MEETING IN HARNETT COUNTY
Fayetteville Observer, Monday, December 13, 1860
Transcribed and Posted by Myrtle Bridges January 16, 2010
According to notice previously given, a very large number of the citizens of Harnett County assembled
at the Court House in Summerville, on Tuesday, 11th instant, to consult together and to give expression
to their sentiments on Federal Affairs.
On motion, Gen. A.D. McLEAN was called to the Chair and Allen B. PARKER requested to act as Secretary.
The chairman, after returning thanks for the honor conferred upon him, very briefly explained the object
of the meeting, and concluded by announcing that the meeting was organized for business.
On motion of Dr. John A. McKAY, the meeting then adjourned to McDONALD's Piazza, in order that a number
of persons unable to make their way into the Court House might have an opportunity of participating.
After meeting at McDONALD's, on motion of Col. Alex. MURCHISON, the Chairman appointed a committee
consisting of one from each Captain's District, to prepare business for the meeting. The Chairman
announced as the Committee, Col. A.S. McNEILL, Col. Alex. MURCHISON, Dan'l McDOUGALD, G.W. PEGRAM,
Jno. Green, A.J. TURLINGTON, and Anson PARKER, Esquires.
During the absence of the committee several gentlemen responded to calls that were made for them-breathing
a devotion to the Federal Union, but firmly taking the position that North Carolina should remain in the
Union upon no other terms than those of equality.
Col. A.S. McNEILL, Chairman of the Committee, reported the following:
Whereas, the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency of the United States, by an anti-slavery
sectional party, has convulsed the country with an unprecedented agitation, threatening the dismemberment
of this Confederacy of States: and we are called upon, as a portion of the people of a sovereign State,
to give utterance to our views in the premises:
1. That we regard the election of Abraham LINCOLN as an outrage on the feelings and sentiments of the
2. That the repeal by the dominant party of the Fugitive Slave Law, or the exclusion by congressional
enactment of the citizens of slave holding States from an equal participation in all the privileges and
benefits of the Common Territories, would constitute an infraction of our constitutional rights to which
the State of North Carolina could not with honor or justice to herself submit.
3. That the people of certain States which have enacted laws to obstruct the execution of the Fugitive
Slave Law are guilty of flagrant perfidy and dishonor, and have thereby absolved the remaining States
from the duties of reciprocity which they owed them before.
4. That yielding to none in our devotion to State rights, and to the honor and welfare of North Carolina,
we have an abiding confidence in the strength and power of the Federal Constitution to protect and preserve
all the rights of every State, and we believe that duty alike to ourselves, to posterity, and to mankind,
forbid that we should consent to a dissolution of the Union for inadequate causes.
5. That we request our Legislature to call a Convention of the people of North Carolina, at the earliest
practicable day, for the purpose of taking into consideration our Federal Relations; and we pledge ourselves
to sustain North Carolina in whatever position, in the wisdom of the people, she may choose to assume.
6. That we invoke the cooperation of the patriotic and conservative of every party and section, for the
purpose of removing the dangers which threaten the destruction of our confederation, and of restoring to
our distracted country the spirit of amity, brotherhood, and peace.
On motion of Dr. Jno. McCORMICK, the resolutions as a whole, were adopted with but few dissenting voices.
On motion of C.H. COFFIELD, Esq., It was ordered that the proceedings be published in the Fayetteville and
Raleigh papers, and that our representatives lay them before the Legislature of North Carolina.
On motion of Dr. Jno. McCORMICK, the meeting then adjourned. A.D. McLEAN, Chairman, Allen B. PARKER, Sec'y.
THE HARNETT QUESTION
Fayetteville Observer, Monday, November 19, 1860
Transcribed and Posted by Myrtle Bridges January 16, 2010
There has been a deal of litigation during the past five or six years, growing out of the location
of the County seat of Harnett, and of the contracts for the public buildings. The County and Superior
and Supreme Courts have all had Harnett suits to decide. The last, it is hoped, of the series was
decided here yesterday, after two days' trial, by a verdict against the county, in favor of the
contractor for building the jail. We understand that the amount recovered, including interest, is
probably $5,000. The costs too are very considerable. Attorneys for the Contractor, Messrs. Person,
N. McKay, and Buxton; for the County, Messrs. Haigh and Strange.
The case of Hardy Barnes, for murder, which was removed from Robeson County, was yesterday afternoon
continued, on affidavit of the prisoner, for want of a material witness.
