The following biographical sketches of men who lived in Bertie County and served as State Governors of North Carolina was written by John E. Tyler, II.
Thank you, Marilyn, for doing the typing
The first of the Governor's family in this country was Gregory Stone who was born in England in 1592. He married Lydia Cooper. They were the parents of Johm Stone who was born in 1619. Gregory Stone and his family, including John, on coming to America settled In New England. In 1672 in the Colony of Massachusetts Gregory Stone died.
John, the son of Gregory Stone, married Annie Howe and had (among other children) David Stone who was born in 1640 and died at Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1737. This David Stone was the father of Samuel Stone and the great-grandfather of Governor David Stone of Bertie. Samuel Stone wan the father of Zedekiah Stone to was born in Massachusetts in. 1710.
Zedekiah Stone left New England and came to North Carolina to settle In Bertie County. He was a very prosperous merchant on the Cashie River end a prominent man of his day. His home "Hope", which he built some five miles from Windsor, .till stands today as Berrtie County's most historic existing building. From the Tusxarora Indians, then living In Bertie, Zedikiah Stone purchased considerable tracts of land and in 1790 owned twenty-three slaves. He was a fine patriot and served the state In many civil capacities. Ha was a member of the Provincial Congress at Hillsboro in August 1775; member of the Committee to procure arms and ammunition for the Continental Army. Arpil 19, 1776; member of the Provincial Congress at Halifax in November 1776; Commissioner to procure guns for the Continental Army In December 1776 and state senator from Bertie County in 1777, 1778. 1779 and after the Revolution in 1786. Among the other positions he filled, he had been appointed by the Assembly. with Thomas Pugh and Simon Turner as Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
Zedildali Stone married Elizabeth Williamson (the widow Hobson). Of this union on February 17. 1770 at "Hope" was born David Stone, who among his other political achievements was to be Governor of North Carolina.
David Stone was educated at Princeton, where he was graduated in 1788 with the It-at honors. Returning to his native state he studied law under General William R. Davis at Halifax at was licensed to practice in 1790. In the same year, not being yet twenty one years old, he represented Bertie County in the lower house of the North Carolina General Assembly where he was continuously reelected until 1795. Then only twenty-five, he was elected to the Superior Court Bench as the youngest Judge who had yet presided in North Carolina. Having already become distinguished in the legal and political circles he was recognized as a young man of the greatest promise.
At the end of 1796 Zedekiah Stone died and his will which was probated in February 1797 speaks of his son David. than on the bench, and daughter Elizabeth Charlton and her children. His son, David, and Abner, Eason were made executors and the will was witnessed by Edward Byrd, Jr. and John Mhoon.
In 1799, David Stone, having served three years as a Judge of the Superior Court, resigned and was promptly elected to the United States House of Representatives. The following year, while Stone was a representative, Congress experienced the bitter political struggle between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Both Jefferson and Burr were contending for the Presidency of the United States end the House of Representatives found itself with the problem of having to decide the tie vote between these two. As the vote was taken over end over Stone invariably voted for President Jefferson who was finally elected.
The North Carolina Legislature of 1800, when it met on November 17th elected David Stone, after one year in the House of Representatives, to the United States Senate. This was quite an honor for so young a man, as he was barely eligible with regard to the thirty years age requirement of senators under the Federal Constitution.
In the Senate, Stone found the feeling still running high against the country's late adversery, Great Britian. During the six continuous years. from 1800 to 1806, that he served in the Senate, David Stone saw this hostile feeling increasing. An important piece of legislature, which was hotly debated, was the non-importation bill. The argument of those favoring it being that by shutting off imports of manufactured English products would cause America to develop. a manufacturing interest of its own. David Stone in the Senate and Nathaniel Macon in the House of Representatives, however, saw the disadvantages that the passing of this bill would work on. their own state. Statistics showed that of American exports to Great Britian for 1802—04, cotton, tobacco, rice, pitch, tar and resin made up 65 to 75 per cent of the total values. These raw materials, with the exception of rice, were the life blood of North Carolina. This State with other Southern states had found a profitable market for their surplus of these commodities in Great Britian and Europe. Stone realized to place restrictions on overseas commerce would deal a death blow to North Carolina's prosperity, particularly to the coastal plain (which included Bertie) where so much of the cotton, tobacco, tar, pitch end turpentine was produced. Stone, therefore, voted negative on this non-importation bill, which, nevertheless, was passed. As a result the exports from the South the following year fell off 85 per cent and before the end of the Jefferson administration the embargo law had been repealed.
