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Histories, Biographies and Stories

Captain William Fly, Gentleman of Fortune


As to the birth of this pirate, we can discover nothing by the enquiries we have hitherto made; and indeed had we succeeded in our search, it would have been of no great consequence; for it is certain by the behavior of the man, he must have been of very obscure parents; and by his education, (as he was no artist) very unfit in all respects, except that of cruelty, for the villainous business he was in. We have been informed, that he had been a pirate in a private capacity, and having escaped justice, had an opportunity of repenting his former crimes, and as a foremast man, or petty officer, of getting his bread in a warrantable way. But no,—ignorant as he was of letters, he was ambitious of power, and capable of the most barbarous actions to acquire it.

Captain Green, of Bristol, in April, 1726, shipped this Fly as boatswain, at Jamaica, being bound, in the Elizabeth Snow, of Bristol, for the coast of Guinea.  Fly, who had insinuated himself with some of the men, whom he found ripe for any villainy, resolved to seize the said Snow, and murder the captain and mate, and taking the command on himself, turn pirate. He proposed this his design to his brothers in iniquity, who approving it, he, having the watch at one o'clock in the morning, on the 27th day of May, went up to one Morrice Cundon, then at the helm, accompanied by Alexander Mitchel, Henry Hill, Samuel Cole, Thomas Winthrop, and other conspirators, and swore if he spoke one word, or stirred either hand or hint, he would blow his brains out; and tucking up his shirt above his elbows, with a cutlass in his hand, he, with Mitchel, went into the captain's cabin, and told him he must turn out. The captain, asking what was the matter, was answered by Mitchel, they had no time to answer impertinent questions; that if he would turn out and go upon deck quietly, it would save them the trouble of scraping the cabin; if he would not, a few buckets of water and a scraper would take his blood out of the decks: that they had chosen Captain Fly for commander, and would allow of no other, and would not waste their provisions to feed useless men.

The captain replied, that since they had so resolved, he should make no resistance; but begged they would not murder him, since his living could be so obstacle to their designs; that he had never been harsh to either of them, and therefore they could not kill him out of revenge; and if it was only for their security, he desired, if they would not take his word to do nothing to obstruct the measures they bad resolved on, they would secure him in irons, till he might be put somewhere on shore, “Ay,” says Fly,”to live and hang us, if we are ever taken: no, no, walk up, that bite won’t take; it has hanged many an honest fellow already”. Mitchel and Fly then laying hold of him, pulled him out of his bed. The poor captain, entreating them to spare his life, for his soul's sake, told them he would bind himself down by the most solemn oaths, never to appear against them; that he was unfit to appear before the judgment seat of a just and pure God; that he was loaded with sins, and to take him off before he had washed those stains, which sullied his soul, by the tears of repentance, would be a cruelty beyond comparison greater than that of depriving him of life, were he prepared for death, since it would he, with­out any offence committed against them, dooming him to eternal misery. However, if they would not he persuaded that his life was consistent with their safety,
he begged they would allow some time to prepare himself for the great change: that he begged no other mercy than what the justice and compassion of the laws would allow them, should they hereafter be taken. — “your blood,” said Mitchel, “no preaching. Be — an' you will, what’s that to us? Let him look out who has the watch. Upon deck, you dog, for we shall lose no more time about you.”

They hauled him into the steerage, and forced him upon deck, where one of the hell-hounds asked if he had rather take a leap like a brave fellow, or to be tossed over like a sneaking rascal? The captain, addressing himself to Fly. said, “Boatswain, for God’s sake don't throw
me overboord; if you do I am forever lost ; Hell’s the portion of my crimes. —him, answered Fly, since he's so godly, we'd give him time to say his prayers, and I’ll be parson. Say after me. Lord have mercy on me. Short prayers are best, so no more words and over with him, my lads.”  The captain still cried for mercy, and begged an hour's respite only, but all in vain; he was seized by the villains and thrown overboard. He caught, however, and hung by the main sheet, which Winthrop seeing, fetched the cooper's broad axe, and chopping off the unhappy master's hand, he was swallowed up by the sea.

The captain being thus dispatched, Thomas Jenkins, the mate was secured and brought upon deck, to share the same cruel fate. His entreaties were as useless as the captain's; the sentence they had passed upon him was not to he reversed; they were deaf to his prayers and remonstrances, strangers to humanity and compassion. He was of the captain's mess, they said, and they should even drink together; it was pity to part good company.

Thus they jested with his agonies. He however, made some struggle, which irritating his murderers,
one of them snatched up the axe, with which Winthrop had lopped off the captain's hand, and cave him a great cut on the shoulder, by missing his head, where the blow was aimed, and he was thrown into the sea. He swam, notwithstanding, and called out to the doctor to throw him a rope, who, poor man, could not hear him, being secured, and laid in irons in his own cabin; and had he heard, and been able to have thrown the rope required, could it be expected that these hardened wretches would have relented, and shewn him mercy? But the sinking man will catch at a straw, and hope, they say, is the last that deserts us. While we have life we are apt to flatter ourselves some lucky accident may favor us.

It was next debated what should be done with the doctor. Some were for sending him to look after the captain and mate; but the majority, as he was a useful man, thought it better to keep him. All obstacles being removed, Mitchel saluted Fly captain, and with the rest of the crew who had been in the conspiracy, with some ceremony, gave him possession of the great cabin.

Here a bowl of punch being made, Morrice Cundon was called down, and one John Fitzherbert set to the helm in his place. At the same time the carpenter and Thomas Streaton were brought before the captain, who told them they were three rascals, and richly deserved to be sent after the captain and mate, but that they were willing to shew them mercy, and not put them to death in cold blood, and he would therefore only put them in irons, for the security of the ship's crew. They were accordingly ordered out, and ironed. Fly then told his comrades it was convenient to resolve on some course, when word was brought them, that a ship was very near them. The council broke up, and made a clear ship, when in a very little while after, they found it was the Pompey,
which had left Jamaica in company with the Snow. The Pompey, standing for the Snow, which did not make from her, soon hailed and asked how Captain Green did, and was answered by Fly, that he was very well. They did not think fit to attack this ship, but returning to hold their consultation, it was resolved to steer fer North-Carolina.

Upon their arrival on that coast they spied a sloop at anchor within the bar. She was called the John & Hannah, and commanded by Captain Felker, who thinking the Snow might want a pilot' stepped into his boat with his mate, Mr. Atkinson, and Mr. Roan, two passengers, and a young lad, in order to bring her in. When they came on board, they were told, that the Snow was from Jamaica, with a cargo. Captains Fulker and Mr. Roan were desired to walk down to the captain, who was in the cabin. Fly received them very civilly, ordered a bowl of punch, and hearing Captain Fulker had brought another passenger on board, Mr. Atkinson was also invited down.

Lil HP PirateThe punch being brought in, Captain Fly told his guest. …”that he was no man to mince matters; that he and his comrades were gentlemen of fortune, and should make bold to try if
uapr. Pulker's sloop trail better sailer than the Snow. If she was, she would prove much fitter for their business, and they must have her.” The Snow came to an anchor about a league off the sloop, and Fly ordered Fulker, with six of his own hands, into the boat to bring her along side of the Snow but the wind proving contrary, their endeavors proved also vain, and they returned again in the boat, bringing Captain Fulker back with them. As soon as they got on board the Snow, fell into a violent passion, cursing and abusing Fulker for not bringing off the sloop. He gave him his reason, and said, it was impossible. “You lie you dog,”  replied the
pirate, “but your hide will pay for your roguery, and if I can’t bring her off, I'll burn her-where she lies.” He then ordered Captain Fulker to the geers; no reason, no arguments could prevail; he was stripped and lashed after a very inhuman manner; and the boat's crew being sent again, with much ado carried her off as far as the bar, where she bilged and sunk. The pirates then endeavored to set what remained of her out of water on fire, but they could not burn her.

The Snow getting under sail to look out for some booty, Fulker and the others desired they might be set at liberty, but it was denied them for the present, though not without a promise that they should be released the first vessel they took. On the 5th of June they left Carolina, and the next day spied a sail, which proved the John & Betty, commanded by Captain Gale, bound from Barbadoes to Guinea.  Fly gave chase, but finding the ship wronged him, he made a signal of distress, hoisting his jack at the main-top-mast head; but this decoy did not hinder the ship making the best of her way. Fly continued the chase all night, and the wind slackening, he came within shot of the ship, and fired several guns at her under his black ensign. The ship being of no force, and the pirates ready to board, the captain struck; and Fly, manning his long-boat, the crew being well armed with pistols and cutlasses, went on board the prize, and sent Captain Gale after having secured his men, prisoner on board the Snow. This prize was of little value to the pirates, who took nothing but some silk-cloth and small arms, and after two days let her go, but took away six of his men, setting on board Captain Fulker, a passenger, and Captain Green’s surgeon. They kept Mr. Atkinson, knowing he was a good artist, and lately master of the brigantine Boneta , as a pilot for the coast of New-England, which they were satisfied he was well acquainted with.

Upon Mr. Atkinson's desiring to have his liberty
with the others, Captain Fly refused it with the most horrid oaths and imprecations, and insisted upon it that he should act as their pilot; assuring him, at the same time, if he piloted them wrong, his life should be the forfeit.

Mr. Atkinson answered, it was very hard he should be forced to take upon himself the pilotage, when he did not pretend to know the coast, and that his life should answer for any mistake his ignorance of it might make him guilty of, and therefore begged he might be set on board Captain Gale; and that they would trust to their own knowledge, since he did not doubt there being better artists on board. “No, no,” replied Fly, “that won't do—your palavering won’t save your bacon: so either discharge your trust like an honest man, (forgo you shan't) or I’ll send you with my service to the devil: so no more words about the matter”.

There was no reply made, and they stood for the Coast of New-England.  Off Delaware Bay they made
a sloop, commanded by one Captain Harris, bound from New-York to Pennsylvania. She had on board about fifty passengers.  Fly gave chase and coming up with her, hoisted his black ensign, and ordered her to strike, which she immediately did; and Fly sent Captain Atkinson on board, to sail her, though he would not allow him (Atkinson) any arms. The pirates ransacked this prize, but not finding her of any use to them, after a detention of 24 hours, they let her go, with her men, excepting only a well-made young fellow, whose name was James Benbrooke, whom they kept.

Fly, after having released the prize, ordered Captain Atkinson to carry the Snow into Martha's Vineyard, but he willfully missed this place. Fly, finding himself beyond Nantucket, and that his design was baulked, called to Atkinson, and told him that he was a “rascally scoundrel, and that it was a piece of cruelty to let such
a villain live, who designed the death of so many honest fellows”. Atkinson, in his defense, said, he never pretended to know the coast, and that it was very hard he should die for being thought an abler man than he really was. Had he pretended to be their pilot, and did not know his business, he deserved punishment; but when he was forced upon a business which he before declared he did not understand, it would be certainly cruel to make him suffer for their mistake. “You are an obstinate villain,” replied Fly, “and your design is to hang us; but blood and wounds, you dog, you shan't live to see It”—and saying this, he ran into his cabin and brought a pistol, with design to shoot Atkinson; but by the interposition of Mitchel, who thought him innocent of any design, he escaped.

Atkinson, who perceived his life every minute in danger, began to ingratiate himself with the pirates, and gave them hopes, that with good and geed usage, he might be brought to join them. This he did not say in express terms, but by words he now and then let drop, as by accident, they were not a little rejoiced at the idea of having so good an artist to join them; nay some of them hinted to him, that if he would take upon him the command, they were ready to dispossess Captain Fly, who carried his command too high, and was known to all the crew to be no artist, and to understand nothing beyond the business of a boatswain. Atkinson thought it his interest to keep them in the opinion that he would join; but always declined hearing anything as to the command.

This made him less severely used, and protected him from the insults of Fly, who imagined he would betray them the first opportunity, and therefore more than once proposed his being thrown overboard, which was never approved by the Snow's company.

From Nantucket they stood to the eastward, and off Brown's Bank made a fishing schooner. Captain Fly,
coming up with her, fired a gun, and hoisting his black ensign, swore, “if they did not instantly bring to, and send their boat on board, he would sink her.”  The schooner obeyed, and sent away her boat on board the Snow. He examined the captain as to what vessels were to be met with, and promised, if he could put him in the way of meeting with a good sailer, to let him go, and give him his vessel, or he should otherwise keep her. The poor man told him he had a companion which would soon be in sight, and was a much better vessel. Accordingly about 12 at noon, the same day, which was the 23d of June, the other schooner hove in sight; upon which Fly manned this prize with six pirates and a prisoner named George Tasker, and sent her in chase, having himself on board the Snow, no more than three pirates, Captain Atkinson, (who had worked himself into some favor with him) and fifteen forced men; but he took care to have his arms upon deck be him.

The men who had not taken on with Fly, were, Atkinson, Captain Fulker's mate, and two youths belonging to him; the carpenter and gunner belonging to Captain Green; six of Captain Gale's men, and the aforesaid Benbrooke, who belonged to Captain Harris, with three of the men out of the schooner. Atkinson, seeing the prisoners and forced men were five to one of the pirates, thought of delivering himself from the bondage he was in: and as by good luck several other fishing vessels hove in sight, right ahead of the Snow, he called to Captain Fly, and told him he spied several other vessels ahead, desiring he would come forward and bring his glass. Fly did so, and leaving his arms on the quarter deck, sat on the windlass to see if he could make out what they were. Atkinson, who had concerted his measures with one Walker and the above mentioned Benbrooke, secured the arms on the quarter deck, and gave them a signal to seize
Fly; which they did, with very little trouble, and afterwards made themselves masters of the other three pirates and the Snow, the rest of the prisoners, not-knowing anything of, or what the design might be, remaining altogether inactive, and brought the Snow and pirates to Great Brewster, where a guard was put on board, June 28, 1726.

Soon after, the said pirates were brought to their trial, that is, on the 4th of July following, before the Honorable William Dummer, Esq. Lieutenant Governor and commander in chief of the province of Massachusetts Bay, President of the Special Court of Admiralty, at the court-house of Boston, assisted by 18 gentlemen of the council; before whom they were found guilty of murder and piracy, condemned to be executed, and accordingly were executed the 12th of July. William Fly was ordered to be hanged in chains at the entrance of the harbor of Boston. Thus, ended the short reign of an obdurate wretch, who only wanted skill and power, to be as infamous as any who had scoured the seas. The names of the three pirates, executed with him, were, Samuel Cole, George Condick, and Henry Greenvill.

1726: William Fly, Unrepentant Pirate

On this date in 1726, an obscure boatswain who had mutinied for the liberty of piracy succumbed but did not submit on the gallows in Boston.

Fly overthrew (figuratively and literally — they both ended up in the drink) a tyrannous captain and first mate on a British slave ship in May, reconstituting it Fame’s Revenge, and in a northward journey from North Carolina to New England captured a few less-than-lucrative ships in a month and change.

A minor character in the annals of seaborne pillage, so why should historian Marcus Rediker devote the opening chapter to his “Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age” (review) to this man?


[T]he early-eighteenth-century pirate ship was a world turned upside down, made so by the articles of agreement that established the rules and customs of the pirates’ alternative social order. Pirates “distributed justice,” elected their officers, divided their loot equally, and established a different discipline. They limited the authority of the captain, resisted many of the practices of capitalist merchant shipping industry, and maintained a multicultural, multiracial, and multinational social order. They demonstrated quite clearly—and subversively—that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal Navy.

Rediker’s sympathetic but unromantic work treats the radical, doomed sphere of resistance pirates offered to the enormous cruelty of the developing Atlantic economy: grinding exploitation of white sailors in the service of the black slave trade under the iron hand of the empire (British, in this case, but hardly exclusive to Old Blighty.)

It bears the trace of Hakim Bey‘s treatment of Temporary Autonomous Zones:


Fleeing from hideous “benefits” of Imperialism such as slavery, serfdom, racism and intolerance, from the tortures of impressment and the living death of the plantations, the Buccaneers adopted Indian ways, intermarried with Caribs, accepted blacks and Spaniards as equals, rejected all nationality, elected their captains democratically, and reverted to the “state of Nature.” Having declared themselves “at war with all the world,” they sailed forth to plunder under mutual contracts called “Articles” which were so egalitarian that every member received a full share and the Captain usually only 1¼ or 1½  shares. Flogging and punishments were forbidden—quarrels were settled by vote or by the code duello.

Certainly many men (and women) turned to piracy for many different reasons. Rediker’s work on the systematic brutality in the guts of the imperial economy and the pressures of resistance and coercion they spawned finds an outstanding individual exponent in this day’s victim.

