MY BAXTER FAMILY

MY BAXTER FAMILY

My immigrant ancestor was William Baxter, who was born about 1760 and died in 1853. He came from Ireland to America in 1789. In 1812 he married Catherine Lee, who was born about 1792 in Virginia. Their daughter and my great-great grandmother Elizabeth was born about 1815. She married Amos Harrill on 30 Mar 1837 in Rutherford Co NC and their daughter, Orra A. Harrill, married Thomas F. Toms.

During my research in the NC State Archives I located the following original documents among the Rutherford Co NC loose court papers (spelling as in originals):

N. Carolina              }
Rutherford County    }    This day personally appeared before us two of the Justices for sd County, Jessee Gibbs and after being duly sworn as the Law directs deposeth and saith, as follows (to wit) That he the said Jessee was acquainted with a certain Negro wench named Files that belonged to a Certain John Oxford about sixteen or eighteen years ago, and he the deponant saith that he knew the Said Wench for the space of four or five years while she continued in the possession of the said John Oxford, and he further saith that he knew the said wench, not to ne a sound well Negro, but that she had a large runing sore on one of her legs which at times would almost heal up, and at other times would break out in a large Sore half as big as his hand or near it, and he the deponant also saith that he knew the said Wench to be with a Doctress on account of the said sore leg for some time but how long he is not certain but he further saith that he knew the said wench for some time after She came from under the hands of the sd doctress and that the sd sore appeared to continue as bad as Before and the deponant further saith that he heard the sd Wench frequently complain of a pain in one of her arms and both her knees which She complained were Sweln but, as to the Certainty of which he knows not.
Plantif Question 1st. The deponant being asked from this acquaintance he had with the said Negro and her Infirmities whether or no she was ever rendered incapable of doing common business.
Answer 1st. Says that she was unable to work nearly one third of her time and was complaining at the best.
Question 2nd. The deponant being asked whether he considered the sd Negro in her then condition to be any advantage to her owner or not.
Answer 2nd. That he thought She was Nearly as much cost as profit.
Question 3rd. The deponant being asked if he had bought the said Negro for a sound Negro whether he would have considered himself Cheated or not.
Answer 3rd. Saith if the Negro had continued as She was while he knew her he Should have thought his money thrown away.
Question 4th. The deponant being asked by the plaintiff if he knew him the Said plaintiff ever to be possessed of the said Negro.
Answered that he knew from information that Oxford sold the said Negro to a Certain Mr. McKey and further that he saw the sd Wench at the Baxters and knew her to be the same.

Defendant Question 1st the deponant being asked if he thought any man might be deceaved in the sd Negro so far as to take her for a sound Negro afrom her appearance.
Answered that he thought they might.
Question 2nd the deponant being asked if he was acquainted with the said Negro after she was sold to Mr. McKey answered, that he was not and farther the Deponant saith not sworn before us and subscribed August 18th 1797.                                                                                    his
J Bedford JP; Chas. Lewis JP                                        Jessee    X    Gibbs
                                                                                                   mark

 


N. Carolina              }
Rutherford County    }    This day personally appeared before me one of the Justices for said County Peggy Suttle and made oath in due form of Law as follows (to wit) That She the said deponant was at the Court House in Said County at a Certain time not Remembered but at some Court and saw a Certain Negro wench exposed to publick Sale, and the deponant also saith that She saw a Certain Charles Grant and a Certain Anthony Dickey aside talking, and after some time the sd Anthony came to where the sd Negro was exposed as afforesaid and some person, to her the Deponant now unknown asked the sd Anthony if he would warrant the sd Negro to be a sound Negro, and he answered that he would Warrant the sd Negro to be sound, and the deponant further saith that a Certain William Baxter purchased the said Negro at the sale aforesaid.

The Deponant being asked by the Defendant if she the Deponant was Carrying on the sale of the sd Negro at the time he warranted her to be sound as afforesaid answer'd that she did not know who; or whether the said Anthony Cryed her attall or not.

Sworn to before me and subscribed August 25th 1797.

