William Cain was named by Governor Richard Caswell as Justice of the Peace for Orange County. William Cain also served as a representative in the North Carolina General Assembly in 1785 and in the Senate in 1794-1796 and 1802. He was also an early patron of the then new state university (UNC).
He married Salley Dudley May 28, 1783, in Orange County.
Cain oversaw a large plantation at Pleasant Grove; in 1800, he owned 4,417 acres of land (the largest landowner in Orange County at the time) and kept 30 people enslaved - a number which he increased to 95 by 1830.
The plantation grew wheat, oats, corn, tobacco, and cotton. It also appears that he owned a mill on the Little River, built before 1795.
Upon his death in 1834, he passed the plantation to his son William Cain, II. William II's sister Charity Cain married Willie P. Mangum, and they resided at Walnut Hall. William II built "Sans Souci" plantation in Hillsborough and married the sister of Chief Justice Thomas Ruffin. William II lived at Pleasant Grove from 1837-1857 and served as postmaster of Hillsborough; upon his death in 1857, he left the plantation to his son, Dr. James Cain.
James Cain supposedly renamed the plantation "Hardscrabble," in contrast to the translated name of Sans Souci - "carefree." James Cain's family built St. Mary's Episcopal chapel in the 1850s. The name "Hardscrabble" may have been derived from conditions at the plantation during the Civil War. James Cain served as Assistant Surgeon to the Medical Department in the Confederacy.
William Cain died in Orange County on July 28, 1834. His burial location is currently unknown.
From The Raleigh Register, August 12, 1834
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