THE HOMES OF OLD WARRENTON-CONTINUED
THE THOMAS REYNOLDS PLACE
There is still a small and very old house, fronting on Bragg Street, immediately in the rear of the old Methodist Church, its most distinctive feature being the pair of magnificent oak trees that stand on each side of the gateway. When I was a child it was the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Reynolds, their son, Walter, and daughter, Grace. Mr. Reynolds was a man of varied gifts, wrote a fine hand, an accomplishment much prized and sought after in that day, and was often called upon to act as an amanuensis. He was a great sportsman, keeping the best dogs, and being the best shot, in the village.
Mrs. Reynolds was a kindly, gentle woman, much liked by all who knew her, a most devoted member of the Episcopal Church, and always at the services. The son, Walter, was a fine boy, and developed into a splendid young man; he attended the Naval Academy, and became a Naval Surgeon. He has made repeated visits to the old town, and delights to worship in the old church. Grace married and settled in Nash County. Some thirty years ago this was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Scott Wainwright.
THE TOWN SPRING LOT
There is now a wreck of a house opposite the jail, just back of the old stable at the corner of Bragg Street. In 1824 it was a very good cottage rather homelike and pleasing; there was then no jail opposite, but a very pretty common. In the middle was the town spring, all beautifully shaded by fine trees, hence it was called the town "spring lot," and was one of the few houses for rent in the village.
It is a little singular to relate that my grandparents went there to reside on their marriage, October 14, 1824, as did my husband's parents on their marriage in 1843, and that my husband was born there. My own parents, soon after their marriage in 1849, resided there for a year.
I have been told by a lady nearly ninety years old that she well recalls, when she was a child seven years old, "the town spring, with a dipper chained to a post, for use by thirsty ones; and that the grim pillory was near by." My husband told me he remembered when the pillory was used by the county and culprits were whipped with the lash. The pillory stood about fifteen feet east of the present jail.
My grandfather, Peter Mitchel, was born in Elgin, Scotland, and came to America when only nineteen years old, landing in Norfolk. After a few years he came to Petersburg, and from there he came with a Scotch colony to Warrenton. In the first decade of the last century he established a mercantile business in the town, and was very successful in this enterprise. He was a very kind and generous nature, the chief interest of his life being centered around his home, his wife and his children. In 1824 he was married to Elizabeth Holman Person of Warren County, from the home of Governor Turner, Bloomsburg, near Ridgeway, Mrs. Turner being her near kinswoman, her father's first cousin.
My grandmother lost her mother when she was quite young, and from that time until she was married she resided in the home of Governor Turner, and was educated with his daughters at a private school at their home. Before 'she went to Governor Turner's to live she had attended the Mordecai School in Warrenton for several years.
In 1832 my grandparents went from Warrenton to a large plantation of more than two thousand acres, four miles from the town, which my grandfather had bought and upon which he built a large and handsome house. They called the place Elgin after my grandfather's native town. He died in 1846, after having suffered from paralysis for five years. My grandmother lived at this home until 1856, when she gave the place to her youngest son, Peter.
Mrs. Mitchel was a woman of great strength of character, an accomplished musician, an omnivorous reader, a beautiful needlewoman and a fine housekeeper. She died in Memphis, Tennessee, in April 1872, while on a visit to her daughter, Lizzie, Mrs. Robert F. Brown. There were born in Warrenton to my grandparents four children: William Person, Janet Marshall, Elizabeth Holman, and Peter.
THE PRICE PLACE
On the south of the jail the simple residence that now stands was the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Price, nearly three-quarters of a century ago. I have written of Mr. Price before in this sketch in connection with his business interests. I knew Mrs. Price intimately from my earliest years. She was a very remarkable woman of fine intelligence and strong character, of great influence in her family and loyal to her friends. As a young woman she was considered a beauty. Mr. and Mrs. Price were the father and mother of ten children, eight of whom grew to maturity. John M. went to Kansas as a young man and died there. Bettie M. married S. W. Dowlin and both are now deceased. Thomas R. spent his life in Warren County with his mother, and after her death he joined his brother in Kansas and died there. Charles became a distinguished lawyer and died (1903) in Salisbury, North Carolina. Phil and Daniel, both lawyers, live in Texas. Henry is in railroad service in the West and Edward C. is now in business in Warrenton.
