Roxboro & Person County History
 
Person County Museum
309 North Main Street
Roxboro, NC 27573
336-597-2884
pcmuseum@roxboro.net
Historic Buildings on Site
African American Exhibit
This room honors the history of African Americans from Person County, which began as early as the 1400s. As scouts, interpreters, navigators and military men, African Americans were among the first to encounter Native Americans here.

Highlights of this room include Harper's Corner,donated by the son of the first principal of Person County High School, Mr. George L. Harper. The school was built September 28, 1950 and now houses Southern Middle School. Person County High was built to replace the original Person County Training School which housed grades 112.
The room's centerpiece is a slave shackle, symbolic of the early constraints African Americans faced and of the segregation and sharecropping that replaced it after the Civil War.  One table is devoted to "tillers of the soil", black owners of large amounts of land in Person County. Many obstacles stood in the way of black land ownership, especially of large numbers of acres, but these Personians persevered.
Display cases present beautiful artifacts from Africa donated by Carol Leigh Humphries and Angie Brown. Be sure to pick up a brochure of African American History. beautiful artifacts from Africa Photos on the wall display some of the past graduates of Person County High School, the only high school for African American children that was located in the county. A desk under the photos is from the Lee Jeffers School, built in 1922. Biographies and articles of interest from that community can be found on the desk. The wardrobe holds articles of handmade lingerie and quilts, fashioned with love and skill.   Exhibits in this room change on a regular basis, so visit often!
Enos Slaughter Exhibit
Signed baseballsFamous sports figure, Enos Slaughter, played in the Major Leagues during the 1930s,'40s and '50s. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985. Slaughter played for the St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Yankees and the Milwaukee Braves (before the team moved to Atlanta). During his career, Slaughter played in five World Series and was on winning teams four times. One of his most memorable feats was scoring from first on a single during the 1946 World Series.
A statue depicting his slide into home plate.A statue depicting his slide into home plate is located in front of Busch Stadium, home of the Cardinals. A replica of this statue is in the Museum's exhibit along with a photograph of the famous feat. Baseball fans will enjoy the many items on display in this exhibit and Enos Slaughter Memorabilia is available from the Museum's Gift Shoppe.

Native American Exhibit
Maps, documents, drawings and photosMaps, documents, drawings and photos depict more than 400 years of Native American History in Person County. The story is told by the Sapponys, a Siouan tribe inhabiting Person County for over 200 years.

The history begins with a European map acknowledging the tribe's presence. That map, based on one made in 1612 by Virginia colonists John Smith, shows the tribe west of the Chesapeake Bay, close to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The tribe was identified as the Monassukapanough but the name was later changed to Sappony.
William Byrd II, one of Virginia's boundary commissioners drawing the Virginia–North Carolina border, had a Sappony guide. Byrd described the Sappony people as "the honestest and the bravest."

Encroachment forced the tribe to follow westward trading paths which led them to their High Plains community in Person County. Native American families took the surnames of traders such as Eppses, Shepherds and Stewarts. Other families—Martins, Johnsons, Talleys and Colemans—joined them and began to farm, raising tobacco, to become self-sufficient. The first Native American church was established in 1830 and the first school by 1879. The exhibit illustrates life in the community, called High Plains, and centered around a school which was closed in 1962, and a Baptist church, which still exists and where most of the local Native Americans worship today. The Sappony insignia is displayed at the entrance of the exhibit room. It features seven feathers paying homage to seven families. Crops are represented along with three arrowheads and three stars.

Prominent Personian Exhibit
Today's Person County results from the actions of many interesting individuals. The Person County Museum's Prominent Personian Room, begun in 2002, reflects these contributions. Exhibits recognize many dedicated, hard working men and women including elected officials as well as leaders in agriculture, literature, architecture, journalism, medicine and the arts, and other folk known for a variety of reasons.
Government officials featured include the 1970s NC Speaker of the House, James Ramsey, and the President Pro Tem of the Senate, Gordon Allen. Richard Long, another Prominent Personian, who was appointed by the governor to serve on several influential committees during the 1950s and 1960s and is credited with being instrumental in the establishment of a community college system in North Carolina.  The exhibits in this room change throughout the year.
Titanic Exhibit

Two passengers aboard the ill–fated Titanic had connections to Person County. One survived the disaster.

