Francis Malburn Proctor


Francis Malburn Proctor

Place of birth: 
Orange County, North Carolina
Date of birth: 
Place of death: 
Durham, Durham County, North Carolina
Date of death: 

Francis Malburn Proctor, also known as F.M. and Frank, owned over 200 acres of land which is now part of the City of Durham, on Fayetteville Street.

F. M. Proctor was born in 1830 in Orange County, NC.  His father, Richard Anthony Proctor, was the recipient of a North Carolina land grant and was one of the early settlers of Orange County, NC.

Frank Proctor was known as one of the Patriarchs of the City Of Durham.  On page 345 of the book, Western North Carolina, Historical and Biographical Sketches, by George B. Hanna, published in 1890, Frank Proctor, along with his brother Sterling, is listed as a reputable and respected citizen, one of the dozen people the writer recalls as the Patriarchs of the City of Durham, living within a one mile radius around the NC Railroad Station.

F.M. married Milbrey Jane Pendergrass (1843-1899) in 1861.  There are only two land deeds showing F.M. Proctor as the grantee (buyer), and they occur after he is age 50.  So the amount of land he owned when he first started farming is unknown.  He clearly owned his own farm in the 1870 Census, when his real estate is valued at $300, so he may have owned about 50 acres at that time.  F.M. Proctor’s name shows up as the grantor (seller) in 6 land deeds in Orange County and in Durham County.  In addition to his own land deeds, his name is mentioned in scores of deeds and plats of his heirs.

F.M. fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.  He was a Sergeant in Company A, Mallett’s Battalion, North Carolina Camp Guards at Camp Holmes.

F.M. and Milbrey Jane had 2 sons, and 7 daughters. Most of their children stayed in Durham and lived near them along Fayetteville Street. 

F.M.’s oldest son, William Hugh “Buck” Proctor (1868-1932), was the only one who did not stay in Durham.  He married Minnie Vaughn Groce (1870-1938) in 1890, and they had 5 children. He moved to Lee, NC, after 1916 and became the Sheriff of Sanford County.  

F.M.’s other son, F.M. Jr. (1870-1935), stayed in Durham and continued to farm on land next to his father’s land, living at 2311 Fayetteville Street until 1916, and at 2109 Otis St. after 1916.  He married Martha J. Robertson (1873-1928) in 1891, and they had one daughter. 

F.M.’s daughters all stayed in Durham.  Alice Jane Proctor (1962-1917) married her cousin Robert Hudson Brockwell (1869-1944) in 1889, and they had 2 daughters.  They lived on Fayetteville Street near Moline St.  Della Proctor (1966-1894) married W. G. Spivey (1866-1917) in 1886.  Sarah E. Proctor (1873-1891) married Green A. Barbee, and their farm was on Fayetteville Street.  Mary E. Proctor (1879-1910) married her cousin Charles Johnson Proctor (1876-1931) in 1897, and they had one son.  Her husband Charles worked at the Lakewood Amusement Park, and their home was on Chapel Hill Road.  F.M.’s other daughters, Zoah, Bessie and Nancy C. “Nannie”, died young.   

The Proctor family has in their possession a letter written by F.M. Proctor.  It is a response to a letter from his nephew, James Monroe Proctor, one of Sterling’s sons, dated Jun, 1877.  F.M. says “I am wore out harvesting and doing farm work in general, and I am not done harvesting yet”.  He talks about the good value of Durham farmland, saying that Durham is the best market for all kinds of vegetables, flour, corn and rough feed.  He mentions that the number of inhabitants inside the Durham corporate line at that time was about two thousand. He signs his letter as “F.M.”

F.M. and his son F.M. Jr. remained farmers, even as the town of Durham started to spread out toward them from downtown Durham along Fayetteville Street.  In 1886, in the Charles Emerson’s Tobacco Belt Directory, F.M. and his son F.M. Jr. are both listed as Durham County landowners, each having about 200 acres.

F.M.’s house was located at 2411 Fayetteville Street, and his family cemetery was located on property behind his house.