HARNETT COUNTY AFFAIRS - 1859
Fayetteville Observer, (Fayetteville, NC) Monday, March 21, 1859 January 11, 2010
It will be seen by the reference to our advertising columns that the County Seat of Harnett is not
yet fixed. An election for seven commissioners is to be held on the 7th of April; the returns will be passed
upon at June County Court, and the Commissioners elected are to locate
"Lillington" or "Toomer."
At the County Court last week, we learn that R. P. Buxton, Esq., as attorney for P. McCoy, presented a Mandamus
against the Justices of Harnett, to compel the fulfilment of a contract made with said McCoy for the building
of a Court House and Jail; when the Court appointed R. C. Belden, Esq., as one of their body, to answer the
petition on which the Mandamus was founded.
J.J. Jackson, Esq., as attorney for Jonathan Worth, Adm'r of Jno McNeill, presented a Mandamus to compel the
payment of two thousand dollars due said McNeill, which sum was paid by him as County Trustee.
The service of both writs was accepted.
J.A. Spears was elected Solicitor; C.S. Barbee, Trustee; and R.C. Belden, Chairman of Magistrates.
The taxes levied for the year are 85 cents on real estate and $1.40 on the poll, for county purposes,a
considerable increase as compared with last year.
THE GRAVE OF CORNELIUS HARNETT - 1857
Fayetteville Observer, Monday, September 21, 1857; Issue 644; col F
Transcribed and Posted by Myrtle Bridges January 03, 2010
We have before stated the fact, that Harnett sleeps his sleep of death in the north-east corner of the Episcopal
burying ground in this town. This spot is marked by a red sand-stone about (illegible) feet high, on which is
inscribed the following:
Died April 20, 1781
Aged 58 years."
"Slave to no sect, he took no private road,
But looked through Nature up to Nature's God."
Such is the brief and artless biography [written] by the men of 1781 of "the Samuel Adams of North Carolina," the
first President of the Provincial Congress of the State, and the first [illegible] statesman and patriot of the age
in which he lived.
We cannot say his resting-place has been neglected, for the "old red sand-stone" marks the spot of his repose, and
points the pilgrim to a narrow bed. Two aged China trees wave their arms above him, and two stalwart oaks shade his
remains from the eastern and the western [sun] while the flox flower in rich luxuriance now grows upon his breast.
In the days of the Revolution, he was [?] to the mother country. In these latter days the Legislature of the State
has honored his [life? Illegible] by assigning his name to the county of "Harnett" recently created from the county
of Cumberland-a county whose fair proportions were therefore shorn in making the county of "Moore" which, like the
latter, was named after a [hero? - illegible]
A HARNETT COUNTY COMMUNICATION - 1856
Fayetteville Observer, (Fayetteville, NC) Monday, April 07, 1856
Transcribed and Posted by Myrtle Bridges October 13, 2009
A large and enthusiastic meeting of the citizens of Barbecue District was held at Worth's Store,
Buffalo Springs, on Saturday the 29th March.
On motion of Daniel McCormick, Esq., Daniel B. Cameron, Esq., was called to the Chair, and Murdoch D. McLeod
and John A. McDonald requested to act as secretaries.
The Chair called on Dr. J. McCormick who briefly stated the object of the meeting, and moved that the Chair
appoint a Committee of five to draft resolutions expressive of the sentiments of the people; whereupon the
Chair appointed the following gentlemen, viz: Dr. John McCormick, David G. Worth, Hugh Leslie, A.C. Buie,
and J. Maxwell, Esqs.
During the absence of the Committee the meeting was ably addressed by Duncan McCormick, J.A. McDonald and
Dan'l McCormick, Esqs.
The Committee through their chairman, Dr. John McCormick, reported the following preamble and resolutions,
which were unanimously adopted, viz:
Whereas, the time is approaching when we will again be called upon to choose our Representatives for the next
Legislature: We, the citizens of Barbecue District, deem it expedient to make known our sentiments irrespective
of party, in regard to the state of affairs in Harnett County, in order that we may not be misrepresented in the
next General Assembly.
