HOMES OF OLD WARRENTON-CONTINUED
THE HOME OF JACOB PARKER
Adjoining the Academy grounds on the north is a residence that has been owned and occupied, in recent years, by Dr. and Mrs. P. J. Macon. It was built by Major Nat Green, in which to house his guests that could not be comfortably accommodated in his residence across the street, so profuse was his hospitality. When he left Warrenton for Memphis, Tennessee, he sold this place to John Hayes, of Warren County. He and his wife, (Miss Betsey Jones) sister of Mrs. John White, lived there until Mr. Hayes' death, when they, (she and her three children) returned to her plantation, in the county. Dr. R. C. Pritchard from Virginia, with his family, then bought the home and he begun to practice medicine in the town and vicinity. He was an unusually intelligent man, and a very gifted orator. Dr. Pritchard had not resided there long before he suffered a very severe stroke of paralysis. The following year he sold this home to Jacob Parker, and moved to the farm of Mrs. Pritchard, who was Miss Anna Jones, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Green Jones, of Warren County, near Jones' Spring.
Jacob Parker was a native of Murfreesboro, North Carolina and had married Miss Elizabeth Kearney of Warren County. There were five children born to this couple. His only son, W. C. Y. Parker, (named for his cousin, a brave Confederate soldier, who died at the home of his uncle, Mr. Parker, from wounds received in the battles near Richmond) married Miss Sallie Falkener, daughter of W. A. K. Falkener, of Warrenton; they have an interesting family of six children. After some years in Norfolk, where Walter Parker was engaged in the cotton business, the family moved to Warrenton, and Mr. Parker engaged in the mercantile business with his father. Later he followed his sons to New York City, where he died in 1905. His widow and children still make their home near the city in New Rochelle. Walter Parker was an unusual man. He was endowed with a fine order of intelligence, warm and generous hearted. The last years of his life he was a religious enthusiast, his one purpose being to walk in the foot-steps of the Saviour, and in that big city of sin and suffering he did what he could to brighten the lives of the afflicted.
The oldest daughter, Nellie, married Ben Ballard, of Franklinton, North Carolina, where they still reside. Miss Nena has been a successful teacher in the School for the Blind, in Raleigh, for some years. The next sister, Miss Bettie, a lovely Christian character, died some years ago, in the old home in Warrenton. The youngest daughter, Maria, makes her home either in the town of her birth, or with the sister in Franklinton. She has such a cheerful spirit, so unselfish and warm hearted, that she is a most welcomed guest in many homes of her relatives and friends.
Jacob Parker was a man of fine physique, more than six feet tall, very intelligent, full of fun, and with so genial and easy a manner that his society was much sought by a host of friends. He was most hospitable, and a splendid family man. For many years he conducted a very large and successful mercantile, supply and cotton business in Warrenton. He and my husband were very warm and congenial friends. Often when they met they greatly enjoyed laughing over an experience they had together, when in New York City, each on business. An old friend of Mr. Parker's, a Mr. Darden, from his home town, Murfreesboro, was also in New York, and as soon as he learned his old friend was there, he sought him out at the St. Nicholas Hotel, the resort of most Southern men at that time. After finding him he asked that he might be allowed to occupy the same room with Mr. Parker and Mr. Montgomery, so a third bed was moved in for him. The first night after tea Mr. Montgomery said that he was going to hear the great actor, Joe Jefferson, play Rip Van Winkle, and would either one of the gentlemen go with him? Mr. Parker declined, but Mr. Darden said: "I am a consistent Baptist, as Brother Parker knows, and have never been in a theatre in my life; but I believe I will go tonight to try to learn how much meanness there is in the world." When these two gentlemen returned to their room for the night, Mr. Darden immediately woke Mr. Parker, and said "Brother Parker, you must wake up and let me tell you that you and I have been mistaken in not attending such plays as I have seen tonight. I have heard the best sermon I ever heard in my life, I am sure that I am going to be a better Christian, a better man, a better husband from what I have heard and seen tonight." I have often wished that Mr. Jefferson could have known of that fine criticism as well as compliment paid him as an artist in his life work. Mrs. Parker was a lovely woman, a devoted wife and mother, a splendid housekeeper and an ideal home-maker. This couple were very united in their lives, and in their deaths were not long divided.
THE CARTER WILLIAMS PLACE
Among the new homes in Warrenton is the Carter Williams home, built on the north of the Presbyterian Church, very attractive with fine porches. Mr. Williams did not occupy it many years before he sold it to William T. Johnson, and moved to Richmond to live. Mr. Johnson was a native of the old town, being the son of J. R. Johnson and Lucy Wilson, his wife. He was a merchant, and for some years he and his father were in business together, until the disastrous fire in 1881. After that he was in business alone. He was of a genial nature, kind and accommodating to every one, a man of good habits and an exemplary family man.
