History and images have been compiled from various sources including, among others, the 1987 National Register of Historic Places, Stack & Beasley's 1902 Sketches of Monroe and Union County, Union County Public Library (Patricia Poland, Genealogy & Local History Librarian), the Heritage Room Photo Collection, North Carolina Map Collection, Rootsweb - An Ancestry.com Community and Ancestry.com family histories.

James David McRae

Sketches of Monroe and Union County, Stack & Beasley 1902 - “James D. McRae was born in Anson County, November 16, 1858. He moved to Monroe in 1881 and has since made it his home. For several years he worked with the old and reliable house of A.H. Crowell & Son. In 1894 he engaged in the mercantile business with Mr. T.C. Collins and continued with him until September, 1901. That business was merged in the “McRae Mercantile Co.” later on. Mr. McRae is serving his third term as city alderman. Twice before he was elected by large majorities and the last time all parties united on him and he was elected without opposition. Mr. McRae is a very successful businessman and a most agreeable gentleman.”

James David McRae (1858-1924), born to Scottish-born farmer John Cornelius McRae and Laura Huntley, first married Eliza May (unknown) about 1882; he later married Frances Davis “Fannie” McIntosh in 1922 in Lincoln County.

The 1910 Monroe census noted general-store merchant James 51, Eliza M. 48, (married 28 years) J. Thurman 21, Eula 19, Onida 13 and 6-year-old David H. McRae. By 1920, James was a traveling salesman living on Hayne Street with wife May, daughter Oneida 22 and son David 16.

Thomas Jackson Gordon 1862-1918

"The above is a country home of Union county, situated six miles west of town; the owner is Mr. T.J. Gordon. He began life fifteen years ago on twenty acres of land received from his father's estate. He now owns twelve hundred acres, runs fifteen plows, and lives in comfort in the fine home pictured above. He has farmed exclusively, and his success shows what may be done on a Union county farm with brains and energy. He grows cotton, corn, grain and peas, and pays attention to clover. He is public spirited, and a leader in anything beneficial to his community." (Stack and Beasley, Sketches of Monroe) T.J. Gordon was also vice president of the Union County Farmers Mutal Fire Insurance Company, incorporated in 1903.

Thomas Jackson Gordon was born 28 Sept 1862 in Union County to Lewis K. Gordon (1808-1883) and Obedience Layton Bass (1819-1884). Thomas married Mittie Presson (1861-1955) in 1894.

Thomas' father Lewis Gordon was first married Lucinda Osborne (1813-1847) about 1837 in then Mecklenburg County. Their children were: Millie Jane (1838-1913), Rachel (1841-1929), Mary Polly (1844-1913)and Lucretia Lucinda born 1847.

Lewis' second 1849 marriage was in Union County, to Obedience Beady Layton Bass. They had the following children including Thomas Jackson: Jonathan (1849-1860), Richard Harvey (1852-1927), Tabatha Adaline (1860-1934), Alice (1861-1934), Robert Lee (1864-1945) and William E. born 1865.

The 1870 Monroe Census recorded Thomas Jackson Gordon, age 9, with his parents and many siblings: Lewis 60, Beedy 50, Jane 30, Rachel 28, Mary 26, Martha 19, Richard 18, Josiah 14, John 13, Adeina 12, Alice 11, Robert 8 and 5-year-old William.

The 1880 Monroe Census recorded: farmer Lewis H. 72, wife Bedie 60, Millie J. 41, Rachel 39, Pollie A. 36, Josiah 23, Adeline 20, Alice 18, Thomas J. 17, Robt. Lee 16 and 13-year-old William E. Gordon.

The 1900 Monroe Census recorded: Thomas J. 37, Mittie 30, Craven 5, Mary 3, Willie 1, boarder John Griffin 25 and boarder George Griffin 19.

The 1910 South Monroe Census recorded: Thomas J. 47, wife Mittie 39, Craven N. 15, Mary 14, Willie 11 and 7-year-old Christine.

Thomas Jackson Gordon's death certificate noted cause of death was suicide by hanging, 27 Aug 1918.

Control of the Liquor Traffic

Image found online for illustration
By J.E. Clark
Sketches of Monroe and Union County
Stack & Beasley 1902

The Monroe dispensary is one of the public institutions of the town, and, as such, requires a place in the town and county’s write-up. It may be said at the beginning that there is to be an election on the question in September, and the people of the county are to pass finally upon the question as to whether they desire the dispensary continue or discontinued.

One of the greatest of the many problems which confront this growing nation, quivering with the repressed energy of youth and meeting and answering great questions almost before more deliberate countries realize their existence, is that of the control of the liquor traffic. From the great fights in New York City, where the liquor power is felt in all its might, down to the rural community which is nominally “dry” by legislative enactment, none are free from the disturbing question.

While Greater New York is struggling with the alternative of surrendering to the bar-keepers entirely or enforcing an inadequate and unpopular law against Sunday selling, hundreds of rural communities are invaded with impudent peddlers who operate without license and in defiance of law. From the first it has been a recognized principle that the strong arm of the law must in some form or other take cognizance of the traffic.

So far the attitude of the law has been one of three forms: prohibition, the saloon system, or what, for want of a better name, are called dispensaries. The latter plan is the one adopted by Monroe. This one dispensary is the only place in Union county in which liquor may be legally sold. Other towns have prohibition and it is safe to say that saloons are permanently banished from the town and county. This is a very important consideration to home-seekers. Our system is considered by many to be the best possible control of the liquor traffic at present obtainable. A few statements of fact in regard to this institution may not be uninteresting in this connection:

Up to and including the year 1897, the town of Monroe had, always three, and sometimes five saloons. In that year the Legislature established the dispensary, to go into effect January 1st, 1898, and Messrs. John J. Crow, O.W. Biggers and Geo. S. Lee, three of our very best citizens, were named as commissioners to establish and maintain a dispensary. These gentlemen did as directed by the law, and appointed Mr. W.R. Marsh manager, and Mr. W.H. Austin clerk. All of these gentlemen have given unselfish service, and only one of them, Mr. Lee, has severed his official connection, and that only because he was elected to another office. Mr. R.H. Haines, of Monroe township, was appointed in Mr. Lee’s place. The profits of this business have been distributed from year to year according to law as follows:

