Family Matters

Annie Burgin Craig
(North Carolina's First Lady 1913-17)

Anna "Annie" Burgin (#1523713) was born in McDowell County, February 15, 1873. She was one of four children born to Margaret and Joseph (Joe) Benjamin Burgin on The Old "Pioneer" Ben Plantation along the Catawba River. Margaret had five children, but one died in infancy.

It was there, that Annie would spend her childhood and teenage years. And it was there, that Locke Craig would come calling on Joe's beautiful teenage daughter. And it was there, that Annie and Locke would be wed in November of 1891.

Locke Craig, Scottish in ancestry, was born August 16, 1860, in Bertie County, North Carolina. He was the son of Andrew Murdock Craig, scholary Baptist minister, and Clarissa Rebecca Craig. At the time of their marriage Locke was one of the most successful and well-known lawyers in Western North Carolina.

Following their marriage, Locke and Annie lived in Asheville, where three of their four sons were born. Rearing her sons with good humor and fun, Annie Craig enjoyed her children, encouraged their interests in sports, and entertained her friends.

In 1898, Locke Craig was elected as a Legislator from Buncombe County by the Democratic Party by a majority of over seven hundred. This was quite a victory, considering that the Republican party had been in power in that county preceding Craig's election. He was again elected from Buncombe to the State Legislature by an increasing majority in 1900.

Before entering the state legislature Locke was Democratic elector at large in the national presidential conventions. A Jeffersonian Democrat, Craig was elected Governor in 1912. Woodrow Wilson, one time resident of Wilmington, NC and student at Davidson, was elected president at the same time Craig became governor.

Annie enjoyed the entertaining that was expected of her when she moved into the Executive Mansion. She brought her innate good nature to that task as well. A personable woman, Mrs. Craig was liked by everyone she met. She was a good listener and knew how to make people feel at ease. As was always the case, Raleigh provided lavish entertainments for Locke Craig's inauguration. Numerous friends and family from western North Carolina accompanied the Craigs to the capital city.

Mrs. Josephus Daniels hosted a luncheon for Annie Craig and her guests to introduce her to Raliegh and the wives of members of the General Assembly.

The Craig's youngest son, Locke Jr., was born in the Executive Mansion, November 11, 1914. Annie Craig was devoted to her sons. In an interview, her son George, who subsequently served as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly and practiced law in Asheville, recounted the time that his mother had nursed him back to health in the Executive mansion. He suffered for fourteen weeks with typhoid fever.

Being a native of Asheville, Craig knew of the road problem in this end of the state from first hand experience. When he became governor in 1913 one of his first acts was to designate two days in November of that year as "Good Road Days". These two days were legal holidays on which every able-bodied citizen of the Old North State was urged to put on some work clothes and work on the Highways where they lived.

The Legislature of 1918 established the State Highway Commission. The members of the first Commission comprised Governor Craig, Chairman, W. C. Riddick, T. F. Hickerson, Bennehan Camerech, E. C. Duncan, and Guy V. Roberts, with Joseph Hyde Pratt as Secretary and W. S. Fallis, the State Highway Engineer. The movement for better roads swept the state and Craig became known as "The good roads Governor".

Governor Craig sponsored liberal legislation in all fields. In Education he was an advocate of consolidating school districts, longer terms and compulsory attendance. His retirement from office came on the eve of this country's entry into World War I. He survived the war years, dying June 9, 1925.

After their time at the mansion, the Craigs moved back to Asheville, where they built a new home on their property on the Swannanoa River. There, Mrs. Craig was able to resume her life with friends and family.

Annie Craig enjoyed playing bridge, and from all reports, was a skilled and competitive player. She played the game with friends until she moved into a nursing home the year before she died. A member of the First Presbyterian Church, the Current Literature Club, and other notable organizations, Mrs. Craig was a genuine lover of people. All who met her were drawn to this charming caring woman. Annie died in Asheville on November 6, 1955. About six weeks before she died, she suffered a stroke from which she never recovered. Annie Burgin Craig was buried beside her husband in Riverside Cemetery in Asheville.

Sources: North Carolina First Ladies 1891-2001
                North Carolina Governors, published in 1958.
                Memoirs and Speeches of Locke Craig, published in 1923
                Special thanks to Locke Craig, grandson of Gov. Locke Craig