Fly walked indifferently to the gallows; to the astonishment of the spectators, he upbraided the hangman’s poor knot and remade with his own hands the instrument for his own neck—one last use of his seaman’s proficiency with ropes.

On Fly’s turn upon that fatal stage, he would not read from the classics—not cower before his executioners, not salute the majesty of the crown that hung him, not enjoin the mob to straighten up and sail right, and certainly not be cowed on the cusp of the eternal by officious colonial holy roller Cotton Mather’s vain personal bid to convert the corsair:


When the time came for last words on that awful occasion, Mather wanted Fly and his fellow pirates to act as preachers — that is, he wanted them to provide examples and warnings to those who were assembled to watch the execution. They all complied. Samuel Cole, Henry Greenville, and George Condick [three of Fly’s crew], perhaps hoping for a last-minute pardon, stood penitently before the crowd and warned all to obey their parents and superiors and not to curse, drink, whore, or profane the Lord’s day. These three pirates acknowledged the justice of the proceedings against them, and they thanked the ministers for their assistance. Fly, however, did not ask for forgiveness, did not praise the authorities, and did not affirm the values of Christianity, as he was supposed to do, but he did issue a warning. Addressing the port-city crowd thick with ship captains and sailors, he proclaimed his final, fondest wish: that “all Masters of Vessels might take Warning by the Fate of the Captain (meaning Captain Green) that he had murder’d, and to pay Sailors their Wages when due, and to treat them better; saying, that their Barbarity to them made so many turn Pyrates.” Fly thus used his last breath to protest the conditions of work at sea, what he called “Bad Usage.” He would be launched into eternity with the brash threat of mutiny on his lips.

“Bad Usage,” Rediker later defines it as “the violent disciplinary regime of the eighteenth-century deep-sea sailing ship, the ordinary and pervasive violence of labor discipline as practiced by the ship captain as he moved the commodities that were the lifeblood of the capitalist world economy.”

The resistance to a pattern of savage floggings, cheated wages, and the whole spectrum of rough and arbitrary authority on a shipboard dictatorship might be spontaneous and individual in the instant but it was thick with the stuff of solidarity, and the fraternity of outlawry could make people equal across the boundaries of national rivalry and institutional racism, “Villains of all Nations,” as the title goes.

And the obdurate, like Fly, could every now and then move the pastors who were sent to thunder hellfire at them rather than the other way around.


As it happened, the “stupid” and “impenitent” pirate [Mather uses these words to describe Fly elsewhere] was able to convince the self-righteous minister of at least one primary cause of piracy. During his execution sermon, Mather made it a point to address the ship captains in the crowd, telling them in no uncertain terms that they must hereafter avoid being “too like the Devil in their Barbarous Usage of the Men that are under them and lay them under Tempations to do Desperate Things.”

After the hanging, William Fly’s body was gibbeted as a warning on Nixes Mate, a barely-there speck of an island at the mouth of Boston Harbor. For Rediker, this date marks the end of the Golden Age of Piracy.

William Fly’s Revenge

When Cotton Mather learned that on June 27, 1726 William Atkinson had sailed into Boston Harbor with the captured pirate, William Fly, he knew there would be a flashy trial, a well-attended execution, and yet another occasion to publish a popular criminal account to further his Puritan religious agenda.

Mather was the minister at the North Church in Boston, and in this position he often prepared criminals on death row for their ultimate judgment by God by lecturing them about the importance of confessing their sins and repenting their crimes. Mather soon discovered that published accounts of his interactions with these criminals were popular with the reading public–especially if they included a detailed description of the crime committed by the criminal–and through these publications he could reach a much wider audience than from the pulpit.

So every execution in Boston became an opportunity for Mather to dramatize the doctrines that informed his sermons and to demonstrate the futility of sin through the example of an ultimate sinner. But in order to make this formula work, he needed the cooperation of the criminal. He spent long hours preaching to the condemned, and he even coached them on how to behave in front of the crowd on execution day. But he was unprepared for the challenge that awaited him when he entered the prison cell to meet the pirate William Fly.

On the Elizabeth

Back on May 27, 1726 at one o’clock in the morning, the boatswain, William Fly, and another sailor, Alexander Mitchel, crept into the cabin of Captain John Green. Fly seized Green’s arms and held them down while Mitchel beat him. The two then dragged Green up to the main deck of the Elizabeth, and when Green realized that the seamen intended to throw him over the side of the ship, he begged, “For the Lord’s Sake, don’t throw me overboard; For if you do, you throw me into Hell immediately.” Clearly, Green believed he had sins to repent.

Fly showed no mercy and told Green that he would be better off using his final words to plead, “Lord, Have Mercy on my Soul,” than trying to convince Fly not to follow through on his plan. Green grabbed a mainsheet and held on to it or dear life, but another sailor picked up the cooper’s broadax and chopped off Green’s hand. The mutineers then threw the captain into the ocean.

Fly and Mitchel now went after the captain’s mate, Thomas Jenkins. With the help of Samuel Cole, they pulled Jenkins up on deck with the intention that he “should go after the Master.” The group tossed Jenkins overboard as well, but not before one of them used the broadax again to cut through the mate’s shoulder. Jenkins cried out from the water to the doctor of the ship, “For the Lord’s Sake, fling me a Rope,” but Fly prevented the doctor from doing so and confined him in irons along with the gunner and the carpenter.

Fly later said that their actions were motivated by revenge for the officers’ “Bad Usage” of the crew. No published account of the mutiny provides any details about how the sailors were mistreated, but the Elizabeth was a slaving ship, and the officers of such ships were notorious for their rough treatment of cargo and crew alike.

After the mutiny, the crew elected Fly captain of the ship. They rechristened it Fames’ Revenge, sewed a skull and crossbones onto a black flag, and redirected the ship from its original course eastward from Jamaica to Guinea and instead headed north.

“Gentlemen of Fortune

pirate ship 2On June 3, the pirates came across a sloop commanded by Captain Fulker anchored off the coast of Cape Hattaras in North Carolina. Fulker assumed that the approaching ship needed directions, so he rowed over to offer his services. To the captain’s surprise, Fly informed him that they were “Gentlemen of Fortune” and that they intended to trade ships with Fulker if it was advantageous for them to do so. But as the pirates tried to sail the new ship out to sea against the countervailing winds, it hit a sand bar, filled with water, and sank. In frustration the pirates attempted to set the stranded ship on fire, but the flames never took, so they imprisoned Fulker and his crew on their own ship and moved on.

The next day the pirates spotted another ship in the distance, and when they finally caught up with it the following day, they raised their black flag and easily captured it after only firing several guns. They seized some sails, clothes, and arms from the ship and let Fulker and his men go. But they kept William Atkinson, who had experience navigating the coast of New England, and made him a pilot by threatening to “blow his Brains out” if he refused. With such a threat hanging over his head, Atkinson pledged his allegiance to the pirate crew.

News of William Fly

Around June 20, Captain Samuel Harris arrived in Philadelphia and reported that five leagues east of Cape May he and his crew were captured by a pirate named William Fly. He said Fly commanded about 23 men, and the ship was carrying rum, sugar, corn, beans, and a large quantity of small arms. The pirates held him and his crew for 24 hours, but then let them go after confiscating all of their clothes and some goods worth a total of 100 pounds. Harris also said that Fly intended to sail to Block Island, RI. When the news hit New York, two ships immediately set sail to try to catch the pirates, but they returned from Block Island empty handed.

Meanwhile, William Atkinson was secretly plotting to strip command of the ship from Fly. It was a bold plan, because someone else had already tried and was now suffering the consequences. Samuel Cole, who had helped with the original mutiny, was being held in irons because Fly suspected him of putting a plan together to challenge his authority. In addition to keeping Cole in chains, Fly also subjected him to 100 lashes every day. Apparently, Fly did not treat his crew any better than Green, the original captain, did.

Fly ordered Atkinson to take the ship to Martha’s Vineyard for water, but Atkinson purposely sailed right by it. Fly was furious when he learned that they had missed their mark, but his anger subsided when they came across a band of fishing schooners. The pirates captured one of the ships, and Atkinson convinced Fly to use it to go after the other ships in the fleet. After Fly transferred most of his crew to the other ship, only three other pirates and 15 prisoners remained on the Elizabeth, and one of the three pirates was in irons.

Once the fishing schooner sailed off with most of the pirate crew, Atkinson called Fly over to take a look at another set of sails that he claimed to have spotted in the distance. As Fly put his eye to the telescope, Atkinson gave a signal to two other prisoners, and the three men seized the pirate and secured him in irons. Now joined by the carpenter, the group easily captured the other two pirates. In less than a month, Fly’s piratical reign came to an end.

On June 27, Atkinson and the four captured pirates landed in Boston Harbor. As a matter of formality, all sixteen people on board the ship were charged with piracy and quickly brought to trial in front of a Special Court of Admiralty. Only the four pirates were found guilty, and each of them received a sentence of death.

Cotton Mather’s First Visit

On July 6, 1726, Cotton Mather, a New England Puritan minister, visited the four pirates in prison for the first time. Upon entering their cell, Mather announced that he was there to show them the path that could lead to the salvation of their souls. The pirates eagerly listened to what he had to say, and as Mather delivered his long-winded speech, admonishing them for their horrid crimes and speaking of God’s mercy, the pirates regularly chimed in with their admissions and approval.

“It is a most hideous Article in the Heap of Guilt lying on you,” Mather proclaimed, “that an Horrible Murder is charged upon you; There is a cry of Blood going up to Heaven against you.”

At this point, Fly could not take any more and broke in, “I can’t charge myself with Murder. I did not strike and wound the Master or Mate! It was Mitchel did it!

The other pirates countered Fly by saying that even if they did not have a direct hand in the murder of the captain and the mate, they assisted in the deed and are therefore guilty.

Mather added, “Fly, I am astonished at your stupidity. I cannot understand you. I am sure, you don’t understand yourself. I shall be better able, another time to reason with you.”

Fly replied, “It is very strange another should know more of me, than I do of myself. There are False Oathes ta-gainst me.

Fly continued to raise objections, but Mather proceeded undaunted with the private sermon. When Mather came to the subject of forgiveness, he turned to Fly and asked, “Are there any in the world, which you don’t wish well to[?]”

Yes;” Fly answered, “There is one Man, that I don’t, and I can’t wish well to! It is a Vain Thing to ly, If I should say, that I forgive that Man, and that I wish him well, I should ly against my Conscience, and add Sin to Sin.” Fly was referring to Atkinson, in whom he had invested his trust after the pilot had taken an oath to join the pirate crew.

Mather tried to convince Fly to let go of his grudge, but to no avail, so he concluded his discussion with the pirates and left.

Cotton Mather’s Second Visit

Mather returned to the prison cell three days later and continued where he had left off: “now, Fly; I hope, you are come to a Better Frame, than what I lately left you in.”

I am where I was, Fly replied.

Not only did Fly continue to wish ill upon Atkinson, but he stood fast in maintaining his innocence in the murder, “I can’t Charge myself, Fly railed, “—I shan’t own myself Guilty of any Murder,—Our Captain and his Mate used us Barbarously. We poor Men can’t have Justice done us. There is nothing said to our Commanders, let them never so much abuse us, and use us like Dogs. But the poor Sailors—-

The back and forth between Mather and Fly became so heated that Cole interrupted, “I desire to be removed out of the Room; I can’t bear to stay and hear, my Guilty Companion, so stand upon his Innocence. He and we are all verily Guilty. And there’s Blood of the Captain yet in the Cabin, crying against me.

At this point, Mather gave up trying to reason with Fly. He ignored the former pirate captain–as well as Cole’s request to leave the room–and ended the meeting with a few more long recitations.

Fly’s resistance to authority went beyond not cooperating with the minister. Mather reported that as Fly sat in prison, the “Sullen and Raging Mood, into which he fell, . . . caused him to break forth into furious Execrations, and Blasphemies too hideous to be mention’d.” He refused to eat and subsisted only on drinking a small amount. He also refused to attend religious services, because “he would not have the Mob to gaze upon him.”

The Execution Scene

Not surprisingly, Mather also failed in his attempt to orchestrate Fly’s exit from the world. As the four pirates were paraded on July 12 through the streets of Boston to the gallows, Fly waved and bowed to the crowd with a nosegay in his hand. When they arrived at the site of execution, Fly jumped up onto the platform with a smile on his face and proceeded to examine the noose that was to hang him. He reprimanded the hangman for his work in tying the knot and readjusted it, using his seaman’s skill in tying rope.

At the last minute, one of the pirates received a reprieve, because he was deemed to be feeble of mind and not responsible for his actions. Cole and the other remaining pirate dutifully played their part in front of the gallows by showing repentance and warning those in the crowd against repeating the sins that they committed.

But when it was Fly’s turn to speak, he used it as an opportunity to warn “Masters of Vessels to carry it well to their Men, lest they should be put upon doing as he had done.” As the other two pirates requested a second and then a third prayer from the attending ministers, Fly “look’d  about him unconcerned.”

Fly may not have followed Mather’s execution script, but Mather exacted his own revenge by using his pen to control the account of Fly’s final minutes on earth. Mather maintained that “in the Midst of all his affected Bravery, a very sensible Trembling attended him; His hands and his Knees were plainly seen to Tremble.—And so we must leave him for the Judgment to come.”

The three pirates were executed at 3 p.m., and their bodies were afterward taken in a small boat out to Nixes Mate, a small island about two leagues from shore at the entrance to Boston Harbor. Two of the pirates were buried there, but Fly was hung in irons, on Nix's Mate Island, over the graves of his confederates; and here his bones shook and rattled in the sea-air for many months, as a grim warning to all mariners.


 •   “1726: William Fly, Unrepentant Pirate.” July 12, 2008.
 •    Boston News-Letter, Thursday, July 14, 1726, issue 1172, p. 2. Database: America’s Historical Newspapers, Readex/Newsbank.
 •    Boston News-Letter, Thursday, July 7, 1726, issue 1171, p. 2. Database: America’s Historical Newspapers, Readex/Newsbank.
 •    American Weekly Mercury, Thursday, July 14, 1726, issue 342, p. 2. Database: America’s Historical Newspapers, Readex/Newsbank.
     Boston News-Letter, Thursday, June 30, 1726, issue 1170, p. 2. Database: America’s Historical Newspapers, Readex/Newsbank.
     Colman, Benjamin. It Is a Fearful Thing. Boston: John Phillips and Thomas Hancock, 1726. Database: America’s Historical Imprints, Readex/Newsbank.
 •   Mather, Cotton. The Vial Poured Out Upon the SEA. Boston: T. Fleet, 1726. Database: America’s Historical Imprints, Readex/Newsbank.
 •  “New York, June 20.” Boston Gazette, Monday, June 27, 1726, issue 343, p. 4. Database: America’s Historical Newspapers, Readex/Newsbank.
 •  “New York, June 27.” American Weekly Mercury, Thursday, June 30, 1726, issue 340, p. 2. Database: America’s Historical Newspapers, Readex/Newsbank.
 •  “Philadelphia, June 23.” American Weekly Mercury, Thursday, June 23, 1726, issue 339, p. 2. Database: America’s Historical Newspapers, Readex/Newsbank.
 •   Rediker, Marcus.
Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age Boston: Beacon Press, 2004.
 •   The Tryals of Sixteen Persons for Piracy. Boston: Joseph Edwards, 1726. Database: America’s Historical Imprints, Readex/Newsbank.
 •   Williams, Daniel E.
Pillars of Salt: An Anthology of Early American Criminal Narratives Madison, WI: Madison House, 1993.
 •  “Puritans and Pirates: A Confrontation between Cotton Mather and William Fly in 1726.” Early American Literature 22:3 (1987), 233-251.

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Sept. 1830
History of Montana 1739 to 1885,
Montana State University Archives

William Fly, the owner of the Central Park Property, was born in Howard County, Missouri September 15, 1830. He is the son of John Fly, a farmer of that state. William acquired an education in the common schools of his native state. In the year 1852 he went to California to seek his fortune in the gold mines, and there labored for five years, accumulating some wealth. He then returned to Missouri, but remained only a short time during which he married Miss Sarepta Gore, the daughter of James Gore, a farmer in Andrew Co., Missouri. Their union was blessed with the birth of three boys. Cary B. born in Kansas, December 14, 1858; John Davis born in Andrews County, Missouri October 12, 1860 John Davis Fly Portrait; James M. born in Missouri April 21, 1863. The first year of his marriage he moved to Kansas and improved a farm, upon which he lived three years. Becoming wearied with farm life he sold his home and went to Colorado and followed the vocation of a miner. In 1865 he returned to Missouri, and while on the road, at Plum Creek, his wife died, in June 1865. Mr Fly came to Montana in 1866 first locating in Deer Lodge county and engaging in mining, which he followed for four years. In 1870 he directed his attention to stock raising, and chose the Gallatin Valley for his range. On the 23rd of May 1872 he Married Susan C. Brooks of Deer Lodge City. In 1882 he bought the Central Park property consisting of a large hotel, toll bridge and 160 (acres) of land. He is now the proprietor of the hotel, and also follows farming and stock raising. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity and is a leader in the Democratic Party.

