Monday, November 27, 2017

Gibson Storehouse


Gibson Storehouse
ca. 1792, ca. 1950

Joseph Bitting probably built what is known as the Gibson Storehouse as a tavern around 1792. The name, Gibson Storehouse, was documented during Stokes County’s countywide architectural survey in 1981 and that name reflects the Gibson family’s long association with the building. A better name might be the Bitting Tavern or the Bitting-Gibson Storehouse.

Assuming the back wing of the Bitting-Pepper-Blackburn-Petree House does not predate 1792, this is the oldest building standing in Germanton.

In 1792, Joseph Bitting purchased Germanton Town Lots 2, 3, and 4 from the town commissioners.[1] At that time, Bitting was married to Rachel Nelson, and in 1795, the couple had a son, also named Joseph.[2] Joseph Bitting’s life is not well-documented, but in the 1790s, he asked the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for permission to operate a tavern.[3]  

In 1798, Joseph Bitting died. Estate records reveal that his wife, Rachael, inherited the “Mansion House” on lot 3 in 1799. It is likely that they operated their business on Lot 2, which was the more commercially prominent location, facing the courthouse. Furthering that notion is the fact that later deeds refer to Lot 2 as the Storehouse Lot.[4] The remainder of Joseph’s estate, including the store lot, passed to his three-year-old son, Joseph W. Bitting, with Anthony Bitting assigned as young Joseph’s guardian. Jeremiah Gibson, a local merchant, received payment from Bitting’s estate for board and tuition for the child.[5]

Within just a year or two, Jeremiah Gibson married Bitting’s widow, Rachel Nelson Bitting.[6] In 1810, Jeremiah bought Lot 1 on the courthouse square, which was described as Benjamin Forsyth’s house where he was currently living.[7] This suggests that the Gibson Storehouse was not Benjamin Forsyth’s and that Forsyth’s house would have been located farther back from the main road, just to the left, or southwest, of the extant log outbuilding associated with the Gibson Storehouse today.

Thus, Jeremiah Gibson owned or controlled four prime lots in Germanton: Lot 1 he owned; Lots 2 and 4 he legally controlled from 1799 until Joseph W. Bitting reached his majority in 1816; and Lot 3, he controlled via his marriage to Rachel Nelson Bitting. It is not known who ran the tavern between 1799 and 1816, but it may have been Jeremiah or his son, Isaac. A 1915 newspaper article mentions a leger book of Jeremiah Gibson’s that covers the span from 1806 to 1816, and while the end date coincides with Joseph W.’s inheritance, it is not known if these accounts were related to this store or not.[8]

In 1819, Joseph W. Bitting married Polly Armstrong, a daughter of Thomas Temple Armstrong, a local attorney.[9] From at least 1819 to 1823, Joseph W. ran the tavern. Those dates are based on an extant tavern ledger that records the sale of liquor by the barrel as well as the payments of lodgers and Joseph’s purchases of goods related to running a tavern.[10] Joseph and Polly had one child before Joseph’s untimely death in 1825.[11]  

Following Joseph W.’s death in 1825, it seems plausible that Jeremiah or Isaac Gibson (Jeremiah’s son, Joseph W.’s stepbrother) might have continued doing business in the store.

In 1828, Rachel Nelson Bitting Gibson died, and her grave is the oldest marked burial in what is today the Methodist Church Cemetery.[12]

Upon Rachel’s death, Jeremiah became the outright owner of Lot 3, which Rachel had inherited. It is not known who controlled Lot 2 (the storehouse lot) and Lot 4, both of which had belonged to Joseph W. Jeremiah and/or Isaac probably ran a business here, but that is unclear.

Jeremiah Gibson bought and sold many acres of land in and near Germanton and held more than twenty people in bondage between the 1810s and his death in 1849.[13] Crudely using humans as currency suggests Gibson was one of the wealthier people in Stokes County and was certainly the wealthiest resident of Germanton. In 1810, he enslaved two people, but by 1820, he held 26 humans in bondage, 17 of whom were children under the age of 14.

