Mailing Lists
Total: 1/1
    1. Re: [NCWARREN] John Laughter
    2. P nelson
    3. Some of you might find this newpaper article of interest.  Pat HEARTH & HOME LOVE “Self is the only prison That can bind the soul; Love is the only angel Who can the gates unroll. And when he comes to call thee, Arise and follow fast, His way may lie through darkness, But it leads to light at last.” OLD TIMES IN WARREN COLONEL JOHN LAUGHTER There are very few people now living who knew Colonel John Laughter.  Indeed, there are not many of the present generation who ever heard his name;  and yet there was a time when Colonel Laughter was one of our prominent citizens, and was well known throughout the county. It is remarkable how soon a man, even a prominent man is forgotten.  John R. Johnson died in 1889.  He had been a conspicuous figure in Warrenton for nearly fifty years, and yet very few of the present citizens of the town remember him.  The same is true of the late John White, Dr. R. D. Fleming, Capt. Dugger, Dr. Foote, Henry A. Foote, and host of others, who were the leading citizens of Warrenton when I came here thirty-one years ago.  Judge Walter A. Montgomery moved from Warrenton to Raleigh in 1891, and yet within the last year of one of our leading business men, who was raised here informed me that he had no recollection of Judge Montgomery.  Thus it always is.  We live, we pass on, and are forgotten.  There is comfort in the thought that, though we are forgotten by men, God keeps us in everlasting remembrance. John Laughter, the father of Colonel Laughter, came from England to this county in Colonial times, and settled in Bute County some time previous to the Revolutionary War.  He purchased a tract of land on Hawtree Creek, about five miles from the present town of Warrenton, where he raised his family; and where he died and was buried.  John Laughter, Sr. was a man of affairs.  He stood well in the county and left to his descendants the heritage of a good name.  He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and doubtless fought under Sumner at Guilford Court House and Eutaw Springs.  Being a “hatter” he was detailed to make hats for the soldiers.  This he would do, when conditions did not require his services in the field.  It is more than probable that the stories which he told his family of his stirring soldier life had much to do with the military trend of his son’s mind. John Laughter, Jr. was a soldier in the War of 1812.  He went out as captain of a company of dragoons, but was soon promoted and served until the close of the War as Colonel of the Second North Carolina Dragoons.  His regiment was stationed during the entire war in Norfolk, Va.  He had a high ideal of military life, and was a strict disciplinarian;  but he was kind to his men, and was a very popular officer.  As long as any of his men, in this section, lived they would frequently visit him to talk over their army life;  and he often visited them and was always a welcome guest in their homes. After the war, Colonel Laughter returned to Warren County, and, for many years, lived the life of a farmer.  He was also a surveyor, and was in great demand in surveying land in this and adjoining counties.  In the course of time, he met with reverses, lost his plantation, and gave up farming.  Subsequently he devoted himself to school teaching and surveying.  He had received the best educational advantages available in this section.  He was probably a student in the old academy in the first years of its existence, where he was instructed in the branches usually taught in such schools, at the time.  Either then, or later under a private tutor, he studied surveying, which was considered an exceedingly respectable and profitable profession.  The late James A. Egerton and other surveyors of the two past generations in this county were taught surveying by Colonel Laughter. Perhaps, as a teacher, Colonel Laughter most profoundly impressed himself upon the community in which he lived.  In his schools, he taught in addition to the usual branches, surveying and military tactics.  As a result, there were several good surveyors in Warren County, and the whole of the Hawtree section was fired with military enthusiasm.  This was, doubtless, the reason that the young men of that community hurried into the army, at the first call for men, at the beginning of the War Between the States. After the war of 1812, Colonel Laughter was, for many years, general of the militia of this district.  He insisted, however, on being addressed as Colonel instead of General; because as he said, he won the former title in actual warfare in the face of the enemy. When the Nat Turner insurrection spread terror throughout all this section of North Carolina and Virginia, Colonel Laughter led his command to the scene of conflict, and was present at the capture and execution of Turner.  