law, Clyde R. Hoey, distinguished not only for his statesmanship but for the high quality of his Christian character.
And from these hills came the Durhams: Plato, the elder, brilliant lawyer of reconstruction days; Plato, the younger, he of the scintillating mind and eloquent tongue, Methodist minister, professor in Duke and Emory universities; and Columbus Durham, mighty servant of God, leader of North Carolina Baptists as corresponding secretary of their State convention for many years; and from these rugged hills came along their kinsman—CHARLES H. DURHAM.
His grandparents were: Lemuel Durham and Temperence Scruggs Durham of Cleveland, Henry Cansler and Fannie Shuford Cansler of Catawba. His parents were: Dr. L. N. Durham and Fannie Cansler Durham. His Cansler ancestry makes him a near kinsman of that premier North Carolina lawyer, Edward T. Cansler, Sr., of Charlotte. His brothers were: Augustus, Gordon, Alexander (all deceased) and two yet living, T. L. Durham of Hendersonville, and Dr. B. J. Durham of Columbia, S. C. His sisters were: Mollie, Bettie (Mrs. J. B. Bostic) and Addie (Mrs. O. F. Thompson), all deceased.
Dr. Durham was born at Shelby, July 13th, 1868. His boyhood was the usual one, save that God laid hands upon him while yet a lad, and the ministry called to him at an early age. He entered Wake Forest college, and here I first met him one Friday night at two o'clock a. m. As a member of the freshman class, I was joining the Euzelian Literary Society, and when I was led into the sanctum sanctorum where the secret and mystic fraternal words were to be imparted to me, the one who imparted the magic words was a young man just as serious, just as stately, just as dignified, as he is today. I thought that night that Charles Durham was a great man, and during the forty-five years since then I have never wavered in that conviction. And here at Wake Forest was paid him the highest
tribute I have ever known paid to any man. A student was one day beginning the recital of an off-color story to a group of his fellows, when Charles Durham walked up. The story was not finished. In that presence it could not be told.
He was graduated from Wake Forest in the class of 1893, one of the most brilliant ever sent out by that institution. Among his classmates were: the near-genius Josiah William Bailey, United States senator; the magnetic Edwin Yates Webb, congressman and Federal judge; Samuel Judson Porter, noted preacher, pastor First Baptist church, Washington, D. C.; Col. Franklin P. Hobgood, prominent Greensboro lawyer; Charles P. Sapp, distinguished editor, Norfolk Pilot; Stephen McIntyre, needing no introduction to Robesonians.
He was ordained to preach in January, 1894, and for the following two years attended the Southern Baptist Theological seminary at Louisville. He entered the Baptist ministry as pastor at Gastonia in July, 1896. A unanimous call from the First Baptist church of Lumberton was accepted by him in September, 1900. Here he remained until May, 1914, when, to the distress of his people, he accepted a call to the Brown Memorial church at Winston, where he remained until November, 1918, when his home people again called so loudly that he could not resist, and he came back to his Lumberton home. Here he has been ever since, and here—please God—he will remain until called to receive the “well done” of his Lord and Master.
His church has paid Dr. Durham about all the honors it has to offer. He has been moderator of the Robeson association for twenty-seven years. He was the North Carolina member of the Home Mission board for twelve years. He was a trustee of the Southern Baptist Theological
seminary for twenty-two years, until he resigned. He has been a trustee of Wake Forest college since 1926. In 1911 North Carolina Baptists paid him their highest honor, electing him as president of their State convention, and re-electing him in 1912, 1913 and 1914. In 1922, Wake Forest college conferred upon him a Doctorate of Divinity.
These various honors may serve to show the esteem in which Dr. Durham is held by North Carolina Baptists, and their admiration for him, both as a man and as a minister, but his real life's work has been here in Robeson county and in Lumberton, where is situated the child of his heart, the center of his affections, the blood of his life—the First Baptist church of Lumberton.
Within her walls Dr. Durham has done a truly monumental work. When he came hither in 1900, the Baptists were but a feeble folk, few in number, supported largely by the purse of the late Berry Godwin. But under his wise guidance, able administration, and loving stewardship, a new, commodious and well-equipped church and Sunday-school building was erected in 1910, followed by the erection of the education building in 1927, making the church plant as well equipped as any in the South of similar size, and its membership has reached nearly one thousand. For many years this church has had the reputation of being one of the most liberal in the southern states in its gifts to benevolence; and for many years it led all North Carolina churches in its gifts to the orphanage at Thomasville.
May we here pause and pay silent and reverent tribute to some of those heroes of the faith who have upheld the hands of Dr. Durham during his long ministry, even as Aaron and Hur upheld the hands of Moses upon the rock of Horeb: Edward Knox Proctor, Jr., Robert D. Caldwell,
Stephen McIntyre, Luther H. Caldwell, Quitman T. Williams, and others. They each wrote their name large upon the hearts of their brethren, and their works yet follow them. Amen.
I do not deem it necessary to speak of Dr. Durham's quality as a preacher. Yet I may say that I have sat under his ministry since 1903, and while I have often heard him reach the heights, I have never yet heard him preach a poor sermon. The fact of his long ministry, his unanimous recall here after his first pastorate of fourteen years, the fact that his people still hear him eagerly and gladly, speaks far more eloquently than I can write of the magnetism of his gospel and his power as a preacher.
While his church has been his one passion, he was ever a crusader for civic righteousness—ever a leader of the moral forces of our State and county. The younger generation may marvel when I say I have seen our Doctor mad, but I have seen him mad—white hot! Yes, indeed! But his indignation had been aroused over some condition of vice or sin here at home or in the state, and this he scourged with whip and scorpions even as Christ scourged the money changers from the Temple in Jerusalem. He has never for a moment hesitated to take such position as seemed wise to him—no matter how unpopular for the moment such position might be—and to doggedly adhere to that position until his cause should be vindicated. He has led—can still lead—a forlorn hope with all the energy of his soul and all the zeal of the true crusader. He would be friends to all men, but once his mind is made up that a thing is morally wrong, then without regard to friend or foe—he just wades in and mops up! And the people love him for just this quality of his leadership. He has for many years been a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to the moral
forces of Robeson county, and when the roll is called of those who wrought mightily for moral righteousness in North Carolina, the name of Charles H. Durham will stand near the top.
But it is not so much for the preacher, not so much for the reformer, not so much for the pilot or the prophet, not even so much for the shepherd, that the people of Robeson bear affection. It is for the manner of man that he is. Upon this ground men of all races and all degrees, men of all creeds and none at all, unite in paying tribute to Dr. Durham as the best beloved of his generation. Dr. Durham has become not only the shepherd of his own flock, but of other flocks as well, until the united Christian forces of Robeson pay tribute to his leadership, and join in admiration of his character. Prophets are said to be without honor in their own country, but this does not apply to Dr. Durham.
And what manner of man is this? Dr. William B. Royall, professor of Greek at Wake Forest college, was the most saintly man I have ever known, but Dr. Durham follows in his train. Yet he is neither a kill-joy nor an ascetic. He loves the companionship of the young, and they feel entirely at home in his presence. And the charm of his manner, the geniality of his presence, the graciousness of his personality, the radiant joy of his life, endear him to all who know him. His head may be white, but the life blood of his heart still glows ruby red with affection for his fellow men, and with devotion to the cause of his Master. And he is now doing the best work of his life.
In 1896 Dr. Durham married Miss Essie Moore, of Gastonia, held in loving remembrance by Robesonians, and to them came three children: Wilma, wife of David H. Fuller, prominent lawyer of Lumberton; Margaret, wife of Jasper L. Memory Jr., professor of education at Wake
Forest; Kathleen, wife of Dr. Howard M. Reeves, pastor of the First Baptist church of Hartsville, S. C., and chaplain of Coker college.
In 1916 Dr. Durham married Miss Sadie Tatum, of Walnut Cove, N. C., that gracious lady who presides over the Doctor's home with such queenly grace, and who has been such a fitting helpmeet to him in his ministry.
And so at this Thanksgiving season when we count over the blessings which His hand hath bestowed upon us, with one accord we of Robeson return thanks to the Giver of every good and perfect gift for the life of such a man as Charles H. Durham.
In July of this year, the editor of The Robesonian honored Dr. Durham with a citation which was acclaimed throughout North Carolina. It paid our Doctor a well deserved tribute, but it was still inadequate. The Citation should have read:
“DEFENDER OF THE FAITH”
RICHARD RHODES BARNES
- “A wise man, which built his house upon a rock.”
HERETOFORE this series has been confined entirely to Robesonians belonging to the several professions—preachers, lawyers, doctors. Now it is my privilege to present to my readers a sketch of a distinguished Robesonian who was not a professional man, and who by his own efforts attained the great place which he occupied in the life of Robeson County—RICHARD RHODES BARNES, of Barnesville.
Most great Americans have been self-made men. Benjamin Franklin fled from his home in Boston to escape the oppression of his brother to whom he had been apprenticed, and reached Philadelphia with but two cents in his pocket. In my judgment he was our greatest American. Andrew Jackson rose from the narrowest of beginnings to the presidency. No man in any age wrote his name higher among the immortals than Abraham Lincoln, entirely a self-made man. John D. Rockefeller started life on $25.00 per month, but lived to become the world's greatest philanthropist. Andrew Johnson had such little opportunity that he could not even read or write until taught by his wife after he reached maturity. Yet he became Governor of Tennessee, United States Senator and President.
Richard Rhodes Barnes started his useful career during the desolation of the reconstruction era, and by his own efforts rose to a position of influence and power in his
county. He was born near Proctorville in 1844, son of Meredith and Eliza (Ward) Barnes. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he enlisted in Company “B,” 50th North Carolina infantry and served throughout the struggle until he was captured and imprisoned at Point Lookout, Maryland.
Returning to an impoverished county he set about his life work, and in 1873 established a small mercantile business at Barnesville. When I came to Robeson in 1903, Mr. Barnes was an outstanding figure, a man owning a large estate and possessing more than county-wide influence. Some years later, while standing with him on the porch of his home at Barnesville, I remarked upon the beautiful field in front of his home. “Yes,” he said quietly, “but when I bought it in my early manhood it was full of pine stumps. I dug them up myself, largely at night, while my wife held a kerosene lamp so I might see.” If my head had not been covered at the time, I would have stood uncovered in such a presence and before such a statement, in tribute to the great soul who made it. I think the fact of this beautiful field fairly reflects the chief characteristic of his useful life. He found life rugged in its beginning; but he made it beautiful before it ended.
He was primarily a merchant and a farmer. Beginning upon meagre capital and on a small scale, his mercantile business grew until it was one of the largest in the county; and his holdings of real estate spread until he was interested in a great part of Sterlings and adjacent townships. But he was much more than a merchant or a farmer. He was an institution, both to his immediate locality and to the county at large. He was the friend, mentor, counsellor, of his entire section, and few there were who would undertake an enterprise without first consulting Squire Rhodes Barnes. His reputation as a business man, his
known probity, his desire to develop his community, and his willingness to put his ability at the disposal of his neighbors, marked him as a conspicuous man of his community, and his reputation grew and his influence increased until it covered not only Robeson but much of Columbus.
I need cite but few instances of his service to his county as a builder. The railroad from Lumberton to Marion was built on a shoe string. And it would not have been built even on this had it not been for Mr. Barnes. Through several periods of financial stress he supplied the money necessary to keep it going, and it is an undoubted fact that to him was due the continued operation of the road for many years. And he aided in building communities other than his own. Our town of Lumberton felt the impress of his power as a builder. He served as Director of the Lumberton, Dresden and Jennings Cotton mills, in the National Bank of Lumberton, and in the Planters Bank and Trust Company, and was a substantial stockholder in these and other institutions.
From time to time he placed his ability and energy at the disposal of the public. He served for years as a magistrate, and was known far and wide for his ability as a settler of disputes and contentions between neighbors and erstwhile friends. People from a whole section came to him to lay their troubles at his feet and to let him seek a solution thereof. And a solution he usually found. When Squire Barnes had with patience heard both sides to a dispute and rendered his decision, both sides were usually content to abide by his decision as that of both a wise and a just man.
He served his county for years as Chairman of its Board of Commissioners. It was during his service on this Board that the Board, on the advice of its attorney Judge Thomas
A. McNeill, ruled that the bare fact that a person applied for license to sell liquor was ipso facto evidence of bad character, a ruling which was upheld by the supreme court in Commissioners v. Commissioners, 107 N. C. 335. This ruling eventually dried up Robeson County.
He was also devoted to the Baptist church, of which he was a consistent member from his early youth. He was clerk of his church and superintendent of its sunday school for many years. One of the principal objects of his solicitude was the Baptist Orphanage at Thomasville, and to this institution he gave generous support during his life. It was his intention to execute a will, but he was stricken with his last illness before he had the opportunity to execute it. From what I know of his life, and from what I learned as his attorney, there is no question but that if he had lived to execute his will, it would have contained a generous bequest to that institution. In recognition of this fact and to carry out and effectuate what his family knew to be his wishes, after his death his heirs provided the funds for erecting the building known as the Administration Building which stands upon the Orphanage grounds at Thomasville. He died June 4th, 1918, mourned throughout our county.
In 1866 Mr. Barnes was married to Miss Isabella Floyd, and to this union were born two children: Kelly M. Barnes, prominent Lumberton business man; and Edna, who married James H. Pittman. The daughter died many years ago, leaving two children, Messrs. Roger and Craven Pittman, both of Barnesville. Since foregoing was written Craven was killed in an automobile accident.
A life of inspiration was that lived by: Richard Rhodes Barnes.
KENNETH M. BIGGS
HE was born out in Saddletree, son of that sturdy Confederate veteran and high-minded citizen, Ebenezer Biggs, and his mother was a sister of Prof. John B. Carlyle, of Wake Forest College. He was raised on the farm, but his restless urge for action found farm life too slow, so he got himself a little education, a business course, and then a job as express messenger. For several years he rode the express trains and went FAST as he has been doing ever since.
Then he married Miss Mamie, daughter of Professor John Duckett, principal of Robeson Institute, got a job as bookkeeper for Caldwell and Carlyle. When I came to Lumberton in 1903 he was just getting into his stride, and that year he started in the mercantile business for himself, and his business grew from the jump, because he became known throughout Robeson as a man who could AND WOULD do things. He stayed by his business from twelve to fourteen hours daily, gave to every man a square deal, and such a course of conduct began to pay dividends. Soon when things were needed to be done here in town, he was called upon to take a hand, and it was not long before he began to be looked up to for leadership.
He was the close ally, associate and confederate of Governor Angus Wilton McLean, Mr. A. E. White, and the late Robert D. Caldwell, in founding new enterprises and industries for the town. If stock for a new corporation was to be raised, he was one of those sent out to raise it, and—you looked him in the eye and meekly asked: “How much
do you want me to take”? He has been the organizer of and a director in so many Lumberton corporations, that a list of his directorates would sound like a roster of our business organizations.
He not only serves on week days, but also on Sunday, and around the First Baptist Church they find him so indispensable that they have dubbed Mr. Biggs “High Sheriff” of that church, and he is the oldest member of its Diaconate.
Possibly his most outstanding single service to the business life of our town has been in connection with the development of our tobacco market, which was fathered by him and to which he has given most generously of his time and means. It is now our largest industry, and it is due primarily to him. He has looked after its interest down to the last detail, and by his sheer dynamic power he has made our market grow miraculously.
His was the figure behind the formation of the Chamber of Commerce in 1936, and he served as its President until the Spring of 1938. He has long been a large figure around the National Bank of Lumberton and has served for many years not only on its directorate but also on its finance and discount committees.
When the Graded Schools were established, Mr. Biggs was one of the first members of its board of trustees. He was a member of the building committee when Robeson Institute was acquired by our town and changed into a graded school. He served on the building committee when the present Baptist church was built in 1910. He was largely responsible for the building of the North and West Lumberton Baptist Churches.
In 1904 he organized the Robeson Manufacturing Company, for cotton ginning and the manufacture of cotton seed products. It was he who conceived the idea of adding
to this plant a department for the manufacture of commercial fertilizers.
A year or so ago he took over the presidency of the Mansfield and Jennings Cotton Mills—just looking for trouble! Since then he has had his hands full of cotton mills, tobacco market, big mercantile business, everybody wanting to advise him about their troubles, handyman around the church, the bank people waiting for him to come—well, he has plenty to do. The more work he gets, the more he seems to want, and he is not so young as he once was, either.
Of course, with so many and so varied interests, he necessarily has had to have some assistance, and this he has had in his son Furman and B. M. Sibley. They can tell you right off the bat how much the gross sales were ten years ago; how much income tax (groan) was paid twelve years ago; and they keep many statistics in their heads. Nor is Miss Barbara McIntyre far behind. If only his old crop liens could be used for tobacco canvas, Robeson farmers would not have to buy any canvas for years yet to come.
Several years ago when old man depression came along, it caught Mr. Biggs with who knows how many thousands of dollars on his books, which he could not collect, and with creditors who were insistent, and his hundreds of friends sadly and gloomily shook their heads in pity that so useful a man should go down in defeat after so gallant a career. And the depression sucked him right under—all but his head. Then a miracle happened. He started coming up again, he got his neck out, then his shoulders, then his waist, then his knees, then his feet, and pretty soon he was standing on dry land, and when his friends rushed up he was not even breathing hard! I've heard it said that a man cannot lift himself by his own boot-straps, but that is all an error for Mr. Biggs did it to my knowledge. Now his
financial strength is as the strength of ten, or as the rock of Gibraltar, or whatever the synonym for rugged strength is.
The thing I most like about him is his positive directness. He is never a straddler, never a sidestepper, never a soft pedaler. He's on one side or the other of every question, never in the middle. And if it is some cause in which he is interested, or in which his town is concerned, he is found pulling in front, pushing from the rear, and cheering the boys from the sidelines.
In an article published a year or so ago, I said that Mr. Biggs was our most valuable business asset. On reflection I think that was putting it quite mildly. He is all that and then some.
REV. WM. BLACK, D.D.
“I know in whom I have believed.”
2 Timothy: 1-12.
I KNOW of no town—nay, no city—in North Carolina which has sent forth so many and so distinguished Christian workers as has the small town of Maxton. As most of them were Presbyterians, I can but feel that the spirit of the beloved Dr. H. G. Hill hovered over them, and that most of these lives are a part of the fruit of his labors. I can recall eight distinguished Christian workers who have gone out from Maxton—four women, four men.
From Maxton went Elizabeth MacRae, pioneer missionary and educator, who left an indelible impression not only upon the Fayetteville Presbytery, where she founded sixty missionary societies, but upon western North Carolina, where the Lees-MacRae College, founded by her is still a lighthouse whose beams radiate from the Orient to the Heavens. From Maxton came those stalwart soldiers of the Cross, Lillian Austin, missionary to Korea, and Mabel Currie, missionary to China. From Maxton also came Sallie Lou McKinnon, secretary of woman's work in the Southern Methodist church, whose distinguished life is even now in the writing.
And from Maxton went forth four men who became distinguished in the Christian world: Rev. R. L. McLeod, Jr., President of Centre College, Kentucky; Rev. Sylvester B. McLean, prominent Presbyterian divine of Charlotte; his brother, Rev. Dr. John Allen McLean, pastor Ginter Park Presbyterian church at Richmond, Virginia, and Rev. Dr. William Black, subject of this sketch.
Mr. Black was born at Philadelphus, in Robeson county, and grew up on the farm. He attended Davidson College, which later honored him with a Doctorate of Divinity. He also attended law school and was admitted to the Bar in 1881. Upon securing his license, he went immediately to Maxton, and both his legal and his religious career were identified with the life of that town.
It has been said that the profession of the law is somewhat incompatible with the highest Christian service, but the life of Mr. Black demonstrates that the law and Christian service are entirely compatible. And others at Maxton have proved the same thing: Sibbie McLean and John Allen his brother were both lawyers—good ones, too—before they entered the ministry. Here in Lumberton the lives of Edward Knox Proctor, Jr., and Stephen McIntyre illustrated the value to a community of the Christian lawyer.
I once knew a lawyer in Raleigh who was almost invincible before a jury—Richard H. Battle. His character was so high that the Wake county people knew that if Mr. Battle did not believe in the justice of his cause, he would not have appeared in the case. The same was true of Mr. Black. His conception of Christian character was so lofty, his reputation for integrity so deserved, that a man with a case of dubious character would not take it to Mr. Black. The result was that when he did appear, the cause of his client had a strong appeal to the jury, and Mr. Black's name had a strong appeal for the court. He was an able lawyer, and had be continued at the Bar would have added another name to the list of Robeson lawyers who have graced their profession.
He had other calls upon his time. Strange as it may seem, he was captain of the Maxton military company, and his title of captain was an earned and not an honorary
one. To the end of his life he was affectionately known to Robeson as “Captain Willie.”
The Call of Christian service came to him while he was yet a lawyer. He became a member of Maxton Presbyterian church immediately upon his removal to Maxton. Of this church he soon became a ruling elder, and for many years he served as superintendent of its Sunday school. Then one day a still small voice called to him insistently.
No man can ever tell where a force set in Maxton by him will end. The ripples of a stone cast into a pond soon extend from shore to shore. Seeds simetimes planted on stony ground are carried by the winds to fertile soil, and there yield their hundred fold. Physicists say that it is impossible to destroy matter; that its form may be changed, but that the matter still remains. Mr. Black's life changed its direction; but not its goal.
In 1893, John R. Mott, world famous Y. M. C. A. worker spoke in Wilmington and made an impassioned appeal for personal consecration to Christian service. When Dr. Mott concluded, the still, small voice again spoke to William Black, and he then and there determined to abandon the law for the ministry. Meeting the friend of his youth, Charles W. Tillett, brilliant Charlotte lawyer, he told him: “Tillett, you and I are lawyers, but we PRODUCE nothing. We are CONSUMERS merely. Hereafter I am resolved to produce something, and am determined to enter the ministry.”
He was as good as his word, and entered the Presbyterian ministry in 1893. He chose the hard path too. With his mental attainments, and his background, he could have had almost any Presbyterian pulpit in the State. But instead of settling in a quiet pastorate, he became an evangelist—began producing something. His power as a
pulpit orator, the power of his godly life, the force of his godly example, bore such fruits that he was called to serve as general evangelist for the Presbyterian Synod of North Carolina, and in that capacity he served for twenty-three years and until his lamented death.
