"The document below was typed out by Mattie Gay for a speech of some kind. A copy of it was given
to William Archibald Biggs III by Martha Biggs Thompson in the late 1970's after a visit to my
mother, Sarah F. Biggs, in Hartsville, South Carolina
My grandmother, Martha Jane Gay (Mattie) Biggs 3/20/1877 - 3/24/1965 is buried in the Biggs plot
at Eastside Cem. in Rockingham."
Posted by Myrtle Bridges April 26, 2005
TRADITIONS AND FACTS
As gleaned from conversations of my elders and of my own personal knowledge of incidents and peoples of old Rockingham -by Mattie Gay Biggs
I was born while my mother and father were living on their farm about six miles from town on the
Old Ellerbe (sic) Road. After the loss by fire of the farm house and consequent death of a little
son, Frank Little, my mother was victim of a paralytic stroke.
In order to remove her from surroundings which were constant reminders of sadness, and sorrow, my
father sold the farm and came to Rockingham to live. We lived temporarily in a small four room house
belonging to my Aunt Sara Gay Terry, (Mrs. Harvey Terry) located on what is now Terry Street between
my aunt's residence, located where the Dickinson home now stands, and the old E. B. Terry home.
The latter cottage was originally built and owned, as I understand it, by Mr. W. P. Terry, deceased,
and later occupied by the late Wm. Entwistle, who, I understand, were our neighbors while we lived in
the little Terry house.
A family named Barnes were occupying the house my father had bought. He was Seaboard (Caro. Central)
Station Agent and expecting 'transfer orders', so we were forced to bid our time about moving in.
Speaking of the Barnes family, I take it they had somewhat progressive ideas. I recall hearing my older
sisters talking about them having 'rigged up', a telephone system of a kind running from the house to
the depot. This apparatus was very generously donated to the 'Gay' girls on the departure of the Barnes
family for another town.
The telephone line etc., was necessarily disconnected at the station, therefore, their being no 'Gay'
brothers, the best substitutes were the Terry boys, cousins, who concurrent with the Gay sisters rebuilt
the telephone line, starting at the Victor Terry house (W. R. Terry home) on Washington Street running
westward on the same street to the Gay house, thence to the home of the Harvey Terry boys. Incidentally,
I suppose that was the first and nearest approach to a telephone system in Rockingham. Alas, however,
it was short lived, for along somewhere in the 1880's there was a disastrous cyclone which struck in full
force about 2 or 3 miles from town, but did considerable damage all in town. I am not at all sure that I
have heard whether or not the 'important' telephone line was destroyed then or if perhaps it was abandoned
when the Terry boys were seriously engrossed in the business of making a 'storm pit', after the cyclone.
The storm pit was completed and served as an inviting place for the 'young set', Maude and Lena Terry,
Mary Daniel (called Dannie) and Martha (or Mattie) Gay to use as a place to play, that is, in case a cloud
seemed to be in the making, no matter how small, all fun discontinued. Not so far as the Gay girls were
concerned, we were not indifferent to seriousness, perhaps, of a cloud, but our home influence made us
very much averse to being caught underground if and when there should be a tornado and possible the large
oak tree be blown down smashing the underground pit in on us. So the 'three little Gays' ran the 100 yards
for home. But before we proceed further up hill eastward, I retrace my steps to the west corner of Terry
and Washington Streets, the terminal of Great Falls Mill Village approaching town. The superintendent was
an Englishman named Crankshaw. The superintendent's house, a neat white cottage, stood on the same site
as the shingle house now stands, the latter built by Mr. Clause Gore several years ago, (also to be used
as a superintendent's house.)
Directly opposite this house and the Terry Home is what was known as 'Tory Hill'. It was explained in
stories told over and over again that a rather fierce skirmish was fought on the hill between Whigs and
the Tories, and that dead soldiers had been buried in trenches on the hill. I can remember on one occasion
some men, while ploughing, unearthed bones that were recognized as human bones.
In the center front of this field stood (to me, then) a large framed log house. It was said to be formerly
the John W. Covington house, later occupied by my uncle Soloman Gay and his wife Drucilla Terry Gay. After
the latter died, my uncle broke up housekeeping. It seemed hard to keep the house rented from then on, at
least for a few years, as it was generally known as the Tory Hill 'haunted house'.
