The Moravian Settlements

A Guide To History And Genealogy In North Carolina

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If you have an ancestor who was living in the Piedmont area of North Carolina during the 18th century, you can rest assure, your ancestor associated with the Moravians or was a member of the Moravian church. This religious group traveled from Pennsylvania in 1753 and purchased 100,000 acres of land in North Carolina. Their first settlement was established in Bethabara in the year of 1754. By 1759, Bethania had been established near the Great Wagon Road which allowed travelers to stop at the small village and trade goods, spend the night and make new acquaintances. During these years, the French and Indian War was creating turmoil in the area. Many families sought refuge within the barriers of Bethabara and Bethania during this time. Other communities were Salem in 1766,  Friedberg, organized in 1773, Friedland in 1780 and Hope in 1780.

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The Moravians were industrious, hard working and eager to share their religious beliefs with anyone who was willing to listen. All of the settlements were equipped with several businesses that traded various goods needed by the settlers. There were potters, blacksmiths, tailors, wheelwrights, bakers, taverns and doctors. The Moravians used The Great Wagon Road during the 18th century to travel back and forth to Pennsylvania and transport several items back to the Carolina settlements. They would also travel south to Fayetteville and Charleston, South Carolina. Gottlieb Kramer(Cromer), son of Adam Kramer worked for his father, a tailor by trade, and he would also transport goods back and forth via wagon. The settlers depended on the Moravians just as the Moravians depended on the early settlers. Together, they populated and grew the surrounding areas into large towns and communities.

The Moravians had strict rules in order to join their churches and become a member. Majority of the early settlers did not wish to join, but they needed the Moravians to purchase their crops or trade for needed supplies. The settlers also needed the Moravian doctors to attend to the sick which at times included not only the family members but the livestock as well. The Moravian settlements were the center of 18th century living in North Carolina.

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The records of the Moravians portray life during this time vividly and with great detail. The Moravian Archives Southern Province located in Winston-Salem, NC houses thousands upon thousands of records, diaries and journals dating back to 1753. These records contain data on all citizens living in the area and has proven to be a vital asset within my own personal genealogy research. The primary language among the settlements at the beginning was German, but as the years went by, English was spoken everywhere but during church services by the end of the 18th century. So, some of the records may be in old German dialect, but are searchable through the catalog database. The National Moravian Archives are located in Bethlehem, PA and hold all records pertaining to the Moravian church located in the northern region. The online website guides you through the process of researching their vast amount of records. The Moravian Historical Society is affiliated with the Northern Province Archives and together work hard on preserving the history of the Moravian beliefs and customs.

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“Felix Motsinger with a wagon full of turnips to trade. Allotted sugar.” Entry dated January 15th, 1773. The above is a translation from the tavern ledger book of Salem. Another entry: “Mary Hensen arrived from South Carolina wishing to join the brethern. She is an orphan and has nowhere else to turn.” Entry dated spring of 1783. I later located a reference to the same Mary Hensen that she was allowed to become a member of the church. Mary married and moved away from Bethania and lived her remaining days in the Meadows area of Stokes County. These are actual documents that I have collected through the years from the archives. Felix Motsinger was not a member of the church, but he was active within the Moravian settlements. According to the catalog, Felix was documented over 20 times in various journals and documents. This is a prime example of how the Moravians documented their daily activities. Without this vital information, many details of our ancestor’s lives would be forever lost.

The original Wachovia tract pictured earlier, portrays the exact location of the land purchase. In present day, the north line lies within the heart of Rural Hall, the south borders present day Forsyth County line with the east ending at Walkertown and the west ending at Muddy Creek in Clemmons. If you can trace your ancestor to the surrounding area, chances are the Moravian Archives has information pertaining to them.

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During the year of 1756, Indian uprisings occurred all throughout the area and many families living near Bethabara took refuge in the settlement. These families were living west of the Muddy Creek and north into present day Stokes and Surry counties. A typhus epidemic occurred during the summer of 1759 and killed many settlers all throughout the area. Moravian ministers were summoned often to conduct funerals and assist in burying the dead. There were also families located south and to the east in present day Guilford county. The majority traveled the Warrior’s Path from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey and Virginia. Nearly every settler stopped at Bethabara between the years of 1755 to 1759. When Bethania came into existence, Bethabara became a small rural farming community. Bethania was located right on the path of the Great Wagon Road, present day Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem and allowed settlers to stock up on supplies, spend the night and gather local news before heading to their destinations.

Friedberg is located in the northern section of Davidson County. The majority of these members arrived from Broadbay, Maine and were German descent. Friedland is located in Winston-Salem, just south of present day I-40 and High Point Road. Hope is located just east of the Yadkin River near present day Clemmons.

According to the Moravian diaries, no settlers were documented along the Yadkin River prior to 1752. That is not to say that no settlers can be found living in the Yadkin area during the time before 1752. The Moravians noted no settlers when traveling through the area in search for your desired property. Indian parties hunted these grounds and some of their artifacts can still be found today. Settlers who were not members of the Moravian church and settled west of the Wachovia tract are as follows. William Johnson-1757-600 acres, Evan Ellis-1758-651 acres, George McKnight-1762-611 acres, these names were among the largest tracts at that time. Other surnames were Long, Phillips, Matzinger, Teague, Rothrock, Kerner, Tesh, Weavil, Bodenhamer, Green, Collett, Iams, Dean, Crews, Dorsett, Braun, Valentine, Waggoner, Smith and Reid. These settlers arrived prior to 1770.

