Bennehan and Cameron Interests Merged at Stagville

A slave dwelling at Horton Grove.

A slave dwelling at Horton Grove.

On October 24, 1823, Richard Bennehan purchased more than 400 acres known as Horton Grove from William Horton. The land became part of Bennehan’s vast holdings across what are now Granville, Durham, Orange and Wake counties.

The plot then included only the modest Horton Home but, by 1860, also incorporated several two-story, four-room timber-frame slave quarters, some smaller tobacco barns and the Great Barn, which was the center of the extensive Stagville plantation,

Most of Horton Grove’s structures were built by Paul Cameron, Bennehan’s grandson. Family records reveal that the unique design of the slave cabins was a deliberate attempt on Cameron’s part to provide a healthier living environment for his slaves.

Stagville was one of the largest pre-Civil War plantations in the upper South. By 1860, the Bennehan-Cameron family owned nearly 30,000 acres, several businesses and almost 900 slaves, and Stagville, a plantation of several thousand acres on its own, was at the center of the enormous estate.

Horton Grove was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and today Historic Stagville is one of 27 state historic sites.

Visit: Located in northern Durham County, Historic Stagville is open to visitors Tuesday though Saturday.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Baron von Graffenreid and the Swiss Colony of New Bern

An image of von Graffenreid from Tryon Palace

On October 23, 1711, Baron Christoph von Graffenreid, founder of the Swiss colony of New Bern, penned a lengthy description of his capture by the Tuscarora Indians.

In mid-September of that year, von Graffenreid and John Lawson led a surveying expedition up the Neuse River. Lawson was the Surveyor General of the colony and was well-known to the Indians. When the Indians discovered the party in their territory, and unannounced to their leader King Hancock, they captured the men and took them to the Tuscarora village of Catechna, near present-day Grifton.

The Indians were angry over encroachment on their lands and they believed the surveying party was out to take more.  Graffenreid was spared, but Lawson was executed.  Held at the village for several weeks, von Graffenreid, bargained for the safety of the New Bern colony. Nevertheless the Tuscarora, in alliance with other aggravated tribes, attacked settlements on the Pamlico, Neuse and Trent Rivers, and in the Core Sound region in what would become known as the Tuscarora War.

A drawing of DeGraffenreid and John Lawson under capture by the Tuscurora. This drawing is sometimes attributed to von Graffenreid.

After his release from the Tuscarora, von Graffenreid wrote his account of the ordeal in order to explain Lawson’s fate and to clarify the promises that he made to the Indians during his capture.

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C. A. Penn and the Lucky Strike Brand

On October 22, 1931, Charles Ashby Penn, developer of Lucky Strike cigarettes, died.

Penn was born in Virginia in 1868, but moved with his family to Reidsville in 1874. In Rockingham County, his father established the F. R. Penn Tobacco Company, processing chewing and smoking tobacco. Charles joined the company after graduating from high school.

In 1911, the Penn Tobacco Company was purchased by American Tobacco Company, the conglomerate run by James B. Duke. Penn prospered under his new employer, becoming a director of the company in 1913 and vice president for manufacturing in 1916.

A Lucky Strike Christmas tin, circa 1930-1941.
Image from N.C. Historic Sites.

Though the Lucky Strike brand originated with a company that American Tobacco Company had acquired in 1905, Penn perfected the cigarette’s blend and manufacturing process. He also invented the slogan that became synonymous with the brand: “It’s Toasted.”

Soon Lucky Strike became America’s best-selling cigarette. Penn enlarged his father’s old tobacco factory in Reidsville to produce Lucky Strikes, quickly making the Rockingham County town among the nation’s top tobacco production centers; it adopted the nickname “Lucky City.” Penn, who constructed an English manor house known as Chinqua Penn, also established Reidsville’s first library.

When Penn died in 1931, he was celebrated as “first citizen” of Reidsville. At that time 40 billion Lucky Strike cigarettes were being sold annually.

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North Carolina Museum of Art Home to Noted Christmas Image

“Madonna and Child in a Landscape.” Image from the N.C. Museum of Art.