One family, however, either less superstitious or with firm determination, stuck it out, so to speak, for
a number of years. The Gatling family, I suppose many of you remember Miss Lizzie Gatlin (sic), who was
the only surviving member of this family for several years, when she died (in her own home next to the
Porter house on Watson Hill Road.) Previous to occupation by the Gatlins, I can remember creeping through
on the heels of the older children in breath-taking silence looking and listening for ghosts, but all of
us, I guess, praying they would not appear.
NOTES ON LETTER FROM DANIEL GAY - W. A. BIGGS Jr.
August 16th, 1968
Hartsville, S. C.
The attached is a typewritten copy of a longhand letter written by my maternal grandfather, Daniel Gay
(age 18) from a confederate army encampment in Virginia. He joined the army in 1861 as a member of the
Richmond County, NC Volunteers. His addressee in this letter was his half-brother Harvey Terry of Rockingham,
NC. The campaign he speaks of was the Robert E. Lee move North to Maryland and Pennsylvania which resulted
in the Battle of Gettysburg. He was wounded there and sent home to convalesce. He rejoined the army the
following year and in the Battle of Petersburg, he lost his leg to cannon fire. The Jim he speaks of was a
family slave (personal) who went with him in the beginning and who ran away, (who can blame him!) although
they had been playmates and childhood close friends.
There are more Congederate records recorded in my inherited volume. "The History of the Several N. C.
Regiments in the War Between the States" Vol. 1. I hope, before I pass on, to obtain the other volumns
from the archives of the North Carolina Historical Library in Raleigh, NC.
My grandfather's family were modest plantation owners in Richmond County, NC before the war, and held
about twelve Negro Slaves. Long before the war, all but three had been given their freedom and a few acres
of land. The other three chose to stay; Papa Gay's Jim was one of these. After he was sent home from the
CSA Army his home was lost and he moved to Rockingham and operated a Blacksmith & cabinet shop. As a child
i remember this period and Papa with his wooden leg. Mama Gay (Molly Smith) was a pretty and sweet little
lady who always had a stick of candy in her purse for us. They had very little after the war, but raised
a large family and found contentment in what little they had. They were much loved by everyone in Rockingham.
Note: Archie Biggs III has in his possition a bayonet, briarwood walkingstick, and a medal from a convention
of the United Confederate Vets in New Orleans in 1905 which belonged to papa Gay.
A LETTER FROM DANIEL GAY, 52th NC INFANTRY C.S.A.
May 23, 1863
Mr. Harvey Terry
I received your kind letter today and was very glad to hear from you and to hear you were all well. From
this you may learn that I am well and fat as a ole hog and as lazy as Mother's Jim, and he is as lazy as
they ever have been. The health of our Company is toluble good. none has taken sick since we came to
Virginia. We have very good water here, though we will not stay here very long. We have orders to march at
two hours notice. Now we will go from here to Fredericksburg and from there to Maryland. Tho' I hope not,
it is thoought we will fight there.
I reckon you have heard of the fight before now. I saw 3300 of the Yanks that were taken prisioners. We had
to guard 2300 of them one night as they were carrying them on to Richmond, Va.
I bought this paper and envelope and a canteen, and fork and spoon from one of them so I will send you some
Yankee paper. you need not send me any paper for I bought a ream from the Yankees at 75 cents a quire and
sold it all but one quire.
I went to see John Gay today and he will be here to se me tomarow. He is staying in a hospital detail for
a month in a mile from our camp. We can see each other every day. John is in very bad health at this time.
Jack, you just ought to see your brother at this time. There is a gread come out in me. I don't weigh only
195, and I am the best looking Gay you ever saw. I think that if I could get shet of this war, I could shine
with the ladies, though I would not care so much about that, if I could get home safe to stay. I am afraid
that I will never see that day while my name is Dan, tho' I live in hopes. If I did not have any hopes my life
would be a dreadfull one. We get plenty to eat.
I thought I would try to get a furlough to come home and cut mother's wheat for her, though I see there is no
chanch for it now. If there is any way for a young man to get off, I intend to try it. About the 10th of
August you may look for me if I live and don't get off before, for there is not use living in this world and
never do a smart trick.
