Bertie County, NCGenWeb Project Page --Lost Town of Cashy

The Lost Town of "Cashy"

By Harry Lewis Thompson
(The following article was read at the fall meeting of the Bertie County Historical Association on October 18, 1961. Also printed in THE CHRONICLE Volume XV October, 1967 No. 2)

The purpose of this paper has been threefold. One, to establish the actual site location for the Bertie County Courthouse during the period of 1741 to 1770. Two, to establish the name and location of the town that existed at the Courthouse, which no longer exists. Three, to make as complete a record as possible of the people who lived there and of their contributions to the history of Bertle County.

The town and Court have been referred to for the past one hundred years as having been in the "Hoggard Mill Section," about two miles from Windsor north on the Cashie River. It has been referred to by present people as having been called "Wolfenden."

By means of land transactions from the pr~sent time back to 1710, the actual site of the Courthouse and Town has been established. The name of the old town was not and could not have , been "Wolfenden," as John Wolfenden acquired the land eighteen years after Windsor was founded and about six years after the old town ceased to exist. It would appear foolish to name a town after it ceased to be. It is more likely that the town was referred to as having "(been on Wolfenden's land," and by way of transition became known as "Wolfenden."

Perhaps it would be impossible to say with complete satisfaction exactly what the correct name was. But, after a year of study, I have found the greater weight of evidence to lead to the name, "Cashy." There are numerous references to people being of "Cashy," "Cashie," and Kesiah." Too much importance must not be placed in the spelling, as even proper names were often spelled many ways. The variation most often seen and written in the Court records was "Cashy." It is this variation that I prefer to use.

In the infancy of the settlement of Bertie County there were few or no roads. However, there were many streams and rivers upon which settlers traveled in search of homes and land. Boats were more numerous than horses and served as a means of transportation and communication. Cashie River was one of these roads. Since the area that I am taking the liberty of calling "Cashy" represents the headwaters of navigation on such a "road" and since the larger rivers as the Roanoke and Chowan were already settled, it must be presumed that Cashy was settled a little later than some of the more accessible places - but before the interior part of our county. Such was the case.

Our earliest land grant records show deeds starting in 1710 and being numerous through 1718. The area was fortunate in that many of the patents were issued to planters already established in other areas, which facilitated the development of these new plantations. These planters were people of importance, wealth, and education. For example, land owners in this early period included Thomas Jones, Attorney of Edenton; John Gray, of Bertie; Colonel Robert West, Son-in-law to Thomas Pollock; John Hardy of Salmon Creek; Nathaniel Hill, whose father was one of Bertie's First members of the Colonial Assembly, and many others equally well,known.

Not all of the men lived at Cashy, but they were issued some of the original patents and were responsible for most of the initial land clearing. By the year 1717, the area had been pushed and cleared inland from the river and had been broken up into so many plan tations that the General Court at Edenton ordered a road built "from New Market" as Colonel West's holdings were known "at ye head of Kesiah to Sandy Point on ye mouth of Salmon Creek." A jury of twelve plantation owners in the area were chosen to lay off this road. By 1719, fifty-eight freeholders or family heads lived between Salmon Creek and Cashie River.

These men of "Cashy" were generally educated men with strong economical, political, and social ties with the seat of government at Edenton. Many divided their lands into several plantations and sold their holdings before 1739, creating an influx of new people. However, due to their position and influence, they often represented the less educated and smaller landowners in legal anti political matters at Edenton.

In the 1730's, we find at Cashy as neighboring landowners, Thomas Whitmel, who became Sheriff in 1745 and member of the Assembly from 1754 to 1759; James Castellaw, Lawyer. Treasurer of Bertie in 1735, and member of the Assembly from 1731 to 1746; and Nathaniel Hill, whose father was a member of the Assembly from 1731 to 1733. Castellaw was a prosperous merchant havihg taken in partners at "Cashy" before 1727. Whitmel was equally prosperous as a businessman in the same area.

As 1741 approached, we find Bertie precinct populated enough for the Colonial Government to decide that St. John's could no longer administer and serve so large an area. Movement was under way to separate the sprawling territory of diverse interests into more compact administrative units. By chance or perhaps by political manipulations, we find this coming at a time when we have a concentration of Influence, wealth, and businessmen of vision at the conjunction of river and roads at "Cashy."