After the end of 1806 , Senator Stone was replaced in the Senate by Jesse Franklin. However, the North Carolina Legislature on December 15, 1806 again elected David Stone to a Judgeship. That year also saw the oblishment of the old judicial system of having six courts twice a year for the whole state. Now each county would be entitled to a semi-annual session. The historian John W. Moore describes the first court held in Winton over which Judge David Stone presided. He says "His Honor, Judge David Stone, most ably and graciously discharged his high duties and a great crowd attended to witness the novel proceedings. The solitary Judge, as he walked unattended in his every day clothes, and adorned only with his queue, to and from the courtroom, out but a sorry figure compared with the pompous and magnificant old gentlemen who were judges in the eighteenth century. The statute of 1799 no fatal to much pride and circumstance of circuit justices. Judges subsided into the habits and appearance of other men, and with lawyers, accepted the situation. Plain Republican notions reached them at last and triumphed over forms which were not only out of date but ridiculous."
After serving am years on the Bench, David Stone was the elected in 1808 Governor of North Carolina and served two annual terms, the last ending December 5, 1810. Durring his term of of office the long questionable claim of the heirs of the Granville grant we causing much concern in the state. When in 1729, all the other Lord Proprietors sold their lands to the Crown, the Earl of Granville retained his share which we apportioned as the northeastern part of' this state. This land was owned by his heirs at the time of the Revolution when it was confiscated. After the war, however, the Granville heirs brought suit in the United States Court to recover the lands. Their claims having been rejected in the lower courts, they appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States. Governor Stone in 1809 conveyed the alarming news that Chief Justice Marshall was of the opinion that the Granville claim was lawful and that the Suprene Court might decide in their favor. There was much excitement and consternation among the people residing in the Granville Grant, which included Bertie County. Stone advocated legislation "The honor of the state', he said "is greatly interested that her citizens who have confided in her justice should not be placed at the mercy of an alien to our laws and government". The claim, however, was finally denied end upon the death of Francis Key, counsel for the British claimants, it was dismissed.
After his adninistration as governor, we find David Stone, in 1821 entering the North Carolina Assembly again as a representative from his native Bertie. In this capacity he served only a year, for in Deciber of 1812 he was again elected to the United States Senate, taking the place of Jesse Franklin who had defeated him six years before.
The Craigs were of Scotch origin and the first of the governor's family by that name in this country was William Craig. He was born in Scotland but immigrated to America from Ireland. William Craig's wife was the "Widow Long", whose maiden name was Margaret Logan. They were the parents of four sons and one daughter, all of whom were born in the "Old Country". The names of the sons were David, John, Samuel and James. William Craig and his family in 1749 settled in North Carolina, locating in Orange County and his sons were ardent patriots and soldiers during the Revolution.
The son John became the father of Abram Craig, who was the father of the Rev. Andrew Murdock Craig who was the father of Governor Locke Craig of Bertie County. This Rev. Andrew Craig, though born a Scotch Presbyterian, became an eminent Baptist minister. He graduated with first honors at the University of North Carolina and was a scholarly man of fine literary attainments. He had a splendid library and delighted in the study of ancient and modern classics. His son, the governor, was named after John Locke. The Rev. Andrew Craig was a man who possessed great strength of intellect and character and as a Baptist minister obtained much influence, power and eloquence. Besides being the father of Governor Locke Craig, he was also the father of another renowned Baptist minister, the Rev. Braxton Craig.
The mother of Governor Craig was Clarissa Rebecca Gilliam and of her background we quote from an article by Dr. George T. Winston, another outstanding Bertie County native.
