A HISTORY OF ALEXANDER COUNTY, NC
by William E. White
Published in the Taylorsville Times in 1926
Copied from a scrapbook owned by
Mrs. Bynum C. Deal of Davidson, N. C.
Clicking on blue text provides additional information about the topic
Editor’s Note: Except for spelling and punctuation, no change has been made to the original text. For discussions of Barnes’s and Oxford’s some text appears in blue and linking to articles on the Barnes-Oxford Foundation’s Barnes-Oxford Genealogy and the History of North Carolina and it Foothills website at https://competitivestrategies.us/. Occasional comment concerning these families have been add and may be found by pressing the Ctl + F keys and entering Editors Note and then using the v an ^ keys to navigate the document. Links have also been to some external sources like the Battle of Antietam. Thee are no external links to Wikipedia which is often riddled with errors. We would welcome adding other links to topics in this history if they are well sourced.
During the major part of his life, the late William E. White was gathering, assembling, and compiling data on the early history of Alexander County and the traditions of her people. About the middle of the year 1925, this data, with the exception of that for Sharpe’s and Miller’s Townships, was turned over to the editors of the Taylorsville Times and The Statesville Landmark to be published serially in their papers. At that time the promise was made that the remaining data would be submitted at a later date. For some unknown reason this was never done and there is, therefore, nothing in the following pages pertaining to these townships.
Some years after this, all the historical data and other papers of Mr. White were destroyed by a fire which consumed the home of his son, Mr. L. O. White of Statesville, North Carolina, leaving only the files of the two papers as a record of Mr. White’s life work. The files of the Times, however, were either lost or destroyed and a three days search of the Landmark failed to reveal the publication of such data. Thus for a long time, it appeared that this history was irrevocably lost. Finally, however, a complete file of it was unexpectedly found in a scrapbook of Mrs. Bynum C. Deal of Davidson, North Carolina. Mrs. Deal who is a daughter of the late Thomas Barnes, Esquire, was born and reared in Alexander, but for a number of years has resided in Davidson. She, therefore, deserves the highest commendation for having preserved for the people of her native county a history of it which they themselves failed to do.
Through the kindness and courtesy of Mrs. Deal we were permitted to copy this history, but due to the limited time in which we had at our disposal several errors and omissions were made which were not discovered until this work of reproducing this history was begun and too late to be then corrected. These errors, omissions, and other corrections in the records have been made under the title “ERRATA” beginning on page 74 of this book.
In the preparation and reproduction of Mr. White’s History of Alexander County, we undertook something which none of us had had any previous experience. For that reason, our amateurish efforts have not been as successful as we ourselves desired, but we trust that the “Substance” will be of such intense interest to the reader that he will not be too critical of the manner of its presentation.
Robert S. Echerd
Robert B. Wolfe, Jr.
Mrs. Robert B. Wolfe, Jr.
Mrs. Joseph E. Hunter, Jr.
Prepared and Reproduced
The Auspicies of —?
The Alexander County Historical Association
Taylorsville, North Carolina
When And How Formed
Alexander County was established by two acts of the General Assembly, one ratified January 15, and the other January 18, 1847.
The leader of the organization of the new county was Joseph M. Bogle, then a member of the Senate from Iredell County. About the same time two other propositions for new counties were considered, one by Rufus Reid, who lived near Centre Church, in South Iredell and who favored the organization of a new county in that section to be known as Graham; and one other by W. W. George, who lived in North Iredell and wished to have a county there to be known as Williams, with the county seat at Rockford.
Joseph M. Bogle succeeded in getting his plan adopted to form a new county from portions of Iredell, Wilkes, and Caldwell. The latter county had been formed in 1841 from Burke and Wilkes and the lines of these two counties formerly ran very near where the town of Taylorsville is now located, as will be seen from the calls in many of the old deeds. Acts of 1846-47 chapters 22 and 23, give the boundaries of the new county and provide that the boundaries shall be fixed by commissioners appointed from the two counties involved, to be paid $1.50 a day. The act creating the county was not to take effect until it was ascertained whether or not Caldwell County would have five thousand people in it.
A Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions was authorized to be held for new county by the justices of the peace, on the first Monday in June, December, September and March, 1847; the Superior Court to be held on the ninth Monday after the fourth Monday in March and September and the county was included in the sixth district. The court was to be held at James Cross Roads until the county seat was located; and at the first session of the court, the justices were to elect the regular county officers and appoint one or more persons to make a survey and to designate the center of the county.
The following persons were appointed to select a site for the county town, to be located as near the center as possible, not to vary more than two miles; William H. Dula, of Caldwell; Dr. James Calloway, of Wilkes; Milton Campbell, of Iredell; and Robert Allen, Reuben Watts and Robert L. Steele of Alexander. The committee was authorized to receive by donation or to purchase sufficient land for the site, not less than twenty-five acres. The town so established was to be called Taylorsville. The justices of the county court were authorized to have a temporary courthouse erected, and to appoint five commissioners to sell the town lots upon a credit of one, two or three years, the proceeds of the sale to be applied to the building of a courthouse and jail.
Wheeler, in his History of North Carolina, gives the name of the county as derived from that of a family distinguished in the history and mentions two persons of that name, Nathaniel Alexander of Mecklenburg, who was governor of the state in 1805, and Abram Alexander, who was chairman of the Convention which framed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, on May 20, 1775. It is generally given in the state histories as named from the governor, but the account given by some of those who were most concerned in the organization gives it as perpetuating the name of Abram Alexander. (The writer has in his possession a table made by this chairman of the Mecklenburg Convention, but this is not offered as evidence to prove that the Declaration was made as alleged.)
The name of the town is said by Wheeler to have been in honor of John Louis Taylor, who was on the Supreme Court Bench in the state from 1818 to 1829, but local authority gives the honor to General Zachary Taylor, “old Rough and Ready”, afterward President, but at that time in the full tide of his career in Mexico.
Following the provisions of the Act of 1847, the first Court of Pleas and Quarters Sessions was held by the justices of the peace of the new county, on the first Monday in June 1847, at James Cross Roads. As far as can be now ascertained, on account of the destruction of the old records of the county in the Civil War, the court was composed of the following justices; Robert Allen, Robert C. Martin, Robert Carson, Moses Alexander, Davault Little, Joshua White, Isaac E. Bradburn, John Stine, Jesse Brown, Enoch Chapman, Peter Barnes, Sion Harrington, A. C. McIntosh, John N. Bennett, John A. Murchison, Azol Sharpe, and R. L. Steele. The court was organized by electing James Thompson, chairman, whose name, of course, should be included among those above mentioned. The court then proceeded to the election of county officers, as follows: County Court Clerk, Alfred Carson; Sheriff, Reuben Watts; Register of Deeds, Moses Austin; Entry-taker, Calvin Jones; Coroner, B. W. Newland; Superintendent of Schools, R. L. Steele.
The committee appointed to locate the county seat ascertained the center of the county to be somewhere near where the town is located, probably a little west of the town. The land for the town was donated by the following persons: Joseph M. Bogle, 22 acres; William Matheson, 13 acres, and James James, 11 ½ acres. The commissioners appointed to lay out the town and to sell the lots and also as a committee of public buildings, consisted of Sion Harrington, R. L. Steele, George Swaim, J. H. Newland, and A. C. McIntosh. George Swaim was elected treasurer of the building committee, and served for a time and finding that he would have to be absent, he turned the business over to A. C. McIntosh as his agent, and he was later elected treasurer of the committee.
The first sale of town lots took place on August 10 and 11, 1847, and 52 lots were sold, amounting to $6,158; again in November 1847, another sale brought $399.50; another sale in March, 1848, $136.75; and another in May 1853, $142.50; making a total of $6,675.
The prices at which some of the lots were sold may be of interest. No. 1 E. C. Sloan Store Corner by Abel Shuford. $341.
No. 2. Masonic Hall. Now Bank Corner R. B. Bogel $210.
No. 3. G. W. Flowers Store Corner, Moses Teague. $111.
No. 4 Hardware Store Corner, J. H. Newland. $197.
No. 5. Below Drug Store, George Swain $200.
No. 6. W. L. Mose Corner, Hiram James. $225
No. 7. Garage Corner, A. Carson. $614.
No. 8. Old Brick Store Corner, J. M. Bogle, $400.
No. 9. J. B. Barnes Home, J. B. Green, $355.
No. 10. Mrs. Bogle’s Home, A. C. McIntosh, $382.
No. 11. Old Stewart Corner, T. S. Boyd, $382.
No. 12. Corner opposite, J. M. Bogle, $275.
The temporary courthouse was built on the present lot and was a small; one-story wooden building. It was afterward sold by the county commissioners for $35.25 and moved across the street opposite the E. C. Sloan corner, where it was occasionally used for a store or a saloon and was finally burned while occupied by some Negroes as a dwelling and a Negro child was burned in the building. The contract for building the jail was given to T. S. Boyd for the sum of $1,759; and the contract for the permanent courthouse was given to Sumnor J. Smith, in March 1848, for the sum of $4,050. With some extra work and expense, the old courthouse cost about $5,000; to dig the well and wall it, $49; and the old bell about $68. As many of the older citizens may remember, this old bell was placed on a frame in the courthouse yard where, according to the record kept by The Charlotte Observer, under the brilliant editor, Joseph P. Caldwell and the more interesting account in Avery’s Idle Comments, it tolled the knoll of many a departing cow, led away to the shambles to be slaughtered for beef. Later it became the custom of some of the younger set, who could not otherwise make noise enough, to take the old bell down and load it on a cart to be hauled around where noise appeared to be most needed, especially on the occasion of an old-time “jamboree” or serenade, when some friend was married. Finally, the boys were unfortunate enough to drop the bell and crack it and forthwith contributions were in order for a new one, which now “rings out the old, rings in the new”.
The first building in the town was probably a wooden building, for a store on the corner where the R. P. Matheson brick store now stands. It was built by the firm of Bogle & Jones, who also built the cotton mill at what is now called Liledoun. The old Carson store and dwelling, on the corner where the garage now stands, the old Stewart building and the old post office building, formerly on the McIntosh corner, were all built about the same time.
When the present courthouse was built, the contract was given to a man by the name of Smith, as in case of the first building. But “all Smiths are not the same Smith and one Smith differeth from another Smith”. When it comes to courthouse building, the chronicles of Alexander County cannot be written as was the record of the Israelites of old, “There was no Smith found in all the land of Israel.”
As early as 1752, hunters and traders had occupied the regions along the Catawba, in Alexander County, and had kept up communication with the older settlements, exchanging furs and other products of the forest for salt, ammunition and such things as they might obtain from the head of navigation, and for beads and such novelties as would attract barter with the Indians. About 1760, Jonathan Barrett cleared a road along the crest of the north bank of the canyon of the Catawba and we have documentary evidence that it was constructed to Upper Little River and it may have gone further. The southern end of this highway is not now definitely known but of course, it was in connection with earlier settlements. This highway greatly facilitated the settlement of the lands along the Catawba as will be noted in the township records.
Other advance settlements were made along the Yadkin by immigrants from Virginia and Pennsylvania, and some of these extended their skirts southward until they were located south of the Brushy Mountains, prior to the exodus of refugees from Orange, Guilford, and Chatham as they made their way across the Cherokee boundary line to escape the tumultuous scenes and hard times caused by Tryon’s tyranny. The immigration from Pennsylvania to this and other portions of the southland was mainly because of the fact that Philadelphia was the principal port of entry for immigrants from Europe, and they had to scatter somewhere.
There may have been some line of travel between the Catawba settlements and the above-mentioned locations higher up the Catawba’s tributaries, but the date of its beginning is comparatively uncertain.
The Alamance refugees took this intermediate route and may have constructed it in the years 1772 and 1773. Their homes in the unhappy district of oppression and tumult were some of them confiscated and if not confiscated could not be sold on account of stress of conditions, financial and otherwise. Their personal property such as could not be carried with them was in similar condition. But they came across the Cherokee line and thus placed themselves out of his (Tryon’s) jurisdiction by his own official act, and were in a land of liberty. The Catawba Indians had been nearly wiped out by smallpox in 1762. The Cherokees had been driven across the mountains in 1768, and they proceeded to occupy and cultivate this land of freedom, of a climate unsurpassed in the world, watered with perennial springs, timbered profusely with the very best of trees, wild game and productions of nature in abundance. So they raised their Ebenezers, lived out their day and generation and left it to their posterity.
The trading posts of the pioneers were of great advantage to them; for it placed them in communication with civilization and enabled them to obtain necessaries and even articles of value to all home lovers and best of all, Bibles for their preachers; for there were noble, consecrated preachers among them, who preached without salary, but not without reward; for they preached for the love of souls and their rewards are only just begun. A little of what they accomplished will be told in future installments.
The conditions surrounding those early pioneers in their new homes were probably not conducive to the enjoyment of effeminate luxury. In fact, they positively were not suitable for the growth of laziness; but they certainly were favorable and did promote some of the noblest impulses of the human heart. When a newcomer appeared in a neighborhood as a citizen, all hands immediately joined together to erect a domicile for him and every assistance that he needed was freely and gratuitously rendered. It was a pleasure for neighbors to assist each other in all jobs that required several hands. Chopping, log rollings, house raisings, corn shuckings, and various community operations were accompanied by quiltings and similar women’s workings and invariably closed by social enjoyments of elevating tendencies.
Washington Irving wrote nearly one hundred years ago, that the world was moving in a broader, but shallower, channel. Now it must be running over high shoals.
Community schools wore not neglected. Moses Teague, a soldier under “Old Hickory” at the Horse Shoe Bend and New Orleans, where “a Tennessee rifleman was the superior of a Wellington invincible”, pointed out the site of an old cabin schoolhouse at the foot of Job’s Mountain, where, in his boyhood days, he received instruction in English.
AFTER PIONEER DAYS
The crossing of Governor Tryon’s self-constituted line by the refugees, operated to them in a great measure as an immunity from both political and military excitement, and even after the Declaration at Philadelphia and war conditions prevailed and while Rowan, Mecklenburg, Tryon and even other portions of Burke County were seething cauldrons of military turmoil, the “Little River Settlements” were enjoying a quiet rest that was especially grateful to them after their harrowing experiences in Orange and Chatham.
As a consequence, but few men of these settlements enrolled in the Continental Army and none in the British Army. Those who did enroll in the Continental Army will be recorded as we reach their location.
The tenure of lands of the first settlers of Alexander County were all together “axe entries” that is, boundaries that each settler desired to make his claim were just marked around with axe marks until peace conditions prevailed and the regular legal acquirement could be obtained. There is but one grant of land in Alexander prior to 1780 and that is a proprietary grant dated 1754.
Following war times, the old English Common Law system almost automatically was the community measure of right and wrong and was supplemented by state legislation providing for its execution and providing more laws until it has reached the point. “of making many laws there is no end”. The success of the Revolutionary War promoted a military spirit all over the whole country. All the states enacted laws providing for military training of their citizens. The training days in North Carolina were called “Musters”, and were either regimental or company musters. The company musters were quarterly, once every three months and the regimental, once every year. Alexander County, after its organization was divided into eight military districts, with designated “Muster Grounds” and called in the records “Captains’ Companies”. All other countries were similarly organized by state laws providing for the same. The training on muster days would be worse than useless now and was really worth nothing then, but the statesmen of the early days of the republic thought it was. With the close of the Civil War “Musters” passed away forever.
Another institution prior to the State Constitution of 1868 was the old English tribunal called “Courts of Pleas and Quarter Sessions”, or “County Courts”. The court was composed of a number (generally five) of the county justices. Its jurisdiction extended to both criminal and civil proceedings and in addition had the management of all county affairs.
The records of all of Alexander County’s military affairs are lost except that of the soldiers of the Civil War. The records of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions were destroyed by Gen. Stoneman’s soldiers in April 1865. The records from that time until it devolved on the County Commissioners, under the Constitution of 1868 are extant.
The election laws prior to 1868 were different from subsequent laws. The election “Precincts” were provided by the county courts with “poll holders” for the same without salary. An elector was not confined to his precinct but could vote at any precinct in the county if he exhibited a tax receipt from the sheriff for the current year. The poll holders kept a record of voters which effectually prevented duplication.
The “Captains’ Company” and “Election Precinct” were the basis of the township organization now in operation under the constitution of 1868, the details of which will begin in next installment.
The following citizens were elected to represent Alexander County in the General Assembly in the year indicated:
1848, A. C. McIntosh, Sr.; 1850, Joseph M. Bogle; 1852, Vandaver Teague; 1854, A. M. Bogle; 1856, A. C. McIntosh, Sr.; 1858, W. P. Burke; 1860, J. M. Carson; 1862, J. M. Carson; 1864, J. M. Carson; 1865, A. C. McIntosh; 1866, under the United States military government of Gen. E. R. S. Canby, J. M. Carson; 1868, R. P. Matheson; 1870, J. M. Carson; 1872, J. M. Carson; 1874, J. M. Carson; 1876, E. M. Stevenson; 1878, J. M. Carson; 1880, J. B. Pool; 1882, R. P. Matheson; 1884, L. B. Jones; 1886, Reuben Watts; 1888, R. P. Matheson; 1890, T. F. Murdock; 1892, N. S. Norton; 1894, W. C. Linney; 1896, J. W. Watts; 1898, A. C. McIntosh, Jr.; 1900, C. J. Carson; 1902, C. J. Carson; 1904, H. T. Campbell; 1906, A. L. Watts; 1908, W. C. Linney; 1910, T. O. Teague; 1912, J. C. Connolly; 1914, I. A. Walden; 1916, S. T. Crowson; 1918, E. W. Moose; 1920, J. T. Linney; 1922, F. C. Gwaltney; 1924, O. F. Pool.
SENATORS ELECTED FROM ALEXANDER
1860, A. M. Bogle; 1864, A. M. Bogle; 1870, R. Z. Linney; 1874, R. Z. Linney; 1878, J. P. Matheson; 1882, R. Z. Linney; 1890, W. E. White; 1894, W. E. White; 1898, H. T. Campbell; 1912, A. C. Payne; 1918, T. O. Teague.
ELLENDALE TOWNSHIP NAME
The name “Ellendale” originated with the Ellendale Chalybeate Springs on the Taylorsville and Lenoir Road. About the year 1857, Esquire Thomas Boyd, purchased the springs and proceeded to build a summer resort on the strength of the fine mineral character of the water and at the suggestion of a lady from South Carolina, named the resort “Ellendale” in honor of Miss Margaret Ellen Reed, daughter of Burton Reed, who sold the property to Mr. Boyd. Margaret Ellen afterward married Jacob Winkler of Caldwell County.
Before the organization of the township under the Constitution of 1868, the same territory was known as “Cross Keys” muster ground and the Reeds election precinct. Under the Burke and Caldwell County jurisdiction, the gathering place for civil and military purposes was known as “Waterloo”, near where R. L. Downs now lives and so named on account of the great number of fist and skull fights that would occur on the public days under the free alcohol regime. Still another gathering place was at Austin’s Mill near Antioch Church.
Beginning again at the top of the map, Henry Carlton of the Yadkin settlers from Virginia entered and located at the Hickory Knob in the pioneer days. The Knob in its primeval condition was an ideal mountain home, but Henry drifted back to his old settlement and finally emigrated to the west. Considerable distance intervened between the above location and that of Merriman McGee, the next pioneer downstream, and one of the Alamance immigrants. Merriman’s daughter, Polly, married William Munday, and their descendants live in Ellendale and many of them live in Statesville. Next in order was Stephen Medlock, not the Baptist preacher remembered by many, but his father. He came from somewhere south of the Granville line. Many of his descendants still live in Ellendale. Jesse Reed was one of several pioneers from Chatham or Orange of the Reed family. The others located farther downstream. Some of Jesse’s descendants live in Ellendale; some went to Tennessee and some of them live in Stony Point. William and Adam Fullerton entered some valuable lands on the river between Jesse Reed and the other Reeds. There is a romance which romance is true history about the Fullertons and the Robinettes which belongs to Little River Township and will be fully described in its history. Prater’s Creek joins Little River at the Adam Fullerton grant. The first corn mill in Ellendale was built at a beautiful shoal near where Joshua White lives on Prater’s Creek by Dempsey Kane. All trace of Kane is lost. The land he built upon was entered by James Clark. The pioneers of Prater’s Creek were David and Jesse Spradling, Thomas Basket, Larkin Kerley, David Forrester, William Webster, and John White. None of their descendants remain except those of White and Webster and none of them were Alamance immigrants except the Spradlings. Near the head of Prater’s Creek in a family, the cemetery lies buried the mortal remains of Sarah Perkins White, a heroine of the very earliest pioneer days along the Catawba River. Her full history will be given in the history of Wittenburg township.
Just below the mouth of Prater’s Creek lie some of the most fertile lands in Ellendale and they were entered by the Reeds, James, Hugh, Henry, William, and Isaiah were immigrants from Alamance. James entered 560 acres of very fertile lands, which he later conveyed to James Allen, who afterward conveyed it to Benjamin Newland. On the same latitude with the Reed lands, across the township, the pioneers were John Welbrooks, James Barnes, Robert Holmes, Joseph Dixon, James Clark, Matthew Duty, and Isaac Allen.
Beginning back at the west side of the township and reading across the lower line of pioneers, we have Nicholas Medlock, Abram Hunsucker, George Thompson, Robert Payne, William Austin, James Douglas, Jehu Barns, Edward Teague, John Teague, Solomon Teague, Riddick Freeman, Edward Terrell, George Brooks, William Munday. Thomas Bradburn, Frances Dorset, James Watts, Jesse Pool, Johnston King, Thomas Elliot, William Pool, Alexander West. These all came from the turmoil of Alamance except Medlock, Hunsucker, Douglas, Bradburn, and Elliot. The names of Edward Teague and Frances Dorset appear on the petitions of remonstrance to Gov. Tryon against the extortion of his subordinates and other grievances. Dorset’s name appears on other papers in the same connection. William Austin was an old man when he arrived from the scenes of trouble, and his five sons Benjamin, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha and Nathan were grown men and made homes of their own when they arrived. There is no account as to where James Douglas came from or where he went to. He was probably an extra early pioneer. Nicholas Medlock came from Anson County or below the Granville line. There is documentary evidence that the Bradburns came from Richmond, Virginia. Also there is documentary evidence that Alexander West assisted in building houses in Hillsboro after it was laid off on the lands of the great surveyor, William Churton.
The descendants of James Watts lately held a family reunion showing over two hundred now living.
An anecdote is preserved of Frances Dorset, that at a corn chucking supper he got choked on a piece of beef. They held him up by the heels and thumped him on the back till they got the beef back, but a dog got it and it choked the dog.
FIRST CHURCH ORGANIZATION IN ELLENDALE
(From Records of Alexander Baptist Association.)
June 7th, 1797
At a meeting held at the new Meeting house in Burke county middle little river a Presbettara being called for to constitute a church and ordain officers and found prepared the member’s names as follows:
Henry Holtsclaw Elders
Wm. Sherrill Deacons
George Pain, George Thompson, Excld. Jehue Barns, James Oxford, Sarah Teague, Mary Austin, dismist; Rebecca Austin, Elizabeth Thompson, Excld. Nancy Pain, Rebecca Foster, Ruth Pressly, Elender Dockery, Tabitha Spradlin, Elijah Austin, dismist by letter; Harry a Negro, deceased. Lurana Barnes, Mary Auston Sen.
Feb. 28, 1798.
On the reverse side of the document in a different handwriting, was written:
Elijah Austin Dismist by letter
Rachel Brown about October
Mary Austin the first
(In printing the above, the old manuscript has been followed as regards spelling, punctuation, the use of capital letters, etc.)
The church established as shown by the above document was in the meetinghouse at the place now known as “Munday’s graveyard”, and was the growth of seed scattered from Alamance by Tryon’s muskets, Edward Teague, the founder, all the Austins, George Payne, Jehu Barnes and probably Henry Holsclaw came from Orange. James Oxford, William Sherrill and the Negro, Harry, were born on the Catawba River and lived in what is now Caldwell County. There is neither document or tradition to show it as a fact that Harry was the same Harry that saved the women and children from the Cherokees in 1768 in the blockhouse where they had taken refuge, while the men were cone to meet the Indians, but from the conditions and circumstances at that time and years following it is more than probable that he was the identical Harry.
The “Meeting House” was burned down perhaps twenty-five or thirty years after it was built and the organization dissolved but was soon after followed by the organization at Antioch, which will come next.
Edward Teague and his wife Sarah, are buried in the cemetery where the church was built. The identity of their grave is lost, but their descendants are making arrangements to perpetuate their memory by a suitable monument.
(Records of Alexander Association, 1888.) By J. B. Pool, Historian.
In obedience to the duties imposed upon me in the Constitution of our Association as Historian, I, herewith, submit as brief a history of Antioch Church as possible.
This church is located in Ellendale township, Alexander County, N. C., about nine miles west of Taylorsville. It was organized on the 29th day of July 1826, by a Presbytery, consisting of ministers and deacons: Wm. Dobson, Sr., Wm. Mines, Richard Wallace, Wm. Dobson, Jr., John Swaim, and Alexander West. The brethren and sisters were found orthodox and were constituted into a Baptist church called Antioch. The church was organized with 6 males and 7 females by the close of the year, 13 more were added to the membership. Rev. Wm. Dobson was first the pastor, then Wm. Richards to Sept. 18, 1830.
On May 10, 1828, Rebecca White joined by experience. The church has belonged to the following Associations: Brier Creek, Catawba, Lewis Fork, Brushy Mountain, and Alexander. On September 18, 1830, J. F. McCall was chosen pastor, Win. Richards in August 1832. On the 6th of June, 1835, Wm. D. Holder was made pastor up to 1843. Benjamin Austin was clerk from 1826 to 1839 to 1847. Records lost from 1843 to 1847. On May 22, 1847, Win. Goforth was made pastor. R. L. Steele and J. H. West, April 22, 1848. James Reed and Wm. Pool, January 1851. George Swaim, May 1853; H. Holsclaw, June 1854. H. Holsclaw and George Swaim, Dec. 1855. George Swaim and Daniel Austin, April 1858. J. B. Powell and Daniel Austin, May 1859. J. Crouch, Dec. 1862. Wm. Pool and G. D. Sherrill, Aug. 1875; Wm. and J. B. Pool, July 1876. L. P. Gwaltney, January 1879, J. B. Powell, Sept. 27, 1879. L. P. Gwaltney, Aug. 20, 1880. W. A. Pool, Nov. 25, 1882. L. P. Gwaltney, Jan. 2, 1885; J. B. Pool, August 6, 1885; H. D. LeQueux, October 24, 1885. L. P. Gwaltney, August 20, 1886. James Reed was clerk from 1847 to November 1849. R. H. Teague, 1849 to 1853. H. M. Julian, 1853 to April 1855. W. S. Pool, 1855 to Nov. 1860. H. M. Julian, 1860 to June 1871. R. W. Munday, 1871 to 1874. S. P. Austin, 1874 to July 1879. W. E. White, 1879 to the present (1888). The church has had 22 different men as pastors since its organization, and 9 as clerk. The church began with 13 members: in 1847 it numbered; new, 1888, it has a membership of 257. J. B. Foci, Association Historian.
