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Biographical Sketch of Steven Andrews Norfleet (1822-1910)

by Phil Norfleet

 

Photograph of the Woodbourne plantation house before it was restored.  It is the place where Stephen Andrews Norfleet was born (1822) and where he died (1910).  The house is located near the village of Roxobel, North Carolina.

Photograph of the Woodbourne plantation house after being restored in 2009.  The structure was declared to be a North Carolina Historical Monument in the 1980s.

 

STEPHEN ANDREWS6 NORFLEET  (THOMAS FIGURES5, REUBEN4, MARMADUKE3, THOMAS2, THOMAS1 NORTHFLEETE) was born 28 September 1822 in Bertie County NC, and died 02 July 1910 in Bertie County NC.  He married (1) MARIE LOUISA SPRUILL, daughter of GEORGE SPRUILL and LOUISA _____.  She was born 29 November 1825, and died 27 February 1894 in Bertie County NC.  He married (2) FRANCIS HELEN PUGH 1844, daughter of WILLIAM PUGH.  She was born 16 October 1822, and died 04 March 1859 in Bertie County NC.  Stephen was the son of Thomas Figures Norfleet (1787-1838) and Margaret Williams Andrews (1793-1857).

 

STUART HALL HILL'S SKETCH OF STEPHEN A. NORFLEET

Reproduced below is Stuart Hall Hill's short sketch of Stephen Andrews Norfleet that has been taken from Volume 5 of Hill's typed manuscript which is located in the Wilson Memorial Library of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill:

Stephen Andrews Norfleet, seventh child of Thomas F. and Margaret Andrews Norfleet was born at "Woodbourne" September 28, 1822.  He received his education from tutors, the Vine Hill Academy at Scotland Neck, and the University of North Carolina, graduating with honor in 1841.  He returned to Chapel Hill the fall after his graduation with the intention of studying medicine, but soon abandoned the idea and returned to "Woodbourne" to look after the family estate.  At the beginning of the Civil War he was one of the wealthiest planters in Bertie County, owning about 4,000 acres and 150 slaves.  Early in the war he was appointed Colonel of the Bertie County Militia, a position he filled with ability.  He was also placed in charge of the county's military affairs.  With the end of the war Colonel Norfleet directed his great abilities to the management of his plantations, and regained his fortune.  He was a man of broad views and a big heart.  During his long life he was a great influence for good in the community, having a lofty standard of conduct which he lived up to in every way.

Some years prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, Colonel Norfleet purchased from Mrs. Elizabeth Sutton and the Granberry heirs, 600 acres of land lying on the north and south sides of the road leading from Roxobel to Woodville.  This was the "Kelford" plantation, about three miles south of Roxobel.  The Colonel and his family lived at "Kelford" till the house was burned; whereupon, they moved to "Woodbourne."  The following is from the Weldon "Roanoke News" for August 20, 1885:

"We regret to announce that the handsome dwelling house of colonel Stephen A. Norfleet near Roxobel, Bertie County, was burned Wednesday night of last week.  The fire caught from the kitchen, and the entire building, with about half of the furniture, was consumed.  There was no insurance."

The present little town of Kelford, on the Norfolk and Carolina Railroad, was built on this plantation and gets its name from it.

Colonel Norfleet died at "Woodbourne" July 3, 1910 and was buried in the family graveyard.

He was twice married.  His first wife was Frances Helen Pugh, daughter of William A. Pugh and Frances Slade of Bertie County.  They were married June 20, 1844.  Mrs. Norfleet was born October 16, 1822 and died March 4, 1859.  On August 23, 1860 Colonel Norfleet married Louisa, daughter of George Evans Spruill and Mary Louisa Hill ... They were married at the residence of Mrs. Spruill in Warrenton by the Reverend Mr. Hodges, Rector of Emmanuel Church.  Louisa Spruill was born at "Greenwood" her parent's home in Scotland Neck, in 1826 and died at "Woodbourne" in 1894. ...

 

PLANTATION OPERATIONS OF STEPHEN ANDREWS NORFLEET

The following is an excerpt from "Bertie County - A Brief History" (published 1982) by Alan D. Watson, pages 22 and 53:

Page 22:

The war [Civil War] , of course, gravely disrupted Bertie life.  Prosperous planter S. A. Norfleet, who had married in 1860, spending $115 for the bridal present and $1,067.50 for the wedding trip to northern spas, turned from the remunerative cultivation of cotton to the less profitable production of wheat and oats during the conflict.  Federal troops periodically raided the county, killing George Capehart's cattle and chasing his hogs so that the animals became 'very wild' ...

Page 53:

... Large plantation interests such as those of Stephen A. Norfleet were responsible for much of the cotton production.  Norfleet's accounts books show that he planted 120 acres of cotton in 1856, realizing 88 bales that weighed 37,780 pounds.  Encouraged, he sowed 230 acres the following year only to reap 'less than half a crop.'  However, in 1858 Norfleet's cotton crop yielded 171 bales, weighing 67,500 pounds, 'a superior crop' in the words of the planter.

Norfleet's operations also included the production of over 10,000 bushels of corn annually.  That product, whose acreage and value always exceeded those of any other crop in the antebellum South, fed animals and people, converted to drink, and sold commercially when necessary.  Norfleet also raised wheat and oats.  His apple and peach orchards yielded 671 gallons of brandy in 1858.  Plums and apricots were less plentiful.  The planter annually slaughtered some 300 to 325 hogs, though the animals seldom averaged more than 135 pounds each.  On his Woodbourne plantation alone in 1858 and 1859 Norfleet netted handsome profits of $10,291 and $9,078 respectively by his calculations, attributable in part to such progressive farming techniques as manuring with guano, composts, and marl and planting red clover and other soil enriching crops. ...

 

Children of STEPHEN NORFLEET and FRANCIS PUGH are:

FRANCIS SLADE7 NORFLEET, b. 1846; m. CARRIE STOKES.

RICHARD URQUART NORFLEET, b. 1847; m. LOUISA SLADE PUGH; b. 17 May 1852; d. 13 December 1898, Bertie County NC.

THOMAS SPRUILL NORFLEET, b. 1849; m. LEILA MOORE POWELL.

ERNEST NORFLEET, b. 03 February 1851, Bertie County NC; d. 12 June 1901, Ashville NC.

WHITMEL PUGH NORFLEET, b. 26 September 1852, Bertie County NC; d. 27 February 1922, Bertie County NC.

REGINALD HEBER NORFLEET, m. MARY COLLINS PUGH.

MARMADUKE NORFLEET, b. 07 April 1855; d. 16 March 1929, Betie County NC; m. CAROLINE PUGH.

FRANCES HELEN NORFLEET, b. 1857; d. 1912.

 

Children of STEPHEN NORFLEET and MARIE SPRUILL are:

LOUISA HILL7 NORFLEET, b. 13 June 1861, Bertie County NC; d. 06 March 1840, Bertie County NC.

STEPHEN A. NORFLEET.

ANTOINETTE REBECCA NORFLEET, b. 30 June 1864, Bertie County NC; d. 09 March 1926, Bertie County NC; m. JOHN PUGH SMALLWOOD.

MARGARET ANDREWS NORFLEET.

GEORGE SPRUILL NORFLEET, m. EMMA HANCOCK.

CHARLES EVANS NORFLEET, b. 28 August 1870, Bertie County NC; d. 26 November 1901, Bertie County NC.

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