HALIFAX   COUNTY

   

 Halifax County Biographies

 

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Willis ALSTON (1750- ?)
Joseph John Alston, father of the subject of this sketch, came to Halifax County about the year 1730. He came from what is now Gates County, where his father, John Alston lived. Later he married a daughter (Euphan) of Willis Wilson, of Norfolk, Va., and from that union was born, in 1750, Willis Alston, usually referred to as Willis Alston, Sr., to distinguish him from his more celebrated son of the same name. Willis Alston was a strong and sturdy character. He early became a leader among his neighbors and friends and even in his teens, he was a champion of the rights of Americans against the growing tyranny of England. During the Stamp Act troubles and the discontent over the tea tax, Alston was an undaunted patriot for one so young. When the Provincial Congress met in Halifax, April 4, 1776, he was a member from the county, and took an active part in the passage of the famous independence resolution, which has been read around the world. He was also a member of the Constitutional Convention of November 12, 1776, and was an important factor in the framing of the first State Constitution.
Upon the organization of the State militia at the session of the Provincial Congress that met in Halifax at the same time with the Constitutional Convention, Willis Alston was elected Colonel ; Samuel Weldon, Lieutenant-Colonel; John Whitaker, First Major; James Allen, Second Major. Alston, however, resigned in 1778 and was succeeded by Weldon.
There is no record of the war service of Willis Alston more than the bare mention of his election as Colonel of the Halifax regiment. It is more than probable that this regiment was used throughout the war as a garrison for the town of Halifax and saw no active service in battle.
 

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Willis ALSTON, JR. (1769-1837) ***New***
Willis Alston, son of the first of the name, was born on his father's farm, in the upper part of the county, in 1770.
He was given as liberal an education as the exigencies of the times would permit. In spite of disadvantages along that line, by close application and diligent study, he became one of the best informed men of his day.
He early turned his attention to politics, and, in 1790, when he was just twenty-one years of age, he was elected to the House of Commons, and served in that body during the sessions of 1790, 1791, and 1792. In 1794, he was elected to the Senate and served in that branch of the General Assembly two years. Again, having served many years in Congress, he returned to the House of Commons in 1819 and again in 1820, 1821, 1823, and 1824.
Alston early became an earnest admirer of Thomas Jefferson and an ardent disciple. As a Republican (Democrat), he was elected to the Federal Congress in 1799, and was biennially reelected until 1815, when he retired from Congress for ten years and was again elected in 1825, serving until 1831.
In 1803, he was opposed for re-election to Congress by William R. Davie, who had recently returned from France. It was thought that the great popularity of Davie would win the election; but the result showed a majority for Alston. This was, perhaps, his greatest political triumph. During the agitation preceding the war of 1812, Alston was distinctly a war advocate, because he thought England had violated every right of nations.
Willis Alston was married twice, first to Pattie Moore, of Halifax County, and second to Sallie Madeline Potts, of Wilmington. There were no children of the first marriage, but of the second the following were born: Charles J. P., who married Mary Janet Clark, whose oldest son is Dr. Willis Alston, of Littleton; Ariellah, who married Colonel James B. Hawkins; Leonidas; Missouri, who married Archibald Davis Alston; and Edgar. Willis Alston died in Halifax, April 10, 1837. He served in the Federal Congress longer than any other man from Halifax County, and, while not brilliant, he was a safe and wise representative.
 

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Joseph B. BATCHELOR, lawyer, was born in Halifax county, N. C., in 1825. He was graduated at the University of North Carolina in 1845, and two years later received a license to practice law. In 1855 he was appointed to the office of attorney-general of North Carolina, which office he held for two years. He was a leading member of the North Carolina legislature of 1860 that voted for the call of the convention which passed the ordinance of secession. He gave largely of his ample means for the vigorous prosecution of the war. At the close of the war he engaged in the practice of his profession at Raleigh, N.C. In 1879 Mr. Batchelor began legal proceedings by which about $700,000 were saved to the state of its interest in the North Carolina railroad. Soon after the adoption of the "Code of Civil Procedure" he secured the passage of the act of the legislature that is styled "Batchelor's Stay Law," which was a necessity to prevent the utter ruin of the agricultural and laboring classes of the state after the construction given by the courts to the "Code of Civil Procedure." He was also largely influential in securing the establishment of the orphan asylum at Oxford. In 1891 the University of North Carolina conferred on him the honorary degree of LL. D.
 

