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Achilles Durham (b. ca. 1740) m. Mary Unica Cates
Charles A. Durham (1773-1850) m. Patience Davis (1772-1862)
Micajah Durham (1804-1864) m. Esther McDowell Baxter (1817-1868)
Plato Durham (1840-1875) m. Catharine Leonora Tracy (1845-1933)
Plato Tracy Durham (1873-1930) m. Lucy Cole (1882-1958)
Lucy Cole Durham (1925-2008) m. Roscoe Lee Strickland, Jr. (1917-1997)
Roscoe Lee Strickland III
|According to family
tradition, the Durhams were descended from the Durhams who were the Lairds of
Grange in Forfarshire, Scotland. The original charter was granted in 1322 by
Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, to Sir William Durham, who became the first
Laird of Grange.
Robert Lee Durham said that his great-great-grandfather, Achilles Durham, was born in Virginia. Kate Durham, Achilles' great-granddaughter, said that he was born in England and came to Virginia as an infant with his parents. In 1995, Marla Goodrich said she heard Achilles was in Lunenburg County, Virginia, prior to coming to North Carolina.
Achilles Durham moved from Virginia with his mother, Elizabeth Cates Durham, to the Haw River settlement of Orange County, North Carolina. There he married a widow, Mrs. Mary Cates Hardin, in 1770. In 1783, they moved to what is now Cleveland County, North Carolina, almost exactly on the line between Lincoln and Rutherford Counties.
Achilles' mother died in Rutherford County and was buried near where the present town of Shelby was later located. After the death of his first wife who was the mother of all his children, Achilles married Edith Hicks on March 21, 1806. They moved to South Carolina and settled in what is now Spartanburg County. Achilles died there and was buried at Buck Creek Baptist Church, which is a few miles north of Spartanburg.
|Charles Alexander Durham moved to Rutherford County, North Carolina, with his parents in 1783, and he was listed in the 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, and 1840 censuses there. He served during the War of 1812.|
|Micajah Durham was born 1804
in Rutherford County, North Carolina. He was named for his uncle, Micajah Davis,
brother of Patience Davis Durham. A man of wealth, Micajah owned a 3,000 acre
plantation in Rutherford County and more than 100 slaves. At the age of 31, he
married Esther McDowell Baxter, built a mansion of logs that he furnished with
golden candlesticks and rosewood furniture, and set out to raise a family that
eventually included 13 children.
Although he had little formal schooling, Micajah was a man who thirsted for knowledge and culture. He taught himself by collecting books and devouring them until he was considered one of the best educated men in all Western North Carolina. He brought teachers and lecturers into his home to provide an education not only for his own children, but also those of his neighbors. He engaged preachers to bring the word of God into the community, and he founded the High Shoals Baptist Church.
During the 1840's and 1850's, Micajah helped his ailing brother, Achilles, in the management of the High Shoals Iron Works which Achilles owned. Between supervising his plantation and managing the iron works, Micajah somehow found time to travel about the land in an effort to broaden his own knowledge of the world beyond his own doorstep. In 1850 he rode horseback some 1200 miles just to hear Jenny Lind, the "Swedish Nightingale" who was brought by Phineas T. Barnum to America for a series of concerts.
Micajah Durham was a confirmed advocate of States' Rights. It is said that he made the first secession speech on the steps of the Capitol in Raleigh, being denied the right to make it inside the house. He was one of three delegates sent from Rutherford County to the Secession Convention that met in Raleigh from May 20 to June 28, 1861. Secession was unanimously approved, and after war was declared Micajah made many speeches in his county, urging the young men to join the Southern cause. At that time, he did not think that the war would last over a few months and predicted that there would be little bloodshed.