FOR THE YEAR 1898
To the City of Monroe………………….....     $1,118.10
To the Public Schools of the County……       1,118.10
Total………………………………………...     $2,236.20

FOR THE YEAR 1899
To the City of Monroe…………………….      $1,355.31
To the Public Schools of the County……       1,355.31
To the Chain Gang Fund…………………          796.65
Total………………………………………..      $3,507.27

FOR THE YEAR 1900
To the City of Monroe……………………….   $1,500.00
To the Public Schools of the County………    1,500.00
To the Chain Gang…………………………..    1,500.00
Total…………………………………………..   $4,500.00

FOR THE YEAR 1901
To the City of Monroe……………………….   $1,606,63
To the Public Schools of the County……..     1,601.63
To the Chain Gang………………………….     1,601.63
To the Graded Schools…………………….      1,195.11
Total…………………………………………..   $6,000.00

           Total amount distributed for public purposes in four years - $16,243.43

Under the old system of licensing saloons, not half of this amount could possibly have been collected in taxes for the purposes of law and order and education, while there is no question that the saloons would have sold much more liquor in a much more harmful manner. The dispensary idea rests upon the proposition that as long as liquor is made and sold in contiguous territory, some men will have it by either lawful or unlawful means, and that it is best for the community that they be lawful, and that instead of letting the profits of an unavoidable business go into the hands of law-breakers and fugitives from justice, they should go to the educational fund and towards the maintenance of order.

The two great points in favor of our way of controlling the liquor traffic are:

1st. It tends to lessen the drink habit. It does this by preventing social drinking and treating. All liquors sold in corked vessels, which are not allowed to be opened on the premises. Thus there are no mixed drinks, no fancy drinks, and none of those blandishments which entice young men to acquire the drink habit. The dispensary says to the man who drinks liquor, “You may have your liquor, but there shall go with it none of those seductive influences which tempt other men to become drinkers.”

2nd. It takes the profits of the business from private hands and devotes them to public good. It is a notorious fact that saloon men spend large parts of their profits in spreading their business, giving free drinks and fighting opposition. An officer of a liquor dealer’s association said in a public address to saloon-keepers, “Nickels and dimes spent in free drinks to young men will reap a rich harvest in dollars from future customers.” The dispensary sows no seed to produce drunkards.

It may be noticed that the dispensary profits have increased from year to year. This is due to the fact that opposition to this method had been gradually dying away, and that illegal sales in all parts of the county have become less and less each year, and those consumer who formerly, through prejudice or for other reasons, bought no liquor from the dispensary now buy there.

In spite of the prejudice and the sternest opposition, the dispensary has worked its way. The results are that there is no more orderly town to be found than Monroe. An arrest for drunkenness is a comparative rarity, and where formerly crowds of half drunken loafers gathered in mobs about the bars and on street corners, the streets are clear and as orderly as a lady’s parlor. These views are expressed as those of the writer of this article and have been formed after careful and deliberate observation. Monroe can confidently offer to home-seekers a town free from the saloon danger, where their boys are not enticed to become drunkards, and where there is the least possible danger from the great evils of the liquor traffic.

THE MONROE ENQUIRER

“The Monroe Enquirer, B.C. and Eugene Ashcraft, proprietors, is the oldest paper in the county, and its long career has been one of extreme usefulness to its town and county. Messrs. Ashcraft Brothers bought the paper in August, 1893, and have since conducted it with conspicuous success. The paper owns its own building, which is elegantly fitted for the purposes of the paper. This office is well equipped and they have a large circulation and a fine advertising patronage. The paper was established in 1872 by W.C. Wolfe and W.J. Boylin. Mr. Wolfe conducted it for a long time alone, and was succeeded by Mr. Boylin, who continued to run the business till 1893. Mr. B.C. Ashcraft, the editor is a man of wide reading, and each week “gets up” an interesting paper. He is of liberal education, and was the first student of the A.&M. College of the State. He has been chairman of the county board of education and is now treasurer of the city of Monroe. Mr. Eugene Ashcraft is a very fine practical printer and business manager. Messrs. Ashcraft Brothers are admirably fitted for their work and are making a notable success.” Sketches of Monroe & Union County - Stack & Beasley 1902

Photograph scanned from Sketches of Monroe & Union County
 
More research on these early owners…

WILLIAM CONSTANTINE WOLFE

"According to tradition, the Wolfes first settled in Pennsylvania and came to North Carolina about 1750. They settled in that part of Mecklenburg County which is now Cabarrus County, not far from Mt. Pleasant, on Paul's Run. He [Conrad Wolfe] was one of the original members of old St. John's congregation. General Rufus Barringer's grandfather (John Paul Berringer) was also a member of the same church. Philip Wolfe, his father and mother and two brothers came.” Ancestry.com

William Constantine Wolfe (1852-1929) was born 15 Sept 1852, the son of Hilliard J. Wolfe (1823-1885) (son of Conrad Wolfe of Mecklenburg County) and Rozanna Jane Wilson (1832-1856). Hilliard and Rozanna had another son, James Leard Simeon Wolfe, born 17 July 1855, who only lived eight months, dying 25 March 1856. After Rozanna’s death, 5 Feb 1856, H.J. Wolfe married Cornelia Evelyn Lee.

Hilliard J. Wolfe, merchant and family, was first noted in Monroe in the 1870 census. William C. Wolfe married Virginia Lee 23 Oct 1873 in Union County. By the 1880 Monroe Census, William C. Wolfe 30 was noted as editor of newspaper; in household were Virginia 28, Frederick 5, Nellie 3, Bright 2 and school teacher sister-in-law Mary L. Austin 40. William’s parents and siblings were living nearby. Wolfe-Ashcraft House

WALTER JAMES BOYLIN

Walter J. Boylin (1857-1917) was born in Wadesboro, Anson County, the son of John Boylin and Harriet Paul. He married Mary Elizabeth Grady (1859-1927), daughter of John Grady and Mary Ausbrook. The 1880 Monroe Census recorded: Walter 26 “edits newspaper,” Mary 21, Ira 4 and one-year-old Fred. By 1900, the Boylin family was recorded in Nashville; Walter was a “typesetter.” Walter died 18 Dec 1917 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee.

