Elizabeth Blackwell was born on Blackwell’s Mountain. She was 17 when she married 27 year old Epherium Frazier, 1820. Epherium and Elizabeth lived at Sassafrass Fork, Granville County, North Carolina. They had eight children William, Stephen, Harriet, Elijah Calvin, Thomas Ben, Mary Jane, Rebecca, and James Spence. James Spence was born just before his father’s death in 1840. Along with other men from the community, Elizabeth’s youngest son, James Spence signed up on the 17 June 1861 and became a member of Co I, 23rd (originally 13th) North Carolina Infantry.
James Spence’s first letter home was written by his cousin Robert Blackwell.
July 12th 1861
I take my pen in hand to wright you a few lines to let you know that I am well at this time and very well satisfied. We are all well and is doing well and getting a plenty to eat. We have sugar and coffee and rice and bacon –flour & meal. We did not go to Garyesbourgh, we heard that there was sickness there and we stopped at Weldon. We are now at Weldon but expect to leave here soon. We has been formed in a regiment and has elected a adjutant general. Hope for a colonel. We has not got our arms yet but we have got our tents and they are same as little houses. We have reading class of 6 or seven every morning. They puts the books in my box. I hope I may come back after a while. Bob says he is very well satisfied and to tell Uncle Stephen and he is well and hearty. Tell Bill and Stebe they must walk over and see us some evening. We had a very good ride on the cars. The number of volunteers we have seen we cannot tell. We will soon be ready for the Yankees. Cathorn and Balcknells companies are here with us a good many of our acquaintances.
James Spencer Frazier R. Blackwell
The next time the family heard from him (July 25th, 1861) he was in Manassas, Virginia. He did not talk about the good food because he was” sick in his bowels.” He wrote about “buying an old hen and stewing it up and had a good meal.” The family tried to send him food from home but Spence wrote that “most all was spoiled and the crackers that were sent were smashed to smithereens.” He asked for brandy, a pot of butter, and sweet potatoes. They expected to go to Washington City next. Spence says that “he hears the big guns but that they do not bother him much.” April of 1862, a conscription law was passed. Elijah C. and Thomas B. enlisted.
His brother Stephen wrote this letter.
Sept 2nd 1861
I seat myself to write you a few lines to inform you that we are all well at present and I hope these lines my find you enjoying the same blessings. I received your letter in due time which afforded us much pleasure to hear from you but it pains us to hear that you was unwell and I fear when the measles get hold of you you will see a hard time of it. I hear from you very often from the other boys and Gaston stated in his letter of the 26th that you was sick. I do hope that it will not last very long with you, Spence. I would like to know how many is in one tent or mess and who you and Bob is with and tell me something about your close, shoes and socks and how you make out about your bed if you need anything. I would like to send it if I can see any chance for you to get it. I must say something about our crops. You just ought to see our corn and be here to drink cider with me and to help me set up with the still though I have got through with it now. You stated in your letter to Tom, his brother, to save you some peaches. I told Tom we must save you some if we had to steal them.
Spence, I do not know how long I am to stay here at home it seems like the people are getting very much excited here.
Bill Knott has never been home and does not talk about coming. Bill and Ceit and George was fat and lafing at the others telling them, that they was too sorry for the measles but it got them at last. Spence Eakes was very sick in camp and his Paw brought him home and now he is as fat and well as ever as for flying around there is very little of that done here the girls seems like they are going to wait till you all come back but Jake is been hawling Becca Royster about ever since the assosation at Antioch. Spence tell Bob that Aunt Betsy’s Friend will be preaching at Mountain Creek the third Sunday in this month. You must writ to me as soon as you get these lines. Mother says She is ( I am)glad to hear that you are trusting in the Lord and say you must look to Him for He will hot forsake the righteous and them that do His will.
Stephen was 38 and on March 1st 1863 he became a Private in Co K of the 55th North Carolina Infantry. He died of typhoid fever in Jerusalem, VA on June 28th 1863. Like so many he died of disease.
His Mother and Alex Newton, a community friend, made the five day journey to Weldon to retrieve Steven’s body. On the return trip the coffin was washed off of the wagon and they both entered the creek to retrieve the body. Sixty three year old, Elizabeth, died three days later and both she and Steven are buried on Blackwell’s Mountain.