The Riddle Newsletter

Genealogy is Heredity

Volume 2, Issue 2, June 1996

• Captain Riddle Hanged in Wilkesboro, NC
• Samuel and "Molly Tate" Riddle Add Four More 3rd Great Grandsons
• More Descendants of Nathaniel Riddle Identified
• Riddle News Now on World Wide Web
• How To Tell If You Might Be A "High Tech Redneck"
• Tom Riddle Kills Redcoats at Deep River
• Big Ivy The Way I Remember It
• A Stream Sir Walter (Big Ivy) Scott
• Eugene Franklin Riddle

Captain Riddle Hanged in Wilkesboro, NC

Captain William Thomas Riddle, a reckless N.C. Tory leader, was captured, court-martial, and hanged on an oak tree near the Mulberry Fields (now Wilkesboro) Meeting House (courthouse) in 1781. Captain Riddle, along with two of his associates named Reeves and Gross, was rudely put to death by the order of Colonel Benjamin Cleveland of the Wilkes (Surry) County Militia.

William Riddle and Ben Cleveland had been adversaries for some time. Some months earlier, Riddle had captured Ben Cleveland at Cleveland's plantation at Old Fields on south fork of the New River (now Ashe County).

Ben's brother, Robert Cleveland, learned of his capture and gathered 20 to 30 men, who rescued Ben. Captain Riddle and his men got away. A few in the party that rescued Colonel Cleveland say that they saw Riddle's wife riding away with Captain Riddle and his Tories.

Some time later, Riddle conducted a night raid into the Yadkin Valley. They captured and took prisoner two of Cleveland's soldiers, David and John Witherspoon. At Riddle's camp on the Watauga River the Witherspoon brothers were given the choice of taking the oath of allegiance to the King and joining the Tory band or being shot as traitors to the Crown.

The brothers took the oath and were allowed to go home with the understanding that they would return as members of Riddle's military unit and bring David Witherspoon's mare, called O'Neal, back with them.

As soon as they reached home David mounted the fleet-footed mare and road several miles to the home of Col. Ben Herndon. Herndon quickly raised a large party of armed militia. Guided by Witherspoon, the party caught the Riddle camp by surprise, killed some, captured three and allowed others to escape.

The three prisoners were brought to the Wilkes County courthouse in Mulberry Fields. A court-martial panel was swiftly convened with Colonel Benjamin Cleveland as the presiding officer. Cleveland ordered that Riddle, Reeves and Gross be put to death by hanging at sunrise on the following day. To show his contempt for the Tory captives, he delayed the execution until he had consumed a large breakfast in proportion to his over three hundred pound frame.

It is not known whether Riddle's wife was captured with Riddle and his associates. It was said by many in the crowd that came to see the event that Captain Riddle's wife, Harriet "Happy" Roberts, witnessed the execution. No doubt that the instrument of Riddle's execution, a sturdy black oak tree will be long remembered as the hanging tree and may come to be known as the "Tory Oak."

(Note: Several sources were used for the above story as well as some speculation by your Riddle Newsletter Editor. Among them was an article, "The Tory Oak Remembered," published in the Summer 1995 issue of the Old Wilkes, Inc. newsletter and Branches Of One Riddle Family Tree by Doratha Riddle Marsh. These sources agree as far as the basic story but disagree in the names and relationship of the associates who were hanged with Riddle. Marsh claims that Riddle's brother-in-law, Bill Nickolas, was one of the men hanged with Riddle and the other may have been Captain Riddle's father, Colonel James Riddle, noted loyalist to King George III.)

And now for the rest of the story. William Riddle and Harriet Happy Roberts had several children: John, Thomas, Joseph, Isaac, William, James and Harriet. During the Revolutionary War, Captain Riddle and his family were living in Montgomery County, Va. We do not know what became of their bodies after he and his associates were hanged. Some say that they were contemptuously disposed of somewhere in the Wilkesboro area. Others have reported that the families were allowed to claim the bodies and give them a descent burial.

We do know that Riddle's wife "Happy" returned to Montgomery County.

