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Morehead, James Turner, Jr.

28 May 1838–1 Apr. 1919

A 1905 engraving of James Turner Morehead. Image from Turner Morehead, Jr., lawyer, legislator, and Confederate officer, was born in Guilford County, the son of James T. and Mary Lindsay Morehead. After attending the private school of Dr. Alexander Wilson in Alamance County, he was graduated from The University of North Carolina in 1858 and immediately entered Judge Richmond M. Pearson's law school at Richmond Hill, Yadkin County. He was licensed to practice in county courts in 1859 and in superior courts in 1860.

In 1861 Morehead enlisted in the Guilford Grays and was elected lieutenant. He rose through the grades to become colonel of the Fifty-third Regiment, with which he served with distinction throughout the Civil War. Morehead was wounded three times—at Gettysburg, Fisher's Hill, and Hare's Hill—and captured on 25 Mar. 1865, remaining a prisoner until the end of the war.

Returning to Greensboro, he resumed his law practice and was soon recognized as an outstanding trial lawyer. During Reconstruction he was a conservative leader and counselor and devoted his efforts to liberating the state from the dominance of numerous outsiders who had attained positions of influence at the end of the war. In 1865–66 he represented Guilford County in the state senate, where he introduced a bill—which became law—to restore to married women their common-law right of dower. He served again in 1871–72 and 1872–74; in the latter years he was speaker of the senate. He returned to the legislature for a final term in 1883.

Morehead, a Presbyterian, never married.


Bettie D. Caldwell, comp., Founders and Builders of Greensboro, 1808–1908 (1925).

John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585–1979 (1981).

Jerome Dowd, Sketches of Prominent Living North Carolinians (1888).

Daniel L. Grant, Alumni History of the University of North Carolina, 1795–1924 (1924).

North Carolina Bar Association Proceedings, 1919 (1920).

J. T. Tomlinson, Assembly Sketch Book, Session 1883 (1883).

Additional Resources:

Bradshaw, G.S. "James T. Morehead." Biographical history of North Carolina from colonial times to the present volume 2. Greensboro, N.C.: C. L. Van Noppen. 1905. 272-277. (accessed May 7, 2013).

James Turner Morehead Family Papers, 1830-1954 (MSS#8). Greensboro Historical Museum Archives.

Joseph M. Morehead Papers, 1753-1919 (bulk 1880-1913) (collection no. 00523). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.,Joseph_M.html (accessed May 7, 2013).

Image Credits:

E. G. Williams and Bro. "James T. Morehead." Biographical history of North Carolina from colonial times to the present volume 2. Greensboro, N.C.: C. L. Van Noppen. 1905. 273. (accessed May 7, 2013).

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