The Warrenton Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]
Warrenton is a small, intensely Southern courthouse town whose townscape and way of life retain much of the character of the place in antebellum years. Established in 1779, it was the center of wealthy plantation culture based on tobacco and cotton. Noted for its fine schools, influential and cosmopolitan citizenry, and active social and sporting life — including racing and gambling — Warrenton boomed during the twenty years before the Civil War. This boom era produced, through the work of builders and craftsmen from Prince Edward County, Virginia, including Jacob Holt and others, a remarkable body of Greek Revival and Greco-Italianate architecture of a high quality, robust individualism, and stylistic coherence seldom rivaled in the South. The modest scale and gracious tree-shaded character of the townscape are given panache by a unified collection of highly cubical mid-nineteenth century buildings whose rich variety of classical and vernacular detail ranges from chaste Doric porches and columned entrances to the lively bracket cornices and arched ornament of the Italianate. Post-war recovery and an early twentieth century resurgence based largely on tobacco sales brought some changes to the townscape, but a lack of rapid economic loss or growth, the permanence and long memories of old families, excellent local memoirs, and an innate conservatism have enabled Warrenton to retain much of its important architectural fabric and distinctively Southern charm.
During the eighteenth century, the land south of the Virginia border in the eastern Piedmont was settled largely by people who came from or through Virginia to claim the land which was well suited for tobacco growing. These settlers included a number who established plantations, became relatively large slaveholders, and developed a plantation society of considerable wealth.
In 1764 Bute County was established; and in 1779 Bute was divided into Franklin County and Warren County, named after Benjamin Franklin and Joseph Warren (killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill). On February 12, 1779, the Assembly at Halifax passed an "Act to lay off and establish a town in Warren County, on the land already purchased by Commissioners, at the place fixed for setting the Court-House of said County, and for other purposes therein mentioned." The bill noted that "the inhabitants of said County believe it would be greatly to their advantage) also to the benefit of traders and artificers, to have a town laid off and established by law on the aforesaid land. The town was to be called Warrenton. Commissioners were William Johnson, Philemon Hawkins, Edward Jones, Jr., John Faulcon, Adkin McLemore, and William Duke; these men were, as expected, of early-settled families and prominent in political affairs of the county.
As required by the legislation, a plan of the town was drawn — by surveyor William Christmas who later drew a more sophisticated plan for the capital city of Raleigh. One hundred lots were to be marked and sold; and the usual requirement was made that the purchaser build a house not less than 16 by 20 feet. Also a lot of ground was to be "set apart," upon which the commissioners were to "contract with workmen to build a court house, prison and stocks." Until a courthouse could be built, however, court was to meet "at the house of Thomas Christmas."
The county seat served as market and court town for the wealthy plantation county (which was as shown by the 1790 census the only county in the state with more slaves than free citizens), and did, as predicted, benefit "traders and artificers" — for whom the town would be well known. In 1786, Elkanah Watson visited the town in his extensive travels and described it: "Warrenton was just emerging from the forest; but, possessed a refined neighborhood, a salubrious air, temperate climate, and pure, delightful water. Just extricated from the baneful malaria of the low country, I seemed to receive here a new tenure of life. At Warrenton, I met in the midst of a crowd, at a tavern, Colonel H., formerly a member of Congress, to whom I had a letter of introduction from Philadelphia. After our exchanging the usual civilities, and my promising to visit him at his plantation, we parted. I proceeded to the new court-house, standing amid trees and stumps, to witness a North Carolina election, then in full progress."
In addition to the tavern and new courthouse described by Watson, there were soon stores, dwellings, and an academy in the young town. The academy had been authorized in 1786 by the Assembly, and opened in 1788; its building fund was raised by a lottery. Its principal was Marcus George, an Irishman and graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. Among its students over the years were a number of boys who were to become important in the state — among them future chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court Thomas Ruffin, political leader Weldon Edwards, Robert Broadnax, and Cadwalader Jones. Storekeepers in the early years of the town included Peter Davis and Joseph Volkes; of the oldest store buildings in town, only that identified as Peter Davis's still stands (101 Front Street), to the rear of the courthouse square, and its construction date is uncertain. Immigrants from Scotland in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century included several who established businesses. Probably the best known were Peter Mitchel and Thomas Whyte (White), who founded a major mercantile business. Also settling in Warrenton from Richmond in 1792 was Jacob Mordecai, a tobacco broker.
In 1794, when organized national postal service began, Warrenton was at the crossroads of two mail lines — north-south from Petersburg, Virginia, and east-west from Halifax to Salisbury.
Many of the leaders of late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century Warren County lived not in town but on plantations. Pre-eminent among those important to the state and nation was Nathaniel Macon, described by Thomas Jefferson as the "last of the Romans." A longtime antifederalist/democratic leader of great influence and conservatism, he served in the United States Congress continuously for thirty-seven years, as representative 1791-1815, as speaker of the House 1801-1807, and as senator 1815-1828. Also important were Benjamin Hawkins, United States senator and superintendent of Indian affairs; James Turner, governor and United States senator; William Ransom Johnson, called the "Napoleon of the Turf," whose plantation south of town was home for a time of the famous racehorse and sire, Sir Archie, and site of the town racetrack. Racing — along with cockfighting and other gambling sports — was popular among the planter society of the region and in the town of Warrenton.
The first decades of the nineteenth century saw Warrenton increase somewhat in size and considerably in influence and importance. In 1816, John Young Mason wrote to James H. Bryan, "The society, tho' not as learned or brilliant as that which New Bern affords is compleately unexceptionable." In this period, a number of important men made their homes in the town — and several of their houses survive.
As a courthouse town, Warrenton naturally attracted lawyers, and many of them were of some significance in state political circles. Kemp Plummer was a noted attorney and state senator of influence. Blake Baker, who "commenced the practice of law shortly after the town was established," but lived at his plantation "Fontena" where he taught law, was attorney general of the state from 1795 to 1803 and judge of the Superior Court in 1802 and 1818. John Hall, a Virginian who settled in Warrenton in 1799, was appointed a judge of the Superior Court and was appointed in 1818 to the first North Carolina Supreme Court; he served until 1832. His son, Edward, entered law practice in 1815 and was a judge of Superior Court for many years. The elder Hall is said to have built the house at the end of Franklin Street about 1800-1810; it is described as the only house still owned by descendants of the family who built it. Robert H. Jones, another Virginian, came to Warrenton early in the nineteenth century, and served in 1828 as state attorney-general, It was for Jones, a noted and sometimes irascible attorney, that Thomas Bragg is said to have built a house at 110 Bragg Street. Yet another Virginian who became a prominent attorney and served (1808-1810) as state attorney general was Oliver Fitts. In 1810 he was appointed Federal judge in the territory of Mississippi. William Miller, who lived in the county not far from Warrenton, but owned a town lot and may have had a law office in town, succeeded Fitts as attorney general, was governor from 1815 to 1817, and was appointed charge d'affairs to Guatamala. George E. Badger of New Bern, who married the daughter of James Turner, came to Warrenton about 1818 and practiced law briefly, living in the Hawkins-Arrington House (312 Church Street) [according to Mrs. Montgomery in her excellent memoir], moved two lots to its present site. After leaving Warrenton, Badger became judge of Superior Court (1820-1825), secretary of the Navy (1841-1845), and United States senator (1846-1852).
