When Tarboro Was Incorporated
REVEREND JAMES MOIR, EDGECOMBE CHANGES
HER COUNTY SEAT, AND GERMANTOWN,
REPRINTED FROM THB TARBOROUGH SOUTHERNER
TARBORO, N. C.
CAPITOL PRINTING COMPANY
When Tarboro Was Incorporated
REVEREND JAMES MOIR, EDGECOMBE CHANGES
HER COUNTY SEAT, AND GERMANTOWN,
REPRINTED FROM THE TARBOROUGH SOUTHERNER
TARBORO, N. C.
CAPITOL PRINTING COMPANY
When Tarboro Was Incorporated
THE FIRST COMMISSIONERS AND SOME OF THEIR
Many silent lessons may be acquired from one page of an old
When I first learned that there was in the possession of the Reg-
ister of Deeds of Edgecombe a plat of the town of Tarboro, as
originally "laid off" in 1760, I did not lose much time in making
a special note of it. A number of visits were then paid to the vault
where the records are kept and a careful study was made of page 524,
Book D., which contains the Plan just referred to, with the lots,
streets, bounds, common,' etc., as laid out by order of the Eev. James
Moir, Lawrence Toole, great-great-great grandfather of the present
Editor of the Southerner, Aquilla Sugg, Elisha Battle, and Ben-
jamin Hart, its first Commissioners.
Anyone, who examines this Plan must give considerable allow-
ance for educational deficiencies, to-wit: Lawrence is spelled Law-
rance, Hart is written Heart, Moire instead of Moir, lotts for lots,
and commons for common; but in simply stating that similar er-
rors occur frequently in recording the Deeds of Edgecombe of this
period, I desire to call attention to the fact that the Colonial Rec-
ords are peppered with mistakes in spelling. Although orthograph-
ers were few, the inhabitants possessed good sense, and after all,
the state of the Province required rather men of sound judgment
than erudite College graduates.
My article on the Town Common noted the fact of the incorpora-
tion being bounded on three sides by public land. To be explicit,
the Common included all the town property along the river bank,
also the land contiguous to Holly's or Hendrick's Creek, and the
present Common, beyond which looking toward the depot was 'in
Main Street, as we know it today, was intended to be residential.
The founders evidently expected business to be conducted on Trade
Street, whence the name.
There were one hundred and twenty-one lots, of half an acre
each, the names of the owners being given on the opposite page
to that containing the Plan. Each lot is numbered and the inter-
ested individual can thus easily learn the original owner.
Often have I wondered why the streets of Tarboro were named
after the saints. One of the silent lessons, acquired from carefully
studying the plat, has thrown an abundance of light on the subject.
Considering the character of two, at least, of the first Board of
Aldermen, I feel safe in saying that sacred nomenclature would
appeal strongly to Rev. James Moir and Elisha Battle.
Running parallel with Holly's or Hendrick's Creek, there were
six streets : Creek, through which the Atlantic Coast Line now
runs, Trade, St. George, now called Main, St. Andrew, St. Patrick,
and St. David.
As the Province of Xorth Carolina belonged to England, it
was natural to look back upon Great Britain and Ireland for names.
Therefore, a light flashed across my mind when I saw that Main
Street was designated as St. George.
I said to myself, "Here they are in order one after other: St.
George, first, the patron saint of England, St. Andrew, second, the
patron saint of Scotland, St. Patrick, third, the patron of Ireland,
and St. David, fourth, of little Wales."
The five crosstown streets between the Tar and the present Com-
mon were named as we know theni in 1909 : Granville, Pitt, St.
James, Church and St. John.
It was natural for the Commissioners to honor Lord Granville,
who owned such a big portion of the Colony.
But the most timely and appropriate name given was Pitt, for
the Great Commoner who one year before had attained a position
of extraordinary influence on account of the English victories by
land and sea. In 1759 Pitt succeeded in choosing men who were
unusually successful in every part of the globe where Frenchmen
could be found.
During this year, when William Pitt, the Elder, was at the zenith
of his power, Ins son, destined to be a great man like himself, was
born; Wolfe took Quebec and consequently Canada; at Minden,
in Westphalia, the Anglo-Hanoverian forces defeated the French;
and Hawks crushed the French fleet off Brest.
Therefore, when Tarboro was incorporated in 1760, William
Pitt probably occupied a bigger place in the minds of the inhabi-
tants of the Province than any man in the civilized world.
Mere mention of the Court of St. James causes one to think of
England and, although the palace of St. James is no longer occu-
pied by the sovereign, it gives its name officially to the British
In naming St. James Street the loyal subjects looked upward but,
in the case of St. John, they chose the appellation of John the
Baptist, who from an early date was regarded in the Mother Coun-
try as the patron saint of the common people.
Eev. James Moir, sent out from England by the Society for The
Propagation of The Gospel, was not a native American. He spent
a number of years in the southern part of the Province before com-
ing to Edgecombe county. According to Clement Hall, a brother
missionary, James Moir began his work in Edgecombe Parish about
Governor Gabriel Johnston, a man unpopular with the inhabi-
tants of the Colony as he was unpractical and tried to mould affairs
the way he wanted them, said that Mr. Moir left the southern part
of the Province without asking leave of anybody.
If his Excellency had taken the trouble to inquire, he would have
learned that the unfortunate Missionary had complained of the
unsatisfactory conditions in the District as far back as 1742.
After preaching more than four years without proper assistance,
he wrote to the Secretary of the Society and told him that his health
was such that he felt the need of going to a colder climate and
Without entering into the mass of data wherein the ungodly con-
dition of the people in the Cape Fear District is set forth, it is
enough to state that the Secretary of the Society wrote to Gov. John-
ston about the difficulties under which Mr. Moir labored.
Whether the Missionary came to Edgecombe with or without per-
mission, he had resided there thirteen years when Tarboro was in-
corporated and the fact of his being chosen one of the first Com-
missioners shows that the people thought something of him.
Lawrence Toole married Sabra Irwin, a sister of Henry Irwin,
the Tarboro merchant who during the Revolution sacrificed him-
self for his country.