An act of the Colonial Assembly In 1741 set off the upper part of Bertie County into a county by the name of Northampton, ordered the removal of the seat of Bertie County Court, and authorized the Court to 'settle orders and methods for erecting a sufficient Court House, Prison, and Stocks in such place as to them shall seem most con venient."

Thus, at a session of the Bertie Superior Court held at Timber Branch the tenth of November, 1741, the Court ordered and adjudged that the south side of Stony Creek at the plantation of Joseph Barradall would be the most convenient place for erecting the Court House of the following dimensions: 32 feet long and 24 feet wide in a semicircle, and a Prison of 24 feet in length and 12 feet in width. Colonel Benjamin Hill, Thomas Hansford and Peter West, Commissioners, were to negotiate contracts.

A group of landowners from the Cashy area led by Thomas Whitmel, James McDowall, and James Castellaw - all Court Justices - filed a petition with a later court held in February 1742, in which they stated the following: -That a commission was made by His Excellency the Governor, naming several new members as Justices of Bertie County; -That this Commission came before last Court without the seal of the Colony so that the new Justices could not be qualified to take part in the site selection; -That the site selection should not be settled until such time as the Justices appointed in the New Com mission be qualified; -That the small number of the Gen tlemen who were Justices of the County of Bertie before the act was passed had no legal authority to choose the place for the Court House; and -That the place appointed by these said Gentlemen is very inconvenient to a great majority of the inhabitants.

The Court took the petition under advisement, and the following morning it ordered the previous Court's order for building the Court House be re- versed. It was further consideredby the Court that near Red Bud Branch, close to what is now Askewville, was the most proper place for the Court House, Pris- on, and Stocks. James Casteilaw, Thom- as Whitmel, and John Harrell were commissioned to contract for build- ings there.

It is interesting to note here that the County was now divided into two factions - the Stony Creek Landowners and the Cashy Landowners. Red Bud Branch surely must have represented a cgmpromise location. The Cashy Landowners achieved a minor victory, however, as they were appointed com- missioners to negotiate the contracts.

The controversy raged for over a year and, after much dispute, was car- ried before the General Assembly of the Colony in Edenton on April 2, 1743. No site had been purchased, no build- ings erected, so Governor Gabriel John- son signed into law an act "That the Court House, Prison, and Stocks shall be built between Cashy Bridge and Will's Quarter Bridge, in the said County, and that all Court shall be there held for the said County."

Also - "All and every contract or contracts heretofore made by virtue of any,order of the Court of Bertie, concerning the erection of a Court House, Prispn, and Stocks at or near Stony Creek is and are hereby annulled and made void."

Much of the effort behind this act must be credited to James Castellaw, one of the first Treasurers of Bertie, and at this time, respected member of the General Assembly, and owner ofthe land on which the Court was to be placed.

The Act of the General Assembly charged the Justices of Bertie County to purchase one acre between said bridges; and thus, James Castellaw issued a deed to the Justices of Bertie County for one acre on the North side of Cashy and South side of Will's guar- ter "(Whereon the Prison, Court House and Stocks are to be built"

James McDowell and James Castel- law were awarded the contract for the public buildings, and on November 13, 1744, asked the Court for final inspec tion on the Prison. This was done; and after several changes, it was accepted by Bertie as the "Public Goal" of the County on Friday morning, February 15, 1745.

There Is no reference as to the actual starting date on the Court House, but it was used in 1744, 1745, 1746, and finally completed and formally accepted on August 11, 1747. Additions of locks, window bolts, and a table were contracted for in 1748 with John Sallis, who also was to lay off and fence In Court House yard with posts and rails, erect a whippingpost, and stocks.

In 1767 James and Lillington Lock- hart contracted for extensive repairs to the Court House including,'(Having one window cut in that side of the Court House close to the end against the Judges Bench, two in the west end to be glazed, and shutters for all.


As far as towns go, Cashy might qualify as one of our present cross- road communities. One major differ ence existed; however, the bulk of the land on which the town loosely sprawled belonged to one man-James Castellaw. The road into the town area has been referred to as the "Eden House-Murfresboro Post Road," and we know that for years the mail traveled by horse back from the Edenton Ferrys to the Court House and on to Hertford and Northampton counties. We can assume that it was a main County avenue since it forked to the East to Chowan, the North over Will's guarter Swamp to wards Winton, and South across Cashie through Thomas Whitmel's Plantation and on to the Roanoke River. As early as 1748, both Cashie and Will's Quar- ter were bridged, and represented the first bridges vessels approached as they came up Cashie. Thus, it is only natural that a trading and business area developed there.

