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Stokes served as a captain in the Revolutionary War. He later became a member of the House of Commons and a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1789 that brought North Carolina into the Union. In 1790, President George Washington appointed him as the first federal district judge for North Carolina. Stokes also practiced law in Salisbury. In 1788, he purchased a 275 acre tract of land next to Richmond Pearson. The same year he married Pearson's daughter, Betsy, and as a wedding present Pearson gave the couple 698 acres of land. In 1790, Stokes purchased four more acres and started construction on his home. Whether Stokes lived long enough to see his house finished is not known. He died in October 1790 on his way home from his only term on the bench in New Bern. Richmond Pearson served as administrator of his estate. (Courtesy of the Salisbury Post.)

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