Other professional men in the early years of Warrenton included a number of physicians. Dr. Gloucester or Gloster, a Virginian, is said to have built the first section of the large house on Ridgeway Street, and Dr. Stephen Davis of Warren County is said to have built the core of the remodelled house on Plummer Street.
The town in this period was gaining a reputation for its good schools. The Warrenton Male Academy was still operating; in 1802 William Falkener and his wife established an early and important school for girls; and Jacob Mordecai, whose tobacco brokerage had failed, served for a time as steward of the Academy, then opened in 1809 another school for girls. The Mordecai School was to be among the best in the state, and it was run for several years almost exclusively by members of the Mordecai family. This large family was to spread across the state and produce leaders in many fields; a daughter, Ellen, wrote "The History of Hastings," a vivid account of life in early Warrenton. In 1811 Mordecai's buildings burned and Oliver Fitts offered his house (210 Plummer Street) to the Mordecais as a school building; the school operated successfully there under Mordecai until he removed to Virginia in 1818.
The schools in Warrenton employed a series of young men and women, many from Northern states, as teachers; these were among the few non-Southerners living in the town, evidently. Among them were Miss Mary Cheney of Connecticut, who taught at the school of Mrs. Harriet Allen (who is said to have run the school as well as lived in the Hawkins-Arrington House (312 Church Street). Miss Cheney was not particularly popular because of her outspoken abolitionist views, In July, 1836, her fiance, Horace Greely, came to Warrenton, and their wedding was held at Emmanuel Church (North Main Street) on July 5th. Also in Warrenton for a brief time as writing master of a Warrenton school was Amos Bronson Alcott, later editor, author, abolitionist, and founder of Utopian colonies — as well as the father of Louisa May Alcott.
Churches as well as schools were established in the early nineteenth century, and they too attracted from out of state persons of education and stature. According to Mrs. Montgomery, the Methodist church was organized first but no building erected until 1835. Emmanuel Episcopal Church was established in 1821 and a building soon constructed and consecrated in 1824, Presbyterians were organized by 1827 but Baptists not until the 1840s. An early rector of the Episcopal Church was the Reverend William Mercer Green, afterwards bishop of Mississippi. The first minister of the Presbyterian Church (N. Main Street) was William Swann Plumer, "who afterwards became a minister and author of national reputation," with a long series of positions as minister and professor, including service from 1867 to 1880 at the "Theological Seminary of Columbia."
During the early nineteenth century, Warrenton was apparently developing as a small town of some style and sophistication. It was already the center of a substantial plantation economy. One of the tobacco-growing tier of North Carolina counties along the Virginia line, Warren produced increasingly large amounts of tobacco; for a time, hogsheads holding more than 1,200 pounds of the cured leaf were spiked with an axle and rolled by oxen or horse power to Petersburg and other Virginia markets. Cotton, too, was produced, in increasing amounts. During this era — to judge from the plantation architecture — the planters were becoming wealthier, more sophisticated, and spending rather freely to express their taste and wealth. Grand houses like Montmorenci, Elgin, Prospect Hill, and others were built. The mineral spring resort south of Warrenton, Shocco Springs, attracted the wealthy and socially oriented as well as the fevered from across the state and beyond. Warrenton, center for trade, politics, and society, began to take on something of the character of its clientele.
The firm of Mitchel & White — run by two Scotsmen, Peter Mitchel and Thomas White — was a dry goods store of regional reputation, and their accounts for 1824 provide a vivid picture of the times. Among the entries are: Robert R. Johnson — best gilt buttons, imported tea; John H. Hawkins — English silk gloves; Thomas Bragg — 1 pr sealskin pumps ($2.75); Dr. Stephen Davis — 1 pr English silk gloves, 1 pr Butt Hinges, 1 toothbrush, 1 pr Buck skin gloves, 1 pr Prunella shoes, 1 fancy Wine Basket; Jas Somervell — 1 jocky cap; Green Perry — 1 pr small Red shoes, 1 pr white silk Hoze ($1.75); William T. Williams — 1 dozen Seegars; Henry G. Williams senr. — bone stays, 5 lb. almonds, long white kid gloves, 1 white turban & feathers ($7.50), 1 head ornament, 1-1/2 doz. crimson frog, 1 oz nutmegs; Henry G. Williams for estate William Eaton Decd — crimson velvet, 1 feather fan; Thomas Bragg — 1 thumb Latch, 1 doz screws, cheese, silk, homespun; Dr. Stephen Davis — 1 pr Lafayette gloves; John Fleming — 3-1/2 yds superfine Blue Cloth ($29.75).
Also reflecting an interest in fashion was the October 22, 1824, Warrenton Reporter advertisement of Stirrer and Radcliff, tailors. They reported that "By a regular correspondence with a gentleman in New York, long in the profession, they will regularly receive the earliest fashions from that city, which will be exhibited by calling on them," Customers were assured that garments "will be made in a style, and with an expedition, little, if any, inferior to New York or Philadelphia."
From New York and Philadelphia, and from the nearer city of Petersburg, Virginia, came books, which were generally available at the newspaper office — the Warrenton Reporter. In August, 1825, they advertised Female Quixotism and Conversations of Lord Byron. Also advertised as having come from Petersburg were a number of books including North American Indians, Recollections of Lord Byron, Quentin Durward, Scottish Chiefs, a Life of Washington, White's Cattle Medicine, also many "Plays and Farces" including "Shakspear's" works (in 8 volumes), and farces including Poor Gentleman, Three Weeks After Marriage, and others.