Henry Irwin Toole, the first, son of the Commissioner and Sabra
Irwin, like his Uncle Henry Irwin also received a commission in
the Continental regular army. He died early in life but success-
fully served his term of enlistment, after which he returned to Tar-
boro and entered the mercantile business.
He left three children : Henry Irwin Toole, the second ; Arabella,
Henry Irwin Toole, the second, married Ann Blount, daughter
of Gov. William Blount, of Tennessee. His children were Henry
Irwin Toole, the third, and Mary Eliza, who married Dr. Josiah
Arabella Toole, the granddaughter of the Commissioner and sis-
ter of Henry Irwin Toole, second, married the Hon. James West
Clark, whose house stood at the corner of Church and St. Patrick
streets, on the site now occupied by the residence of his grandson,
John W. Gotten. .
James West Clark is buried in Calvary churchyard near his son,
Henry Toole Clark.
The descendants of Edgecombe's war Governor, Henry Toole
Clark, are too well known to be given here.
Mary Toole, sister of Henry Irwin Toole, the second, and Ara-
bella Toole married Theophilus Parker and had six children : Eev.
John Haywood Parker; Catherine C, married first John Hargrave
and second Rev. Robert B. Drane; Elizabeth T., married Rev. Jos.
Blount Cheshire, father of the present bishop; Mary W. married
first Frank Hargrave and second Governor Henry Toole Clark;
Col. Francis M. Parker, and Arabella C, whom so many of us know
Miss Bella Parker is probably the oldest native of Tarboro alive
today and the writer fervently hopes that God will spare her for
many years to come.
Elisha Battle, one of the original Commissioners of the town of
Tarboro was the progenitor of the vast family in North Carolina
that bears his name. Dr. Kemp P. Battle credits him with over two
thousand descendan ts.
He was born in Nansemond County, Virginia. January 9, 1723,
and at the age of twenty-five moved to Edgecombe. The attrac-
tive terms offered by the agents of Lord Granville perhaps was the
cause that induced the young man to purchase the rich bottom
lands along Tar River. With him came his wife, Elizabeth Sum-
ner, first cousin of General Jethro Sumner of Revolutionary fame
and their two children. Part of his descendants still own the land
he bought. However, it is well to add that he constantly purchased
attractive offerings in other parts of the county.
About the year 1764, Elisha Battle joined the Baptist Church
at the Falls of Tar Biver and continued in full fellowship. He
served for twenty-eight years as Deacon until he resigned on ac-
count of age. He sometimes acted as moderator at the Associa-
tions which he usually attended and was known to be a remarkably
pious, zealous member, always plain and candid in censuring and
reproving vice or folly in all their shapes.
About .1756 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace and con-
tinued in that office until 1795, when he resigned.
Simply to recount the many capacities in which he served the
County and Commonwealth would be enough to demonstrate the
exceptional usefulness of Elisha Battle, as a statesman.
He was chosen to represent Edgecombe in the General Assem-
bly, being elected the first time in 1771, and continued to serve for
twenty years when he was compelled to resign on account of his
advanced state in life.
Before a permanent seat of government for the State was selected,
the General Assembly used to ballot at each session for the next
It was probably due to the influence of Elisha Battle, who took
a prominent part in the deliberations at Fayetteville in 1786, that
the Senate decided to select Tarboro as its next place of meeting.
Accordingly, the General Assembly met "at Tarborough on the
nineteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord, One Thous-
and, seven hundred and Eighty-seven and, of the Sovereignty and
Independence of the said State the Twelfth, it being the first ses-
sion of this Assembly."
As evidence of the nomadic character of the legislators, I shall
reproduce from the State Records (*) a Resolution passed Tues-
day, Dec. 18th, 1787:
"That Harry Jones of Edgecombe County, be allowed the sum
of fifteen pounds for carrying a Copy of the Journal of last As-
sembly to the public printer at Fayetteville, and carting from
thence to Tarborough the papers of the Senate; that the Treas-
urer pay him the same and be allowed."
Not only was Elisha Battle a Justice of the Peace and Legislator
during the stormy Revolutionary period but he attended almost all
•Vol. XX., page 438.
the State Conventions, being a delegate to the State Congress of
April 1776, which authorized the North Carolina members of the
Continental Congress to vote for independence, also a member of
the State Congress that met at Halifax in November and Decem-
ber of the same year, which adopted the Declaration of Eights and
When the Convention of 1788 met for deliberation of the Fed-
eral Constitution, the body showed its appreciation of his worth
by appointing him chairman of the Committee of the Whole.
The latter part of his life was spent in quietude.
From a work entitled, A Concise History of the Kehukee Bap-
tist Association, by Elders Lemuel Burkitt and Jesse Bead, printed
by A. Hodge at Halifax, 1803, I shall quote the following:
"In IT'.'!) he requested his youngest son to come and take pos-
session of the land and plantation whereon he lived (which he had
before made him a deed for) that he might give up the care of a
family and live witli him. About this time he desired his children
to meet him so that he might have private discourse with them and
concluded to have his will written and execute it, although he had
for many years kept a written one by him, altering it when he
found it necessary. He divided his property among his children,
only reserving a sum of money and notes, as security for himself.
Soon after he was taken more unwell than usual. Without the
least doubt of future felicity," he passed away the 6th of Mar. 1799,
preceding George Washington, his great chieftain, by only nine
Jacob, the youngest son of Elisha Battle, who was called by his
father, shortly before his death to come and take possession of the
plantation, lived mi the Coo] Spring Farm, about halt a mile from
his father's residence, at a settlement called Old Town.
At this settlement was born James Smith Battle, his son, who
possessed the distinction of adding to his inherited estate so many
thousands of acres that he was able to ride from the present town
limits of Bocky Mount to Tarboro almost without having to leave
his own land.
His vast holdings were divided among his children.
William Smith Battle, Edgecombe's Grand Old Man, is a son of
James Smith Battle and, consequently, the great grandson of Elisha
He was born October 4th 1823, and attended the Stoney Hill
and Louisburg Academies. He entered the university in 1840 and
graduated in 1844, being well liked and noted for his manly bear-
ing and perfect truthfulness.
