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DUPLIN COUNTY REGISTERS OF DEEDS

Years
Register of Deeds
Years
Register of Deeds
1750-1752 John Sampson 1881-1890

Henry C. Moore

1753-1762 John Dickson 1891-1892 Thad Jones, Jr.
1763-1765 James Sampson 1893-1894 Luther B. Carr
1766-1772 Thomas Blake 1895-1898 Thad Jones, Jr.
1773-1783 Richard Clinton 1899-1902 B. F. Pearsall
1784-1811 James Dickson 1903-1906 Chauncey S. Carr
1812-1832 Thomas Routledge 1907-1924 James J. Bowden
1833-1840 Nicholas Routledge 1925-1932

Lawrence Southerland

1841-1848 George Smith 1932-1952 Albert Timothy Outlaw
1849-1854 Alex T. Stanford 1952-1988 Christine W. Williams
1855-1863 Thomas J. Kenneair 1988-2000 Joyce Williams West
1864 W. W. Whitehead 2000- Davis Hiram Brinson
1865-1880 James M. Sprunt    

JOHN SAMPSON

Duplin County’s 1st Register (1750-52)

One of the many Scots-Irish drawn to the fertile soils of eastern North Carolina in search of a better life and religious toleration was John Sampson.   He arrived in the colony and settled in Wilmington.  In 1761, Sampson came into possession of a tract of over 12,000 acres of land in Duplin County and on it built a plantation called Sampson Hall.  He quickly became one of the wealthier planters and businessmen of the Cape Fear region.
 
Sampson was one of the most prominent military leaders in the Cape Fear region of Colonial North Carolina.  In 1747, he took up arms and commanded a company of men from the upper part of New Hanover County to defend the region against a Spanish invasion.   He again took up arms in the defense of the colonial government in 1771 when a group of backcountry farmers calling themselves the “Regulators” defiantly refused to pay fees, terrorized those who administered the law, and disrupted court proceedings in the western counties of the colony.  Sampson led a group of militia from the Duplin County area.  He served as a Lt. General in Governor William Tryon’s forces and helped to bring the revolt to a speedy conclusion at the Battle of Alamance. Sampson was also an active figure in the Revolutionary War affairs serving in the county’s militia.

In addition to his military service, he was very also involved in local, colonial and later state government affairs.  Not only did he serve as Duplin County’s first Register of Deeds from 1750-52, but also as the first mayor of Wilmington, North Carolina in 1760.  In 1779, he served on Governor Caswell’s Council of State.

When the western part of Duplin County was split to create a new county in 1784, at the request of Richard Clinton who was either Sampson’s nephew or step-son and benefactor, the newly created county was named “Sampson” in his honor.

JOHN DICKSON

Duplin County’s 2nd Register (1753-62)

John Dickson was born in Ireland, about the year 1704.  He came to America around 1736 and located in Chester County, Pennsylvania where he lived for a few years. He then lived for a short time in Maryland and located permanently in Duplin (then New Hanover) County, NC, about the year 1744. His home place was on Elder Branch, a stream that feeds Maxwell Creek.  It was purchased by him in two or more tracts from Captain Archibald Douglass, of the Kingdom of Great Britain and others. His land on Goshen, where he had lived for a short time, was sold to Capt. Joseph GRIMES.

Colonel Dickson was said to be a well educated merchant.  His handwriting among the old records is a model of excellence. When the county of Duplin was formed from New Hanover in the year 1750, Colonel John Sampson became the first Register (now Register of Deeds), but on account of the excellence of Colonel Dickson's handwriting, the duties of that office were performed by him as the Deputy Register. During the year 1751 he became Clerk of the County Court and served through the year 1762. At the same time he also served as Duplin’s second Register from 1753 to 1762. 

In addition to his service as Clerk of Court and Register of Deeds, he was also a member of the Colonial Assembly in the year 1762 and a local militia officer for many years.

No records of Mr. Dickson’s marriage or marriages can be located, but it is known that he had nine children.  Upon his death in 1774, he named eight sons and one daughter as his heirs.  Their names were listed as follows: Michael Dickson, John Dickson, William Dickson, Robert Dickson, Joseph Dickson, Alexander Dickson, Edward Dickson, James Dickson, and Mary Dickson.

Dickson’s children were also prominent figures in Duplin County’s early history.  Joseph was a surveyor, legislator and Chairman of the County Court for many years.  James inherited his father’s plantation on Elder Branch and in addition to being a prominent planter also served as Register of Deeds of Duplin County for a period of 28 years from 1784-1811.  Michael was an outstanding patriot during the Revolutionary War and served as an officer in SC and GA.  His son William was a surveyor, Colonial Assemblyman, Revolutionary officer and Clerk of the Duplin County Court for a period of 45 years.  His grandson, William Dickson II, who was born in Duplin County but moved to Tennessee where he became a prominent physician and politician of that State.   He was Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1801-1806.

Colonel Dickson died at his home on Elder Branch, Christmas Day 1774, leaving a large and prominent family.


JAMES SAMPSON

Duplin County’s 3rd Register (1763-65)

James Sampson is said to have been the nephew of John Sampson Duplin County’s first Register. 

In 1771, he served as a Colonel under the command of Royal Governor William who led troops into present day Alamance County to quell a rebellion of backcountry farmers who were revolting over issues of taxation and local control.  The skirmish became known as the Battle of Alamance.   

In 1763, Mr. Sampson was appointed to serve as both Duplin County’s Register and as the Clerk of the Court.  He served as Register for only three years from 1763 until the end of 1765 but continued to serve as the Clerk of the Court thru 1776. 

In the change from British Colonial to American rule, in 1776, William Dickson, a Duplin County patriot, was appointed to succeed Sampson as Clerk.  Sampson steadfastly refused to deliver the county records an apparently some of the record was never delivered.  Due to his seizure of the records and refusal to relinquish them to the county authorities, the General Assembly passed an act demanding that he return the records immediately.  The act went on to authorize that if he failed to produce the records he was to be arrested and held in the common jail until the records were returned.