Oscar Woody, son of J. Frank Woody of Roxboro, was one of five mail clerks on the ship. In their valiant efforts to save the mail by moving the sacks to upper levels out of the ever–rising waters, all were drowned.

A Mr. Cassen was also on the Titanic, returning from Lebanon to his home in Fredericksburg, Virginia.. He helped save a mother and three children as well as a lone boy. After seeing that all were lowered to and secured in a lifeboat, he floated with a life vest until being rescued. Two years later, Mr. Cassen moved to Roxboro to work with Toufielk Ammen's father in his diner, the forerunner of the Eatwell Cafe.

Visit the Titanic Room and see fascinating artifacts.

Veterans' Plaza/Courtyard
Radiating out to many of the buildings on the Museum site, the Veterans Plaza/Courtyard connects the spirit of those who served or are serving our nation–in times of war or peace– with the spirit of those who honor them today. Three brick areas in the Plaza/Courtyard provide opportunities for paying tribute to veterans and others. (Download the Brick Tribute Form from the link at the end of this page.)

Veterans Plaza Bricks
Large Memorial BricksThe Veteran's Plaza recognize each war or conflict in America's history.  Any veteran can be honored here with an individual brick. Honorees are not required to be natives or residents of Person County. Bricks are grouped according to the event or time period—Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, War on Terrorism, etc.

About 4000 bricks were made available for this part of the memorial. Each brick features three lines of information: a veteran's name; veteran's unit, division or company, and the veteran's rank and branch of service. These bricks can be purchased for $150.00 each. Only veterans are honored in this part of the Plaza. 
Gazebo Bricks
Veteran's GazeboCentered around the gazebo, oversized 8" x 8" bricks lead up to the four gazebo entrances. These  bricks can be designated for veterans or other individuals as well as businesses and organizations. Up to five lines of information can be inscribed. The inscription can refer to the individual, business or organization, or it can relay a quote, or inspirational adage or short message. These bricks can be purchased for $300.00 each. 

Walkway Aprons
Nine brick aprons intersect the concrete walkways that lead to the gazebo and connect the Veteran's Plaza. Each apron holds about 50 bricks. Three are designated for veterans only. The other six can honor or memorialize anyone. These bricks sell for $75.00 each. 

If you would like to honor your special veteran, friends or loved one, or if you would like your business' or organization's name to be included among the bricks in the Veteran's Plaza/Courtyard, click here to download the Brick Tribute form. Print the order form and fill it out carefully. Then mail to the address on the form along with your check. You may also contact the museum at the phone number or email address below. 

(The Brick Tribute Order Form is an Adobe Acrobat pdf file. If you do not have an Adobe Acrobat Reader on your computer, click here and follow the instructions for the FREE reader.)

Victorian Dining Exhibit
Victorian Dining ExhibitYou can almost hear the call to be seated for dinner. A veritable Victorian fantasy, this room displays beautiful furniture, china, silver, crystal and even needlework. A silver cruet buried in the yard during the Civil War and found around the turn of the 20th century as well as flatware made especially for the Brooks family from silver dollars and engraved with RPB, are among the many fascinating items in this room. A Victorian Parlor features two love seats and two American Empire straight chairs. Faberge porcelain of the Russian Empress Alexandria is displayed along with dolls of German bisque, a Mother of Pearl fan, a brass and marble drop leaf table, and many other beautiful items.
 


Historic Buildings on Site
William Walton Kitchin 
October 9, 1866–November 9, 1924






Brief Chronology of W.W. Kitchin and the Kitchin House


Political Affiliation: Democratic Party
1896–1908...Six terms in the US House of Representatives, 5th Congressional District
1909–1913...Governor of the State of North Carolina
William Walton Kitchin, lawyer, congressman, and governor of North Carolina, was born in rural Halifax County near Scotland Neck; the son of William Hodge and Maria Figures Arrington Kitchin. His father was a captain in the 12th Regiment of the North Carolina Infantry in the Civil War. Young Kitchin received his early education in local schools, including the Vine Hill Academy in Halifax County, after which he entered Wake Forest College and graduated in 1884, at age eighteen, with the B.A. degree. After leaving Wake Forest he taught for a session at Vine Hill Academy, then spent one year (1885–1886) as editor of the Democrat in Scotland Neck. In 1867 he studied law at the University of North Carolina under Professor John Manning having already read law with his father for more than a year. He passed the North Carolina Bar examination the same year. Late in 1887 Kitchin went to Texas, but there is no record of his activity there; he return to North Carolina and settled in Roxboro in 1888 to practice law. Two years later, as chairman of the Democratic executive committee of Person County, he began his political career.

