On February 16 at our Edgecombe County Genealogical Society meeting, Joan Wickham Sugg, wife of Joe Speight Sugg, Jr., gave an outstanding report on the Edgecombe County Sugg family history.I believe many of you may find answers to your questions here.Dee Long, Tarboro, NC, Edgecombe County
SUGG FAMILY HISTORY
By Joan Wickham Sugg
A Reading from Ecclesiaticus 44: 1-10, 13-14
Let us now sing the praises of famous men, our ancestors
in their generations.The Lord appointed to them great glory,
His majesty from the beginning.There were those who ruled in
their kingdoms, and made a name for themselves by their valor;
those who gave counsel because they were intelligent; those
who spoke in prophetic oracles; those who led the people by
their counsels and by their knowledge of the people’s lore; they
were wise in their words of instruction; those who composed
musical tunes, or put verses in writing; rich men endowed with
resources, living peacefully in their kingdoms–all these were
honored in their generations, and were the pride of their times.
Some have left behind a name, so that others declare their
praise.But of others there is no memory; they have perished
as though they had never existed; they have become as though
as though they had never been born, they and their children
after them.But these also were godly men, whose righteous
deeds have not been forgotten; their offspring will continue
forever, and their glory will never be blotted out.Their bodies
are buried in peace but their names live on generation after
Origin of name
in Old English “sucgra” and in Middle English “sugge” means “bird”, particularly hedge sparrow
adopted in 1150 AD during England’s first civil and the reign of King Stephen of Blois (1135-1154) when the barons refused to accept Matilda, the daughter of Henry I as Queen of England even thought they had promised to do so; Stephen was a nephew of Henry I and first cousin once removed of his successor, Henry II, probably best known for his confrontations with his former friend, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Although once common now rare in the UK, having been often replaced by its synonym “bird’ or “byrd”; can you imagine a William Sugg of Westover?It could have been. The name is first recorded during the Welsh Wars when Richard Sugg is knighted in 1378 by Richard II (1377-1399) and given a grant of land at Brecon Wales; this King Richard is the son of Edward, the Black Prince buried in Canterbury and became King at the age of 10 when his grandfather Edward III died.
General Hugh Sugg was active against the Spaniards during the reign of Elizabeth I, his father at one time serving Her Majesty serving as Lord Chancellor.Further service was rendered to the Crown by John Sugg who was created baronet by King Charles II in 1660 for personal and military service to His Majesty and by Admiral Francis Sugg who defeated five different Dutch fleets on successive occasions during the 1700's.
In religious matters, Luke Sugg was Prior of Buckfast Abbey, Devon in 1529 and Daniel Sugg was serving as Bishop of Wells in Somerset in 1588.
Coming to America (Generation 1)
Three brothers, George, William, and Joseph, came to Virginia between 1663 and 1694, settling in Norfolk County.They died as landowners having property on the west bank of the south branch of the Elizabeth River.
George Sugg (1665-1734) is of interest to us because on Feb. 14 the 1739/1740 session of the Council in New Bern grants George 400 acres ‘in Edgecombe’ which was then comprised of what is todayHalifax, Edgecombe, Nash, and Wilson Counties and to William 100 acres in Craven County.George’s son Aquilla (1702 or 6-1789) has a direct connection with Tarboro. In addition to Aquilla the children of George Sugg and Sarah Ives Sugg include Thomas, George Jr, Priscilla Maund Sugg, Sarah Sugg Wallace, Mary and two other daughters who marry into the Beak and Mercer families.
George Junior who dies in 1758 married Judith Tyson and settled with her family in Beaufort County, later to become Pitt County.Their children include Nimrod, Joel, George Augustus, Allen, another Aquilla, Lucy Tyson Sugg, Fanny Sugg, and Sarah Sugg. It is perhaps this that Aquilla marries Lucy Reading, bringing that name into the family, which, with a different spelling, is still carried on in the family today.
