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John W. Ellis was state governor at the opening of the Civil War. Ellis was born and raised in Rowan County and served in county legislature until elected Judge of Superior Court in 1848. He would become governor with a victory over William W. Holden on the eve of warfare. Governorship would be short for Ellis who died July 4, 1861. Though Ellis did not serve the state during the Civil War, he made a lasting impression when early in the conflict he refused Lincoln North Carolina troops to fight the insurrection.
The State (NoCar F 251 S77), Vol. 14 Issue 27, Nov 1946, p11, 21-22
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