THOMAS BLAKE

Duplin County’s 4th Register (1766-72)

RICHARD CLINTON

Duplin County’s 5th Register (1773-83)

Richard Clinton was born in November of 1733 possibly in Shopshire, England.  It is said that at the age of fifteen he immigrated to the colony of North Carolina with Col. John Sampson who was either his uncle or step-father.  Col. Sampson settled in Wilmington and it was here that young Clinton was reared and received his formal education.  In the early 1760’s, Clinton and Col. Sampson began acquiring property in what was then Duplin County and took up residence there. 

On November 29, 1768, Royal Governor Richard Tryon commissioned Clinton one of the justices for Duplin County.  He continued to serve in this capacity through successive appointments until the outbreak of the American Revolution.  He also served as Duplin County’s Register of Deeds from 1774-1783. In 1773, he served on a committee for the rebuilding of Duplin County’s Courthouse. 

In 1771, Clinton began a distinguished military career as he joined Governor Tryon’s militia to quell a rebellion of backcountry farmers that had been brewing in the western counties for many years.  He marched from eastern North Carolina with the Cape Fear militia to the banks of the Alamance Creek in what is now Alamance County.  There he and his fellow militiamen fought what became known as the Battle of Alamance.

Clinton distinguished himself as an American patriot in the struggle for independence from Britain.  In 1775 he was a member of the Third Provincial Congress, which met in Hillsboro, NC on August 20th.  On September 9, 1775, the Congress appointed his brother in law James Kenan as a colonel in the militia and Clinton as a lieutenant colonel.  In 1776, he organized a company of militia minutemen from upper Duplin County and led them as captain in the defense of Wilmington against the British. He was later appointed Colonel of Calvary and Brigadier General of the Fayetteville District. He fought in the Battle of Elizabethtown and the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge.  In 1787, Clinton was appointed brigadier general of the militia by the state legislature.  

Upon the establishment of the state government of North Carolina by the Halifax Constitution of 1776, Richard Clinton selected to represent Duplin County as one of the first members of the House of Commons when it first convened in April of 1777.  He went on to serve in subsequent session of the House of Commons in 1778, 1779, and 1783; and in the North Carolina Senate in 1780. 

In 1784, Clinton secured passage of the act creating a new county from the western part of Duplin County.  He proposed the name "Sampson" in honor of John Sampson, his stepfather and benefactor.  He again served in the General Assembly as Sampson County’s first Senator during the 1784 session.  Clinton donated a portion of his plantation for a public square and courthouse, and a lot for a public school to the citizens of the newly created county. The area became known as Clinton Courthouse and the county seat was officially named Clinton in his honor in 1818. 

In 1763 he married Penelope Kenan the daughter of Thomas Kenan and Elizabeth Johnston Kenan.  Their union produced nine children: Owen, Richard, William Sampson, Nancy Ann, Mary Eliza, Rachel, Arabella, Elizabeth, and Thomas.  Richard Clinton died on January 23, 1795 in Sampson County.

JAMES DICKSON

Duplin County’s 6th Register (1784-1811)

James Dickson, the youngest son of John Dickson (abt. 1704-1774), was born in 1784 and spent his entire life in Duplin County.  His father had immigrated to America from Ireland to the Colony of Pennsylvania in 1738 and settled in Chester County where he resided for several years. He then moved to Maryland, where he remained for only a very brief period before leaving for Duplin County between the years 1740 and 1745.   

James Dickson married twice during his lifetime and had fifteen children, eight boys and seven girls.  His first wife was Dorothy Pearsall, daughter of James Pearsall with whom he had eleven children.   His second wife was Susannah Powell Carr, widow of James Carr.  The marriage of James and Susannah produced four more children namely: Benjamin Oliver Dickson, Robert Dickson, Joseph Dickson, and James Dickson, Jr.    

It has been reported that as a reward for military services James Dickson received large grants of land in Tennessee from the United States Government; but there is no definitive information as to what services he performed.  William Dickson in one of his letters says none of the brothers except him actually took up arms and joined the army. He may have rendered some services in the war of 1812, but again there is no direct information on this point. It is known however that James Dickson owned large estates in Tennessee and his three oldest sons, Edward, William and Alexander, emigrated there in the early part of the19th century and took possession of them.

James Dickson was selected Duplin County Register of Deeds by the county’s Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions in 1784.  He served for a total of 28 years until his death in 1811.

THOMAS ROUTLEDGE

Duplin County’s 7th Register (1812-32)

Thomas Routledge, Jr. was most likely born in Duplin County about 1771.  His parents were Thomas Routledge, Sr. (1727-1801) and Catherine James Pearsall. 

He married Mildred Morgan of New Hanover County.  It is believed but not confirmed that the couple had nine children.  Their children are thought to have been: Catherine, Thomas III, Morgan, Mary Ann, Nicholas, Dolly or Dorothy Pearsall, Ezekiel, Margaret Eleanor, and Edward Pearsall Routledge.
The Routledge family was one of the most prominent and influential families in the early history of Duplin County.  Thomas’ father, Col. Thomas Routledge, Sr., was an officer in the Revolutionary War and also served as Sheriff of Duplin County 1779-80.  His son, Nicholas Routledge, succeeded him in office as Duplin County’s Register of Deeds having served from 1833-40.  Another son, Edward Pearsall Routledge, served as Duplin County Clerk Superior of Law and Equity from 1854-55.

Thomas Routledge, Jr., served as Duplin County Register of Deeds from 1812-32.


NICHOLAS ROUTLEDGE

Duplin County’s 8th Register (1833-40)

Nicholas Routledge was born about the year 1813 in Duplin County.  He was the son of Thomas Routledge, Jr. (1771-1833) and Mildred Morgan.

The Routledge family was one of the most prominent and influential families in the early history of Duplin County.  Nicholas’ grandfather, Col. Thomas Routledge, Sr., was an officer in the Revolutionary War and also served as Sheriff of Duplin County 1779-80, and his father, Thomas Routledge, Jr., preceded him in office as Duplin County’s Register of Deeds having served from 1812-32.  Nicholas’ brother, Edward Pearsall Routledge, served as Duplin County Clerk Superior of Law and Equity from 1854-55.