On May 8, 1782, the Montgomery County Court records show that the court ordered Capt. William Love to return to Hoppe Riddle five pounds of specie. Apparently Love or some of his men had confiscated (stolen) Mrs. Riddle's property. The hate and harassment of this Riddle family continued even after the fighting was effectively over with the surrender of Lord Conwallis to General Washington at Yorktown on October 19, 1781.

Happy Riddle and her children soon migrated from Virginia to Lee County, North Carolina, then to Tennessee and Kentucky.

While traveling down the information highway, some two hundred and fifteen years after the incident at the Tory Oak, this editor made contact with an eighth generation descendant of William and Happy Riddle. Her name is Rebecca Wennermark and she was born in Indiana. Rebecca is a descendant of William and Happy's third child, Joseph L. Riddle, b. April 1777, and his wife Roda Monk (Munk) via her mother's line: Riddle\Hickey\Brown\Bump.

She is a genealogist and is presently researching her Bump line. After my contact with Rebecca, I remembered the Tory Oak story that I read some years ago. After living in Winston-Salem for more than 20 years I decided to make a quick trip to Wilkesboro to see if I could find the old oak tree. I found what remains of this 300 year old device of execution. A fierce storm on June 12, 1989, ripped it apart and threw most of it on the ground. All that is left now is a stump about six feet tall.

The fallen wood was collected and placed in safe-keeping by the County of Wilkes. Souvenir pieces are now being offered for sale by:

Old Wilkes, Inc.
Courthouse Square
203 North Bridge Street
Wilkesboro, NC 28697
Plans are being made to remove the old oak stump and replace it with a monument.

Samuel and Molly Tate Riddle Add Four More 3rd Great-Grandsons

We are able to add four more to the growing list of descendants of Samuel Riddle and Mary "Molly Tate" Naomi Rust. Betty Jo Banks Erwin, the proud grandmother, sent me the name of her latest grandson John Lawrence Erwin, born June 25, 1995, along with the names and birth dates of her other grandsons: Daniel Erwin Entimacher, born September 12, 1984; David Ross Entimacher, born February 27, 1987; and William Edward Erwin, born March 7, 1993.

Daniel and David Entimacher are the sons of Betty Jo's daughter Joan and her husband Edward. William and John are the sons of Betty Jo's son John Tate Erwin and his wife Mary Frye.

In addition, Betty Jo sent me a lot of information on Samuel and "Molly Tate" Riddle, including a portrait of Sam and Molly's family tree. The family tree portrait contains photographs of Sam, Molly and their children. Unfortunately, I am not able to publish a copy with this newsletter but it will be included in a supplement to the book, Some More Riddles Of North Carolina.

The following story was passed on to me by Betty Jo.

"Molly at age 15 (ed.1858) wanted to make a quilt all by herself. At that time quilts were put up, (ed. placed on a quilting frame) and anyone who came by could quilt on it. Molly hid her quilt in the attic so no one would quilt on it. She raised the flax and spun the thread that it is used to make the quilt.

The pattern is Rose of Sharon. I (ed. Betty Jo) have the quilt. What a treasure! Molly's quilt will soon be 140 years old. This favorite art form, Quilting, was brought to North America by our early settlers and flourished from that time until the early 1950s.

If you have never been to a quilting bee (party) or watched as the ladies taught the young girls this ancient craft, you have missed a part of Americana. Had it not been for quilts handed down and made in my family, I would have passed into the next world as a block of ice.

You can imagine my consternation when I was shopping (My wife does the shopping; I do the carrying.) in one of our uptown, high-priced, supercilious department stores and I paused to look at a quilt display and discovered that they had been made in China.

More Descendants of Nathaniel Riddle Identified

Based on information provided by Linda Paige Rector, wife of Robert M. Rector, we have been able to add over 40 more descendants of Nathaniel Riddle, b. 1805, son of our forefather, John W. Riddle, Sr. Robert M. Rector is the third great-grand-son of Nathaniel.

