Major Mortimer Oaks (1825-c. 1912) Albemarle County, VA; Reidsville, NC; Patrick County, VA

Note: Mortimer Oaks, my great-great grandfather, was called Major Oaks, which is a common first name in the Oaks/Oakes families of Central Virginia in the mid- and late 18th century and early 19th century. I strongly suspect that he was closely related to the Major Oaks of nearby Orange County, and that all the families with a “Major Oaks”, such as in Buckingham and King William Counties, are quite likely closely related as well. He was Mayor of Reidsville, NC. Since he was a Confederate railroad official during the Civil War, he might have been eligible for the honorific title of “Major”, which caused some contemporary confusion as to why he was called “Major”.  However, note that in the 1870 Census he lists his first name as “Major”.


1824 or 1825

MORTIMER OAKS, son of RICE OAKS and PATIENCE SUDDARTH, born in Albemarle County, VA.


MORTIMER OAKS, son of RICE OAKS and PATIENCE SUDDARTH, marries SARAH ANN BEAR (Bare), daughter of DAVID BEAR (BARE), in Botetourt County, VA.


Brother Rice T. Oaks, son of RICE OAKS and PATIENCE SUDDARTH, marries Susan Bair (Bare), daughter of DAVID BEAR (BARE) in Botetourt County VA.


In 1860 census, MORTIMER OAKS was showed as married to SARAH ANN [BAIR], age 31 in 1860 (born in 1829), with infant 3/12 year old, female.

LAURA B[AIR] OAKS born March 1860, Maxmeadow Depot [Wythe County], Virginia.  [Source: United States Department of Interior records (in WHB’s possession), which show her birthplace.] Maxmeadow Depot is on Norfolk and Western Railroad (now Norfolk Southern Railroad) tracks. At the time it was the Virginia and Tennessee Raiload. Two “overseers” of that railroad were listed as the depot agent at Mt Avim(?) and MORTIMER OAKS.

MORTIMER OAKS occupation listed as “section master”. Funk and Wagnalls defines a “section” as the smallest administrative unit on a railroad, the responsibility of a given set of men.


Son Albert M born (according to 1870 census) in North Carolina. [Middle name Mortimer?  Mother SARAH ANN BAIR?]


Excerpts from Lucy M. Rankin’s Information about Reidsville at

“Reidsville, a town of approximately 14,000 inhabitants located in the southern part of Rockingham County [North Carolina], derived its name from the family of Reuben Reid. Reid, who was then living in the Hogan’s Creek area, purchased a farm on the ridge between Wolf Island and Little Roublesome creeks and in May, 1814 moved there with his wife Elizabeth Settle Reid, and their young son, David Settle Reid.

“Soon Reid opened a store across the road from his small log residence and also began operation an ordinary, a public inn kept in a private home. In 1829 a post office, called Reidsville, was established at this location and David Settle Reid, then sixteen years old, was appointed postmaster. Reidsville still points with pride to David S. Reid’s later accomplishments as U. S. Congressman, Sentaor and Governor of North Carolina, the state’s first Democratic governor.

“Though the Reid establishment became a stop on the stage line, established in the early 1830s between Danville and Salisbury, little growth took place there until after the Civil War. Just prior to the War there were only a few families and a single store.

“This changed with the completion of the Piedmont Railroad in 1864. The railroad was part of the Confederate supply line, and Reidsville became the principal station between Danville and Greensboro. As early as 1863, JOSEPH HOLDERBY had surveyed lots and began selling plots of land along what is now Market Street “at Reidsville”.

“An official of the Piedmont Railroad, Major MORTIMER OAKS, saw the possibilities for development in the are and began pursuing them aggressively. Shortly after the war he purchased land and announced the intention of building a town on it. He opened a hotel and a second store.


General Index to Real Estate Conveyances M-R 1787-1900 Rockingham County, North Carolina

Oaks, Mortimer         Holderby Joseph         Deed  2eX 516 1 lot, W. Market St. Reids[ville]

Oaks, Mortimer         Holderby Joseph,         Deed  2eX 517         Lot #31, plat of Reids

[Note: unindexed deeds for Lots 32 (part), running through lot 47 140 yrds x 15 intended as a alley for right of way between 31, 32, 47 and 48. Understood that said passageway for Oaks, Holderby and all persons for all time to come.]


Second marriage of MORTIMER OAKS in Rockingham County, NC to Fannie R. Holderby, daugther of JOSEPH HOLDERBY and MARTHA W. HOLDERBY.


Oaks, Mortimer         Carrell J L , Thomas D, Mary E Thos D and others         Deed  2dY 284; 112 A. Wolf Is. Crki.

