Remembering The Great Wagon Road

Part 3


As we all think about the Great Wagon Road, our minds automatically picture our ancestors traveling the road with their personal possessions to new lands. They were adventurous and heroic to move their families to unfamiliar territories. Each person had their own individual story that they experienced along the road. Many of these stories are now lost to the winds of time and will never be known. However; many committed themselves to writing down their important events while on the journey.  When we locate a diary from this era, it is treated as a spectacular treasure. The present day researcher quickly turns the pages to learn and experience the Great Wagon Road for themselves. The lives that have been affected by this old road is unlimited. I believe it is still changing lives as we all research our ancestors and preserve our history. Welcome to the final segment of our Great Wagon Road adventure. This portion will concentrate on the individuals who made a great impact on the road in many different ways.



Abraham Wood in 1646 began trading with the Indians located in Virginia and led an exploring party into the wilderness known later as the area of the Great Wagon Road.

Henry Hudson, a dutch explorer, was among the group led by Abraham Wood.

Thomas Batte, was sent to explore the territory in 1671. He reached the Mississippi River and turned back.

John Lederer, a German physician explored the area as well during the years of 1669-1670.

The meeting of the Five Nations was held in 1722 and attended by Governor Sir William Keith of Pennsylvania and Governor William Burnet of New York. This meeting was to bring peace with several different tribes of Indians and the new settlers who were pondering the settlement in the “wilderness” of Virginia and North Carolina.

From 1717 to 1767, a total of 68,872 German and Swiss immigrants arrived in Pennsylvania due mainly to William Penn who first arrived in 1708.

Secretary James Logan complained about the multitude of immigrants on March 25, 1727 in a letter addressed to William Penn’s son in England.


Resentment grew from the newcomers and their vast numbers. The customs and languages were different and viewed upon in a negative manner as a majority. Many began to look elsewhere for new settlements and freedom. The Germans and Swiss began to venture down the Great Warrior’s Path. The path was no more than a clearing consisting of 3 to 4 feet wide.

In November, 1743, two Moravians began a journey down the Great Warrior’s Path which brought them 5 months later to Georgia. They were Leonard Schell and Robert Cussey, Schell’s diary gave explicit details about the trip.

Joist Hite settled in Winchester, Virginia and owned an inn along the path that was widely known.

Stephen Schmidt settled along the Shenandoah River and owned a huge farm.

A diary excerpt from 1743 reads, “I used my hatchet to clear the path and fell a tree over Goose Creek in order to walk across it.”

Jacob Schuetz, an elder German, settled along Trent River, North Carolina after traveling down the road.

Stone marker lies in Winchester, Virginia stating that John Wilson and the bodies of his two children and his wife, Mary Marcus died and buried August 4, 1742.

Samuel Davies, minister, serving the southern portion of Virginia in 1759.

David McClure attended a wedding in 1775 in Virginia along the road and stated in his diary, “Dancing to the music of a fiddle, gambling and drinking.”

Joshua Fry, an Oxford graduate, moved to the frontier and worked as a surveyor of the road approx. 1757.

Peter Jefferson, traveled with Joshua Fry and had the task of map maker.

The 1st map was signed in 1744 and entitled, “Indian Road by the Treaty of Lancaster”

By, 1775 a new edition of the map was created and labeled, The Great Wagon Road from the Yadkin River through Virginia to Philadelphia, a distant 453 miles.

In 1744, a ferry was ordered on the Potomac, labeled Watkins’ Ferry.  A ledger book contains ferry rates, blacksmith rates, lodging and the retail sales of wine and other commodities.

William Ingles operated a ferry across New River in Virginia.

John Mitchell, William Nesbit, William Montgomery, Archibald Craige, Thomas Bashford, James Bowers, John Verrell, Luke Dean, James Berry and Henry Hoah were all early merchants located in North Carolina during the years of 1750 and 1760 after traveling down the road.