Nathaniel and Rebecca Tatum Riddle's fourth child was Julia Ann Riddle, b. 1830. She married Robert Franklin Rector on August 1, 1856, in Marshall, Madison County, N.C.. Out of this union came nine children. Robert M. Rector's line back to John W. Riddle, Sr. is as follows:

(1) John W. Riddle, Sr., b. ca 1765, wife unknown.
(2) Nathaniel Riddle, b. 1805, wife Rebecca Tatum.
(3) Julia Ann Riddle, b. 1830, husband Robert Franklin Rector.
(4) John Melvin Rector, b. 1867, wife Altha Brooks.
(5) Hubert Floyd Rector, b. 1895, wife Flora Loretta Marler.
(6) Thurman Rector, b.1921, wife Viola Wilcox.
(7) Robert Michael Rector, b. 1953, wife Linda Christine Paige. Linda and Robert Rector live in Lenoir, N.C., and have two sons, Christopher Lee and Brian Michael.

Riddle News Now on World Wide Web

Thanks to our Cousin Kevin Riddle in Leesburg, FL, a descendant of Tyre Riddle, the Riddle Newsletter is now on the World Wide Web. This means that if you have access to the Information Highway you can now read and get a copy of our Riddle Newsletter from any where in the world. All you have to do is set up your "Web Browser" to go to Jims Genealogy.

Soon you will see Kevin's Page. You then click on "Stokes County Archives" and this takes you to a page that says "Riddle Family Origins." On this page you will find information about the three brothers, Tyre, John, and Randolph Riddle who lived in Stokes County in 1790. In addition, Kevin has provided information on previous issues of our Riddle Newsletter as well as contact information. It is hoped that through this new media we can find more about our Riddle ancestors.

The following is a list of e-mail addresses for Riddle descendants on the Internet:
Jim Hartung

Kevin Riddle

Jim Riddle

How To Tell If You Might Be A "High Tech Redneck"
(Source Unknown)

If your e-mail address ends in ""
If you connect to the World Wide Web via a "Down Home Page."
If the bumper sticker on your truck says "My other computer is a laptop."
If your laptop has a sticker that says "Protected by Smith and Wesson."
If you've ever doubled the value of your truck by installing a cellular phone.
If your baseball cap read "DEC" instead of "CAT."
If your computer is worth more than all your cars combined.
If your wife said "either she or the computer had to go", and you still don't miss her.
If you've ever used a CD-ROM as a coaster to set your beer on.
If you ever refer to your computer as "Ole Bessy."
If your screen saver is a bitmap image of your favorite truck, tractor, or farm animal.
If you start all your e-mails with the words "Howdy y'all."

Tom Riddle Kills Redcoats at Deep River

According to Doratha Riddle Marsh's book, Branches Of One Riddle Family, Thomas Riddle and a group of Chatham County men concealed themselves on the south side of Deep River. As a company of English soldiers came within shooting and cutting range, the "Sons of Chatham" attacked, killing several of the "Kings Best," and sent the others fleeing back to the north.

Thomas Riddle and his brother James, as well as several of his Minter cousins, are members of the Chatham County, North Carolina Militia (1772) and served in Captain Charles Matthews (Mathis) Company. It has also been reported that in a separate incident, a Tory stole Tom Riddle's horse. Riddle pursued the Tory, caught him, killed him and recovered his animal.

Thomas Riddle, b. ca 1750, is the son of William Julius Riddle, b. ca 1708, and Elizabeth Nancy Minter, daughter of Anthony and Elizabeth Minter of Caroline County, Va. (ed. I will refer to William Julius Riddle as Julius Riddle and his wife Elizabeth Nancy Minter as Nancy Minter because most of the Riddle researchers use these references. Doratha Riddle Marsh in her book Branches Of One Riddle Family Tree states that in fact their names were William Riddle and Elizabeth Minter.)

Julius Riddle and Nancy Minter were married about 1740 in Caroline County, Va. and lived there until about 1753. Then they moved to Lunenburg County, Va., and on to Orange County, N.C., in 1762. William and his brother Thomas are among the first Riddles to settle in North Carolina. William owned several hundred acres of land on both sides of the Deep River near Little Buffalo Creek and other land near the beginning or head of the Cape Fear River.