Continuing: L. P. Gwaltney, pastor to 1889. D. W. Pool to 1893. J. M. Shaver to July 1897. D. W. Pool and W. J. Bumgarner to 1925.
Clerks: J. F. Moore, R. S. Austin, W. O. Bowman, R. L. Downs, Vance W. Teague.
The name Antioch was brought from a church in Orange County. The same name was given to a church near Springfield, No, by members from this church.
William White, Sr., hewed the heart pine logs with which the first church building was erected, in 1826. It was built high enough to have a gallery with an entrance by stairs on the inside. In 1872, several of the leading members of the church considered a log wall church as antiquated, and further, more room for the congregation was a necessity and proceeded to erect a now and more commodious building and after this was completed, they built a splendid arbor 30 x 100 feet, for warm weather services. The old heart pine logs were sold to E. C. Oxford for $15, and he hauled them four miles and erected a barn with them. About 15 years later, H. B. Oxford sold the same logs to Asbury Dula, a darkey, who hauled them back to the foot of Barrettes Mountain, not far from the church and built another barn. They are just about one hundred years old as hewn logs, and their present condition indicates another hundred for them. The land upon which the church stands was entered about 1781 by the patriarch, William Austin, and when the church was organized, Nathan Austin, his youngest son, deeded five acres of beautiful forest grove to trustees for the use of the church. The trustees have acquired ten acres more by donation and purchase. A well-kept cemetery, nicely enclosed by a metal railing, in adjacent to both church and arbor.
Since its organization the following named ministers have been ordained from its membership: James Reed, William Pool, Daniel Austin, Merritt Austin, David Bedford Brown, James B. Pool, D. D., Robert C. Cline, Charles A. Sig man, Benjamin Franklin Austin, Jackson U. Teague, Loyd W. Teague, Grover C. Teague. A few of these were ordained by other churches, but they were all of them originally members “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye; but not to doubtful disputations”. The church at Antioch, like other churches, has had its trials and tribulations, but controversial disputes did not have any showing whatever, and as it is nearing its century mark, it’s living members, at home and abroad are planning to hold a great centennial reunion on July 29, 1926. The Alexander Baptist Association will hold its next annual session with Antioch beginning on Thursday before the second Sunday in October 1926.
DOVER BAPTIST CHURCH
(From Records of Alexander Baptist Association of 1891.)
Dover Church was organized May 12, 1833, in what was then Burke County. The church was out off in Caldwell County. Then in 1846, it fell into Alexander County. It is eleven miles northwest of Taylorsville and only about half a mile from the Caldwell County line. Many of the members live in Caldwell County. The church was organized with eleven members, to wit: Stephen Medlock, George Barnes, Joseph Pennell, Mary Johnson, Christine Teter, Hannah Pennell, Amy Barnes, Nancy Teter, Rachell Johnson, H. Holsclaw and Robert Barnhill, Stephen Medlock, and Robert Barnhill were chosen deacons, William P. Swanson, pastor and Houston Holsclaw, clerk.
Pastors : May 12, 1833, W. P. Swanson; May 22, 1835, M. D. Holder; May 11, 1839, W. P. Swanson; May 29, 1840, Cornelius Livingston; January 28, 1843, Ferguson; May 10, 1845, Wm. Goforth; February 12, 1848, John G. Pryan; January 10, 1852, James Reed, H. Holsclaw, assistant; December 12, 185, Parton Bradley, H. Holsclaw, assistant; March 10, 1855, Edmund Tilley, V. Holsclaw, assistant; June 2, 1857, Jacob Crouch; October 2, 1858, J. H. Brown; April 12, 1862, Stephen Medlock; May 9, 1863, Smith Ferguson; April 9, 1864, D. B. Brown and H. West; May 13, 1865, Daniel Welborn; May 8, 1875, D. M. Knight; April 13, 1878, D. M. Knight and W. F. Knight; April 1882, S. D. Barnes; April 11, 1885, D. M. Knight; April 10, 1886, S. D. Barnes and A. X. Pennell; April 9, 1887, D. M. Knight and S. D. Barnes; April 19, 1888, J. B. Pool; September 16, 1890, J. F. Eller.
Clerks: May 12, 1833, Houston Holsclaw; June 2, 1849, Joseph Isenhour; February 12, 1856, Joseph Medlock; April 12, 1862, H. Holsclaw; September 9, Stephen Holsclaw; June 16, 1888, P. C. Downs.
J. B. Pool, Association Historian.
RECORDS OF ASSOCIATION FOR 1910
Since 1891, the church has been served by the following named pastors, to wit: July 16, 1892, A. M. Pennell; April 16, 1893, S. D. Barnes; November 17, 1894, J. A. Downs; May 25, 1896, C. C. Pool; August 22, 1897, A. H. Pennell; November 22, 1897, O. A. Keller; March 24, 1901, J. K. Fox; April 13, 1902, C. Z. Bumgarner, still serving October 2, 1910.
This old landmark church has seen its bright and flourishing, also its dark and gloomy periods. Beginning with eleven members, it has enrolled 630.
“The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” W. S. McLeod, Historian.
Rev. G. Z. Bumgarner continued to serve the church as pastor until he was killed by an automobile in the city of Charlotte. J. Walter Watts was then called to the pastorate until succeeded by S. I. Watts, of Sooner, N. C., who is the present incumbent. H. C. Pennell, G. B. Pennell, and M. S. Pennell, have each served as clerk since the date of the former record.
(From Records of Alexander Baptist Association, 1905)
Was organized April 14, 1854, by a Presbytery, Burton Bradley and James Reed.
Members: Burton Reed, E. C. Oxford, Andrew N, Reed, Andrew Reed, Nancy Reed, Margaret Ellen Reed, Mary E. Reed, Elizabeth E. Oxford, Sarah Munday, Anna Munday, Hiley Munday and Nancy Payne.
One of the rules adopted at the constitution of the church was, that Baptists, who were discriminated against in other churches on account of being “Sons of Temperance”, might be received on application.
E. C. Oxford was elected church clerk and retained the position until he entered the Confederate service in 1864. A. B. Oxford was church clerk until he emigrated to Missouri in 1866. He was succeeded by W. C. Oxford, who resigned in 1871. Isaac Newton Bradburn was elected and continued until the church dissolved.
Burton Bradley was pastor the first year. He and J. J. Watts were joint pastors for the next year. R. L. Steele was a pastor from February 1, 1856, to April 2, 1859. Smith Ferguson to March 31, 1860; James Reed to January 1, 1862; J. H. West to December 3, 1865; Isaac Oxford and J. H. West, Jointly and part of the time alternately, to August 1, 1871; G. D. Sherrill to May, 1873; J. H. West, to the dissolution of the church on the 5th Saturday in January, in 1876.
Rev. James Reed joined the church by letter immediately after its organization. Amanda A. Oxford was the first that joined by baptism.
By a resolution of the church in 1863, the position of the church on Temperance was published in the Biblical Recorder.
The church was originally organized in the school house of District No. 32, but afterward built an excellent house which was used both for a meeting house and a high school building, near Ellendale Springs. The first sessions of the high school were taught by Prof. Hugh M. Stokes, a thorough scholar; a great teacher and a brother of Gov. Montford Sidney Stokes. Subsequent sessions were taught by Miss Smith, Hugh A. Oxford, W. S. Pool, R. H. Moody, James B. Pool, and A. F. Somers, A Teachers Institute supported by state and Peabody funds was conducted by W. E. White, then County Superintendent, from 1872 to 1875. The house was burned by an incendiary on the night of September 11, 1875, together with a valuable library of teachers’ manuals and literary works, maps and excellent school furniture.
W. S. McLeod, Historian.
A “Sleight-of-hand” performer was making exhibition of his “art” through various sections of the county previous to the burning and sent a messenger to the superintendent for permission to exhibit in the building. The superintendent declined to grant the permission and locked the doors on the evening before the appointment. However, a crowd gathered at the building with the performer and raised a window, by which an entrance was made, and proceeded to carry the show through. The trustees of the building made inquiries concerning the affair. Following these inquiries, the building was burned, between midnight and daybreak of the date stated by the historian.
In the History of Antioch, the pastorate of W. T. Davis was not recorded by the historian. He succeeded G. D. Sherrill in 1872 and died before the expiration of his pastorate. He preached the first sermon in the new building which was completed while he was pastor. His ancestor, William Dodson, Sr., preached the first sermon in the old church in 1826.
In the list of ministers corning from the membership of Antioch Church, the name of Oscar A. Kellar was inadvertently omitted.
Joseph Creel was a young preacher living within the influence of Antioch, but there is no record of his membership there. He left Ellendale about MS and his subsequent history is lost.
MT. HERMON BAPTIST CHURCH
By Lee C. Echerd
It is situated four miles west of Taylorsville, on the Lenoir highway. It was organized October 9, 1912, by a Presbytery composed of L. P. Gwaltney, J. P. Gwaltney, J. W. Watts, G. Z. Bumgarner and T. E. Redmond. J. P. Gwaltney was made moderator and Deacon R. 1. Downs, clerk.
The organization consisted of 72 charter members, 51 of whom came from Three Forks Church, 11 from Liledoun, 8 from Antioch and 2 from Lebanon.
J. W. Watts was the first pastor. He served until January 1915, when L. Pl. Gwaltney was chosen. He was succeeded by T. W. Payne, present pastor. P. E. Johnson was chosen clerk at the organization.
The church has prospered from the beginning and now numbers 159 members.
ST. LUKE’S LUTHERAN CHURCH
St. Luke’s is five miles west of Taylorsville, about two miles south of the Lenoir highway. It was organized about 1906. There is a good parsonage about three-fourths of a mile south of the church.
The details of the history of this church have not yet been received but will be written before the records are closed.
SOME OF ELLENDALE’S CITIZENS
“An isthmus is a narrow neck of land connecting two larger bodies.” The present or passing time has been compared to an isthmus connecting “The Land of Was” with “The Land of Is to Be”. As we move across this narrow connecting line, we cannot comprehend how one individual can be much above or below another in the same environments, but some of us leave no vestige whatever of our transition, and the next passenger is entirely oblivious of our precedence; others of us have some sign, but it is soon obliterated by the onward tramp; but there are still others who so move among the affairs of men that their influence is plainly seen and felt in “The Land of Is to Be”.
Hero worship is an entirely different proposition from a plain statement of facts and will be removed from this record as far as possible.
William Austin came from Maryland to Orange County and from thence to what is now Ellendale township, with the enforced emigration following Alamance troubles. Another family related to William came directly from Maryland to what is now Wittenberg township, just after the Revolutionary War and always claimed that they were owners in fee of a tract of land lying on the north bank of the Potomac River. W. A. Pool, D.D., now of Mansfield, Texas and a great great grandson of William Austin has learned that Stephen Austin, first governor of Texas and for whom the capital of Texas was named, was of the same family of Austins.
William Austin purchased a fertile tract of land just south of Job’s Mountain, on Middle Little River from James Douglas and entered an adjoining tract and lived and died upon it. He was an old man when he arrived from Orange. A considerable portion of the population of western Alexander are his descendants; the writer of these lines is a great great grandson.
Edward Teague was another patriarch of a large posterity in Alexander. A preacher of deep feeling and sympathy, founder of the first church in the territory of Ellendale and was one of the signers of a largely signed petition of remonstrance against Governor Tryon’s tyrannical government. His brother, William Teague, also a refugee, was another signer. Edward had two sons, Moses and Vandaver; three daughters, Rebecca married Nathan Austin; Lurana, married Jehu Barnes; Isabella married Duck Jim Teague. Moses married Katie Payne, daughter of the Revolutionary soldier, Robert Payne and was a soldier under “Old Hickory” Jackson, in his Indian campaigns and at New Orleans in 1814. Vandaver married a Carpenter and was drowned in a swollen stream in sight of home as he was returning from a journey. Edward and his wife are buried in a cemetery near the site of the church he founded.
Robert Payne was another refugee from Tryon’s tyranny; but presumably passing by the inconsistency of the militarists who assisted Tryon and then turned against Tryon’s King, he served in one or more campaigns in the Colonial ranks and brought home a memento of his services, a cannonball picked up on a battlefield. This memento is still in possession of Roy Munday, who married Dora Crouch, one of his descendants in the fifth generation. The battlefield was said to be The Cowpens, but history says Morgan’s cannon at The Cowpens was made of a pine log. If Tarleton had any cannon he ran and left them.
One of Robert Payne’s descendants, Bruce Payne, is now President of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn. (Note: Dr. Bruce R. Payne, President of Peabody Normal College of Nashville, Tenn. died April 21, 1937. He was a lineal descendant of Adam Sherrill the pioneer who settled one mile west of Sherrill’s Ford, Catawba County in 1747. Annuals of Lincoln County, page 45)
Robert entered a tract of land just below the junction of two principal branches of Middle Little River and he and his wife’ are buried upon it.
Alexander West was another refugee; a large muscular man, of prodigious strength and physical powers and at the same time a man of excellent judgment and undoubted integrity. Nelson A. Powell, the historian of Caldwell County, leaves the record that Alexander West assisted in building the first houses in the town of Hillsboro. He first settled on lands between Barrett’s Mountain and Lower Little River, but after the Revolutionary War, sold out there, and moved to lands on Upper Little River, in what is now Caldwell County. His descendants still live in Caldwell. It is told of him that he would not use dogs in the capture of game, but depended upon his complete knowledge of the habits of the wild animals and was entirely successful.
William Reed was a refugee from Alamance and also a soldier in the Continental Army. He was in the garrison at Charleston when Gen. Lincoln surrendered it to Gen. Provost, but with many other soldiers escaped before the British got possession of the American quarters and came home. There were six brothers of the Reeds that came from Alamance; James Henry, William, Jesse, Hugh, and Isaiah. Henry, William, and Jesse were the only ones of them that left descendants in Ellendale. Twenty of these descendants bearing the name of Reed were Confederate soldiers. Of these twenty, only eight returned. The others were killed in battle or died in prisons and hospitals.
THE NEWLAND FAMILY
About 1780, Benjamin Newland married Katie Tate, in Pennsylvania, and afterward emigrated from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, making the entire trip on horseback. They settled on the Catawba River on what is now known as the Chick Alexander place, just below the mouth of Upper Little River. Some time afterward they exchanged lands with James Allen, who owned the fertile land of 560 acres, originally entered by James Reed. Newland also acquired part of the James Clark entry, adjoining the Reed grant. Upon this land, about 1836, he built the first flour mill in the territory of western Alexander. This mill was about 300 yards below the original corn mill built by Dempsey Kane and was burned down about eight years after its erection. Tom Murray, a tenant, was tried for the crime but was acquitted.
David Newland, son of Benjamin was born in 1800. He was a surveyor. When the Federal government organized a postal system in western North Carolina, he was ‘appointed postmaster of Little River Post Office, located at the exact spot where David Teague now lives, and which office, at various places in the neighborhood, maintained a continuous existence until suspended by the rural delivery system.
He represented Burke County in the House of Commons in 1826-1827 and 1828, and in the Senate in 1830. In 1832, he was Democratic candidate for Congress against James A. Graham, Whig candidate, and brother of Gov. W. A. Graham. The first election was a tie. Congress ordered a second election in which Graham was elected by six votes.
The State government at the time was Whig; but the National government was Democratic and consequently, Newland was appointed surveyor general of the Northwest Territories, and then removed to Wisconsin, where he married and had one daughter. In 1840, he was elected to the Legislature of Wisconsin and was chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives. He died in Washington City in 1856. His body was found in a canal near the city, but it was never ascertained how it got there.
Elijah Newland, another son of Benjamin, was a physician and with many other citizens about 1835-1836, emigrated to Indiana. He was married three times and became very wealthy. He filled two terms as State Treasurer of the State of Indiana.
William Newland was a Baptist minister and also went to Indiana. Hugh Tate Newland died when a young man. James Harvey Newland, Benjamin W. Newland, and Samuel Newland were never married. Robert Newland was a doctor and went west. Joseph V. Newland lived and died in Lenoir, N. C., and served several times as clerk of the court and was the father of Lieut. Gov. W. C. Newland.
THE POOL FAMILY
(By William Alexander Pool, D.D., of Mansfield, Texas.)
Reginald Pole was born about the year 1500. His mother was a niece of Edward IV. His father probably died young. Pole was educated for the priesthood, and during the reign of Henry VIII, he disagreed with the King over the question of divorce writing a book on divorce which filled the King with astonishment and rage. He ordered Pole to appear before him to answer for his deed. This Pole refused to do, and told the King to reply to the book if he wished to; so the Bishop of Durham undertook the task. Pole’s motive in thus breaking with the King was a political one; for he knew that the people were dissatisfied with Henry, and he hoped to be the leader of the party that would dethrone him and place Edward IV on the throne.
At the death of Pope Paul III, Reginald Pole was elected by a majority of votes, Pope; but he was not allowed to take his seat, being accused of hearsay.
The King became so enraged at Pole that about the year 1541 he ordered his mother and brothers put into prison, and they were soon all executed except the youngest brother, who escaped and went to Wales, changed his name from Pole to Pool, married and reared a family. About the year 1740, two of his grandsons came to the Colony of Virginia, in the King’s Army. When their term of service expired, they remained in the Colonies. Their names were, respectively, William and Alexander Pool.
Alexander Pool went to Pennsylvania and settled. William Pool settled in Virginia near the present city of Petersburg.’ He married a young lady named Ward at William and Mary’s College and reared a family of eight sons and one daughter. The oldest son was with Washington and was killed or died at the surrender at Yorktown. The father, who was my great grandfather, died soon after.
About the year 1785-90, his wife with her remaining children moved to Randolph County, North Carolina, where the daughter married a Baptist minister named Swanson. The sons scattered out over central and eastern North Carolina, except one, who went to South Carolina, and one to Georgia. The youngest son, Jesse, who was my grandfather, and Miss Elizabeth King, were married in 1795, in Randolph County, N. C., then moved to what is now Alexander County, N. C., where they reared a family of three sons and one daughter, James, Jesse, William, and Terah.
Add the following to Rev. W. A. Pool’s record: James, Jesse, and William all lived, reared families and died in Ellendale township. Five of James’ sons were Confederate soldiers. Two were killed at Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863; Jesse’s sons emigrated to Missouri in 1859. William and four of his sons were Baptist preachers, as appears in the history of Antioch Baptist Church. Nathan Austin Pool, the oldest son of William, was the clerk of the county court from 1856 to 1860. He entered the Confederate army as a lieutenant in Co. G 37th N. C. Troops was captured at Cold Harbor and remained in prison until the surrender. He was the register of deeds for ten years; clerk of Superior Court four years and represented Alexander County in the General Assembly of 1880. His son, O. F. Pool, is the present Representative. C. C. Pool and D. W. Pool never held any civil offices. W. A. Pool, was the Clerk of Superior Court four years and held several important pastorates in Alexander and adjoining counties. He went to. Texas in 1893. He was Moderator of the Tarrant County Baptist Association for nineteen years. He has been and still is, an intimate friend and coworker with George W. Truett, also a North Carolina boy, and who stands almost without a peer in the whole world as a pulpit orator.
THE WATTS FAMILY
James Watts, the ancestor of all the Watts of Alexander County, settled in Ellendale at some date between 1772 and 1782. He and his wife, who was Luranah Teague and a sister of Edward and William, came from Chatham at some date not definitely known and settled in Ellendale on a fertile tract of land on Lower Little River, which was at that time the boundary line between Wilkes and Burke Counties. His descendants, who have been recently reviving memoirs of his life and times, say that he was a soldier in the Continental army and that a cannonball which he brought home as a memento of the great struggle was in the possession of some of his descendants until quite recently, but has in some unaccountable manner been lost.
His son, Moses, inherited the paternal acres in Ellendale and with his wife, who was Miss Celia Laxton, raised a family, lived and died on the same. William also lived and died in Ellendale, some of the other sons settled in Little River township and became prominent citizens of that township.
Two things connect James Watts with the Alamance struggle. The first is that his wife was a sister of William and Edward Teague, who were factors in the proceedings, and another that his grandson, A. C. Watts, son of Mangus Watts, bare as his given name, the name of “Andrew Culberson”. The name of Andrew Culberson appears frequently in the Colonial Records as a factor in the poorest times of that period also that of Samuel Culberson.
Yore of the Watts History will be given in individual records.
CAPT. ROBERT BOYD
(From Documents of Benjamin Austin, Sr.)
The territory covered by Capt. Boyd’s militia company extended from the Wilkes and Iredell lines to Upper Little River and from the top of the Brushies to the Catawba River, as shown by a list of taxables of the same for the year 1807. There were 161 taxpayers, 115 white polls and 11 black polls. Benjamin Austin returned 1300 acres of land, Nathan Austin 1150 acres, Christian Keller 450 acres, John Boyd 484 acres, James Oxford 500 acres. Thomas Bradburn 1000 acres, Edwin Brown 600 acres. The lowest return was 50 acres.
Capt. Boyd’s residence was near to and northeast of where Mt. Hermon Church now stands. He was the father of “Squire Thomas Boyd, who named Ellendale Springs.
ROBERT BURTON SMITH
Robert Burton Smith was a private in Company G. 37th N. C. State Troops. He was shot through the head at the battle of Fredricksburg on December 13, 1°62. The ball entered his temple just back of his left eye and came out just under his right ear. He is still living, 86 years old, but has for over a year nearly lost the sight of the other eye. When the ball struck him he was standing with both hands clasped around his rifle and the butt resting on the ground. This position supported him so he did not fall and enabled him to start and walk about a mile to the field hospital. His strong vitality and will power, and also his cheerful disposition were potent factors in his recovery and also in prolonging his life to a good old age. His home has been in Ellendale all his life.
REV. GEORGE R. TALLEY
His father, George N. Talley, Sr., married Miss Theodosia Mays, a relative of Sheriff H. W. Nays, sometime between 1818 and 1830. They settled on Prater’s Creek, where George R. Jr., was born; also a sister, Huldah Maria, who married Thomas Reed, son of the pioneer, Jesse Reed.
The father died when the children were very young and the widow married David Julian. George R., grew to manhood at the home of his mother and went to school and entered the ministry in the Methodist Church. He became a preacher of great power and eloquence and was a chaplain in Gen. Lee’s army. His subsequent history is lost.
REV. DANIEL MILTON WHITE
Also a Methodist preacher and an uncle of the writer. He left Ellendale in 1832 at the age of 18. He worked in South Carolina at the carpenter’s trade for about a year. He then went to New Orleans and worked up the Mississippi to Hannibal, Mo., where he married Miss Mary Davis and located. He worked at his trade several years, and entered the ministry and preached and worked as an architect, too. He was a fellow townsman with Samuel L. Clemens. (Mark Twain.)
His life was a life of good health strong vitality and active service. He died in Missouri at the age of 94.
A description LITTLE RIVER TOWNSHIP of Little River township made 173 years ago, is a splendid description of the appearance it then made to the Moravian Brethren, who were seeking a home for them and their compatriots to colonize.
This expedition, an account of which is recorded in Volume V of Colonial Records, was led by Bishop Spagenberg, from Bethlehem, in Pennsylvania, in August 1752 and arrived at Edenton about the first of September of the same year. The journey from Edenton to the Catawba River was noted in detail in the Bishop’s Diary but it is not necessary to this record. From that time forward it is verbatim as follows:
North Carolina Catawba River, October 28, 1752. Here I must remark on some of the difficulties incidental to the colonizing of this country. They will probably settle in Anson County. Where? That remains to be seen, as we know not.
Forks of Little River, south side of Brushy Mountains, In Camp, November 5, 1752. I must say something of the surveying in North Carolina, as it is carried on in all our land measurements. The Surveyor has received strict orders from Lord Granville’s agents to run no other lines, but N.3. E. and W. I have spoken much about this with Mr. Churton, who certainly is a reasonable man, but he always pleads his orders and says he must abide by them.
In the next place, I would suggest to the brethren, that when they come to possess the land, it might be a great advantage to them to secure the service of the hunters whom we have to assist us. Their names are Henry Day, who lives in Granville County; John Perkins, who lives on the Catawba River and is known to Andrew Lambert, a well-known Scotchman; and John Rode, who lives about 20 miles from Capt. Sennit, on the Yadkin road. I especially recommend John Perkins as a diligent and trustworthy man and a friend to the brethren.
From the camp at Little River, 20 miles from the Catawba River and mouth of Little River, Anson County, N. C. This is the first piece of land which we have taken up. It lies at the two branches of Little River, of which one flows southwest and the other southeast. (This description exactly fits the junction of Muddy Fork and Little River) Little River flows into the Catawba about 20 miles from Andrew Lambert’s, a well known Scotchman.
We finished the survey today. This piece of land contains 1,000 acres, the acres 160 rods. The best of the land is the lowland, which lies between two hills in a curve like an elbow. This land is all very rich and is at times overflowed by Little River. This tract extends about three miles in the curve, contains 300 acres. For stock-raising, it is very convenient, and 10 families could readily make a comfortable living here. There is abundant opportunity for making meadows though stock could easily subsist in winter in the reed thickets, as they remain green all winter.
There is no lack of water courses in the bottoms and there is a fine site for an overshot (wheel) mill. Editors Note: In his journal Bishop Spagenberg identifies three locations that are suitable for a water driven mill. Buck Deal a descendant of Jacob Deal ((1778-1864) states Jacob was a millwright and built three mills in Little River retaining the best one for himself. Deaf John Barnes resided in Little River and his 1822 Will indicates he owned a mill. Elsewhere in this history, White indicates Daniel Wittenburg also owned a Little River Mill. Upon the whole, the bottom has an abundance of water courses, not only from the creek, which has such steep banks as to render it too steep for fording (except where buffaloes have made a ford) but is abounds in springs also.