The road became even more active with the end of the French War in 1763. The rumbles of the wagons could be heard all day along the road during this time. A house or a merchant could be found every 30 miles. Business soared, but mostly from trading versus monies. The road was divided as well with a lower road and a upper road. The lower road extended into Maryland and ran along the eastern side of the original road. The upper, ran just west of the original road and eventually led you to the new Wilderness Road. A family living along these roads, were able to prosper. This allowed many settlements, towns and new county seats to emerge.

The road was no longer a 48 inch path through the forest. It was now a major 18th century highway and was traveled each and every day of the year, weather permitting. However, King George III ordered in 1764 that no one was to settle west of the Appalachians. This was ordered to maintain peace with the Indians of that area. But, soon word spread that the best lands were west of the mountains and soon settlers began to venture even further.

When a family left Pennsylvania in 1765 and traveled on the road, they would meet other families traveling. They would have seen huge farms, forts, taverns and small villages lined with houses, small shops and churches. If you lived along the road, you were ordered to help maintain it. Farmers were employed in the fall and this was a great source of income that endured for years.

The term “public house” came into existence and these houses were widely known all along the road. They provided the traveler a hot meal and bedding for the night.

By 1774, everyone knew about the road and had experiences to tell and share. Portions of the original road still exist today such as Highways 11, 81 and 66. So, even today, the Great Warrior’s Path proves to be a vital link in our daily lives.

great wagon road 5

On a personal note, I want to Thank each of you for this experience and allowing me to share my research with you. I cannot express the gratitude I have for all of you in helping to preserve our history. As we move forward, I look to the future with great anticipation and working together on our history and ancestry.  I could add so many more segments to this project and I most likely will in the future.  I cannot forget to pass along admiration for all of the settlers who traveled the Great Wagon Road. Without them, none of this history would have existed.


Wagon Road To North Carolina

The Great Wagon Road
Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our 3 part segment pertaining to the Great Wagon Road. The 1st part contained information from Pennsylvania through Virginia and the route our ancestors took. This segment will discuss the entry into North Carolina. When our ancestors passed through the southern portion of Virginia, they were met with the Blue Ridge Mountains and the descent from the elevation. It is unclear exactly where the actual roadbed is located in this area, but the area was filled with rough terrain and wilderness.


 We know from the map above, that Indian trails and paths did exist prior to the arrival of the Great Wagon Road into North Carolina and from this map, we can gather more information on the terrain and different routes. Cherokee attacks were numerous during the years of 1759 and 1760. There were several early settlers who were killed along the Yadkin River in February of 1760.  Also, attacks were noted during the spring of 1776, mostly west of the Blue Ridge Mountains in present day, Watauga and Ashe counties. Many people have claimed to have found the original roadbed of the Great Wagon Road and many remnants and various items have been claimed to be found along the road. Grave sites were visible as well, according to oral histories, but the actual route has never been fully identified from Virginia following southward. We do know that upon descending the Blue Ridge Mountains, our ancestors were looking for “The Great Guide” or “The Pilot” which is present day Pilot Mountain pictured below. According to Moravian diaries, “The mountain looked like a giant took a bite right from the top.”

pilot mountain (2)

During the years of 1750 to 1766, this area would have been an untamed wilderness with very few to no other settlers in the area. The road during these years would have been treacherous and not maintained at all. It was not until after the Revolutionary War began, that settlers were assigned road maintenance near their homes. The Moravians were making multiple trips back and forth from 1753. This allowed the road to become more wider in areas and less rocks and overgrowth to be removed. The Moravians also had access to a team of 6 horses when using the road and could travel much more quickly versus a single family with 1 team of horses, or none at all. The travelers also had to be aware of animals, such as bear, panthers, wolves and poisonous snakes. Not many know that buffalo also roamed in this area, but they were forced to the higher terrain of the western mountains of North Carolina and were not in the area since the Saura Indians left in approx. 1710. This was years before the Great Wagon Road came into existence.

inside covered wagon

A newspaper article was written in 2013 by the Winston-Salem Journal detailing the route of the road through the Rural Hall area, present day, Forsyth County, NC. This area is approx. 30 miles south of Pilot Mountain. The link to the article can be found here. Depressions of the actual roadbed were located along Cordell Drive and Highway 66, just north of present day Rural Hall. According to the Moravian diaries, this has been proven to be true as the Moravians were making their way to the settlement of Bethabara which lies just south of Rural Hall. We know that the Moravians left the road and traveled a few miles south in order to locate a building which was already on the property they just purchased in 1753.  This was the site for Bethabara. Bethania was established on “The Pennsylvania Road” according to the journals of the Moravians. This means, that Highway 67 and Bethania-Tobaccoville Road both cross over the original Wagon Road.