Julius and Nancy had seven sons who all served with distinction on the American side of the Revolutionary War. G. T. Ridlon (Riddle), in his book
History of the Ancient Ryedales And Their Descendants, says that ancestors of this branch of Riddles were supposed to be from Scotland.

They were always telling stories about Scotland. They had all of the characteristics of the Scottish people. The seven sons of Julius were men of great size and extraordinary physical strength. They were of good height and weighed from two to three hundred pounds.

One story from the Ridlon book that I am fond of is the one about Captain Richard Riddle, son of Julius, which is as follows:

A fighter who claimed the title of Champion of Chatham County went in search of Dick Riddle, who had a reputation of being pretty handy in the game of fisticuffs. The fighter met a man, who measured three feet across the shoulders, walking up the road carrying a cow. The fighter asked the man if he could give him directions to where Dick Riddle lived. The man put down the cow and said, "I am Dick Riddle."

The fighter said, "I have come thirty miles to give you a whipping, but I am satisfied by just seeing you," bid Mr. Riddle good-day and headed home without another word.

Now back to Tom Riddle, subject of our lead story. Thomas Riddle, married Francis Minter the widow of his cousin Richard Minter in 1781. Francis' maiden name may have been Stewart as reported by Doratha Riddle Marsh in her book. Richard and Francis had three small daughters at the time of his death in 1780.

After their marriage, Thomas and Francis, the three children, as well as ten resulting from their union as follows: Charles b. 1782, Nathaniel b.1785, Sarah Dicey b. 1787, Cato b. 1790*, Kesiah (Keziah) b. 1791*, William b. 1792*, Fanny b. 1794*, Susan b. 1795, Thomas, Jr. b. 1798, and Nancy b. 1800. (Note: * I have used the birth dates presented by a descendant of Tom Riddle. Marsh gives other dates.)

While researching these articles, I ran across a descendant of this Riddle family. He is Dan Lanter from Abilene, Texas. Dan traces his line of descent from Sarah Dicey Riddle, daughter of Tom and Francis Minter Riddle. Sarah Dicey married Mark Patterson in Chatham County, N.C., in 1807. They migrated to Tennessee by 1808 where they had eleven children. Mark and Dicey's seventh child was named Charles Riddle Patterson, b. 1820. Charles married Sarah I. Campbell b. 1823, N.C.

They had eight children, all born in Tenn. Charles and Sarah's fifth child was named Charles Riddle Patterson Jr., b. 1855. Charles Jr. married Sarah Rebecca Rhodes, b. 1854, Tenon. They had a daughter named Sarah Ann Frances Patterson, b. 1882, Tenon. In 1901, Sarah married Elbert Melica Davis, b. 1878, Tenn. Shortly after their marriage they moved to Texas and settled in Runnels County, Texas. Sarah and Elbert had four children all born in Texas. Their second child was named Charles Roy Davis b. 1906. Charles Roy married Dela Mae Bishop, b. 1908, in 1925. Roy and Dela worked on several ranches in Taylor and Runnels Counties, Texas.

In 1939, they bought their own ranch/farm near Hatchell, Runnells County, Texas. Roy and Dela's third child was Joyce Mae Davis b. 1938. She married Vernon Robert Lanter, who was in the Air Force at Big Springs, Texas. They were transferred to Chicago, IL, where Dan was born. They moved back to Texas in 1972.

Big Ivy The Way I Remember It
Richard Riddle

The ice and snow storms that hit North Carolina during the first week of February, 1996, left 50,000 families in Winston-Salem without lights, heat and some without water and telephone service. I know that many of you who live in mountain areas like Pensacola and Yancey County had it much worse than we did because I heard from some of my cousins. Watching people trying survive without all of these essentials reminded me of my life in a place called Dillingham, part of the Big Ivy Settlement in Buncombe County, N.C.

We lived as far back in the woods as you could get without being in the Pisgah National Forest. In fact, the Riddle land joined "Government Land," as the folks who lived on the head waters of "Big Creek" called it.

Why did the winter storm of 1996 remind me of this place? Being without those essentials was a part of my everyday life in Big Ivy.