About 14 miles from here lives a family of Scotch Irish. There is said to a mill there, but there is neither road nor way leading to it. (This was a mill on Third Creek)
Brother Henry Antes thinks millstones maybe four on the tract we have taken up. Joining the upland tract are several hundred acres of good woodland, also a piece of bottom that may be secured by the brethren at some future day and time, if found desirable.
November 7, 1752, Second Fork Little River in the Brushy Mountains, 2 miles from First Fork.
There is now the second place where we have camped to take up land. What has specially induced us to do so, is that there is much low land and is near the First Fork. This lowland comprises about 200 acres, is not only watered by Little River, but by numberless streams issuing from the mountains. By conducting a stream of water from Little River to the north side of the mountain, which could be done without much difficulty, a very excellent mill could be built which would be exempt from the high water, which so often prevails here. Stone is found here for building purposes, but neither lime nor limestone. An abundance of good wood, with excellent soil, is the rule.
A short distance eastwardly from here, we come to an admirable piece of land alongside the bottom, which has the sunshine all day long. With a little labor, water could be brought here from Little River; also a mountain stream which would furnish cold water for household purposes. Along the hillside on the west is a very rich soil and thickly covered with locust trees.
(This closes the Bishop’s account of Little River township but on account of history we will follow him just a little further,)
November 13, 1752. In camp on the Catawba River. We are here in the neighborhood of what may be called “Indian Pass.”
The next settlement from here is that of Jonathan Perrot (Barrett). This man is a hunter and lives 20 miles from here. There are many hunters about here who live like the Indians; they kill many deer, selling their hides, and thus live without much work.
The Moravian Brethren never cleared out the surveys before mentioned either from Earl. Granville or the British Crown. From the camp at “Indian Bass”, they went up the Catawba and the stream now called Johns River, so named after Perkins, their guide. They intended to return down the Yadkin; but somewhere about where Blowing Rock is they missed their way and went down New River, and encountered rough wilderness and extremely wintry weather, from which they suffered severely. After much tribulation, they got back to the Yadkin at the cabin of Robert Owen, near Brown’s Ford. Here they rested and recruited and entered the Moravian Falls tract, the first tract which they obtained title in fee.
Afterward, they permanently located at Salem (Winston Salem).
I have seen a segment of the map of the Moravian Falls tract, made by the surveyor, William Churton, and although lettered with a quill pen is an excellent map.
PIONEERS OF LITTLE RIVER
Editors Note: In addition to the families named below, Brinsley Barnes, Sr. (1713-1794) his sons Deaf John (1741-1822), James “Handsome Jim” Barnes (1740 – 1832), Jehu, Sr. (circa 1751 – 1820) and grandsons Jehu T. and Michael both sons of Handsome Jim were residing in Little River Township before 1800.
THE ROBINETTE FAMILYThere were pioneers in the township before the Robinettes, but their location was in the northwest corner, the place in order for beginning the record. The following sketch was written by the veteran historian, Nelson A. Powell, in the Lenoir Tonic of December 9, 1885.
Same time about the year 1769, Robert Fullington (Fullerton) in passing the courthouse door in London (Westminister?) found a boy child on the step carefully wrapped in the finest of cloth. He took charge of it and adopted it. In a short time, he crossed the Atlantic, landing in North Carolina and made his way to Rowan County. He settled on Upper Little, River at the farm where Sidney Whitener now lives. He named the boy Grand Sir Robinette.
The boy grew up to be a man, married a Miss Spralding, and settled on the headwaters of Lower Little River, where he lived and died at the advanced age of 97 years.
His son, William Fullington Robinette, lives at the same place and is in his 86th year. He was never sick a day in his life, never took a dose of medicine in his life, and can ride horseback anywhere he wished to go.
There was something remarkable about Grand Sir Robinette: his large portly frame and great physical strength are conclusive evidence that he was the child of no ordinary man. The same characteristics show in all his descendants. As to Fullington, I don’t know of anyone living who remembers him. The Fullington place was 50 years ago, by word, it was haunted! A person to pass it after nightfall and get off safely was a brave one. I think Mr. Whitener has destroyed all the ghosts.
Mr. Powell’s “Reminiscences” give interesting narratives of other incidents and characters in Alexander which will be quoted at the proper time. The “haunted place” is on the Lenoir highway, near the foot of Hibritten.
In the year 1916 and. afterward Andrew Monroe Bumgarner wrote an autobiography in which he records the name of the ancestor as James Robinette and his wife as Frances Spradling; otherwise, his version of the Robinette ancestry is practically the same as Mr. Powell’s only he gives additional mimes and statements about the family, as follows: William Fullerton Robinette married Sarah Walker; Elisha married Pollie Brown; Lazarus married Lottie Chapman; James married Sarah Brown first, Caroline Bumgarner, second; Ambrose married Anise Tritt; Joel married Susan White; Lavina married William Loudermilk Bettie married John Swaim and went West; Mary married Hiram Ford and went to Tennessee; Nancy married Jesse Philips.
Eighteen of the descendants of James and Frances Robinette went as soldiers to the Confederate war and only three returned.
J. B. Robinette, the present sheriff of Alexander, is a grandson of Lazarus Robinette.
William and Adam Fullerton, of Ellendale, were sons of Robert “Fullington”, but we have no record of their subsequent history.
On the west side of Onion Knoll is a gap or pass across the Brushies from Little River township into Wilkes County, that has been known since the earliest settlements as Boone’s Gap. It was opened up by Daniel Boone and a pass from his cabin on Warrior Creek to a hunting lodge on the lands claimed and afterward entered by Charles Walker. Lyman C. Drapes, secretary or the Wisconsin Historical Society, wrote that there was a beech tree down the run on the north side of the mountain from the gap on which Daniel carved his name, but Dr. Draper did not state the source of his information but is certain that Daniel was known to parties on the south side of the Brushies; for after the government gave him a position in the territory of Kentucky, several accompanied him to Boonesborough, Harrodsburgh and St. Asaph, as will be noted as we proceed with the record.
Walker’s descendants still live in Alexander and adjoining counties. His daughter, Sarah, married William Fullerton Robinette.
Thomas Jones entered the valuable tract of land now well known as the Livingston place. He was the son of John Norley Jones and Ruth Bassett Jones, who came from Alamance. The history of the Jones family belongs to Taylorsville township, where it will be more fully developed.
THE CHAPMAN FAMILY
The pioneers of the Chapman family in Little River were John and Enoch, brothers. John Jr., Elisha, and Edwin. Enoch’s sons, Larkin, Thompson, and Emmett. John Chapman was shot and killed by Pendleton Isbell sometime in the decade of 1790.
John Swaim, the father of Rev. George Swaim, entered land upon the West Fork of Lambert’s Fork. Robert Holmes entered a large body of land just below Swain’s entry. He sold most of it to David and Jesse Spradling. Patrick Sloan, next below Holmes and sold his to Brinsley Barnes. Jack Spradling located up toward the headwaters of the main branch of Little River. He lies buried on his homeland. His descendants of other names, frequently meet at his grave in honor of his memory. Cornelius Sanders, John Sanders, Samuel Spurlock, Bumgarner, Issac Elledge and others not recalled at present.
THE BROWN FAMILY
During the decade between 1760 and 1770, immigrants from Virginia settled along the Yadkin River in considerable numbers. The Browns came from Halifax County, Virginia, and settled near Brown’s Ford, five miles above Wilkesboro. Among these was Joseph Brown, grandfather of Joseph Brown, the famous War Governor of Georgia. Also George Brown and his sons, Richard, and George, Jr., and his nephew, Edwin Brown. These three crossed the Brushies and entered and located on the upper tract that Bishop Spangenberg surveyed, but never cleared out. George, Sr., was too old for military service in the Revolutionary War. He had a good elementary education and after the neighborhood became more thickly populated, he was chosen magistrate and held the office until too old to serve. He is one of the few designated as “Esquire” in the first Federal Census in 1790. His papers are lost. If extant, they would no doubt throw much light on the history of Alexander County.
He was twice married, but the family names of wives are lost. The exact date of his death is not preserved, but an incident connected with it is handed down. It had been his desire and prayer that, when the time of his departure arrived, he would be allowed to go at once, and his prayers were answered. He had worked in the fields throughout the day. After supper, and apparently well, he said, “My summons has come”, and died a few minutes afterward.
Richard, George, and Edwin all entered fertile lands on the headwaters of Middle Little River, now Caldwell County. ‘Richard and George moved to theirs and in later years sold out and moved to Loudoun County, Tennessee. Three of Edwin’s sons moved to his, but Edwin himself lived on the Spangenberg lands all his life. Richard Brown was the same Richard previously mentioned as a member of Edward Teague’s church and was granted letters of dismission for himself and wife Rachel when they moved to Tennessee.
Archer Brown was a son of George, Sr., by his second wife and was born about 1790. He inherited his father’s Spangenberg lands. He walked to Taylorsville from his home in his ninetieth year and gave clear and intelligent evidence in a lawsuit concerning lands adjoining his own. George Brown’s daughter, Nancy who died July 9, 1855, married John Barnes, the celebrated centenarian, who died aged one hundred and fifteen and was fourteen years old when Cornwallis surrendered.
Edwin Brown married Ruth Echols in Halifax County, Virginia, before moving to North Carolina. They had eight sons and two daughters, William, the oldest was a surveyor and moved to Tennessee with Richard and George. John and Thomas were next and went with Daniel Boone to Kentucky in the employ of the Federal Government.
John met with an accident that rendered him a cripple for life. Thomas and his wife were both found dead in their beds from fever in Kentucky. It was supposed that they had been dead a week or more when they were found. Richard married Sallie Laxton and lived on the Caldwell lands. He died from the dreadful typhus fever which he contracted on a market trip. Jesse married Anna Jones first and Mary Johnson second. He lived on the Caldwell lands until the death of his first wife; then near Antioch Church in Ellendale. Joel married Lucy Roberts first and Delphia Roberts second. He lived on the Caldwell lands all his life. He was a magnificent specimen of physical manhood, six feet in his stockings, erect form, wonderful endurance and vocal powers that are rarely equaled. Edwin, Jr. married a McEwen back at Brown’s Ford and went to Indiana and became wealthy. Hubbard, the young-cot, also a six footer, married a widow Hubbard of Brown’s Ford and lived and died in Wilkes County. Judith, the oldest daughter, married Joshua Groer, Lotitia married a McEwen, brother to the wife of Edwin, Jr. and went to Indiana.
All of Edwin Brown’s sons were violinists (fiddlers) except Thomas. He could make a fiddle, but could not play one. In this, they had most noteworthy precedent. Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, the two great dynamic forces of the American Revolution, solaced their quiet hours with their fiddles.
STILL OTHER PIONEERS
The Spangenberg bottoms just below George Brown’s on Main Little River was entered by Richard Hood, who probably was an Alamance refugee, and sold by him to William Marley, another refugee, and a signer of the petitions of remonstrance. Hood’s subsequent history is lost.
The next below on the river was entered, or at least settled, by John Bradburn, who came from Richmond, Virginia, sometime in the decade, from 1760 to 1770, and it is a tradition that an Isaac Bradburn came with him, but there is no documentary record confirming this. John Bradburn settled somewhere not far from the Reuben Watts residence. He was shot and killed during the Revolutionary War by some dastardly assassin who poked his gun through the crack between the logs of the dwelling house and shot him while he was grinding coffee for breakfast. It was never ascertained who the assassin was, or his motive for the deed. The Judgment Day will make the revelation. He left a widow, two sons, and one daughter. The widow married Benjamin. Austin of the Ellendale history. The daughter, Susan never married but lived all her life with her mother and the Austin family. The oldest son, John, never married. Thomas married the daughter of Isaac Elledge and settled in Ellendale at what is known as Cross Keys. He became wealthy and reared a large family of sons and daughters. The very lower part of the Spangenberg lands is in the borders of Taylorsville township.
LITTLE RIVER BAPTIST CHURCH
Little River Baptist Church is the oldest church in the Alexander Association, but unfortunately, the records of its earlier proceedings are lest and most of its history will have to be made by tradition and general reputation.
The Alexander Baptist Association met with Little River Church on September 29, 1898, and the historian of the Association asked that the preparation of the history of the church be deferred until the next meeting of the Association, in order to get the church records such as were extant in proper shape. This request was granted, and the work was done and at the next session was turned over to the printer, but it was not printed and the copy was lost.
There was a record started in 1822, four years prior to the organization of the next oldest church, but that is now lost, too. It is known that Brinsley Barnes, one of the signers of the Tryon petition, was one of the charter members, and from tradition, we learn that Thomas Jones was another.
Little River Church was one of the storm centers of the excitement about “The Sons of Temperance” in 1845, and subsequent years. The details of this, however, must be verified before a reliable record can be made. The records of the proceedings of the church since 1898 are in good shape and will be printed in an appendix to these records.
POPLAR SPRINGS BAPTIST CHURCH
From Records of Alexander Association in 1903.
Poplar Springs Church was organized July 27, 1872, by a Presbytery; Elders William Pool and Stephen Medlock, with 17 members, bearing letters from other churches. The name was first “Lambert’s Fork”, but was changed later to “Poplar Springs”. The church was first located about a mile northwest of the present site and was moved to its present location about 18 years ago. The church has prospered under the leadership of various persons all these years and now (1903) has a membership of 1911.
W. S. McLeod, Historian.
LEBANON BAPTIST CHURCH
From Alexander Association Records, 1911.
This church was organized March 29, 1884, by a Presbytery composed of; Elders Stephen Medlock, Moderator, W. J. Bumgarner, clerk, C. C. Pool, J. B. Pool, Knight, and S. D. Barnes. S. D. Barnes was chosen pastor and served until December, 1884. J. R. Teague from January 1, 1885, until Aug. 1886; J. B. Poole from Aug. 1886, until Feb. 1892; W. J. Bumgarner from 1902 to Jan. 1902. At this time G. Z. Bumgarner was called to the pastorate and has served until the present time (1911).
A. M. Bumgarner was clerk when the church was organized and served till January 1903, when T. L. Bumgarner, the present clerk was chosen.
This church is remarkable for its good Sunday ‘school, splendid singing and the spirituality and harmony existing among its members.
W. S. McLeod, Historian.
LITTLE RIVER TOWNSHIP
The following items seem, worthy of record in Little River history.
Floyd (or Flood) Fortner was a soldier in the British and Indian Wars, or 1812 and in the same command with Smith Ferguson and Moses Teague, previously recorded. His subsequent history is lost.
Edwin Fortner, in Company G, 37th Regiment, State Troops, was, without doubt, the most perfect specimen of physical manhood that went into the Confederate army from Alexander County. He was six feet and four inches tall, With symmetrical proportions in every respect; erect in form and prodigious strength. He was the great-grandson of Edwin Brown whose name he bore.
THE BUMGARNER FAMILY
I asked Rev. W. J. Bumgarner for a sketch of his ancestry and he submitted the following.
My grandfather on my father’s side was Amon Bumgarner and my great grandfather was Thomas Bumgarner. He moved from this country to Arkansas, when my father was a young man and settled near where the town of Little Rock now stands. My great great grandfather was John Bumgarner, and once owned the lands known as the Barringer lands, near where the town of Newton, Catawba County now stands. My grandmother on my father’s side was Sarah Miller, but I know nothing of her people. She was related to John B. Miller, who lived near the Tennessee line. My grandfather on my mother’s side was Wm. Loudermilk and his father was Jacob Loudermilk. My grandmother on my mother’s aide was Lavina Robinette and her father was James Robinette and her mother was Frances Spradling.
Respectfully, W. J. Bumgarner.
I am not certain whether the pioneers of the Russell family belong to Little River on Sugar Loaf. I will reserve it for Sugar Loaf, and they can divide honors as interest may appear.
SUGAR LOAF TOWNSHIP
From W.E. White’s 1926 History of Alexander County appearing in the Taylorsville Times
There are three foothills of the Brushies, in Alexander County, which approach the magnitude of mountains that are similar in appearance, each one being almost a perfect cone in shape and not much difference in their sizes.
There is Never Mountain, on the line between Ellendale and Little River, Sugar Loaf Mountain, on the Wilkesboro highway, and Little Round Top, in Gwaltney township. Never Mountain is 2010 feet above sea level, Sugar Loaf 1832 feet, and Little Round Top 1754. Sugar Loaf Mountain was so named by early settlers because of its resemblance to the old fashioned loaf of sugar as manufactured several decades ago, and the muster ground, taxpaying or election polling precinct of former days was so designated for the purposes -of such gatherings and finally under the township dispensation, it was called Sugar Loaf township. The geographical center of Sugar Loaf township is about two miles east of the mountain and the gathering place has been for many years at the “Shooting Pine”, near where Melvin Childer’s store now stands.
The dividing ridge of the waters between the South Yadkin and the Catawba is about one mile east of Sugar Loaf Mountain. The Grassy Fork and Muddy Fork of Lower Little River draining to the southwest, and Cedar Run Creek, the headstream of the South Yadkin draining to the southeast. All the surface of Sugar Loaf except a small portion along Grassy Fork on the west side is thickly interspersed knobs and ridges and foothills that make Sugar Loaf the mountain township of Alexander. The tops of these ridges and peaks are up in what is known as the “thermal zone”, a kind of natural phenomenon that occurs in very few localities in as well defined a form as it does in Sugar Loaf. This phenomenon is caused by the drainage of the moisture in the air during the night time of still nights, which prevents the formation of frost. This freedom from frost renders these elevations with their generally fertile soils, ideal locations for the cultivation of the fruits adapted to the latitudes in which they occur and the Sugar Loaf country has well acquired the title of “The Land of Big Red Apples”.
Dr. Henry Louis Smith, former president of Davidson College now president of Washington and Lee University, in Virginia, has a fine, well-equipped orchard on the Black Oak Ridge, in the central eastern part of the township. Dr. Smith says that he operates the orchard as a pastime, but it is evident
to all familiar with the circumstances that it is also a remunerative pastime. There are other orchards throughout the township that pay handsome dividends, and in October of any year are paragons of beauty well worth a pilgrimage to behold.
The view from Dr. Smith’s orchard is fine. The line of the Brushies from the State Highway at Kilby’s Gap to Rocky Ridge, at the Iredell line, is full in view, and southward hill, valley and plain, form a charming rural view. Just opposite the orchard to the north on the line of the Brushies is Cedar Cliff Mountain, at the southwest base of which is the Ten Acre Rock, the surface of which measures ten acres, upon which no vegetation whatever can gain a foothold. The Ball Rock on the western edge of Hodge House Mountain is regarded by all as the dividing point between Sugar Loaf. and Little River townships. The mountain itself acquired its title from a legend that Hodge ran away from some of the lower counties with another man’s wife and lived a while under a sheltering rock on the side of the mountain. The husband, however, followed and found them, killed Hodge and took his wife back home.
The Spangenberg surveys covered a small portion of the Grassy Fork bottoms in Sugar Loaf, which were afterward taken up by William Isbell and afterward transferred by him to Jacob Deal, whose descendants still occupy tie most of the same. Isbell came from Virginia to the Yadkin settlements and from thence across the Brushies with the Browns and others.
Another pioneer on Grassy Fork was a German named Stuffel (Christopher?) Decker.
Other pioneers were Yearby Daniels, Richard Scott, Daniel Russell, Samuel Munday, William Munday, Thomas Munday, John McGee, Ben Russell, Charles Rattan, William Kirby, J. Kirby, William Runsell and others of which notice will be taken in family and individual records.
HISTORY OF BETHEL CHURCH
From Records of Alexander Association, 1889.
In obedience to my duties as Historian, I submit the following.
This church is in Alexander County, N. C., about 10 miles northeast of Taylorsville, situated among the mountains, surrounded by a hospitable population and a noble band of brothers and sisters.
With regard to the time of organization, Presbytery, and numbers who composed the arm from different churches I cannot get. The records are lost from the organization up to 1827. We find, however, that Bethel Church was represented in the convention organizing the Brier Creek Association in 1822. In the early days of the church, it had for pastors, Wm. Dodson and R. Chaffin, terms not known. W. D. Bock was clerk from 1827 to 1836; John Redman from 1836 to 1838; S. P. Smith acted as clerk and pastor from 1838 to 1841, and as pastor to 1843; Z. B. Adams from 1843 to 1848; J. G. Bryan, pastor and J. J. Watts from 1848 to 1853; J. G. Bryan, 1853 to 1560; James Reed from 1860 to 1861; W. G. Brown, from 1861 to 1867; Jacob Crouch, from 1867 to 1870; W. A. Pool, from 1870 to 1873; L. P. Gwaltney, 1873 to 1876; W. A. Pool from 1876 to 1877; L. P. Gwaltney from 1877 to 1878; J. P. Gwaltney from 1878 to 1881; L. P. Gwaltney from 1881 to 1884; W. A. Myers from 1884 to 1887; 1. P. Gwaltney from 1887 to 1889. Wm. Hines was clerk from 1841 to 1845; Jabez Hendren, from 1845 to 1857; Hix Hendren, from 1857 to 1870; E. B. Hendren, 1870 to 1889. The present membership of the church is 223.
J. B. Pool, Association Historian.
From Alexander Association Records 1906.
By reference to the Association Minutes for the year 1889, it will be seen that the records of the church prior to 1827 have been lost, but an organization certainly existed here about 1800. L. P. Gwaltney was the pastor from 1819 to 1891; W. H. Van Hoy, until October 1891; D. W. Pool until October 1900; L. P. Gwaltney to the present (1906). E. B. Hendren was Clerk in 1889 and until 1890; J. W. Hendren to June 1891; J. E. Gilreath, to 1889. A. C. Jones is the present incumbent. The records since 1827 show painstaking care on the part of clerks.
This church has certainly been a power for good in this community and is now in a prosperous condition both spiritually and financially, as is evidenced by the quiet, orderly development and hospitality of its members and the neat comfortable house of worship and commodious arbor.
The church numbered 228 members in 1889 and now numbers 245. Since 1889, 31 members have died and 106 have been dismissed by letter, making a net gain of 144 since 1889.
W. S. M’Leod, Historian.
PLEASANT HILL BAPTIST CHURCH
From Records of Alexander Association, 1895.
Pleasant Hill Church was organized January 31, 1852, by a Presbytery consisting of John G. Bryan, Jacob Crouch, and WM. Pool. Wm. Pool was made pastor and John T. Baker clerk. In 1854, trouble arose in the church about a resolution passed in the Lewis Fork Association concerning the organization of the Sons of Temperance. The church passed a rule forbidding services by any preacher who was a member of a secret society, which was in effect afterward rescinded. The church then entered upon a career of prosperity which is still proceeding.
Pleasant Hill Church is “pleasantly” situated on a ridge 1,185 feet above sea level and about 300 feet above the adjacent country, and consequently, the top of the ridge is what is called by scientists as the “thermal zone”, or above what is usually termed the “frost line”.
The church building is a neat, well-painted house located in a beautiful grove of original forest growth. It is better known locally as “Black Oak Ridge” church than by its true name, though the dominant forest growth on the ridge is chestnut or tan bark oak.
October 8, 1925 – Pleasant Hill now numbers 130 members. L. E. Barnes, pastor; Jeffie Daniels, clerk; J. C. Deal, superintendent of Sunday school.
HODGES HOUSE OR HODGES MOUNTAIN
On the Brushy Mountain, a few miles from Kilby Gap, there is a. natural formation of rocks that is known as Hodges House. It takes its name from an incident which has been handed down from one generation to the other.
It is said that during the Revolutionary War a man by the name of Hodges made the house placed there by the builder of the mountains, his home. After the war, he was found there and killed. The old settlers of this section say their fathers told them that his bones were seen by them.
The Brushy Mountains, from Hodges House to the turn of the mountain near Russell’s Gap, is underlaid with solid rock or granite. The rock can be seen at several places and the mountain near Russell’s Gap is one solid rock known as The Bald Rock.
Another pioneer on Grassy Fork was a German named Stuffel (Christopher?) Decker.
Other pioneers were Yearby Daniels, Richard Scott, Daniel Russell, Samuel Munday, William Munday, Thomas Munday, John McGee, Ben Russell, Charles Rattan, William Kirby, J. Kirby, William Russell and others of which notice will be taken in family and individual records.
On the opposite side of the mountain from Hodges House (in Wilkes County) there is another place of interest and is visited by many, every year. This is known as the World Rock. At this place, the rock again shows itself and there is a large room formed by nature which is known as “The Devil’s Room”. There is a cave which opens near the “The Devils Room” which has never been explored. Venturesome visitors have gone in some distance, but their hearts failed them when they heard the roar of running water.
This place is the continuation of the rock or granite found at Hodges House.
H. S. Deal, Pore’s Knob, N. C.
SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN
Sugar Loaf Mountain is situated in the northern part of Alexander County, mar the Wilkes County line, on the Taylorsville-Wilkesboro Highway. It takes its name from its peculiar shape. At a distance, its profile resembles an old-time round loaf of bread. It is not connected with any other mountain range except on the north, where a low ridge connects it with the Brushy Mountain range. Its appearance is the same when viewed from any angle.
This mountain is covered with forest except on the eastern slopes where can be found the famous Limbertwigs apple growing.
Sugar Loaf township takes its name from this mountain.
Several years ago there appeared a large opening around near the foot of the mountain, on the south side extending several hundred yards.
It has the appearance more of a large crevice than anything else. This caused many people to predict that the land near the foot of the mountain on the south side was sinking or would sink. No one has been able to give the cause of this disturbance. No signs for several years has been noticed of any further disturbance.
The Sugar Loaf can be seen by the traveler from the time he leaves Taylorsville until he reaches the Wilkes County line.
H. S. Deal, Pore’s Knob, N. C.
THE STATE HIGHWAY
The State Highway Commission has decided to improve the highway leading from Wilkesboro southward and the contractor is now making a good paved road through Sugar Loaf crossing the Kilby Gap and following the full length of the township to the exact southwest corner of the same. This means a great stride forward for Sugar Loaf and it will soon take the front rank in the industrial procession of Alexander County.
MT. HEBRON BAPTIST CHURCH
This church is located on the State Highway right at the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain. It was organized in 1915, and now numbers 82 members; D. C. Clanton, pastor; V. C. Wike, clerk; G. F. Morelli, Sunday school superintendent. It is a constituent member Of the Alexander Association and its full history will not be written until that body meets with the church sometime in the future.
