Wandering Willie


(Note by compiler) The following account of the occurrences participated in by "Captain" Ray are mainly self-explanatory and include the organization of the Confederate Veterans Camp and DeQueen, Arkansas in 1898, and later at Idabel, Okla., his election as Delegate to the National Confederate Veterans Reunions.

As a reporter for the McCurtain Gazette at Idabel, Oklahoma, and writing under the name of WANDERING WILLIE, Mr. Ray reported the principal events of Confederate interest as well as other matters of general interest at and near the scene of his birth and young boyhood in North Carolina before the family moved to Tennessee.

These accounts were published in the DeQueen Bee at DeQueen, Arkansas and in the McCurtain Gazette at Idabel, Oklahoma, and cover the area of time roughly from 1898 to 1916.



The John H. Morgan Camp And How

Came to be Organized

First Reunion Of


(Published in the DeQueen Bee at DeQueen, Arkansas)

In April, 1898 W.S. Ray, who then resided in DeQueen, had a notice published in the DeQueen Bee calling for a meeting of all Confederate soldiers in the county to be held in the office of Collins & Lake in DeQueen, Arkansas on the first Saturday in May.

The meeting was small but enthusiastic when the object of the meeting became known, which was to consider the advisability of holding a Confederate Reunion at some suitable place in the county.

The following are the names of those who took part in the meeting: John G. McKean, E.M. Brown, W.K. Dollarhide, J.H. Hammond, W.S. Ray, M.V. Teal and E.L. Nelson.

Another meeting was called to meet at Norwoodville, where delegates were received from Horatio, Lockesburg and Norwoodville, and Norwoodville was selected as the place to hold the first Confederate Reunion, which was to be held July 21 and 22, 1898.

This was the first meeting of the Sevier County Confederate Reunion which for several years has held its annual meeting on the Cossatot river, four miles west of Lockesburg.

At this first reunion the following committees were appointed to organize Confederate Camps to be located as named below: T.W. Beck at Ben Lomond, T.W. McCown and John W. White at Lockesburg, Ben Norwood at Horatio, John G. McKean and W.S. Ray at DeQueen.

Only two of these camps were organized, one, Hankins Camp at Lockesburg with T.W. McCown as Commander; the other the John H. Morgan Camp at DeQueen, with Dr. E.M. Brown as Commander, whose death occurred a few weeks after, when W.S. Ray was elected to fill his place, which place he held for ten years following, when he moved from the state, and Captain John G. McKean was elected to fill the vacancy.

The following are the names of the members of the John H. Morgan Camp, most of whom have since passed "over the river to rest in the shade of the trees.": Apling, T.C., Allison, A.K., Ayers, J.J., Brame, J.P. Bennett, J.A., Benton, J.T., Bowman, J.H., Clark, H.D., Cram, G.K., Conatser, D.A., Capps, Emerson, Davis, Manning, Davis, Barney, Dollarhide, W.K., Drake, B.A., DeHart, T.A., Fairburn, G.W., Hammond, J.W., Harris, Eli, Hannah, W.C., Hallman, J.P., Hardin, J.G., Hunt, J.F., Ivey, T.H., Isbell, J.B., Johnson, D.F., Johnson, E.C., Jeffcoat, G.M., Kolb, J.J., Lang, B.F., Lawrence, Z.C., Miller, J.F., Morris, S.M., Miner, John, McCown, T.W., Mitchell, B.E., Mitchell, A.J., McKean, John G., Nelson, S.H., Norwood, Ben, Patterson, J.W., Petty, S.S., Ray, W.S., Rogers, C.B., Sossamon, P.A., Stout, John, Stanford, Thaddeas, Smith, J.T., Smith, E.S., Stone, W.H., Sain, G.D., Teal, M.V., Teal, Nathan, Thomas, J.M., Vanderbilt, A.D., Wolverton, E.H., Williamson, H.C., Walker Wm., Waters, W.C., Waters, W.T., Walker, G.W.

Some others joined this camp some years after it was organized whose names are not given. Of this three score, not over a dozen are now living, and they, like their comrades which have gone before, will soon pass away and be forgotten, and here is a little four line poem written by one of these survivors:

     Four years we tramped through wind and weather,
     And slept outdoors when nights were cold,
     We ate and drank and starved together,
     Forsaken no when we are old.