The Family in Edgecombe County (Generation 2)
I first heard of Aquilla in November of 1960 when Mrs. Phillips of Pintos wrote a play about the founding of Tarboro and selected me be the narrator.David Sugg, a descendant of Aquilla, and I had been friends since grammar school. At the time, I had no idea that I would marry a descendant of the gentleman.What we eighth-grade 13 year girls found was scandal! It seems as though Mr. Sugg pursued his fellow commissioners to 150 acres of land for the new county seat of Edgecombe for the 1960 equivalent of $10,000 from his so-to-be-ex-son-in-law Joseph Howell with the understanding that the money go to Aquilla’s daughter Esther to support Esther and the Howell children and that Joseph leave the county.Esther and her children took up residence with her parents at their house after her divorce around 1759.Her former husband was forbidden to set foot on the property and Esther was forbidden to rent out the property or to allow anyone else to live on it except “except the negroes of her own property and the children that now live with her till they shall marry and no longer time than that” (Edgecombe County Deed Book 4, p.632)
Aquilla Sugg had first purchased property on the south side of the Tar River in Edgecombe County on May 21, 1745 from John Ryall so he was familiar with the area.
In 1746 he was appointed justice of the peace. On April 5, 1756 he acquires land on the north side of the Tar River and on the north side of Fishing Creek from William Spier.
Aquilla, Samuel Ruffin and Benjamin Bunn are appointed by the Inferior Court to control and improve the general welfare of the County.Culpepper Bridge was built in 1757 along with Raeford Bridge over Town Creek.Aquilla was on the committee that built the first county court house at Redmonds old field, now known as Cokey Swamp, in 1758. Only the 1760 court session was held here session because of a petition sent to the colonial assembly to move the Court House to Tarboro.
On April 24, 1760 he appointed to a commission to lay out the new town of Tarboro along with fellow commissioners the Rev. James Moir, Lawrence Toole, Elisha Battle, and Benjamin Hunt.They buy 150 acres from Joseph Howell.The commissioners were appointed trustees to lay off the land and sell lots.Aquilla buys several lots in the town over the years.
On January 4, 1764 he is appointed to a commission to erect the new Edgecombe County Court House.
In 1764 he also becomes a member of the House of Burgesses of the Colonial Assembly but it is not known if he was elected or appointed.He serves three terms: 1764, 1769, and 1773.
On April 4, 1767, he acquires land on Town Creek on the Tar River from Henry Taunton.On August 27, 1770, he buys more land on Town Creek, this time from David Mott.
In May of 1767 he deeds land on the south side of the Tar called the Mill Land to his son Lemuel; Aquilla is styled “merchant” and his son is styled“planter.”
Prior to November 14, 1768, he transferred or sold the home place to Lemuel with the stipulation that his wife Elizabeth, daughter Esther Sugg Howell and her children “should reside and live on the plantation and premises aforesaid for and during their natural lives.”(Edgecombe County Deed Book 4, p.632.)
Beginning in 1771 Aquilla along with many other colonial merchants began losing huge amounts of property to merchants in London because of action taken by the Parliament in Britain.
On February 13, 1771 he sells three pieces of property –land on the north side of Town Creek and Lot #89 in Tarboro to Anthony Baker, Esq. a merchant in the City of London and land on Hendrick’s Creek to William Davis.Hendrick’s Creek is the one that runs from Runnymeade Mills then undergroundacross Howard Ave then above ground behind the Lion’s Club building, then underground again under Cherry Street, above ground behind the house build by H. Dail Holderness on South Howard Circle and through HilmaCountry Club, underground
across Wilson Street between the BC store and the power substation then underground emerging between the Edgecombe Bonded Warehouses and Cap Wooten’s old restaurant on side of St. James St, and the Clark warehouse and the Primitive Baptist Church on the other before emptying into the Tar River.This is the creek that cut Howard Ave., Wilson Street, and St. James Street and flooded part of South Howard Circle during Hurricane Floyd in September of 1999.
In 1776 Aquilla is still serving in the provincial assembly and is reappointed justice of the peace, is giving material aide to the patriot cause and serving as a colonel in the local militia, which will make him eligible to receive land after the war.There is also a family story from Annie Sugg Speight Lawrence that he had something to do with the Mecklenburg Declaration.
Other members of the family involved in the American Revolution include his sons Lemuel and Noah, as well as nephews, Joel and George Augustus, the sons of brother George Jr. and his wife Judith Tyson Sugg.
His first wife Elizabeth Maud, born around 1715, dies sometime between 1768 and 1780.He then marries Abigail Bonner Jones whose daughter Patience Jones marries Aquilla’s nephew George Augustus Sugg.