SALEM LUTHERAN CHURCH
About the year 1849 Jack Deal, Sr., Simon Bumgarner, Stuffel (Christopher?) Decker and some others of the Lutheran faith living on the waters of gassy Fork; invited Rev. Polycarp Henkel, the great Lutheran divine, to assist them in religious services. He came and organized a congregation and decided to erect a house of worship. Pending the building preliminary, and catechetical services were held at the residence of Isaac Barnes. A church organization was perfected and Thomas Barnes was chosen as secretary and held the position all his life, and the church is still operating.
The site chosen for the building is a beautiful location and is now on the State Highway to Wilkesboro.
MT. OLIVE BAPTIST CHURCH
From Records of Alexander Association, 1894.
The church was organized April 7, 1865, from members of Little River and Walnut Grove Churches. The Presbytery consisted of Daniel Wellborn, Jacob Crouch, and Peter Tritt. The church record from organization up to 1878 is lost. The following brethren have served as pastor: Peter Tritt, James Kerley, L. P. Gwaltney, I. W. Thomas, J. P. Gwaltney, J. M. Shaver, D. W. Pool, C. C. Pool and W. J. Bumgarner, the present incumbent (1894). The church members now number 117.
W. J. Bumgarner, Historian.
A new building was under construction at the time of the above record. It is now completed and is a splendid edifice.
PROMINENT CITIZENS OF SUGAR LOAF
William Dodson, Sr., and William Dodson, Jr., were pioneer Baptist preachers and served their day and generation well and their works do follow them. Richard Wallace, another pioneer Baptist preacher, was a co-worker with the Dodsons. Wallace’s Creek, on which Davis Flour Mill stands, was named for him and renders it a little uncertain which township he really lived in.
WILLIAM T. DAVIS
William T. Davis was a brilliant young preacher and teacher whose death in 1879, at the very beginning of a seemingly bright prospective career, cast a gloom over his many devoted friends. He was principal of the United Baptist Institute at Taylorsville at the time of his death, and pastor of Antioch Church. He was a man of splendid physique and seemed to have as fine a hold upon life as anyone, but the dread scourge -typhoid fever – scathed his manly form and he fell.
Major Bynum Childers rose from the rank of private in the regular United States Army to the rank of Brevet Major in the service of the nation.
Hon. Frank C. Gwaltney, of Sugar Loaf, represented Alexander County in the General Assembly of 1922. He is a citizen of worth and integrity. His Towers of expression run smoothly, with ease and grace from a six-cylinder motor engine and the spark plugs of the engine never fail to hit.
THE RUSSELL FAMILY
The Russell family is traced back to the illustrious family of Russells in England, which was the great English family of the Dukes of Bedford, whose family name is Russell. They have a worthy lineage, which they trace to the lords of Rosel, an ancient fief in Normandy, near Cherbourg. An older branch of the same house possessed the barony of Briqubec.
Hugh De-Rosel, who brought his family into England, is said by his family to have been a benefactor of the Abbey of Cane. He accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066 and received extensive lands in Dorsetshire, in Southwest England, for his service to the Conqueror. The principal town in his possession was Kingston, afterward called Kingston-Russell. Berwick, which was part of his grant is still held in the family of Dukes of Bedford. This family has for centuries played an important part in English politics and as far as is known they are related to the Russells in America.
The most usually accepted meaning of the name Russell is that it came from the old French word “Roussel”, which gave the French name Rousseau, And which meant reddish, or red-haired. It is very probable, therefore, that the first Russell was blessed with red locks or a ruddy complexion.
The first Russell family to come to America. emigrated from the county of Suffolk on the middle Eastern coast of England. The family is first heard of there when the will of Richard Russell of Abbaston, Suffolk, was proved in 1452. This Richard married Joan and had the following children: Rogers, Richard, Marion, William of Loxfield and Alice.
The third son, William was a yeoman, and he had a son, William of Lox-field and Ipswick, whose son William Russell married, first Elizabeth Whing and second Frances Page. By his first wife, William had a son and namesake, who married Anne Arnold in 1696. William and Anne had a son, John, a draper of Ipswich, England. He married and had two sons, John and Thomas, and this brings us to the immediate founders of the family in America.
John, the older of the two sons of the draper and tailor of Ipswich, emigrated from England to Cambridge, Mass., in 1635, when he was 38 years of age. He came on the Defense, that sailed under Capt. Bostwich, and brought with him his two sons, Philip and John. His wife had probably died before he left England and about the year 1649, he married a second time, his wife being Dorothy, the widow to the Rev. Henry Smith. John was a glazier by trade. In his will, he leaves half of his property to each of his two sons and “three pounds to his loving wife”.
The Russell coat of arms is described: Argent, a chevron between three cross crosslets fitches sable. The crest is a denni rampant, collard sable sleddedor holding a cross of the chief.
The balance of the Russell history will be gotten together at a later date.
H. S. Deal, Pore’s Knob, N. C.
The boundary begins at the corner of Sugar Loaf township, on the Wilkes line, on the mountain above the David Williams place, and runs with the line of Sugar Loaf to the top of Rocky Face Mountain; thence with the line of Sharpe’s township to the Perry Bridge, across the South Yadkin; thence down and with the South Yadkin to the Iredell line, just above the mouth of Cully’s branch; thence with the Iredell line to the corner of the county on the Wilkes line, thence with the Wilkes line to the beginning.
The “precinct” gathering place prior to 1868 was at “Gwaltney’s Old Field”, near the center of the township, and the name, “Gwaltney”, was the logical appellation of the township. Further consideration was that the Gwaltney family was a pioneer family of first respectability and formed a considerable portion of the population of the territory.
The territory drained by the South Yadkin from the Sugar Loaf line to the Iredell line is a fine, rolling, well watered, splendid farming section VII was settled by early pioneers.
The northeast corner of the township is drained by Rocky Creek and separated from the South Yadkin drainage by Rocky Ridge, a rugged elevation around three and one-half miles in length, in nearly an east and west direction. The bottomland on Rocky Creek, of which there is considerable quantity is very fertile and the upland is fertile, too, but very rough and ragged. In the consolidation of schools in Alexander, it will be difficult to consolidate the Rocky Creek district with others on account of the intervention of Rocky Ridge but a well located and well-constructed highway through the territory would be a highly practical solution of the problem. If is it were not for Rocky Ridge cutting off the Rocky Creek section, the whole of Alexander County could be seen from Barrett’s Mountain, in Ellendale. Just south of Rocky Ridge stands the almost perfectly cone shaped mountain mentioned in Sugar Loaf history as “Little Round Top”.
The “first on the ground” pioneer or, at least, the one who captured the first prize in real estate, was William Cowan, from Pennsylvania. This grant took in the valuable tract of land now known as the John B. Greer place, and other valuable lands adjoining it. Cowan lived and died on his place, but left no children. In fact, there is no record or other evidence that he was ever married. Francis Queen, about the same time (1782), entered the very fertile tract on Rocky Creek known as the Queen place, now owned by Mrs. Mary Harrington, and James Stephenson and William Stephenson – “Big Jimmie” and “Big Billie” entered the lands above Cowan on the South Yadkin. Not only were the lands fertile, but game of all kinds was very abundant.
Thomas and Adlai Sharpe entered the lands just below Cowan’s. Thomas Sharpe’s descendants retained possession of his until just a few years ago. Adlai Sharpe sold his to Edward Griffith, who, in turn, sold to Zechariah Linney.
As in Ellendale and other parts of the county, these pioneers held their lends by tenure of “axe entry”, through the Revolutionary War, and obtained documentary titles after the treaty of peace was ratified, and the State government machinery was in working order.
There is a tradition handed down that just immediately prior to the battle at King’s Mountain that Ben Cleveland came to Francis Queen’s enlisting recruits. Queen enlisted and in answer to Cleveland’s inquiry told him that the only available men south of Rocky Ridge were Cowan and Stephenson, and added: “You go back, I will get them.” Cleveland left orders to “bring Film; that will shoot to hit”. Queen went to Cowan’s and they concluded to test their artillery. They made a cross on Cowan’s barn door shutter’ and Queen hit the center of the cross with his rifle. Cowan put buckshot all over the door shutter with his flint-lock musket. I hit the general!” said Queen. “I hit the whole army,” said Cowan. They got Stephenson and went through the sanguinary conflict and returned to their homes.
THE LINNEY FAMILY
William Linney was born near Bainridge, England, October 1739. He learned the silversmith’s trade in England and came to Virginia in early life and followed his trade until the War of the Revolution. He enlisted with the American Forces.
About the year 1816, he came to Snow Creek, Iredell County, N. C. On the 10th of February, 1817, he purchased from Richard H. King, a tract of 600 acres for $1900, on the waters of the South Yadkin and Snow Creek. The deed for this tract is registered in Iredell County records, in Book I, page 133, on October 1, 1817. At his death, August 26, 1821, his will, recorded in the Record of Wills in Iredell County, recognizes Zechariah Linney, of North Carolina, and Henderson Linney, and George Linney, of Kentucky, as his sons and devisees. At his trade as a blacksmith, his will estimates his silver plate at $2,000. He had also accumulated a large estate of lands and slaves.
Robert Allen, one of the early settlers of Alexander County, and ancestors of the present State Superintendent of Public Instruction,. leaves this estimate of him: “William Linney was one of the greatest men I ever met. I served with him as an arbitrator in an important lawsuit: He caused the parties to a very bitter controversy to shake hands and exchange views, each ore occupying his antagonist’s position. The result was an adjustment of the matter without summoning a witness,”
His remains are interred on the Clarke farm, in Iredell County, near his old residence and shop.
THE LINNEY FAMILY
Zachariah Linney, son of William Linney, was born in Louisa County, Virginia, July 31, 1782. At the age of 30 he entered in the American army in the British and Indian War of 1812 and was wounded at the battle of New Orleans. After the war, he came to Iredell (now Alexander) County, N. C., and bought from Edward Griffith, Adlai Sharpe’s portion of the Thomas and Adlai Sharpe grant, on the South Yadkin. He married a Miss White and had two sons, Gates Linney, who died when a young man, Dr. Cope Linney, and one daughter, Mary Ann, who married Pickney Mayberry.
Dr. Cope Linney married a Miss Baxter, of Rutherford County. Some of their sons acquired distinction, as shown in the following paragraphs.
Romulus E. Linney was a soldier in. Company G, 38th N. C. State Troops, during the War between the States. After the war, he entered the legal profession and “found room at the top”. He represented Alexander County three terms in the Senate of the General Assembly and was the principal factor in securing the railroad to Taylorsville. He also represented the Eighth Congressional district for three terms in Congress and took. high rank as an orator in the national councils.
William C. Linney represented Alexander County three terms in the General Assembly in the House. He was also a soldier in the Junior Reserves in the Confederate service and was captured when Kirk took Camp Vance in 1864 and was confined in the Federal prison for the remainder of the war.
Frank A. Linney, son of R. Z. Linney, was candidate for governor against Governor T. W. Bickett and is United States Attorney for the western district of North Carolina.
Joseph T. Linney, son of J. Weldon Linney, represented Alexander County in the General Assembly of 1922.
Gates Linney, the grandson of W. C. Linney, is the present clerk of the Superior Court of Alexander.
THE ADAMS FAMILY
James Adams was a native of England. When .about twenty years of age he sought passage on a British man-of-war bound for America, but was refused.
He concealed himself among the ship’s cargo, and, when far enough from shore, he appeared on deck. The Captain gave him the choice of enlisting in the ship’s crow or be thrown overboard. He enlisted. For eighteen months his foot did not touch land, and he sailed over many seas and saw many foreign ports.
In 1770 the ship cast anchor at Norfolk, Virginia. He, with other members of the crew, was permitted to go ashore long enough to see the port. One night he overheard a man exclaim, “I am in a free country now, and I’ll do as I please.” The remark was suggestive and when the man-of-war was ready to sail, one seaman, James Adams by name, failed to report for duty.
He had learned the tailor’s trade in England, so he opened up a tailor’s shop in Norfolk and prospered until he learned that the officers of the man-of-war were offering a reward for his capture and return. He departed immediately.
He served the entire time of the Revolutionary War with the American handed. In one battle his thigh was broken; in another he received a backhanded sabre cut by a British officer which severely gashed his throat; he was captured three times, but each time he managed to escape and went back to the American army; once his horse was shot from under him, but he afterward found a horse with a dead British officer hanging to the stirrup. He released the dead officer and found himself mounted on a better horse than he had ever ridden before.
After the war was over, he located near the town of Cheraw, South Carolina, aryl there was married to a Miss Blankenship. Some twenty-two years later he moved from South Carolina to Iredell (now Alexander) County, North Carolina, and settled at what is known as the old Adams homestead, where some of his descendants have lived ever since his death and is now occupied by his only surviving grandson, Quincy W. Adams.
James Adams the second was seventeen years of age at the time of the removal from South Carolina and fell heir to the old homestead. One of his brothers went to Texas, one was killed by a runaway horse, and the others went back to South Carolina. He died in 1879. He had eight sons and two daughters.
This information is furnished by James Amos Adams, a prosperous merchant of Hiddenite, N. C., a son of James Winslow Adams, grandson of James Adams second, and great-grandson of James Adams first. He also gave a great deal more information concerning the family, but to print, it would extend the family sketch far beyond its limits.
Richard A. Adams, son of James Winslow Adams, has filled several terms as the sheriff of Alexander County.
THE MAYBERRY FAMILY
Randol Mayberry came from Virginia sometime immediately after the Revolutionary War and, with other Virginians, settled on the Yadkin River.
Sometime later, he took up valuable tracts of land on Rocky Creek, on which his descendants still live. His sons, Abel and Abraham, in addition to the valuable lands left by their father, acquired other lands and also considerable estates of personal property. These two, Abel and Abraham must not be confused with two later prominent Mayberry bearing the same names. The two later were not brothers but were descendants of the original pioneer. “Randol” was the spelling of the original name and is suggestive of “Randolph”. John Mayberry, another pioneer, settled in Lincoln County and Lewis still another settled in Caldwell Count.
PILGRIM BAPTIST CHURCH
From Records of Alexander Association, 1896.
This church had an organization originally known as Big Springs Church two or three miles northeast of the present church, but as the records are lost nothing certain is known of this organization, as is remembered by the older brethren now living, that its origin was only a few years previous to the organization of Pilgrim Church in 1837, on the first Saturday in April, with the following members as near as can now be ascertained from the records: John Redmon, Howell Barker, Ephraim Cook, Richard Hendren, Samuel Culler, Richard Davidson, Anna Brack, Anna Finger, Edward Chaffin, and perhaps a few others.
John Redmon was made a deacon and died in May following at an advanced Age. The church was named “Pilgrim” by Howard Barker, who died in 1847 at the age of 96, beloved and honored by all.
Edward Chaffin was clerk and pastor until Robert G. Martin was elected clerk in April 1838, and continued until he was succeeded by Joseph H. Younger, in August 1854. Younger was clerk until 1862 when he was succeeded by Litten Millsaps, who was succeeded by David W. Mayberry, in September 1883, who continued until he was succeeded by the present incumbent J. D. Mayberry.
In the pastorate, the dates of election and succession was about as follows: Edward Chaffin to November 9, 1839; Zechariah B. Adams to December 1, 1849; W. J. Chapel and J. B. Green to August, 1852; W. J. Chapel and Wm. Pool 1857; Wm. Pool to March, 1861; Jacob Crouch to 1863; R. W. Wooten to October, 1868; W. A. Pool to November, 1869, and, he was succeeded by C. C. Pool; the records are indefinite as to time of change to August 1881, but J. D. Pool, J. P. Gwaltney, and D. W. Pool were pastors during this period; L. P. Gwaltney to August, 1885; D. W. Pool, to October 1891; J. G. Weatherman, to December, 1894; J. P. Gwaltney and D. W. Pool to February, 1896; L. P, Gwaltney, present incumbent (1896).
In 1852 the Sons of Temperance agitation wrought dissension in the church and John H. Green and wife, Lee Williams and wife, G. W. Rowe, Abner Chenault, Richard Davidson, Arena George, Mary Redman, Caroline Howell, Sarah Campbell, Elizabeth Redmon, and others were excluded for belonging to that order.
William R. Gwaltney and his brother, J. P. Gwaltney, now ministers of high standing, were originally members of Pilgrim Church (1896).
The church now numbers 166 members, W. T. Comer, Pastor; J. M. Query, Clerk; W. R. Fox, superintendent of Sunday school and Mrs. Ad Millsaps, secretary of Sunday school (1926).
The following extract from the report of the committee on education at the session of 1896 is worthy of perpetuation and is recorded here as it applies to all times and all conditions of life.
“The boys need it (Education) that they may be thoroughly equipped for prompt and vigorous action when they are brought face to face with stern realities of actual life, and that for the want of this preparation they may not falter under their solemn obligations, or be recreant to the high behests of true and noble manhood.
“The girls need it that in the years to come, they may be the uncrowned queens of the hallowed precincts of home, where woman’s charms and grace and tender affections make it a sheltered refuge from trials and temptations, and whore woman’s love is the guiding star of all within her gentle domain.”
LINNEY’S GROVE BAPTIST CHURCH
From Association Records, 1899.
On October 2, 1895, Linney’s Grove Church was constituted, with 33 members by a Presbytery consisting of Elders W. J. Hopkins, D. W. Pool, A. H. Goodin and L. P. Gwaltney. J. P. Gwaltney has served the church as pastor from its organization to the present. J. J. Hendren and J. F. Baker have served as clerk. The membership has increased from 33 to 74 and the church is doing good work for the advancement of the Master’s Kingdom.
Walter L. Beach, Historian.
STATUS OF LINNEY’S GROVE, 1926
This church has a total membership of 175; pastor, A. E. Watts; clerk, J. F. Baker; superintendent Sunday school, A. E. Millsaps; secretary Sunday school, Miss Flora Bowles.
FAIR VIEW BAPTIST CHURCH
This church was organized in 1924 and is just starting its record. Its membership is 38. Pastor, L. E. Barnes; clerk, T. L. Querry; Sunday school superintendent, W. B. Hendren; Sunday school secretary, Mrs. T. L. Query.
SOUTH RIVER METHODIST PROTESTANT CHURCH
The original organization was made about the year 1866 on the south side of the south (South Yadkin) River on the exact site where S. N. Rufty now lives, and was known as Pleasant Grove Church. A considerable portion of the membership was on the north side of the river, the crossing of which was at Cheatham Ford, with a rough road on both sides of the ford. Another factor in the removal was the proximity of the church to the congregation of friction between the Methodist Protestants and the Methodist Episcopals. John Woodward donated a beautiful site north of the river, in Gwaltney’s township where the church now stands. Willing workers soon effected the change and the church was given the name of “South River”.
The names of the charter members as near as can be ascertained, were; Andrew Davis, Nord Patterson, David Miller, Mary Ann Miller, George Rufty, M. S. Rufty, George Beckham, Margaret Beckham, Mary Ann Beckham, Elihu Sloan, John Miller, Amanda Sloan, Martha Sloan, Ella Sloan, Dora Sloan, Caroline Rufty, Rebecca Rufty, Adaline Rufty, John Woodward and others whose names may yet be found.
The first pastor was Richard Green, followed by Revs. Wyatt, Matney, Bradley, Welborn and later, with intervening names not now in reach, Shaver and Clark, the present incumbent.
CENTER M. E. CHURCH
Center M. E. Church was organized in the year 1905 by. Rev. T. E. Weaver, pastor of the Hiddenite circuit with the following names as part of the charter members, to wit: P. H. Mason, Mrs. E. V. Mason, A. L. Woodward, Ida Woodward, W. M. Barkley, Victoria Barkley, A. J. Smith, Verdie Smith, Bessie Mason, Mary Emma Mason, Reuben Mason, and others. The church building stands on land donated by P. H. Mason, on the public highway known as Bennett’s Avenue near the Iredell line, and near the foot of Asbury Mountain.
The present pastor is Rev. T. W. Haher, of Hiddenite.
HOPEWELL AND BEULAH M. E. CHURCHES
Hopewell Church was many years ago a flourishing organization but from local causes, it was dissolved, and the worship at the church was discontinued. The former building was torn down and a pavilion erected for service upon burial occasions. The cemetery has some of the finest statuary in Alexander County, and its origin as a cemetery dates back many years.
The organization of Beulah was not the continuation of the Hopewell organization, but it is regarded as the successor to the Hopewell Church in perpetuating the Methodist cause in Gwaltney township.
The record of the work done by both these churches and the individual composition of cash is not available at present. Let us hope it will be later.
The following Baptist preachers have lived and done service in Gwaltney township, to wit: Edward Chaffin, W. J. Chapel, Zachariah B. Adams, John B. Green, S. P. Smith, A. N. Baker, W. R. Gwaltney, J. P. Gwaltney, L. P. Gwaltney, J. S. Gwaltney, Hix Headren, Lloyd E. Barns, J. S. Stephenson, V. E. Linney.
Two Methodist preachers; Revs. John Barker and R. T. S. Stephenson.
Dr. W. F. Connolly and Dr. Cope Linney were practicing physicians in Gwaltney township.
R. Z. Linney, J. A. Stephenson and J. L. Gwaltney, able and successful lawyers, were natives of Gwaltney township.
J. J. Hendren and J. W. Hendren, sons of Hix Hendren, Sr., are graduates of Wake Forrest and successful teachers. They jointly taught several sessions of the high school at Vashti Academy, in Gwaltney. J. J. Hendren served two terms as County Superintendent of Public Instruction, and afterward was principal of a high school in Sampson County. J. W. Hendren taught in the government school at Carlise, Pennsylvania, and for several terms has been connected with the High School at Hiddenite.
A. F. Sharpe, for 24 years, county superintendent of Alexander, is a native of Gwaltney township.
Webster defines “orator” as a “great speaker”. Taking this definition as correct, Gwaltney township can justly claim the distinction of producing and giving to the world-two “great speakers” of exalted standing in the annals of oratory, to wit: Romulus Z. Linney and Leroy Parks Gwaltney. They were both born and grew to manhood under the shadow of Rocky Face Mountain.
They both reached manhood estate while the cruel blackness of the demon of war held our country in his vise like grip, and consequently were deprived of the “finishing touches” of an academic education. Perhaps it was best that they did not. It might have smoothed them down too much.
Their course in life, and lines of thought were entirely different from each other, but they did possess in common the wonderful powers of expression, and personal imagination that enabled them to sway audiences, both large and small, at will with their wonderful flights of eloquence. Each one of them was the peer of any of their contemporaries in their specific, lines in North Carolina as public speakers of great force and power.
This brings us to the end of the upper line of Alexander’s records; that ii, the northern tier of townships. As we review the work, we regret that there is so much left out that ought to be recorded.
The next installment will begin the lower line. The historical interest will be as great, or greater, than the upper line.
Alexander has one township with a historical name of worldwide celebrity. In the year 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Thesis to the door of Wittenburg University, and the echo of the strokes resounded over the whole theological world; for it was the starting point of the Reformation.
The lines between Wittenburg and Ellendale have been changed, since the original formation, and the boundaries of Wittenburg as now constituted are as follows, to wit; Begins where the Caldwell County line crosses the Lovelady road and runs nearly due east, crossing Barrett’s Mountain at the White Oak Flats and down the Cove Creek to Lower Little River. Thence down said river to the bond of the river just below the Justice Ford ; thence south across the ridge to the head of the Punch Bowl branch and down the branch to the Catawba River; thence up the river to the corner of Caldwell County at the mouth of Upper Little River; thence up the Little River and with the Caldwell line to the beginning.
The name is derived from a German family of which William Wittenburg, who settled Lincoln County, about 1783, was an ancestor. Of this family, Daniel Wittenburg acquired a valuable tract of land just above the mouth of Middle Little River, on the bank of the Catawba, sometime about 1830: He owned a number of slaves and other wealth, and purchased a valuable mill site on Middle Little River, just above where Little River breaks through the bank of the canyon of the Catawba. He built one of the first flour mills that was built in Alexander. The territory around the mill is very bluffy and rough, but he constructed good roads to the mill and later built a mill near the flour mill for the manufacture of flaxseed oil, which was a money crop, both the fiber and the oil in the earlier times. About the year 1840, the Federal government was extending postal facilities and established a circuitous mail route from Statesville via Stony Point, James’ Cross Roads, Little River, Cedar Valley, Tuckers, Lovelady, Catawba View, Wittenburg’s Mill, and down the Barrett road, to the Mountain road and back to Statesville. This arrangement added to the other facilities, made Wittenburg’s Mill a popular gathering place for community meetings of all kinds. The region around the Mills was too rough for military maneuvers, and later, the muster ground was changed to Manring Price’s residence, two miles northeast of Wittenburg. Then other meetings were held at Price’s and there arose a sharp contention between the “election precinct” and the “Captain’s Company”, as to which should be “the public place”, but after the dispensation of 1868, the military went down, and the township was named “Wittenburg”.
About seven miles of the borders of Wittenburg township are along the Catawba River, from the mouth of Upper Little River to the mouth of Punch Pawl branch; and the earliest settlements of the country were along the banks of the Catawba and the accounts of these pioneers and their operations are in a large measure lost. The river got its name from the Catawba Indians, whose hunting grounds were along its waters. The tribe was nearly obliterated in 1762 by the ravages of smallpox, which they contracted from the whites. Out of something over 400, they all died, but a remnant of about 40 survived. Their descendants still live near the old Nation Ford, just below the South Carolina line.
Bishop Spangenberg’s journal in 1752 mentions Jonathan Barrett and Andrew Lambert as pioneers. This is the only account of Lambert and all further trace of him is lost, but Barrett lived on in Wittenburg township for at least forty years longer. He gave his name to the noble mountain, which is partly in Wittenburg and partly in Ellendale. He entered a large tract of land lying in Wittenburg, bounded by the Catawba on the south, Middle Little River on the west and by Mountain, or Mill Creek, on the north.
He opened up the road leading from some point on the Mountain road along the crest of the bank of the north canyon of the Catawba to Upper Little River. A very early grant to Absalom Pennington in the southwest corner of the county calls for “Barrett’s Read”. His name appears on the Federal Census of 1790, but not on the tax roll of 1907. His daughter, Bathsheba, married Samuel Oxford, another very early pioneer, and their descendants are numerous in Alexander and Caldwell Counties, also in Ashe County. Many of them emigrated to Missouri, Illinois, and other states. Without doubt, Jonathan Barrett was the earliest permanent white settler in the territory of Alexander County.