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John BRANCH, statesman, was born in Halifax county, N. C., Nov. 4, 1782. He was graduated at the University of North Carolina in 1801, was admitted to the bar, and soon rose to eminence in his profession. He became judge of the superior court, was elected to the state senate in 1811, and re-elected each year until 1817, when he became governor of North Carolina. Upon the expiration of his term he was again returned to the legislature, and in 1823 was elected to the United States senate, whore he remained until 1829, when he was appointed by President Jackson as secretary of the navy. On the dissolution of the cabinet in 1831, Mr. Branch was elected as a representative from Carolina, to the 22d Congress, and in 1834 was again elected to the state senate. In 1843 he was appointed governor of the territory of Florida, and after serving until the election of a governor under the new state constitution, he retired to private life. He died at Enfield, N. C., Jan. 4, 1863

 

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Lawrence O'Brien BRANCH, soldier, was born in Halifax county, N. C., July 7, 1820, son of John Branch, secretary of the navy. He was graduated from Princeton college in 1838. He was admitted to the North Carolina bar, and opened an office at Raleigh, whence he was elected in 1854 a representative in the 34th Congress by the Democrats. He was twice re-elected, his last term of office ending March 3, 1861. When North-Carolina seceded in May, 1861, he joined the Confederate army, and was promoted brigadier-general.
When Newbern was taken by General Burnside, General Branch was commanding officer. He then opposed the advance of the Federal troops into North Carolina and afterwards joined the army of Northern Virginia under General Lee. He was killed at the battle of Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862

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Hutchins G. BURTON (1774 or 1782- 1836) was born in Mecklenburg County, Va., in 1782. His father, John Burton, was an officer in the Revolutionary war ; and, dying when his son was three years old, made his brother, Colonel Robert Burton, of Granville County, N. C, guardian of the child, requesting his brother to adopt him into his own family and rear him as his own son. The uncle took the boy to his home in Williamsboro where he grew up and remained until he entered upon his business career. His mother also accompanied him to Granville County.
He was given a liberal education for that day. After attending the academy at Williamsboro, he entered the University at Chapel Hill, but did not complete his college course. Leaving the University, he read law under Judge Henderson, one of the ablest jurists of his day. Upon receiving his license to practice law, he located in Charlotte. In 1809 and again in 1810, he represented Mecklenburg County in the House of Commons. His advance at the bar must have been rapid, as, in 1810, he was elected Attorney-General of the State, which position he held until 1816, when he resigned.
In 1812, he went to Halifax on a visit to a former schoolmate, Willie Jones, Jr. There he met Sarah, the youngest daughter of the late Willie Jones, and they were married in the following December. He immediately located in Halifax and made his home at the "Grove House." In 1817, he represented the borough of Halifax in the House of Commons. In 1819, he was elected to Congress and served two terms.
He was elected Governor of North Carolina in 1825 and brilliantly occupied that position for two years. One of the first things Governor Burton did was to urge, in his message to the General Assembly, the prime importance of the Public Schools ; and, the same year, an act drawn by Bartlett Yancy was passed, entitled "An act to create a fund for the establishment of Common Schools." This was the beginning of our public school system, and makes memorable the administration of Governor Burton. It was during Governor Burton's first term that Lafayette made his visit to the State, and was magnificently entertained at the Governor's home in Raleigh.
In 1826, he was nominated by President John Quincy Adams as Governor of the Territory of Arkansas, but his nomination was never confirmed by the Senate. He retired from the executive mansion in 1827 to private life, and lived the remainder of his days quietly at his home. Governor Burton was an orator of rare ability and a stump speaker of unusual power ; but while in Congress, he rarely ever spoke upon the questions before the house. He explained that, himself, by saying that in the Congress, at the time, were such lights as Clay, Calhoun, Webster, and Randolph, and they overawed him. Burton felt under restraint in their company, but had he felt inclined he could have displayed ability of no ordinary kind.
He had a summer home in the western part of the county near Ringwood, named "Rocky Hill," where he was residing at the time of his death, the circumstances of which were rather singular. Some time previous to 1836, he had bought a tract of land in Texas with a view of going to the "Lone Star Republic" to live. He left his family at "Rocky Hill" and set out by stage coach to see his farm in Texas. Reaching Salisbury, where he had some business in court he met with his cousin, Robert Burton, of Lincoln County. After completing his business in Salisbury, he intended spending a few days with his cousin before going to Texas. On the trip to Lincoln County, the party stopped at the Wayside Inn to pass the night. Here, Governor Burton was taken, during the night, with cramp and died within a few hours. His last words were, "Oh, my dear wife and children! Lord, receive my spirit." His death occurred April 21, 1836. His remains were buried in Unity Churchyard, in Lincoln County.
Mrs. Burton, at her home at "Rocky Hill," did not hear of his death until three weeks after the funeral, and, even then the first intimation of it was a newspaper account of his death and burial.
 

