stanly hall image

Stanly Hall, Locust Level NC



stanly hall-1

Mooreville Enterprise, 15 Sep 1927

Often I stumble across new finds only to quickly realize there are many who are already aware. It’s tough to get excited when the response to such finds is “oh sure, such and such wrote about that,” or, “take a look …there’s a link about that on the town’s front page!” Today I happened across an old newspaper article making me aware of what many others already know. This may be nothing new, but the article does add context to a story worth retelling.


In March of 1879 Miss Frances Ellingwood Ufford faithfully left New York in support of the Presbyterian Home Mission. She moved to Concord NC where nearby Log Cabin School on Rocky River Ridge became the setting for her vision of a better way of education. On that site sprang White School which later became Jackson Training School.



As mentioned in the article above, Miss Ufford sensed and acted on the need for a proper school in western Stanly County.  Named Stanly Hall, the school is located next to Beulah Presbyterian Church on the 1904-10 C. M Miller map of Stanly County. Take a look:

And from a pamphlet remembering Miss. Ufford’s works can be found the above images of her schools including the majestic Stanly Hall which once broke the skyline along present day Hwy 24-27.

I ask that as you drive Hwy 49 curious as to the remnants of Jackson Training School, take time to imagine the old log cabin school along with the later White School. And for those passing through Locust, take time to imagine Stanly Hall. How did its construction change the demographics along the old Charlotte Hwy? From the article we learn that the school fell to fire but that its memory was once honored in the form of a class reunion.

The story was always there but I had no clue. There are many articles on this subject; take time to do a google search. Did you know there was even an act of our state legislature commanding that no alcohol be made in the proximity of Stanly Hall?


Oakboro, NC, 1:24,000 quad, 1971, USGSDated 23 Nov 1801 and as identified in the above plat, William Gurley received a Secretary of State land grant (5643 Anson NC for 200 acres situated on Bear Branch. The survey identified the land as lying between Shipman Branch and Bear Branch which are also identifed in the above plat. Chainbearers for the survey were Leonard Musselwhite and Willis Gurley.

I love it when old grants and deeds can be located on present day maps. Take a look at the following Google image and see if you can locate William Gurley’s 1801 grant:

morris gurley google

After receiving this grant it’s not long before William Gurley dies as his last will and testament was recorded in Oct 1804 (See bottom of page for the last will and testament). William Gurley’s widow Millinder and their older girls Elizabeth (Austin), Sarah (Lauhorn), Jean (Pool), and Charlotty Austin are clearly defined in the will. At the end of the will you’ll see mention of two other girls named Darcass and Ferrabee. Younger and at that time unmarried, the two received slaves and household items needed to start a new life. They also were to divide 500 acres of land on Bair Branch and Shipmon’s Branch:
Item I gave and bequeath to my Daughter Darcass one Negro man Called Tom one three year old heffer one two year old mair one Feather bed formerly called hers together with the stead and furneture thereto belonging one Flax Wheels one Dish one bacon two plaits three Delph plaits one Iron pot two weavers Slays also five hundred Acres of land lying together on the Bair branch and the Shipmons branch which sd Land I will to be Equally Divided between sd Daughters Darkess and Ferrebee.

Item I gave and bequeath to Daughter Ferrabee one Negro man called Jack one Mare Coalt one Cow and Calf twelve geese one cotton wheel and cards one small dish and large bacon one puter plate three Delph plaits one Dutch oven two weavers Slay also two hundred and fifty Acres of Land above mentioned one Cow hide.
William Gurley’s last will and testament must have been contested as a court ordered division of the estate recorded Oct 1815 appears in deed book P, page 261:

gurley division

Shaded gray above, Benjamin Thomas (for his wife) drew lot number six of the estate being 130 acres of William Gurley’s 200 acre tract. And, drawing lot number 5, Drury Austin received two tracts including the remaining 70 acre northern portion of William Gurley’s200 acre tract. Note from the will that the land on Bear Creek should be 500 acres but in actuality is only 200 acres. And note from the will that the tract had been ordered to be divided between two daughters Pherabee and Darcass. However, the 1815 division gives land to Drury Austin whom we know married daughter Elizabeth Gurley. Looking at the attached estate plat, you can get a better idea of William Gurley’s estate lands:

William Gurley estate

It’s been widely thought that tract number 6 was bequeathed to Benjamin Thomas Senior. However, Benjamin Senior was much older making me question the age differential between husband and wife. Besides that, shortly after the division, on 11 Oct 1818, Benjamin Thomas Junior divested himself of the land by selling the 130 acre tract to William Morris of Mecklenburg County (Deed S-152 Anson). The transaction was witnessed by Anias Thomas and Jas. Morris. There’s no surviving record of what happened to Drury Austin’s 70 acre portion. We do know that Drury ended up in Lincoln County Tennessee with his brother Michael.

Let’s take a look at a few other pieces of land acquired by William Gurley.