BAXTER CLEGG ASHCRAFT

Baxter Clegg Ashcraft (1868-1921), born in Lanes Creek Township (Beaver Dam Post Office), was the oldest son of Civil War veteran John Benjamin Ashcraft (1834-1901) and Sarah Lavenia Marsh (1843-1920), who were married 7 Nov 1865. In 1861 J.B. Ashcraft was Lieutenant Colonel Ashcraft, Company S, 37th Infantry Regiment North Carolina.

Baxter’s siblings included: Eugene (1870-1936), Thomas Alfred “Tom” (1872-1954), John Clayton (1875-1941), Watt (1877-1919), Anne Lois (1879-1881) and Effie Jeanette (1882-1969).

On November 14, 1900, Baxter Clegg Ashcraft married Mary Mobley Blair (1871-1951). She was the daughter of Isaac Hilton Blair and Louisa Miller.

  • 1870 Lanes Creek Township Census: farmer John B. 35, Sallie L. 26, “Clanndy” 2, Eugene 6mo., John J. Wise 6 and Franklin B. Ashcraft 21.
  • 1880 Monroe Census: farmer John B. Ashcraft 45, Sallie L. 36, Clegg 12, Eugene 10, Thomas 7, Clayton 5, Watt 2, Lois 6mo and servant Alfred Hamilton 32.
  • 1900 Monroe Census: Clegg Ashcraft 32 and brother Eugene 30, were boarders at a boarding house on Jefferson Street. (Baxter and Eugene had purchased the Monroe Enquirer in 1893.)
  • 1920 Monroe Census: Clegg and Mary Ashcraft were on Hayne Street with four roomers.

EUGENE ASHCRAFT

Eugene Ashcraft (1870-1936) married Sadie Millicent Bulla 16 Jan 1904 in Randolph County. Children: Sarah Henley Ashcraft (1906-1991) married Charles C. Napier, and John Bulla Ashcraft (1910-1975) married Nancy Jane Kennedy; they were the parents of Nancy Jane Ashcraft Noles.

  • 1870 Lanes Creek Township Census: farmer John B. 35, Sallie L. 26, “Clanndy” 2, Eugene 6mo., John J. Wise 6 and Franklin B. Ashcraft 21.
  • 1880 Monroe Census: farmer John B. Ashcraft 45, Sallie L. 36, Clegg 12, Eugene 10, Thomas 7, Clayton 5, Watt 2, Lois 6mo and servant Alfred Hamilton 32.
  • 1900 Monroe Census: Boarder on Jefferson. (Baxter and Eugene had purchased the Monroe Enquirer in 1893.)
  • 1910 Monroe Census: Houston Street – “Editor of Newspaper” Eugene 34, Sadie 30 and three-year-old Sarah.
  • 1920 Monroe Census: Houston Street - Eugene 45, Sadie 42, Sarah 13, Eugene 9 and sister-in-law Nellie Bullar 34.
  • 1930 Monroe Census: Church Street – Eugene 56, Sadie B. 54 and John B. 19.

Monroe Journal & Beasley Brothers

R.F. Beasley
 Sketches of Monroe & Union County
THE MONROE JOURNAL
Sketches of Monroe & Union County
Stack & Beasley

The Monroe Journal was established in 1894 by Messrs. G.M. Beasley & Bro. It has steadily grown in business and influence till it is now one of the best established weekly papers in the State. Every year its circulation is larger than on the preceding one. It owns its own building, located near the public square. It has always been Democratic in principle and outspoken in its view on public questions. It has labored unceasingly for the material, moral and educational advancement of the county, and has maintained a constant agitation for better schools. Its advertising columns are always filled with good contracts. In addition to the paper, Messrs. Beasley Bros. conduct a large job printing business, drawn from Monroe and surrounding towns. They do work equal to that furnished by city establishments. Mr. G.M. Beasley is a practical man of fine business judgment. He has been in the business since a boy and is thoroughly at home in a printing office. Mr. R.F. Beasley has won considerable reputation as a newspaper man and has done work for other journals. He is a graduate of Wake Forest College and has been superintendent of education of the county. Mr. J.E. Clark is the local editor of the Journal. He is a native of the county and a young man of talent, and enjoys a large popularity.”

Residence of  R.F. Beasley - Sketches of Monroe & Union County
More research on the Beasley brothers...
ROWLAND FOWLER BEASLEY

Rowland Fowler Beasley was born 26 January 1871 in New Hanover County, NC, the son of John James Beasley (1844-1886) and Antoinette “Nettie” Montford (1845-1917). In 1895 R.F. Beasley married Ella J. Stewart (born 1873), daughter of John M. Stewart (1846-1898) and Harriet E. McLaughlin (1849-1897). Rowland F. Beasley Jr. was born about 1904. Rowland Beasley Sr. died 13 June 1953. His death certificate noted him as Editor of Monroe Journal, married to Clyde D. Powell; street address 1214 Wadesboro Avenue, Monroe. Dr. George G. Oleen signed the death certificate. R.F. was buried in Suncrest Cemetery.

  • 1880 Masonboro, New Hanover County Census: In the home of farmer J.J. Beasley and wife Antoinette were: Allise L. 14, George 11, “Rollie” 9, Rube 5 and 3-year-old John P. Beasley.
  • 1900 Greensboro Census: Roland 29, Ella 26 and 3-year-old Hattie were boarders. Beasley was noted as an editor. NOTE: According to family trees, Ella either died about 1907 or married John M. Rouse.
  • 1910 Monroe Census: Roland F. Beasley 39, wife Isabel E. 31, Hattie 13, Roland F. 5 and stepdaughter Julia Fitzwater 10. The family was living on College Street. The census noted this marriage as second for both R.F. and Isabel; they had recently married. NOTE: Isabel was born in San Diego 8 Sept 1878 and married George Sparks Fitzgerald in 1898. Fitzwater died in 1906. NC Marriage Collection – Esabella Evans Fitzwater married R.F. Beasley in 1909.
  • 1920 Raleigh Census: Rowland F. Beasley 50, was a boarder. NOTE: At that time, Beasley was Chairman of the Commission of Public Welfare.*
  • 1930 Monroe Census: R.F. Beasley 59, wife Clyde D. 48 and 18-year-old stepson John D. Powell. Residence on Highway No. 20. NOTE: Clyde Dowell Powell Beasley (1882-1955) was the daughter of Rev. George J. Dowell and Trannie Yates. Address at time of death was 1214 Wadesboro Avenue, Monroe. NOTE: Clyde Dowell first married Henry Hinton Powell born 1887.