Kitchen is credited with having led Person County into "the Democratic fold" after years of Republican dominance. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the state senate in 1892 but in 1896 won his party's nomination for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from the Fifth Congressional District. Thomas Settle, a Republican, was the incumbent. Kitchin was the only Democratic elected from North Carolina that year. Reelected fro six terms, he served from 1896 to 1908.

Those who have appraised Kitchin's performance on Capitol Hill find little to write about. He was a member of the committee on Naval Affairs and of the Congressional Campaign Committee for the Democratic Party. One of his best known speeches in Congress was in defense of the Suffrage Amendment at a time when white supremacy and suffrage were pertinent issues in his state.

In any case, Congressman Kitchin retained the respect of this party. When the Democratic convention met in Charlotte in 1908, he won the gubernatorial nomination—but only after sixty–one rounds of balloting. His opponents were Locke Craig, later elected governor, and Ashley Horne.

 
  All three candidates were popular political leaders in North Carolina. Kitchin won the election in November over the Republican nominee, J. Elwood Cox, and took office on January 12, 1909.
If his years in Congress were lackluster, his tenure as governor was highly successful. It was a time of tremendous increases in expenditures for public education, public health service to the feebleminded, and expansion of swampland affected by significant drainage laws. In addition, those years saw great expansion of railroads and general improvement in the stability of the state's bank institutions. "No governor of this State has ever had so many recommendations enacted into law." (Carey J. Hunter, Carolina Democrat, December 22, 1922.)

During his last year as governor, Kitchin's was one of four names mentioned in the state's first regular popular election to the U.S. Senate:  Charles Brantley Aycock (d.1912), who was mentioned early; Chief Justice Walter Clark of the NOrth Carolina Supreme Court, a jurist of great wisdom and poise: Furnifold M. Simmons, the incumbent U.S. Senator who had in his term scored a distinctive record in Washington; and Kitchin, who had served a dozen years in Congress and over three years as a progressive governor. The North Carolina press reported it as a vigorous campaign. Although there was some doubt as to the ultimate winner, Senator Simmons emerged victor with a clear majority over Clark and Kitchin.

After completing his term Governor Kitchin practiced law in Raleigh, where he formed a partnership with Judge James S. Manning, his campaign manager, that lasted for six years. In 1919 he suffered a stroke and retired to his home in Scotland Neck.

Personal Notes
On December 22, 1892, Kitchin married Musette Satterfield of Roxboro, the daughter of William Clement Satterfield. They have six children. She made a reputation as one of the most charming and popular hostesses of the Governor's mansion.

Kitchin was an active member of Baptist churches where he lived, as well as a member of three fraternal orders: Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons; Improved Order of Odd Fellows; and Knights of Pythias. He died in Scotland Neck; after funeral services in the Baptist Church there, he was buried in the local cemetery. A portrait of him, presented by R.O. Everett of Durham, hangs in the Person County Courthouse and also another portrait in the capitol in Raleigh.


For more information about William Walton Kitchin, see Dictionary of  North Carolina Biography, Volume 3 H-K by Williams S. Powell, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and London.
Male Academy/Parsonage
Rotating exhibits feature educational leaders in Person County such as Dr. Terrell who bequeathed funds to help build schools in the county and Mrs. Nichols, a well–known teacher.   Drawings illustrate many of the schools that have functioned here.
Woodsdale General Store
Woodsdale General StoreReuben Phillip Brooks' general store, built in 1893 in Woodsdale, served as a central point in the everyday life of this rural community. Originally, the store sat beside the busy railroad in Woodsdale and Mr. Brooks served at the station master as well as the community's postmaster and general merchant.
Other family members and people associated with the business served in these positions in later years. Robert Robertson rented and ran the general store for a few years in the 1950s.
  The building also served as a home for a Ca-Vel church during a short period.
In 1977, the Brooks family moved the building from its site beside the railroad to a site beside the home place and began a period of restoration including heating and air conditioning and improvements to the upstairs access. They also began a display of family artifacts.

