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Celebration at Biggs House; grant to fund new paint job

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A portrait of Asa Biggs hangs on a wall at the Asa Biggs House in Williamston while Heber Coltrain, Stuart Spruill and Simon Perry perform for guests at a 207th birthday celebration for the former U.S. Senator and Confederate judge.

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By Deborah Griffin
Enterprise & Weekly Herald

Saturday, February 17, 2018

WILLIAMSTON — Asa Biggs, the 19th-century U.S. senator and former Confederate judge, would have been 207 years old this month.

Local history buffs threw a posthumous birthday party for him on Sunday in the house he lived in at the corner of Church and Smithwick streets in downtown Williamston.

Biggs was born Feb. 4, 1811, in Williamston and died in 1878 in Norfolk, Va.

He practiced law in Williamston before being elected to the House of Commons. He then became a state senator and eventually a United States senator.

Biggs also served as a federal district judge, in time serving as a Confederate district judge until the end of the Civil War.

After the war he practiced law in Tarboro before moving to Norfolk, where practiced law until his death.

The Martin County Historical Society maintains his Martin County home.

The birthday party was given to bring attention to the house, according to Jane Gray Benson, past president of the Historical Society. Benson also is a volunteer at the Biggs house and is distantly related to Biggs.

Benson said the Historical Society has recently secured a grant from Francis Barnes Trust to hand-scrape and paint the outside of the house.

"Little bit by little bit, we are going to get the shutters back on the house and the fence painted," said Benson.

Birthday entertainment was provided by local musicians Heber Coltrain, Stuart Spruill and Simon Perry.

The new president of the Historical Society, Gail Keel, said the group is reworking the historical quilt they sell to include more of the registered landmarks throughout Martin County.

Keel said the Historical Society is hoping to attract a younger generation to help take up the cause to keep the county's history more than just a memory.

The Enterprise & Weekly Herald is based in Williamston and serves all of Martin County. Deborah Griffin can be reached at dgriffin@ncweeklies.com.

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