The history of the Perkins family has a broad and deep bearing, upon the early history of the Catawba Valley, including Wittenburg township, after the settlement of the same by white people; but it is too long for this installment and will be considered in the next.
THE PERKINS FAMILY
The John Perkins, mentioned by Bishop Spangenberg, and Adam Sherrill were pioneers of the region south of the Catawba in much the same manner as Jonathan Barrett and John Purviance were on the north side, and their history of the Catawba Valley pioneers that they have to be partially, at least, written together to get a fair understanding of the whole.
From records gathered by Rev. J. H. Shuford and W. W. Scott, of Caldwell County, we learn the “John Perkins, of Lincoln County, North Carolina, son of Elish Perkins, of the State of Virginia, was born in Virginia on September 15, 1733, and departed this life on Friday morning at five minutes past 7 o’clock, on April 13, 18040 aged 70 years and 7 months lacking 2 days.
From the same source we learn the Elisha Perkins jointly with George William Fairfax represented Frederick County in the General Assembly of Virginia in the sessions of 1752 to 1755, and that Gov. Dinwiddie appointed him a Commissary in the Virginia troops during the French and Indian War of 1750, and about the same date John Perkins emigrated to Rowan; now Catawba County, North Carolina; married Catherine Lowrance, and took up the valuable’ lands along the Catawba, between Island Ford and Lyles Creek.
There were five sons of this marriage and at least one daughter, Mary, who married Rev. Robert Johnson Miller and settled in what is now Caldwell County. Elisha Perkins Miller, who represented Burke County in the General Assembly of North Carolina in the years 1838-40 and Caldwell in the same in the years 1846-48, was the son of Robert and Mary Miller, and it is upon the strength of his statements that we can record that John Perkins, Sr., and Joshua Perkins were brothers and must have come from Virginia to North Carolina at the same date, or nearly the same.
Joshua Perkins probably settled somewhere north of the Catawba, as the first accurate account we have of his domicile is a grant to him of the valuable tract of land on the Catawba, just above the mouth of Upper Little River, later known as Catawba View, and owned by Abner Payne; Joshua Perkins’ wife was a Sherrill, first name not now known. He had three sons: Jesse, William and Benjamin, and one daughter–perhaps more, but his daughter, Sarah, is the dominant character in this record. She married Jonas White; of whom later record will be made. Her statement of events handed down through her descendants tells of events along the Catawba in the earliest pioneer days. She was born in 1759 and died in 1857 and was 98 years at the time of her death. Her account of the outbreak of the Cherokees in 1768, when she was nine years old, is worthy of record.
Joshua Perkins lived at the time of the uprising somewhere on the north bank of the Catawba, probably at Catawba View. She said that at their home one night just after dark a rooster crowed as if it was the hour before dawn, and she always regarded it as a premonition of what followed. About an hour afterward, a messenger came with the news that the Cherokees were on the warpath, and had killed some of the Dutch settlers on the South Fork, and it was absolutely necessary to seek a place of safety at once. Just as quick as they could, they gathered what provisions they could carry, and went to the river, and got on a raft and flatboat, and started down the river. The moon was shining brightly, and they went across to the south bank in order to get in the shadow of the forest trees and be less visible to a hostile Indian, and in this manner proceeded downstream with just as little noise as possible. On the way, a Negro boy became restless and made some noise. Her father picked up an axe and pointed to the river, and the darkey quickly understood that would be his journey’s end if he did not be quiet, and he complied with the unspoken orders at once.
They reached a fort or block house in which many women and children were taking refuge. While she did not call it that, it must have been Fort Dobbs, for there is no record of any other refuge building being erected within reach of the Catawba. All the white men hastened to join the forces which were resisting the advance of the Indians. She said they had been in the fort some days when an older woman and two girls ventured to leave the fort to go to the nearest branch to get some pipe clay for material to make some tobacco pipes, that they might smoke some tobacco that was in the fort.
They had not gone out of sight of the fort when a scream from the older woman and a call to the girls to save themselves, was heard and two dusky forms emerged from their hiding places and killed the woman, but the girls made good their escape to the fort.
Although the woman was killed, the incident was fortunate for the rest of the inmates of the place of refuge; for it revealed the presence of spies and scouts around it, and that unceasing vigilance would be the price of life and safety.
At this crisis, a darkey named Harry, who was left in the fort by the white men, showed his loyalty and courage, and with unceasing vigilance and most excellent judgment, defended the women and children with such success that not one of them was lost, or even injured. Harry was certain that he killed two of the Indians, but the others carried their bodies off. When the white men returned from their successful campaign and learned of Harry’s fidelity, they gave him his freedom for his noble and courageous conduct.
In about four weeks from their night voyage down the Catawba, Joshua Perkins returned to his home on the river and found that no hostile Indians had been there, and found his cattle and other stock were intact. The Cherokees were driving across the mountains and some of them never returned afterward in the character of an enemy.
Sarah Perkins grew to womanhood on the Catawba. She told of many incidents of Pioneer days. She married Jonas White and was the mother of eight sons and three daughters. Her sons were John, Reuben, Joshua, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, William and Jesse. Her daughters were Pollie, Rebecca, and Rachel. John married a Lael and lived in Alexander County and was 86 years old at the time of his death; Reuben never married; Joshua married Mary Bowman; Abraham married a daughter of James Allen and went to Indiana; Isaac was a cripple, a good cabinet maker, and never married; Jacob married Mary Dockery and lived and died in Caldwell County; William married another daughter of James Allen and also went to Indiana; Jesse married a Bowman and went, to Cherokee County, Pollie married Lewis Allman first and after his death married Balaam Docker; Rebecca married William White, of a different family of Whites; Rachel married John Moore and moved to some other county. Rachel was celebrated for her exquisite personal beauty.
ANDREW BAIRD’S IRON WORKS
The General Assembly, in session at Fayetteville in the year 1788, passed an Act entitled “An Act to encourage the building of iron works in this State”. The act provided that under certain proceedings, by complying with the conditions expressed in the Act, any person might obtain a grant to a large tract or tracts of land, free from taxation for ten years. The principal conditions were that the grantee should erect a forge or iron works and produce “five thousand weight” of iron. Proceeding under the authority of the said act, Andrew Baird, material ancestor or Governor Vance, obtained a grant for 18,000 acres of land, nearly all of which lies in Wittenburg township, although the beginning is in Ellendale. The boundary is, briefly as follows:
Begins on Boyd’s corner, near the Mineral Springs, and runs down Lower Little River to Samuel Oxford line, near the Catawba River. It then skirts several tracts that lie along the river, by metes and bounds, until it crosses Middle River, and then crosses the Catawba twice and calls for Absalom Pennington’s grant, then turns north various courses around the north end of Barrett’s Mountain to the beginning. The tracts of land belonging to the following named persons inside the boundary are excepted to wit: Martin Kellar, Christine Kellar, John Teague, Gen. McDowell , Jesse Perkins, Luke White, Wm. Yokely, Philip Price, James Pressly, John Yates, John Bradburn, John W. M. Dockery, Joseph Dickson, Wm. Fullerton, Major Gibson, John Price, Absalom Brown, Clisby Cobb and Edward Teague.
The lands of Martin Kellar, Christian Kellar, Philip Price, James Pressly, John Yates, John Price and Absalom Brown were on the Catawba River; John Teague’s was on the upper end of Barrett’s Mountain; Baird’s entry only took a small portion of Edward Teague and John Bradburn and none of W. Fullerton or Joseph Dixon; Luke White and Jesse Perkins owned large bodies of land about Friendship Church. The following were prior grants inside of Baird’s grant that were not excepted: Hugh Fox, Henry Baker, Enoch Pressnell, Daniel Payne, Samuel Austin, Levi Austin, Jonathan Barrett’s second grant including the Barrett Meadows, Martin Bincannon, Alex West, Thomas King, Gabriel Malone.
Baird erected his “forge”, for which he obtained his grant. He also obtained other and smaller grants–at the falls on Gunpowder Creek, in what is now Caldwell County, and is now known as Granite Falls, the thriving manufacturing town on the Chester and Lenoir railway. The inference is that he produced the “five thousand weight” that the Assembly said he must. He had to haul ore from Lincoln County or the supply of material for the manufacture of iron. The operation of his factory required a large supply of coal. The trains at that stage of the game did not run to Clinchfield or Bluefield, or Birmingham, or anywhere else, and Mr. Baird had to look for charcoal instead of stone coal for his supply. Fortunately, there was a bountiful supply of majestic forest pines all around the falls. These were chopped and split into cordwood; coal “pits” were constructed, and with intelligent management, produced an abundant supply of charcoal. Chopping coal wood–cord wood– gave employment to farmers within reach during winter, and further, gave them an opportunity to get iron for home blacksmiths to construct home-made farm tools–the only kind then available. Chopping parties from Ellendale to Wittenburg frequently went to the ironworks with camping supplies to last for a week or more and cut cordwood. My grandfather White told of several of these parties and one especially when a large part of the supplies was jugs of whiskey. The first thing that occurred after their arrival was a “hallelulia” party, in which the whole crowd got drunk. They were sober the next morning at work time, but only three went to work, and he was one of the three. They struck a few licks and grandfather and one of the others shouldered their axes and started to the tent. The other one called, “Where are you going?” “to the tents; you come too.” “No, my folks fixed a good outfit for me to come, I got drunk and acted the fool and be d—d if I don’t work if it kills me!” Grandfather drove a wagon for more than a year, hauling iron for Mr. Baird. On one trip he came to Twelve Mile Creek,. in Mecklenburg County, when the creek was up, and he did not enter. While he was waiting, Matt Baird, son of Andrew, overtook him riding a large and splendid horse. Grandfather could swim but Baird could not. He asked grandfather to ride the big horse across and back. This he did. The water was deep, but not swift. Baird then mounted the horse and made the crossing safely. He then called to grandfather to bring the wagon. The wagon bed was closely made and had droplatches to the hind axle, and was drawn by four good horses. He also made the crossing safely and found what he had never known before: that when a wagon is drawn through swimming water, the wheels will rotate right backward.
Baird’s iron-works were a great benefit to the county but had to stop operations for want of ore.
Baird’s Forge was the only post office in Burke County, east of Morganton before and during the War of 1812. I have in my possession a circular letter from Israel Pickens, N. C., afterward Governor of Alabama, to “Benjamin Austin, Baird’s Forge, N. C.” In the letter, he writes intelligently about the war then in progress.
SAMUEL AUSTIN, SR
Samuel Austin, Sr., was the patriarch of the Wittenburg family of Austins and was in some manner related to William Austin, the Ellendale patriarch, but just what relation is not now known to any of the posterity of either. Samuel came to North Carolina from Maryland, on the north bank of the Potomac, about 1800. His name does not appear in the census of 1790 but does appear on the tax roll of 1807. He entered a tract of land on the ridge between Big Rock Creek and Isaac’s Creek, where Bethlehem Church now stands.
The timber on 130 acres of land that he entered was sold within the last year for $50,000. The fact that he and William Nunner were related leaves the inference that William came from Maryland to Orange County before to Burke.
Samuel, Sr., was also distinguished from other Sam Austins as “Lame Sam” and “Shoemaker Sam”. About 1836 he removed with several of his sons and daughters to Green County, Missouri, near where the city of Springfield now stands. His sons were: William, who married Margaret Bentley, a daughter of the pioneer, Moses Bentley; Nathan who married Nathan Austin’s daughter, Isabel; James (Red Face Jim), who married a Swinburne; Moses, who was cripple from boyhood caused by rheumatism from playing in Big Rock Creek, and never married; Philip, who married a Teague, and Green and Levi, who emigrated with their father to Missouri.
His daughters were Anna, who married Philip Austin, son of Elijah Austin; Mollie, Rebecca, and Temple, who never married but kept spinsters home in Wittenburg township until their death, and there were two unmarried daughters who emigrated with their father. Moses, the cripple, could not walk and devoted his time to acquiring such an education as he could obtain. He developed a beautiful handwriting, although it was somewhat unique in appearance. He taught school and was the first register of deeds of Alexander County.
THE BOWMAN FAMILY
The Bowmans were among the second early pioneers, but while they were not so early, they held to their homes with a tenacity that has rendered them and their relations by intermarriage easily the dominant family of Wittenburg township. Dr. A. L. Crouse, of Hickory, in 1905 wrote a full-and-complete history of the Bowman family up to that date in connection with other historical sketches of Wittenburg township. We will take information from the early part of Dr. Crouse’s records of the Bowman family, and would gladly insert the later records, but will have to follow the precedent of other family records in these sketches, or the history will become too voluminous for practical results. These details of the family ought to be kept going. People who are indifferent to family history, while, perhaps, not intending it, are real abettors of the false doctrines of evolution.
George Bowman, an ancestor of the Bowmans of Wittenburg, came to Pennsylvania from Germany and from that state to North Carolina, about 1740, and settled on Little Creek, in Catawba County. He married a Miss Bolch. Their children were John, Henry, David, Samuel, George, Daniel, Barbara, and Mary.
David, Samuel, and Daniel were the three sons of George Bowman, Sr., who made. their homes in Wittenburg.
David settled near Friendship Church, on land that had been granted to Luke White. He married Elizabeth Simmons, of Lincoln, now Catawba.
Samuel Bowman married Susan Deal (German Diehl), and settled near Friendship Church, on Luke White land.
Daniel Bowman was born in 1748. He married Mary Simmons, daughter of John Simmons, of Catawba County. He settled on land at the mouth of Middle Little River that was entered by Jonathan Barrett.
Bowman bought of Joseph Rowe, who bought of Coon Bost. He also bought adjoining this on the northland from Henry Lagle, who had bought from the grantee, John J. Waters.
JOHN AND LUKE WHITE
About the year 1742, Moses White emigrated to America and settled in Iredell County, about four miles east of Beatties’ Ford. He had six sons: James, Moses, John, William, David, and Andrew.
In 1786 James White moved to Knox County, Tennessee and founded the city of Knoxville. Both he and his son, Hugh Lawson, became distinguished characters in the history of Tennessee. In the presidential election of 1836, Hugh Lawson White received twenty-six votes in the electoral college for President.
In the year 1760, William White obtained a grant from King George for a tract of land in what is now Shiloh township, in Iredell County, on Third Creek. This grant is recorded in the public records of Iredell. In 1769 John White obtained a grant from King George for a tract of land at the mouth of Lower Creek, on the Catawba, in what is now Caldwell County. He built the first mill that was built in that region on the creek that empties into Lower Creek, near the Catawba and after the building of the mill, it was known in the old records as White’s Mill Creek. Jonas White, son of John White, was born in 1775, somewhere in Iredell. County, and went with his father to Burke, but it was all Rowan then. Luke, also the son of John, was born in Iredell, but the date of his birth is not known, but he was probably younger than Jonas. Jonas married Sarah Perkins daughter of Joshua Perkins, whose history has already been written, and the names of their children in connection with her history. Jonas White acquired the tract of land that was Jonathan Barrett’s second entry, and known as “Barrett’s Meadows”. He probably bought it directly from Barrett, but there is no documentary evidence to show this. He experienced some trouble from one Joe Bost, who attempted and partially succeeded, in confiscation proceedings against him on account of his (White’s) sympathy with King George during the Revolution. It could not have been the Barrett tract, for he owned it yet in 1807.
Luke White owned a large amount of land between Barrettes Mountain and the Catawba River. He sold a large tract on Mountain Creek to George Eisenhauer (Icenhour), in 1807, and another large tract along the Oxford-road to Nimrod Lunsford. It is not definitely known, yet reasonably certain, that he emigrated with Jonas White’s sons and the Aliens to Indiana. The census of 1790 shows that his family consisted of his wife, three sons and six daughters, but their names are not now known.
MORE ABOUT FRIENDSHIP CHURCH
While the manuscript of the last installment was in the hands of the printer, the progression of passing events added another paragraph to the history of Friendship Church as shown by the following clipping from the current issue of The Taylorsville Times.
“Rev. Martin Luther Pence died suddenly in the pulpit of Friendship Lutheran Church, Sunday morning, just as he concluded a most impressive sermon on “Faith”. The body was brought to his home in West End, where a brief service was conducted Monday afternoon prior to their leaving at 5 o’clock for Shenandoah County, Virginia, where the funeral and burial services will be conducted Tuesday afternoon. The body was accompanied to Virginia by Mrs. Pence and her son and daughter, Rev. E. Z. Pence, of Chapin, S. C., and Mrs. P. C. Sigmon, of Granite Falls.
“Rev. Mr. Pence came to the pastorates of St. John, Friendship and Shiloh Lutheran Churches in November 1924, from Orkney Springs, Virginia. He had greatly endeared himself not only to the members of these churches but to the entire community.
“Mr. Pence was a native of Virginia, having been born in Rockingham County, Virginia, on September 22, 1865, and was in his 61st year. He was ordained to the gospel ministry at Christ Church, in Gaston County, in 1896, and served several pastorates in Lincoln County, Chapin, S. C., and Virginia before coming here 18 months ago.”
The incident recalls the similar death of Rev; John Powell, pastor of Lower Creek Baptist Church, in Caldwell County, about forty years ago. He was stricken with paralysis before his sermon was finished, and fell in the pulpit, and died shortly afterward. Also, Gov. C. B. Aycock dropped dead just after he had finished a speech on Education.
PISGAH METHODIST CHURCH
The records of this church are not available if indeed they are extant, but I have a vivid recollection of the operations of this church about sixty-four years ago and will write what I remember of the proceedings then and since that time. The church is one and a half miles east of the southwest corner of Wittenburg township, three-fourths of a mile north of the Catawba River and immediately on the Barrett road. A pine stump at the entrance of the church cemetery is mentioned in an old record as being on the Barrett road.
In the year 1862 and prior to that date, Pisgah Church had a numerically strong membership that was largely composed of influential citizens of three counties, Alexander, Caldwell, and Catawba. As I remember them, the Alexander members were Adam Flowers, Sr., who enlisted in the War of 1812, at Reading, in Pennsylvania, and after the war was over emigrated to North Carolina and settled on the Catawba River; his sons Dr. Cyrus Flowers, a successful practitioner of medicine in the three counties, and Adam Flower, Jr. a staunch citizen and good farmer; Henry Payne, Sr. a grandson of Robert Payne, Gabriel Marshall, a successful merchant and owner of the Newland-Allen farm on the Catawba; Babel Payne, son of the pioneer; Abner Payne, of Catawba View; J. Frank Payne, brother of Babel; Matthias Bolick, and many others too numerous to mention, but these are perhaps the most influential of the Alexander members.
From Catawba, the older members were Edmund Lanier, Joseph Moore, Isaac Hart, and David A. Lanier, a young man then, and who entered the ministry later. He is still living at the age of 86.
From Caldwell County there was T. Coleman Payne, son of Abner and Catherine Payne, Coleman lived on part of the Catawba View Manor and his mother, who was a Sherrill was living in 1864. Of course, the wives of influential members mentioned were factors in the proceedings, especially the annual camp meetings, which grew large concourses of people.
The church organization, as such has now practically ceased to operate. There is a small Lutheran congregation that uses the church building.
The cause of the failure to operate is due chiefly, if not entirely, to a desire of the younger generation to live the city life. The city of Hickory is a distance only five miles from the church, and the posterity of the staunch old members of sixty years ago have a large majority of them exchanged their rural homes for the more pretentious city mansions.
BETHLEHEM BAPTIST CHURCH
Sometime between the dates of 1825 and 1835, Samuel Austin, Sr., executed a deed to a plot of land “To the People” for the purposes of erecting a “Meeting House” for all Christian denominations to worship in, and that any preacher of any denomination might preach or hold religious services with whoever pleased to attend. The church, or rather the “Meeting House”, was built by various parties living in the vicinity, the largest contributor being Daniel Wittenburg, who, about that time, constructed a read from his flour mill, on Little River, to the Wilkesboro and Morganton road, near Dudley Shoals, which road was built by the site of the proposed Meeting House, Mr. Wittenburg owned several able-bodied darkeys and he sent them to cut and hew logs for the building.
The Meeting House was called “Bethlehem”, and occasionally used by preachers who had appointments there for services, and burial services for the cemetery that was started soon after the erection of the building. There was no organization of any denomination there until 1871. The Baptists held -a few meetings in the building but did not organize. Jonas P. White owned the adjoining land and donated as much as they wanted to erect a new building on premises with a definitely clear title.
The following is taken from the Records of the Alexander Association of 1907.
Bethlehem Church was organized the second Saturday of December 1871, by a Presbytery consisting of Elders, J. Harvey West and Hiram West, with the following members, to wit.
A. R. Tant, Rebecca Tant, C. A. Benfield, M. A. Benfield, Martha Smith, Isabel Smith, Catherine Benfield, Eleanor Starnes, M. R. Austin, Rebecca Johnson, Henry Teague, Sarah Teague, Mary L. Fox, E. Crawford Benfield, Pheme Reese, Lavina Head, Martha E. Teague, eighteen in all.
Hiram West was the pastor from 1872 to August 1878; Isaac R. Sherrill to May 1879; W. F. Knight and A. M. Pennell served irregularly until 1889. At that time W. J. Bumgarner and Others sent out as missionaries by the Brushy Mountain Association, preached at the church at stated appointments.
On the third Sunday in September 1889, the church met and appointed delegates to the Alexander Association which met at Bethel Church and were received into the fellowship of that body. W. J. Bumgarner was called and served until September 1890. J. F. Davis served two months; J. M. Shaver became the pastor in 1891 and served until October 1895; W. J. Bumgarner to November 1902, when J. M. Shaver was called.
The first clerk was Mosey Riley Austin, grandson of the original grantor. He served two months and asked for a letter of dismission and went to Kentucky.
The subsequent clerks were C. A. Benfield, W. G. Fox, V. W. Teague, W. W. Teague, T. G. Teague. The present status of the church is: Pastor, W. J. Bumgarner; Clerk, Van W. Teague, and membership 255.
MOUNT BETHEL METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
This church is located on highway from Ellendale to Hickory, about two miles south of Bethlehem Baptist Church. It is a constituent church of the Blue Ridge-Atlantic Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and was organized in 1876. Henry Payne, Sr., and Anna Price conveyed the land on which it stands. Trustees Henry W. Payne, A. P. Bolick, I. A. Starnes, and T. W. Starnes. The following preachers have been pastors of Mt. Bethel Church: A. S. Beaman, F. A. L. Clark, J. L. Clark, J. L. Dennis, A. B. Dennis, D. W. Donaldson, W. Q. A. Graham, W. E. Isenhour, W. C. Matnoy, J. M. Wall, The present pastor is C. M. Bryant.
FELLOWSHIP ADVENTIST CHURCH
The church is in the northwestern part of Wittenburg township on the high ground between Little Rock Creek and Jumping Run Branch and about one mile west of the Ellendale-Hickory highway. It was organized about 1807.
The church records are not available at present. Rev. L. E. Piercy and Rev. J. A. Downs, of Charlotte, and others, have served as pastors of’ the church.
SHILOH LUTHERAN CHURCH
This church is situated on the old Barrett road about three-fourths of a mile west of the Taylorsville-Hickory highway. It was organized about 1893. It holds to the Tennessee Synod, while the congregation that meets in the old Pisgah Methodist, one mile west of Shiloh, belongs to the Ohio Synod. No records of the proceedings of Shiloh Church are available at present.
HOPEWELL REFORMED CHURCH
Dr. Crouse writes a short account of this church in connection with his history of Friendship Church, in which he says that a large part of the Germans that settled in Wittenburg were of the communion known as “German Reformed”. About the year 1845, they built a “Meeting House” on land and belonging to Mauring Price, near the “Muster Ground”. The house was never finished and had no window sash or shutters or door shutters but was built of strong timbers. No deed was ever made by Mr. Price for the land. Dr. Crouse says that the work was begun by a preacher named Crawford, who was followed by one named Lentz. After the Germans ceased to operate, a blind Methodist preacher took up the work, but the Methodists, like the Reforms, failed to build up and the whole thing was abandoned and only a small cemetery marks the spot.
CHARITY BAPTIST CHURCH
About the year 1860, a small congregation of Baptists built a brush “Arbor” across the road from Friendship Lutheran Church and held some meetings under it. Afterward, a church was organized, but there is no record of it extant.. Rev. Jacob Crouch served as pastor for several years. There was a building erected but was never finished. There was a building up of Baptist interest for a while, but later went down, and finally, the organization was dissolved, but the date of the dissolution is lost.
SMYRNA BAPTIST CHURCH
Smyrna Baptist Church was constituted in 1924. The church building is on the Taylorsville-Hickory highway, about one and a quarter miles south of Friendship Church, and is one of the best Baptist church houses in Alexander County. The value of the buildings and grounds is estimated in the Association minutes at $6,000, being exceeded only by the Baptist church in Taylorsville. The pastor is Rev. J. H. Boggs, of Brookford, Catawba County, and the clerk is W. W. Icenhour, Taylorsville, R. F. D.
BETHLEHEM HIGH SCHOOL
Wittenburg is the first in Alexander to operate the system of consolidated, tax-supported schools. They have selected a central location near Bethlehem Baptist Church, on the Ellendale -Hickory highway, and is very accessible to all scholars west of Middle Little River that may reach it by the auto method.
They have erected a splendid High School building, and have operated the system for the past school year.
FRIENDSHIP LUTHERAN CHURCH
Friendship Church is the oldest church organization in Wittenburg township. There was a church building on Samuel Austin’s land before Friendship was organized, but no organization of any kind. This will be written in connection with the history, of Bethlehem Church. The following record is condensed from Dr. Crouse’s historical sketches of families and churches in Wittenburg.
On August 16, 1832, Nimrod Lunsford deeded a lot of land containing three and one-half acres, more or less, to Daniel. Bowman, Daniel Fry and George Deal for ten dollars, “for the only use of a meeting house and school house as long as the above commissioners and their successors will keep it for that purpose”. The land conveyed is on the east side of the road or across the road from where the church building now stands. The board of trustees were all Lutherans. The building was made of logs and had a gallery and was finished in 1833. A Lutheran “Congregation”, or church was organized and Dr. Crouse found the initial record as follows. “Church Book, 1833, Lutheran Congregation of Friendship Meeting House, Burke County, North Carolina. Rev. Adam Miller, Regular Preacher. Elders Lewis Hafer, Samuel Bowman, Daniel Fry, George Deal.”
On the second page of the same book, the following records were made:
“June 4, 1844, Rev. P. C. Henkel, Regular Preacher. Elders, Samuel Bowman, Daniel Fry, George Deal, Davolt Little.”
