G. T. (Gideon Tibbetts) Ridlon.

History of the ancient Ryedales, and their descendants in Normandy, Great Britain, Ireland, and America, from 860 to 1884 online

. (page 68 of 103)
Online LibraryG. T. (Gideon Tibbetts) RidlonHistory of the ancient Ryedales, and their descendants in Normandy, Great Britain, Ireland, and America, from 860 to 1884 → online text (page 68 of 103)
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seat in the House of Lords, in consequence of his Protestant religious
principles, and had issue by that lady eight children, of whom hereafter.
Mr. Ridley acquired wealth, and gave his sons a liberal education, and
means sufficient for a good start in life. He died in 1796, and is thought
to have been rising sixty. Tradition represents him as a gentleman of
great dignity of deportment and fine appearance.

SECOND GENERATION.

Dr. James Ridley 2 (1), eldest son of Bromfield 1 (1), was born at Ox-
ford, N. C, about the year 1776; married Elizabeth-Taylor Lewis, of Gran-
ville County, — a lady of remarkable beauty, and connected by ties of blood



516 IUDLEYS OF 0XF01W, X012TJI CAROLINA.

with some of the most respectable and affluent families in the State,* — and
by her had issne seven children, of whom hereafter. Doctor Ridley was
educated under the most able instructors of his day, and settled as a phy-
sician at Oxford about 1810 or 1812. f lie was a very skillful and success-
ful practitioner, and rose to eminence in his profession. Being introduced
into the best families in consequence of the standing of his own connec-
tions and his personal popularity, he acquired great influence as a citizen
and professional man, and soon became very wealthy. He was a man of
integrity and great worth. His personal appearance was fine : about five
feet nine inches in height, of perfect health and physique. His jaw was
massive and elongated; his nose of Roman mould. He gave his sons a col-
lege education and a good start in life. Doctor Ridley died Dec. 25, 1855,
aged about 81. His widow died at LaGrange, Ga., Oct. 3, 1872, very aged.
A relative says of her, " She was a General Jackson of a woman and ex-
traordinary in point of intellect."

Dr. Archibald-Bromfield Ridley 2 (1), second son of Bromfield 1 (1)
and his wife, Frances Henderson, was born at Oxford, in Granville
County, X. C., about 1780; married, firstly, to Henrietta-Maria-Anderson
Lewis, and by her had one daughter; he was married, % secondly, in 1822,

* James Taylor had a daughter Elizabeth, who was married to Anderson,

whose daughter, Mary Anderson, became the wife of Charles Lewis and the mother
of Elizabeth-Taylor Lewis, who was married to Dr. James Ridley, of Oxford, X. C,
and became the mother of Dr. Charles-Lewis Ridley, of Jones County, Ga. ; Hon.
Bromfleld-Lewis Ridley, of Murfreesborougk, Tenn. ; Rev. Joseph-James Ridley,
n. r>., of Soinerville, Tenn. ; Dr. William-Snerd Ridley, of Georgia; and Dr. Robert-
Archibald Ridley, of La Grange, Ga. This note shows how the names Taylor and
Lewis came to the Ridley family. Mrs. Elizabeth-Taylor (Lewis) Ridley had two
brothers, Joseph- Lewis, aud Thomas-Lewis who married Elizabeth Cobb, a cousin
to Gov. Henry Cobb, and by her had two sons, Willis and Charles, who were resident
in Granville County, X. C, when my informant, Mrs. Susan A. Ridley, widow of
Dr. Charles-Lewis Ridley, knew them.

t The residence of Dr. James Ridley was situated about one thousand three hun-
dred yards from the centre of the town of Oxford, and surrounded by a grove of
oaks. The home place contained about thirty-three acres, but the present proprie-
tors have sold off nearly one half, for which they realized $3,900. Dr. James Kid-
ley owned a plantation in the rear of his residence, which contained three or four
hundred acres and is bounded by a stream. The Ridley mansion, which remains
much as when occupied by the Ridley family, stands about two hundred yards from
the " old street " where the big toll-gate was, but since tolls were sold off Mr.
Kingsbury has opened a new street, running along the edge of the grove aud near
the house. I had hoped to publish a plate-view of the house and grounds above-
mentioned, but could not procure a photograph in time. This family-seat was
called "Rural Retreat."