He served as Duplin County Register of Deeds from 1833-40.

According to the federal census mortality schedule, Nicholas Routledge died of cancer at the age of 37 in November of 1850 in the North Division of Duplin County.

 

GEORGE SMITH

Duplin County’s 9th Register (1841-48)

George Smith was born on November 22, 1804 in the Smith Township of Duplin County.  He was most likely the son of Jones Smith (abt. 1775-1832) and Mary Jane Lockhart (abt. 1777-1859).

Mr. Smith’s first marriage was to Charity Grady (1814-1847).  They were married in Duplin County on December 20, 1830.  The couple had seven children: Jones Smith, Frederick Hensey Smith, George Edmond Smith, Elizabeth Smith, Sophie Ann Smith, Durham Grady Smith, and Daniel Lockhart Smith.  Charity Grady Smith died on April 21, 1847 at the age of 32 most likely the result of complications from childbirth. Her death was published in the Wilmington, North Carolina paper. 

In 1847, Smith took Elizabeth Grady (1822-1892) as his second wife. There were three children born of their union: Chauncey Graham Smith, Charity Ann Smith, and Susan Jane Smith.

Mr. Smith served as Duplin County Register of Deeds from 1841-1848.

The family continued to reside in Duplin County and farm until the Civil War.  George and Charity's sons, George, Jones and Frederick all served in the Confederate Army during the war in Georgia and for this reason it is believed that the family moved to Cherokee County, Georgia during the war. 

According to federal census records some time before 1870 the family moved to Yell County, Arkansas. 

The last know record of Mr. Smith had him living in the town of Weatherford in Parker County, Texas with his daughter Susan Jane Smith Harberger, her husband John C. Harberger and their four children. His occupation is listed as a farm hand. 

George Smith died in Parker County, Texas on October 30, 1880.  He is buried in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Parker County, Texas.

 

ALEX T. STANFORD

Duplin County’s 10th Register (1849-54)

Alexander Torrans Stanford was born on October 6, 1804 in Duplin County the eldest son of the Rev. Samuel Stanford (1764-1833) and Margaret Torrens (1777- ).  The Rev. Stanford was born in Chester County Pennsylvania and was a leading minister and educator in Duplin County for more than thirty years.  Alexander’s mother, Margaret, was the granddaughter of Thomas Kenan (abt. 1700-1765) who along with his wife Elizabeth Johnstone (1704-1789) had emigrated from Ireland to America in the 1730’s and settled on Turkey Branch near the present day Duplin-Sampson County line.

Mr. Stanford’s first marriage was to Martha Washington Dickson who was born in Cumberland County about 1812.  There were five children born of their marriage: John Dickson Stanford, George Washington Stanford, Leonidas Stanford, Henry Clinton Stanford, and Erasmas Scott Stanford.  Martha died at the age of 41 on August 11, 1853 and is buried in the Routlege Cemetery in Kenansville, NC.

On April 10, 1854, Stanford married Morgeana Sullivan.  Morgeana was born on September 6, 1835 in Duplin County the daughter of Hampton Sullivan (1811-1852) and Elizabeth Mcintire (1814-1885).  Stanford’s second marriage to Morgeana produced six children: Martha Stanford, Mary Agnes Stanford, Anna B. Stanford, Bettie Stanford, Ida H. Stanford, and Clara M. Stanford.  It is believed that Morgeana Sullivan died on February 27, 1914 in the town of Hamlet in Richmond County, NC.

Mr. Stanford was selected by the county’s Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions to serve as Duplin County’s tenth Register of Deeds in 1849 and served for the next six consecutive years.

Alexander Torrans Stanford died on December 23, 1890 at the age of 86.  He is buried along with his father, his first wife and two of his sons in the Routledge Cemetery located on Routledge Road at the eastern edge of the Kenansville city limits.

 

THOMAS J. KENNEAIR

Duplin County’s 11th Register of Deeds(1855-63)

Thomas James Kenneair, III was born the son of Thomas James Kenneair, II (1750- aft. 1806) and Susannah Kenan Kenneair (abt. 1776-aft. 1806) on September 15, 1800 in Duplin County.  He was the grandson of General James Kenan (1740-1810) who was a revolutionary war leader, member of the Provincial Congresses, a Brigadier General in the Militia and one of the founding trustees of the University of North Carolina.

He married Adeline Elizabeth Middleton (1810-1855) in Duplin County on November 5, 1829.  Adeline was the daughter of William Robert Middleton (1783-1839) and Alice “Ally” James (1786-1819).  Like her husband, Adeline was also the grandchild of a hero of the American Revolution namely Captain James Middleton (1736-1805).  Eight children were born to Thomas and Adeline during their marriage: Thomas Hinton Kenneair, Mary Alice Kenneair, Ann E. Kenneair, Susan Kenan Kenneair, Temperance Kenneair, Jememia Kenneair, Cornelia A. Kenneair, and Robert J. Kenneair.

Mr. Kenneair has the distinction of being the only person to serve as both Duplin County Sheriff and Register of Deeds.  In 1834, he was chosen by the Duplin County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions to serve as Sheriff and did so until 1838.  In 1855, he again offered himself for public service when he was selected to serve as the county’s Register of Deeds.  He held the position for a total of eight years until 1863. 

Thomas J. Kenneair, III died on December 18, 1881 at the age of 81.  He is buried in what is known as the Capt. James Middleton Cemetery which is located on a farm near the back of a cultivated field at the address of 1420 NC Highway 24 & 50, Warsaw, NC   28398.

 

W. W. WHITEHEAD

Duplin County’s 12th Register (1864)

Wiley W. Whitehead was born in Duplin County about 1837.  He was most likely the son of John Whitehead and Ann Oglesby. 

