Friday, November 21, 2014

The 1805 Cabarrus Divorce of Mary Eisenhauer 
and Her Misanthropic Husband

In 1805, in order to get a divorce, one had to apply to the North Carolina State Legislature. Because of communication difficulties of the period, petitions were sent to the General Assembly with local representatives. The following petition (including spelling and grammar), was written by Mary Eisenhauer and submitted to the state legislature.

To the Honourable the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina! Gentlemen!
With grief and reluctance I am necessitated to represent to Your honourable body, that my rude, lazy and misantropic husband, NICHOLAS EISENHAUER, has droven me off from my own home about 20 years ago without the least subsistence after he had made away with all we had, and ever since hath abandoned me for good and all; save one time he returned and tried to persuade or force from me to the sale of a tract 200 acres of land, which my father, MICHAEL MEYERS, bestowed to me and entailed for the sole benefit of me and my children; and as I neither would nor would consent to it, he left me again under hundreds of bitter and cruel curses, and I truly have suffered since many times, although by the help of my children and God's blessings I acquired a little again, which I am in constant fear my said husband might take from me and waste it also. To give you a full idea of his nasty character, I will only address here a single passage that happened with him since he abandoned me. 
He got in an intimate understanding with a licentious widow, some neighbors mistrusting them watched and catched them in fornication; took him out of the house, tarred and feathered him and exposed him in that figure to the public execration. 
In this my sad situation I take my refuge to your protection and implore your gracious assistance to grant and secure to myself all such small acquisitions I have saved since my husband left me and what perhaps hereafter I may acquire yet, which I forever will acknowledge with the sincerest thanks and remain with the highest respect. 
The honourable the General Assembly's most humble and submissive
Mary Eisenhauer
Cabarrus County, November the 12th 1805
German immigrant, John (Johan) "Nicholas" Eisenhauer (1749-c.1805), was the son of Peter Eisenhauer and Elizabeth Graff. He came with other members of the family to North Carolina in the late 1760s and early 1770s. In 1773, Nicholas married Mary Myers, the daughter of Rowan County Revolutionalry War soldier, Michael Myers.

Historic Daniel Isenhour house in Gold Hill. Source: North Carolina 
State Historic Preservation Office.
Nicholas and Mary settled on a 200-acre tract on little Dutch Buffalo Creek inherited from Mary's father, in the community surrounding Grace Lower Stone Reformed Church. The property was later inherited by their grandson, cabinetmaker Daniel Isenhour. Daniel Isenhour's 1843 house and farm, located on Mt. Olive Road in Gold Hill, were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 and are considered important in the social history of Cabarrus County for exemplifying the traditional lifeway of the rural craftsman who practiced his skilled trade while also farming.

Nicholas disappeared about 1802. It is thought he may have been killed by Indians. Mary Eisenhauer's petition to the legislature for divorce on the grounds of cruelty, abandonment and adultery, was approved in December 1805. Mary lived on the family property until her death on 9 August 1832 and was buried in the family cemetery in Mount Pleasant. Family lore says that she had a tree planted in the plot next to hers so Nicholas would never be buried by her.

Courtesy of the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society, The National Register of Historic Places and