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Walter CLARK, jurist, was born in Halifax county, N. C., Aug. 19, 1846; son of Gen. David and Anna M. (Thorne) Clark. He entered the Confederate service in 1861 from the Hillsboro military academy, and at the age of seventeen had risen to lieutenant-colonel of the 70th North Carolina regiment. He was out of the service one year and was graduated at the University of North Carolina in June, 1864, at the head of his class. Having surrendered with the army of Joseph E. Johnston April 26, 1865, he studied law in New York and at Columbian law college in Washington, D. C. In 1873 he removed to Raleigh to practice his profession and in 1874 was married to the only daughter of the Hon. William Alexander Graham, formerly governor of North Carolina. In 1882 he was a delegate to the Methodist ecumenical council in London, and in 1890 and 1894 represented the southern Methodist church in its general conferences. In 1885 he was appointed by Governor Scales a judge of the superior court of North Carolina. He was elected to the same post by the people in 1886. In 1889 he was elected associate justice of the supreme court of the state for the unexpired term. In 1894 he was nominated for the full term, eight years, by all three political parties, Democratic, Republican and Populist, the only instance in the history of the state, and was unanimously elected. In 1890 the degree of LL. D. was conferred on him by the University of North Carolina. He is the author of Annotated Code of North Carolina, which passed through three editions, 1890, 1894 and 1897; and other law books, and a History of North Carolina (1897). He is the author of frequent contributions to the leading magazines of the country, and in 1896 contributed a series of illustrated articles to the Arena, descriptive of his tour in Mexico. He also translated from the French Constant's Private Memoirs of Napoleon (3 vols., 1895).
 

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William Ruffin COX, representative, was born in Halifax county, N.C., March  11, 1832; son of Thomas and Olivia (Norfleet) Cox. His ancestors were English and Scotch-Irish and settled in America early in the eighteenth century. His father died in 1836 and his mother removed to Nashville, Tenn., where he was graduated in letters at Franklin college in 1851 and in law at the famous school at Lebanon, Tenn., in 1853. He was admitted to the bar in 1853 and practiced in Nashville, 1853-57. He returned to North Carolina in 1857 and engaged in agriculture in Edgecombe county. In 1859 he removed to Raleigh, N.C., and was an unsuccessful candidate on the Democratic ticket for representative in the state legislature, being defeated by thirteen votes. In 1861 he was commissioned by Governor Ellis major of the 2d regiment North Carolina state troops, commanded by Col. C.C. Tew. When Colonel Tew was killed at Sharpsburg, Lieut.-Col. W. P. Bynum was promoted colonel, and Major Cox lieutenant-colonel, and on the resignation of Colonel Bynum, Cox became [p.8] colonel, being commissioned in March, 1863. He was wounded three times during the battle of Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863, and was officially commended in the report of General Ramseur for his chivalry and for remaining with his command till he was exhausted. He joined his regiment in 1864 after their return from Pennsylvania and took part in the battles of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania. In the battle of May 12, 1864, he was again in Ramseur's brigade and for his part in the battle received the thanks of Generals Lee and Ewell on the field. After this battle he was promoted to the command of the brigade composed of the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 14th and 30th N.C. regiments, notwithstanding the fact that he was junior colonel. After the battle of Cold Harbor he was detailed to the relief of Lynchburg, serving in Early's corps and was with that general in the Maryland expedition in the battle of Monocacy and in the Shenandoah campaign of the fall of 1864. He then joined the army of northern Virginia before Petersburg and was with Gordon's corps in the attempt to break the Federal lines at Fort Steadman. He led the division to the last charge at Appomattox and with his brigade was covering the retreat when he was called to the rear. In executing this maneuver his brigade faced about with the steadiness of veterans on parade and poured so Sudden and deadly a volley into the ranks of the overwhelming numbers of Federals pressing the retreat, as temporarily to check their attempt to capture the command. He received eleven wounds during his service in the Confederate army and after the surrender resumed the practice of law in Raleigh, N.C. He was president of the Chatham Coalfield railroad; solicitor of the Raleigh district for six years; chairman of the Democratic state executive committee for five years; a delegate for the state at large to the Democratic national convention of 1876; circuit judge of the 6th judicial district of North Carolina, 1877-80; representative in the 47th, 48th and 49th congresses, 1881-87, and secretary of the United States senate as successor to Gen. Anson G. McCook, serving in the 53d and succeeding congresses. He was married in 1857 to a daughter of James S. Battle of Edgecombe county, and after her death in 1880 he was married to Fannie A., daughter of the Rt. Rev. T. B. Lyman of Raleigh, N.C.
 