In 1833, five years after Rachel’s death, Jeremiah married an affluent widow named Sarah Follis Moody. The Moodys lived farther south, at the present-day location of theStyers House, and Sarah Moody possessed five enslaved people and significant land holdings. The marriage of Jeremiah and Sarah united two wealthy people, and they protected their wealth with what amounts to a prenuptial agreement wherein they promised not to include each other’s property in their wills, meaning that Sarah could not leave Jeremiah’s property to her children and Jeremiah could not will her property to his children.[14]

In 1836, Isaac Gibson, Jeremiah’s son and Joseph W.’s step brother, purchased the storehouse lot from Joseph W.’s estate. This officially moved Lot 2 into the possession of the Gibson family, although it is likely that Jeremiah and Isaac had long been controlling this property along with the three other lots (Lots 1, 3, and 4) that Jeremiah already owned.

In 1849, Jeremiah died and left land, buildings, and personal property to his son, Isaac, with a life-estate for Sarah. The bulk of his farmland and his enslaved people went to his granddaughter, Olivia Gibson Stedman. His will names fifteen enslaved people: Catherine and her children Caroline and Anderson; a married couple, Jefferson and Venus, and their children, Milton, Harriet, Wiley, Nancy Elizabeth, Smith, and Willy; Henderson; Lavina, and her children James Rufus and Marie.

Around 1850, Isaac Gibson and several other trustees established the Germanton Masonic Institute, and oral history relates that this school operated here. It is fitting that the Gibson’s were strong supporters of education: Jeremiah had been entrusted with the education of Joseph W. Bitting, and he and both of Jeremiah’s sons, Isaac and William, graduated from the University of North Carolina, as did at least one of Jeremiah’s grandson, Leonidas Gibson.

Greensboro Patriot, February 20, 1857, page 4
Rumor of a railroad coming through Germanton in the early and mid-1850s prompted continued investment in the town, including the construction of a school for girls supported by Isaac and his niece, Olivia Stedman. Isaac, nevertheless, decamped to Salem, and in 1857, he began advertising his Germanton property, which included “a good Store House two stories high with four fireplaces.”

It is unclear how the store or tavern ended up in the ownership of his great-niece, Fannie Hall, but it appears that Isaac did not sell the store in 1857, and ultimately, the building passed from Isaac to Fannie Hall, who was a daughter of Olivia Gibson Stedman. In August of 1876, Fannie Hall sold the tavern to William Campbell, a local businessman.[15]

Campbell owned the building for fifteen years before selling it to N.O. Petree in 1891. The Petrees sold it to their daughter and son-in-law, Flora and John Kurfrees, who lived in the building for twenty-eight years.[16] As an aside, the Kurfrees son, Marshall, served as the Mayor of Winston-Salem from 1949 to 1961, during which time he secured approval of I-40’s route through downtown and opened city jobs and seats on city boards to African Americans.

After another sale, the Holland and Wagoner families (related by marriage) bought the building in 1936 and for most of the twentieth century, the Wagoners lived in the house.[17]

Throughout the nineteenth century, the building was primarily commercial, housing Bitting’s tavern followed by other stores and tavern uses. The local Masons convened upstairs, and, as previously noted, the Masons ran a well-regarded school for boys here during the 1850s. From time to time, the post office was also stationed here. Since the 1930s, however, it has been used as a home.

Changes to the house include a one-story addition on the north end and a Colonial Revival make-over of the house during the 1940s and 1950s. The mid-twentieth-century renovation included replacing the rectangular, four-light transoms with fanlights and the installation of a full-height portico. The interior has been entirely modernized, but a sturdy log outbuilding, possibly used as a smokehouse, remains on the property.