He was married to Cordelia Whitehead who was born in New Hanover County, North Carolina about 1843.  The couple had four children: Mattie Whitehead, Z.W. Whitehead, Lula Whitehead and Annie Susan Whitehead.

Mr. Whitehead was an attorney who practiced in Kenansville.  He set up his practice sometime between 1855 and 1860. 

He was chosen by the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions to serve as Register of Deeds for the year 1864.  His one year of service is the shortest tenure of any of Duplin’s Registers of Deeds. It is interesting to note that while Wiley was serving as Register of Deeds in 1864, John J. Whitehead whom it is thought to be his brother was also serving as the Clerk of Duplin County’s Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions.

Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory of 1872 indicates that Mr. Whitehead was still practicing law in Kenansville as late as 1872, but no records concerning Mr. Whitehead can be located after 1872. 

 

JAMES MENZIES SPRUNT

Duplin County’s 13th Register of Deeds (1865-80)

The Rev. James Menzies Sprunt, D.D., was born the son of Christina MacDonald (1785-1864) and Laurence Sprunt (1791-1867) on January 14, 1818 in Pertshire, Scotland.  He was educated at the University of Edinburgh.  After completing his education, he went to work for his brother in the West Indies. 

In 1839, after this venture failed, he decided to seek employment in the United States as a school teacher.  Sprunt set sail for New York but, his ship was damaged in a storm and was forced into port at Wilmington. 

While in Wilmington, Sprunt met Col. Thomas I. Faison who happened to be looking for a school teacher for a school called Springvale which was located near the Duplin/Sampson county line.  This position did not work out, but he soon learned of an opening for a teacher in nearby Hallsville.  He took the position and taught there for five years from 1839 until 1845.and later taught in several other schools, including Grove Academy in Kenansville.  Sprunt left the Grove Academy in 1860 when he was chosen to serve as principal of the Kenansville Female Institute.

At about the same time that he moved to Kenansville in 1845, Sprunt decided to also serve the community as a minister and was licensed by the Fayetteville Presbytery in 1849.  Two years later he became pastor of Grove Church in Kenansville. 

In 1861, he was appointed Chaplin for the 20th North Carolina Regiment.  He traveled with and bravely ministered to the troops until July, 1863 when he resigned due to dysentery. 

After the war, he remained active at Grove.  It is said that he was the most convincing and soul-searching of public speakers.  He was called to serve large and influential churches; he declined all calls and served his entire ministry in Duplin County.  He also ministered to many other local churches, served as clerk of the Wilmington Presbytery from 1872-1884 and was elected Moderator of the Synod of North Carolina.

In order to supplement his ministerial income, Rev. Sprunt offered himself for government service.  He became Duplin County’s Register of Deeds in 1865 and held the position until 1880. 

In addition to his ministerial and public service, Sprunt was an avid gardener and botanist.  He built terraced gardens and a greenhouse at his home in Kenansville and sold his plants to various collectors, including the national botanical gardens in Washington, D.C.  He even co-authored a book on the subject, Fauna and Flora of Eastern North Carolina.  Mr. Sprunt is given credit for breeding a disease-resistant yellow rose at his home in Kenansville.  Introduced in 1855, Sprunt named his rose the Isabella Sprunt Rose in honor of his daughter. 

Eleanor Hall (1821-1876) met and fell in love with Sprunt as he was serving as a teacher in the Hallsville Community.  The couple married on June 29, 1843.  Seven children were born from their union: Christiana Sprunt, Isabella Sprunt, Susan Sprunt, Nicholas Hall Sprunt, Edward James Sprunt, Catherine Priscilla Sprunt, and Margaret McCann Sprunt.

James Menzies Sprunt died at his home on Seminary Street adjacent to the Duplin County Courthouse in Kenansville on December 6, 1884.  He is buried on a hill overlooking the Northeast Cape Fear River in the Hallsville Community of Duplin County.   

Sprunt's legacy has survived due to the fact that he James Sprunt Institute founded in 1897, was named in his honor for his lasting contributions to the county.  The Institute closed around 1923 and the James Sprunt Technical Institute, now James Sprunt Community College, was founded in 1960, again named in his honor.  Additionally, his home and greenhouse later became the property of Grove Church, serving as the home for its ministers.  Today the home is the private resident of local attorneys Charles Marshal and Carolyn Burnette Ingram.

HENRY C. MOORE

Duplin County’s 14th Register of Deeds (1881-90)

Henry Clay Moore was born on the 16th day of March in 1836 in the North Division of Duplin County most likely in the present day Friendship Community.  His parents were Henry Moore (1793-1851) a farmer and Dorothy Ann Maxwell Middleton Moore (1804-1875). 

He was married to Harriot G. Swinson who was born in Duplin County, North Carolina on February 22, 1828.  The couple married at Friendship on February 2, 1860.  Their union produced six children included: Daniel S. Moore; Henry Y. Moore; Virginia P. Moore; Laura P Moore; Lucy Moore; and Fannie Hampton Moore. 

Like many of his contemporaries, Mr. Moore served in the confederate army during the Civil War.  Records indicate that he enlisted on December 11, 1861 at the age of 25.  He served in Company A of the 38th Regiment of North Carolina troops.  He initially was assigned the rank of private but was promoted twice before the war’s end.  On July 26, 1862, he was promoted to 3rd Lieutenant and on August 8, 1864, he was again promoted to the rank of Full 2nd Lieutenant.

Federal census records indicate that Mr. Moore and his family resided in the Faison Township after the war and that he was a farmer by trade. 

In 1881, he was elected Register of Deeds.  Mr. Moore and served five consecutive two year terms from 1881-90.

Henry Clay Moore passed away on December 16, 1999 and is buried in the David Middleton cemetery which is located at 279 Johnson Church Road near Warsaw, NC.

 

THAD JONES, JR.