Light at night was provided by a fireplace and a few coal oil (kerosene) lamps. Heat was provided by a fireplace, wood cook stove, quilts and bodies, if you could find someone with whom to snuggle. Water was provided by an open spring that was located about 50 yards from the house. It always seemed much farther in the winter if you were carrying two five-gallon buckets of water. I know that the water was safe to drink because you could always see little crawfish (crayfish for urbanites) and water lizards (salamanders) darting around. Crawfish and water lizards will not live in polluted water, or that is what I was told.

Personal hygiene was accomplished with a two-quart wash pan, homemade and store bought soap, wash rags and towels made from flour sacks, worn-out sheets and clothes. The big bathing event was the Saturday night scrub down in a washtub. It was not unusual to use the same water to bath several children. I don't know about the bathing routine of the older folks. I was always put to bed before any of that happened.

In warmer weather, baths were taken in Big Creek. No problem with privacy, but the water seldom reached 60 degrees even on the hottest summer days.

Radio? Yes, radio had been invented but we did not have electricity so what would we do with a radio? TV? Television had been invented, but we are talking about 1930 to 1940 and no one in the South had one at that time. My reason in telling you all of this is make this point: What is considered essential today was considered pure luxury during my time in Big Ivy.

I don't want to give the impression that I did not enjoy my life on Big Creek. I have some of my most cherished memories of that life in the wilderness. I use the term wilderness as opposed to country or rural living because many who lived in the rural areas at that time had some of the essentials like electricity and inside bathrooms with flush-type commodes. Those of us living in the wilderness had to learn basic survival skills that stay with you the rest of your life. Things like what plants and animals were eatable and how to gather or hunt them and which ones you stayed away from. How things smell and the sounds that they make became a part of your psyche.

My grandfather, Lunel Riddle, and his father, the Reverend Benjamin Britton Riddle, settled on Big Creek in about 1923. They came from Pensacola in Yancey County where their ancestors had lived for five generations and almost 120 years. I have often wondered why. In 1923, Pensacola was accessible by a railroad and motorcar and was a major metropolitan center as compared to where Ben and Lunel Riddle settled.

The first reason may have been that the timber and lumber business that had made Pensacola prosper during the early 1900s was beginning to decline. The great forests on the Yancey and Mitchell side of the Black Mountains had been stripped of almost all of the virgin trees. They may have considered it a good time to sell and move before land prices became lower. During this period, the "Great Depression" had reduced many proud hard working men to beggars and thieves.

Another reason may have been because two of Ben's children, Joe and Sally, twins b. 1895, married spouses from Dillingham, Big Ivy Township, and settled in homes there. Joe married Snowe Hensley and was living in Dillingham. Sally married Lloyd Dill Ingham and they also lived in Dillingham not far from Joe and Snowe.

By now you have guessed why they called this little community of two general stores, two or three churches and one three room school house Dillingham. Almost all of the people who lived here prior to Ben and Lunel Riddle move were related to the Dilli Inghams in one way or the other.

A bit more on the Big Ivy Settlement. The roads and settlement started in the east near the Coleman Boundary of the Pisgah National Forest (That's where we lived.) with the headwaters of Big (Dillingham) Creek, followed the creek through the Dillingham community and on through the Barnardsville community, the largest community, then on through a community called Democrat on the west.

The distance from Pensacola to Big Ivy at Barnardsville is about 17 miles, if you go south out of Pensacola over the Black Mountains range through the Cane River Gap and down the North Fork of Ivy Creek into Barnardsville. This was an old stock and wagon road (N.C. 197) used by the first Riddle family to come from Yancey County and settle in Big Ivy. It is still unpaved and winds from about 2,800 feet at Pensacola to 6,000 feet at the Cane River Gap and back down to 2,600 feet in altitude at Barnardsville.

I think that the first Riddle family to come this way and settle in Big Ivy was Marvel Riddle and his wife Rachel Austin. Marvel was the grandson of John W. Riddle, Sr., the ancestor of most of the Riddles in Western North Carolina.