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The Moravian history of North Carolina affected our ancestor’s daily lives, whether it was trading crops for supplies, seeking medical assistance with the sick or requesting a sermon in someone’s house. The Moravians influenced the culture and the population of the area. Their presence enticed others to follow and settle in North Carolina. By early 19th century, many of the original Moravian customs were abolished such as allowing the church to determine who marries and what job you would have in the community. But, many of the original customs still exist today. For instance, all married women are buried along side of each other as well as married men are buried near other married men. Small boys with small boys and single men buried with other single men. Many Easter Sunrise Services were newsworthy due to the turnout by so many people during the late 19th and 20th centuries. Old Salem, of Winston-Salem offers tours in the 18th century village and the smell of fresh baked bread fills the streets from Winkler Bakery.

As a researcher of genealogy, I am so thankful for the precise record keeping of the 18th century Moravian church. They preserved our history with such vivid detail that it brings the past to the future. Don’t limit yourself on your search, visit the areas of your ancestors and contact local churches. You never know, you just might locate the missing link from your family tree. As always, Thank You all so much for your support and I wish you well on your research. Enjoy your journey!!

18th Century Settlers of Stokes County, NC

Segment 6

Welcome to the final segment of this series. Stokes county was formed from Surry County in 1789 and Germanton was the county seat. Later, Forsyth County formed and the county seat of Stokes became Crawford. The name later changed to Danbury. This series has remembered only a small amount of history that Stokes County offers. The county is filled with historical artifacts and family stories. It is up to all of us to find these treasures and preserve them for future generations.

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David Rominger(1716-1777) was married in 1741 and living in Broad Bay, Maine. He was assigned Lot number 13 which consisted of 100 acres. His wife died in 1752 and he married a widow with a large family of children. In 1769, David and his son, Phillip, migrated to North Carolina. In 1770, David’s second wife and children joined him in North Carolina where she died that same year. David settled in Bethabara and is buried in Salem Cemetery. David’s brother, Michael(1709-1803), of whom was the oldest of the siblings and was a carpenter by trade. Michael served 3 years as a soldier in the Royal Regiment and left to marry Anna Katharina Anton(1717-1794) on December 26, 1740 in Germany. The family sailed for America and lived in Broad Bay, Maine from 1753 to 1770. In 1770, Michael sold his farm and migrated to North Carolina by way of The Great Wagon Road. The family lived in Friedland and had the following children: Elisabetha-1741, Jacob-1743, Johannes-1745, George-1747, Ludwig, Martin-1752, Catharina-1755, Jacobina, Michael-1759, Christian-1762 and an infant daughter who died. A future blog about this family and their life experiences will be featured here at a later date.

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Phillip Rothrock(1713-1803) arrived from Germany on the ship, Pink Mary. The year was 1733. He lived near Yorktown, Pennsylvania with his wife, Catharine Kemtoz(1720-1777). They were married in 1720 at Rothenback, Germany. After the American Revolutionary War, Phillip and his family migrated to North Carolina. The family settled at Friedburg and are shown as farm lot number 120. Phillip had a total  of 9 sons named here. Jacob-1741, Johannes-1744, Phillip Jr.-1746, Peter-1746, George-1748, Valentine-1751, Benjamin-1753, Joseph-1755 and Frederick-1760. Phillip Jr married Elizabeth Weller(1749-1839) in October of 1769. Phillip purchased 1060 acres near Friedburg, NC. He was an active member with the Moravian Church serving as steward in 1791. Phillip Jr. along with two of his brothers, Valentine and Peter, all served in the Continental Army under George Washington. They all returned to Pennsylvania to enlist and serve during the war. All returned to North Carolina when the war ended. Children born to Phillip Jr. and Elizabeth are Jacob-1770, Frederick-1772, Eva-1774, George-1777, Johannes-1779, Joseph-1782, Phillip-1785, Martin-1787, Christian-1790 and Daniel-1794.

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Joseph Scales was born in 1765 and died June 20, 1832. He was the son of John Scales and Lydia McClaren. The family has a fascinating early history in Guilford County, NC. Joseph married Nancy Alley(1777-1820) and both are buried in the family cemetery located in Sandy Ridge. The couple had at least 6 children; Absalom(1798-1859), Sally(1801), Jane(1803-1878), Nathaniel(1806-1827), Joseph(1811-1839) and Andrew(1813-1839).

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Present Day Pfaffenhofen

Adam Spach was born January 20, 1720 at Pfaffenhofen in Lower Alsace, Germany. He died August 23, 1801 in Salem, North Carolina. He was married to Maria Elisabeth Hueter on December 17, 1752. Maria was born April 1, 1731 and died October 26, 1799 in North Carolina. In 1754, Adam and Maria traveled the Great Wagon Road to North Carolina and settled near Wachovia, the Moravian settlement. The couple traveled with the Nathaniel Seidel party and left in the month of May. Adam built the rock house, pictured below and raised the following children: Johann Adam(1753-1816), Maria(1756-1777), Rosina(1758-1849), Maria Elisabeth(1760-1846), John(1762-1844), Gottlieb(1764-1814), Anna(1766-1858), Jacob(1768-1856) and Joseph(1771-1820).