The descendants of Aquilla and Elizabeth Maud Sugg include
William, Keziah Sugg Mace, Sarah Sugg Fort, Esther Howell Sugg, Noah, and Lempel.
After the Revolution, the legislature of the now state of North Carolina preempts the claims of the Transylvania Co. making lands in the Cumberland Valley now Davidson County, Tennessee available to men who had served in the militia during the war. So at the age of 77 or 81, depending on which birth date is correct, Aquilla, his wife Abigail, along with several sons, nephews, grandsons and their families migrate to Tennessee. Natalie Sugg of New Bern, mother of the attorney James Sugg of Sumrell, Sugg, and Carmichael, Attorneys at Law, New Bern, had some evidence that Daniel Boone connected the party on its trek.
Aquilla dies in the spring1789, and when the family decides to move on to Kentucky Abigail needs to court’s permission to sell the family land on Sugg’s Creek. She employs the service of an attorney later known for his military exploits at New Orleans and president of the United States, Andrew Jackson.
After leaving Edgecombe County, Joseph Howell moves to Georgia and dies in Decatur.One of his descendants, Clark Howell, editor of the Atlanta Constitution, has published a Howell genealogy.
Aquilla’s son Noah, his nephew George Augustus, his grandson Lemuel, and his daughter Sarah and her husband Elias Fort migrant to Tennessee in 1791 and play significant roles in the development of Tennessee. Their descendants move on to Texas and play a prominent role in the development of that state as well.Another interesting tidbit from a family tree standpoint is that Noah’s wife, Murphee Howell, was Joseph Howell’s sister.
The grandchildren of Aquilla and Elizabeth Maud Sugg include
Josiah, Euphemia Sugg Stockdale, and Mary, children of William Sugg (c.1735-1787 or 8) and Elizabeth Lovett Sugg; William Mace, son of William and Keziah Sugg Mace;
William, Josiah, Catherine Fort Williams, Milbrey Fort Deloatch, Esther Fort Jackson, Elizabeth Fort Lawson, Obedience Fort Smith, Elias Fort, Jr., and Sugg Fo, the children of Elias Fort (1730-1819) and Sarah Sugg Fort ( 1738-1802);
Joseph, Murphree, Elizabeth, and Keziah Howell, children of Joseph Howell (1733-1835) and Esther Sugg Howell; Aquilla, Lemuel, Josiah, Elizabeth Sugg DeLoatch Hooper, Nancy Anna Sugg Hart Robertson, Sallie Sugg Gotham, and Martha
Sugg Keeling, known as Patsy, the children of Noah Sugg; and the children of Lemuel and Mary Davis Sugg.
Aquilla left land on the Tar River including two family plantations to his son William in 1768 which William sold to his brother Lemuel in 1774 and Lemuel gave to his son Reading .
Lempel Sugg (1742-1780) marries Mary Davis (1749-1824).Their children include another Noah, Lempel Jr., Mary
Sugg Put away, wife of Micajah Pettaway for whom the local DAR chapter is named, daughter Frances Sugg, Davis and Reading, named for Aunt Lucy Reading Sugg (1730-1750), wife of Aquilla Sugg, Jr. ((1730-1791) .
When Lemuel Sr. dies Mary Sugg is appointed guardian of the minor children, Lemuel Jr., Noah, and Reading. On September 1, 1792, Lemuel Jr., now being of age, is appointed guardian of his younger bother Reading.Mary renders her account of her guardianship on August 2, 1785 after the other two children come of age.
Lemuel Jr. marries Celia Horn and moves away. His cousin Josiah married Celia Horn Sugg after Lempel died.Noah dies without children in 1804. It is not known whether he ever married or not.In his will dated March 31, 1804 Noah names his brother-in-law Micajah Pettaway, Micajah’s children William and Polly as well as his brother Reading as legatees.His brother Davis and his sister Mary seem to be dead by this time.
Mary Davis Sugg, wife of Lemuel Sr., dies in 1824 and is buried on the plantation on the Tar River.When the county bought the property to use it as a landfill, the graves were moved to Greenwood Cemetery and hers is now one of the earliest there.
Reading Sugg (1778-1841) marries Margaret Southerland Sugg (1784-1850) adding two more repeating name to the family tree. Margaret was the daughter of Daniel and Anne Southerland, so from here on the names of Anne, with and without the final e and Southerland starts popping up in the family tree. The name Ann was carried by her granddaughter Annie Southerland Sugg, her great granddaughter Annie Southerland Sugg Speight Lawrence, and her great-great daughter, my sister-in-law Ann Sugg.
