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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

tree and fog



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.

cabin 222

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.


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.




18th Century Settlers of Stokes County, NC

Segment 2

Welcome to segment 2 of this series. The journey continues as we follow the footsteps of 18th century pioneers in Stokes County. These steps have left behind the trail that leads to their traditions, their homes and their past lives. We only have to learn the signs to enable us to bring the past to present day. There are so many remarkable techniques to use in regards to genealogy. The whole history cannot be discovered without the entire exploration of the trail. Stokes County can be claimed as a treasure trove of incredible history and exquisite stories of the past. Let’s continue the discovery.

The Bowman family has been established in the area since the mid 1700’s. Arriving from Halifax, Virginia, they settled near the present day Belews Creek community.  George Bowman, born in 1794, married Mary Ann Lilley on January 5, 1816. George was living near the Germanton area and had 7 children. Charles(1817), Susannah(1819), John(1822), Joseph(1825), Martha(1828), Eliza(1830) and George(1832). The original family Bible was once in the hands of Charles Bowman and his heirs. It stated that an eighth child was born in 1840 by the name of William and that the couple also raised John Lilley who was born in 1832. George Bowman also had 2 brothers by the names of Philip and Henry.

tobacco barn 1

John Boyles was born circa 1767 and son of William Boyles. John traveled down the Great Wagon Road from central Virginia. In 1788, John married Elizabeth and had at least 8 children. William(1789), John(1792). Hugh(1798), Peggy(1800), Isham(1803), Elizabeth(1804), Rebecca(1805) and Drury(1807). By 1797, John owned over 500 acres of land and his father, William,  died this same year. The eldest child, William(1789) married Charity King on November 25, 1808 and had six children.

Peter Bray was known as a red-headed minister who arrived in the area sometime prior to the American Revolutionary War. Various stories link this Peter to a sizable fortune in which several family members were notified in 1903. The inheritance was located near Windsor near the Thames River, England. Peter Bray married Martha Scott and had several children. One of them, David Bray, born 1744 in Virginia, settled along Fisher River near Rockford, Surry County.  Peter is mentioned in several documents that have him traveling all through the Piedmont area of NC. Vivid details are given from the Moravians as a” preacher of the wilderness”. Peter Bray, arrived in Virginia from Maryland and corresponded with the local Quakers, thus explaining the meeting of his future wife, Martha Scott. Martha, daughter of Abraham Scott who immigrated from London during the early 1700’s. An entire segment could be created for this family. The history is simply amazing.


Richard Browder was living in Dinwiddle County, VA with his wife, Mary Thompson during the 1740’s. Richard was born before 1719 and was the son of John and Elizabeth Browder. Richard had at least eleven children. All were born in Virginia. Jesse Browder, grandson of Richard traveled to Stokes County circa 1850. But, several documents have been located that state Browders were already settled in several sections of NC. It is now believed that Jesse was not the first of this family to move into the Stokes County area.

Joseph Calloway and wife were the parents of at least  seven sons. Thomas, Joseph, William, Frances, James, John and Richard. Joseph had daughters but records have not been located to document their given names with proof. Joseph was living in Virginia during the year of 1665. Through the years, the family became close to the family of Daniel Boone and they arrived in NC prior to 1773. Thomas Calloway’s son, Elijah married Mary Cuthbert, niece of Daniel Boone, in 1780. Richard Calloway traveled with Boone to Kentucky and settled in Boonesborough. Richard later returned to NC and gathered his family and returned to Kentucky. Several families traveled with Richard Calloway and these are named as Flanders, Kiser and Brown. One famous story of this family consists of Jemima Boone and Elizabeth Calloway dated summer of 1776 and the Indians who captured them.


Matthew Corns arrived in Virginia and married Mary circa 1751. Known children are George, Samuel, Nancy, John and Jesse. George was living in Patrick County, VA and had several sons who served during the Civil War with Company H as the Stokes Boys. This family was of German descent and the sons of Matthew all fought during the American Revolutionary War.

Stokes County is filled with historical data. We will continue this journey with segment 3 arriving late spring. We always want to share our Thanks to you all for supporting Piedmont Trails. We are amazed with the kind words and encouragement that we have received. We greatly appreciate each and every one of you as we all work together and learn of our family heritage. Post your comments and questions and stay tuned for updates on our websites.

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The Early Settlers of Stokes County, North Carolina

18th Century Era
1st Segment

Formed in 1789, Stokes County was created from Surry County, NC. It was named after  Revolutionary War patriot, Captain John Stokes. The county is located in the northern section of the Piedmont area and borders the state line of Virginia. Majority of pioneers who traveled down The Great Wagon Road would have passed through the Stokes County area to reach their new lands. If you wish to read more about our Great Wagon Road series, follow the links here and here. The lands of Stokes County were very fertile with both the Yadkin and the Dan River flow freely through the area. This will be the first segment of many more to follow later this spring. Let the exploration begin as we trace the footsteps of these early pioneers.

