New Marker for African Americans who fought at the Battle of King’s Mountain


Last weekend, I went camping at King’s Mountain National Park with my son and lots of cousins.  It was a beautiful two days and we hiked on the gorgeous trail around the Revolutionary War battlefield.  While hiking, I noticed a new marker, placed there just a few days before, memorializing three African Americans who fought at the battle: Esaias Bowman, John Broddy and Andrew Ferguson.  When I got home I looked into these three soldiers and found some interesting information, but I found the most interesting one was Andrew Ferguson (1765-1855).

There are two applications that I examined on Fold3, one for a pension and one for bounty land.From his pension/ bounty applications Ferguson  acknowledges that he is colored and born of a free father and free mother.  Andrew states that he and his father, Andrew Perley, were from Dinwiddie County, Virginia and were captured by the British who whipped them with a “cat o’ nine tails”.  They both escaped and joined Nathanael Greene’s regiment, who were in the county at the time. Father and son participated in a good portion of the battles of the southern theater.  Andrew Ferguson relates that he was wounded at Camden in the leg but was able to fight at Ninety-Six, Kings Mountain, Pacolet River, Musgrove’s Mill, Eutaw Springs, Cowpens and  Guilford Courthouse.  It was at Guilford Courthouse where he was seriously wounded in the head and Doctor John Sidney placed a silver plate in the fracture.  Andrew was discharged shortly after Cornwallis’ defeat at Yorktown.

The bounty letter also mentions that he was in the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania and in the pension application there is a reference to the notorious Tory, Bill Cunningham, also known as bloody Bill Cunningham (for  the massacres of patriot militia he perpetrated in South Carolina).  He shot and killed an American near Andrew, then escaped.

Andrew Ferguson was given a small pension and would move to Monroe County, Indiana sometime after 1820. Both he and his wife were very poor and the first pension letter was in 1838 when he was 73.  The bounty letter was in 1851.  Then he wrote another one in 1855 when he was supposedly 90 years old!  He finally received his bounty for 160 acres in 1856, but by then he and his wife had already died without heirs.


Andrew Ferguson’s pension letter in 1838.


Andrew Ferguson’s first bounty letter in 1851


Andrew received 20 dollars a year.


Unfortunately his land bounty of 160 acres came too late.

Shootout in Wilson, 1911: The West Gang



Wilson County Sheriff Sharp is on the left, his deputies behind him and the captured West Gang in front with the tallest being Lewis West and the shortest Ed Stallings- aka Stetson.


The Mary Young house was where the shootout occurred and Wilson County Sheriff WDP Sharp points out where Deputy Mumford was killed.


Ed Stallings and Lewis West in profile. Judge Adams of Asheville is holding the two weighty tomes.


Lewis West and Ed Stallings aka Stetson


Wilson County Courthouse at the time of the trial.


The jurors of the case.

On February 3, 1911 in Wilson, NC a notorious gang out of Cumberland County stops by a house owned by  Mary  Young after perpetrating robberies in Dunn and Lucama when they notice two men coming up to the house.

Wilson County Sheriff WDP Sharp received a telegram from Cumberland County Sheriff McGeachy stating:
Fayet’eville, N.C,Feb.3, Sheriff of Wilson
County: Look out for three negroes, guns and pistols,
one a mulatto’ robbed Dunn Hardware Store.
They are headed your way.  Arrest them and notify.

