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.

wagon wheel

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.


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.


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.

wagon wheel1

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.


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.

18th century women

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.

18th century needlework

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.

Henry W Horton (2)

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.


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.



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).


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.


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