(McCurtain Gazette Editor's note: Wandering Willie goes sightseeing in the great city of Washington, D.C. and incidentally bumps up against the elephant.)

Washington, D.C.

Editor McCurtain Gazette, Idabel, Oklahoma.

Dear sir:

My last letter to the Gazette was written while sitting on the side of a cot, near, and in sight of the Nation's Capitol, and I think I told you of my visit there, but I did not tell you what it cost me to write that letter, but I may later on.

Before leaving Oklahoma I had received many circulars from Washington, setting forth the extensive preparations that were being made to entertain old Confederate soldiers. I was made to believe that the old Rebels were to be entertained as never before, "and so they were."

Among other things they were to receive three days entertainment from the Washington ladies, which would include a free trip to Mt. Vernon, Alexandria, Arlington, Manassas and Gettysburg and perhaps some other points and places of interest.

In attempting to board an electric car at Twelfth street and Pennsylvania avenue for Mt. Vernon, I was told that I must purchase a ticket. Said ticket set me back just one dollar. The free lunch at the grounds which I had heard of two months before, cost only fifty cents, "But I did not bite."

Twenty five cents admitted you to the tomb, the grounds and the old home of the father of our country. The body of Washington and Mrs. Washington does not now rest in the old vault where they were first placed, but are in a vault built later, but the date I failed to ascertain. Several of General and Mrs. Washington's relatives are in the rear part of this tomb enclosed in separate chambers and sealed. General and Mrs. Washington are in the front part of the vault enclosed in marble, and the caskets enclosing their bodies are easily to be seen through a grated door, but no one is admitted.

We next inspected Washington's old family carriage but was not allowed to enter the carriage house, being kept on the outside by an iron grating waist high. This old carriage was a two horse affair and a very heavy one at that, and reminded me of the pictures of some of the old vehicles used by Pharoah when in pursuit of the Israelites.

We next entered the old kitchen where the family meals were prepared, saw all the dishes and tableware and cooking utensils used in preparing the meals, but was not allowed to touch anything. Among the other curiosities in the old kitchen was several bunches of dried herbs such as were used by Mrs. Washington for medicinal purposes when she was mistress of Mt. Vernon.

We next entered the old mansion but could go no further than the doors of the different rooms, being restricted by iron gratings some three feet high.

The bed on which Washington died is still to be seen just as it was left more than one hundred years ago, covered only with a homemade white counterpane. We were shown Nelly Curtis' room; the room which General Lafayette occupied while visiting Mt. Vernon, also the Green Room, the Music Room with its old guitar and harpsichord, the old grandfather clock standing full six feet high, the old holsters carried through the Revolutionary war by Washington.

This old mansion is on a hill with grassy lawns and large shade trees all around it and it overlooks the broad Potomac which is more than a mile wide at this place, across which can be seen large, and well cared for farms and farm houses.

Our next visit was to the old weave room where the old time slaves spun the thread and wove the cloth to make clothing for the family, specimens of which can still be seen, as well as other pieces of the old family clothing. The old flag wheel in the weave room still has its bunch of flax and spool of thread attached just as left more than one hundred years ago. A loom in this room still has a piece of its harness. Some years since the war, the owner of this estate became to be in straightened circumstances after which it was bought and taken in charge of by the women of the South, mostly the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and presented to the United States, which has it in keeping today, and keeps a force there to keep it in repair. A colored policeman there, Captain C.T. Simms, who was a Captain in the 2nd. Colored Infantry in the Spanish-American War, looks after the care of the place and sees that nothing is molested. He has the history of the whole place at his tongue's end and takes great delight in informing visitors to the place, of all the details of its history.

On this trip to Mt. Vernon we visited Alexandria, Virginia, made famous by the fate of war, and found many things of interest to us there.

Our next visit outside the city was to Arlington, the old home of General Robert E. Lee, which was taken away from him by the United States Government and the four hundred acres of his real estate, or a large portion of it transferred into a cemetery for the benefit of the United States in burying its dead, and more than twenty five thousand known and unknown dead now occupy this beautiful cemetery, among them the victims of the ill-fated Maine, which was blown up at Havana, Cuba by the Spaniards, which as we know, resulted in the freeing of Cuba from under the Spanish yoke.

