Thomasville Rifles

Davidson County, NC Civil War Soldiers

Thomasville, North Carolina began as a small community originally named Thomas Depot. The location was once a well-known camping spot called Whitehart Hog Crossing. A saw mill was built near Cramer Springs and the lumber from this mill was used to construct the plank road from Salisbury through Davidson County. John Warwick Thomas set out to capitalize on the expected growth of the area. He purchased nearly 400 acres from Jonathon Winston and became the owner of the mill and the surrounding area known today as Thomasville. Thomas became a state senator in 1848 and pushed for the railroad to travel through Davidson County. Thomas invested money with the idea and contracted the six miles needed to bring the rails to Thomas Depot. The railroad arrived on November 9, 1855. One of the early businesses in the area was a mortuary, arriving in 1852 and the Thomas Store quickly followed. Within the next few years, Lines Shoe Factory established business in 1855 and Shelly Boot Company followed in 1858. By 1860, a tobacco warehouse was established and the area contained over 300 citizens.

Online Photocopy of Possible Thomasville Rifles Volunteer

The Thomasville Rifles were volunteers comprised of men living in and near the new founded community. The soldiers were recruited in the 4th North Carolina Volunteers and later into Company B, 14th Regiment N.C. Troops. The above soldier is unknown but we can learn details about him through the photo. He is carrying a long rifle with an octagon barrel. The shape of the tang highly suggests that the manufacturer of this weapon was located in Salem, Forsyth County, NC. During the early years of the war, local sheriffs were required to gather suitable firearms and deliver them to Raleigh. These weapons were distributed to the soldiers after alterations were made for military use. Documents also prove that shipments of “Salem Rifles” were used and distributed all throughout the war years. The other details of the photo showing the battle shirt and the homemade waist band suggest this photo was taken very early into the war. This particular photocopy has been altered as you change your focus on the bowie knife. The colorized version and the knife appear to be added for reasons unknown. Look closer at the knife details and you can see how this item was digitally added to the copy. The original photo was located in the Thomasville area and the rifle caught my eye as I was researching these soldiers of Davidson County. Having a keen eye when researching photos is critical for any project. Photos can reveal just as much data as paper documents if you look closely.

Thomasville Old Train Depot

The Lambeth Tobacco Warehouse was turned into a hospital at the close of the war as well as the yard of the Thomasville Methodist Church. Nearly 2,000 men received medical attention. Over 40 men died while being treated and were buried in the Thomasville City Cemetery. These men buried in the cemetery are both union and confederate soldiers.

Thomasville City Cemetery

The volunteers of the Thomasville Rifles are mentioned below in alphabetical order. These men were exposed to several major battles throughout the war and the below data will give you a brief description of each soldier and his family.

ROSTER A thru E

Allred, Clemmons M (1838-1918)

Born in 1838 and resided with Sam Craven, a master carpenter in Thomasville, during 1860. Volunteered April 23, 1861 and mustered in as a corporal. Promoted to sergeant when the regiment was reorganized on April 27, 1862. On March 1, 1863, he was demoted to the rank of private. Wounded at Chancellorsville, Virginia on May 3, 1863. November of 1863, served as a division guard and was absent until August of 1864. Paroled at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Father of eleven children and married twice, last wife known as Etta T. Hardee. Died in 1918 in Jackson, Tennessee.

Allred, William

William was known as a carpenter in Thomasville prior to volunteering on April 23, 1861. He was mustered as a private until he was wounded at Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862. He recovered from his wounds and was counted present in January of 1863. He was reported absent without leave from July 30 until November 6, 1863. He was with the regiment from November 7, 1863 until August of 1864 when he was once again counted absent.

Anderson, Jesse A. (1838-1863)

Parents are John and Cynthia Pope Anderson. Jesse was the only son of this couple and was living with Sam Craven in Thomasville as an apprentice. He volunteered on April 23, 1861. Wounded on September 17, 1862 at Sharpsburg, Maryland. Wounded again with a gunshot wound in Chancellorsville, Virginia on May 22, 1863. Captured at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania between July 1 and July 3rd, 1863. He died in Federal custody on July 10, 1863 in Gettysburg. Cause of death was not reported.

Ayer, Henry W.

Henry was known to work as a clerk at the Conrad Mill Mining Company prior to volunteering on April 23, 1861. He was mustered as first sergeant and on May 26, 1861, he was appointed to the post of second lieutenant.

Babcock, Edward Warren

Born in the state of Maine in 1837, Edward arrived in Thomasville and was an employee of the Lines Shoe Factory as a “bootmaker”. He volunteered on April 27, 1861 and was mustered in as a private. Promoted to sergeant in April of 1863. Wounded in the thigh at the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia. Promoted to first sergeant in April of 1864. He was reduced in rank to private on August 1, 1864 for unknown reasons.

Baker, David

David worked as a carpenter in Thomasville and volunteered on April 23, 1861. He served at Williamsburg and the Seven Days campaign before he became ill and was sent home on furlough. He died in November of 1862.

Baker, Phillip

Volunteered on April 27, 1861. Wounded at Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862. He was a confined at Fort McHenry, Maryland until paroled and transferred to Aiken’s Landing, Virginia for exchange on October 19, 1862. He was placed on light duty and retired to the invalid corps on April 27, 1864.

Baker, Rufus

Rufus worked as a farmer prior to volunteering on April 27, 1861. He was paroled in Lynchburg, Virginia in April of 1865.

Baker, William

William was a known farmer in 1861 when his three brothers volunteered on April 27th. Several months later, he traveled to Camp Bee, Virginia and volunteered for service on September 10, 1861. Wounded at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia on May 12, 1864. Captured as prisoner and released at Washington D.C. on April 10, 1865 after taking the oath of allegiance.

Beck, Jacob H.R.

Jacob is the son of Ambrose and Elizabeth Beck. Volunteered on July 29, 1861. He deserted on July 1, 1862 and married Martha Shuler on December 28,1862. He returned to service on February 23, 1863 and was killed by a bayonet at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia on May 15, 1864.

Berrier, Henry Jackson (1836-1907)

Jackson is the son of Jacob and Christina Grimes. Volunteered on August 15, 1861. Promoted to sergeant, captured at Farmville, Virginia on April 6, 1865. Confined at Point Lookout, Maryland until June 24, 1865.

Black, Amos

Amos is the son of Solomon and Catharine Black. Conscripted into service on July 16, 1862 in Wake County. Reported present until he died in “the valley of Virginia” on November 22, 1962 of disease.

Britt, Frank J. (1841-1862)

Frank was born in Maine and worked in the Lines Shoe Factory before he volunteered on April 23, 1861. He was mustered in as a sergeant. Killed in action at Malvern Hill, Virginia on July 1, 1862.

Bryant, Thomas (1832-1862)

Thomas is the son of John and Sarah Bryant. He volunteered on April 27, 1861. Wounded and captured at Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862. He died of his wounds while in Federal custody at Frederick, Maryland on October 19, 1862.

Collett, William J.

William is the son of James and Margaret Collett. Volunteered on April 27, 1861. Mortally wounded during a battle in Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864.