Dr. Winston says: "Mrs. Craig was the daughter of Wiley J. Gilliam, a strong, handsome and commanding man, conspicuous and influential in Bertie County. Her mother was a Bond, one of the largest and most honored families in North Carolina and Tennessee. By blood or by marriage Mrs. Craig was connected with the strongest, most cultured and most influential families in Bertie County".
Locke Craig was born April 16, 1860 at his father's home in Bertie County, a few miles out of Windsor near the road leading to Lewiston. After the Civil War, Mrs. Craig was left a widow with a small estate and her sons, Locke and Braxton to rear and educate. She faced the trying days of Reconstruction with courage and fortitude and the determination to give her sons a chance in an impoverished South.
Governor Craig's boyhood days were spent on the farm and until he was fourteen years old he attended the schools of Bertie County.
At that time his mother sent him to Horner's School at Oxford where he finished preparing himself for college. He entered the University of North Carolina at the tender age of fifteen, the youngest student at the institution. While at the University he was a prominent member of the Philanthropic Society, in which he held various offices, including that of President. Being an able speaker, he was elected commencement orator without opposition. He had prepared himself for a legal profession and before he was twenty years old he graduated from the University with honors, the youngest graduate at the University.
After his graduation he was Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University for one year and the following year he taught in a private school at Chapel Hill. In 1883 he moved to Asheville and taught school there for a few years, after which he began the practice of law, the profession for which he had prepared himself. He also had become quite interested in politics and in 1892 was elected the Democratic Elector for the (then) Ninth Congressional District. Four years later he was made an Elector at large. He campaigned the state in behalf of the Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, at the time establishing his own reputation as an orator and portraying his ability and leadership.
In 1898, Locke Craig was elected as a Legislator from Buncombe County by the Democratic Party by a majority of over seven hundred. This was quite a victory, considering that the Republican party had been in power in that county preceding Craig's election. He was again elected from Buncombe to the State Legislature by an increasing majority in 1900. Craig had fought hard to help the Democratic Party regain its control in North Carolina. The Republican Party in the state under its Republican Governor Russell had put North Carolina in a position almost similar to the Reconstruction days just after the Civil War. Locke Craig had been one of a group of speakers who had traveled all over the state on behalf of the Democratic Party. This group included besides Craig, such men as Charles B. Aycock, R. B. Glenn, Lee Overman, Josephus Daniels, Cameron Morrison and others.
The Democratic Party regaining control of the Legislature in 1898, had put Charles B. Aycock in the Governor's chair in 1901, set out to conquer the Judiciary Department, by attempting to impeach two of the state's Supreme Court Judges. Locke Craig introduced the Resolution calling for their impeachment. After a trial of fourteen days, the Senate acquitted the Judges. The year 1903, found Craig campaigning for the United States Senate against Cyrus B. Watson and Lee S. Overman. No doubt the prominence of Craig and Watson, also, in the trial against the Judges contributed to their defeat.
In the campaign of 1908 Craig again sought the Democratic nomination, this time for Governor. F. M. Simmons the leader of the Democratic Party during its struggle to overthrow the Republican rule in the State, gave his support to Craig at this time. Opposing him were William W. Kitchin and Ashley Horne. At the convention in June the first ballot stood Kitchin 367; Craig 333 and Horne 149. Finally Horne withdrew and on the sixty-first ballot Kitchin won the nomination. "Craig, "The little giant of the mountains", as he had been termed, in true Democratic spirit then put forth all his efforts to help elect Kitchin in the following November.
In the final campaign Craig also spoke on behalf of the prohibition cause which was gaining momentum throughout the state. Four years later, in 1912, Locke Craig with a long record of party service and with little party reward realized his efforts, when by acclimation he was nominated at the Democratic Convention for Governor and in November he was elected to that office.
On January 18, 1913, the Bertie County native was sworn in as Governor of North Carolina and held office until the end of his term in 1917. On the day of his inauguration the following poem by the Governor's boyhood friend, Dr. George T. Winston, another Bertie County son, appeared in the Raleigh News and Observer. Dr. Winston had known well and greatly admired the Bertie County lady, the mother of Locke Craig.
