The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

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August 13, 2007

Josiah and Laura Pender lived adventurous lives

Mary people in Edgecombe County are familiar with the Pender family name and usually associate it with William Dorsey Pender who was a young Civil War general who died after being wounded at Gettysburg. In fact, Pender County was named in his honor.

But Dorsey was just one of many Penders that populated our county from the late 1700s. Dorsey had numerous cousins that were also involved in local history and in the Civil War.

Josiah Pender, a cousin of Gen. Dorsey Pender and son of local merchant Solomon Pender, led the capture of Fort Macon in April 1861, without authority from the governor. Pender had raised his own company of men knows as the Beaufort Harbor Guards.

He had been operating the Atlantic House, a hotel on the waterfront in Beaufort at the beginning of the war. When the union occupied the coast, Pender lost his business. He was later assigned to Fort Macon as part of the 10th NC regiment. His wife Maria was ill and he requested leave. He was denied leave, but according to records, he returned to Beaufort to care for her. His wife died in December 1861. He was dishonorably discharged from the Confederate Army for being absent without leave and received his discharge on the day of her funeral.

He brought most of his nine children home to Tarboro for relatives to look after them. He became reacquainted with a cousin, Laura Melvina Pender. Laura was the daughter of Louis Pender, a cousin of Josiah. Perhaps he needed a wife to help care for the children and perhaps he fell in love with the young Laura. He wrote a poem to show his appreciation for her using her name as the first letter of each line.

Lo? An apparition of delight

As first she gleamed upon my sight

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