William and Sarepta Fly lived in Missouri for a while after their marriage. They had three boys born there. Father joined the Confederate Army in the Calvary, he was a prisoner at Sanday Hook. When he returned Mother was sick with consumption. Father took her to Colorado, a daughter was born there, they named her Alice. She only lived a few weeks. After she died Father started back to Missouri. Mother died at a lone Stage Station, a long way from any settlement, and was buried there. I think that was in 1866. Father went on to the Gores and left his three boys with their Gore Grandparents. the next spring he went to California; went back to Missouri; he then came to Montana in 1870. He married to a Mrs. Susan Brooks. There was no children to this union. Father then sent for his boys and he lived the rest of his days in Gallatin Co., Montana. He died in December 1887. I don't remember the exact date. An honest upright man, a brave man, liked everyone. One of the best of the Western Pioneers. He is buried in the Northern part of Gallatin Valley on a hill near what then was his home. John Fly, Thomas Flay and my husband, John Davis Fly are buried there. The dates of their deaths are on their tombstones. I don't know who you could write to get the dates. I will try and get them. If I do I will send them to you.

(Forwarded to James W. Flythe by Russell Czeplewski, Director of Dawson Co., Nebraska Historical Society)

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Great-Grandfather, William Fly
(Given to Bonnee Ballinger from Curtis E. Fly 1997)

Please bear in mind that most of what is written about John Davis Fly and his family was related to me by grandmother, Jennie Curtis Fly Kamp and to a large extent corroborated by the Fly Family Genealogy, compiled by James Whitney Fly of Montgomery, Alabama. James is descended from the Enoch Fly (twin brother to Enos) branch, the same as we are. There is a lot of very interesting information and data in the genealogy book. Almost all of the information given by Grandma Jennie (Jennie Curtis Fly) is confined to John Davis, his two brothers, and his father, William.

The story of William Fly is one of many events, all of them about his quest to make his fortune. He covered a lot of territory in the short fifty-seven years he lived and by the tales Grandma related, did quite well for himself. His demise was accident caused. He was working with horses he was breaking and suffered a rope burn to his hand which aggravated into blood poison (no antibiotics those days). In an effort to get medical attention he was taken or he went to Helena, MT, but the efforts of the doctor were not enough to save his life. He died December 20, 1887 and is buried in a private cemetery northwest of Belgrade, Montana. More on that later in the story.

William Fly was born September 15, 1830, the first born of John Boon Fly and Sara S. Todd in Howard County, Missouri. The earliest date that I have knowledge of him is 1849 when he got 'gold fever' and headed for the California gold fields. This was accomplished by going to New Orleans, traveling by ship to the Ismus of Panama, crossing overland to the Pacific side, and on again to San Francisco by boat and on to the gold fields. He was unsuccessful in his quest for gold, so after a year in California returned overland to Missouri. Another version of his California experience, source from Manhattan Omnibus by Francis L. Niven, 1989 is that he was in California for five years and made some money before returning to Missouri. In 1857 he wed Serepta Gore, sixteen year old daughter of James Gore. To this union four children were born, three boys and one girl, all over a period of eight years. During this period of time William did some farming and sometime during the Civil War joined the Missouri Cavalry and fought in the war on the Confederate side. He came out of the war unscathed, although he fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. He then took up his life as a farmer, either in western Missouri or across the river in Kansas. Life in those times was always some kind of struggle. Serepta had contracted tuberculosis and was seriously ill and in 1865 was also pregnant. Mountains and high altitude were helpful for TB suffers, so William made the decision to move his family to Colorado. A covered wagon was outfitted and would be drawn by four horses; to make the trip as quickly as possible. Not too long into the trip, Serepta became very ill and on June 15, 1865 also died. It is not clear to me if this was a childbirth or from some other cause (TB) of death. I only recall Grandma saying that a baby had died with the mother.

So somewhere out on the prairie, William dug a hole to bury his beloved wife and daughter. A common coffin was fashioned out of a chest of drawers carried in the wagon and the deceased were buried. This was Indian country and they had a reputation of grave robbing, so this grave had to be unnoticeable. After the grave had been filled in, William drove the horses back and forth over the grave until it could not be discerned to be an excavation. This is the way Grandma told the story, but the genealogy account has the two buried in the Plum Creek, Nebraska cemetery. This may be true, but I can't find Plum Creek, Nebraska on any map available to me. The Manhattan Omnibus version doesn't agree with Grandma's, but I'm sticking with Grandma's. She repeated it to me several times.

The immediate next order of business for William was to get his three sons, the youngest, two years, back to Missouri where he could get help in caring for them. And so it was posthaste he high-tailed it back to Andrew County, Missouri. It has been my recollection that Serepta's parents, Mr. and Mrs. James Gore cared for the three boys, but William's sister, Mary C. Fly who married to Noah Gore and may have been the care giver.

gold minerWilliam, being a very active type individual was not long in departing for Montana and the hot Gold Rush in progress. Just how long it took him to file a claim and make a strike, I don't know, but Grandma said he was lucky and found a large amount of gold in Last Chance Gulch, now the main street in Helena, Montana. Apparently he continued to prospect in the Helena, Marysville, Phillipsburg areas and was able to save up a good amount of money, as some of his future business activities would attest. On a date unknown to me he returned to Missouri for the purpose of bringing his three sons to Montana. His return was made on a river boat which were plying the Missouri river to Fort Benton, Montana. I don't know whether the date was before or after he married widow, Susan C. Brooks on May 23, 1872. The boys completed their education in Montana.

I don't know the date William came to the Gallatin Valley, probably 1872, but Grandma was well acquainted with both William and Susan. He was involved in livestock business, mainly horses and cattle and he raised mules too. After the Northern Pacific Railroad came to Montana in 1883, William began buying cattle in the Midwest and shipping them via rail to the state. Well, the large cattle operators who ranged over large areas in Montana, objected to increased competition for the free grass they were getting, and having strong political clout with the Territorial Legislature got a law passed embargoing the importation of livestock via rail. He got around the embargo by shipping the cattle as far as the North Dakota - Montana border where the livestock were unloaded and driven across into the state, and delivered to the buyers. I think one would call him an early day 'order buyer'.

Always the entrepreneur, in 1882 William bought the Central Park Hotel and the toll bridge across the West Gallatin river and operated it until his death on December 20, 1887. The establishment was known as Fly's Hotel and Toll Bridge. Business took a decided drop when the railroad came in 1883 and crossed the river two miles south and the toll bridge had competition. However, William known for his generous hospitality continued to offer comfortable rooms as well as excellent food and spirits. He became well known for staging some gala Saturday night parties, with dancing and sumptuous midnight suppers. In addition to his Central Park operation he continued his cattle, horse and mule trading, shipping horses and mules to Missouri and shipping cattle back. William was always involved with horses, breaking and training them. And this activity led to his death. While working with a horse he suffered a rope burn. It became infected and turned to blood poison. He went to Helena for medical help, but in spite of all the efforts of the doctor could not save him, and on December 20, 1887, age 57, William Fly died.

He had lived an exciting and event filled life. He is buried in The Green-Fly Cemetery. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and was reported to have been active politically as a Democrat.

(Given to Bonnee Ballinger from Curtis E. Fly (1997)

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William Fly Headstone    Green-Fly Cemetery   John Davis Fly Headstone

William Fly 1830 - 1887                              Green-Fly Cemetery                               John Davis Fly 1861 - 1894
Gallatin County, Montana

John Thomas Fly Headstone                 John W. Fly Headstone

John Thomas Fly 1842 - 1885                     John W. Fly 1800 - 1885

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Loretta Sarepta Gore Fly 1841 - 1865

Lorette Sarepta Gore, the daughter of James Gore of Andrew County, Missouri, was born January 6, 1841. In 1857 she married William Fly, a twenty-seven year old native of Howard County, Missouri. Fly went to the California gold mines in 1852 and remained there for five years. Sarepta and William were married upon his return to Missouri. The Flys soon took up farming in Kansas, but after three years there they joined the Colorado gold rush and crossed the Plains to a Rocky Mountain mining town. Sarepta Gore Fly Tombstone

In 1865 the Fly family decided to return to Missouri. By this time William and Sarepta were the parents of three children: Carey B., born December 14, 1858; John Davis, born October 12, 1860; and James M., born April 21, 1863. When the family reached the Plumb Creek area, Sarepta died. According to family tradition, her death was sudden and unexpected, and the exact cause is unknown. The date, as revealed on the gravestone, was June 16, 1865. A local legend says that William returned years later with the headstone to mark his wife's grave, carrying it in a wheelbarrow from Kearney, but like other similar wheelbarrow stories, this one is probably pure myth.

The exact location of the Sarepta Fly grave is unknown. The headstone marking her grave was discovered early this century by children playing in a field on the old Dilworth Ranch, not far from this location. It had been covered by prairie grasses and was found half-buried in an animal burrow.

William Fly settled in Montana, where he again took up mining and later ranching. He remarried in 1872 and became a prominent citizen of the Bozeman area, where he died in December 1887.

The Sarepta Fly headstone was moved to this location (Plum Creek Pioneer Cemetery) in 1930 in preparation for the dedication of the Plum Creek Massacre marker and cemetery. The only actual burial within this cemetery plot, however, is that of a small, unidentified child whose remains were discovered on a farm near Loomis, Nebraska. The re-internment took place in 1963.

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The Handbook Of Texas Online

FLY, GEORGE WASHINGTON LAFAYETTE (1835-1905). George Washington Lafayette Fly, Confederate Army officer and Texas legislator, the youngest of ten children of William and Mary (Mitchell) Fly, was born on June 2, 1835, in Yalobusha County, Mississippi; in 1846 the family moved to Sharon, Madison County. Fly enrolled at the University of Mississippi in 1851 but after one term went to Madison College, where he graduated in 1853. He then traveled to Texas to join his parents, who had settled on Oyster Creek in Brazoria County earlier that year. At the death of his father in1855 he moved with his mother to Big Hill Prairie in Gonzales County. There he became a planter.

Fly was a staunch supporter of states’ rights and a regionally noted orator. He favored the
Breckinridge-Lane ticket in 1860. During the Civil War G. W., as he was called, was a seasoned commander in the Second Texas Infantry and commandant of Galveston.  In 1861 he gathered a small group of volunteers in Gonzales County who elected him their captain. These men were mustered into Confederate service as Company I, Second Texas Infantry, known as the Gonzales Invincibles, and later joined the Wilson Rifles to form a complete infantry company. Though designated the second, this unit was really the first infantry regiment organized in the state. Its colonel was John Creed Moore. With his regiment Fly saw action in the battles of Shiloh in April 1862 and Iuka in September; he was reported killed at Corinth in October. His family mourned at least three weeks before learning that he had been captured, exchanged, and returned to his command.
  George Washington Lafayette Fly Thumb

He was promoted to major before the siege of Vicksburg, where his regiment served. He was again captured upon the surrender of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, and again paroled and exchanged. He was ordered briefly to Demopolis, Alabama, and Enterprise, Mississippi, but in November was told to return to Texas to take command of and reorganize the regiment. With the forces he raised, Fly joined the expeditionary forces under Col. John S. Ford. In August 1864 he was made commandant of the post at Galveston, which he defended until the war’s end. At that time he returned to his family in Gonzales County.

From 1866 to 1870 Fly ran an independent boarding school named Stonewall Institute (after Confederate general Thomas J.”Stonewall” Jackson), about six miles from Gonzales at Big Hill. He also took up the practice of law and was admitted to the Texas bar at Gonzales in February 1871. From 1873 to 1875 he served as president of Gonzales College. He was elected to the Seventeenth Texas Legislature in 1880 but refused to run for reelection despite his popularity. About 1885 he moved with his family to Victoria, where he continued his law practice and was a charter member of the William R. Scurry Camp, United Confederate Veterans. He was also a promoter of the Pan-American Railway Company. Fly long served as a lay member of the West Texas Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. His original law partnership with lieutenant governor Asbury Bascom Davidson and civil appeals judge William Lewis Davidson, known as Fly, Davidson and Davidson, dissolved in 1889, and Fly formed a new partnership with his son-in-law, J. L. Hill

On April 4, 1857, he married Mary Caroline Bell of Madison County, Mississippi; the couple had four sons and one daughter. Fly died at his law office in Victoria on January 27, 1905, and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery at Victoria. A son, Ben W. Fly, was county judge of Victoria County and city attorney of Victoria; another son, William M. Fly of Gonzales, was a state legislator.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. L. Bentley and Thomas Pilgrim, Texas Legal Directory for 1876-77
(Austin: Democratic Statesman Office, 1877).

 Joseph E. Chance, the Second Texas Infantry: From
Shiloh to Vicksburg (Austin: Eakin Press, 1984). Roy Grimes, ed., 300 Years in Victoria County (Victoria,    Texas: Victoria Advocate, 1968; rpt., Austin: Nortex, 1985).

Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Journal of the West Texas Conference, 1905.

Vertical Files, Barker
Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Theora H. Whitaker, comp., Victoria (Victoria, Texas:
Victoria Advocate, 1941).

Dudley Goodall Wooten, ed., A Comprehensive History of Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Scarff, 1898; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1986).

Betty D. Fly and Craig H. Roell

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1839 Story

Jeremiah Fly Settled West of Purdy
Story Recounts Arrival of Tennessee Family in Barry Co., Missouri in 1839

It was in the summer of 1839 that Jeremiah Fly loaded his wagons on the family farm in Tennessee and started a month-long trek with his wife and children to visit a cousin [Asher Pipkin Fly] residing on a farm in Barry County, Missouri in the Corsicana community.   When the family left Tennessee they expected to go on to Texas, but after arriving in Barry County Fly gave up the idea, bought a claim at a point three miles west of what is now Purdy and settled down to rear his family.

The story of their arrival in Barry County is told in a letter written by their granddaughter, the late Mrs. Leucretia Burns, who lived for many years in the Macedonia community northeast of Purdy.  Her son, Orville Burns, now lives in Monett.  The faded old letter is now in the possession of her niece, Mrs. Jewel Johnson of Crane, who kindly loaned it to the Republican.  Mrs. Burns related in the letter how she had heard the story many times from her mother, who was eleven years old at the time the trip was made and who remembered many of the details.  Parts of the letter are as follows:

     "My mother has often told me of incidents occurring on the road.  One thing she seemed to remember vividly was crossing the Mississippi River on ferry boat..... She has often told us of how lonely they were and how her mother would beg her father to take them back home, but he always told her he could never go back but would go to Texas if she wanted to go there, but she had gone far enough."

Jeremiah Fly was 32 years old and his wife, Nancy, whom he had married in March of 1823, was 34 years old, at the time they came to Missouri.

     "When they had been here a year they had seen only one woman, the wife of my grandfather's cousin.  Mother often told how during the first year, her father and older brother (William) worked several miles away from home.  The Indians often came from the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) on hunting trips and would come very near the house.  Her mother would get the children in the house and bar the door long before dark.  The Indians were friendly and never harmed them.  They would sometimes shoot wild turkeys in trees around the house."

     "At that time there was but little timber over much of the country, but everywhere was prairie grass almost as high as a man's head.  No roads-- just paths made by wild animals."
    "The house consisted of one room built of logs, and as they had brought many articles of furniture from their home in Tennessee, there was not room for all in the house, and one wagon was left unpacked for more than a year.  Mother said her mother kept hoping that my grandfather would decide to go back to Tennessee.  After several years, some relatives moved from Tennessee and settled a few miles away and they became better satisfied.  They counted as neighbors anyone living within twenty miles."

      "My grandmother brought from Tennessee two cows, a team of oxen and a team of horses.  He went many miles to buy a few sheep so that they could have wool to spin and weave into cloth to make clothes."

      "I have so often thought how hard it must have been for them to leave their home in a thickly settled part of Tennessee---- leaving many relatives and friends, knowing they would never see them again--- to come to a country such as this was at the time."

