Albert B Osborne.

Makers of America; biographies of leading men of thought and action, the men who constitute the bone and sinew of American prosperity and life (Volume 3) online

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regarded as a loyal leader in his district.

On December 18, 1873, John D. Eidson was married to Miss
Anna Herbert, of Newberry County, South Carolina. She was
the daughter of Isaac and Tabitha Herbert. The family of
which she was a member came from England more than two
centuries ago, and settled originally in New York and New Jer-
sey. Walter Herbert, who was born in New Jersey in 1742,
left that State for the South some years later, and at the time
of the Revolution was a resident of Newberry County. His son
was a member of the State Legislature and a magistrate. In
later years members of the Herbert family have held prominent
positions.

Mr. and Mrs. Eidson have been blessed with a particularly
fine family. The daughter, Carrie Tabitha, is the wife of Wil-
liam G. Templeton; of the two sons, Olin Marvin Eidson has
followed in his father's footsteps as a farmer, while Herbert
Glenn Eidson is manager of the Johnston Branch of the Western
Carolina Bank. Both sons are married.

As Mr. Eidson and one of his sons are both bankers, it is
of special interest to note how largely this one family has been
affiliated with the banking interests of South Carolina. One
other family in addition to those mentioned is included in their
ancestry. The wife of Rev. Daniel Bouknight was Miss Mary
Smith. The records of their section of the State show that the
Smith, Herbert, and Bouknight families have all been connected
with the banking interests; that their ability, integrity, and
sound business methods found in these channels the exercise of
the highest forms of responsibility.



CHARLES WASHINGTON HANCOCK

CHARLES WASHINGTON HANCOCK, founder and head
of one of the most important firms engaged in the busi-
ness of general contracting throughout the States of Vir-
ginia, West Virginia and North Carolina, was born in
Charlotte County, Virginia, May 13, 1853, and is a member of
a family of ancient descent and notable talents.

The family name itself is a very old one. One authority
claims it is derived from Hencot or Hengoed, a locality near
Salop, in England. W. de Sprenchaux, from Burgundy, France,
was Lord of Hancock in the time of King Stephen. Another
explanation of the origin of the name is that, like many of our
common surnames, it developed from the addition of a designat-
ing word or syllable to a personal name. The syllable "cock"
is a diminutive, and Han-cock, translated literally, means "little
Hans," Hans being an abbreviation of Johannes, counterpart
of the English John.

That the Hancocks are of Norman-French origin is well at-
tested by the fact that the Hancocks of Wolverley Court, W T orces-
tershire, England, are holding an estate which has been possessed
by Hancocks continuously since the Norman Conquest in 1066.
The Hancock family of Blakeshall (given as Blakesley Hall in
the heraldic visitation of 1618-19) is another eminent noble Eng-
lish family, bearing the same arms as the Wolverley Court Han-
cocks, with the addition of a mullet for difference.

Another ancient and interesting branch of the Hancocks
was that of High Frierside. The manorial estate, the history
of which dates back to 1369, had passed through the hands of
several different noble families before it came, in 1562, to James
Rawe of Newcastle, who bequeathed it to his five daughters
about the year 1608. Three-fifths were united by descent of one
share and the purchase of two others in the family of Harrison.
William Harrison, of Easter Frierside, gave bond to Henry Han-
cock and Anne, his wife, to submit to such division as a com-
mission of "gentlemen" should make of the "lands at High Frier-
side." The two remaining fifths of the estate were divided be-
tween two different branches of Hancocks, one represented by
Richard Hancock, who married Isabel Rawe, daughter of James
Rawe before mentioned, and the other by Henry Hancock, whose
wife was Anne Rawe, sister of Isabel.

Heraldic visitations of English counties in the early part

[ 572 ]



CHARLES WASHINGTON HANCOCK 575

of the seventeenth century show that at that time the Hancocks
were not only numerically strong in all parts of England, but
had attained eminence in many lines.

The spelling of the name itself varies even in the records
of a single family, which is illustrated in the pedigree of the
Hancock family of Comb Martin. In England, in recent years,
the forms Hancock, Hancocks, and Handcock are all found.

The Hancocks appeared at two places in America in the
same period of colonial history; that is, in Massachusetts and
Virginia. Although the connection between the New England
and the Virginia families in this country in colonial days can-
not be proved, there is good reason to believe they had a com-
mon origin in the Old Country. The first New England Hancock
on record is Nathaniel, who was in Cambridge as early as 1634,
and whose grandson, Rev. John Hancock, was the father of John
Hancock, the statesman.