A side about names. When Speight and I were expecting our second child, my mother wanted one of the names to be Elizabeth and my mother-in-law wanted one of the names to be Ann, if the baby turned out to be a girl. I had determined that one of the names would be Louise for my nanny Louise Gunter, who was and is a very important person in my life, and the other would be Kathryn for Kate Smoot Sefcik, who was going to be godmother to the new baby regardless of it being a boy or girl. (In the Episcopal Church, girls traditionally have two godmothers and one godfather, boys, the reverse: two godfathers and one godmother.) So, since Speight and I were having a baby and not a royal princess, Ann Elizabeth Kathryn Louise got shortened to simply Kathryn Louise.
Back to Reading and Margaret and their children which include Dr. Phesington Southerland (1805- 1855), daughter Frances
Southerland Sugg who married Robert William Routhe, and Joel S (probably Southerland) whose dates are 1819-1846.
Dr. Phesington Southerland Sugg was a surgeon and professionally activity between approximately 1825 and his death in 1855. This Dr. Sugg marries Lucinda Pender (1808-1876), daughter of Solomon and Mary Pender second cousin of Lt. Gen. William Dorsey Pender, on January 9, 1827. Their children include Margaret Sugg McPherson Garrett, Dr. George Coe Pender Sugg, Mary Sugg Garrett, Frances Sugg Smith, Reading, Pheanton, Phesington Southerland, Josiah Pender, Lucinda Sugg Garrett, Elizabeth (called Lizzie) Sugg Williford, William Edgar, Aquilla, Peter Charles Frederick Sugg, and Annie Southerland Sugg Knight.
Generations 6 and 7
William Edgar Sugg (1849-1900) acquires a farm from his father and marries Jane Leona Stancil Sugg (1851-1933) in 1871.He acted as freight agent at Sugg’s Landing on the Tar River, and was active in county politics, at one time holding the office of Keeper of the Capitol in Raleigh. Their children are Mary Rebecca, William Caswell, Margaret Leona Sugg, Lucy Carey Sugg Purves, Henrietta May Sugg, Annie Southerland Sugg Speight Lawrence, Redding Stancil and Godfrey. Their father dies when Annie is nine years old and Redding is only six... Older brother William Caswell takes the younger children under his wing, a favor that will be returned when Annie rears young Joe Speight at Mt. Prospect and Redding rears young William Caswell Jr. at Auburn University where Redding will become dean.More on Dean Sugg later.
Dr. George Coe Pender Sugg, another son of Dr. Phesington Sugg and Lucinda Pender Sugg, (1830-1869) married Nancy Bonum. They lived in the St. Lewis community and are the great grandparents of Norfleet Sugg in addition to being the founders of the Wilson County branch of the family .The home of Dr. George Coe Pender is still standing.It is just outside Pinetops on Saratoga Road (NC 111) behind the house of Mr. Varnell on the right just before you get to the stop sign.
Their son George Phesington first marries Gatsy Pitt.
Their children are George Turner, Nina Sugg Day, Mattie Sugg Cobb, William, Robert, and Grady.The children of his second marriage to Dora Walston are Mary Lily Sugg and Frank Lloyd.
George Turner Sugg marries Helen Bullock.Their son is Norfleet, which answers a four-old Carol Sugg’s question: “Mama, who is that man and why did you call him “Cousin”?
Dr. George Coe Pender Sugg and Nancy Bonum Sugg’s other children are Lucy, Turner Bonum, Margaret Southerland Sugg Anderson, Nancy Bonum Sugg Warren, Mary Sugg Pitt, and Irene Sugg Warren.
Mary Sugg is born in 1831. Her marriage to Charles W. Garrett on June 12, 1857 is the first mention of the Sugg name I found in the register of Calvary Church (1st register, p.116). They have three children: Lucy Garrett Pittinger, Mart Susan Garrett Harrison, and Charles W. Garrett, Jr.
Frances Sugg Smith (1833-1881) and her husband Arthur are the parents of Arthur Jennings Smith, Lizzie Smith Brown, William Drewry Smith, Abbot Smith, Phesington Smith, Mabel Smith, and Nellie Smith.