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Adam Spach Rock House

John Tuttle was born in 1761 and died in 1840. His father is Thomas Tuttle and both  enlisted with the NC militia during the year of 1778. In 1782, both Thomas and son John migrated to present day Stokes County. John married Anna Barbara Fry on June 16, 1783. John and Anna Tuttle had the following children: Thomas-1784, Michael-1786, Elizabeth-1788, Mary-1790, Anna-1793, Henry-1795, John-1797, William-1799, Peter-1802, Elijah-1806 and Sarah-1809.

These early settlers of Stokes County were brave pioneers who traveled The Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania and other northern areas to reach North Carolina.  These families would travel with others known as a “party”. Preparations would be made prior to the trip such as rations, supplies, etc. Many times, the travelers would not know one another before they headed down the trail. But, upon their arrival in North Carolina, it is now understood that these families were forever bonded together in life. A huge amount of these families would send members of the family back and forth along the road for various reasons. Many left matters unsettled prior to them leaving their homes and many would be sent for encouraging or visiting family members that were left behind.

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The pioneers who traveled here prior to the American Revolutionary War were vulnerable. Carolina was known as a wilderness, a wild frontier. This explains the reasoning behind Adam Spach and his rock house. The homes were made to be secure and guarded the family unit from the wild elements around them. The Cherokee did not welcome the new settlers and were still considered a threat during the mid 18th century. There are many stories and factual data containing information of Cherokee raids upon the early settlers.

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Martin Rock House in Stokes County

These 6 segments have only scratched the surface with Stokes County settlers and early history. The treasures of the past are so vivid all throughout the county and I hope this small series encourages all of you to research more into Stokes County and it’s early inhabitants. As Always, Thank You All So Much for your support of Piedmont Trails. Share your experiences of your journey and most of all, enjoy the trails.

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18th Century Pioneers of Stokes County, NC

Segment 5

We begin segment 5 with the year of 1756, when James Lankford was selected to serve as constable of the Stokes County area, then known as Rowan County. James purchased land along the banks of Fagg Creek in 1765. His will was signed on October 17, 1772 and is recorded in Stokes County. His personal items were left to his wife, Sarah and his land was to be divided between two of his children. A son, James Lankford, Jr and a daughter,  Susannah Lankford Dicke. Another son, William Lankford was granted lifetime rights to live on the land. The Lankford family was involved with the American Revolutionary War and the Battle of Kings Mountain. “Stokes County militia members were part of the group of patriots in pursuit of Patrick Ferguson in his fatal flight toward Kings Mountain, SC. John Martin and Thomas Lankford of Captain Joseph Cloud, Jr’s Company, part of Cleveland’s Regiment, were overtaken by a Tory ambush near the Broad River while they had been conducting a spy mission. Martin was wounded in the head, but Lankford was unharmed. Martin recovered from his wounds and John Deathridge succeeded in removing the bullet particles from his wound.” Quoted from Kings Mountain and It’s Heroes, published in 1881 by Lyman C. Draper. William Lankford married Nancy Dickerson and remained in Stokes County.

James Martin was born May 21, 1742 in New Jersey and died October 31, 1834 in Snow Creek, Stokes County. He was first married to Ruth Rogers in 1763 and later married Martha Loftin Jones in 1800. Children from the first union are, Sarah(1764-1840) married Pleasant Henderson, Mary(1766-1768), Jean(1768-1790), Hugh(1770-1861) married Elizabeth, Ann married Thomas Searcy, Mary(1774-1851) married Thomas Rogers, Thomas(1777-1778), Alexander, Samuel, Fanny married Robert Hunter, James married Sarah Alexander. Children from the 2nd marriage; Henry(1802-1846) married Polly Manuel, Edmund(1804-1861) married Harty Davis Williams, Elizabeth married Daniel Jordan, Martha married Alfred Scales and John married Mary Williams.

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The year of 1783, Job Martin appeared in the Stokes County area. A son of Job, Valentine Martin purchased land that sat on both sides of the Little Yadkin River. Valentine married Elizabeth Dalton and they had at least one daughter, Charlotte Martin. Valentine then married Nancy and both are named in the Eaton’s Church Book dated 1805 as active members. Valentine and Nancy had the following children: Rachel, Valentine, Henry, Samuel, Mary and Carter. Valentine migrated to TN circa 1810.

John Mucke traveled down the Great Wagon Road with the Moravians from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Click here to read more about the Great Wagon Road. He was born circa 1745 and by 1766, he was operating the still house in Bethania. To learn more about colonial distillery, click here. He married Magdalena Hirtel on July 1, 1774. Three children were born, John Lewis, Mary Elizabeth and Beningna. By 1779, the family was living in Bethabara where John was operating a new still house. The family moved to Germanton in 1792 and were no longer active with the Moravian faith. John purchased several land tracts in and around the Germanton area. After the death of his first wife, John married  Juliana Phillips. John died in 1807 while his wife Juliana was with child. Juliana married a Spaugh and the unborn child was given the Spaugh last name.