It was in his capacity as Synodical evangelist that the life's work of Mr. Black may be said to have been done. He lived a hard life—a meeting of days here, and then within a few days beginning another similar meeting at another place—exhausting toil. But he loved the work, he loved the people; he loved his Master; and the work prospered. People flocked to hear him and he began to reap a rich harvest of souls. I remember well how he came to Lumberton to hold a meeting. The local Presbyterian church would not contain the crowds, and the larger auditorium of another denomination was gladly placed at his disposal. And the proof of his labors was seen in the numbers of those converted under his ministry. Ask a Presbyterian in North Carolina under whom was he converted, and the chances are that he will answer “at a meeting held by William Black.” And he died as he had lived—in harness, at the ripe age of seventy-one, after a life devoted entirely to his Master's service. While holding a revival at Wade he fell on sleep. I think that probably William Black influenced more lives for good than any other man that ever came out of Robeson—possibly more than even Dr. Hill, because his field was the entire State.
North Carolina never produced an abler man than the late Charles W. Tillett, nor was Mr. Tillett the man to say more about a man after his death than he would have said during his life. He knew William Black intimately for fifty years. Hear him: “Of those whom I have known, William Black came nearest to living all the time with an eye single to the glory of God. During half a century
of service he was a courtly, knightly soldier of the Cross, living every day without fear and without reproach. God rest his noble soul.” After reading thrice these words of Mr. Tillett, I have concluded that they so accurately reflect the life of William Black, it would be presumptuous on my part to undertake to add aught thereto.
Mr. Black married Miss Maggie Freesland, and to this union were born four sons: LeRoy M., Lynwood, Ernest and Arthur. Mr. Black also left many relatives who, with all Robeson, revere his memory.
He obeyed the still, small voice: William Black.
ROBERT D. CALDWELL
DURING my sixty-two years of life it has been my privilege to know many useful men in many lines of varied service throughout the State, and I put it but mildly when I say I never knew a more useful man than Robert D. Caldwell.
His calling was primarily that of a merchant, and when I moved to Lumberton in 1903 the firm of Caldwell and Carlyle were leading merchants. He continued to head this business until his death, its name being changed to R. D. Caldwell & Sons after the retirement of his partner, the late William W. Carlyle. I had not been in Lumberton a week before I found that Mr. Caldwell was a largely dominant figure in the life of the town.
Governor Angus W. McLean is credited with being a master builder here in Lumberton, and indeed he was. But he could not have succeeded in his task without the assistance and counsel of able lieutenants, and one of the principal of these was Mr. Caldwell. When a conference was called, and any given business proposition discussed, if it was determined to launch a certain enterprise, or undertake the formation of a given corporation, he was invariably one of the two or three chosen to sell the idea to the public, to arouse public sentiment in favor of the proposition, get up the necessary subscriptions to the stock, and arrange the preliminary organization. If a public meeting was held to give impetus to the project, he always presided over it; it was he who made the speech outlining just what was expected from the public. If local leaders decided that more sidewalks or new streets were
needed, that water mains should be extended, or the like, he bore the burden of enlisting our citizenship to support the movement. And such was the confidence our people had in the man that he usually succeeded in the many public tasks to which he set his hands.
All railroads have an official designated Chief Engineer, whose duty it is to make surveys for proposed additions, to see that the roadbed is kept in first class condition, so that the wheels of industry can be kept turning. If I were asked just what relation Mr. Caldwell sustained to Lumberton industry during the years of our acquaintance, I would say CHIEF ENGINEER.
And he was a WILLING engineer. He did not have to be drafted or forced to take the initiative or leadership in any worthwhile movement. Once you convinced him that the proposition was in the public interest, he was not only willing to lend it his moral and financial support, but he would give generously of his time and influence to induce the general public to do likewise.
He LOOKED like a leader of men. A stranger observing him at his desk, or addressing a public gathering would say to himself “what on earth is the president of the Chase National Bank doing in Lumberton?” And he could sustain the part not only in his appearance but in his acts, for he had great capacity for business and could have borne himself worthily even in our great city of the North had he chosen a wider field of activity.
The gift of leadership came easily to him, for he was a natural leader of men. This ability was fully recognized here at home and there was little doing in any line of social, economic or religious endeavor of which he did not have the position of primacy. Lumberton had—I hope still has—a reputation over the State as one of the most prosperous of towns, with a forward looking and aggressive
local leadership. Much of this reputation was due to the forceful ability of such men as Mr. Caldwell.
I do not undertake to enumerate the business enterprises which felt the touch of his guiding hands, for to do so would be to census Lumberton industry. But I will say that he was a principal in the formation of the National Bank of Lumberton, the Lumberton, Dresden and Jennings Cotton Mills, the Lumberton B. & L. Assn., the Robeson County Loan and Trust Co., and numerous other organizations. In addition to the numerous corporations in which he was officer or director, should be added a larger number in which he was a stockholder. He was also the father of the Baker Sanatorium which has proved such a blessing to our town and county.
He was as public spirited in public affairs as in the field of private industry, and gave willingly and cheerfully of his time to the public service, being for years a member of the town Commissioners and Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. He worked hand in hand with the late Edward K. Proctor, Stephen McIntyre, Dr. R. C. Beaman and other civic leaders. If a moral question was involved, you instinctively knew where he stood, and you also knew he would give of his time, energy and ability to translate the moral cause into the actuality of realization. The phrase “public spirited citizen” is a much overused one, yet I know of no other term which so describes Mr. Caldwell, unless it be that of public servant.
He served his God not only on the first day but on all days of the week. For a quarter of a century he was Chairman of the Board of Deacons of the First Baptist Church, and for practically the same period Superintendent of its sunday school. In his relation to his church and its pastor, he sustained the same intimate relation as to his associates in the world of business. Did his pastor wish certain things
done for the benefit of the church?—Mr. Caldwell had but to be told and he would go out and GET IT DONE. If money was to be raised, he raised it, and upon him largely rested the task of looking after the material welfare of his church. He had a large part in the erection of the new church building in 1910. Nor was his interest confined to material aspect in church affairs. He was an earnest, humble and sincere follower of the Man of Galilee, and his happiest hours were those spent with his wife and family in their church pew here in Lumberton. And in the membership of that body, no name is held in higher veneration than that of Robert D. Caldwell.
He was a kindly man, a good father, a good neighbor, a gracious, kindly gentleman whose very presence radiated hope and optimism—one who never knew defeat. He was sympathetic and generous to a fault, nor did I ever know him to fail to respond to the cry of the distressed, the appeal of the widow, the call of the orphan. Following the example of his Master he was the servant of his fellows—ever ready to assist them in their onward and upward path.
He kept his courage and his faith even when passing through the deep waters. When the wife whom he adored was taken from his side, he was able to look up through his tears and say: “Thy will be done.” He questioned not the decree of providence, lost not the sunniness of his temper, nor the kindliness of his disposition.
And He that doeth all things well allowed his servant to depart in peace, leaving a great heritage to his children, a high example to his associates, and inspiration to all who knew him.
A man to whom it was given to see a new Heaven and a new earth.
JOHN BETHUNE CARLYLE
- “Let me live in a house by the side of the road
- And be a friend to man.”
Samuel Walter Foss.
THESE two lines from Foss's great poem epitomize the life and character of the man who wielded a greater influence for good in North Carolina and throughout the world, than any other Robesonian—JOHN BETHUNE CARLYLE.
Among the Scotch emigres fleeing English oppression after the battle of Culloden was Alexander Carlyle, great-grandfather of John Bethune Carlyle, who settled in the fertile fields along Ten Mile swamp in what is now Robeson county. Here was established the seat of the Carlyle family and here it remained. Here was born Elias Carlyle, grandfather of John B., who died as recently as 1881. Here also in 1821 was born Irvin Carlyle, father of John B. He married Annie Bethune, and to them were born the following children:
(a). Sarah M. Carlyle. Married Archibald Willis. Left issue.
(b). Eleanor J. Carlyle. Married Ebenezer J. Biggs. Left issue.
(c). Mary T. Carlyle. Married Jonathan Ratley. Left issue.
(d). Athesia B. Carlyle. Died unmarried.
(e). Amantha B. Carlyle. Married Richard Humphrey. Left issue.
(f). John Bethune Carlyle. Born March 29th, 1859. Subject of this sketch.
(g). Dennis D. Carlyle. Died unmarried.
The Carlyles were once affluent and owned broad and fertile acres along the Ten Mile, but large families divided their holding until the inheritance of the individual had dwindled. And to this should be added the havoc of the Civil war and the wreck and ruin of reconstruction. It is no wonder that when young Carlyle came along, his father was having a hard struggle to provide for his large and growing family. A higher education for John B. was not considered. He was destined for the farm, and in that age it was thought that a farmer needed no more education than to be able to read and write. But after an accident in which young Carlyle and a runaway mule figured intimately, the health of the lad was frail and it was determined to give him some schooling. So to Ashpole academy, at what is now Fairmont, he went, and there he sat at the feet of the principal, Stinson Ivey, from whom he received (as he told the writer) the inspiration for his life's work. And he was held steady in that inspiration by his younger brother Dennis. The nature of John B. was rash and impulsive; that of his brother Dennis calm and meditative. John B. never undertook any task after he reached maturity without first consulting Dennis. Stinson Ivey is now remembered by few, and Dennis Carlyle by even fewer, but their names are written—in the book of life! They live on and on in the lives of the hundreds of North Carolinians whose lives were moulded by John Bethune Carlyle.
Borrowing the money, young Carlyle entered Wake Forest college, from which he was graduated in 1887 Master of Arts. Here he assimilated learning and oratory. He represented his society both as debator and as orator;
he took the medal for oratory and that for the best essay; he took the Greek medal; he took the Latin medal; he was salutatorian of his class. At midnight, when engaged in any competitive task, he would look at the room of his competitor. If a light was shown there, Carlyle went back to work. His college record is a mark at which aspiring young freshmen can aim!
Leaving college he taught for a year at Lumber Bridge, and was then elected as superintendent of public instruction of Robeson county, but before he could take office he was elected as assistant professor of languages at Wake Forest college. This chair he held from 1888 until 1891, when he was elected as full professor of Latin. This chair he held until his lamented death on July 10, 1911. From 1888 until his death, Wake Forest was the consuming passion of his life, and within her classic shades his memory will never die.
John Bethune Carlyle meant more to Wake Forest than is possible to express within the limits of such a sketch as this. The college had greater scholars; more profound thinkers. But she never had a man who could render the college the practical and efficient service that Professor Carlyle rendered. While others mulled over the classics, or pondered the depths of metaphysics, Carlyle was out gunning for money or students. He always returned home with both!
He was not only a capable and thoroughly efficient professor of Latin, but for many years he also served as fiscal agent for the college. From an impoverished North Carolina, then suffering the after effects of the Cleveland panic, from hundreds of people and in small gifts, Professor Carlyle cajoled (that's the proper word) money to build the alumni building; money to build the college hospital; and
in years following his personal efforts added $125,000 to the endowment. Here is truly a great record!
But he rendered his greatest and most lasting service as the encourager and inspirer of youth. Rarely did he fail to preface his morning lecture with a short account of some act of heroism, some deed of kindness, some poem of inspiration. He begat in his students a restless desire to DO THINGS—to get out and hitch their wagon to the stars. And many of them did. Therefore his memory is green in the lives of hundreds of Wake Forest alumni scattered all over the world. It will continue to live in their descendants, and they and their children even unto the third and fourth generation, will rise up to call him blessed. I cannot find the language wherewith to acknowledge my personal indebtedness to him.
Despite multitudinous duties pressing in upon him, he yet found time to serve as secretary of the board of education; as treasurer of the students’ aid fund (and he made many personal loans to needy students); as president of the State Teachers assembly; as president of the Baptist State convention; as life long Sunday-school teacher and church deacon. And he spoke frequently—in every county and in almost every town in North Carolina. On the side, he was an excellent man of business, an officer of the Bank of Wake, and a director in the local cotton mill.
He was one of the most compelling orators I have ever heard. He never needed preparation for a speech at any time on any subject. Inform him what the subject was, and he was instantly ready. Men sat enthralled at the oratory of John B. Carlyle.
And he was the kindliest, the friendliest of men. He never forgot either a name or a face, and in my judgment he had the largest personal acquaintance, and the largest personal following of any man in North Carolina. He
knew men and he also knew how to trade upon this knowledge for the advantage of the cause of his devotion.
While education was his vocation, politics was his avocation. Had he adopted a political career, all who knew him will agree that he could have been governor or United States senator. He loved to lobby around the legislature. I have known quite a few expert lobbyists in my time, but none quite so expert as Professor Carlyle. But his lobbying was ever in the interest of some worthwhile cause—prohibition, the public schools, or some great moral issue.
And he loved to address political conventions—and how the people did love to hear him! But let him enter the convention hall, and no matter who occupied the platform the cry would go up all over the hall, “Carlyle, Carlyle.” Nor did he ever fail to fully live up to the occasion.
In June, 1911, a wire from Professor Carlyle took me to Black Mountain. The white plague had laid its dread hands upon him. He knew the end was near; he wished his will written. But his life-long passion was still strong. He had been promised a gift of $2,000 for Wake Forest, but the money had not been paid. He had me write a letter and send a wire about it. Then the will was written. He then sat dejected, nor could I cheer him. But next morning a wire came saying the $2,000 would be paid. The sparkle came once more into his eye; the old buoyancy into his speech.
They took him home and there, in the hospital he had built, the peaceful end came July 10, 1911. His nurse bent over to catch his last conscious words: “Oh God, let thy guiding hand rest upon its leaders.” But his prayer was not finished, for the soul of a great Captain had passed to its
reward. He lived with Wake Forest upon his lips; and so he died.
“Great souls pass on, and in the whelming sense of night
We sit appalled.”
Professor Carlyle married Miss Dora Dunn, of Leadville, Tenn., and his elect widow still lives. His spirit also lives in two sons who bear right worthily the name of their distinguished sire: Irvin Carlyle of Winston, one of the ablest of younger North Carolina lawyers, destined for the heights of his profession; and Dr. John Bethune, Jr., of Burlington, well furnished physician.
Professor Carlyle was the uncle of Kenneth M., John T. and Dennis W. Biggs, and Mrs. Pearl McIntyre, all of Lumberton. He has a large number of relatives in the Saddletree section of Robeson.
Professor Carlyle loved the Odes of Horace, and in the thirtieth Ode will be found an epitaph fit for John Bethune Carlyle:
“Non omnis moriar, multaque pars mei vitabit
Libitinam. Usque postera crescam
(I shall not altogether die; a great part of me will escape death.)
REVEREND I. P. HEDGPETH
2 Timothy: 4-7.
NORTH CAROLINA has produced great statesmen, such as Vance and Aycock; she has produced great preachers, such as Clarence Dixon and George W. Truett; she has produced great educators, such as Archibald D. Murphy, Calvin H. Wiley, Charles D. McIver; she has produced great lawyers, such as Iredell Gaston, Pearson, Ruffin and Clark. She has produced great editors, such as Josiah Turner, J. P. Caldwell, Edward J. Hale and Josephus Daniels; great playwrights such as Thomas Dixon and Paul Green. She has produced great business men, such as Washington Duke, R. J. Reynolds, James W. Cannon, John F. McNair. She has produced great inventors, such as Richard Gatling. She has produced great philanthropists such as James B. Duke. But the greatest force North Carolina ever produced has been the country preacher—arbiter of public opinion; moulder of human life.
Shubal Stearns, country preacher, laid the foundation of the Baptist Empire in North Carolina. On this foundation built such men as George M. Webb, of Cleveland; R. H. Marsh, of Granville; Josiah Elliott, of Hertford; F. M. Jordan, of Transylvania; Haynes Lennon of Columbus. And on this foundation built also—I. P. HEDGPETH, of Robeson.
His paternal grandparents were William Hedgpeth and Apsie Lowe Hedgpeth; his parents were Daniel Hedgpeth
and Eliza Purvis Hedgpeth. He was born at Proctorville, March 31, 1858, and has spent all his four-score years entirely in Robeson county.
His education was somewhat delayed, as has been the case with other men. President Lincoln's education was of the most rudimentary character. President Johnson could not even read until after his marriage, when his wife taught him. Mr. Hedgpeth acquired the three R's in the country schools around Orrum. When twenty-one he attended Ashpole institute, at what is now Fairmont, as remarkable for the number of notable Baptist ministers trained there, as for the quality of scholarship developed under the leadership and guidance of that peerless country schoolmaster, Stinson Ivey. From him, John B. Carlyle of Wake Forest college received inspiration; from him I. P. Hedgpeth of the College of Human Life also received inspiration.
He entered Wake Forest college in the fall of 1887, when twenty-nine years of age. Here he was able to remain but two years, weakness of eyesight developing and preventing him from attaining the goal of a college degree and a course at the seminary at Louisville.
He was ordained to the Baptist ministry at Big Branch (now Orrum) church in January, 1890. He at once entered upon his truly remarkable career as a country preacher in Robeson and adjoining counties. I know of no preacher in North Carolina whose length of pastorates can compare with those of Mr. Hedgpeth, nor do I know any church which willingly dispensed with his ministry once fortunate enough to secure his services. His principal pastorates have been:
Orrum, forty-seven years;
Long Branch, forty-one years;
Cedar Creek, twenty-three years (Cumberland county);
Galeed, re-organized as Bladenboro, twenty-nine years (Bladen county);
Saddletree, nineteen years;
Tolarsville, seventeen years;
Proctorville, fifteen years.
Shorter pastorates have been: Spring Hill (now Barnesville); Back Swamp; Ten Mile; Hog Swamp; Mt. Elim; Pleasant Grove; McDonald; Cedar Grove; Fairmont; Piney Grove (Columbus county); Boardman (Columbus county); Abbottsburg (Bladen county).
I do not claim that Mr. Hedgpeth is our greatest preacher, yet the bare length of his pastorates speak much louder and clearer than anything I could say of the power of his gospel, the character of his leadership, the quality of his ministry.
I do not claim that he is our most profound scholar. He has been largely a man of one Book. Thomas Gray devoted seven years to his Elegy; Dr. Samuel Johnson devoted twenty years to his dictionary; Mr. Hedgpeth has devoted seventy years to—his Bible. And he has been the means of introducing it to hundreds of people who might not have known it, he has introduced its precepts into their lives, he has introduced them to its living waters and its abundant life; he has pointed them to its eternal life.
I do not claim that he is our deepest thinker. Yet somehow those arch enemies of the country church—the radio at home and the hard-surfaced road of the countryside—have not diminished his congregations. Altho now eighty years of age, like Moses his natural force has not abated, and his people are as anxious and as eager to hear him as they were when he was in the full flush of early manhood.
When the Masonic fraternity lay the corner stone of any public building, the Master Workmen first test the stone
with square and compasses, and then report to the Grand Master whether the stone has been well and truly laid. The life of Mr. Hedgpeth has been tested by the rule laid down by his Grand Master, and has been found to comply with the rule laid down by Him for the guidance of his followers: “What doth the Lord require of thee but that thou deal justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.”
The thousands whose lives have been influenced by him, all those who know the man, will testify with one accord that Mr. Hedgpeth has dealt justly, loved mercy, and has ever walked humbly with his God.
While Mr. Hedgpeth is neither our greatest preacher, nor our most profound scholar, nor our deepest thinker, he is more than all these combined. He is a great man. In my judgment the acid test of the value of any man to the community in which he lives may be accurately judged by the esteem in which he is held by his fellow men. I think this may be laid down as a rule of well nigh universal application. Tested by this rule, the life of Mr. Hedgpeth looms large, for in any community in southern Robeson, in any community in southern Bladen, and in many communities in Cumberland ask the chance wayfarer “Who is the best beloved man of this community?” and the answer will come: “Preacher Hedgpeth.” It has been said that no man can paint the lily, nor gild the rainbow. When I have said that Mr. Hedgpeth is the most beloved in a large section of our territory, anything I might add to this would be superfluous.
To my mind the most distinguishing trait of Mr. Hedgpeth is the modesty of his deportment. He has been content to be the follower; he has ever been the servant, not the master, of his people. His Master girded himself with a towel that he might give to his disciples an example of
humility. Mr. Hedgpeth has girded himself with seventy years of humble service to his fellowmen in the vineyard of his Lord.
And if there is another characteristic of the man, it is the gentleness of his character, the quality of his patience. He has kept close to the heart of the common people; he has ever been their friend, their mentor, their counsellor, their guide. When there is sorrow in southern Robeson, Mr. Hedgpeth is sent for; when there is joy, his people share it with him.
This mighty servant of God is now eighty years old. I feel that I today speak the sentiments of all Robeson—and much of Bladen and Columbus and Cumberland—when I return thanks for the life of Mr. Hedgpeth, for the wonderful work he has done, for the immense good he has accomplished, and to express the hope that he may be spared to his people for many years yet to come. And with one accord we pray God's richest blessings upon him.
On December 17th, 1896, Mr. Hedgpeth was married to Miss Carrie E. Lucas, of Chester, S. C., and to them have been born the following children:
Carimae, Musical Directress, Averett College, Danville, Va.; Drina T., wife of John Cushman, of Greenville, S. C., and West Palm Beach, Fla.; Ingram P. Hedgpeth, able young lawyer of Lumberton; Dr. William Carey Hedgpeth, promising physician of Lumberton.
A veteran soldier in the army of his God: I. P. Hedgpeth.
REVEREND HALBERT G. HILL, D.D.
- “A man after God's own heart.”
1 Samuel 13-14.
IT has been my high privilege to hear some distinguished preachers. I have listened to the brilliant Harry Emerson Fosdick; I have heard the burning eloquence of the great Methodist Bishop John C. Kilgo; I have experienced the personal magnetism of North Carolina's Clarence Dixon; I have sat enthralled at the soul-searching appeals of George W. Truett. Notwithstanding this, I still say Dr. Halbert G. Hill was a great preacher.