Charles Peter Frederick Sugg marries Merrie Pender.They children are Katie. Louise, and Jeter B.
Annie Southerland Sugg (1856-1928) marries William T. Knight (1853-1902).Their children are Annie Southerland Knight Beattie and Archie Knight.Piney Prospect, originally bought by Dr. Phesington Southerland Sugg around 1837 from Peter Evans passes into the Knight family with this marriage on the death of William Edgar Sugg, Annie’s brother.
Reading Sugg and his wife Mary Vines have only one son Reading dies at the age of four, but the name is carried on by the little boy’s uncle, William Edgar Sugg.
Phesington Jr.(1843-1909) and his wife Susanna Maria Jasper(1843-1921)are the parents of Leon Raboteau, France Lorraine Sugg, Ellen Southerland Sugg, Phesington Jasper, Katie Blount Sugg, and Walton Garrett.
Redding Stancil Sugg (1893-1958) is the son of William Edgar Sugg and Jane Leona Stancil Sugg. Redding is only six years old when his father dies, and older brother William Caswell becomes a second father to him. In 1910 the older brother put the soon-to-be seventeen-year-old young man on the train to Raleigh and NC State College with a now crumbling multi-volume set of Shakespeare and the gloomy prospect that there was no future for him in Edgecombe County. Caswell had lost his first wife Hattie Jones in childbirth and his farm at Heartsease during the Panic of 1907 and a flood on the Tar River. With a second wife and new baby to look after, he felt he had done as much for his younger brother as he could.
Redding studied agriculture for three years at NC State then took advantage of an agreement offered by Alabama Polytechnical Institute that would allow him the transfer to Auburn University and earn the BS in agriculture and the DVM at the new vet school there in two years.
At Auburn, Redding meets Dr. Charles Allen Cary who had started the vet school at Auburn just seven years before.In 1915 returns to Washington, NC where he has maternal relatives to open a veterinary practice, but he had hardly opened it when he was called up to serve in the Veterinary Corps during WWI.The army was still using horses and mules at the time and sent him to Remount Station, Camp Beauregard near Alexandria, Louisiana.While there he meets Katherine Miller. They marry October 31, 1918. The wedding is a bit rushed since he has received orders for France, but fortunately the armistice was declared less than two weeks later. He was discharged with the rank of Captain at Fort Riley, Kansas and accepted a job from Dr. Cary to return to Auburn and teach bacteriology.He and Katherine settled down in Auburn in 1919.Their son, Redding Jr., was born in 1922 and their 12-year old nephew William Caswell Jr., known in the family as “Red” came to live with them as well.Redding Sr. also became engaged in public health with the meat and milk inspection programs are being put into effect.
Redding Jr., known in the family as Cousin Redding and the source of the information in this presentation, has fond memories of growing up on the campus at Auburn.
At the beginning of the Depression, Redding Sr., known in the family as Uncle Redding, left Auburn University for the Alabama Agricultural Service with its guaranteed federal salary. During this time faculty positions were not secure and salary cuts were the order of the day.His first position was as county agent for Lee County and then as beef-cattle inspector. This was particularly important in light of the fact that a major shift away from row crops to stock farming was then underway.
At the beginning of the New Deal, Uncle Redding administered the Triple A program in the Wiregrass section and developed a close working relationship with the extension director, L. N. Duncan, who became president of Auburn University and appointed Redding, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1940.His job was to rebuild the vet school, recruiting able students and developing a top flight faculty. An old idea came back in a new form: contracts-for-services, which generated funds which the state Alabama could not provide and transformed Auburn into a regional institution providing programs not offered elsewhere. Many NC State graduates went to the Auburn vet school before NC State started its own program. Dean Sugg was a hands-on administrator and knew everything that was going on in every lab, every classroom, and every clinic under his direction.
In 1942, he was called back to military service, and had, as he said, “a very good war”.He commanded the Veterinary Service Branch at Camp Shelby, Mississippi and supervised facilities at installations on the Gulf Coast including those responsible for training dogs for the K-9 Corps.From horses and mules to the K-9 Corps in one career, incredible! He provided kennels for abandoned dogs as well as being in charge of sanitation and food inspection in a camp of 100,000 GIs preparing for overseas assignments.He regularly popped up unannounced to sample the fare and took corrective actions when and where needed.