We know that the road turns west after leaving Bethania and prepares to cross the Yadkin River. We also know the location of the crossing was made in the “Shallow Ford” which is located just southwest of present day Lewisville. The crossing was made here because the Yadkin River only averaged 18″ in this one spot unless the river was swollen due to recent rains or melting snows. For more information on this area and neighboring Davidson, Rowan and Yadkin counties, see the video link listed here.

north carolina map

This is the end of Part 2, Part 3 will contain settlers that traveled The Great Wagon Road along with the year of migration and the area of settlement. If you would like to read more about The Great Wagon Road in North Carolina, click the link here and here.

From Pennsylvania To New Lands

The Great Wagon Road
Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of a 3 part segment dedicated to “The Great Wagon Road”. This road played a vital part with many of our ancestors traveling southward and westward to new lands and opportunities. The road originally began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and followed The Great Warriors Path which was an Indian trail that many different tribes used. If your ancestor left from Philadelphia, they probably started from 248 Market Street. This was the origin point for most of the mail carriers that began as early as 1750. They would travel 63 miles to reach Conestoga Creek and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


From Lancaster, the road reached York and then Gettysburg. Present day US Highway 30 basically follows the same route that our ancestors used in the 18th century. The changing seasons allowed fair weather or stormy clouds, high rivers or low-lying creek beds. The taverns and inns along the way provided information on what the road had in store for the travelers. These early businesses advertised with signs displaying artwork to demonstrate their services. This was especially helpful to the travelers who were unable to read and write. Some well-known tavern keepers were Casper Fahnestock, Evan Watkins, Thomas Harrison and Valentin Sevier.


From Gettysburg, the wagons headed towards the Potomac River, present day US Highway 11 crosses the river almost exactly where Watkins Ferry crossed in the 18th century. During the years of 1744 through 1770, the ferry was operated from dawn to dusk poling the large boat ferry back and forth across the river. The “boat” grew larger with each year and could easily transport several wagons as well as horses and cattle. When we think of The Great Wagon Road, we must also remember that this road was also used as a route for farmers to get their livestock and goods to market for sale. So, several of our ancestors would be met with huge herds of cattle, sheep, pigs, etc. Many of our ancestors would have a cow attached to the wagon with a rope and it would not be out of the ordinary to find a pig or two as well. Chickens were stored in a pen and transported on the wagon. From Watkins Ferry, the road winds southward to Winchester, Virginia. Present day, Interstate 81 is very close to the original route. To reach Winchester, it would have taken approx. 3 weeks if the weather was fair. Phillip Bush’s Inn was famous and known to all of the travelers that passed through the area. Winchester was a small village and it was founded in 1744.


From Winchester, the route takes present day Interstate 81 and makes its way southward to Harrisonburg with the Shenandoah Mountains to the east. The road becomes very rough in this area during the 1740s up to the 1760s. The terrain is up and down and many travelers became weary due to sickness. Supplies are running out and the weight of their personal possessions are beginning to wear down on the travelers. The lucky ones have horses and could travel much quicker, 20 miles or more a day. Many had handmade carts and many simply walked with their possessions on their backs. This was a very long trip, taking months to complete and the weather, depending on the season, would make traveling much more difficult. When the travelers reached Staunton, Virginia, they all would have been aware of the Indian raids during the 1750s. Staunton was known as the Valley of Virginia and many German and Scottish settlers settled in this area from 1743 through the 1750s. A stone house was built with an underground passage that led to a spring. Many of these first settlers lost their lives during Indian raids. Captain Robert McKenzie visited the area in 1757 and found nothing  of the original settlement except for spears, broken tomahawks and ashes of burnt homes and huts. Indian attacks were frequent along the Wagon Road as it traveled through Virginia and into the Carolinas. Our ancestors often traveled in groups for protection. The Shawnee were very active in this area and the travelers would have been fully aware of this as they traveled through Staunton.