Duplin County’s 15th and 17th Register of Deeds (1891-92 & 1895-1898)
 
Thaddeus Jones was born on July 23, 1868 in Wolfscrape Township which is located in the north central part of Duplin County.  He was the eldest son of nine children born to Marshal Bryan Jones (1827-1912) and Lucinda Lee (1832-1906).  It is interesting to note that Mr. Jones used the suffix Jr. to differentiate himself from his uncle Thaddeus S. Jones (1834-1904) and not his father.

Thaddeus Jones married Mittie Beverette Elmore on November 5, 1885 in Mount Olive, N.C.   Their marriage produced eight children: William Bryan Jones, Myrtle G. Jones, Leonidas Leroy Jones, Thaddeus Elmore Jones, Harmon Lee Jones, Frances Cornelia Jones, Helen Barr Jones, and Margaret Pearson Jones.

Mr. Jones was an attorney at law and practiced in Kenansville. He was also active in the Republican Party and served as acting Chairman of the county’s Republican Party in 1904.   

He was first elected Duplin County Register of Deeds in the election of 1890 and served one term from 1891-92.  He sought reelection to the post in 1892 but was defeated by Luther B. Carr.  The 1894 election was a rematch between Mr. Jones and Mr. Carr with Mr. Jones besting Mr. Carr by a margin of 1890 to 1529.  He ran again successfully in 1896 defeating Peter H. Kornegay by a margin of 2107 to 1453.  Mr. Jones’ last bid for Register of Deeds was in the election of 1898 in which he was defeated by B. Frank Pearsall by a margin of 2037 to 1913.  Mr. Jones left office in 1898.

It is very interesting to note that Mr. Jones served as Duplin County’s Superintendant of Schools between the years 1895-97 while he was also serving as Register of Deeds.

After his tenure as Register of Deeds, Mr. Jones did not retire from public service but assumed another government post when became the Postmaster for Kenansville.  He assumed his duties as Postmaster on January 27, 1899 and served until April 19, 1914.

Mr. Jones was a member of Kenansville Baptist Church.  According to both church records and Luther Addison Beasley’s 1937 church history, Mr. Jones served as a Sunday school teacher and also as Sunday school superintendant.  Church records also state that he was a lay preacher and reportedly assisted by local Christians in the Albertson Community, organized Jones Chapel Baptist Church in Albertson, N.C.

Thaddeus Jones, Jr. died on December 30, 1918 in Kenansville. 

 

LUTHER BARNETT CARR

Duplin County’s 16th Register of Deeds (1893-94)
 
Luther Barnett Carr was born on the 24th day of June in 1855 in the southern division of Duplin County.  He was the only son of John William Carr (1822-1904), a merchant and Anna Jane Wells (1831-1893).

Mr. Carr grew up in the Island Creek Township near Teachey.  By 1880, he was living in the Franklin Township in the southernmost part of neighboring Sampson County and was working as a clerk in a store.

In 1892, he was elected Register of Deeds and served one two year term from 1893-94.

On October 31, 1893 while serving as Register of Deeds, Mr. Carr married Ada V. Ellsworth (1862-1935) in the Island Creek Township of Duplin County.  The couple had four children: Mary G. Carr, Ada E. Carr, William A. Carr, and Norma Jane Carr.

The 1900 and 1910 federal census indicates that Mr. Carr and his family were residing in the Island Creek Township.  In 1900 his occupation is listed as a farmer.  By 1910, he was a rural mail carrier in Island Creek Township and in 1920 his occupation is listed as Postmaster.     

Mr. Carr passed away on March 5, 1929 and is buried in the Rockfish Presbyterian Cemetery just west of Wallace, NC.

 

THAD JONES, JR.

Duplin County’s 15th and 17th Register of Deeds (1891-92 & 1895-1898)
 
Thaddeus Jones was born on July 23, 1868 in Wolfscrape Township which is located in the north central part of Duplin County.  He was the eldest son of nine children born to Marshal Bryan Jones (1827-1912) and Lucinda Lee (1832-1906).  It is interesting to note that Mr. Jones used the suffix Jr. to differentiate himself from his uncle Thaddeus S. Jones (1834-1904) and not his father.

Thaddeus Jones married Mittie Beverette Elmore on November 5, 1885 in Mount Olive, N.C.   Their marriage produced eight children: William Bryan Jones, Myrtle G. Jones, Leonidas Leroy Jones, Thaddeus Elmore Jones, Harmon Lee Jones, Frances Cornelia Jones, Helen Barr Jones, and Margaret Pearson Jones.

Mr. Jones was an attorney at law and practiced in Kenansville. He was also active in the Republican Party and served as acting Chairman of the county’s Republican Party in 1904.   

He was first elected Duplin County Register of Deeds in the election of 1890 and served one term from 1891-92.  He sought reelection to the post in 1892 but was defeated by Luther B. Carr.  The 1894 election was a rematch between Mr. Jones and Mr. Carr with Mr. Jones besting Mr. Carr by a margin of 1890 to 1529.  He ran again successfully in 1896 defeating Peter H. Kornegay by a margin of 2107 to 1453.  Mr. Jones’ last bid for Register of Deeds was in the election of 1898 in which he was defeated by B. Frank Pearsall by a margin of 2037 to 1913.  Mr. Jones left office in 1898.

It is very interesting to note that Mr. Jones served as Duplin County’s Superintendant of Schools between the years 1895-97 while he was also serving as Register of Deeds.

After his tenure as Register of Deeds, Mr. Jones did not retire from public service but assumed another government post when became the Postmaster for Kenansville.  He assumed his duties as Postmaster on January 27, 1899 and served until April 19, 1914.

Mr. Jones was a member of Kenansville Baptist Church.  According to both church records and Luther Addison Beasley’s 1937 church history, Mr. Jones served as a Sunday school teacher and also as Sunday school superintendant.  Church records also state that he was a lay preacher and reportedly assisted by local Christians in the Albertson Community, organized Jones Chapel Baptist Church in Albertson, N.C.

Thaddeus Jones, Jr. died on December 30, 1918 in Kenansville. 