Cross, Moses H. (1843-1913)

Son of Charles and Delia Huffman Cross. Apprenticed to William B Hamner as a saddler and tanner. Volunteered on April 23, 1861. Promoted to first sergeant on October 5, 1862. Appointed to third lieutenant on November 4, 1863. Promoted to second lieutenant on May 18, 1864. Paroled at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865.

Davis, Henry Jackson (1840-1872)

Henry was born to John and Barbara Weaver Davis. He volunteered on May 20, 1861 and was mustered as corporal and promoted to sergeant on April 1, 1864. Captured at Winchester, Virginia and confined at Point Lookout, Maryland until February 18, 1865. He was sent to Boulware’s Wharf, Virginia for exchange.

Dorsett, William Henry

Son of Samuel and Athalia Dorsett working as a carpenter in the Thomasville area. Volunteered on April 23, 1861. Wounded in the head during the battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 1, 1863. He returned to duty on September 1, 1863. Reported as present until he deserted on February 15, 1864.

Ellington, George B. (1837-1911)

George is the son of Henry and Elizabeth Ellington. He was working as a carpenter prior to volunteering on April 23, 1861. Wounded in the mouth while attending fallen comrades during the battle of Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862. He recovered and was promoted to corporal on March 1, 1863. Wounded at Chancellorsville, Virginia and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Admitted to a hospital on August 7, 1864. Paroled on June 17, 1865 in Gordonsville, Virginia. Below is a personal account of George’s actions while at a field hospital in Gettysburg.

George was placed next to a wounded Federal soldier whose eyes had been shot out. The Yankee, who wore several gold rings, offered them all to George, if George would shoot him. George refused to kill the man and administered help to him the best he could.

Mast

Ellington, James F.

James is the son of Henry and Elizabeth Ellington. He was working as a coachmaker in Wake County prior to volunteering on May 9, 1861. He was discharged for unrecorded reasons on August 30, 1861.

Epps, Beverly R.

Beverly is the son of William and Mary Ann Epps. Volunteered on April 23, 1861. Promoted to corporal on August 1, 1864. Wounded and captured at Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864. Confined in Baltimore, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Point Lookout, Maryland. Paroled and sent to Venus Point, Georgia for exchange on November 15, 1864. Rejoined his regiment and captured at Petersburg, Virginia and confined at Hart’s Island, New York. Released on June 17, 1865.

Epps, James W. (1838-1862)

James is the brother of Beverly Epps and they volunteered together on April 23, 1861. Promoted to corporal on April 28, 1862. He died of typhoid fever in a Richmond, Virginia hospital on June 29, 1862.

Epps. Thomas G. (1842-1862)

Thomas, a brother to James and Beverly, volunteered with his brothers on April 23, 1861. He died of typhoid fever at Farmville, Virginia on July 1, 1862.

Sharpsburg, Maryland 1862
Confederate Soldiers Taking The Oath at Point Lookout, Maryland

Be sure to join our next segment as we revisit the Thomasville Rifles of the Civil War. The next segment will cover surnames F thru M and more details on the battles these soldiers faced. Piedmont Trails is growing daily as we have planned new adventures for this coming winter season. Our Footstep Tracking method will be released by end of October and we are branching out into the world of broadcasting as we move forward. Stay tuned on the arrival of these new chapters. Thank You all so much for your support of Piedmont Trails. We greatly appreciate each and every one of you. Wishing you great success on your research.

Enjoy Your Journey !!

Sources for this article are as follows: Chairtown News of January of 1921, Thomasville History Museum, Davidson County Register of Deeds, North Carolina State Archives, United States National Archives, Civil War National Historical Organization and personal correspondence. The featured photo is of the Thomasville Depot taken circa 1890.

The Regulators of The Western Piedmont North Carolina

Segment 1 Years of 1765-1768

Who were “The Regulators” and what is their place in our history? This segment will focus on the actions of the group known as the Regulators during the years of 1765-1768. The beginning of the Regulators date to 1765 and an address delivered by George Sims. The address was simply titled as “An Address To The People of Granville County” and it gave explicit details on abuse felt by Sims and other citizens of the area. The speech was delivered in a mild manner, a controlled voice with recognition and hope of a promise for justice and freedom. 

Sims dedicated the address to Thomas Person on June 6, 1765 at the spring session of the Granville County Court. Sims proclaimed the misuse of seized lands by legal authorities which were later sold for far less their current worth. He went on to express a dire need for reform against the high cost of legal fees, taxes and the illegal actions of certain county individuals who were sworn to uphold the law and protect the citizens from abuse and harm. Sims did not stop there, he went on to proclaim the illegal activities of Samuel Benson and other accounting frauds. The ending of the address proclaimed loyalty to the King and the government. Sims regarded his hope in the government to correct these actions with a proper solution and trusted this to place in a timely manner. He reminded his neighbors to remain calm and act appropriately while the issues were handled correctly by the proper authorities. As to the reasons why George Sims decided to give the address, it’s merely speculative, but highly probable that Person and Sims were fully aware of detailed illegal activities of the county officials and their impact on the community as a whole. It is also highly suggested that they stepped forward and vowed to request change and justice in a peaceable manner. Thus, addressing the court openly and publicly. 

Thomas Person (2)

Let’s take a closer look at these two men of Granville County.  Born 1733 in Surry County, Virginia, Person spent his childhood years on his father’s plantation. He married his cousin, Johanna Philpot and the couple did not have any surviving children. The above photo displays the home of Thomas Person in Granville County. He named the plantation, Goshen and lived on the property until his death in 1800. Thomas Person was known as a land surveyor during the time of George Sims’ address. Person was admired by neighbors and friends as honest and trustworthy. He was also acting sheriff, during the spring of 1765 and remained in political active service for over thirty years. Person would fight during the American Revolutionary War and on May 4, 1776, he was commissioned as Brigadier General. He was known as a massive and successful recruiter which enabled the rapid growth of both the Regulators, prior to the war, and the local militia during the war. Person was also known for getting crucial supplies to troops by using creative techniques. Person County, NC is named in honor of his life and in his later years, he supported the University of North Carolina located in Chapel Hill. He granted them one thousand silver dollars in order to complete their chapel which honors his name today. Person maintained his plantation, Goshen, in Granville County and owned over thirty slaves. By the time of his death, he owned a vast amount of land in North Carolina and Tennessee. George Sims was a schoolteacher and arrived in the area with his brothers prior to 1750. Sims was known as an avid reader and shared his political opinions and views with excitement among his friends and neighbors. Sims encouraged his comrades to be aware of taxes, fees, bartering, etc. Sims was known to quickly spread the news about any illegal fees, land confiscation, political propaganda and much more. He especially disliked the court of clerk, Samuel Benton, whom Sims proclaimed was a criminal prior to the position for the court of Granville County.

By August of 1765, Sims was arrested and sued by Samuel Benton for slander. Five years later, Sims had not received a trial, therefore a verdict was not reached as well. Sims did not join the efforts of the American Revolutionary War and he moved from Granville County to live the remainder of his days in Caswell County. He was well-known by many but it seems that he lived a moderate peaceful life as a constable and landowner until his death in 1808. While Sims was held prisoner in Hillsborough, news about his address flowed through the Piedmont countryside. Presbyterians were discouraging any conversations about the speech and reminding their members that charges of treason could be their outcome if they continued their attention to the matter. Other churches such as the Baptist were discussing the illegal activities of the court systems openly during services. Many preachers were encouraging their congregation to stand up for the principles against taxation and other activities carried out by the local authorities.

