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Feature Friday – July 11, 2008

Feature Friday posts will feature relevant information from a chosen online resource. This month, the database is Footnote.

Footnote.com offers a variety of historical documents online categorized in several collections. One such collection is the Project Blue Book, 1947-1969. This collection was digitized from the National Archives and was a project to determine if UFOs were a threat to national security and to scientifically analyze UFO activity.  A further description of the project can be found on Footnote’s page.

While searching Footnote for items of relevance to Washington County, I found an account of a UFO sighting in Plymouth.  The names of the people making the reports are withheld, but the descriptions are there. Here is an excerpt from a sighting in January 1959:

“While at “Moon Watch” at Plymouth, NC 1-10-59 at 6:10pm or near that I saw a white ball coming out of the North by East heading South by West.  When the ball was “a beam” of my location it burst into flame across the sky in many colors and hot particles began falling away.   This same time, some boys from Fort Jackson coming to Washington, NC were on 301 Highway at the South Carolina – North Carolina line saw an object coming at them and burst into flame in front of their car.  In their fright they run on the highway but recovered and did not stop to investigate.   It may have been high but looked like coming at them.”

Gee – i think I would have run to! The set of documents about this sighting consists of 5 pages. The person who reported it was a 36 year old truck driver and after submitting his report, received a letter from the military that his description “contained insufficient information to allow a valid conclusion.”

Using the neat “Spotlight” Feature of Footnote, I made this page to highlight this particular document. I understand the privacy issues and wanting to protect people’s names. I wonder if in years down the line they will remove the name censoring – wouldn’t you want to know if your ancestor/family member reported a UFO?

Obituary: William Tannehill

Here’s a post that is not specifically about Washington County, but is of relevance. One of the families I am tracking is that of Dr. Augustus Harvey MacNair of Edgecombe County, NC. I believe Dr. MacNair to have been a slaveowner of my 3rd great-grandfather, Rufus Tannahill McNair.

Dr. MacNair had a sister named Susan who married a man named William Tannahill. My Rufus, after emancipation went by the surname Tannahill, then by the 1870 census, was enumerated as McNair. Dr. MacNair had a sister named Susan that married a man named William Tannahill. Susan & William had six children that I know of – Alice, Eliza, Robert, Isabelle, Edmund & William Jr.

I just was doing some Google searching and found an article about the death of William Jr. that was in the New York Times –this was an unexpected surprise!

New York Times
31 October 1890

WHILE TEMPORARILY INSANE – William T. Tannahill Shoots Himself Dead.

William T. Tannahill, who had been a member of the Cotton Exchange since its organization some twenty years ago, committed suicide by shooting himself in the temple, at the home of his sister-in-law, Mrs. S.J. Tannahill, in Englewood, N.J., shortly before 11 o’clock last Wednesday night. That was his forty-seventh birthday. Mr. Tannahill had been under treatment for some nervousness for some time, and he had been subject to periods of despondency. He had an office in the Cotton Exchange Building, and managed the affairs of the firm, the other member of which was his sister-in-law, Mrs. S.J. Tannahill.

He was at his office on Wednesday, and went home as usual by an evening train. After tea he complained of a headache and retired about 10 o’clock. His sister-in-law sat by his bedside for nearly an hour, and bade him good night at 10:40 o’clock. Five minutes later the household was startled by the pistol shot, and they found Mr. Tannahill bleeding to death from a bullet wound to the temple. The unfortunate man died in about half an hour.

Mr. Tannahill belonged to a Southern family that came originally from Edgecombe County, N.C. and settled in Petersburgh, Va. At the close of the war the entire family moved to this city, and in 1871 W.T. Tannahill entered the cotton commission business with his brother Edmund.

The suicide is said to have been committed during a bit of mental aberration superinduced by the nervous disorder. Mr. Tannahill’s fellow members in the Exchange say that the firm did a conservative and prosperous business, though it was not generally known that Mrs. Tannahill was a member of the firm. Mr. Tannahill was never married.