 

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN PEARSALL

Duplin County’s 18th Register of Deeds (1899-1902)
 
Benjamin Franklin Pearsall was born in the Kenansville Township of Duplin County on July 7, 1843.  He was the second of five children born to Edward Pearsall (1812-71) and Margaret Powell McGowen (1819-72). 

He married Flora E. Loftin about 1878.  Their marriage produced five children: Samuel Loftin Pearsall, Edward Hardy Pearsall, Margaret Pearsall, Eugene Andrew Pearsall and Benjamin Franklin Pearsall, Jr.  

Duplin County’s federal census records indicate that he spent most of his life as a farmer as was typical in his day and time.  He did however follow a Pearsall family tradition and take a keen interest in civic affairs and service.  According to the 1896 edition of Branson’s North Carolina Business directory, Mr. Pearsall was serving as a Magistrate for the Kenansville Township in 1896.

Mr. Pearsall was elected Duplin County Register of Deeds in 1898 and served two two year terms from 1899-1902.  He continued a long lineage of public service by the Pearsall family in Duplin County.  His great grandfather, James Pearsall, Sr., served as Sheriff of Duplin County, a member of the House of Commons, a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention in 1789 and donated the land on which the Duplin County Courthouse is built.  In addition to his grandfather’s service, his grandfather, James Pearsall, Jr., served as Duplin County’s Clerk of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions from 1820-32.  He also had an uncle Jeremiah Pearsall who served as Clerk Superior of Law and Equity from 1827-1840; and two uncles, Joseph Pearsall and William Dickson Pearsall, who both served as Duplin County’s Clerk and Master in Equity from 1826-28 and 1833-58 respectively.

He died in Warsaw, North Carolina at the home of his son Eugene Andrew Pearsall on September 23, 1921.  Mr. Pearsall is buried in the Pearsall family cemetery which is located on Benson Hog Farm Lane approximately ½ mile south of Westbrook’s Crossroads.

CHAUNCEY S. CARR

Duplin County’s 19th Register of Deeds (1903-06)
 
Chauncey S. Carr was born in October of 1848 in Duplin County.  His parents were John Carr (abt. 1804-1886) and Ann Nancy Boney (abt.1811-1883).

His youth like the vast majority of his contemporaries was spent toiling in the fields as farm laborer in the Kenansville Township.  Census records indicate that in 1900 he was living in the Rose Hill Township and working as a clerk in a store.

In 1902, he was elected Register of Deeds. He won another election in 1904, and served a total of 4 years as Register of Deeds from 1903-06.

Census records indicate that in 1910 he was living in the boarding house owned by the family of his successor in the Register of Deeds office, James Jarman Bowden.  His occupation is listed as Deputy for Sheriff George Graham Best.

Mr. Carr was still living in the Kenansville Community when the 1920 census was taken and listed his occupation as a salesman in a local feed store.   

There is no record of him ever marrying.

Chauncey S. Carr died on June 10, 1934 in Wallace, Island Creek Township of Duplin County.  He is buried in the Rockfish Cemetery just west of Wallace.

 

JAMES JARMAN BOWDEN

Duplin County’s 20th Register of Deeds (1907-24)

James Jarman Bowden was born in Kenansville North Carolina on January 28, 1873.  He was the eldest son of Benjamin Christopher Bowden (1821-1901) and Hepzibah Elizabeth Jarman (1847-1915). 

The Bowden family owned and operated a boarding house on Seminary Street in Kenansville, N.C. about a block northwest of the Duplin County Courthouse on the present site of the Duplin County Administrative Building.  The 1900 federal census records indicate that Mr. Bowden was a farmer living with his parents at their boarding house on Seminary Street.

He was married to Mary Mallard of the Island Creek Township in Duplin County on November 20, 1895.  It is not know what became of his first wife but the 1900 Duplin County census records indicates that he was single.  There are no records of any children being born of this marriage. 

According to the 1903 North Carolina Year Book and Business Directory published by the News and Observer, James was operating a business called J.J. Bowden & Company which was a livery stable also was a dealer in carriages.  At the same time, he was also serving as a member of the Board of Aldermen for the Town of Kenansville a position he held through at least the year 1906.

On July 22, 1903, he married Narcie (or Narcissa) E. “Lyde” Williams (1877-1930) the daughter of Robert J. and Narcissa C. Fonvielle Williams at the home of the bride in Warsaw, NC.  The marriage produced five children: Robert Joseph Bowden, Benjamin Christopher Bowden, Martha E. Bowden, James Jarmen Bowden, Jr., and Grace White Bowden.

In 1907, he was elected Register of Deeds and won the next 9 consecutive elections. 
Mr. Bowden served a total of 18 years making him the 5th longest serving of Duplin’s
twenty-five Registers of Deeds.  He did not seek re-election in 1924.  The year after
leaving office he became the first person to hold the newly created position of Duplin
County Tax Collector.  Previously the county taxes had been collected by the Sheriff,
but due to the ever increasing complexity of the task it was decided to dedicate a
person to perform the function.  He served as Tax Collector from 1925-30.

James J. Bowden passed away on November 7, 1932 in Lenoir County, North Carolina.  He was 59 years old.  Mr. Bowden is buried in the Golden Grove Cemetery which is located on N. Main Street, in Kenansville, N.C.

 

LAWRENCE SOUTHERLAND                                                                                                             

Duplin County’s 21th Register of Deeds (1925-32)

Lawrence Southerland was born in Duplin County on February 11, 1883.  He was the eight of 12 children born to John Nicholas Southerland (1847-1909) and Ellen Tolar (1848-1911). 

Mr. Southerland built a house on Seminary Street in Kenansville and lived with his sister Patti until her death in the flu epidemic of 1918 that took millions of lives around the world.

He met his future wife, Mary Thames Cogdell (1892-1977), when she was teaching at the James Sprunt Institute which was located next door to his home on Seminary Street in Kenansville.  Lawrence and Mary were married at her family’s home in Cumberland County on February 2, 1919.  Three children were born from their union: Lawrence Southerland Jr., Mary Elizabeth Southerland and Patti Susan Southerland.

