New About Search Data Deeds Military Wills Links Query Home


Oxford Public Ledger

April 13, 1894


Old Granville History


Some Interesting Recollections

of Judge Henderson and Jno.Williams



Granville county has had some distinguished sons that are entitled to great renown on the pages of history; but none are entitled to more fame for intellectual powers and trauscendant abilities than Judge Richard Henderson, Judge Leonard Henderson and Judge John Williams. They were not only men of great mental powers but possessed great strength of character and nobility of soul.


We therefore transfer the following extract from a Washington correspondent with much pleasure, and commend its perusal to all of our readers:


The ancestral home of Hon. Hoke Smith’s maternal progenitors is Montpelier, Granville county, NC. It was built prior to the Revolutionary war by Judge John Williams, the great-grand-father of Mary Brent Hoke, who married Professor Smith, of New Hampshire, the father of the secretary.

It is one mile from Williamsboro, one of the three post towns in North Carolina during the war of the Revolution. Montpelier is approached by an avenue a mile long cut through primeval forest of giant oaks. This avenue is wide enough for four carriages to drive abreast down its entire length. It is perfectly straight, and the view of the old house in the large lawn, about the size of Franklin square, is very imposing.


The house is built of heart of the pine, but is finished inside with hand-carved oak. The drawing room and library open on a central hall, as wide as the average Washington house. The ball room on the second story is nearly large as the East room of the White House. The hedge of the ancient box trees, in which Mrs. John Williams hid her silver from Lord Tarleton’s troops, is still standing. Across the hall from the ball room, which is triangular-shaped bed room, which is said to be haunted by ghost of reckless son of the house of three generations past, who met with an untimely and unnatural death. This room overlooks the Old family burying ground, and there are strange noises to be heard coming from the graveyard when the wind is in a certain direction. They probably come from the limbs of a tree which strike the tall Carara marble monument of Agatha Williams Burton the beautiful only daughter of Judge Williams and great-grand-mother of Hon. Hoke Smith. The poorer white people and the Negroes do not accept this solution of the “ghost: however and many of them assert to this day that they have seen lights burning in the haunted room when Montpelier’s ghost is as fixed an institution among these people as the pension roll is at the Interior Department.


In this old graveyard is the unmarked grave of chief Justice Leonard Henderson, the father of President Andrew Johnson. When Andrew Johnson was President he was invited to Raleigh to unveil the monument which some of the citizens of the state saw fit to erect to the memory of an estimable tailor, who was the husband of President Johnson’s mother. Andrew Johnson went, but referred to him as “my reputed father.” He, aw well as the friends and descendants of Chief Justice Henderson has called my attention to the strong resemblance between the family portrait of Chief Justice Henderson and the picture of Andrew Johnson. The monument paid for by the State of North Carolina marks the worthy tailor of Johnson’s grave at Raleigh, but a heavy stone, which was pointed out to me wit the request that I should remember the spot “in case future generations should care to mark the grave of the distinguished Chief Justice is the only headstone to show where the father of Andrew Johnson rests. Mrs. John Williams was the sister of Judge Richard Henderson, the father of Chief Justice Henderson. Henderson and Henderson, Ky., and various other towns in the south named for Judge Henderson and his numerous descendants, nearly all of whom have attained either local or national distinction. The Hon. Archibald Henderson was a brother of Chief Justice Henderson and grand-father of Hon. Steele Henderson now member of Congress from North Carolina and chairman of the Committee of Post offices and Post Roads. --------------



Note-Montipelier was burned down the first time in 1895 and then rebuilt, - by 1994 that home was burned down.



©2002 to present by Tina Tarlton Smith and Deloris Williams for the NCGenWeb Project. All Rights Reserved.  No portion of  any document appearing on this site is to be used for other than personal research.  Any republication or reposting is expressly forbidden without the written consent of the owners. Last updated 01/09/2017

| Top |