The New River

The above picture shows New River near Fort Chiswell, Virginia. This picture displays the terrain our ancestors were faced with in this area. From Staunton to Fort Chiswell is approx. 144 miles. During this portion of the trip, supplies could be purchased in Big Lick, today known as Roanoke.

cabin in va

After crossing the Roanoke River, travelers could take a new trail westward on the new Wilderness Road, or stay on the The Great Wagon Road into the piedmont area of North Carolina. This marks the end of segment 1 of our 3 part series. The next blog will focus on the entry of North Carolina by our ancestors on this historic route. Below portrays a list of supplies that would have been packed on the wagons.

Food Supplies

200 pounds of flour
30 pounds of pilot bread (hardtack)
75 pounds of bacon
10 pounds of rice
5 pounds of coffee
2 pounds of tea
25 pounds of sugar
½ bushel of dried beans
1 bushel of dried fruit
2 pounds of saleratus (baking soda)
10 pounds of salt
½ bushel of corn meal
½ bushel of corn, parched and ground
1 small keg of vinegar

Water would have been collected along the way and stored in a barrel. All of these items, depending on the quantity, would have been added weight on the wagon or cart. Their personal items may have included tools such as an axe, hatchet, shovel, hammer, animal traps and rope. They would also have household items such as butter churn, butter mold, candles, cooking utensils, dishes, coffee grinder, bedding, clothing, lantern and personal items such as Family Bible, books, doll, rifle and pistol.

wagon (1)


The next segment will cover North Carolina and the piedmont settlement. Please share your comments and your knowledge of The Great Wagon Road.








The Life of Thomas Johnson(1764-1846)

Stokes County, North Carolina Partriot

Thomas Johnson was living in Surry County, present day Stokes County, NC as early as 1774 and was appointed to serve as a member of Surry County Committee of Safety.  Thomas gave his birth date as 1764 but no proof has been provided for the location of his birth. It is believed that he was born in Virginia and moved to North Carolina with his family as a small child. According to the Colonial Records of North Carolina, Thomas enlisted in 1779 and was discharged in December of 1779 serving 9 months of service during the Revolutionary War. I was able to locate him listed in the 10th Regiment of Quins Company. More information on the 10th Regiment.


Land Grants for Thomas Johnson are listed as follows:#562 was entered September 25, 1785 for 50 acres in Buck Island which is present day Hanging Rock area of Stokes County, NC. #569 entered September of 1787, an additional 50 acres in Buck Island. The third grant #764 contained a tract of land consisting of 100 acres lying on the banks of Buck Island Creek entered November 29, 1800. Thomas married Frances(Fanny) Boatright who lived near present day Mountain View, Stokes County. Thomas raised his family of 14 children as listed below.

William(3/1/1794-2/27/1883) married Temperance Kiser and is buried in Stokes County, NC

Thomas Jr.(1797-1864) married Elizabeth(1820-1842) served in Co. K, 148 Indiana Infantry during the Civil War

Catherine(Caty) married Larkin Hall. Traveled back to NC to visit her brother, William

Edmund(1814-1877) married Isabel(1814-?)

Pendleton(1815-1873) married Eliza(1824-?) Traveled back to NC in 1839 to visit his brother, William

Sara married George Brockus


Patsy married Byrum Harroll

Frank married Tempy Hall

Nancy married Joel Harroll

Francis living in Wabash County, Indiana in 1861

Poley married Curtis Hall


Washington married Fanny

buck island stokes county nc

The picture above portrays Buck Island Creek along the falls now located in Hanging Rock Park near present day Danbury, Stokes County. The nearest community settlement during the time the Johnson family lived in the area would have been Germanton, founded in 1790. Located 13 miles south of Danbury, this would have been the center of trade and obtaining goods to sustain the family through the seasons. Germanton is the oldest settlement in the area. Veterans of the Revolutionary War were offered incentives to settle in the area and Thomas Johnson was one among many who chose to do so.