Churches were one of the gathering places qualified to speak to citizens in large numbers at once. Taverns and ordinaries were other places known for speaking out against Governor Tryon and his troops. Tryon visited the Piedmont area frequently displaying his huge numbers of armed uniformed men. The sounds and presence of Tryon and his troops marching through the countryside would have made a remarkable statement of authority, fear and control among the settlers. Tryon’s visits to Salisbury, Hillsborough and Bethania with his troops following the speech of Sims were numerous. The address was so well known as time went by, that people named it the Nutbush Address. This was in recognizing the home location of Sims. Herman Husband was quoting certain sections of the speech while he was organizing the Sandy Creek Association in Orange County. This particular association was arranging a meeting with local officials to discuss their grievances during the summer of 1766. Husband was concerned about Edmund Fanning, register of deeds, judge of the superior court and colonel of the Orange County militia. The Sandy Creek Association published several petitions and finally a meeting was scheduled for October of 1766. Fanning declined to attend and proclaimed the Sandy Creek Association as an insurrection. 

Soon after the failed meeting, a new tax was placed on the settlers to finance an official residence for Governor Tryon. This action gave way to the newly formed Regulators and their numbers quickly grew throughout the entire Piedmont area of North Carolina. The year of 1767 was filled with new members, organizing efforts and planning new petitions. By January of 1768, several advertisements were published stating that the Regulator members would refuse to pay their taxes until they were satisfied according to law. Early spring of 1768, Sheriff Hawkins of Orange County seized a mare in lieu of taxes. News of the seized mare quickly traveled all throughout the area until a crowd of over 100 protestors overtook Hawkins before he could return to Hillsborough with the mare. The Regulators seized the sheriff, tied him up and carried him to Hillsborough. The sheriff was paraded through the community and a few Regulator members later fired three shots through the home of sheriff Edmund Fanning. All of the Regulator members held the mindset that they were proving the illegal activities of the acting sheriff openly among everyone. They proclaimed against violence and stated later that the three shots fired at Fanning’s home was one shot from Fanning himself and the two remaining shots were from Regulator members protecting their lives. They expected authority to react in a traditional, authoritarian paternalist manner: to officially deplore the violence on one hand and to move to fix the problem on the other. Unfortunatley, the outcome was quite different. Although Husband was sure that Thomas Lloyd, justice of the peace, originally supported the Regulator’s petition, the county officers now had no interest in listening or supporting the claim at all. All Regulator members were arrested. Fanning recruited more members for the local militia in order to uphold law and order.

Rowan Blog-october 2 (2)

The Regulators continued to grow rapidly and by April of 1768, a vast amount of members entered the court of Anson County and Justice Samuel Spencer. A debate occurred and eventually the Regulators assumed control over the court proceedings. New officers were appointed among themselves and they discussed topics of burning the courthouse and the jail. They voted against these actions and all agreed to resist the collection of taxes. Court was adjourned and the Regulators all left quietly. Judge Spencer stated that he did not feel threatened for his life and was quoted, “they offered no direct insult to me.” When Spencer submitted his report on the incident to Governor Tryon, he stated that the Anson “mob” swore loyalty to Great Britain and a willingness to pay reasonable taxes.

Meanwhile, Edmund Fanning carried through his promise of reinforced militia in Orange County and captured Herman Husband and William Butler. They were marched to Hillsborough in the middle of the night and held in the jail. By dawn, news had spread so quickly that nearly seven hundred men were stationed all around Hillsborough. Fanning was in a deep panic and quickly allowed Husband and Butler to make bail. Fanning was forced to meet with the Regulators and he promised to hear their grievances and offered alcohol as an incentive of his promise. The Regulators agreed and left the town as quickly as they arrived. This was the beginning of correspondence with Governor Tryon and the Regulators. Fanning initiated the communication lines and informed Tryon of the details pertaining to the Regulators. Letters were sent back and forth with Tryon expressing his concern with violence but less concern of illegal actions performed by county officials. By summer’s end of 1768, Orange County officials chose to raise their already illegal fees and Husband was quoted stating, “all hopes of the law have now vanished”.

Rowan Blog-october

This ends segment 1 of this series. You will not want to miss the next segment which will provide the details leading up to the American Revolutionary War. Years of 1769-1771 were filled with more court proceedings, riots and death. Do you suspect your ancestor was a member of the Regulators? Let us know by commenting on this article and contacting us. Researching these early records can take you on an amazing journey. The lives of these early settlers deserve to be remembered and preserved for the next generation. Piedmont Trails wishes you all great success with your research. Enjoy Your Journey To The Past !!

 

 

 

Genealogy Tips For 18th & 19th Century Ancestors

10 Things You Should Know About Your Ancestors

A new interest with genealogy has arrived with DNA discoveries. The surge of testing has many following the procedure of determining the results and linking the evidence. Many queries arriving at Piedmont Trails are filled with requests to link themselves to a person of the early 18th century or earlier. For many, the reality of this specific task becomes very confusing as they begin to tread into unknown territories. On a personal note, my interest with genealogy has been with me much longer than the discovery of DNA. In fact, over thirty years of research has equipped me with a huge amount of resources. This experience has allowed me to locate the actual paper trail of my ancestors and has filled my journey with so many details and treasures. It’s this particular paper trail that will provide the proof from you to your newly discovered DNA relatives. Without this proof, you will not be able to link the desired DNA results to you or any other members of your family tree. It’s important to understand this first before you begin searching randomly through vast amounts of records.

Piedmont Trails will be introducing my personal techniques for genealogy researching entitled, “Footstep Tracking” on the Family Pages website next month. This unique method containing genealogy research techniques, has proven successful for me personally, time and time again. Before, I release the details and step by step instructions for Footstep Tracking, I want to share with you all, the 10 most important things you should know about each and every ancestor associated with your family tree. Without the knowledge of these 10 important details, your tree will have gaps and may mislead you to research in areas and locations that are unnecessary. For this segment, we will be focusing on the ancestors from the 18th and 19th centuries, namely 1700s and 1800s. Let’s begin with number 1 on the list.

#1-NAME

Number 1 is knowing the name of your ancestor. Every ancestor was born with a name given to them. This name is recorded time and time again on legal documents all during their lifespan. Make sure you have the legal name that was originally given to your ancestor. You will need to pinpoint and distinguish between nicknames, alias names and imposters. The legal name should be the name shown on your family tree. Other names that may have been used are details associated with their lives. Make no mistake, our ancestors often used various names, even on legal documents. I will explain more about this on the Footstep Tracking method arriving next month.

#2 & #3-BIRTH & DEATH DATE

Birth and Death dates are essential to your research. These dates enable you to create a timeline for your ancestor. Without a timeline, you will spend much of your research time searching useless records that have nothing to do with your ancestor at all. Steps 1 through 3 are your vital statistics and I suggest you have these facts prior to adding any other details about your ancestor on your personal family tree. I say this due to this very important reason; you may mistakenly add the wrong data and this data may lead you in the wrong direction to locate more records and documents.