At an early age he married Elizabeth M., daughter of Francis L.
Dancy, the wedding taking place on July 25th, 1845.
When his father purchased the Eocky Mount Cotton Mills, one of
the first factories in the State, he turned over the management to
young William, who gave up his turpentine business in which he
was extensively engaged.
The son however, possessed a great deal of energy because he not
only continued to plant cotton but also became manager and part
owner of the Eocky Mount flour and grist mill.
Several fires, seven of which took place within two years at the
Falls, and on different plantations, caused a loss of at least sixty
thousand dollars above insurance.
He rebuilt both his cotton and grist mills at great expense and
was on the road to success when the panic of 1873 occurred. His
failure was due to low prices for manufactured products and the
expense of rebuilding when materials and the rate of interest were
As if this were not enough, he has been afflicted with frightful
loss in his family. A visit to the Battle section in the Episcopal
churchyard, where his only daughter and several sons lie buried,
shows mutely how heavily the hand of the Almighty has fallen
The manner in which he has borne his losses is well told by Dr.
Kemp P. Battle, who writes :
"He attributed his losses to accident or the act of God. No one
has ever heard him complain with bitterness of the hardness of
fortune. The same high-toned, equable, kindly temper, the same
tenderness of soul, which characterized him in his prosperous days,
he retains when his energies are confined to a smalled area and when
he is dealing with lesser interests."
William S. Battle has been little in public life. He has served
as a justice of the peace and a member of the special committee
which presided in the County Court.
He was a member of the Secession Convention that met in 1861.
During the Civil War he gave liberally of his means to the Cause.
Today he stands for the Old School and is one of the few left to
remind us of Southern civilization as it existed in the ante-bellum
Reverend James Moir
AND CONTEMPORANEOUS COLONIAL HISTORY
Among the clergymen sent out by the Church of England to
preach the Gospel to the people of Colonial North Carolina was
James Moir who occupied for many years the thankless position
of traveling minister, or missionary, to the inhabitants of Edge-
combe Parish whose social condition has been indicated in a former
From various letters I have gathered the principal events in con-
nection with the life of this gentleman and shall quote some of
them in full, as they throw much light on the period in question.
Clement Hall writes from Edenton, July 9th, 17 1S: "My Brother
Missionary, Mr. Moir, has been employed in Edenton Parish in
this North part of the Province ever since Easter was twelve
Thus, it can be positively stated that -lames Moir entered upon
his duties in the Spring of the year 1747.
As illustrative of the Age, I shall digress long enough to quote
a paragraph from a speech by Governor Dobbs, in 17-37, to both
I Imises of Assembly :
'"The affairs of Europe and particularly of these Colonies are in
so critical a situation that I have thought it absolutely necessary to
call you together at this time, our all is at stake, our Holy Protes-
tant Religion, our Liberties and Possessions are all now to be
fought for and his Majesty and Hie Parliament of Britain under
the great Weight of Debts and heavy Expence they must bear
are obliged to exert their whole Force to secure their Liberties,
Rights and Possessions and without our joining to our utmost in
our own defence for our safety and in order for the future to get
rid of the Neighborhood of a cruel, false and perfidious Enemy we
must submit to Popish superstition and Idolatry and become Slaves
to the arbitrary power of France."
Eeaders of history doubtless remember that England and France
were at war on both sides of the Atlantic when the above speech
Imagine the Governor of North Carolina today calling for volun-
teers to fight Catholic France ! Or, suppose that the President of
the United States had used similar language in asking the country
for assistance during the Spanish- American War, what a furor of
excitement would have been created throughout the civilized world!
While collecting data, I discovered a Proclamation which, though
somewhat lengthy, is opportune at this moment and I crave the in-
dulgence of my friends to leave the original subject, but, promise
to return and do justice to same.
"Whereas for the enormity of our sins, the neglect of the Divine
service and worship of God, and from our gross sensualities and im-
moralities, God Almighty has been, pleased to correct Britain
and these Colonies by a heavy and dangerous war by which we
are in immirient danger of losing the invaluable blessing of our
Holy Eeligion, Liberties and Possessions: And whereas He has
justly corrected these Colonies, by raising a spirit in our Indian
neighbors, to invade, massacre and make prisoners the British
inhabitants of these Colonies, upon their visible neglect of the ori-
ginal native inhabitants by neither attempting to civilize, nor con-
vert them to our Holy Eeligion, and therefore God Almighty has
left us more immediately to be punished by them at the instiga-
tion of our cruel and inveterate enemies the French, who, from
their principles, endeavor to extirpate the Protestant Eeligion
wherever they have Power, and have not only in these Provinces,
but in Europe, formed a formidable Popish league to extirpate and
ruin the Protestant interest of Europe; and whereas it appears
that after a short correction of the Protestants in Germany, God Al-
mighty has most wonderfully manifested himself in defence of
the Protestant Cause in Germany, and has apparently headed their
armies, by inspiring them with an invincible Courage, and conduct-
ing their Councils, and at the same time dispiriting their Popish
enemies, and turning all their Councils into foolishness, so that
ii manifestly appears that God will not desert the Holy Protes-
tant Eeligion, provided we, with humble hearts, sincerely repent of
our gross sensualities and immoralities, and our shameful neglect
of His Divine service and worship and serve Him and His Christ
with our whole hearts, and not with only a lip service and exter-
Let us therefore with sincere hearts fall down before Him, and
supplicate Him through the merits and satisfaction of His dear Son
Christ Jesus, our only Mediator and Redeemer, to forgive us our
sins, upon our sincere resolution of Amendment, and that He will
avert those judgments hanging over us, accept of the punishments
already poured out upon us, and leave us no longer to be corrected
by our enemies, but that He will restore us to His favour, go out
and lead our Armies, Fleets and Councils and inspire us with
Courage to defend our Holy Religion and Civil Liberties; and to
return Him the utmost praise for manifesting himself so eminently
in defence of the Protestant Interest and Civil Liberties of Europe ;
with a lively hope and Faith that if we repent and amend that He
will also manifest Himself as the God and Protector of the Protes-
tant Cause and Liberties of Britain and of these Colonies, and
implore a Blessing on His Majesty's Arms and Councils.