He became friends with the executive and commanding officers and often found himself being assigned duties beyond those expected of a veterinary officer: serving on court martial boards, for example. He became chairman of the Officers Club and became commander of the compound housing German prisoners of war.He found them cultured and educated and allowed them music, theater, and educational courses.When he found out there were trained chefs in the group, he put them in charge of the POW mess and often joined them for dinner, which he said was the best food on post.In 1945, he was discharged and retired from the Veterinary Corpswith the rank of colonel but not without a farewell party given by the troops at Camp Shelby including his German POWs who made the cake for the event.
A recent furry, four-footed beneficiary of his work during this time named “Rex” helped saved the life of his handler in Iraq last year. A special act of Congress has allowed Rex to retire from the K-9 Corps, and he and his former handler, now proudowner,were special guests at the recent state-of -the union addresswhere Rex slept through most of the speech.
Going back to Auburn, Dean Sugg took up where he left off, especially the contracts-for-services program, which at one time involved 10 states.His next focus was on the development of graduate work and research.Sometimes he custom tailored an MS program for a promising student as a foundation for doctoral work somewhere else.He began rotations among veterinary clinics similar to those done by “people doctor”MD interns, and was instrumental in the purchase of the Hudson farm near the university when most opposed the move.One of his last major acts was to approve the blueprints for the new buildings on the site.Dean Sugg died in 1958.
Cousin Redding who supplied the information for this presentation is the son of Uncle Redding and now resides in Fredericksburg, Texas.He served as Fulbright Fellow at the University of Paris from 1951 to1952, earned a PhD in English from the University of Texas in 1958.He was professor of English at Memphis State University for eight years and was editor of the Southern Regional Educational Board of Atlanta, GA for eleven years.He has contributed articles to American Heritage, the Journal for Higher Education and the Smithsonian.He served in WWII and earned the Bronze Star as a sergeant in the US Army Air Forces, 1943-1945.
Phesington Jasper Sugg is born in 1917, the son of Phesington and Susanna Marcia Jasper.His younger brother, David, is born in 1917 and marries Phoebe Jane Harris.Phesington and Marcia’s children are Anna Katherine Sugg and Mary Susan Sugg Harper.
David and Phoebe’s children are David Jr., Edgar, and Phoebe Jane.I have known David Jr. since grammar school at Bridgers.
William Caswell Sugg, Sr., my husband’s grandfather, was born April 24, 1877, the son of William Edgar and Jane Leona Stancil Sugg. On January 26, 1909 he marries Frances Wimberley Speight, daughter of Dr. Richard Harrison and Margaret Ann Powell Speight. Their first son William Caswell Sugg, Jr was born January 12, 1910.“Red” as he was called by the family goes to live with his uncle Dr. Redding Stancil Sugg who is on the faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Auburn in Alabama in 1923 whenhe was thirteen years old and his mother dies. He attended Auburn University and later married Dabney Bondurant Hare. Their four children are Dr. William Caswell Sugg, III of Charlotte; Dr. Joe Hare Sugg of Dothan, Alabama, Marcia Dabney Sugg Coombs of Davidson, NC, and Frances Speight Sugg Verma of Auburn. There are now 8 grandchildren and at least 4 great grandchildren.One of the grandchildren, Dr. Joe Hare Sugg, is a pediatric ophthalmologist in Dothan, Alabama.“Red” was a vice-president with Upjohn Pharmaceuticals before his retirement. I met him and Dab, their son Joe and daughter-in-law Rachel during the summer of 1972 when Speight was attending graduate school at Auburn and I decided to go to summer school there. He died in 1975.
Caswell and Fanny’s second son, Joe Speight Sugg, Sr., is born on October 29, 1913, and is named for his uncle Dr. Joe Speight. He goes to live with his grandfather, Dr. Richard Harrison Speight, in 1918 when he is five years, and his mother becomes ill. At the age of 10 when his mother dies he moves across the road to the home of his father’s sister and his mother’s brother Annie Southerland Sugg Speight Lawrence and Henry Lewis Speight, Mt. Prospect.