*From The Robesonian, Lumberton, NC 11 April 1921:
Mr. Roland F. Beasley, late Commissioner of Public Welfare of the State of North Carolina, is now working for the International. The company says it affords them peculiar pleasure to announce that Mr. Roland F. Beasley has been added to the staff. The announcement goes on to state that Mr. Beasley came to Texas, investigating their proposition thoroughly, etc., before accepting a position with them and that he has unbounded faith in the company.

GEORGE MONTFORD BEASLEY

George Montford Beasley, brother of Roland Fowler Beasley, was born 8 Apr 1869 and died 9 Nov 1954. In June 1892, George married Hester Eleanor “Ella” Austin (1869-1951). His death certificated noted George’s address as 300 Morris Street and a linotype operator for Monroe Journal. 

  • 1900 Monroe Census: Windsor Street - Printer G.M. 31, Ellen 31, Annie 5, Jno 3, Eleanor 1, servant Nancy Clyburn 18 and servant Francis Marsh 10.
  • 1920 Monroe Census: Morris Street - George, editor newspaper, Ellie, Antoinette 25, John 22, daughter-in-law Myrtle 25, Eleanor 20, May 18 and George 13.
  • 1930 Monroe Census: Morris Street, value of home $6000 - George M. 61, Ellie 61, F. Eleanor 29. George M. 24 and 8-year-old granddaughter Frances Fredericks.
  • 1940 Monroe Census: 300 Morris Street - George, 71 publisher newspaper,  wife Ellis 71, B. daughter B. Barrett 34, grandson Andrew Barrett 14.

W.F. Morgan

William Franklin Morgan
“W.F. Morgan, the chairman of the board of county commissioners, is a native of Anson County but moved to Union many years ago. For the past several years he has resided in Monroe. He has served four years as alderman of the city and did so very acceptably. In 1898 he was elected on the board of county commissioners and re-elected in 1900. Mr. Morgan is a Democrat in politics and is very popular with the people. As a commissioner, he is cautious and watchful of the people’s interest.” Sketches of Monroe and Union County, Stack & Beasley 1902
 …………………………………

General Daniel Morgan
William Franklin Morgan (1852-1913) was born in Anson County to John C. Morgan (1808-1877). The 1870 census noted William F. Morgan 19, with farmer John C. Morgan 61 and Louisa 57, in White Store, Anson County, NC. William’s GG-Grandfather General Daniel Morgan (1736-1802) was born to Merion, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania—family roots go back to Wales.

According to a Morgan family tree, William F. Morgan married Nannie Osbourne (1850-1877) in 1871 and, after her death, married Hattie Osborne (1855-1931) in 1879. Their son David Corum “Code” Morgan (1882-1931) married Susie Redfern; they were parents of Ted Osborne Morgan (1920-1988).

The 1910 Monroe Census recorded William’s family on Crawford Street; William 58, Hattie C. 55, David C. 26 and 21-year-old daughter Virginia.

W. Frank Morgan’s 1913 death certificate noted Morgan as superintendent of the chain gang, who died of complications from bright’s disease.

L.R. Helms

Leonidas Randolph Helms
Sketches of Monroe and Union County
1902 Stack & Beasley

"Alderman L.R. Helms is a member of the firm of L.R. Helms & Co., doing a general grocery business. He lived on his farm until 1884, when he began teaching school and taught for several years. In 1889 he engaged in the drug business in Monroe. In 1892 he began the present business, on the corner of Windsor and Lafayette [Main] streets and has built up a nice trade. He is attentive to business, public or private, and is as honest as Cato. Many matter of responsibility and trust have been committed to him and in every instance his conduct has been according to the letter of the law. In May 1901, Mr. Helms was elected an alderman of the city and has made a conscientious public servant. He is the kind of man that elevates the public service."

Family Research


Leonidas Randolph Helms was born in Anson County 26 Oct 1858 to Joseph Calvin Helms (born Anson C.1830-1865) and Frances Ann McLarty (1838-1915). Joseph was son of Israel Helms (born Anson 1800-1873) and Frances "Fanny" Sikes. Israel Helms was son of George Helms Jr. (born Anson 1758-1838) and Sarah Presley. George Helms Jr. was son of George Sr. (1720-1800), believed to be son of John Isaac Helms (1690-1760) possibly born Bucks County, PA, and died in Anson County. John Isaac Helms may have been the son of Thomas Helme (1665-1711).

Great-great grandfather George Helms may have come from Bethlehem, Bucks County, Pennsylvania to North Carolina with brothers Tilman and Jonathan. A grant was issued to Jonathan 4 April 1750 in Anson County, North Carolina. Jonathan, George and Tilman were listed together on the 1763 Tax List of Anson County.

On 5 June 1889, Leonidas Randolph Helms (1858-1918) married Rachel Lucinda Russell (1866-1913). Children: Stamey Randolph (1890-1927), Mabel Frances (1891-1983), Earl A. (1892-1930), Lucy Blake (1894-1975) and Leonidas Russell (b. 1896). Leonidas Randolph Helms, wife Rachel and children Lucy Blake, Stamey and Mabel were buried Suncrest Monroe City Cemetery.

1860 Census: Farmer Joseph C. Helms 30, Frances A. 22, Thom. L.A. 3, Leonidas 1 and Emmy E. 2 months.  His real estate was valued at $1500 and personal estate at $3500.

1900 Census: Grocery man L.R. Helms 41, Rachel 34, Stamie 9, Earl 8 and 6-year-old Lucy.

1910 Census: Merchant - Retail Grocery Lonnie R. Helms 51, wife 44, Stamey R. 19 (manager of picture show), Earl A. 18 (laborer at livery stable), Lucy B.16, Mabel F.9 and 4-year-old L. Russell Helms.