% Mrs. Susan A. Ridley, of Jones County, Ga., a woman of culture and remark-
ably informed respecting the Ridleys and their collateral connections, who has pro-
vided much matter of interest now incorporated into this book, says: "Dr. Arch-
ibald-Bromfleld Ridley and Mary-Ann-Ridley Blunt, — who was the only daughter
of Col. Richard A. Blunt, a good, clever Methodist man, who was never appreciated
till he had passed away, — were for a long time engaged to be married, the former
being at that time a widower with one child, now Mrs. Todd; but General Sanford
supplanted him, being younger, fine-looking, smart, of good family, and a perfect
gentleman; possessed of charming conversational powers and considerable wealth.
Mrs. Sanford was quite a belle in her day, fond of show and traveling, while her
husband was not. Colonel Blunt and his son-in-law, General Sanford, preferred to
live on their farms alone with their servants, while their wives preferred the city of
Milledgeville for their residence ; consequently they each had their choice, visiting
each other at pleasure. Both families have visited at my house and I have visited
them, and what I write I know to be strictly true." (See note on Sanford family
in sketch of Virginian Ridleys.)



SIDLE YS OF OXFORD, NORTH CAROLINA. 517

to Harriet Blacksheare, and died in Early County, Ga., leaving an only
son. His second wife was educated at Sparta, Ga., where Doctor Ridley
lived and practised his profession; she was an orphan and an heiress, and in
her right her husband had quite a fortune, which, said a member of the
family who is well acquainted, "did not last long." Doctor Ridley was
a talented man and an eminent physician ; lived respected and died de-
servedly lamented.

Dr. Robert Ridley' 2 (1), third son of Bromfield 1 (1), was born in Ox-
ford, Granville County, N. C, about 1782; married to Sophia Cooper, of
Hancock County, Ga., where he settled in the practice of his profession,
and where he died. Doctor Ridley was considered a good physician ; he
left an only son bearing his name, of whom hereafter.

Thomas Ridley 2 (1), fourth son of Bromfield 1 (1), was born in Gran-
ville County, N. C, and was presumably a farmer; nothing is said in my
correspondence about a profession. He married twice : firstly, to Betsey
Blunt, who died without issue, and secondly, to a sister of his first wife,
Polly Blunt, who also died childless. Mr. Ridley lived and died in his
native County.

Betsey Ridley 2 (1), eldest daughter of Bromfield 1 (1), was born in
Granville County, N. C., and married Mingo Burton, a lawyer of the same
County; they moved to Lebanon County, Tenn., and raised a large family.

Failllie Ridley 2 (1), second daughter of Bromfield 1 (1), was born in
Granville County, N. C. ; married to William-Morgan Snerd, clerk of the
county court of said County, and died childless in Mississippi.

Polly Ridley 2 (1), third daughter of Bromfield 1 (1), was born in Gran-
ville County, N. C. ; married a Scotchman by the name of James Hamil-
ton, a wealthy merchant in the city of New York, and had two children.

Sally Ridley 2 (1), fourth daughter of Bromfield 1 (1), was born in Gran-
ville County, N. C. ; married to Benjamin Blunt (presumably a brother
of the wife of her brother Thomas), and moved to Alabama, thence to
Mississippi, where she died.

THIRD GENERATION.

Dr. Charles-Lewis Ridley 3 (1), eldest son of James 2 (1) and his wife,
Elizabeth-TaylorLewis, was born at Oxford, Granville County, N. C, July
5, 1802; was educated at Chapel Hill, N. C, and graduated at the Penn-
sylvania Medical University in 1824. He married in Hancock County,
Ga., where he was then reading medicine with his uncle, Dr. Archibald
Ridley, in 1823, to Susan A. Bonner, a lady of Scottish descent, well allied
with highly respectable families, and settled in Jones County, Ga., where
he successfully practised his profession for nearly forty years ; and Avhen
he had accumulated a fortune resigned his professional duties and devoted
his attention to agricultural pursuits. He was a man of untiring industry
and perseverance ; of quick, ardent temperament; of sterling and stirring
qualities, which gave him eminence as a physician and success as a farmer.
His theory was to work with the head and with the hands; that it was
the only way one could "enter the halls of learning or sit down with
honor in the palace of wealth." Endowed with high qualities of head
and heart, he was hasty in action but equally ready to make amends when
convinced that he had done wrong. Doctor Ridley continued to prosper
in his work until the Southern Rebellion, when his property shared the
same fate of nearly all wealthy planters in the line of march of armies.
When Sherman's army passed through Georgia, the soldiers visited Doctor