#4-MARRIAGE

Marriage dates and details not only provide proof of the lineage continuing through to their children, but it allows the researcher to gain insights on the details of the person’s life. For example, where did the marriage ceremony take place? What kind of ceremony was it? Who were in attendance? Several of my ancestors married many times throughout their lives and they had children outside of their marriages as well. Marriage certificates and licenses are legal documents that prove your ancestor’s existence at a particular point within their timeline.

#5-GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION

In order to fully research your ancestor, you must determine the geographical location of his/her existence at any particular time. Land deeds/grants and census records are just a few sources that can distinguish this location for you. Once the location has been proven, documents can be retrieved from the immediate area. Sorting through local records are an amazing journey. In order to perform this task efficiently, you must understand what records are available and the location of these specific documents. As I’ve said many times, “Location, Location, Location! It is the key to successfully removing those brick walls.”

#6 & #7-BURIAL & RELIGION

The location and details of the burial are extremely important to your research as well. You may find that your early ancestor from 1735 does not have a specific burial plot. This is true with many families living during this time period. However; burials from the 18th and 19th centuries were greatly influenced by the person’s own personal religion. Churches have been documenting records since their existence and so much of this data is waiting on you to discover. Once you’ve determined the faith of your ancestor, you gain the knowledge of possible locations where faith was practiced. Then, the pattern begins with sorting through local church records and finding the burial location if available. Religious documents are a source of huge amounts of genealogy material.

#8-MILITARY SERVICES

Ancestors from the 18th and 19th centuries are most likely to have served in a military action of some kind. These records can be found both locally and nationally. It is vital in knowing these facts in order to fully understand the details of your ancestor and the family unit. I mention the family unit due to the fact that any military action performed by a family member did indeed affect the entire household in many ways. During the time frame of this period, you have The French Indian War, The American Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Mexican War, The Civil War and The Spanish American War. You also have the Indian Wars from the onset of arrival in America up through the 19th century. Some sort of military action is greater than 75% for all families of this time period. Subscriptions or fees are not required to gain knowledge of this information. I will have more about the techniques that I personally use on Footstep Tracking.

#9-OCCUPATION

It is just as important to know what your ancestor did to support their family. This will lead to other documents such as trading or selling of merchandise, performing works as a blacksmith or farmer or conducting business as an attorney or tax collector. Also, be aware that women of this time period performed a variety of jobs as well. Don’t overlook your female ancestors when it comes to occupation research. Children as well performed duties that supported the family. Once you begin to learn of this, you will be amazed at your findings. Regardless of the occupation, knowing this information will enable you to conduct a more detailed search and discover more facts about your ancestor.

#10-MIGRATION ROUTES

90% of families from the 18th and 19th centuries migrated to another area. This location may have been less than 10 miles from the original location or it may have been thousands of miles away. The fact remains that this era witnessed daily migrations from one place to another from 90% of the time period population. Knowing these migration routes are essential to your research. It will enable you to learn of stops along the way that your ancestor may have made. It will also enable you to learn the condition of the route during that time period and how popular the route was. I personally view these early migration patterns as the “latest thing”. In other words, the general public today views the new mobile phone as the greatest thing. So, the majority buys the new cell phone. This is how our ancestors viewed the adventure from one place to another. It was popular and the “latest thing”. Studying neighbor’s actions as well as your ancestor’s actions will reveal many details and clues on their travels.

Take a moment to glance at your personal family tree. Do you have these 10 important facts for each of your ancestors from the 18th and 19th centuries? Many modern day hobby genealogists think that all of this data can be quickly accessible by online searching or by subscribing and paying fees to an online genealogy company. This simply is not true. Less than 20% of genealogy records can be found online. Regardless if you have a paid subscription or not. Personally, I’ve never subscribed to any genealogy company and why? There is simply no need to do so. Also, many online records are not accurate due to transcribing errors, etc. If you have any questions or comments about researching your family genealogy, post them here at the article or contact Piedmont Trails at the website link. I am so excited to bring you my personal techniques with “Footstep Tracking” next month. Stay tuned for the launching date. As always, Piedmont Trails wishes to Thank each of you for your support. The websites have grown so much during the past year. It is amazing to see all of the followers and we Thank You all so much!!

Everyone experiences discouragement with their genealogy research, but don’t allow this frustration to overwhelm you. I currently have so many projects going on, that I often take breaks from my personal research. When I do return, I often find new direction with small hints and clues that I may have overlooked before. The main thing to remember is to have fun with your research and Enjoy Your Journey !!

The Road To The Kentucky Frontier 1740-1780

The History and The People

To feel the breeze along the western sky, To gaze upon the meadows of tall grass, To plant the seeds of tomorrow, To dream my dreams in freedom of thought I yearn to reach the fruit and live my life within it’s boundaries I long to gather my harvest and love my neighbor And when it’s time for me to leave it’s beauty, I long to rest under the canopy of trees and wildflowers.

Kentucky

Piedmont Trails

Kentucky (ken-tah-ten), the word meaning in the Shawnee language is described simply as “meadow”. This land lying west of the mountain range meant so much to many living during the 18th century. It stood for wonderment, surprise and beauty. Iroquois definition means “land of tomorrow”. The thousands of travelers who made their way across the rocky ridges were making plans for all tomorrows in Kentucky. Wyandot Indian language refers to the area as “dark and bloody land”. Many who arrived in Kentucky lost their lives due to Indian attacks, sickness and much more. Kentucky held within it’s boundaries, one promise, “The West”. The West was not only a place, it was a dream of peaceful lives, bountiful harvests, western skies and promising futures.

The Shawnee Indians were a southern tribe, however; by the early 18th century, majority of these people were living along the Ohio River, forced northward by the Wyandot in order to be used to fight against the Iroquois. They were a troubled society filled with resentment to many. They survived by military tactics that were used by both the Iroquois and the Wyandot. Rivals would continue for many years and the Shawnee were pushed, used and bartered by all large Indian tribes and settlements. This environment would create huge hostilities among the Shawnee people and the future events that involved them. The origin of the word “Kentucky” would prove to be a reflection of all translated meanings, meadow, dark and bloody land and land of tomorrow. During this segment, we will explore the early routes to the area known as Kentucky and we will point out lesser known facts about the roads, the trails and the people.

Fry-Jefferson Map of Virginia 1751

The present state of Kentucky was once known as Virginia. During 1734, Jacob Stover, John and Isaac Van Meter, Jost Hite and Robert McKay all began to acquire land in the Valley of Virginia. Settlers began to arrive from Pennsylvania to eastern Virginia and when Orange County was formed, these settlements beyond the mountains were included. The Kentucky area was known as Virginia just as the Tennessee area was known as Carolina. James Patton, from northern Ireland brought settlers by ship to Virginia in 1738. Patton became a leader in Augusta County and was co-owner of the Woods River Grant which consisted of over 100,000 acres. The acreage was beginning to sell tracts during the year of 1745. It has always been rumored that Patton explored the New River area, but as of date, no known source has proven this.