germanton nc

Picture of Courthouse located in Germanton, NC circa 1898

Thomas made the decision to move his family to Indiana circa 1820 and I found him in Henry County after purchasing 80 acres in 1824. Many NC settlers moved to Indiana during this period for several reasons, mainly for the vast amount of land available for much lower prices. William, son of Thomas, did not travel with the family and it is recorded that William climbed a tree in order to watch his family leave as long as possible. Thomas lived in Henry County, Indiana until his death in 1846. He is buried in Dunreith Cemetery beside his wife, Frances.

thomas johnson

During his lifetime, Thomas Johnson portrays to all of us his patriotism, principles, devotion to family and adventurous personality. The trip to Indiana during the 1820’s would have been a long and weary trip for the family. Endurance was proven as the family settled in Henry County and contributed to the community. I should note here, Thomas Johnson’s will was affirmed in open court on August 11, 1846 by Samuel Hoover, Clerk. Reuben Morris and Joseph Cox were listed as witnesses. Thomas mentioned all of his children and even mentioned his son-in-law. James Rose was to receive 1 dollar from Thomas’ estate and nothing more. No additional explanation for the inheritance of James Rose but I’m sure the reasons were very well known to the family at the time.

dunreith cemetery

Below is a copy of a letter written by Pendleton Johnson and Thomas Johnson Jr. addressed to William Johnson in Stokes County, NC. It is dated June 18th, 1839.

Times is tolerable good at this time in our country. Corn is worth 37 1/2 cents per bushel, wheat is worth 75 cents per bushel, oats is worth 31 1/2 cents per bushel. Other articles about the same in propotion. We also inform you that it is uncommon healthy here at this time. We here of no one that is sick at all in the hole settlement. We have had a very fine spring and summer so far except for one nite we had a very hard frost that killed our frute.

A huge amount of these letters can be located at the Henry County Historical Society. Stay tuned for a more detailed description on William Johnson, son of Thomas, in the upcoming months.

Historical Treasure Of Abbott’s Creek

A short story of the American Revolution in North Carolina

What a thrill to come across a treasure map filled with 200-year-old facts, gold coins and rich history. There is nothing better to find this while researching your family tree. The feeling must be equivalent to a winning lottery ticket, or finally knocking down that brick wall that you’ve struggled with for so long. Nevertheless, the facts reveal an extraordinary story and it all began in the winter of 1781.

revolution map

February of 1781 finds the British Commander, Cornwallis, near present day Salisbury, NC. He was heavily supplied with 2,000 troops and making his way north. The British troops were exhausted due to the recent battles of Cowpens and King’s Mountain. The weather was consumed with rain and cold, but Cornwallis was traveling approx. 28 to 30 miles a day which was good considering the conditions. Several skirmishes were occurring due to river crossings such as the case on Beattie’s Ford while crossing the Catawba River. (read more)  All of these factors were beginning to slow down the British troops and Cornwallis was trying to catch Greene and achieve victory in the Carolinas. The commander was also instructing his troops to leave supplies that were not needed, hoping to lighten the load and move the troops even more quickly through the area.


Cornwallis approached Abbott’s Creek, just south of Salem and camped within a horseshoe bend of the terrain. During the night, he instructed a few men to perform inventory of his supplies on hand. Once the inventory was completed, Cornwallis had the men to leave supplies in the area while taking note and mapping the area for return at a later date. Several items were discarded, among these, a barrel filled with gold and silver coins left in the creek itself. When dawn approached, the troops began the march to Salem and eventually found themselves at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse and General Greene. The battle left the British in a poor state and Cornwallis began traveling south and turning north again to reach Virginia. The contents of his inventory in Abbott’s Creek were left undiscovered and undetected. Or, so some historians tell us.

rowan-co-1780-map (1)

Through the next 200 years, the “barrel with gold” story would be told among neighbors, friends, political gatherings, family reunions, etc. And, over the years, several different versions of the story would be recited, handed down from one generation to the next. The first time, I personally heard the story was in 1994 and this story had the local militia attacking British troops along the bank of Abbott’s Creek. The men of the militia were able to gain the upper hand on the troops and rescued the supplies and the gold.  Another source, “The History of The Lutheran Church of Abbott’s Creek”, carried the story further stating that British soldiers were killed and buried at the site which lies behind the Abbott’s Creek Church Cemetery, (older portion). I also began communications with fellow researchers who have experienced unexplained sounds, chills and other activity while researching the cemetery and the surrounding area. All of these factors entice the growth of both facts and myths of what really happened 200 years ago.