His first marriage was with Miss Nannie Tarwater. By this marriage there were two daughters, Florry and Kate. His second marriage was with Miss Bettie Hall, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Hall.
Mr. Johnson died in Baltimore (where he had gone for hospital treatment) several years ago. Mrs. Johnson and the three daughters still make this place their home.
THE PUREFOY HOME
On the north of the Graves-Wilcox School was a very comfortable home built by Rev. J. Addison Purefoy, where he and his wife and their children resided for many years. In the yard he built two rooms, in which he taught a boys' school. Mr. Purefoy came to Warrenton, after serving a church in Fayetteville. He was called to Brown's Baptist Church in 1852, and remained in charge for twenty-eight years. He was a faithful and zealous pastor, and left a great impression on the church and neighborhood. Mr. Purefoy was a man of very profound, accurate and extensive learning. He was an M.A. of Columbian University, Washington City. He was a devout Christian, and noted for his quiet, unaffected piety. He enjoyed the confidence of all who knew him, and many tenderly loved him. Mrs. Purefoy was a Miss Watson, sister of John and William Watson of the county.
The Purefoy home is now and has been for some years the residence of J. M. Gardner, who with his wife and young daughter form the home circle. Mr. Gardner has been engaged for many years in the cotton business and banking, in which he has been very successful. He is a man of fine business habits and qualifications. Mrs. Gardner was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. A. White. They have three children: Nettie, (Mrs. Rowland) Sarah, (Mrs. Mosely) and Bate.
THE JOHN WHITE PLACE
Buena Vista Spring, before it was christened on the day of the "Great Bragg Dinner," was known as the Telegraph Spring, the owner of the adjacent property and spring, John W. White, (the old clerk of the Court) supplying water from this spring to his residence, more than a hundred yards off, by means of a large metal bucket, which was operated on a strong wire, attached to a pole, by the use of a reel and windlass. The basin of the spring was very attractive, cut out of solid granite, round in shape, and of very good size. There was an abundant flow of very cold water. About ten or fifteen feet off there was a pool, used for many years as the baptistery for the Baptist Church. The use of it for the purpose was continued until a baptistery was built in the Baptist Church, the pool supplied from the Telegraph Spring.
After the death of J. W. White, Sam Harper, who married his daughter, Mary White, bought and took possession of the home. They continued to reside there until they built a very convenient home on the main road to Warren Plains, north of Mrs. Shaw's home. Mr. and Mrs. Sam Harper were most excellent people, noted for their affection for each other, and their kindness to all the community. They were members of the Baptist Church, and Mrs. Harper was always foremost in all church activities. She was a splendid nurse, and gave her services freely to all who needed her ministrations. Mr. Harper was an excellent citizen, energetic, and capable in his work. He was a woodwork man in the construction of carriages and buggies, employed in the factory of Bobbitt & Price. Mr. Harper's father, Kinchen Harper, was an expert blacksmith, and was for years head of that department of work in the same factory. The brothers, George and Harry, followed the same line of work as did Sam, while Kinchen followed that of his father. They were useful people and liked by all the community.
In recent years this home was the residence of James R. Rodwell and his family. Mr. Rodwell was a most estimable and amiable gentleman. For some years he was Sheriff of Warren County, also Clerk of the Superior Court of the county, and was a faithful and competent officer, and very popular as a private citizen. His first marriage was with Miss Pattie Gardner, of the county. They had a large family of children. His second wife was a Miss Hunter of Cary, Wake County.
THE HOME OF WILLIAM WHITE
On the east of the home of his father, Mr. White erected his home. I have the impression that he enlarged the school house of Mr. Purefoy. He and his wife, Miss Sallie Cole, made it a very attractive place. They had two children. Kate, who married Mr. Gardner, and J. William, who married Miss Rodwell. They were very fortunate in having their children live on either side of them. Mr. and Mrs. White were very faithful and devoted members of the Baptist Church. He always assisted in the choir, although a very shy and retiring man. Mrs. White was a handsome person, always well dressed, and very cordial in her manner. A notice of Mr. White's long service as Clerk of the Superior Court of Warren County, is written of elsewhere.
Their son, J. William White, has in late years built a very pretty cottage next to his father's home. Mr. White is a successful insurance man and very popular among the insurance men of the State. He also has an artistic side to his nature, as I have been told that he takes most excellent Kodak pictures. The only child of Mr. and Mrs. White, Walter, is a married man, and resides next to the Baptist parsonage.