Arlington, like Mt. Vernon, overlooks the Potomac, as it also does the city of Washington.

This letter is growing too long so I will try to bring it to a close as soon as possible.

Among the places of note that I visited was the Washington Monument, the Congressional Library and the White House, the Treasury Building, and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving where our greenbacks are made, and this reminded some of the old Confederates that the advertised free excursion to Gettysburg was very enjoyable considering that it cost each of them the sum of three dollars.

After the parade of Thursday which was said to have been the grandest parade to have ever been staged in that city, the Confederates were marched to a nearby park and served lemonade and sandwiches by the loyal southland ladies. It was here that your humble scribe presented a card to a very charming young lady who seemed to be a lady official of some kind. She left me and soon returned and pinned an invitation on my coat to a reception to be given at the Willard Hotel that evening, and she insisted that I be sure to attend, and that she would take care of me that evening.

I was writing my last letter to the Gazette and let the time pass by and I was more than a mile away when I realized that the time for the reception had arrived.

Some friend may mentally ask the question: How did you enjoy yourself? To which I will answer, fine. How was the Reunion? As a failure, it was immense. The old Union Veterans were conspicuous for their absence and unsociability. My visit to our Nation's Capitol was well worth the price as I packed in quite a lot of information and experience.


Haw River, North Carolina,
June 22, 1917.

Editor Gazette, Idabel, Oklahoma.

Dear Sir:

I am now sojourning near Haw River and near the place on that river made famous for having been the place where the first blood was shed for American Independence in an engagement between the Carolina Regulators and Governor Tryon's Loyalists. This is one act that the Old North State proudly boasts of; that her sons shed the first blood for American Liberty, and she was the first colony to declare herself from under the yoke of Great Britain, which declaration was made at the Mecklenburg Convention in Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, before the Declaration of Independence at Philadelphia where the old Liberty Bell rang out the joyful notes of liberty that went ringing down the corridors of time. Of the other Liberty bell I will have something to say later, and also of the old colonial capitol of North Carolina which is still standing in the old town of Hillsboro and serving the M.E. Church as a place of worship.

I believe I told you in my last letter of my having visited some of the famous old battlefields while in Virginia, among them were Manassas, Culpepper, C.H., Charlottsville, and others of minor note. Many of the old breastworks are still in a good state of preservation. I also visited Danville, the last Capitol of the Confederacy, where at the last Confederate cabinet meeting, lasting only a few hours, the Confederate Government breathed her last breath of life, and her flag went down in defeat and the Confederate Government had passed into history as one of the bravest nations the world has ever known.

Riedsville, North Carolina is one of the busiest towns in the Piedmont tobacco belt and holds fourth place as a tobacco manufacturing town; Winston-Salem having claimed the honor as greatest tobacco market and manufacturing more tobacco than any other place or town in the world, and left Durham to play second fiddle in the manufacturing of tobacco.

Part of the state of Virginia that used to produce large crops of tobacco is now given over to the dairying business and where once could be seen large fields of tobacco is now the home of the Holstein dairy cow. Virginia long ago gave up the banner as the first tobacco state to North Carolina and now Carolina is struggling to keep that honor from going to Kentucky, which has forged ahead in the number of pounds, but not in quality or price, North Carolina's crop bringing in more money than Kentucky's, and still keeps up her record as distilling more turpentine than any other state in the Union, however Kentucky holds the record for distilling another spirit of potent quality.

The prospect for a large tobacco crop was never better here than it is this year. The wheat crop is also good and the harvesting is now in full swing. The farmers here all raise their food and feed at home and the high price of living does not bother them; neither does the war talk for the sentiment usually expressed is, if they are called on they are willing to go to France or anywhere the Government may see fit to send them.

North Carolina was the last southern state to secede, the last to lay down her arms, and carried her flag further north than did any other southern state. She lost a larger percent of her soldiers in battle than any other state North or south, and is now furnishing more than her quota of soldiers for the present war; (WWI) is feeding herself and manufacturing more textile fabrics than any other state in the Union. She also furnishes more than half of the naval stores of the world.

