Gregson — Memories of Julius Edgar Gregson

Memories of Julius Edgar Gregson
Native Son of Randolph County, NC
From a Typewritten Personal Document

Notes By Lynette Hudspeth

Julius Edgar (J. E./Ed) Gregson

Born: 4 Jan 1874/1875/1876 [see footnote 1]
Naomi Falls, Randolph County, North Carolina
Resident of Carrollton and Berryville, Carroll County, Arkansas
Died: 24 Dec 1964
Hospital in Springfield, Greene County, Missouri

Final Resting Place: Berryville Memorial Park Cemetery, Berryville, Carroll County, Arkansas

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~PLEASE NOTE~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While finding this memoir an enjoyable and informative read I must point out that inconsistencies exist between some of my great-uncle’s recollections and actual genealogical facts. It is certainly understandable, given his youth, the number of times he moved, and the three marriages of his father, that his memories of those early years would be somewhat confused. I’m sure the distance in time since the events occurred and being physically removed from his relatives contributed to this confusion. I have
provided some of our family’s genealogy in the form of footnotes in an attempt to keep the record as accurate as possible. I would ask if you intend to use this document for any type of reference that you do so only by including these footnotes and the information contained within them.

With gratitude to the owner of the CarJoy Website for providing the census data on the
Gregston/Grigson/Gragson/Gregson families of America and deeply felt appreciation to my aunt, Ruth Gregson Wall, for collecting this and other documents for her Gregson family. As always, my thanks to those who aid us in preserving our history — Lynette Hudspeth, February 7, 2007

Julius Edgar Gregson’s Words: I was born on the 4th day of January, 18751, at Naomi Falls, a small town located on Deep river, in Randolph County, North Carolina. It seems this town derived its name from an old legend that tells of the pathetic ending of a romance between two young lovers. As the story goes they were crossing the river on horseback at this point when their horses became frightened and the lady fell from her mount and was drowned2. The lady’s name was “Naomi”, so the town was named Naomi Falls.

My father’s name was Henry Clay Gregson3, my mother’s maiden was Fatima Hargrove4 [incorrect, PLEASE read footnote], both of Scotch-Irish descent. Of this union there were four children born, brother John5 being the oldest, then myself, then Carl6 and last Willie7. John and Carl are both deceased, while Willie still lives near the old homestead in Randolph County, North Carolina. I remember very little about folks outside our immediate family, as my mother died while I was very young. I had a grandfather, Julius Gregson8, living near Naomi Falls, after whom I was named. I remember two uncles, Uncle Amos9 who lived at Randleman, and Uncle John10, who later lived in Gainsville,11 [sic]

At a very early age I found father, John12 and myself working in the cotton factory at Naomi Falls. This factory was operated by water power and fishing below the dam was excellent and I never missed an opportunity to try my luck. After working in the mill at Naomi Falls for some time I was transferred to Randleman, another cotton factory town one mile up river from Naomi Falls. Randleman had two cottom mills, one operated by water power and the other by steam, I worked in the water power plant. My stay there was not too long as father moved from Naomi Falls to Lexington in Davidson County, North Carolina, where father, John and I were employed for quite some time in the cotton mill there.

I was later transferred to McAdensville13, a small town in the extreme southwestern part of the State, on the French Border river14, where I again boarded out and worked in the cotton mill there. Father then purchased a farm in Randolph County, North Carolina, about 16 miles south of Greensboro, and we moved to it. All this time we were baching, but when we moved to the farm father and all the rest of us had had enough baching, so father married the second time15. He married a Quaker lady by the name of Hockett16, She was a fine woman, good cook, an excellent housekeeper and gave us boys the best of treatment. The Quakers are a wonderful people, their quaint thee, thou, thine, first day second day, for you, yours Monday, etc. sounded a little strange at first but we soon got used to it. Many Quakers lived in our neighborhood, in fact the only church accessible to us was a Quaker church, and we attended it. At some services no sermon was preached and no audible prayers offered, but again maybe talks would be made and prayers offered by the members – just as the spirit moved them.

There we worked on the farm during the summer season up to time for the public school to open when we attended a three months term in a one room log school house, with puncheon floors, split log seats and two small windows. Several children were born to father’s last marriage, sister Mamie17 being one of them and the only girl in the whole family, she now lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, while the remainder of the family live near the old homestead.