December the 30th, 1849; Rev. P. C. Henkel, Regular Preacher, Elders, Joseph Bowman, Jacob Little, Laban Fox, John Stine.”
A new church building was erected on the west side of the road on a lot of land containing one acre, which was deeded to the “congregation” by Paul Bowman, dated December 22, 1858, for which they paid him two dollars. The congregation immediately proceeded to erect a new church building, having the form of an Octagon, and built of splendid heart pine lumber, of which there was an abundance at that time, and the framing material was heavy and strong. The building now, after sixty-seven years is in excellent condition. The building committee were George Deal, Jacob Bostian, and John Fry. The contractor, Adam Null, of Catawba County, did the work for $431 and it was told to Dr. Crouse that the committee had to pay a considerable part of it out their own pockets. The house was dedicated May 21, 1859, with appropriate services, conducted by Rev. A. J. Fox and Rev. P. C. Henkel.
“February 24, 1861, the members of Friendship Church called a congregational meeting and it was moved and seconded that Davault Little, Esq., was appointed chairman and F. B. Reese and A. Lippard, secretaries and were unanimously elected, and the following Preamble and Resolutions were unanimously adopted and the meeting adjourned until after service.
“In consequence of the present distracted condition of our country and government, we are in a crisis, momentous and terrible in its appearance, which demands of us prompt action, and decisive steps, in order to secure our well being in the future, and notwithstanding it originated out of political and sectional operations, it nevertheless involves matters of faith and conscience, and thereby implicates the church, and, whereas, in a short time we must (we fear) take the first steps toward sealing our destiny in future, and whereas, we are biased in our minds and, to be feared, prejudiced to party, we have reason to fear, lest we take an unfortunate step for the • first, wherefore, feeling our need of spiritual light and strength;
“Resolved: That we, the members of Friendship, Alexander County, unanimously request our pastor (P. C. Henkel,) to deliver a Scriptural discourse today upon the distressed condition of our county, showing the Scriptural and unscriptural movements of our country and rulers, in the capacity of politicians, at the head of our Commonwealth, showing how far the Church is to regard allegiance to ungodly laws and sovereigns, or rulers and also showing the duty of subjects under Christian and Godly rulers, etc.
A. L. Lippard, F. B. Reece, Secretaries.”
This record shows with vividness the feverish excitement that pervaded, not Friendship Church alone, but the whole country, just prior to the opening of the fierce strife of the Civil War. What counsel Dr. Henkel gave his flock is not recorded.
Adam Miller, 1833 to 1842; Christian G. Reitzel, 1842 to 1844; Jonathan R. Moser, 1844 to 1845; Polycarp C. Henkel, 1847 to 1861; Timothy Moser, 1862 to 1867; John M. Smith, 1867 to 1877; Charles H. Bernheim, 1887 to 1889; Andrew L. Crouse, 1890 to 1891; Jefferson P. Miller, 1891 to 1893; George E. Long, 1893 to 1896; Andrew L. Crouse; 1897.
John Fry was chorister or song-leader of the congregation for an indefinite number of years and performed the duty with splendid ability.
The grantees of lands in Wittenburg outside of the boundaries of the Baird grant were Charles Pierce in the northwest corner of the township. Samuel Austin, Moses Bently, Rock Tom Payne and a part of Joshua Perkins, on Upper Little River; on the Catawba-Absalom Pennington, Leonard Hart, Michael Hart, Jonathan Barrett’s big entry, Rowling Alexander, William Snoddy, Richard Price, Samuel Mitchell, John Purviance and Christine Hunsucker, Samuel Oxford’s individual entry of 500 acres was on the south side of the river at Oxford Ford, but he bought the land on the north side from John Purviance. Purviance sold the remainder of his tract to Hugh Ross. Following the original grantees, there were early settlers as follows: Benjamin Newland, Jacob Bolick, James Allen, Adam Flowers, Faniel Wittenburg, “Philip Hefner, Jonas White, Lewis Allman, George Allen, Walter Price, Nimrod Lunsford, David Bowman, Daniel Bowman, Daniel Fry, Philip Warlick, Coon Bost, John Cagle, James Austin, Edmund Lanier, Abram Bolick, Joseph Echerd and others.
FEEDING THE INDIANS
Page 982 of Volume V of Colonial Records shows part of Report of the Provincial Committee on Public Claims for the year 1758 for allowance to citizens of Rowan County for feeding the families or the Catawba Indians, who had gone to Virginia to fight the French and other Indians as follows;
L. S. D.
Jacob Egner 1 15 0
Hassell Mull 3 0 0
Christopher Welwood 2 0 0
Samuel Oxford 7 10 0
Samuel Stepson 1 15 0
James Robinson 4 17 0
William Morrison 3 13 0
Edward Hughes 10 5 2
This expense of feeding Indians was considered necessary to prevent the French emissaries from influencing the Indians to take sides with the French in the war that was then raging for the supremacy of power in the North American Continent. After a bitter and bloody struggle, the English finally triumphed.
The above record shows that Samuel Oxford was close along with William Morrison as an early inhabitant of the Catawba Valley. Samuel Oxford at an early date cleared and gave his name to Oxford Ford, which has occupied a prominent place in the community proceedings of the Catawba Valley.
He married Bathsheba, daughter of Jonathan Barrett, and they reared three sons: James, David and Jonathan, and two daughters. Mary Ann. who married a Little, and Nellie, who married an Alex Ray, who settled in Ashe County.
James Oxford first married Ailsie, daughter of William Robards, who was one of the early inhabitants from Virginia, and after her death married Hannah Barnes, sister of the centenarian John Barnes, [Editors Note: The centenarian was John’s brother James “Handsome Jim Barnes] of which family a fuller record will appear later in the history of Taylorsville township.
James Oxford appears as a charter member of Edward Teague’s pioneer church in 1797. He settled on Upper Little River, in what is now Caldwell County, and was one of the charter members of Union Baptist Church. He inherited from Samuel Oxford’s estate two darkies, Jack and Allen. Jack was born in Africa and was brought to America by a slave merchant vessel.
David and Jonathan Oxford emigrated to Missouri about 1820 and settled near Jefferson City. The posterity of James Oxford in Alexander and Caldwell counties is too numerous to be taken up in detail. Nellie Ray also left many descendants in Ashe County.
In the year 1905 Rev. Andrew L. Crouse wrote some Historical Sketches about Alexander County and especially affairs in Wittenburg township. His comments upon family history are so very appropriate that I wish to insert it at this point. “The family is the oldest institution in the world. God created a man and a woman and joined them together for the propagation of the race, and the maintenance of authority. He made the arrangement perpetual.” “Family records have not been kept, or they are incomplete and sometimes they have been lost. In this way much that transpires in a county, state or nation passes into oblivion. There has been a lack of interest, on the part of many people, in anything but the daily affairs of life. They have no idea that they are in any sense making history, and they do not care how it is made.”
The individual who attempts to contribute anything to the history of a country is greatly embarrassed by the lack of records and conflicting traditions. When he has done the best he can, he must expect to be the subject of criticisms which are more hasty than correct in their fault findings.”
“The longer the work is delayed, the more difficult it will become. In later years, more efforts have been made than formerly to prepare histories of families, and while there must be to some extent inaccurate and incomplete, the work done will form bases for better results, as other old documents and reliable data are discovered.”
I will need to quote from Dr. Crouse’s histories of the churches and families in Wittenburg, of which he writes.
Wittenburg township has furnished three registers of deeds. Moses Austin, as has already been recorded, was the first register, after the county was organized. Van W. Teague served three years as register, A. T. Bowman a Wittenburg man, the present incumbent, is filling his second term, and will, in all probability, make his third term, as he is the equal of any of his predecessors in attention to his duties, in accommodation to all who have business in the office, and in competence to perform the duties incumbent upon him.
DR. CYRUS FLOWERS
Under present regulations, Dr. Flowers would, in all probability, not be allowed to practice as a physician in North Carolina under the modern dispensation; yet his success and popularity with the people whom he served, are seldom equaled by any disciple of Esculapius. He took up the duties of the profession without any college diploma, or any other scholastic authority, but performed them to the complete satisfaction of his clientele. His greatest qualification was, without doubt, his tender sympathy for human suffering and his untiring efforts to relieve it. The people had an exalted faith in his ability, and this was, perhaps, a potential factor in his success. His son, Dr. Burgess Gamewell Flowers, followed in his footsteps, but he had to struggle more against the opposition of modern practitioners, and modern restrictions. Dr. Cyrus Flowers’ residence most of his life was in Wittenburg, but in his later years, his home was the celebrated Catawba View Manor, where his wife, who was a daughter of Abner Payne spent her youthful days.
JORDON NATHANIEL PAYNE
Jordon Nathaniel Payne was a son of Henry Payne, Sr., who was a son of John Payne, who was a son of the “Cannonball” Robert Payne.
Jordon was born about 1847 and, consequently, was eligible for service in the Junior Reserves at the closing months of the Civil War. Prior to this service and afterward, he attended Rutherford College, in Burke County, near Morganton, then under the management of its founder and president, R. L. Abernathy. He graduated from this institution and entered the ministry in the Methodist Episcopal Conference. He married a Miss Warlick, of Morganton, and after he ceased to operate in the work of the Conference, he worked at the mercantile business in Morganton, where he died about 1920.
His son, Bruce Payne, is the president of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.
Alfred Stafford was an immigrant from Virginia about 1820 and settled in Ellendale for a few years as a tenant, then a few years in Little River township and finally located in Wittenburg. He had been a state official in Virginia. He raised a family of stalwart sons, all of whom were residents of Wittenburg. His son William W. Stafford, was a justice of the peace for many years. His administration of the duties of the office was of such high character that he acquired the soubriquet of “Judge” Stafford.
His other three sons, John, Isaac, and Franklin acquired valuable lands on the Catawba at Oxford Ford that had been owned by John Purivance first, then by Samuel Oxford, then by Nimrod Lunsford, from whom they obtained their titles. John Stafford married Nimrod Lunsford’s daughter.
THOMAS WESLEY BRADBURN
Thomas W. Bradburn was the son of Isaac E. and Ellen Bradburn. After he obtained his majority, he married Miss Lavine Wilson, of Newton, Catawba County, and did office work for the Western Railway during its construction period through Catawba. He was unanimously chosen the captain of the first company of volunteers that went from Catawba County to the Confederate Army.
He died during the war, while he was at home on furlough from the service.
His father, Isaac Elledge Bradburn, was a son of Thomas Bradburn, of Ellendale, and was for many years a justice in Wittenburg and a good business man. Isaac Newton Bradburn, also the son of Isaac Elledge Bradburn, had a fine business education. He went West and died in Oklahoma about 1910.
WILLIAM G. ROBINSON
William G. Robinson was also a Wittenburg boy that obtained a fine business education.” He served in the Confederate Army in the Seventh Regiment of State Troops. After the war was over, he married Mary Ann, daughter of Adam B. Oxford, and went to Texas.
The story of William Starnes is one of the most pathetic in Alexander County’s part of the Civil War. He married a beautiful woman, Miss Matilda White, daughter of Joshua White, and granddaughter of Jonas and Sarah Perkins White. He acquired most of the Samuel Austin grant of land, on which Bethlehem Church and Bethlehem High School now stands. He went to the Confederate Army in obedience to the first conscription act of the Confederate Congress and remained in the service until the close of the war. He was in the terrible trench service around Petersburg, so vividly described by Capt. Chambers and W. A. Day in their writings in the Landmarks, and then in the privations of the retreat to Appomattox. After it was all over, he turned his weary steps homeward. As he neared his journey’s end, he stopped at an acquaintance’s home to get something to eat. They told him that his faithful beautiful wife had died about two weeks before. Though weary and hungry, he stopped eating and dragged himself home, and then the poor fellow lay down and died himself.
DR. YORK’S WORK
Dr. Brantly York’s residence was in Sharp’s township, but he performed work in Wittenburg, the influence of which endures, and it is appropriate that the record be made where it was performed.
Dr. York was primarily a Methodist preacher, but as an educator and teacher, he was head and shoulders higher than any other that Alexander County has produced, and the peer of any in North Carolina annals. Other educators have produced more results because, and only because, they have had greater resources to back them. His specialty in teaching was the English language. In this, he has never been excelled by anyone anywhere, and the subject is the foundation of all learning in all climes where the English language prevails.
At the beginning of the Civil War, all institutions of learning suspended operations except a few of the rural free or old field schools. At this stage of the game several influential citizens of Wittenburg around Pisgah Church in the southwest corner of the township, very wisely employed Dr. York to teach some terms of special instruction in English as he had frequently done before at other places. Accordingly, Dr. York contracted to give special instruction in English for them in a house on the old Barrett road belonging to Gabriel Marshall near his residence. He began teaching in December 1861 and taught on into 1862. He used his own textbooks that he had written, entitled, “ILLUSTRATIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE ENGLISH GRAMMAR”, and published by ‘Warren L. Pomeroy, Raleigh, N. C., consisting of Primary and Advanced Grammars. Some years previous to that time, Dr. York became blind from continuous literary labors, but from his wonderfully retentive memory and familiarity with his subject, he taught on just as well and as successfully as he did before his misfortune.
This brings me to the point of time when I became an active participant in the proceedings, and I always have, and always shall be, profoundly grateful that my father arranged for me to attend Dr. York’s instructions. After we had gotten fairly started in our studies he frequently said to us, “There is a deep and hidden beauty in language that will cause you to seek after it”, and with that power of waking up mind, and personal magnetism that always marks the true teacher, he led us on through pleasant paths and delightfully experiences until every one of us revealed in glimpses of the wonderful beauty he had told us about. The Demon of War was tightening his grip. Countenances that ten months before were beaming with enthusiasm were beginning to wear question marks of deep seriousness that meant “Where will it all end?” and the gloom was spreading, but it did not invade the hallowed precincts of our joyous school room. We were a world to ourselves while it lasted. Memories of these halcyon days bring but one regret; that they can never come again. Here is our class of 15 as our teacher arranged us, to wits Belle Moore, Andrew Marshall, Mary Moore, Rev. Thomas. L. Triplett, Newton Hawn, Mary Ann Lewis, Lizzie Payne, W. E. White, Katie Hays, John W. Payne, Abner R. Sherrill, Gamewell Flowers, Henry J. Alspaugh, U. L. Alspaugh, Sarah Marshall.
Abner Sherrill was living two years ago in Morrowville, Kansas. The others have crossed over the river except for the writer. Newton Hawn lies on the historic field of Gettysburg.
THE CATAWBA RIVER
More historic interest centers about the river Jordan than any other river in the world. Following this, there are scores of others that are woven into the annals of the human race.
The southern boundary of Wittenburg township is the Catawba River, separating it from Catawba County. While we are interested in the other rivers celebrated in story and song let us pause and concentrate our thoughts for a little while on our own beautiful Catawba. It was named by pioneers for the tribe of Indians that built their wigwams and sought their game along its borders. They have left their traces in the adjacent regions. Students of their history now believe that they were a detached portion of the Cherokees, perhaps driven from the main body on account of their proverbial laziness. When the first pioneers arrived on their domain they were under a chief or headman called Hagler. Hagler met the commissioners of the provincial government in a conference about difficulties arising between them and the white settlers and made the first prohibition speech recorded in the annals of North Carolina. Shortly after this conference, they caught from the whites smallpox and nearly all died, but the name of the river will perpetuate their history.
The Yadkin lies to the east of the Catawba and its regions were settled first, but the trail of the white man reached it shortly afterward.
On the 29th of January, 1781, Gen. Nathaniel Green, commanding the forces of the American Army in the Southern States, arrived with his army at the Island Ford, about sunset, while he was retreating from the British Army.’ While they were crossing the river, they heard Tarleton’s bugle on top of the hill behind them. They took up camp on the east bank of the river in order to use the river as a defense in’ case of a. night attack. Tarleton camped on the west bank, expecting an easy victory as soon as Cornwallis would come up, which would not be long. But “The best-laid plans of mice and men oft gang aglee”. When morning dawned the Catawba was nearly bankful, and the water still rising. The American Army took deliberate time to march on, which they did, and carried the destinies of the American people with them, for it saved the army for Guilford Court House and Yorktown.
This was always regarded as a plain and direct intervention of Jehovah in the affairs of men and on behalf of the struggles of the Colonists.
The history of Alexander County cannot hold all the doings of white men along the Catawba River. But there is now a proposition made by the Southern Power Company to build a hydroelectric power dam at Oxford Ford that if carried through, will turn that part of Catawba River into a great lake.
The work is already well advanced and will, in all probability, be completed. Mr. Stribling, one of the head engineers, has shown me one part of his contour lines with ten feet contour interval. This will make backwater in Middle Little River to the Rink Dam and will completely submerge the Barrett meadows and form a lake at that point alone that will cover 60 or 70 acres.
In the list of prominent citizens of Wittenburg, the names of W. W. Teague and J. L. Presslar were inadvertently omitted. Mr. Teague has been county surveyor for several years, and Mr. Presslar is one of the leading factors in the high school movement.
RURAL LIFE IN WITTENBURG
There are no towns in Wittenburg: the nearest approach to a village is around Bethlehem High School; two stores and a church and some five or six residences. One of the stores belongs to Robert W. Starnes, one of the board of commissioners. There is a hydro-electric power dam at Middle Little River, where the Z. Moretz grain mill formerly operated. It is owned and operated by the Dudley Shoals Company, of Caldwell County. The Bethlehem High School is surrounded by as purely a rural community as any in the state, and it is all the better for this environment; for the best results for all connected with it. The high schools of more thickly populated areas, especially towns and villages, are much more liable to be contaminated with “evil communications that corrupt good manners,” than the unsophisticated patrons of rural school districts.
An account of an incident that occurred in former days in Wittenburg has been printed in the Times but it belongs to Wittenburg, and illustrates rural life of former days and is true in every detail.
In the vast expanse of forest that then stood in Wittenburg, one of Billy Fox’s sheep got mixed up with Uncle Wm. Honeycutt’s flock, and went home with it. Early one morning Billy mounted a large ox that he had and went after the sheep. Billy’s stock mark was a smooth crop off the right ear and an underbite in the left. Honeycutt’s was a swallow fork in the left ear and an upperbite in the right. The sheep were easily identified and was as easily captured with the aid of a bowl of bran and salt and tied.
Billy then mounted his steed and said to Honeycutt, that if he would hand him the sheep he would be going. Honeycutt made a motion to do this, but the bull objected and the motion failed. Honeycutt then resorted to diplomacy. He doffed his vest and hung it on the bull’s horn in such a manner that he could not see backward. He then renewed the original motion and it carried and he removed the vest. The bull then raised his voice and his tail and moved to strike out. This motion carried, and so did the bull. Honeycutt said that for the first hundred yards, the distance between Billy and the bull was from ten to fifteen inches at short -intervals, but the distance was vertical and Billy regained the original position every time. He further said that as they went up the lane and across the top of the hill, the bull’s voice had lost none of its resonance, and his tail was describing circles in the air about three feet in diameter and at the rate of about thirty revolutions to the minute. The whole proceedings was brought to a close at Billy’s residence, his steering gear remaining intact, and without the bull’s windshield striking any object whatever, and without the loss of anything at all except Billy’s hat, which was recovered later.
It would hardly be fair to introduce these men into the record, and not give more of their history. William Fox was the oldest son of Moses and Polly Fox. He married Nancy Caroline Julian. They had five sons and three daughters. He was called into the service of the Confederacy under the Conscription Acts and joined Camp G. 37th Regiment of State Troops. He was killed at the Battle of Hanover Junction, Virginia, a rifle ball going through his head. His brother, Soloman Fox, was killed at Sharpsburg (Antietam) in the-same manner, and his brother, Jordan Fox, who served in the artillery, was struck in the head by a fragment of a bursting shell and killed in the last bitter struggle in the trenches around Petersburg.
William’s oldest son, Harvey Alexander Fox, was a soldier in Gen. Custer’s famous Black Horse Cavalry, and barely missed being in the fight on the
Little Big Horn, in June 1876, where every man in the battle in Custer’s command was killed. It just happened that he was in Major Reno’s detachment, which was sent out just before the Indians appeared.
James Honeycutt was born and raised in Wake County and lived in other counties before he came to Alexander, then Burke. He said that Alexander County was the best place in the world to live in for the reason that what he could not get he could do without.
The compilation of early accounts of settlers of Taylorsville township has been delayed in order to get history straight, and what I write I believe to be very nearly correct, but there is more behind to be straightened if it ever reaches the compilation stage.
Beginning like the other townships at the northwest corner, the Spangenberg lands extended across the line of Little River township as at present located, and were owned during the Revolutionary period by John Bradburn, whose history and murder were written in the history of, Little River township.
Other pioneers along the northern boundary of the township were John Morley Jones, William Leach, Edward Barnes and probably James Barnes and John Barnes. There were two Robert Boyds, senior and junior. It was probably the older one that settled in Taylorsville township, on the northern boundary. On May 13, 1792, Robert Bogle received a State’s. grant for 175 acres of land on the waters of the South Yadkin. This was just east of the present corporate limits of Taylorsville, on Wallace’s Creek, now known as Davis Mill Creek. He also received a grant for 100 acres dated November 15, 1797, ‘on the headwaters of Muddy Fork. This location is now well known as the old “Bogle Homestead”, on the first Wilkesboro highway; also another grant for 100acres “on the Mountain”, dated June 15, 1799.
On May 11, 1795, David Caldwell was granted 4410 acres on the waters of Lower Little River, in Burke County, which takes in the site on which the city of Taylorsville now stands and bounded by fifty-four different courses, and calls for beginning on a white oak on Lower Little River, Fox’s Corner. In the sixth and seventh courses, it calls for Dixon’s lines; in the ninth for Teague’s line; ‘in the tenth for Glade Creek; in the twelfth and thirteenth for McLeod and Matheson; in the fourteenth to the seventeenth, for Boyd’s “on a marsh”; in the eighteenth and nineteenth for McLeod, in the twentieth for McLeod; in the twenty-second, for “half -mile of the other survey”; in the twenty-third for McKinsey; in the twenty-fifth for Bogle; in the twenty-seventh for wagon road; in the thirtieth for a Black Jack on a spur of Bear Mountain (Linney Mountain); in the forty-first, forty-second and forty-third, for Bradburn; in the forty-eighth for Teague; in the fifty-second for Lower Little River; in the fifty-fourth for down the river to the beginning.
In the twenty-second course, the call, “half-mile of the other survey”, refers to another grant of the same date, May 11, 1795, to the same man–David Caldwell – -for 7857 acres on the waters of Catawba River, South Yadkin and Third Creek, on the roads from Statesville to Morganton, and from Charleston (not Charlotte) to Wilkes County. This grant undoubtedly covers a large portion of Miller and Sharpe townships. There is also the record of another grant of the same date to the same man for 6250 acres on Rocky Creek, in what is now, and was then Iredell County.
The second General Assembly of North Carolina held at Newburn in 1778, in the third section of the first chapter passed by said General Assembly, made this provision relative to entries of public lands:
“Provided that no person shall be entitled to claim any greater quantity of land than six hundred and forty acres; where the survey shall be entitled to claim any greater quantity of land than six hundred and forty acres, where the survey shall be bounded in any part by vacant lands or more than one thousand acres, between the lines of lands already surveyed and laid out for any other person.”
The General Assembly of 1788 passed “An Act to encourage the building of Iron-Works .in this State”, extended the amount of land: that might be entered for that purpose, subject to the action of a jury appointed in the matter by the Court, and also to the provision that the grantee should produce “Five thousand weight ” of iron.
This is the only mortification of the original Act that I can find.
I asked Dr. McIntosh, dean of the Law School at the State University if there were any modifications of the Act in any respect whatever. His answer was that he could find none.
The State’s charges for the lands granted were “Fifty shillings for each one hundred acres granted”.
The deeds made to purchasers buying the above-described lands were signed by David Caldwell, Adlai Osborne, and Abner Sharpe, and were, sold for one dollar per acre and up. Their profits must have been at least eight hundred percent, on their investments, and it seems at this date that they were doing a “land office” business when the purchasing power of money was much greater than it is now.
Other pioneers north of the bend in Lower Little River were: Francis Teague, William Teague, Noah Watson, William Warren, Alexander Matheson. John Smith, Donald McIntosh, and others, whose records have not been discovered.
The pioneers south of the bend or between Lower Little River and the Catawba were James Fox, Hugh Warren, Corbin Goble, Jacob Bastian, Alexander Graham, William Davis, Charles Caton, Wallace Nimrod Lunsford.
VIRGIN SPRINGS A. R. P. CHURCH
The following record is taken from the Centennial History of the Associate Reformed Church, published by the authority Of the Synod which met at Winnsboro, S. C., in November 1903 and furnished to the writer by Rev. J. B. Pearson, the able and popular pastor of the congregation at Stony Point, N. C.
“Virgin Springs, Alexander County, N. C., organized 1824; land donated by (Mason) John McLell and John Patterson, a Revolutionary soldier, named it after a spring on his land. It was a log structure,, built after the rules of the country meeting houses of that day; the cracks were all open, no windows, or doors or shutter; rude seats of plank slabs or split logs, as were most convenient to maintain.
Among the first ruling elders were Daniel Matheson and Robert Carson, Sr. They received supplies from Rev. John Mushat until his active ministry ceased in 1827, and then from Associate Ministers.
In 1840 there were 12 families and 22 members. Rev. John Patrick often dispensed the means of grace here in 1841- 44. James McDonald, Robert Carson Jr, Aryel (Azel) Sharpe, David Miller, and Henry. McLain, elders. Rev. S. C. Millen, D.D. began supply, November 2, 1846. Salem Presbyterian Church was organized in 1833. When both needed repairs the property of Virgin Spring was used to better furnish Salem and a joint use agreed. It continued agreeably as long as needed under the administration of Dr. Millen, Rev. W. B. Pressly, and Rev. W. M. Hunter. For a few years in the ’70s, she declined and became disorganized. The faithful few were recollected and merged into Hiddenite.
In addition to the foregoing record, a record of the power of sale and conveyance of the land upon which Virgin Spring Church stood, was made by the entire membership of said congregation to Robert Carson and Azel Sharpe. It was dated June 16, 1860, and was handed to me, by E. E. Lackey at Hiddenite. This document recites that the land was donated by John McLelland and that the funds arising from the sale should be “for’ supply of preaching at Salem Church, which may be obtained from the A. S. Reformed Church, South”. The document was signed by James C. Miller. J. F. Miller, Eliasaph Patterson, Eliza A. Patterson, Ann McRay, R. F. Smith, William Cavin, N. M. Matheson, Sarah C. Matheson, Elizabeth McDonald, Daniel Matheson and P. P. Matheson, each name with a seal attached and witnessed by J. F. Sharpe.