Then, I ran across a newspaper located in Spartanburg, South Carolina which contained an article about treasure in Abbott’s Creek.(link to article) It dates April 10, 1987 stating that a barrel filled with gold coins was located and retrieved near Abbott’s Creek and was estimated to be worth $1 million dollars. So, has the treasure really been found, or does the story go on? Let me hear from you, add your comments and opinions below.


Browntown, North Carolina

The history and genealogy of a forgotten town.

Located in the heart of the piedmont area of North Carolina, lies a rich history filled with legends, folklore, facts and great stories. When one travels along NC Highway 66 through the small town of Kernersville heading south, the road winds and turns just as it did during the late 1930’s. Dating back to the late 19th century, the Fayetteville Road traveled on a more westerly route and if you were traveling in 1842, this road would have taken you to the crossroads of Salisbury Deep River Road and the center of Browntown, NC.

Browntown Map

To provide a detailed history of this small hometown, a bureau was located in 1928 in the possession of Dr. D E Hilton of High Point. An inscription was written on the back of the piece stating the following; “Browntown, North Carolina, Davidson County, March the 13th in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty eight. Being the seventy second year of the Independence of the United States of America. This bureau was built for Paris Horney by William Pickard of Browntown, which was founded in the year 1791.” Pickard was a well known cabinet maker in the area. Refer to the map above for the exact location of his shop and home.

Traditional stories tell us that Betty Brown, a widow, with six children migrated from Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War and settled in the area along Asel’s Creek. The facts confirm that Betty and her children, Joseph, Absalom, Ephriam, Jacob, Seth and Alice all appear on church records of Abbotts Creek Baptist Church. In fact, Betty is listed as a member of the church in the year of 1832. Absalom Brown, her son, was the first and only mayor of the town when it was incorporated in 1842. The town commissioners were Dr. Alfred Folger, Austin Raper, Ezekiel Hitchcock and William Shields. At that time, 13 dwellings were located in the town. They consisted of a post office, hat shop, shoe shop, two cabinet makers, saddle shop, two blacksmith shops, tailor shop, a mill and 3 other stores. There were two churches, Abbotts Creek Baptist and Bethel Methodist Church, both located just outside the town limits.


Six doctors praticed medicine in Browntown. Dr. Folger, Clemmons, Wood, Smith and Echols were 5 of them. General Greene passed through the area prior to Browntown becoming a town. An memorial was erected by DAR(Daughters of the American Revolution).

general greene-abbotts creek

On the evening of August 31, 1859, John Robinson’s circus arrived in Browntown staying the night and performing the next day. One of the elephants chained near a corn crib, escaped during the night. The elephant removed a log from a building and helped himself to a barrel of oats. This story was recited for generations throughout the area.


Political elections prior to the Civil War, were held in the month of August and everyone would gather around Browntown and the “Election Oak”, a huge oak tree located in the center of town. Music was provided to the large crowds by Joseph Brown and his family on stringed instruments. Joseph Brown operated the shoe shop in town. The “Election Oak” was known as the spot where the boys would play their game of marbles in the dirt and where they would later sign up for service during the Civil War.