We begin with the Banner family who migrated from England to Pennsylvania in 1740. Joseph Banner with wife, Eleanor Martin, traveled from Pennsylvania to Carolina in 1751. This trip took place when the Great Wagon Road was nothing more than a trail through the back country. Joseph Banner settled along the banks of Town Fork Creek near present day Germanton. Son and namesake, Joseph Banner, born December 28, 1749 in Pennsylvania, served in the Surry County militia. Joseph volunteered at Old Richmond on July 13, 1776 and he served twelve months as a Minute Man. Joseph married May 17, 1771 to Sarah McAnally. The McAnally family moved from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to Amherst County, Virginia and then to Stokes County, North Carolina. Sarah’s parents are Charles McAnally and Ruhamah Houston. They were married in Virginia and migrated to Carolina after the birth of Sarah on August 8, 1755. Charles and Ruhamah McAnally are both buried in the family cemetery located near the Snow Creek area and the Dan River.


Dan River, Stokes County, NC

Joseph and Sarah Banner had 7 children, Charles(1773) married Rebecca Evans, Charity(1776) married Jesse Griggs, Ruhama(1778) married Wyatt Peoples, Elisha(1782-1810), Mary(1785) married Joseph Griggs, Sarah(1788) married 1st cousin Charles McAnally and Joseph(1792) married Anna Armstrong. Joseph and Sarah Banner both died in Stokes County and are buried near their home. Joseph died April 24, 1838 and Sarah on July 4, 1844.

The Scott family in Stokes County begins with Daniel. Daniel Scott was from Powhatan County, Virginia where he was born in 1759. He married Ann Radford Poindexter and traveled from Virginia to Stokes County sometime prior to 1790. Their son Robert Scott, was born along the banks of the Yadkin River on August 17, 1790. Robert married Mary Martin April 9, 1818. Mary’s parents are Valentine Martin and Elizabeth Dalton. Valentine Martin was the son of Job Martin.

John Kiser and wife Phoebe arrived in Carolina soon after 1781. According to the 1786 census taken by Charles McAnally, they were living in Blackburn’s district along the banks of Town Fork Creek near present day Germanton. The children of this union are Philip(1780 in Pennsylvania) married Polly Morris, John(1782 in Pennsylvania) married Margaretha Fesler, Harmon(1784 in Pennsylvania) married Sally Kiger, Michael(1790 in Stokes County) married Judith Boles and Frederick(1791 in Stokes County) married Nancy Childress.


The Beasley family arrived in Stokes County from Virginia in 1787. Benjamin Beasley was born February 1760 in Caroline County, Virginia to Richard and Martha Beasley. He was a veteran of the American Revolution. Benjamin married Rachel Prather September 30, 1791 at the home of John Martin, a magistrate of Stokes County. Benjamin settled around the Francisco area and had 5 children. John(1792), Susanna(1794), Enoch(1796), Nancy(1798) and Ammon(1800). Benjamin died in 1841 in Patrick County, Virginia. Benjamin’s brother, Robert Beasley was born in 1762 and married Keziah of Cherokee Native origins. The family lived near Turkey Cock Creek and raised at least 4 sons, Richard, Jonathan, Elisha and Henry. It appears that Jonathan and Elisha later migrated to Indiana.

William Boles was born about 1730, he migrated from Virginia to Carolina by 1766. William had at least 4 sons and 1 daughter. James Boles, son of William, was born circa 1754. He migrated down the Great Wagon Road with his parents and siblings. James married in 1775 to Molly, maiden name unknown, and lived near Town Fork Creek area. He owned 300 acres of land and had six children.  Alexander(1776) married Bethenia Walker, Abel(1779) married Milly Reddick, William(1785) married Margaret Boles, Nancy never married, had one son, Rebecca married Hugh Boyles and Edward(1800) married Rebecca Boyles. James died January 1828 still owning the original 300 acres of land.

Joseph Bolerjack was living in Pennsylvania during the year of 1741. Joseph assisted David Tannenberg, builder of organs, in Lititz, Pennsylvania. He married Maria Haller on August 31, 1741 in Muddy Creek, Pennsylvania. Children born in Pennsylvania were Joseph, Johannes, Anna Maria and Maria Elizabeth. Joseph left Lititz on June 4, 1771 and arrived in Bethania, North Carolina on June 28, 1771. The diaries of the Moravians state that lodging was given to the family as they stayed in the tanner house for a short while. Joseph Bolerjack built cabinets, organs and many other items. Some of these items are on display at Old Salem, Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, NC. The family later settled near Germanton and maintained a huge farm consisting of 2, 000 acres.


Pinnacle, Stokes County, NC

The pioneers who lived in this area learned quickly how to survive on the frontier. Few settlements were in existence during the 18th century and the settlers were challenged with harsh winters, floods, sickness and droughts. Today, Stokes County has over 50,000 residents living in the area. During the 18th century, the majority of the inhabitants were Scotch-Irish, Germans and Cheraw Indians. Join us for the 2nd segment of this series coming later this spring.

We also wanted to share the news of our new website, Piedmont Trails Genealogy . The site will eventually contain all of the genealogy material we have on hand. We will continue updating our main website with new blogs, genealogy links, maps and recipes.  We would like to express our gratitude and thanks for supporting Piedmont Trails.

Photographer NOTES!!! more the better!