Call me a "tar heel" if you like, ask me for a chew of rosin if you will, but I can't deny being born a tar heel.

The man, Wilkerson, killed a short time ago at Bennington, Oklahoma by his own children, was a native of this county, I am sorry to say, and his father and I grew up, as boys, together.

Yours truly,

Haw River, North Carolina,
June 29, 1917.

Editor McCurtain Gazette, Idabel, Oklahoma.

Dear Sir:

I am still holding out in the Haw River district, and why shouldn't I, as I am among good people, a healthful country, good, pure water, with three good meals per day. Think of home cured ham and red gravy every day for two months, with yellow legged chickens feeding in the near by wheat fields, but I will not try to complete the picture for fear some enthusiastic Divine at Idabel deserts his charge and comes east and tries to rescue Wandering Willie.

In taking leave of Virginia I forgot to mention one of Virginia's mammoth enterprises located at Danville near the line between Virginia and North Carolina, but as it is not in my native state and has usurped the distinction of being the largest cotton mill in the world, having wrested this claim from Durham, North Carolina, I will give only a brief sketch of it: The entire mill, storage rooms, dye houses and all other appurtenant buildings cover fourteen acres of floor space, and pays the enormous amount of one hundred and fifty seven thousand dollars every two weeks for labor.

Farmers in this county are inclined to put the blame on the cotton mills and other factories for the high price of labor, for before this state became a manufacturing community the farmers could procure all the labor they needed for twenty five cents per day, but now the same class of hands get one dollar and a half per day, and the factories have created a home market for the farmer's produce.

Sometime in the 1870's an amendment to the state constitution was voted on in this state to allow all manufacturing concerns of one thousand dollars capital or over, to be exempt from taxation for a period of twenty years. This amendment was fought to a finish, as it was claimed by the opposition to be a measure to benefit the rich manufacturer and to oppress the poor taxpayer, but the amendment carried and the state was soon filled with factories of all kinds, the cotton mills taking the idea. One of the cotton mills of exemption has long since past and the factories are and have been for years, more than paying the running expenses of the state, and North Carolina today manufactures more textile fabrics than any other state in the Union.

With these facts in view, cannot Oklahoma get an idea. One of the cotton mills of this county recently received an order from Sears Roebuck & Company for a million yards of their goods, mostly to be shipped to Dallas, Texas.

North Carolina once considered the harvest state in the Union, is now one of the richest and has long since ceased to peddle hoop poles and pumpkins for her living. The wheat crop here has turned out to be better than was expected at one time, the warm weather has put the corn to growing and the tobacco crop never looked better, but the acreage is not so large as usual and in the future the man who smokes the golden leaf from the Piedmont district may expect to pay for it.

Yours truly,

Hillsboro, North Carolina,
July 7, 1917.

Editor Gazette, Idabel, Oklahoma,

Dear Sir:

I see in a recent copy of the Gazette you make me say Harn river instead of Haw River. I left Haw river a few days ago, but failed to visit the old battlefield where the battle was fought between Governor Tryon's men and the American Regulators. The Regulators were about two thousand strong but were poorly armed, while Tryon's men were well armed and had six pieces of field artillery. Tryon's loss was nine killed and 61 wounded. Regulator's loss, twenty killed and two hundred wounded. This battle was fought May 16, 1771 and was the first battle fought for American Independence. Though the Loyalists under Tryon were victorious it only stimulated the colonists to a more determined spirit to be free.

This battlefield is enclosed by a wire fence and a marble monument marks the spot where the fallen Americans were buried, After this battle twelve of the Americans were arrested and carried to Hillsboro and tried and sentenced to be hung but Tryon being called away, only six of the twelve were executed. Their graves are yet to be seen in the old Episcopal church yard at Hillsboro. But the old Colonial capitol of North Carolina, as I told you in a former letter, is still standing, but was moved from its original site to make room for the present county court house of Orange county and the old capitol is doing duty as a place of worship for the M.E. Church.

Before the Revolutionary War King George had given for the use of this building, a clock and a bell. The bell was cast in England at the same time and by the same man and from the same model, and bore the same inscription that the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia bears.