Helms descendants will find the following very interesting. Possible scenarios of the Helms saga, including NC Helms. This is detailed research; use edit/find tool and search for NC Helms, Anson, etc.

Road Improvement

from Sketches of Monroe and Union County
Stack & Beasley 1902


A Graded Road
Graded Road and $3000 Iron Bridge
Turn Pike Road - 1910 - NC Postcard Collection
Chain Gang
Images are from the book, except as noted.

One of the objects of pride with the people of this vicinity is the work which is being done for the improvement of the public highways. For six years we have had a convict force, ranging from twenty to sixty hands, constantly at work in opening new roads or straightening old ones and grading, and to some extent rocking. All the main highways leading from the town are graded to a greater or less distance, and the total number of miles graded is now between thirty-five and forty. An immense amount of work has been done.

It has been necessary to make a great many very large fills and deep cuts, and the grades now attained will be permanent. Soon there will be the finest opportunity for macadamizing.* Something has already been done in this line. It is the policy of the commissioners to improve the worst sections as they go along.

It should be remembered that only about four months in the year is the weather such as to make roads bad, and with the leveling and grading that is being done, we already have, for six to eight months in the year, as good roads as are to be found in the United States.

The beds are constructed not less than twenty-four nor more than thirty-four feet in width, oval in shape and thoroughly packed, and so present a beautiful sight. Their width will allow plenty of room for two tracks, one the natural bed, which can be used from six to eight months in the year, and one for macadam, for bad weather, stock preferring to avoid macadam when the dirt sections of the road are good.

The convicts, many of whom came from other counties with sentences from thirty days to five years, are well-kept, and their comforts amply looked after. They are only required to work faithfully and behave themselves. The system has not only been of vast benefit in road improvement but in the saving of costs in jail maintenance and in deterring criminals who have no dread of jail imprisonment. The commissioners personally direct the operations of the force, through their excellent superintendent, Mr. B.T. Fletcher. The origin and progress of the work may not be uninteresting:

“It is ordered by the Board that Chapter 194, Acts of the General Assembly of 1895, entitled ‘an Act for the improvement of the public roads of North Carolina,’ ratified the 11th of March, 1895, be adopted and accepted for the county of Union, and all of its provisions made applicable to said county, and said chapter, with all its provisions are hereby ordered and declared to be of full force and authority in said county of Union from and after the date of adoption. The Board finds as a fact that the revenue of the county for ordinary purposes, and within the limitations prescribed by the Constitution, is insufficient to meet the necessary expenses of constructing, repairing and improving public roads of the county, and that to meet said tax it is necessary to levy a special tax for the purpose on the taxable polls and property of the county not exempt from taxation.”

This order established the chain-gang of Union County and on the meeting in June when other taxes were levied a special tax of fifteen cents on the $100 worth of property and forty-five cents on polls was levied to support it. In the following August petitions were presented asking the Board to rescind its order levying the road taxes, but it refused, dismissed the petition, and ordered the tax collected. At that meeting, Mr. R.B. Redwine, who had done much to bring about the result which had thus been accomplished, resigned, and Mr. J.M. Fairley,** one of the present road commissioners, succeeded him.

Mr. Fairley leading, the Board took up with much energy the work which has proven so satisfactory to the people of the county. A five ton reversible road roller, a Buckeye Reversible road machine [weighed 2000 lb and cost $260], five scrapers, a road plow, and a rooter plow, were purchased. The convicts were put to work under the direction of Mr. Jos. Howie, and in September of the same year Capt. W.L. Howie*** was elected to the position of superintendent, and for several years gave the most faithful service.

The legislature of 1897 passed a special act, drawn by Mr. R.B. Redwine,**** confining operations of the chain gang to Monroe Township and levying a tax in this township of 25 cents on property and 75 cents on poll. The same act ordered the county commissioners to levy 15 cents on property and 45 cents on poll in all the other townships, all fund to be kept separately and used by the township in which they were collected.

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Other research:

*Macadam is a type of road construction pioneered by Scottish engineer John London McAdam in around 1820. Single-sized aggregate layers of small stone, with a coating of binder as a cementing agent, are mixed in an open-structured roadway.

**John M. Fairley was born in 1867; he married Catherine Jane Wolfe in 1880. He was noted on the 1910 Monroe Census as a merchant living on Jefferson Street.
 

***William Lide Howie (1854-1933), son of Robert James Howie, married Cynthia Elizabeth Robinson in 1877. The 1920 Monroe Census noted Howie as a road builder.
 

****R.B. Redwine

Wolfe-Ashcraft House circa 1874

Early photo - Heritage Room Collection
600 S. Church Street

"In 1874 W.C. Wolfe, one of the founders of the Monroe Enquirer,* purchased a lot on this corner from S.F. Houston. Wolfe subsequently built a two-story, three-bay, single pile Italianate house here. Dr. J.E. Ashcraft purchased the house in 1906, and about 1915 overbuilt and greatly expanded the original house, converting it into a Classical Revival style residence. Like the J.H. Lee House, the hipped, slate-roofed mass of the house is dominated by a colossal portico, in this case with paired, fluted Corinthian columns. A large lunette is cut through the tympanum. On either side of the portico are one-story, Corinthian-columned porches, the north one wrapping around the side elevation and extending into a porte cochere, the south one becoming a sun room at the corner. The main entrance is the original door opening with transom, around which has been built a pedimented frontispiece with Doric pilasters. At the north side of the house is a three-sided dining room bay with leaded glass windows. At the southeast corner is a two-story wing with pedimented gable. From the rear of the house extends a gabled, one-story kitchen wing with an adjacent enclosed porch. At the northwest corner is a one-story, gable-roofed wing. Two corbel-capped chimneys rise from either side of the roof, and there is another at the southwest corner. The second floor window sash are eight over one, while the first floor sash are largely fixed or one over one with transoms." National Register nomination 1987


*Monroe Enquirer was “established 1872 by W.C. Wolfe and W.J. Boylin; Mr. Wolfe conducted it for a long time alone, and was succeeded by Mr. Boylin, who continue to run the business till 1893.” Stack & Beasley