Gibson Storehouse is on the right, with a man standing in the doorway; the old courthouse is in the center of the road


Gibson Storehouse is to the left of the courthouse

original transom configuration is barely visible

image from the Winston-Salem Journal, January 26, 1941

1948 photograph, courtesy of the Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection, accessible via http://www.digitalforsyth.org/photos/11680


Sarah Woodard David, 2017

[1] Germanton Town Commissioners to Joseph Bitting, Stokes County Deed Book 1, page 216, June 5, 1792.
[2] Joseph Bitting and Joseph W. Bitting, estate papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, N.C.
[3] The author has lost this exact reference to the Pleas and Quarters Session records.
[4] Joseph Bitting’s estate at auction to Isaac Gibson, Stokes County deed Book 12, page 174, October 22, 1836.
[5] Joseph Bitting’s estate papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, N.C.
[6] Rachel [Nelson Bitting] Gibson is buried in the Germanton Methodist Church Cemetery along with several other Gibson family members. Guardianship papers in the elder Joseph Bitting’s estate papers but related to the 1825 death of Joseph W. Bitting describe Jeremiah Gibson as Joseph W.’s stepfather.  
[7] Benjamin Forsyth to Jeremiah Gibson, Stokes County Deed Book 5, page 423, June 2, 1810.
[8] Twin City Daily Sentinel (Winston-Salem), November 13, 1915, page 9.
[9] North Carolina Marriage Records, 1741-2011, accessed via ancestry.com.
[10] Joseph W. Bitting, ledger, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, N.C.
[11] Joseph W. Bitting’s estate papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, N.C.
[12] Rachel Gibson grave marker, Germanton Methodist Church Cemetery.
[13] U.S. Census Records, Population Schedules, 1810, 1820, 1830, and 1840, accessed via ancestry.com.
[14] Agreement between Jeremiah Gibson and Sarah Moody, Stokes County Deed Book 9, page 571, August 16, 1832.
[15] Fannie O. and B.R. Hall to William Campbell, Stokes County Deed Book 30, page 432, August 8, 1876.
[16] William Campbell to N.O. Petree, Stokes County Deed Book 33, page 339, October 3, 1891; and N.O. and M.J. Petree to John W. Kurfrees, Stokes County Deed Book 48, page 330, March 10, 1906.
[17] Carrie and M.F. James to J.E. Wagoner and S.L. Holland, Stokes County Deed Book 89, page 548. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Kiser House


Kiser House
ca. 1891, 1896, ca. 1945

This house started life as a store in the early 1890s. Aligning oral tradition and documentary history suggests that Luther McKenzie built the store southwest of its current location, and that the Rainey family moved it here in the mid-1890s. In the mid-1940s, the Kiser family converted it for residential use.

In 1890, Luther McKenzie made his first land purchase in Germanton south of the courthouse square, on Main Street.[1] This purchase included the existing Luther and Carrie McKenzie House and the now-vacant lot between the existing McKenzie House and the Shropshire-WagonerHouse. In 1892, McKenzie sold the now-vacant lot to Alice Rainey.[2] Because an 1894 newspaper article notes that L.M. McKenzie was building a cottage south of “his” store (even though he no longer owned it), it is likely that Luther McKenzie, rather than Alice or E.H. Rainey, built the store building on the now-vacant lot sometime between 1890 and 1892.

1896 Greensboro Patriot article
In 1896, the Greensboro Patriot reported that E.H. Rainey had moved a “large double two-story [3] A 1900 deed regarding the lot on the courthouse square noted that the “Rainey Storehouse” stood on the lot by that point.[4] Therefore, it seems likely that the 1896 article refers to this building and that Rainey is who moved it to courthouse square lot.
store” to the courthouse square, and in 1897, E.H. Rainey sold the lot where the store had originally stood.

This, however, is not entirely clear-cut. The 1896 newspaper article refers to a two-story building, but in the early 1980s, Germanton residents recalled this house is an expansion of a one-story store.[5] Indeed, a late nineteenth century photograph of the courthouse shows a one-story building at or near this location. However, there is also oral history that a smaller store was joined to this building, so it is possible that this two-story building was moved to this site and joined to the smaller, one-story building pictured in the late-nineteenth century photograph.
 
ca. 1900 photograph from The Heritage of Stokes County, volume 1
Further confusing the history is a statement by the building’s owner in the 1980s that part of the building may have been a school building. The late 1800s photograph of the courthouse shows a one-story gabled building with a copula or belfry in this vicinity, but its location is somewhat southwest of this site. Certainly, the school building, assuming that’s what can be seen in the photograph, may have been joined to this building at some point, but that, too, is not known.