I remained at home until the Spring of 1891, when John Cox, a neighbor boy, and I decided to make a trip “out west”. Taking a change of clothing with us we stole away one night at midnight and walked past Greensboro, a city 16 miles north of our home, before daylight next morning. We were now on foot on our own. From that time until we reached Carrollton, Arkansas some months later, we were never inside a house except on two occasions, once when we stopped at a point in Virginia where a townsite had been laid out and the streets were being graded by the use of picks, shovels and wheel barrows. There I was given a shovel and wheel barrow to use in moving dirt. Notwithstanding I was only 17years old and somewhat frail at that I was loading and unloading with the rest of the laborers. The foreman after watching me for awhile directed me to quit moving dirt and take an axe and join the clearing crew, telling me the wheel barrow work was tooheavy [sic] for me. After two weeks work there we quit and started for Memphis, but stopped at a farm on the Tennessee river just below Chattanooga, at the base of Lookout mountain, and worked for a month during crop time on a farm. Leaving the farm we went on to Memphis, Tennessee. At that time no bridge spanned the Mississippi. The piers for the first bridge over the Mississippi at Memphis were in place and construction work begun on the east side of the river. We had to use the large ferry boat or get a river boatman to set us across in a small boat, this he did for the small fee of four bits ($.50). Leaving what is now West Memphis we passed through Forrest City without incident. We then hitchhiked a ride on a freight train to Walnut Ridge, assisting the brakemen in loading and unloading for this privilege, deserting the train before we got cleverly in town to avoid any possible police incident.

From Walnut Ridge we passed on through Salem, Bellefonte and Harrison, landing at Carrollton on the 4th day of July, 1891.

John Cox had an uncle, a man by the name of J. M. Harper, who lived at Carrollton and owned a farm two miles west of town. Here we stopped. After working for awhile here John decided to go on west and I stayed. For a year or two I worked on the farm, getting $10.00 per month during the crop season and nothing during the winter season except the use of some good hounds and the privilege of hunting at night and my board. At that time we did not know what a fish and game law was so we had the privilege of hunting and fishing at any and all times. The sky and our ability to catch and kill was the limit. Deer, turkey, bob cats, foxes, coons, pole cats were plentiful – at least for a time, and I certainly got my share of them.

After working on the farm for a couple of years I decided I had been losing time and should enter school. This I did, attending our local school for three months, less time out to cut sorghum and make molasses in the Fall, that gave me about two months in school. I then entered school at the old Carrollton Academy, at that time one of the best schools in the county. Working hard during the first six months, I then attended the quarterly examination for teachers who wanted to teach. I was given a second grade license, so I taught that year. When my school was out I again entered the old academy, and teaching the year following, this routine I followed for four years, then I continued teaching for six years longer. $25.00 per month for three months was my first salary, and this was upped to $50.00 before I quit. Board only $5.00 per month.

During the year 1908 while I was teaching my last school at the Gardner school house on [sic] Osage, I ran for County Clerk, was successful and that Fall moved to Berryville.

I was re-elected in 1910 and served until 1912. I then retired as County Clerk and entered the grocery business, in which I was engaged for the ensuing four years. In the meantime I had been reading law and taking a correspondence course in law. Upon leaving the Clerk’s office I took the Bar Examination and was admitted to practice law. I then opened an office in the First National Bank building here, and this office is still my official home.

Much water has gone over the dam since I came here in the Fall of 1908. I had gotten acquainted with Uncle Jay Freeman before coming to Berryville. Uncle Jay was a retired business man, but instead of actually retiring he bent all his energies to the bettarment [sic]and improvement of Berryville and Carroll County.

When I came here in the Fall of 1908, our town had about 750 inhabitants, no public utilities or civic improvements of any kind. Uncle Jay and I teamed up together and went to work, and I am pleased to say we were interested in every addition or improvement of any kind made here during the remainder of Uncle Jay’s life. Our efforts were not confined to the town proper, but to roads and highways out side of the city limits. In highway work Uncle Jay would furnish his team, wagon and tools as well as his services free, while the burden was on me to obtain the financial help necessary to carry on, and this was no easy job, it being at times necessary for me [to] furnish the means myself. The best work I ever did personally after Uncle Jay was gone was obtaining the construction of the Kings river highway bridge and constructing that part of the highway necessary to reach this bridge. My friendship with then Governor, Harvey Parnell, and our Highway Commissioner Blackwood, was all that enabled me to get this work done at a time when we had no funds on hand to do it with.

I served a long time as a member of our local School Board and for a long time as city mayor.