As therefore a day of Public Fasting and humiliation is, at
this critical time, most highly necessary, I have by the advice of
His Majesty's honorable Council, thought fit to issue this my Pro-
clamation, and do hereby appoint Wednesday the seventh of June
next, to be kept holy by all ranks of people within this Province, as
a day of fasting and supplication; and also to give thanks to Al-
mighty God and our Blessed Saviour Christ Jesus for having
hitherto preserved this Province in Peace, in the midst of surround-
ing impending dangers and on account of the manifestation of
his Providence, so remarkable in protecting the Protestant interest
and Civil liberties of Europe from the united Popish Towers; hop-
ing also that ITe will declare Himself the Protector of the Protestant
Interest in America, lead our Annies and Councils and give a
blessing to the Arms of his most gracious Majesty by sea and land ;
and that He may support our civil and religious liberties, and
may vanquish and overcome our insatiable and inveterate enemies.
Therefore strictly command and require that Public Service be
had in all Churches and Chapels within this Province, and that it
be kept holy from all manual labour, and that this Proclamation
be publickly read, either on that day or some convenient Sunday
before it, to give notice to all persons within this Province, to pa>
a regard and obedience to it.
Given under my hand and Seal of the said Province at Newbern,
the twenth ninth day of April in the thirty first year of his Ma-
jesty's reign and in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hun-
dred and fifty eight.
By His Excellency's Command, Richard Fenner Dep : Sec : •
God save the King."
Political considerations were at stake and religion was of second-
ary importance in the formation of the "formidable Popish league,"
as Gov. Dobbs terms it. Anyone, familiar with the Seven Years'
War in Europe, knows that through the instrumentality of Prince
Kaunitz, the mighty prime minister of Empress Maria Theresa
of Austria, a coalition was formed to wrest Silesia from Frederick,
of Prussia; also that England and France ceased to support their
respective allies before the conclusion of the war; and, as far as
they were individually concerned, the victory of Wolfe at Quebec
settled their struggle in favor of England.
Austria, beginning hostilities in 1756, under th« most favorable
auspices, was forced to make peace with Frederick the Great in 1763.
All her allies had deserted her, a circumstance unfavorable to Ar-
thur Dobbs' claim because religious wars are not carried on for
worldly gain. When the will of one person shifted the immense em-
pire of Russia from the support of Austria to her bitter enemy,
Prussia, could that be called a religious consideration ?
Returning to affairs in North Carolina, I shall present some of
the Instructions from England to "our Trusty and well beloved
Arthur Dobbs Esq., etc.:
98. You are to permit a liberty of conscience to all persons ex-
cept Papists so as they be contented with a quiet and peaceable en-
joyment of the same not giving scandal or offense to the Govern-
99. You shall take especial care that God Almighty be devoutly
and duly served throughout your Government the Book of Common
Prayer as by law established read each Sunday and Holiday and the
blessed Sacrament administered according to the rights of the
Church of England.
100. You shall take care that the Churches already built be well
and orderly kept and that more be built as the Province by God's
blessing shall be improved and that. besides a competent main-
tenance to be assigned to the Minister of each Orthodox Church
a convenient House be built at the common charge for each Min-
ister and a competent proportion of land assigned him for a Glebe
and exercise of his industry.
101. And you are to take care that the Parishes be so limited
and settled as you shall find most convenient for accomplishing this
102. You are not to prefer any Minister to any Ecclesiastical
Benefice in that Province without certificate from the Right Rever-
end Father in God the Lord Bishop of London of his being con-
formable to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England
and of a good life and conversation and if any person already pre-
ferred to a Benefice shall appear to you to give scandal either by
his doctrine of manners you are to use the proper and usual
means for the removal of him and to supply the vacancy in such
manner as we have directed.
103. You are to give orders forthwith if the same be not already
done that every Orthodox Minister within your Government be one
of the Vestry in his respective Parish and that no Yestry be held
without him except in case of sickness or that after notice of a Ves-
try he omit to come.
104. You are to enquire whether there be any Minister within
your Government who preaches and administers the Sacrament in
any Orthodox Church or Chapel without being in due orders and to
give an account thereof to the Lord Bishop of London.
These seven are taken from a list of one hundred and thirty-
three Instructions which cover all matters of importance pertaining
to the Colony of North Carolina.
My motive in selecting them is to show the attitude of the au-
thorities at that time toward religious worship and, also, to give
an idea of the position and duties of orthodox ministers in the
But, easy as it was to write the Instructions in England, tc form-
ulate them into satisfactory Church acts was quite another matter,
because the people of North Carolina simply refused to have them
executed in the parishes.
For several years of the Dobbs administration, (*) there
were no vestry laws in force in the Province, and when such lawa
were in force the "orthodox clergy" were not necessarily benefitted
thereby, being practically dependent on vestries elected by the free-
•Col. Rec, Prefatory Notes, Vol. VI, pp: xxxii-xxxiii.
holders, regardless of sect, and not required to conform to the
liturgy of the Church of England.
In my Early Social Life in Edgecombe, having reproduced two
letters from Mr. Moir, I shall pass over the subject matter contained
therein and quote a third written in the county, April 8th, 1760,
viz. "Since my last of Oct. 16, 1759, I baptized 206 white children
and 3 black: on the 4th and 6th inst. there were above 50 Com-
municants in this Parish. For some years past this Province has
been running into great disorder and confusion. Sectaries prevail
in many Parishes. The last Assembly would not pass a new vestry
act. There is nothing like the administration of Justice among us.
A silly fellow that headed a mob against the Earl of Granville,
his Land office is put into the commission of the Peace. I this day
draw for my salary from Michaelmas 1759 to Lady day 1760 and
am Eev. Sir etc."