Because this lot stood on a corner of the courthouse square, it is likely that it had been used for commercial purposes from the town’s founding. Although no buildings remain from previous ownerships, recounting the lot’s earlier history reveals the name of a mid-nineteenth century cabinet maker who lived in the town during its 1850s building boom and whose furniture or possibly interior woodwork may have been found in the town’s homes from that era.  

In 1854, a cabinetmaker and coffin maker named John B. Kingsbury used his wife’s money to purchase this lot. Kingsbury may have built his own shop here or he may have occupied an existing building. According to census records, Kingsbury was born in South Carolina around 1813, but he can be traced to Greensboro, where he married Elizabeth Chapman.[6] He resurfaced in Madison, where he was working as a cabinetmaker in 1839, but by the time of the 1850 census, he was living in northeastern Stokes County.[7] By 1853, however, he was in Germanton where he was elected as an officer to Germanton’s fledgling chapter of the Royal Arch Masons.[8]

The Kingsburys didn’t stay in any one location very long: despite having been appointed Germanton’s postmaster in 1858, he had moved to Pilot Mountain by the time the 1860 census recorded him, but the couple retained ownership of their Germanton property. Presumably, they leased it to other merchants until 1874 when they sold it to John W. Bitting.[9]

After Bitting’s death, the property traded hands twice before L.M. McKenzie bought it in 1893.[10] Thus, it appears that L.M. McKenzie built this store between 1890 and 1892, sold it to Alice and E.H. Rainey in 1892, and E.H. Rainey moved it to McKenzie’s lot on the square in 1896.

The McKenzies sold the property in 1900, but then bought a half-interest in it in 1905.[11] The McKenzies remained part-owners until sometime prior to 1923. During this twenty-year span, E.J. Styers, H. Kobre, and Robert Tuttle were all associated with the store. A 1920 plat of the square notes the store as housing E.J.Styers’ store and R.L. Tuttle’s store.[12]

In 1945, James and Pearl Kiser bought the store and remodeled it for use as their home, and it remained in the Kiser family until after Mr. Kiser’s death in 1990.[13]

Today, the house reflects the mid-twentieth century changes. The gable-front building features six-over-six sash windows, a one-story wrap-around porch with square posts, and a side-gable, single-car garage attached to the northeast elevation. Vinyl siding covers the exterior.


Sarah Woodard David, 2017




[1] William Campbell to L.M. McKenzie, Stokes County Deed Book 31, page 563, November 21, 1890.
[2] L.M. McKenzie to Alice M. Rainey, Stokes County Deed Book 34, page 172, September 2, 1892.
[3] It is unclear when ownership transferred from Alice Rainey to E.H. Rainey.
[4] L.M. and Carrie McKenzie to H. Kobre, Stokes County Deed Book 42, page 135, July 21, 1900.
[5] State Historic Preservation Office Survey File, SK 302.
[6] U.S. Census, Population Schedules, and North Carolina Marriage Records, accessed via ancestry.com.
[7] Greensboro Patriot, November 19, 1839, page 4, and U.S. Census, Population Schedule, 1850.  
[8] Raleigh Weekly Standard, May 4, 1853, page 3.
[9] Record of U.S. Postmasters, accessed via ancestry.com, U.S. Census, Population Schedule 1860, and J.B. and Eliza Kingsbury to John W. Bitting, Stokes County Deed Book 22, page 226, January 2, 1874.
[10] Gray B. Sullivan to Luther McKenzie, Stokes County Deed Book 34, page 587, March 8, 1893.  
[11] L.M. and Carrie McKenzie to H. Kobre, Stokes County Deed Book 42, page 135, and H. Kobre to L.M. McKenzie and Robert L. Tuttle, Stokes County Deed Book 48, page 386, July 26, 1905.
[12] Stokes County Deed Book 65, page 591.
[13]  William and Marjorie McIver to James and Pearl Kiser, Stokes County Deed Book 107, page 313, December 14, 1945, and William D and Mary Kiser to Thad K and List H. Evitt, Stokes County Deed Book 357, page 314, March 17, 1992.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Hardin and Sallie McGee House