     "They were not able to hear from their friends and relatives often as there was no post office nearer than Springfield and each letter cost .25.  You may be sure not many were written.  There were no schools for a good many years so mother's education was finished at the age of eleven years, when she left Tennessee."

     "After a few years when Mother and Uncle William were grown up they attended a camp meeting at Lion Church north of Verona, riding on horseback.  I think that is where she met my father, Elijah Browning.  The Brownings had come to Spring River some time before the Flys came to Barry County."
In 1839 when the Flys came to Barry County, Mt. Pleasant was the county seat.  It was located just west of where the town of Pierce City now stands.  The following year the county seat was moved to McDowell.  There,  of course, was no town of Purdy and the little village of Corsicana where William Fly was later to become one of the leading merchants, would not come into existence until the latter part of the 1840s when the grandfather of Dr. E. L. Blankenship of Cassville started the first store at Corsicana.
Other old timers who settled in the southwest Missouri area about 120 years ago have recalled that sugar and molasses were rarely seen and coffee was not sued, but honey was very plentiful in those days.  The buffalo and elk were not all gone then.  They were commonly seen on the prairies.  Deer, wild turkey, prairie fowl and other small game and fish were in abundance.
one room cabinSettlers lived in one room log houses most of which were about 18 x 20 feet square, with loom, spinning wheel, table, beds and family all in one room.  Matches were unknown.  Fires were kindled with spark caught with flint and steel. Almost every settler carried a flint lock rifle.  Cap lock guns and coal oil lamps were not used in those days, but houses were lighted with tallow candles.  Factory plows with steel wings or iron mold boards were unknown.  The Brashier [sic] and Cary plows, with wooden sticks and wooden mold boards, were the only plows used on the farm for turning sod.  Farms were put in cultivation by turning the sod with from five to seven yoke of steers and corn was planted in the furrow and the sod turned on it for covering.  Corn thus planted usually made a heavy crop without further attention.  Other historical records from Barry County indicated that there were no peaches or apples here until shortly before the Civil War.  Wild grapes and wild plums were abundant and farm stock usually ran at large.  Farms were enclosed with zig-zag ten-foot rail since there were no wire or plank fences.

Wheat was usually sowed in corn and plowed with a shovel plow.  There were no binders, harvesting or threshing machines.  Wheat was harvested with sickle, reap hooks, scythes, cradle, and threshed with flair made of hickory pole.

When the Fly family settled down in 1839, although the letter by Mrs. Burns does not say, it is likely that the trading point and only store close to them was either at Mt. Pleasant near Pierce City or at Sarcoxie.

            --Written about 1957
                        by Emory Melton
                        1665 Presley Drive
                        Cassville, Missouri

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1865 Civil War Story
by Margaret Martin Womble

During what some of my relatives called the “late unpleasantness”, Rev. Jesse did have a close call or at least his brandy did:

This is a true story told to my father by his mother,
Mary Flythe Martin, daughter of Rev. Jesse Flythe.  She was one of the children mentioned in the story who hid out in the woods.  The original home of Rev. Flythe still stands near Northampton High School.  The story took place during the Civil War period.

The Methodist preacher, Jesse Flythe was working in his grist mill at Boon's Mill Pond Boon's Mill marker, which was near the farm he owned.  The Yankees came to Creeksville and caught him while he was at his mill.  After capturing him and burning the mill and the bridge leading to it, they made him run on foot ahead of their horses for about a mile.

Arriving at his home, the Yankees told him there was going to be a battle at Boon's Mill Pond.  He was then ordered out of his house.  He took his wife and six children (Jim, June, Joseph, Jesse Thomas "Simon", Adrian "Ed", and Mary Eliza "Molly") to the woods where he built a brush shelter.  The Yankees took over his house.

Rev. Flythe
had hidden his meat in the kitchen loft.  In a nearby graveyard he hid his brandy under a grave roof.

When Rev. Flythe returned to his home in about a week, he found his molasses, flour, and meal turned out on the floor.  He found that his meat and horses, except for one old nag, had been stolen.  Then, upon his return to the graveyard, he noticed that some of the shingles were not on the grave roofs.  The Yankees had loosened them while dancing on the roofs.   Mr Flythe raised up one particular roof, and upon seeing the brandy still there exclaimed, "Oh yeah, dag-nab-it, you didn't get that!"
(Footprints in Northampton, p. 39)

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Jesse Thomas (Simon) Flythe 1865 - 1921
    Footprints in Northampton Count

Jesse Thomas Flythe (1865-1921) was married to Acree Lassiter of Conway, NC.  To family and friends, for some reason lost to present memory, this man came to be known as “Simon”.

For more than thirty years, Mr. “Simon” Flythe was Superior Court Clerk for Northampton County and, according to articles carried in the Roanoke-Chowan Times at the time of his death, was one of the best known and best beloved citizens of the county.

When quite a young man, Mr. Flythe (a Democrat) was prevailed upon to become a candidate for the office of Superior Court clerk, and though the county was Republican at that time (1891), he was elected and was reelected to succeed himself at every election until the time of his death.

Simon Flythe was a powerful influence in the Methodist Church and devoted much time to its activities.  He was engaged in various private enterprises and possessed the confidence of the public to a remarkable degree.

J. T. (Simon) and Acree Lassiter Flythe had five sons: J. Abner Flythe (deceased); Dr. Allen Flythe (deceased); Arthur P. Flythe (deceased); Julian Thomas Flythe (deceased); and Sutton Flythe, a retired banker in Fieldale, Virginia
(Footprints in Northampton, p. ___)

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Our Heritage Purdy, Mo. 1881 - 1981

There were no trade centers between Cassville and Sarcoxie but there was a populated area in the Joys Creek community in western Barry Co., about five miles southwest of what is now Purdy.

One of the families who settles in the Corsicana (formerly Gadfly) area that later played a prominent role in the Purdy community was the Flys.  Jeremiah Nicholas Fly (born in Tennessee in 1807) and Nancy Oakley Fly (born in Virginia in 1805) were married in 1823 in Tennessee.  Sixteen years later they, together with their children, began a trip to Texas from their Maury Co. home in Tennessee with two wagons, two cows, a team of horses and two oxen.  there were their four children accompanying them:  William Alexander, age 13; Elizabeth Jane, age 11; Baron Dekalb, age 5; and Martin VanBuren, age-1.
They came across the Mississippi by ferry boat and probably followed the trail through Springfield, Missouri, which had flourished as a village since its founding in 1829 ten years earlier.  The stop in Barry County in 1839 was occasioned by a visit with Jeremiah's cousin, Asher Pipkin Fly, who had moved here from Arkansas with his family about 1836. 
Nancy, Jeremiah's wife, often told her family in later years that during their first year in the Corsicana community, she only saw one other woman, Asher's wife.  After stopping here, Jeremiah decided to settle and bought a claim a mile from Asher's house.  He later served two terms as sheriff of Barry County and at one time was member of the County Court.
bildeo cabinThe house Jeremiah erected consisted of one room built of logs.  Indians, who were friendly, still hunted game in this area and Mrs. Fly would frequently bring the children in the cabin and bar the door when a hunting party was sighted.  At that time where was very little timber in the area and prairies grass high enough to almost hide a grown person was everywhere.

Although a post office was not established at Gadfly until 1853, there is some evidence that it served as an earlier trading point - certainly it was on the stage coach route from Sarcoxie to Cassville. There is an interesting story on how the community acquired the name "Gadfly".  Jeremiah Fly had a byword "By-Gad" and used it often.  At a gathering in the community there was considerable discussion about what name would be appropriate for the settlement.  Jeremiah is reputed to have said "By-Gad, let's call it "Fly" and the name "Gadfly" stuck and the settlement in due time became a prosperous village.
The post office at Gadfly was discontinued on Nov.22, 1863, during the Civil War.  On May 9, 1863, a detachment of Missouri State Militia engaged a Confederate force near Gadfly, resulting in the killing of three Confederates, who lost their horses, equipment and two of their negroes.

...this article has Jeremiah moving from Maury Co. Tenn. although records show the marriage certificate in Maury Co., but they were later, in the 1830s, in Carroll Co., Tenn. The town of Corsicana was destroyed by a tornado in 1943.
                                C. W. Michaels  3/15/1985

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ca. 1885

The Flye Records
by David Williamson Fly
David Harper Fly

While Virginia was a colony two brother by the name of Fly (they spelt the name Flye) came from England and settled in the colony.  From those two brothers have descended numerous families of Flyes that are scattered over the Southern states. 

John Fly, a grandson of one of these brothers, married Miss Sarah Jane Trader and settled in Northampton Co., N.C.  The Traders were from Scotland.  About the year 1796 John Fly with his family moved to Middle Tennessee and lived on Mill Creek, Williamson Co.  Here he lived about 12 years then moved to Mary Co. and settled on Leipers Creek.  Here he lived until his death near the age of 90.  He was a local preacher in the M.S. church--- a good and useful man in his days and died full of years with the esteem and high regard of all who knew him.  His wife, the mother of his children, died many years before him. He was married three times.  John and Sarah Jane Fly had two children born in N. C.—Lawrence and William.  Wm Fly (Grandfather) was 2 years old when they moved to Tennessee.  They had 6 children born in Tennessee.  4 sons and 2 daughters.  Their names were: David, Joshua, John, Caleb, Mary and Sarah.  Lawrence the oldest went with his father to Maury Co. and married Miss Mabry during the year (after which he moved to Williamson Co.) where he lived ever since honored by those who know him and became wealthy in a quiet way.  Wm. Fly married Mary Mitchell.  David married Miss Younger.  Joshua married Miss Blackburn. Sarah married Wm Blackburn (her brother).  John married Miss McCracken and Caleb married Miss Hester.  Mary Fly married James Mitchell a double first cousin of her sister-in-law, Mary Mitchell Fly.  Mary Fly (James’ wife) died young, leaving one son, Newton Fly Mitchell, who I think went to Illinois.

Wm Fly (our grandfather), the second son, married Mary Mitchell in 1810, daughter of Andrew Mitchell, all of Maury Co., Tenn.  They were a young couple.  The bridegroom was about 16 years old and the bride 17; but they were both blessed with extraordinary energy and force of character.  Some contemptuous remarks by some of their relatives on their youth and probably success in life aroused their ambition and caused them to put forth all their energy and vim that they might show their skeptical friends that they would succeed. The consequence was that though they met with some breaks in their prosperity, they soon outstripped all their relative and acquaintances in acquiring wealth.

Col. Wm. Fly was a man of extraordinary natural ability.  His early opportunities for an education were very limited, but in mature years few would have known that his early education had been neglected. He was a magistrate in Maury Co., Tennessee for a number of years.  He filled various offices in the Militia of his country.  He was invariably elected when he became a candidate for office.  I well recollect the last time he was a candidate for office in Maury Co.  It was a very spirited campaign and Wm Fly won.  He was a very handsome and commanding looking man and when dressed in his regimentals and mounted on his fiery white horse, his children thought him the most distinguished looking of men.

After William Fly’s marriage he first settled on a tract of land given him by his father-in-law on Turkey creek, Maury co., Tenn.  Here his 3 oldest children, Andrew Tate Mitchell, Sarah Jane and John Dalton were born.  He then moved to Williamson Co. and settled on Leiper’s Creek.  Here his fourth child, David Williamson, was born.  Eighteen months later he moved back to Maury Co. and settled near his father-in-law Andres Mitchell, on Turkey Creek.  In this place Elijah Madden was born.  Mr. Fly sold this place intending to move to the Obion Co. in West Tenn., but afterwards bought James Doty’s place on Beach Creek, another branch of Snow Creek. On this place the town of Benton is now situated.  It is 10 miles north of Columbia, the county Sear [seat] of Maury Co.  While living on this place Sarah Jane Fly died in her 17th year.  She was very pretty with dark auburn hair and fair complexion.

A. T. M. Fly was married to Miss Eliza Jones about 1830.  He afterwards married a Miss Rabb.  While living on Beach Creek, Wm and Mary Fly had four children, Mary Malinda, Sophia Louisiana and Benjamin Franklin (twins), and Elvira Josephine. George Washington LaFayette was the youngest.  Wm Fly owned two plantations in Yellowbusha Co., Miss., after moving from Tenn.  While there Governor Polk (afterwards president) came to the plantation, Frank Fly, then 13 years old, was sent to the other plantation to tell his brother Willie of the arrival.  As he was running along repeating to himself the message “The Governor’s come”, he stumped his tow, fell down and rolled over and forgot his message.  As he came in sight of his brother, he shouted excitedly.  “Oh, brother Will, the Clark’s come.  The Clark’s come.” The County Clerk being the highest official he knew.

The house on this plantation was a large brick structure called “The Castle”. Later Col. Fly sold these two plantations and moved to Madison Co., Miss. to educate his children.  He bought a large plantation two or three miles from Sharon and lived in the town until his youngest daughter graduated when he moved to the plantation.  In 1853 or 1854, he moved with his family and one hundred slaves to Texas, settling on Oyster Creek, Brazoria Co.  The land was very rich but the climate was so malarial, that Col. Fly and thirteen slaves died the first year.  A year later this plantation was sold and Mrs. Fly moved to Big Hill, Gonzales Co., Texas.  At the close of the war three hundred slaves were set free by Mrs. Fly and her children.  She died a year later in 1866.  The energy, intelligence and uprightness of the parents were impressed on the children in a remarkable degree. It is said that in three generations of the Flys there have been 25 and 30 lawyers, two of whom are Supreme Justices of Texas, several other judges, besides ministers and physicians.

It may be of interest to descendants of the family to know how the planters lived in bye-gone days.  One year, on Col. Fly’s plantation three hundred hogs were killed, which meant that 600 hams and 600 shoulders were consumed, for not a pound of meat or anything else was ever sold.  In addition 600 chickens were raised and others were bought from the negroes.  Forty-five cows were milked and all the milk and butter consumed.  It took the milkers from before daylight till nearly noon to attend to the milk.  The ladies of the household instructed the slaves and visited and cared for them in sickness.  Each of the daughters as well as their mother had her own lady’s maid.  The garments of the negroes were cut out and sewn by colored sewing women superintended by their mistress.  Col. Fly’s family consisted of the following members:

Col. Wm Fly married Mary Mitchell in 1810

A. T. M. Fly married Eliza Jones in 1830

A. T. M. Fly married second time Ellen Rabb

Sarah Jane died unmarried

John Dalton married first Martha Irvine Devine

John Dalton married second Julia Stokes

John Dalton married third Nora Compton

David Williamson married Fannie Harper

Elijah Madden married Nancy McKay

Mary Melinda married Rev. Asbury Davidson

Sophie Lou married Rev. W. H. Seat

Benjamin Franklin married first Sarah Robards

Benjamin Franklin married second Mary R. Chambliss

Ella Josephine married Thomas Catchings

George Washington Lafayette married Callie Bell

When Col. Fly left the place on Turkey Creek after making several moves, his father-in-law, Andrew Mitchell was very much worried over his not settling down and remaining in one place.  On hearing of it Col. Fly made the prophecy that in a certain number of years, the exact number has been forgotten, he would be able to buy out all the other relatives and their families, which prophecy was literally true as he proved to be a fine business man.

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E. H. Sooter & G. B. Sooter Cherokee Nation Application Papers

Read Application Papers Here

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June 14, 1901

(1866-1962). Frank M. Fly, Gonzales County sheriff and banker, son of Callie (Bell) and George Washington Lafayette Fly, was born at Big Hill in Gonzales County, Texas, on June 12, 1866. After a brief schooling and a short employment with the Peck and Fly store in Gonzales, he became a deputy under Sheriff Richard M. Glover and later under Capt. W. E. Jones. On June 14, 1901, Sheriff Glover was killed by the notorious Gregorio Cortez, and on June 17 Fly was appointed sheriff.

After a search described as "one of the greatest manhunts ever pulled off in South Texas," Cortez was apprehended near Laredo and returned to the county jail at Gonzales, where he was indicted for murder, tried and found guilty, and sentenced to fifty years in the state penitentiary. After receiving a tip that a lynch mob was forming to take Cortez, Fly locked himself in the jail with the Mexican. At midnight the mob first attempted to pick the lock and then began ramming the door with a telephone pole. Fly saved Cortez's life by confronting the crowd with drawn pistol through a barred window and convincing them that he would defend the prisoner to death; he took Cortez to the railroad station the next day and conducted him safely to San Antonio. Fly was also a personal acquaintance of the notorious John Wesley Hardin during Hardin's attempt to establish a law practice in Gonzales after his release from the penitentiary.