518 RIDLEY S OF OXFORD, NORTH CAROLINA.

Ridley's house and took all they wished for; gave Mrs. Ridley only "three
minutes to tell them where her husband was, and what he had done with
his money" (they had heard that he had a bushel of silver in the house), and
threatened to burn the house. Mrs. Ridley, indignant at the threat, dared
them to burn ; she had only two hours warning, and had given a faithful
old servant such things as he could carry about his person, and sent him
away. After much persuasion she had prevailed upon her husband to leave
with his money, except a few hundred dollars which he overlooked ; this
money they found by breaking open his desk and wardrobe ; took seven
valuable horses, and went away swearing vengeance on Doctor Ridley if
they found him, which, fortunately, they did not do. After this the un-
finished houses of overseers were fitted up; the farm restocked with the
money that was saved, and they hoped to live in peace. But again they
were doomed to disappointment ; again the army marched that way, des-
troyed their stock of every kind ; took from the plow eighteen u likely
men and boys," and the mules with which they were plowing in wheat ;
(they took away twenty-nine horses and mules, and thirty-seven negroes)
burned the houses and fencing; laid waste to everything ; carried away
the carriages, leaving nothing but the bare land. The loss of his property
and the freeing of his slaves hastened Doctor Ridley's death ; he could
not be reconciled to his reduced circumstances, after having lived so long
in comparative luxury; he gradually declined, and died March 13, 1873.
Mrs. Ridley* continues to live on her farm, and has allowed thirteen fam-
ilies of their former slaves to build their huts on her land ; not one of
them self-sustaining. She is a woman of remarkable fortitude and cour-
age; of talent, culture, and refinement, and endured their misfortunes
with wonderful patience. She has provided much valuable material for
this book, and has manifested a deep interest in the work since her first
knowledge of my undertaking. At the age of seventy-one years she com-
pleted a braid of hair made from the combings of her own head (every
hair that came out in three years was carefully preserved), which con-
tained exactly two hundred and nineteen thousand hairs, and measured
three feet in length. Doctor Ridley had issue three sons, of whom here-
after.

Hon. Bromfielcl-Lewis Ridley 3 (2), second son of James 2 (1), was born
at Oxford, Granville County, N. C, Aug. 4, 1804; married Oct. 12, 1829,
to Rebecca Crothwait, and had issue nine children, of whom hereafter.
He was educated and graduated at Chapel Hill, in his native State, in a
class numbering over sixty students all of whom, with one or two exceptions,
have since been governors, judges, or army-officers. At the close of his
collegiate course, in which he took first honors, he made choice of the

* There are some most remarkable traits in the character of Mrs. Susan A. Ridley.
She ordered a carved black-walnut burial casket in Macon, Ga., several years ago,
which had a cover shutting like a trunk and fastened with catches. This was large
enough to admit a mattress, feather-bed, two pillows, and was padded within. Her
burial clothes were also made with her own hands and carefully placed in the casket.
For two years this was deposited in a carriage-house, but in consequence of a leak
in the roof, was removed to her dining-room, where, it being as wide and high as
a common table, it was used by the servants as a side-board, being covered with an
oilcloth. She says : " My reason for this is that my family all die suddenly, and
anticipating such a death myself, but knowing I should not die an hour sooner, I
deemed it wise to have all necessary arrangements made while alive." One of her
brothers had his coffin made eleven years before hfs death, from boards sawed from
a large walnut tree under which he played when a boy.