The clock and bell were both doing service on the old Capitol when the battle Guilford Court House was fought. Lord Cornwallis commanding the British forces and General Nathaniel Green the American forces. After this battle Lord Cornwallis moved his forces to Hillsboro, the Americans hearing of Cornwallis's approach removed the clock and bell from the capitol and threw them into the Eno river, which stream runs by this town. After the war was over a search was made for the clock and the bell, and the clock was found minus the weights, but the bell was never found. The old clock was put into running order and placed on the new court house and today is ticking off the hours as lively as it did in the days of the two Georges, George II and George III.

Only a few days ago I was shown two grape shot that were recently dug up in front of Cornwallis' old Headquarters while laborers were laying sewer pipe.

I will ask again, dear Editor, how many of your readers know, or even care, if they should know, that a granddaughter of the General Green mentioned above, is now sleeping in a pauper's grave in the potter's field at Lockesburg, Arkansas, where she died in the County Home for the poor in 1881 or 1882, and I will ask as did Phillip Nolan, "The man without a country", will not someone erect a stone to her memory and say on it that she died without home or friends, forsaken and forgotten.

Yours truly,

Hillsboro, North Carolina,
July 16, 1917.

Editor Gazette, Idabel, Oklahoma.

Dear Sir:

John Bovie Dodd, one of America's greatest thinkers, scientists and lecturers once said that God himself could not make something out of nothing.

It seems preposterous for a man of my mental caliber and ability to try to refute what such a man as John B. Dodd has said, but I will try to write a letter this morning with nothing to write from.

For some days I have been cooped up here on route 2, "The Old Cornwallis Road", on account of excessive rains.

Nearby stands the old log house in which this writer was born, more than seventy years ago, and nearby stands the old log house where in 1809, my father was born, and just one fourth of a mile away stands the house my great grandfather built, when he took unto himself a wife and set up housekeeping, many years prior to the war for American Independence, and from this home Cornwallis took everything useful for the maintaining of his army while camped nearby, after his evacuation of the town of Hillsboro.

Perhaps a short description of this old colonial mansion may interest some of the older readers of the Gazette. It is of two rooms, two stories high with basement. The rooms are built of logs, one of them 28 X 32 feet, the other 28 X 24 feet. Some of the logs measure 24 inches on the face at the widest place, and all are 7 inches thick. It is a scrap of family history that when this old house was built it was necessary to get help from twenty miles away to help put these logs in place. The old original chimney to this house would take a nine foot stick of wood in its fireplace. All the lumber used in its construction was sawed by the old whipsaw method (described earlier), and all the nails used were handmade. Its second coat of weatherboarding is fast falling off, and while it has had several roofs, the present one is about decayed. With a new roof and a new coat of weatherboarding this old house would last for another generation yet to come.

The thresher men are trying to get the wheat crop threshed, but are hindered by excessive rains. Corn and tobacco crops are good in this area, though the tobacco acreage is not up to normal.

The farmers in this part of the country raise their own living and sell their surplus. All have money in the bank for the proverbial "rainy day" and they are not kept awake nights by the thoughts of the high prices of food.

Most all young men of military age express their readiness to go into the army and many are already volunteering.

Yours truly,

(Note by compiler: The young men were of course volunteering for World War I.)

Hillsboro, North Carolina,
July 30, 1917.

Editor McCurtain Gazette, Idabel, Oklahoma.

Dear Sir:

Lest your typographical associates and readers as well, become deluded into the false idea that I have ceased to exist and that I will annoy them no more, I will write you today, as I have missed writing you for a week or more.

No matter where you be, or what the conditions are, the weather can always be relied upon to furnish a topic for discussion, and so I will have something to say about the excessive rains that have been falling in this part of the state for the last month, and for the last fifteen days in particular. Of the last fifteen days, twelve of them have been wet and rainy and not mere showers but great, big rains, and I am talking about the kind that wash big gullies across the corn fields and cause washouts on the railroads, and make you believe that another St. Swinston has been exhumed at Winchester.

The corn crop in this country is said to be the beset in many years. The wheat crop was fine, but owing to the excessive rains in July much of it damaged in the fields after being harvested. A great deal of the crop is yet to be threshed and the damaged crops can be used for feeding purposes. The tobacco, the money crop of the past, has been greatly damaged by too much rain, some growers complaining of what is known as leaf rot.