His daughter, Mrs. Pegram, who died about seven year ago, at the ripe old age of ninety, informed me that she was about twelve years old when her father went to aid in quelling the Nat Turner insurrection.  When he returned, he brought with him blood curdling stories of the cruelties perpetrated upon the defenseless people by Turner and his band.  One of them was the murder of a school teacher and her pupils.  When the soldiers came upon this bloody scene, and saw the teacher and the children lying dead in their blood, they began at once to search for any that might have escaped.  After a while they found on the outside of the house, between the funnel of the chimney and the wall a little girl, who on the first alarm climbed to this safe retreat, and lay snugly hidden, crazed with fear, while the cruel negroes were murdering her teacher and schoolmates. It is a remarkable coincident that on the same plank road where Nat Turner devised his scheme for killing the whites, and liberating the slaves, General Grant matured his plans for the overthrow of the Confederacy and the liberation of the slaves.  Here is a fertile suggestion to any one that may be in search of material for a thrilling story. A former pupil and admirer of Colonel Laughter told me of his famous duel with a Mr. Andrews.  Andrews felt that Colonel Laughter had so deeply offended him that nothing but the blood of the old war horse of Hawtree could atone for the offense.  He, therefore, challenged the Colonial to mortal combat.  The challenge was promptly accepted, and the weapons and conditions of the duel were agreed upon.  They met at a picturesque place on the banks of the historic Hawtree.  News of the duel had gone abroad, and a large concourse of people assembled to witness the fight.  The Colonel and his second were the first on the ground.  After a time Andrews and his second were seen approaching.  When he saw the colonel waiting to receive him, in the attitude of a god of war, his heart failed him, and he cried out in terror;  “Don’t shoot, I’ll withdraw the challenge!”  The people shouted with laughter.  The Colonel kindly refrained from shooting, and the affairs passed off without bloodshed. Colonel Laughter was a proud man, and very ambitious.  He aspired to the best society for himself and family, and strove to maintain, under the adverse circumstances of later years, the same manner of living and social relations to which he had been accustomed in the more prosperous period of his life.  His fondness for fine clothing, made so as to set off his soldierly figure to the best advantage, resulted in part perhaps from his military life and training.  He was not only fond of fine clothing, but refused to purchase anything that was offered to him below what he regarded a respectable price.  A good story used to be told illustrative of this peculiarity.  He went to a store to purchase a vest pattern.  The clerk spread several before him, one of which pleased the would be purchaser.  He asked the price, and being told that it was only two dollars, he exclaimed in disgust: “ I come to buy a vest pattern, and you insult me be offering me this cheap stuff!  show me a vest pattern suitable for a gentleman to wear!”  The clerk quietly removed the offending goods and exhibited several other pieces. After a while be brought out the same pattern that had been so contemptously rejected, and said:  “Colonel here is a piece of goods for which we have no demand, on account of the price.  What do you think of it?”  The Colonel examined it for a moment with evident pleasure and inquired the price.  On being told that it was seven dollars and fifty cents, he promptly said:  “I will take it;  for I do not like to wear common goods.” Colonel John Laughter was a man of good physique, clear out feature and striking personality.  A stranger would recognize him at once as a man of more than ordinary importance.  His features indicated intellectuality, his voice, though commanding was exceedingly soft and musical.  His erect figure and soldierly movements marked him as one acquainted with military life and accustomed to the duties of a soldier. For more than fifty years the martial form of Colonel John Laughter has been wrapped in death’s dreamless sleep.  Most of his pupils have passed away, and none of his children remain;  but now and then I meet with one who when I ask: “Did you ever see Colonel Laughter?” replies with brightening face:  “Certainly, I knew Colonel Laughter.  Why he was my old teacher, and if you had met him you would have taken him for the president or some great general.  He was one of the most distinguished looking men that I ever saw”. T. J. Taylor COPIED FROM A WARRENTON, N.C. NEWSPAPER DATED MARCH 20TH, 1916.

    02/10/2013 07:50:40