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Grandma Sally’s ancestors immigrated to the American colonies from Switzerland. The surname was originally spelled "Pfeiffer." From the little research I’ve done, it seems that the Pfeiffers from Switzerland allowed the change in spelling to become "Phifer"—most likely done by the Land Grant Office at the time of their arrival in the colonies. As was often the case, names were spelled by sound. Those Pfeiffers immigrating from Germany retained the original spelling. Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, N.C., was named in honor of Henry & Annie Merner Pfeiffer of New York City because they contributed a large sum of money to the Junior College. Later Henry’s brother, Gustavus & Louise Pfeiffer, made a large contribution. This Pfeiffer family seems to have immigrated from Germany. More research is needed to determine whether or not there is a link between this family and the one immigrating from Switzerland. The close proximity of Switzerland to Germany makes this assumption very reasonable. That they are the same family would also help to explain why Pfeiffers in New York would contribute such a large sum of money to a small college located near the area in North Carolina where the Phifers settled.


Generation # 1

HANS PFEIFFER – Grandma Sally’s great, great, great, great, great grandfather

Born: around 1635 in Switzerland

Married: Elsbeth Haegler


Generation # 2

LEONHARD PFEIFFER – Grandma Sally’s great, great, great, great grandfather

Born: 12/18/1655 in Bretzwill, Switzerland

Married: Brigitta Hanner

Died: 5/24/1730 in Bretzwill, Switzerland


Generation # 3

HANS JAKOB PFEIFFER – Grandma Sally’s great, great, great grandfather

Born: 7/19/1685 in Rumlinger, Switzerland

Married: Agnes Meschinger

Died: after 1728 in Bruglinger, Bei Basel, Switzerland


Generation # 4

JACOB HANS PFEIFFER Grandma Sally’s great, great grandfather

Born: 1711 in Hoeffelfinger, Basel, Switzerland

Married: Jacob married three times. He married his 3rd wife, Anna Margretha Shaffner,

on 11/9/1762 in Hoeffelfinger.

Profession: Lace Maker

Died: 1790 in North Carolina

ANNA MARGRETHA SHAFFNER – Grandma Sally’s great, great


Born: 1/17/1733 in Anwil, B-land, Switzerland

Died: before 1790 in Rowan County, N.C.

Jacob’s profession in Switzerland was lace maker. Just to give you an idea of the importance of lace during the 17th and early 18th centuries in Europe, I’ll quote a website entitled "Lace & Lacemaking in the 17th Century Netherlands."

"Lace was more than just a sumptuous and highly coveted luxury, affordable by only the privileged and well-born. It was also the product of an industry that provided a living to thousands of workers. It formed a considerable portion of the revenue of many nations, and played a role in history that goes largely unrecognized and unmarked today."

A younger brother, Martin Pfeiffer, preceded Jacob to America; then, wrote home to Switzerland to encourage Jacob to join him. Jacob’s 3rd wife, Anna Margretha, came with him to America. His children by his 1st and 2nd wives remained in Switzerland.




Born: 8/28/1763 in Hoeffelfinger, Basel, Switzerland

Married: George Drye in North Carolina

Died: 10/19/1855 in Casey, Kentucky


Born: 6/11/1765 in Hoeffelfinger, Basel, Switzerland


Born: 12/14/1766 in Hoeffelfinger, Basel, Switzerland


Born: 5/4/1768 in Hoeffelfinger, Basel, Switzerland

Married: Henry Young in 1786

Died: 2/22/1846 in Donnellson, Montgomery County, Illinois


Born: 1770 – probably in Rowan County, N.C.


More information on Frederick Phifer may be found below.


Born: 1775 in Mecklenburg County, N.C.


Born: 3/16/1778 – probably in Rowan County, maybe Mecklenburg County, N.C.

Died: 1852

Generation # 5


FREDERICK PHIFER – Grandma Sally’s great grandfather

Born: around 1773 - most likely in Rowan County, N.C.

Married: Rosanna _______

Died: before 1870 in Union County, N.C.

ROSANNA ____________ - Grandma Sally’s great grandmother

The 1790 U.S. Federal Census for Mecklenburg County, N.C. reveals a cluster of Phifers: Colonel Caleb Phifer, Captain Martin Phifer, Henry Phifer, Martin Phifer, Sr., Jack Phifer, & George Phifer. It is reasonable to assume that Martin Phifer, Sr. is the brother of Jacob who encouraged him to immigrate to the colonies. Frederick settled in Union County, N.C.