All the farmers in the county raise their own living at home, and most of them have substantial bank accounts, and when they receive a dollar for supplies sold it does not have to be spent building fences to keep his neighbor's scrub cow or razorback hog from eating up his growing crops, as the stock law is in full force here and will continue to be henceforward, as I have yet to hear the first man oppose it. I am not a paid advocate to preach stock law doctrine to the people of McCurtain county Oklahoma, but were it possible for all the farmers of the county to visit here for a single month and note the advantages to be had by a stock law I am sure that each one would go home advocating the stock law, such as in this state, besides he would carry back with him new ideas as to the present Oklahoma road law and how it might be improved.

But as I am expecting to return to the state of my adoption some time hence, I had better be silent on the road and fence laws lest some old mossback of ye olden ideas meet me at the gate and say: "Depart ye cursed, you know not what you say."

At the close of our late war North Carolina was claimed to be the poorest state in the South, which was equal to saying the poorest state in the Union. Now she is one of the richest, if not the richest state in the Union. Only a few years ago her tobacco crop brought more money into the state than the cotton crop brought into Texas. She now manufactures more textile fabrics than any other state, has more cotton and other factories than any other state; her taxes are lower and her good roads are the envy of all the other southern states. All this has been brought about by Southern money and by Southern brains, and by progressive Southern ideas.

Yours truly,

Durham, North Carolina,
August 17, 1917.

Editor McCurtain Gazette, Idabel, Oklahoma.

Dear Sir:

This letter will leave me at a place called Durham's Old Field in the long ago, and on which could have been seen the old scrub cow and the razorback hog, each one trying his and her best to keep their poor, long carcasses from the crows by trying to pick a living from the short sage grass that grew on each side of a newly built railroad, which most of the good farmers of the area looked on with suspicion at that time, for it was believed that this new railroad would be a hindrance to the farmers and the working men of the country; especially that class of people whose capital consisted of a wagon and team and who earned their living by hauling the farmer's produce to market one hundred and fifty miles away. This produce consisted mainly of wheat and tobacco and returning the wagons would bring back loads of merchandise for the merchants of the various towns of the state. The old wagon and team industry soon died from natural causes and the old teamsters that had so long followed the roads were forced to find other modes of making a living and resigned their seats on the saddle horse of a six horse team, showing their hatred for a railroad in language not to be understood.

This railroad passes within a mile of Hillsboro and there built a depot at which place it was a common sight to see the farmers with their wives and daughters gathered to see the daily trains as they came in on the pioneer railroad. Hillsboro was elated over having a depot within a short mile of her coming metropolitan city, when word went broadcast over the land that Durham's old field was going to have a switch put in at that place, twelve miles from the coming city of the Old North State.

Just about this time old man Blackwell conceived the idea of putting up a small factory for the purpose of manufacturing smoking tobacco. This was an entirely new idea of Blackwell's and when he tried to procure land on which to build this little factory at Hillsboro it was refused him as it was thought that a little smoking tobacco factory would be an impediment to town building at Hillsboro. So Mr. Blackwell went to Durham and procured land on which to start his newly conceived venture and since that time the world has become acquainted with Blackwell's BULL DURHAM smoking tobacco. Blackwell was a poor man and he met with competition in the beginning.

Who has not heard of DUKE'S MIXTURE? The man who first commenced to manufacture this tobacco was a Confederate soldier in our late war and the end of the war found three small children, all boys. He also began to manufacture smoking tobacco at Durham, and like Blackwell, called it DURHAM smoking tobacco. To this Blackwell objected. By this time both parties had accumulated enough wealth to embark in a lawsuit for the ownership of the name BULL DURHAM smoking tobacco. After several years had gone by and a great deal of litigation had occurred in the lower courts which had cost both litigants thousands of dollars, it was decided in the Supreme Court of the United States that Blackwell only, was entitled to put up tobacco branded as BULL DURHAM. It was then that Duke commenced to manufacture a tobacco called THE DUKE OF DURHAM; and later a brand called DUKE'S MIXTURE.

These two factories beginning in a small way, was the beginning of the great tobacco industry now carried on at Durham and which at one time gave Durham the credit for being the largest tobacco market in the world, and is second now only to Winston-Salem.