THE WIDOW'S SON "Let Her Works Praise Her In The Gates" (In memory of the mother of Lock Craig on his inauguration as Governor of North Carolina) The husband of her life forever gone, Her fortune wrecked in war; herself alone Two tender sons to rear - O, every day Her heart must crush with fear and dark dismay She faltered not, nor sat disconsolate Her sons each side she clasped, full facing fate. And guided straight to Wisdom's door; where youth By teachers true are fired with zeal for truth. Where eyes undimmed gaze up the steepest height Where souls enkindles soul to loftiest flight. O spirit pure, look down today on earth Men shout the name of Craig, whom thou gav'st birth; He whom thou saught'st to face and conquor fate, The widow's son, doth rule a mighty state.
In May 1915 during Governor Craig's administration the sinking of the Lusitania by a German Submarine occurred with the loss of American lives. War with German seemed fast approaching. Feeling was running high throughout the land. He was among the few public men who still felt that peace could be preserved.
Governor Craig in a statement to the press, asserted that it was the duty of the government to protect American citizens and American interests, but realizing the desperate nature of war, upon being asked his opinion as to a great American Navy he replied, "We should not be stampeded into the militarism responsible for this war. We should not strive to have the greatest Navy in the world, but now and always, no American right should be invaded and no American citizen should be struck wrongfully with impunity".
The Legislature of 1918 established the State Highway Commission. The members of the first Commission comprised Governor Craig, Chairman, W. C. Riddick, T. F. Hickerson, Bennehan Camerech, E. C. Duncan, and Guy V. Roberts, with Joseph Hyde Pratt as Secretary and W. S. Fallis, the State Highway Engineer. The movement for better roads swept the state and Craig became known as "The good roads Governor".
Another notable achievement under the guidance of Governor Craig was the purchase and preservation of Mount Mitchell which was secured by the State to be used as a State Park. One of North Carolina superlatives, Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains, thus came under the jurisdiction of the state. The fine balsam and spruce forest on its summit and on its slopes were at the time beginning to be cut for lumber. When it became state property, Governor Craig appointed a commission to preserve the original beauty of this lofty peak.
Still another important act passed during Craig's administration involved the regulation and conservation of the fishing industry in the Eastern part of the State.
The University of North Carolina conferred on him in 1915 the Honorary Degree of L. L. D. On November 18, 1891, Locke Craig had married Miss Annie Burgin of McDowell County. They were the parents of four sons, Caryle Craig, George Winston Craig (named for the Governor's old friend), Arthur Craig and Locke Craig, Jr. (born at the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh on November 11, 1914). After serving as Governor, Craig returned to Asheville and lived the remainder of his life at home near the beautiful Swannanoa River. He died in Asheville on June 9, 1924.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Andrews, E. W. & C. McL., Journal of a Lady of Quality, edited by Ashe, Samuel A.; Weeks, Stephen B.; Van Noppen, Charles L., Biographical History of North Carolina from Colonial Times to the President. Edited by Conner, R. D. W., North Carolina, Rebuilding an Ancient Commonwealth. Cotton, Bruce, As We Were Grant, G. L., Alumni History of the University of North Carolina, edited 1924. Hathaway, J. R. B., Ed., North Carolina Historical & Genealogy Register, Vols. I, II & III. Hawks, Francis L., North Carolina From 1663 to 1729. Henderson, Archibald, North Carolina, The Old State and the New. Jones, Mary F., Memoirs & Speeches of Locke Craig, Governor of North Carolina 1913-1917. Hackney & Moale Co., Asheville, 1923. Public Letters & Papers of Locke Craig, Governor of North Carolina, 1913-1917, Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, State Printers 1916. Lefler, Hught T., Ed., North Carolina History Told by Contempraries. Moore, John W., History of North Carolina from the Earliest Discoveries to the Present Times. Parker, Corlea, History of Taxation in North Carolina during the Colonial Period. Rossett, Sketches of North Carolina Church History, edited by Weeks, Stephen B., Religious Development in the Province of North Carolina. Wheeler, John H., Historical Sketches of North Carolina from 1584 to 1851. Periodicals "North Carolina Historical Review", Vol. I., No. 2. "News & Observer", March 27, 1949.
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