Tenacity prevails in 1863 Bond Schoolhouse Affair discussion

By Tanya Chilton tchilton@civitasmedia.com

February 20, 2014

Editor’s Note: This is part two in a two-part series on the Bond Schoolhouse incident.

YADKINVILLE — As the snow poured down Wednesday in Yadkin County and surrounding areas, some may have been struck by the “coincidence” or “providence” of similar weather conditions taking place 151 years ago to the day, as events of the 1863 Bond School House affair unfolded.

On Sunday, matters of the heart drew a full audience and participants, once again, to a gathering located caddy-corner to the site of the shooting.

The Deep Creek Friends Meeting February bulletin had announced that any descendants of “both militia and draft resisters” were invited to share by reading a biography, providing information about relatives, or any pertinent photographs. Those interested were asked to let Andrew Mackie, president of Yadkin County Historical Society, know of their intent.

They did not disappoint. The community and congregation responded, filling both sides of the pews. A crowd still willing to this day to tackle the tough sides of issues showed up. Courageously and poignantly, some shared personal testimony and belongings with a listening audience.

Throughout the discussion, the participants’ conversation remained emotional and interested, and the departure of those who gathered there, at least this time, was peaceful.

It was a different story, so many years ago, when on the snowy day of Feb. 12, 1863, a shootout occurred when Capt. James Pierce West, militia and homeguard, ordered men out of the schoolhouse seeking to avoid conscription based on religious beliefs, and blood was spilled onto the snow-covered ground killing four and wounding others. In the aftermath, Jesse Virgil Dobbins led four surviving fugitives across the mountains to later join the Union army while others were captured in Yadkin County.

On that fateful day in February, an earlier meeting had transpired between West, militia and others and the wife of a Quaker.

“It is said that Captain West, and some others stopped at the home of Daniel Vestal just down the road when his wife, a Quaker, told him, “Thee will get thy head shot off,” noted the February 2014 newsletter of Deep Creek Friends Meeting.

Member Walter Shore and several in the audience pointed out the descriptive accuracy of what they described as prophetic warning issued and fulfilled by Mrs. Daniel Vestal to Captain West. One audience member said, “I want to say Mrs. Vestal could see into the future.”

Some believe the scriptures that there is “a time and a season to all things.” It became apparent, this generation of descendants believed the time had come to break the former silence once held about the incident.

One such speaker was former Yadkinville history teacher, Lloyd Pardue, still faithful after many years to remind former students, that included Mackie, and listeners, history remains relevant to the present.

While speaking from the wooden pulpit, Pardue carefully unfolded from a red and white checkered napkin, a small sheathed iron dagger once belonging to John Williams, a militia participant in the Bond Schoolhouse Affair.

Another young man said he was the direct descendant of West and brought a family picture.

Some simply said, “I am curious about what happened here.”

Several of the Quaker members explained people don’t always have to be against war necessarily but be conscientious of moral issues. Roger Kirkman quoted Rufus Jones, Quaker Theologian. “If you are attacked, you can fight back,” said Kirkman.

President of Boonville Downtown Business Association Tom Bastable said he came because he is interested in history.

As he and others spoke, it remained apparent that this is their story and one that touches the lives of all Yadkinville residents but also draws in the curious.

Also attending Sunday’s discussion was Tony Bryant who shared recalling as a young man that he wanted to know more about the incident. As a result, Bryant interviewed his grandfather, Luther Wooten, and turned the findings into a school report. He said currently, he does not know where the report is but is going to look for it.

Audience members observed before the meeting’s close that it should not be overlooked two local Masons had taken opposite sides on the matter, a rare occurence, some said.

Mackie said the meeting had achieved its goal, with more evidence uncovered and said his former teacher, Pardue, is one of the reasons he is so interested in historical issues today.

In a paper by Frances H. Casstevens entitled “Shoot-out at Bond Schoolhouse” published in Tar Heel Junior Historian 48:1 (fall of 2008), Casstevens noted in addition, to some residents with religious beliefs opposing slavery, others believed it wrong for the state of North Carolina to secede from the Union.

Casstevens stated not all in the Bond Schoolhouse (so named after Johnny Bond, “One of the founders of Deep Friends (Quaker) church”) were Quakers — one was a fugitive, another a deserter, and some “carried loaded rifles.” Later, it was stated a Yadkinville town clerk told Dobbins upon his return,“The war is over.”

A book by Casstevens, “The Civil War and Yadkin County, North Carolina” (Jefferson, NC:McFarland and Co., 1997) details facts and information about the 1863 Bond School House Affair.

Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.