William Robertson Boggs was born in 1829 in Augusta, Georgia. He graduated from West Point in 1853, third in his class and began a career in army ordnance. When Georgia seceded from the Union in 1861, he resigned his commission and joined the Confederate army. His early years were spent designing and building fortifications in Charleston, Georgia and Florida.
In the spring of 1863, he was assigned to General Kirby Smith’s Trans-Mississippi Department. Smith made him his chief of staff and promoted him to brigadier general. In that role he played a major part in the surrender of the last Confederate troops of the war at Tupelo, Mississippi in May, 1865.
After the war, he remained west of the Mississippi where he turned his engineering skills to railroad building. In 1875, he was appointed Professor of Mechanics at the Virginia Mechanical College (now VPI) in Blacksburg. In 1881, after a nasty internal political struggle at the school, he was dismissed.
By then, his daughter Elizabeth had married William Barrett Taylor, half of the Taylor Brothers Tobacco Company, so Boggs moved to Winston-Salem, built a house next to his daughter’s and settled into retirement. He and his wife Mary Sophia became mainstays on the local social and civic scene.
Mary Sophia died in May, 1905. In 1907, their son William, Jr., was murdered in Mexico where he was superintendent of operations at the Topia Mining Company. The case was never solved. General Boggs died on Friday, September 15, 1911 at age 83. He was buried in Salem Cemetery.
General Boggs war memoirs were published two years after his death. You can read them here: http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/boggs/boggs.html
While Genral Boggs was at West Point, one of his closest friends was James Whistler. Because of poor health, Whistler would not complete his studies and become a military officer, which is a good thing, because he instead became one of America’s first famous artists. Whistler gave Boggs some of his school boy drawings, which Boggs passed on to his daughter Elizabeth Boggs Taylor in his will.
General Boggs’s house would eventually be demolished. But in 1974, it was replaced by the Zevely House, the oldest building still standing in the Winston section of the Twin City.
In the early 19th century, Van Neman Zevely and Johanna Sophia Shober decided to get married. But in Salem, before anyone could marry, the church had to consult “the lot”, which was seen as “God’s will”. A scroll was drawn from a bowl of three…one said “Yes”, in which case the couple lived happily ever after…one was inconclusive, so another attempt could be made later…one said “No”, and that was pretty much forever.
Van and Johanna drew “No”. They were determined to continue, but were told that if they did, they could not live in Salem. Johanna’s father Gottlieb was one of the wealthiest men in the community, so around 1815 he built them a house on what would eventually become Oak Street in the future town of Winston.
In the early 1970s, their house was threatened by redevelopment. In 1973 it was placed on the National Register. The next year it was moved to Fourth Street at Summit and became a restaurant, today, Bernardin’s Fine Dining.
Van and Johanna’s firstborn child, Augustus Theophilus Zevely, became a doctor. His house on Main Street in Salem also served as his office and the Zevely Inn. The inn has been revived as a bed & breakfast, so you can have lunch or dinner at Van & Johanna’s house, and spend the night and have breakfast at Augustus’s. The breakfast room is in his former office.