     According to the court testimony found in the March 17, 1911 edition of the Wilson Daily Times, Sheriff Sharp sent Deputy Sheriff George Mumford into Wilson to try and locate the gang.  After Mumford gets into town he finds Chief of Police Onnie A. Glover and Officer H.A. Warren at about 10:30 am on the bank corner (not sure which bank, but all four banks were on Nash Street in 1911). Chief Glover and Warren go with Mumford,  first to the depot and then to Spring Street near Greene Street where they locate a group of men,  with one of them being tall and wearing a red sweater and a black cap, Lewis West, and another one fits Stetson’s compact frame.  They lose them until the early afternoon when   Officer Wynne, in plain clothes, carrying a shotgun, spots them in a near-beer saloon.  He goes to notify the other officers and when he returns to the saloon he finds the the gang has gone up Lodge Street towards Norfolk Southern (corner of Spring and E. Barnes Street).  Wynne finds them at Nan Best’s Eating House (According to the 1912-13 City Directory of Wilson it was located on 400 S. Spring Street, now Douglas Street) and actually passes them, hearing one of them say, “There goes the man with the shotgun.” To which West replies,  “I ain’t afraid of no damn man with a gun.”  Wynne keeps them under surveillance until he witnesses the gang  go into Mary Young’s house then retreats to get backup.
     Chief Glover goes up to the front door of Mary Young’s house with Officer Wynne while deputy Mumford approaches the back door with Officer Warren.   Mary Young answers and Chief Glover asks where the man with the red sweater is.  She replies that she hasn’t seen them and Chief Glover retorts that there is no use lying as he saw them come in (I suspect he meant Officer Wynne saw them).  Glover pushes open the door and sees Arch McLean and others, as well as Mumford at the back door. Mumford shouts “Look out Glover, they are in this room.”  Glover pulls his gun as West appears and slams the door in his face.  The door is also crashed on Mumford and he responds by going out in to the yard and returning with an ax.  After only one hit on the door, the firing commences from inside and the officers rush in.  They said it sounded liked firecrackers as 20-25 shots are fired.  Mumford says, “Oh Lord, Warren, I am shot.”
     Glover and West fire at each other at close range.  Glover is hit in the shoulder and puts his pistol in his other hand and fires again, hitting West.  Glover starts spitting blood and retreats to the porch of Nell Walker’s house next door and calls Officer Lonnie Lyon to assist him to the Sanatorium. West flees into a room where Wynne, from outside, sees his head in the window and fires his shotgun at him.   Stetson runs upstairs while the Young family barricades themselves in their rooms.
     After Mumford is shot, Officer Warren takes hold of Mumford’s arm and helps him out the door and to the steps.  Mumford slowly walks around house out of sight of Warren as warren goes over to Wynne  and hears more shots then someone yelling out that the chief is shot. He runs around the house and sees Mumford down as West escapes down Spring Street. Warren fires three shots at him, but he’s gone.
     Glover, from next door, sees West come out the house and approach Deputy Mumford, but is too weak to give  warning as he observes West point his gun six inches from Mumford’s face and fire.
     Witness Lou Artis is walking up the Norfolk Southern railroad when she sees a man come out of Mary Young’s house holding his abdomen and Stetson behind him.  Then Lewis West appears, approaches Mumford saying: “God damn you ain’t you dead yet? You came here to kill me and I am going to kill you.” Mumford pleads for him not to shoot him any more but West fires three times at his head.  Stetson comments from the porch, “That man Lewis West is a thorough man.”
     In the aftermath of the shootout, all of West’s gang escapes, but is slowly rounded up throughout the surrounding counties over the next few weeks.  Deputy Sheriff Mumford dies at the Wilson Sanatorium and is found to have ten bullet wounds in his body.  He was a widower and  survived by six children. Chief of Police  Glover survives his shoulder wound and later testified in court. Lewis West is caught in a restaurant in Maxton trying to pawn a pistol for a dollar after hiding in Robeson County swamps for a week.  He is found to have bullet wounds in his chest, hand and leg.  Stetson is captured in Selma, although some accounts say Kenly.
    The trial in Wilson, which begins on Wednesday, March 15, 1911, is one of the biggest spectacles the town has ever seen.  People pack into the courtroom to hear the testimonies of the law men, the witnesses and the West Gang.  In the end, Judge Joseph S. Adams sentences Lewis West to death by electrocution after a conviction of first degree murder and Ed Stallings, aka Stetson, is convicted of second degree murder and  sentenced to 30 years hard labor.  Other members of the gang get lighter sentences and Mary Young receives a year in jail.  After sentencing, Lewis West is overheard speaking to the bar saying that drinking and bad company was the cause of his deeds and he was sorry about it.
    In the wake of the trial, the newspapers, especially the Kinston Free Press, gives the white population a big pat on the back for not perpetrating a pogrom of revenge against the black population of Wilson for the murder of  Deputy Sheriff Mumford.  The tone is couched in paternalistic terms about the good African American citizens of Wilson.  But race relations were better in Wilson at the time than many places in North Carolina and a lot better than states in the lower south.  But it was a low bar and race relations would explode in 1930 with the lynching  of 29 year old Wilson County tenant farmer Oliver Moore by 200 white men.  But for now the West Gang was seen as interloping vagrants from Cumberland County and the black population of Wilson County was spared any blow-back from the robberies and murder.
West Gang members:
Lewis West
Ed Stallings, aka Stetson
Mathew Mebane, aka Brodie
Will Lane
Arch McLean
Dave Young
Tom Smith
Ed Purcell
Wade Williams aka George Brown
Jumbo Taylor

