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AUTHOR:  Roger Hudson

My great-great grandfather was Benjamin Allen Staton of Henderson County, NC. He was born in 1837 and served in the 35th Infantry, Company G of the Confederate Army. They were “The Rifles.” The regiment trained in Raleigh and eventually joined “Ranson’s Brigade” in Virginia.

Ben married Penelope Adelaide Williams, and they had eleven children. He began his tour of duty in 1861 at a training camp in Raleigh. His records show he was sickly, but it appears he did see action in Virginia and was wounded. Records show he was sent to the hospital in Charlotte in 1864. From there he went back home to Henderson County and never returned to his brigade. That’s all the records say.

But – that’s not all my grandfather knew! I was fortunate to be reared by my grandfather Latha King who knew his grandfather Staton quite well. My grandfather was born in 1897 and his grandfather Staton lived until 1921. What happened? According to what my grandfather’s grandparents told him, Ben had enough of the fighting and when he was released from the hospital he went home. The Henderson County area was actually divided – some young men crossed the mountains and joined the Union Army while most fought for the Confederacy. It was not a really safe place for a young man to be home during the war. So, Ben hid out in a cave until the war ended in 1865! His wife Penelope would go at sundown and take him food.

My grandfather’s grandmother told him this story directly. One evening on the way back from the cave, she heard a “painter” (this was the local pronunciation for the word “panther”). Now, there’s a lot of tales about panthers in the mountains in those days, and it is not a proven fact they were there. It could have been some type of wild cat, but grandfather swears there were panthers in the mountains then. At any rate – the cat was coming after her and she knew the horse she was on could not outrun it. With the screams of the cat getting closer, she ripped off her dress and threw it down behind her! She said she could hear the cat ripping it up as she galloped as fast as she could in her petticoat!

The Statons survived the war and the large family eventually survived Reconstruction by farming and working together. My great grandmother, Martha Matilda Staton King, was born there in 1866. I remember her distinctly with her stately demeanor , sweet smile, and large mop of gold/white hair piled up on her head. She lived to the age of ninety-four.

Today there are hundreds of Staton descendants still in Henderson County, NC today.

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