Friday, November 7, 2014

C. A. Sherwood Leaves as Overseer of Cabarrus Poor House 

"Cabarrus County Home Near Concord, N.C." in Durwood Barbour
Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection
According to the November 7, 1890 Concord Times newspaper, the Cabarrus County Commissioners, at their October 1890 meeting, elected a new superintendent of the county poor house. John William Cook, of No. 5 Township, was elected to replace C. A. Sherwood as poor house overseer. Cook was slated to assume the job on January 1, 1891. Of the change, The Times said:
 Mr. Sherwood has made a most capable and faithful officer, and has the poor house and farm in a first-class condition...Mr. Cook will doubtless make a good overseer, but this much is certain - he will never make a better on than Mr. Sherwood did. It would be hard to get a man who would do that.
On August 22, 1890, The Concord Standard wrote about the poor house:
About the year 1855, the county authorities purchased of Mr. R. W. Allison, a plantation of 156 acres lying just four miles north of Concord. This place was set apart for the entertainment and support of the poor, the blind and the halt [physically disabled] who were unable to care for themselves or had no one to protect them from starvation or cold. Such is the duty of every county...
Mr. Sherwood, an honest, humane and earnest young man with an empty sleeve, and his kind, careful wife, superintend the house. The floors are clean, the walls almost spotless, the beds perfectly clean, the yard in tip top order, the clothing of the inmates neat and clean and perfect order exists... 
There are 18 inmates; 12 are white and 6 are colored; The ages of the whites run from 8 to 79 years; the blacks from 4 to 50. There is an old sailor there; he has a bright face, looks stout and has rings in his ears. There are 22 rooms in the several buildings. 
60 acres of fine corn is maturing for the county. After feeding 30 persons twice a day for one year, there were 42 bushels of wheat left from the crop raised on the county's farm last year. There is a large vegetable garden near the house. Mr. Sherwood raises most of his own supplies.
From 1855 to 1886 Cabarrus County contracted the keeping of the poor and use of the plantation to the lowest bidder. However, it was found that conditions of this system were not in the best interest of the residents, or "inmates" as they were referred to, and did not reflect well on the county. The former plantation owner, Robert W. Allison (see Cabarrus Genealogy Blog entry for April 22, 2014) who also was chairman of the County Commissioners, implemented a policy change in which a superintendent would be employed by the county, rather than a contract to the lowest bidder.

Care of the poor, infirm, aged, mentally or physically handicapped, and other unfortunates was the responsibility of county Wardens or Overseers of the Poor from 1777 until 1917. From 1777 to 1868 each county had Wardens of the Poor, elected by the voters until 1846, and appointed by the County Courts thereafter. After 1917 they were run by Boards of Public Welfare. Inmates of poor houses were expected to make themselves useful if possible, although persons eligible to reside in such institutions were probably in a very bad way, and their labor could be let out to the lowest bidder or commanded by the keeper of the house. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

1892 Cabarrus Elections: Populists Chase Democrats

Source: Poster used to help farmers organize. Gift for the grangers / J. Hale Powers & Co. Fraternity & Fine Art Publishers, 1873,

On this election day, we look back to the election of 1892. It fell on Tuesday, November 8, but it was not until one week later that Cabarrus county people saw how they had voted. The November 15 Daily Standard published the official Cabarrus results, showing that 2924 of 3400 registered voters cast their ballots.

The 1892 elections presented many political choices. National and state ballots featured four candidates. In addition to Democratic and Republican candidates, there were also Populist and Prohibitionist tickets for President, Congress and North Carolina Governor.

The following totals are from Cabarrus County ballots:

Presidential Electors: Grover Cleveland (Democrat) 1419, Benjamin Harrison (Republican) 679, James B. Weaver (Populist) 819, John Bidwell (Prohibitionist) 41.

Two local men that ran on the
Populist ticket were John H. Moose
(above) and John A. Sims (below).
Governor: Elias Carr (Democrat) 1442, David M. Furches (Republican) 620, Wyatt P. Exum (Populist) 825, James M. Templeton (Prohibitionist) 37.

State Senate: William B. Means (Democrat) 1710, Ambrose F. Hileman (Populist) 1077.

Although the Democrats claimed all six county offices in 1892, the Populists ran well. The results of county elections include the following:

Sheriff: L. McKee Morrison (Democrat) 1821, Frank P. Boger (Populist) 981;
Registrar of Deeds: John K. Patterson (Democrat) 1710, John H. Moose (Populist) 1089;
Treasurer: John A. Cline (Democrat) 1644, John A. Sims (Populist) 1162.

The Populist Party, an offshoot of the Democrat Party which existed from 1891 to 1908, was most active from 1892-96. Its supporters were mostly farmers in the South and Midwest who felt the Democratic and Republican Parties were ignoring their interests and difficulties. Low cotton prices combined with resentment against railroads and banks led farmers to organize in North Carolina. They adopted national Populism's Omaha Platform, which endorsed government ownership of railroads and a federally controlled money supply. On state matters, the party demanded a 6 percent limit on contract interest rates, full taxation of railroad property, and encouragement to education, agriculture, and manufacturing.

Courtesy of Concord Library, Lore History Room