I shall attempt no eulogy of Dr. Hill. He lived a life far beyond my poor power to depict. Words are but poor vehicles to use in undertaking to assay the character of such a man, or portray the effective results of such a life. Yet the bare record of his attainments bears silent but eloquent testimony to the universality of his genius; to the loftiness of his character; to the calibre of his intellect; to his immense service to his Master, his Church, his State and his people; to his firm hold upon the affections of all who knew him; and to the void his departure left in the life of our section.
Dr. Hill was not a native Robesonian, but as Maxton and Flora College was the theatre of his life's greatest work, we are proud to adopt and claim him as our very own.
He was born at Raleigh, N. C., November 20th, 1831, the son of William R. Hill. The Hills were a distinguished Raleigh family of ante-bellum days, his father's brother
having been Secretary of State of North Carolina for nearly fifty years. The Hills are a long-lived race. Dr. William G. Hill, in whose honor William G. Hill Lodge No. 218, A. F. & A. M., was named, was a near kinsman, as was also Theophilus Hill, noted North Carolina poet.
The Hill family moved to Milton, in Caswell county, during the Doctor's early childhood, and here he was reared. Here he attended the local academy and from here he entered Hampden-Sydney College, from which he was graduated in 1857. He then served as principal of a Female Seminary at Clarksville, Va., until 1861, when he entered Union Theological Seminary at Richmond to prepare for his life's work. Here he remained during part of two troubled years of Civil War.
Volunteering for service in the Confederate army, he was appointed as Chaplain and assigned to duty with the 13th Regiment of North Carolina volunteers, commanded by that famous North Carolinian, Colonel (afterwards Major General) William Dorsey Pender, who was killed at Gettysburg, and in whose honor our county of Pender is named. In the Confederate army Dr. Hill not only ministered to the spiritual needs of his command, but to their physical welfare as well, and often assisted the surgeons in their grewsome task upon the field of battle.
He began his great career as a minister of the Gospel as pastor of the Presbyterian church at Hillsboro, N. C., and it is altogether fitting that he should have begun here, as there is no town in North Carolina which has produced so many distinguished men as has this small county seat of Orange county. In 1867 he was called to the pastorate at Oxford, and in connection therewith became principal of Oxford Female Seminary, an institution later presided over by the late Prof. F. P. Hobgood for so many years.
While pastor at Oxford he founded the Presbyterian church at Henderson, N. C.
In 1868 he became pastor at Fayetteville, and there he remained for eighteen fruitful years, doing a monumental work, a work which still keeps his memory green in the hearts of the people of Cumberland County unto this day. And in Fayetteville he laid safely the foundations upon which the Presbyterian cause rested, and upon which it yet stands.
In 1886 he supplied the pulpit of the Second Presbyterian church at Charleston, S. C., which he served at the time of the great earthquake. When this disaster occurred, he conducted himself with the fortitude and courage to be expected from a man of his heroic stature.
In the fall of 1886, he became pastor of Centre and Maxton churches and continued as such until his death, which occurred January 15th, 1924, in the ninety-second year of his age. Here he established a record of service without parallel in the annals of North Carolina. For many years before his death he was acclaimed as the Grand Old Man of Robeson county—loved and revered throughout the length and breadth of our State.
Any man might be quite content to rest upon a record of service such as this, but not Dr. Hill. There was no activity of his church with which he was not connected, or which did not bear the impress of his labors. It is a tribute to the modesty of the man when I say I have been unable to ascertain what institution conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity which he wore so worthily. I have before me a sketch of his activities written by himself, but there is no reference there to his Doctorate. I am satisfied, however, that it must have been conferred upon him by Union Theological Seminary, the child of his affections, which he served as member of its board of
trustees from 1878 until his death—nearly fifty years of constructive service to a great institution!
He was chairman of the Home Mission Committee of Fayetteville Presbytery from 1872, and a member of the Synod's Home Mission Committee from its creation in 1888.
He was connected with the Presbyterian Orphanage at Barium Springs from its very inception. He was a member of the executive committee which purchased the site for the original institution. From 1891 he was a member of the board of regents and for many years chairman of such board.
With the beloved Rev. S. M. Rankin, Dr. Hill gave generously of his time and counsel in behalf of Flora MacDonald College; was one of its most helpful friends and wisest counsellors. Men may come and go, but the name of Dr. Hill will never be forgotten upon the campus of Flora MacDonald.
He was moderator of Fayetteville Presbytery many times; and he served as Moderator of the North Carolina Synod when it met at Salisbury in 1881. He was seven times a Commissioner to the Presbyterian General Assembly, and at the session of that body held at Chattanooga in 1889, his church laid upon him the accolade of its highest honor—electing him as Moderator of the Assembly.
The General Assembly will meet again next spring, just fifty years after Robeson's great son was thus honored.
Dr. Hill was richly endowed by nature, and upon this endowment he built the structure of a great life. He lived and loved the life of the common man; he shared the joys and sorrows of the common people. Aged men and women came to him for comfort and consolation, but so also did little children. Nor was he austere or severe. His smile
was ever winning; his laughter was infectious. He served both God and man, and it was permitted to him to live and serve far beyond man's allotted three-score years and ten. And to the very end he lived in harness, and remained the wonder and the admiration of all who knew him.
Dr. Hill was thrice married. His first wife was Miss Annie Wharey of Hampden-Sydney, Va. The only child of this marriage, a daughter, Mary, died when quite young. His second wife was Miss Annie Kirkland, to whom he was married in 1865. To them were born three children: a child dying in infancy, and two sons, Kirkland and Halbert, both of whom died after reaching maturity. His last wife was Miss Kate Sheppard of Fayetteville, to whom he was married in 1879. Their children were Katie, who died in infancy, and Annie, who married Neill Alford of Maxton. To Mr. and Mrs. Alford was born one son, Halbert Hill Alford, who was accidentally killed a few years ago. The lineal descendants of Dr. Hill have therefore all passed away, and none remain to bear his name. But the name of Dr. Hill lives—and will ever live—engraven upon the hearts of the people of Maxton, of Floral College, and of Robeson County.
I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Hill preach but once. Altho this was many years ago, I remember his text (Isaiah 28-16) “Behold I have laid in Zion,” and the sermon he preached at Chestnut St. Methodist church here in Lumberton. Soon after the preacher began his sermon I was sitting among the stars, catching a vision of the Promised Land. Soon the very gates of the Holy City swung wide; Zion in all its beauty appeared before my startled eyes; and I beheld the Angels of God ascending and descending even as they appeared unto Jacob of old.
Servant of God: well done!
DR. THOMAS C. JOHNSON
FOR some time it has been my desire to pin a rose on the coat of my friend, and I do so now ere it be too late. Not that I think anything may happen to him, because he is in his usual robust health, there is the same buoyancy in his step, the same cheery note in his voice, that were his in days of yore. But I myself am getting old, and the time may come when I can no longer pay him the tribute I could wish, and which he so richly merits from the people who dwell in the valley of the Lumber.
The history of Robeson is rich in the field of medicine. There was Dr. Duncan Sinclair of the Rowland vicinity, but such a one! In his day he stood for Southern Robeson, and he served the State in the famous Constitutional Convention of 1835. He was the father of Judge N. A. Sinclair. There was Dr. John B. Brown of what is now Fairmont, father of Dr. John P. Brown of that metropolis. He was the guide, confidant and friend of all his section, and loomed large in the life of his day. There was Dr. A. Bascom Croom of Maxton, pioneer in the field of local hospitalization. At Red Springs we find Dr. Luther McMillan, friend of Flora MacDonald College, and his kinsman, Dr. Frank McMillan, friend of Robeson. Out in the open country we find Dr. S. B. Rozier, who rode the roads of Robeson day and night for more than fifty years, and wrote his name upon the hearts of his people. At St. Pauls there was the outstanding physician, Dr. Thomas L. Northrop, useful servant of his section.
Here in Lumberton there have also been some outstanding physicians—men who rendered a large measure
of service to their fellows and whose memories are cherished in the hearts of present-day Robesonians. There was the surgeon Dr. Richard F. Lewis (father of Mrs. Abner Nash); Dr. John D. McMillan, faithful in service for long years; Dr. Henry T. Pope, beloved of his people. I put Dr. Richard M. Norment in a class by himself, for in sheer native ability he tops the list of the medical men I have known.
Dr. Thomas C. Johnson was born in what is now Lee County in 1879. He was raised in Moore where he got his education at Union Home Academy, near Carthage. In his youth he loved to potter around portable country sawmills, which were then engaged in a task they so successfully completed—ridding our forests of their wealth of original long leaf pine. One day there was a terrible accident; a man was horribly wounded. Young Johnson improvised and applied a tourniquet, stayed by the wounded man during the long hours that elapsed before a physician could be gotten to the scene, and evinced such an aptitude for the service of medicine and surgery, that his father made him go to Richmond and enter upon the study of medicine. My old professor of mathematics at Wake Forest, Luther Rice Mills, said that he “lived on the East wind” for four years in Lee's army. That was bad enough, but consider the plight of young Johnson, for when he was in Richmond, sometimes even the wind did not blow. But he managed to secure his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia, as also his license to practice. Among his schoolmates at Richmond were the eminent surgeon in the field of brain surgery, Dr. C. C. Coleman, of Richmond; Dr. R. B. Miller, outstanding surgeon of Parkersburg, West Virginia; and Dr. Carey T. Greyson, physician to President Wilson, Rear Admiral in the Navy, head of the American Red Cross.
He married Miss Annie May Powell of Whiteville, and practiced there for four years. Then he settled down at Lumberton where at an early date he acquired the reputation which he still possesses, and which has simply grown through the years. In a business transaction, any novice could get the better of the Doctor, for he possessed a faith in all mankind that was abiding, and he always took a man at his word. When I first knew him, you had to threaten to sue him to make him send you a bill for what you owed him! He hated to charge a man for his work, and still does so with extreme reluctance. They finally had to get a business manager for him, just as they had to do for a certain well known charitable and generous Lumberton merchant, who wanted to give away everything he had—so well remembered that it is not necessary to further identify him.
The Doctor started out in private practice, but after the tragic death in an accident of the beloved Dr. Neill Archie Thompson, he took over the management of the old Thompson Hospital—an immense three-floored structure, built of heart pine. One night it caught fire, and became a roaring furnace before which the firemen were impotent, and it burned to the ground. Dr. Johnson got every patient out, without injury, and he ministered to them throughout the night.
Then the Lumberton people bethought themselves of the erection of a hospital as a memorial to the beloved Dr. Thompson, and the institution known as THOMPSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL was launched, Dr. Johnson being physician and surgeon in charge. This was originally a privately owned corporation, its stock held by various Lumberton citizens who admired Dr. Johnson and who appreciated the service he was rendering this section. Later the property was conveyed to a board of trustees, and it
became one of the hospitals of the type entitled to the benefit of the Duke Foundation. The hospital has been greatly enlarged, a nurses’ home built, and it has done an enormous service to this section. The one crying need of the community to-day is for enlarged hospital facilities, for both hospitals are filled to overflowing. But it is not of the institution I would write, but of its chief of staff, Dr. Thomas C. Johnson.
I think I can paint his portrait in but a few brief sentences. To my mind his most outstanding characteristic is his sympathetic understanding. You of course remember the story to be found in the Book about the traveler who fell among thieves on the Jericho road, and how he lay wounded by the roadside, crying for help. You recall how the Priest and the Levite came along, but passed by on the other side. Then came a Samaritan—of a race not loved by the Hebrews—but he stopped and ministered to the wounded man, put him on his own beast, took him to the khan and paid all the charges. Fine and great! But the Book records only one such incident in the life of the Samaritan. Dr. Johnson has been doing this sort of thing every day for forty years.
His next characteristic is his patience. There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, on whom afflictions fell so thick and so fast that his own family told him to curse God and die. But Job said not so: “The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Dr. Johnson possesses the quality of patience in a larger degree than any man of my acquaintance; and with this goes a cheery disposition, the smile of friendship, the handclasp of appreciation, the high quality of able and efficient daily service, which combine to make him admired and loved by all who know him.
Habakkuk is one of the minor prophets. In the great
Congressional Library at Washington, there are alcoves devoted to the different arts and sciences, such as religion, philosophy, law, medicine, agriculture, engineering, chemistry, and the like, and over each alcove is carried some great motto to illustrate the particular art or science to which the alcove is devoted. When they went to select a motto for religion, they were inspired to write over its portals this text from Habakkuk:
“What doth the Lord require of thee but that thou deal justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.”
That verse describes Dr. Johnson as though it were written about him. Any man in Robeson who has known Dr. Johnson for the past thirty-five years (and we all have), knows that during all those years the Doctor HAS dealt justly, that he HAS loved mercy; and that he HAS walked humbly with his God. No further picture of the Doctor is necessary, the verse I have quoted describing him far more accurately and far more completely than I could hope to do.
The Doctor need not worry so much about the final judgment. When the Great Judge takes his seat upon the bench, and calls the case against Doctor Johnson, Wilton McLean will speak a good word for the Doctor—many of them. So will Stephen McIntyre, Luther H. Caldwell, Quitman T. Williams, Robert D. Caldwell—any of the loved of Lumberton who preceded him to the home of the soul. Charlie Skipper will be there to greet him and bid him welcome.
Yet he will need no introduction to the Great Judge, for he has long been a junior partner of the GREAT PHYSICIAN.
ANGUS DHU MacLEAN
- “And man's unconquerable mind.”
- Wordsworth: Toussaint L'Ouverture.
THE valley of Lumber River is noted for the quality of its culture. From her borders have come statesmen, preachers, lawyers, editors, poets. In this valley is the Riverton community, having more college graduates per square mile than any country community in North Carolina. From here came the Johnsons: Archibald, noted editor; and his son, Gerald W., nationally known editorial writer and author; Livingston, mighty preacher of the word, leader of North Carolina Baptists for a generation; and his son, Wingate M., noted surgeon, president North Carolina Medical Association. From here also came their near kinsman, having the spark of true genius, John Charles McNeill, poet laureate of North Carolina.
From lower down the valley came the kinsmen of our subject, Col. Neill Archie McLean of Lumberton, brilliant son of Robeson, whose power as a lawyer I have never seen surpassed. And their kinsman, Angus Wilton McLean, lawyer, business executive, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, great Governor of a great State. And their kinsman, Robeson's outstanding lawyer of the present day, our own Dickson McLean.
And from the center of the valley, from Maxton, came another and closely related family of MacLeans: The father, John Allen MacLean Sr., Maxton business man; the mother, Mary Brown MacLean, sister of that distinguished
North Carolina jurist, justice George H. Brown of our supreme court bench.
With such an ancestry, and such a background, it is not remarkable that to John Allen MacLean and his wife were born children gifted of mind, worthy to carry on the traditions which were their heritage:
(a). Sylvester B. MacLean, conspicuous once as a lawyer, Solicitor of this judicial district, who abandoned an extensive practice and a commanding position at the bar to become a minister of the Presbyterian church. In so doing he followed the example of that mighty man of God, Rev. William Black, who was also an able lawyer, but who found the call of the ministry all-compelling. And Sibbie is, as was Mr. Black, beloved of his people.
(b). John Allen MacLean, magnetic in personality, charming in manner, scintillating of intellect. He also abandoned a most promising career at the Bar for the Presbyterian ministry, and has for years rendered conspicuous service to his church and State as pastor of Ginter Park church, at Richmond, Virginia.
(c). Dickson MacLean, merchant and business executive of Red Springs.
(d). ANGUS DHU MacLEAN, premier North Carolina lawyer, legislator and statesman—possessing such an intellect as few men have ever possessed.
ANGUS DHU MacLEAN was born at Maxton, July 12th, 1877. He attended the private schools of the neighborhood and the University, where he graduated in law and was admitted to the Bar in 1898. He began the practice of his profession at Washington, N. C., and henceforth Beaufort county was the scene of his life's work save when he was called to the public service.
In Washington he was at various times associated in partnership with many eminent lawyers of Beaufort
County: John H. Small, veteran Congressman, for many years chairman of the Rivers and Harbors committee of the House; Harry McMullan, present able Attorney General of North Carolina; Stephen C. Bragaw, distinguished North Carolina jurist; William B. Rodman Jr., and John C. Rodman Jr., scions of the famous Rodman family of Beaufort, numbering among its members justice William B. Rodman of the supreme court; and his able son, Col. W. B. Rodman, general counsel Norfolk Southern Railroad.
Beaufort County was a proper theatre for a great lawyer. From her soil sprang James E. Shepherd, chief justice of North Carolina; William B. Rodman and George H. Brown, Associate Justices; Charles F. Warren, father of Congressman Lindsay Warren, peerless lawyer of his day; Col. William B. Rodman, above referred to, and many other outstanding lawyers. Yet Angus Dhu MacLean was the peer of any of these notable men.
He devoted himself entirely to his profession until 1927 when he was elected to the General Assembly. Here he served in the House in 1927, 1929 and 1931. In 1933 he was elected to the Senate. His legislative career was notable for the magnificent fight waged by him in behalf of the public schools, when he sponsored and against bitter opposition finally secured the enactment of legislation providing for an eight months school term at the expense of the State. If the memory of Mr. MacLean should be forgotten by others, it should ever remain green in the hearts of those who love the schools of our State. When he entered the General Assembly he was known only to the legal profession as a brilliant lawyer; but when his legislative career was ended, his name was a household word all over North Carolina.
In 1933 he was called to Washington, D. C., as Assistant
Solicitor General of the United States, and was later made Assistant Attorney General. In this capacity he was in charge of, and argued on behalf of the government, the most important case argued before that august tribunal since the Civil War—the case testing whether bonds, notes and securities payable in gold coin could be legally paid in money other than gold. This case he won, and the decision was an epoch-making one, second only in importance to the Dred Scott decision which had much to do with bringing on the Civil War.
He voluntarily resigned his position in October, 1935, receiving the warm commendation and thanks of the President and the Attorney General for the efficiency of his services. The estimation in which he was held by the legal profession is attested by the fact that upon the death of James H. Pou, Sr., of Raleigh, premier North Carolina lawyer, Mr. MacLean was selected to succeed him, and he became senior member of the firm of MacLean, Pou and Emanuel, in which capacity he continued until his sudden and untimely death on September 1st, 1937, when at the height of his career.
I was admitted to the Bar the same year as was Mr. MacLean, and since then it has been my high privilege to know more or less intimately practically all those who have stood high upon the rolls of our famous lawyers during that period. Of all the brilliant men it has been my pleasure to know, the most brilliant, in my judgment, was Robeson's famous son, Col. Neill Archie MacLean, but following closely behind came his near kinsman Angus Dhu MacLean.
Poets are said to be born, not made, and it can be said with all truth that Mr. MacLean was a born lawyer. He had the clearest, quickest, most incisive, most logical mind I have ever known. The highest tribute I can pay to his
ability is to say that when I heard he was to appear against me, I could but groan deeply and try to get ready against a day when I knew my powers would be taxed to the utmost. He was a mighty power before either judge or jury, and there was no case of importance within his sphere of activity in which he did not appear. Among the notable cases under his direction were: State v. Mills; the nationally known case of State v. Stone, et als. (commonly known as the Needleman case); the famous Martin county case involving the property, tenets and doctrine of the Primitive Baptist church; and he was the power behind the caveat to the Brown will case.
It is a conservative statement when I say that if eastern North Carolina lawyers of the past two decades were asked the question: “Who are the two best lawyers in eastern Carolina?” 90% would assign to Angus Dhu MacLean one of the two places.
He was not easy of access, he was rather a difficult man to know well. He did not wear his heart upon his sleeve, and the concentration of his mind upon the subject matter in hand might make him sometimes appear self-centered or morose. But such a judgment would be a superficial one, for underneath this exterior there beat as warm a heart as ever pulsed, instantly responsive to the call of friendship or affection. And his friends and admirers were limited only by the circle of his acquaintance.
I have been able to resolve most men into their component and constituent parts, but not Mr. MacLean. He was pure intellect. And when he passed away, a great light went out from the legal fraternity in North Carolina.
Mr. MacLean was married in 1900 to Miss Annetta Everett of Laurinburg, and to them were born five children: Angus Dhu Jr., whose sad death at eighteen was the tragedy of his father's life; Mary, wife of Dr. A. T.
Jennett of Washington, D. C.; Annette, wife of Edward English, of Washington, D. C.; Martha, wife of Erskine Duff, of Raleigh; and Janie, wife of William B. Carter, of Washington, D. C.
A man of unconquerable mind: ANGUS DHU MACLEAN.
ELIZABETH ANN MACRAE
- “The World is my parish.”
PREEMINENCE in personal missionary work is usually accorded to David Livingstone, and quite properly so. He braved all the dangers of the deep African interior when it was indeed a dark continent, when a horrible death stalked by his side each day and stood sentinel by his tent each night. But he braved the burning tropic fever, the poisoned arrows of the savages, the cannibalism of the fierce warriors of the vast interior—all for the sake of the missionary movement.
Communication with his homeland, always slow, difficult and uncertain, finally ceased altogether. Many months passed and no word from the African jungles reached civilization, and his homeland feared for the fate of Livingstone. Finally, the multi-millionaire editor of the New York Herald, James Gordon Bennett, sent a two word cablegram to his correspondent Henry M. Stanley: “Find Livingstone.” Stanley organized a safari, employing hundreds of men, costing thousands of dollars. Months of toilsome effort passed before his expedition could penetrate into the heart of Africa. Finally, near the shores of Lake Tanganyika, his long search was rewarded. He was brought face to face with a white man, aged, cadaverous, burning with fever. “Mr. Livingstone, I presume?” “Yes,” replied the sun baked Livingstone. Then Stanley told him of his commission to carry him back to his home and people. But Livingstone shook his head. Africa was his
parish. Here would he live; here would he die. Home and family ties no doubt called loudly to him, but the call of God resounded more loudly in his ears. Heroic missionary figure!
Not on so large a scale, but a figure just as heroic, came from our own county of Robeson—ELIZABETH ANN MacRAE, pioneer missionary in the widest sense in which that word can be used.