During the 18th century, a road was defined by it’s width accommodating a wagon and livestock. The roads throughout this region during this time frame simply did not exist. Only trails created by the Indians and the buffalo who migrated up and down in search of grazing grasses and salt licks. The Fry-Jefferson map of 1751 includes the New River, Holston, Clinch and Louisa rivers as well as others. But the exact location of these rivers are not noted. Other smaller waterways were included on the map such as Little River, Reed Creek, Sinking Creek, Peak Creek and Cranberry Creek, but no roads or trails were noted near them.

The first known record of a road to the New River area appeared on May 24, 1745 when James Patton and John Buchanan filed a report of pursuant to an Orange County Court order dated March 30, 1745. Patton and Buchanan had visited Frederick County line through Augusta County while identifying landmarks such as Beard’s Ford on the North River, Thompson’s Ford on the north side of the James River, Cherry Tree Bottom and Adam Harman’s location on the New River. The order was acknowledged and proclaimed to clear the route and produce a public road. Overseers were instructed to post signs for directions, all to be carried out according to the law. By November 19, 1746, another order named the Catawba/Noth Fork Road was approved to be cleared from the Ridge above Tobias Brights to New River to an Oak at the lower ford of Catawba Creek. Bright was appointed overseer with workers, William English, Thomas English, Jacob Brown, George Bright, Benjamin Oyle, Paul Garrison, Elisha Isaac, John Donalin, Philip Smith, Matthew English and others.

Catawba Road (courtesy of Virginia Frontier)

Two additional road orders for western Virginia were ordered on the same date. A road was to be cleared from Adam Harman’s to the river and the North Branch of the Roanoke River. Harman was named overseer of this project. The workers were named as George Draper, Israel Lorton, Adam Herman, George Herman, Thomas Looney, Jacob Harman, Jacob Castle, John Lane, Valentine Harman, Andrew Moser, Humberston Lyon, James Skaggs, Humphrey Baker, John Davis and Frederick Herring. The other order was issued to have the road cleared from Reed Creek to the Eagle Bottom and to the top of ridges located at the New River from the South Fork of the Roanoke River. Surnames associated with this project were Calhouns, Bryant, White, William Handlon, Peter Rentfro, Jacob Woolman, John Black, Simon Hart, Michael Claine, John Stroud, Samuel Starknecker and several others who were located in present day Pulaski County, Virginia.

The Early Travelers Walked or Rode A Horse To Western Virginia. The only road to allow wagons beginning in 1753 was The Great Wagon Road.

Early travelers into the region known today as Kentucky were John Buchanan during 1745. Lenoard Schnell and John Brandmueller of the Moravian Missionaries during the autumn of 1749. James Burke explored the area during the year of 1748. Dr. Thomas Walker embarked on the adventure during the spring of 1750. Walker noted the settlement located on the Holston River, but west of the settlement, he mentions no settlers. The Holston settlement documents Stalnaker and Baker as living in this area during 1750. The Thomas Hutchins map of 1778 displays a road crossing the New River and ending at the Holston settlement. Prior to 1763, settlements were not encouraged west of the mountain region. The Proclamation of 1763 offered these lands as rewards to those who served in the French and Indian War. Every field officer was entitled to 5,000 acres, every captain-3,000 acres, every staff officer-2,000 acres, every non-commissioned officer-200 acres and every private-50 acres. The governors of the colonies were not allowed to grant warrants or issue patents. All settlers located on the “western waters” were ordered to remove themselves from such settlements. Settlers were not legally able to have land located in the western sections of Virginia or Carolina.

Thomas Walker and James Patton had purchased many thousands of acres in the region. In fact, The Loyal Land Company filed a petition with the Virginia Governor on May 25, 1763 to renew the grant of 800,000 acres to Thomas Walker. The request was denied and Walker began to distribute advertisements throughout the colonies in 1766. These advertisements were requesting persons who had contracted lands from the Loyal Land Company to return and claim them, else the property would be sold. Majority of the land companies during the years of 1760 through the Revolutionary War ignored the King’s orders against surveying and purchasing tracts.

Cumberland Gap

As pointed out earlier, we now have uncovered two roads leading into the Holston settlement located in present day Kingsport, Tennessee. These two roads were established prior to 1750 and enabled settlers and land companies to explore the area and settle or sell land tracts. Daniel Boone and his party of 30 axe men started blazing a new trail into Kentucky in March of 1775. The trail traveled a direct route from Fort Patrick Henry to the Big Moccasin Gap. This portion of the trail was very well-known to Boone and to many other frontiersmen. Majority of authors have portrayed Boone and his party as originating from Anderson’s Blockhouse, but this is not the case. Documents prove that Boone traveled into Virginia in order to get supplies and to recruit his axe men prior to starting the trip. Boone had already explored Kentucky for years prior to blazing this new trail. In 1769, Boone departed from North Carolina and traveled well into the interior of Kentucky near Pilot Knob in present day Powell County. The route they followed was the Warrior’s Path, past Cumberland Gap to Flat Lick to northward near the Kentucky River. Boone had discovered the “inner bluegrass” area of Kentucky. Boone was very familiar with the Indian trails going into Kentucky and the buffalo trails that reached the salt licks and the rivers.

Back to March of 1775, Boone was hired by the Transylvania Land Company to blaze a new trail into Kentucky. An associate of the Transylvania Land Company was Joseph Martin, of Martin’s Station, who was friends with Dr. Thomas Walker. The new trail would depart from the Holston settlement and travel north and west to the present site of Fort Boonesborough. The trail was known as Boone’s Trace. This trail was the original road and only road leading into Kentucky from 1775 to 1791.

Reedy Creek Road and Island Creek Road

The famous Wilderness Trail name of today was not known until years after the Revolutionary War. The trail was changed slightly in 1792 from the original route and Boone was not associated with it’s changes although he had requested to be. The families who are known to travel Boone’s Trace are William Calls, Reverend Lewis Craig and his entire congregation and other neighbors from Spotsylvania County, Virginia. A young physician, John Ferdinand Dalziel Smyth and several friends, Colonel James Knox, his family and neighbors and Bishop Francis Asbury.

Thomas Speed, an early author, wrote a book in 1886 containing early migration paths and trails. This book incorrectly published the “Wilderness Trail” as reaching the Great Wagon Road at Fort Chiswell. This was the first time the name, Wilderness Trail was associated with Boone’s Trace. No previous early maps or surveys name or display a route titled “Wilderness Trail” before the printing of this book. He also stated that Fort Chiswell was built during the year of 1758 which is completely false, and it connects to the original trail. Speed went further to proclaim that the Draper family and the Ingles Family were the first two families to settle west of the Alleghany Mountains. This was also false. We may never know why these false statements were printed, nevertheless, they were and they actually changed the historical facts for generations. Judge Lyman Chalkley attempted to correct Speed’s mistakes in an article dating 1922, but after several years of deception, the truth was barely heard or not recognized at all. After more than 300,000 families used the trail to arrive in Kentucky during the 18th century, their stories were passed down from one generation to the next. By 1886, Speed published his book and the false statements were considered as facts. This affected our history to the extent that children were taught in public school systems around the nation that Boone’s Trace was the Wilderness Trail and it consisted of over 850 miles. Local communities filed claims during the early 20th century, stating their settlement lies along the “Wilderness Trail”. Many were quick to state that this trail not only traveled to Kentucky but also traveled to North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and even Maryland, according to Speed’s book. As the years went by, various towns and counties removed their statements and their claims but the history of Boone’s Trace stood defeated and many still question the trail to this day. The truth slowly emerges just as the details of our ancestors come to light by research.