The place was afterwards the home of E. C. Waddill and family. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Waddill were Sarah, who first married Alex McCraw and, after his death, J. Wesley Williams; John M., and Mary Grace, who married Mr. Taylor. All three children were highly intellectual and they had the benefit of the best educational advantages of that time and locality. Mrs. Williams was an accomplished and handsome woman; she was a musician and quite an artist and, before she married, taught in the public school of the town. It was thought by many, who were competent to judge, that John M. Waddill was the equal, intellectually, of any person in the community. For many years he was probably the leading merchant in the town, cashier of the bank, and a leader in the community. His manners were austere and he made few close friends; but he had the confidence and respect of the people generally. In 1883 he moved from Warrenton to Reidsville, and from there to Greenville, South Carolina, where he died. His widow still resides in Greenville. Mrs. Taylor still lives in Warrenton with her daughter, Bessie.
Immediately after the War Between the States this old place was occupied by "Uncle" Jack Batchelor, and "Aunt" Mary, his wife. "Uncle" Jack was a former slave of Hon. J. B. Batchelor, at one time the sexton of the Episcopal Church, a very trustworthy man and a good citizen. He was quite large and tall, with a large round face, with a very pleasant expression, and a soft and modulated voice. Afterwards this place was owned by Oscar Alston, of Raleigh, North Carolina, a former citizen of Warrenton. Oscar was a well known character in the town. He was almost a white man in appearance, of fine intelligence, of good principles and had excellent business qualifications. He was one of those slaves who bought from his master his own time and lived for himself as completely as if he were a free man. He also hired the time of his brother Moses from the family to which Moses belonged. For many years in Warrenton he kept 'a small store in a part of, or adjoining, John R. Johnson's shoe shop, where he had a small stock of dry goods, groceries, tobacco, etc. He was a caterer of note throughout that section and had quite a lucrative business in furnishing suitable refreshments for balls, parties, wedding suppers, and public occasions of all sorts. At ten years of age, Miss Mordecai tells us in her history, he waited around the table of her father's boarding school in Warrenton. Oscar Alston left Warrenton several years before the war and went to Raleigh to reside. He gave his children good educational advantages at Oberlin, Ohio. His daughter became a noted teacher, his son, Philip, went into the priesthood of the Episcopal Church and is now in charge of a parish in Charlotte; he is much respected and liked by the white and colored people of the diocese in which he serves.
THE THOMAS WHITE PLACE
On the south of the last residence of which I have written was a very old rambling house of one story, set only one step from the ground. Quite a hundred years ago it was the residence of Thomas White, who was a well known and highly respected citizen of the town. The out-houses in the yard were quite as large as the residence. There was a stable in the back of the premises that the old people said was at one time the stall of the great racer, Boston, in which the town had great pride.
When Garrett Goodloe retired from Mrs. Bellamy's Hotel he went to that old place to live. He had lived in Warrenton for many years and was regarded as a man of fine character and intelligence, and of unflinching courage. He was tall and muscular, and had a distinguished bearing. He first married Miss Elizabeth Duke, of the well known aristocratic and wealthy family of that name in the county. Their children were Mary, afterwards Mrs. Edwards, Lewis Goodloe, and Ann, afterwards Mrs. W. G. Randall, wife of an artist of note in this State and in Washington City. Mr. Goodloe's second wife was a Miss Brown: their children were Kemp and Cornelia. Kemp died unmarried, Cornelia is Mrs. Brown, living near Vaughns, in Halifax County. Mr. Goodloe died at this place in the summer of 1868. This old house was torn down some thirty years ago, and on its site Mr. Holden in 1886 built a tobacco house.
THE BURROUGHS PLACE
Between the residence of Jacob Holt and the home last described was built a small two-story house by Mr. Burroughs, where he and his family lived more than seventy years ago, it is still standing just as it was when first built. 0. P. Shell lived there with his family in the seventies.