She was born November 13th, 1825, daughter of David S. Harllee and Harriet (Barnes) Harllee, his wife, members of the noted Harllee family of South Carolina. In June, 1842, she was married to Dr. Neill McNair of Robeson County; and after his death she married Alexander MacRae. She had but one child, son of the first marriage,—David Harllee NcNair, who served with the Confederate army in Co. “D” 1st Battalion, North Carolina heavy artillery, and who died while in such service at Fort Caswell in July, 1864, when only seventeen. Her second husband died in 1881. Bereft of child and husband, her motherly instinct still asserted itself. She began to mother a State.
Let us glimpse her at Argyle near Maxton, shortly after the Civil War. The section is terrorized by a gang of ruffians headed by the famous outlaw Henry Berry Lowrie. They broke into her house on more than one occasion, and once shot the curls from the back of her head, and would have killed her but for the intervention of a former army Captain who had deserted from the Federal army. But these things did not cause her to give ground. She stayed where she was. This was the fibre of which her being was composed.
At an early age she acquired a wide reputation for the successful training of children, and many were sent to her to be nurtured and to have the principles of her stern
Calvinism instilled into them. Among these were two men whose names are familiar to North Carolinians—her great-nephew Harllee Branch, Assistant Postmaster General of the United States; and her husband's nephew, Hugh MacRae, Wilmington capitalist. Her heart was motherly, but her discipline was strict, and every Sunday each child must perforce memorize one Psalm before attending church. Yet the wise beneficence of her rule over her little empire, is shown by the fact that aged men, now living, brought up under her tutelage, rise up to call her blessed.
From her missionary efforts at home, her labors spread to the Presbytery of her church. If she did not have money at her disposal, she had both time and patience and she used both—liberally. For many months she went in and out of the churches of Fayetteville and adjoining Presbyteries, trying to establish the missionary work among Presbyterian women. Nor was she rebuffed by one failure, or even two. Before she ceased her work in this particular field of the missionary movement, she had organized and established more than sixty missionary societies in Fayetteville Presbytery alone. Here is a record of great constructive achievement, which will not soon be equalled in the Southern Presbyterian or any other church. Dr. H. G. Hill, noted Presbyterian preacher and scholar, whose life work was in Fayetteville Presbytery, and who was intimately acquainted with the work of Mrs. MacRae, says that she was in truth and in fact the mother of the Woman's Missionary Union of the Southern Presbyterian Church. Other women might be content to rest upon such a record, but Mrs. MacRae had just begun her great labors. She cast about for new world to conquer for the missionary movement.
Hannibal said: “Beyond the Alps lies Italy,” and Mrs.
MacRae said: “Beyond the Blue Ridge lies a fruitful field for the missionary endeavor.” Into this, the then most illiterate and backward section of North Carolina, deep into the heart of the Appalachian range, midway between Lenoir and Johnson City, Tennessee, went Mrs. MacRae, finally locating in the small village of Banners Elk. Here she undertook the establishment of a school. She had no patron; no salary was payable to her; her sponsors could pay her only her bare actual living expenses. Here, in a building costing but $25.00, she established a school for the underprivileged mountain girls. Here she toiled day and night; here she braved the ignorance and suspicion of part of the people; here, without money, supplies or equipment, she began her struggle in the firm assurance that Providence would be with her. It was. Her motto became “inveniam viam aut faciam”—I will find a way or make one. And she did make a way. Her's was a life of hard and stern reality—she had but few necessities and no luxuries. Her life at best was rough and primitive; her arm was once broken in a fall from an ox cart, her method of locomotion as she went the rounds of her domain. Nor did she at any time neglect those high spiritual duties to which she had been called. She might teach secular education for six days in the week, but on the seventh she and her pupils worshipped with intense fervor. And God prospered her, as He always does those who put their trust wholly in Him. Soon MacRae Institute was established and her work began to spread.
To Mrs. S. P. Lees was given a goodly inheritance in material things. The example of Mrs. MacRae, the high purpose of her effort, the inspiration of her life, fired the heart of Mrs. Lees and she determined to add of her substance to the great work there being established. She contributed generously of her means to the expansion of
the enterprise which had been launched on such a modest scale by Mrs. MacRae. The name was changed to Lees-MacRae Institute, and by that name it has become known throughout the State and to much of the South. More than two thousand girls have passed through its doors, received the benefit of its enlightened instruction, and the inspiration of its founders. The work of Miss Martha Berry in Georgia has been duplicated right here in North Carolina, and the work was cradled and nurtured by Robeson's Elizabeth Ann MacRae. She planted and watered and God, as usual, gave the increase.
Nor did she retire from her great labors until an incurable malady—cancer—made further labors on her part an impossibility. And the fortitude with which she bore her long suffering; her patience under her tribulation, through all of which shone the beauty of her radiant faith, made her death quite as much an inspiration as her life.
I shall not undertake the impossible task of limning a portrait of Mrs. MacRae. Such would be utterly beyond my power. But I think I can let my readers catch just a glimpse of the heroic quality which was hers. The veteran Presbyterian divine, Rev. John M. Wells, pastor First Presbyterian church, Sumter, S. C., knew Mrs. MacRae intimately. He was once conducting the funeral of a member of his church, but in the midst of the funeral sermon stopped to say that in her life and faith Elizabeth Ann MacRae stood first among all the christians he had ever known. To this, I think, nothing can be added.
- “Lead kindly light, I do not ask to see
- The distant scene: one step enough for me.”
- “The noblest Roman of them all.”
Shakespeare: Julius Caesar.
THERE may be some doubt as to whether Union county was the birthplace of Old Hickory, as South Carolina claims that the great Andrew Jackson was born a few yards over on her side of the state line. Be that as it may, there is no question but that the red and rocky hills of Union have produced their complement of the great men of our state. From her soil sprang Thomas Walter Bickett—he of the golden tongue and the golden heart—governor of North Carolina; Enoch Walter Sikes, Wake Forest professor, president of Coker and Clemson colleges in South Carolina; John J. Parker, nationally known lawyer, justice of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals at Richmond. And from her countryside came the peer of any of these men—STEPHEN MCINTYRE.
Paul acknowledged his indebtedness both to the wise and the unwise. Let me say at the outset that I rest under obligation to many men, but most of all to Stephen McIntyre. My one wish is that I had the power to pay the tribute I would like to pay to the memory of the man who was very dear to me.
He was born 16th day of April, 1867, son of Isaiah McIntyre and Martha Hill, his wife. He was reared in the midst of the horrors and hardships of the reconstruction era. He came up through its poverty and its toil, and something of the ruggedness of that period was inborn
and inbred into the very fibre of the man, and made him the great figure he became.
He acquired such preparatory schooling as he received at Palmerville academy, but he heeded the call of ambition, went to Wake Forest and there sat for four years at the feet of Taylor, Royall, Mills and Sledd, graduating in the class of 1893. Among his classmates were: Josiah William Bailey, United States senator; Edwin Yates Webb, congressman and Federal judge; Samuel J. Porter, pastor First Baptist church, Washington, D. C.; Charles P. Sapp, editor Norfolk Virginian-Pilot; Franklin P. Hobgood, prominent Greensboro lawyer; and lastly our own beloved Dr. Charles H. Durham. Wake Forest college has ever been generous with Robeson county, but she dealt a double portion of her bounty when in 1893 she presented to the county her sons, Charles H. Durham and Stephen McIntyre.
He taught school at Louisburg two years to secure the funds to enable him to read law, then returned to Wake Forest and was the first student to matriculate in the law school of that peerless teacher of the law, Dr. Needham Y. Gulley. The first law class at Wake Forest consisted of three men: Walters Durham, Raleigh banker (kinsman of Dr. Charles H. Durham); John H. Kerr, of Warrenton, jurist and congressman, and Mr. McIntyre.
He came forthwith to Lumberton and here was spent a life so rich in useful public service. He soon was taken into partnership by that great moral and religious leader, Edward Knox Proctor, Jr., and that association continued until the death of Mr. Proctor in October, 1902. In March, 1903, the writer was taken into partnership, to which firm was later added that great souled and gallant gentleman, James Dick Proctor. Still later Robert A. McIntyre
was admitted to this firm which continued to exist until the untimely death of Mr. McIntyre.
Since leaving college it has been my privilege to know many men who have served their state, their church, their profession and their fellow men. I have known numerous men whose service was outstanding in one of these lines. But the service of Stephen McIntyre was conspicuous in the life of his state, his church, his profession, and in the business life of his community.
The lofty character of Mr. McIntyre soon impressed itself upon the people of his adopted county, and he was early called to the public service. He was a member of the senate in 1899 and again in 1901, during both of which sessions he rendered conspicuous service both to his state and to his county. Joining hands with Robeson's representatives in the house, Gilbert Patterson and J. S. Oliver, he secured the enactment of legislation which resulted in making Robeson the pioneer prohibition county of eastern Carolina. 1901 was a time of great political unrest. The Democrats had swept the state; Aycock had become governor; the grandfather clause had been enacted into law. But the Supreme court was Republican, and the Democratic leaders sought the impeachment of the three Republican judges. Tremendous pressure was brought to bear upon McIntyre to vote for conviction—he was told that his political career and his professional future were at stake. But he possessed a high quality of conscience and a high quality of courage, and he asserted both in voting for acquittal—in which courageous act he was joined by that great son of Columbus, Joseph A. Brown, his fellow senator from this district.
But his outstanding service to his state was his introduction and sponsorship of the bill appropriating the
first $100,000.00 ever appropriated by the state to the support of the public schools. This legislation he engineered through the senate, and John B. Holman of Iredell saw it through the house. Should the memory of Mr. McIntyre ever be forgotten, let it ever remain fragrant in the minds and hearts of the school children of our state who today reap the rewards of his labors in their behalf.
He applied himself to the cause of his church with a steadfast devotion, and was for years the support and stay of his pastor. He was long the chairman of the board of deacons of the First Baptist church of Lumberton. As teacher of the men's Bible Class of that church, he was known throughout the state and men came from far and near to hear his matchless exposition of the lesson of the day. And it was before this forum that he was at his best; here he loved to be; and it was not an accident that when he died his outline of the lesson of that very day—“Though I speak with the tongue of men and of angels”—was still upon the board. Men still speak of the wondrous words spoken by him that Sunday morning when he was to meet sudden death that very night.
And his church, knowing his love for her, called him to her service, and to her interests he gave much of his time, energy and ability. He served for years as a trustee of his alma mater, Wake Forest; as a trustee of Meredith college; and as a trustee of the Baptist orphanage at Thomasville, and also as attorney for that institution which lay so close to his heart, and which he aided in laying upon the hearts of Lumberton Baptists. He was the only man who ever served his church as trustee of these three leading Baptist institutions. But over and above all he was a devout Christian, an humble follower of his Master, and the vacant pew left in his church can never be filled.
To his other talents he added business ability of a high order. Coming up from poverty himself, as have so many distinguished men, he amassed a considerable estate, and took a leading part in the business life of our town and county. He was a director in the National Bank of Lumberton, in the Lumberton cotton mills, Dresden cotton mills and Jennings cotton mills, and in numerous smaller corporations. He was one of the largest farmers in the county, and his sage business advice was often sought and heeded by those needing advice upon matters of business or investment. He, Robert D. Caldwell and Albert Edward White were the confidants of Lumberton's great business executive, Angus Wilton McLean.
He was one of the most eloquent and compelling orators I have ever known. I have heard many rough and tumble debaters, men who had to think, act and speak quickly on their feet. No man in North Carolina could surpass Mr. McIntyre as a debater, and but few could equal him. Many Robeson audiences have hung spell-bound upon his words as a torrent of eloquence would pour from his lips in advocacy of some cause in which the forces of civic pride or moral righteousness were interested.
Of course the law was his life's work and he is best known to fame as a lawyer. I have known men who knew more law than he; I have known men who could make a deeper impression when arguing before a judge a legal theorem. But give Mr. McIntyre a question of fact to argue and a jury before whom to argue it—here he reigned supreme. I have known some great advocates, men whose power to sway juries was unquestioned, but I have never known an advocate more compelling than he. When it was known that he was to speak in any cause of public interest, the people crowded the court house to hear
him—and they always heard a great speech by a great advocate.
I never knew a man with a more profound knowledge of human nature. He could take just one look at an opposing or hostile witness, instantly seize upon his vulnerability, and often before the witness realized it, he would be turned inside out and utterly demolished. His cross examinations were the delight of his brethren of the bar and of his audience, and the dread of the witness under examination. Here he was at his best, and his matchless matching of wits worth going miles to hear.
He was most natural in character when leading some fight for a cause in which he believed, such as education, prohibition, or the fight once waged by him, without money and without price, against the Ku Klux Klan in the courts of Robeson. That case he lost before the court, but he won it before the court of public opinion both in Robeson and in North Carolina. Such a public service was an outstanding characteristic of the man, and is but an instance of that fine service he was ever ready to render for a cause in which he believed.
He died suddenly on Sunday, 18th day of October, 1925, in the full flush of his powers and while at the very height of his career. I never think of him as having passed away. To me he will ever live in the church of his devotion here in Lumberton; his impress will ever be felt at Wake Forest, at Meredith, at our orphanage; our schools will ever feel the impetus given by him to their cause while a legislator; the forces of righteousness will ever feel the touch of his guiding hand; but most of all the people of Robeson will ever hold his memory close to their hearts.
Mr. McIntyre married, 12th day of October, 1893, Miss Minta Allen of Wake Forest, who survives with four children: Mildred, wife of Lee P. Stack, insurance executive
of Boston, Mass.; Lillian, of Lumberton; Robert A., prominent lawyer of Lumberton, recently elected senator from this district; Stephen, prominent Lumberton physician and surgeon.
A power for righteousness in North Carolina: Stephen McIntyre.
SALLIE LOU McKINNON
- “Go ye therefore and teach all nations.”
WILLIAM CAREY, London cobbler, was the founder of the modern missionary movement. His example fired the heart of at least four North Carolina women with a high and holy purpose to devote their lives and talents to the missionary enterprise. Two of these women were from Wake; two from Robeson.
In Raleigh lived Miss Fannie E. S. Heck, my Sunday School teacher of fifty years ago. Socially prominent and of independent means, the social life did not appeal to her, and her life was spent wholly in the Master's service. She was the leader of the missionary movement among the Baptist women of North Carolina, serving as president of the North Carolina Woman's Missionary Union from its organization in 1886 to her death in 1915, and served at three different times as President of the Southern Woman's Missionary Union. She was the representative of Southern Baptist women at the Ecumenical Conference in 1900 in New York, and the Baptist World Alliance in Philadelphia in 1911. Miss Heck passed away many years ago but her name is still a household word in every Baptist home, and her memory green in every Baptist heart.
In Raleigh also lived Wesley N. Jones and Sallie Bailey Jones, his wife. The husband, outstanding layman, a founder of Meredith College, chairman of its Board of Trustees, a trustee of and attorney for Wake Forest College. The wife, woman of five talents, now seventy years
of age, has given her life to the cause of missions. For twenty years she was president of North Carolina Woman's Missionary Society, 1916-1936, and for twenty-two years vice president of the Woman's Missionary Union, Auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention. Mrs. Jones has served longer than any woman in the South—fifty-two years. Here was the ideal Christian home—high Christian culture on both sides, both rendering Christian service of the highest order. Mrs. Jones is sister of Senator Josiah William Bailey, but her path is not lighted by the lustre of his fame. Her great service shines with a lustre all its own.
From Maxton, in Robeson, came the heroic figure of Elizabeth A. MacRae. We glimpse her first mothering and rearing orphaned kindred, including her nephew, Harlee Branch, former Assistant Postmaster General, now Chairman Aviation Board, Department of Commerce. With limited means at her disposal, at an early age she devoted herself to the missionary endeavor, and organized some sixty missionary societies in Fayetteville Presbytery alone. Dr. H. G. Hill truly says that she was the mother of the Woman's Missionary Union in the Southern Presbyterian church. She also wrote large her name in an allied line of Christian endeavor—education. She penetrated the depths of our North Carolina mountains, beyond the Blue Ridge, and undertook the education of the youth of that then backward section, receiving only her expenses for her services. She interested a woman of means in the education of indigent mountain youth, she herself contributing her life's work, and from her efforts came Lees-MacRae Institute, at Banner Elk, N. C. Mrs. MacRae was the Martha Berry of North Carolina. It would be just as fitting if I said that Martha Berry is the Elizabeth MacRae of Georgia. What a mother in Israel! Mrs. MacRae has
passed to her reward, but the great work she inaugurated still grows, she still lives in it.
It has been my privilege heretofore to present to the people of Robeson a series of sketches of “Distinguished” Robesonians. Until now, the series has been confined to men, all of whom (except the ministers) sought either money or fame—“the worldly hope men set their hearts upon.” Now it is my privilege to present to my readers a distinguished daughter of Robeson, one who has devoted her life to garnering souls for her Master—SALLIE LOU McKINNON, of Maxton.
Her ancestors came from the isle of Skye, whence Daniel McKinnon emigrated to Richmond county in 1788, and his son, A. C. McKinnon, was the grandfather of our subject. Her paternal grandmother was Sallie McQueen, a descendant of Col. James McQueen, common ancestor of so many Robesonians. Her maternal grandmother, Lucina Lineberry McKinney, still lives—oldest of Robesonians. Her father was Major A. J. McKinnon, outstanding business man and leader of western Robeson, and her mother was Jennie Lee McKinnon, only child of Captain and Mrs. McKinney.
Miss McKinnon was born at Maxton, October 27, 1889, and received her preparatory schooling there. Here the Methodist pastor was the venerable Rev. Dr. N. H. D. Wilson, who, with his wife, has been spared to North Carolina, and lives at Chapel Hill. From Dr. Wilson and his elect wife, she received much of the inspiration for her life's work, and when the Master of all good workmen calleth for the result of life's labors, Dr. and Mrs. Wilson can present Miss McKinnon among the first of their sheaves.
She was graduated from Randolph-Macon College; Lynchburg, Va., in 1910. For a time she taught school at
Lillington, then at Carolina College in Maxton. At this time she obeyed the call to higher service, and entered Starrett College at Kansas City, there to equip herself for her life's work.
North Carolina contributed a great man to China in Dr. Matthew T. Yates; she contributed a great woman in Sallie Lou McKinnon. She obeyed the call to foreign service in 1917, and went as missionary to China under the auspices of the Southern Methodist Church, serving first at Huchow for a period of five years. She returned to America in 1922 on account of the serious illness of her father who passed away while she was here. She returned to China in 1923, and was on shipboard in the harbor of Yokohama, Japan, at the time of the great earthquake, and her ship participated in the work of rescue. She remained in China for the ensuing six years, serving part of this period as missionary in Huchow, and part as principal of the McTyer School for Girls in Shanghai, a school maintained by Southern Methodism and named in honor of their great Bishop. She was principal of this school during the great revolution, when the dream of Sun Yat Sen was realized and the Chinese Republic rose from the ruins of the Manchu dynasty. Her courageous fortitude kept this school open and in service during the whole of this period, altho the storms of war raged about her, and altho troops were quartered upon the very campus of her school. She was so highly respected by the Chinese, and her work so valued by them, that she was one of the guests invited to the marriage of the man who is now Generalissimo of the Chinese forces—General Chiang Kai-Shek and Miss Melung Soong. Her father, Charles Soong, was educated at the expense of General Julian S. Carr at Trinity College, and Miss Soong herself was educated at Wesleyan University in Georgia.
She returned to America in 1929 and took her Master's degree from Duke University, but the call of the Orient was still upon her, and she accepted a call to the presidency of Ginling College in China.
The Board of Missions of the Southern Methodist Church needed a Secretary for their department of Women's work. Altho the Board had the entire South from which to choose, and altho they canvassed the possibilities of every State and every section, their unanimous choice fell upon Miss McKinnon. She was on shipboard, bound for the Orient, when a wire from Methodist headquarters recalled her to Nashville to take over the duties of the great task to which she had been called.
So, in 1931, she entered upon the work of leading the women of Southern Methodism in the missionary movement. This task is still hers, and she has brought to it an alert mind, willing hands, a high purpose and a holy aim. Upon her capable shoulders falls also the task of directing the Woman's Work in foreign fields and her service has called her to Cuba, Mexico, South America, Africa, Europe, as well as to China, Korea and Japan.
She is now en route to Madras, India, where she will attend the International World Mission Conference. While in that part of the world I trust she may see Miss Lillian Austin, missionary to Korea, and Miss Mabel Currie, missionary to China. Three missionaries sent out from little Maxton! On her way home, Miss McKinnon expects to stop in France for conferences with missionaries destined for the African field.
This, in brief, is the record of a woman yet young. I make no comment upon it. In the face of such a record words fail me. But one word occurs to me, the Latin “stet”—let it stand!
Other American women have made places for themselves
in America's hall of fame: Jane Addams, social worker; Frances E. Willard, temperance; Clara Barton, Red Cross; Dorothea Dix, hospitals; Susan B. Anthony, woman's rights; Helen Keller, deaf, dumb and blind marvel; Carrie Chapman Catt, suffragist; Fannie Crosby, blind hymn writer, and others. I feel there is a niche in this Pantheon of great women reserved for Sallie Lou McKinnon.
I venture no prediction of the task she may assay during the years yet before her. Yet there is scarce a task to be found that is greater than the one to which she now devotes herself, one which could afford a greater outlet for her powers, or one which furnishes so wide a field of usefulness, both for time or for eternity.
As is known to most of my readers, Miss McKinnon is a sister of Henry A. McKinnon, prominent Lumberton lawyer.
The world is the field of Robeson's distinguished daughter: Sallie Lou McKinnon.
COL. NEILL ARCHIE McLEAN
- “. . . man though dead retains
- PART OF HIMSELF: the immortal mind remains”
Pope: Iliad of Homer.
IN Revelation we read how St. John on the lonely isle of Patmos was in the spirit of the Lord's day and there saw and heard things not lawful to utter. If James MacQueen of Scotland could but have had such a vision; if, like Moses, he had been allowed to ascend the heights of Nebo and from its summit view his promised land, he would have dipped far into the future, and across three thousand miles of sea would have seen a fertile valley peopled by his descendants—the valley of the Lumber in what is now Robeson county.
