Remembering our veterans on Confederate Memorial Day
Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2017
This week I discovered a delightful gem of history tucked away in Columbus. It really is quite amazing that one could grow up in a tiny town and be oblivious to what may be discovered here.
Out of curiosity, I took a turn on a new lane looking for a cemetery that I was assured was located in town only to be directed by my usually trustworthy GPS to a very overgrown field. I must have looked completely lost as I drove back and forth because a lovely lady (obviously a transplant from the northern climes, but all is forgiven since she named her beautiful dog “Dixie”) graciously pointed me in the right direction.
At the end of the street was a fenced-in area with a few very old headstones. These stones were once beautiful in a shaded family resting place and I became curious as to who these people were.
The first stone marked the grave of Napoleon Bonaparte Hampton, or Uncle Bony as he was known to many. He was born in 1834 and lived to be 73 years old. His education was limited to the old field schools of the day. When the War Between the States began, he answered the call to serve his state, serving throughout the entire struggle, achieving the rank of captain for his gallantry and bravery. Those who served with him tell stories that he endured the hardships of the war with his men rather than enjoying the privilege of rank.
When the war ended, Captain Hampton pledged his allegiance to the Union and served his community as faithfully as he served his state in wartime. Miss Arkansas Martin became his bride and bore seven children. He served as sheriff for seven years, then served his state as a state legislator for two years and then was elected as a member of the state senate in 1874.
He then returned to local politics and served as Register of Deeds, Clerk of the Superior Court, County Treasurer – in fact, he held every elected office in the county at one time or another except county commissioner and coroner! When he served as treasurer, he rode yearly on horseback to Raleigh to make his report and tax deposits.
An active member of the First Baptist Church, he served as deacon and church clerk. He was a wealthy landowner for that time and well-liked by all. Known for his charity to those less fortunate, he welcomed newcomers and maintained his many friendships. He was a dedicated Republican whose closest friends were often Democrats.
His obituary in the newspaper in 1907 summed it up: His “casket was covered with beautiful flowers, showing that, though dead, he was forever to be held in the highest esteem by all who knew him and that memory was as sweet at the flowers, their last gift to him, who had befriended so many.”
As always, all are invited to the Sons of a Confederate Veterans meeting at the House of Flags in Columbus on the first Tuesday evening of the month at 6 p.m.
Cheryl Taylor, Columbus, N.C.