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John Reeve Jones DANIEL, representative, was born in Halifax county, N.C., in 1802; son of Wiley and Judith (Jones) Daniel. He was graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1821, studied law and was admitted to the bar in his native state. He was a member of the house of commons in the state legislature, 1832-34; attorney-general, 1834-40, and a representative in the 27th-32d congresses, 1841-53, serving several sessions as chairman of the committee on claims. He removed later in life to Louisiana, where he died in 1865.

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Henry EPPES (1831-1917)
Elected five times to the N.C. Senate, Eppes’s political career spanned 20 years, beginning as a statewide speaker for the Republican Party in 1867 and ending with his final legislative term in the 1887 General Assembly. He also represented the Halifax district in the Senate for three consecutive terms from 1868 until 1874, and again in the 1879–1880 session, as one of a handful of blacks in the 50-member body during both Reconstruction and the post-Reconstruction era.
Little is known about his family or his early life, except that he was born into slavery decades before the Civil War and apparently taught himself to read and write. At war’s end, Eppes quickly emerged as a trusted spokesman for his race in predominantly-black Halifax County, and was chosen as a delegate to the 1866 statewide convention for freedmen. In 1867, he was chosen as a campaign speaker by Republican organizers in the state, and was then selected as a Halifax delegate to the state’s 1868 constitutional convention.
At the convention in Raleigh, Eppes took an active role in advocating suffrage for newly-emancipated blacks. He was then elected to the Senate in the first election held under the new constitution, which permitted blacks to vote for the first time since 1835. Eppes was one of 14 black legislators to sign a public statement endorsing President-elect Ulysses S. Grant in late 1868. “Our cause has triumphed,” the group declared in the North Carolina Standard (December 2, 1868). “By his election his status is settled. We are men!” Four years later, Eppes became one of the first black Republicans from North Carolina to be elected as a delegate to a national nominating convention, journeying to Philadelphia in 1872 to cast his vote to nominate Grant for a second term.
During his long tenure in the Senate, Eppes served on a number of committees, including those on Privileges and Elections; Propositions and Grievances; Corporations; Agriculture; and the Special Senate Committee on Roads. He was also a member of the 1868 legislative committee named to select a new site for the state penitentiary in Raleigh. In 1869 was named a justice of the peace in Halifax County, and in March of that year, introduced an unsuccessful bill to protect the rights of all citizens traveling on public conveyances (Balanoff, p. 41).
Like most, though not all, of his black colleagues, Eppes supported the controversial reorganization of the state militia, an anti-terrorist measure—aimed at the Ku Klux Klan—that was passed by the legislature in 1870. The new law ironically contributed to the impeachment and removal from office in 1871 of Republican Gov. William W. Holden, after Democrats charged Holden with misusing the reorganized militia.
Eppes was married to Lavinia Knight of Halifax County; they had 13 children, seven of whom lived to adulthood, including distinguished educator Charles Montgomery Eppes (1857–1942) of Greenville, North Carolina. Despite having no formal schooling himself, the senior Eppes was widely read, and a strong proponent of education for his race.
In 1887, he sponsored an unsuccessful bill to create a statewide normal and collegiate institution for black students. According to historian John Haley, Eppes “reassured his fellow solons that the black of intelligence and character ‘spurns knocking at the door of any college or university where he is not wanted and opposes mixed schools and Negro supremacy.’” Aware of widespread opposition to his proposal—even within his own party—Eppes predicted, philosophically, that “we will come again bye and bye” (Haley, pp. 65–66).
In the end, Eppes’s bill was overwhelmingly defeated by the Senate in 1887. But a similar bill sponsored four years later by Representative Hugh Cale of Pasquotank County, another veteran black Republican, vindicated Eppes’s prediction by creating the State Colored Normal School at Elizabeth City, now known as Elizabeth City State University.
A brick mason and plasterer by trade, Eppes was active in the Methodist Church, serving as a presiding elder and minister. He also served as a delegate to Methodist General Conference conventions in Baltimore, Maryland, and Atlanta, Georgia.
Eppes died at the age of 86 in Halifax County, and is buried there.

 

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John HAYWOOD, jurist, was born in Halifax county, N.C., March 16, 1762; son of Egbert Haywood, an officer in the American army in the Revolutionary war; and a nephew of Col. John Haywood, colonist, a native of Barbados, W.I. He possessed an ungainly physique and an unpleasant voice. He educated himself, and by his indomitable will he became a successful lawyer. He was attorney-general of the state, 1791-94, and judge of the superior court, 1794-1800, when he resigned his office to become attorney for Col. James Glasgow, Secretary of state of North Carolina, from whom he accepted a fee of $1000 to defend him, and when his client was convicted of fraud in issuing land-warrants, Judge Haywood incurred so much odium for defending him that he was obliged to leave the state. About 1810 or 1811 he settled at "Tusculum," an estate seven miles from Nashville, Tenn., and took high rank as an advocate. He was presiding judge of the supreme court of Tennessee, 1812-26. He is the author of: A Manual of the Laws of North Carolina (1801); Haywood's Justice and N.C. Law Reports, 1789-1806; Haywood's Tennessee Reports (1816-18); Statute Laws of Tennessee, in conjunction with R. L. Cobbs (1831); The Civil and Political History of Tennessee from Its Earliest Settlement to 1796 (1823); Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee (1823) in which he undertook to prove the descent of the American Indians from the ancient Jews; and Christian Advocate in which he discussed the power of water-witches and various occult subjects. He died in Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 12, 1826.
 