Fly joined the staff of the Gonzales State Bank in 1909 and served as its president during the Great Depression. From 1946 to 1962 he was justice of the peace. He was a member of the Selective Service Board, the Red Cross, the County Fair Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Good Roads Commission, the Gonzales School Board, and other bodies. He described himself as "a Methodist, a Mason, and a Democrat." He married Stella Miller of Waelder in 1908, and they had five children. He died on July 13, 1962, at the age of ninety-six, and was buried in the Gonzales Masonic Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Gonzales Inquirer, September 28, 1961. Houston Post, July 17, 1962. Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

        W. Lamar Fly

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Quintus C. Fly Biographical Sketch

The Napa County Infirmary is one of the primary agencies in California for the betterment of conditions and the uplift of humanity by the alleviation of suffering. This institution represents to Quintus C. Fly the attainment of a life work, for he was elected superintendent in 1889 and continued to act in this capacity until 1909, when he retired.  Into his work he put the heart and brain and practical business ingenuity of a man richly endowed with a love of his fellows.  During his long administration in the infirmary he served with a remarkable fidelity and was regarded as one of the ablest and wisest counselors of state institutional affairs.

Previous to the assumption of his late responsibilities as superintendent of the Napa County Infirmary, Mr. Fly was connected with the pioneer upbuilding of Napa County, to which his family moved in 1851.  he was born in Andrew Co., Mo., Nov. 5, 1841, a son of Boon and Mary Ann (Percival) Fly, the former being a carpenter by trade and a farmer during the greater portion of his life.  The exodus from Missouri in the historic 1849 included the Fly family, who had spent the previous winter in preparation and in the spring turned their back upon a home that had been dear to them, but which failed to offer the chances for which its ambitious member longed.  In the Fall of 1849, at the end of the long ox journey, the father worked at his trade in Santa Rose, Sonoma Co., assisting to build the first hotel in the place, and otherwise utilizing his skill in housing the people and the industries of the rapidly growing community.  Removing to Napa County in 1851, he purchased a tract of land of Thomas O. Larkin and Jacob P. Leese in the southwest part of the county.

Three daughters: Alice Jane, Camelia A., and Mary B. Fly.  Six sons: Leonidas A., Quintus C., Robert P., Flavius Josephus, Camillus S. (deceased) and Webster.

All received a substantial start in life.  Eventually Quintus C. with his brothers bought more land and added to the original property.

Mr. Quintus C. Fly is a staunch Republican and a member of the Red Men.  He married Mrs. Lizzie N. (Clark) Packard, who was born at Freeport, Pa, and has one son, Boon, who is a photographer and artist of much ability.

History of Solano and Napa Counties, California, with Biographical Sketches.
Historic Record Co., Los Angeles, Calif. 1912

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July, 1931

Supplement Number Three, Relative to the First Settlements of Flys in the United States

         As told by James Lawrence Fly of Washington, D.C.  (July 1, 1931) by Clarence W. Michaels

We are indebted to James Lawrence Fly for the following information concerning the earliest settlement of Flys in the United States, told in his own words:

“As early as 1635, John Fly settled in James City County, Virginia.  This is the county containing Jamestown.  There may have been others there.  Before the Revolution they are found in Northampton County, North Carolina, where some of the family resides today.  All the Southern branch of the Fly family---- including partially the Tennessee settlers--- appear to have come from Northampton County, North Carolina, directly or indirectly.  The first emigration from that County to Tennessee was in 1796 when my great-grandfather, John Fly, together with Elisha and Jeremiah and perhaps other relatives, settled in Davidson, Williamson, and Maury Counties.  By 1810, others appear in the records---- and there may have been a second emigration.  Most of the Flys in that territory appear to be descendants of John.  Others must have moved out; and the Gibson County Flys probably originated from these settlers.

The Flys appear to be English, for in publications in
U.S. libraries I find them mentioned in England as early as around 1400.  Most of the records I have seen concern members of the family in Middlesex County.

Three distinct groups came to this country; one settled in
Maine; a second, in Pennsylvania; and a third, in Virginia.  There is a distinct line of cleavage between these groups to this day.”

Now the information that James Lawrence gives has somewhat shaken my conclusion or version of the “Three English Brothers” as having been the first early settlers in this country and as having come direct from England to the state of Tennessee.  However I still believe that all the Flys are blood-related and that they have all originated from the same family in England even if they have migrated to this country at different periods and have settled at places widely separated from one another.  I am yet of the opinion that the three brothers who are said to have settled in Tennessee are the progenitors of all our families of the West and of the Southwest, although these brothers may have come from Virginia or North Carolina.

It appears, then, that all the families of the West and the Southwest are descendants of John Fly of James City County, Virginia.  Descendants of this John Fly seem to have migrated to North Carolina, thence to Madison, Williamson, and Maury Counties, Tennessee.  From these counties in Tennessee they have drifted to Missouri, Mississippi, Texas and California.  This fact, however, does not alter the Three English Brothers version only to the extent that these three brothers are probably descendants of John Fly who settled in James City County, Virginia, as early as 1635, and hence came from that portion of the United States instead of coming direct from England.

James Lawrence Fly [J. L.] explains in a subsequent letter that longJames L. Fly Thumb before the Revolution the three branches of Flys settled in this country.
  The group that settled in Maine has scattered somewhat throughout New England.  The group that settled in Pennsylvania is in Bucks County of that state.  One man, a descendant of this group, is now listed in the New York telephone directory.  His name is Harvey K.  The third and southern group that settled in Virginia and North Carolina had been in this country almost two centuries before their entry into Tennessee.  J. L. conjectures that the three brothers were Elisha, John, and Jeremiah.  These men can be traced in the records of each of these states. It is reported that the John Fly of this connection was the leader of this group.  He was of a very sturdy character and lived to be almost ninety years of age; he was something of a preacher, and at the same time rendered some sort of medical attention to the members of the community.  J. L. states that in 1803 this John Fly deeded some land in Maury County for the establishment at Goshen of the First Methodist Church in that community.  J. L. states that he was in this churchyard recently and visited the grave of John’s wife, who was Sarah Jane Trader of Murfreesboro, North Carolina. He thinks that this John was buried in Williamson County, Tennessee, since there at the home of his son Lawrence is where his death occurred.

J. L. goes on to state that most of the Fly family now living around Maury, Williamson, Davidson and Hickman Counties, Tennessee, are descendants of his great, great-grandfather, John.  John’s brother, Jeremiah, lived in that community and was apparently in close touch with John until after 1820.  Elisha passes out of the records in this community at about the same time.  J. L. believes that a large number of the western Tennessee members of the family are descended from Jeremiah and/or Elisha.

J. L. conjectures that Enoch Fly may have come from Northampton County, North Carolina.  The Boone family have lived in that county since the very early days.  The only connection which J. L. knows between the Boone and the Fly families arises through the marriage of Mary Mitchell to William Fly, son of John.  Mary Mitchell was a cousin to Daniel Boone.  This William Fly was a brother to J. L.’s great-grandfather, John Jr., and none of his children are now alive.

J. L. adds that the Flys in the neighborhood of Dallas are of his own immediate family, but most of the Fly families in Texas are descendants of his great, great-uncle William.  The G. W. L. Fly of Gonzales, Texas, was a son of William and a grandson of John. A large number of Williams’ descendants are also in Mississippi.  The others in that state are descendants from his brothers, David, Caleb, and Joshua.  Doctor T. M. Fly of Little Rock is descended from the Gibson County group.  J. L. states that there is a Joe Taylor and a Harvey K. listed on the New York telephone directory.  Harvey K. is of the Bucks county group, and Joe Taylor is the Tennessee group.  He also speaks of a John Dixon Fly and wife, Sarah, of Nashville.  John Dixon died in about 1814, and later Sarah died and left some property to her youngest son, William D. Fly.

Pages 223-225 of The Fly Family History by Clarence W. Michaels

James Lawrence Fly (1898-1966), campaigned against the practice of wiretapping and other Bill of Rights violations during his years as Federal Communications Commission Chairman (1939-1944) under President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and later, as a practicing attorney and a director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). For 16 years, Fly waged his war in congressional hearings and courts, magazines, newspapers, and network television.  Fly’s greatest single adversary during the struggle was Federal Bureau of Investigation Director, J. Edgar Hoover.

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The Jackson News, Feb. 22, 1935

In Memoriam

In loving memory of our deceased loved one, Mrs. Hattie R. Evans, who passed out of this life on the 22 day of January, 1935.

The writer will endeavor to pen a short letter in memory to her noble and sweet character as a daughter, sister, wife and mother.  Hattie or Pat as she was most generally known by her most intimate loved ones and friends was the daughter of Braxton and Martha Vaughan Flythe and was born Oct 19, 1868 in Severn, N.C.  Her parental home was built on a part of the former estate of her great grandfather, John Fly and a part of a three-hundred-acre grant to John Fly by the English crown.  There has been a little confusion as the proper way of spelling the name but that has been long since settled as John Flythe was a direct descendant of the old Royal Flythe family of France of whom some migrated to England in the 14th century, during a religious persecution in France, hence the French “the" was dropped from the name and many of the direct descendants of John Fly now residing in the middle west retain the English name "Fly", but we want to get back to the life of this noble girl, Pat, who as a girl was a great part of the life and happiness of the home and was not only loved by her parents, sister and brothers, but she was loved by everyone who knew her, even the old colored servants who take off their hats to "Miss Pattie" and laugh at many funny and jolly remarks she always had ready for them. She joined old Providence Methodist Church when quite a girl and gave of her means and her tale. to her church and to her Saviour to the end.  There were six other sisters and two brothers in the happy family: Missouri, Lillie, Eulalia, Clara, Nellie and Blanche, Joseph T. and Rowland B. five of these sisters predeceased her to the grave but her two brothers and one lone sister, Blanche, are left behind to mourn her loss, but dear sister, we feel that you, with the others, have gone to rest and by the help of God we will meet you on the other side where partings and pain are no more.

Hattie was married to William Henry Evans, of Rich Square, N.C. in April, 1896, and to this happy union was born five loving children, two sons and three daughters, Walter J., Mabel, Opal, Blanche and William B.  All are now married.

Hattie lived in her new home just as she had in the home of her childhood, loving, kind and sweet and made every effort as a Christian wife and mother to train and rear her children just as she was reared and they all loved her and greatly mourn their loss.  She has gone dear children but her influence will live with you, and you will cherish it more and more as the years roll by.

Her husband preceded her to the grave on February 18, 1930, and after this she broke up her home and lived among her children, making her home principally with her daughter Opal (Mrs. M.C. Tuck) of Selma N.C.  She went to visit her daughter Mabel (Mrs. Robert Bailey) of Yanceyville N.C. on Sunday December 30 last and in a few days was stricken with a severe cold which developed into pneumonia and though she suffered she bore it all with patience, just as she lived without murmuring or complaining.  She bore her sufferings until God called her up high on the morning of January 22 at 8:35 o'clock, and she quietly passed into his hands perfectly resigned and happy. There were at her bedside when the end came the following children: Walter, Mabel and Blanche and her sister, Blanche (Mrs. J.T. Stanford) of Lake Landing, N.C.  These loved one, I understand, hardly left her bedside night or day for over a week, hoping she would revive and hating to give her up, but dear ones, let us fully realize that God doeth all things well and we can go to her some day.

Her remains were taken from Yancyville to old Pinners Church near her former home, and after a few loving remarks by the pastor in charge, Rec. W. T. Phipps, her body was laid to rest in the presence of many loved ones and friends in the Andrew J. Conner burying ground by the side of her husband, and the many beautiful floral designs which literally covered her resting place was an emblem of her life in which she endeavored to strew the pathway of others with happy smiles, sunshine and flowers.

Written by one who knew her and loved her dearly from childhood.

Rowland B. Flythe
Hilton Village, Virginia.

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May-June 1948

History of the Fly, Flye, or Flythe Family. 

by Roland Braxton Flythe, Bluffton, Ohio

On this the tenth day of May in the year of our Lord Nineteen hundred and forty eight, I do undertake to write a part of the History of the above named Family as it has been old to me from time to time by those who have searched the Records in England and in the United States of America and as given by the family Coat of Arms now in the hands of some of the family in this Country.  Mrs. Blanche Flythe Stanford, sister to the writer and who lives at 617 North Main St. Scotland Neck, North Carolina has the original Coat of Arms (English) giving the History of the family as far back as between the eight and nine hundred A.D.  It says the family was first known of in Sussex England, a family of wealth and great land owners, People of high minds, faithful to their country and their God the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Men of Sports as well as men of War, always faithful to their country, in England and later in America.  The coat of Arms explains how the name was taken from a bird having no talons, never alighting, but always flying, on the alert, full of energy.  Some of the family in Sussex England spelled the name Fly, some Flye and some Flythe, even in the same families brothers spelling name different ways, but it is presumed in this country that the original name was Fly, taken from the bird on the English Coat of Arms.  Some of the family went from Sussex England to France during the Norman Invasion about 1060 A.D. and became people of great wealth and Honor in that Country and also became to be Huguenots which are now Presbyterians as the Presbyterian Church sprang from the French Huguenots after they were driven from France during the great Persecution of the Huguenots under Henry the 2nd, 1547-1549. Some of the family went back to England.

Now the History in the United States of America.  One John Fly, born in England about 1616, came to the Virginia Colony and settled in what was afterwards Newport Parish, Isle of Wight County, Virginia.  He had one son, William Fly, born in same county about 1648 ____ had one son Jeremiah fly, born same County 1671.  Jeremiah had one son, John Fly and three daughters Rachel, Charity and Mary.  John was born in Isle of Wight Co. in 1724.  When a young man he moved from his native County to Southampton County Virginia and from there about 1750 he moved over the State line into Birtee [sic] County North Carolina which is now Northampton County.  He received a Grant of three thousand acres of land from the Lord’s Proprietors of England near the Virginia North Carolina line and built a large Collonial [sic] home of brick brought from England as ballast on ships.  These bricks were carted by Negro Slaves, from the Virginia. Coast.  John Fly was a very prominent wealthy man owning many slaves, but it was said he never allowed one to be treated roughly, he was good to his Negroes.  He died about 1810 and is buried on the old premices in about one hundred yards of where the writer was born and raised. John Fly married Mary Johnson of one of North Carolina’s Prominent families who preceeded [sic] him in death.  She is also buried by his side.  John and Mary Johnson Fly had several sons and daughters, born in the latter half of the 18th Century, Names as follows (am giving no dates as I might not be correct, as the records were lost).  These were born in the old brick house also a stone’s throw of where the writer was born and raised in a large Collonial [sic] home built by the Father of the Writer in the years of 1856 and 57, Now standing almost perfectly sound.  Names of children of John and Mary, (as follows) Elisha, William (or Bill), Amelius [sic], Cornelius, Millie, John Dickson, Anne, Enoch and Enos.  wheel barrowEnoch and John Dickson went to Nashville Tenn. about 1810.  Cornelius was supposed to have gone to West Virginia (later) He may have been killed in the Revolutionary War as he was never heard of any more.  The Descendants of Enoch and John who went to Tenn. Have never put the (the) to the name.  Have always retained the name Fly.  They have descendants in the South, Mid-west and North.  The other sons remained in Northampton Co., N.C. and have many descendants who have spelled the name Flythe since October, 1838 as shown in the Records in the Clerk’s Office in Jackson county Seat of Northampton Co.  Enos Flythe, grandfather of the writer, was born in 1770 or thereabout and his Father John Fly sent him at Oxford University, and after he graduated there he returned to America and his old home and gave his life to farming on the old premices [sic]and teaching school.  His father had built an academy and a Tavern for transient people, at the fork of the road one mile from his house and named the School Bethlehem Academy and called the Cross Roads Tavern Crossing (now called Cross Locks).  Enos Flythe, grandfather of the writer was principal of that school for forty years in succession.  The only school there in that section of Country and the foundations of what is now the Severn, N.C. High School.  Severn is also located on the old Fly grant.  The writer was just a boy 15 years old when Severn was first beginning to build in 1888 & 1889 and his sister Clara Flythe (deceased) was the first school teacher, there as the school was moved from the fork of the road to the little Village of Severn one mile South and the Writer went to school there to his sister two years then to other teachers as she taught elsewhere until God called her up higher as her work was finished here.