. . . a parcel of land situating lying and being in the County of Rockingham NC on the waters of Wolf Island creek adjoining the Lands of Joseph Holderby, William Burton and others, and containing by survey one hundred and twelve acres, bounded as follows: Beginning at a Spanish oak standing on the North side of the road, thence Easton on J. Y. Stokes line crossing one branch 168 poles to a mayple on a Branch, then south 76 degrees East up toa brach on said line 17 poles to a post oak (now down) a cedar substituted, thence south 60 poles to a stake, then south 3 ¾ degrees west up said Burtons line 60 poles to a stake then South 37 degrees East 81 poles on said line to a persimmon on Joseph Holderby’s line . . . 16 March 1869

Oaks, Mortimer         Holderby, Joseph & M. Deed 2dY 325         Several lots Reids(ville)

Source: General Index to Real Estate Conveyances M-R 1787-1900 Rockingham County, North Carolina


Inhabitants in Williamsboro, PO Reidsville, NC 255/249

255/249 MAJOR OAKS, Age 46,  Occupation Tabacconist & Merchant, Value of Real Estate $3500, Value of Personal State, $2000;  Born Virginia;  Married; Fannie Oaks, Age 30, Keeping House, Born Virginia; LOUISA [WHB note: should be LAURA] B OAKS, Age 10, At School, Born Virginia; Albert M Oaks, Age 8, Born North Carolina; Francis Vaughn 20 Female Black, Domestic Servant; Charles Vaughn Male Black, Domestic Servant; Francis Smith 16 Male White, Clerk in Store, A. D. Montgomery, Age 38 Male White Clerk in Store (Vaughns, Smith and Montgomery all born North Carolina)

256/250 JOSEPH HOLDERBY, Age 66, Occupation, Farmer, Real Estate $800; Personal Property $200; born Virginia; Nancy W Holderby age 62, Keepinghouse, born North Carolina; William G. Holderby, Age 22, Clerk in Store, Born North Carolina; R[OBERT] B HOLDERBY, Age 19, At School, Born North Carolina; Nannie B, Age 14, At Home, Born North Carolina; Patient Griffin, Age 45, Black Female, Domestic Servant, born North Carolina; Fannie Griffin, Age 13, Black Female, Domestic Servant, born North Carolina; Washington Mebone, Age 50, Black Male Farm laborer, born NC; Emmeline Mebone Age 35, Black Female Farm Laborer, Children Charley Mebone (age 9), farm laborer; John Mebone (age 5), Ann Mebone (Age 3), black, born in North Carolina; Joseph M Cox, age 54 White Male Clerk in Store; G. Fleming Terry, age 21, White Male Clerk in Store  (Cox, Terry born in NC.)


Oaks, Mortimer         Lorillard, Peter & oths         OCD 3dA 139         112 A Wolf Island Crk

Oaks, Mortimer         Carekk H Mary E Thomas D & oths         3dA 153         112A Wolf Island Ck

Fanny Oaks, Mortimer  Release Mortgage 3dA 233 Cancellation of Mortgage Deed

Fanny  Oaks, Mortimer  Release Mortgage EdA 416 Cancellation of note

Oaks, Mortimer & others   Siedler, Charles & others  R of M  3eA 417  Cancellation of note

Source: General Index to Real Estate Conveyances M-R 1787-1900 Rockingham County, North Carolina


Oaks, Mortimer    Smith, Fannie E  Deed  3dB 139  ½ A Reids[ville]

Fanny  Oaks, Mortimer Dohan, Carroll & Company         R of M         3dB 289          Cancellation of note

Oaks, Mortimer   Lindsay Wm & Sarah A  Deed 3dB 301  140 A  Piedmont Railroad

Source: General Index to Real Estate Conveyances M-R 1787-1900 Rockingham County, North Carolina

Excerpts from Lucy M. Rankin’s Information about Reidsville at

“Reidsville’s location in the heart of a tobacco-growing area and its new railroad facilities made an ideal combindation for the development of a New South tobacco town.

“Major Oaks recognized these opportunities and in January, 1872 opened Reidsville’s first tobacco auction warehouse. By 1885 there were several warehouses in the town and 15 tobacco factories. Most of the factories were producing plug and twist, but two of them were making smoking tobacco and cigarettes.:


Oaks, Mortimer & others  Morehead, J Turner Commr; John M Dec’ed (heirs of)         Deed 3dB 450 1 3/4 A Reids[ville]

Oaks, Mortimer & others   Gibson, John L  Deed 3dC 84 ½ A Reids[ville]

Oaks, Mortimer & others   Holderby, Joseph Deed 3dC Lots #60, 62, 63 E Market St Reids[ville]

Source: General Index to Real Estate Conveyances M-R 1787-1900 Rockingham County, North Carolina

Excerpts from Lucy M. Rankin’s Information about Reidsville at

“Naturally such industrial growth as Reidsville experience 1870-1900 called for development in many other areas. The town was chartered in 1873, and Major Oaks became its first mayor.”