William Constantine Wolfe

"According to tradition, the Wolfes first settled in Pennsylvania and came to North Carolina about 1750. They settled in that part of Mecklenburg County which is now Cabarrus County, not far from Mt. Pleasant, on Paul's Run. He [Conrad Wolfe] was one of the original members of old St. John's congregation. General Rufus Barringer's grandfather (John Paul Berringer) was also a member of the same church. Philip Wolfe, his father and mother and two brothers came.” Ancestry.com


William Constantine Wolfe (1852-1929) was born 15 Sept 1852, the son of Hilliard J. Wolfe (1823-1885) (son of Conrad Wolfe of Mecklenburg County) and Rozanna Jane Wilson (1832-1856). Hilliard and Rozanna had another son, James Leard Simeon Wolfe, born 17 July 1855, who only lived eight months, dying 25 March 1856. After Rozanna’s death, 5 Feb 1856, H.J. Wolfe married Cornelia Evelyn Lee.

Hilliard J. Wolfe, merchant and family, were first noted in Monroe in the 1870 census. William C. Wolfe married Virginia Lee 23 Oct 1873 in Union County. By the 1880 Monroe Census, William C. Wolfe 30 was noted as editor of newspaper; in household were Virginia 28, Frederick 5, Nellie 3, Bright 2 and school teacher sister-in-law Mary L. Austin 40. William’s parents and siblings were living nearby.


Dr. John Ellis Ashcraft
Rebuilt/expanded by Ashcraft about 1915

Dr. John Ellis Ashcraft (19 Nov 1859/65** - 27 April 1937) was the son of Calvin Austin Ashcraft (1826-1907) and Martha E. Green. On June 2, 1890, J.E. Ashcraft married Rosa Lily Andrews (1867-1935). Dr. Ashcraft died in Cross Creek Township, near Fayetteville, NC. **Grave marker notes 1865, however census records reflect a circa 1859-60 birth date.

1870 – J.E. in Lanes Creek, Union County, post office Beaver Dam: notes John as 10 years old, with his father/farmer and family.
1880 – J.E. in Lanes Creek, noted as 20.
1910 – J.E. 49 married and in Monroe with Rosa and two children at home, Jean and Martha.
1920 – J.E. on Church St. with Rosa and two children, Gene 24 and Pat 18.
1922 - City directory noted: Dr. Jas. E. Ashcraft, pres. Hotel Joffre (Inc) and v-pres 1st Natl Bank, h 600 S Church, phone 24; also noted were Rosa and daughters Jean Ashcraft and Pat P. Ashcraft.

In 1902, Stack & Beasley included Dr. Ashcraft’s statement concerning the Monroe Artesian Well  and described him as “on
e of the most successful practitioners in North Carolina. He is now in New York doing special work.”

Monroe Opera House 1898 and Hugh Hinde

Of the Monroe Opera House, J. Ray Shute related in an interview,

"In 1898 J. Shute and Sons built the Opera House, and that afforded outside entertainers maybe an average of once a month during the year. 

"When you had things like that, just like when John Robinson's Circus came to town every year, everybody went. There was no trouble about getting attendance; everybody went. We never were large enough to have Al G. Fields' Minstrels. 

"They came to Charlotte, but they didn't come to Monroe. But we did have Weber and Fields, who afterwards became national comedians. They were here in Monroe. And Thomas Dixon's "Klansman" was shown here with a horse on the stage. That fascinated all of us. He came out and talked during intermission. He was a young writer back then. But it was pleasant. I enjoyed it."

The Monroe Heritage Room Collection notes the interior photo of the Opera House as "early 1900s."The caption is difficult to decipher but appears to read...

Hugh Hinde reporting the (this?) meeting of Confederate Veterans about (possible date). (After contacting Patricia Poland, Union County Public Library, I followed her hints that Major Benjamin Hinde was born 1862 and died 1924; a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and fought in WWI.) After more research, I found an interesting history.  

Benjamin Hugh Hinde immigrated from London, England in 1888 and was in Monroe by 1910. His death certificate noted his employer as Contact Officer for the Veterans Bureau in Charlotte. The 1910 Monroe census noted his occupation as a claims agent for the rail board; therefore, he was present in the above photo sometime between 1910 and his death in 1924. The "+" on the photo indicates Hinde's possible location at the table.

Benjamin Hugh Hinde
--Born 15 July 1862 Tarbert, County Kerry, Ireland (death certificate)
--Son of Dr. Benjamin H. Hinde and Bessy Lydia Owen
--Died 22 July 1924 Morning Star, Mecklenburg, NC (NC Death Collection Archives & History)
--Immigrated 1888 and married Mary Olivia Kidd (1874-1932) in 1891.
--Death Certificate noted occupation as Contact Officer, Veterans Bureau, Mint Building, Charlotte; employer Government. He was accidentally killed in a car accident; broken neck, open wound left chest.

--1871 England Census: Benjn Hugh Hinde, Kent, England, born in Ireland.
--1881 England Census: Hinde was a clerk in the Royal Navy aboard Emerald.
--1900 VA Census: Hiwassee, VA. Occupation miner. Children: Ida M. 8, Kathleen 5, Muriel 2.
--1910 Monroe Census: 310 Crowell Street - Hugh Hinde 47, wife Mary O. 35, children Ida E. 17, Irene 15, Murielle 12, David 10 and Ethel Hinde 8. Claims agent rail board.
--1920 Monroe: Hugh 57, Mary 45, Irene 24, Miriam 22, Dorsie 19, Ethel 15, and John 7. No occupation noted.

--1940 Monroe Census: 309 Morris Street - Hugh d'Arcy. Hinde (head) 39 railroad engineer, siblings Kathleen 45 bookkeeper, John S. 27 trainman, Muriel 42, brother-in-law Clinton Benton 40 baker, Benton children Clinton 18, Olivia 16, Betty 11 and Joyce 8.