Hardin and Sallie McGee House
1906

Andrew Bowman was born in 1772 in Ireland and came to America as a child with his parents. He was one of the first doctors in Stokes County, but where he received his medical training or when he moved to North Carolina is not known.[1]

Beginning in 1798, Dr. Bowman purchased several lots in Germanton, and in 1799, he married Nancy Bynum, the daughter of Grey and Margaret Bynum, a wealthy couple involved in the establishment of Germanton.[2]

On one of his lots, Dr. Bowman constructed his own house, which he sited on the courthouse square with almost no setback from the street. The substantial dwelling had flush gable ends and a boxed cornice, typical features of late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth-century architecture.
ca. 1898 photo of the courthouse (L.M. McKinzie Co. at that time) with a corner of the Bowman House visible behind the courthouse building 

1812 newspaper ad for the Bowman House

In 1812, Dr. Bowman advertised his house, noting that the location would make an excellent store or tavern and that “Cash or Negroes will be expected in payment.”[3]


1854 newspaper ad for the property











Dr. Bowman does not appear to have sold his house, however, and he and Nancy continued living in Germanton until their deaths in the 1840s. Dr. Bowman’s estate papers record the sale of three and three-quarters of an acre of land “including the house and lot in Germanton” to John L. Bitting.[4] By 1854, the house was up for sale as part of John L. Bitting’s estate. As Dr. Bowman himself had depicted it in 1812, the 1854 advertisement described the house as “well constructed for a tavern or store.”[5] 

1906 news article mentioning the McGee House
Although advertised in 1854, the house wasn’t sold until 1857 when John L. Bitting’s nephew, John W. Bitting, purchased it.[6] In 1878, local merchant, I. L. Blackburn bought the house, but Blackburn used the property as collateral on a loan in 1885, and by February 1905, the land and house were in the estate of Blackburn’s creditor, William Wall, from whom Hardin McGee purchased it at auction.[7]

Hardin and his wife, Sarah, McGee tore down the Bowman House and started building this house in early 1906.[8]

Hardin McGee was born in Surry County and as a young man, he worked as a “drummer,” traveling the area selling butter churns from his wagon and trading livestock. During a foray into Stokes County, he stopped at the home of Francis Petree, on Friendship Road, north of Germanton. One Petree daughter, fifteen-year-old Sallie, caught Hardin’s eye, and a few months later, twenty-two-year-old Hardin wrote to Mr. Petree, asking for and receiving permission to marry Sallie.[9]

After a short stay in Surry County, the young couple moved closer to Germanton, and in 1896, the family, which now included a daughter, moved to Germanton where Hardin started a mercantile business in the former Gibson Storehouse on the northeast corner of the courthouse square. Eventually, Hardin acquired the building and business in the former courthouse, which stood in the middle of the road, and in 1905, he bought the Andrew Bowman house. That house stood right across the corner from the courthouse building, and the McGees tore it down to construct the existing home.[10]
 
1948 view of H. H. McGee and Co., via Forsyth County Public Library's Digital Forsyth website; the McGee House would be just beyond the photo's left edge
Hardin and Sallie raised three children here while operating the store, and in 1920, Hardin was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly.[11]

Hardin died in 1950 followed by Sallie in 1959. In 1961, the family sold the house, and after changing hands a few times in the 1970s, Doug and Sheila Arrington purchased it in 1981.[12]

The McGee House is basically a T-plan house with a gable-front wing and a side-gable wing, An extensive porch extends across the facade and wraps around both ends of the house. The porch features rounded corners and Doric columns. A second-story, gable-front porch projects out over the porch roof above the front door. An early street scene photograph appears to show this as an open porch that was probably enclosed in the 1920s. The house retains original two-over-two sash windows and decorative eave brackets, but the second-story porch windows have been replaced and vinyl siding covers the exterior.