To understand the early roads, one must learn from all of the documents in order to prove the road’s existence and how it was established. The early settlers of Kentucky endured great hardships along Boone’s Trace and many who arrived in Kentucky gradually left to migrate further west or returned home in the east. The early roads contain a vast amount of history and fascinating facts to share. The roads to Kentucky allowed many families to migrate west and begin a new chapter in their lives. Always strive for the truth among our history and our genealogy. Thank You so much for visiting Piedmont Trails. We hope you find fascinating facts with your research. Our ancestors left an amazing trail. Enjoy Your Journey To The Past !!

Early American Taverns

The definition of a tavern in today’s dictionary, means an establishment offering beer and liquor for sale while allowing consumption on the premises. During the colonial period, the tavern meant much more to the early settlers and travelers of the day. Just rounding the corner, a building appeared filled with aromas of food, wood burning and smoke. A jolly tune was playing on the fiddle and laughter filled the air. It was rustic to gaze upon it, but the walls were sturdy and the well was a welcoming sight to us all. A man met us at the wagon and invited us to dine with him and his patrons. I found myself smiling as I unhitched the team. The 18th century public citizen would have recognized the tavern as also being an inn, a public house and/or an ordinary. Majority of these taverns were also the private residences of the owner or operator. Beer and liquor license were fairly easy to obtain and if a person wanted to open a tavern for business, they would primarily only need the land and the building to begin the quest.

Settlements were established with the onset of a tavern. It may seem odd today to think of a new town beginning with a bar. But, during the 18th century, this was accepted widely and considered practical. A tavern was redeemed as a public space where a gathering of people were welcome to share their stories and their opinions. A tavern was also known for a space to rest from a weary day of traveling, a space to share a table of food and even learn new customs. Trade was accepted with means of haggling and bargaining from one farmer to a merchant or buyer. Political debates were welcome both private and public. Clubs were organized within the walls and admission guaranteed respect or displeasure among the neighbors. The exchange of money was allowed for purchasing drinks, lodging and much more. The tavern allowed society to grow, prosper and learn. Many taverns were also post offices and proclaimed the news of the day from far away places or just a few miles down the road. The tavern was the social media center of the 18th century and it participated in many roles throughout the colonies.

The Fireplace, Black Horse Tavern, Pennsylvania

As thousands of families traveled the Great Wagon Road in search of new opportunities, they often stopped at the taverns located along the way. From Pennsylvania through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the Piedmont area of North Carolina, these taverns signified the civilization and the growth occurring within it. For years, the taverns lined the landscape in the northern colonies and beginning during the mid 18th century, the taverns began to appear rapidly in South Carolina, Georgia and the Northwest Territories. The keyword in describing these early taverns thrives from diversity. The differences between one to another are fascinating to research and historic to preserve for the future. The first tavern opening within the United States, would belong to the New York area. A map dating from 1626 displays a tavern located near the East River. The business was owned by Governor Kieft and he built it because he grew tired of providing lodgings for people in his personal home. The settlement quickly grew in the Manhattan area with the first streets named Broadway and Pearl. In the beginning, this was true with many early tavern owners. It was not the need to become a business owner, but rather the need to allow lodgings and shelter apart from the private residences of long ago.

Inside the Ye 1711 Inn Located in Connecticut

Tavern prices for various items depended upon the county court of that particular area. Tavern locations were very popular near courthouses due to the volume of citizens conducting business on a daily or monthly basis in the focused area. The county court would issue a license for operations, but not all tavern owners abided by the law. Although majority of tavern owners were men, many women took up the business as well all throughout the entire colonies. Many taverns offered much more than food, drink and lodging. Prostitution was widely known to exist at many taverns and a coffee house tavern would only recognize business organizations and upper class gentlemen upon entry, such as a private club. Such is the case for diversity among the early taverns.

August Term 1774

Tavern Rates for Rowan County, NC

  • Rates are listed as £ pounds to shillings to pence
  • Gallon West India Rum-0/16/0
  • Gallon of New England Rum-0/10/8
  • Gallon Brandy or Whiskey-0/10/0
  • Beer-0/0/.6
  • Peach Brandy-0/0/.4
  • Quart Toddy made with West India Rum-0/1/4
  • Stabling each horse 24 hours with hay-0/0/8
  • Stabling each horse 24 hours with English grass or clover-0/1/0
  • Corn or Oats for horse-0/0/2
  • Breakfast or supper with hot meat and small beer-0/1/0
  • Lodging per night good bed and clean sheets-0/0/4
  • Boiled Cider per quart-0/0/8
  • Punch per quart with orange or lime juice-0/2/0

In most cases meal pricing would vary due to the size and portions of the actual meal. Majority of taverns during this time period would charge 1 shilling for 1 complete meal which included drink. Between the years of 1753 and 1775, a total of 129 men and women were licensed to keep public houses of some type in Rowan County, NC. The list below names several of these tavern owners during this time.

William Steel operated a Salisbury tavern from 1764 until his death in 1774.

Alexander and John Lowrance were living in west Salisbury having never applying for a license by the county court. Account books exist of a tavern from 1755 until well after the American Revolution.

Adam Hall,Agnes Osbrough and James Rody were all charged in 1762 for selling liquor without a license. These were the only three known charged during the 18th century in Rowan County, NC.

Thomas Bashford tavern keeper charged with over pricing wine.

William Temple Coles operated a tavern.

Peter Johnson was charged with keeping a disorderly public house.

John Oliphant lived along a ford on the Catawba River and operated a tavern.

William Edmond warned others to beware of the tavern owned by John Oliphant due to over pricing.

Robert Parris sued Peter Johnston for debt not paid. The evidence was ledger book presented by Robert that listed toddies and slings purchased by Johnston on credit.

Ann Caduggen, alias Ann Nichols operated a public house.

Majority of taverns would offer at least 1 large table, several benches and plates, spoons and knives for eating. The tavern located in Bethabara was 15ft.x20ft. and consisted of 2 stories. This tavern was most likely the largest in the immediate area during the time period of 1757. The most active months for taverns in the Piedmont area of North Carolina was the month of August. This would have been after the harvest of wheat and prior to the corn harvest. The slowest months were November and December. Court dates would also attribute to more visits from the local citizens in the area.

Tavern records are not easily accessible nor are they easy to locate. Ledger books were often left with the individual’s family members and were often discarded at some point. However, early maps offer great details to the exact locations of these establishments and local historical societies can offer more details if available. If you have learned that your ancestor operated a tavern during the 18th century, you can rest assure they lived an extraordinary life filled with spectacular events. They were often the first one to welcome new families to the area and were most likely to know the gossip news of the day as well. They were not exempt from hardships or relieved from the terrors of Indian attacks or conflicts of war. In fact, numerous taverns were often attacked by both and many owners lost their lives because of their business.