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18th century still located at Mount Vernon

Charles McAnally, at age 23, migrated with the Moravians to Carolina and settled a few miles from Bethabara. Charles was working as a wheelwright and in 1754, took in an apprentice by the name of John Paunton who was 21 at the time. This was quite an achievement for a man of this age. During the French and Indian War, George Washington was asked by the Virginia government to organize a defense in western Virginia against the Indian raids that were occurring. Charles McAnally was a member of the Virginia Colonial Militia located in Augusta County in 1758. In 1763, Charles followed the famous trail once again from Virginia to North Carolina. The Indian Treaty was signed in this year stating the Proclamation Line. This prevented settlers from settling west of the Yadkin River. In 1776, the Moravians posted the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War began. Captain Charles McAnally was in Bethania at the time of the posting according to the Moravian diaries. It states that Captain Charles McAnally was a captain in the North Carolina Militia. His sons, John and Jesse and his son-in-law, Joseph Banner were all members of the militia. In 1788, Charles was an elected member of the Convention of North Carolina from Surry County. Other members were Joseph Winston, James Gains, Absolam Bostick and Matthew Brooks. This convention was called in order to designate a state capital. Stokes County was formed a year later in 1789 and the first commissioners were Gray Bynum, Charles McAnally, Anthony Billings, James Makely and John Halbrut. Charles McAnally was born in 1731 in Pennsylvania and died in 1810 in Stokes County. He is buried in a family cemetery near the Dan River. Charles married Ruth Mae Houston(1736-1806) and had the following children; John married Anna Stone, Sarah married Joseph Banner, Jesse married Elizabeth Morgan, Mary married Constantine Ladd, Lois married John Evans, Ruth married Torrence Burns and Hannah married Joshua Homer.

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It is very obvious that many of these first settlers were well educated. Many wills contain references to books as part of the inventory. I’m sure to many, if a man owned a Bible, he had within his possessions, a library. The tools of many of the wills, describe skilled tradesmen. The lantern above gives reflection to what the frontier in the Stokes County area was like during this time. The darkness overwhelmed the little cabins that dotted the landscape but in anticipation of the sunrise, a new day would begin and the work would continue. Wildlife was abundant all throughout Stokes County, this included bear, wolves and panthers. The cabins were constructed to keep out all of the wilderness during the blackness of night. You can imagine the night, thick with a canopy of tall trees and in the distance a small flicker of light shows itself from a cabin.

This concludes segment 5 of this series. The final chapter will be segment 6 as we continue along the Stokes County trail of the 18th century. Visit the NC Genealogy Links page for more information about all North Carolina counties and other research tools. Piedmont Trails is now on Pinterest, click here and see the latest pins and boards. As always, your support of Piedmont Trails is greatly appreciated. Wishing you all great success with your family research and Enjoy your journey.

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Carolina Patriots

Stories of The American Revolutionary War

There are many among us who exhibit great knowledge and detail concerning the battles fought during the American Revolutionary War. There are museums and statues that proclaim the sacrifice of so many. Symbols of freedom and democracy survive today because of a thought in one’s mind that populated throughout the region and became the reason for war and independence. The significant dates, the battle ground sites and the graves are all equally important as we reflect back to this era. The thousands upon thousands of stories passed down through the generations are just as important. These stories contain great loss, great victories and heroism. They were recited near the end of a day, while enjoying the crackling of the fire with children’s eyes beaming filled with anticipation on each word spoken. They were shared at family gatherings among the men while sipping corn whiskey, proclaiming  battle details and the death of so many. They were shared at church as mothers wiped away their tears, not knowing the ground upon which their loved one laid eternally. The American Revolutionary War was necessary for our ancestors to complete in order to provide a freedom that had not been known to anyone in their family before. It was a chance for a new beginning, it was worth fighting for, it was worth dying for. Our daily lives differ today compared to the year of 1780. The lives of today cannot ever know the real feelings our ancestors were experiencing, but we can trace their footsteps. Genealogy is so much more than dates, censuses and tombstones. Each name holds within itself a life that endured the hard times and enjoyed the happier times. We can only hope that the future generations will find us just as interesting as we find our 18th century pioneers. Let’s travel onward and discover the passion of liberty in the Carolina frontier.

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During the years before 1776, Governor William Tryon was representing Britain and maintaining the respect from the citizens to King George. The Stamp Act of 1765 along with the Townsend Act and the Sugar Tax all brought dismay to the lives of the Carolina pioneers. Tryon employed several men who upheld the taxes and collected them. If someone was unable to pay, items would be taken to offset the balance. It simply didn’t matter how important the items were to the survival of the family unit, the taxes must be paid. Oxen and horses were often taken from the settlers along with food, spices and clothing. Tryon also imposed additional taxes on the Carolina pioneers. These taxes would provide living quarters for the governor and his personnel. In some cases, men were beaten or imprisoned. In North Carolina, the loyalist outnumbered the patriots during the early years of the Revolution. The settlers who were new to the area felt threatened if they supported liberty. Many homes were burned, small skirmishes between neighbors happened often as people tried to persuade others to respect the King or to fight for liberty.  As we all know and understand, the majority rules and this was the case in frontier Carolina during this time period.