Also on sale at the newspaper office was Laws of the Pit, described as rules and regulations for the government of a show for a main of cocks, and of the pit — just published and for sale. Warrenton was known as a gaming and racing town. Cockfights were frequent and highly wagered on. Even more important was racing. Races were advertised, and many gentlemen owned prominent horses as well, which were frequently advertised at stud, On October 22, 1824, Robert R. Johnson advertised in the Warrenton Reporter the Warrenton Fall Races, which "will commence over the Warrenton Course...and continue FOUR DAYS." A sweepstakes of one-mile heats the first day for three-year old colts and fillies; a Jockey Club Purse of $350 the second day, with three-mile heats; a Proprietor's purse of $200 for two-mile heats the third day, and a Handy Cup the last day were advertised. The proprietor pledged himself to "have the track in good order," as well as "Stables and litter furnished Race Horses gratis," Also advertised was "A BALL" to "be furnished on the evening of the 2d and 3d day's races," by the proprietor.
Elaborate social events, apparently, were not unusual in early nineteenth century Warrenton. A newspaper account of the Fourth of July celebration, 1825, reported the dinner — for men — held at a local hotel, which included thirteen toasts, "with full bumpers of cool and palatable Madeira, or exhilarating Port, according to the fancy of the happy feasters, occasionally interspersed with comic, Patriotic, and sentimental Songs." Ellen Mordecai's "History of Hastings," a fictionalized account of early Warrenton, recalled the "dinner and dancing parties in many homes on Christmas day, and egg-nogg in all."
Taverns, too, were important to the social and political life of the town. Five taverns were listed in the county for 1832, eight in 1833, and eleven in 1835. Robert R. Johnson — proprietor of the race course — advertised his "House of Entertainment in Warrenton" in 1825, assuring customers that they "will find every accommodation that could be afforded by his personal attention. From which place the Stages, North and South, will continue to arrive and depart regularly every day."
Craftsmen and builders found Warrenton a likely market. The Arts and Crafts in North Carolina records thirteen carpenters or house carpenters in Warren County during the period 1786-1824, and one long-lived cabinetmaker, Thomas Reynolds. As early as February 27, 1811, Reynolds took an apprentice to the trade.
Reynolds was advertising for an apprentice as late as October 10, 1833. At least one piece of Reynolds's work is identified as still being in Warrenton, a sideboard with drawers, turned engaged corner elements, in the hands of his descendants; others are believed to exist as well.
Of the six carpenters and house carpenters — John Sims, Ambrose Minga, James Burgess, Thomas Bragg, Gideon Harton, and John Smith — known to have taken apprentices in the early nineteenth century, two in particular seem to have taken a firm place in the town's traditions concerning its builders of the period: a Mr. Burgess and Thomas Bragg. A man named Burgess is said locally to have been responsible for the fine Federal period houses in the area, which included Montmorenci and Prospect Hill, as well as the Coleman-White House (Halifax Street) within the historic district. The Burgess attribution is not documented. There is clearly a stylistic strain that runs through these houses and others in the Warren and Halifax County area.
More is known of Thomas Bragg. Thomas Brag (sic) is recorded as taking an apprentice to the carpenter's trade in 1802, and Thomas Bragg took an apprentice to the same trade in 1822.
Bragg is said to have been the builder of the 1820s Emmanuel Episcopal Church, and his work in Warrenton for the county is documented in county court minutes and building accounts; he apparently worked in the 1820s on the courthouse, including making a "clerk's table" and painting the courthouse. In 1840 he was contracted to build a second story to the jail.
In addition, there are two dwellings attributed to Bragg's hand. One is the much-overbuilt house said to have been his home (228 Bragg Street), which contains one room with elaborate vernacular Federal woodwork; the other, the Jones-Cook House (Bragg Street), was according to local tradition built by Bragg as a fee to Robert H. Jones who successfully defended Mrs. Bragg on a murder charge. The house is now in form the typical mid-nineteenth century two-story Greek Revival house, but the north portion contains Federal interiors that must date from the early years of the nineteenth century. Bragg, described as "a man of good judgment and hard common sense, who invested his earnings in the education of his children," had sons who became outstanding. Among them, John Bragg became a political figure of importance in Alabama; Braxton Bragg became a famous general in the Mexican War and later in the Civil War; Thomas Bragg, Jr., became governor of North Carolina (1854); United States senator, and attorney general of the Confederacy.
Thus by the 1820s and 1830s Warrenton had evidently developed into a thriving small county seat town whose substantial planters, merchants, doctors, and lawyers supported a moderately sophisticated culture, with churches, social events, an abundance of schools, several good builders and craftsmen, an active political life and the taverns that went with it, and shops of regional reputation.
It was in the mid-1840s that Warrenton apparently entered upon a period of unprecedented wealth, which produced the remarkable group of mid-nineteenth century buildings that give the town its unique character. During the fifteen to twenty-year period before the Civil War, judging from the number and quality of buildings, there must have been almost constant building activity. The reasons for this surge are uncertain. The state as a whole in this period was becoming wealthier and more progressive, spurred by such developments as wider use of the cotton gin, internal improvements, and the railroad in particular. The Raleigh and Gaston Railroad did not run through Warrenton but did cross the county, stopping at Ridgeway, three miles away. The plantations upon which Warrenton depended to some extent were flourishing, providing wealth to the town as well. Warrenton was, as Peter Mitchel Wilson recalled, "the nucleus of the spreading plantations owned by old-time Carolinians of prosperous, so-called 'aristocratic' class."
A wealth of information about this halcyon period of Warrenton's history is available. Primary Sources include the records of certain craftsmen, businessmen, as well as local newspapers from the period, and census records. Secondary sources, especially, are valuable: two women who lived as girls in Warrenton in the years before the Civil War wrote memoirs early in the twentieth century. A large proportion of their descriptions, of course, is undocumentable, but most of the material that can be checked is reasonably accurate.
The 1850 census shows that among those who came to Warrenton in the 1840s were Jacob and Thomas Holt, carpenters; Edward T. Rice and his partner for several years, Francis S. Woodson, brick masons, the latter a plasterer as well; E.C. Waddill, mechanic; and twelve young men, apparently carpenters, in Jacob Holt's household, listed as coming from Virginia, no county listed. Several more in his household were from North Carolina. Some of these men owned a few slaves, generally fewer than a dozen; Jacob Holt, an exception, was listed as the owner of forty-two slaves, most young men; presumably among them were some expert slave craftsmen.
It is not known exactly how many buildings these builders constructed, but stylistic evidence and Mrs. Montgomery's account suggests that they were responsible for most if not all of the more than forty extant Warrenton buildings of the 1840-1860 era, and for several more that have been lost. Three non-Warrenton houses are documented as Holt's work, but the only known in-town work is the 1854-1857 Courthouse, now gone; county court records document payments to Holt and to Woodson and Rice. (These latter two announced the dissolution of their partnership in 1858.) No other in-town documentation is known, but it appears that the mid-nineteenth century architectural fabric of the town was in large part the work of these men.