The road was the key to their success and majority of tavern owners were forced to participate with road maintenance within their area. The owner was also responsible for the upkeep of his or her establishment and to gain a respect from neighbors and citizens of the community. It is safe to say that the taverns of this era were definitely the hub of social media during the 18th century. Piedmont Trails wishes you all great success with your research and Thank You all so much for your support. Enjoy Your Journey to the Past !!

Early Settlers On The Banks of The Deep River

The Deep River of North Carolina spans a length of 125 miles from present day Sandy Ridge Road in Guilford County to Chatham County near Moncure. Several Indian artifacts have been found along it’s banks and in researching the name of the river, “sapponah”, an Indian name meaning deep river seems to be the origin. John Lawson recorded in his diary of many bison, several Indian nations and fertile soil along the river during the years of 1700 and 1701. The river is filled with large rocks and boulders with soft waters. This allowed easy paddling down the river for early travels and trade. The history of the river is enormous ranging from the early years to present day. New settlements were established with new grist mills, saw mills, schools and buildings of worship. Land grants are recorded for the Deep River area as early as 1749 located then in Anson and Bladen counties. Several skirmishes occurred during the American Revolutionary War and one of the first cotton mills was built in Ramseur along the river. This article will give details about the early settlers during 1749-1755. Majority of these families migrated from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Virginia. They traveled in small groups to reach the lands that John Lawson described 50 years earlier.

The title page of A New Voyage to Carolina by John Lawson 1709 Image courtesy of Archive.org

Benjamin Foreman-Received a land grant dated October of 1749 consisting of 149 acres lying on the north side of Deep River in Bladen County. The beginning of his tract was located approx. 1/4 of a mile from the mouth of Buck Creek and near Hobby’s Island. Measured to a forked oak tree and followed the Deep River to the first station. Benjamin died in 1796 in Chatham County, NC. At the time of his death, he owned 2 horses, 3 cows and 6 hogs. He also owned 1 cart and 1 pair of wagon wheels. A special note as well that consisted of, “panel of books”.

George Fagon-Received a land grant dated September 30th of 1749 consisting of 200 acres. Located approx. 4 miles above the Great Falls along the Deep River.

Abraham Creeson applied for a land grant in January of 1749 for 200 acres. The deed was never issued and recorded. The chain carriers were Edward Hughes and Richard Wainpot. These were men who worked for surveyor Charles Robinson. After Abraham’s death, his son Joshua Creeson settled in present day Surry County. His first born was named Abraham Creeson.

John Smith applied for 2 land grants, both consisting of 140 acres along the Deep River. The grants were issued in April 2, 1751 and both tracts are located at the Bear Creek connection to the Deep River. John was born April 4, 1729 and died during the year of 1815. He is buried at the Richland Cemetery located in Liberty, Randolph County, NC.

Nicholas Smith applied for 450 acres of land and the deed was issued on April 1, 1751 in Bladen County. His land is located along Buck Creek and Deep River. Nicholas died in 1828 in Richmond County, NC. His will contained no less than 10 notes where he had lend money to his friends and neighbors.

Zebulon Gaunt applied for a land warrant in 1752 along the Deep River consisting of 640 acres. However; the land was never issued to him. Instead, James Carter received the deed in January of 1761, nearly 10 years later.

John Haggart applied for a land warrant dated April 10, 1752 for 640 acres along the Deep River in present day Randolph County. The deed was issued 5 years later on December 24, 1757.

Phillip Haggart applied for a land warrant on April 10, 1752 consisting of 640 acres. The land joined both Abbotts Creek and the Deep River in present day High Point and Jamestown areas. The deed was issued in January of 1755.

James Carter received 642 acres along the south fork of the Deep River in May of 1753. The original deed states 701 acres but it seems that this was incorrect as I researched the remaining deeds pertaining to the property and noted the original tract was 642 acres.

James McCallaum applied for a land warrant in 1753 consisting of 300 acres near the present day county line of Guilford County and Alamance County. James married Mary Harris on April 14, 1787 and was issued 9 pounds on a pay voucher from the American Revolutionary war in 1783. James died before 1800.

Mill along Deep River

William Allen is claimed to be the first settler of Ramseur along the Deep River in Randolph County. After much research, I was able to locate several families living in the area prior to William Allen in 1792. It now appears that the McGee family was living along Betty McGee Creek and Deep River connection and operating a small mill when William Allen acquired the property in 1792. William did name the settlement Allen Falls and attempted a log dam at the water connections in 1799. But this failed years later due to flooding. Hezekiah Allen and Henry Kivett are attributed to have built the first saw mill and grist mill in the Ramseur area. Joseph McGee was actually the first mill operator of this area. His death allowed the land to exchange from McGee to Allen in 1792. To date, I have found no proof of Hezekiah Allen, but I was able to locate Henry Kivett and his home located in Liberty, Randolph County. Henry died in 1882. Years later, the name of Allen Falls failed as well and the settlement was renamed Ramseur.

For years, researchers have been trying to pinpoint the exact location of Thomas Cox and his mill along the Deep River. Herman Cox was the first Cox member to settle along the river in 1757. His brothers, Isaac and William also settled along the Deep River. All three applied for land grants and owned a great deal of property. Thomas Cox operated his mill in 1784 and it appears to be at the water connection of Mill Creek and the Deep River. The discovery of this mill was located on a old map among the archives.

Proof Discovery of Thomas Cox and his mill along the Deep River

During the year of 1754, permission was granted to Deep River Friends to hold monthly meetings and worship. For the next several years, these meetings were held in the home of Benjamin Beeson until the first meeting house was built in 1758. This Quaker Meeting house was built in present day Guilford County near the Deep River. Many believe that the original members were all from Nantucket, Massachusetts, but this simply is not true. Many of the original members were born in Pennsylvania, Virginia and even North Carolina. Majority of these families traveled the Great Wagon Road into the area with the exception of the Nantucket group. This group traveled by way of the Atlantic Ocean to the Carolina coast. For a partial list of the original members, click here.

Howell Brewer applied for a land grant in Bladen County during the year of 1753. The deed was issued in February of 1754 for the amount of 200 acres along the Deep River. The property is located in present day Randolph County. Howell is listed on the 1790 census living in the same area with a total of 11 persons living in his home.

Phillip Hogget received a land grant dated January of 1755 in the amount of 420. The property is located along the banks of Deep River and Richland Creek. Phillip continued to live in Guilford county until 1800 when he moved to Randolph County.

Buffalo Ford, along Deep River, was one of the most popular crossings located in present day Randolph County. Island Ford was yet another popular crossing. The historical data in relevance to the Buffalo Ford dates back to when the buffalo roamed the Carolina wilderness. Indian trails would follow the buffalo trails, thus the creation of this ford crossing the Deep River.

Island Ford at Deep River

The Deep River of North Carolina continues to provide it’s history and genealogy everyday. The best resources for researching this area is on a local level. If you are planning a genealogy trip in the future, the Deep River area from Guilford County to Chatham County, NC is filled with data from the Colfax area to Moncure. As always, Piedmont Trails wishes you great success with your research. Enjoy Your Journey !!