Response to an Article

A Card
Roanoke Beacon, pg. 2
March 4, 1898

I have just seen an article in the “Assembly Standard” which is not only untrue, but does me a gross injustice. I am charged in said article, as being the cause of trouble, which occurred in the town of Plymouth last Saturday night.

The facts are these: Mr. Louis Owens and Emporer Spruill had some hot words, and Owens struck Spruill in the face. This was the direct cause of the excitement and bad blood that followed. In a few minutes after this difficulty I noticed a large crowd of coloredpeople standing on the street, they seemed to be excited and mad on account of Spruill being struck. Some of the colored people and whites had been drinking too much, during the evening, after the fire, and there was several intoxicated persons among them.

A short time after Spruill had been struck J.T. Pettiford, J.P., came to me with a warrant to arrest Owens for a simple assault. Having seen the previous condition of tthe bystanders, I tried to persuade him not to have the warrant executed tonight, but to wait until Monday morning, but he demanded that the warrant should be executed at once. Seeing that I could not prevail upon him, I took the warrant and went to look for Owens, when I was met by J.P. Hilliard, a Justice of the Peace, with another warrant which he gave me and demanded that I should serve at once, which I did, and the case was continued until Monday morning and I returned Pettifords’ warrant to him.

The reason why I acted in this matter as I did, was, I honestly believed that if I had brought Owens to trial before Pettiford at once, that there would have been grave and serious trouble between our people, and what I did was to preserve the peace, and to prevent any difficulty from taking place.

I believed then and I believe now, from the intoxicated condition and the bad blood amongst some of our people, that the course I pursued in this matter was the only one that saved the town from having a serious trouble. During my term of office as constable of this town I have tried to preserve the peace and have been fair and impartial to the people of both races. — Jos. Tucker

William C. Ayers’ Garlic Machine

Thus far in my indexing, I have come across two notices that mention W.C. Ayers and his garlic machine which he patented. A notice in the July 5, 1889 issue mentions that he is testing his machine and a notice in the November 29, 1889 issue stated that he had gone up north to look after the interest of his machine.

I decided to search for his patent. Google has recently partnered with the US Patent and Trademark Office to digitize their patents, and sure enough, It was easy enough to find!
His patent application was filed July 16, 1889 and it went through on January 22, 1889. Patent No. 396,678.

I search of other patents from Plymouth, North Carolina reveals a few more. I shall post on them later.