It has been a pleasure for me to see our town of 750 residents grow into a small city with all the present day utilities of any modern city.

Signed J. E. Gregson__________

[The following is a handwritten addition to the above statement. It was provided by one of Mr. Gregson’s daughter-in-laws (he had two and I am uncertain which wrote this extra information as it is unsigned but thank her for this valuable contribution and insight into Mr. Gregson’s life and character)]

On December 4, 1910 Papa Gregson was married to Martha Savanna Owens. They had twin boys, Jack Owens and Joe Harper, born on October 2, 1913. Jack is a dentist living in Conway, Arkansas. Joe is retired and living in the family home which Papa Gregson built in Berryville, Ark., when he got married in 1910. His wife died in Dec. 195418.

Papa Gregson was much too modest about his achievements. From the time he arrived in Berryville until his death on Dec. 24, 1964, he was involved in every improvement for his home town. He was a man of great integrity, was a “gentleman of the old school”, always dignified & gracious, always immaculately dressed, his back as straight as an arrow as he marched to his office (even when he approached his 90th birthday) and he left his office to enter a hospital in Springfield, Mo. where he died ten days later19.

FOOTNOTES

1 Julius Edgar Gregson is probably incorrect about the year of his birth. In the 1980s Ruby SNIDER Gregson copied this generation’s births as listed in a family Bible. Other dates on her list have agreed with those provided in various vital records for the family. That list states the birth date of Julius Edgar is Jan. 4, 1874. Also supporting this year of birth is the US 1880 Census. It records his age at the time of enumeration, June 1880, as 6. As his mother was alive at the time of that census and it was the one closest to the actual birth event, I believe it to be a strong indicator of the true year of his birth. Another supporting document is the one above. In his own words, Edgar states he was seventeen in the spring of 1891 when he left home to travel west. For these reasons, I believe his birth to be 4 JAN 1874.

2 The Legend of Naomi Wise of Randolph County, NC is even more tragic than Mr. Gregson describes. Naomi was a poor orphan who was touted for her great beauty and wooed by a Randolph County man. Legend has it that the man was persuaded by his mother to pursue another woman who possessed greater wealth and public status. This he did without giving up his romantic relationship with Naomi and, compounding this deception, giving her cause to believe she would be his wife. When Naomi’s bloody body was found on the banks of the Deep River her lover was tracked down, charged with murder, and imprisoned in the Asheboro Jail. He would eventually escape. This sad story has been preserved for us in local writings, court records, and a beautiful folksong.

3 Henry Clay GREGSON, 3rd son of Reverend Julius Cicero Gregson and wife Holland BRILES, was born 3 FEB 1847 and died 24 NOV 1921. He was married three times.

4 Julius Edgar’s mother is Fatima Jane WOOD, first wife of Henry Clay Gregson. Fatima was born 9 AUG 1846, married to Henry Clay Gregson 28 FEB 1871, and died 8 MAR 1881. Henry Clay Gregson married his second wife, Sarah A. HARGROVE, 26 APR 1882. Sarah died 12 MAY 1884. Being a young boy at the time one can understand how Julius Edgar could easily confuse these names.

5 This elder brother, John LeRoy GREGSON, first child of Henry Clay Gregson and Fatima Jane Wood, was born 13 APR 1872 and died 22 MAR 1941.

6 This younger sibling, Amos Carl GREGSON, third child of Henry Clay Gregson and Fatima Jane Wood, was born 16 MAR 1876 and died 18 JUL 1915.

7 This younger sibling, William Henry (Willie) GREGSON, fourth and last child of Henry Clay Gregson and Fatima Jane Wood, was born 1 MAR 1879 and died 1 AUG 1958.

8 Julius Edgar’s grandfather, Reverend Julius Cicero GREGSON, was born 1 MAR 1809 and died 8 JUN 1887. He farmed in Randolph County, NC and was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal religion in Randleman, Randolph County, NC.

9 Julius Edgar’s uncle, Reverend Amos GREGSON, 1st son of Reverend Julius Cicero Gregson and wife Holland BRILES, was born 21 MAR 1839 and died 11 MAY 1926. He was a circuit riding Methodist minister whose religious influence is found in the records of several churches ranging in location from Randolph County, NC to the city of Durham, NC where a street – Gregson Street – is named in his honor.