North of the town lies the area where Bethel Methodist Church was located and the “Old Burying Ground” The church was formed in 1800 and built by John Bodenheimer but it is estimated that the cemetery dated several years before with estimations as early as 1752. Many of the first settlers were buried in this location but are now lost forever. The church held it’s last service in 1864. Years later, the land was sold to a local farmer who removed the headstones and plowed over the graves. This was recorded in the newspaper, “High Point Enterprise” in 1928. No existing church records or burial records have been located.

plank road

The beginning of the end for Browntown originated with a toll road construction of the Plank Road. This road was made of wood nearly 6 to 8 inches thick and would charge a toll fee to persons who wished to travel upon it. It was very costly to maintain and the company dissolved years later. This road by-passed Browntown and other smaller settlements began to thrive nearby. Also, by 1860, the railroad passed the town altogether and this allowed many to relocate and slowly the little town died. Once a vibrant community, nothing remains of Browntown today. During the late 1920’s, a newspaper reporter in search of the town, was able to locate the hat shop building and remains of a dam along Asel’s Creek. He reported several blooming shrubs struggling to survive among the over growth. But, today, they have dissappeared from view.


Genealogy & Biography of Browntown Citizens

Barnabas Payne- built the only brick house in Browntown. Married Asel Hedgecock.

Haley Brown-a large slave owner and surveyor by trade. Son, John, died in December of 1856 and was buried on the farm.

John Brown-blacksmith of Browntown

Lorenzo Dow-Minister-first preached from his wagon in Kernersville in October of 1803.

James Younger-Welsh minister. Daughter, Anna married James Evans circa 1758.

Moses Evans-son of James and Anna Evans-very well educated man and loved debating. It is said that Moses once recited at Pine Stump School House that one day carriages without horses would run. Occupation-music teacher. Buried at Abbotts Creek Church.

William Pickard-occupation-cabinet maker. Wife-Sarah. He kept a journal of daily events that occurred in Browntown. Children-Moses,Wilson and Martha. Moses went to Missouri and married. Wilson married Melfina Daniels and Martha died young.

Dr. Folger-author of book on the subject of making medicine from roots, herbs and barks. Only copy known to exist is located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Asel Hitchcock-arrived in area circa 1762 from Pennsylvania. Small portion of the rock foundation of his house remains. Son-Ezekiel.


Special thanks to High Point Enterprise Newspaper,  Personal Papers of Early Hedgecock, Kernersville Library, Abbotts Creek Baptist Church and to the many people involved with this project.





Shadows On The Heart

The life story of Elizabeth Smith Motsinger(1841-1905).

Elizabeth Smith was born in Davidson County, NC to John Smith and Elizabeth Gibbons Smith on September 6, 1841. Her first 3 years were filled with daily routines and new surprises as she was learning her world. But, fate would leave her brokenhearted on a summer day. During the year of 1844, her first loss was felt with the thundering shudder of her mother’s death in September. Elizabeth Gibbons Smith was buried in Friedland Moravian Church Cemetery on the 18th, just 12 days after her little daughter, Elizabeth celebrated her 3rd birthday. Two years later in 1846, her father, John remarried and now Elizabeth had a new step-mother, Mary. It is not known if Elizabeth attended school, but she did know how to read and write as she proved this later in life on documents.

Elizabeth Gibbins

Elizabeth Gibbons Smith Gravesite

Elizabeth continued to live with her family in Davidson County, NC taking care of her chores and daily tasks around the farm. At the age of 15, the love of her life was introduced as Joshua G Motsinger of Abbotts Creek area. Exactly 30 days after her 16th birthday, they were married. October 6, 1860 was met with the leaves just beginning to change for the season and fellow neighbors gathering in the summer’s harvest, Elizabeth became Mrs. Motsinger.  She moved from her family home to Abbotts Creek and moved in with Joshua’s parents, Felix and Christina Motsinger. They began their life together just as the screams of war were approaching. The year of 1861 was met with joy and sorrow with the onset of the Civil War in the spring and the birth of their firstborn, Felix Wesley Motsinger soon after. The war brought forth new problems that threatened their new world as Joshua traveled to High Point and Greensboro to work in the Guilford Mines for the war effort and to support his new family.