Today, visitors can see a wonderful display of family attire dating back to the Revolutionary period. Dress includes military uniforms up to the Vietnam era as well as bridal gowns and other special occasion wear like prom dresses. Visit the old post office, see a spectacular doll and doll accessory collection as well as an eclectic collection of memorabilia upstairs. 
Dr. John H. Merritt's Office
Dr. John H. Merritt's OfficeOriginally built along 501 North in the Bethel Hill community, this building was a four room medical office established ca. 1860 by Dr. William Merritt (1824-1904). His son, J.H. Merritt (1881-1944) followed in his father's profession, using the building for his own medical practice and adding two rooms in 1913. Today, the one-story structure maintains much of its original form with weatherboards, six-over-six windows, two exterior five-panel doors,crimped tin roof (a copy of the original) pierced by small front dormer and central corbeled chimney stack, interior four-room arrangement with library and waiting
 

room, consultation and exam room, private office and medicine room. Some windows and frames have been repaired, although most of the glass and wood is original to the building. 

Instruments, furniture and books were Dr. Merritt's and have been cleaned and/or repaired by Museum volunteers.

Visit the doctors' office building on the Person County Museum of History site and learn more about the Drs. Merritt and how medicine was practiced here during these years.

Tobacco Barn
Originally located off the Leasburg Road and donated to the Museum by Marilyn Christopher, this building is technically a pack barn. Buildings like this were used in the early days of tobacco growing to store the tobacco after curing and to serve as a place for grading the leaves, tying the leaves into bundles and preparing it to go to market (note the grading bench, tobacco bundle and woven tobacco flat.)
The building has been adapted to show the curing process as well.
 

Tobacco leaves were strung on a tobacco stick, placed on rafters (tier poles) in the tobacco barn and from the heat generated in a flue, which would have entered the barn on one side and stoked from the outside, the leaves were dried or cured over a period for up to six days and nights. 

Note the tobacco seed scale, an important piece of equipment used to weigh the highly valuable tobacco seed. 

Text and illustrations displayed in the barn are by Sara Norris and show the process of tobacco manufacturing from the field to the auction house.

Van Hook Subscription SchoolVan Hook Subscription School
The following was condensed from an story published in the Courier-Times, August 18, 1955.
This meeting house is the oldest school still standing in Person County; possibly, in North Carolina. It was built as a school for boys nearly 188 years ago near Payne's Tavern by Kindle Van Hook, one of the original subscribers whose name is found in the agreement between the teacher William Whitefield and the parents of the students.
After two moves it was last located on the Devereaux Davis farm and came to us from that location through the family of C.B. Davis.
Students' parents cut the wood for the "central heating system", a five–foot square fireplace. The spring down a nearby hill served as the water fountain. The floor was dirt and the windows were holes cut into the walls with no covering to keep out the elements. Desks were directly under the windows and surrounded the room. Holes can be seen in the logs where the desks were connected.
  Some of the logs have rotted away making the cabin only 7 feet high today. It is difficult to imagine 20 students housed in this one room which measures only 10 by 15 feet. The teacher agreed to teach from April 10 to Dec. 25, five days each week except election day and holidays.
The subjects taught at first were spelling, reading writing, and arithmetic for $5.00 per session per student. Later, classes in gauging, surveying, English, geography and grammar were added, but were more expensive to take. When the school was started in 1810, the teacher was only 12 years old. He had learned what he knew from his parents, James and Susanna Minchew Whitefield and from his own reading. He later became a farmer, Justice of the Peace, and a surveyor. He taught in the Van Hook School until his death in 1857. The last year of use is uncertain but records show it was in service up to the Civil War  and maybe much longer. One of the latest teachers was Miss Harriet Van Hook, a descendant of the school's builder.
 
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