Martin County, NCGenWeb

An NCGenWeb/USGenWeb Project


Yankees in Martin County (1862)

The following article appeared in the November 24th, 1862 issue of the Carolina Observer. It was originally published in the Richmond Examiner, November 18th, 1862. Submitted by Lorraine Blount Peckham.

We have some interesting accounts of the recent Yankee demonstrations in North Carolina. The forces of the enemy, numbering about 7,000 men, under the command of Major Gen’l FOSTER, made a raid on Martin county last week. The destruction done by the enemy is said to be frightful. The county from one end to another is one complete scene of desolation and ruin. The Yankee army left Washington on Sunday the 2d inst, on its march for Williamston, and arrived at Rawl’s Mill at sundown, where it was engaged by the 26th N.C. Regiment, which boldly contested its advance, but which was forced to give way on account of the great inferiority in numbers. The enemy was temporarily delayed at the mill by the burning of a bridge, which they repaired during the night, and on Monday morning came into Williamston. It is impossible to give a full description of the various acts of outrages committed by them.

Not a single house was respected – it matters not whether the owner was in or absent. Doors were broken open and houses entered by the soldiers, who took everything they saw, and what they were unable to carry away, they broke and destroyed. Furniture of every description was committed to the flames, and the citizens who dared to remonstrate with them were threatened; cursed and buffeted about by the Yankee villains. Cattle, hogs and poultry were shot down, and in many instances left untouched. Our informant saw as many as fifty head of stock of all kinds lying dead about the streets.

The enemy left town on the evening of the same day on its march up the country. They stopped for the night at F.H. WARD’s mill. Mr. WARD was completely stripped of everything – they not even leaving him enough for breakfast. While on the sick bed his wife was in his presence search and robbed of $500. On Tuesday the band of thieves went into Hamilton, where they enacted the same scenes. A citizen, Bennett L. BAKER, was without cause shot and instantly killed by one of the New York calvary. They were, as is usual with them, accompanied with their boats; which went up the Roanoke river. The army went about fifteen miles above Hamilton, when for some cause it suddenly turned and marched back, taking with some slight deviation in quest of plunder, the same route it had come. The town of Hamilton was set on fire and as many as fifteen houses laid in ashes. On the next Friday a marauding party very unexpectedly made its appearance in Williamston again. No one had any intelligence of its approach from the fact it arrested and kept every citizen it could on its route. During the time the Yankees encamped at Williamston everything which they left unharmed when last there was demolished. Every house in town was occupied and defaced. Several fine residences , among which was Judge BIGGS’ were actually used as horse stables. Iron safes were broken open, and in the presence of their owners rifled of their content. Several citizens were seized and robbed of the money on their persons. Our informant states that not less than eight hundred slaves and the same number of horses have been taken from the county of Martin alone.

On Sunday morning Williamston was fired and no effort made to arrest the flames until several houses were burnt. It appears, indeed, that everything that the most savage nature could suggest was done by the enemy. No attempt was made by their officers, from Gen. FOSTER down, to prevent the destruction of property. On the contrary, they connived at it, and some of the privates did not hesitate to say that they were instructed to do as they had done. It appears that FOSTER is in every respect the equal of Butler or Pope for inhumanity. He is represented as a type of the Yankee monster. The gentleman who has given us the many items of information noted above, says that two ladies at Williamston went to him to beseech protection from his soldier, and were rudely and arrogantly ordered from his presence.


BIGGS, Asa (d. 1878)

Death of Judge Biggs — Hon. Asa BIGGS, of the firm of K<…> BIGGS & Co.,died in Norfolk at 12 am of Wednesday the 6th inst.  The immediate cause of his death was rheumatic gout.

Judge BIGGS was born in Martin county, North Carolina, on the 4th of February, 1811.  he was licensed to practice law in 1831, entered public life in 1840 as a member of the House of Commons from Martin, was re-elected in 1842, and went to the State Senate in 1844.  In 1845 he was elected to Congress from the First District, beating Hon. David OUTLAW, and in 1847 was in turn defeated by Mr. OUTLAW.  In 1850 <.two sentences unreadable> the result of their joint labors, the Revised Code, would of itself, have been sufficient to have kept green the memories of each of the co-laborers.
In 1854 Judge BIGGS was again elected to the Legislature from Martin and by the Legislature of 1854 and 1855 he was elected to the United States Senate. This position he resigned for the purposes of accepting the United States District Judgeship, which position he held until he resigned and was at once appointed District Judge of the Confederate States.
At the close of the war Judge BIGGS persued the practice of law with marked success and continued in the practice until 1909, when he, in company with Chief Justice SMITH went to Norfolk and opened a law firm.

Judge BIGGS leaves a family of three sons and three daughters.  Capt. Wm. BIGGS, of the Oxford Free Lance, being the eldest of his sons.

Source: Roanoke News, 9 Mar 1878, pg. 3. website.


Vitals from Sons of the American Revolution Applications

The Ancestry website contains a database of more than 145,000 applications for the Sons of the American Revolution approved between 1889 and 31 December 1970.

Applications require a pedigree and accompanying information to demonstrate a generation-by-generation link to a patriot ancestor. Genealogical information submitted may include references to Revolutionary War pension files, baptismal records, marriage records, cemetery records, census records, family Bible records, deeds, court records, documented family and local histories, and copies of applications to other lineage societies. Applications also typically include a short summary of the ancestor’s service. —

The following list below is an extraction of vital record data of individuals in the database who have an association with Martin County.  The listing below provides the person’s name, their relationship to the applicant, details provided in the application, the SAR membership number, and the applicant’s name.  Each piece of information is separated by a dash.

The data represented here is only a portion of the full file.  If you see something of interest, access to the files requires a membership (free access is available through July 4, 2011) if you wish to view them on the website.  Alternatively, you can contact the society directly for further information.  I can provide lookups but please limit your request to one individual.


NameRelationship to ApplicantBornBirth LocationDiedDeath LocationSAR Application No.NotesApplicant Name
BIGGS, Henry EmersonSelf18 June 1862Martin CountyN/AN/A27089N/ABIGGS, Henry Emerson
BRYAN, Ann GreyGreat-Grandmother5 Dec 1786WilliamstonN/AN/A88274Wife to William Bryan HymanBORDELON, Irving M.
DUPREE, Mary PatienceGrandmother15 Dec 1879Martin CountyN/AN/A89790Wife to Thomas Levine OsborneOGLESBY, James Gorham
EVERETT, HenryGreat-Grandfather1792Martin CountyN/AN/A92088Husband to Elizabeth (Betsy) ManningJAMES, Roland Maximillian
EVERETT, James WalterSelf4-Jul-05RobersonvilleN/AN/A46625Son of Marcellus Everett and Lela KeelEVERETT, James Walter
EVERETT, Jane ElizabethGrandmother2 Sep 1838Martin CountyN/AN/A92088Wife to William Tillman KeelJAMES, Roland Maximillian
GAINOR, Anne4th Great-GrandmotherN/AMartin CountyN/AN/A78945N/AHARLEY Jr., George Foster
HARRELL, Samuel NewbernSelf13 Apr 1875HamiltonN/AN/A47090Son of Augustus Harrell and Harriet WhitehurstHARRELL, Samuel Newbern
HASSELL, AmariahGrandfather22 Aug 1810Williamston18 Jul 1895Manlo, Georgia99585N/AHASSELL, John Fleming
HODGES, MarinaGrandmother18 Jul 1856Beaufort County10 Apr 1880Robersonville83563Wife to Marcus Augustus RobersonELLSWORTH, Arthur Fleming
HOWELL, Elizabeth DorothyGreat-Grandmother24 may 1817Martin County26 Feb 1849De Soto County, Mississippi92100Wife to Reuben Staten ManningMANNING, Wilkins Reuben
HYMAN, William BryanGreat-Grandfather2 Oct 1779Cedar Landing21 Feb 1820Williamston88274Husband to Ann Grey BryanBORDELON, Irving M.
KEEL, William TillmanGrandfather11 Sep 1842Martin County27 Dec 1917Martin County92088Husband to Jane Elizabeth EverettJAMES, Roland Maximillian
MANNING, Elizabeth (Betsy)Great-Grandmother1802Martin CountyN/AMartin County92088Wife to Henry EverettJAMES, Roland Maximillian
MANNING,Marcom3rd Great-GrandfatherN/ANorfolk, VirginiaN/AMartin County92100Husband to KeziahMANNING, Wilkins Reuben
MANNING, Marcum3rd Great-Grandfatherprior to 1758N/A18 Oct 1792Martin County92088Husband to KeziahJAMES, Roland Maximillian
MANNING, Reuben2nd Great-Grandfathercirca 1776N/Acirca 1831Martin County92088Husband to Sarah WhitneyJAMES, Roland Maximillian
MANNING, Reuben2nd Great-Grandfathercirca 1789Martin CountyWill dated 16 Jul 1831Martin County92100Husband to Sarah WhitneyMANNING, Wilkins Reuben
MANNING, Vannoy HartrogGrandfather26 Jul 1839Martin County3 Nov 1892Branchville, Maryland92100N/AMANNING, Wilkins Reuben