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During the year of 1775, a small group of early settlers located in Surry County formed a safety committee which was designed to protect their families and their homes during the crisis of events happening throughout the area. A journal kept by William Lenoir states the members concerns of mistreatment by King George and his parliament. The committee calls for ammunition and guns in preparation of a battle near their homes. They felt threatened and they felt outnumbered. In public, Benjamin Cleveland proclaimed, “GOD Save The King” but in the committee, he helped to store and organize the ammunition that was stockpiled for future use. Committees similar to this one were becoming numerous all throughout North Carolina. Citizens were organizing themselves and preparing for battle as they learned from events happening in Boston and elsewhere.

The North Carolina Loyalist promised it’s neighbors that no harm would ever come to women and children in the area. But, this was not the end result. Many women received beatings and even death. Children were also victims of war. Hundreds of homes were burned simply because the word had been spread that they supported the liberty effort. Brutal tactics were used throughout North Carolina and in most cases, the British commanders ordered these acts upon their men. A patriot, John Sparks,  proclaimed on May 13th of 1776 near Wilmington, the British attacked a plantation and found the feathered beds lying on the ground. He also found no livestock on the property and bread slaughtered in pieces lying in the dirt. At the back of the house, he found women crying and one woman dead from a bayonet wound.

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With the men often away for months at a time, women were forced to manage all operations of the farm and the household. Children were expected to do more work and help out. The women longed for a letter or a word about their husbands and many received bad news. Some women left their homes and resided with other family members or lived with neighbors. This left the land and the home open to robbers and the British army.  William Gibson, a settler living in Rowan County, returned home after being away for 6 months. During his absence, he learned that his mother had been tied and beaten by the Tories. His house was burned and all of his property was destroyed. Mary Whitfield stated at the age of 87, that her husband and 4 brothers were often away from home fighting the Tory parties. The home was often visited by Tory members and they were robbed numerous times, all of their cattle were killed and one woman would stay awake all night while the others would sleep.  Mrs. David Caldwell would proudly show people her prized tablecloth for years after the war. She was able to hang onto this precious item despite the Tory’s visits to her home. Mrs. Elizabeth Forbis was riding a horse when she was approached by a Tory. With a hoe in her hand, she raised her arm high and instructed the Tory that she would split his head open if he tried to seize her horse. She was able to ride away and tell her story.

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These stories are only just a glimpse into what life was really like during the war years. People were often anxious to hear about loved ones and desperate for relief from the extended arms of King George. Liberty meant so much to the early settlers due to the sacrifices they all endured to be where they were for the moment. Traveling from their homeland to a new land was no small quest and to arrive only to be taxed to the point that prospering for the future could not be seen for themselves or their offspring was disheartening. Many of these settlers left their homelands for this very reason, they no longer wanted to be ruled by a tyrant that resided over 3,000 miles away. A tyrant who demanded respect but yet gave very little gratitude or acknowledgment to the colonies livelihood. When the settlers heard about the events that were happening elsewhere, they became concerned, but they also became fully aware that in order to achieve in this new land, it would have to be conquered and diminish the problems that prohibited it’s growth. This explains the enlistments of so many who pledged allegiance to a new democracy and proclaimed liberty from King George in 1776 and 1777.

Each and every family was affected by the war in some way or another. Even the Moravians, who tried so hard to stay out of the battle zone, felt it’s presence on several occasions. Lord Cornwallis stayed in Salem while he was marching through the area to confront Nathaniel Greene. The Quakers who were totally against war, also proclaimed liberty for all. Many children witnessed the war with their own eyes. The scars that were left behind is hard for us today to comprehend. The blasting of cannons in the distance, the screams of panic from the neighbors and the glimpse of redcoats in the woods as they marched onward. All of the settlers had their stories to tell and share. Future generations would recite them on special occasions, but as the years drifted by, the stories would be told less and less. The settlers prevailed and welcomed victory when it finally arrived. They mourned for the ones lost, but were now able to hope for the future. A new beginning had arrived and tomorrow was what they could make of it through liberty and justice for all.

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The above photo shows Henry Horton(circa 1940). He is the 3rd great grandchild of Nathan Horton(1757-1824). If you look closer, you will see that Henry is wearing a  uniform. He proclaimed the uniform belonged to his great great great grandfather, Nathan who fought during the American Revolutionary War. Experts later determined that the actual uniform dates to the War of 1812 and belonged to Henry’s great great grandfather, Phineas Horton. Nevertheless, Henry felt the importance of sharing his family’s history and wanted others to know that his family fought for liberty.

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I encourage all of you to locate the stories of your ancestors during the years of the American Revolutionary War. There are many treasures that dwell in the most unlikely places, so think outside of the box and explore all of your leads. You just never know what you might stumble across as you walk in the footsteps of long ago. Thank You all for your support of Piedmont Trails and wishing you great success with your research and your journey into North Carolina history.