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Abraham HODGE (1755-1805) founded NC newspapers, was state printer, and publicist. He was born in the then Colony of New York, with at least one sister named, Elizabeth, who was married to John Boylan. During the American Revolution, he worked for Samuel Loudon, a patriot printer of New York who published several New York newspapers. He also became the state printer of New York, and was key in conducting the traveling press that covered George Washington's army at Valley Forge. By 1785, he had established a printing office in Halifax County, North Carolina, where he was elected as the State Printer that year.
An article about him from the Treasures of North Carolina states:
There was no one else like him. He was there with General George Washington at Valley Forge during the winter of 1778-79, operating the press that issued orders, commissions and recruiting posters for the Continental Army.
He was there in Edenton, Fayetteville, New Bern and Halifax, founding and running newspapers and printshops that gave this region its voice and sources of information. His publications included the State Gazette, North Carolina Journal, Minerva and Fayetteville Gazette.
In 1785 the NC General Assembly named him State Printer, a position he held until 1800, except for a one-year break. Brother Hodge gathered information for the 1794 North Carolina Almanack and was a pioneer gatherer of documents that gave birth to the library of the new University at Chapel Hill.
He was not alone; he associated with Silas Arnett, Isaac Blanchard, Henry Willis and William Thomas.

(Note: Abraham Hodge is buried at the Colonial Churchyard at the site of the old Quankey Chapel, the Church of England, in Halifax County.)
 

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James HOGAN (HOGUN). ***New***
James Hogan was prominent in North Carolina history during the Revolution; but there is very little known about his early life. He was born in Ireland, but the date and place are unknown. Nor is it known when he came to the New World. He was a scion of that sturdy Irish stock that was restive under British domination, and had come to America to escape its tyranny. It is not known when he came to North Carolina, but he found his way to Halifax County, in early life, and made his home about two miles from the present town of Hobgood. In October 3, 1751, he was married to Ruth Norfleet, a young woman of that section of Halifax County.
When the Provincial Congress met in Halifax, April 4, 1776, James Hogan appeared as one of the delegates from the county. He was enthusiastically in favor of the resolution for independence passed by that body on April 12. He was again a delegate to the Provincial Congress and Constitutional Convention that met in Halifax, November 12, 1776. But early in that session, he was elected Colonel of the Seventh North Carolina Continental Regiment; and at once resigned membership in the Congress.
After the organization of the regiment, and after being disciplined in the school of the soldier at Halifax, Colonel Hogan led his troops northward, along with other regiments that had been mobilized at Halifax, and joined General Washington in time to take part in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. After these two disastrous battles, Washington dispatched Colonel Hogan to North Carolina to raise reinforcements. Having established a recruiting station at Halifax, Hogan soon had another regiment of 600 men under arms. He led them North and joined Washington at Valley Forge. He was with the Army of the North during 1778 and 1779.
When General Robert Howe was promoted to the rank of Major-General, the General Assembly of North Carolina recommended Colonel Thomas Clark, of Newbern, for the vacancy; but General Washington said that Hogan, on account of his conspicuous gallantry at Germantown, was entitled to the honor. He was, therefore, elected and commissioned brigadier-general, January 9, 1779, and continued to serve with the Army of the North, his brigade consisting of the four North Carolina regiments then with General Washington.
In February, 1780, the tide of war having rolled southward, Hogan's brigade was sent to the relief of General Lincoln at Charleston, S. C. The brigade passed through Halifax on its long march from Philadelphia to Charleston, and reached its destination in April, finding that General Lincoln was shut up in Charleston with less than twelve hundred men, Hogan joined him with about fifteen hundred regulars, but he was unable to restore confidence. Lincoln surrendered, May 12; and with one stroke of bad fortune, General Hogan and nearly the whole of the North Carolina Continentals became prisoners of war. Of the 1800 regulars, surrendered at this time, the North Carolina line numbered over 1200. With the exception of some officers, who were at home on furlough and several troops of militia, the entire fighting force of North Carolina was put out of the conflict. Halifax County was struck hard by this blow.
General Hogan and his brigade were imprisoned at Haddrell's Point, S. C, near the present location of the town of Mount Pleasant. There, Hogan and his brigade endured extreme suffering on account of the lack of food and the ravages of disease. Even permission to fish was denied the men thus imprisoned, and they were more than once threatened with deportation to the West Indies. Once was General Hogan offered a parole to return home ; but seeing the misery of his men, he indignantly refused the parole unless the rank and file were to have the same privilege.
At that point, General Hogan disappears from history.
It is certain that he died in this prison camp at Haddrell's Point, and now lies buried, probably, where the busy feet of the people of Mount Pleasant go tramping over his remains. Chief Justice Clark says, "History affords no more striking incident of devotion to duty, and North Carolina should erect a tablet to his memory and of those who perished there with him."
 

