John Robert Baggett
In the person of .John Robert Baggett, Lillington possesses a citizen who has contributed largely to its wealth of character and purpose, and who, because of a trained mind and pronounced professional tendencies, has become a necessary factor in the life of the community. He has been one of the fore- casters of the present prosperity of Lillington, where he has been engaged in the practice of law: since 1908, and as far as has lain in his power has lent his hands and brain in aid of a realization, of his faith.
Mr. Baggett was born October 1, 1871, in Sampson County, North Carolina, and is a son of Silas E. and Winifred (Wilson) Baggett. He traces his ancestry on his father's side back to Wales, whence came five members of the family long prior to the Revolution and settled first in the settlement at Jamestown, colony of Virginia. Members of the family took part in the French and Indian wars, after which some of the name went to the newly-opened western reserve of Ohio. Five members fought as soldiers during the American Revolution, in which three met their death, one of the survivors being the direct ancestor of Mr. Baggett. Two of the members of this family fought as soldiers in the Mexican war and were killed, and Mr. Baggett's physician brother, Doctor Baggett, saw service in the World war as a member of the Medical Corps.
Silas E. Baggett was born in Sampson County, where as a young man he engaged in farming and teaching school, and at the first call for troops during the War Between the States joined the first infantry company raised in Sampson County. He took part in a number of engagements, including Bull Run, Cold Harbor and Gettysburg, was wounded in action, and at one time served as orderly under Gen, Robert E. Lee, the great Confederate leader. At the completion of the war he returned to Sampson County where he again took up teaching and farming, but eventually gave up the schoolroom to turn his attention to mercantile pursuits, in which he continued to be engaged until his death in May, 1904, Mrs. Baggett surviving him until February,1905.
John Robert Baggett was reared and educated in Sampson County, where he attended the Salemburg school, and then entered the Glencoe High School, from which he was graduated in' 1896. Mr. Baggett then taught school during the summer months, and in the fall entered the University of North Carolina, from which he was duly graduated with his law degree. However, he was not as yet ready to enter upon his professional labors as a legist, and after teaching at Salemburg for one year became associated with James A. Campbell, D. D., president of the Buies Creek Academy, with whom he remained: for ten years as a professor. He then re-entered' the State University, from which he was graduated in 1908; and since then has been engaged in practice at Lillington, where he has built up a .splendid clientele in general civil and criminal law, his offices being located in the McKay Building. His pleasant home is situated on Front Street. Mr. Baggett has reached a high position among the leading members of his profession in this section, and is a valued member of the American Bar Association, the North Carolina Bar Association and the Harnett County Bar Association. Fraternally he is a thirty-second degree Mason and a member of the Junior Order United American Mechanics, and also belongs to the Lions Club, of which he is now president. In youth he joined the Baptist Church, and for thirty-two years has been the teacher of the Men's class in the Sunday School. Politically a democrat, Mr. Baggett has been one of the most active and influential men of his party in Harnett County, and particularly at Lillington, where he served as mayor for six years. During his term of office he contributed materially to the welfare and development of his community, for it was at this time that the sewage, water and light systems were installed, that new school buildings were erected, and he promoted the Atlantic & Western Railroad, running from Sanford to Lillington, thus opening up a new expanse of territory. Mr. Baggett has been very prominent in educational work of all kinds. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Lillington High School since 1912. First elected to the State Senate in 1911, in 1923 he was again sent to that body, and he championed the bill that created the Caswell Training School for the Feeble-Minded of North Carolina and was. appointed a member of the Board of Trustees thereof, serving until 1924. He likewise served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Central Hospital, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina School for the Blind. He takes an earnest interest in current events and in the public enterprises of the community and county, and is faithful to his duties as a citizen.
On September 8, 1901, Mr. Baggett was united in marriage with Miss Allene Keeter, a daughter of Mont and Sarah (Keeter) Keeter, the latter a native of Cleveland County, North Carolina. Mr. Keeter, who was born in Halifax County, this state, served as a Confederate soldier during the war between the South and the North, at the close of which struggle he returned to his farming interests in Halifax County and was engaged therein during the remainder of his life.
To Mr. and Mrs. Baggett there have been born the following children: Venable, who is engaged in raising cattle in Harnett County; Miriam, residing with her parents; John Robert, Jr., ; Winifred; Margaret; Joseph W.; Edna Blanche; Lucy; and Keeter, who died in February, 1914, when four years of age.
North Carolina: Rebuilding an Ancient Commonwealth, published in 1928 by the American Historical Society, Inc., Chicago and New York.