On the south on the corner Jacob Holt built another unusually shaped house for that time, as people knew little else than a square house. This was built for his own use, and he resided there as long as he remained in Warrenton.
Upon the lot was located an old lumbering work shop, in which the materials for the handsome homes and stores of the town and county were kept. The shaving pile outside of the building was the favorite place for the school boys of the town to play "circus" and other games. On the lot was also the kiln, used by Mr. Holt for drying the lumber needed in his business. Large quantities of brick were burnt there. The house standing on the Southeast corner was built by Hay-wood Arrington, an intelligent and reputable colored man, a former slave of Richard Arrington. It stands on the site of the old lumber drying kiln.
THE DR. JOHN PLUNKETT PLACE
Across the street, on the south of Mr. Holt's home, was a house built after the style of a great many homes of that day, with a long front, often not more than a room deep, a wing on each end of the main building. This was erected by Dr. Plunkett, in the twenties, where he and his accomplished wife taught a school for boys and girls, some ten or more years. My uncle and mother attended this school at the tender age of eight and six years, boarding there from Monday till Friday. When Dr. and Mrs. Plunkett settled this place they planted and cultivated more than an acre of choice fruit trees, of all kinds. The flower garden was also large, in which were cultivated all the old fashioned bulbs and flowers then known. This couple removed to Memphis, Tennessee, about 1840.
This place was then purchased by Mrs. Armistead, from Eastern Carolina, the mother of Mrs. William Plummer. Some years after, in 1847, it was bought by Thomas Montgomery, where he and his family resided until 1873. Thomas Alexander Montgomery was the son of William Montgomery of Ireland, and his wife, Charlotte Jordan, of Warren County. He was born in that county, in the section now in Vance County, on the 7th of May, 1818.
Mr. Montgomery came to Warrenton in 1836, as a clerk in the mercantile business of James Maxwell; in ~a few years he left that position and formed a partnership with Kemp Plummer Alston for conducting a merchandise business in the town, which continued until he formed a partnership with William Plummer. For thirty-four years he was prominent in the business and civic life of his community. His business was very successfully conducted, and he made and saved a considerable estate for that day. He was a man honored for his probity of character, and admired for his physical and moral courage. He held many places of public honor and trust in his town and county. He was a consistent and zealous member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, useful in all church work, especially that of the Sunday school.
Mr. Montgomery was married on October 25, 1843, to Darien Dawson Cheek, the youngest daughter of Robert T. Cheek and his wife, Mary Alston. Mrs. Montgomery lived only a year and a half after making her home at this place, leaving three boys, Walter, Robert and Alfred. Alfred died in 1882, only thirty-five years old, and Robert in 1912. In July, 1853, Mr. Montgomery married Miss Sarah II. Dowtin, daughter of Anthony Dowtin, of Warren County. There were born to them ten children, only five of whom are now living. Mrs. James Williamson, (Charlotte) is Librarian at the State College at Raleigh; Mrs. Eugene Hicks, (Pattie) lives in Decatur, Georgia; Mrs. Charles Henderson, (Laura) lives in Troy, Alabama; Ida is in the Insurance Department of the State, at Raleigh. William Plummer Montgomery has lived in Boston, Mass., for years. The oldest son that reached manhood, Thomas, died in Raleigh, unmarried, at the age of forty; he was a very gifted man mentally, and a fine and lovable character, a most genial nature and much sought after socially. The mother, Mrs. Sarah Montgomery, has recently died (1923) at the advanced age of eighty-eight. She was very pretty in her youth, a devoted wife and mother, a most unselfish and generous friend.
In 1870 Mr. Montgomery went to New Orleans to engage in business, his family joined him there in 1873 ; he became hopelessly ill and died in that city a few months later, and was buried there.
This old place has been for some years the home of Mrs. Kate White Williams, the widow of Sol Williams of Warren County. Mrs. Williams has a large family, with only two children living with or near her. Her daughter Kate lives in the home with her, and her daughter, Mrs. Williams, lives on the adjoining lot, the wife of a successful lawyer in the town, B. B. Williams.
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.