10 Julius Edgar’s uncle, John GREGSON, 2nd son of Reverend Julius Cicero Gregson and wife Holland BRILES, was born in 1845 (note: 1880 Census age would indicate he was born ABT 1848). He married Liza (Lilly/Lily) DOZIER who, per the 1880 Census, was born in Texas. He and his wife are found on the 1880 US Census living in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas.

11 One line of this photocopy has been cut off at this location. Since this last line pertains to “Uncle John” [see footnote 10], a logical conclusion would be that it completes the statement with Gainsville, Texas. Correct spelling is Gainesville, Texas.

12 This “John” being Julius Edgar Gregson’s elder brother [see footnote 5]

13 The correct spelling is McAdenville; a town in North Carolina located east of Gastonia, NC and west of Charlotte, NC

14 This is the French Broad River. An excellent web page for the location and history of the French Broad River can be found at this link: http://sherpaguides.com/north_carolina/mountains/newfound_mountains/french_broad_river.html

15 This is actually the third marriage of Henry Clay Gregson.

16 Hannah Elizabeth (Lizzie) HOCKETT, 3rd and final wife of Henry Clay Gregson, was born 31 MAY 1853 and died 12 MAY 1938. They were married 30 SEP 1886.

17 Mamie Anna GREGSON, the only child born to Henry Clay Gregson and his 2nd wife Sarah A. HARGROVE, was born 25 MAR 1883 and died 11 JAN 1980. Mamie married William Hunter MILLER 12 JUN 1907.

18 After the “Dec.” a day of 17th has been added. It does not appear to be in the same handwriting as the rest of the document but completes the date of death for Martha Savanna OWENS Gregson to read Dec. 17th 1954. Berryville Memorial Park Cemetery records, as presented by rootsweb, give a death date of 12/16/1954 for “Mattie Gregson” interred beside “J. E. Gregson”. Yet another rootsweb document with a heading “Carroll County AR Historical Society Obituary & Death Notice Index” shows a “Mattie Gregson” with a death year of 1953 – I believe this to be an error.

January 4, 1874 Born [see footnote 1] in Randolph Co., NC

Jan. 4, 1875 birth date per his statement and as it appears in cemetery records

Jan. 4, 1876 birth date given by LDS Social Security Index for “Julius Gregson”, AR

June 1880 enumerated with his family for the US 1880 Census – Head of Household is

Henry C. Gregson [see footnote 3] Town of Randleman Mill, Randolph Co.,

NC “Julius E. Gregson”’s age, as reported on this census, is 6

March 8, 1881 his mother, Fatima Jane Wood Gregson, dies [see footnote 4] — Julius Edgar is 7 years old

April 26, 1882 his father marries second wife, Sarah A. Hargrove [see footnote 4] – Julius Edgar is 8 years old

May 12, 1884 his step-mother, Sarah A. Hargrove, dies [see footnote 4] – Julius Edgar is 10 years old

May 1884-Sep 1886 within this time frame Julius Edgar is working in NC factories, as described in his statement, with his father and elder brother – he is only 10 to 12 years old

September 30, 1886 his father marries a third time to the “Quaker lady”, Hannah Elizabeth Hockett – Julius Edgar is 12 years old

Spring of 1891 he leaves home, heading west with John Cox – Julius Edgar is 17 years old

July 4, 1891 he and John Cox arrive in Carrollton, Carroll Co., AR – Julius Edgar is 17 – he remains here and works as a farmhand for a few years before entering the old Carrollton Academy – still doing some farm work and teaching while a student

June 1900 enumerated for the US 1900 Census – Head of Household, “Jessie Harper” (John Cox’s uncle), Carrollton, Carroll Co., AR – he appears as “J. E. Gregson”, Boarder, Single, White, Age 25, Born in NC, Parents born in NC, Can read and write – Julius Edgar is 26 years old

Spring 1908 finds him teaching at the Gardner Schoolhouse in Osage, AR

Fall 1908 moves to Berryville, Carroll Co., AR to take up post of County Clerk – Julius Edgar is 34 years old

1910 re-elected County Clerk of Carroll Co., AR

April 18, 1910 enumerated for the US 1910 Census – Head of Household, “Thomas S. Whitely” (Hotel Manager), Prairie Twp. Berryville Town, Ward 2, Carroll Co., AR – he appears as “Julius C. [sic] Gregson”, Boarder, Single, White, Age 34, Born in NC, Parents born in NC, County Clerk of Carroll County – Julius Edgar is now 36 years old

December 4, 1910 marries Martha Savanna Owens – Julius Edgar is 36 years old – just a month shy of being 37 years old