It is said that some fraternal organizations date time from the building of the temple by King Solomon; the Mohammedans date it from the hegira from Mecca; the Hebrews from the beginning of the world; but the Scotch date it from the battle of Culloden. Upon this disastrous field was left in death much of the flower of Scotch manhood, and the hearts of those who survived were seared with bitter memories of a cause that was lost and of oppression that was cruel. They emigrated by the thousands to the New World, whose shores beckoned invitingly, and where they hoped to build a new Scotland unfettered by English oppression. From this great immigration of the Scotch, North Carolina derived much of the man and brain power that has made our State famous in song and story.
From Scotland James MacQueen came to the valley of the Lumber, where he founded a family seat known as Queensdale, near the present town of Maxton. Here he raised twelve children and became the ancestor of a distinguished progeny, from his loins descending a long line of notable preachers, lawyers, doctors, civic leaders and business men. Hundreds of present day Robesonians trace with pride their ancestry back to Colonel James MacQueen of Queensdale.
Patrick McEachin was a Scotchman of no mean origin himself, and his son, Col. Archibald McEachin was the second clerk and Master in Equity of Robeson county. This son married a daughter of Col. James MacQueen, and a child of this marriage was Eliza McEachin, who became the mother of the subject of this sketch. On his paternal side our subject's grandfather was Angus McLean, and his father was Col. Neill Archibald McLean, Sr., his sire being a man of outstanding ability and for a long number of years leader of the Robeson Bar. Coming from such an ancestry, a notable descendant might be expected.
To Colonel Neill Archibald McLean, Sr., and Eliza, his wife, on November 10, 1855, was born a son, Colonel Neill Archibald McLean, Jr., subject of this sketch. He was just old enough to remember the cannon's roar of the Civil War; he was quite old enough to retain a vivid and indelible impression of the horrors of the reconstruction era. Those perilous times prevented him from securing that thorough preparatory training he would otherwise have received, but he attended the famous Bingham School and the University, where he was educated in law with the class of 1878. He returned to Lumberton, spent his life here, and made the name of McLean and Robeson county synonymous terms.
He entered upon the practice of his profession in association
with his father, but after his death he formed a partnership with that notable lawyer and distinguished Robesonian, Colonel Alfred Rowland. Later he entered into partnership with his kinsman Angus Wilton McLean, afterwards to become nationally known as Chairman of the War Finance Corporation, Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury, and a great Governor of North Carolina. To this firm came the distinction of primacy not only among the legal profession, but its name became almost a household word in eastern Carolina. To this firm was later added another brainy son of Robeson—J. Gilchrist McCormick.
Colonel McLean's talents were such that had he devoted himself to the field of politics, he could have commanded almost any office within the gift of the people. But he was not inclined to a political career and rarely sought the public suffrage. He sat as State Senator in 1883. He was the nominee of his party for Solicitor in 1895 when the Fusionists swept the State. Altho the Board of Convassers awarded to him the certificate of election, he declined to accept it as he felt that it had been awarded to him upon a technicality. He was again a member of the Senate in 1909, where, as before, he served with conspicuous ability. His services as a campaign speaker were ever at his party's disposal, and his oratory was so compelling as to make his services in this behalf eagerly sought and constantly used.
The Apostle Paul said “this one thing I do,” and it is as a lawyer that the memory of Colonel McLean will persist through the years in North Carolina. His reputation as a lawyer was great, his reputation as an advocate even greater. Whether before judge or jury he was the peer of any man. If the spark of true genius is born in the poet, then the spark of the great lawyer was born in Colonel
McLean. I came to the Bar in 1898, and for the past forty years have known, personally or by reputation, all North Carolina lawyers to whom the term great might properly be applied. In my judgment Colonel McLean topped this list, when both the lawyer and the advocate is considered. I have known lawyers strong with juries and not so strong before the judge; or strong before judges and not so strong before the jury. But Colonel McLean was powerful before judge or jury, and it was a matter of indifference to him whether his case centered upon the facts or the law. And he had that complete self-assurance so necessary to success in either forum; and his consummate ability fully justified this assurance.
His mastery of any given case, and his power before either judge or jury, are the more remarkable when we remember that he was not over fond of labor. Someone has said that inspiration is 90 per cent perspiration, but not so with Colonel McLean. He did not love the daily grind in the office; he did not burn the midnight oil; he had little patience with detail. Money had no appeal for him, but the fight appealed to him for its own sake, and when he entered upon the fray it was for the pure joy of the combat and for the sake of the victory which he sensed before he entered the arena. A typical scene: Court convenes and waits ten minutes for the Colonel to make his appearance. When he enters, he apologizes with great deference and courteously requests another ten minutes delay so he may confer with his witnesses. This being granted, he retires from the room but upon his reappearance he announces his readiness for trial and proceeds to try the case with a brilliance from which the chance observer might infer that he had spent several months in its preparation. Yet when the Colonel came to court that morning he did not even know what the case involved!
His attainments as a lawyer naturally brought to him a wide clientele and he appeared in practically every case of moment in the Cape Fear section. When any occurrence made it important to secure services of counsel BOTH sides usually made a rush to employ the Colonel, and he numbered among his clients the most substantial men and the largest interests of this section. And the results secured by him justified the confidence thus reposed in him.
As an advocate Colonel McLean was most imposing, persuasive and compelling. I do not think I have ever known a more forceful public speaker, or a man more persuasive before the juries of his day. His mind was so furnished that he needed little or no preparation to speak on any given subject; nor did any man ever enter into debate with him without the full realization that he had met a foeman worthy of his steel. He had the most trenchant wit, the keenest and quickest repartee of any man I have ever known.
The Colonel loved life for life itself. He cared nothing for material things; position did not appeal to him; he had little patience with mediocrity. But he loved, as Browning says, “the wild joy of living.” He loved literature, he was conversant with great prose writers of all ages, was entirely at home with the poets. He was at his best when in some hotel lobby surrounded by those who could appreciate the brilliance of his conversation, the charm of his personality. And his mere presence drew a crowd about him. His wit was always sparkling, his repartee ever ready, his friendship ever generous. He loved to share the comradeship of his fellows and the friendship of his peers. To the handsomeness of his form was added the elegance and the charm of his manner, the whole forming a combination which men and women found it hard to resist.
He died February 15, 1911 in the full flush of his great powers, and in him died one of Robeson's most distinguished sons. The estimation in which he was held throughout North Carolina is attested by the fact that when he died the Governor immediately ordered the flags on the dome of the capitol lowered to half mast, an honor I have never before known to be paid to a private citizen, no matter how distinguished.
Col. McLean was first married to Miss Elizabeth Townsend, daughter of the late Richard Townsend of Robeson county, and to this union issue was born: Augustus (deceased); Douglass; Ada (deceased) wife of Henry B. Jennings of Lumberton; Annie Neill, wife of Alexander T. McLean of Lumberton; Agnes, wife of Paul North, of Columbus, Ohio; and Murphy.
In 1905 Colonel McLean was married to Miss Essie G. Stewart, of South Carolina, who survives him with two daughters: Eugenia, wife of J. W. Priddy, Jr., of Lumberton; and Alice, wife of Charles H. Yarborough, of Louisburg, N. C.
REV. R. L. MCLEOD, JR.
CERTAIN small towns in Carolina have a way of producing great men. Edenton down in Chowan was a factory for producing signers of the Constitution, United States Senators, Governors and other high public servants. At a later date Hillsboro was the gold mine from which Carolina drew her cabinet officers, chief justices and other distinguished men, at one time being the home of BOTH United States Senators.
Our own town of Maxton bears quite as notable a record, but her production has been that of Presbyterian preachers, and missionaries of more than one denomination. I like to think that her record as a cradle for the ministry is but the shadow of the revered Dr. Halbert G. Hill who labored so long and so effectively in His Master's vineyard at this point.
Early product of the Maxton ministry was the saintly William Black; followed by Sylvester B. McLean and his brother John Allen, both outstanding ministers of the Presbyterian faith, and who were, as was also Mr. Black, successful lawyers before they entered the ministry.
Maxton is noted not only for its production of ministers, but also for the number and quality of its missionaries. Elizabeth Ann MacRae was the founder of the missionary movement among women in the Southern Presbyterian church, as well as of Lees-MacRae College; Sallie Lou McKinnon directs woman's work in the Southern Methodist church, after herself serving both as missionary and as educator in the Orient; Mabel Currie and Lillian
Austin are still in the far East rendering faithful service on the missionary field.
Nor are the missionaries from Maxton all women. William Black became and long continued as General Evangelist of the North Carolina Synod; and the man of whom I write served as secretary to the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian church. Maxton is shot through and through with the missionary spirit.
When I came to Robeson in 1903, the foremost laymen in Maxton were J. W. Carter and Major A. J. McKinnon. Their place as leader of the laity has been taken by Robert L. McLeod, Sr., veteran business man and outstanding citizen. If he had done nothing more than rear his remarkable family he would be entitled to the thanks of his native county. For he reared and educated five daughters; his sons Malcolm L. and Clyde A. were associated in business with their father; his son Dr. Walter G. is an outstanding physician of Southern Pines; the youngest son is my subject—ROBERT LEE McLEOD, JR.
Born in 1901 he passed his boyhood in Maxton, attending Davidson College from which he was graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1923. He then attended the Presbyterian Seminary at Louisville from which he was graduated Bachelor of Divinity in 1926. He was then for a short period assistant pastor of the Highland Presbyterian church at Louisville, but resigned that work to do post-graduate work at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he remained two years.
Returning to America he became pastor of the First Presbyterian church at Grenada, Mississippi, where he served from 1927 to 1931; and he served the First church at Winter Haven, Florida, from 1931 to 1936.
He was then selected as Secretary of the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian church of the United
States, having direct charge of the Department of Legacies and Annuities. In this capacity he and Mrs. McLeod, a daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Peter John of Laurinburg, traveled extensively both in Europe and the far East. His last service to the Board of Missions was an extended trip to Alaska and the West Coast in the interest of the work of that board.
He was elected as president of Centre College, Danville, Kentucky, and was inaugurated as such on January 20, 1939, on the one hundred and twentieth anniversary of that institution. In this connection we might bear in mind that a Carolinian, Col. Isaac Shelby, was the first Governor of Kentucky.
The recitals above set forth need little comment, as his record speaks for itself. I feel impelled to direct attention to but one thing: He is only thirty-eight years old, and just getting under way.
“And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda, for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people Israel.”
JUDGE THOMAS A. MCNEILL
AMONG the highlanders who fled from Scotland to escape the oppression of the English after the battle of Culloden, was Hector McNeill, who, with his son Angus, came to America in 1764 and settled in what is now Scotland county. His family is listed in the first federal census of 1790. Angus McNeill married a daughter of John McEachin, and to this union was born five children, one of whom was Rev. Hector McNeill, father of the subject of this sketch.
John Gilchrist Sr. was probably the most prominent figure of his day in the upper Lumber river section. He served several terms in the general assembly prior to 1800, and his sons worthily carried on the traditions of their sire. The name of one of his sons, Angus, is preserved in Gilchist's bridge over Lumber river, between what is now Scotland and Hoke counties. Another son, John Gilchrist Jr., was the father of Floral College. A daughter, Mary Gilchrist, married John Purcell Sr., another outstanding leader of the Lumber river basin, progenitor of the well known Purcell family of upper Robeson, which includes Bishop Clare Purcell of the M. E. Church, South, and Rev. J. Edwin Purcell, D. D., prominent Presbyterian divine of Red Springs, and other notable men.
Rev. Hector McNeill married Mary Gilchrist Purcell, and to this union, on March 28, 1842, was born in what was then Blue Springs township, Robeson County, Thomas Alexander McNeill, the subject of this sketch.
It is regretted that limitations of space prevent a more detailed outline of Judge McNeill's distinguished ancestry.
Suffice it to say, he was lineally descended from four of the most prominent families of the upper Cape Fear—the McNeills, Gilchrists, Purcells, and McEachins—and he was closely related collaterally to many other prominent families such as the McMillans, McLeans, McQueens, etc.
Judge McNeill's father was a noted Presbyterian divine of his day, a man of rigid principles and inflexible devotion to the stern call of duty. Many of his manuscript sermons are still extant. He served many Presbyterian churches of this section, but is probably best known for his notable ministry at Bethel church near Raeford. He was a firm believer in higher education, and established and maintained two scholarships at his own college of Davidson.
It was at the plantation home of his father, on the present highway between Raeford and Wagram, in what is now Hoke county, that young McNeill was reared. It was a typical ante-bellum plantation of the upper classes. The acres were broad, the slaves and servants numerous. It was a small self-contained empire ruled over by its Calvanistic master. But discipline was stern, hard work the order of the day, and amusements few. Here he attended such schools as the neighborhood afforded, and had just entered the University of North Carolina, when the roar of the batteries of Charleston, firing upon Fort Sumter, ushered in the Civil war.
He promptly enlisted in the Confederate service, was appointed sergeant; promoted to lieutenant; and served throughout the struggle. At the fall of Fort Fisher, where he served with conspicuous gallantry, Lieutenant McNeill was captured and taken to Elmira, New York, where he remained imprisoned until the end of the war.
Upon the re-opening of the university after the war, young McNeill resumed his studies there, and was graduated
in the class of 1868, which numbered among its members his close kinsman, James Edwin Purcell of Red Springs (father of Rev. Dr. James Edwin Purcell above referred to) noted as a civil engineer, well known to the older citizens of Robeson.
After graduation in his academic studies, he began the study of law under that eminent lawyer Judge William H. Battle, and later he entered the famous school of ex-Chief Justice Richmond M. Pearson—Richmond Hill—where so many of the state's ablest lawyers received their legal training. In due time he was admitted to the bar, and it is a striking commentary upon the then prostrate condition of the country following the ills of reconstruction, that the issuance of his license was delayed due to a temporary inability on his part to raise the necessary $17 to pay therefor. Many acres of land, but no cash!
Upon his admission to the bar, he associated himself with his first cousin, Hon. Franklin McNeill, who became one of the outstanding lawyers of the state, being thereafter solicitor of his district, and the first chairman of the North Carolina Corporation Commission. They began their practice at Shoeheel (now Maxton), then moved to Rockingham, but came to Lumberton in 1878, where they continued in partnership for some years. Thenceforth Lumberton became the scene of the life and labors of Thomas A. McNeill.
In 1877 he married Miss Caroline E. Smith, daughter of William T. Smith, prominent planter of Cumberland county, upon whose ancestral acres the battle of Averasboro was fought during the Civil war. To this union were born three children: (1) Miss Mary Gilchrist McNeill, who inherits her fine literary taste from her distinguished parents; (2) Thomas A. McNeill, Jr., solicitor of this district, one of the ablest lawyers now at the Robeson Bar;
and (3) Mrs. Cammie McNeill Russell, wife of James M. Russell, architect, of Atlanta, Georgia. Mrs. McNeill, a most gracious and charming woman, died in 1911—a blow from which Judge McNeill never recovered.
As is frequently the case, the young lawyer became interested in political life, and he was elected to the legislature in 1870 and again in 1872. Here he had an important part in shaping much of the legislation necessary to restore the state, then slowly emerging from the throes of reconstruction. He was again a member of the legislature in 1893, where he attracted much attention by his introduction and advocacy of a bill designed to prevent lynching by penalizing the county in which it occurred. He was more than fifty years in advance of his time, a similar bill being but recently a bone of fierce contention in the halls of Congress.
He was long identified with the Democratic state and county organizations. He was for many years chairman of the Democratic County Executive Committee, and for more than twenty years was attorney for the board of county commissioners. He is probably best known for his work in that capacity, for having given the bold advice that if a man applied for license to sell intoxicants this was ipso facto evidence of bad character—advice which was upheld by the Supreme court in the notable case of Commissioners v. Commissioners, 107 N. C. 335, which marked an epoch in the history of local option in North Carolina.
In the early ’90s he formed a partnership with his near kinsman (Governor) Angus Wilton McLean, and this continued until his elevation to the bench. This firm became one of the best known in the Cape Fear section, and had a large and varied clientele.
In 1898 his ability as a lawyer, and his character as a
man, brought to him the nomination and election as judge of the Superior court, which office he filled for eight years, and in which he could have continued indefinitely had he not declined a renomination. As a judge he was distinguished by his fairness, his patience, his uniform courtesy, his forbearance toward young lawyers, and for the quality of mercy which distinguished his judgments in his administration of the criminal law. On the bench he was best known as an equity lawyer, and if there was a case to be tried in which complicated principles of equity were involved, most lawyers of the Cape Fear section sought to have such a case tried before Judge McNeill.
Upon his retirement from the bench, he returned to Lumberton and resumed the practice of law with his son Thomas A. Jr., then but recently admitted to the bar. I think the legal career of Judge McNeill can be summed up in the terse statement that he was never fond of the turmoil of strife, or the bickerings of the court room, but was at his best as a safe and wise counsellor in his office. There, those who trusted to his judgment (and they were many) found in him a wise and able lawyer, who knew the rights of his clients and had the ability to protect them.
While primarily a lawyer, Judge McNeill found the time, and had the inclination, to take an important part in the business life of the community. Such was the confidence of the people in his ability and integrity, that when the first bank was organized in Robeson county—now the National Bank of Lumberton—he was elected as its first president, and continued as such until his elevation to the bench. After his retirement as judge, upon the organization of the Farmers & Merchants Bank (later Planters Bank & Trust Co.) he was elected as president of that institution. He served Lumberton as a member of its
board of commissioners and as a member of its board of audit and finance. He always had the forward look, and when an impasse had been reached as to whether the town should have a system of waterworks and sewerage, it was his vote that caused the installation of these improvements.
As might have been expected from his ancestry, Judge McNeill was a devout Christian, being a ruling elder in the Presbyterian church at Lumberton, and teacher of its Bible class for men. No one who knew him ever doubted his implicit trust in the Christian religion, or his reliance upon the faith of his fathers. Like Paul, he knew “in whom he had believed.”
Judge McNeill had a notable career as a business man, as a lawyer, as a legislator, as a judge, and as a moulder of public opinion throughout the Cape Fear section, but it is of the man that I like best to think. He was one of the most distinguished looking men I have ever known, his appearance being like unto that of Samuel, judge of Israel. He was a man of wide reading, a large fund of information, and catholic tastes. His manner was so gracious, his courtesy so exquisite, his conversation so alluring, that men loved to gather around him. He was, moreover, one of the kindliest and friendliest of men. Added to this was a keen sense of honor and a rugged integrity which bespoke the inflexible veracities of his nature.
He died, full of years and honors, at Lumberton, August 2nd, 1921.
The work of such a man as Judge McNeill cannot yet be appraised. It will continue to influence the life of Robeson throughout the years of time, and can only be correctly estimated when a final summation is had in the paradise of God.
He gave the world assurance of a man!
MY INTRODUCTION TO JUDGE McNEILL
WHEN I was a law student I was given to understand that a lawyer's legal ability was to be judged by his handwriting—the better the lawyer, the worse his handwriting. Judged by this standard, Judge Thomas A. McNeill of Lumberton was the foremost lawyer of his day, for his handwriting was so atrocious as to defy even experts to decipher it.
When I began the practice of law in 1898, I was in the office of Col. John W. Hinsdale of Raleigh. Soon thereafter the Colonel was employed to appeal to the Supreme court a case which other lawyers had tried in the Superior court of Harnett county before Judge McNeill. There were no court stenographers then, but the judge made notes of the testimony of the witnesses and wrote out his charge to the jury in longhand. The colonel sent for the judge's notes, and when they were received he instructed me to copy the notes on the typewriter so that he could prepare the case on appeal. I pored over Judge McNeill's notes long and earnestly, but not a word could I decipher. Thinking that possibly I had the manuscript upside down, I turned it the other way, but it looked even worse that way than it had looked before. I appealed to the Colonel for help, but when he looked at the notes he shook his head sadly. Ascertaining that Judge McNeill was holding court at Hendersonville, he put me on the train with instructions to proceed to Hendersonville, get Judge McNeill to read his notes, and for me to transcribe them on the typewriter.
I reached Hendersonville, was introduced to the judge,
and explained my mission. I greatly enjoyed my trip. The mountain scenery was beautiful, and I thought Judge McNeill was the most distinguished looking man I had ever met. But I did not get what I went after. The Judge could not read his own notes!
I have often heard that the judge wrote a political article for The Robesonian, which the printer, knowing his handwriting, managed to decipher with the exception of four consecutive words. He sent a messenger to the judge requesting to be informed what these words were. The judge looked at them attentively. Finally he handed the manuscript back to the messenger and said that he could not quite make out what the words were, but for the printer to be sure and not leave them out because they were “Danged Important Words.”
The Judge was a scholar and a gentleman of the old school. He had something of contempt for new things and new ways. His handwriting was good enough for him and he disdained a typewriter. Shortly after I moved to Lumberton I prepared a lengthy judgment in a case in which the judge was interested, wrote it out on the typewriter, and took it to him for his approval. I was feeling pretty sure of myself, and this fact did not escape the judge. He promptly deflated me. Said he: “Young man, I sometimes thank my God that I am not one of these danged typewriter lawyers.”
DR. RICHARD M. NORMENT
THE name Norment has been famous in Robeson since the first establishment of the county, and no one has worn this name more worthily or with greater distinction than Dr. Richard M. Norment.
His forbears came from Georgia, where his father, William S. Norment, was born at Savannah, October 7, 1794. His father moved to Robeson county about 1800, purchased land in Raft Swamp township, and erected the “Norment mill,” the remains of which can still be traced. Later, he moved to Steele's Creek township, Mecklenburg county, where the subject of this sketch was born February 1st, 1829.
Young Norment grew up in a pioneer community, and from early youth was accustomed to the rough life of field and stream. He took but three months’ schooling prior to entering upon the study of medicine, but notwithstanding this he became a well-educated man. The glamor of romance and the call to high adventure lured him on, and at the age of 17, upon the outbreak of the Mexican war, he ran away from home, enlisted in Scott's army, and served throughout the war. At the time of his death he had the distinction of being one of the last, if not the last, of the veterans of North Carolina's service in the Mexican war.
Returning from Mexico, he read medicine under Dr. Green Caldwell, attended the Medical College of Charleston, S. C., and soon thereafter moved to Lumberton for the practice of his profession.