In Virginia the name first appears on record in 1635, 011
August 7, of which year Thomas Hancock, a lad of fifteen,
boarded the "Globe," bound for Virginia. Two months later
John Hancock, aged seventeen, came aboard the "-Constance."
In the year 1650 Edward Hancock settled in Yorke County, and
Eichard Hancock came the same year to Charles City County.
Four years later Mat. Hancock arrived in Lower Norfolk
County. A branch of the Hancock family was resident here
about one hundred years later.

At an early period in colonial history various Hancocks
in several different counties in Virginia had become prominent
and influential people. Simon Hancock, of Princess Anne, in
1697 sold a large tract of land for the establishment of a town, to
be called New Town. In the same county, in Lynnhaven Parish,
during the latter part of the eighteenth century, John Hancock
filled the office of vestryman. In May, 1783, when the town
of Kemp's Landing, Princess Anne County, was to be estab-
lished, John Hancock, Gentleman, was made one of the trustees
in charge.

In Sussex County Benjamin Hancock obtained a grant
of one hundred fifty-four acres of land in the year 1755, and
the next year John Hancock acquired one hundred ninety-nine
acres in the same county. One of the original patentees of land
in Albemarle County was Solonian Hancock, who in 1756 ob-
tained grant for four hundred acres between Hardware and
Totien Creek. Four years later he sold part of it to Giles
Tompkins, and in the year 1777 he removed to Halifax County,
having disposed of his estate to William Tompkins, son of Giles,
afore-mentioned.

In Prince William County in 1772, John Hancock inherited
"Deep Hole Tract" from his great-grandmother. He had already



57(> CHARLES WASHINGTON HANCOCK

acquired, through his wife, four hundred fifty acres of laud in
Amherst County, and was the owner of twelve slaves.

William Hancock, a planter of Surry County, lived in that
county as early as 1668. In 1687 he served with the Surry
Militia, and was a conspicuous figure in the Surry Kebellion
of 1694.

There were members of this family of Hancock in Surry
as late as 1776, and it is noticeable that the quite unusual
Christian name of Clement appears with marked frequency
among them. Albemarle Parish, it may be mentioned, was the
chief seat of the Surry family. Perhaps the two largest branches
in the Colony of Virginia were the Goochland Hancocks and
the Surry and Sussex families. The two counties were originally
one, and the Hancocks in the two districts are evidently of the
same stock as the William above mentioned.

The immediate ancestors of Mr. Charles Washington
Hancock settled in Charlotte County; his grandfather, Martin
Hancock, resided about a mile west of Red House, and was in
his day a very extensive landholder. His children were seven
in number; his sons were: Clem Hancock, father of the subject
of this sketch ; Douglas Hancock, Martin Hancock, Harvey
Hancock and Thomas Hancock. He had two daughters :
Marguerite, who married Thomas Hamlett, and Elizabeth, who
became the wife of John W. Marshall.

Mr. Clem Hancock, father of Charles Washington Hancock,
born in July 26, 1810, settled at Red House, Charlotte County,
Virginia. He served two terms as Member of the House of
Delegates and was Magistrate for fifteen or twenty years. He
was a merchant-farmer and proprietor, and was a Royal Arch
Mason. In politics he was a Whig, and was the first member
of his party to be selected to office while the county was still
Democratic.

The old homestead of the Hancocks, Red House, took its
name from an old well that had a red house over it. This well
was used by travelers on their way from Richmond, Virginia,
to New London, the County Seat, and the road near by was
called "Lawyers' Road" because it was traveled by so many
lawyers. Mr. Clem Hancock kept the Red House Tavern and
he built and owned all the buildings at Red House, having
surveyed and opened up the road leading from there to Lynch-
burg, Virginia.

Mr. Clem Hancock married, November 10, 1831, Miss
Martha A. Harvey, born October 1816, and their children were
eleven in number: Nathan Martin, born September 1, 1832;
Amanda, born September 9, 1834; Mary Elizabeth, born August
16, 1836; Clement, born March 9, 1838; Mocca Price, born Sep-
tember 30, 1840; Martha, born November 30, 1841; Sarah Ann,



CHARLES WASHINGTON HANCOCK 577

born July 8, 1845; Thomas Harvey, born July 13, 1847; Emma
Minerva, born August 19, 1850; Charles Washington, born May
13, 1853, and Charlotte Virginia, born March 6, 1855. With
the exception of Thomas Harvey, Charlotte Virginia, and Charles
Washington, none of these children are now living. Clement,
when a boy in the early twenties, was killed at Winchester,
Virginia, like so many thousands who died for the Southern
Confederacy in the war between the States.

