Family Matters

Joseph Benjamin "River Joe" Burgin
(Soldier, Railroad Conductor, Farmer and Father of North Carolina's First Lady)


Joseph Benjamin Burgin was the oldest son of Alney Burgin (son of Pioneer Ben). He was born July 13, 1835 in Burke County, North Carolina. In 1859, Joe married Margaret E. Burgin, born May 12, 1841, daughter of Ben Logan Burgin (son of Major Ben).

Joe served the Confederacy in the Civil War. He enlisted in Wake County on June 5, 1861 at age twenty-six and was assigned to Co. K, 22nd NC Infantry Regt. Read the history of Company K.

Company K was commanded by Captain Alney Burgin, son of John Burgin. He too, was Pioneer Ben's grandson and Joe's first cousin.

Burgin mustered in with an unspecified rank, but was promoted to Sergeant on July 24, 1861. On or about September 6, 1862, he was elected 2nd Lieutenant. It was during the three months prior to this promotion that most of his <../diary/jb_burgin.html> Civil War Journal was written.

On or about April 9, 1863, Joe was court-martialed. The reason was never reported. He was captured by the enemy the following month, May 3, 1863, near Chancellorsville, Virginia and confined at the Old Capital Prison in Washington, D.C. until paroled on May 18, 1863 and transferred for prisoner exchange. He was "dropped" as an officer in his company on or about October 8, 1863. The reason he was "dropped" was not reported.

Joe's only brother, Captain Charles Hardy Burgin, was also assigned to Company K, 22nd N.C. Regiment. Charles, who in 1860 was a candidate for the North Carolina State Legislature, was wounded at Shepherds town, Virginia September 20, 1862, and died at Fredicksburg, Virginia of disease and fever.

Following the war, Joe went to work for the Western North Carolina Railroad. In 1888, he handled the arrangements and scheduling for the "Burgin Train", a special train bound for Texas, The New Frontier. The train carried twenty adult Burgin family members, along with their children. Among this group was another of Major Ben's granddaughters--Flora (Burgin) Smith. Joe continued working for the railroad until he retired.

Joe, being Alney's only living child, inherited the old homeplace. His father had inherited Pioneer Ben's plantation, due to the fact that he was Ben and Leah's youngest son and based on the 1830 census, Alney and Margaret were already living there, providing care and attention for Leah in her later years.

The plantation was located approximately one mile east of Old Fort on the Catawba River. It was for this reason, many of the locals referred to Joe as "River Joe". It was here Joe raised his four children: Ella, b. May 23, 1860; Charles, b. May 1864; Anna, b. February 15, 1873 and Alney, b. March 18, 1880. Click here to see an actual photo of the Old Burgin Homeplace. Joe's family can be seen standing in the front yard.

It was here, a young lawyer named Locke Craig would come a'calling on "Miss Annie" (Anna). And it was here that they were married, November 13, 1891. Craig became one of the most successful and well known lawyers in Western North Carolina. He was elected to the General Assembly in 1898 and again in 1900. He would later be elected Governor of North Carolina and served from January 1913 to January 1917.

Joe's beloved Margaret died September 28, 1901 and their daughter Ella Burgin Clark, moved back to the old Burgin Homestead to take care of her father until his death, April 3, 1913.

According to an article in the Marion Progress, the original Benjamin Burgin Homestead was 150-years old when it burned to the ground in 1929. Click here to read the original newspaper article.

From an article in the Charlotte Observer dated July 20, 1930: "Near the original site of the fort a few years ago, stood the 135 year-old Burgin Homestead, a landmark the county over. Fire of undetermined orgin destroyed it. There, a large spring of sweet cold water bubbled. The early settlers depended on it for their water supply and it continued in constant use until Old Fort installed a municipal water works system about ten years ago. This famous spring figured in more than one dramatic story when indian attacks made it of supreme importance."

Western North Carolina; A History
A History of the 22nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment
The Civil War Journal and Diary of Joseph Benjamin Burgin
Peggy Silvers, Echoes In The Mist (The Burgin Family 1677 - 1989)
A paper written by Adjutant Graham Daves, New Bern NC, April 9, 1901