Episode 13: Dysarts Sit Down–Laughridges Stand Up

I don’t want to suggest that there were only a couple families in town. On the contrary, there were many, but I am involved with family names and how some have lasted for a hundred years and some have disappeared. In the 1870 Census, the Dysartsville Township reported that Francis Morrison, age 35, was a farmer with “real estate value of 2,000.” In his household was Stephen Morrison, age 60, Elizabeth, age 72, and Elizabeth A., age 33, four children with the last names of Patton, a sixty year old mulatto farm worker and a mulatto woman with three children, all with the last names of Morrison.

How could this be? In 1860, there was Frances and two brothers, all in their 20s, as well as two adult sisters. Brother William L. Morrison married Sarah Moore in 1861 and then went to war. When he came home, he went to work for the Moore’s farm in Dysartsville where the “real estate value was 2,700,” which sounded good compared to others. Brother James Dysart Morrison had married Henrietta Moore in 1853. He followed his brothers into war, mustering out in September 1863 after Chickamauga. I don’t know where they went. Francis enlisted in July of 1862 and mustered out in August 1863 and came back home to pick up the pieces in a different world.

Remember Mayo Elizabeth Landis from my last Episode? Her father came to McDowell County from Graham County, N.C. In the 1870 and 1880 Census(Censi?), Joseph Benjamin Landis is noted as having 300 acres in real estate. He was married to Joanne Cooper from McDowell County and had several children, one of them Mayo born in 1886. In the 1900 Census, Dad is gone and the head of the household is his 19 year old son, Joseph B. Landis, Jr. He is described as a farmer and the family who depends upon him is his mother Joanne, age 53, and four sisters, Lucy Roe age 22, Addie J. age 17, Nora R. age 15, and Mayo.

I bring this up because this is my tie to the old Dysartsville, although it is a flimsy connection. In 1901, Joseph B, Jr married Zonie Lee and of their many children, one was Georgia Landis Melton and one was John Wayne Landis. I was fortunate to be friends with Wayne at the Trinity United Methodist Church until his death in 2014. I miss his weather predictions, like how the amount of snowfall relates to the number of heavy fogs in August! I met Georgia’s son when a deer Steve was hunting at dusk, jumped at my car and tore up my radiator and front bumper. I pulled into Wayne’s driveway to check out the damage. My car died. It was country dark out here but my headlights picked up a man walking toward me with a rifle in his hands. I didn’t have mine so I shouted out, “Hi, Wayne, it’s me Georgia.” But it wasn’t Wayne, it was his nephew Steve Melton, a wonderful guy who helped me out, and I paid him with a deer carcass.

Back to Mayo Elizabeth Landis who married James Lee Laughridge. There was a mystery in his parents background. I mentioned in an earlier post that his sister Lillie Belle married a man named Zebulon Vance Daves. Since I have often lamented the number of James and Williams I have looked up in ancestry records, my little head swimming in confusion, I must spotlight the imagination of these new parents, particularly William Alfred Laughridge, born in 1842. I reported that he married Emily Virginia Dysart, but she was born in 1869, and several of her husband’s children were born in the 1870s. Like John David in 1873, William Nelson in 1877, James Lee in 1882, and Robert Cleveland in 1885. She was too young to be their mother. (Remember the reference to the first Laughridge in the area, Samuel David?)

Then I found a mention of William Alfred’s marriage to Eliza Cowan in 1868. She was born in 1843, closer to his age. So it seems likely that Emily Virginia was a second wife. Note that William Alfred’s next four children with Emily have unusual names, highlighting a transition in the nursery: Bratcher Hadden in 1891, George Franklyn in 1893, Lillie Belle in 1895, and General Cronje in 1897.

The Laughridge family has done a lot of research, making notes in parentheses on documents, to help elderly readers like me. In McDowell County Heritage, North Carolina, Ms Edith Davis gave a great description of this William. He was called “Big Bill” and stood “over 6′ and wore a size 13 shoe. He was a farmer, active in politics, McDowell County commisioner, a Civil War Vet of the 35th NC Infantry, a Mason, active in the Methodist Church and local school.” A note on the Find A Grave page for his son General Cronje says the baby was named after General Piet Cronje, veteran general of the army for the South African Republic during the Second Boer War. Who would have thought!

William Alfred’s son James Lee Laughridge married our Mayo Elizabeth Landis in 1907, and they moved away from the ‘hood. To Marion, the county seat of McDowell, i.e. the same county, just twenty miles north. Before Jim was elected in 1921 as Clerk of Court for twelve years, he was the shipping clerk for the Western Furniture Company for several years. Later he managed the furniture department for McCall Brothers. Laughridge Furniture opened in December of 1934 on West Henderson in Marion and was in business until 2016. It was managed until 1941 by James Landis Laughridge and his brother Phillip, according to Edith Laughridge Davis, who was their big sister and knows all this stuff. Hers has been the guiding hand that went ahead of me and found out that in the 1920 Census J.L. Langbridge was really James Lee Laughridge married to Mayo Elizabeth Landis. Edith was born in 1903; her brother who died in infancy in 1910, listed as Owen was really William Erwin. So have patience with your genealogy searches. They can scramble your brains.

Round Hill Academy in Union Mills NC
Sweatt Administration Building 2015

They can also give great satisfaction when the circle you seem to be stuck in crosses a familiar path. I must point out that Mayo’s husband James Lee Laughridge went to Round Hill Academy in Union Mills. This is another connection to the other end of Vein Mountain Road even though he didn’t marry a Nanney. (See my Round Hill Academy posts in the Nanney Saga, Chapters https://georgiaruthwrites.us/2015/03/23/chapter-34-round-hill-academy/ 34-37.)

At a neighborhood meeting at the new Dysartsville fire hall four years ago, Marie Laughridge Howell introduced herself to me. She no longer lives in Dysartsville but her brother is close in Burke County. Gene Laughridge has researched his family and recorded his findings in professional style. My Father’s Folks can be read in the research room of the Morganton library.

I must mention here that in June of 1914, T.B. Dysart was one of the first persons employed by S.B. Penick company of Marion, NC, pioneer in the medicinal-botanical drug industry. After WWI, this business skyrocketed (probably not even a word back then). Local woodsmen would bring wagons full of ginseng, goldenseal and bloodroot leaves, a good source of legal income, unlike the stills hidden in the hollows. Mr. Penick opened up a NY office and transferred local operations to Asheville, closer to the supply center,” according to Mildred Fossett, on pg 114 of her History of McDowell County. In the 1940’s, he moved his business back to NY Queens and branched out into the perfume industry. Penick also harvested spearmint, wintergreen, peppermint, and some orange and lemon oils for food, candy , and chewing gum industries. In 1967, he merged with Corn Products Company, now C.P.C. International.

There goes another Dysart!


Copyright@2018 Georgia Wilson


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