Surry County North Carolina History
Jonathan Hanby Carter. Courtesy of Doniphan and Meg Carter.
In May 1853, J. E. B. Stuart wrote from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York to his cousin Bettie Hairston, “A few days ago I had a visit from an old friend and neighbor Jonathon Carter now a Lieutenant in the Navy on the eve of starting out in Ringgold’s expedition to Bering’s Straights to be absent four years. He looked better than I ever saw him and seemed to anticipate a fine time.”
Jonathan Hanby Carter was born on January 1, 1821 in Surry County, North
Carolina, this author believes in a house on Old Rail Road near White Pines
Country Club, but his family roots where in
There still many signs of the Carters in
I had never heard of Jonathan Carter until reading Stuart’s letter, but
since I have found him to be fascinating and one of the great historical finds
that my time with Jeb Stuart has ever brought me. Carter was in the first
graduating class at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis,
Carter Home in Surry County, North Carolina. Courtesy of Doniphan and Meg Carter.
Mathew C. Perry led several
expeditions to the
While traveling the world Carter kept in touch with his family and roots
By October, he was building
another ship. In April 1863, Carter launched the CSS
Carter became so bored that in February 1864 he wrote, “Feeling desirous of doing my country more effective service I must respectfully request that Steamer Harriet Lane now lying in Galveston harbor be turned over to me for the purpose of running her to some European port and there altering her as to make an efficient cruiser.” During the war, he wrote over 262 letters edited by Katherine B. Jeter in A Man and His Boat: The Civil War Letters of Jonathan H. Carter.
Jonathan Hanby Carter
surrendered on May 26, 1865. The CSS Missouri was the last
Confederate ship to surrender in home waters. After the war, Carter farmed in
Grave of J. H. Carter in
I had never heard of Jonathan Hanby Carter until reading Stuart’s letter. I have found him to be fascinating and one of the great historical finds that my time with Stuart has ever brought me. Travels to Annapolis and the Naval Research Library in Washington D. C. followed. Every time I visit my mother’s family in Augusta, Georgia, I make the short trip to Edgefield, South Carolina, where I visit two graves. My late Uncle Ed Hobbs rests in Edgefield County and Jonathan Hanby Carter, Surry County’s Civil War Sailor shares the same soil of the Palmetto State. –Tom Perry
J. E. B. Stuart's Family Gave Mount Airy Its Name
Thomas Perkins wrote the following passage in his will dated April 17, 1816, listed on page 138 of Surry Will Book Number 3, “To my son Constantine Whitehead Perkins I give my land including the seat where I now live called and known by the name of Mount Airy.” This is where Mount Airy, North Carolina gets the name, but who were the Perkins and what famous person from our region are they related too. The source for most of this material is The Descendants of Nicholas Perkins by William Hall.
Mapquest lists at least ten communities named Mount Airy all over the country. Mount Airy, Maryland along with Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, just north of Perkins Ferry on the Dan River is Mount Airy, Virginia. It is with this family named Perkins that we begin the story.
Nicholas Perkins came to Virginia in 1641. By 1650 he had 170 acres in the Bermuda Hundred area on the James River near Richmond and died six years later in Charles City County. His family would spread out across our country into present day Kentucky, Tennessee and Surry County, North Carolina. The descendants of two of his sons Philemon (ca1680, Henrico County, Virginia-1769, Goochland County, Virginia) and Constantine (1682-1770) would bring their families to our region.
Philemon married Obedience Cox and had Abram (ca1720, Henrico County, Virginia-1793, Caswell County, North Carolina), who had Philemon, who died in 1795 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. He married Mary Whitehead and they had Thomas Perkins. Son Thomas got 68 acres in from his father and is listed in 1811 Pittsylvania County, Virginia records as paying taxes on it. Thomas married twice, first to Faithey (Faithy) Peebles. Their children were Constantine, Polly who married a Buckley and then a Walker, Elizabeth, Nancy who married John Martin, Amy who married a Robertson and then a Massey and Peter Peoples Perkins. In 1798, Thomas sold his land in Rockingham County, North Carolina, on the south bank of the Haw River and moved to Surry County.
The other son of the first Nicholas Perkins Constantine married Anne Pollard. They had Nicholas who married Bethenia Harding. This family lived on the Dan River in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. One of their homes Berry Hill still stands on the banks of the Dan built by their son, Peter. His sister Elizabeth married William Letcher in 1778. They moved to Henry County (Patrick County today) and in August 1780 Tories killed William in front of Elizabeth and their baby daughter Bethenia. Elizabeth married George Hairston, one of the wealthiest men in the country. Elizabeth had twelve children with her second husband. She rests with him today at Beaver Creek Plantation just north of Martinsville.
Elizabeth Perkins Letcher Hairston’s first child Bethenia married David Pannill and had two children William Letcher Pannill and Elizabeth Letcher Pannill. The latter married Archibald Stuart and moved to the land on the Ararat River in the 1820s. Of their eleven children, the eighth born on February 6, 1833, became our region’s most famous historical figure. James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart spent his first twelve years outside Mount Airy at Laurel Hill. He grew to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, (Class of 1854) served seven years in the United States Army, mainly in the First U. S. Cavalry in Kansas Territory and then across three Aprils rising to the rank of Major General commanding Robert E. Lee’s cavalry in the Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War. He died on May 12, 1864, after being wounded at the Battle of Yellow Tavern and is buried in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery.
Another interesting side story to Thomas Perkins were the executors of his will. Michajah Oglesby, Jonathon Unthank and Jesse Franklin. Jesse Franklin (1760-1823) married Maacah Perkins (1766-1834). She was the daughter of Hardin Perkins (1730-1795) and Sarah Price. Hardin was the younger brother of Nicholas Perkins, the father of Elizabeth Perkins Letcher Hairston. So these two prominent families were connected via marriage into the Perkins clan. Franklin was Governor of North Carolina along with serving in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate.
North Carolina Links Surry County NC Genealogical Association
"History is like going down a river, but you never get to the end of it, because you are up in all the tributaries checking out all the coves."
-- Ruth Minick
Lessons In The Shade Of A Holly Tree
In Mount Airy’s Oakdale Cemetery stands a lone holly tree giving shade to the graves of two great ladies who shared a love of our region’s history. Many know Miss Ruth Minick for her columns in the Mount Airy newspapers. Ruth worked with me on many projects over the years such as placing the marker for Stoneman’s Raid at the Mount Airy Library. She shared her accumulated knowledge of regional history. She never let the boundary line between North Carolina and Virginia stand between her and writing of history often writing on Stuart’s Birthplace.In an adjoining plot, Icy Bowman Brown, her husband G. E. "Shug" Brown and their two children rest. To say Icy loved history would be an understatement. Her enthusiasm for Stuart’s Birthplace and preserving the site and the history surrounding it is legendary to those of us who knew her. As a boy, she stimulated my interest in Laurel Hill through her scrapbooks and her willingness to tell me all she knew. I hope these two great ladies are together now and that heaven gets a big dose of our history every day. Some warm summer day when the wind blows through that holly tree, we might hope to hear them or at least in our memories learn from their example that history is on both sides of the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia.