Sampson County, NC
William Rufus Devane King
Vice President, 1853
Reprinted with permission of the Mt. Olive Tribune and cannot be reproduced without permission.
You Could Be Living in King County
"Our Heritage" April 7, 1989 By Claude Moore
(Editor’s note: Oscar Bizzell of Newton Grove is a guest columnist this week. Bizzell, a local historian, is editor of the Huckleberry Historian. The following article recently appeared in the Sampson County Review.)
If the Civil War had occurred a few years later, or not at all, the people in north Sampson, south Johnston, east Wayne & east Duplin would have been living in King County. Newton Grove might have been the county seat. This would have been done in honor of Vice President William R. (Rufus) King, a native of the Newton Grove area.
King was born April 7, 1786, & reared on a plantation near the south bank of Craddock Swamp, along what is now SR 1711 at its junction with SR 1713. A part of the old home still stands southeast of Newton Grove.
Although King County, NC was never established, the state of Washington did establish a King County, the home of Seattle. That county honors Mr. King.
As a lad, William R. King attended Grove Academy, Kenansville & Donaldson Military Academy, Fayetteville.
In 1799, he entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, & graduated in 1803. Then he went to Fayetteville to read law under the tuition of William Duffy.
Settling in Clinton, NC, King was admitted to the bar in 1806 at the early age of 20, and quickly won a wide popularity in Sampson County.
He was elected to the NC House of Commons in 1808, and again in 1809, & to the US Congress in 1818 where he served until 1816.
King resigned from Congress in November 1816 to accept the post of Secretary of Legation to Russia. In 1820 he returned to the practice of law in Clinton, but shortly thereafter emigrated to Cahaba, Alabama. Upon the admission of Alabama as a state, King was elected to the US Senate & was re-elected three times.
In 1844, King was appointed Minister to France. In 1848, he was elected again to the US Senate to represent Alabama, but resigned January 18, 1853 to run for Vice President on the Democratic ticket with Franklin Pierce. They were elected.
But King was sick with tuberculosis contracted during his service in Europe. His doctor sent him to Havana, Cuba for his health & he took the oath of office there on March 4, 1853. He hurried home only to die soon after his arrival at his plantation on April 18, 1853.
In later years he was honored by Sampson County with a monument at the north entrance to the Sampson County Courthouse. Moreover, a state historical marker stands south of Newton Grove at Monk’s Cross Roads, along US 701.
Five years after the death of Vice President King, a bill was introduced in the NC Senate to create a county called King, to include the old King Plantation. In 1858, Dr. J.T. Leach, NC Senator from Johnston County, introduced Senate Bill 90 to establish a new county by the name of King. The bill read as follows: Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina & it is hereby enacted by authority of the same. That a new county be and the same is hereby laid off & established, to be composed of parts of Sampson, Johnston, Duplin & Wayne counties, bounded as follows:
Beginning at the Bunn Ford on Mingo Creek in the county of Johnston, thence to the nearest point on Stone Creek, thence down the meanders of said creek to the road leading from William Peacock’s to Smithfield, thence crossing this said creek north, striking the ridge dividing said Mingo Creek & Hannah Creek, the said ridge crossing the Smithfield road from George Snead’s at the cross path beyond Antiock Church. Thence a direct line to Hannah Creek bridge near Major Nathan Williams, thence with said Hannah Creek to Mill Creek, to the Neuse River, thence to Graham’s Store, thence to the Cross Roads, thence to the corner of Sampson, Wayne & Duplin counties, thence the Duplin line to Young’s Swamp, thence up said swamp to the Darden place, thence to James Andrews’, thence to Benjamin Bowdens’, thence to Harrison’s Store, thence to Jackson & Boys Store, thence to the junction of Mingo and Black River, thence up the said stream to the beginning.
And said county of King is hereby invested with all the rights and privileges and investitures of the other counties of this state, Signed: J.T. Leach, Johnston.
The bill was introduced in the Senate on December 14, 1858, read the first time, passed, and referred with recommendations to committee.
No record was found that the bill was ever brought up again. Soon thereafter, the state became concerned with national issues that lead to the War Between the States in 1861.
However, William R. King was instrumental in creating the state of Washington, and they named a county for him. Moreover, the huge King dome sports arena, with frequent national television coverage, honors the memory of William R. King of Sampson County, NC.
With the NCAA basketball championship games to be played in the King Dome on April 1-3, Sampsonians should be reminded of their most famous & accomplished native son, William Rufus DeVanne King.
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