In 1780 Colonel Exum Lewis was granted 483 acres on the north side of Swift Creek for which he agreed to pay a shilling an acre.In 1782 he was granted another 348 acres, also on the north side of Swift Creek. These 831 acres comprise the original Mt. Prospect.The house which stood until the mid 1970's was built in 1790.Part of the house survives in the form of a divider bar and cabinets between our dinning room and living room which was the spring board, the mantel above our fire place which was a corner post, and a table in the living room. The top of the divider is a single piece of heart pine that is 6 X 11 inches and 12 feet long.The mantel is 6 feet long and was originally 11 X 12 inches before being notched to become a corner post.The mantel supports are 3 ½ by 7 ½ inches and are 4 feet four inches tall. The remaining parts of the corner beams and the spring beam became the supports and false ceiling beams you can see out our living room and dinning room. The supports for the divider bar are 5 feet four inches tall. The floor to ceiling support is 8 feet long and the ceiling beams are 19 feet long in the living room, 12 feet eight inches in the dining room, and 17 feet six inches and 14 feet 4 inches in the kitchen. Each of the beams is 4 X 8 inches was cut from a single piece of wood, either the spring beam or corner post of the house. All the timber which is heart pine was cut on the property under the direction of Colonel Lewis and pegged together with wooden pegs.You can see the places where pieces were cut to fill in the hand-made joints.Even after the fire, Speight had to get the wrecker from Edgecombe Motor Co. and literally pull the house down. It still took much more effort than he expected.
Exum Lewis Jr. was born in 1771 and inheritedMt. Prospect from his father and living there until his death in 1842.His wife was Nancy Ann Harrison.Their daughter Emma Lewis (1811-1895) married John Francis Speight (1804- 1860) on September 27, 1840.William Figures Lewis, son of Exum Jr. was the next owner of Mt. Prospect.He sold the property to his nephew, Dr. Richard Harrison Speight, in 1874. Dr. Speight sold the farm to his son, Henry Lewis Speight, in 1912. He in turn willed the property to his widow, Annie Southerland Sugg Speight Lawrence.My father-in-law, Joe Sugg, inherited from her and Speight received it from him.
Joe attended Speight’s School, a two-teacher school a mile down the road from his grandfather’s farm before going on to Leggett Public School.While at Leggett, he played on the same high school baseball team as our late congressman, the Honorable L. H. Fountain.Another schoolmate was Bill Long, founder of Long Manufacturing Company. General Henry Hugh Shelton, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is too young to have been at Leggett Public School during this time, but what extraordinary men came from that small school.As Miss Willie Mae Holton told us in fifth grade, “Boys and girls, living in a small town is no excuse for having a small mind.”
Joe took the advice of his high school principal and went to NC State College after graduating from high school in 1930.He had a county $100 scholarship that was good for only his freshman year. He was a member of the rifle team, earning his varsity letter in that sport.He was a platoon leader in ROTC and received his reserve commission as an infantry second lieutenant when he reached the age of 21.He graduated from State in 1934 with honors holding a BS degree in Dairy Manufacturing.Later on he calculated that his expenses for those four years, including books, board and tuition, clothes, spending money and other school expanses averaged $495 a year, all of which he earned himself. More than once he said, “My ambition is to leave my children a college degree, if I can’t leave them anything else.” He left them that and much more.Ann graduated from Duke University and Speight followed in his father’s footsteps graduating from NC State in 1969.Joe added his granddaughters to his list of college degree candidates when they came along. Carol graduated from UNC-Greensboro and Kathryn will graduate from East Carolina this spring.
Joe was the assistant county agent for Wake County between 1934 and 1937. He married Mavis Lucille Bullock, younger daughter of JJ and Bessie Griffin Bullock on April 11, 1937 and moved to Nash County where he served as county agent for Nash County from 1937 until 1939.Between 1939 and 1942 he worked as a livestock agent for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company.Their daughter Ann was born June 10, 1941.
By the time World War II began, he had earned the rank of first lieutenant in the reserves and was called to active duty February 14, 1942. He was sent to the Armored Force Replacement Training Center at Fort Knox, Kentucky with the Fourth Armored Division. In 1943 while there he was assigned to a cadre responsible for organizing and training the 16th Armored Division and went overseas with them n December 1944.He was assigned to the 9th Armored Division for a month immediately after the Remagen bridgehead was secured while the 9th was responsible for sealing off the Rhur pocket before returning to the 16th and ending up in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia where the division met the advancing Russians.During his service with the 16th, he was successively company commander, then battalion commanderexecutive officer, and finally combat commander of S-3.He was awarded the Bronze Star for his services.Joe, like many World War II veterans, never talked much about his experiences, but the few stories he did relate to me and his granddaughters involved the surprise of his men watching the flowers bloom in the North African desertafter water was spilled or tossed out after shaving and washing up, helping to save the famous white stallions of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna from the Russians, and “liberating” a rifle and shotgun, two in a numbered set of sixteen guns, from a Czech castle with the owner’s permission.They now hang over the mantel of our house. Joe came home on December 22, 1945 and was transferred to the reserves on February 9, 1946 with the rank of major. He stayed active in the reserves until he retired in 1979 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
A son, Joe Speight Sugg, Jr. was added to the family December 21, 1946.