Upon the outbreak of the Civil war, he was elected as
captain of a company of troops raised in Lumberton—Co. “A,” 46th North Carolina. He was soon promoted to the rank of major, which rank he held until captured by the enemy. This regiment had the distinction of being commanded by Col. William L. Saunders, who was several times wounded, losing a leg in the battle of the Wilderness. After the war, Col. Saunders was elected as secretary of state, and rendered notable service in the compilation and publication of the Colonial Records of the State. After his capture Dr. Norment was paroled, and was at his home as a paroled prisoner of war when Sherman's army passed through this section in 1865.
Once or twice in every generation there arises a man with a natural genius for leadership. Such a man was Dr. Norment. Men instinctively looked to him for guidance, and he instinctively took command in any given situation. His inborn gift for leadership was so pronounced that in any company where the doctor sat, his seat was the head of the table.
He had a pronounced flair for public life, and this led to his nomination by the Democratic party and his election as senator in 1870. This was the famous session when William W. Holden, governor of North Carolina, was impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. Dr. Norment quite properly voted for conviction on many of the articles.
He was again a candidate for the senate in the following campaign, but through some breach of faith on the part of those who should have been his friends, he did not receive the nomination. He so keenly felt the ingratitude of those who should have supported him that he split with his party; and the Republicans, keenly alive to the value of acquiring such a leader, welcomed him with open arms and nominated him as their candidate for the house. Such
was the personal popularity of the doctor that he was triumphantly elected. Thereafter, he affiliated with that party, and became one of the best-known and most influential politicians in the state. His political opponents differed with him on his political views, but they never doubted the integrity of the man, or his fidelity to the cause for which he stood.
He served with distinction in the house in 1872, in 1874, in 1879, and again in 1895. He was the candidate of his party for secretary of state in 1876; he ran for Congress in 1900; and on many occasions he was a candidate for office upon the local county ticket. He wielded a large influence in the councils of his party in the state. During the greater part of his life, it was his fortune to belong to the minority political party, and he led many a forlorn hope with Spartan courage. He “knew defeat, but mocked it as he ran.”
In 1900 he was appointed by President McKinley as postmaster at Lumberton, succeeding our townsman John H. Wishart as such.
Dr. Norment married his first cousin, Mary Francis Norment of Lumberton, and to this union several children were born, only one of whom, Dr. Thomas A. Norment, is still living. After the death of his first wife, he married Miss Maggie Rogers of what is now Dillon county, S. C., and of this union two children were born, one of whom, Wallace, still lives. Dr. Norment had numerous relatives in Lumberton, including his first cousins, Thomas A. Norment Sr., Capt. William S. Norment and Owen C. Norment, all prominent citizens of their day. He died in Lumberton July 30, 1912.
In my judgment Dr. Norment was a truly great man. I have known some of the most brilliant men of my day in North Carolina, but I do not exaggerate when I say
that he possessed greater NATURAL ABILITY than any man I have ever known. Not a learned man in the accepted meaning of the term, his natural ability was such that he could more than hold his own in any company, on any subject, and it was indeed a rash and presumptuous man who would venture to tread upon the doctor's toes without fear of instant and disastrous reprisal. Even those who did not love him were forced to respect him and admire his great ability.
Yet like most great men, Dr. Norment had a tender heart and he loved little children. Being a physician, it might be supposed that he had become hardened to scenes of suffering and death. But not so. He would attend the funeral of a little child, and tears would course down his cheeks as he would see the tiny form lowered into the open grave. He would attend a political rally and make a vicious assault upon his political foes; but that night, if his foe were taken ill, he would sit up through the night and minister to him; nor would he accept compensation for his services! His heart was as large as it was gentle.
He was a natural-born physician, if not an entirely scientific one. Test tubes, microscopes—all the paraphernalia of the scientist—had little appeal for him. Alleged new discoveries in science did not hold his interest, nor did he lay much store by new nostrums appearing in the pharmacopoeia. The old ways and the old remedies were good enough for him. Yet he could walk into a sick room, correctly diagnose his patient's malady, and somehow his old-fashioned remedies had the sovereign merit of curing the patient. He ushered into the world more than 3,000 Robesonians.
It is for his quality of mercy that Dr. Norment was most loved and is best remembered. No matter how cold the night, how long the way, how bad the roar, or how poverty-stricken
the patient, Dr. Norment always responded to the call of human suffering, and there yet remain in Robeson hundreds who call him blessed. Like Abou Ben Adhem, the doctor loved his fellow-men.
Dr. Norment's personal appearance was most imposing. I have always thought he looked as Moses must have looked when he received the law from Jehovah upon the heights of Sinai. And the doctor had, as Moses had, the God-given gift of leadership which would brook no denial. Ave atque vale!
CAPTAIN WILLIAM S. NORMENT
JAMES KENAN was one of the most distinguished of colonial North Carolinians. He was a member of the Committee of Public Safety; member of the Provincial Congress at Hillsboro in 1775, and at Halifax in 1776; and commanded a force of Duplin County militia operating against the uprising of the Highland Tories which resulted in the battle of Widow Moore's Creek Bridge. He was a member of the House of Commons for several terms, and after the Revolution served NINE consecutive terms as Senator from Duplin. Kenansville, county seat of Duplin, was named in his honor.
James Kenan was the progenitor of the famous Kenan family of Duplin county, among the more recent illustrious members of that family being Thomas S. Kenan, Confederate Colonel and Supreme Court clerk; William R. Kenan, benefactor of the university, in whose honor Kenan stadium at Chapel Hill is named; and Mary Lily Kenan, whose first husband was Henry M. Flagler, partner of John D. Rockefeller and builder of the Florida East Coast railroad, and whose second husband was Robert W. Bingham, ambassador to the Court of St. James.
Penelope Kenan, daughter of James Kenan, married Col. Richard Clinton, distinguished soldier and patriot, in whose honor Clinton, county seat of Sampson county, was named.
Mary Eliza Clinton, daughter of Col. Richard Clinton and Penelope his wife, married General Alfred Rowland of Robeson county, whose ancestry was traced in my recent article on his grandson, Col. Alfred Rowland.
Penelope Kenan Rowland, daughter of General Alfred Rowland, and Mary Eliza his wife, married Thomas A. Norment of Robeson county, the first of numerous sons of Robeson to bear that name. To this union, on July 20th, 1833, was born a son, William Stokes Norment, the subject of this sketch.
William Stokes Norment attended Wake Forest college and the University of North Carolina, taking his degree from the latter with the class of 1859.
Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, he volunteered in the Confederate service, and enlisted as a private in company “D” of the 18th North Carolina regiment, but four months later he was elected as captain of company “F”, 51st North Carolina regiment, with which he served until incapacitated by wounds. He will hereafter be called by his military title.
There was another company of Confederate infantry organized at Lumberton, of which Condary Godwin (brother of Berry Godwin) was captain. The patriotic ladies of Lumberton presented a Confederate battle flag to each company, and both flags were captured in battle by the Union forces. The flag of Captain Godwin's company was never recovered, but after the heat of passion caused by the war had in a measure subsided, Captain Norment advertised seeking the return of the flag of his company, and as the result of such advertisement the flag was returned by its generous captors. This flag is a treasured possession of his daughters hereinafter referred to.
Captain Norment was a brave and fearless soldier. He participated in the “Seven Days” battles around Richmond, in the heavy battle of Second Manassas, and in the bloody three days’ decisive battle on the field of historic Gettysburg. In May, 1864, during the siege of Petersburg, while defending Fort Harrison, one of the forts
encircling that city, he was so severely wounded as to incapacitate him for further army service.
Captain Norment was a lawyer by profession, having just entered upon the practice when the war broke out. After his enforced retirement from army service, in December 1864 he married Miss Emma Douglas Harriss of Wilmington, a sister of the mother of that veteran North Carolina lawyer, Hon. John D. Bellamy of Wilmington, still in the active practice of his profession and perhaps the oldest practicing attorney in the state. Mr. Bellamy has had a most distinguished career at the North Carolina bar, and for a number of years served this district in Congress.
When the Democratic party determined to redeem the state in 1874, the party naturally put forward its strongest men as candidates, and Captain Norment became the candidate of his party for solicitor, his opponent being Thomas H. Sutton of Fayetteville. Later, during the fusion regime, Mr. Sutton was elected as speaker of the house of representatives and as judge. Altho part of the Democratic ticket went down in defeat, Captain Norment was elected. This judicial district was much more extensive then than now, and included the county of New Hanover. Upon his election as solicitor, he moved to Wilmington, where he resided until the expiration of his term of office. He made an enviable reputation as solicitor and was a fearless and able prosecuting officer.
Returning to Lumberton, he formed a partnership with that notable Robesonian, Colonel William Foster French, and this partnership continued until the death of Colonel French. This firm was one of the best known in the Cape Fear section, and appeared in nearly every notable case, including the famous McDougald case at Fayetteville and many other notable cases. After the death of
Colonel French, Captain Norment retired from active practice, altho he continued as county attorney until a short time before his death. He enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best jury lawyers at the Robeson bar, and was deservedly popular with all who knew him.
He was a sincere and humble Christian, and was superintendent of the Sunday school of the Presbyterian church. He died in December, 1904, survived by four children: J. Douglas Norment (since deceased); Mrs. A. T. Parmele, Misses Laura and Emma Norment. Miss Laura has been for many years the mainstay of the local chapter U. D. C., and Miss Emma is loved by hundreds of the youth of Lumberton who revere her for her many years of sacrificial labor as a member of the staff of our graded schools.
Captain Norment was a brother of Thomas A. Norment, Sr., and of Owen Clinton Norment, both outstanding Lumbertonians of a former day; and of Mrs. W. W. McDiarmid (wife of a former publisher of The ROBESONIAN); Mrs. Anne Eliza Higley; and Mrs. Cornelia Bryan.
The writer hopes to publish, at a later date, a roster of Captain Norment's company in the Confederate service, which embraced the only two Confederate veterans now living in Robeson county—Rev. F. A. Prevatt (oldest living Robesonian) and William Barnes of Lumberton, who can even yet call the roll of his company. The company also included Owen C. Norment (brother of Captain Norment); Needham J. Thompson (father of Mrs. L. T. Townsend of Lumberton), who was severely wounded in action; Bunyan Stansel of Allenton, who lost a leg in the service (father of B. H. and Jesse C. Stansel of Allenton and John P. Stansel of Maxton), and numerous other notable Robesonians. I feel that the names and
deeds of these heroes of the South will be of interest to our readers.
The writer also hopes to publish a sketch of the ancient cemetery near Lumberton at what in revolutionary times was known as Morrisey's mill, but during recent years has been known as McMillan's mill—near McMillan's beach. Here were buried John Willis, father of Lumberton; Penelope Clinton, wife of Col. Richard Clinton; many of the early Rowlands, Blounts, and other prominent Lumberton people of more than a hundred years ago.
DR. GEORGE M. PATE
WHEN Governor Hoey holds a Council of State, he calls in the Secretary of State, the Treasurer, the Attorney General and others; and when we, down in the STATE OF ROBESON hold our Council of State, we call in a few big business men, such as Kenneth M. Biggs of Lumberton, Robert L. McLeod of Maxton, and Dr. George M. Pate of Rowland, for he is physician not only to the individual who may be ill, but he specializes in diagnosing and treating the ills and ailments of sick businesses, droopy corporations, and he is an expert in handling the maladies that afflict our body politic. Therefore my title—Doctor of Robeson.
Born in Scotland County in 1878; father, Captain of Home Guards in the Confederate service; mother, an Adams of the same family from which came the late Justice William J. Adams of Carthage. Prepared for college at the Wyche school near Gibson, where one of the teachers was Miss Eliza Johnson, sister of the famous Johnson Brothers—Livingston, Archibald and Norman D., of Springhill. One of his schoolmates was Methodist Bishop Peele; another was Senator Gibson of South Carolina.
Attended the University ’96 and ’97; graduated in medicine at Charleston in 1900; postgraduate work University of Maryland 1901 and at Polyclinic at New York 1906. Practiced at Gibson until 1904; then at Rowland until 1916, when he began giving his full time to doctoring sick businesses.
He is one of the few remaining reminders of the most
valuable asset any community ever possessed, that true hero in a realm of realism—the country doctor. Here was the type which served a community through summer's heat and winter's cold, far into the night; who rode long hours over wretched roads in miserable weather; who got little compensation for his service. It was he who brought you into the world, saw you married, was your friend, counselor and guide all through life; who sat by your bed for hours when you were ill; who was chief mourner when you died. All he received was the gratitude and affection of the community in which he lived—that much was his. With him there has passed from the countryside of Carolina a figure whose place can never be taken in the life of our people. Doctor Pate represents all that is best in the country doctor of an age that is past.
When I came to Robeson in 1903 nothing could be done in the southern part of the county without the consent of the late Allen Edens. If a man wanted to buy a farm, build a house, purchase a team of mules, nothing was done about it until the proposition had been laid before Mr. Edens and approved by him. Now that he has passed away, Dr. Pate has succeeded to all his titles and honors, and it has been long since any southern Robesonian engaged in any enterprise of moment without first conferring with our Doctor, for he is the man whom Robeson regards as her ablest man of business. He heads nearly all the south Robeson corporations, and has large interests elsewhere, and he is kept on the road nearly as much attending to sick business as he used to be in attendance on sick individuals.
I may as well confess the worst in the beginning. He is a doodler, a confirmed doodler. This, I think, is the correct technical term for one who figures on the backs of old envelopes, makes drawings on pieces of paper,
marks up the tablecloths. The Doctor has been at this business for years; in fact he was one of its pioneers, just as he was in the cotton co-ops. He is full of figures, and all sorts of statistics, so I will get that way myself, and beg to state that if all the old envelopes used by the Doctor in doodling were placed end to end, they would extend from New York to Moscow; while if all the pencils similarly consumed by him were placed end to end, they would reach from the earth to the cool caverns of the moon.
You go to church with the Doctor and after service ask his opinion of the sermon. He's part Scotch, and so of course he is cautious and canny. He waits until he gets home, then he will get to doodling over it and he will finally tell you whether it was worth $2,108.05 or $21.05 or maybe only $.05—but he will put a value on it, as a going concern, in terms of mathematics. Or maybe he has been thinking about his favorite cotton co-op, which is so close to his heart, and he will appraise the sermon in its terms—good middling, strict middling, low middling or maybe just tinges and stains.
Director's meeting. The corporation is sometimes able to be up and about the house, usually on crutches, but is often ailing with chronic exhaustion of the treasury, constriction of the credit region, or distention in the expense area. As a physician, this is where our Doctor comes in handy. He gets him out an old envelope, has the corporation stick out its tongue, feels its pulse, puts a thermometer in its mouth. Asks two or three questions. Then he begins doodling. Then comes the diagnosis of the malady. And there are numbers of business men who claim that our Doctor cannot only give you a correct diagnosis of the ailment, but can also prescribe a specific that will work a cure on the patient.
He's a banker too, president of the Bank of Rowland, and in that capacity he is frequently called in to officiate at inquests, post mortems and the like. He is an expert at dissecting (probably a hang over from his old medical days), and when the inquest is over, the Doctor just ups and tells what the trouble was, why the patient died, and when the death took place. But at times he can effect a seeming miracle and put a dead business back on its feet again. I submit this is quite a feat in these days of the wage and hour law, and other complications of governmental control of business.
When there is anything ailing in Robeson, the standard technique is to send for Dr. Pate first, and talk about it afterwards. The result is that his time is heavily mortgaged, for if an enterprise is to be launched, a business to be started, something gotten under way for the benefit of the community, somehow support is given to it and prestige lent to the movement if it is known that Dr. Pate is one of the sponsors. For that is what he principally is, a COMMUNITY BUILDER. He gives generously of his time, talent and money to the public weal.
He has long been one of the largest farmers in this section of the State. Raised in the country, acquainted with every practical problem that confronts agriculture, realizing that the hope of the farmer is the hope of the State, Dr. Pate was one of the far-seeing pioneers who saw the possibilities of the farmer in the field of co-operative marketing. Coming from a heavily cotton section, he naturally was most interested in cotton, and he helped organize and has been a director in and president of the North Carolina Cotton Co-operative Association for seventeen years. They must like him. There was also a tobacco co-operative which, after a hectic career, was placed in a Federal court receivership, and there was much
squabbling, many loud noises, and much commotion over even the corpse (to keep in character, as writing of a physician) of this co-operative. But the Cotton Co-op, thanks to Dr. Pate and his associates, has had a calm career and has rendered a service of simply inestimable service to the cotton farmers of Carolina. In my judgment the Cotton Co-op has saved the farmers of the State on grading alone, more than its total cost. Its services in enabling the farmer to hold for better prices, to market his crop in orderly fashion, in securing reasonable advances thereon, are services which represent pure velvet to the farmer.
There is but one place where the Doctor does not have to doodle. When he goes to Raleigh to attend say a meeting of the Co-ops, when night falls he may drop in at a vaudeville show. After the revue goes off the stage, he can tell you, without doodling, just what he thinks of it. He has the figures all memorized.
GILBERT B. PATTERSON
- “His life was gentle, and the elements
- So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
- And say to all the world: ‘This was a man!’ ”
Shakespeare: Julius Caesar.
MAXTON was the home of two distinguished Robesonians, Rev. Dr. H. G. Hill, and Gilbert Brown Patterson—closely associated in life and not far apart in death.
Gilbert Patterson was my friend. I knew the man and loved him. To me he was not “Mister” Patterson, but Patterson. I shall so speak of him in this sketch.
In a recent reminiscent article, I said that when I entered the portals of our court house here in Lumberton, I could feel again the mighty power of Gilbert Patterson—once aroused. He was like a cold automobile on a snowy morning—hard to start, but very powerful when once in motion. I think this statement fairly reflects his chief characteristic.
The Patterson family was essentially Scotch, and Patterson was a Patterson on both sides of the house. His paternal grandfather was Charles Patterson, who married Effie Brown. His maternal grandparents were Daniel Patterson and Nancy Leach. His father was Gilbert Patterson, his mother Margaret Patterson. He was born in what is now Scotland County, May 29th, 1863. His brothers were Daniel A. Patterson, Archie Patterson, Charles Patterson. His sisters were Effie, who married W. D. Baldwin of Clarkton, and Nancy who married M. M. McKinnon, of Laurinburg. His brothers and sisters have all passed away
except his brother, the venerable Daniel A. Patterson, who still occupies the ancestral acres near Maxton. A number of nieces and nephews still live, and cousins by the score.
He attended school at Maxton and also at Laurinburg, where he sat under that famous preceptor, W. G. Quackenbush. From there he matriculated at the University, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and where he graduated in the class of 1886.
His first employment was as teacher in the public schools of Elizabeth City, and to the end of his life he was interested in education, serving for twenty two years as a member of the Maxton School Board, and being a useful member of the Board of Trustees of Flora MacDonald Collège.
But his life's work was law and politics, and he was admitted to the Bar in 1890. He entered upon the practice of his profession at Maxton, and was at one time partner of the beloved William Black, who abandoned the law for the Presbyterian ministry. Thereafter he was associated with another brilliant son of Robeson, J. Gilchrist McCormick. But for the most part he practiced by himself, in the little office which has become a shrine for many Robeson people.
He had a natural gift and taste for politics, and was one of the most popular men Robeson ever produced. If Patterson had an enemy, such enemy never made his enmity known. This disposition soon drew him into the political arena, and he was a leading figure in the famous “Red Shirt” campaign of 1898 which changed the political complexion of the State. Upon the restoration of Democratic rule, Patterson was elected to the General Assembly in 1899 and again in 1901, rendering notable service during that hectic period. At that time he joined with the late
Edward K. Proctor, Jr., and other friends of temperance in securing the enactment of legislation which banned intoxicants from Robeson County.
His popularity and the record he had made in the General Assembly, caused his election to Congress in 1903 and again in 1905. In Congress he rendered faithful and efficient service to his District, and thenceforth he was a considerable figure in State politics.
There was scarcely any activity in Maxton which did not feel the touch of the Patterson influence, directly or indirectly. He was in affluent circumstances, owned extensive farming and other interests, and was intimately connected with every movement in western Robeson. He served as director of the Bank of Maxton, Carolina Electric Company, and other corporations. He loved the social side of life, and was not only a Master Mason, but a Shriner.
He was devoted to the interest of the Presbyterian church, and to its illustrious Maxton leader, Dr. Hill. He was for fifteen years a Ruling Elder of his church, and for many years superintendent of its Sunday school. He was a teacher of its men's Bible class. Nor was the cause of the orphans at Barium Springs overlooked by him.
Patterson was one of the most forceful, fascinating and eloquent speakers I have ever listened to. He was in constant demand as a speaker at county conventions, political rallies and upon the hustings, and I can even now hear the people as their cheers for Patterson rent the air!
No man ever lived in Robeson who was so loved and trusted by our Indian people as was Patterson. No public gathering, no picnic, no general assemblage, was ever had among them without the presence of Patterson and a speech from him. And he held for them the same affectionate
regard they had for him, and he championed their cause on more than one occasion.
Patterson was essentially a social man. Imposing of figure, handsome of form, charming in manner, he was eagerly sought after upon all social occasions. He was a man of wide reading, diversified learning, and was perhaps at his best sitting in front of his office discussing questions of law, politics or government, to the crowd that always gathered round. And when court week came, but the court was in recess, and Patterson came upon the court house lawn, those there dropped what they had been doing and gathered round to hear Patterson talk.
Ladies, too, delighted in his company, and no social function for miles around was complete without his attendance, and the charm of his manner, the brilliance of his conversation, the delightfulness of his courtesy, ever made a deep impression upon those privileged to be with him on such occasions.
As a lawyer, Patterson did not love the strife and contentions of the court room. His ways were those of pleasantness, and all his paths were peace. So loath was he to engage in a struggle with his friends and comrades that he would often ask the continuance of his cases. But when continuances could no longer be had, when he was forced to fight, when he stood at bay, he could and did fight—like a tiger! Woe to the lawyer who opposed Patterson when he had his fighting clothes on. I have known some able lawyers in my time, including those Robesonians Col. N. A. McLean and Stephen McIntyre, but neither could surpass Gilbert Patterson before either court or jury—once Pat had made up his mind to fight!