                                                                                                           her
J Bedford JP                                                                           Peggy   X   Suttle
                                                                                                          mark


N. Carolina              }
Rutherford County    }    This day personally appeared before me one of the Justices for sd County, John Baber and made Oath as follows (to wit) That She the said Deponant knew a Certain William Baxter to be possessed of a Negro wench called Filice and that he the deponant had understood by Information what the sd Baxter had given for the said Negro, and thought her Cheap enough at the same and the deponant also saith that he had determined in his mind to purchase the said wench of the sd Baxter if he the sd Baxter would take the same money for the sd wench that he gave But before the sd Deponant made the sd Baxter any proposition about the sd Negro he the deponant understood that the sd Negro had something the matter with one of her legs which caused him to decline the Intention of purchasing the sd wench and the deponent further saith that after some time he saw the sd leg as afforsaid at which time he the deponant would not have given anything of Consequence for the sd Negro.
The Deponant being asked by the defendant how long before the death of the sd Negro that he saw her leg as afforsaid Answered but a few day but how many he is not Certain, and the deponant also saith that he had the sd Negro at work, one day in his plantation and that She performed telerable ["tolerable"] well and he thought her a very good hand untill he heard she was unsound But he did not know that She was unsound at that time and further the deponant saith not, Sworn to & subscribed before me August 25th 1797.

J Bedford JP                                                            s/ John Baber


N. Carolina              }
Rutherford County    }    This day personally appeared before me one of the Justices for sd County, Mrs Milly Webb and made Oath in due form of Law as follows (to wit) That a Certain Negro Wench Called filles, in the possession of William Baxter Came to the House of Robert Webb her Husband and appeared to be in a fright and desired her to persuad the sd Robert on the occation and he Refused to go with her and then the sd Wench prevailed with her the sd Deponant to go with her to the sd Baxters as afforesaid and when they got near to the house of the sd Baxter the sd Wench stopd and the sd deponant went to the house of the sd Baxter as afore said, and the sd wench Came in, in a short time and prevailed with Mrs Baxter and the sd deponant to go to the Still house of him the said Baxter; wher he then was, and they accordingly went with her to the still House, where she the sd wench fell on her knees before the sd Baxter & the sd Baxter gave her a punch in the stomach with which she fell back which punch was given with an axe Helve or handle as she believes; and the Deponant also saith that the sd Baxter appeared to be very angry at the time of giving the stroke as afforesaid, and the deponant farther saith that the sd wench came to the House of the sd Robert Webb as afforesaid at another time when One of her ears appeared to be swoln and some drops of Blood appeared on her Cheek; but how the sd wench Came by the hurt as afforesaid the deponant knows not &c - -
The Deponant being asked by the plantiff Mr. Baxter, if she thought that the punch given the sd Negro by the said Baxter as afforesaid, looked like taking life. Answered that she did not know, that it did and the deponant also saith that after the sd stroke the said wench Came to the dwelling house of the sd Baxter as afforesaid and that Mrs Baxter gave her a Cvup of Milk or something to eat and she the sd Wench went into the Chitchen but whether she eat it or not She the deponant does not know.
The Deponant being asked if the sd Baxter gave the sd Negro any Strokes after she fell back as afforesaid answered that she believes Baxter did give her some strokes after she fell Back as afforesaid but how many or what with She does not know, but she thinks it was not with the above sd axe helve or handle.
The Deponant being asked by the Defendant if she ever under stood that the sd wench ever got frostbitten by Running away or at any other time answered that she heard the sd Negro Complain herself that her toes was frost bitten the certainty of which she does not know; they appeared to be sore.
The Deponant being asked by the plaintiff if she Considered that the sd wench suffered for victuals or Clothes answered that she did not & farther saith not, sworn before me August 25th 1797.