Born: around 1812


Born: around 1816


Born: around 1819


Born: around 1821


See below for more information of Milas R. Phifer.



Born: around 1829

Source for the above information: Steve A. Pritchett in Medford, Oregon

Generation # 6

***MILAS R. PHIFER – Grandma Sally’s paternal grandfather

Born: around 1823

Married: Penelope Caudle, daughter of Jesse and Abigail Caudle.

Died: before 1880

PENELOPE CAUDLE – Grandma Sally’s paternal grandmother

Born: around 1824 in Anson County, N.C.

Died: around 1882 in Union County, N.C.

Milas & Penelope married around 1847. The 1850 Census lists them living next door to Milas’ father, Frederick.

1850 U.S. Federal Census listing Milas & Penelope with their 2 children, Allen & Jane, living in Union County.


1860 U.S. Federal Census for Union County, N.C.

Milas and Penelope continue to live next door to Frederick and his daughter, Jane.

The remaining children have set up their own homes and families. Jane appears to have never married. In 1870, we find her farming on her own, still living next door to her brother, Milas. Frederick has returned to spirit.

1870 U.S. Federal Census for Union County, N.C. listing Milas & Penelope Phifer with their 8 children in New Salem Township.


By 1880, Milas R. has returned to spirit and Penelope continues to live on the farm with her 3 youngest sons, who do the farming.

1880 U.S. Federal Census – New Salem, Union County, N.C.


By 1900, Jesse Fulton is farming in Marshville, N.C. Milas A. moved to Rockingham, and William T. moved to Brown Marsh in Bladen County, N.C. No Phifers are listed as living in New Salem, N.C. by the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.





Born: 2/1848

Married: Ellen R. ______, born in 3/1854

Profession: Farmer

Source: 1900 U.S. Federal Census, page 3 for Marshville


Born: around 1850


See below for additional information on Cornelius Ramsey Phifer.



Born: around 1854


Born: 3/2/1859

Married: Louvincey Covington in Rockingham, N.C.

Died: 12/19/1939

Source: N.C. Death Collection 1908-1996


Marshall F. Phifer moved to Rockingham where he is listed on the 1900 U.S. Federal Census as a Grocery Merchant. His wife, Louvincey remains at home while their daughter, Ada, works in the cotton mill as a weaver. Ada is 18 years of age. Marshall’s son, Lonner (handwriting difficult to read), works in the grocery store with his father. The two younger children are in school. Marshall lived within the town limits.

Source: Pg. 14, District 88 of Rockingham, 1900 Census





Born: 1/1861

Married: "Lizzie A." - Elizabeth Anna ________, born 10/1861

Profession: Farmer

Source: 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Marshville, N.C. – page 5




Born: 3/21/1864 in New Salem, Union County, N.C.

Married: Mary Catherine Lee on 11/8/1882 in Union County

Source: N.C. Marriage Collection 1741-2000

Died: 8/4/1929 in Charlotte, N.C.

Source: Family Data Collection – Deaths


Milas Alexander (Alex) moved to Rockingham where he worked as a machinist. His wife Mary Catherine, born March 1865, remained at home with their 3 youngest children. Two daughters, Flora – age 14 and Rosemary (handwriting difficult to read) – age 12, work in the cotton mill as spinsters. Milas and Mary Catherine live in the Pee Dee Mill Village, where they rent a house. Son, Arthur – age 10, is in school.

Source: Pg. 33 – 1900 U.S. Federal Census for area near Rockingham lying South and East of Hedgecock Creek.



Born: around 1866

Married: Fannie E. _________

Profession: Retail Sales

Died: 9/12/1938 in Bladen County, N.C.

Source: N.C. State Archives, N.C. Deaths, 1908-1967


William T. moved to Brown Marsh in Bladen County, N.C. where he worked in Retail Sales, first in a retail store, then as a traveling salesman with groceries.

Sources: Pg. 1 – 1910 U.S. Federal Census for Brown Marsh, Bladen

County, N.C. Also Pg. 4 in the 1920 Census for same location.

Generation # 7

CORNELUIS RAMSEY (DOCK) PHIFER – Grandma Sally’s father

Born: around 1852 in Union County, N.C.

Married: Margaret E. Griffin on 12/17/1872 in Union County.

Profession: Farmer

MARGARET E. GRIFFIN – Grandma Sally’s mother

Born: 1/1854 to William L. & Mary (Polly) L. Davis Griffin


1860 U.S. Federal Census listing Margaret E. at home in Union County with her parents and siblings.


The only photo we have of Cornelius and Margaret Phifer. All of Grandma Sally’s photos burned with the house in 1934.