There existed a "Publick Ware- house" on the south side of Cashle Bridge in which Court often met to collect tax levies and conduct business in which large numbers of the populace were involved. The Court House was not sufficient in size to accommodate the general public. Court· was often adjourned at the completion of general matters to the Court House on the other side of the bridge to complete its term of Quarter Session and listen to legal cases. The warehouse was used by public officials for tobacco inspection and storage and as a place for collection of taxes, import-export duties on goods being loaded and unloaded on vessels docking there.

"Cashy Bridge" was a floating bridge of Cypress sills and plank, with posts and rails. It was chained to trees on each bank to prevent its drifting down river. Across the bridge lay Bertie Court House. The Court, Prison, and Stocks lay on the peninsula formed by Cashie and Will's Quarter Swamp, fac- ing the fork of the main road as it turned each way to the two bridges. The grounds, as previously shown, were laid on with rail fences, and included a whipping post and stocks.

At Will's Quarter Bridge to the SwamP side lay Castellaw's Mill Pond, started prior to 1748 under an act of the Colonial Legislature of 1715. These mills were of such importance and such scarcity that the act made mill sites public property upon which any man might put a water mill ii the landowner did not do so. We can presume that in its original state the mill processed meal and flour; but it couldn't have been many years before a sawmill also existed there, as we find evidence of sawed timber as early as 1800 from the pond.

How many other buildings existed in the area are doubtful; but we find a lease in 1748 from James Castellaw to John Sallis - "Those houses that lyes near the Court House at Cashy commonly known by the name of Synnott's and Tomlinson's Houses" - also stated "Reserving only two of the houses that belonged to Synnott for our own use" _ This can only mean a minimum of four.

Information handed down over the years had led to the belief that a bank hotel existed in Cashy; but the principals processing the papers and deceased. As of this date, have not been located.

James Castellaw, one of the prin- dpal landowners in the area was in Guston and business at Casia and Roanoke in 1727, each putting up 300 Ib. sterllna" It is likely' they had a warehouse at the landing opposite the Public Warehouse. The houses before mentioned were located on a round knell of sandy land comprising about ten acres, the end of which drops down to a landing on Cashie River. Since the town as such disappeared before 1800, the exact spot attributed to each house or store cannot be ascertained. Also, since there were no lots so14 there are no land records to point out the exact spots. However, on this knell, there are distinct places that bits of pottery, porcelain and fire cinders can be picked up.Bricks cannot be used as criteria for locating these house sites, as there was a brick kiln on the property In the late 1800's or early 1900's and one cannot distinguish these bricks from earlier ones.

There is a graveyard on the adjoining knell which is rather old, but it is in such a poor state of repair that names and dates are apparently lost.

The only remaining Item located there is the mill pond, operated almost continuously until about 1934. A party of Northern Troops came ashore at the bridge during the Civil War to destroy the mill. Rifle balls have been removed from the house at the mill where the facts are the papers partnership with Henry James Millikan "doing rifle fire was directed, but records do not show that they were successful in destroying the mill equipment. The present pond is larger today than the original.

One other remaining vestige of these earlier people is the turnbasin for boats at the bridge. Supposedly dug by hand with slave labor, the river is wider at this point than at any place for a mile below. Trading vessels were turned here for the return trip down stream.

The "King's" road through this sec- tion is essentially in the same location between the two bridges, and from there to Green's Cross as it was two hundred years ago.

Several factors led to the fall of Cashy as a town. Foremost of these was a matter of economics. Gray's Landing at what is now Windsor was a much larger, more accessible area than the narrow one at Cashy. The "Public Warehouse" at Cashy had years before been blown down. perhaps a day in travel by ships could be saved by stopping at Gray's instead of negotiating the extra mile or so of narrow. crooked river to Cashy.

Facilities for county business were cramped, for in 1767 the Court ordered consideration to a Clerk's Office, and allowances made to him for office furnished by him for seven years prior. The wooden buildings belonging to the County were now 20 years old.

A prime factor, however, was the lack· of available lots which could be purchased for homes, stores, churches, etc. OwnershiP of the land had remained in the hands of usually one man, and no lots sold off except fca County Buildings.