PAGE, MarthaGreat-Grandmother25 Nov 1824Martin County22 Feb 1877Robersonville83563Wife to Henry Daniel Roberson. Married about 1848.ELLSWORTH, Arthur Fleming
PIERCE, PenlopeGreat-Grandmother1764Martin Countyabout 1785Martin County41262Wife to John PricePRICE, James Hardy
PRICE Sr., William4th Great-Grandfatherabout 1730Martin Countyabout 1785Hamilton47193N/APRICE, Frederick Singleton Lucas
PRICE Sr., William2nd Great-GrandfatherN/AMartin Countyabout 1800Martin County41262Husband to MarthaPRICE, James Hardy
PRICE, William PierceGrandfather1797Martin County1836Georgia41262Husband of Sarah WilliamsPRICE, James Hardy
ROBERSON, Henry DanileGreat-Grandfather10 Oct 1824Martin County14 Sep 1884Robersonville83563Husband to Martha PageELLSWORTH, Arthur Fleming
ROBERSON, LillianMother12 Feb 1878Martin CountyN/AN/A83563Wife to Arthur Franklin Ellsworth. Living in 1958 in Tacoma, WashingtonELLSWORTH, Arthur Fleming
ROBERSON, Marcus AugustusGrandfather27 Dec 1851Martin County15-May-01Martin County83563Husband to Marina HodgesELLSWORTH, Arthur Fleming
ROBERSON, William2nd Great-GrandfatherMay 1790Martin County11 May 1845Martin County83563Husband to Sarah Rebecca WynnELLSWORTH, Arthur Fleming
ROBERTSON, James HenryFather13 Nov 1884Williamston17-Jun-52Rocky Mount, North Carolina90982N/AROBERTONS, Haywood Lawrence
ROSS Jr., William4th Great-Grandfather9 Aug 1731Martin County25 Dec 1801Martin County65749Husband to Mary GriffinDIERKING, John Edward
SLADE, Ebenezer (Dr.)5th Great-Grandfatherabout 1714N/AMar 1788Martin County78945N/AHARLEY Jr., George Foster
SLADE, Jeremiah (General)3rd Great-Grandfather12 Aug 1775Martin County1824N/A78945N/AHARLEY Jr., George Foster
SLADE, Jeremiah (General)3rd Great-Grandfather12 Aug 1775Martin County1824N/A78945Husband to Janet BogHARLEY Jr., George Foster
SLADE, Thomas Bog2nd Great-Grandfather26 Jul 1800Martin County5 May 1882Columbus, Georgia78945Husband to Anne Jacqueline BlountHARLEY Jr., George Foster
SLADE, William (Lieutenant)4th Great-Grandfather7 Jan 1745N/AFeb 1791Martin County78945N/AHARLEY Jr., George Foster
SMALLWOOD, Portia BonnerGrandmother12 Sep 1853Washington, North Carolina20-Feb-25Williamston84275Wife to George Llewellyn Grimes WhitleyWHITLEY, Walter Jenkins
VAN PELT, Lavenia4th Great-Grandmotherabout 1737New YorkN/AMartin County83563Wife to Watkin William WynnELLSWORTH, Arthur Fleming
WARD, John James (Capt.)Grandfather9 Sep 18189Martin County29 Jul 1864Griffin, Georgia94973Husband to Ellen Tyler YoungREILLY, William Irving
WHITLEY, George Llewellyn GrimesGrandfather1 Apr 1842Williamston13-Nov-19Williamston84275Husband to Portia BonnerWHITLEY, Walter Jenkins
WILLIAMS, Mary2nd Great-Grandmotherabout 1739Martin Countyafter 1800N/A89790Wife to Samuel CherryOGLESBY, James Gorham
WYNN, Sarah Rebecca2nd Great-Grandmother31 Oct 1792Bertie County8 Oct 1872Martin County83563Wife to Wiliam RobersonELLSWORTH, Arthur Fleming
WYNN, Watkin William4th Great-Grandfatherabout 1733Bertie CountyN/AN/A83563Was living in Martin County in 1798. Husband to Lavenia Van Pelt.ELLSWORTH, Arthur Fleming



Bio: Asa Biggs (1811-1878)

Asa Biggs Judge Asa Biggs was born in Williamston in the county of Martin on the 4th day of February, 1811. His father was the Rev. Joseph Biggs, of the Primitive Baptist Church, and his mother was Chloe Biggs, whose maiden name was Daniel. He received his license to practice law in the County Court in 1831. He was from the beginning of his career a Democrat, differing from other members of his family. His first public service was at the age of twenty-four in the Convention of 1835. He was a member of the House of Commons in 1840 and again in 1842, and hte State Senate in 184. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1845 and was again a candidate in 1847, but suffered defeat. The Legislature of 1854 elected him to the United States Senate where he served until 1858, when President Buchanan appointed him to fill the United States District Judgeship for North Carolina made vacant by the death of Judge Potter, which position he held until the civil war.