In 1895, at the time of his death, F.M.’s will (Durham County Will Book A, p. 364) shows that his farm contained 256 total acres.  His land was located on both sides of Fayetteville Street in Durham, in two separate locations, marked in red on the map below.  His home tract was located on the east side of Fayetteville Street between Martha St. and Burlington St. extending east as far as Third Fork Creek, and it included his family cemetery, which is still there today.  The bulk of his farm land was not located immediately next to his home.  It was half a mile north of his home tract on both sides of Fayetteville Street between Umstead St. and Dupree St., and it extended as far west as South St. and as far east as Lincoln.   In 1885 he sold the 49 acres of this land on the east side of Fayetteville St. to Alvis H. Stokes, the tobacconist who owned the A.H. Stokes & Co., leaf tobacco dealers in Durham.  A.H. Stokes was the executor of F.M. Proctor’s will.  This neighborhood is called Stokesdale in today’s Durham Real Estate Records.  See Durham Plat Book 5A page 44. See also the Stokesdale write-up in Open Durham:   

One of F.M. Proctor’s neighbors was his brother-in-law William Lynn, who was married to F.M.’s sister, Sarah Proctor Lynn.  Their 100 acre farm was on Fayetteville Street, just south of F.M.’s home.  The Lynn family is buried in F.M.’s family cemetery.  In his will, F.M. asked that tombstones be put at the graves of William Lynn, his wife Sarah and their two children Dennis and Martha. He also wanted a rock wall built around his cemetery.

One of F.M.’s sons, nicknamed “Dutch” Proctor, living at 2311 Fayetteville Street, was one of the first people ever arrested for bootlegging whisky.  According to the Durham Morning Herald of 28 Oct 1916, page 6, Dutch Proctor was arrested in a raid at his house by the Durham Police who discovered many kegs, jugs and pint bottles of whiskey on his property.  Dutch was accused of transporting whisky by automobile from Virginia to Durham, NC, and selling it out of his house.  The U.S. 18th Amendment implemented nation-wide prohibition in 1920, but North Carolina had imposed state-wide prohibition in 1909, a full decade earlier.    

These historic Durham Landmarks now sit on the original farmland of F.M. Proctor:

NC Central University.  The southeastern part of the campus between Nelson St. and Martha St. is on F.M. Proctor’s farmland.

American Tobacco Trail.  Where the Trail crosses Otis St. is on the southwestern corner of F.M.’s land. 

Hayti.  The northern boundary of F.M.’s land went as far north as Umstead St., which was part of the Hayti community.

The following is a list of the land deeds and plats associated with F.M. Proctor’s land.

Orange County Deed Book 39 page 52.

Durham County Deed Book 3 Page 198, 5/386, 8/104-105, 8/283, 12/18, 13/232, 13/398, 20/347, 21/6, 21/212 , 21/353-354, 21/359-360, 21/457, 21/593, 23/533, 26/56, 26/236, 26/282, 26/448, 29/208, 31/13-14, 31/222, 36/78, 39/207, 41/291, 43/697, 48/313, 57/201, 57/539, 59/21, 68/633, 88/464, 100/239, 935/136, 1193/391, 1819/166, 1984/300. 7145/377.

Durham County Plat Book 1A pages 117-118 Martha St. and Proctor Cemetery, 2/25, 3B/138-139 Merrickville, 5A/40 Hammond Tract, 5A/44 Stokesdale , 5A/46 F.M.’s Cook Tract, 6A/17, 6B/130 College Heights, 6B/172 F.M. Home Tract, 7/158, 73/58 Proctor Cemetery.

Durham County Mortgage Book 46 page 285, 46/484, 53/391, 54/31, 54/686, 56/20, 56/156, 57/689, 60/117, 64/249, 67/124, 67/632, 69/154, 69/193, 69/363, 71/417, 75/248, 75/695, 76/627, 80/131, 80/163, 81/118, 81/424, 171/364, 178/551, 179/129, 187/1, 187/68, 183/283, 183/583, 184/126, 184/243, 195/160.


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