Possible location of Mary Young’s house across from the Norfolk Southern Railroad.  From a 1908 Sanborn map.


In 1911 Mary Young was living at 434 Spring Street, which could be the location of the shootout.

Irish Genealogy Presentation



Betty McCain and Carol Arthur prepare for an hour filled with the dulcet tones of my voice.

Last Tuesday I did my Irish Genealogy presentation in front of about 34 people, which is a lot to be smooshed into the local history room.  Some came in from Wake County, which was nice of them to drive that far. We also had a special guest: Betty McCain, the former Secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources 1993-2001.  It is always a joy to see her. Everyone appeared to be entertained by the presentation and there were some great questions at the end. One person even came back the next day and broke down some brick walls with the databases and resources I highlighted in the talk.  So I would call it successful!

Stantonsburg, NC High School circa. 1920’s

Stantonsburg High School 3 Stantonsburg High School 2 Stantonsburg High SchoolA man named Jeff Owens just dropped off these three pictures of classes at Stantonsburg High School.  The older kids look like the 1920’s especially with the short hair on women and the mink stole. Only one image looks like high school age but he didn’t have any info on them except to say that everyone who knew anything about them in his family are dead.  Also, that his aunt is in the pictures, but I forgot to ask her name.

So if anyone can ID any of the students in the pictures, please let us know.

Using Deeds to Discover Your Enslaved Ancestors Part 2: Henderson Bagley

Recently a man and his son visited from Wake County looking for information on their enslaved and later freed ancestor, Henderson Bagley.  I was not there when they visited unfortunately, but I have kept in touch  with them over the phone and through email trying to decipher the enigmatic past of Henderson Bagley.

Henderson Bagley marriage record 1866

The marriage of Henderson Bagley and Hana Williams. Taken from Family Search.

On 22 August 1866 Henderson Bagley and Hana Williams registered their cohabitation in Wilson.  According to the 1870 census, Henderson Bagley  was listed as  living in Chesterfield, Nash County  with his five children and no wife.  In 1880, Henderson and four of his children were living in  Old Fields Township in Wilson County.

Bagley family 1870 census

The Bagley family in the 1870 Census. Taken from

I thought that the name Henderson was so unique that if I found it in a record as an enslaved person’s name, it would be a good chance that it would be Henderson Bagley.  But the name was more ubiquitous than I realized.  The name Henderson  appears several times in Nash County, NC, Division of Estate Slaves  1829-1861, abstracted by Timothy W. Rackley, as the name of a slave owned by the Boddie family.





henderson_bagley49henderson_bagley72In Johnston County deed books I found eight different entries of a slave (or several) named Henderson.  According to the 1870 census, Henderson was born in about 1830, therefore the most promising deed listed here  is from 14 March 1837, where they list a seven year old boy named Henderson.

Henderson in deedsIn a Wilson County will I found a record that lists an enslaved person named Henderson.  The will is from 1862 and I would have hoped that it  listed Hana or one of their older children from the census, but no such luck.

henderson wilson county wills2

This image is from “Abstracts of Wills, Wilson County, NC 1855-1899” by Robert Boykin

Although I found not a few entries that listed a man named Henderson in deeds, wills and estate records, it is difficult to determine if any of them are the Henderson Bagley that I was searching for.  Not often is the research as cut and dry as it was with Mariah and Bryant Pender from my earlier post.  But the fact that I found an enslaved man (or men) named in the records 14 times is a great indicator of how useful deeds, wills and estate records can be used to good effect.

Lisa Henderson (no relation) has also posted some info about Henderson Bagley on her blog.