Brown Library acquires relics from the Civil War

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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The name Isaac Buck may not be that familiar to most, but for Brown Library historian Stephen Farrell, Isaac Buck is another person he can now put a name with a face and was part of Washington’s unique and diverse history. Farrell recently became aware of Buck following a happenstance meeting with one of his ancestors, Vance Harper Jones, who grew up in the Mayo house at 2nd and Bonner. They talked about Jones’s ties to the area and the home he grew up in. “The next thing I know, he shows up a couple of days later with a large portrait of Isaac Buck taken in his Union military uniform along with his discharge papers that he has loaned to the library for historic purposes,” said Farrell. “Buck, who lived in Chocowinity at the time, joined Company A of the 1st North Carolina Union Army in Washington on October 22, 1862, and was discharged on June 27, 1865. In all of my research, this brought to light once again that the overwhelmingly vast majority of soldiers who enlisted in the Union Regiment in Washington were not from Washington but the surrounding countryside. The idea that they were from Washington was a misnomer, as Washingtonians had enlisted in the Confederate Army.”

Following the war, Buck lived on West 3rd Street for several years before purchasing the home at 117 South Harvey Street in 1905, which still stands today. He bought the house for $1,860 at the courthouse steps where it was being auctioned off. It had been the home of Margaret A McCullough the aunt of famed Washingtonian Susan Dimock and her daughter, Xalissa Havens, Dimock’s first cousin. The house had been left vacant following their deaths. Buck and his family resided in the home until his passing in July 1919.

Buck was a butcher by trade and renowned for his sausages. “By one account, everyone in the county and surrounding areas knew of Isaac Buck sausages,” said Farrell. “After opening a market stand on 3rd Street, he eventually moved to the Southwest corner of Market and Main Streets where he had an open-air stand.”

Farrell said this was a very unique and interesting time in Washington’s history. “Here you have a man from Chocowinity who joined the Union Army and following the war lived and worked in Washington,” said Farrell. “His service in the Union Army was not looked down upon by those who had cast their loyalty to the Confederate States of America. They all lived in unity in Washington following the war as if to say “The war is over and let’s get along with our lives.” And they did as they worked together to create a better Washington post-war.”

Farrell added all stories, simple or groundbreaking, together weave the story of Washington. “I’ve not come across any great battles or heroic deeds Buck was a part of,” said Farrell. “He was a true patriot who happened to cast his lot serving in the Union Army in Eastern North Carolina to help preserve the Union. It speaks volumes about his character and service to the community and the nation. Stories such as his will hopefully ignite a resurgence of pride as well as historic preservation within our community and the want and desire to keep his and other legacies alive.”