BIDLEYS OF OXFORD, NORTH CAROLINA. 519

legal profession, and at an early period located at McMinnville, Tenn.,
where he continued the practice of his profession until the voice of his
adopted State called him to preside as chancellor over one of the most
important divisions; and he continued on the bench from his first election,
in 1840, down to the second year of the Southern war; a period of more
than twenty years. His commission as chancellor was from Gov. James
K. Polk. He also served with distinction in the legislature of the State,
and I have before me a letter to him from President Andrew Johnson, in
which he refers to the acquaintance formed between them in the State
Assembly. As a lawyer he was courteous, manly, and respectful to the
members of the bar with whom he practised. He was a genial, social
companion ; warm-hearted and true in friendship. He possessed courage
coupled with forebearance ; independence with defference, and always
held his opinion fast. He professed religion and united with the Cumber-
land Presbyterian Church in the autumn of 1843, in which capacity he
lived a highly respected and active member; he was a ruling elder, and
was frequently a lay representative from his presbytery in the general
assembly of the church. Chancellor Ridley died Aug. 11, 1869. In
personal appearance he was noble and commanding; born of robust stock
he had a fine physique; was six feet in height, and weighed over two
hundred pounds. His death was recognized and his character eulogized
in the courts, and high tributes pronounced by distinguished contem-
poraries. In a sermon preached by his pastor at his funeral I find many
beautiful expressions relative to the high esteem in which he was held in
the several prominent capacities of his life. As a citizen he was said to
possess a character "as high as any in the city, State, or land; none were
possessed of sounder principles, purer motives, loftier patriotism, or more
unselfish public-spirit. Few could claim a broader range of intelli-
gence ; none were endowed with more indomitable energy. As a states-
man few men had studied more carefully and analytically the constitution
and laws of the State and of the United States than he; and having no
small experience in legislation, and having had the society of the greatest
and best men in the land, he was not only learned but eminently practical
and useful. As a Christian his practical piety, though not as active and
aggressive as some, was, nevertheless, a living commentary on, and recom-
mendation of, the Christian religion. He did not, like a comet, dash and
blaze periodically, and then retire to be seen no more during long, dark
intervals, but shone as steadily and truthfully as the polar star, and as
modestly as that unpretending light. His religion bore the tests incidental
to his diversified life; in the law, in politics, in peace, and in war, among
friends or foes, with the serious or gay, in contact with Christians or men
of the world, always and everywhere he maintained his integrity as a
Christian." He was a noble and devoted husband ; a kind, faithful, and
exemplary father. Before the Rebellion Judge Ridley was considered a
very wealthy man. He owned more than a hundred slaves, and after
their emancipation by the President of the United States, these all took
the names of their former master. The following beautiful description
of Judge Ridley's home was written by his daughter and published in the
Murfreesborough Monitor in 1867 : —

l> ' Fairmont' is two or three miles north of a direct line from Nashville to Mur-
freesborough, twenty miles from the former and twelve miles from the latter, the farm
lying on each side of Stones River, which cuts the Milton and Nashville turnpike
at an acute angle from south to north about half a mile to the east of the homestead.



520 BIDLEYS OF OXFOBD, NOBTB CABOLIXA.

Rutherford is one of the finest counties in the State. In many portions the lands
are of rare fertility, and splendid groves of oak. ash, elm, sugar-maple, and umbra-
geous vines give bold and vigorous testimony of richness. The face of the country
is undulating, the rugged aspect of the mountain regions having gradually softened
into gentle, flowing, lovely outlines. Before the desolations of the war, a traveler
on any of the roads leading into Murfreesborough was impressed with the evidences
of thrift, energy, and cultivated taste which he everywhere saw.

"Broad cotton and grain fields, substantial farm houses and tasteful grounds
were constantly recurring. My father's residence was in one of the most beautiful
sections of the County. Stones River on the east makes a long, narrow curve
through low bluffs of rock and overhanging shrubbery, and appearing again at the
mill — still a little east of the houses. — runs parallel with the road for half a mile
opposite the 'Fairmont' grounds; here its sloping, grass; banks, inviting seats of
rock, clear, rippling, rushing current with its sheets of foaming water at the mill-
dam, constitute most delightful features of the landscape. The house stood to the
left and north of the road upon an approach from the east. It was situated upon
one of those elevations which seems to have been fashioned by nature for architec-
tural effects, gently sloping on all sides from base to summit, a distance of two
hundred and fifty yards, and reaching in altitude about fifty feet. Flanking the
road and opposite the river is a beautiful lawn containing eighty acres and embrac-
ing half the hill, excepting the yard and garden. It is thickly set with blue grass
and clover, relieved on one side by a clump of small, thick-set trees, growing in
tangled luxuriance over some rocks, and here and there a solitary fruit tree, dotting
the smooth, open surface. The approach to the house is through a gate entering
the lawn to the east and along a drive winding up the hill to the front yard :_ r ate,
whence a broad gravel walk, bordered on each side by small cedars tastefully shaped,
leads to the portico. The yard embraces about three acres on the brow of the hill,
aud is covered with green turf and adorned with those finest ornaments of all others
— old, majestic, native forest trees, which stand out on the scene with bold, leafy
branches and boughs, continually awakening a sensation of power and protection.
There are two other gates to be seen in front, one opening into the garden on the
left and another on the right into the lawn Gravel walks from the portico lead to
both, with rows of small cedars similar to those in front. The house was con-
structed on the cottage style. It consisted of a main building one and a half stories
high, with wings of one story, eight or ten feet in the rear. The portico was neatly
and elegantly designed, shaded on either side by lattices and sweet-scented vines,
honey-suckle, virgin-bower and roses. The roof was painted, presenting gables
easl and west, and in front, on each side of the portico, two dormer windows and
two dormer doors in the centre. Continuing the liue of the main building to the
limits of the wings were two small galleries with ornamental railings, and as the
whole building was elevated several feet, there were flights of stone steps leading
from these as well as the front portico. On entering the house, a wide, commodious
hall, extended the full length of the building — about forty-flve feet, — and at the
end of it a winding stair-case led to the upper hall and attic-rooms. Five doors
besides the front, opened into this hall, from parlors, dining-room, chamber and
back gallery, the latter extending the full length of the building in the rear.