--Murielle Lucy Ione Hinde (1887-1975) married Clinton Dreyfus Benton.
--Ida Mary Lydia Hinde (1892-1986) married Oscar Douglas Davis (1889-1971); he was born in England and was in Monroe by 1920. Both died in Hamlet, NC.--Kathleen Irene Hinde (1895-1989
--Hugh d'Arcy Pearson Hinde (1900-1975) 
--Ethel Iris Violet Hinde (1904-1991) married Roy Curtis Smith Sr. of Monroe. 1930 in Benton Heights, Monroe, NC. She died in Monroe.
--John Ray Stanley Hinde Sr. (1912-1987) married Pauline Presley (1923-2009).  


Other sources noted Benjamin Hugh Hinde: Studied law and military tactics, served in the Egyptian War as lieutenant, Boer War as captain, 2nd VA regiment in 1898, and the Mexican War in 1914. He attained the rank of Major prior to his death.

The Monroe Opera House, on the NE corner of Hayne and Franklin Streets, was demolished in 1973.
<<The site today.

Be sure to click to enlarge all of the early images below and note the early streetlight.


"Maj." David Anderson Covington - Early Pioneer

David Anderson Covington (1807-1870) was born in Rockingham, Richmond County, NC, the son of Benjamin Coulter Covington (1775-1850) and Nancy Coulter (1779-1812). B.C. Covington was the son of John Covington (1735-1809). The first of this line to come to America was Nehemiah Covington (1628-1681) born in Coventry, England and died in Somerset County, Maryland.
A post in the Charlotte Journal April 6, 1843 - Organization of Union County mentions D.A. Covington as Clerk of Superior Court:
1840 in Anson County
We have been absent two days this week for the purpose of attending the organization of the new County of Union at Labatt's Cross Roads. Although the weather was rather unfavorable for a general attendance of the people, still there was a goodly number present on Monday and Tuesday. We found the people were pleased with the idea of having a new county, and we are certainly gratified that the burdens of which they complained have been removed and hope they may never have cause to regret the erection of the new County. For the want of a suitable building the meeting was held in a large gin-house which had been fitted up to answer for the present. After the qualification of the Justices appointed by the last Legislature, they proceeded to the election of officers, who hold their appointments until the next regular election -- the clerks until August two years and the Sheriff until August year. It resulted as follows:
HUGH STEWARD, Clerk, County Court
D. A. COVINGTON, Clerk, Superior Court
JOHN BLOUNT, Coroner
W.M. WILSON, Sheriff
THOS. P. DILLON, Register
JOSHUA HARRIS, Entry Taker
JAMES MARSH, County Surveyor
DARLING BELK, Auctioneer
   The Special Court had not been elected when we left.

D. A. Covington married Susannah Ann Pemelia Gathings (1821-1897) in 1837 and was in Monroe by the 1850 census. In the household at that time: David 40, Susan A. 28, Nancy J. 9, Mary A. 5, Martha W. and Susan S. 3, infant David A. Covington. Value of real estate $10,000. By 1860 personal estate $41,000 – real estate $54,000.

Suncrest Cemetery Monroe
Partial 1886 Letter
from D.A. Covington Jr.

Children: Benjamin C. (1838-1846), Nancy Jane (1841-1859) married Dave Redfern about 1859, Mary Ann (1845-1900) married Dr.Thomas Winchester Bickett (parents of Thomas Walter Bickett), TWINS: Susan Sophia Gathings (1847-1913) married farmer Henry W. Houston and Martha Wall (1847-1923) married Charles Columbus “Lum” Lockhart, David Anderson (1849-1851) married Mary Simmons, Celestia Alice “Lessie” (1852-1889) married Robert Virgil Houston, David Anderson (1853-1898) married Ella Howie (1856-1874) in 1873 and Mary Foote Simmons(1859-1917) in 1878, Baby Girl (1856-56), Theodosia Ernest (1857-58), Baby Boy (1859-59), James Gathings (1860-1902).

U.S. IRS Tax Assessment List – 1866 record for D.A. Covington: one carriage $400 and one piano $200.

Major D.A. Covington was a clerk of the Superior Court of Union County.*

1870 census (after D.A.’s death) recorded: Susan S. 48 (real estate $54,300, personal $20.000), David A. 16 and James G. Covington 9. Also in the household were mother Jane Gathings 69, John Snider 10 and Ann Pressy 9.

The widow of Monroe mayor and Union County state senator D.A. Covington owned substantial tracts between Lancaster Avenue and Church Street, as well as land on Houston Street east of Church Street. (NR)

Of the younger D.A. Covington (1853-1898), attorney, he was partner with Robert B. Redwine - Covington & Redwine and also with H.B. Adams – Covington & Adams. (see partial letter, found rootsweb, an an
cestry.com community.)

Samuel Spencer Stuart McCauley- Teacher and Mayor


Samuel Spencer Stuart McCauley was born 14 Feb 1823 Orange County, Chapel Hill, NC and died 1 Sep 1902 in Monroe, Union County, NC.

-Father William O. McCauley 1791-1836
-Mother Virginia Stuart 1788-1846
-Brother of Charles Maurice Talleyrand McCauley (1819-1896)
-Grandfather Matthew, Irish immigrant, and his brother William gave land for the University of North Carolina.
-Spouse Elizabeth Ellen McDade 13 Mar 1827-10 Feb 1901
Married 24 Dec 1845 Chapel Hill, Orange, NC
-Son: William James Charles McCauley (1847-1901) was a dental surgeon and constable for Union County. He married Cornelia Blackeney (1855-1879) 10 Nov 1872

Education
Record - University of North Carolina (1793-1962) printed 1902
McCauley, Samuel Spencer Stewart. Student, 1842-43, from Chapel  Hill. Teacher. Farmer in Union County. Mayor of Monroe, N.C. Died August 31, 1902

S.S.S. McCauley was a non-graduate member of the Dialectic Society of the University of North Carolina. In the UNC Class of 1845, of those matriculating with the class, but not graduating, were John A. Bryan, of Sampson, a physician and member of the Legislature; James S. Green, a physician of Tennessee; Samuel S. McCauley, teacher and Mayor of Monroe.

Wm. McCauley, UNC Class of 1813, also a non-graduating member of Dialectic Society UNC.
Charles Maurice Talleyrand McCauley, UNC Class of 1834, member Dialectic Society UNC.