THE WALTER PLUMMER PLACE
In 1872, Walter G. Plummer, son of William Plummer, after his marriage with Miss Nannie Cawthorn, built this home. It was a very roomy attractive cottage, in the grove north of the McCraw home. Mr. Plummer, with his family, lived there until he bought the Simon Fleming place near Warren Plains. There was a large family of children in the Plummer household. The oldest son, Walter, lives in Mississippi; Spencer, in Philadelphia; Edward and Harry in Newport News, also Mary and Luna. Eliza, Mrs. Schofield, and Josephine live in Richmond. Sue, the oldest child has recently (1922) died in Richmond. She was a fine Christian woman, and had been a mother to the family for many years.
Walter Plummer was a man of the highest order of business capacity. 'He conducted a mercantile business in the town, and was often employed by the officers of the County Court to go over the accounts, and set right the ledgers. He was much respected by the community, because of his character and his general usefulness. The family were devoted Episcopalians.
When Mr. Plummer sold this cottage it was bought by Mrs. N. L. Shaw, formerly the widow of Colonel W. A. Jenkins. In 1886, she remodeled the house, making it of two stories, and giving it a more imposing front. On his marriage, With Mrs. Jenkins, Mr. Shaw came to Warrenton to live and engaged in merchandise, in which he Was successful. Captain Shaw Was an ardent Worker in the church and Sunday school of the Baptist Church of the town. He had also been a good Confederate soldier.
This house Was built by the Presbyterians, as a home for their minister. Dr. Joseph Atkinson Was the first to occupy it; it has been used by the succeeding ministers since his day.
THE HOME OF JAMES TARWATER
This attractive place Was built by James Tarwater, in comparatively recent years. Mrs. Tarwater Was Miss Sarah Gayle, the granddaughter of Julius Wilcox. She Was a beautiful young Woman, dying very young and leaving a family of small children. The oldest daughter, Hialah, has recently married Keppel Falkener, the son of Andrew Falkener, and Jessie Arrington, his first Wife. They make their home in Warrenton.
From early manhood he Was engaged in large business interests With his brother. Since the latter's death he has been successful in the same line of Work, dealing in live-stock and leaf tobacco.
On the site of these homes, in the spring of the surrender, 1865, there Was a grove of very hand some oak trees. Back where the Peck Mills are now built, was a very pretty spring, a picturesque spot, called by the young people Lovers' Retreat. There was a large farm gate on the northern edge of the grove, through which you entered, just opposite the Cawthorn big gate. All around Lovers' Retreat in the spring were large beds of wild pinks, very fragrant and beautiful.
The day that the Federal troops entered the town was long remembered by the older people. It was on a Sunday, in April, while we were assembled in the various churches for worship, when the bell over the market house begun to ring. Immediately the congregations were dismissed, and very quietly and sadly went to their homes. We then fully appreciated what the surrender meant. General Sherman and his staff, consisting of Generals Logan, Howard, and other distinguished Federal officers, preceded the large body of troops a day and night, entering by the Louisburg road. They passed through Main Street, and camped in the grove I have spoken of on the north edge of town. Some of the citizens called at the tents of these officers, and some few who had been connected with the U. S. Army previous to the war entertained them at their homes Of course the majority had a very deep-seated hostility to the Federal Government and all connected with it. Many of them secured a guard to sleep in their homes, being afraid of depredations committed on them. My father had a guard for two nights and a day. The young ladies of the family asked my mother not to put him to sleep on the upper floor, so a pallet was made for him on the parlor floor. When the servant went to remove it the next morning it was undisturbed. Upon inquiry the soldier said it was too soft for him so he had slept on the piano. Quite a number of families from the country came in town for protection.
The 15th Army corps was all day passing through the town, and camped some eight miles north not very far from Roanoke River, on the farm of Mr. Askew. A few days before the troops came to the town, my father, like a majority of our people, afraid that our silver, watches, and jewelry would be stolen by the followers of the troops, packed all in a box, and went to this very Mr. Askew and asked his assistance in burying it in some least frequented place on his farm, which they did, stepping off a certain number of paces from a large oak, and in a tanglewood of shrubs. A few days after the army had moved on, Mr. Askew came to tell my father that the encampment was just over the place where they had hid the box, but the old man was mistaken in the number of paces from the large tree, and the box was safe, but they came perilously near getting the treasure.
It was when these troops left Warrenton that a company of a hundred men, under Captain Crapeau, were left to keep order in the county. They were lodged in the courthouse, the Captain stayed at Colonel Crossan's, as they had been acquainted in former years. There really was no need of these troops in the county, as there was perfect quiet and order; only occasionally was there a complaint from some colored man in the county, as to some injustice done him, when the commander nearly always turned a cold shoulder and deaf ear to the complaint, turning the complainer over to the soldiers, who delighted to toss him up in a blanket. This company remained in Warrenton until late in the fall.
Montgomery, Lizzie Wilson; Sketches of old Warrenton, North Carolina; traditions and reminiscences of the town and people who made it, Raleigh, Edwards & Broughton printing company, 1924.