Let us now take a look at my old home town Hillsboro, and compare it to Durham. Hillsboro, one of the oldest towns in the state, and at one time the Capitol of the state, now has two cotton mills and about five thousand inhabitants, while Durham has its cotton mills, hosiery mills and millions invested in tobacco factories and warehouses.

Most of the leading tobacco companies of the United States have factories here, and including her suburbs now has a population of forty thousand, which would now be at Hillsboro had old man Blackwell been allowed to sow the seed of this great industry at that place. Durham extends for four miles along the Southern Railroad and includes Hickstown, West Durham, Durham, Edgemont and East Durham, and in passing through this four miles of town you are never out of sight of a tobacco factory, hosiery or cotton mill, while the side streets are built up of warehouses, filled with tobacco waiting to go through the manufacturing process and be shipped to different parts of the world.

Tobacco is never manufactured until it is stored in a warehouse for three years to "age." So you see Durham has enough of the leaf stored in her warehouses to keep her factories running for the next three years to come, with the present crop of the country to come in soon. It seems there will be no tobacco famine soon, though the present crop is far below normal both in quality and quantity.

To give you some idea of the immensity of the tobacco industry here, I will say that the Liggett-Myers Tobacco Company is now running twenty million cigarettes daily; one weaving room of one of the cotton mills here covers an acre of floor space, has over one thousand looms weaving thirty five miles of double width sheeting per day and consuming one hundred bales of cotton per day. All of this is bleached, bolted and packed for shipment in one day. What of that which is not made into sheets, is made into pillow cases, handkerchieves and other such things as are manufactured here in this building covering more than four acres of floor space.

It is said that a pebble has changed the course of many a river and I have made this letter lengthy to show you Blackwell's little smoking tobacco factory made a growing town of forty thousand inhabitants when it would have been added to another town had he been allowed to build his little factory at the sleepy old town of Hillsboro.




"Captain" W. S. Ray

As life's evening shadows lengthen & our hearts are beating slow,
We grow weary of life's burdens and its strife,
And our memories turn backwards to the scenes of long ago,
And we live again the morning hours of life.

There are voices full of music that are soft and sweet and clear, And they sing to us no matter where we roam, And they play upon our heartstrings, with each sad recurring year, They are memories of our childhood and of home.

There's a breath of wondrous fragrance in the balmy summer breeze, Where the sunlight in the morning used to play, When the blossoms were unfolding on the dark Magnolia trees, In our memories of our boyhood far away.

There is music that will haunt us 'till the day of life is o'er, And our spirits wander out across the strand, Though often it was mingled with the cannon's sullen roar, 'Tis the music of our own far "Dixie Land."

There's a song we all remember of some dreadful battle day, When our colors from the mountain tops were flung How it quickened every footstep in that charging line of gray, 'Twas the anthem that the Yankee bullet sung.

There's a sound that comes in echoes from the shades of long ago, In its thunder have our foremen heard their knell, With it the hills resounded ere we struck the deathly blow, 'Twas the famous, dreaded Southern Rebel yell.

There are places dark with sorrow, yet to every soldier known, Where a conflict in its rage and fury rolled, There some loved and loving comrade gave forth his dying groan, Where the number of his battle days were told.

There are wailing cries of anguish that linger with us yet, Though the smoke and dust of battle are rolled away, And a sister or a sweetheart (would to God we could forget) Found her loved one lying dead among the gray.

The clouds are dark around us and our eyes are full of tears, When the vision of those days pass in review, And we see the lads we buried who had marched with us for years, The bravest men a nation ever knew.

The soldier's face yet blanches and there's iron in his soul, When memory takes him backward o'er life's sea, To the final answer: here!, to the calling of the roll, On that morning that we bade farewell to Lee.

Let me take your hand, my comrade, for our battle days are o'er, And our hair is like the ocean's driven spray, Let us proudly march together 'till the grand eternal dawn, When once more we hope to mingle with the Gray.

We'll hail the starry banner of our boys who wear the blue, And no one doubts our loyalty today, But we'll step to Dixie music 'till the march of life is o'er, Then we'll sleep within our tattered coats of gray.

Previous: Notable Families of Sevier County Arkansas
Table of Contents