Those who remember—and they are many—the magnificent fight he made to divide Robeson County, can never forget the power and magnetism of the man, or the gallantry
with which he led his cause—a cause in which there was pitted against him practically the entire Bar of the county. And well do I remember how our Lumberton Bar shook with fear lest the Maxton giant succeed in his task. He lost, but he bore no malice. He was a man who could lose and still cherish no rancor in his heart. Unlike most lawyers, success did not elate him, defeat did not depress him. His temper bore that serenity which only those of wisdom can attain. He always controlled his emotions; he was ever the master of his fate. He could lose and assert no alibi—a height I have never been able to reach. I have seen him with many men, under varied and trying circumstances. But I never heard him speak ill of any man.
He died in the very prime of life, January 21st, 1922, universally mourned through all Robeson. His funeral services were conducted by his beloved pastor, Dr. Hill—destined soon to follow him in death. They were not divided in life, nor were they long divided in death.
In 1907 Patterson was married to Mrs. Mattie McNair Evans, daughter of John F. McNair of Laurinburg. Mrs. Patterson died July 3, 1912,—a crushing blow from which her husband never recovered. The only child of this marriage, Mary McNair Patterson, married James E. Johnson of Lumberton, where they now reside. E. Hervey Evans of Laurinburg is a step-son.
It remains to acknowledge my indebtedness for certain of the factual data above given, to that stalwart veteran of western Robeson, Howard C. McNair of Maxton, who loved Patterson even as Jonathan loved David.
A great hearted Southern gentleman: Gilbert Brown Patterson.
EDWARD KNOX PROCTOR AS A
TO CORRECTLY appraise the pioneer work of Edward Knox Proctor as a prohibitionist, his work must be viewed in the light of conditions as they existed at that time, rather than in the light of conditions which now exist. Today the advocate of prohibition wears a badge of honor, but when Mr. Proctor began his work in the early eighties of the last century, he stood almost alone. At that time the liquor interests were firmly entrenched, controlling and dominating both political parties, and having large financial resources at their command. Mr. Proctor had neither political influence nor financial resources. His only assets were a pure heart and a brave soul—but he used these resources to the utmost.
Mr. Proctor, being a devout and humble Christian, naturally felt at home when in association with the churches, and it was to the churches that he turned for support for the cause in which he believed with all his soul. But the churches were by no means enthusiastic over the cause which he espoused. Many ministers of the Gospel were advocates of the licensed barroom, as they felt that illicit distilling could not be put down, and that it was perhaps better to have the licensed bar than to have illicit distilleries operating in our swamps. And to many stewards, elders, deacons, and members of the church, the very name of prohibition was anathema. Church records throughout North Carolina will disclose the lamentable fact that in those early days, many members of the church were
“turned out” because they had joined a prohibition society!
Yet here and there could be found a brave and courageous soul who considered the sale of liquor an unmitigated evil and who had the courage to stand by his convictions. Such a man was Judge James C. MacRae of Fayetteville, who entertained an ambition to become governor of North Carolina. He was invited to preside over a state convention of the prohibitionists to be held in Raleigh, but the wets warned him that if he accepted the invitation it would mean his political death. Well, said the Judge, I will die fighting the greatest evil of our day. He presided over the convention, and was finally honored by the people of North Carolina who elected him to a seat upon our Supreme court bench.
Here in our own county of Robeson there were a few courageous souls. In the early eighties, Richard Rhodes Barnes of Barnesville, Henry F. Pittman of Fairmont, and Owen C. Norment of Lumberton, were members of the board of county commissioners. These men were known to many of my hearers, and no better men ever lived in our county. At that time the law made it obligatory upon the commissioners to issue license to sell liquor to all applicants of good character. Messrs. Barnes and Pittman felt that they were bound by this law, and they therefore reluctantly voted to issue the licenses, altho they were personally dry. Mr. Norment, however, took the position that liquor was an unmitigated evil and should be stamped out, and he therefore consistently voted “No” upon all applications for liquor license. No doubt he felt that he was bound by a “higher law”—his conscience—and so long as he was on the board, he always voted “No” upon applications for liquor license.
Soon after his admission to the bar, Edward Knox Proctor
joined the thin ranks of the heroes of faith who were leading the then forlorn hope of prohibition. When he began his work, he was told that it meant the sacrifice of much of his law practice, his financial and political future, and would even place in jeopardy his very life. It was pointed out to him that the liquor interests controlled the political machinery and much of the industrial and financial life of the section. It was their privilege to dispense favors to young lawyers. But Mr. Proctor refused to bow the knee to Baal, nor could he be persuaded to join the forces of Mammon. Like Sir Galahad, his strength was as the strength of ten, because his heart was pure!
He soon saw that before any lasting good could be accomplished it was necessary to conduct a campaign to show the people that liquor was prejudicial to the social, economic, political and religious life. He correctly judged that even if it were then possible to secure legislation to restrain the sale of intoxicants, that such legislation would not prevent such sale, because no law can be enforced that is not supported by the large body of public opinion. It has been demonstrated time and again that public opinion governs in the enforcement or non-enforcement of any statute.
He therefore inaugurated a campaign of popular education to show the people the evils of intemperance and the blessings which would accrue from prohibition. This was his great contribution to the cause of temperance—a contribution which will live so long as men love righteousness. Week after week, Sunday after Sunday, through all sorts of weather, and over all kinds of roads, at his own expense, Mr. Proctor went from church to church, taking his cause to the people. Sunday after Sunday he would speak, dwelling upon the evils of intemperance and
the blessings of temperance, and inviting his hearers to embrace his cause. Ceaseless and tireless were his efforts, and finally they bore fruit.
In 1890 a board of commissioners was elected who were personally dry, but who were confronted by a law making it mandatory upon them to issue liquor licenses if the applicants were of good character. The commissioners elected Judge Thomas A. McNeill of Lumberton as county attorney. What went on behind the scenes we cannot now know, but there can be no doubt but that Mr. Proctor's advice was sought as to whether this law had to be obeyed to its letter. The matter came to a head when certain persons from Maxton applied for license, presenting ample evidence of good character. Judge McNeill advised the commissioners that the bare fact that a person applied for a liquor license was IN ITSELF evidence of bad character which would justify the commissioners in refusing to issue him a license. The commissioners accordingly denied all applications for licenses. The applicants sued for a writ of mandamus to compel the commissioners to issue their licenses, and the case came on for trial at September term, 1890, of Robeson Superior court. The plaintiffs were represented by Thomas H. Sutton of Fayetteville, and the commissioners by Judge Thomas A. McNeill and William Black of Maxton, who afterward abandoned the law and became a distinguished Presbyterian minister. The case was appealed to the Supreme court, where Justice Walter Clark, ever an advocate of social reform, wrote the opinion of the court to the effect that the discretion vested in the commissioners was a judicial discretion which would not be interfered with by the courts. This was a case of first impression in North Carolina, and established the legal precedent that county boards of commissioners could control the liquor traffic if
they were disposed to do so! This case is reported in 107 N. C. page 335.
Nevertheless, the liquor interests did not yield without a long struggle, both in political campaigns, in the legislature, and in the courts. Feeling was engendered to such an extent that on two occasions Mr. Proctor's house in Lumberton was fired into, and on one of these occasions the windowsill of the room in which he and his wife were sitting was peppered with shot. But even this did not deter him and he continued to fight his good fight against the embattled forces of evil.
The campaign of public education instituted and carried on by Mr. Proctor began to bear fruit in an aroused public conscience, and legislation restraining the manufacture and sale of intoxicants began to be enacted. By chapter 475, public laws of 1893, it was made unlawful to manufacture or sell liquor in Robeson county, but this act had the weakness that it permitted wine and cider to be manufactured from fruit grown by the manufacturer upon his own premises. Violation of the act was punishable by two years imprisonment or a fine of $500. In 1895, by chapter 381, it was made lawful to sell the juice of apples or grapes WITHOUT LICENSE in Robeson county. This let down the bars again and the liquor people were jubilant. But their joy was short-lived, for chapter 228, public laws of 1899, repealed the act of 1895 and restored the act of 1893 as the law of the land. In 1901, when Stephen McIntyre was in the senate, and Gilbert B. Patterson of Maxton, and J. Shep Oliver of Marietta were in the house, chapter 476 was enacted which prohibited the sale of intoxicants within three miles of certain churches.
The hand of Mr. Proctor can be traced in all this legislation, and no man can estimate the good he accomplished
in Robeson county by the magnificent fight he waged for prohibition. And the results he obtained in Robeson county had a far-reaching reflex influence throughout the state of North Carolina. Robeson was the pioneer prohibition county in eastern Carolina, and Edward Knox Proctor was the pioneer prohibition leader in Robeson.
It has been truly said that many an institution is but the lengthening shadow of some great man. In Robeson county today, prohibition is but the lengthened shadow of a great Robesonian—Edward Knox Proctor.
COLONEL ALFRED ROWLAND
COL. RICHARD CLINTON, revolutionary hero and patriot, came of distinguished ancestry, being a nephew of that famous American DeWitt Clinton, governor of New York, builder of the Erie canal.
The service of Colonel Clinton to the revolutionary cause was so notable, that when Sampson county was established in 1784, its county seat was named Clinton in honor of Colonel Richard Clinton. After the revolution Colonel Clinton continued his public career, and was senator from Sampson county for ten consecutive terms. The sword carried by Colonel Clinton during the revolution, and buttons from his uniform, are in the possession of the elect Lumberton ladies hereinafter referred to. This distinguished American soldier was the lineal ancestor of the subject of this sketch.
Col. Richard Clinton married a daughter of James Kenan, also a distinguished revolutionary statesman, in whose honor Kenansville, county seat of Duplin county, is named. During the last years of her life Penelope Clinton, widow of Col. Richard Clinton, made her home near Lumberton with her daughter, Mrs. Thomas Morrisey. Her will, dated August 28th, 1814, is recorded in Robeson county in Book of Wills No. 1, page 138.
Mary Eliza Clinton, daughter of Col. Richard Clinton, married General Alfred Rowland, of Robeson county. The details of his life have been lost in the misty haze of an unchartered past. But it is known that he was a planter upon a large scale, and that he was a general of North Carolina militia. We also know that he served four consecutive
terms as senator from Robeson county, beginning in 1811 and extending through 1814.
General Rowland's son—John A. Rowland—was a large figure in the life of ante-bellum Robeson. He was senator in 1848. He served as Clerk of the county court for seven years. He was register of deeds for one year. I know of no other person who has served as sheriff, clerk and register of deeds. He died in 1872 when only fifty-seven. One of his daughters married the beloved Dr. John D. McMillan, father of Mrs. G. Ed. Rancke of Lumberton. Another daughter married Christopher von Glahn, and their daughter became the wife of our esteemed townsman, John H. Wishart.
Alfred Rowland, subject of this sketch, was the son of John A. Rowland. When but a youth of sixteen he volunteered in the Confederate service as a private in the 18th North Carolina regiment, in the same company with his near kinsman, Captain William S. Norment. He served during the entire war, and his ability and fidelity to the Confederate cause was such that he rose from private to lieutenant colonel. He was captured during the heavy fighting around Spottsylvania Court House, Virginia, and was carried to Fort Delaware, where he was confined to the end of the war. He never fully recovered from the effects of his imprisonment.
Returning to Lumberton, he was elected as register of deeds in 1867, but also entered upon the study of law in the office of Giles Leitch, prominent Lumberton lawyer, whose office was a small stone building at the corner of Fourth and Chestnut streets. In due course Colonel Rowland was admitted to the bar and began the practice in association with Mr. Leitch, and this continued until the death of Mr. Leitch.
Colonel Rowland then formed a partnership with the
late Col. Neill Archie McLean—Mr. C. B. Townsend being also a member of this firm for a short period before his election as clerk of the Superior court. This firm was one of the strongest legal firms in North Carolina and appeared in practically all important litigation in the Cape Fear section.
But Colonel Rowland was not allowed to pursue his private law practice uninterrupted. He was soon called again to the public service and represented Robeson several terms in the house of representatives at Raleigh. There he had a part in shaping much of the important legislation during the troubled period following reconstruction. Thereafter he was a presidential elector during the first Cleveland campaign, and thereafter he was elected to Congress and served his district for two terms with conspicuous ability.
After his retirement from Congress, he resumed the practice of law at Lumberton in partnership with Col. McLean, and continued in the successful practice until his premature death in 1898—hastened, it is thought, by the exposure and hardship suffered by him during his imprisonment during the war. The town of Rowland was, in his lifetime, named in his honor and perpetuates the memory of a gallant Robesonian.
Colonel Rowland was a devoted member of the Presbyterian church, in which he was a ruling elder, and long superintendent of its Sunday school. He served as moderator of his presbytery. When the general assembly of that church met at St. Louis in 1887, Colonel Rowland had the honor of being the ONLY layman to be a member of that distinguished body.
Colonel Rowland's only son—John A. Rowland—would have made an outstanding success as a lawyer, had not a wasting disease prevented him from actively practicing
his profession. But he served with ability as mayor of Lumberton, and was the first judge of our recorder's court.
Those elect ladies, Misses Penelope (Pennie) and Winifred (Bunch) Rowland, daughters of Colonel Rowland, have written their names large upon the hearts of the youth of Lumberton for the past forty years. Prior to the establishment of our graded schools, these ladies conducted their own private school, but when our graded schools were established, they were naturally elected as teachers therein, and have since so continued with a record of efficient and faithful service rarely equalled in North Carolina. When another school building is erected in Lumberton it should by all means be called the ROWLAND BUILDING, as an expression of the esteem in which these ladies are held by a grateful public.
That gracious lady, Mrs. May Rowland Shaw, youngest daughter of Colonel Rowland, married Duncan Preston Shaw, native of Lumber Bridge, lawyer of parts. He served Robeson as senator in 1907, and his death at an early age cut short a career of great promise. His father, the late Angus L. Shaw, also served as senator and as chairman of the board of county commissioners.
RICHARD TOWNSEND: PATRIARCH
- Princes and Lords may flourish or may fade,
- A breath can make them as a breath hath made,
- But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
- When once destroyed can never be supplied.
Goldsmith: Deserted Village.
COLONEL JAMES MACQUEEN, pioneer Robesonian, had twelve children, including preachers and lawyers. These children had children, and they in turn yet others, until to-day half of Robeson claims descent from him. RICHARD TOWNSEND had eleven children, including lawyers and preachers, gave NINE of them a college education, and they had children and their children in turn yet others, until to-day half of Robeson traces their ancestry through him. And he had two brothers, David, from whom our present David of Rowland descends; and Jackson from whom descended Judge N. A. Townsend, and Jackson Townsend, outstanding business executive of Hoosac Falls, New York.
Most really big men spring from the soil and come to the top by the sheer power of their own might. Benjamin Franklin ran away from tyranny and reached Phiadelphia penniless and friendless; Abraham Lincoln went from a log cabin to the presidency; where he saved a Nation; Andrew Johnson could not even read until after he was grown, when his wife taught him; John D. Rockefeller began life as a clerk at $25.00 per month, but later he gave away three quarters of a billion; Thomas A. Edison was a news butcher on a New York Central train and while conducting some chemical experiment damaged one
of the car seats, for which mischance the conductor boxed his ears so soundly that he burst one of his ear drums. This accounts for the deafness of the great inventor. RICHARD TOWNSEND sprang from the soil as did these men, and accomplished for OTHERS what these men did for THEMSELVES.
In May they propose to unveil here in Lumberton a memorial to the Robesonians who died on the field of battle or in the service during the Great War, and it is altogether fitting that this should be done. But to-day I would unveil the portrait of an unsung hero of peace, who served his country just as heroically on the fields of service as did our soldiers who fought on the fields of Flanders. He himself would have fought on the battlefield, but he was too old to serve the regular army of the South. He did serve the Confederacy at Fort Caswell, and it was from its casements that he heard the crash of the artillery announcing the surrender of Fort Fisher, which spelled the downfall of the Southern cause.
He was born in that section of Robeson known as “Hunter's Lodge” in 1824. He came of hardy, solid and substantial ancestry, but he inherited no substance; he had to force his own way; to fight his own battles. His education was of the sketchiest sort, for there were but few schools in those early days, and moreover he was one called to the hardships of toil. His education was largely provided by himself—for he was selfmade from cover to cover.
He settled in the neighborhood of McDonald's where by his own ceaseless effort he acquired broad acres adjoining those possessed by his brothers David and Jackson, and before he died the Townsends owned a small empire in what was then Thompson's township. Here he toiled; here he sat as a steward at old Asbury church on the Sabbath; here he reared his large family; here he gave himself
over to the sacrifice of service; here he rests under the shade of the trees in the quiet chuchyard hard by the church of his faith at Asbury.
By his own efforts—quite unaided and alone—and prior to the Civil War, he reared a family of ELEVEN CHILDREN, gave NINE of them a COLLEGE EDUCATION, and left EACH of them an estate worth more than $50,000.00 when he died. He would have given the other two children a college education had it not been for the bummers of Sherman. Listen to the roll call of his children:
1. CLAUDE B. TOWNSEND: Lawyer. For many years Clerk of the Superior Court of Robeson. Banker. Oldest living graduate of Trinity College (Duke University).
2. FRANK M. TOWNSEND: Planter, of Robeson county.
3. JUNIUS A. TOWNSEND: Business executive of Hot Springs, Ark.
4. REV. WILLIAM H. TOWNSEND, of the Methodist ministry.
5. REV. RICHARD W. TOWNSEND, of the Methodist ministry.
6. LEROY S. TOWNSEND: Planter of Robeson county.
7. JAMES L. TOWNSEND: Planter and capitalist, Manquin, Va.
8. LEONIDAS T. TOWNSEND: Planter and man of affairs of Lumberton.
9. SUSAN A., wife of Donald McLeod, of Robeson county.
10. SARAH ELIZABETH, first wife of Col. Neill Archie McLean of Lumberton.
11. AGNES M., wife of A. T. McCallum, outstanding business man of Red Springs.
Any man who, by his own efforts, unaided and alone, can raise a family like that, give them a college education, equip them for life, and provide for each a handsome competence after his death, deserves a niche in any hall of fame, for he indeed left behind him a monument more lasting than brass and enduring than marble. We do not have to go a thousand miles to find a hero of whom to sing, for such a one can be found in the annals of Robeson, in such a man as RICHARD TOWNSEND. He attained his accomplishments so quietly, he lived so sacrificially, that it attracted no attention save from ONE who wrote it down in the Book of Life.
I think the word PATRIARCH best describes him, even as it described Abraham who dwelt in Ur of the Chaldees. Mr. Townsend owned his own empire, ruled his own household, made his own laws, sat at the head of his own table, and raised on his broad acres everything that was needful for those who looked to him as the ruler of his State. The only things he had to buy were things he could not produce for himself—such as quinine or sugar. With these exceptions he lived at home, and Governor Max Gardner would have found in him a text for his “live at home” campaign.
He lived to the ripeness of old age and left a heritage which should be both an example and an inspiration to our people of modern Robeson: a long life of usefulness; an unblemished name; a large family and a host of descendants; a large estate for time and a yet larger one for eternity—and not merely his children, but all who knew him rise up to call him blessed.
Thomas Gray in the quietude of the churchyard at Stoke Pogis, where the “rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep,” saw in their narrow graves remarkable men—men whom the “rod of empire might have swayed”; men who
might have “waked to ecstasy the living lyre.” In the churchyard at Asbury sleeps a man who had the ability to govern a State quite as well as the section where he reigned, and who served both his State and his God more effectually than many of our Governors have done. For they also serve “who only stand and wait.” I know of no man—have read of no man—who lived a larger life of sacrificial service than did RICHARD TOWNSEND of Robeson.
When in the fullness of his years he laid down his life, he had met and become acquainted with the patriarchs of the past. And like the patriarch Abraham, he believed in God and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.
REV. CHARLES G. VARDELL, D.D.
- “I have fought a good fight.”
Paul: 2 Timothy: 4-7.
NORTH CAROLINA has produced some great educators: Archibald DeBow Murphy and Calvin H. Wiley of the public schools; Henry Louis Smith, of Davidson; Braxton Craven, of Trinity; W. P. Few, of Duke; William Louis Poteat, of Wake Forest; Edwin A. Alderman, of N. C. University; Charles D. McIver, of the State Normal; James Y. Joyner, superintendent of Public Instruction. And she has produced some great statesmen, who had a burning zeal for the cause of education, such as her great Governor Charles Brantley Aycock. She has produced world-famous business men, great philanthropists, who saw in the cause of education the salvation of North Carolina, such as James B. Duke.
In CHARLES GRAVES VARDELL, North Carolina possesses an educator in all respects worthy to rank beside his peers above referred to, a man possessing statesmanship of a high order, and a man who has majored in philanthropy all his life.
The valley of Lumber river has long been noted for two outstanding characteristics: the Scotch of its citizenship, the culture of its people. From this valley have come men who have loomed large in the life of our State—preachers, lawyers, editors, doctors, poets. In this valley is located Riverton, with more college graduates per square mile than any country community in North Carolina. In this valley was also located Floral College, oldest
college for women in North Carolina authorized to confer degrees. This great institution was a landmark of the Cape Fear section, dating back to 1840, and from her walls went forth a cultured womanhood to grace the homes of the Carolinas. But the havoc of war and the battle's confusion, the woes of the era of reconstruction, all took their toll of her, and this once great institution fell into ruin and decay. But its memory still lived in the hearts of the Scotch, and out of this memory was born a yet greater institution—Flora Macdonald College.
It has been truly said that many an institution is but the lengthened shadow of some individual, and when the western shadows fall athwart the campus of Flora Macdonald, they trace the figure of its great founder. And when her girls gather in the college halls for any service of praise or thanksgiving, the first name upon their lips is the name of him who built their college—Dr. Charles G. Vardell.
He was born at Charleston, S. C., February 12th, 1860, just a month or two before the roar of the Charleston batteries firing on Fort Sumter issued in the Civil War. He was the second son of Rev. W. G. Vardell, of French ancestry, and Jane Dickson Bell, his wife, whose ancestry was Scotch; and both parents were of the third generation from their European home.