                                                                                                         her
J Bedford JP                                                                           Milly   X   Webb
                                                                                                        mark


N. Carolina              }
Rutherford County    }    This day personally appeared before me one of the Justices for sd County, Robert Webb and made oath in due form of Law as follows (to wit) That he the deponant was at the Court house in sd County at a Certain time in the time of Court and saw a Certain Negro Wench exposd to sale which he the deponant understood from Information to be the property of a Certain Charles Grant and was exposd as afforesaid an Cryed by a Certain James Morriss as he thinks and after some time a Certain Anthony Dickey Came forward, and asked leave to Cry the said Negro as he thinks; and that he the Deponant heard some person ask the said Anthony if he the sd Anthony would warrant the said Negro to be sound and he the said Anthony Refused so to do. But after some time he the said Anthony went aside with the afforesaid Charles Grant as he thinks and returned in a short time to the place where the sd Negro was exposed to sale as afforesaid and proceeded to Cry the said Negro again and being asked the same question a Second time whether he the sd Anthony would Warrant the said Negro to be sound which question he the deponant thinks was asked by himself and the said Anthony answered that he would warrant her the afforesd Wench to be a sound Negro and the sd deponant also saith that he perticularly Noticed the afforesaid questions & answers because he himself was Bidding for the sd Negro and the deponant farther saith that a Certain William Baxter purchashed the sd Negro at the afforesaid sale.
Plantiff question, the deponant being asked if ever he saw anything the Matter with the said Negro after he the sd plaintiff had her in his possession. Answered that he saw her leg some time after him the sd Baxter had her and it appeared to be very bad with some kind of a sore.
The deponant being asked by the Defendant if he knew the said Negro to be the property of Charles Grant, answered that he did not.
The deponant being asked by the defendant how long after the sd Baxter had the sd Negro Before he saw her leg as afforesaid. Answered that it was the greatest part of the time that Mr. Baxter had her before he saw her leg as afforesaid, but that he heard that she had something the matter with her leg a few days after Baxter had her.
The deponant being asked by the defendant if he did not purchase the said Negro from the said Baxter. Answered that he the deponant had a 2 year old Horse Coult which he expected to die with some kind of a distimber Commonly calld the yellow water, and propositions of an exchange by some means took place between the sd Baxter and himself and he the deponant accordingly Gave the sd Coult as afforesaid to the sd Baxter for the above Mentioned negro Considering them both to be dead property as well at the delivery as at the first proposition of the said exchange as aforesaid.
The deponant being asked by the defendant if the Said Negro Wench ever Run away and Came to his the deponants House. Answered that the sd Negro Came to his house and appeared to be in a fright and he supposed her to be Run away, and also that she desird Mrs Webb to go home with her, which she according did or at least sit out so to do.
The deponant being asked by the Defendant if the sd Negro ever Came to his House when she had the appearance of any abuse on her answered that she did come there once & appeared to be hurt on her ear, or at least her ear appeared to be swoln but he knows not what occationed the Same.
The deponant being asked by the plaintiff if he the sd plantiff at the time of the exchange afforesd did not tell him the sd deponant that he the Baxter Believed that the sd Wench would die in a few days, answered that the sd Baxter told him the sd Deponant that he believed the said Wench would die by which the sd Deponant understood him the sd Baxter to mean, that the sd Negro would die with the Disease then on her and in a short time, and the deponant farther saith that the next morning after the exchange as afforesaid him the sd deponant went to the House of the sd William Baxter and told him the sd William Baxter that he thought the sd wench past all Recovery and that he the sd Robert thought they might as well be off, the affore said Bargain or exchange as afforesaid, and the sd Baxter readily agreed to the same, and told him the sd Robert to take his Coult as afforesaid and also sent some whiskey to the sd Negro.
The deponant being asked by the Defendant how long the sd Negro livd after he Traded for her as afforesaid answered about two days.
The deponant being asked by the defendant if he gave the sd Baxter anything for a discant or Rue (?) Bargain answered that he did give him a Cow & Calf and that it was his own property so to do & farther saith not.

Sworn to & subscribed before me August 25th 1797.

                                                                                                           his
J Bedford JP                                                                           Robert  X   Webb
                                                                                                          mark

These documents were apparently related to Baxter's suit against Dickey for breach of warranty regarding the condition of the slave. Dickey obviously hoped to show that Baxter's ill treatment of the woman was the cause of any problems that she suffered. This is a sad glimpse into our past when, like Onesimus in the book of Philemon, slaves were considered property and therefore less than human.


My Baxter research also turned up the following article in Bridges to the Past, vol. I, pp. 100-101 (Feb. 3, 1971) that was based upon information supplied by Miss Irene Harrill and Mrs. B. F. Collins, Jr. of Forest City, NC:

Rutherford County's William Baxter Was A Hardy Gent...