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Allen JONES, delegate, was born in Halifax county, N.C., in 1739; son of Robin Jones, an agent and attorney of Lord Grenville. He was educated at Eton, England, and on his return to North Carolina settled in Northampton county and devoted himself to the cause of his country. He was a delegate to the state conventions that met at New Berne, Aug. 25, 1775, and at Halifax, April 4, 1776. He was chosen a brigadier-general of the Halifax district in May, 1776; was a member of the Continental congress, 1779-80; and state senator, 1784-87. As a member of the convention that met at Hillsboro, July 21, 1788, and postponed the adoption of the Federal constitution, he opposed the delay and [p.123] advocated a strong Federal government. His daughter, Sarah, became the wife of Col. William R. Davis, of North Carolina. He died in Northampton county, N.C., Nov. 10, 1798

 

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Nicholas LONG (ca 1729-1797), the founder of the Long family of Halifax County, came to North Carolina when a young man and settled near what is now the town of Halifax. The exact date of his coming to the county is unknown, and the date and place of his birth are likewise obscure. Shortly after coming to Halifax, Long built his country home, "Quanky," which was just across Quanky Creek from the "Grove House."
He is mentioned in Wheeler's "Reminiscences" as being a wealthy planter and his home as being the headquarters for prominent men who from time to time visited Halifax. It is said that, when President Washington visited Halifax on his tour of the South, he stopped with Colonel Long for several days. In similar ways the reputation of "Quanky" came to be more than State wide.
Before John Harvy issued his call for the first Provincial Congress to meet in Newbern, August 24, 1774, he came to Halifax to consult with Willie Jones and Nicholas Long. Both Jones and Long were at the time members of the Provincial Assembly ; and when the Congress was called, they were elected members and served in the double capacity at Newbern. Long was also a member of the Second Provincial Congress at Newbern the next year and also at Hillsboro. At the latter Congress, the State -was divided into military districts, each district to raise and equip five hundred men. Nicholas Long was appointed Colonel of the Halifax district.
A grant of land was made to Robert Long in Halifax County, but it is not known whether he was an ancestor of Nicholas Long. The grant is dated 1725. Later, in the progress of the struggle for independence, each county was empowered to raise and arm a regiment of minute men, and the position of Commissary-General of the State forces was created. Colonel Long was chosen to this latter position. He personally superintended, together with his wife, the work shops on his own farm for the purpose of manufacturing implements of war, ammunition, clothing, and other supplies for the soldiers.
Mrs. Long possessed great energy and firmness with mental power of no common order. Her praises were the theme of conversation among the officers, who knew her. She died at the advanced age of eighty leaving a numerous offspring.
Colonel Long held the position of Commissary-General of the State troops until 1781, when he resigned and was succeeded by William R. Davie. The last public service he rendered, of which we have any record, was in the senate the sessions of 1785 and 1786. As a legislator, or soldier, or planter, Colonel Long proved his worth and has left a worthy name to his numerous descendants.
 

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Jesse MERCER, clergyman, was born in Halifax county, N.C., Dec. 16, 1769; son of the Rev. Silas Mercer born 1745. His parents removed to Georgia in 1775, and settled in Wilkes county, but returned to North Carolina at the outbreak of the Revolution, where he remained until 1788, when he once more settled in Georgia. He was almost wholly self-educated, and was received the Baptist church in 1787. He was married, Jan. 31, 1788, to Sabrina Chivers, and was ordained, Nov. 7, 1789, by the Rev. Silas Mercer and the Rev. Sanders Walker. He was pastor of churches in Greene, Oglethorpe, Wilkes, Hancock and Putnam counties, 1789-1840, during which time he travelled extensively throughout the state. He was also the leader of a political party in Wilkes county, and was sent by them as a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1798. He was president of the general Baptist missionary convention, 1816, and represented the board in the general conventions of 1820 and 1826. He was for a time corresponding secretary of the board of trustees of the co-operating Baptist associations for instructing and evangelizing the Creek Indians. He organized the general committee of the Georgia Baptists, which resulted in the Georgia Baptist convention, and was president of the convention for eighteen consecutive years, and presiding officer of the Georgia association up to the time of his death. He was [p.343] influential in establishing Mount Enon academy in Richmond county in 1807, and was one of the founders of Mercer Institute, Penfield, Greene county, in 1833, named in his honor, which became Mercer university in 1837, and was removed to Macon in 1870. He gave the sum of $40,000 to the university during his life and by will, and served as a trustee, 1838-41. He gave about $25,000 to other religious and educational institutions, among them Columbian college, Washington, D.C. He received the honorary degree D.D. from Brown university in 1835. He edited the Christian Index, the first Baptist newspaper published in Georgia, which he purchased of Dr. W. T. Brantly, of Philadelphia, in 1833, and established at his home in Washington, Ga., and in 1840 he gave it to the Georgia Baptist Convention.  He collected a volume of hymns entitled Mercer's Cluster, and is the author of: History of the Georgia Baptist Association (1836). He died in Washington, Ga., Sept. 6, 1841.