1880 U.S. Federal Census listing Dock & Margaret with their two oldest children, Sarah Ellen (age 3) and Hattie (age 1 ½ ), living in New Salem, Union County, N.C.


Dock farmed his land for some years after their marriage. A fire at the U.S. Commerce Department on 1/10/1921 destroyed all but a few segments of the 1890 U.S. Federal Census for North Carolina. This loss creates a break in the life histories that can be gleaned from census reports. At some point between 1880 and 1900, Dock and Margaret moved their family to Rockingham, N.C. What were the circumstances that motivated them to leave the fresh air life on the farm and go to work in a cotton mill where their lungs and clothes were coated with cotton dust daily? Another mystery waiting to be solved.

We know that reconstruction after the Civil War meant a focus on building a railroad, rather than restoring the plank roads that required constant repairs. The railroad ran along Highway 74 through Polkton/Peachland. Perhaps the lure of a faster means of travel and of new places to be explored enticed several members of the Phifer and Caudle families to move to Rockingham. For whatever reason, Cornelius and Margaret moved their family to Rockingham between 1880 and 1900. Cornelius went to work in Great Falls Cotton Mill.

In approximately 1885, James Carson (Grandpa Jim) was removed from the Moore family home. By age 12, he was employed in the Great Falls Cotton Mills. As it turns out, he was not alone in Rockingham. Cornelius’ mother, Penelope Caudle, was the daughter of Jesse & Abigail Caudle. Jesse was the son of Absalom Caudle, Sr. and the brother of Richard Caudle, James Carson’s grandfather. Thereby, Cornelius Phifer was Grandpa Jim’s 2nd cousin.

Great Falls Cotton Mill was located in Rockingham. Although burned during the Civil War, it was rebuilt in 1869 and remained in operation until 1972, when it burned again. A mill village, Pee Dee Village, was also located in Rockingham. With industrialization came the advent of a new form of slavery. Life in the mill villages was often controlled by the mill officials. Houses were rented to employees of the mill, thus not only were employees paid low wages; they also had to return a portion of those wages to the mill in the form of rent. (See the chapter entitled "James Carson Caudle" for additional details on the wages, hours, and lack of privileges afforded the cotton mill employees.) Child labor laws were ignored. The air the workers breathed coated their lungs in cotton dust, frequently resulting in lung disease. There were no standards of safety for the employees.

In 1908, the Office of the National Child Labor Committee investigated child labor in the cotton mills of N.C. At that time, the N.C. Child Labor Law was as follows:

Age Limit for Employment in Factories, 13 years.

In Apprenticeship Capacity, 12 years.

Age Limit for Night Work, 14 years.

Hours of Labor for Children Under 18, 66 Per Week

Employment Certificates, Written Statements of Parent or Guardian.

Employers Must "Knowingly and Willfully" Violate this Law Before They Can Be Convicted.

No Factory Inspection, Commissioner of Labor has no Authority to Enter a Factory.

No Persecutions Under the Law.


According to the report, the vast majority of mill officials were indifferent to the investigation and unconscious of anything either wrong or criminal in the employment of children.

Source: "Child Labor in the Carolinas" by Rev. A.E. Seddon, A.H. Ulm, & Lewis W. Hine.

"This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may used freely by individuals for research, teaching, and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text."

In reading through the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Federal Census reports for the Pee Dee Mill Village, I saw no resident who worked outside of the mill. Their lives were locked into the circle of working for the mill for low wages while paying the mill to live in the highly controlled village, with no opportunity or time to seek outside employment and perhaps a way to get out of the vicious cycle. Of course, some manage to so, but the majority become enslaved to this pattern of life.

Reading the 1900 U.S. Federal Census reports for Rockingham, N.C. gives insight into the lives of residents during and following reconstruction of Richmond, Anson, and other surrounding counties after the Civil War. Working in the cotton mill and living in the mill village was limited to whites. Blacks, now freed from slavery, worked on the farms, as carpenters, brick masons, and on the railroad. The contrast between life in the village mill and in the surrounding countryside was striking.

Because the 1890 census reports burned, we cannot know with whom James Carson lived during the years he worked in Great Falls Cotton Mills. By 1900, James and Cornelius’ daughter, Sarah Ellen, had married and were back in Anson County on the Richard Caudle family farm. It is obvious that James and Sarah Ellen were living in close proximity while in Rockingham, where they got to know each other as young adults.

1900 U.S. Federal Census for Lanesboro, Anson County, N.C. - James is listed as owning the farm on which he lives. He is 28 years old; Sarah is 24.

