Surely we have great cause for thankfulness for the example of such a life, prolonged as it was beyond the period assigned by the Psalmist as the limit of human existence, for it is such men as he was, men of prayer and men of truth, who constitute the strength and power of a State. For more than forty years he was a faithful minister of the Gospel, but the time at length approached for the aged warrior of the cross to cease from his labors. To him death had no terrors, for his life had been but a preparation for eternity. His house was in order, for lengthening shadows had long been gathering around him, and so at last when the summons came on the evening of January 4, 1881, it found him ready and he gently fell asleep--a peaceful, blessed sleep, and bishops and priests, the high and the low, the rich and the poor, a vast multitude gathered around his bier with bowed heads and stifled sobs as he was borne onward to the grave--for he was a good man. On the 7th of January, 1881, he was interred under the altar of St. James' Church, Wilmington, North Carolina, of which parish he was once rector.
The aforegoing sketch is nearly verbatim the sketch prepared by Colonel James G. Burr, and published in the "New South," edited and published at Wilmington by Edward A. Oldham.
Colonel William McRee of United States Engineer Corps, (born 1787--died 1833), is the subject of a memoir written and published in Wilmington; by it our attention is called to a worthy and almost forgotten son, whose military talents, according to the testimony of Mr. Calhoun, General Scott and others, was of the highest order.
His father was Collector of Customs and an officer in the Revolutionary War, and died in 1801. He was born in 1787; educated at West Point, in 1803, and was made, in 1807, a Captain of Engineers, and promoted to Major in 1812. In the war of 1812 he was engaged on our Northern borders, under Scott, Brown, Gaines and others, and was particularly distinguished in the battles of Lunday's Lane, and Fort Erie, and won from General Scott the eulogium, that in his opinion and perhaps in the opinion of the whole army, that he combined more genius with high courage than any officer in the war of 1812. Shortly after the battle of Fort Erie, he was promoted to Colonel by brevet.
In 1815 he was sent to Europe for the purpose of examining the military schools and fortifications--and on his return made an able report. In 1819, indignant that a foreigner--General Bernard--should be appointed in the Engineer Corps, he resigned. He died of cholera in May, 1833, and was buried at St. Louis, Missouri. His name is preserved on a beautiful fort at Pensacola.
He left two brothers, Dr. James F. McRee of Wilmington, and Major Samuel McRee, United States Army. Uni. Mag. X. 196.
Dr. James F. McRee married Mary Ashe, daughter of W. H. Hill. He was the father of Griffith J. McRee, who married Penelope, daughter of Governor Iredell--the author of the "Life and Correspondence of Judge Iredell."
William B. Meares (born December 8, 1787, died October 11, 1841), deserves to be remembered among the distinguished men of this county; successful as a Lawyer and Planter.
His first appearance in public life was as Member of the Legislature in 1818, from the borough and as a Member in the State Senate in 1828-29-30-33.
"He was of great force of character, independent, decided in his opinions, and bold and fearless in expressing them. His mind was more solid than brilliant, and more practical than imaginative. He never, at the bar or in the Legislature, or on the hustings, attempted to influence his hearers by any appeal to their feelings; but relied solely upon the strength of argument; clear and concise statements, and sound logic.
He was, when in the Legislature, a candidate for the Senate of the United States, and had he lived, would have risen to high distinction in the National Councils as he had already occupied in the State Legislature. But he died suddenly in
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