Beacon Flashes – 3 Jan 1890

Beacon Flashes
January 3, 1890
Pg. 3

  • Mr. J. H. Leggett spent the Xmas vacation in Williamston.
  • Master Tommie Rogerson is on a visit to relatives in Norfolk.
  • There were 19 marriages in the town during the year 1889.
  • Mr. Henry Alexander, of Columbia, gave us a call on Wednesday.
  • Rev. C. W. Robinson made a short visit to Washington this week.
  • Prof. C. W. Toms spent the holidays with his parents in Hertford.
  • The Rt. Rev. A. A. Watson held service in Grace church yesterday at 11 o’clock.
  • Mr. J. B. Willoughby has accepted a position as salesman with W. C. Ayers.
  • Mr. W. H. Cooper, who has been North for the past week is expected home today.
  • Rev. J. B. Askew, of Montross, Va. is home on a visit to his father, Capt. C. W. Askew.
  • Sergeant, H. W. Hornthal, of Bingham’s School, spent the holidays with his parents in this city.
  • Dr. H. P. Murray has moved his office to the building next to Mr. C. L. Pettigrew’s law office.
  • Mr. A. H. Mitchell, editor and proprietor of the Edenton Fisherman and Farmer, was in the city this week.
  • Messrs. Willie Hall and Henry Freeman, of the Suffolk Military Academy, spent the Xmas holidays home.
  • Mr. A.L. Fagan and son, master Robt. of Norfolk, were visiting Mrs. S. W. Beasley during the holidays.
  • Miss Jennie Felton, of Gates county, is the guest of her cousin, Miss Sallie Landing, on Jefferson street.
  • Mr. F. G. Bahmann, of Edenton, spent the Xmas holidays with the Business Manager of the Beacon.
  • Mr. J.A. Willoughby, formerly with W. C. Ayers, has accepted a position as salesman with Hornthal & Bro.
  • An oyster supper will be given by the young men of the town at the residence of Mr. J. P. Hilliard to-night.
  • Rev. Wm. Pettigrew of Ridgeway, has been the guest of his nephew, Mr. C. L. Pettigrew, for the past week.
  • Mr. J. C. Benjamin, representing Hume Minor & Co., piano and organ firm, of Norfolk, Va., spent a few days in the city this week.
  • We are reliably informed that Mr. L. E. Jackson will at an early date open a first class barber shop in this town. We trust the report is true.
  • Mr. Johnnie Whaley, one of the professors in the Western Maryland College , is home on a visit to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. S. M. Whaley.
  • Engineer Hefron, formerly of Windsor, has moved with his family to this town. A hearty welcome is extended to all who may seek homes in our midst.
  • Ye editor and business manager, returns thanks to Mr. W. T. Spruill for an invitation to attend a ball given at his residence at Lee’s Mills, on Monday night.
  • Mr. Al. C. Howcott, after a pleasant visit to his mother, Mrs. L. N. Howcutt of this city, left for his home in Washington D. C. on Monday.
  • Misses Annie and May Whaley, of the Western Maryland College, are spending the Xmas vacation with their parents, Mr. and Mrs. S. M. Whaley, in this city.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Alexander and daughter of Washington, spent the Xmas holidays in this city as the guests of Mrs. Alexander’s father, Mr. L. H. Hornthal.
  • Miss Chlode Morgan, who has been spending several months with her sister Mrs. J. O. Midgett, in this town, left for her home at E. City on Wednesday.
  • Mr. David Everett of Rocky Mount accompanied by his daughters, Misses Ida, Lena, Deborah and Mollie spent Xmas in the city as the guests of Mr. Benj. Nurney.
  • Mr. Joseph Robinson, wife and child, of Dendron, and Mr. Horas Philips, wife and children of Whaleysville, Va., spent the holidays with Mr. and Mrs. S. M. Whaley, of this city.
  • Dr. E. E. Murray, our popular young dentist, left on Tuesday morning of last week, for Boston, Mass., where he was gone to accept a position. Earnest was a clever young man and we regret to loose him from the business and social circles of our town, but we wish for him a life of happiness and prosperity in his new house.
  • Mr. W. K. Rankins, of Lowell, Mass., was on a visit to his sister, Mrs. George Houston, whis week. He was accompanied by a cousin, Mr. Joseph Rankins, of same place. While in the city, Mr. W. K. Rankins subscribed to the Beacon. Mr. Rankins is formerly of Plymouth, having been born and reared here, but when upon the verge of manhood he went to Boston, where he learned the watchmaking trade, and is now in that business at Lowell. We wish him unbounded success.
  • The colored people held an emancipation celebration on the 1, inst. Quite a large number from this and other places were present. The Tarboro band was in attendance, and the day was spent in marching through the streets, speeches, etc. The orderly manner in which the negroes acted is very creditabel to their race, though there were often over five hundred present, not a fight or any despute of any kind occurred which showed that the colored people of Eastern Carolina are a set of well behaved and intelligent citizens.

issuejan31890

Issues Posted

I will use this entry to keep track of issues of the Roanoke Beacon that I have gone through and posted information from.

1889Sep 6, Oct 18, Oct 25, Nov 1, Nov 8, Nov 15, Nov 22, Nov 29, Dec 6, Dec 20
1890Jan 3, Jan 10,