Heroes of Two Worlds: Michael & The Marquis exhibit set for September 22-24 at the Little House Museum and Gallery

— September 2017

Spend much time around Rolesville and the phrase “George Washington Slept Here” is one vague observation you’ll hear from time to time.

Historic Rolesville Society - Lafayette

Plaster bust, Little House collection, after “Marquis de Lafayette, before 1789,” by Jean-Antoine Houdon. Photo by Patricia Roseman

Like that 1942 film – the comedy starring Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan – this phrase references a rural spot where folks believe our first president once stayed. In both cases, local lore is based on a bit of misinterpretation. The truth behind Rolesville’s legend may prove more fascinating.

This tale rarely notes the full name of the fellow – Georges Washington Motier de Lafayette – who actually visited our area with his famous father. George’s dad was the French Marquis de Lafayette or, simply, General Lafayette to the colonial troops he led in America’s bid for independence. After the Battle of Brandywine and the hardships of Valley Forge, Lafayette returned to France in 1797 to bestow his friend’s name on a newborn son while gathering reinforcements that turned the tide and changed the course of history. 

Now add in local patriot Michael Rogers, first sheriff of newly formed Wake County and also one of our state’s colonial representatives. Colonel Rogers fought at the Battle of Moore’s Creek and led local militia under Governor Caswell. Rogers’ son, Colonel Allen Rogers, also led militia and was known for his inn on family land at Rogers Cross Roads, a landmark that survived into the 1960s.

Our heroes blazed parallel trails to victory, but Lafayette’s path continued onward with his celebrated return to America. The national hero’s story intersects local legacy when son George and Lafayette were hosted at the inn by Michael Rogers’ surviving son.

Historic Rolesville Society’s founding president, Michael Bailey, models fashionable HRS militiawear. Photo by Terry Marcellin-Little

“If you want to hear more about these fellows, visit Little House Museum and Gallery’s upcoming exhibit spotlighting important donations to Historic Rolesville Society from the Rogers family and Wake Cross Roads Church,” Museum Director Terry Marcellin-Little said.

Featured gallery artists include goldsmith Janice Eagle Roberts of Janice Originals in Wake Forest, offering a few gem creations with insight into the historic “marquise cut.” Copper artifacts on display at the museum inspire copper works by Rolesville artist Kevin Kirkendoll.

Marcellin-Little notes the newly formed Historic Rolesville Society is heating up its 2017 awareness campaign at the Hot Pickin’ Finger Lickin’ BBQ & Bands event on September 16.

“Please stop by the HRS tent to see artifacts and become an HRS sponsor,” she said. “You’ll help us meet the W. Harold (Hal) Perry Challenge. Mr. Perry became a sponsor at $10,000 and challenged us to get 50 new sponsors at any level for an additional $15,000.”

HRS Vice President Lou Sellett added, “There’s a movement afoot to form a Revolutionary Rolesville Militia and build a 12-pound cannon.”

Historic Rolesville Society

HRS members, with banner and costumes, participated in the 2017 Rolesville July 4 parade.
Photo courtesy of Historic Rolesville Society

“The militia,” Sellett noted with a smile, “is gender-neutral. Required uniforms may vary, while powdered wigs remain optional.”

Interested recruits may sign up at the BBQ for what Sellett describes as a “militia based on shared American ideals. History starts here!”

“Heroes of Two Worlds: Michael & The Marquis” opens September 22-24, with a 5 p.m. reception on Friday, two HRS walking history tours on Saturday that begin at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.  at Main Street Park. The museum at 201 N. Main Street offers additional tours at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Parking is available at Main Street Park and town lots at Main Street and West Young.

For more information, find Historic Rolesville and Little House Museum Gallery on Facebook, call 919-271-0923 or go to www.littlehousenc.com.