Oaks, Mortimer   (N M Wilson Land) Richardson, R P Tr   Deed   3dD 346  Piedmont W H lot Reids

Source: General Index to Real Estate Conveyances M-R 1787-1900 Rockingham County, North Carolina


Major Oaks becomes Mayor of Reidsville, North Carolina. The town had grown to between 3,5oo and 4,000 residents. [Reidsville Chamber of Commerce.]

Oaks, Mortimer   (Fannie E Smith Bankrupt) Reid, James W Assignee  Deed  3dD 418   Bar room & 1 lot Reids[ville]

Oaks, Mortimer  Gladstone R G  M D   3dE 31 1 tract adj A J Boyd & others

Oaks, Mortimer    Combs, James S & Mary A  M D 3dE 50 A adj Scales line

Source: General Index to Real Estate Conveyances M-R 1787-1900 Rockingham County, North Carolina

December 1875 Articles of Agreement entered into . . . .between P. D. Spencer, J. R. Webster and B. A. Crafton and D. Barnes, partners doing business under the firm name of Crafton & Co. Buck Ellington and William Lindsey, J. A. Allen, John W. Williamson, M. Oaks Z. V. Gwyn and Wiliam M. Crafgton all of the County of Rockingham . . . .

That the said partners above n amed have agreed to form a joint Stock Company for the purpose of a general Ware House business for the Sale of leaf Tobacco at Reidsville in the County and State . . as the Piedmont Ware House Company . . That the capital stock . . .  shall consist of Ten Thousand Dollars


Oaks, Mortimer  Crafton, John S  M D  3dE 435 50 A Rockhouse Ck  (stamped in red: Cancelled)

Oaks, Mortimer  Oaks, Fannie R & Mortimer  Deed  3dF 331 1 lot Reids(ville)         Piedmont W H

Oaks, Mortimer  Lindsey William, Sarah A & others M D   3dF 333   1 A W Market S Reids(ville)

Oaks, M  Homestead  Homestead 3Dg 68  Personal Property

Oaks, M & others   Williamson, J W & others  Agm’t 3dG 425  Forming Piedmont W H Co Reids(ville)

Source: General Index to Real Estate Conveyances M-R 1787-1900 Rockingham County, North Carolina

Exemption according to the act of the general assembly, entitled an act to lay off the homestead property exemption 1876 .

2 featherbeds and steads, complete $50: 2 steads and mattresses $18; 1 small bed $2.50; 1 cook stove etc $18; ½ doz cane chairs $5; 3 plush chairs $3; 1 sofa $5; 4 pictures and ornaments $2; 4 small tables $4; 3 washstands $3; 1 sewing machine $25; table and tableware and safe $4; 3 looking glasses $1.50, 12 split chairs $6; carpets $22; 1 piano and cover $150; 1 harrow, rake, spade and shovel $1; 1 lot of bacon $20; 1 ½ bags flour $5; Fouls $2; 1 folding table $3; 1/10 interest in personal property in Piedmont Warehouse $150; $500, said articles are exempt. = May 15 1876 5:00 p.m.


Oaks, M Barnes, Decatur & Lucie A  Deed 3dH 184 60 A adj Wm Lindsey land

Source: General Index to Real Estate Conveyances M-R 1787-1900 Rockingham County, North Carolina


Death of Oaks, Frances Roberta Holderby   (b. 27 Jun 1841 – d. 12 Apr 1883), wife of MORTIMER OAKS

12 April 1883

      • Location – North side of Piedmont Street, between S. Main Street and S. Scales Street. Behind and adjacent to First Baptist Church on S. Main Street but not affiliated with the church.

    Coordinates: 36d 21m 23.4s N; 79d 39m 54.0s W Click here for Google maps

    Burial place of the founders of the City of Reidsville. Established 1849 By: Reuben Reid. Last Burial 1898.

    View of the cemetery sign.
    View #2 of the cemetery. View #3 of the cemetery. View #4 of the cemetery. View #5 of the cemetery.

    Surveyed and photographed by Carolina Caswell in February 2010.

  1. Oaks, Frances Roberta Holderby   (b. 27 Jun 1841 – d. 12 Apr 1883)
      • Wife of Mortimer Oaks


Oaks, M & wife  (P B Association, Salme) Lemley, W A Secy & Treas  Sat. of M 3Dw  113

Source: General Index to Real Estate Conveyances M-R 1787-1900 Rockingham County, North Carolina


Oaks, Mortimer  (P F & L F Jones) Cox, J M Tr  Deed 3dW 464 57/100 A lot #127 Reids(ville)

Source: General Index to Real Estate Conveyances M-R 1787-1900 Rockingham County, North Carolina


25 May Third marriage of MORTIMER OAKS; Henry County, VA, to Martha Adelaide Martin. Marital status of groom: widowed. Marital status of bride: single. Martha Adelaide was 45 (born 11 Feb 1843) was childless.