Marvel's father was William Riddle. In the summer of 1844, William Riddle and one of his sons acted as guides for Professor Elisha Mitchell in his search to locate the highest mountain in eastern United States. James W., age 12 in 1844, could have be en the son that went with his father William and Prof. Mitchell to find and measure the Black Dome or as we now know it, Mount Mitchell, elevation 6,684 feet. At that time William and his family lived on the Cane River near Pensacola.

Marvel married Rachel in 1839. He was 14 and she was 20, if the birth records are correct. They had 11 children. Their first child Eliza was born 1843 and according to the records in Buncombe County, Yancey County was formed in 1833. Therefore, Marvel and Rachel Austin Riddle were probably the first Riddle family to come to Big Ivy and settle on North Fork near Barnardsville.

Marvel and at least one of his sons, William Marvel Riddle, may have served on both sides during the War of Northern Aggression. You who have received the
Riddle Newsletter, June, 1995 issue of the will recall reading about Marvel and Rachel "Granny Riddle" in the article The Mystery Of Marvel Riddle Solved.

For those that do not recall. Granny Riddle became famous as the oldest living person in North Carolina in 1927. She died 22 days after her 109th birthday on August 18, 1928. We have just about reached the end of my little story about Big Ivy, the essentials, some Riddles and the things I remember about a place called Big Creek.

When I get fed up with the crowds of people all trying to be in the same place at the same time and all trying to drown out the others by playing their drum louder than anyone else, I go back in my mind to the wilderness and Big Creek.

However, when I was studying American literature at Wake Forest University, I created a problem for myself when I gave my professor my view of being without the essentials. We were studying Henry David Thoreau and his book Walden. Thoreau and his theories about man, nature and social protest was being touted by my professor as the way things ought to be.

While writing Walden, Thoreau built a one room cabin near Walden Pond and lived there alone from 1845 to 1847. He ate food that he found growing in the woods and vegetables from his own garden.

My professor was deeply impressed with this way of life, as were many of my classmates. When he got around to asking me what I thought, I told him that I had lived that way for a lot longer than Thoreau and I liked having the essentials, particularly inside plumbing. I could tell right away that I was not going to do well in his class and I withdrew. So much for the essentials.

A Stream Sir Walter (Big Ivy) Scott
Fred B. Jarvis - Class of 1934 Barnardsville High School

Deep, very deep, in the hills of western North Carolina lies a community, or communities that make up the Big Ivy section of Buncombe County. Arranged just as snug and beautiful as GOD Himself could make it.

It is a land of white dogwood, pink locust and tall balsams. It has tall mountains, beautiful valleys. A land of the ramp, golden seal and ginseng. A land that remembers Elisha Mitchell and Big Tom Wilson.

Big Ivy is the land that has produced lawyers, school teachers, judges, men and women that believe in SALVATION through the blood of God's only SON. It is a people so very close, yet far apart.

Right in the center of all its magnificent beauty is a stream. It starts in the tall trees of the largest of the Smokey Mountains, winds its way silently and eternally to the French Broad River.

A stream that knows rainbow trout and flat tailed muskrats. A beautiful stream that knows all and tells nothing. She has watched the summers and winters come and go since God said, "Let there be light" and there was light.

The violets and bulrushes nod as she silently goes on her way. She has watched the smoke of moonshine stills curl through the laurel and juniper. She cried with those who followed with plain flowers and simple coffins to await the appearing of the King of Kings. She sings "Amazing Grace" and there is a Fountain filled with Blood, with a small church who loves as Jonathan and David.

She laughs and giggles at the robin and cat bird and sometime roars at those that defy her. She swells with pride when children smile and red roses bloom. She heard the first cry of new born babes and watched last steps of those who go up to spend the day.

In the morning when we awake in His likeness and behold the Son of GOD, we will behold a stream flowing out of the throne of God. That stream will be Big Ivy in all its beauty. Loving, caressing, watching eternally over all GOD'S people.


Eugene Franklin Riddle

Our prayers an sympathies are with the family of Eugene Franklin Riddle who died at home on April 4, 1996. He was the son of Howard and Geneva Honeycutt Riddle of Burnsville, N.C. Surviving are his parents, two daughters, a son, three grandchildren and three sisters. He was buried in Howard Riddle Family Cemetery.