On November 14, 1766 a group of people petitioned the Assembly for per- mission to establish a town on a 100 acre tract at Gray's Landing. A counter petition was presented by another group at the same time for permission to establish a formal town at Cashy. The Assembly moved to take under consideration the two petitions, and appointed Pollock, Vail, Blount, Wynns, and Charlton to view sites and report to the Assembly at the next session "which place of the two mentioned in the said petitions is most convenient and best to erect a town." In Decem ber 1767 the committee returned to the Assembly in favor of William Gray's instead of Cashy. By January 1768 an Act was ratified to create "New Wind sor" on Cashie River. Immediately a petition was presented to build a new Courthouse at Windsor, and in 1773 such an Act was passed. In the year 1774 a committee composed of William Gray, Thomas Ballard, Thomas Clark, Zedekiah Stone, and David Standley was appointed to build a Courthouse, Clerk's Office, prison, pillory and stocks in Windsor. They were also empowered to sell and dispose of the old buildings and land on Cashie River and apply the money arising from the sale towards the expense of the new buildings in Windsor.

With the removal of the Court came the death of the town. The seat of government and seat of trade shined All that remained after 1780 was the water mill which continued to operate. Most of the farm landings continued to receive some small amount of shipping, but most business shined to New Windsor. The town of Cashy returned to farm plantations, and finally lost its identity. From 1800 until now it has taken the name of Hoggard's Mill.

One of the most distinguished early families in Cashy was that of James Castellaw and wife, Sarah. James was in business there as early as 1727, and became active in politics. He was elected as a member of the Colonial As- sembiy in the Lower House in 1726, and in the Upper House in 1731, and served for 14 years until 1745. In addition, he found Mme to serve as one of c'His Majesty's Justices" from 1739- 1746, and be elected as PublicTreasurer of Bertie in 1739. A very active man in Colonial politics, there are records of many Bills, Committees, and Acts attributed to him in the Colonial Records. He was instrumental in the placing of the public buildings at Cashy, and the actual construction of same. He started construction of the water mill that operated for nearly 200 years. His two sons, Thomas and John, sold part of the family holdings after his death, with Thomas moving to Duplin County to look aner part of the family lands there, and John remaining to become the ancestor of most of Bertie's "Castelloe" families. James died between February 1748 and August 1749.

John Wolfenden is not well known, but the area has erroneously borne his name for 150 years. He lived on the same tract of land that Casteilaw had, and it is possible that the large wooden house on the property was his. He was a Member of the House of Commons from Bertie in 1793, and Senator in 1794 and 1795. He apparently had no children, as his estate was leff to his niece and nephew. Henry Peterson, his nephew, went to the House of Commons In 1801 and 1802, and became Senator in 1803.

Jasper Charlton, the next door neigh- bor of John Wolfenden preceded him as Senator, being elected to that body in 1791, 1792, and 1793. Married to David Stone's sister Elizabeth, his political service filled the family gap between Zedekiah Stone - first Bertie Senator, 1776, and David Stone - first Bertie Governor. He was an attorney by trade, and died prior to May, 1797, leaving apparently two children and a wife.

Colonel Thomas Whitmel, across the river, son of Thomas Whitmel, married -Elizabeth West. Appointed Colonel during the Revolutionary War, he had served in the Colonial Assembly from 1754 to 1759. He was one of "His Majesty's Justices" from 1739 to 1746 elected Sheriff of Bertie, and appointed "Keeper of the Weights and Measures." He became quite a successful business man and plantation owner.

Colonel Robert West, though he never lived at Cashy, was a prime factor in its early development. He received land grants there in 1710 to 1720 for over 2000 acres, wNch he developed into what was called "New Market." Son- in-law to Colonel Thomas Pollock, he was on the road commission in 1717 to lay out the road through Cashy, was a Court Justice, and a member of the Colonial Assembly. His grandson, George West added to and retained the family holdings there until they numbered close to 4000 acres, and until he sold out in 1802.

Many other families living there played an important part in the History and development of the Cashy section John How, owner of "Turkey Neck"; Nathaniel and Michael Hill; Nathaniel and Joseph Knott, Josiah Miller; William Bird; Aaron Mizelle; Henry Mizelle; Patrick Cannady; John Edwards; Samuel Lewis, "Marriner"; the Mitchell Family; the Hunter Family; Thomas Boswell; William Hoggard, who has given his name to the mill and sur- rounding area; David Ryan and many others. It is our hope that information can be found to portray in detail the lives and contributions of these people to Bertle's rich heritage.

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