Most of these craftsmen lived at the northeast end of town, and presumably built their own houses. Both Woodson and Rice bought land from Holt. The simple two-story frame dwelling on Warren Street is evidently Woodson's; Rice's is gone, and another was built by another contractor, John Wilson, who lived elsewhere in town. Holt, who owned real estate, nevertheless leased the downtown property where his residence and workshop stood and is said to have built the vernacular villa-style dwelling himself.
Also of Prince Edward County, Virginia, was cabinetmaker Samuel N. Mills, examples of whose work still exist around Warrenton. Hills, owner of five slaves in 1850, was listed in the industrial schedule of that year as having $1,000 invested in his business and hiring two hands at $28 per month to produce by hand labor furniture worth $1,700. He had on hand 600 feet of mahogany worth $90. In the same year Hills advertised in the local newspaper that he was "prepared to do all work in his line of business with neatness and despatch, and warrants all work going from his shop to be made of good material and well put together." Hills's furniture factory was located, according to Mrs. Montgomery, on the ground and second floors of the Masonic Lodge (now gone) next to the Episcopal Church.
Another business that was thriving in Warrenton during this period was the coach-making trade. The industrial census of 1850 listed three coach-making concerns: the two major firms were William C. Crabtree with an output of $4,000 worth from eight employees, and William Bobbitt and Minitree, whose thirteen employees produced $7,500 worth per year, Crabtree, from Virginia, owned nine slaves and had employees living in his household that included painters, coach trimmers, a free black blacksmith, and a New Jersey coachmaker. Bobbitt, from Granville County, North Carolina, owned seven slaves and had four assistants in his household. Mrs. Pendleton had heard that Bobbitt lived in her own house on North Main Street. Bobbitt manufactured "carriages and buggies of the handsomest and most expensive styles" — including the six-horse omnibus which ran from the train station and Warren Plains to the resort at Shocco Springs. A Bobbitt and Minitree advertisement of March 24, 1853, called attention to their Buggies, Four Seat Rockaway, Sulky, and a Family Carriage.
A tradesman of importance in Warrenton was J. R. Johnson; a shoemaker from England who became a respected businessman, operating in a Main Street shop allegedly built from the first courthouse. He lived in a house at 416 South Main Street bought from and probably built by contractor Jacob Holt. In 1850 the shoemaker — with children ranging from fifteen years to seven months old — owned real estate valued at $14,300, and personal property worth $5,000. Mrs. Montgomery recalled that Johnson made a full range of shoes and boots — including very expensive boots popular among "young men of fortune in the several southern states" who learned of Johnson's boots from Warren County boys who wore the boots to the University at Chapel Hill. Among the surviving records of the early boom period is Johnson's 1844-1847 ledger. The earliest entries, for August, 1844, showed dealings with S.M. Hills, Kemp Plummer, and Mr. Holt (the earliest reference to Holt, probably Jacob); later references in 1844 are to Julius Wilcox, G.D. Basherville, Ridley Browne, W.H. Bobbitt, Edward Rice, Thomas Montgomery, William Eaton, Jr., Mr. Charles Cook, and others living or trading in Warrenton at the time. His 1857-1865 ledger continued to show his everyday dealings at the height of Warrenton's heyday, Thomas M. Crossan, 1 pr, fine boots, $9; J.W. Holt for lady, $. 25 for repair; General M.W. Ransom, 1 pr fine shoes, $3.75; J.W. Holt for William Bowles, fine Navy shoes, $4; E.T. Rice for son Henry, new heel; William Eaton, Jr., for Lady, $.25 garter repair.
Along with tradesmen, the town in 1850 included about sixteen merchants, of whom Scotsman John White, younger brother of Thomas White of Mitchel and White, was perhaps the most prominent. Listed as pedlars rather than merchants were two Germans, Jacob August and Marx Schloss.
As earlier in the century, Warrenton in the 1840s and 1850s was well known for its schools, private academies which attracted the children of the townspeople, plus those from the surrounding counties and nearby states. The 1850 census listed several schoolmasters — Daniel Turner, a former congressman who was head of the Warrenton Female Academy; Robert A. Ezell, in charge of the Warrenton Hale Academy (the school established in the eighteenth century); Luke C. Graves who with Julian Wilcox and others had charge of a seminary for girls — the Warrenton Female Collegiate Institute, Luke was the brother of Nelson Z. Graves, who had formerly been head of the Female Academy until replaced by Turner; the two Graveses and brother-in-law Wilcox had established the Collegiate Institute — or Wilcox and Graves School — in competition with Turner's school, and are said to have used a building still standing at 107 Wilcox Street. During the 1850s, the leadership of the Warrenton Hale Academy was assumed by John Dugger, who had prepared for college there, and who returned after graduating from the University of North Carolina; of the principals of the school, it is said that Dugger "perhaps left the deepest impression on the school and the community." Peter H. Wilson, who went to school to Dugger, recalled that "he made the academy an important school and while it was never in a class with Bingham's or with Dr. Wilson's at Alamance, yet it was on a much higher plane than any school in its section of the state." (After the Civil War, Dugger, who served as an officer in Company F, North Carolina 8th Regiment, went to Raleigh to be the first principal of the graded school there, and returned to Warrenton in later years.)
These schools evidently were quite successful, drawing students from many states, and providing a reasonably good classical education. The female academies, of course, were not entirely academic in their orientation, but provided as well niceties regarded as appropriate for young ladies. In 1841, for example, the Graves school advertised its offerings, which included instruction in piano, guitar, accordion, landscape drawing and painting, wax flowers and fruit, mezzotinto and Chinese painting. The male schools were presumably more strictly academic, and a number of prominent North Carolinians attended them.
Warrenton's schools, as earlier, employed a number of young men and women from distant places — among those recorded in the census of 1850 were a music teacher from Sweden and his wife from England, a tutoress from New York; the Graves brothers were from Vermont. By 1860, there was a music teacher from Germany, a teacher of oil painting from New York, and others from Vermont and New Hampshire. A Miss C.E. Holt was one of the northern women who taught briefly in Warrenton.