A member of Grove Presbyterian Church, Southerland was ordained as an elder in the church on December 18, 1910.  He and his wife remained active in the church all their lives.  Mrs. Southerland was President of the Woman of the Church and taught Sunday School.  Mr. Southerland served as Sunday School superintendent for 20 years, retiring from this position four years before his death.

He was a member of St. John’s Masonic Lodge No. 13 and his wife was a member of the Eastern Star.

Southerland also served as president of the “Southerland Clan” that met each year in Kenansville on the last Thursday in August.  The “Southerland Clan” was dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the Southerland family.

He served four consecutive terms as Register of Deeds (1925-32).

Lawrence Southerland died in Kenansville, North Carolina on December 7, 1939 at the age of 56.  He is buried in Golden Grove Cemetery on N. Main Street on Kenansville.  An eloquent obituary praised Southerland as leading “an exemplary life,” which led to his being sincerely mourned at his death.  

 

ALBERT TIMOTHY OUTLAW

Duplin County’s 22nd Register of Deeds (1932-52)

Albert Timothy Outlaw was born in Albertson Township, Duplin County, on October 30, 1894.  He was the son of John Henry Outlaw (1871-1940) and Zelphia Winifred Potter (1872-1952).  His paternal line reaches back into colonial years.  His lineal ancestor, Captain James Outlaw (1744-1826), was an outstanding Revolutionary patriot.

As a young boy, he did farm work.  At the age of sixteen his penmanship and his knowledge of books attracted the attention of James J. Bowden, then Register of Deeds, and on August 1, 1910, he became Mr. Bowden’s assistant.  He continued to work in the office under Mr. Bowden and his successor, Lawrence Southerland, for the next 22 years.

In 1932, he ran and was elected Register of Deeds without opposition in either the primary or general election. 

Upon his election as Register of Deeds, he introduced a number of changes in the service of the office which made its records one of the most-up-to-date in the state.  He continued in office until 1952.   Mr. Outlaws 21 years of service as Register of Deeds makes him the 3rd longest serving of Duplin’s twenty five Registers of Deeds.  However, it is important to note that his combined service in the Register of Deeds Office as both Deputy Register of Deeds and as the elected Register of Deeds totals to 43 years.  This is a total which may never be equaled.

In addition to his duties as Register of Deeds, he was also ex-officio Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners by virtue of his office.

He served as Third District Assistant Secretary for the North Carolina Democratic Convention in 1936, and at various times was Secretary of the Duplin County Democratic Executive Committee.

Mr. Outlaw had a passionate interest in local history and genealogical research.  He was instrumental in creating interest in the State highway marker program and it was through his efforts that a number of such markers were placed throughout Duplin County.  His efforts through the years laid the foundation work for The Duplin Story, a two-act play written by Sam Byrd to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Duplin County in 1949.

As a member of St. John’s Lodge no. 13, A.F. & A.M., he assisted with writing the lodge’s history.  He was also a member of the N.C. Literary and Historical Association and the N.C. Society for the Preservation of Antiquities. 

He was a member of is the oldest Presbyterian congregation in North Carolina, Grove Presbyterian in Kenansville.  He delivered the historical address at the 200th anniversary celebration of Grove Church in 1936.  As an authority on local history and genealogy, he was for a number of years secretary and historian of the Grady-Outlaw Historical Association.

During his lifetime, Outlaw, though his dedicated research, uncovered much information about the history of the county and the early families that helped it grow. His research and writing, covering a wide variety of topics, have been microfilmed by the North Carolina Division of Archives and History in Raleigh. Additionally, large amounts, if not most of his writings, were published in the Duplin Times.

If Outlaw had a hobby, it would have been the history of Duplin County and its people. It has been said that most of his nights were spent in the vault of the Registrar's office, at the courthouse, doing what he loved, searching through the old records of the county.
During his lifetime, Albert T. Outlaw made tremendous contributions to Duplin County in his position as Register of Deeds. Outlaw never sought recognition for his work and his years of dedicated research into the history of the county and its people.

In 1932, he married Miss Carolyn Garrison of Greenville County, S.C.  There were two children born of their marriage:  Sarah West Outlaw and Albert Timothy. He died on March 9, 1962 and is buried in Golden Grove Cemetery which is located on N. Main Street in Kenansville.

 

CHRISTINE WHALEY WILLIAMS

Duplin County’s 23rd Register of Deeds (1952-88)

Christine Whaley Williams was born on October 28, 1915 in the Magnolia community of Duplin County.  She was the daughter of Mack Jefferson Whaley (1890-1948) and Janette Thomas Whaley (1894-1968). 

She attended the public schools of Duplin County and graduated from Kenansville High School in 1932 as the class valedictorian.  Mrs. Williams went on to further her education by completing a business course by correspondence offered through Southeastern University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  She later graduated from the County Administration Course at the Institute of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Mrs. Williams was Manager of Duplin County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service Office from 1933-41.  In 1952, she was elected Register of Deeds of Duplin County, becoming the first female elected to public office in Duplin County’s history.  She won seven more terms and finished her career as Register of Deeds in 1988. 

Mrs. Williams served as president of the North Carolina Association of Registers of Deeds in 1961-62.  She also served as Chairperson of the State Board of Health Advisory Committee on births, death, and marriage records; as a member of the State Department of Archives and History Advisory Committee on county records; and as a longtime member of the Legislative Committee of the North Carolina Association of Registers of Deeds.

Her civic services included; Secretary-Treasurer of the Duplin County Agricultural and industrial Council; member Board of Directors of the Duplin County Development Commission; incorporator and treasurer of the Tar Heel Fine Arts Society; charter member and past secretary of the Duplin County Historical Society; member and past president of the B.F. Grady Home Extension Club; past president of Kenansville Garden Club and the Kenansville Junior Woman’s Club; member of the Beulaville Garden Club; past Co-Chairman of the continuing Education Committee of the N.C. Council of Women’s Organizations; member of the Education Committee of Governor Sanford’s Commission on the status of women; Adult leader for 4-H Clubs; and Vice-Chairman of Duplin County Democratic Executive Committee.  