Early Pioneers of Western North Carolina

Present Day Watauga County

Many families traveled The Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania and settled throughout Virginia. Others migrated further south to the Piedmont area of North Carolina during the mid 18th century. North Carolina was a wild frontier at the time and yet other families traveled west to forbidden lands. These pioneers traveled across the Yadkin River and endured the rough terrain of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This blog will give details of the early settlers in present day Watauga County, NC. Watauga was established in 1849 from several counties, Ashe, Caldwell, Wilkes and Yancey. By the mid 19th century, over 600 families were living in present day Watauga County and held a history for nearly 100 years in this vast mountainous terrain. Various reasons caused these families to settle here, such as the privacy the mountains could provide. Another reason was the words shared by so many of the upcoming war for independence. Taxes, opportunities and freedom for religion and freedom to dream are just a few of the explanations why these early settlers arrived.

A Glimpse Into Watauga County, NC

John Adams was a drummer at the age of 15 during the American Revolutionary War. He was present during the Battle of Yorktown which began October 9, 1781 and ended with Cornwallis surrendering October 18, 1781. Adams was among the French fleet of General the count de Rochambeau. The fleet soon departed for the West Indies still under the pursuit of the British. Young John Adams stayed behind, hiding in a sugar barrel. Once he was sure his ship had sailed, he wandered the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and learned how to become a cabinetmaker. He later sailed on a whaling ship along the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. He departed the ship and traveled to Rowan County where he met and married Esther Hawkins on September 17, 1795. The couple’s first two children were born in Rowan County, Francis and Squire. During the year of 1799, John Adams brought his family to the Cove Creek area of present day Watauga County, then located in Ashe County. He built a log cabin, farmed and became known as a cabinetmaker in the area. John was born circa 1762 and was later known to be living in Sarlat, which is 40 miles from Bordeaux, France. The French fleet to which he was assigned returned to Philadelphia in order to retrieve soldiers who deserted or who were left behind. It is at this time that John embarked on the whaling vessel for North Carolina. This very same reason could have been the result of John Adams settling in Watauga County and the remote area of Cove Creek. The couple had ten known children. John died at 1:00pm, Thursday, July 24, 1823 and was buried the next day. Esther Adams was born in 1774 in Orange County, NC. She was a charter member of the Cove Creek Baptist Church which was organized in 1799. Esther continued to live in the log home after John’s death until 1859, the time of her death. Children of this union are 1-Francis(1797-1846), Squire(1799-1877), Rachel(1800-1834), Sarah(1802-1823), Tarleton(1805-1877), Allen(1807-1893), Martha(1808-?), George(1809-1827), Alfred(1811-1870) and Elizabeth(1813-?).

Dr. Ezekiel Baird was born in Monmouth, New Jersey to Andrew and Sarah Baird. His mother, Sarah died in New Jersey and left her son twenty shillings in her will. Soon after her death, Ezekiel Baird traveled the Great Wagon Road with his wife Susanna Blodgett Baird to North Carolina. They traveled with a small party to the Watauga County area known today as Valle Crucis along Baird’s creek. The couple built a home and had three sons, Bedent(1770-1862), Blodgett and William. During 1795, Ezekiel and his son, Blodgett left the area to travel west. The family may have contemplated the idea of moving further west as many families during this time were doing. But, Ezekiel and his son never returned to Watauga County. Susannah continued to live in the home and was the first person to be buried in the Baird Cemetery located in Valle Crucis.

Watauga River

Thomas Bingham was born in Norwich, Conn. to his parents, namely Thomas Bingham and Mary Rudd. Thomas traveled the Great Wagon Road to Virginia where he met and married Hannah Backus. This family continued to live in Virginia until William, grandson of Thomas II moved to Reddy’s River, Wilkes County and married Mary Elizabeth McNeil. William’s son, George moved to Watauga County and married Mary Ann Davis in 1833.

William Coffey was born November 29, 1782 in present day Wilkes County, NC. He lived with his parents, Thomas and Sarah Fields along the upper Yadkin River. William married Anna Boone on October 18, 1804 in a small log home near present day Boone, Watauga County. They lived at the forks of Mulberry Creek and had the following children. Daniel(1805), Welborn(1807-1897), Gilliam(1810). Celia(1813-1899) and Calvin(1819) William Coffey died in 1839 and Anna remained a widow up to her death which occurred in 1876.

Michael Cook was born July 23, 1773, son of Adam Cook. He married Ann Elizabeth Arney. The couple moved to present day Watauga County and entered 600 acres by paying 5 cents an acre. The couple had at least 11 known children: Catherine(1798-1840), John(1800), Adam(1802-1865), Henry(1804), Mary(1806), Jacob(1808-1873), Michael Jr(1810), David(1814-1850), William(1815-1876), Elizabeth(1818-1846) and Robert(1820). Michael operated one of the first grist mills in the area and was located along the banks of Goshen Creek. Michael Cook died during the spring of 1844 according to will documents.

Benjamin Dugger was living in present day Watauga County during the year of 1787. He purchased land in the Brushy Forks area and was the father of at least 3 children. Several of Benjamin’s family members followed him to the area between the years of 1795 and 1805. John Dugger, born 1780 in Wilkes County, moved to the Watauga County area and settled near his relative, Uncle Benjamin.

Landrine Eggers is the son of George and Arie Beard Eggers. Landrine was born in 1757 and lived in Freehold, New Jersey until the family moved to Goshen, New York. Landrine and brother, Daniel Eggers both settled in the Jersey Settlement of Rowan County, NC. Both of these men served during the American Revolutionary War. Landrine married Joanna Silvers on April 16, 1779 and traveled to Watauga County later that same year along with his brother, Daniel and his family. They settled near Three Forks Baptist Church where they all were active members.

Conrad Elrod settled in present day Blowing Rock, Watauga County before 1800. His friends referred to him as “Coonrod”. He was born in 1749 to Wilheim and Anna Boschel Elrod. He was baptized in 1750 at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Frederick, Maryland. Conrad had at least 5 children: Adam(1787-1875), Mary, Peter, William(1795-1867) and Alexander(1802-1894).

Ebenezer Fairchild was born in 1730 and lived with his parents, Caleb and Anne Fairchild in Stratford, Conn. Ebenezer married Salome Goble in August of 1750 at the First Presbyterian Church in Morristown, New Jersey. Salome died during childbirth and Ebenezer married Mary in 1755. Ebenezer’s children are Sarah(1751) Salome(1753), Abigail, Ann and Cyrus(1767-1853). Ebenezer was a charter member and elder of Dutchman’s Creek, now known as Eaton’s Baptist Church. Ebenezer was a known minister of Three Fork’s Baptist Church.

This marks the end of segment 1 in this series. Please be sure to visit our site for weekly updates and upcoming segments on this series and others, such as Stokes County, NC Early Settlers, Rockingham County, NC Early Settlers, Surry County, NC Early Settlers, Ashe County, NC Early Settlers and Early Migration Trails. Thank You All So Much for your support, Piedmont Trails greatly appreciates each of you. Stay the course and Enjoy Your Journey to the Past !!