The Virginia-born craftsmen and the teachers from various states and countries were but a few of the population mix that gave Warrenton much of its character in this period. Census records indicate that, especially in 1850, the population was a young one, with many men and women in their 20s and 30s, and relatively few in their 40s or beyond. A great many people were from Virginia — particularly professional men, merchants and tradesmen, and a significant number were from foreign countries, such as the peddlers Max Schloss and Jacob August, jeweler C. King, and coach trimmer H. Augerman, from Germany; merchant John White from Scotland; piano maker George Wilde of Prussia; editor W.A. Walsh and shoemaker J.B. Roach of Ireland; carpenter J. Bawden, shoemaker Johnson, mantuamaker Susannah Jones, and painter A.R. Pitcher from England. This was in contrast to the composition of the county, where North Carolinians dominated, with a sprinkling of Virginians. Also surprising is the transience of people in this period: comparison of the 1850 and 1860 censuses shows very little correlation; for example, at both times there were ten physicians and dentists in Warrenton, yet only one — Dr. T.E. Wilson — was there in both years. Persons remaining in Warrenton during both censuses are the exception, not the rule.
As earlier, Warrenton continued to have not only tradesmen and craftsmen, foreigners and teachers from out of state, but also a number of prominent lawyers, wealthy planters, and professional men, and the town's society continued to be strongly interconnected with the gentry of the outlying county and the state.
Among the wealthiest of Warren County's planters was William Eaton; he was described by Mrs. Montgomery as "probably the wealthiest planter on Roanoke River in slaves and land." The 1850 census shows him with a plantation of 6,000 acres, 3,000 under cultivation, worth an estimated $75,000, and 153 slaves. The 1860 census showed him with real estate valued at $60,000 and a personal estate of $150,000. These figures make him outstanding even among the wealthy planter class of the area. Born about 1783, Eaton married in 1810 Seignora Macon, daughter of the great Nathaniel Macon, and among their seven children were William Eaton, Jr., and Nathaniel Macon Eaton, the latter of whom was estranged from his father. Following his first wife's death, Eaton married again, first Eliza Hickman and then her sister Martha, in 1834. This marriage produced a daughter, Ella Rives. According to Mrs. Montgomery, it was for Ella to entertain in that William Eaton (whose plantation was some sixteen or seventeen miles from town) had built the grand Classical Revival mansion on North Main Street as a summer house; Mrs. Montgomery states that it was built in 1843 and the contractor was Mr. Holt. No documentation supports the Holt attribution, but if it is his work it was likely his first job in Warrenton and adds significantly to his stylistic repertoire. (In the History of Prince Edward County, by H.C. Bradshaw, it is described as "the finest example of Prince Edward craftsmanship.") The 1843 date accords with Eaton's acquisition of the lots in 1842 and an 1844 deed reference to the lot "now occupied by William Eaton Senr." Eaton's estate papers make clear that the house was, as Mrs. Montgomery states, built as a summer home; Dr. T.E. Wilson recalled that he lived there "during the summer and part of the fall." Eaton continued to be of sound mind and hearty constitution into his eighties, of strong will and, according to one friend, a man "of the strongest natural sense I ever knew." Settlement of his estate after his death in 1869 took several years, but the grand town house came into the possession of his daughter Ella and her second husband, former governor Peter H. Bell of Texas, who lived there many years. Mrs. Montgomery recalled Bell riding horseback about Warrenton elegantly accoutered with a handsome gold-mounted saddle and bridle given him by the state of Texas.
Another of William Eaton's children, William Eaton, Jr. (Macon's grandson), achieved prominence in his own right: he served in the state legislature in 1833, 1840, 1850, 1854, and 1856, was the author of law reference books, and was state attorney general 1851-1852. According to Mrs. Montgomery, upon William Eaton, Jr.'s marriage about 1830, his father bought for him the property — formerly owned by William Johnson — at the end of present Eaton Street, which included "an unpretentious...house...in the story-and-a-half style." Here, too, the younger Eaton had his law office for many years. It was for Eaton's daughter, Laura, and her husband William T. Alston, that the nearby Greco-Italianate house on Eaton Street was built — according to Mrs. Montgomery at the time of their marriage, which was in 1851. They remained there until after the war, when they moved in with the widowed Mr. Eaton.
Another planter of means was Nathaniel Turner Green, said to have moved from his Nut Bush plantation (an area now in Vance County) to Warrenton to "secure better educational advantages for his children." For him was built the only other substantial brick mansion of the era (N. Main Street). For Green, too, the frame house (317 N. Main Street) across the street was built, supposedly to accommodate his many guests. A regal spender, Green was forced in 1855 to mortgage his property to settle his debts (including a long-standing debt to Jacob Holt, suggestive of a Holt connection for one or more of Green's houses). He then moved to Tennessee. His Warrenton mansion was purchased in the early 1850s by Mrs. Mary K. Williams, who moved from the great country house, Montmorenci. Coming to live with her in 1859 was a daughter, Lucy Polk, widow of William H. Polk, brother of president James K. Polk. She brought with her two young children, Tasker and William.
There was a number of professional men in the town, and for some of them notable houses were built, including Virginia-born physician T.E. Wilson (West Macon Street), whose children, Peter and Elizabeth (Montgomery) were to write memoirs of antebellum Warrenton; and Georgia-born dentist William T. Skelton (N. Main Street), whose house was later owned by physicians Howard and Green. Matt Ransom — later state attorney general and Confederate general — practiced law in Warrenton for a time. In 1850 he was listed as staying at the Goodlow Hotel. Wealthy Scots merchant John White is said to have built first a small Greek Revival cottage (Hall Street) and later a grand Italianate house (Engleside) (Halifax Street). Retired United States Navy officer Thomas Crossan lived in the imposing Greek Revival house on Ridgeway Street and is credited by Mrs. Montgomery with being its first owner. Another well-known merchant was Thomas Montgomery (Bragg Street), who served as mayor of the town for a time. Others prominent in town or county government were John H. White, long-time clerk of court, whose house on Wilcox Street is near the site of a celebrated event, the "Great Bragg Dinner," held on August 8, 1848, to celebrate the return of Captain (later general) Braxton Bragg from the battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican War.
During this period, a newspaper was published in Warrenton. Originally the Warrenton Reporter, it had been edited first by a Mr. Davidson, then by Mr. Robert Verell, who edited it up to about 1850. (It was then changed to the Warrenton News and edited by Robert A. Ezell, principal of the male academy, and later by W.A. Walsh, an Irishman who came from Petersburg, Virginia.) Articles and advertisements of the boom era provide a vivid picture of the life of the town. Two tendencies are consistently apparent: first, trade focused largely on Virginia trade centers, rather "than North Carolina ones, particularly Petersburg, which was a major outlet for tobacco sales; second, there was a strong sense of competitiveness with Northern goods and shops, for advertisements frequently emphasized the virtues of the local or Petersburg's goods as being equal to or cheaper than northern goods.