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18th Century Pioneers of Stokes County, NC

Segment 4

Stokes County, NC is filled with a vast amount of intriguing history. Present day highways often cross the same paths of our early ancestors. A prime example of this is NC Highway 66. The road was known as The Old Hollow Road and crossed through the heart of the county from Peter’s Creek to the upper Dan River.  The 1781 map pictured below, clearly demonstrates the settlements at that time. It also shows the location of the Dan River and various creeks located in Stokes County. Routes were created to reach Bethania, Salem and Germanton for trade purposes. The map shows details of Virginia and South Carolina as well.

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1781 Map of North Carolina/Virginia/South Carolina

Segment 4 of this series begins with the migration of the Fulton family. Robert Fulton arrived between 1781 and 1783 to North Carolina from Maryland. He was traveling with his mother, Elizabeth Clark, his step-father, Samuel Clark and his siblings. Robert’s father, Francis Fulton died and his mother remarried. He lived in Stokes County and worked as a blacksmith for several years. Robert married Elizabeth McAnally(1774-1794) and her grave site can be located in the old McAnally Family Cemetery along the banks of the Dan River. Robert married again and continued to live in the area.

Reuben George(1749-1832) was born in Virginia and arrived in Stokes County during the year of 1783. He lived near Rock Creek and is known to have had at least 6 children, Richard, James, Jesse, Samuel, Isaac and Presley. Presley George(1778-1866) married Mary Cook and lived on Beaver Dam Creek.

William Gordon was born in 1779 and married Elizabeth Herring in 1802. William is the son of Thomas and Sarah Flynn Gordon. William and his wife lived in between the area of Pilot Mountain and Pinnacle. Children of William and Elizabeth are Thomas H(1804) married Anna Grigg, Hardin P(1806) married Lucy West, Squire D(1809) married Eliza Davis.

Randolph Hall lived and married in Stokes County. He first appears in the area of 1778. His son, David is born in 1780 and he married Katherine Fulkner. They lived near Peters Creek and had at least 2 sons, James(1805) and Greene(1811).

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Dan River, NC

The Heath family settled in what is known today as Town Fork Creek or Walnut Cove. January of 1789 shows a land grant to Thomas Heath, 150 acres near Ash Camp Creek. His will gives details to his family and possessions dated August 29, 1779. His wife is not mentioned by name, but the will states that the home plantation is to belong to her until death comes upon her. Son, Thomas Jr. is to inherit the plantation after his mother’s death. Son, John Heath inherited a cooper and various farm tools. 5 shillings was to be equally given to the remaining children, of these none were named. Witnesses for the will were Joseph Winston and Leonard Ziglar.

Matthew Hill was born circa 1740 and married Nancy between 1763 and 1764. A will located at the Danbury courthouse dated 1803, assigns all of the real and personal property of Matthew to his son, Matthew, a grandson, John and his wife, Nancy. A son named, Samuel, was left 1 dollar. Most of Matthew’s children were born in Virginia. Children are Manning married Mary Fulkner, Matthew, Frederick(1785) married Elizabeth Tilley, John, James(1792) was a Baptist minister, Samuel(1766) married Sarah Cox. The date of arrival to Stokes County is not known, but the family appears on the 1790 census. Matthew Senior owned 200 acres near the Dan River and he became a member of the Primitive Baptist Church of Christ in 1802. A story that has survived through the generations claims John Hill, son of Matthew, was captured by the Indians and held for 2 years before he escaped and returned to his family. Matthew Hill Jr. moved with his wife and children to Tennessee after 1810. Samuel Hill continued to live in the area and worked as a hatter and a farmer. Samuel Hill lived in the Snow Creek area and the original rock chimney of his home can still be viewed. The majority of the family is buried at the “Old Hill Cemetery”.

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Stokes County looking west towards Pilot Mtn.

The year of 1760 brought many settlers to Carolina, among them were the Dearings, Vernons, Wards, Vawters, Walls, Lindsays and Jacksons. Samuel Jackson arrived from Chester County, Pennsylvania and settled along Tom’s Creek, Stokes County. Samuel had at least one son, Joseph Jackson(1761-1818) married Sarah Jessup, daughter of Joseph and Priscilla Jessup.

Thomas Johnson was born circa 1764 and was living in present day Stokes County during the year of 1789. The Life of Thomas Johnson(1764-1846)

James King, son of James, married Martha Sanders, daughter of Nahum and Susanna Sanders, on February 12, 1791. James King Sr. died soon after 1800. James and Martha had the following children: Sanders(1793), James J, Nancy, Martha, William and Barnabas(1811) The family lived near Lick Creek.

Thomas Benjamin King was known as a tradesman, fur trader and cattleman. During the early 18th century, the Saura and Catawba Indian tribes lived in present day Stokes County and the surrounding area. There is a Indian burial ground located at the Little Yadkin and the Big Yadkin connection. Indian rocks with markings upon them can be viewed along the Yadkin River. The few settlers who lived here at that time traded with the Indians, traveled their trails through the countryside and up on Pilot Mountain, or Mt. Ararat. The Indians used Pilot Mountain as a lookout point and years later Thomas Benjamin King used the same route to help drive cattle from the south to the western mountains. While traveling through the area, he met his future wife. Thomas married Elizabeth and they operated a tavern at the foot of Pilot Mountain circa 1830. Here, Thomas lived the remainder of his life, raising at least 3 children.