" Such was ' Fairmont ' in its palmiest days. Now, nothing remains of the house
but blackened ruins. Three chimneys only stand, solitary aud dismal, over the
piles of rubbish. They are grim monuments over a grave — a melancholy one to
us — of household treasures and dear old familiar places, hallowed by teeming re-
collections. The old stone steps look strangely familiar. They have worn smooth
with the steps of family and friends, and often at night old Carlo sits upon them
and howls piteously over the desolation."

The following account of the burning of "Fairmont" during the Rebel!-

O O O

ion was written by the same hand and copied from the same paper as the
preceding : —

" You ask me to give you the particulars of ' the burning of Fairmont,' our old
homestead, and it is with a very sad kind of pleasure I am seated to comply with
that request. In order to understand fully our ' measure of sorrow' at that time, I
must relate the situation of affairs around us, prior to the burning. Fairmont is
situated immediately on the bank of Stones River, the little stream which will be ever
memorable as in the battle-field upon which Bragg and Rosecrans contended with



RIDLEY S OF OXFORD, NORTH CAROLINA. 521

such fearful desperation for five days. During that time we witnessed from our
gallery a severe skirmish between the contending parties. The flash, smoke and
deafening noise of the artillery, the clickiug of small arms, deploying troops in an
open field, the shouts and curses of the infuriated soldiers, was a scene we will
not soon forget. At last the bloody struggle ended. Bragg retreated and
we were surrounded by a desperate, unscrupulous, but victorious foe. My father
was compelled to leave home for safety, and took with him my young sister, thir-
teen years of age, fearing to leave her in the midst of such horrors. My five broth-
ers and husband were with their respective commands, leaving ma, grandma and
myself, alone, with no protector.

" This sad necessity at any time, was doubly so now, for my poor grandma was
daily expected to die, and I at the same time was so ill it was not known which
would survive longest. Ah! who can describe the anguish of my mother then?
Husband, sous, young daughter, gone — mother and eldest daughter dying; that
was a time when she could 'truly say, 'I've no help but God.' And through that
dense darkness that enveloped her, one ray of light beamed — God heard the
mother's prayer and spared to her her eldest daughter. Death — that ' reaper with
the sickle keen,' entered our house though, and took for his prey our grandma,
who had laid for months on a bed of suffering.

"Every road, every turnpike was strongly picketed by the Federals, and no one
was permitted to pass three miles in any direction. Ma laid my grandma to rest in
a coffin made by a near neighbor out of a cherry wardrobe. The outer box was
made of a black board and flooring plank taken out of a house for that purpose.
That precious body that we had lifted so tenderly for fear of giving her pain for
months, was conveyed to her last resting place in a rough wagon, and of all her
descendants, none was permitted the sad pleasure of standing by her grave, except
mamma. But she rests calmly and sweetly now on the bosom of that Saviour she
delighted to glorify while on earth. The thunder of artillery can't disturb her;
the temporary triumph of our enemies cannot sadden her — she is safely housed.

" After grandma's death, 14th January, I continued perfectly helpless for weeks.
Daily, crowds of insolent soldiers came to our house for forage, chickens, horses,
meat, etc. They always got what they desired without resistance, for ma felt that
excitement of any kind would endanger my life, and she would give them no cause
for anger. They were always insolent and invariably taunted ma with the fact that
her sons were in the rebel army. This was their apology for depredations of every
kind. They instigated the negroes to steal our buried silverware, and this deter-
mined ma to make an effort to save some of the necessaries of life. In the roof of
the house she concealed wheat, corn, fifty bacon hams, wool, dried fruit, etc. Al-
most daily we heard of threats being made to burn the house, and ma feeling almost
confident of it, made an effort to save some articles of value, but our neighbors



Online LibraryG. T. (Gideon Tibbetts) RidlonHistory of the ancient Ryedales, and their descendants in Normandy, Great Britain, Ireland, and America, from 860 to 1884 → online text (page 68 of 103)