Schools were frequently advertised, as were a lecture on phrenology (1850) to take place at the Warrenton Female Academy, and a meeting of the Sons of Temperance chaired by schoolmaster, Robert Ezell. There were a number of hotels and public houses, including Ann Bellamy's, advertised as new in 1840, and which according to Mrs. Montgomery was located on Main Street and burned in the fire of 1881. An 1853 advertisement advised the public of the change in operation of a hotel from James Owen to T.S. Brownlow. It was later operated (1873) by the Norwoods. The hotel, at the north side of the courthouse on Main Street, is said to have burned in 1878, but the small Greek Revival house north of the courthouse is believed to be the core of a building connected with the hotel and may be that advertised for sale in 1858 — owned by Mr. Maghee, and formerly by T.A. Blount. Another public house, that run by O.P. Shell, advertised in the Warrenton News in 1858 its bill of fare — which may be typical of the other operations as well: "[The] Bar is well-supplied with Hennessey Otard, Dupuy and Co., and Apple Brandies, N.W. and Irish whiskies; Holland Gin, Jamaica Rum, Port, Madeira, Sherry, Claret and Champagne wines, all the finest and best that the Markets could furnish. And, in the Culinary Department, he is always prepared to have dressed in a few minutes, Fish, Steak, Tongue, Ham, Eggs, Chicken, Oysters, Turkey, Rabbit, Coffee, Toast, &c, &c."
Lighter refreshment was available from G.R. Sledge, who advertised in 1853 that he had just purchased and put up a soda fountain — for "those who may desire something cool and palatable during the warm weather."
In another line, F.M. Cory, "Daguerrean artist," advertised in 1850 his availability at Goodloe's Hotel, stating that with his technique he could assure "ugly faces made pretty, and pretty faces made ugly, if desired." Three years later, D. Parrish, practicing the same trade, advertised his newly sky-lit Daguerrean Gallery, where he could better copy "the human face divine."
Other tradesmen advertising were a professor of music and piano tuner; Richardson, a house, sign, or ornamental painter; John Waddill, who sold tin goods; and Francis Woodson, mason and plasterer.
During this period, as before, the churches in Warrenton flourished, with a number of the congregations constructing new buildings. A tiny Greek Revival style Baptist Church (now gone) was built and occupied by 1849, with Jacob Holt, Edward Rice, and Francis Woodson among the original trustees. The present Presbyterian Church was erected in 1855, with $4,000 donated by Mrs. Martha Goodrun. The Episcopal Church was remodeled in the 1850s as well, but has been remodeled since.
Warrenton was the seat of a county made up primarily of planters; unlike most of North Carolina, the county's white population was exceeded by its slaves. The economic and social life was based on slavery, and abolitionism was far from popular. Not only did planters own large numbers of slaves, but also tradesmen owned from two or three to perhaps twenty slaves — some of them expert craftsmen — and the large town houses depended upon slaves to run the operation of the house. Generally, apparently, the system ran smoothly, but with the slave population outnumbering the white, there were occasional problems.
Census records show that along with the large slave population, there was a significant number of free blacks and malattoes in Warrenton, most of them engaged in trade. Among those in the 1850 census were William Curtis, blacksmith; James Green Hilliard Boone, painter; Cap (?) Mayho, mattressmaker; James Lowry, wheelwright; William Hogens, laborer. In 1860 there were J. White, farm laborer; James Green and Allen Green, farmers; P. Lowry, washerwoman and N. Lowry, seamstress; C. Ransom, seamstress and J. Ransom, a coachmaker; A. Andrews, H. Caudle, and I. Evans, all "ditchers;" W. Lowry, stonemason, W. Lowry, seamstress; Sol Curtis, blacksmith, and L. Hedgepeth, his apprentice; L. Evans (of Virginia) a washerwoman; M.B. Howard and Thomas Howard, barbers. With the one exception noted, these were all from North Carolina; most but not all were illiterate, and only a few were recorded as owning property. It is of interest to note that these free black families are among the few — except the school-teaching white families — where the wife as well as the husband was listed as engaged in a trade or occupation.
In a region dominated by slave-holders, the secession of South Carolina and the anticipation of civil war evoked a generally favorable and emphatic response. An editorial in the March 22, 1861, Warrenton News favored secession but sought a cautious approach. The editor also wrote, "the majority of the people of the state are in favor of 'waiting'...before...leaving the Union," but that the "honor, interest, feelings and happiness of our people are irrevocably bound up with the Southern States." It was seen as inevitable that "a slaveholding minority cannot enjoy equal rights in a Union with an abolitionized majority."
The Warren Rifles, under the command of Captain T.L. Jones, and the Warren Guards, commanded by Captain B.O. Wade, enlisted immediately after Fort Sumter, and a sunrise service at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, on April 20, 1861, saw the men off. By the time North Carolina seceded in May 20, six Warren County companies were formed. Other Warrenton men enlisted in the Confederate army as well, and a great many were killed in the war. Braxton Bragg, well known in the Mexican War, became a Confederate general of varying success; his brother Thomas was appointed attorney general of the Confederacy; Matt W. Ransom of Warren County, who had practiced law in Warrenton, became a brigadier general; Walter A. Montgomery, later an editor of the Warrenton paper, enlisted in the 12th North Carolina Regiment at the age of sixteen and "served throughout down to Appomattox." Schoolteacher John E. Dugger enlisted, became a captain, and was captured and paroled; many local physicians served as surgeons during the war. According to historian Manley W. Wellman, of some 5,000 white citizens, at least 1,200 went to war, and roughly one-third of them died.
Among the most colorful North Carolina Civil War stories is that of the blockade-runner Advance, a ship commissioned by Governor Zebulon Vance to run the Union blockade in order to obtain goods for North Carolinians. Captain of the Advance was Thomas Crossan of Warrenton, and the agent for the state, sent to England to purchase clothing and supplies for North Carolina troops, was Scots merchant John White. It was because of the Advance, and in part because of the effectiveness of these two men, that "North Carolina soldiers were better supplied with clothing, shoes and medicine, especially quinine, than any other soldiers in the confederate army."
The war brought to Warrenton hardship and lack of goods; in the early years particularly it brought a stream of new people.
Another visitor during the war was Lieutenant Albert Kautz, a Federal naval officer captured by the ship commanded by Captain Thomas Crossan, who obtained a week's leave and brought the prisoner to Warrenton on parole.