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Hanging Rock, Stokes County, NC

This concludes segment 4 of this series, but no worries, more segments will arrive later this spring. I encourage you all to research further into Stokes County’s past. This is an amazing journey we all are taking. Tracing our ancestors leads to experiences that otherwise, we would have never known. The mountainous terrain of Stokes County hampered many pioneers from settling the area. They would venture further on the Great Wagon Road in hopes of finding more open level lands. The numerous rocks, hills and vast forests did appeal to a smaller group of pioneers. The beauty within the landscape filled with it’s creeks and rivers must have spoken loudly to the pioneers of long ago. As their wagons passed through Pilot Mountain, their eyes allowed their minds to view opportunity and hope within the beauty of Stokes County. Weary from traveling and longing to stop the rolling wheels of the wagon, Stokes County welcomed them.

I would like to thank Stokes County GenWeb for sharing this blog on their website. Also, look for updates on the Piedmont Trails Genealogy website as new family pages are being added this month. I have included research links below to encourage you all to research further into Stokes County history. I want to Thank each of you for your support of Piedmont Trails and wish you all great success with your family research.

Research tools:

Stokes County GenWeb

Stokes County Historical Society

Stokes County DigitalNC

Stokes NCpedia

Piedmont Trails NC Genealogy Links

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18th Century Farming

Carolina Frontier

Among all of the pioneers who traveled The Great Wagon Road to Carolina, 90% of these settlers were farmers on their new lands. Once the family was established and the lands were cleared from trees and rocks, the planning began for the cash crop.  Wheat was the number one crop in the piedmont area of North Carolina. Farmers also grew corn, oats, flax and hemp. Tobacco was not widely grown at this time because of the lower prices before and after the American Revolutionary War. The oxen that brought many settlers to their new homes, now bring manure to the fields and pull the plows through the soil. Each day began at sunrise regardless how large the farm was or how small. Majority of farms were at least 100 acres and out of this 100, the farmer utilized as much acreage as possible for crops, livestock and gardening.

A fiber crop would consist of flax, hemp and cotton. These crops were not grown as a cash crop; however, many farmers did indeed profit from these. Fiber crops were woven and spun into coarse cloth for domestic use. Oats were widely grown and greatly exported to other colonies. Oats were also grown for horse feed. Rye and barley were grown and sold for local brewing which was very common among the early settlers.

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Flax Field in North Carolina

Apples, peaches, pears and plums were also grown on farms. Apples were used abundantly as well as peaches for cider and brandy. All of these orchard crops would be dried as well for later use. Corn fields would also produce peas and beans. Farmers would plant these crops in between the corn plants to take advantage of land space. During the year of 1772, black-eyed peas were greatly sought and over 20,000 bushels were exported from Virginia to England and the West Indies.

The garden would consist of sweet and Irish potatoes, pumpkins, melons and cabbage.  The garden space would differ from farm to farm depending on seedling availability and taste. Farming was hard work, but farmers learned to plant crops that required less maintenance and yielded more profit.

Some farmers would sow wheat in between corn hills or in other words, in between the rows. This would be called a winter wheat and would continue to grow until winter when it became dormant. The following spring, it would resume it’s growth and was ready for harvest by June. Wheat was harvested near the ground with a sickle. It was then stacked upright until fall or winter. Threshing the wheat took place by beating the harvest to separate the wheat berries from the hull or by leading a horse to walk over the hulls to allow them to separate. Manually threshing the wheat yielded approx. 5 bushels a day, while using a horse to thresh the wheat yielded three times the amount in one day.

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18th Century Hand Sickle

After the threshing, the wheat was cleaned by removing the straw and dust. The wheat was then stored until it was taken to a local mill. Wheat was an excellent cash crop during the 18th century. Wheat held twice the market value versus corn and many of the first settlers prospered due to the income that wheat provided.

Farmers would not plant the same crops in the same fields year after year. Instead, they would alternate their fields in order to obtain the best yields. Years of planting would damage the soil and one way to provide nutrients back into the soil was planting turnips. Turnips were widely known to enrich the soil for the coming year’s crop. All farmers used this method and the turnips were used for eating and livestock feed.

Livestock and poultry were just as important with farming as were the crops. All farmers owned chickens. Eggs were vital with their diet and chickens were also used as a food source for the family. Many farmers owned ducks and turkeys as well. Chickens were allowed to roam and roast where they pleased. It wasn’t until much later when chicken coops became popular. Feathers were used for bedding and quills were used for writing purposes.

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Wheat Field in Piedmont Area of North Carolina

Pigs or swine were brought with many of the pioneers when they arrived in Carolina. Pigs multiplied quickly and required little care for their well-being. They also supplied a great source of meat for the family. Most pigs provided the family with 100 to 150 pounds of meat. The pigs would eat chestnuts, acorns, orchard fruit and roots. Butchering a pig would usually occur during the late fall to early winter months in order to supply the family with a food source during the cold winter. Pigs also protected the family farm by challenging wolves, bears and killing poisonous snakes. Because of this, pigs were allowed to roam freely on the land and farmers would mark their pigs by placing notches in an ear.

