Proctor, William B.

Date of birth
Place of birth
Orange County, North Carolina
Date of death
Place of death
Durham, Durham County, North Carolina
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William B. Proctor owned 172 acres of land which is now part of the City of Durham, located on both sides of Chapel Hill Road south of Gunter St.

William B. Proctor was born on August 22, 1822, in Orange County, NC.  His father, Richard Anthony Proctor, was the recipient of a North Carolina land grant and was one of the early settlers of Orange County, NC, in the area that is now the City of Durham.

William B. married Susannah G. Roberts (1818-1887) in 1843.  Shortly after his marriage he purchased a tract of 50 acres of land from his father on the waters of the Third Fork of the New Hope Creek.  There are several other land deeds that show William B. Proctor as the grantee (buyer).  He also purchased 25 acres from his brother Jonathan S., and he acquired a 6 acre tract from his neighbor, Wright House.  He also owned a 90 acre parcel that he called the “Rhodes Tract”, but no deed for this purchase has been found.  His father Richard had purchased land from James W. Rhodes on New Hope Creek in 1840, so this was probably part of that tract. 

William B.’s farmland was not one contiguous parcel of land.  He and his brother Jonathan S. owned land close to their father’s land, and their three farms shared a corner at Wallace and Ward Streets.  William B.’s home place was located at 1917 Chapel Hill Road, and some of his farm land was located there.  He also had farm land as far south as W. Cornwallis Road.  He did not have a family cemetery on his farm.  He and his family are buried in Maplewood Cemetery which is less than a mile from his house.

William B. Proctor was one of the patriarchs of the Town of Durham.  According to the book “History of the Town of Durham”, page 89, see he was instrumental in creating the Trinity United Methodist Church, one of Durham’s earliest churches.  He is included in the list of the Durham families that “composed the body which formed the nucleus out of which the Methodist Church grew”, see   

William B. fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.  He has a military tombstone in Maplewood Cemetery.  See He served in Company K, 3rd North Carolina Cavalry and Lee's Brigade, Barringer's Division, Hampton's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.  See

William B. and his wife Susan had 2 sons and 5 daughters.   His children all lived in Durham except for one daughter.

His daughter Martha Ann (1846-1916) married Henry Malburn Woods in 1870, and they had 2 daughters.  Their farm was located between W. Lakewood Ave. and Wells St. and between Kent St. and Arnette Ave.  (See Durham Deed Book 10 page 217, which mentions the sale of this land to W.G. Vickers.)

William B.’s daughter Nancy Winnefred (1849-1904) married Leroy Gaston Rigsbee in 1869, and they had 3 children.  Their farm was on the west side of Chapel Hill Road. 

William B.’s daughter Susan Jane (1852-1906) lived in the family home at 1917 Chapel Hill Road with her parents until their death in 1887.  Then at age 35 she married Willis V. Dean, a widower from Maryland.  They had no children.  He was a grocer.  After the death of her father, she and her husband became very active in selling real estate, subdividing and selling the land she had inherited from her father.

William B.’s daughter Sarah “Sallie” Frances (1854-1927), married Bartlet Watson Mangum in 1877, and they had 6 children. They lived at 2701 Chapel Hill Road.  Their house is now the Four Square Restaurant. 

William B.’s son David Y. Proctor died fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War.  He enlisted in Company I, North Carolina 1st Infantry Battalion, Junior Reserves.  David Y. is buried in Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, with a military marker.  See

William B.’s other son William Haynes (1857-1921) married Decie Holmes Palmer (1857-1941) in 1882, and they had 4 children.  He was an important Durham businessman.  He ran the “Racket Grocery Store” located in downtown Durham at the corner of Mangum and Parrish, and he built a fine house on McMannen St.  (Durham County Deed Book 4, page 113 and 9/319.)  His grocery store ran many interesting advertisements in the Tobacco Plant Newspaper in the 1880’s, indicating “we invite your attention to the fact that we keep everything needful for man or beast in the heavy or fancy grocery line”.  In the 1903 Durham Directory he was listed as a director of the Fidelity Bank of NC and a member of the Durham Board of Aldermen and Standing Committee for Water and Fire.  After the death of his father, he and his wife became very active in selling real estate, selling the land he and his siblings had inherited from their father.

William B.’s daughter Demarius “Mary” (1861-1934), married Robert Louis Henry in 1883, and they had 5 children.  He was a tobacco buyer for American Tobacco, and they lived in Essex, New Jersey.

William B. Proctor’s name shows up as the grantor (seller) in only two land deeds in Durham County.  In 1880, he and his wife sold to their son William Haynes Proctor 26 acres of land on the east side of Chapel Hill Road south of Huron Ave.  William Haynes immediately sold this land to W. Blackwell, the business partner of Julian S. Carr.  This tract of land ultimately became part of Carr’s Wa Wa Yonda farm.  William B. and his wife also sold their son a half acre on McMannen St. in Durham.  How they obtained this land in downtown Durham is unknown.  William B.’s name appears in many land deeds in Durham County after his death as his heirs sold their inherited land.