1912 – 1916 took a break from being County Clerk and worked in the “grocery business”; takes the Bar Exam and passes; opens a law practice in the First National Bank Building in Berryville, Carroll Co., AR; has office and practice until his death

October 2, 1913 wife gives birth to twins – Julius Edgar is a proud father at 39 years old – they name their sons Joe Harper Gregson & Jack Owens Gregson

1920 enumerated for the US 1920 Census – Head of Household, “Ed J. Gregson”, Prairie Township, Berryville, Carroll Co., AR, owns home free, Male, White, Age 45, Married, Born in NC, Parents born in NC, Clerk-County – wife, Mattie Gregson, Age 33, Born in Arkansas, Father born in Arkansas, Mother born in Tennessee – Jack Gregson, Son, Male, White, Age 6, Single, Born in Arkansas, Father born in NC, Mother born in Arkansas – Joe Gregson, Son, Male, White, Age 6, Single, Born in Arkansas, Father born in NC, Mother born in Arkansas – Julius Edgar is now 46 years old

1928 – 1933 Harvey Parnell is Governor of Arkansas and Julius Edgar Gregson is involved with the Kings River Bridge and highway project

April 10, 1930 enumerated for the US 1930 Census – Head of Household, “Julius E. Gregson”, Prairie Township, Berryville Town, Carroll Co., AR, Owns, Male, White, Age 55, Married at age 36, Born in NC, Parents born in NC, Lawyer – Civil – wife, Mattie S. Gregson, Age 44, Married at 23, Born in Arkansas, Father born in Arkansas, Mother born in Tennessee – Jack H. [sic] Gregson, Son, Male, White, Age 16, Born in Arkansas, Father born in NC, Mother born in Arkansas – Joe D. [sic] Gregson, Son, Male, White, Age 16, Single, Born in Arkansas, Father born in NC, Mother born in Arkansas – Julius Edgar is 56 years old

March 22, 1941 his elder brother, John LeRoy Gregson, dies; other brother, Amos Carl Gregson, which he mentions as being deceased, had died July 18, 1915 and his youngest brother, Willie – reported to still be alive when statement is produced – dies on August 1, 1958. This gives us an approximate time range for Julius Edgar’s writing of this document – between March 22, 1941 and August 1, 1958.

December 16, 1954 Julius Edgar’s wife, Martha (Mattie) Savanna Owens Gregson dies [see footnote 18] – Julius Edgar is 80years

Loose Ends at the end of his statement, Julius Edgar says he “served a long time” as city Mayor and a member of the local School Board – I do not know the dates of these events

December 24, 1964 Julius Edgar Gregson dies at Hospital, Springfield, Greene Co., Missouri; his final resting place is Berryville Memorial Park Cemetery, Carroll Co., Arkansas – JuliusEdgar was 90 years of age and just 11 days shy of his 91st Birthday – Bless him

ENDNOTE: If you’d like even more details……..consider this: John Cox’s Uncle, that would be Mr. J. M. Harper (aka Jessie/Jesse M. Harper) with whom Julius Edgar Gregson boarded for many years, appears on the US 1880 Census for Carrollton, Carroll Co., AR as “Jesse M. Harper”, Age 32, Farmer, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC with wife, Eliza J.(born TN), daughter, Rosina (born AR), son, Milford (born AR)… …and……his neighbor on that census…. Nathan BRILES, none other than the nephew of Julius Edgar’s very own grandmother, Holland BRILES and, Julius Edgar’s 1st cousin once removed. “Nathan Briles”, Age 41, Farmer, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC with wife, Martha A. M. (born NC)

Both of these gentlemen, along with their wives and the Harper’s son, are buried in Carrollton Cemetery, Carroll Co., AR. Names with dates as they appear on the rootsweb page for that cemetery are as follows:

J. M. Harper b. June 2, 1847 d. Jan. 29, 1928

Eliza J. Harper – wife of J. M. – b. Apr. 7, 1851 d. June 6, 1921

Milphord Harper – son of J. M. & E. J. – b. Dec. 23, 1877 d. June 24, 1880

Nathan Briles b. Jan 9, 1939 [sic] – year of birth should be 1839 – d. Sept 27 1881

Martha A. Briles – wife of Nathan – b. Oct 23, 1843 d. Feb 7, 1933

“A small world” you say……Well, maybe……but I believe we’ll discover it’s just another case of Randolph County, NC families that moved together, settled together, and were buried together.


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