On July 18, 1862, at the age of 58, Micajah became a volunteer in the Confederate Army. He must have lied about his age, because the record shows that he was 35. He enlisted in Lane's Brigade, Company E of the 18th North Carolina Regiment of Infantry, as a private along with one of his younger sons, Taylor, then age 16. Micajah was hospitalized in Richmond, Virginia, for a shell wound to his left thigh on June 12, 1863. He came home after being in Richmond, and told his wife that he had been mistaken for President Jefferson Davis several times by people on the streets. He returned to duty in late 1863, and was killed May 6, 1864, at the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia.
|Plato Durham, son of Micajah
Durham and Esther McDowell Baxter, was born 1840 in Rutherford County, North
Carolina. He received his education at country schools and "at the plow
handles." At around 18 years of age he studied law under L. F. Churchill of
Rutherfordton, North Carolina, for a year. He then went to Knoxville, Tennessee,
and continued to study law under his uncle John Baxter, who later became a
Federal Circuit Court Judge.
In 1861, at the beginning of the War Between the States, Plato joined a Confederate company in Knoxville. Soon after, in May, 1861, he left to join his brothers who had enlisted in the Cleveland Guards, part of the 2nd North Carolina Volunteers which became the 12th Regiment, North Carolina Troops. He rose to the rank of Captain and commanded a corps of sharpshooters in R. D. Johnston's Brigade during the campaigns in Virginia in 1864. Plato was present for the surrender at Appomattox, and he signed the last report for the 12th Regiment as "Captain in command." Plato was paroled at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.
After the war, Plato continued the study of law at the Law School of the University of North Carolina. On August 6, 1866, he came into open court in Shelby and qualfied as an attorney at law. He began a successful law practice, and became involved in politics. He was elected as a Democrat to the legislature of 1866-67, and he was elected as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1868. He emerged as a bold and articulate leader of the conservative minority, advocating the inviolability of the state debt, the removal of political liabilities from ex-Confederates, and the barring of Negroes from holding public office or serving as guardians of white children. Reconstruction resulted in the election of the state's first Republican legislature in 1868-69, and Durham was an outspoken minority leader.
Among Durham's acts in the General Assembly were bills to exempt disabled soldiers and widows of soldiers from taxation. He voted against accepting the 14th Amendment to the federal Constitution, and favored reorganization and upbuilding of the state university. He married Nora Tracy on April 9, 1868, the anniversary of Lee's surrender at Appomattox. He ran for Congress in 1868, 1870, and 1874. Although he was elected in 1868, reconstruction pressure resulted in the awarding of the seat to his opponent. For personal reasons he did not run in 1872 and also declined a nomination to the state senate.
Plato joined the Ku Klux Klan in late 1868 or early 1869. He regarded it as a political weapon against the Republican party, but like other upper-class members he became alarmed by its uncontrolled attacks on obscure Negroes and white Republicans. He tried unsuccessfully to curb the violence, only to become further enmeshed in the tangled web of conspiracy and illegality that surrounded the order. He was arrested by federal authorities in 1871 but was never brought to trial. For two years, at considerable personal sacrifice and expense, his major efforts were directed at helping his fellow Klansmen. He served them as defense counsel and raised money for their bail and reportedly to bribe jurors. He traveled to Washington and made a personal appeal to President Grant on their behalf. Finally, he was successful in his efforts to have prosecution stopped and clemency granted for its members once the origina Klan was disbanded.
In 1871, Durham established the weekly "Cleaveland Banner" newspaper in Shelby, and he published and edited the paper until turning it over to W. C. Durham in 1876. Temperance was a hot issue in that era, and in the Banner's issue of March 21, 1874, was published a copy of the first local option law to prohibit the sale of all spiritous liquors in townships where the people so desired.
Plato was elected as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1875 that gave the state its present constitution. There he was a leader in dismantling Radical Reconstruction and also advocated legislative regulation of railway rates. Later that year he came down with pneumonia and died at home after a brief illness. His sudden death was mourned by many people. One biographer wrote, "Dead at thirty-five, he was for eight years the most interesting and picturesque and intense figure in the public life of the State. He was the personification of the spirit of white men in that time. His name was a synonym for their protest against, and unconquerable opposition to, the unspeakable indignities and crimes of reconstruction, and for their stubborn and conquering resolve to free themselves from the body of that death."
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