Charles Washington Hancock was five years old when his
father died July 30, 1858. Owing to security debts his father's
estate was virtually bankrupt, except for his mother's share,
which consisted of slaves. A few years later the war between
the States broke out. During Mr. Hancock's boyhood there were
very few schools, and at the age of ten he, like numerous other
boys, was working not only for his own support, but for the
Confederacy. At the close of the war he was twelve years old,
and at this tender age had to support his mother, who had lost
all that she possessed during the war. Desiring to fit himself for
some occupation in life, he went to Lynchburg, Virginia, where,
while learning the trade of moulder and finisher, he went to
school at night and thus obtained most of his education.

His mother survived her husband many years, and died
October 5, 1905.

Mr. Hancock went into business in Campbell County with
his wife's brother, Mr. William Legrande. They located about
twenty miles south of Lynchburg, where they engaged in the
manufacture of implements and machinery, but a disastrous
fire destroyed their entire establishment.

On December 6, 1871, at old Appornattox Court House, Mr.
Hancock married Miss Emma Cheesman Legrande. The parents
of Mrs. Hancock were Caroline Matilda Hunter and Archer
Alexander Legrande. Mrs. Hancock was born July 2, 1852, at
Old Appomattox Court House on the field of the famous sur-
render.

About the year 1878 Mr. Hancock moved with his family
to Appomattox County, nearly three miles south of his present
residence, and there entered upon the milling business, in which
he was very successful. He introduced the first steam thresher
into the county.

About 1882 he went into the millwright business with Mr.
John Hardy, the name of the firm being Hardy and Hancock.
He continued in this for six years, when the firm was dissolved,
as Mr. Hardy has lost his eyesight.

In 1888 Mr. Hancock engaged in the general contracting
business, and at about the same time moved his residence to
Appomattox Depot. The first very important work which he
handled after his removal was the erection of the plants for



578 CHARLES WASHINGTON HANCOCK

the Wilson Aluminum Company at Holcomb Rock, Virginia, and
at Kanawha Falls, West Virginia. In 1895 the firm name was
changed to* C. W. Hancock and Son, Mr. Hancock having ad-
mitted his eldest son, C. A. Hancock, into partnership. About
1897 he opened an office in Lynchburg, Virginia, and since then
his business has been gradually growing. In 1907 the firm
name became C. W. Hancock and Sons, when C. N. Hancock, a
second son, was admitted to the business. In 1912 his youngest
son, E. H. Hancock, was made a member of the firm. Mr. Han-
cock's firm was the first to introduce reinforced concrete work
into that section. His Company covers the territory of Vir-
ginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Several years ago
branch offices were opened in Roanoke, Virginia, and Bluefield,
West Virginia. Many important buildings in Lyuchburg and
Roanoke have been erected by C. W. Hancock and Sons.

They built all the fire-proof powerhouses and sub-stations
for the Appalachian Power Company, and engaged in the erec-
tion of the Norfolk and Western Railway Company's power-
house at Bluestone, West Virginia, which is said to be the
largest powerhouse of its kind in the country.

The officers of Mr. Hancock's firm are: C. W. Hancock,
President; C. A. Hancock, Vice-President ; C. N. Hancock, Sec-
retary and Treasurer, and E. H. Hancock, Associate Secretary
and Treasurer.

Mr. Charles Washington Hancock is a Democrat, and has
held the office of Commissioner of Election for Appornattox
County 7 . He is a member of Liberty Baptist Church; a Deacon
and Trustee of that church, and for twenty-two years has been
its Sunday-school superintendent. He is a Master Mason and
Royal Arch Mason. He is also a Director of the Lynchburg
Hotel Corporation and the United Loan and Trust Company.

Mr. Hancock has had seven children. His oldest daughter,
Annie Jamima, is no longer living. His oldest son, Archer
Clem, was educated at Appomattox High School, and Glade
Springs Military Academy, married Miss Ella I. Rosser, is Vice-
President of C. W. Hancock and Sons, and has five children :
Braxton Legrande, Virginia, Archer (now dead), Margaret, and
Elizabeth. Mr. C. W. Hancock's second son, Robert Thomas
Hancock, is now deceased.

Lillie Neal Hancock, who received her education at Ap-
pomattox High School and South Side Female Institute, was
married to Abner H. Gregory and has two children, Florence
Hancock Gregory and Emma Elizabeth Gregory.

Mr. Hancock's third son, Charles Nathan Hancock, gradu-
ated as Civil Engineer from the Virginia Military Institute in
1904, married Miss Marguerite Marshall, and is Secretary and
Treasurer of C. W. Hancock and Sons.