On October 21, 1993“Madonna and Child in a Landscape” a work by the Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Battista Cima de Conegiano that is part of the North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection, was selected as the U.S. Postal Service’s Christmas Stamp.  The Museum’s collection of Italian paintings ranks among the finest in the country.

Since the initial acquisition in 1947 of 139 works of European and American art, purchased with a $1 million appropriation of state funds, the North Carolina Museum of Art has grown to be one of the nation’s finest museums.

Housed in a state of the art building completed in 2010, the permanent collection includes European paintings from the Renaissance to the 19th century, Egyptian art, sculpture and vase painting from ancient Greece and Rome, American art of the 18th through 20th centuries, and international contemporary art. Other strengths include African, ancient American, pre-Columbian, and Oceanic art, and Jewish ceremonial objects.

The Museum also is home to one of the largest museum art parks in the world. The park includes over a dozen works of art set on 164 acres.

Visit: Madonna and Child in a Landscape is in the North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection. The museum is open six days a week in Raleigh.

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Annie Carter Lee, From Virginia to North Carolina and Back

On October 20, 1862, Annie Carter Lee, daughter of Robert E. Lee, died in Warren County. She had been ill with typhoid fever while visiting the Jones Springs resort there.

Lee sent both Annie and her sister Agnes to North Carolina in June 1862 when Union troops occupied their home in Arlington, Va. When Annie died it was not possible to take her body back to Arlington, which was then behind enemy lines. The owner of Jones Springs offered to have her body buried in his family cemetery and the Lees accepted.

The monument to Annie Carter Lee in Warren County. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Zearell Crowder, a Confederate soldier, created the 11-foot tall obelisk that marks her grave to this day. It was dedicated in a ceremony in 1866. The Lee family and the citizens of Warren County paid for the monument, and Robert E. Lee visited the grave in 1870.

In 1994, descendants of the Lee family had Annie’s body removed from the Warren County grave and interred with the rest of the family at Washington and Lee Chapel in Virginia.

The obelisk remains in the Jones Family Cemetery located on Annie Lee Road.

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R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Empire Takes Shape

R. J. Reynolds. Image from the
Forsyth County Public Library.

On October 19, 1874, R.J. Reynolds purchased his first lot, next to rail lines in Winston, from the Moravian Church.

Born into a prosperous Virginia tobacco family, Reynolds started what he called the “Little Red Factory” in 1874 with just $7,500 and some college and business school under his belt. A year later, the factory and its 12 workers had produced 150,000 pounds of southern flat plug chewing tobacco.

By the time of Reynolds’ death in 1918, the company had grown to a workforce of 10,000 spread across 121 buildings in Winston-Salem. The diversified tobacco manufacturing business included chewing and pipe tobacco and the legendary Camel cigarette. Other popular Reynolds brands included Winston, Salem, Vantage and Doral.

Outside of the business arena, Both Reynolds and his wife became known for their progressive politics, philanthropy and efforts to improve conditions for their workers.

Reynolds Plant

Working a Reynolds Tobacco Plant. Image from the North Carolina
Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The story of Reynolds’ arrival in Winston in 1874, eager to make his fortune and the family’s economic and philanthropic legacy have been memorialized in a sculpture in Winston-Salem. Dedicated in 1979, the monument depicts the 24-year-old Reynolds blazing into town on a horse.

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African American Baptists in North Carolina Organized, 1867

General Baptist Convention Marker

On October 18, 1867, the first meeting of the General Baptist Convention opened at the First African Baptist Church in Goldsboro.

After the Civil War, African Americans withdrew from Baptist churches across the state and established their own association, the General Baptist Convention, as the black counterpart to the Baptist State Convention. The withdrawal stemmed from strong white opposition to social equality and the desire by both races for separate churches.

In September 1867, a group of ministers called for an assembly. Each black Baptist church was asked to send its minister and two delegates. The planned assembly was held at the same time as the annual meeting of the white convention from which it received advice and $500 in financial support. Known for a time as the General Association for Colored Baptists, the group has been called the General Baptist State Convention since 1947.

Though the creation of the organization came at a time marked by poverty, discouragement and bitter struggle, by 1882 the group represented 800 churches and 95,000 members. Today, the convention represents over a half-million members.

First African Baptist Church of Goldsboro still owns the tract where the original meeting took place.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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