Sarah Woodard David, 2017


[1] Andrew Bowman grave marker in the Germanton Methodist Church cemetery.
[2] John R. Woodard, Jr., The Heritage of Stokes County (Winston-Salem, NC: Hunter Publishing Company, 1981), “Gray Bynum,” by Bill McGee, 207-208, and Lewis Blum to Andrew Bowman, October 28, 1798, Stokes County Deed Book 3, page 281. An additional note: Lewis Blum was married to Sarah or Sally Bynum, sister of Nancy Bynum Bowman.
[3] The North Carolina Star (Raleigh), May 29, 1812, page 1.
[4] Andrew Bowman estate papers, N.C. State Archives, Raleigh, N.C.
[5] The Greensboro Patriot, April 1, 1854, page 4.
[6] Estate of John L. Bitting to John W. Bitting, March 10, 1857, Stokes County Deed Book 18, page 641.
[7] Estate of J. W. Bitting to J. I.. Blackburn, November 21, 1878, Stokes County Deed Book 24, page 196; J. I. Blackburn deed of trust, Stokes County Deed Book 27, page 495; and Estate of William Wall to Hardin McGee, February 25, 1905, Stokes County Deed Book 47, page 555.
[8] The Danbury Reporter, February 8, 1906, page 1.
[9] John R. Woodard, Jr., The Heritage of Stokes County (Winston-Salem, NC: Hunter Publishing Company, 1981), “Hardin McGee” by Bill McGee, 345.
[10] Heritage of Stokes County, McGee, 345. This article notes that the house was built in 1903, but deed records clearly indicate that the McGees did not buy the property until 1905.
[11] Heritage of Stokes County, McGee, 345.
[12] Robert Earl and Trula Simmons to Doug and Sheila Arrington, Noevember 16, 1981, Stokes County Deed Book 271, page 863. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Braudes and Sallie Rutledge House and Germanton Esso


Braudes and Sallie Rutledge House and Germanton Esso
ca. 1949 and ca. 1957

Jerry Rutledge is credited below as a co-author because most of this post is taken from his article entitled “Raleigh Braudes Rutledge and Sallie Emma Fowler Rutledge,” published in The Heritage of Stokes County, volume 1. Footnotes cite other sources; all facts not footnoted are from Jerry Rutledge’s article.


Although the Braudes and Sallie Rutledge House is one of the newest dwellings on Germanton’s main street, the deeds associated with it shine a light on key aspects of Germanton’s history.

Braudes and Sallie Fowler Rutledge were natives of Stokes County who married in 1928 and moved to High Point for jobs in a hosiery mill. Around the time their first son was born, in 1935, the couple had a chance to buy a farm back home in the Friendship community, north of Germanton. In 1944, twins, Cheryl and Jerry, arrived, and in 1948, the couple purchased the former home of Dr. Wade H. Bynum in Germanton. In short order, the Rutledges built a small grocery and gas station.

Mr. Rutledge worked as a carpenter, continued farming in Friendship, and ran the gas station with Sallie.

In 1957, the Rutledges tore down the old Bynum House and built the existing Ranch house on the older foundation, with the Stokes-Forsyth County line bisecting the house. The one-story house is a typical brick, Ranch with a low-pitched, side-gable roof, engaged carport, and large picture windows. It was the scene of many family lunches and Christmas morning celebrations while the gas station hosted daily gatherings of farmers and locals who gathered to shoot the breeze and swap stories.

The gas station, originally known as the Germanton Esso and later more informally as Buddy Wall’s Exxon, is a one-story, hip-roof building. The fa├žade is brick with concrete block walls on the sides and rear. Half-round attic vents punctuate the front and side roof slopes and along with brick soldier courses above the window and door openings, they give a slight nod to the Colonial Revival designs popular for residences in the late 1940s.

The Rutledges retired from the store in 1973 and leased the business while continuing to farm. Braudes died in 1988 and Sallie lived until 2005. The Rutledge family continues to own the house and store today.