WILLIAM BAXTER was born in Baintbridge, County Down, Ireland, in the year 1759. He was the son of David Baxter and Esther (McDOWELL) Baxter, who were of Scottish descent. 

In 1787, William Baxter, along with one of his brothers, left Ireland for America, landing at Charleston, South Carolina. From Charleston, he moved north into Mecklenburg County, N.C., where, in 1788, he married SARAH BERRYHILL, a daughter of WILLIAM BERRYHILL. Soon thereafter, in 1789, he migrated into Rutherford County, settling about 4 miles southeast of Forest City on the banks of Broad River. He was a prosperous farmer, and acquired much land, including the area where the towns of Caroleen and Henrietta now stand. William Baxter was a hardy man, and according to family tradition, never had a cold in his long life, perhaps attributed to the fact that he "sniffed" snuff from his silver snuff-box. It is also said that at his death at age 92, he possessed a full set of perfect teeth, although he never used a toothbrush in his life.

Twelve children were born to William and Sarah (Berryhill) Baxter, but we only have been able to establish the identity of nine of these, that are mentioned in his last will and testament.

  1. William Baxter, Jr. married NANCY SUTTLE
  2. James P. Baxter
  3. Margaret Baxter married JOHN COSTON
  4. Joseph Baxter married MARY BABER
  5. Andrew Baxter married SARAH HORTON
  6. Thomas Baxter married first, AROZONA HAYNES, and second JANE PHILLIPS
  7. Sarah Baxter married BENJAMIN F. SUTTLE
  8. Carolina Baxter married WILLIAM HILL
  9. Mary Baxter married JOHN TODD

The other three children by his first wife might have died in their infancy, or, were most likely dead before his will was written in November, 1845.

Sarah (Berryhill) Baxter died in 1812 and was buried in the family plot on the plantation.

A few months after his first wife's death, William Baxter married CATHERINE LEE, daughter of JAMES LEE. To this union were born eight (8) children:

  1. Jane Lee Baxter (b. Apr 14, 1813) married Sept. 1, 1832 to SPENCER EAVES
  2. Elizabeth Baxter (b. June 26, 1815) married AMOS HARRILL
  3. Esther McDowell Baxter (b. Feb. 5, 1817) married Apr. 9,  1835 to MICAJAH DURHAM
  4. John Baxter (b. Mar. 5, 1819) married Oct. 7, 1836 to MAHALA HINES; and married a second wife ORRA ALEXANDER on June 26, 1842
  5. David Baxter (b. Aug. 5, 1822)
  6. George Baxter (b. July 21, 1824)
  7. Elisha Baxter (b. Sep 1, 1827) married HARRIETT NEWELL PATTON on Aug. 16, 1847 and
  8. Taylor Alexander Baxter (b. Feb. 22, 1832) married first, CHARITY PATTON, second, RACHEL PATTON, and third, PAULINE TURNER

Some of these second generation families later migrated from Rutherford County, including David Baxter, whom it is said went to Australia where he established an iron works. Elisha and Taylor Baxter migrated into Arkansas, where they established a mercantile business in 1853 in Batesville. Elisha soon thereafter took an active part in politics, was elected to the Arkansas legislature in 1854 and again in 1858, was appointed a Circuit Judge in 1868, and elected Governor of the State in 1872.

Taylor Baxter, after the failure of the mercantile business in Batesville, later migrated to Larned, Kansas. John Baxter was a lawyer, served in the N.C. House of Representatives from Rutherford Co. in 1842, and after moving to Henderson County, represented that county in the General Assembly 1846-48 and 1852-57. In 1857 he moved to Knoxville, Tennessee where he practiced law, and later was appointed a U.S. Circuit Judge, for the district comprising the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan.

Of the second generation families who remained in the Rutherford-Cleveland county area, all were prominent in the early history of this area. George W. Baxter was a lawyer, served as assistant clerk of the Rutherford County Court, and later, as County Solicitor and died in 1854 at age 30. The Durham, Harrill, Eaves, and Suttle families remained in this area and their contribution to the early development and growth of the county is well known. William Baxter, Jr. was murdered, along with his son, James, and a niece, Carolina Baxter, in September, 1838 while on a business trip to Georgia. 