His childhood was spent at Charleston or on the family plantation near by. His early education was fragmentary, a governess, an army officer, an aunt furnishing the rudiments until he reached fifteen. Then the need for supporting a widowed mother and four brothers and sisters brought his education to a close for the long period of eight years. During this time he worked for several years on the family plantation and for two years acted as interpreter between the Scotch manager of a tea farm and
the dialectic Charlestonian negroes, from which latter place he went to St. Pauls, Minn., as employee in a tea factory. At the age of twenty-three he answered God's call to the ministry, and on the borrowed money entered the preparatory department of Oberlin college in Ohio. In 1885 he returned South and entered Davidson college, from which he was graduated in 1888. He then entered Princeton Theological seminary, from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Divinity in 1891. In 1903 Davidson college conferred upon him a Doctorate of Divinity.
In the fall of 1891 he accepted the pastorate of the Presbyterian church at New Bern, but after a service there of five years resigned to accept a unanimous call to become the pastor and the shepherd of a substantial part of the young womanhood of the Carolinas.
The Scotch had long bemoaned the loss of Floral college, and they determined to build another institution worthy of its traditions. By the spring of 1896 they had reached certain definite conclusions: they had determined to build their college at Red Springs in the very heart of the Scotch country; and they had determined that Charles G. Vardell should be its head. Moreover, Dr. J. Luther McMillan of Red Springs had donated a beautiful site for the college, and a fund of $4,000.00 (part cash, part in supplies) had been collected as a nucleus. Dr. Vardell was invited to become the president of a college consisting of a partly-built wooden building with twenty students. The invitation was not merely an invitation—it was a challenge. And as such he accepted it. He became president of the infant college, and at Red Springs his life's work has been done.
Let us now, with one accord, pay brief tribute to the memory of some of those who wrought with Dr. Vardell,
and without whose assistance his task could not have been fully accomplished: Rev. S. M. Rankin, beloved pastor of the Red Springs church, who labored in and out of season in behalf of the college; Dr. J. Luther McMillan, who donated the site, who served as college physician and as treasurer, ever ready with his means or his counsel; Locke Shaw of St. Pauls, who more than once came to the rescue of the college over a period of financial stress; Mark Morgan of Scotland county, whose generosity built a building upon its campus; Angus Wilton McLean, great business executive, great governor of a great State, who gave liberally of his time and talent, serving as chairman of the board of trustees for twenty-five years and also as chairman of its investing committee; Dr. James A. Macdonald, distinguished editor of Toronto, Canada; Mrs. L. Richardson and her sons of Greensboro; and the late George W. Watts of Durham, the last three names being the largest financial benefactors of the institution. Truly these and others wrought mightily for the cause of Flora Macdonald, and their names will ever be held in loving remembrance by a grateful people.
Poverty was nothing new to Dr. Vardell. He had been associated with it all his life. But he first became FAMILIAR with it when he assayed to build Flora Macdonald. His struggle to build it was heroic; his struggle to maintain it no less heroic. As is the case with other denominational institutions, its poverty has been chronic, the wolf has ever been at its very door. Years ago the doctors knew nothing of transfusions and patients often died for lack of the life-giving blood. But now they secure a donor from whose veins the life-giving fluid can be injected into the veins of the patient. And so when it seemed that Flora Macdonald must perish, Dr. Vardell has always supplied the fresh blood and the life-giving
energy which has not only kept the institution alive, but has ever increased her sphere of useful activity.
The vacant site now houses an extensive plant; the four-acre campus has expanded to fifty-seven acres; its faculty has grown from six to twenty-eight; its students now number 318, drawn from 13 states and 2 foreign countries; the value of its plant and endowment now reaches $460,000.00. These figures may be but a dry recital to an uninterested reader, but they are not dry to those who know that Dr. Vardell's very life blood has gone into them. And today, with a great past behind her, and a great future just ahead, the college is doing its greatest work, hampered by but one limitation: lack of sufficient capital. And to remedy this a campaign is even now in progress to raise $350,000.00 to pay her debts and to add to her all-too-scant endowment. I can but feel that our people will not allow this campaign to fail, but will make it a success, if only as a testimonial of gratitude to Dr. Vardell and in appreciation for the great work he has done for the college and our state.
But what sort and manner of man is this builder of a great institution? I cannot say he has been without his critics. His character is much too positive for that. Boswell once asked Dr. Johnson for his opinion of one of his own books. The doctor replied “Sir, the thing is worthless. No one has criticised it.” But if perchance Dr. Vardell has made a few enemies, they were of the character for which President Cleveland was loved. His positive character has often clashed with divergent views; he has not always seen eye to eye with a majority; he has ever been able to lead a gallant minority; and he has ever been the shadow of a great rock in a weary land to the forces of righteousness in North Carolina.
The Doctor is a man of great personal charm and magnetism.
His scholarship is deep; his tastes are diversified; his interests are broad; his ideas are liberal; his views are tolerant. No one can long be in his company without the instinctive feeling that he is in the presence of a great soul. Now in his 79th year, he is still facing the sunrise, still looking to the East for the dayspring from on high which daily renews the inspiration for his courage. God grant that many years yet remain for him to grace us with his presence and to bless us with his life.
When we see a moving picture, it is perhaps twenty feet square. Yet it came from a reel but one inch wide. And from narrow beginnings Dr. Vardell's life has been projected until it covers Carolina from the mountains to the sea.
In the fall of 1891 Dr. Vardell married Miss Linda Rumple, daughter of Rev. Dr. Jethro Rumple, prominent Presbyterian minister. To Dr. and Mrs. Vardell were born the following children:
Charles G. Jr., dean of the conservatory, Salem college, Winston-Salem, N. C.; Elizabeth, wife of W. B. McNett, artist, of Philadelphia, Pa.; Jane Dickson, wife of Rev. Dr. James J. Murray, pastor First Presbyterian church, Lexington, Va.; Margaret, wife of Alexander Sprunt Jr., author, of Charleston, S. C.; Ruth, wife of Prof. Gaston Page of the faculty of Clemson college, South Carolina; Mary Linda, wife of Rev. Ellison Smyth, assistant pastor First Presbyterian church, Lexington, Va.
Much of the success of Dr. Vardell must be attributed to courage and inspiration which had come to him from his devoted wife. Mrs. Vardell is a woman of great talent, and was the founder and Builder of the Conservatory of Music which has been such an outstanding feature of Flora Macdonald life. She is, moreover, a woman of great personal charm and magnetism. She wrought nobly with
her husband from small beginnings, she was his hope, encouragement and stay during the period when the fate of the institution seemed to tremble in the balance, but she was spared to see her husband acclaimed throughout our state for the great builder that he is. The tender sympathy of North Carolina goes out to Dr. and Mrs. Vardell in her long illness and invalidism.
A great benefactor of his race: Charles G. Vardell.
RUSSIA under the heel of the Czar. A corrupt court; a degenerate nobility. Political control vested in the army, and in the secret police whose agents spied upon the acts of all men. Men mistrusted even their neighbors, for they might be in the service of the secret police. Summary arrests, prison without trial, banishment to Siberia—these were every day occurrences. No Russian of the under classes had any rights which the army or the police were bound to respect, least of all a Hebrew or a member of another minority sect. For not only was there an autocratic government, but there was an official and an autocratic church, the high officials whereof exercised much power. Restrictions bore heavily against Jews and other minorities, and here and there were sporadic outbursts of persecution.
At Kadan in what was then Russia, but which is now in the Republic of Lithuania, lived a cattle dealer Maxim Weinstein and his wife, Bessie, and to this couple in October 1872 was born a son AARON WEINSTEIN. The father lived there until his death in 1901 at the age of 86, and there he is buried. The son had his mother brought to America where he tenderly cared for her until her death in 1926 at the advanced age of ninety-eight.
Aaron Weinstein left Russia to escape the hardships of his people and the persecution of his race. Coming to America when a youth of 17, he was totally unacquainted with the ways of Americans, their manners or customs; he spoke no English; he had no money. But he had an abiding faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; he
had courage; he had ability of a high order; he was anxious to work. Landing at New York he soon went to Baltimore and travelled Caton county, Maryland for several months selling merchandise from house to house. Then he went to Kentucky, travelling over several counties in that State; then he went to Yazoo county in the Mississippi delta; then to Tennessee; then to West Virginia; thence he came to North Carolina, which thenceforth became his home. Here he first settled at Gibson, in Scotland county; then he moved to Gastonia, but in 1897 he came to Lumberton where he has since lived. During these eight years Mr. Weinstein travelled on foot, with a pack upon his back, a stranger in a strange land, going from house to house, speaking a broken tongue, trying to sell his wares. And he did.
In October 1898 Mr. Weinstein took the most important step in his career. He then became an American citizen, and since then the flag with the Stars and Stripes waves over and protects him even as it does you and me. Here in Lumberton he early established a reputation for industry, frugality, and high integrity. Moreover, he was a friendly man; a good neighbor; an excellent citizen. Our people naturally took to him, and he to them. It was not long before he was a popular man, and the reward of his industry began to come to him in a growing business.
Almost from his arrival he was the leading figure among his own people; soon he became a leading figure among all the people, gentiles as well as Jews. He numbered his friends by his acquaintances and of these he had thousands all over the county. Most people, especially forceful characters such as Mr. Weinstein, have some few enemies, but I have yet to hear any man speak ill of him.
Rewards of his industry now began to accumulate and he assumed a position of leadership in the business life
of our town, became an officer or stockholder in the larger business enterprises, while his own mercantile business was operated on an ever larger basis.
Nor was he selfish in his prosperity. Many people have been helped by his kindly charity. Many times has this writer been to him for a contribution for this charity or that, or for this person or that, nor did he ever leave his store empty handed. Following the cataclysm of the World War, when his relatives were engulfed in the maelstrom of the old world, he spent literally thousands of dollars in bringing relatives to America and to Lumberton, and establishing them in business here. Among those so brought to Lumberton by him was his nephew, our fine townsman M. Schaeman; and many others of his kindred are esteemed citizens in our midst.
On July 27, 1896, Mr. Weinstein married Miss Rebecca Katzen at Baltimore. She was a native of Riga in what was then Russia, but her native city is now the capital of the small country of Latvia. To this union was born six children: Mrs. Hilda Cohen, of Chicago; Mrs. Miriam Israel, wife of Oscar Israel, well known to Lumbertonians; Max Weinstein and Israel Weinstein, Lumberton business men, Robert Weinstein, promising Lumberton lawyer; and Mrs. Mildred Gold, of Rocky Mount. Mrs. Weinstein died on June 22, 1922, secure in the esteem of all who knew her. On July 19, 1925, Mr. Weinstein married Miss Dora Stein, of Bessemer, Ala., who still blesses his home.
Now sixty-six years of age, blessed with a comfortable estate and a prosperous business; leader of his own people in this entire section; having the confidence and esteem of our entire citizenship, Mr. Weinstein should look with satisfaction back upon a well spent life. And the best years of his life should be those yet to come. I think I
voice the sentiments of all when I say we hope his coming years may be many.
If the beast in control of the German people wishes to get rid of the German Hebrews, if he has any on hand who are the sort of man as Aaron Weinstein, let him send them over to us. Lumberton will be glad to get them and will be proud to have them as American citizens.
WILLIAM CLIFTON WISHART
IF this sketch does not open the flood gates of memory in the minds of older Robesonians; if it does not bring to mind recollections of the dear days of the past; if it does not recall the services of former sons of Robeson—this writer will be both surprised and disappointed.
There is no name more famous in the annals of Robeson than that of Wishart. I recently ran across an old map of Ashpole Academy, signed by Eli Wishart, county surveyor! One of his sons was Col. Wellington Wishart, so highly esteemed by his contemporaries that when Wishart's township was established it was named in his honor. He was the father of our townsman John H. Wishart, Frank Wishart, and W. S. (C.) Wishart, who knows more Robeson history than any other living man.
Another son of Eli Wishart was Colonel Frank M. Wishart, who rendered his country distinguished service under the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy. When, just after the close of that conflict, the Lowrie gang terrorized Robeson, it was Colonel Frank M. Wishart who took the leadership in the effort to suppress them, and he knew he took his life in his hands when he did so. A dozen men, under his Captaincy, took a solemn oath to rid the county of the ruffians. Some of the others dropped out, but not Col. Frank Wishart, for he pursued his purpose as he had pledged himself to do.
Finally in May, 1872, he rode off upon his mule to keep an appointment with the outlaws. The mule came back, but not the gallant Colonel, for the outlaws waylaid and killed him near the Maxton-Lumberton road.
So great was the terror inspired by the outlaws, that it was with difficulty that enough men could be gotten together to bring the body of the dead leader to his home for burial. Robeson owes much to the memory of this gallant soldier, who died in her service.
WILLIAM CLIFTON WISHART, son of Col. Frank M. Wishart, was born in Whiteville in 1871. He should and would have been born in Robeson, but his mother had to flee from Robeson and from threatened extinction at the hands of the Lowrie gang. Her gallant husband did not flee, but stood his ground. At that time the family lived at Floral College but his business was at the nearby village of Shoe Heel, later to be rechristened as Maxton.
The village then comprised but few families. Among these were Frank Henderson, Dr. Hawley, Frank Bishop, and Captain H. R. McKinney, whose daughter married A. J. (Sandy) McKinnon. Later on, John Leach, the merchant, Frank McLean, John C. McCaskill (who sued the Seaboard, was interested in perpetual motion, and was a leading citizen); John Allen McLean, and two young lawyers, Thomas A. McNeill and Franklin McNeill, joined the colony. Do you remember any of these men? I'll help you just a little. John Allen McLean was the father of Angus Dhu McLean, Assistant Attorney General of the United States, and of Rev. Sylvester B. McLean of Charlotte and of Rev. Dr. John Allen McLean of Richmond. Thomas A. McNeill was later to become judge McNeill. Franklin McNeill became Solicitor of the Rockingham district and later Chairman of the Corporation Commission. Now you remember them, don't you? Robeson just has a way of producing big men, and I'll now tell you something about another of her big sons.
Colonel Wishart's widow was young and inexperienced, and was faced with the heavy task of rearing three small
children at a time when the South suffered from the poverty of reconstruction, and from the ruthless raids of the carpetbaggers. In 1874 she married W. B. Harker. Remember him? Of course you do, for he was editor of the Scottish Chief for a number of years. The stepfather had decided views on the bringing up of small children, including rigid observance of the Sabbath, the same severe standards on the other six days, and he was cordial in his approbation of a statement Solomon made one day to the effect that “spare the rod.” You know the rest of it. Naturally these Puritan ideas did not sit well with growing and restless youth.
Of course you have all heard the story of how the Ruling Elder of the Prebysterian faith, judge Thomas A. McNeill, saw that the stove pipe was about to fall during church services, and how he called out loudly: “Look out, the d—n thing is about to fall.” Well, here is another one. When young Clif Wishart was five years old, he went to call his McNeill friends to breakfast, for they boarded with Mrs. Harker. Mr. Tom told the boy: “If you don't quit coming in here and pestering me, the Devil will get you.” “How big is the Devil?” asked young Clif. “He is as large as I am.” “How will he get in here?” “He will come through the keyhole.” “Well,” said young Clif, “if he can come through the keyhole, I don't believe in him anyway.” You could not fool accountant Wishart even in his young days!
There was little opportunity for improvement under the conditions of the times, and little chance for education. Such schools as existed lasted but a few weeks and were eked out by “subscription” schools, with one teacher one day, another the next and none at all the third. Young Wishart had been assisting his step-father, Postmaster Harker, and acquired a fondness for railroads which he
retains to this day. He secured a position as express messenger on a branch of the Atlantic Coast Line. Do you know of any other distinguished Robesonian who started life as an express messenger? Kenneth M. Biggs of Lumberton. Yes sir! On the Coast Line, too.
Did you ever hear of Col. Alfred Rowland, the Confederate soldier, lawyer, Congressman, the man for whom Rowland was named—father of Miss Pennie, Miss Bunch and Mrs. D. P. Shaw? Well, he had long been a friend of the Wishart family, and he offered young Clif an appointment to the Naval Academy at Annapolis—and he went into the transportation business in a big way, altho this time it was by water instead of by rail. But young Wishart was ambitious, full of energy, and must needs he his own master. He could not brook the rigid discipline of the Naval Academy, so after two years he made his adieu to the future Admirals, and returned to his beloved railroading.
He still felt the need of assistance, and this took the form of an Eve in the person of Miss Anne Armfield, of Mt. Airy. Her brother, J. F. L. Armfield, was owner of the Armfield Company, of Fayetteville, and he married a sister of Governor Angus Wilton McLean, and our townsman Alexander Torrey McLean. Mrs. Wishart is still living (still standing by her husband) and she is the mother of two fine boys and two attractive daughters.
Of course our older people remember the Cleveland panic, the low prices and the economic depression which struck the South in the early ’90s. This forced Mr. Wishart to go North to seek his fortune. He went to New York and stayed there four years. Then he was appointed as statistical clerk to the Corporation Commission, of which his friend Franklin McNeill was chairman. This appointment was made upon the suggestion of E. L. McCormick
of Maxton—father of the brilliant lawyer, J. Gilchrist McCormick.
Then Mr. Wishart became an Examiner for the Interstate Commerce Commission. This brought him into close contact with business men near the top of the ladder, and such men always seem to be, and are, looking for men with brains, character and energy. Mr. Wishart possessed these three characteristics, and in 1913 he entered the service of the New York Central Railroad, one of the largest transportation systems of the Nation. When he started in the transportation business it was at the bottom, but he worked his way to the top, and he has been for twenty-one years Vice-president in charge of accounting for the hundred or more lines which compose the vast Central system.
This writer has not had the privilege of personal acquaintance with Mr. Wishart, but after a legal career of forty years I feel perfectly safe in saying that he is a big man, for you do not get to be Vice-president of any big railroad unless you possess brains in a real brainy way. At least I was on the legal staff of a railroad for twenty-five years, but they never made me Vice-president. As near as I ever got to a Vice-president was the outside room, and was then told coldly by the Secretary that the Vice-president was either “out” or “in conference.” I know the Southern, the Coast Line or the Seaboard could not use a man as Vice-president unless he had the right sort of stuff in him—and when you get up to a really big system like the New York Central, and to a city as large as New York, their requirements are even the more rigid. And he started at the bottom, and they evidently like him at the top for there he stays. I know of only a few North Carolinians who have really made good in the metropolis—George Gordon Battle, the lawyer, George C. Allen, Chairman of
the Duke Foundation; Smith Richardson of Vick's Chemical Company—and Mr. Wishart.
He will soon reach the age when, by the rigid rules of the Central system, he will be retired for age, when in his prime. If, when and as such occurs, on behalf of the united people of the State of Robeson, an invitation is cordially extended to him to return to the land of his nativity, and spend the best years of his life among his friends and kindred.
- “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be,
- The last of life, for which the first was made.”
SIMEON F. CALDWELL
IN the passing of Simeon F. Caldwell Lumberton and Robeson county have lost an unassuming, friendly Christian gentleman who was universally loved and admired for his many noble traits of mind and heart and soul. He was an heroic soul, taking “fortune's buffets and rewards with equal thanks.” As a tribute to him The Robesonian cannot do better than to publish in this column and endorse as its own, as we are sure all who knew him will endorse as their sentiments, the eloquent tribute by a friend of many years, R. C. Lawrence. Mr. Lawrence, from intimate knowledge extending over about forty years, writes as follows of Mr. Caldwell:
I would here pay tribute to my friend of many years, one of the finest gentlemen I ever knew—Simeon Caldwell. I knew his high aspirations in the flush of his young manhood; I knew the settled convictions of his maturity; I watched with pride and admiration the heroic fight he made against adverse economic conditions. I saw him during his entire business career maintain that rugged integrity which characterized his beloved and lamented father, Robert D. Caldwell, and all Robeson knew Simeon as the worthy son of a noble sire.
He experienced both sorts of fortune. In the days of prosperity, his generosity was unstinted and his charity knew no bounds. When economic depression came, he at all times maintained that calmness of soul and serenity of spirit which only a man who was captain of his fate could maintain. He was the kindliest and friendliest of men, and if the storm of life beat about him, it never rose
so high but that his cheery voice could be heard above it, carrying his message of comfort, hope and courage to his comrades. He never had an enemy, and all who knew him loved him for the gentle soul that he was. Of him it can be truly said that he held “malice toward none, and charity for all.”
From early youth his gaze was fixed upon that home not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. He knew in whom he had believed, and exemplified the Christian graces in his every-day walk and conversation. There was never a time when he was not prepared for the final summons. For Simeon, all the trumpets were sounded upon the other side, but his going leaves a void in our midst that cannot be filled.
The one flower I would lay upon his grave is the white flower of a well-spent life, for the gallant gentleman that he was. This flower will not wither, but will remain fragrant in our memory unto the perfect day.
CHARLES B. SKIPPER: FRIEND OF ROBESON
WHEN I came to Lumberton in 1903, the first two to greet me were Stephen McIntyre and Charlie Skipper. How I miss both of them to-day, and how the unbidden tear streams down my face as I write these lines. Charlie will be sorely missed on account of the high quality of his character; the large calibre of his service; his faithfulness and his loyalty. For Charlie was a friend to all Robeson, and no man ever knew him who did not love him.
To-day as his mortal frame lies still, I would, in his memory, speak a word of cheer to those who remain behind—for Charlie put a world of hope and encouragement into the lives of those who needed it the most; he put a song into the heart and upon the lips of all Robeson.
Yesterday there passed from earth the last of the quartet, the sweet singers known throughout the valley of the Lumber—Frank Gough, Ed. B. Freeman, Pope Stephens. Charlie has slipped behind the curtain to join the Choir Invisible.
If, as most of us believe, there is a life eternal, it is possessed of a surety by Charlie, for he exemplified all that is best in the Christian life; it is not on that account that I mourn the passing of my old and valued friend. His Pilot was aboard the ship that took Charlie from the port of time, bound for that “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere” he loved so much:
- “In that beautiful land
- On the far away strand.”