Martha Adelaide’s parents were Aber (Abner) Martin and Jane Reamy, in Henry County VA Her oldest brother was Stephen Martin, who served for over 40 years as Justice of the Peace for Henry County. She used both the names Martha and Adelaide at different times.


Know all men by these presents that I Thomas J. Martin of the County of Henry in the State of Virginia do hereby convey transfer and assign and set over to M[ORTIMER] OAKS of the County of Patrick in the State aforesaid all interests and claims of every sort and description I have or to which I may be entitled in the estate real and personal of my deceased sister Sarah Armstrong whether in the hands of Henry Tuggle her administrator or otherwise to be used and appplied by the said M. OAKS for the support and maintenance of my daughter Mary Adelaide Martin who is now living in his family and to be used and expended by him for the purposes named in such manner as to him may seem best And I further authorize and empower the said M OAKS to ask demand sue for recover and receipt for any such estate and proceeds of estate to and from the said administator or any other person as fully and effectually as I might or could do in my own proper person. Witness my hand and seal this 14th day of April 1893. Witness: C. B. Bryant. T. J. Martin, seal.

Virginia Henry County to wit.

I C. B. Bryant a Commisssioner in chancery of the Circuit Court of the County aforesaid in the State of Virginia do hereby certify that T. J. Martin whose name is signed to the foregoring writing bearing date on the 14th of April 1893 has acknowledged the same before me in the County aforeside. Given under my hand this 14th day of April 1893. C>B. Bryant, C___ in C))))

The following letter was written by Martha Oaks, daughter of MORTIMER OAKS and his second wife, Frances Holderby [Oaks] to ANN [HOLMAN] BURNETT:

837 West 4th Avenue; Hendersonville, NC, June 28th, 1945

Dearest Ann –

For weeks I have been trying to think back over the years and recall the associations of my early childhood with my mother’s family.

My father, a grand gentleman of whom I am very proud had one sister who married and went North with her husband and died childless. He had one brother [WHB-Rice T. Oaks] who  who went to Tenn. married and had a son Rush Oakes. I never met him but your Grandmother visited his family and was very proud of her cousin Rush.

Grandfather JOSEPH HOLDERBY was another fine gentleman. He married Louisa STUBBLEFIELD of Ky. [WHB – He married MARTHA STUBBLEFIELD, who was born in North Carolina]. I gave Elizabeth the picture I had of her Mother MARTHA STUBBLEFIELD for whom I was named. I asked Elizabeth to see that M. O. B. [Martha Oaks Burnett] gets the picture when she no longer wants it.

Knowing that I was born of good solid American parents I have never been obsessed with the notion of parentages. However, Edna Lindsey, my first cousin was to a certain extent and used to get irked with me because I would not give it the attention she thought I should.

I haave not seen or heard anything of them since 1919. However, if this war is ever ended and we can get gas & tires you and I will go to Reidsville and have a look around.

Of one things you and your children need every feel anything but pride in your Holderby Oaks side of the family.

The Holderbys were so hidebound in their belief on the sacredness of the holy bonds of matrimony they never forgave my Sister for leaving Uncle Bob.

Everyone loved Uncle Bob. He had a hunting accident when he was quite young that left him with a practically useless left arm. This handicapped him as a bread winner and that was the principle reason for the objection to the marriage. Your Grandfather was a charming gentleman, very handsome and the neatest man I ever knew. Hope this information will help to some extent your interest in your family.

Ann, I have been trying everywhere to get a good family size electric range. I am wondering if you and GORMAN [BURNETT] could possible locate one. Second hand but as they call it reconditioned. We want it for a cousin of Mary L’Englis who lives in Ga. When we begin to get along in years, marking fires and getting in wood is hard work. So if you could help us out in getting a good range for Mrs. Boyd we would surely appreciate it.

We are having spring like weather and the Winlis Jasemin along the garden fence is beginning to bloom. These first and side blloms are so welcome.

I keep the little snap of Martha on the corner of my mirror. She is a dear, isn’t she.

Byt this time you have recovered from Christmas., I hope. I have not finished my Christmas thanks you notes yet. I go so far, and then I am just a bit written out. We hope you are all well and that othe work in the house is progressing. It looked pretty good to me when I was there, but I guess you know what redecorating you want.

My love to you all, and all my good wishes. Lovingly, Aunt Martha.

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