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date: 15 December 2019

Kitchin, William Hodgelocked

(22 December 1837–02 February 1901)
  • H. Larry Ingle

Extract

Kitchin, William Hodge (22 December 1837–02 February 1901), lawyer and politician, was born in Lauderdale County, Alabama, the son of Boas Kitchin and Arabella Smith, planters. Kitchin grew up in his parents’ hometown of Scotland Neck in Halifax County, North Carolina, in the heart of the state’s black belt, after they moved back from Alabama in 1841. The family struggled during the recession in the 1840s but retained their slaves. At twenty-two Kitchin matriculated at Emory and Henry, a Methodist college in southwestern Virginia, but he did not graduate because the Civil War intervened. He promptly enlisted, rising to captain, a rank “Cap’n Buck” prized all his life. On furlough in 1863 he married Maria Figus Arrington of a prominent local family; they had eleven children, including two congressmen (one also a governor), a college president (Thurman D. Kitchin of Wake Forest College), and a state senator. Returning to the Army of Northern Virginia, the newlywed was wounded and captured at Spotsylvania Courthouse in May 1864. Always determined and strong-willed, he refused to take the oath of allegiance at the war’s end and remained in federal custody until mid-June 1865. Physically domineering, fast-tempered, and combatant, Kitchin modestly described himself as a military Baptist, a convenient stance in a region where Baptists outnumbered other denominations. In politics, he cultivated his seemingly instinctive knack for bombast and hurled religion and race, sometimes both together, at enemies....

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