Enos Flythe married Sarah Odom of one of Northampton’s most prominent families another family of wealth, the Odom’s (or her father’s estate), left her property and also thirty Negro Slaves, but her husband made her free them because he did not believe in Slavery.  He would not have any of the Slaves from his Father John Fly’s Estate and Enoch & John Dickson Fly carried most of them to Tenn.  Now the children of Enos and Sarah Odom Flythe as follows Solomon born 1800, Etheldred (or Dred as he was called) born 1802, Jacob, born 1804, Mary born 1808, Debora born 1812, Alexander, 1816, Braxton born 1821, Died May 19th, 1882, Rebecca born 1824 Died Oct. 1899, John born 1826, went to Missouri before the Civil War and was teaching school in Missouri before the war and was never heard anything of after the War.  He and Alexander never put the (the) to their names.  They were proud of the old name Fly.  Fanny the youngest of the Children was born about 1830.  Died in Severn N.C. about 1904.

Solomon Flythe moved to Greensville County, Virginia. and raised a fine family some of whom now live in Richmond & Emporia, Virginia. and other parts of the United States Eldred or (Dred) married Alexana Stephenson of Northampton Co., N.C. and finally moved to Portsmouth, Virginia. and was with the Norfolk Navy Yard for several years until he died about 1885 buried in the Cemetery in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Jacob Flythe married his first Cousin Anne Lowe daughter of the great Evangelist Thomas G. Lowe.  They had one child named Anne (also) her mother died and is buried at the old home Cemetery.  Her father Jacob went to Lousianna [sic] before the Civil War and soon died of yellow fever and the Father of the writer Braxton Flythe raised the child and she married a musician in Portsmouth, Virginia. Her father was buried in Lousianna.

Alexander Fly went to Mississippi before the Civil War and was becoming to be very prominent out there, was engaged to be married to a very wealthy young Widow and while riding his horse one morning over her plantation, he was ambushed, shot off of his horse and killed Supposed to be by a Rival in love, but no one say it and it could not be proven.  The father of the writer of this Record went out there to see about it, but nothing could be done.  It was said that Alexander was one of the finest handsomest men ever raised in Northampton Co.  He was highly educated and wrote a beautiful hand.

Debora Flythe married Robert Smith born and raised in Illinoise [sic].  They had four children  Robert, Jr., John, Damsel, and Joseph.  Their Father was a gun smith made guns for the Confederate Army during the Civil War near Murphreesboro, N.C.  He was captured by the Federal Army and died in a Northern Prison Camp and the Father of the Writer took the little children after the War and helped their mother raise and educate them.  They all married well and did well in life.  Their Mother lived to old and died in Sussex County, Virginia.

Rebecca Flythe married Silas Edwards of Northampton Co. Great Uncle of the Writer.  She was his 2nd. Wife and made a sweet step mother to his children and grandchildren.  They lived at the Cross Roads one mile from the old house.  She died suddenly with heart trouble at age 75 in the old home of the Writer in Oct. 1899.

Fanny Flythe married Samuel Pruden of Northampton Co and in their latter years they lived in Severn, N.C.  They lived to a ripe old age and died soon after 1900 and are buried in the Cemetery there.

Mary Flythe married in her early years and lived and died in Virginia.

Now we come to the family of Braxton and Martha Vaughan Flythe.  Braxton Flythe married Martha Elizabeth Vaughan daughter of the late John Vaughan of Northampton County.  It was said of him that he was one of the best Christian men in the Co. and that he prayers it seemed could almost lift the roof of old Robert’s Chappel Baptist Church of which he was a life long member.  He was also of one North Carolina’s best families.  Was born and raised near Murfreesboro, Hertford Co., N.C.  He married Sallie Edwards also of Northampton County.  She was Neice [sic] of the late Robert Edwards, who came over from England with two other brothers pryor [sic] to 1776.  Robert was leased 66 & 2/3 acres of land by the English Crown in the year 1776 for (99) ninety nine years.  This lease which now lies in the heart of New York City, N.Y. was to go to Edwards heirs or kin, in America after the lease of (99) years ran out. Robert Edwards decided to return to England so he leased this 66 & 2/3 acres to rural churchAaron Burr.  Burr kept it 30 years and released it to the Trinity Church Conforation [sic] for the remaining time of the lease which ran out in 1875.  Old Trinity Church and Trinity Cemetery are built on this land and apart of greater New York.  They advertised it for the Heirs right after the lease ran out and the Mother of the Writer with some of the other Heirs sent Judge R.B. Peoples (of late) of Northampton co., N.C. to New York to look in to the matter.  He returned saying the property was theirs but he did not have sufficient evidence to close a deal, but he confessed on his death bed that he was bought off.  Many others in later years have been there but with no results.  Something will show up that they were also bought off.  Robert Edwards could not read write his name so his mark (X) is in the Original Document and his mark is also on Papers in Windsor Clerks Office County seat of Birtee [sic] Co., N.C. where he bought and sold Real Estate before he went back to England and died a single man Never married.  The Edwards were of a Royal Fam. of England and the old heads in this Country were fine well educated People.  I am just writing this that in case this thing may ever be lawfully settled my children may be on the alert.  It may be settled by the Government some day as no one on this 66 & 2/3 acres have ever had any clear titles or deeds Nothing by Leases.

Now back to Braxton and Martha Elizabeth Vaughan Flythe.  They were married in the year 1855 and built their house in a stones throw of the old settlement of John Fly his grandfather.  The house was built in 1856 and 57.  Braxton Flythe was a fine and prosperous farmer and in this house they raised nine children, as follows.  Their first child, a little boy named Alexander, died at six months old.  The next was Missouri Elizabeth, 3rd. Lillie Mae, 4th Eulalia Frances 5th Joseph Thomas, 6th Hattie R. (called Pat), 7th Clara Mabel, 8th Nellie Debora, 9th Rowland Braxton, 10th Addie Blanche.  Dates of births as follows.  Can not give Months and days as the Records in a small bible were lost.  1st. 1857,  2nd. 1858,  3rd. 1860,  4th. 1862,  5th. 1864,  6th. 1866,  7th. 1868,  8th. 1870,  9th. Dec. 15,1873,  10th. 1877.

Braxton Flythe was born 1821 and died May 19, 1882.  Martha Vaughan Flythe was born 1841.  Died Oct. 30, 1902.

Missouri E. Flythe attended the old Methodist College in Murphreesboro, N.C. and when she finished school, she taught at the fork of the road in a one room school which had taken the place of the old Bethlehem Academy which had been destroyed by fire years before.  After her Father died she married Wiley P. Sykes, a wealthy farmer and Merchant of the firm of Stephenson and Sykes at Pendleton, N.C.  He preceeded [sic]her in death just a few years then she died in the fall of 1916.  They had no children, but she made a good step mother to his five children by a former wife.

Lillie Mae Flythe attended the old Chowan Baptist College at Murfreesboro, N.C. when Dr. McDowel was President and after she finished School she married Millard Filmore Harris of Southampton Co., Virginia.  He was finely educated and when the Seaboard Air Line Railway, built the Branch Road from Boykins, Virginia. to Lewiston, N.C. in 1887 and 8 the Co. employed him as Bookkeeper and pay Master with Offices in Boykin and he gave them such good service that the company moved him to their Raleigh, N.C. Offices and he soon became to be Superintendent of the Southern Division of the road from Portsmouth, Virginia. to Miama, Florida.  He and his wife Lillie raised three children Eugenia who graduated at St. Mary’s College in Raleigh and after teaching for a while she married Edward Goodrich Couch a native of New York City, N.Y., but they have made their home in North and South Carolina 2nd. Child Fred who grew up with his Father in Office where he was not in college and came to be General Passenger Transportation Agent for the Seaboard Air Line with Offices in Portsmouth and Norfolk.  Fred was small of stature, like his Uncle, the writer of this family tree, but he was a fine little man.  He died in Norfolk, Virginia. not long before I came to Ohio in 1939, but I received the telegram too late to get to his funeral or burial.  He is buried in the Cemeterry [sic] at Boykins, Virginia., by his sister mother and father.  He was only around 53 years old.  3rd. child Charles Scott Harris Graduated at Wake Forest College, Wake Forest N.C. and finally settled down in to the Life Insurance Business, which he has successfully followed all of his life in Raleigh, N.C.

Eulalia Flythe married Rowland Hill of Murfreesboro, N.C. and he managed the old farm at home for twelve years until he died Suddenly on Jan. 20, 1900 and his wife died suddenly two years later in June.  They had three children, Rowland Braxton, Hellen Virgie, and Pearly Lyman.  These children were small when their Father and Mother died.  The writer went home from Norfolk, Virginia. where he was working and took charge of the plantation and these little children were dear to him.  They grew up there until after their Grand Mother died.  Then they went to school and married all but the youngest Pearl Lyman.  She has been a graduated trained nurse for several years in a Hospital in Ashville, N.C.  Rowland Braxton graduated in Law at the Duke University, and then gave his life to Banking, for several years, came to be President of the Virginia Bankers Association, and headed the Legal Affairs of the National Bank of Suffolk, Virginia. until he retired from Banking few years ago.  Raised a fine family of children who have married and doing well.

Helen Virgie Hill married quite young and she and her husband Jarvis Maddry own one hundred and seventy five acres of the old John Fly Grant and have raised a large family of fine girls and boys & educated them in College and they are all doing well.  The youngest one is just graduating from High School in Severn, N.C. and expected to enter Greensboro, N.C Woman’s Methodist College next fall.

Joseph Thomas Flythe, finished school when he was a young man and finally left home and went with the Chesapeake and Ohio Rail Road, as Telegraph Opperator at Buenavista Virginia. and worked as Relief Opperator [sic] for a few years. Then he left the C. and O. and his brother in law Millard Harris of Raleigh gave him a position as Agent with the Seaboard Air Line at Laurel Hill, N.C.  This position he held for about fifty years until he retired in old age.  Soon after he settle there he married Eva Morrison of that town and they lived happily together until he died Oct. 1, 1942.  They had three children, William (Henry) Flythe who graduated at Davidson College, N.C. then took a course in Chappel Hill University, then went to Vanderbilt University and from there he interned for two years as Surgical and Medical Dr. in a large Hospital in Collumbus [sic] Ohio, and there he met his future Wife (to be) Dorris Fenner a graduated trained Nurse raised at Plymouth, Ohio.  They settled down at Norwood, N.C. for a while until he was called over seas to north west Africa, and then in a large Hospital in Iran until the War closed.  They now live in High Point, N.C. and he is practicing in a large Hospital in that city.

Elizabeth Flythe has never married and lives with her widowed mother at Laurel Hill.  She graduated at Carolina College, Maxton, N.C.

Blanche Flythe graduated at the State Normal St Greensboro, N.C. afterwards married James Lutar (?) of Western N.C.  He graduated in Law School but has given his life to teaching so far. I am not giving any dates as I might not be correct.

Now Hattie R. Flythe daughter of Braxton and Martha Vaughan Flythe married William Henry Evans of Rich Square, N.C. and to them were born five children Walter J., Mabel, Opal, Blanche and William.  All living except Opal who died after her second marriage to a Mr. Tuck Rail Road Agent at Selma, N.C.  She died leaving two little Boys and one little Girl.  Blanche Evans married Lou Lassiter of Auslander, N.C.  They have one daughter, Lou, who graduated at Greensville College at Greenville, N.C.  She now lives with her parents and she does beautiful painting quite an artist.  William Evans married a Miss Harrell of near Rich Square N.C. and they have one son.  William works with a Road or Highway Construction Co. and lives in Rich Square, N.C.  Mabel Evans married Robert Bailey of Reidsville, N.C.  They live in Greensboro, N.C. and have a large family of fine children.  Walter J. Evans married Laura Barham of Isle of Wight County, Virginia.  They live at and own the farm on with they were all raised near Rich Square, N.C.  They have one little son David Arnold.

Clara Mabel Flythe, daughter of Braxton and Martha Vaughan Flythe never married but after she finished school, she taught schools in different places in Northampton County.  The first two years of work was the first teacher of the Severn, N.C. School which was built as a continuance of the old Bethlehem Academy built by her great Grand Father John Fly.  She died almost suddenly from a congestive chill at age 28 in Oct. 1889. At that time she had been making plans to go back to College and take a Missionary Course as she said God had called her to that field, but God took her for her work was finished and she passed our of this life in to life Eternal singing praises to God as she passed away.

Nellie Debora Flythe never married but gave most of her life to the study of God’s word and to her Church and Sunday School.  Was a great reader and could sing beautifully.  She never had very good health but always carried a smile and a happy word of  cheer for every one, both colored and White and the old family Servants, all loved her, and she loved them.  She quietly passed out of this life in April 1901 at age 28.  The arms of the writer were around her as she looked up with a smile and passed away right after we all, together, with one of the family servants, had promised to meet her in Heaven.

Now we come to Rowland Braxton Flythe who grew up on the farm and worked, hunted and fished when he was not in school until he was 21 years old then he left home to Clerk and keep books for one of Northampton’s largest Merchants, Capt. West U. Stephenson, for a while then to clerk for the firm of Weaver & Lassiter in Rich Square, N.C. and from there to work for Mr. D. M. Cherry of Portsmouth, Virginia. all of the while making plans to go to Randolph Macon College at Ashland, Virginia. and take a course in the Ministry, but he has had to go home when Rowland Hill died suddenly, Jan. 20, 1900 and take charge of his mother’s large plantation.  So that changed his plans as he decided to look after his old widowed Mother to whom he was devoted No sweeter Christian Mother ever lived and he was right over her when she drew her last breath wishing he could call her back but God took her out of her pain to a more Glorious World.  Rowland Braxton Flythe was married to Virginia Mae Joyner, Daughter of William J. and Carrie Heart Joyner of Rehoboth, Northampton Co., N.C. on Dec. 31, 1901 in the Baptist Church in Boykins, Virginia. as she was then a young milliner in that town running a nice business of her own.  Then he took her over to Severn, N.C. so he could continue running the farm and opened up another Millinery store and ran the two stores under management by employing young Milliners from Armstrong Cater & Co.  Whole sale Milliners of Baltimore, MD.  After his Mother died he worked or looked after the farm a few years until he settled the Estate as he was left Executor in her Will (with his sister Blanche).  After the estate was settled and she was married he sold his share of the estate and bought a nice farm and home near Rich Square, N.C. and farmed and went in to the Mercantile business with the late John Bauham as the firm of Baugham and Flythe doing a beautiful department store Business until 1912 at which time or a little before he finally sold out his business and farm and moved to Virginia and finally went in to the Life Insurance business and followed it until his children were grown and getting married.  To Rowland B. and Mae Joyner Flythe, were born the following children:  Russell Seth Flythe, born in Severn, N.C. Sept. 18, 1902, Roland Dennis Flythe born Feby. 9, 1904, Carrie Louisa Flythe, born Nov. 12, 1905.  Those three were born in Severn, N.C.  Nellie Marie Flythe, born near Rich Square, June 6, 1907. Alexander Braxton Flythe, born Aug. 5, 1909.  Virginia Blanche Flythe born Sept. 29, 1910.  Died at age 16 after having been an invalid from Infantile Paralisis [sic] from 18 months old. Fannie Joyner Flythe, born Feby.  20, 1912.

After they finished school in Hampton Virginia. and Winston Salem, N.C. Russell married Margaret Barham, daughter of Compton and Sarah Bowman Barham of Isle of Wight Co., Virginia. to them were born five children Elwood D., Iris, Barbara Ann, Compton and Sarah Margaret.

Roland Dennis Flythe married Ruth Ellen Ashburn, daughter of Sandy and _________Ashburn of Winston Salem, N.C.  To them was born one child Betty Lou who after graduation from Madison College, Harrisonburg, Virginia. began teaching in the City schools of Portsmouth, Virginia. and soon married Ray Hallowell of that City.  Carrie Louisa Flythe married Guilbert Guilette, Jr. of Hampton, Virginia. and to them were born four 4 children Guilbert, Frances Leigh, Virginia Dare and Dora Marie.  All graduated from High School and married living in Hampton and Newport News, Virginia.  Nellie Marie Flythe graduated from the R.J. Reynolds High School at Winston Salem, N.C. and married Julian Lane Hubbard of the City and he was for several years Manager of the Kroger Produce Store there Now they live in Norfolk Virginia. and he is Manager of on of the large Big Star or Collonial [sic] Stores of that City.  They have two children, Virginia Mae and J.L. Jr. Virginia is a graduate of the City High School of Kinston, N.C.  Now has a good position in the Offices Collonial [sic] Bldg, Norfolk Virginia.  J. Lane Jr. is still in High School in Norfolk.  Alexander Braxton Flythe married Ida Lee Mansfield of Hampton, Virginia. and unto them are born one son Harry Braxton, Patricia and Nancy Lee, all in school in Hampton.  Russell S., Roland C. and Alexander B. are all ship builders with the Newport News Ship Bldg. and Dry Dock Co.  Have been with the yard many years.