 

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John MILTON, soldier, was born in Halifax county, N.C., in 1740; son of John and Mary (Farr) Milton, and, according to tradition, a descendant of Judge Christopher Milton, brother of John Milton, the poet. His father was born in England, and came to North Carolina about 1734. He joined the Revolutionary army as an ensign in the 1st Georgia regiment, Jan. 7, 1776; was promoted 1st lieutenant; and was taken prisoner at Fort Howe, Ga., in February, 1777, with Lieut. William Caldwell, on the surrender of that place, held as a hostage, and imprisoned in the castle at St. Augustine, Fla., until November, 1777. He was promoted captain, Sept. 15, 1777, and on his release returned to the army and served until the end of the war, retiring Sept. 15, 1782. He was secretary of the state of Georgia in 1777, 1781-83 and 1789, and on Dec. 6, 1778, at the approach of the British, removed the public records to Perrysburg by order of the governor. He engaged in planting after the war, and received the two votes of the Georgia electors for first President of the United States in 1789. He was a charter member of the (Georgia) Society of the Cincinnati. He was married to Hannah E. Spencer, and of their children, Gen. Homer Virgil Milton (q.v.), was an officer in the war of 1812. He died at Milton plantation, near Louisville, Ga., about 1804.
 

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Bartholomew Figures MOORE, lawyer, was born in Halifax county, N.C., Jan. 29, 1801; son of James and Sally (Lowe) Moore; grandson of James Moore of Southampton county, N.C., and a descendant of James Moore the immigrant. He was graduated at the University of North Carolina in 1820 and was admitted to the bar in 1822. He represented Halifax county in the house of commons, 1836, 1840, 1842, 1844 and 1866, and was attorney-general of the state, 1848-51, resigning on being appointed one of the commissioners to revise the statute law of the state. His position among the legal fraternity for twenty-five years gave to him the title "Father of the Bar of North Carolina." He was a trustee of the University of North Carolina, 1840-68 and 1875-78, and received from that institution the honorary degree of LL.D. in 1868. He was a delegate to the convention called in 1865 to reconstruct the government of the state. He bequeathed $1000 to the Masonic orphan asylum of the state. He is the author of: Revised Code of North Carolina (1856). He died in Raleigh, N.C., Nov. 27, 1878.

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William Winston SEATON, journalist, was born in King William county, Va., Jan. 11, 1785; son of Augustine and Mary (Winston) Seaton; grandson of George and Elizabeth (Hill) Seaton and of Samuel Winston, and a descendant of Henry Seaton, who came from Scotland in 1690, to Gloucester county, Va., where he married Elizabeth Todd. His mother was a cousin of Patrick Henry.
He received his early education at an academy in Richmond, Va., and in 1803 entered upon an active political career, in the same year accepting the position of assistant editor of a Richmond journal. He also became editor of the Petersburg Republican; bought out the North Carolina Journal from the publishers at Halifax, in 1807, and upon his removal to Raleigh, N.C., soon after, identified himself with the Register, edited by Joseph Gales, to whose daughter Sarah he was married in 1809. In connection with his brother-in-law, Joseph Gales, Jr., Mr. Seaton conducted the National Intelligencer at Washington, D.C., 1812-60. During the first eight years of their partnership, Seaton and Gales were the only publishers who made any attempt to report congressional matter, the responsibility being divided equally between them. In 1824, Mr. Seaton, as captain of the Washington Guards, was appointed chairman of the committee authorized to proceed to Baltimore, Md., to welcome Lafayette and to escort him to Washington, D.C.
He was mayor of Washington, 1840-50, having previously declined the office in 1820 and 1834; was a delegate to the Whig national convention at Baltimore, Md., May 1, 1844; served as a private in Capt. John Davidson's regiment, in the defence of Washington, in April, 1861, and retired as editor of the Intelligencer, Dec. 31, 1864. He was a founder of the Unitarian church in Washington, D.C.; vice-president of the American Colonization society from its inception in 1816, and in 1847 was actively influential in the relief of Ireland. He died in Washington, D.C., Dec. 31, 1864.