After the surrenders of Lee to Grant and shortly after of Johnston to Sherman, Federal troops occupied Warrenton briefly in May — first the cavalry of the Federal Fifteenth Corps, then the infantry. Mary White, daughter of commissioner John White, wrote in her diary, "they seem to be a very quiet, well-behaved set, but look very common indeed." The soldiers camped on the courthouse square, and no serious incidents appear to have occurred.
Reconstruction of course brought great social and economic change, and many fortunes were lost. Not the bustling place of the 1850s, postwar Warrenton did nevertheless show some continuity. John Dugger returned from the war to the principalship of the Warrenton Male Academy, and other schools functioned as well. Builder Jacob Holt was advertised as having remodeled a building for the Central Hotel in 1868. William A. White (Wilcox Street) served as clerk of court, continuing a long family tradition. Shoemaker John R. Johnson advertised in 1868 that he was "at his old stand, where he has been for the last 24 years...is still prepared to make and mend, and aid to understanding lend, and never was better prepared."
The "colored congregations" and the three freedman's schools had come by 1867. A number of churches were built in the postwar period for black congregations. That on South Main Street — First Baptist Church was standing by 1882 and served as a school. On Macon Street is the "Col M E Ch," on Gray's 1882 Map. Second Baptist Church was built by 1912; All Saints Episcopal Church (South Front Street) was built between 1912 and 1918. When young female schoolteachers came from the North to teach in the schools for blacks, they were shunned by most whites but graciously welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Burgess — a black couple living in the former Bragg House (later divided and remodeled into 228 and 236 Bragg Street. Many former slaves departed the area, but others remained or returned, such as blacksmith Aaron Owen, who returned from Kentucky to buy the Francis Woodson House (Warren Street). Soon political changes began to occur as well. Especially prominent was John Hyman, a black man who served as state senator three terms beginning in 1868 and a congressman in 1874. Mrs. Montgomery describes him as having worked in a store before Emancipation, whom the storekeeper, Mr. King, a jeweler, had taught to read and write. (King had himself been harassed by whites for doing so.)
For many years, Conservative old-guard and radical Republicans and blacks were in conflict — as was the case in much of the South. The Ku Klux Klan was in evidence in the late 1860s, and one of the two young Pennsylvania schoolteachers who arrived in 1869 to teach at a school for black children, described Warrenton as "intensely Southern, with old houses out of repair, unkept yards and wide streets." By 1870, when the census was taken, the county and town had changed noticeably from 1860. The population was roughly the same — in 1860, the county population had been 17,746 — 4,293 white, 676 free black, and 10,777 slaves. By 1870 the population was 17,768 — 5,276 white and 12,492 black. The farm lands, valued at over $3.3 million in 1860, were worth only about $1.6 million in 1870. Warrenton, a town of 1,520 in 1860, had dwindled to 941 by 1870. Some construction took place during the years after the war, but far less than before. One of the few substantial surviving buildings is the stone jail built in 1868 when the previous wood one burned. County commissioners court records from August 15, 1868, through much of 1869, document the construction of the new jail, a project supervised by David Parrish, formerly a daguerreotype artist and later the jailer. On February 12, 1869, the court ordered that Edward H. Plummer be paid $35.50 "for account transferred to him by J.W. Holt for lumber for calaboose." Other references are to hire and boarding of workmen, materials ordered, freight fees, and other details of construction.
An event of 1870 was recorded vividly in local tradition and memory. During the war, Robert E. Lee's daughter Annie Carter Lee had died while staying at the mineral springs resort south of town, and local citizens had erected a monument over her grave — with an inscription sent by the general, who had been unable to come to her funeral. On March 29, 1870, according to Mrs. Montgomery, William J. White (son of merchant and commissioner John White) was at the depot at Warren Plains, awaiting his sister who was coming on the train from Petersburg. On the same train, to his surprise, was General Lee, who had come to visit the grave of his daughter. The general was invited to stay at Engleside, the home of former commissioner John White, and the next day he visited the grave at Jones's Springs — accompanied by a procession of Warrenton citizens carrying flowers; one writer recalled that "there could hardly have been a blossom left in any garden in Warrenton."
The last decades of the nineteenth century brought only slow and sporadic recovery, and many people left Warrenton for better prospects elsewhere. Fire struck the business district — once in 1878, and more severely in 1881, the latter destroying much of the commercial fabric; rebuilding was slow, and few of the new buildings rivaled their predecessors. One hopeful sign, though, was the incorporation and construction of the Warrenton Railroad, which was completed on November 8, 1884, to provide a spur from Warrenton to the main line of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad (later the Seaboard Air Line), at Warren Plains — a distance of three miles.
In the 1880s, an important boost to Warrenton's economy came with the "birth of the Warrenton tobacco market." Long the center of a tobacco-growing region, Warrenton had not been a market; tobacco had been carried instead to Virginia markets. After the Civil War, tobacco marketing methods changed; the auction system gave rise to more local warehouses. In 1885, according to a local newspaper account in the 1940s, the "old Arrington Warehouse; operated by Captain W.J. White and P.H. Allen, father of George G. Allen of New York, now vice president of the British-American Tobacco Company and head of its business in this country, opened for the sale of tobacco at auction." A major market had been opened a few years before at Henderson, and Warrenton was the first east of Henderson. Among the men instrumental in making the tobacco sales business important in Warrenton were Walter Boyd (Church Street), Walter G. Rogers, Richard B. Boyd, Peter Arrington, and J.E. Rooker. Sanborn Insurance Maps of the period show the proliferation of the warehouses and sales rooms. The 1896 Sanborn map shows Arrington Bra's Tobacco and Prize Warehouse, a frame structure on Main and present Plummer Street (a structure replaced after a fire by the present brick building as the Farmers Warehouse), The Boyd and Rogers Warehouse, built before 1891, sided on Bragg Street, and running the length of the block between Market and Macon, survives as well; it may incorporate a smaller pre-1885 structure. The firm had other buildings, including the Prize House north of Macon Street, now gone.
In this period, Warrenton continued to have good schools, among them the Warrenton Male Academy, run for a time by John Dugger (who left for Raleigh and returned), and later, under John Graham, the Warrenton High School; and the school run by Miss Lucy Hawkins. Also important was the Shiloh Institute, a school for blacks occupying the Fitts-Plummer House once used by the Mordecai School.
