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Lash, Israel George

by Max R. Williams, 1991

18 Aug. 1810–17 Apr. 1878

Israel G. Lash. Image courtesy of the NC Museum of History. Israel George Lash, businessman, banker, and congressman, was a native of Bethania in Forsyth County. A Moravian by heritage and choice, he was the son of John Christian and Anna Lash. He was educated in the common schools and a local academy. At fifteen his formal schooling ended, and he returned to the family farm. When he was twenty, Lash established a mercantile business to which he soon added an extensive cigar manufactory. Sagacious and diligent, he prospered. About 1845 he moved to Salem where he enjoyed continued business and financial success. His reputation for integrity and sound judgment having preceded him, in 1847 Lash became Salem's first banker as cashier of a branch of the Wilmington-based Bank of Cape Fear. The general financial crash occasioned by the Civil War ended this banking venture; but, undeterred, Lash founded the First National Bank of Salem in 1866 and served as its president until his death. Possessed of great financial acumen, he accumulated a fortune consisting of money, stocks, city property, and western lands. He was a kind man whose quiet generosity benefited the needy of all races as well as the Moravian church, the town of Salem, and other public charities.

Lash was a Union Whig who never abandoned his principles. He especially abhorred political demagoguery; and, although he owned many slaves, he was utterly opposed to secession. He considered secession the death knell of slavery and warned of devastation and ruin, despite the fanaticism that was rampant in the South in 1860–61. He did nothing to conceal his views during the Civil War, supported the peace movement, and advocated an early restoration of the Union. A cooperationist in the constitutional convention of 1865, Lash moved into the Republican party believing therein lay the easiest road to reunion. He was elected to the Fortieth Congress, defeating Conservative Livingston Brown by a substantial margin. He was easily reelected to the Forty-first Congress but subsequently declined nomination for another term because of poor health. His congressional service was honorable but undistinguished.

Before his death, Lash endured several years of painful physical affliction and long periods of confinement with great patience and fortitude. He was interred in the Moravian Cemetery at Bethania.


Biog. Dir. Am. Cong. (1961).

Congressional Globe (1834–73).

Adelaide L. Fries, Forsyth: A County on the March (1949).

Israel George Lash, "Memoir" (Moravian Archives, Winston-Salem).

Salem Union Republican, 18, 25 Apr. 1878.

Max R. Williams, ed., The Papers of William A. Graham, vol. 6 (1976).

Additional Resources:

Bank of the Cape Fear in the NC Business History:

"Lash, Israel George, (1810 - 1878)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Washington, D.C.: The Congress. (accessed August 27, 2013).

Image Credits:

"Engraving, Accession #: H.19XX.318.145." 1875-1900. North Carolina Museum of History.

Origin - location: 


This is my great-great grandfather's slave master. My great-great grandfather was Wesley Lash of Bethania, N.C. He was a farmer when he became a free man. He brought 80 acres of land. His wife was Betty Koger whose slave narrative is in the Library of Congress as Betty Cofer. He name was misspelled. She mentioned in her slave narrative that papa belonged to Master Israel Lash. There is now a fire station on his land. Fire Station 22 Koger Fire Station. My mother lives across the street from the fire station. Betty Koger is her great grandmother. My mom has shared stories of Betty. When Betty was interviewed, my mother recalls standing behind her great grandmother fanning her with rolled up newspaper cut up in stripes like a fan in 1937. My mother was 7 years old. Now, my mother is 83 years old and she will celebrate her 84 birthday on September 22.

Janet - I've been researching the African-American Lash lineage and stumbled upon this page. All of my research has led me to Winston-Salem, NC where my grandfather, William Robert Lash, Jr (now deceased) was originally from. His family left and went to work in the West Virginia coal mines when he was young. I was so happy to see your comments. We may be distant cousins!

Dear Janet,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and taking time to share this information with us and to share your family's relationship to this history. Your comment and information will stay with this entry for other NCpedia visitors, and we appreciate that you've shared it with us.

Please visit NCpedia again and best wishes,

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

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