The 1900 census reveals several members of the Phifer and Caudle families had moved from Anson and Union Counties to Rockingham.

#1. Wiley & Wincy Caudle, with their daughter Gracie. Wiley and his family lived in the Pee Dee Mill Village in Rockingham. Wiley worked in Great Falls Mill as a Weaver, his 13 year old daughter was a spinner. Wiley later returned to the Deep Springs community in Anson County, where he resumed the life of a productive farmer and citizen. Source: Page 32, District 88, Rockingham 1900 census.

#2. Cornelius’ daughter, Hattie Ann, and her husband, Zeb Vance Ridenhour, lived in the Pee Dee Mill Village. Zeb worked in Great Falls Mill as a weaver; Hattie stayed at home with their young daughter.

It is believed that Hattie and Zeb moved to Charlotte by 1905, then to Georgia; however, this needs further research and verification.

Source: Page 12, District 89, Rockingham 1900 census.

#3. Cornelius Ramsey Phifer worked in Great Falls Mill as a dray man, but lived outside the mill village in a nearby area. His wife, Margaret, stayed at home with the children, Jane E. (age 12) and Ola E. (age 7) who were attending school. There is no evidence that Cornelius ever allowed his daughters or his wife to work in the mill. The house in which the family lived was rented. All members of the family could read and write. Source: Page 35, District 88, Rockingham 1900 census.

NOTE: A dray = a vehicle used to haul goods.

The 1910 U.S. Federal Census lists Cornelius and Margaret still living in Rockingham. Cornelius, at age 56, continues to work in the mill as a bailer. They continue to rent a house outside the mill village. Cornelius’ daughter, Ola E. (age 18), her husband, Vander E. Thomas (age 19), and son, Clayton L. (age 6 months) live in the home. Vander works as a mattress maker for a mattress shop in Rockingham. Ola and her mother, Margaret, are at home with the baby.

Source: Page 30, District 105, Rockingham 1910 census

#4. Jesse F. Caudle and his wife, Thetus, are listed in the 1900 census as living in Rockingham where Jesse is a furniture merchant. Jesse F. is the son of Allen Caudle and grandson of Jesse Caudle (son of Absalom and brother to Richard, grandfather of James Carson Caudle). Jesse F. and James Carson were 2nd cousins.

#5. James B. Caudle, son of Ambrose Caudle, may be the same person listed in the 1900 census as living in Rockingham with his wife, Jane (born 3/1860). The 1900 census lists James B. Caudle as born in 9/1853, which differs about 3 years from an earlier census report. The exact birth date is not known. James B. is listed as working as a dry goods merchant.

Source: Page 30, District 88, Rockingham 1900 census

Children of Cornelius & Margaret Griffin Phifer

(a) Sarah Ellen Phifer

Born: 1/18/1877 in New Salem, Union County, N.C.

Married: James Carson Caudle on 7/17/1895

Died: 4/25/1961 in Anson County, N.C.

Buried: Caudle-Covington Cemetery, Polkton-Peachland Road, Anson County, N.C.


See chapter entitled "James Carson Caudle" for more information on

Sarah Ellen Phifer.


(b) Hattie Ann Phifer

Born: 11/10/1878 in New Salem, Union County, N.C.

Married: Zeb Vance Ridenhour on 8/15/1894 in Rockingham, N.C.

Died: 1/28/1937 in Charlotte, N.C. of a cerebral hemorrhage

Buried: Oaklawn Cemetery, Charlotte, N.C.

Source: Death Certificate as seen by Alan Thomas,


1900 U.S. Federal Census, Page 12, District 89, Rockingham, N.C.


The Ridenhour family history has been traced back to 1590 in France. The French spelling of the surname was "Reutenauer." Zeb Vance was born on 4/10/1876 in North Carolina to Davidson Giles & Eliza Jane Andrew Ridenhour. Zeb died on 8/26/1918 in Charlotte, N.C. and is buried at Oaklawn Cemetery with Hattie. He was a Woodsman of the World. Source: Alan Thomas’ web site.

(c) Jane E. Phifer

Born: 11/1887

(d) Ola E. Phifer

Born: 6/1893

Married: Vander E. Thomas


1910 U.S. Federal Census, Page 30, District 105, Rockingham, N.C.


(e) Genny Phifer


Married: ______ Welsh

Living Caudle family members remember Genny visiting her sister, Grandma Sally, but know only that she lived in Ellerbe, Richmond County, N.C.



The Caudles of Anson County, NC

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