This document was virtually a dissolution of the congregation or church organization and was about 15 years earlier than indicated in the Centennial History.
There is traditional evidence that several of the members of Virgin Spring Church were so devoted to the A. R. P. faith, that after the disorganization of their church, they walked 15 miles to New Sterling in Iredell County, to join in the worship.
Extract from an address by Rev. T. G. Boyce before the Centennial Synod.
“It would not be strange if we, even we, the heirs of the ages, should on an occasion like this, feel the vain wish that Time might turn backward in his flight and place us for a little while among the scenes of the past. Not that we wish to exchange the comforts of today for the privations and the hardships of a century ago. Fresh from a ride of some eight hundred miles to attend this meeting, we have no wish to exchange that mode of travel except in very limited doses, for the good old health giving exercises on horse back. Now we are anxious for the days or nights, rather, when darkness was dispelled by tallow candles and pine knots. We are not longing to live in the past. We prefer to live in the present and as far into the future as we can.
But yet we would, if we could, stop back for a little while into the past, and know of whom but little more than the names and some not even that have come down to us.
We should like to talk with them in their unwarmed churches of hewn logs. In this way, we might catch something of the spirit of their rugged force and iron nerve, and learn to place a true value on the heritage of our fathers.”
MACEDONIA BAPTIST CHURCH
(From Records of Alexander Association of 1904)
The earliest traditionary history of this church, given by Brother David Warren, places the organization of church about the year 1840, with 8 members, five male and three female. The earliest records begin with the July meeting 1842. This record does not give the date of organization, name of Presbytery, nor constituent members, but say, “The church met, and after prayer, proceeded to the business of the day”. It does not give the name of the Moderator or Clerk and continues in this manner until 1869.
Occasional mention is made of the names of Elders Richards, William Garner, Ferguson, Cascaddon, James Reed and Wm. Pool, who seemed to have served short terms as pastor. During these twenty-seven years, Wm. Gryder was clerk. From 1869 until the present (1904) the church has been served by the following Pastors: W. A. Pool, Wm. Pool, James Kerley, J. B. Pool, E. David, L. P. Gwaltney, J. A. White, J. J. Beach, J. M. Shaver, W. J. Bumgarner.
I. M. Crouch was clerk from 1869 for three years. Then Horace Christopher for twenty-seven years. J. E. Chatham to the present (1904).
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
(From Records of Alexander Association, 1913.)
Taylorsville Baptist Church was organized on the 6th of October, 1851, by a Presbytery consisting of R. Gentry and R. L. Steele, with the following members who had been excluded from other churches because of their advocacy on the causes of missions and temperance, to wit: Smith Ferguson, John W. Jones, J. J. Watts, Isaac Oxford, R. L. Steele, Sion Harrington, Sr., Benjamin Watts, Isaac R. Sherrill, Noah Moose, Sion Harrington, Jr., Wm. B. Jones, John Watts, Larkin H. Jones, Enoch C. Harrington, David W. Moose,
James F. Steele, E. R. Harrington, Calvin Jones, Magnus Watts, James H. West, A. C. Watts, H. F. Echerd, D. A. Meadows, Sisters Mary Steele, Nancy M. Watts, Harriet E. McRee, S. A. Jones, Elizabeth Jones, Lucretia Jones, M. R. Jones, Sarah Ferguson, Mary Hines, Nancy Ferguson, Sarah E. Ferguson, Lavancia E. James, Elizabeth Watts, Mary M. James, Lydia Harrington, Margaret C. Harrington, Martha Jones, Eleanor West, Sophia Moose, Anna E. Echerd, Miriam Jones, Anna Steele, Martha Steele, B. Watts, – Rasbury, Elisha, Jacob, David and Rhoda, Colored.
There were six ministers, to wit: Smith Ferguson, John W. Jones, J. J. Watts, Isaac Oxford, R. L. Steele, and Isaac. R. Sherrill. Smith Ferguson was the first pastor and Larkin H. Jones was the first clerk. The moving spirit in the formation of this church was John W. Jones, who died November 12, 1853. For seven years this church was a constituent member of the Taylorsville Association and then of the United Baptist Association. In 1867, the United Baptist and Lewis Fork Association united and formed the Brushy Mountain Association.
W. S. McLeod, Historian.
(From the Records of Alexander Association, 1925.)
As to the history of the Taylorsville Baptist Church, in addition to the historical work found in the minutes of 1913, we find that the following served as pastors the first records having been destroyed. We can only go back to January 4, 1890, when L. P. Gwaltney was serving the church. He resigned November 6, 1892, when J. A. White was called and served from December 3, 1892, until June 3, 1900. 0. W. Triplett to March 3, 1901; L. P. Gwaltney to September 14, 1902; W. E. Rivenbark to December 13, 1903; L. P. Gwaltney to January 13, 1919; then E. Bumgarner to the present (October 1925).
The clerks of the church have been, since January 4, 1890, in the order named; G. W. Bowles, C. W. Sower, J, M. Oxford, E. C. Sloan, J. L. Gwaltney and A. C. Payne, the present clerk.
Superintendents of the Sunday School have been, since 1890; E. A. Womble, E. C. Sloan, J. D. Smith, A. E. Watts and A. C. Payne.
The Alexander Association has met with the Taylorsville Church three times since 1890, to wit: September 29, 1892, October 9, 1913 and October 8, 1925.
A. C. Payne, Historian.
The Twelfth annual session of the United Baptist Association was held with the Taylorsville Church, August 16, 17, and 18, in 1871; R. L. Steele, Moderator, and G. D. Sherrill, Clerk.
TAYLORSVILLE A. R. P. CHURCH
(From the A. R. P. Centennial History.)
This church was organized on June 13, 1896. The members of Hiddenite in and near town were increased by revivals conducted by Rev. J. H. Pressly, assisted by Revs. J. C. Boyd and E. B. Anderson. The 18 members elected as elders, D. M. Moore and J. M. Matheson. As deacons, G. W. Patterson and W. J. Allen were chosen. Though small in numbers and weak in finance, this Spartan band completed a neat and comfortable church in 1898. Revs. W. M. Hunter, R. E. Hough, E. F. Griffith and others preached as supply. Rev. W. Y. Love installed pastor, November 18, 1901, still continues their watchful under Shepherd (1904).
Sketches of four churches in Taylorsville township have been written. Eight other churches in the township have not been written. They are First Presbyterian, First Methodist, First Lutheran and East (Second) Baptist of Taylorsville, St. John’s Lutheran, Millersville, Liledoun, and Beulah Baptist Churches. The records of all of these available are not sufficient to make available complete sketches of any of them. Consequently, we will pass over them for the present until more complete data can be obtained.
The question has been asked: “Why write so much about the churches?” “Ye are the salt of the earth. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” A community that lacks the wholesome influence of a Christian church is on the highway to bad conditions.
THE BARNES FAMILY
James Barnes was born near Philadelphia about 1722 [Editors Note: The correct date is 1740]. His parents came from County Down, Ireland. It is not clear, but they were probably a part of Penn’s Company [Editor’s Note: They were not part of Penn Company. When Quaker Sarah Carter married James Barnes, she was disowned for marrying out of Union i.e. a non-Quaker – see link to the James Barnes article]. Quakers who landed there in 1681, whom religious persecution drove across the Atlantic. James Barnes was a man of prodigious physical powers, and his personal beauty acquired for him the soubriquet of “Beauty Jim”. About 1757 he married Sarah Carter, daughter of James Carter, a Quaker merchant of Philadelphia. She was born in 1733 and consequently 11 years younger than her husband; James Carter was one of Penn’s original Quaker Company. Sometime about 1760 they emigrated to Orange County North Carolina. On page 733 of Volume VII of Colonial Records is a copy of a Petition of Remonstrance of about 450 signers in Orange and Chatham Counties, to Gov. Tryon, asking for redress of grievances caused by the misgovernment of county officials. The name of James Barnes is the fourth signature to the petition.
The result of this turmoil has already been recorded in those sketches, and James Barnes and family were refugees from tyranny and located somewhere north of where Taylorsville now stands. On page 92 of Vol. IX Colonial Records in 1772, there is a copy of a petition of 157 signers of citizens of Rowan County to Gov. Josiah Martin and House of Burgesses, asking for a new county, and James Barnes was one of the signers. This petition was not acted upon by the authorities at that time but did materialize five years later in the organization of Burke County.
James Barnes lived several years in the part of Wilkes County south of the Brushy Mountains, somewhere north of Taylorsville, and then with his son, John, transferred his domicile to the west fork of Middle Little River, in Burke (now Caldwell). In his hundredth year (1822), he shouldered his rifle and traveled on foot to Ohio and then on to Indiana, and was heard from ten years later as being able to walk five miles to church and home again the same day. This statement is made upon the authority of his grandson, Isaac Oxford, a Baptist preacher.
Sarah Carter Barnes, his wife, did not go with him on his Western trip but remained with her daughter, Hannah Barnes Oxford, where she died in 1829 at the age of 96.
John Barnes, the eldest son of James Barnes, married Nancy, daughter of the patriarch, George Brown, and moved, as stated before to Caldwell County, to the valuable farm where Rufus A. Brown now lives, where he died in 1874 at the age of 115 years. His descendants live in Alexander, Caldwell and Wilkes Counties, and many of them emigrated west and elsewhere.
Edward Barnes son of James, settled in what was later known as the Elisha Harrington place; Dr. Tobias Barnes, the grandson of Edward, is still living near Stony Point at the advanced age of 86.
Michael Barnes, another son of James, went to California about 1840. His prospect of a lengthy life was cut short by stepping on a rusty nail which gave him the lockjaw, of which he died. [Editors Note: The newspaper obituary of Mary Elizabeth Barnes White daughter of Michael indicates that he did, in fact, die of lockjaw from stepping on a rusty nail while helping in the building of the church in Petaluma, California. Michael lived to the age of 78.
The census of 1790 gives names and families of Barnes’ in the 15th Militia Company of Wilkes County, which is now Alexander: Reuben Barnes, wife and two daughters; Solomon Barnes, wife, five sons, five daughters.
Their relation to John Barnes’ family is not clear. Editors Note: Reuben is Solomon, Sr. (circa 1842-1807 and is referenced in Solomon’s Will as “my Beloved Son”. DNA testing now shows that Solomon is not related to John or his father Brinsley. Solomon is English. Brinsley is Irish. See Barnes-Oxford Foundations Barnes-Oxford Genealogy and History of the Foothills website. Also, by common reputation, there were in Alexander County Barnes’ as follows: Jehu, who married Edward Teague’s daughter; Brinsley, a refugee from Alamance and founded Little River Church; Peter, probably a son of Solomon, and Nineveh Barnes Editors Note: Ninevah was a son of James “Handsome Jim” Barnes, who had a reputation as a member of the Masonic Fraternity in early days and was called a “Blue Lodge Mason”.
TAYLORSVILLE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
(From the Church Records)
Taylorsville Church at its organization was composed almost entirely of members formerly in connection with the church at Salem, distant about five miles from Taylorsville, east. (The church building stood right at the north side of the present cemetery at Hiddenite.)
Salem Church was organized in June 1834, and Rev. Henry N. Pharr ministered to the church as stated supply from its organization up to 1850.
Alexander County was established by the legislature in 1847, and Taylorsville, the site of justice for the county, was located in March (1848) and the lots sold in August of that year. When the village was located, it was near to the residence of many of the members of Salem Church and others removed to it, so that, soon after its establishment a majority of the members of Salem were in or near the village of Taylorsville.
During the years 1848-49, Mr. Pharr divided his labors in Salem community between the village and those living near the church equally, being only half his time to both and being at the same time pastor of Concord Church of Iredell County. In the beginning of 1850, Mr. Pharr expressed a desire to give up his labors in Salem congregation, his field being too large or extensive to be supplied by the labors of one minister, and with reluctance the congregation yielded to that desire, being strongly attached to him.
About the same time Rev. B. L. Beall, a licentiate of Orange Presbytery, visited the congregation of Salem and Wilkesboro and was engaged to labor as a stated supply to those two churches but most of his labors in the Salem congregation were in the village of Taylorsville.
In the spring of 1853, a petition was sent up to the Presbytery of Concord which met at Thyatira Church, in Rowan County, in April 1853, signed by members of Salem Church, praying the Presbytery to organize them into a church at Taylorsville, which petition was granted, and Henry V. Pharr, B. L. Beall, and Abner Morrison, a ruling elder of the church of Concord, were appointed to carry the prayer of the petitioners into effect.
Taylorsville, May 27, 1853.
The committee appointed, by the Presbytery of Concord to organize a Presbyterian Church, O. S. in the town of Taylorsville, met in the academy. Present – Rev. H. N. Pharr, Rev. B. L. Beall, and Abner Morrison, ruling elder.
A sermon was preached by Rev. H. N. Pharr, from Epistle of Jude, verse 3, last clause: “Earnestly contend for the Faith once delivered to the saints.”
After the sermon certificates of membership and demission from the church of Salem were handed in by the following persons, viz: Nancy D. McCree, Joseph A. McLean, Martha D. McLean, Susan B. McLean, Caroline W. McLean, Daniel C. Thompson, Margaret E. Thompson, Thomas S. Boyd, Margaret Boyd, Miss Isabell H. Boyd, Miss Laura A. Boyd, William Matheson, Jane Matheson, Joseph P. Matheson, Mary C. Matheson, Alex. M. Bogle, Joseph M. Bogle, Christiana Bogle, Martha S. Jones, Mrs. Ann Bogle, Eliza N. Stevenson, Mrs. Mary P. Beall, Barbar G. Bogle, Susan Maria Bogle, W. G. James, Jane S. James, James P. McIntosh, Susan M. McIntosh, Martha A. Sumter, Robert C. Wilson, Jemima Wilson, Mary C. Wilson, Isabella Smith, Isabella Jane Smith, Alex C. McIntosh, Amanda C. McIntosh, Jehu Coon and Harriet Coon, for the purpose of being organized into a church at Taylorsville. The church was organized according to the regular form.
Robert C. Wilson, Wm. Matheson, Thos. S. Boyd, and A. C. McIntosh were elected ruling elders; John Coon, W. G. James, and Joseph P. Matheson were elected deacons.
A solemn charge was given to the ruling elders in the presence of the congregation by Rev. Henry N. Pharr.
On May 28, A. C. McIntosh was elected clerk of the sessions.
In August 1853, William Matheson was appointed a delegate to the sessions of Concord Presbytery at Asheville, N. C.
April 1854, Thos. S. Boyd was appointed a delegate to the Concord Presbytery at Sugar Creek Church, Mecklenburg County.
March, 1855, Concord Presbytery met at Goshen Church, Gaston County. Delegate not named. March 26, 1856, Robert A. Wilson was appointed a delegate to the Presbytery at Hopewell Church, Mecklenburg. County.
September 13, 1856, the sessions met in the Baptist Church by invitation because their own church was. being painted.
November, 1856, William Matheson was a delegate to the Presbytery at Statesville.
April 1857, Presbytery met at Prospect Church, Rowan County, A. C. McIntosh delegate.
August 1858, Presbytery met at Franklin, N. C., T. S. Boyd, delegate.
1859, T. S. Boyd delegate to Presbytery at Third Creek Church, Rowan County.
July 1859, Presbytery met at Mill River Church, Henderson. County, N. C.
April 1890, Presbytery met at Steel Church, Wm. Matheson, delegate.
The records prior to the Civil War closes on May 13, 1860. The pastor’s terms of this period are not defined. Their names are: H. N. Pharr, B. L. Beall, Jessie Rankin. P. H. Dalton, S. C. Alexander, S. B. 0. Wilson, W. W. Pharr, T. W: Erwin, B. S. Krider, D. A. Penick.
THE McINTOSH FAMILY
(By Dr. A. C. McIntosh, Dean of Law School State University.)
George McIntosh, whose wife was Campbell, came to this country about the close of the Revolutionary War, 1780 or 1781. He landed at Wilmington, came up the Cape Fear to what was then called Campbelltown, now Fayetteville, and after living there for a year or two moved west to what was then Iredell County, and settled on Jumping Run Creek, two or three miles southeast of where Taylorsville is now located, on land a part of which is now occupied by J. E. Chatham.
George McIntosh had two sons, Agnus and Donald, and several daughters. Donald McIntosh married Eleanor McDonald, who was the daughter of Alex McDonald and Margaret Campbell. They lived on a farm about one mile south of Taylorsville and had three sons and two daughters. One daughter, Margaret, married Joseph M. Stevenson and they lived near the old McIntosh place where Mrs. Emma Stikeleather now lives. The second daughter, Caroline, married Milton Graham, who lived in the Snow Creek section of North Iredell, later lived in Taylorsville, and finally moved to Grayson County, Virginia. George McIntosh married Jane Matheson and lived near Liberty Church. James Pringle McIntosh married the widow of Newton Crawford, who lived at White Plains, now the Thos. Adams Place, about three miles below Taylorsville on the Statesville Road. David Crawford, the son of Newton Crawford, went into business in Taylorsville with R. P. Matheson and built the brick store on the old Matheson corner. After the death of James McIntosh, his widow married Dr. Isaac Wilson and lived in the Hopewell section in Mecklenburg County.
Alexander Campbell McIntosh was born in 1810, received the education which could be gotten in the community at that time, taught school for a while, and then went into the merchandising business as a clerk for Newton Crawford at White Plains. This was one of the most important business places in that section at the time. After a few years experience, he took a position as clerk in Fayetteville and lived there two or three years. While living there he married Amanda Christiana Bogle, daughter of William Bogle, who was the brother of Joseph M. Bogle by whose influence the new county of Alexander was created by the Legislature of 1847. On account of failing health, A. C. McIntosh returned to his old home section in what was then Iredell County and settled at James Cross Roads, about two miles from Taylorsville on the Statesville Road. This was about 1835. Here he engaged in farming and merchandising, a part of the time being associated with General Clarke, of Caldwell County, who was his brother-in-law, James Cross Roads was one of the business centers for that section and was designated as the place to hold the courts for the new county until the courthouse could be located.
When the county was organized in 1847, he removed to Taylorsville and took a prominent part in organizing the county, locating the town, and erecting the public buildings, being a member of the county court and treasurer of the building committee for the court house and jail. For many years he took an active part in the public affairs of the county as justice of the peace, member of the board of commissioners, member of the board of education, member of House and of the Senate. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church, an elder in that church for many years, greatly interested in all church work and especially in the Sunday School, of which he was superintendent for fifty years or more. He took a deep interest in all matters, religious, educational and social, which tended to the improvement of the community, and always kept an open house for preachers. He built his home and a store on the corner opposite the courthouse, where Mrs. Lelia Bogle now lives.
In April 1865, General Stoneman’s troops came through Taylorsville, and the General established his headquarters at the McIntosh home. One incident connected with the approach of these troops may be of interest. The advanced guards came into town riding hurriedly and calling upon every man to surrender. James Taylor McIntosh, then about 18, was just preparing to leave for the front to join the eighteen-year-old boys, and he happened to be in a house up near the old jail when the troops came in. He had on a Confederate “roundabout” and the soldiers picked him up as a prisoner.
Since they had selected the McIntosh home as the headquarters, they carried him down to the old storehouse, and while they “were busy here and there, he was gone”. He slipped out through the back door, took off the Confederate gray, put on another coat, came out again and was not troubled further.
This raid was in April, just about the time of the surrender, and it was reported that the news came to General Stoneman while there, that General Lee had surrendered. This is probably correct. The writer’s earliest recollection of anything military was standing on the old store porch that bright Sunday morning, listening to the band play in the street, and watching the long line of horsemen go by. While there was much waste and destruction of property by taking horses, grain and provisions, there was very little burning. Someone threw a lighted match into some loose cotton in an old house where the E. C. Sloan dwelling now stands .just as the troops were leaving. It soon burst into flames and a stiff breeze carried the cotton in every direction. The small boys, as well as the men, were kept busy for a while in putting out the blazing cotton. General Stoneman and his staff occupied the old home for a day and night. I have a distinct recollection of the men as they came to the table for meals, and now what they had to eat was somewhat different from what we children could get at that time. I remember the steady and solemn tread of the sentry, as he paced before the door and under the large flag which was on a pole at the front gate. Some Confederate prisoners were brought and placed under guard in the courthouse square, and the citizens were notified that they could provide water and things to eat for them. This was a glad and willing service.
As the troops were leaving, a wounded officer had to be carried in some conveyance. A carriage which my father had was taken and fixed so as to make him comfortable. The carriage was supposed to be gone for good, but some months after the excitement was over, it was learned that a Mr. Sloop, who lived in Ashe or Alleghany and was a friend of my father, had found the carriage broken down on the side of the road; he took it home and repaired it, and it was afterward recognized as a long lost friend. The writer rode to Rocky Springs camp meeting many times in that carriage after that.
After Stoneman’s troops had departed the town took a breathing spell and expected a quiet night; but during the night General Palmers and his troops came in. He took up his headquarters at the same place. My father took the General and showed the small quantity of grain which Stoneman’s men had left and a guard was at once placed around the house and there was no further trouble. These troops remained only a short time.
I wish to add to Dr. McIntosh’s history that the census of 1790 records the following as heads of families right in the same vicinity with those he has mentioned: John McIntosh, wife, one son and one daughter; Alexander McIntosh, wife, three sons, and three daughters. The Iredell records (not the census) mentions Hector McIntosh.
The last paragraph of his history mentions “General Palmer” The General afterward a candidate for President on the Gold Democratic ticket when President McKinley was elected. After General Palmer left Taylorsville, he marched his troops to the old homestead that was my home at that time and they appropriated two cribs of corn, of about 300 bushels that I had helped to raise the previous year. I was not there but was in the forest with 3 mules. General Palmer treated my mother with all due courtesy and placed sentinels at the door to keep the troops out of the house.
THE TEAGUE FAMILY
The Teague family is not confined to Taylorsville township but is scattered all over Alexander County and the regions beyond. Taken with all its relations by intermarriage it is almost, without doubt, the dominant family of Alexander County. The pioneer Teagues came from Chatham and Orange Counties, mostly from Chatham. The original records show Francis Teague to be one of the earliest and connected with David Caldwell in the speculation lands, but the census of 1790 shows him back in Chatham. The Teagues of Chatham and Orange stood high in the annual of patriotism in the troubles of 1771 when they resisted the tyranny of Governor Tryon, and in his amnesty proclamation, Joshua Teague was one of the number that was excepted from its benefits. The schoolhouse near Moses Teague’s, in Chatham, was one of the meeting places of the Regulators. Some of the earlier of the Teagues claimed Welsh descent which is probably correct. Edward Teague settled in Ellendale and an account of his transactions was written. His brother, William Teague, settled in Taylorsville township and his descendants still form a large proportion of. it’s population. He had several sons, but his son Vandaver, “Uncle Van”, probably has the largest posterity of any of them now in Alexander County. His oldest son, “Colonel. Van”, represented Alexander in the General Assembly of 1856, was Colonel of the Alexander Militia Battalion prior to the Civil War, and was Captain of a Company of. Volunteers that went to the 56th Regiment. He was chosen by Capt. H. M. Spain, United States Army, who had charge of the “Reconstruction” of Alexander County, with Capt. David Williams, of Sugar Loaf township as his associate, to execute the provisional government of General E. R. S. Canby, in Alexander County. Afterward, he served on the board of County Commissioners under the permanent government. Col. Moses Teague, another son of Vandaver, was the Clerk of the Superior Court in l858.
Other pioneer Teagues were Solomon, Michael, two John Teagues, and Edward already mentioned. The record of the Teague family, with all its connections, would fill a good-sized volume.
THE JONES FAMILY
Michael Teague married Ruth Bassett, in Chatham County, and he was drowned in Black River, in sight of home as he was returning from a journey. Sometime after his death, Ruth married John Morley Jones and they emigrated to what is now known as the Calvin Jones place, at the junction of Muddy Fork and Lower Little River, which includes Bishop Spangenberg’s first camp. The census of 1790 mentions Joseph Jones also at the same time with John Morley Jones, but Joseph has faded from the history. He was not John Morley’s son, for the family record now in the possession of J. B. Barnes of Taylorsville, does not mention Joseph as in the family. According to this record, John Morley’s oldest son was Thomas, and this record raises a very strong presumption that John Morley Jones was a son of the Thomas Jones that figured in the Regulation affairs. At any rate, John Morley did come from that section and in all probability came as a refugee from Tryon’s tyranny.
The descendants of John Morley Jones and Ruth Bassett Jones have been among the staunchest citizens of the Taylorsville community and several of them acquired distinction and prominence in the public affairs and will be mentioned in the article on “Prominent Citizens”. Several of them moved to Cherokee County, Kansas, and all of them made worthy citizens of that community.
THE BOGLE FAMILY
Robert Bogle was the only Bogle in North Carolina recorded in the census of 1790 in which he is recorded as in Iredell County with a family of wife, one son, two daughters and two slaves. His residence was the well known Bogle homestead right on the Statesville and Wilkesboro Highway and though classed as in Iredell County was in the edge Of Wilkes County on the headwaters of Muddy Fork, a tributary of Lower Little River.
One of his daughters married an Alexander. His sons were William, James H. and Joseph M. Their posterity is now fully represented in the inhabitants of Alexander and other counties, some of them acquiring a prominence that will be further mentioned at the proper place.
THE WARREN FAMILY
The old records mention, William, Robert, and Hugh Warren as pioneers in Taylorsville township. One very cogent reason for believing that they came with the Alamance refugees about 1771, is that they were Baptists, and Baptists were the people who incurred the special enmity of Tryon, Fanning, Caswell, Waddell and all other exponents of the High Church Oligarchy. The descendants of these pioneer Warrens are highly respected citizens of Alexander County.
THE HARRINGTON FAMILY
Sion Harrington was the pioneer of the family in Alexander County and the tradition of the family is that he went from Moore County to Chatham and from there to the extreme southern section of Wilkes near where Taylorsville now stands. He was still a young man when he arrived; for he married Rebecca Brown, daughter of the pioneer patriarch George Brown of Little River township, and raised a family of sons and daughters, remarkable for their splendid physical powers and personal physique, and also for musical attainments, through them this quality may have been an inheritance from the Browns who were talented in the musical line.