Military
Samuel S.S. McCauley (constable) enlisted 4 Oct 1862, age 39, in Union County, as 1st Sergeant in Company C, 10th Battalion, North Carolina Heavy Artillery Regiment on 10 Apr 1862; promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant on 16 Dec 1863. Samuel's brother, Charles Maurice Talleyrand McCauley was captain of this company.

Business
Branson's North Carolina Business Directory 1867-68  - S.S.S. McCauley, Principal of Monroe Academy

Branson's North Carolina Business Directory for 1884 - at that time population of Monroe was 2,132.
    County Officers - Surveyor - Wm. McCAULEY, Standard Keeper - S.S.S. McCAULEY
    Town Officers - Monroe - Mayor, S.S.S. McCAULEY
        Commissioners - E.A. ARMFIELD, J.M. THOMAS, J.B. ENGLISH, J.H. BENTON, and
J.M. STEWART.   
    Lawyers -  C.M.T. McCauley, and T.D. McCauley
    Physicians - W.J.C. McCauley, dentist

Saturday, May, 3, 1879, MONROE ENQUIRER (Union County, NC)
-The Municipal Ticket – Mr. S.S.S. McCAULEY having withdrawn his name from the municipal ticket, there now remains in the field as candidates for Mayor, only the names of Mr. J.P. HOUSTON, and the present incumbent Mr. Abel HELMS.

Census
-1850 Census, Anson County, NC: teacher Samuel S. McCauley 25, Elizabeth 22, Charles 5 and Sarah 2.
-1860 Monroe Census: S.S.S. McCauley 37, Constable, Union County; Elizabeth E. 33 and William J.C. 13.
-1870 Monroe Census: S.S.S. McCauley, Principle of Male Academy 47; Elizabeth E. 40; W.J.C. 22 surgeon dentist; and Andrew Doster 11 domestic servant. Value of real estate $310, personal estate $300.
-1880 Monroe Census: Samuel S.S. McCauley 57 magistrate, Eliz. 53, son Charles 32 constable, granddaughter Connie V. 5 and f-i-l James B. McDade 76.
-1900 Monroe Census: Call Sikes 29, Cannie Sikes 25, Lizzie Sikes 4, grandfather Samuel S. McCauley 77, f-i-l William J. McCauley 52 and boarder Calman Rinens? 11.

Union County and the Old Waxhaw Settlement

Old Log Structure - Heritage Room Collection
 

The North Carolina Booklet Vol. XII, No. 1, July 1912
Great Events in North Carolina History

Published Quarterly by the North Carolina Society
Daughter of the Revolution

Raleigh N.C.
Out of print; transcribed from a scanned copy at archive.org

(Images from SC Dept. of Archives and History, 
Heritage Room Collection and ancestry.com)

This booklet included the following history:

Union County and the Old Waxhaw Settlement
by Robert Ney McNeely


The territory lying between the Rocky River and the Catawba and which now comprises Union County, North Carolina, was, prior to the coming of the white settlers, inhabited by a tribe of Indians called the “Waxhaws,” from whom the Waxhaw Settlement took its name. Aside from the traditions of the Catawba Indians, a kindred tribe of the Waxhaws, of the battles between the Waxhaws and neighboring tribes of Indians, the earliest information we have of the Waxhaws is the mention made by John Lawson, Surveyor-General of the Carolinas, who on the last day of the year 1699 left Charlestown, South Carolina, and made his way up through the Carolinas on a surveying or rather prospecting tour. He had with him one man, and he tells in his diary that when they reached the settlement of the Waxhaw Indians, the chief of the tribe received them cordially, entertained them in his wigwam, and gave them every assistance that he could; that the man he had with him married one of the Indians girls the first evening they were in the Waxhaws, that on the next morning he awoke and found that his new Indian wife had secretly abandoned him in the night and carried away with her all of his clothes, valuables, a pair of moccasins and a red bandana handkerchief, and that the chief upon being informed of the loss that the groom has suffered ordered some of his men to go in search of the young lady, had her brought back and compelled her to restore the stolen articles.

In about the year 1740, the Waxhaw Indians were attacked with an epidemic of smallpox, a disease theretofore unknown to this tribe, which killed so many of them as to cause the tribe to disband and join the Catawbas and other neighboring tribes. The lands covered by the village of the Waxhaws were later embraced in the farm of Capt. Andrew Pickens on Waxhaw Creek. Upon this territory becoming abandoned by the Indians, the land agents, finding so goodly a land unmolested by savaged and claimed by no one, immediately began an advertising scheme to bring desirable immigrants to it from any and all place where the best class of immigrants could be found. This brought settlers from Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the already settled portions of North Carolina. The Scotch-Irish settlers from Pennsylvania made what has been termed “The Waxhaw Settlement,” which comprises Jackson and Sandy Ridge townships in Union County and a portion of Lancaster County across the South Carolina line. Vance and Goose Creek townships were settled mostly by people from Rowan and Cabarrus counties. New Salem, Marshville, and Lane’s Creek townships were settled by people from Virginia and the settled portions of North Carolina. Buford Township was settled by immigrants from Germany and Monroe Township was settled by immigrants from all the places hereinbefore named.

At the time of the coming of the white settlers, this territory was covered with a massive forest of oak, pine and other timber. There was no underbrush, the trees were large, rather far apart, high to the limbs and heavy topped—so, that, while the rays of the sun could hardly reach the g round through the thick tops, the view from the ground of the surface of the country was unbroken except by the large tree trunks which like rustic columns supported the canopy of foliage above. For grazing the territory was unsurpassed, for the grass grew almost waist high and the country was covered with a thick growth of wild pea vines. Here the pioneer hunter found game in abundance and fish in every stream.

The territory which is now Union County was, until 1749, included in the boundary of Bladen, after which time until 1763, it was included in the boundary of Anson, and from 1763 until the county of Union was established in 1842 one-half of the territory belonged to Anson and the other half to Mecklenburg. So, the best of both Mecklenburg and Anson was taken to make Union. 


View photos (from SC Dept. of Archives and History) - old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church Cemetery below - then read the ENTIRE ARTICLE (about 8 pages transcribed on a separate page.)