The insurrection, referred to, is known as the Granville District
Troubles and is of sufficient importance to constitute a complete
chapter in the Colonial History of North Carolina.
Another letter, dated Oct. 30, 1760, reads as follows: "Our ad-
ministration for some years past has been such, that I was loath to
enter upon a detail of Public transactions.
"Governor Dobbs was so sharply censured by the general assem-
bly in the beginning of last summer, that one would have thought,
he could not be so bold as to put into the commission of the peace
for Edgecombe county, another ringleader of the mob, and yet
he did it; If no remedy is applied well disposed persons talk of
leaving the Province.
"We have had a sickly season this fall and I was much indis-
posed; I baptized only 74 whites and 5 blacks, but this was chiefly
occasioned by there being no vestry in the parish. This prevents
the Sheriff, his being taken to task for detaining the Parish
Additional evidence of the unhappy state of affairs appears the
next year when Mr. Moir wrote: Edgecombe April 13, 1761, Eev.
Sir, The misunderstanding between the Governor and leading men
of this Province still subsisting, we are as unhappy as ever. The
general assembly is now sitting and it is hoped something will be
done for the more, effectual administration of Justice, the officers
on the Civil list in Edgecombe county show so little regard to
common honesty, that I shall embrace the offers made me by some
of the neighboring vestries which have applied to me for several
Also, Edgecombe Aug. 7, 1761, Rev. Sir, Since my last of April I
have baptized 108 white children and 15 black. In several places
there are about 50 Communicants but never under 20. This Prov-
ince is in as great confusion as ever. Some of them who laboured
hard to encourage a regular ministry here, tell me they now de-
spair of Success. I have for some years past, declared they ought
to wait for better times."
James Moir, it will be observed, did not approve of the boldness
of Arthur Dobbs, who acted directly contrary to the will of the
people of the Colony, and, Gov. Dobbs, on his part, showed a spirit
on animosity towards Mr. Moir, as will be seen later.
Apparently due to local conditions the minister moved his place
of residence from Edgecombe to Xorthampton, from whence he
on April 6, 1763, sent this interesting communication to England:
Your Letter of July 16th, 1762, not coming to hand till the end of
January when all the vestries of the Province were dissolved, I
could not apply to any vestry of the Parishes, wherein I have or
do now officiate, for a certificate of my behaviour. As there was no
prospect of vestries being soon re-established I laid your com-
plaint before the former church wardens, as I chanced to meet
with them, they assured me as soon as they could conveniently
meet, [they would] undeceive the venerable Society by transmitting
a true account of my behaviour attested before a Justice of the
Peace this they did on Good Friday, when assembled to celebrate
the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper and I now send it enclosed,
the Rev. Dr. Bearcroft signified to me several years ago that Gov.
Dobbs complained against me. So that I make no doubt his being
author of the Present complaint. Upon his arrival I waited on him
and he soon convinced me he would act quite contrary to what
was reported of him. Among other things I told him T was well as-
sured that the deputy secretary and deputy auditor had been guilty
of abominable frauds and forgeries in the King's Land office, upon
which he was seized with a violent passion and I withdrew, the
deputy auditor was his countryman (an Irishman G. L.) and with-
out any other thing to recommend him, (a hard rap! G. L.) his
excellency has ever since been loading him with power and dig-
nity, he appointed him an assistant judge and has also recom-
mended him to a seat in the council. His excellency seems to-
have a natural antipathy to every one that acts uprightly in a pub-
lic office, (our friend could not be much more plain spoken. G. L.)
Mr. Francis Corbin, the Earl of Granville's agent in this Province,
I dare say acted conscientiously, I had frequent opportunities of
observing him, his excellency appointed a general assembly at Eden-
ton to demolish the said Corbin, but his efforts proved ineffectual,
the above mentioned deputy auditor publicly conntenanced the mob
against the Earl of Granville's Land Office, when it was his busi-
ness to suppress it, as he was Col. of the county and still is. When
his excellency and the deputy auditor, with their confederates found
it was impossible to get a vestry in Edgecombe that would not em-
ploy me, they divided the parish in a most ridiculous manner, and
by a notorious act of injustice, threw the expenses of the two preach-
ing years upon the Parish they expected I would settle in, only to
save appearances they gave the collections of the Parish Taxes, to
the said parish of Edgecombe, though they knew the taxes had not,
been collected by reason of the opposition they themselves had made
to it, but this not having the desired effect, they divided the county
after the same manner, which gave his excellency the opportunity
of appointing a Sheriff in Edgecombe who managed the election
of vestries in Edgecombe, so that they have had no vestry for several
years and consequently no churchwardens ; The Sheriff knowing that
the Parish money can't be taken from but by churchwardens. It
would be an endless task to enumerate all the little dirty tricks, they
have used to drive me away. In short I have been so persecuted
by the Governor and his accomplices, that I have several times laid
down my office, with a resolution to settle in Virginia, but have
been diverted from it even after I was on the road, by the import-
unities of the people and were it not to oblige them, they are so
fond of me, I would not stay one day in the Province, where fraud,
injustice and oppression are triumphant; if Gov. Dobbs complains
against me for great misbehaviour, why did not he take the law of
me? (an excellent point G. L.) he never can have greater advantages
this way. I have told two Chief Justices to their Faces, how grossly
they misbehaved in suits, for the recovery of Parish Taxes from
Sheriffs who had squandered them away, when the captain of the
above mob being put into the commission of the peace stood con-
didate at an election of Burgesses in Edgecombe, wit hall the in-
fluence of the Governor's Faction in these parts and had got the
huzzah on his side; I painted the scoundrel in his proper colors
and overset his election, 'tis true he came up to me with his myr-
midons and hegan to chatter, but I soon Btopt his mouth by telling
him I was ready to prove again, what I had charged him with. I
have been offered as good security as I could desire for the payment
of my salaries here, if I would cease inspecting the vestry accounts
and rejected it with indignation: after these and maybe such in-
stances, no wonder the tools of Power should look on me with an
evil eye; But all the ill natnred ridiculous stories they invent made
no impression on the people, who when they have a chance vote
in such vestrymen, as they think will employ me. Is it to be sup-
posed that the people think I neglect my duty when they have
several times offered me a better maintenance by subscription, than
I had on the Establishment; In the Parish of St. Geo. X. Hamp-
ton where I reside, there is a church and three chapels. There
are two places besides, where I preach now and then on a week
day. I officiate monthly by subscription in Bertie county on week
days and have thrice administered there last year. I have also offi-
ciated in Hertford county, etc."
