|Birth: ||Oct. 10, 1836|
North Carolina, USA
|Death: ||Mar. 15, 1906|
North Carolina, USA
JOHN CUTHBERTSON SIKES was a son of Enoch and Hannah Cuthbertson Sikes, among the early pioneers who first settled that area of old Anson County that in 1842 became Union County. He was born on his father’s farm situated near the present town of Wingate. Suffering the loss of both of his parents in his youth, he developed sound, self-reliant characteristics that clung to him throughout his life, “a quiet, steady boy, modest, reliable and industrious,” quoted his obituary. His schooling was limited to the one-room country schools of the time.
On December 1, 1856, at the age of twenty, he was married to seventeen-year-old Miss Matilda Jane Austin, a daughter of Culpepper Austin and Hester Curlee Austin of Union County. They soon had their first two children, Vernon in 1858 and Leonidas in 1861. In March 1863, John C. Sikes enlisted in the Confederate Army in Captain M. T. McCauley’s Monroe Heavy Artillery, Company C of the Tenth Battalion, First North Carolina Artillery. While stationed at Fort Caswell on the North Carolina coast near Wilmington, he became dangerously ill. Upon receiving word, his wife Jane, who had an innate ability for nursing the sick, left the children in the care of a family servant and made the long trip to Wilmington to be with her husband. Upon her return home, she found that the two boys had died of diphtheria and had been buried in the little family cemetery on the Sikes farm. The Negro slave who had been left in charge and lovingly nursed the boys during their illness afterward died of the disease herself. What devastating news to share with her soldier husband.
Following the loss of their first two children in 1863, John and Jane Sikes began a new family, having a daughter and seven more sons, namely: Hester Dora in 1866, Enoch Walter in 1868, Charles Culpepper “Cull” in 1870, Vernon Dixon “Dick” in 1873, Vann in 1875, Claude in 1877, John Cuthbertson, Jr. in 1880 and Oscar Jennings in 1883. Six of the sons – Claude died in his youth after being struck by lightning while working on the farm – achieved unusual degrees of prominence in their varied occupations.
About 1883, John C. Sikes left the old family farm near Waxhaw and bought his well-known mill site along Rocky River in the northern part of the county. It was here he built a dam across the river and operated a large water-powered gristmill. Sikes Mill and the Sikes plantation became known far and wide for its bountiful agricultural operation and great hospitality. It is from this property and family that today’s Sikes Mill Road, a major state highway artery, derived its name in the 1980s.
John C. Sikes had, by middle age, built a comfortable fortune and had become one of the most prominent and respected men in the county. He ran for sheriff in 1884, but was narrowly defeated. He served Union County in the capacity of county commissioner and later as road commissioner for Monroe Township and was an officer in his church. A history of the time spoke of him as “a man of ripe judgment, conservative habits of thought and unsurpassed honesty of purpose.”
Though deprived of higher education himself, the father gave all of his children splendid opportunities to improve themselves. He sent four sons to Wake Forest College, others to Wingate College. The oldest, Walter, became dean at Wake-Forest and president of two well-known institutions in South Carolina – Coker College in Hartsville and Clemson University at Clemson. Two sons, John and Oscar, became prominent lawyers; two, Cull and Dick, successful businessmen; and Vann was an outstanding farmer. Additionally, Walter served in the North Carolina Senate, John in the North Carolina House of Representatives, Dick and John both as mayor of Monroe, Oscar as mayor of Albemarle and Vann as president of the Union County Farmers Association. The elder Sikes believed strongly in education, particularly that which was associated with the Baptist faith. He was one of the organizers of nearby Wingate College in 1896 and served on its first board of trustees. Since 1996, it has been known as Wingate University. The athletic building, erected in 1960, was named in honor of the Sikes and Sanders families.
In 1899, with advancing age, John and Jane Sikes moved from the farm into a house in Monroe to be near their children. On March 15, 1906, at the age of 69, John Cuthbertson Sikes died at his Monroe home. His funeral was held at First Baptist Church in Monroe, of which he was then a member. An obituary in the Monroe Journal recorded, “A very large gathering of people, both from the town and county, were present to pay their respects to the memory of the dead man. The several Baptist pastors of the county were present, and talks were made by Rev. D. M. Austin of Charlotte and Rev. J. A. Bivens.” It further said, “No man ever treated more kindly those about him, and when a family came to him as tenants they often left as landlords… He was not a showy man, but for real worth, kindness of heart, honesty of purpose and sunny character, he had no superior.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” St. John 3:16
Contributed by Robert Allison Ragan, his great grandson
Enoch Sikes (1794 - 1844)
Hannah Cuthbertson Sikes (1798 - 1853)
Matilda Jane Austin Sikes (1839 - 1909)*
Vernon Joshua Sikes (1858 - 1863)*
Leonades Culpepper Sikes (1861 - 1863)*
Hester Dora Sikes Sanders (1866 - 1944)*
Enoch Walter Sikes (1868 - 1941)*
Charles Culpepper Sikes (1870 - 1927)*
Vernon Dixon Sikes (1873 - 1948)*
Vann Sikes (1875 - 1923)*
Claude Sikes (1877 - 1897)*
John Cuthbertson Sikes (1880 - 1938)*
Oscar Jennings Sikes (1883 - 1969)*
Margaret Sikes Austin (1828 - 1885)*
Mary Margaret Sikes Griffin (1829 - 1885)*
Darling Frank Sykes (1830 - 1864)*
Eliza Sikes Kuck (1835 - 1897)*
John Cuthbertson Sikes (1836 - 1906)
Thomas Franklin Sikes (1839 - 1899)*
North Carolina, USA
Maintained by: Robert Ragan
Originally Created by: DSM
Record added: Feb 07, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 24472129