William B. Proctor died in 1887, leaving in his will (Durham County Will Book A, page 42) an estate of 172 acres to his wife for her lifetime and to their children after her death.  He left his 90 acre “Rhodes Tract” of land jointly to his 3 children Martha Woods, Sarah Mangum and William Haynes Proctor to be sold and the money equally divided among them.  They did something different.  Martha and William Haynes sold out to their sister Sarah’s husband Bartlet Watson Mangum, and he established his farm on the Rhodes Tract of land. The Mangum’s built a beautiful house at 2701 Chapel Hill Road, and it is still standing today, now the Four Square Restaurant.  William B.  left to his daughter Nancy Winnifred Rigsbee a tract of 15 acres of land to be cut off from the west end of his home tract on the west side of Chapel Hill Road near the farm where she already lived with her husband Leroy Gaston Rigsbee, south of House Ave. on today’s map.  He left his home tract of land containing 58 acres to his daughter Susan Jane Proctor, located at 1917 Chapel Hill Road and extending as far south as Ward Street along what is now James St. on today’s map. 

There is an interesting side story about William B.’s will.  He bequeathed to “my friend Emma L. Vesson, after the death of my wife, 8 acres, provided she remains and waits on my wife during her lifetime and retains a good character”.  Emma Vesson was a 12 year old French girl, living in his house as a domestic servant in the 1880 Census, so at the time she was mentioned in his will she would have been 19 years old.  Perhaps she did not honor her contract to take care of his wife, because this 8 acre tract of land reverted to his heirs and appears in other land deeds as they sold it off.  Vesson Street on today’s map is named for her father Ulysses Vesson, who purchased 44 acres from William B’s son-in-law Leroy Gaston Rigsbee.  

William B. Proctor’s most important legacy to the City of Durham is his house, which was located at 1917 Chapel Hill Road on today’s map.  It was moved to The Bennett Place Historic Site in the 1960’s to represent the cabin where General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to General William T. Sherman ended the Civil War.  The original house where the two generals met for the surrender talks burned in 1921.  Provide a link to the Proctor House at Bennett Place Story.

These historic Durham Landmarks are located on the original farmland of William B. Proctor:

  • Four Square Restaurant is located on the “Rhodes Tract” originally owned by William B. Proctor.    See the info above about the inheritance of Sarah Proctor Mangum. 
  • Fred Roll’s Florist was directly across the street from the Casino at the Lakewood Amusement Park.  For the Durham residents on the streetcars heading for Lakewood Amusement Park in the early 1900’s, the streetcar would first stop at the Casino, at the corner of Chapel Hill Road and Lakewood Avenue, across from Rolls Florist.  Fred Roll purchased this half acre on the south side of Chapel Hill Road from J.T. Christian in 1909, see Durham DB 39 p. 475.  J.T. Christian had purchased the same lot from Willis V. Dean and his wife Susan J. Proctor Dean in Nov. 1900, see DB 23 p. 176.  This lot was part of Susan Jane Proctor’s land that she inherited from her father William B. Proctor. 
  • Wa Wa Yonda Farm:  See the info above about the Inheritance of William Haynes Proctor.  Part of the Wa Wa Yonda Farm’s history is unknown.  It was composed of two tracts, and the Durham Deed Book 12 page 4 indicates that one of the tracts was part of the William B. Proctor farm.  The other tract was obtained from Haywood Andrews, but the history of that second tract is unknown. 
  • Guglhupf Bakery, Café and Restaurant, Foster’s Market Restaurant, and The Refectory Café are all located on the “Rhodes Tract” originally owned by William B. Proctor.
  • The Cow Store, now Taqueria La Vaquita at 2700 Chapel Hill Road, is located on the “Rhodes Tract” originally owned by William B. Proctor. 
  • The Lakewood Park Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Much of the land in this district was owned by William B. Proctor and his brother John S. Proctor.   

The following is a list of the land deeds and plats associated with William B. Proctor’s land: 

Orange County Deed Book 35, page 60, 35/67, 35/69, 36/283.

Durham County Deed Book 1 page 586, 1/588, 5/585, 6/389, 6/486, 11/389, 12/4-5, 23/70, 23/176, 23/260, 23/300, 23/491, 23/589, 25/264, 25/472, 25/474, 25/483, 26/81, 26/184, 26/361, 27/489, 29/15, 26/184, 26/187, 26/361, 28/459, 29/15, 31/146, 31/570, 32/103-104, 34/121-126, 35/123, 35/356, 36/6, 37/351, 39/160, 40/315, 40/397, 42/563, 43/308,44/9, 45/538, 53/475-476, 54/190, 54/283, 56/574, 57/443, 60/384, 60/386-387, 66/313, 67/275, 70/287, 73/636-637,  84/247, 165/405, 168/67.    

Durham County Plat Book 1A pages 46-48, 2/11, 5A/32, 5A/35, 5B/128 (Wa Wa Yonda Farm), 6A/66, 9/16-17 (Rhodes Tract), 13/129, 18/187, 21/2, 23/183, 26/99, 39/112, 42/75, 109/36.

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