THE HOMES OF OLD WARRENTON-CONTINUED
THE JOHN WHITE PLACE
The large and beautifully proportioned house, just west of the home of his son, Captain White, was built by John White in 1850. It occupies what was the grove of the old Hugh Johnson place, of which I shall write later. Mr. White married Miss Priscilla Jones, granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Johnson. Mr. White's interesting character and life have been sketched in the account of his business house. In 1883 or '85 Mr. and Mrs. White conveyed this place to their son and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. S. P. Arrington. In after years they sold the place to Mr. and Mrs. Walter Rogers, Mrs. Rogers being the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Arrington. They in turn sold the property to Mr. and Mrs. William Duke Jones Davis who reside there.
At this house were born to Mr. and Mrs. White a son, Hugh J., and three daughters, Sallie, Kate and Sue. Sallie died early in life. Mary Jones married E. R. Beckwith, grandson of Dr. Beckwith and nephew of the first Bishop Beckwith, of Georgia. Mr. Beckwith died several years ago and Mrs. Beckwith still resides in Petersburg with her two single daughters. Katherine married Sol Williams of Warren County. He died some years ago. The daughters, Sue and Della Kearney, are married; one son, Bolton, is engaged in a bank in Petersburg, the other, Walter, is in business in Eastern Carolina.
Sue Eaton married John Pretlow of Franklin, Virginia. Mrs. Pretlow still resides in Franklin, Virginia. There were four children of that marriage.
Other children of Mr. and Mrs. White, William J., John, Andrew and Mary Jones were born at the cottage built by Mr. White on the site where now stands Dr. Peete's home. The oldest child, Mrs. Arrington, was born at the home of her grandmother, Mrs. Green Jones, twelve miles in the country. Andrew died in Warrenton, having never married. John married "Affy" Williams, daughter of Solomon Williams and Maria Kearney, his wife; there were three children of this marriage. The son, Sol, was a fine young man, and gave his life for his country in the World War.
John White, Jr., had just entered manhood when he accompanied his father to Liverpool, on the Advance, in the service of the Confederate States; when his father returned to the States he remained in England. Soon after the Surrender, Mr. White took his family to Liverpool and engaged in business there for several years. It was in the fall of 1868 that young Mr. White returned with his parents. He then went to Norfolk and engaged in business with Freer and Elliott, remaining there for some years, when he returned to Warren County, married and lived on his farm until his death in 1902. John White, Jr., was a man of very engaging personality. He easily made friends, and they were loyal to him until the end of his life, his manner, always cordial and sincere, springing from a kind and sympathetic heart.
The Hugh Johnson home was in the rear of the large, modern house built by John White, it was quaint looking, a story and half high, with a deep front porch across the front of the house. It faced the north, the lawn in front and at the side was covered with a beautiful sward of grass, shaded by splendid oak and hickory trees. At the back of the house was a large garden filled with all of the old fashioned flowers of that day. On the site of this very old house, the great-granddaughter, Mrs. Arrington, made a beautiful memorial to the grandmother, by converting the house into a greenhouse, using all the timbers and stone and brick. When she lived in her old home this was a thing of beauty all the winter.
Mrs. Johnson was noted in the village for her hospitality. Among other entertainments, she would give each spring a strawberry feast, using the fine berries from her own garden, when she would gather her friends, particularly her Methodist sisters, she being a consistent member of that church. General Matt Ransom, a great-nephew, was staying at her home and attending the town school. He told me of this incident at one of her tea-parties: while they were enjoying the luscious berries, they passed the pitcher of cream from person to person. While Sister Cheek was pouring a generous share over her fruit, the hostess said: "Sister Cheek, that is cream." Sister Cheek replied: "Thank you, Sister Johnson, cream is good enough for me." Mrs. Cheek resided on a farm a mile from the town, and kept a large number of cows; cream was not therefore so important an item to her as to those living in the town.
William Duke Jones Davis, the son of Colonel William S. Davis and his wife, Bettie Jones, with his family have resided in this home for nearly twenty years. Mr. Davis married Hannah Barham, daughter of William H. Barham and Louisa Williams, his wife. There have been ten children born to Mr. and Mrs. Davis. Their gallant son, Edward, lost his life in the World War in a heroic manner. In that war this couple gave five sons to the country's service. The mother of Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Barham, was a great-granddaughter of Nathaniel Macon, her mother being Hannah Martin. Mrs. Barham was a woman of fine intelligence, broad culture, and of pure and noble character, much beloved by her family, her neighbors and her friends.
