The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

Bookmark and Share

        Truly did his able associate, Judge Ruffin, say on the occasion of his death that he was "a good man and a great judge." His remains were deposited in the cemetery at New Berne. A heavy block of marble, resting on the granite, surmounted by a cross, bears simply the name of William Gaston and the date of birth and death.

        "I saw," says the writer already quoted, "one morning, before the sun has risen Edward Everett and John R. Donnel standing together at the tomb of Gaston. Mr. Everett removed his hat, saying: 'This eminent man had few equals and no superior.' "

        Of such a man's memory the state may be justly proud. She has written his name on her towns and counties, and as long as talent is admired, or virtue appreciated, so long will the name of Gaston be cherished.

        Judge Gaston was thrice married:

        I. Miss Hay, of Fayetteville; no issue.

        II. Hannah McClure, who died suddenly, in 1814, from alarm at the incoming of the British fleet. She left (a) Alexander F. Gaston, who was in the legislature in 1830, and who married (first) Miss Jones, and (second) Miss Murphy of Burke, where he died; (b) and two daughters, one of whom was the first wife of Judge Manly; she left one child, Hannah, who married a son of the Rev. Dr. Francis L. Hawks; she has since died leaving several children. The second daughter of Judge Gaston by this marriage was the wife of Robert Donaldson, of New York.

        III. Miss Worthington, of Georgetown; issue (a) Mrs. Graham, who died recently near Marlboro, Maryland; (b) Kate, single.

        John R. Donnel, born 1791, died 1864, a native of Ireland, and a man of letters, was educated at the university of North Carolina, and graduated in 1807, in the same class with Gavin Hogg, and others. He studied law and practiced that profession with great success.

        In 1815, he was elected solicitor of the district, and in 1819 he was elected judge of the superior courts of law, the duties of which he discharged with dignity and ability for seventeen years.

        His extensive property suffered severely from the tumults and depredations of civil war.

        He died at Raleigh, October 15th, 1864, a refugee from his large estates and princely home.

        Judge Donnel married Margaret, daughter of Governor Spaight, who left five children:

        I. Richard Spaight Donnel, distinguished as a lawyer.*

        * For sketch of whom see Beaufort County.

        II. Mary, who married Charles B. Sheppard. Mr. Sheppard was in congress 1839 to 1841, and who died 1843, leaving two children; (a) Margaret, who married Samuel S. Nelson; (b) Mary, who married James A. Bryan.

        III. Anne, single.

        IV. Fannie, who married James B. Sheppard; Mr. Sheppard died in 1870, leaving one son, John R. D. Sheppard, now in Paris.

        V. C. Spaight Donnel, married Thomas M. Keerl, of Baltimore, where they reside.

        John Sitgreaves, late United States judge, was a resident of New Berne. The first United States district judge for the District of North Carolina, was John Stokes,*

        * For sketch, see Stokes County.

appointed by General Washington.

        He was succeeded by John Sitgreaves in 1790, appointed by Jefferson. He was succeeded by Henry Potter in 1803, who held the position until his death, December 20th, 1859. He was succeeded by Asa Biggs, appointed by Buchanan; the war suspended his functions. George W. Brooks was appointed August 9th, 1865.

        The state has been divided recently into two districts, and Robert P. Dick*

        * See sketch of Judge Dick, Guilford County.

was appointed for the Western district by General Grant.

Page 139 of 471
Index - Contents
Featured Books & CD-ROMS