A majority of the last Legislature, in its wisdom saw fit to divide the County of Cumberland made known the scheme
publicly while canvassing the County; and if anything was known to anyone, or even the majority who supported and
advocated the measure, (which we do not pretend to charge,) relative to the division of the County, previous to
the Election, it was kept from the people. In view of the above facts, we therefore unanimously
Resolve, 1st. That our Bill of Rights acknowledges the "all Power is rested in, and derived from the People."
2nd. That a majority of the Committee appointed by the last Legislature to lay off and allot the County site of
Harnett, have acted contrary to the wishes and the best interests of a large majority of the freemen of Harnett.
3rd. That we will support NO Candidate for the next Legislature who will not come out emphatically in favor of
submitting to the People the LOCATION of the County site of Harnett.
4th. That the proceedings of this meeting be sent to the Fayetteville papers, with the request that they be published.
On motion, the meeting adjourned sine die.
D.B. Cameron, Chairman
J.A. McDonald, Secretaries
HARNETT COUNTY IS CREATED - 1855
Monday, March 19, 1855 Issue Fayetteville Observer
Transcribed and Posted by Myrtle Bridges December 22, 2008
In conformity with an act of the last Legislature, the Commissioner met on Friday last, and selected
Summerville as the County seat. As your readers are aware, the County is named after Cornelius Harnett,
who lived and died in the vicinity of Wilmington, and whose remains now repose in St. James's Grave Yard,
in that town. He was an ardent and devoted Patriot who by his counsel and eloquence rendered efficient
service to the American cause in the trying time of 1776.
The selection of this name in honor of a zealous and devoted Whig reminds me of the fact that when Moore was
taken from Cumberland, the citizens named that County after Gen'l James Moore, of New Hanover, a Whig of the
Harnett school, who with Lillington, Caswell, and Slocum, was instrumental in defeating the Scotch Loyalists
at Moore's Creek, early in the revolutionary struggle in this State. This reminds me of the further fact, that
Cumberland County, in 1754, was named in honor of the Duke of Cumberland who had defeated the citizens of the
County at Culloden in Scotland in 1746. From these three instances it may be fairly inferred that the Scotch
are unlike the Indians, and that they do forgive and forget, and honor greatness wherever found.
In the division of the County of Cumberland, and the erection of Moore and Harnett out of it, the citizens
voluntarily selected the names. In the erection of the county originally, the name of Cumberland was imposed
upon them by George II, in order to cause the vanquished to remember the power of the victor in this their
far distand and newly adopted home.
But I have wandered from the purpose I had in view, which was to inform your readers that the Act of Assembly
for the formation of the new County provides that the County Town shall be called "Toomer," in honor of the
venerable and highly distinguished Hon. John D. Toomer, long a citizen of Cumberland, and an honor and ornament
of its Bar, as he was of the Superior and Supreme Court Bench-a name dear to every son of Cumberland, and one
which is justly venerated by the citizens of the State, and by none more than by his Professional Brethern of
the Bar, who have had ample opportunity during his long career to know him best, and love him most.
The Town of Toomer and the County of Harnett are appropriately connected. For Judge Toomer, now of Chatham, is
a native of Wilmington and spent his youth within the shade of Harnett's home and Harnett's tomb.
The town of Toomer, (formerly Summerville,) is situated about 26 miles north-west of Fayetteville, upon high
table land, two miles west of the Cape Fear River; and was originally designated by the name of Tirzah, where
a Presbyterian Church was established early in the settlement of Cumberland. Some ten years ago the old church
was displaced by a large frame building of modern style and handsome appearance, of which Rev. Neill McKay is
Pastor. Adjoining the Church is a grave yard surrounded by a neat wooden paling, where rests Neill McKay, Esq.,
(father of the Pastor,) who is highly spoken of by Foote, in his sketches of North Carolina, as a faithful and
influentian Elder of the Presbyterian Church. Close beside him lies the remains of a namless stranger, an Irishman,
who died in the employ of the Cape Fear & Deep River Navigation Company. Over his remains rests a small marble slab
with the inscription "The Home of the Stranger," which we understand was erected by the generousity of Col. Alexander
Murchison. Within the same enclosure, are several other monuments of a neat and tasteful character, which mark the
resting places of those who in life were beloved and in death have not been forgotten.