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John SITGREAVES, delegate, was born in New Berne, N.C., about 1740. He studied law and began its practice in his native town. He was appointed an officer in the regiment of minutemen of Dobbs county, under Col. Richard Caswell, who defeated the loyalists, under General McDonald, at Moore's Creek, Feb. 27, 1776, known as the "Lexington of the South" and for which Colonel Caswell gained promotion to the rank of major-general. He was also Governor Caswell's aide-de-camp at the battle of Camden, Aug. 16, 1780. He was a delegate from North Carolina to the Continental congress. 1784-85, being in attendance at Trenton, N.J., from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24, 1784, when the government was transferred to New York city. He was a member of the house of commons, 1786-89, and U.S. district judge for North Carolina, 1789-1802. He died at Halifax, N.C., March 4, 1802.
 

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Samuel WELDON (ca 1730 -1782).
Another man, who has left an impress upon the county and yet is comparatively unknown, is Samuel Weldon, in honor of whom the town of Weldon is named. The place and date of his birth are unknown ; but he became prominent in the affairs of Halifax soon after the formation of the county in 1758.
In 1776, the Provincial Congress, in session in Halifax, elected Weldon Major of the county militia. On Dec. 23, 1776, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and, on April 24, 1778, he became Colonel. His rapid promotion would indicate ability and popularity. This last rank, he was, soon afterward, forced to resign on account of ill health. He retired to his farm on the Roanoke river near where the present town of Weldon is. He was a member of the Provincial Congress of 1776, that met in Halifax, and it is known that he exercised influence of note in that body. For some years he held the position of Justice of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions. Not much else is known of his public services. His will was probated in 1782.

(Note: according to "Virginia Gleanings in England" and the "Historical & Genealogical Notes; Wm. & Mary Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 2",  Samuel Weldon was the son of Samuel Weldon & Elizabeth Allen, married in 1725, originally of James City County, but who left a will proved July 1748,  of Dale Parish, Henrico Co, VA,  naming his minor children: Daniel, Benjamin, Samuel, Elizabeth & Priscilla; Son-in-law, Roderick Easley, wife's daughters Sarah Jones & Martha Richardson, and her grandson, Allen Jones & Willie & Charlotte Jones)

 

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Sidney WELLER 1791-1854
Sidney Weller was born in 1791 in what was then known as Montgomery, New York. In 1820 Weller earned a masters degree from Union College in Schenectady and entered the education field as a principal at a private academy. He married Laura Maria Meacham, who died in 1826. Weller had begun seminary in 1824 and became an ordained Presbyterian minister. He and his second wife, Elizabeth McCarrel, moved to Virginia in 1828 and then further south to Halifax County, North Carolina.
In 1829 Weller purchased about three hundred acres of farm land for $1.50 per acre. Although the land was of poor quality, Weller was a self-proclaimed “book farmer” who read about and experimented with new farming methods. He subscribed to sundry farm journals and wrote many articles for them. Weller established an academy at Brinkleyville shortly after his purchase of the farm, but he appears to have abandoned his aspirations in the field of education in favor of agriculture by about 1833. His methods were revolutionary at a time when throngs of North Carolinians were moving southwest in search of more fertile lands. Weller was an advocate of crop rotation, plant propagation, and enriching soil through creative plantings and waste matter.
Among his innovative ventures, Weller established a vineyard, which by 1840 was the state’s largest. At the time, North Carolina was the leading wine producer in the Union. In 1850 Weller boasted of cultivating over two hundred types of grapes, although he concentrated on Scuppernong and other native varieties. Two years later Weller helped cultivate a different sort of legacy in North Carolina—the State Agricultural Society and the State Fair. He died at his home on March 1, 1854. Charles and F. M. Garrett, of a nearby farm, purchased Weller’s vineyard and expanded it to New York and California, pioneering wine production in those states. Weller’s property is now Medoc Mountain State Park. Weller himself named the area Medoc Mountain after a province in Bordeaux, France, famous for its vineyards.
 

 

(Sources: The History of Halifax County; "Dictionary of North Carolina Biography"; Treasures of North Carolina website; North Carolina State Markers; North Carolina History Project; "The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans".

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See Document:

Chiefs of Police in Scotland Neck
A Tribute to 3 brave Officers who served through 1936
(contributed by Larry Flowers)

 

 

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