Another from N. Hampton, Oct, 20, 1763, Rev. Sir: "Since my
last of April, at the earnest request of the people of Edgecombe
(there being no vestry in the Province) I officiated in that Parish
in the months of May and July and baptized 283 white and 6 black
children. Before the expiration of my year in N". Hampton the
Parishioners insisted on my continuing to officiate among them,
and assured me that they would give me full satisfaction either by
subscription or by voting in a vestry to do it by the first opportunity,
to which I consented and have baptized in this and the neighboring
counties of Bertie and Hertford 238 white and 56 black children, the
communicants are often from 10 to 30, and seldom above 30 as I
administer the Sacrament in the different Chapels and sometimes
in private houses when the Church and Chapels are inconvenient
tc the aged and infirm.
The general assembly of this Province is to meet next december,
some members of my acquaintance desire me to be there promising
to use their utmost efforts to encourage a regular ministry as the
only effectual means to stop the inundation of Sectaries, which
are chiefly owing to the vestry acts, the generality of the inhabitants
being much inclined to the offices of our Church, but I have little
hopes of Success, having often represented among others the incon-
venie'nce of one and the same persons collecting the Parish taxes,
and taking the Poll at the election of vestries.
My salaries in Edgecombe for the last three years I officiated
there are still due. Gov. Dobbs taking the advantage at the divis-
ion of the county to appoint a Sheriff who managed the election
of vestries so, as that the Parish had no vestry for several years
before the repeal of the last vestry act, to prevent being sued for
the money in his hands. The Parishioners are sensible of the in-
justice done me and resolve to choose a vestry that will oblige the
Sheriff to refund. They also importune me to reside in their Parish.
I have not drawn for my salary this last year, hoping the vener-
able society will give me leave to come to London next Summer. I
Since there are two sides to every disagreement, I shall now
present an extract from a communication of Gov. Dobbs
to the "Kev. Sir" in England :— March 29, 1764—1 have had no
letter from 3^ou since July 16, 1762, in answer to mine of the fore-
going March, it will therefore be proper to return thanks to the
Honorable Society for the acceptance of my good wishes and in-
clinations to support the true apostolic Protestant Eeligion in this
Province and to reform the morals of the ill instructed inhabitants
and further to thank them for their pious zeal and due attention to
promote true religion and the reformation of their manners by Pro-
curing more pious clergymen and missionaries (remember this G.
L.) to come over and reside in this Province. The situation of affairs
relating to the Church is somewhat different to what it was when I
wrote last, Mr. McDowell the Missionary of this Parish ( Cape Fear,
Brunswick, place of writing letter G. L.) died last November of a
lingering disorder, which has deprived us of a clergyman; and Mr.
Teal who I recommended last year to be put into orders finding
upon his return that the parishioners of Wilmington in New Han-
over county were divided ; he thought he could be of no service and
went to South Carolina where he was immediately inducted into a
vacant Parish and is fixed happily there. We have therefore only
at present six clergymen in the Province, four of which perform
their duty diligently in the towns of Edenton, Bath, New Bern and
Halifax : the three first being missionaries, the other two Mr. Moir
and Miller, by all I can hear, do not behave as clergymen ought.
(The Governor now has his say G. L.) Mr. Moir who lives at a dis-
tance from me as I am informed by Gentlemen who live in the
neighborhood, has no parish performs very little casual service; he
has been endeavoring to secure a certificate of his good character,
but I am informed with very bad success from any men of rank or
character, he lives upon a plantation penuriously and inhospitably;
and lays out his salary as missionary in England to retire to and
live upon when he loses his support as missionary; his character
as I am informed is to stir up and make divisions in the neighbor-
hood instead of Promoting Peace and love ; having observed that he
made a return to the Society of great numbers of negroes and others
baptized by him, I enquired into it and was informed by gentlemen
in his neighborhood that they never heard of any number baptized
by him, etc."
From Northampton, April 4, 1764, James Moir, after reciting
the numbers of those he had baptized at various times, informs the
Secretary of additional grievances. He states in a later com-
munication how he tried to obtain redress for certain wrongs
and continues: "During these transactions I had some
conferences with his excellency, but could never discover in
him any regard to truth or equity, and had it not been
for a member of the Council I should have publicly exposed him
for one of his notorious falsehoods, the two gentlemen he gave for
his authors, declaring to me they would go along with me and tell
him to his face they never told him sucli a thing nor never heard
of it. His administration is almost universally hated and despised
etc." Written in October 176 i.
In the following year Governor Tryon, who succeeded Arthur
Dobbs writes of James Moir : "I do not represent him as an immor-
al man, but should think it advisable, he might be fixed to some
The above explicit statement occurs in a letter, dated July 31,
1765 and, written by Tryon to the Society for the Propagation of
the Gospel in Foreign parts.
The same year our Missionary informs the Secretary: "I have
not been able to procure a copy of the Church Bill that was passed
last assembly. Governor Tryon, though a soldier, has done more
for the settlement of a regular ministry in this province than both
his learned Predecessors and yet was not importuned to — it here, aa
I know they both were etc."
Moir's final letter was written from Suffolk, Virginia, October 13,
1766: "Upon finding last November that my bad state of health
would not permit me to discharge the Functions of my office in
Northampton County I desired the Vestry to employ another *
* * * in April last I was importuned to serve in St. Mary's Par-
ish Edgecombe County (where I had been many years) * * * *
but was not then in a condition to ride the Circuit of so large a
Parish as I had done, and that for the recovery of my health was
under the necessity of spending the hot season in Great Britain or
the Northern Colonies and that I could come to no Resolution till
I returned in May and set out for New York and towards the end
of July arrived in Boston where I got rid in a few days of what af-
flicted me most * * * * About the middle of August it was
extremely hot in the City and I had some slight fits of intermit-
ting fever which brought the bleeding of the nose upon me, and be-
ing told that Ehode Island was healthy I went thiiher and in ten
days was perfectly recovered; after I had been there five weeks
and proposed to return by way of Philadelphia I unluckily sprained
my back by trying to save myself from a fall out of a chair.