North-west of the graveyard is the residence of Gen. A.D. McLean, who is the principal of a large and flourishing Male
and Female Academy, which has had its influence in keeping the place before the public. His aged Mother's residence
adjoins his own. Next, mine hospitable Hostess, Mrs. E. Bailey, occupies a large and commodious two story house, with
an oak grove in front which in the heat of the summer will be more valued than now.
Beyond, is the residence of Rev. Neill McKay. It is a large building and presents a handsome appearance to the eye.
On the opposite side of the street is the residence of his venerable mother, who is indeed one of the links that
connect the present with the past. Adjoining is her son Malcom McKay, where the Students of Cumberland Academy have
for the last year or two found a home, which today was used as a Court House for Harnett County. Within the Academy
square stands the mansion of Col. Alex. Murchison; and in an easterly direction fronting the graveyard and church
before alluded to, is the summer residence of Col.A.S. McNeill.
Around the suburbs are several neat, comfortable, frame buildings, which give to the place already the appearance
of a town. On every side there is a gentle descent. The oaks are fast supplying the place formerly occupied by the
lofty pine, plenty of which however is near at hand and bounds the view in every direction. The water is pure and
excellent, and as yet no liquor can be had in the town.
We believe the commissioners have been fortunate in the selection of a site for the County Town and think that
it will be resorted to by many as a healty summer retreat.
One hundred and one years ago Cumberland was created out of Bladen, and knowing how gladly hundreds would read
a description of the original county seat as the mouth of Lower Little River, written at the time, induces me to
trouble you with this hasty sketch, which may possibly be read with interest one hundred years hence by some zealous
The Magistrates of the County assembled at 11 o'clock on the 12th instant. Twenty-seven answered to their names.
On motion of W.B. Wright, Esq., G.W. Pegram, Esq. was elected Chairman.
The Magistrates proceeded to elect the officers of the County, of whom the following is a list.
Benjamin F. Shaw, Clerk County Court
James A. Johnson, Sheriff
John L. Bethea, Esq., County Trustee
Neill McKay, Esq., Solicitor
Duncan McLean, Register
Hector McLean, Coroner
Jonathan Holly, Entry Taker
A.S. McNeill, Daniel McCormick, and John Green, Committee of Finance
A large concourse of citizens were in attendance, but everything passed off pleasantly, and in a manner worthy
of those who until today were sons of Cumberland, and with us felt a pride in our common origin, common history, and
At the separation I felt deep sorrow. A sorrow the result of a true appreciation of the characters of the kind,
hospitable men, who hitherto had formed a large and honored portion of Cumberland-a county in whose welfare and
prosperity I have ever felt a deep and abiding interest, and now that she is being shorn of a large portion of her
strength, those feelings increase rather than diminish-but not to an extent that forbits or prevents my bidding God
speed to "Harnett," now that she has set out upon her own account. She is the youngest daughter of Cumberland:
May her career be glorious, may she excel the virtues of her mother, and reflect honor upon our beloved State.(CULLODEN)
(Sec. 1) An Act to lay off and establish a new county by the name of Harnett. The new county is to be formed
from a portion of the County of Cumberland, under the name and style, of Harnett, to be bounded as follows:
Beginning at the intersection of the lines of Johnston and Sampson Counties on Black Mingo, thence a direct
line to the mouth of Lower Little River, thence up said river to the bridge at Elliots' Mills: thence a straignt
line to the place on the Murchison road where Hector's Creek crosses; thence with said road to Moore County line;
thence with said line to Chatham County line; thence with that to the Wake County line, thence w3ith that to the
Johnston County line, thence with that to the beginning. Read three times and ratified in General Assembly this
18th day of February 1855.
(Sect. 7) That George W. Pegram, John Green, Eldridge Stewart, James Johnson, James P. Hodges, John McKay
and Samuel E. Johnson are appointed commissioners to lay off and allot the county seat of said county, at
or within three miles of the geograph-ical centre, and shall have power to purchase or take by gift or
donation, a tract of land not less than "one hundred acres," to be conveyed to the chairman of the County
Court and his successors in office, for the use of the county, upon which a town shall be laid off, to be
called "Toomer," and within the limits of which the court house and other public buildings shall be located
and erected. April 16, 1855 Issue Fayetteville Observer
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