All in the Family could have been the title of a program about builders of many houses along Fayetteville Road, Rockingham, presented Monday night for the Richmond County Historical Society at Rockingham City Hall.
May MacCallum told about the families who built the houses and their relationships. The program was the result of genealogy work concerning the families. Richmond County Genealogy is a function of the historical society.
The Leaks, Steeles and Coles were the leading textile manufacturers in the Rockingham area in the 1800s and 1900s.
Many had common kinship with one central relative, Judith Moseley Leak Cole Steele (1789-1868).
While the textile mills are all gone, the family legacies live on in street names and, of course, the Cole Foundation, which MacCallum said has been a blessing to Richmond County.
The Robert J. Steele II house at 816 Fayetteville Road is said to be the oldest one in Rockingham, the building of which began in 1838 and finished in 1840. It was built to attract his brother’s widow, Judith Moseley Leak Cole Steele to marry him.
Other houses include:
~ 613 Fayetteville Road, the Dr. Robert J. Steele III house.
~621 Fayetteville Road, the Walter Leak Steele house.
~704 Fayetteville Road, the Walter Francis Leak house.
~ 705 Fayetteville Road, the Robert Leak Steele Sr. house.
~ 801 Fayetteville Road, the Dr. Robert Leak Steele Cole house..
~ 806 Fayetteville Road, the William Bonaparte Cole II house. W. B. Cole II was the father of Robert Little Cole and Elizabeth Cole, both of whom established the Cole Foundation for the benefit of Richmond County.
~ 405 East Washington Street, the John Wall Leak house, now the Leak-Wall House owned by the Richmond County Historical Society.
Judith Moseley Leak Cole Steele was married three times. She first married William Terry Cole. After his death, she married Thomas Steele. When he died, she married his brother, Robert J. Steele II.
The Steele dynasty in Richmond County began when Robert Johnson Steele, a British soldier fighting in the Revolutionary War against Americans was wounded and left for dead by his British comrades.
He was nursed back to health by an American family, settled in the Mangum area of Richmond County and prospered. Steele�s Township is named in his honor.
Through these marriages and children by each husband, the progeny of Judith M. L. C. Steele connect even to the Little family in northern Richmond County, founders of the Little�s Mill Community.
Among the descendants were John Wall Leak and Ann Cole Leak, first cousins who married. The family built the Leak-Wall House. John Wall Leak was the son of William Pickett Leak , who married a Wall. Ann Cole Leak was the daughter of Walter Francis Leak who married Mary Cole.
The fathers of the cousins were the brothers of Judith M.L.C. Steele thereby tying together all the family names.
Each of the houses has its own history through the families which built and occupied them.
Untangling the intricate webs of the family relationships is part of the work done in genealogy by the committee at the Leak-Wall House office.
The recent work tying them all together was the subject of the program developed while assisting Robert Leak Steele Cole III of Brevard trace his ancestry in Rockingham.
With the donation of the family history he possessed, each such work adds to the genealogy collection of the historical society which welcomes family and church histories, and those of other institutions, for its archives.
More about these families and their houses are available in Society publications No Ordinary Lives, and Mixed Blessings.