I want to see a heap of watermelons if I do get off. I can come any time by telling a little lie and who
would not tell a little lie for a furlough. The Negro that I pressed ran away. If he had put it off a little
longer, I would have gotten him told about the furlough. Keep it to yourself, for if it wast to get back
here, I would miss it. I don't know if there is anything else.
Dennis Sanford has been very low, but he is getting better at this time. Write soon as this comes to hand.
Direct your letters to D. G., Richmond, Va., Company E, 52nd Regiment, c/o Col. J. K. Marshall, Commander 52nd
Regiment, N. C. I., one of the best Cols. in the Confederate States. D. Gay Mr. H. Terry
DESCENDANTS OF DANIEL ODOM GAY
Generation No. 1
I. DANIEL ODOM3 GAY (JOHN2, HENRY1} was born February 17, 1841 in Richmond County, NC, and died April
II, 1916 in Charlotte, NC. He married MARY FLETCHER SMITH January 12, 1866 in Richmond County, NC, daughter
of MARSHALL SMITH and SARA COVINGTON.
Notes for DANIEL ODOM GAY:
Cpl. Co. E 52nd NC INF. Wounded in left leg on July 1, 1863 in battle on the first day at Gettysburg.
Invalied home. Reported back to duty just before the Wilderness Campaign. Was wounded in the same leg
(amputation) near Pettersburg, Va. Lived out thr remainder of his life in Richmond County NC. Burned
in Eastside Cem. Rockingham, NC
Notes for MARY FLETCHER SMITH:
Buried in Eastside Cem. Rockingham, NC
Children of DANIEL GAY and MARY SMITH are:
2. i. MARTHA JANE4 GAY, b. March 20,1877, Richmond Comity, NC; d. March 24,1965, Lexington, NC.
ii. FLORENA GAY, m. ROBERT POOL.
iii. EMMA GAY, m. A STOGNER.
iv. LULA GAY, m. WILLIAM HANNON.
v. MARY DANIEL GAY, m. LON CRUSE.
vi. CLARA GAY, m. JAMES COCHRAN.
vii. SARA JOHN GAY, m. RAEFORD DUNN.
viii. HARVY P GAY, m. ELEANOR.
Generation No. 2
2. MARTHA JANE4 GAY (DANIEL ODOM3, JOHN2, HENRY1} was born March 20, 1877 in Richmond County, NC, and
died March 24, 1965 in Lexington, NC. She married WILLIAM ARCHIBALD BIGGS December 28, 1898 in Rockingham,
NC, son of FRANKLIN BIGGS and MARTHA NORTHCOT.
Notes for MARTHA JANE GAY:
Martha Jane Gay was a long time member of the DAR and UDC and was very active in both organizations. She
is buried in Rockingham NC.
Notes for WILLIAM ARCHIBALD BIGGS:
W A "Pop" Biggs was a long time salesman with Sonoco Products Company in Hartsville, SC. He had previously
worked in the textile machinery business. He is buried in Eastside Cem. Rockingham, NC. He was very active
in the Methodist Church in Rockingham. For many years he leased a cabin at Everits Lake, near the SC line
on US1 where he enjoyed fishing. His longtime fishing guide and partner was Lee Rainwater who named one
of his children Archie Biggs Rainwater. Pop's father had been superentendent of the cotten mill in Darlington,
SC where Pop was bom and attended grade school.
Children of MARTHA GAY and WILLIAM BIGGS are:
3. i. MARTHA FLETCHER5 BIGGS, b. September 19,1905, Rockingham, NC; d. January 31,1995, Thomasville, NC.
4. ii. WILLIAM ARCHIBALD BIGGS, b. September 09,1907, Linconton, NC; d. August 03,1974, Hartsville, SC.
5. iii. LYDIA GAY BIGGS, b. December 01,1909, Rockingham, NC; d. Rockingham, NC.
6. iv. BLAND HUDSON BIGGS, b. September 08, 1912; d. March 17.1995, Hamlet, NC.
v. MARY FRANKLIN BIGGS, b. June 06,1917, Rockingham, NC; d. January 26,1922, Rockingham, NC.
7. vi. BRUCE FINLEY BIGGS, b. March 27, 1923.
RETURN TO FAMILY GENEALOGIES
RETURN TO RICHMOND COUNTY HOMEPAGE
Page created April 26, 2005