THE CAPTAIN WHITE PLACE
The first owner and occupant of this place, as I have heard, was a Mr. Coleman, a brother of Mrs. Thomas Jenkins. It was the home successively of Thomas White, William C. Williams, Turner W. Battle, Captain W. J. White and Howard Jones. Mr. Jones bought the place from Mrs. Sue B. White, widow of Captain White.
The house is built upon the highest spot of ground in Warrenton and the sloping yard has always been beautifully shaded with oak and maple trees. It is a frame house, two stories, the rooms being large and high pitched. The parlor is a handsome and pretentious room, with large windows on the north and south and with windows on each side of the old fashioned fireplace, in the center of the western wall, the chimneys being built on the outside of the house. The walls were made of plaster of Paris, and beautifully frescoed all around the ceiling with an elaborate circle in the center of the room, around the chandelier. This house was remodeled in the early forties by Thomas White, and when completed he gave a very handsome party to his second daughter, Mary, afterwards Mrs. Robert Haywood, on her leaving school, and coming out in Warrenton society. The house was well arranged for so large a party. The large parlor on the first floor was used for dancing, while the room above, the same size, had the tables set for the "meat and sweet suppers."
William Jones White, called familiarly "Captain" White, was the oldest son of John White, the merchant, and his wife, Priscilla Jones. He was born in October, 1843, was married in 1869 to Sue Caw- thorn, and died in 1903. He was educated at the University of North Carolina, and began the study of medicine under Dr. Thomas E. Wilson. His course in medicine was permanently ended by his entrance, in 1861, into the Confederate Army as Quartermaster of the First North Carolina Cavalry Regiment. He served in that capacity during the whole war, and at the close, returned to Warrenton and engaged in the business of general merchandise until his death. He entered the communion of Emmanuel (Episcopal) Church in 1865, and from that time was a most devout and useful member, and a practical and consistent Christian. He lived by the Golden Rule. He was regarded by the people of the county and of the town as not only honest in his transactions, but liberal and thoughtful of the interests of his patrons. He did more kind acts for the poor working and laboring classes of the county, both white and black, than any other man who ever lived in the community, and he received in return their gratitude and love in the fullest measure. He had the respect, the good will and the confidence of the people of his community probably to a greater degree than any ofer man of his day and generation. He was a man of excellent manners, good intelligence and attractive personality, almost to a mesmeric degree.
His widow is still living in Warrenton. She was a most devoted wife, heartily entering into all his in terests, and with her energy and good judgment was a helpmeet indeed. She, like Captain White, has always been a member of the Episcopal Church, and her daily, walk and conversation bear evidence that her profession is from the heart and not for form's sake.
Captain and Mrs. White had a large family, Sara Blount, Maggie Key, John, William J., Sue Cawthorn, Nannie Bolton, Samuel Turner, and Hugh Edward.
It was during the War Between the States that Captain Turner W. Battle left his plantation, Cool Spring, in Edgecombe County, and came to reside in this old home. Mrs. Battle was the daughter of Judge Daniel, of Halifax County, North Carolina, lovely in person and character. There were six children in the household. The oldest, Jake, was afterwards a Judge of the Superior Court of our State. The youngest, Gordon, has for years been a prominent man in the legal, political and social life of New York City. It was in these troublous times that Captain Battle invited Major Gordon, his brother-in-law, from Albemarle section of Virginia, to bring his family to his home for security, also that the two sisters might be together. There were three children in the Gordon family, Fanny, Armistead and James. Major Gordon was killed a few months afterwards on the battlefield of Virginia, and a few months later a little daughter, Mary Long, was born to the unhappy mother. This infant in later years became the wife of Dr. Richard Lewis, of Raleigh, and the mother of Nell Battle Lewis, now the gifted writer.
THE MACON PLACE
Across the lane, on the west of the John White place, is a home built before the War Between the States by William C. Williams, the father of Major Buckner Williams. His wife was Miss Rebecca Davis, of the county. Their children were Major Williams, Thomas and Wallace, Mrs. Emma Egerton and Bettie Nicholson. After the death of Mrs. Williams the place was sold, and during the war it was occupied by a family of refugees, the Redwoods of Virginia. Rev. T. B. Kingsbury resided there some of the years he made his home in Warrenton.