In 1851 Governor Reid appointed Judge Biggs with Hons. B.F. Moore and R.M. Saunders to revise and compile the Statues of North Carolina, the result of which was the “Revised Code” of 1854. He resigned from the Convention of 1861 to accept the Confederate District Judgeship. After the war terminated he did not again enter public life. In 1870 he formed a partnership for the practice of law with Hon. W.H. Smith. He had large business interests in Norfolk, Virginia, where he later removed and died there on March 6, 1878. In religion he was a Primitive Baptist. Judge Biggs believed that any State had the right, when sufficient cause existed, to withdraw from the Union by the same method which it entered, and by such a proceeding the citizens were absolved from further allegience to the United States. He advocated the plan of constructing a railroad from Beaufort to the mountains at the expense of the State. Asa Biggs is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Norfolk, Virginia.

Source: McCormick, John Gilchrist, and Kemp P. Battle. Personnel of the Convention of 1861. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University Press, 1900.


Dictionary of North Carolina Biography

According to an index created by the Olivia Raney Local History Library in Raleigh, NC, the following individuals of Martin County are included in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography

  • Bryan, Henry H. (d. 1835)
  • Hassell, Cushing Biggs (1809-1880)
  • Hassell, Sylvester (1842-1928)
  • Martin, Joseph John (1833-1900)
  • Ross, James (1801-1878)
  • Ross, Reuben (1776-1860)
  • Roulhac, Joseph Blount Gregoire (1795-1856)
  • Spruill, Frank (Franklin) Shepherd (1862-1937)
  • Whittlesey, Sarah Johnson Cogswell (1824 -1896)
  • Wilson, James Lewis (ca. 1760 – 1802)
  • Yellowley, Edward Clement (1821 – 1885)
  • Cherry, Annie Moore (1891 – 1976)
  • Armstrong, Frank Alton, Jr. (1902 – 1969)
  • Everett, Reuben Oscar (1879-1971)
  • Chance, William Claudius, Sr. (1880-1970)
  • Biggs, Asa (1811-1878)

I’ve already started pages for a few of these on the Biographical Profiles page of the site. You can use to find this book in a library near you.


BIGGS Jr., Asa (d. 1883)

New York Times
13 Nov 1883

Death of Asa Biggs

Petersburg, Va., Nov 12 — Asa Biggs, the young man who was burned in his residence, in Southampton, as reported in The Times today, was a son of the late Judge Biggs, of Norfolk, and his wife, who narrowly escaped burning to death, represented one of the oldest families in this section of Virginia.  She is a highly accomplished lady, but took a fancy to young Biggs, who was very dissipated; and finally married him against the wishes of relatives on both sides.

After the marriage Biggs left Norfolk and settled at the old family residence in Southampton.  The old house is built of colonial brick , and is an old landmark in the county.  Dr. Massenburg, the owner, died several years ago, leaving a widow and two daughters, who kept one of the grandest old homes in the country, and entertained handsomely.  The other daughter married and left home, and the mother had lived with her daughters alternately.  Biggs continued to drink after his marriage, and on Saturday night upset a lamp, set the building on fire, and perished in the flames.  It is one of the saddest affairs in the history of the county.


BIGGS, Asa (d. 1878)

New York Times
7 Mar 1878

Yesterday morning about 11 o’clock Mr. Asa Biggs, of the firm of K. Biggs & Col, commision merchantes, of Norfolk, Va., died suddenly from rehumatism of the heart.  The deceased was 68 years of age, and was a native of North Carolina.  In antebellum days he had a national reputation as a jurist and politiican.  Previous to his departure from North Carolina he had been in public life for fully 35 years, having been a member of the Convention of 1835, which framed a State Constitution.  He represented his district in Congress during the administration of President Polk.  Subsequently he was elected by the Legislature to the United States Senate, but resigned his seat in that body to accept the appointment for the District of North Carolina under Mr. Buchanan’s Administration.  After the breaking out of the late war he recevied the appointment from the Confederate Government of District Judge for the same district.  He removed to Norfolk in 1869, becoming a partner with his brother in the house of K. Biggs & Co.  He also engaged in the practice of law, being associated with the Hon. W.N.H. Smith, who is the present Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.  Judge Biggs was an earnest Christian, and was a member of the Primitive Baptist Church.  He leaves a large family.


Asa Biggs

This is a picture of Asa Biggs, former US Senator born in Williamston, Martin County, in 1811.  I’ve added a Biographical Profiles page and started with some information about him.  Since Asa was quite famous, there is a lot of inforamtion about him already online.

One item of note for anyone researching the family, the NC State Archives has some of the family bible records.  Accessioned to the collection in 2005, they described it as such:

Biggs. Some Bible and Cemetery Records of the Asa Biggs Family: Booklet 1. Bible Records, by Edwin R. MacKethan, III. Bible records of the Joseph and Chloe Daniel Biggs family, 1766-2001, with particular reference to the family of Senator Asa Biggs [Martin County]; 1 spiral-bound book.