In 1937, she married Lehman Guy Williams (1914-97) of Kenansville, North Carolina.  Two sons were born of their marriage Melvin Guy Williams and Joseph Glenn Williams.  Mrs. Williams died on September 6, 2009 in Kenansville, North Carolina at the age of 93.  She is buried in Oak Ridge Memorial Park just south of Pink Hill, North Carolina.

 

JOYCE WILLIAMS WEST

Duplin County’s 24th Register of Deeds (1988-2000)

Joyce Ann Johnson Williams West was born on April 4, 1933 to George Luther Johnson and Mary Adelyn Pierpont in Grayson County, Texas.  In 1953, she married Kermit Paul Williams (1921-93).  Kermit was a native of Duplin County, NC who was serving in the U.S. Air Force and stationed in Texas at the time of their marriage. 

After their marriage, the couple resided in Texas for about ten years before moving back to Kermit’s home in Duplin County.  Upon returning to North Carolina, Kermit farmed and also worked for the Production Credit Association and United Carolina Bank.  The couples union was blessed with a son, Stephen Douglas Williams and a daughter, Cynthia Ann Williams.  

Joyce began working in the Register of Deeds Office as a Deputy on October 9, 1974 Due to her strong work ethic and leadership abilities she was promoted to Assistant Register of Deeds in December 1976 and put in charge of vital records and real estate recording divisions of the office.  After twelve and a half years with the Register of Deeds Office she left to take a position with the Duplin County Department of Social Services.  Then in 1988 when longtime Register of Deeds Christine W. Williams decided not to seek re-election Joyce decided to offer herself as a candidate.  She bested a field of four other candidates to win the Democratic nomination and later that year went on to win the general election over Republican nominee Perry Whaley.  She was sworn in as Duplin County’s 24th Register of Deeds on December 5, 1988.  Joyce would go on to serve for the next 12 years and ran unopposed in both the 1992 and 1996 elections.

In addition to her public service, she was also a devoted member of the Hallsville Presbyterian Church where she served as a Ruling Elder and also as a longtime adult Sunday school teacher.  She was also an active member of the Kenansville Eastern Star where she served as a Worthy Patron from 1979-81 and again from 1986-87.  She also served as District Deputy Grand Matron of the 8th District, Order of the Eastern Star. 

In 1999, Joyce who had been a widow for almost six years married Henry Marvin West , Jr., in Duplin County.  The couple resides near Warsaw and help to operate Henry’s family business Westwater Country Hams.  In addition to working at the family business Joyce and Henry are both very active members of Kenansville Baptist Church where they sing in the choir.

 

DAVIS H. BRINSON

Duplin County’s 25th Register of Deeds (2000-Present)

Davis Hiram Brinson was born on October 24, 1972 in Kenansville, N.C.  He is the son of Willard Hiram Brinson, Jr. (1946-2003) a native of Kenansville, N.C. and Patricia Maxine Davis Brinson (1942-2010) a native of the Straits Community of Carteret County, N.C. 

He was elected Duplin County Register of Deeds in 2000 in his first campaign for political office.  Before his election as Register of Deeds, he served the citizens of Duplin County as a Probation/Parole Officer (1997-2000) with the N.C. Department of Corrections; as a Telecommunicator/Deputy Sheriff (1995, 1996-97) with Duplin County Sheriff’s Office; and as a Children’s Protective Services Social Worker (1995-96) with Duplin County Department of Social Services.  In addition to his duties as Duplin County Register of Deeds, Mr. Brinson is also a farmer and small business owner.  He co-owns and operates Brinson Turkey Farm, a family farm which began operations in 1984, and he also co-owns and operates Brinson’s Rental Storage, a family owned mini storage facility in Kenansville, NC.

Mr. Brinson graduated from N.C. State University in 1995 with a B.A. in Political Science.    He completed the Basic Register of Deeds School at UNC School of Government in 2000 and the Advanced Register of Deeds School in 2007.  He also received a Chancellor’s Certificate in Public Administration from University of Missouri in 2009.

He has been a member of the NC Association of Registers of Deeds since 2000 and has demonstrated his passion and devotion to the Association by serving in the following capacities: NCARD Legislative Co-Chair (2010- present); NCARD President (2009-2010); NCARD President-Elect (2008-2009); NCARD 2nd Vice President (2007-2008); NCARD Treasurer (2006-2007); NCARD Secretary (2005-2006); NCARD Historian (2004-2005); NCARD Parliamentarian (2003-2004); Chairman of District V (2002-2005, 2010-present).

In addition to his governmental service and family owned businesses, Mr. Brinson has also demonstrated a strong commitment to civic involvement and community service through his membership in and service to numerous civic and professional organizations.  Some of his activities include:  Past Member (2000-2010), Duplin Rotary Club; Member (2000-present), Duplin County Agri-Business Council; Member (2000-present), Past Master (2006), Treasurer of the Charity Fund (2007-present) and Trustee (2010-present), St. John’s No.13 Masonic Lodge, Kenansville, NC; Eagle Scout (1991) and Troop Treasurer (2007-present), Kenansville Boy Scouts of America Troop 50; Retired Member, Kenansville Fire Department with 21 years of service (1988-2009) where he served as a firefighter, captain, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Treasurer; Member (2001-present), Treasurer (2006-present), Duplin County Historical Society; Member (2009-present), President (2011-2012), Duplin County Hall of Fame Board of Directors; Member, International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers (IACREOT); and Member, Property Records Industry Association (PRIA).

He married Kristy Denise Batts of Faison, N.C in October of 1997.  The Brinson’s reside in Kenansville, North Carolina with their daughters Ashley and Taylor.  The family attends Grove Presbyterian Church where they are members

 

Phone: (910) 296-2108
Fax: (910) 296-2344
Mailing Address: PO Box 970, Kenansville, NC 28349
Location: Duplin County Courthouse Annex, Room #106
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
E-mail: dbrinson@duplincountync.com