Monday, October 14, 2013

Phesanton Southerland Sugg (1805-1855)

                                                                      Courtesy of the Find-a-Grave website.

   A distinguished physician in the Edgecombe County, North Carolina area during the first half of the 19th century, Dr. Phesanton Southerland Sugg's political notoriety rests on his brief service as a delegate to the North Carolina State Constitutional Convention held in Raleigh in 1835. With this fact in hand, I can honestly state that if it weren't for genealogical websites such as Rootsweb or, I would be at a total loss in regards to information on the life of Mr. Sugg. I should also note that many of these websites give alternate spellings of Sugg's first name, with "Pheasanton" and"Pheasington" being among them. However, a picture of his gravestone at the Greenwood Cemetery in Tarboro records the spelling as "Phesanton" and it is that spelling which looks to be the correct one. The rare portrait of him shown above was located via the Find-A-Grave website, and was posted there by the user "Farnitano". This marks the first time I've seen a picture of this obscure man and I'm quite glad that someone took the initiative to post a portrait and small biography for him on the aforementioned Find-A-Grave!
  The story of this oddly named North Carolinian begins in the county of Edgecombe, where he was born on December 13, 1805, one of a number of children (one listing gives the total as 14) born to Reading and Margaret Southerland Sugg. Phesanton decided upon a career in medicine early in his life and in 1826 graduated from the University of Maryland's School of Medicine, and had written his thesis on the "means of abstracting blood". Following his graduation, Sugg married to Lucinda Pender on January 9, 1827, and during the course of their 28-year marriage had at least 14 children born to them, some of whom died in infancy. 
  Although little is known of Sugg's life, it is known that he practiced medicine in Edgecombe County for the majority of his life, and was a large landowner in the area. In 1835 he received the honor of being named as one of two delegates from Edgecombe to attend the North Carolina State Constitutional Convention being held at Raleigh in June of that year. A roster from the convention bearing Sugg's name is shown below.

  Little is known of Phesanton Sugg's life after his service at the Constitutional Convention concluded, but he did continue in the practice of medicine in his home county of Edgecombe. The Rootsweb genealogical website gives note that Sugg died at age 49 on October 14, 1855, as the result of an "infected carbuncle" located on his neck. He was later buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Tarboro, North Carolina and was survived by his wife Lucinda, who died in 1876 at age 67.


  1. I enjoyed your post. It is my photo on Find a Grave that still hangs in my father's house. Dr. Sugg is his 2nd great-grandfather and my father's middle name is Pheasanton. I have enjoyed tracing the name down through various generations exactly because it is such a strange one. The portrait was rescued by my grandfather from a cousin Ethel Brown (Dr. Sugg's great granddaughter), where it had been kept in a barn. According to my family notes it was restored in Savannah by artist Chris Murphy.

    1. Hi Lisa!

      Glad to see you enjoyed reading about your curiously named relative, Phesanton S. Sugg! Quite a name and quite a man from what I was able to find on him, and despite living to be just 49 years of age he accomplished quite a bit in both medicine and politics. It makes one wonder what he more he would have accomplished had he lived longer!