CHARLES WASHINGTON HANCOCK 579

Edward Harrison Hancock, the fourth son, graduated as
Electrical Engineer from the Virginia Military Institute in 1908,
married Miss Cordelia Neblette Hamner; is Assistant Secre-
tary and Treasurer of C. W. Hancock and Sons; of his two
children, Charles Washington and Edward Harrison, the latter
is now dead. Mr. Hancock's youngest child is Naomi Legrande
Hancock.

Mr. Hancock is deeply interested in public questions. It is
his opinion that if the National and State Governments would
furnish the capital to build good roads throughout the country,
greater benefit would result to the nation therefrom than from
almost any other public undertaking. He also favors laws com-
pelling all public buildings to be made fireproof, and believes
that every State should pass a Workman's Compensation Act,
similar to that passed by West Virginia to protect her working-
men.

Mr. Hancock has always been a great reader. His opinion
is that all standard books are helpful to the reader who digests
what he reads. His advice to the young person starting out
in life is to select the occupation to which he is fitted ; to enter
into it with zeal and power, and not to grow discouraged if suc-
cess does not come within a few years. Experience has taught
him that it takes long years of patience, self-denial and hard
work to become successful in any business. He is a man who,
in a quiet, commendable way, has accomplished much, and leaves
to his family the priceless gift of a reputation without blemish
and a "good name that is beyond riches."



JAMES NATHANIEL WILLIAMSON, JUNIOR

THROUGHOUT the colonial and post revolutionary his-
toric periods a stream of migration is plainly evident
from Virginia to North Carolina ; not only from the
more southerly, and contiguous counties of Virginia, but
from all sections; and many names which illumine the pages of
Carolina's history may be traced to Virginian origin. Not only
was the political history of North Carolina enriched by the
addition of this Virginian strain of blood, but the social and
industrial life as well bear evidence of marked effects from this
source.

The ancestors of James Nathaniel Williamson, Junior, were
all of Virginian descent: Williamsons, Swifts, Farishes, Banks,
Holts, Raiueys, Lockharts, Pannills; all of whom made their
migrations to North Carolina within the last half of the eight-
eenth century.

i/

The Holts were the first of the above named families to
leave Virginia for North Carolina, where their ancestor, Michael
Holt, settled in what was at the time Orange, now Alamance,
County. The Rainey family went from the lower section of
Virginia : Surry and Sussex Counties, into North Carolina, while
the records of the same section bear scattered traces of the Lock-
hart family. The Williamsons, Swifts, Farishes, Banks and
Pannills were from counties in the eastern and Piedmont sec-
tion of Virginia, and did not go into North Carolina until
towards the close of the revolutionary period or soon there-
after, the Williamsons and Swifts settling in Caswell County
and the Farishes in Cumberland County.

t>

The Williamsons are a sturdy race; earlier generations of
the family were planters and apparently confined themselves to
tillage of the soil as a means of livelihood.

Nathan Williamson, the first of the family in North Car-
olina, was a Virginian by birth ; tradition is invariable on this
point and collateral data justify a belief in the traditional state-
ment. An extensive search in the records of Virginia has, how-
ever, thus far, failed to reveal the birthplace in Virginia of
Nathan Williamson or to produce positive results in the tracing
of his ancestry; though the substantial position, which the rec-
ords of Caswell Countv show him to have held from his very

i/ t-

earliest appearance certainly indicates that he came of sub-

[580]



JAMES NATHANIEL WILLIAMSON, JUNIOR 583

stantial stock in the Virginia colony.* In later years we find
this same Nathan Williamson signing documents as Nathaniel
Williamson.

Nathan Williamson (first of the name in Caswell County)
was born in Virginia about 1750 and died in Caswell County,
North Carolina, in 1839. He first acquired land in Caswell
County by purchase from Henry Hays in 1780; from time to
time adding to this original possession by purchase and patent
until he obtained a comfortable landed estate. Mr. Williamson
married Sarah Swift, daughter of William Swift (a prominent
resident of Caswell County and at one time Sheriff of the
county), a native of Virginia, and a son of the Kev. William
Swift, a minister of the Church of England, who resided in
Hanover County, where he died in 1734.

Thomas Williamson, son of Nathan and Sarah (Swift) Wil-
liamson, became a large planter and merchant in Caswell
County. He was born about the year 1782 and at his death in
1848 had attained marked success in the work to which he had
given his undivided attention from early manhood, holding the
highest esteem of all those with whom business or social rela-
tions had brought him in contact. Thomas Williamson married
Frances Pannill Banks Farish.