Prominent men in Warrenton during this era included attorney, writer, and editor Tasker Polk, who lived in the house bought by his grandmother Mary K. Williams and built for Nathaniel Turner Green (N. Main Street); Walter Montgomery (house on Bragg Street and 402 Halifax Street), lawyer and editor and later supreme court justice whose wife, Lizzie, wrote a memoir of the town; William J. White, president of the railroad and merchant; Henry A. Foote, editor of the Gazette; William White (Wilcox Street and Halifax Street), clerk of court and son of John W. White, who had held the same office; John H. Kerr, lawyer, and longtime congressman of considerable influence (Church Street and 402 N. Main Street); Charles A. Cook, lawyer, political figure, and supreme court justice (Bragg Street); M.F. Thornton, a black who served for many years as register of deeds and local Republican leader, who established good relations with the white community as well.
By 1900 the town was on a firmer footing: the population had risen to 836, and more by 1910. Tobacco was a source of prosperity, and there were a number of tobacco prizing houses and warehouses. In this period the major public buildings were constructed. A $12,000 bond issue was passed to build a municipal building which was completed before 1912. In 1906, too, a new courthouse was constructed by the firm of Milburn and Heister, replacing the handsome antebellum courthouse. In 1913 the Confederate Memorial on the courthouse green was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In addition, nearly all the Main Street commercial buildings date from the first decades of the twentieth century. The expectations of early twentieth century Warrenton were high, higher than they had been since the war.
In this period, too, however, many of Warrenton's young men left "to seek their fortunes in far places" — among them were men who became important business leaders, particularly those who "lured by Buck Duke and the promise of Health into the Yukon of New York City," became prominent in the tobacco industry in New York and abroad. Those who left included George G. Allen, William Henry Alston, Peter and Richard Arrington, H.E. White, William K. and Harry Williams, and others. The daughter of Tasker Polk (who stayed in Warrenton as a lawyer and editor) recalled, "when these young men in their flat straw hats and tight trousers...said, 'good-bye, Tasker we're going to New York by way of Durham.'"
The Hotel Warren, the most massive building in the town, was a source of great local pride; a newspaper article of 1932 boasted that the hotel — completed in 1919 and furnished in 1920 "at a cost of $146,000," and its 1924 annex --" gives Warrenton a hotel that no other city of similar size can match." The high school funded by the bond issue described in 1920 was soon completed; on the site of the Marcus George Academy and its successors was built an ambitious consolidated high school building which continued the local pride in Warrenton's educational facilities. It has been named for John Graham, well-known principal of the Warrenton High School in the late nineteenth century.
With the town as a whole conscious of improving itself, the altar guild of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church passed a resolution concerning "the great need of a more substantial building," suggesting that "steps be taken to repair the old or build a new building." The building committee recommended in July, 1926, construction of a "new brick church," but the architect they contacted, Georgian Revivalist William Lawrence Bottomley of New York, estimated that a new church would cost about $45,000; "restoring" the old would run about $17,444. The latter course was chosen, and within two years, the "restored" church — a brick and stone structure in Gothic Revival style which enclosed the earlier frame building — was complete. Bottomley was a noted architect whose work included eclectic buildings in various "revival" styles, especially Georgian Revival.
During the twentieth century, the town has remained essentially the same size, and nearly all the buildings standing in 1920 are still there. Warrenton, however, no longer "owns itself" — the utilities are supplied by private companies, and the hotel is in private hands, providing housing for the elderly. The chief besetting problem of the town and county is lack of growth; there are few significant industries, and the town and especially the county have been plagued by out-migration. The county population, 22,539 in 1950, was 15,810 in 1970 — about 65% black, 35% white; the town had 1,166 people in 1950 and 1,035 in 1970. In the last few years, however, according to the county manager's office, there has been an upswing in population and the county is looking for industry. Recent planning efforts include increased emphasis upon historic preservation and the possibility for attracting tourism. The town itself appears busy and alive; the downtown stores and banks are in active use, and nearly all the significant houses are well maintained. The railroad station has been renovated recently for use as the Women's Club headquarters and meeting place; the county is considering plans to renovate the Peter Davis Store for offices; and most recently, application has been made for the renovation of the Jacob Holt House with Community Development funds as a crafts and recreation center for the elderly.
Ashe, Samuel A., ed. Biographical History of North Carolina from Colonial Times to the Present. Greensboro, North Carolina: Charles L. Van Noppen, 1907.
Barnes, David A. "Address delivered to the students of the Warrenton Hale Academy, June, 1850." North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Cockshutt, Catherine. Interviews in 1975 with various persons familiar with Warrenton history and buildings, including Mary Hinton Kerr, Lula Gay, Mariam Boyd and Anne Boyd Graham, Panthea Twitty, plus the owners of various houses.
Holt, Miss C. E. An Autobiographical Sketch of a Teacher's Life. Quebec: 1875. Montgomery, Lizzie Wilson. Sketches of Old Warrenton. Raleigh: 1924, Pendleton, Mrs. V.L., unpublished memoirs of Warrenton, written in early twentieth century, manuscript in ownership of Warren County Historical Society.
Polk, Mary. The Way We Were. Winston-Salem, North Carolina: John F. Blair, 1962.
Polk, William T. Southern Accent: From Uncle Remus to Oak Ridge. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1953.
Sanborn Insurance Maps, 1885-1925, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Smithdeal, E.O. "The Development of Education in Warren County." M.A. Thesis, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Symes, Edward. An Architectural Survey of Warrenton, North Carolina, 1971. Copy in survey files.
United States Census Office, 1850, 1860, 1870: Warren County, North Carolina.
Warren County Historical Society, files in Warren County Library, containing newspaper articles, photographs, ledgers, books, etc.
Warren County Records, Warren County Courthouse, Warrenton, North Carolina (Subgroups: Deeds, Wills, Estates Papers).
Warren County Records, Division of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina (Subgroups: Deeds, Wills, Estates Papers).
Warrenton newspapers, including Warrenton Reporter 1824-1841, News 1850-1861, Indicator 1867-1868, Gazette 1872-1897.
Wellman, Manly Wade, The County of Warren, North Carolina 1586-1917. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1959.
Wilson, Peter Mitchel, Southern Exposure. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1927.
‡ Catherin W. Cockshutt, North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Warrenton Historic District, Warren County, North Carolina, nomination document, 1976, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Academy Street • Bragg Street • Bute Street • Church Street • Cousin Lucys Lane • Davis Street • Eaton Street • Franklin Street East • Franklin Street West • Front Street South • Halifax Street • Hall Street • Macon Street West • Main Street North • Main Street South • Market Street East • Market Street West • Marshall Street • Plummer Street • Ridgeway Street • Route 158 • Route 401 • Spring Street • Warren Street • Wilcox Street • Williams Street