During the next few years, Joshua would travel back and forth on the train and reach home as often as he could. Elizabeth gave birth to her daughter in August of 1862 whom she named Julia Ann after her sister-in-law. Elizabeth continued to live with Joshua’s family and became very close to them all, especially her sister-in-law, Juliann. Joshua continued to be away for long periods of time working in the mines for the Confederacy during the years of 1863 and 1864, but he did manage to begin the construction of a new home next door to his parents. Juliann, Joshua’s oldest sister, moved in the new house and stayed with Elizabeth to help her with the small children. In the year of 1865, Elizabeth was pregnant once again and the war was finally coming to an end. But tragedy would hover over the new house and change Elizabeth’s world forever. The love of her life, Joshua died just 2 days after their 5th wedding anniversary on October 8, 1865. He was buried at Bethany Baptist Church near their home on the 9th of October. Elizabeth was 9 months pregnant at the time of the service. Filled with grief and her unborn child, what would life be for her now?


Maternity Dress circa 1865

Labor pains and grief were felt on October the 14th, just 6 days after burying her husband, Elizabeth gave birth to a healthy baby boy. She named him John Louis Motsinger. Aunt Juliann never left the little family and continued to live with Elizabeth until her death. Felix and Christina, Joshua’s parents, took care of their grandchildren and Elizabeth until their deaths. Elizabeth never remarried.

Joshua G Motsinger tombstone

Joshua G Motsinger Gravesite

The children attended school nearby and life carried on along the banks of Abbotts Creek. Elizabeth began making plans for the little family.  Her brother and sisters had moved into Forsyth County and wrote her letters stating that life was much easier near the bigger city of Salem. Elizabeth set her sight on Kernersville just a day’s trip away from their home. Juliann acquired money from her father’s estate and purchased land northwest of the little town. Elizabeth was waiting on the 21st birthday of her son Felix and her plans would be fulfilled with him acquiring the tract of land. As the years slowly drifted by, Elizabeth gave her consent for her daughter, Julia Ann to marry her love, Solomon Tesh. Julia was 16 when the wedding took place on October 14, 1877. Julia and Solomon continued to live with Elizabeth until 1882 when she moved to Greensboro, NC. Life seemed content for Elizabeth during this time and preparations were being made to move the family in the spring of 1881.  But, the black cloud once again brought down the heavy rains and Elizabeth knew too well this feeling of loss. Her son, Felix was visiting Salem in January of 1881 just months before his 21st birthday. He was in an accident and killed on the 7th. It took 3 days to bring Felix Wesley’s body home for burial and on January 11, 1881, he was buried near his father, Joshua.

mourning dress

Mourning Dress circa 1880

Elizabeth found herself in mourning once again and she knew that the family’s plans of moving would not happen now. She exchanged letters with her daughter and friends in the area. Elizabeth and Aunt Juliann operated the farm and took care of Grandma Christina who was very frail now and near death. Soon, both Joshua’s parents would be gone and the farm was growing even smaller. John Louis was now at the age of helping more on the farm, but Elizabeth made sure he still attended school regularly. At the age of 20, John Louis, Elizabeth’s youngest son, became the head of the household, informing his peers that his real age was 21. Soon, preparations were once again being made for the little family to move to Kernersville, NC. The wagon was loaded one spring day and Aunt Juliann accompanied Elizabeth and John on the trip. They arrived on the property and stayed in the one-room cabin previously built by former owners. Juliann sold the property to John Louis Motsinger in May of 1885. John began work on building the house that stands today. Elizabeth traveled with her son, John to Winston Courthouse, county seat of Forsyth County in July of 1901. There she filled out a Widow’s Application for Pension through the service of her husband, Joshua Motsinger. It was approved and Elizabeth was granted $30.00. She became ill during the autumn of 1905 and on Christmas Eve, she fell asleep forever. Elizabeth was buried at the new church, Piney Grove Methodist and her son, John purchased a tombstone for the grave. Pictured below are pictures of her son, John Louis Motsinger and the house he built when they moved to Kernersville.

John Louis Motsinger

John Louis Motsinger, his wife, Mary Elizabeth Dean Motsinger and their only son, Lewis Addison Motsinger


John Louis Motsinger and the house he built in Kernersville. Elizabeth lived in this house until her death on Christmas Eve, 1905.