A year after Captain and Mrs. W. J. White were married he bought this place and lived there until he moved to his residence I have written of. In 1874 he sold this property to Dr. and Mrs. Wilson. They lived there until after the death of the Doctor, when it was sold to Mrs. Lou Macon, the widow of Dr. G. Hunt Macon, of Halifax County, Dr. Macon was one of the several sons of Dr. H. I.! Macon, who had lived a number of years in the home of the Lees, now owned by Jim Ransom's family. Mrs. Macon was the daughter of Philemon Jenkins of Warren County.
The family of this couple was numerous. Philemon Jenkins, the oldest son, was a graduate of the Baltimore Medical College, and practiced medicine in Warrenton and the vicinity until his health failed, a few years ago. He had a large practice, and was very popular, his services being highly prized by his patients. The second son, Hal, was a man of good business capacity and habits, of exemplary conduct, much beloved by his family and his neighbors. He died a few years ago. Another son, Frank, graduated in dentistry in Baltimore, and has practiced his profession for years in Henderson, where he has met with success., He was for some years an officer on the staff of the National Guard of the State. Gid Hunt, a quiet, lovable gentleman, died some years ago, and Jesse, with a kind heart, but excitable nature, has died in the last five years. Mattie Belle married Oliver Shell, Loula married Frank Allen, Lizzie married John Tarwater, and Sarah teaches in the Warrenton schools.
THE HOME OF MAJOR BUCKNER WILLIAMS
Passing down the lane south from John White's home you pass a two-story. house, now the home of the Dameron family. This cottage was built some ten years or more, before the war, by N. R. Jones, "here he and his family lived for some years. When Major Buckner Williams was married he bought this home and greatly improved it: He and his family made it their home until his death in 1884. His entire life was spent in Warrenton. He was a man of very fine intelligence, excellent business qualifications, and in the civic life of the town filled several offices of trust and honor. He married Miss Bettie Syme, daughter of John Syme, the noted editor, of Petersburg, Virginia. Mrs. Williams was an unusual woman. Having once met her, one never forgot her vivacity, her wit, her intelligence and her charm of person. Her pride in and devotion to her father, whom she greatly resembled, was a ruling passion with her. She was a good wife, and a most devoted mother of her eight children. The oldest, Rebecca Davis, was tall and handsome, a charming companion and much beloved by her family and a host of friends. She was a pioneer in taking up nursing as a calling. It created quite a sensation among her acquaintances when she went to B'ellevue Hospital for `training. She proved a great success in her venture. Mary, the second daughter, was' the stay and comfort of the home. John and Hugh left Warrenton when quite young. John lives in Western North Carolina, and has been a very useful citizen. Hugh went to Covington, Tennessee, in 1879, with Mr.' Boyd, who moved there with his family to engage in newspaper work. Of late years 'Hugh has lived in Bolivar, Tennessee, where he has continued his newspaper work, and with much success: He has married there. The tie of home and kindred is strong in his nature, and he returns every year or two and loves to go back to the scenes of his boyhood. The next son, Walker Anderson, has been successful in business, he. has married Miss Isabelle Pescud of Raleigh, and has two nice children. Ewan Cameron, named for Mrs. Williams' Scotch ancestry, lives in Raleigh, unmarried. The next daughter, Lizzie, married John W. Brown of Raleigh, is now a widow, and makes her home with her daughter. Emma, the youngest child, married Ovid D. Porter, of Raleigh, a successful business man, liked and respected in the city.
On moving to Warrenton from the county, Mr. Dameron bought this home from Mrs. Battle, and he and his family lived there some years. He died from injuries sustained in an auto accident three years ago. He was a man of fine business qualifications, and very intelligent. He was from Eastern Virginia, and came to Warren County to teach, when he met his wife, Miss Tempie Williams, the daughter of John Buxton Williams. They had several sons, who an, f engaged in business in the town, and four daughters, all women of accomplishments, two being well known musicians, which gift they inherit from their father. Miss Julia is especially well and favorably known in the educational work of the State. She took her degree from the University of North Carolina, and for several years taught at the State Normal in Greensboro.
Mrs. Dameron has spent her life in the quiet enjoyment of her home in the midst of a devoted family. If that had not been her good fortune in her married life, she would have felt its loss far more than most women, for in her father's home she was the idol of her parents and her brothers. She has a bright happy nature, and a most affectionate disposition. She is now an invalid, but that affliction is softened by the constant loving care of her daughters.
