Richard Anthony Proctor

Richard Anthony Proctor

Place of birth: 
Warren County, North Carolina
Date of birth: 
1780
Place of death: 
Orange County, North Carolina
Date of death: 
1864

In the post Civil war era, Richard Anthony Proctor and his children owned over 1500 acres of land which is now part of the City of Durham.  Their land was south of the NC Railroad, as far west as Chapel Hill Road, as far south as Cornwallis Road, and as far east as Fayetteville Street and in East Durham.   

Richard Proctor was one of the early settlers of Orange County, NC.  He was born in 1780 in Warren County, NC, and in 1802 he and his brother Joseph moved from Warren over to Orange County (now Durham County).  In the 1810 Census they are the only Proctor families living in Orange County.  Because of his service in the War of 1812, Richard was the recipient of a North Carolina land grant on the waters of New Hope Creek.  

In 1803 Richard married Nancy Dollar (1785-1867), a local Orange County girl, daughter of Jonathan Dollar Sr. and Rhoda Mary Rhodes.  The exact location of Richard’s original farmland is unknown.  There are three Orange County land deeds showing Richard Proctor as the grantee (buyer) in the 1840’s, purchasing land on the waters of Third Fork of New Hope Creek.  Richard purchased most of this land from Archibald Rigsbee, who had inherited the land from his grandfather William Pickett, another early settler of Orange County.  See map below.  

Richard’s house was probably located on the south side of Ward St. between Chester Springs Road and James St. on today’s map.  The only indication for the location of his house is found in the land deeds of his son Jonathan S. Proctor, which identify the lane to Richard’s home place as being between Jonathan S.’s land and the land of Julian S. Carr, placing it just east of Julian S. Carr’s Wa Wa Yonda Farm.   These deeds also identify the location of Richard Proctor’s family cemetery at the northeast corner of the intersection of James St. and Nation Ave. on today’s map. 

Richard and his wife Nancy had 10 children, 7 sons and 3 daughters.  Five of their sons are among the Patriarchs of the City of Durham.  

Richard’s eldest son, Sterling Proctor (1804-1877) married Winnaford Green in 1825, and he farmed 280 acres southwest of the NC Railroad in Durham.  On page 345 of the book, Western North Carolina, Historical and Biographical Sketches, by George B. Hanna, published in 1890, Sterling Proctor, along with his brother Frank, is listed as a reputable and respected citizen, one of the dozen people the writer recalls as the Patriarchs of the City of Durham.  Provide a link to Sterling Proctor’s story.

Richard’s son Jonathan S. Proctor (1819-1891) married Mary “Polly” Cooke in 1840, and he farmed over 70 acres located along the Chapel Hill Road in the Lakewood area.  He provided land for one of Durham’s early schools, which became the Lakewood School.  Provide a link to Jonathan S. Proctor’s story.       

Richard’s son William B. Proctor (1822-1887) married Susannah G. Roberts in 1843, and he farmed 172 acres located on both sides of the Chapel Hill Road south of Dean St.  He was instrumental in creating one of Durham’s earliest churches.  His greatest claim to fame is his house, which was moved to the Bennett Place Historic Site in Durham in the 1960’s.  Provide a link to William B. Proctor’s story and a link to the story of his house at Bennett Place.

Richard’s son Oswell Kinion Proctor (1827-1863) married Sarah Jane Barbee in 1848, and his farm of 200 acres was located in East Durham.  He was killed fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War.  After his death, his wife and sons continued to run the farm, raising tobacco.  His sons became successful Durham businessmen, grocers and bankers.  Provide a link to Oswell Kinion Proctor’s story.  

Richard’s youngest son Francis Malburn Proctor (1830-1895) married Milbrey Jane Pendergrass in 1861, and he farmed over 200 acres on both sides of the Fayetteville Street south of E. Umstead St.   He is also mentioned, along with his brother Sterling in Western North Carolina, Historical and Biographical Sketches, by George B. Hanna, as one of the dozen people the writer recalls as the Patriarchs of the City of Durham.  Provide a link to Francis Malburn Proctor’s story.

Most of Richard’s other children also became farmers in the Durham area.  Richard’s daughter Polly (1811-1870) married Jesse T. Brown (1805-1870) in 1828, and they had 5 children.  They moved to Guilford County, but Richard’s other two daughters stayed in Durham.  Nancy (1817-1890), married Davis Chisenhall (1805-1877) in 1832, and they had 5 children.  Their farm was near the intersection of W. Cornwallis Road and S. Roxboro Street.  Richard’s youngest daughter Sarah (1828-1895) married William Lynn (1820-1882) in 1842, and they had 2 children.  Their 100 acre farm was located on Fayetteville Street at Burlington Ave.

Richard’s son Joseph (1806-1860) married Susan Willis (1804-1870) in 1829, and they had 7 children. Richard’s son Thomas (1810-1864) married Nancy Euwell (1811-1870) in 1831, and they had 4 children.  The farms of Joseph and Thomas were located north of Ellerbee Creek along N. Roxboro St. near Carver St.  They were neighbors of Washington Duke in the 1850 Census.  They both pre-deceased their father, and the exact boundaries of their farms are unknown.

Richard Proctor died in 1864 (Orange County Will Book G, p. 462), leaving an estate of 362 acres to be divided among his 20 heirs, many of whom were young children.  His adult heirs decided to sell the land and divide the money instead of dividing the land because the land had poor soil quality and many of the heirs were too young to own land.  Richard’s executor, William Gaston Vickers, put the land up for sale, and it was auctioned in 1870.  Richard’s son Jonathan S. Proctor was the highest bidder for the western portion of Richard’s land of 168 acres, and Richard’s son-in-law Davis Chisenhall, husband of Richard’s daughter Nancy, purchased the eastern portion of his land of 189 acres.

These historic Durham Landmarks are located on the farmland of Richard Proctor:

  • Nana’s Restaurant and The Original Q-Shack Restaurant are on land that originally belonged to Richard Proctor.
  • Rockwood Neighborhood:  The Durham land deeds show that Julian S. Carr purchased this land from R.H. Wright in 1918, and it originally belonged to Richard Proctor.  Provide a link to the Rockwood Neighborhood.
  • Lakewood Dairy Farm:  In 1909 Richard’s granddaughter Jane Proctor Christian and her husband sold the northern portion of Richard’s land, including the Richard Proctor home place and family cemetery.  This land was purchased by Franklin Alphonso Ward Sr. and his wife Effie Jane Riggsbee, both of Chatham County, NC.  The Ward family created the Lakewood Dairy Farm on land located on James St. on today’s map.   Provide a link to the Lakewood Dairy Farm.
  • Proctor Street:  Although Proctor Street today is a small remnant of what it used to be, and it currently does not touch Richard’s land, it was probably a farm road that connected Richard’s land with the land of his children in the 1860’s.  Provide a link to the Proctor Street Story.

The following is a list of the land deeds and plats associated with Richard Proctor’s land: 

Orange County Deed Book 14 p. 318, 14/447, 22/162, 31/470, 33/211, 35/67, 35/154, 35/67, 35/154, 36/84, 36/283, 36/335, 37/556, 39/38, 40/175, 41/32, 47/33.

Durham County Deed Book 5 p. 137, 9/53, 9/203, 11/141, 11/161, 11/230, 12/120, 17/158, 22/162, 23/107, 23/212, 23/485, 35/246, 37/556 38/240, 40/382, 41/32, 42/28, 42/48, 43/541, 68/71, 68/336, 77/35, 80/135.

Durham County Plat Book 25 p. 75, 6B/136, 9/83, 13/129, 30/196.

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