The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

Bookmark and Share

a mill on Swift Creek. This became known to Major Drake and other whigs, and they organized a force to capture him. They came upon the tories early in the morning while at breakfast, surprised and dispersed them in great confusion; they leaving their breakfast and horses. The whigs pursued them with great earnestness. Britton Drake, brother of the young lady, of powerful frame and strength, armed with a rifle led the chase, and came suddenly on Beard, who was hid behind some small pines. He did not move until Drake, who was not aware of his position came right upon him. Beard was armed only with a sword; he sprang upon Drake, who was too near and closely pursued, to shoot. He clubbed his rifle and felled Beard to the ground; and as Drake thought he was dead, for he was senseless, Drake left him for dead and went in pursuit of other fugitives. When the pursuit was over, he returned to the place of rencounter with Beard, and found that he was not dead. After some consultation it was resolved to take him as a prisoner to headquarters of Colonel Seawell, commanding in camp at a ford on Lynch Creek, in Franklin County, about twenty miles off. He was tied on his horse and carried under guard. After reaching camp, it was determined to organize a court-martial, and try him for his life. But before proceeding to trial, a report came that a strong body of tories were in pursuit to rescue him; this created a panic, for they knew his popularity and power, so they hung him. The reported pursuit proved a false alarm, and it being suggested that as the sentence had been inflicted, before the judgment of the court had been pronounced therefore it was illegal. The body was then taken down, the court reorganized, he was tried, condemned, and re-hung by the neck until he was dead.

        The tree on which he was hung stood not far from Rocky Ford, on Lynch's Creek; and it became a saying in Franklin, when a person committed any offence of magnitude, that "he ought to be taken to Lynch Creek;" and so the word "Lynch law" became a fixture in the English language.*

        * The Hon. B. F. Moore communicated the aforegoing tradition to me, he received it from the Drake family.

        Joseph J. Davis was born and bred in Frankliu County. He is the son of Jonathan Davis, and his wife, Mary Butler; was born in 1828.

        His early education was conducted by John B. Bobbib, and finished at Wake Forest College. He received the degree of batchelor of law, at the university in 1850, and after receiving a license to practice, settled in Oxford. In 1852, he moved to Louisburg. In 1866, he was elected to the legislature, receiving every vote in the county. When the civil war began he entered the army as captain of the forty-seventh regiment, commanded by the late Sion H. Rogers. His company was ordered to New Berne, where he received his "first baptism of fire," at Banrington's Ferry; and again at Blount's Creek. At the bloody battle of Gettysbury, his regiment was in the heaviest of the fight, and Captain Davis was wounded and taken a prisoner; he was confined at Fort Delaware and at Johnson's Island for twenty months, during this period, the curtain fell on the scene of war and he was discharged on parole. He returned home and resumed his profession.

        He was selected as one of the electros in 1868, on the Seymour and Blair ticket, and was nominated in 1874, and triumphantly elected to congress; again in 1876, and again in 1878. He married Kate, the daughter of Robert J. Shaw, and has an interesting family.

        We might say much of Mr. Davis' course in congress, but this speaks for itself. No one was more attentive and faithful, and earnestly esteemed by all who knew him. Much to the loss of the nation and the regrets of his associates, he declined a re-nomination to congress.

Page 173 of 471
Index - Contents
Featured Books & CD-ROMS