Fannie Joyner Flythe married Oscar J. Weinger of Bluffton Ohio.  They have two children. Dorothy Mae and Edgar Eugene Dorothy graduated from the Bluffton High Scholl and married last November to Franklin W. Steiner of Bluffton.  Edgar is still in High School.

Now Addie Blanche Flythe, daughter of Braxton and Martha Vaughan Flythe.  She finished school at about 18.  Then taught for two or three terms in Northampton Co., NC. and, after her mother died, she married the late Rev. James T. Stanford of the N.C. Methodist Conference during Christmas week of 1905.  To them was born one child Nellie Blanche who graduated from Greenville College, Greenville, N.C. after which she taught for several terms.  Her Father was Super-annuated [sic] from the Conference about six years ago and they bought a house and settled in Scotland Neck, N.C.  He died in Oct. 1907 and is buried in the old Flythe Cemetery neat Severn N.C.  Nellie Blanche was married Dec. 27, 1947 to Phillip Hodges Pittman of Scotland Neck.  There are two other adopted children now with her Mother, sons of a niece who died and left them.  Little boys William (or Billie Picket) and W. Henry Tuck.  William is in College, N.C. University and W. Henry is in High School in Scotland Neck.

That takes in all of the Enos and Braxton Flythe family.


Amelius and William (Billy) Fly.  Sons of John Fly never left Northampton County. Amelius settled near Jackson, the county seat and has many descendants in Northampton Co. and in other states.

William Fly settled near the old Tavern Crossing and had only one child, Augustus A. Fly, who graduated at Chappel Hill University, N.C. and his portrait hangs in the hall of Fame in that Institution.  He was first?? to add the (the) to his name.  He came to be an Episcopal Preacher and also School teacher in Newbern, N.C. for many years and he is buried in the Episcopal Cemetery in that City with a white Marble Cross at his head.

This finishes all I can write.  All written for the benefit of my beloved children and I hope they live to keep up the record of their old ancestors of whom I am the least.  

Finished by my hand this the 13th day of May 1948, 
Rowland Braxton Flythe

June 7, 1948

This is an addition of something left out of the History of the Early Fly family in this Country.  Thomas G. Lowe spoken of as the great Evangelist on page 9 was the son and only child of George Lowe of Birtee [sic] Co.,N.C. who married Rachel Fly Sister of John Fly.  As said before they were born in Newport Parish Isle of Wight Co., Virginia. Thomas G. Lowe being their only child grew up in Birtee County, NC. and became to be a great Preacher and Married his first cousin Ann Fly.  Only daughter of John Fly.  Lowe became to be one of Americas great and most Eloquent Evangelist, but he requested of his people not to let his life or works be written as he did not believe in notoriety.  He preached and had great Revivals in North Carolina and finally moved to the little city of Baltimore Maryland and he was such an oritor [sic] he was offered Trinity Church of New York City, N.Y. at a salary of $10,000 per year, but he refused it saying he could accomplish more good among the poor and Humble of the little Town of Baltimore.  The Fly family kept no record of his great life and works and lost sight of such a great man, but his daughter and only child named Ann who married her first cousin the Uncle of the Writer, Jacob Flythe lies buried in the old John Fly Cemetery at the old house and the Writer of this fam. History visits her grave every time he goes to the old cemetery.  I heard of Judge Winston (late) of N.Car. that he just could remember Thomas G. Lowe and it was a shame his life’s History was not written also the North Carolina Methodist Christian Advocate advertised a few years ago for some one who knew of this great man, to write it for the Advocate, but I never replyed to it as it was his desire and request that his life be not written.  I do not suppose Thomas G. Lowe ever went to College, but he was a man born of the Spirit of God filled with wisdom from Above.  Would to God we had more such men in this day of sin and crime truly born of the Water (or word) and the Holy Spirit May God add His Blessing to what I have written for my children.  Rowland Braxton Flythe

P.S. I failed to give the dates of births and deaths of my late wife Virginia Mae (Joyner) Flythe.  She was born March 16th, 1873 Northampton Co., N.C. died July 30, 1926 Burried in East Hampton Cemetery, Hampton, Virginia.

(It is finished)  

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History of the Capps Family

Pages 70-80 of The Fly Family History by Clarence W. Michaels from Bessie L. Capps

This brief history of the Capps family is included as it involves two of John Richard Fly's sisters, Lucy Fly who married William W. Capps and Anna Fly who married Henry Capps.
This information was from Bessie L. Capps (Hawkins), 300 E. Roosevelt, Salem, Missouri.

A family of Capps emigrated from North Carolina to Tennessee, establishing a home near Nashville. The year is uncertain but it was not very long after the Revolutionary War.
The father and mother of this family are buried near Nashville. The following members of the family came to Weakley County on the Obion River: three sons, William W., Henry and John R., and three daughters, Polly, Sarah and Ophelia.

Polly married Lemuel Stout, Sarah married a Robertson, Ophelia was never married, and Henry married an Indian girl. I have no information on John R.'s marriage but am informed he has ants in Tennessee. William W. also married a Cherokee Indian by the name of Lucy Fly (a sister to Henry's wife). They were daughters of Elisha Fly who sold his land to William W. Capps. His deeds, still in the possession of the family are signed by an X then by witnesses. It is from William's family I am descended. But as much so from Polly Capps Stout. I do not have as much information concerning the Stout family.

The William Capps and Lemuel Stout homes were not far apart. My grandmother, Mary Ann Stout, was the daughter of Lemuel and Polly Capps Stout; my grandfather was the son of William W. and Lucy Fly Capps, making my grandparents first cousins. There was a saying that if you married at all in that part of Tennessee you must marry a relative, as no one else lived there.

I am sure there were more children in the Lemuel Stout family than I have knowledge of because of the fact that there are descendants by the name of Stout still living in the vicinity of Flytown, Tennessee.
One sister of my grandmother, Emily Connell Warden, I remember she died near Salem, Missouri and a nephew William L. Capps brought her body to Anutt to rest beside a daughter, Tennessee Headrick, who had died many years before.

Then there was a brother, Henry Stout, whose home was in the Round Pond neighborhood. He was first married to a Mitchell;
after her death he was married to a Callahan. Charley Stout was the only son in this family. He has been in the home of my father quite often and visited my father in my own home after Father lived with us.

The family home of William Capps consisted of a tract of 1400 acres of land on the Obion River near Trezevant and Christmasville, their mailing address being Trezevant. To prove that Christmasville is a real place, here is inserted an article recently printed in a daily publication: There are stories about how the village got its name, but nobody seems to know for sure. Alton Elinor who has lived here all his life said he had heard the old people tell this story: The first settlers came down the south fork of the Obion River near here. They were from North Carolina and Virginia and landed about three miles from here during the Christmas season. The story goes that they staged a big celebration with fiddling and dancing, eating and drinking. During the hoedown somebody said if they were going to live here, the place ought to have a name. Several others spoke up and said they'd just call it Christmasville.

There was a time, according to local tradition, when the Christmas celebration around these parts was quite an event. Elinor said he'd heard the story of how the men folks on Christmas Eve would build a big rail pen. Then they'd all get inside and put on a free-for-all fist and skull fight.

As mentioned before, part of this acreage was acquired by purchase from Elisha Fly, a Cherokee Indian, and part was entered or homesteaded.

William Capps owned many slaves. A number were sold when his personal property was sold in 1851. It took two days to auction off the personal property owned by William Capps.

There are some things from the William Capps home still in existence. One is Lucy Fly Capps' Bible. My brother, Alphus Capps, has this in his possession. The spinning wheel, a coverlet and a small table are the property of J.D. Belew, who is a great grandson of William and Lucy Capps.

These are the names, births and deaths of William Capps' fami
ly. Some I have not been able to ascertain the date of death.

William W. Capps — Born Feb. 14, 1796, died Jan. 6, 1851.
Lucy Fly Capps — Born Feb. 23, 1803, died Jan. 14, 1849. They were married in 1815.
Henry Washington Capps — Born Oct. 23, 1816, died Aug. 1861 as the result of wounds. received in the battle at Wilson Cr. during the Civil War; he was married to a Grooms.
James Nicholas Capps — Born Dec. 21, 1818, died Mar. 23, 1853 in Tennessee.
Polly Penny Capps — Born March 31, 1821, died Oct. 1851; she was married to an Earls.

Elisha Fly Capps — Born April 13, 1824, died June 12, 1891 is buried in the Anutt Cemetery, Missouri.
Francis Rodolphus Capps — Born Feb. 20, 1827, died Feb. 19, 1897. Buried Lake Springs Cemetery. He married Nellie Capps.
John Rogers Capps — Born July 23, 1831, died Aug. 1900.
Pleasant Robertson Capps — Born Oct. 16, 1833, died Dec. 9,
1910 while in route from Oklahoma to Tennessee. Buried in Ark.
Elender Prier Capps — Born Feb. 17, 1836. No other information.
William Alexander Capps — Born Jan. 7, 1838, died 1893 or 1894. Buried in the old Capps cemetery in Tennessee.
Sarah Ann Harrison Capps — Born Aug. 27, 1841. No other information.
Cicero Lafayette Adrian Capps — Born June 13, 1844, died Feb. 1897.


Lucy Fly Capps and the slave women were busily engaged in weaving cloth for the plantation needs when on Feb. 22 or 23, 1849, she was seized with labor pains for birthing of her 12th and last child. Her eldest son was 33 years of age; she was 46. She never returned to her unfinished task at her loom as neither she nor the child survived.

William W. Capps had been on an errand to Christmasville or perhaps Pillowville on Jan. 6, 1851, to buy cloth for a slave baby's dress when on his return his horse was frightened, throwing him and killing him.

The last will of William W. Capps is on record in Dresden, Tennessee, county seat of Weakley County. He willed first his soul to God who gave it, and his body to the earth from which it was taken, to be placed wherever his children thought best. An acreage of land was given each son; a horse, saddle and bridle to each daughter.

A number of the sons immigrated to Missouri, some later returned to Tennessee. Henry Washington Capps, the eldest, settled on a farm in the southern edge of Phelps County, one mile north of what is now Lecoma. He was injured in a battle near Springfield, Missouri during the Civil War. His brother, Pleasanton, was detailed to care for him, but in a few days he succumbed.

Another Adolphus and family entered a farm about one mile east of Henry Capps’ farm. Good springs of water are located on each of these farms. It has been a delightful experience of mine to pack a lunch or carry with me the makings to cook it beside the spring branch on the Dolph Capps farm and to eat it as I mused, did the Capps of long ago walk just here? What were their thoughts, hopes, aspirations? Then to walk around the old yard still outlined
by giant cedars to find flowers like I've never seen elsewhere.

It has been my privilege to be at this place with a descendant of John R. Capps and a son of Pleasanton. We drank from the springs, explored the canyons and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

There is a story that one of the slaves from the William Capps estate lived, died and is buried on the Dolph Capps place. As I've walked around I've wondered is it just here or here? No one knows. However, there was heartache and sorrow in this home. The mother and father did not agree on many issues and finally the mother (she was the daughter of the first Henry Capps mentioned in this history) took her two children, all that was left of a family of nine, and returned to Tennessee.

Dolphus Capps lived out his life on this farm. He died Feb. 19, 1897 and was buried at Lake Springs beside his seven babies. He was hauled to the cemetery by his two nephews, William L. and Granville Capps.

Pleasanton Capps moved to Oklahoma. He raised his family there. He was sick and decided to return to Tennessee, but did not finish his trip. He died and was buried in Arkansas.
In 1855 Elisha Fly Capps with his wife Mary Ann, his three small daughters and a year old son started on their journey from Tennessee to Missouri. The journey took six weeks. These are my grandparents. Grandmother, who was a woman of courage and strong will, mounted a gray mare with her son on her lap, and day after day as they traveled toward their destination she rode on.

A few years later, during the Civil War, this mare was taken by the Union men. She complained to an officer who came by later. He asked, would she come home if loosed. Her reply was yes. The next morning the mare was at home. She always believed the officer loosed her.

They settled on a farm about two miles west of Lecoma near a large spring. Here in May 1856 the fourth daughter was born. From there they moved to a farm one mile south of Lecoma. Here the second son, my dad, Henry Granville Capps, was born on Dec. 15, 1857. When he was one month old they moved to Texas County on Ashley Creek, or perhaps this farm might lie in the corner of Dent County. At least it was in that region where Dent and Texas Counties unite. It was there they lived during the Civil War. Many stories have I heard my father tell about their hardships during this time. If I do not set down these things they will be lost forever, and I'm just hoping that as younger ones read them they will gain some lessons of fortitude from them.

Grandmother had all her provisions for winter as molasses, preserves, corn for bread and animals, but saw them all carried away by soldiers, some dumped out. I could always (with my mind’s eye) see the big stone jar broken and the preserves dumped out beside a big stump not far from the house.

The corn cribs, made of logs, were unroofed. The corn was shoveled into wagons, commandeered from neighbors. As the corn lowered the logs were thrown off so there was no effort to shovel the corn. At the end, no corn, no cribs. One neighbor who was forced to use his team and wagon, sat glumly on the rail fence with his back to the house.

I believe this to be the same time when the gray mare along with other stock was taken but only she returned. Did Mary Ann Capps give up? Indeed not! Again she mounted that gray mare, riding over the hills to people more fortunate in escaping these raids. She solicited spinning, weaving, knitting, or any kind of work she could do at home. In return for this work she was paid with food for her family. She was accompanied on these trips by her small son Granville, who rode behind her. When she returned home with work she and the eldest daughter Alice, worked late into the night to turn out the work.

When spring came again, no team, no man to make the corn crop (Grandfather in the Army), but with the resourcefulness natural to her, she took her children to the field where corn had been raised the previous year had them pull out the corn stubs and plant the corn in these holes. Then it was tended with hoes.

The Capps farm was about three miles from Montauk; I believe it was called Thornton Mill. There was a water mill located there. The eldest boy, then a lad of about eight years, was put on a horse with a measure of corn to take to the mill to be ground into meal. Several daylight hours elapsed; night came but no boy. Grandmother Capps grew restless with anxiety. Wolf packs being prevalent in the woods added to her anxiety. Walking the floor, wondering, listening. After a few more hours the horse was heard, then the whistling of the boy. So many customers were ahead of him and each one must take their turn. All these hours, even tho a small lad, he had waited patiently as he knew his mother was depending on him to bring meal for the family bread.

In 1870 the family purchased land just north of Licking on the Rolla Road (now highway C). Grandfather and my dad, now thirteen, made camp out there while a house was being constructed. They made the trip to Rolla with ox teams, which took five days for a round trip. My dad felt very much a man to drive an ox team all this long way of 35 miles each way.
Baxter School always held a special meaning for me as my dad attended school there. He was a good scholar for the opportunities he had. I now own a picture given him as a prize for head marks in spelling when he was 15 years old.

Later this farm was sold and they settled near Cave Spring. Only once has it been my privilege to see this place. It isn't far as to miles but just one of the things I've not gotten around to do. However, the spring is at the foot of a steep hill while the Capps home was on top of the hill. In that day convenience was not counted as we now count it. So this spring was the source of water for the home. Father and his brother-in-law were hauling barrels of water up the hill. The weather was very cold; ice was frozen all over the wagon bed. Daddy was walking behind the wagon when a barrel slid back and tipped over, spilling the whole barrel of water over him. The brother-in-law said, “What shall we do?” Daddy replied, "Do as you please. I'm going to the house.” Even though a very short distance, all his garments were frozen still on him.

Elisha Fly Capps was a clerk for Ship Brothers for many years in the lumber business. He was also Justice of the Peace in Sherril Township in Texas County. He performed many marriages, records of same being preserved until now. He was a great hand to write down his thoughts wherever he was, sometimes as he sat by the roadside, but there was a time when the lower limbs were used to get you where you wanted to be. Even I have practiced some of this but very little in the last decade.

The family never moved from this last home of which I spoke. Because of disagreement in the home, my grandfather lived the last two years of his life in the home of his two eldest sons, William and Granville. He died at the home of William L. Capps June 1891. Buried in the Anutt Cemetery, Dent County, Missouri. Grandmother lived out her life in this home. She died November 1893 and her body rests in the Ray Cemetery in Texas County.