As soon as I was able to walk I went aboard the Packet Boat for
New York and stayed there a Fortnight hoping to be able to en-
dure the Motion of a Horse or Chair but finding I couid not even
walk without great pain I took a passage for Suffolk in Virginia.
I have been there days and flatter myself I shall be able to mount
a horse in a short time. It gave me great joy in the Northern Col-
onies to hear and see our Clergymen were so regular and diligent
and therefore much esteemed by their people and shall always ac-
knowledge myself much indebted for the kind Reception and usage
I had from both. I do not draw for my salary being apprehensive
I must leave North Carolina and sail for Great Britain in the
Spring. My constitution is so crazy that I despair of being in a
condition to officiate in such large Parishes."
Governor Tryon, in one sentence, shows that at the end Mr. Moir
was upheld by his superiors in England, viz : "The Eev. Mr.
Thomas (should be James G. L.) Moir's death in February last
(1767) defeated the Society's direction to have him fixed in some
Edgecombe Changes Her County Seat
t On the 8th of December, Saturday, 1759, a petition of the Prin-
cipal parts of the Freeholders and Inhabitants of Edgecombe
County was presented to the Colonial Legislative Body — "Setting
forth that through mismanagement and a Secret and Clandestine
Manner an Act was passed last Session of Assembly to fix the Court-
house of the said County at Redman's old field on Tyoncocoa which
is found to be near the verge of said County and Inconvenient to
the Inhabitants to attend the said County Courts Praying Re-
Until the formation of Halifax County in 1758, from Edgecombe,
Enfield was the capital, or county seat, but, this town now being
located in another county, it became necessary for the inhabitants
of Edgecombe to determine upon a suitable location for the court
Meanwhile, the town of Halifax, (f) became the place for hold-
ing court for the inhabitants of Edgecombe, Granville, and North-
It may have been in the minds of the founders of Tarboro that
their town would become the county seat but, whether this was so,
or otherwise, I do not find positive evidence and shall leave the de-
cision to the individual judgments of my readers.
In the fall of 1760, the General Assembly passed an "Act for
Establishing a town on the Lands of Joseph Howell on Tar River."
On Tuesday, April 20th, 1762, was presented to the House "a
Petition of Sundry of the Inhabitants of Edgecombe County set-
ting forth that the place appointed for Building a Court House,
Prison and Stocks, etc. at Redman's old Field on Tyoncoca, is an
obscure place, and greatly inconvenient for the inhabitants to meet,
and Transact the Public Business of the said County, Praying
an act may pass to direct the Buildings aforementioned at Tar-
The next step was a "Bill for Ascentaining a proper place for
Building thereat a Court House, Prison, Pillory and Stocks in
fMartin, vol. II p. 95.
This Bill was rejected by the Governor and the long routine of
three readings in each branch of the Legislature had to be gone
over again, augmented by petitions viz :
"Mr. Howell presented the petition (lGth November 1762) of
several of the Inhabitants of Edgecombe County complaining that
the place called Bedman's old Field is a very improper place to hold
thereat the Court of the said County praying a law may pass to
appoint a Court House to be Built in the Town of Tarborough for
holding thereat the Court for the said County."
Mr. Puffin, the other member from Edgecombe, also presented
a petition in practically the same language, and then it was ordered
that Mr. Howell prepare and bring in a Bill for fixing a place within
the said County for holding thereat the said Court.
It was not until Friday, March 9th, 1761, that his Excellency
was pleased to give his Assent to "An act for Ascertaining a proper
place, for building thereat, a Court House, Clerk's Office, Prison
and Stocks for the County of Edgecombe."
Tarboro was finally selected as the most convenient place for
transacting the Public Business of the County, but Mr. Joseph
Howell, the member most interested, had to make a hard fight.
He had no trouble in getting his town incorporated, but it re-
quired some years of patience and hard work before he succeeded
in making Tarboro, the capital.
In 1761 a "Bill to Encourage Joseph Howell to build a Bridge
over Tar River at or near the place called Howell's Ferry at Tar-
borough in Edgecombe County" was rejected, but Messrs. Puffin
and Howell brought their united influence to bear upon the Solons,
and the following year they triumphed.
Another Bill, of interest to Tarboreans, was one that passed with-
out any delay, viz :
"A Bill for Enlarging the time fnr Inspection of Tobacco, at the
Public Ware House in the Town of Tarborough 'in the County of
Edgecombe and for Encreasing the Salaries of the Inspectors there-
of." (Anno Domini, 1761.)
Edgecombe was represented by Messrs. William Haywood and
Duncan Lemon in 1761, and by Messrs. William Haywood and
Joseph Howell in 1762.
When George Washington led the Continentals against the red-
coats on October 4th, 1777, a goodly number of his troops hailed
from North Carolina. General Francis Nash, who was mortally
wounded during the battle, commanded the Tarheel regiments. The
American forces would have won a complete victory, if two sec-
tions of the army had not mistaken each other for the enemy.
Notwithstanding the fact that the British regulars were retreating
and that a state of demoralization was fast coming over the red-
coats, a grievous mistake changed Continental success into defeat.
To lose the fight would have been bitter enough but the Com-
mander-in-Chief Buffered additional sadness for he lost one of his
bravest officers. An illustrious company surrounded Washington
on the eve of the battle of Germantown. What memories are awak-
ened by the names of Greene, Pulaski. Nash. Wayne, Marshall,
Hamilton, Pickering, and Lee! A few days later the body of the
gallant North Carolinean rested in a cemetery aearby. Full mili-
tary honors were accorded the deceased and the funeral of Francis
Nash lived lastingly in the minds of those present.