The census of 1790 records Sion Harrington of Moore County with wife, four sons, and one daughter. This record would have been too old for the Sion Harrington that came here except that he was probably one of the four sons.
SOME RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY TAYLORSVILLE LIFE
(By Mrs. Laura Thompson Gladden)
Sometime about the year 1848 or 49 (am not certain about date) but shortly after Mr. A. C. McIntosh moved to Taylorsville, my grandfather, John McKay, and his wife (Betsy Lowe) and daughters, Mary and Clarissa (Duck), moved from Wilkesboro to Taylorsville, bought a lot on the corner of East Main and South Back Street where Mr. Reuben Watts now lives, put up a tent and lived in it until they got their house built, they were the second family to locate in Taylorsville.
Decater R. Boss, a tailor, came with them and he and grandmother made men’s clothing. My mother then 14 years of age made the buttonholes and helped with the finishing work.
Grandfather was a brick mason and blacksmith. He worked on the first brick courthouse and, also on the school building, known then as the United Baptist Institute. When the walls were up to the second story windows, the scaffold on which grandfather was standing fell, breaking his thigh. He limped the rest of his life.
On July the 24th, 1855, Clarissa married J. Pinkney Thompson and they built a home on the opposite corner. He was a saddler and harness maker. When the Confederate War broke out he went to the front and was assigned to the government shops to make supplies for the cavalry. He worked there until the surrender.
Mother and I were alone when the Yankees invaded the town. I was playing in the yard with same children and saw the first two as they rode rapidly over the hill by the jail and down to the south side of the courtyard and informally took possession of the town. I ran in and said, “Mother, two men dressed in blue with bright buttons galloped over the jail hill.” Just then Jamie Miller, a neighbor girl, ran in and said, “The Yankees are here.” All was excitement, the town was full of Men. In a short time, they began pouring into the house and ordered mother to prepare them something to eat. She had a large basket of eggs and when they spied them, they told her to cook eggs. She soon had the table ready and as fast as one table full got up another sat down. I don’t remember what she cooked besides eggs but she cooked all day.
In the afternoon a man took the counterpane off the bed and spread it on the floor and opened the lower bureau drawer and began piling out our clothes, pillowcases, sheets and everything we had in the bureau. When he opened the top drawer, father’s Masonic apron was lying on top, when he saw it he turned and ordered the men out of that room and closed the door, leaving the clothes piled out on the floor. One of them spoke to me and said: “Where is your daddy?” “Working for Jeff Davis”, I said. He then asked me, “Aren’t you afraid of a Yankee?” I said, “No sir.” A gentleman got up from the table and went out, in a little while he came back with his gun and said to mother, “I was sent here to guard your house.” He sat down with his gun and after that the crowd gradually withdrew. He stayed until 5 o’clock, ate his supper and told mother not to be afraid, she would not be molested. She thanked him and he left.
Next morning grandfather came and took me to the courtyard to see the army. A gentleman, I suppose an officer took us through the crowd and showed us the cannon. They left Easter Sunday morning. I was sitting on the steps watching the crowd go by when an officer rode up to the gate and asked me for a bunch of lilacs. I gave it to him but had to stand on tiptoe. He thanked me, raised his cap and rode off.
We still have father’s Masonic apron treasured as a keepsake, for had it not been for it everything we had of any value would have been taken.
THE MATHESON FAMILY
The Matheson is a large and influential family of first respectability, but the records of the original pioneers have not been recorded as thoroughly as some others of similar standing. The pioneer as shown by the census.
of 1790 for the 8th Company of Militia of Burke County was Alexander Matheson, and his family consisted of his wife, four sons and one daughter. Two of the sons were over sixteen years of age. Other records of prior date show that his home was somewhere on Glade Creek.
Donald Matheson was another pioneer and his home was on Glade Creek, but his name appears in the census in Moore County and Daniel Matheson appears in Rowan County. The names may apply to entirely different persons, but the similarity of first names indicate at least a relationship if not absolute identity. Individuals of the family will be given further record, and the whole family history will be rewritten if additional information is found to justify.
MORE ABOUT THE WATTS FAMILY
(By Steve L. Watts, 442 W. 37 Place Los Angeles, California.)
My Dear Mr. White,
Have been looking up the origin of the Watts family name. Barber, an English geneologist of authority says – ‘That the name is derived from the Norse HVAT, which means “active” and which in the Anglo-Saxon became ‘Wat’ and was later transformed into ‘Watts’.
There is, however, another derivation. Because Simon Wathes, who was traditionally descended from a French soldier of fortune, who followed King Stephen to England in 1135, was the founder of the Watts, family, which for generations made its seat at Hawksdale Hall, County Cumberland, and is possibly still settled there as it was in possession of the estate as late as 1840.
Eleven Watts’ names appear in the list of persons sailing for New England, Barbadoes and Virginia were shown on the list of those transported as rebels following the Mammouth Rebellion (1685). In the muster of those living in Virginia on February 16, 1623, I find Thomas Watts was living as “Flourdoin Hundred”, and on January 23, 1634, was listed as a dweller who came in the Treasurer and was at that time known as one of George Yeardley’s men.
The name of Sir John Watts, Knight is found on page 82, Vol. I, Hening’s Revised Statutes of Virginia, which appears in the second charter granted by James I to the Virginia Company dated 1609. Twenty-eight Watt’s men and women were imported to Virginia during the years 1636-1654.
By the way, I find the name of James Watts of N. C., on the Revolutionary Pension Roll, but his name is not found in the muster of the N. C. Continental Line.
With best wishes to you and yours, Mr. White, I am,
Most respectfully, —-Steve L. Watts
THE CAPTURE OF FORT HAMBY
(By Rev. Wm. R. Gwaltney)
In March 1865, General Stoneman left East Tennessee, moving from Taylorsville, Tennessee, through Watauga County to Deep Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains. On the 26th of March he entered Boone, North Carolina, and then the following day the column was divided, one division under General Stoneman going toward Wilkesboro, while the other under General Gilliam crossed the Blue Ridge at Blowing Rock and moved on to Patterson in Caldwell County.
From thence this division again joined General Stoneman’s division at Wilkesboro and the entire army then moved on to Mt. Airy in Surry County.
During General Stoneman’s march through this section of the state, his men committed many depredations and after leaving Wilkesboro a number of the most lawless deserted and joined up with other worthless characters in this section led by two desperators, Wade and Simmons, they soon completely terrorized the people of Wilkes and portions of the adjoining counties by their raids. They would ride into a man’s yard, dismount, and several of their number would enter the house and pointing loaded pistols at that inside would say: “If you open your mouth we will drop you in your tracks”. While this was going on others of the gang would be going through every drawer and trunk to be found, taking with them everything that suited them, together with every good horse on the plantation.
It must be remembered that at this time every man fit for military service was in the army and the country was, therefore, almost completely at the mercy of these desperators. After Lee’s surrender and the Confederate soldiers began to return home, this state of affairs continued, but now the marauders divided themselves into two bands, one being led by Simmons with headquarters in the Brushy Mountains, the other by Wade with headquarters on the Yadkin River in Wilkes County. Several times the two bands operated together; but as the writer had to do with Wade’s band and with it had a most lively experience, this article will be devoted to him and his fiendish work.
Wade claimed the rank of major in Stoneman’s army and said he was from Michigan. The house where he had his headquarters was on the road between Wilkesboro and nearly a mile from Holman’s Ford where the valley road crossed the Yadkin River. It was situated upon a hill and commanded a fine view of the Yadkin Valley and of the valley road for a distance of a mile above and below the ford. To its front on the south was the Yadkin River and on the west, Lewis’ Fork, a stream smaller than the Yadkin into which it emptied. On the north and east lay a wide belt of thick woods. From this position the Yadkin Valley and the surrounding country for at least a half mile in every direction could be swept and controlled by Wade’s guns and it would, therefore, have been a difficult matter to choose a stronger location, both offensively and defensively, than this; and there is a tradition that on this very hill, Daniel Boone had fortified himself against the Indians. The house had been built of logs and was two stories in height. In the upper story, the robbers had cut portholes for their guns which were army guns of the very best type. This house had formerly belonged to some disreputable woman by the name of Hamby and after Wade took it aver and fortified it, it was known as Fort Hamby.
It is not known just how many men belonged to Wade’s band. A list of eighteen names was found when the fort was taken, but more than that number was known to have co-operated with them. They showed a spirit of revenge and a desire for plunder in all of their raids. Indeed, they seemed to think that they must treat with the utmost cruelty all those who were not in sympathy with them. All the people of Wilkes, therefore, lived in constant dread of them and consequently were frightened at the mere barking of a dog or the rattle of the leaves. Life was worse than death. Not only were the people of Wilkes frightened and subdued by them, but those of the adjoining sections or Alexander and Caldwell Counties where they had several raids, robbing the citizens and subjecting both men and women to the grossest insults.
On the 7th of May, 1865, the robbers made a raid into Caldwell County. The following Sunday night, Major Harvey Bingham, with a few men made a well-planned move upon the fort. It seems that Wade and his men were not aware of the approach of Bingham and his men until they had entered the house. Wade and his men announced their helpless condition and begged for their lives. No guns being in sight Bingham gave Wade and his men time to dress; but at a moment when the captors were off their guard, they rushed to their guns which had been concealed about their beds and opened fire on them. The result was that Clark, a son of General Clark of Caldwell County was killed together with another man named Henly of the same county. The others, however, escaped leaving the bodies of Clark and Henly behind.
The following Saturday night, the robbers crossed over into Alexander County with the intention of killing or capturing W. U. Green, son of Rev. J. R. Green, who had been a lieutenant in the Confederate Army. Rev. Green, however, had been apprised of their intentions and• was on the lookout for them and ready to give them a warm reception. The robbers surrounded the house and Wade wearing a Confederate gray suit which he always wore when he wanted to enter a house without forcing his way into it, approached the house and claiming to be an officer in the Confederate Army on his way home asked for a night’s lodging. The moon was shining brightly and Mr. Green, recognizing Wade, replied: “I know who you are and if you come into this house it will be over my dead body.” Mr. Green had his position at the front door with a pistol in one hand and a dirk in the other. His son was at one of the front windows and his daughter, armed with a knife having a long keen blade, at another. They had also armed five of the servants and placed them in the rear of the house; but when three of the robbers were about to enter a window in this part of the house, Lieutenant Green rushed back, knocked out a pane of glass, and fired at them. Having wounded one of the robbers, the entire band withdrew leaving two or three hats and two of their horses behind. The next day Colonel Washington Sharpe gathered together about twenty soldiers and pursued them; but James Linney, a brother of Hon. R. Z. Linney and Jones Brown were killed and the others, some of them springing from their horses and running on foot, escaped. They managed to get together at Moravian Falls and returned home greatly dejected. The loss of Linney and Brown cast a dark shadow of gloom and sadness over the whole community. The burning question now was: “What is going to be done?” Some thought that there was little or no hope of anything being done, while others who had already tried and failed were really afraid to try again. Now the writer must speak as an eyewitness of all that follows.
After returning from the army, I took a small school in Alexander County and boarded at the home of Ellis Hayes Esq. The company that was driven from the fort the Sunday before was made up of men from this community.
Colonel Sharpe called together a number of old soldiers and after a consultation, it was. decided that another effort should be made to dislodge the robbers and put a stop to their work of plunder and murder. I left my school in charge of one of the pupils and joined the company. We started on Tuesday afternoon following the Sunday on which our Alexander County men had been repulsed. The company numbered about twenty men. Having crossed the Brushy Mountains at Cove Gap, we were nearing Holman’s Ford when we met a man who told us that Wade and his men were waiting for us and that he had said he could whip a thousand of us. We stopped and held a consultation and decided to send one of our men into Iredell County to ask Colonel Robert V. Cowan, who had commanded the Thirty-third Regiment of North Carolina Troops in the late war, to get together all the men that he could and to come to Holman’s Ford with all possible speed. It was also decided to send another of our men to the headquarters of some Federal Troops encamped near Lexington, N. C., to inform them of the condition of things in Wilkes and to ask them to relieve the situation as quickly as possible. Leaving Moravian Falls about midnight, we moved cautiously up the road toward Holman’s Ford. The night was dark and all felt that the march was fraught with danger. As we neared the ford a voice rang out sharp and clear: “Halt! Who comes there?” Col. Sharpe replied: “Men from Alexander. Who are you?” The reply came: “Oxford’s men from Caldwell, Advance.” This was good news to us and when we reached them we found them all sleeping in the woods near the road with the exception of two or three who were walking the sentinel’s beat. We were soon sleeping beside these men in their beds of leaves.
At break of day the next morning the two companies, which now numbered about forty men, arose from their beds of leaves and started on their way. We left the road leading to the ford and turned up the river to the left and crossed it at a small ford on the farm of a Mister Tolbert. We then ascended the hill and on to the valley road where we dismounted, fed our horses, and ate our breakfast from our haversacks in the yard of Mr. Tolbert’s home. Inside a woman lay dying. As she and her husband were approaching the ford the day before in a wagon, she was shot by one of the robbers from the fort more than a quarter of a mile away. While here Mr. Tolbert said to us: “You can easily judge what my fears of these robbers are and what my feelings toward them are; but I dare not say a word. My advice to you is that you go back home for you will not be able to take them with the small force which you have. They are on the lookout for you and have no doubt sent out for recruits and, should they capture you, they will surely put you to death.
No doubt they are right now lying in those thickets and no sooner than you cross the top of yonder hill you will be fired upon.” We held a council of war and while a few of our bravest men were in favor of going back and waiting until we could rally a stronger force, it was decided by a large majority that we go on.
After passing the top of the hill and coming to a narrow path leading through a long stretch of old field pines, the Colonel said to me: “You take these five men with you and follow this path until you come to the hill which is on the west of the fort. Feel your way carefully through the thicket and when you come to the hill, search it to see if anyone is on it. I will take the rest of the men and station them on the north and east of the fort. As soon as the men are stationed a gun will be fired so that you may know we are in position.” I took the five-man and we went single file, one after the other, expecting every moment to be shot down. We didn’t draw a free breath until we had reached the hill and found no one upon it. We had been in many places of danger during the war but never had our courage been tried as it was in our march through that thicket. We had been on the hill only a few minutes when one of the robbers was seen leaving the fort and going into the field below where several fine horses were grazing. While bridling one of them, the writer ran down the hill toward the creek (Lewis, Fork) to a pine tree where he tried to get a shot at the robber, but there were so many other trees in the way that he led the horse away before I could get a shot at him. Soon thereafter, I heard the gun of one of my men snap. I looked and saw that he was pointing his gun toward the creek below me. I knew that he was trying to shoot one of Wade’s men who was between me and the creek, although I could not see him. After snapping his gun several times, he took one of the other men’s guns, raised it to his face and fired. It seemed to me that I had never heard a gun roar so loud. He had shot at one of the robbers sitting on the bank of the creek, presumably watching for us, but he missed him and the robber jumped into the creek and ran toward the Yadkin. The warning that he got saved his life for he did not return to the fort.
A few moments after the shot had been fired at the robber on the creek bank, one of the men from the east of the fort fired his gun to let us know that they were all in position. Then such a yell was raised in the fort as we had never heard before or since. It was more like the howling of devils. Cursing us with the most fearful oaths they dared us to come on, evidently trying to make it appear that they were there in strong force. Our men kept up the firing on the house all day and they returned the fire at us, shooting with such accuracy that we had to keep at a great distance and behind trees and ‘logs to keep from being hit.
Night came on and it was very dark and cloudy. Another council of war was held and again some of our number were in favor of returning home and waiting until we could rally a greater force. Others said that if we did not dislodge them now that they would never return for another. effort. A majority of us declared that we could whip all the recruits that they might be able to bring in under the cover of darkness and that we must stay until the fort was taken. It was finally decided to stay and in the darkness, we began to construct a new line of breast-works near the fort and kept on shooting at the house for quite some time after dark. The enemy fired no more after it became too dark for them to see us. We had in our company a man from Iredell County by the name of Wallace Sharpe, but he went by the name of “Wall Sharpe” His station was near the spring and between him and the fort stood an old kitchen built of small pine logs and covered with, boards. Wall Sharpe, as soon as he could see the sign of approaching day, pulled off his shoes and very quietly made his way to the old kitchen. Pushing some dry trash, into a crack, he struck a match, set fire to the trash, and then ran back to his station near the spring. Soon the whole kitchen was ablaze and you may be sure no fire was more eagerly watched. Very soon the sparks began to fall upon the roof of the fort and it was not long until little blazes began to spring up here and there on it. Our men raised a shout of joy.
It was not long before the robbers raised a yell and when commanded to come out and surrender, they inquired what would become of them if they did. Wall Sharpe replied with an oath: “We will kill the last one of you.” Finally, they came out, Wade in front. He raised his hand and touched his hat as though he would surrender and then darted like an arrow down the steep hill toward the river. Several shots were fired at him, but it was too dark to see clearly and not a single shot hit him. He ran across the river but could find no further trace of him. He told someone afterward that some of our men came within five or six feet of him. As soon as the others came out they were seized by the soldiers and for a few moments, it seemed that they would be torn to pieces. They were in the hands of men whose mothers, wives and sisters, they had abused and insulted. The whole company was for a little while an infuriated mob. For the first time, some of us were impressed by the fact that nothing is to be feared so much as a body of men so enraged as to lose their heads.
Stakes were soon driven in the ground and the robbers told that they must die. They begged to be imprisoned for life but were told that they must pay with their lives for the murder of Clark, Henly, Brown, and Linney. Passing with them through the yard to the place of execution, Col. Sharpe told them that they might have a little time to prepare for death. They began to pray, but their prayers were: “Men spare us.” Wall Sharpe said with an oath: “Don’t pray to us. Pray to God, for He alone can save you.” Some of the men still burning with rage began to ridicule and mock them, but Wall Sharpe said: “Men, we have given them time to repent and you shall not bother them.” Col. Sharpe then commanded everyone to be quite and turning to me asked me to pray for them. I replied, “Colonel, I cannot for I have never had such a feeling as I now have.” I feared to approach the throne of Grace just then lest I might come into His presence without sincere desires. Rev. Isaac Oxford, Captain of the Caldwell Company, said to me: “Hold my gun and I will pray for them.” I took his gun and he thanked God that none of us were killed and that justice had at last overtaken the robbers. This was about the burden of his prayer, which after all was nothing more than a prayer of thanksgiving.
We then moved on to the place of execution and bound them to the stakes. Before the order to fire was given, however, I said to Col. Sharpe: “I feel a desire to pray for them now.” Being given permission to do so, I tried to pray for their forgiveness and salvation with all the earnestness of my soul. In a moment the order to fire was given – and they were in eternity. It may be interesting in this connection to relate an incident. In our company was a young man by the name of Fony Roseman who could shoot a rifle with the greatest accuracy. He was a devoted friend of James Linney, who had been killed the Sunday before. He had learned that Will Beck, one of the robbers, was the one who had shot Linney. Roseman asked Col. Sharpe to make him one of the detail to shoot\Beck. His request being granted, he said, “Now I am going to hit him just above the eye and in the same spot where he shot my friend Linney.” He did just what he said he would do as if he had gone and placed the bullet there with his finger.
As soon as the robbers had been captured several of the men proceeded to extinguish the fire on the roof of the fort. We now returned to it to see what was on the inside. Here we found property of nearly every description. Many fine dresses and ladies’ hats which they had taken from the desolate women who had previously lived there were also found. In the upper story were several barrels of unshelled corn which was thrown out through a window. All the other contents having been removed, the house was again set on fire and soon burned to the ground. In a pasture nearby were found some twenty fine horses which were later returned to their owners.
Wade was seen by someone in the vicinity not many days after the fort had been taken and destroyed. He said he lay all day under the bank of the river and sometime during the night went to see just what had been done. A few days later he left and has never been seen since.
On our way back to Alexander, we met Colonel Cowan of Iredell County with about fifteen men coming to our assistance. We also met some of the citizens of Wilkes coming with wagon loads of provisions for us. When they heard what had been done, their joy must have been as great as that which thrilled the hearts of our forefathers when they received the news of the victory at Yorktown.
The morning after our return and before I had started to my school, I saw coming down the road from the direction of Fort Hamby, twelve men on horseback. My only thought was that they were some of the recruits who were expected at Fort Hamby and that they were after taking vengeance on all who had taken part in the work done the day before. As they approached the gate, I went into my room which was on the first floor, locked myself in, and examined several guns and pistols which I kept loaded, determined to sell my life as dearly as possible. They dismounted, came to the door, and asked Mr. Hayes if they could get breakfast and. their horses fed.- He told them that they could and while waiting for the food to be prepared, they sat on the front porch and engaged in conversation with Mr. Hayes. From all I could hear they were not the men I had taken them to be, so leaving my room I went out to where they were sitting. They asked me if I knew of a band of robbers near Holman’s Ford in Wilkes County. Upon being informed that I did, they then inquired if I knew whether the report that the fort had been taken and the robbers executed were true. When informed that it was, the lieutenant in command replied: “I am glad of it, for we were on our way to capture them and put a stop to all their lawlessness.” He then informed me that the message we had sent to them at Lexington had been delivered and that they set out at once to assist us. It can be truthfully said that no men from whatever section ever came into that part of our State who were more cordially welcomed than they were. The lieutenant had thirty-one men in his command, but the remainder had gone to other places for breakfast. They then went into the mountains and captured the notorious Simmons whose name has been mentioned in connection with that of Wade. They took him to Lexington and put him in the guardhouse. While plundering and murdering in the mountains, he had supplied himself with a considerable sum of gold and silver, a part of which he used in bribing the sentinel, and got away. He has never been seen or heard of since.
In August 1865, I was asked to open a school in Wilkesboro and entered upon the work on the first of September. The schoolhouse was on a high hill west of the town and nearly a mile from the Courthouse. I boarded at the home of a Mr. H. Curtis, at the ford of the Yadkin River on the road leading from Wilkesboro to Jefferson. It was just one mile from there to the schoolhouse.
The first court that had been held in a long time opened the same day that I began my school, being presided ‘over by Judge Anderson Mitchel of Statesville. One day during the week, just after dinner, two men rode belonging to Mrs. Bynum C. Deal of Davidson, North Carolina. In setting up the original manuscript for publication, the editor of the paper did a very poor job of editing. Several apparent omissions and repetitions were made in the set-up which accounts for the change in form. In making these changes and corrections, however, we trust that we have made no changes or alterations in the substance of the original manuscript.
Robert S. Echerd.
CORRECTIONS & COMMENTS
On page 7, Mr. White names the pioneers who settled on Prater’s Creek and says: “None of these were Alamance immigrants except the Spraldings.” This has reference to the Alamance Creek sections and not particularly to Alamance County. Records show that Thomas Baskett and his wife Ann lived in Chatham County and on March 31, 1784, sold their land and, presumably moved from there to Prater’s Creek.
On page 15, Mr. White states that Benjamin Newland married Katie Tate in Pennsylvania. Records of Augusta County, Virginia, show that Benjamin Newland and Catherine (Katie) Tate were married in that county on March 27, 1787.
On page 17, several lines were inadvertently left out in copying from the original record thereby combining the Civil War records of two brothers. Beginning with Nathan Austin Pool the original record reads as follows: “Nathan Austin Pool, the eldest son of William, was clerk of the County Court from 1856 to 1860. He entered the Confederate Army as a lieutenant in Company K, Seventh Regiment, and when Captain M. H. Peebles was killed in battle, he was promoted to captain and served in that capacity until the surrender at Appomattox. His brother James B. Pool was a lieutenant in Company G, Thirty-seventh Regiment, of North Carolina Troops, He was captured at Cold Harbor and remained in prison until the surrender. He was the Register of deeds for ten years, clerk of the Superior Court, four years, and represented Alexander County in the General Assembly of 1880. His son, O. F. Pool, is the present representative.”
Mr. O. F. Pool of Taylorsville, North Carolina, has furnished the following additional information relative to the Pool brothers: After the close of the war, Nathan A. Pool left Alexander County and went to Texas. He settled in Mansfield, Tarrant County, near Fort Worth. He died in 1899.
James B. Pool was captured in the three day’s fight at Gettysburg, Pa., in Pettigrew’s famous charge on Cemetery Hill. He was carried North and imprisoned upon Johnson’s Island, Lake Erie, Ohio where he was held until the close of the war. After his return to his home he held the position of Register of Deeds for ten years. He represented the county in the General Assembly in 1881, and was Clerk of the Court for eight years, from 1890 to 1898. He died in 1899, only a short time after the death of his brother N. A. Pool.
PRIMITIVE METHODS OF COOKING MEATS
In Alexander, there are four basins chiseled in a rock that I know of, and there probably are others that I have not found, which were once used for the preparation or cooking of forest products and fish for food. Originally these basins were about three feet in diameter and some three or four inches deep. They are located not far from the offset or edge in a mass of rocks with a channel chiseled from the hewn basin to the edge of a drop-off.
The method of using these basins for cooking purposes was to build a fire inside the basin and keep it going until the rock was sufficiently heated. The fire and ashes were then removed and the venison or other food was placed therein and allowed to remain until thoroughly done. The channel just a little lower than the basin itself allowed the gravy which was roasted out of the meat to flow to the edge and drip into some receptacle which had been placed there for that purpose. The advantage of this method of cooking over that of hanging the venison directly over the fire was that the meat was thoroughly cooked without being smoked and the melted tallow or gravy was saved.
There is a dim outline of one of these basins in a ledge of rock in Ellendale Township about one-half mile north of the highway leading from Taylorsville to Lenoir. About two hundred yards west of this place the late John Anderson Teague found a “cache” or “pocket” containing over two hundred Indian arrowheads that had never been used which he sold to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C. Mr. Teague lived about a mile west of this place.
Another one of these basins is on the north end of the top of Rocky Face Mountain. It, too, is dimmed by erosion and would not be observed by anyone except a specialist looking for it.
Still another of these basins is near the foot of Cedar Cliff Mountain in the neighborhood of the “Ten Acre Rock”. But the best-preserved construction of any is on the Stirewalt Mill Creek about two miles south of Taylorsville. This one is on the flat top of a lone rock standing about four feet above the ground. It is well preserved and shows the construction fully and definitely.
The above article written by the late William E. White and published in The Taylorsville Times in 1926 was found in a scrapbook belonging to Mrs. Bynum C. Deal of Davidson, North Carolina.
R. S. Echerd
(Contributed by Ginger Christmas-Beattie)