The house stands on the foundation of a house that was intended to be a school for girls, operated by a woman named Ann Mays. Mrs. Mays had lived in Virginia, and although her motivations for moving to Germanton and opening a school remain unknown, she was recruiting teachers as early as November 1854.[1]

In May 1855, Isaac Gibson, a son of one of the town’s wealthiest antebellum families, borrowed $5,000 from a Virginian named Samuel Shelton, who was Ann Mays’ brother. Gibson used that money to invest in the planned school and he purchased four acres of land on Main Street from his niece, Olivia Stedman, and her husband, William. Based on later estate records, Ann Mays engaged a builder named Dietrich Tavis to construct “a house suitable for a dwelling and also of sufficient size and dimensions for keeping a large Female School therein.”[2]

Tavis went to work constructing a Greek Revival house nearly identical to the Stedman-Raney-Savage House and other related houses in the area. Mrs. Mays placed several ads seeking students and teachers in newspapers throughout the second half of 1855, and advertisements continued to run in 1856, but in December of that year, Ann Mays died shortly after the birth of a daughter, who died in August.[3] In May, 1857, Mrs. Mays’ husband put the school up for sale, but the property was not sold and instead, became tied up in the estate of one of the school’s key investors, William Steadman, who died in April 1857.[4]

It is unclear how or why the property ended up in Dr. Steadman’s estate, but because Mrs. Mays died without having paid Tavis for his work, William Steadman along with several other investors were left with the school’s debts, including debts to Tavis. Thus, in 1858, Isaac Gibson, acting as executor of his nephew-in-law’s estate, petitioned the court to sell the house.[5]

It is unclear what happened to the house between in 1858 and 1871, but by 1871, John Alspaugh, Olivia Gibson Stedman’s second husband and her widower by that point, was overseeing the settlement of several Gibson family estates, including William Stedman’s. After 1871, it transferred hands several times before D.C. Slate bought it. Slate was involved in several Germanton-area enterprises, but less than a year after purchasing this house, he opened a hotel in Germanton and a later news article refers to this property as the former Slate Hotel.[6]

In 1891, Slate and a business partner, W.B. Harris, dissolved their partnership and the dissolution gave Harris and his wife, Laura, the building. Harris is mentioned in an 1893 news report as a “professor” operating a school, but it is not known if this building served in that capacity.

In 1899, Harris sold the house to W. P. Bynum who sold it the following year to his brother, Wade, who was a physician.[7] Less than a year later, Dr. Bynum married Martha Poindexter. Bynum was a highly regarded doctor, and his family’s roots ran very deep in the area: his great grandfather had been among those charged with locating a county seat for the newly-formed Stokes County in 1789. Dr. Bynum was known for house calls and dedication to his patients, and based on death certificates, he served white families and African American families alike.

Dr. Bynum died in 1943 followed by Mrs. Bynum in 1945.[8] The house passed to the Bynum’s grandsons, and in 1946, their guardians sold it to to Ralph and Ethel Butner who then sold it to the Rutledges in 1947.[9]



 Sarah Woodard David and Jerry Rutledge, 2017

. . . see also . . . 
For more information about the Steadmans, click here. For a fuller discussion to Tavis' work in and around Germanton, click here



[1] Spirit of the Age (Raleigh), November 29, 1854, page 3.
[2] Estate Records of William W. Stedman, N.C. State Archives, Raleigh, N.C.
[3] Grave markers at Germanton Methodist Church Cemetery.
[4] Graver marker at Germanton Methodist Church Cemetery. Additional confirmation of death date in the Fayetteville Weekly Observer, April 27, 1857. The school was advertised for sale by Robert Mays in the Christian Advocate (Raleigh), May 28, 1857, page 2.
[5] Estate Records of William W. Stedman, N.C. State Archives, Raleigh, N.C.
[6] Greensboro Patriot, August 30, 1899, page 10.
[7] W.B. and Laura Harris to W.P. Bynum, Forsyth County Deed Book 106, page 572, October 30, 1899; and W.P. Bynum to Wade H. Bynum, Forsyth County Deed Book 97, page 472, October 1, 1900.
[8] Graver markers in the Poindexter-Bynum-Hill Family Cemetery, accessed via findagrave.com.
[9] Marshall Matthews, guardian, to Ralph and Ethel Butner, Forsyth County Deed Book 533, page 130, August 8, 1946; and Ralph and Ethel Butner to R.B. and Sallie Rutledge, Stokes County Deed Book 111, page 141, and Forsyth County Deed Book 575, page 43, December 9, 1947.