Writers have preserved many details connected with the wounding
and death of the North Carolina Brigadier General. Tlis blood
was said to have soaked through two feather beds, so profusely did
he bleed. To his memory and to the memory of other Revolution-
ary officers buried beside him, a monument stands today in the bury-
ing ground at Kulpsville. The inscription thereon has been copied
by Dr. Naaman II. Keyser and incorporated into the history of
Not only do the names of the people, but the appearance of the
old main thoroughfare suggest a German settlement. The mere
mention of feather beds gives Teutonic flavor to a narrative. Phila-
delphia has reached out and made a suburb of what was once a
thriving town six miles distant. The German and Dutch settlers
worked industriously in their days and some of them used to carry
their wares to Philadelphia where they were peddled on the street.
While in Atlantic City (September, 1910), I conceived the idea
of stopping over at Germantown, on my way back to Richmond,
in order to see whether the place offered any thing of direct inter-
est to Edgecombe County. It will be remembered that Henry
Irwin, a merchant of Tarboro, was killed during the battle in and
about the village. Due to the kindness of Miss Florence Uhler,
a resident of Germantown who instructed me how to reach my des-
tination easily and quickly, I was saved much time and needless
worry. After arrival upon the ground, I found intelligent looking
people ignorant of their own historical treasures; however, their
lack of knowledge is not exceptional. All over the world tourists
find that residents know less about the fame of their communities
It was easy for me to remember Upsal, the name of the station
where I was to get off the train. Not only did the word remind me
of Upsala, the university city a few miles from Stockholm and the
burial place of Gustavus Vasa, but I am inclined to believe that a
Swede is responsible for its original appearance in Germantown.
Across the State of New Jersey without a stop, an express carried
me from Atlantic City to North Philadelphia. Thence I trans-
ferred to an accommodation, which made the run to Upsal in a
short time, including stops in the newer portion of the suburb.
Modern Germantown is very attractive. The residents enjoy
the advantages of country life, with its abundance of trees and
foliage. Many of the houses of the well to do stand in the midst
of beautiful lawns and the occupants, who spend the day in the
hot city of Philadelphia amidst congested traffic, can return in the
evening to the luxuries of fresh air and freedom. Smoothly paved
streets eliminate the mud nuisance one is compelled to put up with
so often in a suburban community.
But we are now concerned with the old settlement. The inhabi-
tants of the Colonial period and Eevolutionary era were stretched
out for a mile and a half, chiefly on both sides of what is known as
Germantown Avenue. Although attempts to straighten it have
met with a certain degree of success, the thoroughfare still retains
its sinuous appearance. Some think the street is crooked because
it follows an old Indian trail, but my acquaintance with medieval
European cities leads me to the conclusion that the settlers played
a part in the "laying out" of the road.
By accident my first step upon this main thoroughfare was taken
almost opposite to the cemetery, in which Henry Irwin is buried.
Having crossed the street to read the inscription, placed upon the
stone wall by the Site and Relic Society. I found that the nai
Edgecombe's martyr to the cause of liberty led all the rest. Close
beside the graveyard stands the Concord Schoolhouse, where, in
1853, the Junior Order of United American Mechanics is said to
have been organized. Watson, the annalist of Philadelphia, three
generations ago, placed a slab over the spot where Henry Irwin and
several compatriots rest. The bodies had been taken from the bat-
tlefield and deposited together. Watson's ad was a pure labor of
love, since be erected the marble memorial to preserve for pos-
terity the place of interment of Revolutionary officers whose mem-
ory had been neglected and whom neglect may have consigned to
Feeling that the Site and Relic Society could supply me with in-
formation of value, I proceeded to look for their headquarters.
While walking along Germantown Avenue towards Vernon Park,
whither certain questionees directed me, I was struck with the archi-
tecture of the residences and was not surprised, therefore, to read
afterwards that this old main road has the distinction of being per-
haps the most quaint street in the United States.
Although the Site and Relic Society maintains a highly credit-
able museum in Vernon Park, not far from the Germantown branch
of the Free Public Library of Philadelphia, there were persons on
the historic thoroughfare who not only knew nothing of its ex-
istence, but they told me that they had never heard of the above
organization. The custodian of the museum received me pleas-
antly enough. He guarded numerous objects of general interest,
and, under favorable conditions, a lengthy stay in the building
would doubtless have been made. Since he was unable to help me,
I asked for the names and addresses of the officials of the society.
Fortunately Dr. Naaman H. Keyser was at home.
Dr. Keyser's ancestors settled at Germantown during the early
period of its history. Watson refers to them in his annals. Wish-
ing to perpetuate the past life of the community, Xaaman H. Key-
ser has collected a large store of data. His book is a standard work
on the subject with which it deals. Having noticed in the inscrip-
tion, mentioned above in connection with Henry Irwin, that the
Site and Relic Society styled the Edgecombe officer as major, I
told the doctor this was a mistake. He immediately confessed that
his fellow- workers had done worse.
This very inscription contains a legend of a gift. As a matter of
fact, my informant told me that the cemetery was not presented to
the community by a certain Mr. Wolf, but that the land was ob-
tained by purchase. Thus we cannot believe everything we read.
Watson's Annals tells of Major Irvine (note the spelling), whence
the local society probably extracted their information, and reduced
our lieutenant-colonel to the rank of major. Being well supplied
with literature, Dr. Keyser handed me a copy of the guide book to
Germantown. This recent publication has corrected Watson's er-
ror, and I hope that Dr. Keyser will change the inscription ac-
cordingly on the stone wall.
The North Carolina State Eecords, compiled by the Hon. Walter
Clark, contain letters written a short while after the battle of Ger-
mantown. Herein are reports that Henry Irwin was taken pris-
oner. I have seen the statement also that his body was not re-
covered. But, unless there is positive proof to the contrary, we
should take Watson's word and hold sacred the little plot of ground
upon which stands a memorial to the brave North Carolinians who
rest m one grave as they fought side by side in one cause.
May their memory never be forgotten !
NOV 5 1910