THE WILLIAM T. ALSTON HOME
William Alston was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Alston of Warren County. Mr. Alston was one of the well known family of that name residing in the county, although the families bearing the name in Halifax, Chatham and Wake counties are closely connected by blood tie. Mrs. Edward Alston was Miss Martha Davis, a family as old and well known in Warren County as that of her husband, and closely connected by blood tie and marriage. William Alston was one of four brothers, Nicholas, Alfred and Edward, with one sister, Miss Mollie. On the marriage of Mr. Alston with Miss Laura Eaton, the oldest daughter of William Eaton, Jr., and Rosa Gilmour, his wife, they built and occupied this attractive home, adjoining the residence of Mrs. Alston's father. There were no children born to Mr. and Mrs. Alston, but they adopted his niece, his brother Alfred's daughter, named for the aunt, and reared her as their own child in the tenderest care and affection. They also recognized the advantages they could give to the large family of this brother, by having them in their home in order that they might attend the town schools. So each one came to reside there during the school term as they reached the proper age, and under the watchful care of the uncle and aunt developed into fine men and women. This home of Mr. and Mrs. Alston was well known for dispensing most liberal and elegant hospitality, until his financial reverses, in 1868, when the place was given up to his creditors, and they moved to the home of his father-in-law, adjoining. Mr. Alston possessed an unusual degree of intelligence and good judgment, and was so regarded by his large family connection and the community. He was very handsome in person, and his charming personality made him many friends and warm admirers. Notwithstanding he had spent his early years on the country estate of his father, and his parents were warm and consistent members of the Methodist Church, which in that day meant to live a quiet and unworldly life, and his maturer years were spent in the village life, yet he was a man of the world, and perhaps the only man in the small town of whom that could have been said. He knew men and women well, and was an accurate reader of motives and character. In his home life he was singularly blest, for his wife was a lovely woman in character and person, and most devoted to him. She was as shrinking and retiring as her father, who was most devoted to her; among many evidences of his fatherly care and guidance of her, he advised her what to read, he being a well read and most accomplished man along all lines of literature. She told me that he did not approve of the writings of Bulwer, and consequently she had never read any of his works. Think of it, how would our present day novel strike so simple and pure a mind as this fine old father and daughter? Mrs. William Eaton had died a few years before Mr. and Mrs. Alston went to make their home with the lonely old man, so this was a very happy arrangement which continued until Mr. Eaton's death, in June, 1881, after several years of brain disease, when he was most tenderly nursed by his devoted daughter. Mr. Alston died in less than
a year after. At the sale of the Alston place it was bought by Daniel R. Goodloe, where the family of his brother, Harvell Goodloe and the two daughters of his brother, Garrett Goodloe lived. In later years it was bought by Captain John R. Turnbull, he and his family living there until they moved to Littleton to live, when it was purchased by Pettway Burwell, the present owner. The place is well kept up, and the family of Mr. Burwell make it a very attractive home. He is a son of William H. Burwell of Granville County, and has been very successful in the tobacco business of the community. Mrs. Burwell was a Miss Taylor of Townsville, and they with their children have many friends and relatives in the town, where they have made their home the past thirty years.
THE WILLIAM EATON, JR. PLACE
This is a very old residence place looking down the street that runs north into Halifax Street. It is not inside the corporate limits of the town (a few hundred feet south of the line), but is so intimately connected with the traditions and life of Warrenton as to make it highly interesting.
It was built by Colonel William R. Johnston, the racer, upon his removal hither from the place where he formerly lived, known in my day as the Kemp Plummer, Jr. Place-now owned by John Hudginsearly in the nineteenth century. In Colonel Johnston's day the celebrated race horse Boston was stabled on the Eaton premises for several years. Until recent years the place, consisting of twenty or thirty acres, was shaded, except the garden and a small field, by beautiful oak growth.
About 1830, upon the marriage of William Eaton, Jr., with Miss Rosa Gilmour of Virginia, his father bought the Johnston place and gave it to his son as a. home. It was an unpretentious house but well proportioned, with large rooms built in the story-and-a-half style. If it was not picturesque it was at least a very attractive and pretty home.
Mr. Eaton built a law office within the curtilage, near the front gate, two hundred yards from his front porch, but far enough to one side as not to obstruct the view. He never had a law office in the town until after 1870. He took great pride in keeping in thorough repair the premises and in beautifying his grounds. His great delight was a) spring several hundred yards from his house through the woods. He kept it and the adjacent grounds in perfect condition and cleanliness, a granite square box enclosing the spring, and a long-handled gourd always in place, convenient for those who might visit it or pass by. After Mrs. Eaton's death in 1863, he took his meals with his only daughter._________
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.