Mrs. Thomas Williamson was the daughter of Thomas and
Fannie (Banks) Farish, of Chatham County, North Carolina,
both natives of Virginia, and descended from the well-known
families of Banks, of Stafford County, Pannil and Bayly, of
Kichmond County, and the Farishes of the Kappahannock Val-
ley. Kepresentatives of all of these families are found in the
seventeenth century records of Virginia. From Stafford, Rich-
mond, Caroline and Essex Counties later generations of these
families moved to what is known as the Piedmont section of
Virginia and are found seated in Orange, Culpeper and Madison

*Taking into consideration all of the facts that have been un-
earthed by a research into the County records of Virginia it seems most
probable that Nathan Williamson, of Caswell County, North Carolina,
was descended from a certain Henry Williamson, of Fairfax County, Vir-
ginia, who died there in 1756 leaving sons James, Benjamin, William and
Nathan Williamson and daughters Sarah, Martha and Elizabeth William-
son, and wife Rachael Williamson.

After Henry Williamson's death his sons seem to have left Fairfax
County; at least the records there cease to mention them. Where these
men went is not known, though in 1790 the NortJi Carolina Census: Lists 1
for Caswell County, St. David's District, show that James, Benjamin and
Nathan Williamson were living in that community and the records of
Caswell show that they had lived there since the formation of the county.
This combination of baptismal names is the most significant item that
has been discovered in a research that has covered a large portion of
Virginia and Carolina and is believed to hold a clue to the solution of a
most baffling genealogical problem which would, no doubt, have long ago
been settled but for certain gaps in the local records caused by fire and
pillage.



584 JAMES NATHANIEL WILLIAMSON, JUNIOR

Counties. From Madison and Orange Counties the Parishes
and Banks went to North Carolina, in which State, in Cum-
berland County, on January 5, 1804, Thomas Farish (who had
been born in Orange County, Virginia, March 31, 1781) was
married to Fannie Banks (a native of Culpeper, now Madison,
County, Virginia). Mrs. Fannie (Banks) Farish was a daugh-
ter of Adam and Grace Banks, and a sister of the Honorable
Lynn Banks (1784-1842), of Madison County, who was for many
years Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and a mem-
ber of Congress from Virginia. Thomas Farish was a son of
John Farish and Frances Paunill who removed from Madison
County to North Carolina.

Thomas Williamson (1782-1848) and his wife Frances
Pannill Banks Farish had born to them seven children, of whom
the youngest was James Nathaniel Williamson, born March
6, 1842.

James Nathaniel Williamson (the father of James Nathaniel
Williamson, Junior, the subject of this sketch) was but a lad of
six years at the time of his father's death. His mother was,
however, a woman of marked ability whose every energy was
directed to the care and training of her young family. Mr.
Williamson's education was planned along the most liberal lines,
and in all of his studies he revealed an aptitude which won the
commendation of his instructors. He received his preparatory
instruction in the school of Doctor Alexander Wilson in Al-
amance County, and at the age of eighteen entered Davidson
College in 1860. At the age of nineteen Mr. Williamson en-
listed in the North Carolina volunteers for the war between
the States as a member of Company A, 13th North Carolina
Regiment, and from that time followed the fortunes of the
Confederacy over many of its most noted battlefields to the
end of that struggle at Appomattox, where he received his parole
as Captain of Company F, 38th North Carolina Regiment.

Undaunted by the failure which "ideal and hope" were
forced to endure at Appomattox after the increasingly bitter ex-
perience of the four long years of war for principle, Mr. Wil-
liamson returned to his old home in Caswell Countv and shoul-

t/

dered the burden of assisting in the rebuilding of a devastated
country. With energy he went to his new task and as time
rolled by the effect of well-ordered industry became evident in
a restored fortune.

In September, 1865, James Nathaniel Williamson married
Miss Mary Elizabeth Holt, daughter of Edwin Michael Holt,
of Alamance County, and shortly thereafter became identified
with the Holt family in their large cotton manufacturing in-
terests. Mr. and Mrs. Williamson were first cousins through

o

their mothers; Mr. Williamson's mother having been Frances



JAMES NATHANIEL WILLIAMSON, JUNIOR 585

Pannill Banks Farish, while Mrs. Williamson's mother was
Emily Farish, both daughters of Thomas and Fannie (Banks)
Farish.

The Holts have occupied a distinguished position in the so-



Online LibraryAlbert B OsborneMakers of America; biographies of leading men of thought and action, the men who constitute the bone and sinew of American prosperity and life (Volume 3) → online text (page 44 of 48)