After the war Joe established and ran S & W Rendering Company until being named the first Executive Secretary of the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association in 1954.
On the national level he served as a member of the Board of Directors and later Chairman of the Board of the National Peanut Council as well as Chairman of the Export Committee of the National Council. He was also a member of the National Agriculture Stabilization Conservation Service Peanut Advisory Committee and the National Peanut Administrative Committee.
He was given the title “Mr. Peanut” by the News and Observer when he was named Tar Heel of the Week October 10, 1955.He served as a member of the Advisory Council to the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University and was given its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1979. That same year he was awarded the North Carolina Chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta Award of Merit. In 1985 he was named to the National Peanut Hall of Fame.
He was an officer of the American Peanut Research and Education Association, a member of the Virginia-Carolina Peanut Advisory Committee , the National Peanut research Committee, the National Peanut Administrative Committee, and the National Peanut Growers Group. Joe retired in 1980 and was succeeded by Cousin Norfleet Sugg.When four-year Carol Sugg saw a picture of Fleet in the paper announcing his new position, her reaction was priceless: “Mama, there’s a picture ofPapa Joe when he was young and had hair!” When I explained to her that it wasn’t Papa Joe, she wanted to know why I called Fleet “cousin” since Auntie Ann wasn’t married and didn’t have any children, why they had the same last name, why they looked alike, and if her daddy would take over the job when Fleet retired.In his honor, the North Carolina Peanut Growers Association established the Joe Speight Sugg Agricultural Institute Scholarship Endowment at NC State University, School of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Civil affairs were as important to Joe as profession and family responsibilities. He was a member and past presidentof the Kiwanis Club, past director of the Rocky Mont Chamber of Commerce, member of theBenvenue Country Club where he and Mavis went for dinner on Thursday nights until 2003 when his health began failing at the age of 90. He was also active in Twin County Lodge #729, Sudan Temple and Rocky Mount Shrine Club. He was a founding member of Lakeside Baptist Church which he helped organize in 1955. When my sister-in-law died September 8, 1991 at the age of 50, Joe and Mavis created the Ann Sugg Endowment at Lakeside in her memory.
I met Joe for the first on October 29, 1965.It was homecoming at NC State and his birthday, and my second date with his son. Speight and I dated through four years of college, two years of grad school, and two years of the army.We got married June 30, 1973.Joan Carol was born June 12, 1977.Kathryn Louise put in her appearance at 7:29 in the morning on Labor Day, September 5, 1983, “a very appropriate day,” Joe said, “to have a baby.”Everybody came to see us about 10:00 and then Papa Joe along with Cousin Bill in from Charlotte and Cousin Joe up from Alabama went dove hunting out at Mt. Prospect.
Joe’s hobbies included hunting, fishing, and watching NC State football. He taught his wife to fish, which he said was one of the biggest mistakes of his life because then she wanted to go fishing during hunting season. He taught children to hunt.Ann wasn’t an enthusiastic deer hunter until she saw them happily munching away on those precious peanuts. Dove and field corn were one thing, but deer and peanuts were an entirely different matter.Peanuts are for people.
When his future daughter-in-law was asked about a wedding present, the answer of two season tickets to the NC State football games, was rewarded with that famous grin and seats on 50-yard line for the 1973 football season.I even got to use my sister-in-law’s 12 gauge shotgun on several occasions during dove seasons when she was not in town. Joe and Speight made sure I had a license and knew what I was doing. Guests who accidentally injure other guests are not invited back. My targets these days are the squirrels that raid my bird feeders.
Little did I know back on that November day in 1960 when I narrated Mrs. Phillip’s play for Tarboro’s bicentennial that I would become a member of this remarkable and extraordinary family.