North Carolina Family Estate to Be Sold at Public Auction

The Estate of the late John Washington Graham & Dorothy Cummings Graham of the Wessington House in Edenton, NC will be sold on November 22, 2008. This Estate Auction of exciting Fine & Decorative Arts features objects from the Graham, Cameron, Collins, and Shepard families. These four prominent families had strong political, military, and personal connections ranging across the state including Hillsborough and Edenton ties, two 18th century colonial capital towns. Also represented are prominent North Carolina homes including Somerset Plantation, the Cupola House and Montrose in Hillsborough.

Many items of historical significance will be sold including:

— A pair of portraits depicting Paul Carrington Cameron & his wife, Anne Ruffin Cameron. Paul Cameron was the largest land and slave owner in North Carolina and president of the North Carolina Railroad during the Civil War. In Hillsborough, the Cameron home and the Ruffin home still stand, along with current locations named after Mr. Cameron – including Cameron Park & Cameron School.

— A portrait of William Blount Shepard (1844-1913), the son of William Biddle Shepard and Ann Daves Collins, daughter of Josiah Collins II of Somerset Plantation. During the Civil War, Shepard served the Confederacy as a lieutenant under his distant cousin, General James Johnston Pettigrew, at the Battle of Gettysburg. Shepard briefly attended the University of Virginia, but returned to Edenton to become an important businessman and farmer. He organized Edenton Cotton Mills, Edenton Peanut Company, and the Bank of Edenton. Shepard’s brief political career included services as a justice of the peace (1886) and as a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives (1893).

— A portrait of Major John Washington Graham, born in 1838, the son of William Alexander Graham and Susannah Sarah (Washington) Graham of Hillsborough, NC. He served as a major in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. After the war, he returned to Hillsborough where he was a prosperous “lawyer & farmer.” He continued to serve his state as a delegate to North Carolina state constitutional convention in 1868, as a member of the North Carolina state senate from 1868-72, 1876, 1907-08, and lastly in 1911. He accomplished all these accolades while residing at Montrose in Hillsborough, the estate founded by his father in the early 19th century.

— A portrait of Josiah Collins I of Edenton, who, along with Nathaniel Allen and Dr. Samuel Dickinson formed the Lake Company in 1784/1785. This partnership eventually fell through, leaving Josiah Collins I the sole proprietor. By Collins’ death in 1819, he had cemented his position as a prominent member of Edenton society and the land acquired through the Lake Company was known as Somerset Plantation.

— A Robert E. Lee and Mary Custis Lee Signed Carte de Visite. Photographer Julian Vannerson of Richmond took this rare full-length portrait of General Lee in February, 1864. Marketed by Peter Gibbs, the card conceivably dates to the Civil War since Gibbs ran studios in Lynchburg and Richmond as early as 1856. The obverse is signed “R E Lee”, with the verso being inscribed, “Miss Pauline / Cameron / from Mary C. Lee / Lexington June 18th / 1868.” None of the very few examples of this image that have come to auction of late enjoy the ironclad provenance singular to this remarkable CDV. The present specimen was recently discovered in a 19th century Cameron family album at Pauline Cameron’s home, “Wessington”, in Edenton, North Carolina.

The auction will be conducted on site at the National Register of Historic Places home known as the Wessington House at 120 W. King Street in Edenton, NC. The Wessington House is “one of the most magnificent antebellum residences in the state” writes Thomas Butchko, author of EDENTON: An Architectural Portrait.

Wessington House, built in 1850 by Chowan County physician, planter and businessman Dr. Thomas Warren, remains one of the premier antebellum mansions in Edenton. During the Gilded Age it became home to newlyweds Pauline Cameron of Hillsborough and William Blount Shepard of Edenton. Their union represented an alliance between two of North Carolina’s most powerful families of the 19th century.

This auction is being conducted by the prestigious North Carolina Estate Auction Company, Leland Little Auction and Estate Sales of Hillsborough, NC. Leland Little states, “This auction represents an outstanding collection of important North Carolina items. The families represented in this auction were heavily involved in the growth of North Carolina from Colonial times through today. We are extremely honored to have been chosen to conduct this important auction. This will truly be an event that will generate statewide interest due to the museum quality items being offered.”

Further information can be obtained at or by phone at 919-644-1243. For interviews contact Leland Little at 919-414-1269 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Leland Little Auction and Estate Sales
CONTACT: Leland Little, +1-919-414-1269, [email protected]

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