Catherine (Lee) Baxter, second wife, of William, died on April 13, 1839 at age 47 and was buried in the family cemetery.

William Baxter died at age 92 years, on Oct. 12, 1852 and was also buried in the family plot. His Last Will and Testament was filed for probate in the Rutherford County Court at the February term, 1853, and lists those 17 children included in the above information. The will also made a bequest to his nephew, John Baxter. As was mentioned earlier, at least one brother of William Baxter came to this area, probably at the same time as did William. The brother's name was Joseph Baxter, and although we have not been able to obtain any positive information on this line, local descendants state that he settled in the Gilkey section of Rutherford County.


The April 28, 1971 column of Bridges to the Past (vol. I, pp. 119-120) contained this article . . .

On The Baxter Family Cemetery

The old William Baxter Family Cemetery is located on the west side of county road #1910 about 4 miles southeast of Forest City. From the fading inscriptions on the tombstones scattered across the hillside, one can visualize the lives, loves, and tragedies of this family a family that has given this county some of its most prominent citizens.

The first tombstone one looks for, of course, is that of the proginitor of the family, William Baxter. A very simple stone, inscribed briefly with only "William Baxter died Oct. 12, 1852 Age 93 yrs". Nearby is the grave of his first wife, "Sarah Baxter, wife of William Baxter; daughter of William Berryhill; 1766-1812"; and the grave of his second wife, which reads "Sacred to the Memory of Catherine Baxter, who departed this life April 13, 1839, aged 47 years. The dec'd lived a worthy member of the Methodist Church for 25 years, where she manifested a strong desire for the promotion of Christ's cause. She died in the triumph of faith and is gone to receive her reward."

There are several graves marked only with field stones, but among those that are marked, one can see the connections to many of the other early families of this area.

"In memory of William Eaves, son of S. J. Eaves, who died Sept 19 1835 aged 17 months and 21 days"; "In memory of S. M. Baxter, who died March 1, 1818, aged 17 months and 13 days"; "In Memory of Ursila F., daughter of K. T. and J. F. Carpenter, born April 26, 1862 died June 18, 1862"; In Memory of Nancy Suttle, who died Sept 6, 181-, aged 4 months; Judith F., wife of K. T. Carpenter, daughter of B. F. Suttle, born Dec 29, 1829, died Feb 17, 1863; Caldony D. Carpenter, born Sep 30, 1850, died Nov 13, 1854.

"In Memory of Christeany A. Baxter, Consort of T. Baxter, died Sept 9, 1843, aged 23 years; She lived as she died a Christian; a member of the Methodist Church. Buried beneath this monument Sept 10th, with her infant daughter in her arms."

"In Memory of Susannah M. Baxter, consort of T. Baxter, died Jan 24, 1842, aged 32 yrs. She lived as she died affectionate wife, mother, friend; a Christian. A member of the M. E. Church for 12 years."

"Benjamin F. Suttle, son of George Suttle and Nancy Byars Suttle. Sept 6, 1800   May 2, 1859"; Sarah Suttle, wife of Benjamin Suttle, daughter of Wm. Baxter. Born Sept 9, 1806 died Oct 1, 1849";

"J. D. Harrill, son of J. & S. Harrill born Aug 14, 1857 died Jun 14, 1858 age 10 mos"; O. M. Harrill born Feb 11, 1856 died Aug 28, 1862; J. W. Harrill, born Aug 14, 1857 died Sept 27, 1862; J. B. Harrill, born May 1, 1860 died Aug 27, 1862."

And side by side are three graves, one adult and two children, which indicate a shocking tragedy that occurred in the family in the early autumn of 1838, the details of which have been published through the years and will not be necessary to repeat here. "Sacred to the Memory of William Baxter who was murdered on the 30th night of Sept 1838 with his son and niece. Aged 42 years." "Sacred to the Memory of Carolina Baxter who was murdered on the 30th night of Sept 1838 with her uncle and cousin. Aged 13 years." "Sacred to the Memory of James Baxter who was murdered on the 30th night of Sept 1838 with his father and cousin. Aged 12 years."

 

 

Last Updated Wednesday, September 06, 2000 08:06 PM