The children born to Elisha Fly Capps and Mary Ann Stout Capps were:

Alice Vandalia, born April 10, 1850. Mother of two sons, married John Dunn.
Cathy Jane Capps, born July 13, 1851, married Perry Hildreth 1871.
Matilda Emiline Capps, born June 8, 1853, married Harvey Guynn March 1874.
William Lemuel Capps, born Sept. 21, 1854, married Barbara Frank Feb. 1881.
Sarah Frances Capps, born May 8, 1856, married Evan Marr Aug. 1876.
Henry Granville Capps, born Dec. 15, 1857, married Irene Watson Oct. 30, 1879.
Albert Samuel Capps, born April 9, 1860, married Bell McNeil.
TWINS: Stephen Andres and John Anderson Capps, born March 29, 1863.
Stephen Andrew Capps married Mary Williams May 1906.
John Anderson Capps was never married.


Now begins the story of the Henry Granville Capps family. This family I know if it is possible to ever know other individuals. And I doubt it is possible to fully know or understand another person.

Henry Granville Capps was the second son of Elisha Fly and Mary Ann Stout Capps. His birth is recorded in the Elisha Fly Capps record. He wooed and won a young lady named Harriet Irene Watson. The marriage was performed on October 30, 1879, at Prescott, Missouri, at the home of her eldest brother, Jesse Watson. Irene Watson was born in South Carolina on August 16, 1861.

I'd like to digress from the Capps story and relate a little of my mother's family for the sake of the younger generations. After all, she entered into this making of Capps history. Irene was the daughter of Lewis and Clarissa Ferguson Watson, who were married December 24, 1846. On account of the war between the states, the family began to move north. This was a large family of 18 children. Since I had no written record, the name of one child has been lost. Three others died before they reached Missouri. They lived some years in Georgia. My mother has often described some features of this place. One was the large pear tree that grew in the yard. Another was the large spring nearby. They kept their milk and butter there. The spring was surrounded by white like stones, perhaps a limestone, and in these were depressions of various sizes. The older girls would skim up the milk and pour the clabber milk in these depressions. The younger ones, my mother being one of them, were there with spoons ready to consume it.

Later the family moved to Indiana; they lived near the Ohio River. Many times my mother and her playmates waded in the Ohio River not realizing the great danger. Steamboats plied their way up and down this river. One day the children signaled for the boat, but when it turned to come their way they quickly scuttled to shore and away.

Another incident which she laughed much about, and my mother laughed a lot in spite of all the hardships which were hers. She and her brother Will Watson, who was 16 months her senior, were sent to the river bottom for bark from a tree. Pioneer women used these barks to produce dyes; different trees produced different colors. The river was frozen over, large fish lay dormant near the surface. They had their ax, so they struck the ice a blow to stun the fish, chopped a hole and brought out the fish (pioneer fashion, too). They were so engrossed with this that time flew by. They forgot the bark and as they neared home they began to realize they had not performed the duty they had been sent to do. They hid their fish in the chimney corner and entered the house empty handed. After being punished they confessed they had a lot of fish and were told, had you brought your fish in you could have avoided the punishment.

In 1870 the family decided to move to Missouri. By this time a number of the older ones were married, so there were several wagons in this train that moved west. My mother was then nine years old. She did not wish to leave her home and friends. She climbed out of the wagon and hid beside the road, intending to go back to the home they were leaving. However, as the sound of the wagons faded out, she became suddenly conscious of the fact that all her loved ones were in this wagon train. She ran and ran to overtake them, catching up just as the last wagon slipped into a sizeable stream of water. A feed box attached to the back of the wagon was standard equipment for journeys. These were for the teams to eat grain from. Mother barely managed to scramble into this feed box for the crossing. She had not been missed as the occupants of each wagon thought she was with another. They came through the town of St. Louis, which was not too large a city at that time. She could remember there was a woman scrubbing steps and one brother tried flirting a bit with her but was promptly snubbed.

Grandfather Watson only lived one year after they settled on the farm at Prescott, Missouri. Four years later Grandmother died. She was a very religious person. My father has remarked many times that she was the first woman he ever heard pray publicly.

The children were scattered here and there among the married ones. Mother lived with her oldest sister and endured many abuses and hardships. After four years she and Daddy were married, and now begins the establishment of a new home and a new family.

We today, who must have so many conveniences, would hardly think we could begin housekeeping with three handmade chairs and a very few other pieces of furniture. They began their married life in Texas County on a farm as sharecroppers. Three children were born in Texas County, Nora Frances, born Oct. 24, 1880; Mary Belle born July 15, 1882; Elbert Anthony born April 22, 1884.

In 1885 father applied for a land patent on an acreage in Dent County, Missouri. In the fall of 1885 they moved from Texas County to Dent County, a distance of some 20 miles, but it was an all day journey. Many times I've been shown the spot where they stopped to eat their noonday lunch.

The house I cannot remember it as such. It was a large log room with a lean-to kitchen. A fireplace was the source of heat. My parents were both industrious and set about carving out a home from this humble beginning. Looking back now I can see some of the hardships they endured, then they were not apparent to me. It was home, a security from the world. We children were a part of that home. We had responsibilities to be of help in some way. I believe we were given the very best opportunities it was possible for them to give us. They set the example before us in good morals, in religion, and urged us to take advantage of educational opportunities and to be good citizens.

Later on we had a six-room house and as many conveniences as any of our neighbors had. This is the home I grew up in as I was only three years old when it was built.

My father never failed to squelch any ghost stories told to us by other children. His mother had this superstition and had thoroughly frightened him as a child with it. He had the wisdom to go to the bottom of it for himself and so taught us. So many things of this sort that would burden my mind, I'm thankful he taught so well.

There are always funny stories and incidents in every home. A few I shall relate, then close with a family record.

My sister Belle was very chubby. Of course, the only way to go from one neighbor’s house to another was a path, perhaps through the field. My mother would start out with her three children, carrying her baby. Belle had been told she was a heavy load. Mother would say, "Let's go Belle," but she would walk only a little way then stand and say, I'm too load to walk; it took much persuasion to move her on.

When they were comparatively new in the Dent County neighborhood, they called at a home. My eldest brother had been told he must not ask for anything to eat while there, but finally he got around to asking for bread. The lady said she had no bread cooked but offered to cook some. Of course Mother would not permit that. But he couldn't let it go at that. After sauntering around he announced to my mother, this is a very queer house; they have no bread.

In 1890 my father came down with typhoid fever. My oldest sister and oldest brother were discussing just what the name of the fever was that Father had. My brother insisted it was Exclamation Fever, but my sister was just as insistent that it was Toyfield.

The days which seemed would never pass when I was a youngster have flown by and now they say I'm growing old. It is my wish to leave a heritage to posterity. Not money, but something that will enrich lives. To help some to understand how great are some blessings that money cannot buy.

Nora Frances Capps was married April 22, 1903, to John E. Cox. She died Feb. 18, 1958. Her children and grandchildren are:

        Charles Elbert married Theila Williams — Leila, Glenn, Martin and Ronnie.
        Laura Mae married James Mauzy — Loretta, Ruby, Norma and Geraldine.
        John E. married Beulah Ferguson — John E. and David.
        Frank married Bernice Inman — Gerald and Gene.
        Roy married Lorene Williams — one son Walter, deceased.
        Irene married Ralph Jones — Paul, Perry, Eddie.

Mary Bell Capps married Dec. 23, 1898 to Chas. E. Crumm, died July 18, 1941. Children and grandchildren are:

Delphia — deceased 1908.
Velma married Manuel Brasier — Ruby and Hazel.
Vance married Marie Kirk — Lorene and Jackie.
Vivian married Eldon Sturgeon — Robert and Judy.

Elbert A. Capps married Myrtle Welch Sept. 3, 1905. She died March 19, 1916. He later married Grace Mitchell, a widow and sister to Myrtle — his children and grandchildren are, by his first wife:

Mildred married A.E. Harris — Marie.
Hazel married Courtney Headrick — Joyce. After his death, Hazel married Glenn Heovin — Shirley.
Helen married Walter Bailey. Janice Celestia.
Helen married John Ervin — Johnna, Sharon, Emma Jane and John E.

Letha E. Capps born April 10„ 1886, died June 18, 1958. She married Condy Sharp Sept. 13, 1934 — no children.

Ira Virgil Capps born July 23, 1888. married Julia Callahan Jan. 1915 — no children.

R. Alphus Capps born April 3, 1891, married Iva Callahan Jan. 15, 1915. Iva died June 30, 1933 — his children are:

        Ethel married Hubert Headrick — Harold, Mike, Lary, Linda, Janet and Barbara.
        Billy married Orvada Dickerson Feb. 22, 1953.
        R. Alphus married second time to Susie Bridgforth and resides at the present time in Alton, Missouri.
        William Roy Capps born July 8, 1893, married Florence Clark Sept. 16, 1914. Two sons both dying at birth,
        he died Feb. 3, 1918.

Bessie L. Capps born Oct. 5, 1895, married Lonnie Hawkins March 4, 1922 — no children.

Jessie May Capps born Jan. 11, 1898, died May 22, 1906

The mother of this family, Irene Watson Capps, died June 4, 1936.

The father, Henry Granville Capps, died Sept. 1, 1940.

The father and mother were members of the Victor Baptist Church at Anutt, Missouri. He was one of the nine charter members of this church. It was organized in a log schoolhouse that stood just off the north line of their homestead farm, on March 12, 1887. He served this church as deacon and treasurer for many years. W.L. Capps, his brother, also a charter member, served this church as clerk for more than fifty years. They were men of outstanding character and leadership. Firm in their belief of the Bible, were faithful to its teachings and to the support of the church with their presence and finance. These men and their wives reared large families and all their children except those who died early in life made professions and became members of this church.

The church they helped to establish is, and has been for many years, a full-time church with a pastor on the field. May it continue to be used of the Lord to bring people to know and serve Him is our prayer.

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Severn, Northampton Co., N.C.
   Footprints in Northampton County

Before the present town of Severn was developed, there was a post office located at a crossroads known as Cross Lox.

It was operated by a Mr. Matt Edwards. This was called Meherrin. The legend goes that it got its name from a tribe of Meherrin Indians who lived on the banks of the river nearby. The post office served people of the rural communities around it. From these communities came most of the original families who developed the town of Severn
   (Footprints in Northampton Co., page 171)

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Conway, Northampton Co., N.C.
    Footprints in Northampton County

Conway was settled around 1835. It was then known as Martin’s Crossroads, also called Kirby.

The year of 1888 brought a railroad to Kirby.  The railroad stretched from Boykins, Virginia., to Lewiston, and a small depot was built for each community.  The conductor of the train decided that the depot at Kirby should be called Conway, from the name of a relative of a chief railroad official.  The government was petitioned that the post office be called Conway also. Kirby became Conway to coincide with the depot.

The first post office was located in Mr. Abner Lassiter’s Store in 1878.  Mr. Lassiter was the first postmaster.

The train mail clerk, a black, used his influence to have Rachel Vaughan, also a black, appointed as the postmistress of the second post office.  It was located in her home, a few miles outside of Conway.

After three months, the post office was moved to the store of William T. Bridgers, who was appointed postmaster. The name was changed from Kirby to Conway Post Office at that time.

The first school in the Kirby-Conway area was called Grange Hall School.  The second was called Log College, whose first teacher was Miss Grump, grandmother of E. W. Martin. The third was a wooden two-story building located where Floods Funeral Home is now.  The fourth school was a two-story building which is now Conway Elementary.

Conway has had several doctors to serve their community.  Possibly the first was Dr. D. H. Reid; Dr. Paul Clifton Brittle, Dr. Joseph Anderton Fleetwood, Dr. Joseph Anderton Fleetwood, Jr. have followed him.

Conway’s authors and writers have been Dr. and Mrs. R. Kelly White and Dr. and Mrs. Gilbert Stephenson. Its contributions to the House of Representatives of N.C. have been the Hon. R. Jennings White, Hon. John Raynor Woodard, and Hon. J. Guy Revelle. Conway has also produced many fine attorneys at law including R. Jennings White, Edgar W. Martin, Russell H. Johnson, Russell H. Johnson, Jr., Bruce C. Johnson, Dr. Gilbert Stephenson, and Judge Perry W. Martin.

The mills and ponds about the area are Stephenson-Sykes Mill and Pond, DeBerry’s Mill and Pond, Vaughan’s Mill, and Doo Little Pond.

When Gov. Robert Glen went to speak at Conway in 1907, there was no band for the occasion, but almost overnight one was formed by Milton Flythe. The band became famous as the Conway Cornet Band and for several years played for public events far and wide.

Conway was incorporated in 1913. The first Mayor was Mr. Jim Parker. Mr. W. A. Davis was the first policeman. The population was 400. It is now over 900.

Conway never had any hotels or taverns although Mr. Abner Lassiter’s home served as hotel to salesmen and travelers passing through the town.
   (Footprints in Northampton Co., page 162)

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Jackson, Northampton Co., N.C.
Reprinted from

       Jesse Flythe was the owner of the grist mill mentioned in this article before the Civil War. The mill was burned by Union troops during the Battle of Boon’s Mill.

The town of Jackson can trace its origin back to the creation of Northampton County in 1741 by the Colonial Assembly of North Carolina. The location was determined in an attempt to find a central site for the courthouse. Soon after the courthouse was built, the site began its role as a gathering place for people from all over the county. Only over time and generations did a town develop around the courthouse square. In 1762 Jeptha Atherton purchased the courthouse lands. On June 4, 1798, the North Carolina Journal at Halifax reported: “For lease - - Land and Plantation at Northampton Courthouse formerly belonging to Col. Jeptha Atherton upon which is a good dwelling house - - convenient outhouses - - also a grist mill. Besides - - immediately at the courthouse there is a house which is now used as a tavern and is from its location well calculated for that purpose. And - - a storehouse near it which is well situated for a country store.”  From this we have an early description of the village still called Northampton Courthouse. By 1819 a second courthouse had been erected by a local builder named William Grant.

The name Northampton Courthouse was generally used for the town until 1826 when it was renamed Jackson, in honor of General Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans and later President of the United States. By this time, Jackson had become a political center with bitter debates between Whigs and Democrats, especially on election days.

In 1825 the town had the honor to receive and entertain General Lafayette. The Revolutionary War hero was beginning his Southern Tour and came to town from Murfreesboro. A dinner was given for the General and he was greeted by the official state delegation from Raleigh.

By the time the county seat became Jackson, horse racing and especially horse breeding had brought Northampton County national attention. In 1816 the famous Sir Archie, “foundation sire of the American turf,” was brought to Mowfield Plantation just west of Northampton Courthouse. By 1833, the year Sir Archie died, Jackson had an active Jockey Club, which held meets south of town at Silver Hill Plantation.

The year 1831 saw, completed on the southwest corner of the courthouse square, a fireproof Clerk’s and Register’s Office. Today this is the oldest surviving public building in town. It was constructed as a result of the burning of the statehouse in Raleigh that same year. Of interest also are cracks in the east and west walls as a result of the Charleston earthquake of 1886.

In 1841 Thomas Bragg, Jr. bought a house in Jackson that his father built in 1840. Bragg became involved in politics and the Democratic Party. He served as Governor of North Carolina from 1855-59 and later as United States Senator and Attorney General of the Confederacy.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, Jackson could be called a town, and the building that still dominates the settlement and has become a symbol for the county was constructed. In 1858 the third and present courthouse was begun. Samuel Calvert served as Superintendent of Public Buildings and Henry King Burgwyn has been traditionally credited as the architect. This noble structure is among the few surviving examples in our state of the full-blown Greek revival, temple form, public building. It is also without doubt one of the most beautiful.

The courthouse in Jackson was almost new when the War Between the States came. In July 1863 Jackson was occupied by the Union troops of Colonel S. P. Spear. General Matt W. Ransom of Verona Plantation, located just west of Jackson, was Northampton County's most prominent soldier. When Colonel Spear arrived in Jackson, General Ransom had his troops at Boone’s Mill between Jackson and, on the road to Weldon. When Spear reached Boon’s Mill he was forced to retreat without burning the railroad bridge on the Roanoke River that had been his goal.

After the war, Jackson, with its grassy, tree-shaded courthouse square, settled into its role as a small, very southern, county seat town. It continued its function as a local focal point for people from all over the county, especially those concerned with county business and all things related to it. It can be said that local government made Jackson. From yesterday into tomorrow, this central location sought after in 1741 still serves as a gathering place for citizens from near and far.

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