Soil conditions would vary from farm to farm, depending on the location. Many farmers endured large rocks while others endured sloping and hilly land. The early farmers of North Carolina managed to make their land work for their needs. They quickly learned the weather patterns and planted by the signs of the moon. They felt these practices were so important that the methods were passed down from one generation to the next. A farmer’s life was hard, but the new freedom that filled the air after the American Revolutionary War, inspired the pioneer family to rise with the sun, complete their chores and celebrate their achievements. A majority of the farms located in Carolina were small to medium size and the entire family worked the farm. Each member of the family was equally important to the survival of the family unit.

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Fence along Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

The one advantage the early settlers had in North Carolina was the rich soil upon their lands. Many of the northern colonies suffered from poor soil which yielded small crops. Here in North Carolina, the soils were untouched by farming and yielded huge quantities of crops. This is one of the main reasons why the settlers traveled to the piedmont area.

1786 Pricing

  • Flour-barrel-$4.00
  • Wheat-bushel- .58
  • Corn-bushel- .33
  • Oats-bushel- .25
  • Rye-bushel- .50
  • Tobacco-100 pounds-$2.50
  • Beef-100 pounds-$2.50

There were many jobs on the early farms. Everyday, a task would present itself. Hand tools were mainly used and hard labor accompanied sweat that was needed for prosperity. The changing seasons only changed the chores of the farmer, the work would carry on. The trails these farmers left behind are cherished as we look back upon their lives and share once again their triumphs.

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18th Century Pioneers of Stokes County, NC

Segment 3

We begin segment 3 with Anthony Dearing and his family. Anthony was born in present day Stokes County approx. 1750 and married Elizabeth Vernon, daughter of Richard Vernon. in 1772. They had at least five children; John(1773), James(1782), Richard, William and Anthony.  Son, James(1782-1854), married Rebecca Davis(1786-1958) in 1806. Rebecca’s parents are James Davis and Margaret Dunlap. This family later moved to Missouri.

Samuel Denny was born in Virginia and migrated to Surry County in 1767. He settled near Pilot Creek with his wife and had 17 children.  The known children are William, Azariah, John, Charles, Henry, Lazarus, Benjamin, James, Shared, Keziah and Nancy. Samuel, after his wife died, moved with several of his sons westward. Azariah and the remaining children settled in and around Surry and Stokes Counties.

Joseph Eason was living in Stokes County during 1776. His son, Mills was born soon afterwards in 1779. Mills married the daughter of James and Margaret Dunlap named Bethania in 1804. They had the following children: Joseph(1805) married Sarah Tuttle, Susan(1807) married Peter Tuttle, James(1809) married Sarah Boles, William(1811) and Jane(1813). Mills and his father, Joseph traveled frequently to Tennessee where they purchased several acres of land in Dickson County between the years of 1804 to 1824. A portion of this family later moved to Missouri as many families did during this time.

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Robert Flinchum and wife, Mary Pinegar, migrated to Stokes County from Virginia in 1792. Robert was born in Culpepper County, Virginia during the 1750’s. The following children were born in Stokes County: Robert, Samuel and Mary. The couple had several children who were born in Virginia prior to them arriving in NC.

Richard Flynt was living in present day Stokes County in 1785. Richard’s grandfather was a tailor who lived in Lancaster County, VA. Richard was born circa 1720 and married Ann Perry a few years prior to 1747. Ann claimed a portion of her father’s estate during the year of 1747. Ann’s father is John Perry. Richard and several of his sons are shown as land owners and paying taxes in 1786. Richard died sometime during the year of 1792. John Flynt, oldest son of Richard, was born 1748. He settled in the Meadows area of Stokes County and farmed 200 acres with his wife Catherine. The couple had 10 children:Perry(1778) married Martha Halbert, Meredith(1780) married Mary Evans, Richard(1786) married Mary Young and was a Captain with the Stokes Militia, Frances married John Davis, Katherine married Leonard Aldridge, Ann married Harman Redman, Susanna married Benjamin Young, Lucy married John Redman and 1 daughter married John Webb. A large portion of this family moved later to Tennessee.

Meadows is located approx. 4 miles southeast of Danbury along present day Highway 8. I have visited the area often through the years. It is an old settlement dating back to the 18th century and many small family cemeteries can be located in the area.

Andreas Volck(Fulk) was born in Hockland, NY in 1722 and he migrated to North Carolina during the year of 1767. He became a member of the Moravian settlement located in Bethania and died there in 1790. His daughter, Anna Catherine Volk, married John Jacob Spainhour. Many speculate that they are buried in an old family cemetery located near Pinnacle. Several of the tombstones display the names of Volk and Fulk upon them.

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This is the end of segment 3 of this series. The families have been listed alphabetically and there will be several segments to come in the near future. I wanted to share with a research link, Cemetery Survey of Stokes County 1937  I also want to share a listing of family cemeteries located in Stokes County, you can access it here. Thank You all for your support of Piedmont Trails. I hope you all are enjoying this series as much as I am in presenting it to you.  Please feel free to comment and share your suggestions in the comment area. Wishing you all well with your research as we walk together along the trails of our ancestors.