Oakboro, NC, 1:24,000 quad, 1971, USGS

Dated 25 Jul 1774, Solomon Townsend received land grant (3629, Anson NC in yellow) for 100 acres near the mouth of a small branch (likely being Shipman’s Branch). On 6 Jul 1779 Solomon sold the land to Middleton Pool with witnesses being William Brooks and William Bennett Senior. And then on 28 Feb 1782 Middleton Pool in turn sold the land to William Gurley with witnesses being Jacob Green and John Austin.

Dated 14 Oct 1783, Middleton Pool also acquired land grant 4382 (in green). Being 50 acres, Middleton sold this tract to William Gurley on 10 Aug 1787 (Deed D-272, Anson NC). Witnesses were Willis Gurley and Joseph (x) Johnson.

On 9 Mar 1799 William Gurley received a Secretary of State land grant (5333 Anson NC) for 250 acres situated on Rocky River.  Note that this grant captured or surrounded the lands that William Gurley had earlier purchased of Middleton Pool.

One other tract granted to William Gurley ( 5674 Anson NC) was issued on 30 Aug 1802. Per his will and as recorded in deed book S, page 118, on 6 Apr 1815 William Gurley of Anson sold this tract to his son Willis Gurley. Witnesses were Thomas Vann and Benjamin Thomas Senr. And then apparently taking the monetary gains and moving west, on 13 Oct 1819 Willis Gurley sold the tract to David Cagle of Cabarrus (V-307 Anson NC). Witnesses were Benjamin Thomas and J. B Skinner.

Well after the death of William Gurley, Benjamin Thomas received a land grant for 300 acres (6702 Anson NC) situated against the said Gurley’s land on the Shop House Branch. Was this Shop House or should it have been Shipman? Also, is this Benjamin Thomas Senior or his son of same name who we now know married a daughter of William Gurley? Let’s look back to William Gurley’s estate plat, adding that information to what we now know of William Gurley’s land on the Rocky River.

Oakboro, NC, 1:24,000 quad, 1971, USGS

Looking at the above, and as surveyed for William Gurley’s widow Millinder, the dower tract is identified by hash marks. The yellow shaded area to the right fell into the hands of John Laughorn who married Sarah Gurley. Then, on 11 Jan 1817, William Hammond Esq. Sher. sold the tract to Willis Gurley by virtue of an execution against Sally Laughorn. Witnesses were William Gurley and Benjamin Thomas. The green shaded area fell into the hands of Willis Gurley per the estate of William Gurley. Then on 1 Sep 1815, almost immediately after receiving the land from William Gurley’s estate division, Willis Gurley sold that tract to Benjamin Thomas (R-90 Anson NC). And, to the left of the green shaded tract is an unshaded area falling within the widow’s tract. Drawn by son Henry Gurley, dated 27 May 1817, Henry Gurley now of now Haywood County NC sold his land to Benjamin Thomas Junior (S-168 Anson NC0. John Austin and Jac. Austin witnessed the transaction. So by 1817 Benjamin Thomas had a grant to the south of the Gurley land and had bought out the estate lands along the river to his north.

Dated 22 Jan 1835, being just a short time prior to penning his last will and testament, Benjamin Thomas Junior deeded 200 acres (Z-136 Anson NC) to his son Jacob Thomas. For love and affection, the gifted land was part of two tracts. And, helping to locate the land, one of the short lines on the south side crossed Shipman’s Branch. Also, one of the back lines for this tract adjoined a line marking Benjamin Thomas’ 300 acres. Because the 300 acre tract was granted to Benjamin Thomas Junior, it’s my belief we are looking at Benjamin Junior and his son Jacob.

Benjamin’s wife, who I think to be Darcass Gurley, died shortly after 1820. Prior to 1830, Benjamin Junior married second Elizabeth Brown Traywick to whom was born a son Jesse Green Thomas. In a letter written home during the civil war, Jesse pleads for a letter from “Jacob.” I believe that Jacob is Jesse’s half-brother born to Darcass Gurley.


Last Will and Testament of William Gurley

In the name of God Amen I, William Gurley of the State of North Carolina and County of Anson Being in Perfect mind and Memory Dothe Make this my Last will and testament and calling to mind the Mortality of my Body and knowing that is is appointed for all men once to Die I first recomend my Sole to God hath gave it and my body to be Berried in such a place as my Executor shall hereafter appoint and now for Setteling my tempora Estate

I do gave and bequeath in the manner following first I will that all my Just Debts be payed out to my Estate

Item I gave and bequeath to my wife Millinder three hundred acres of Land on River between Willie Gurley Laine and the mouth of Shipmons branch Containing the plantation where on I now live together with all improvements and prfits thereon belonging also all my plantation tools such as plows hoes axes & also all my carpenters tools one large bacon the Largest Dish and three plates together with all the knives forks and spoons one feather bed stead and furniture three weavers stays one flax wheel all the water vessels barrels casks &c one Iron pot one skillet also one black mair two Read culred cows and three calfs one three year old bull one three year steer five three year old barrows ten two year olds belonging to the same gang and three sows and all the piggs belonging to them one weavers loom one cotton wheel six chears five Reap hook together with Sundry articles of small value belonging about the house one Negro woman called Fillas Durin her widowhood then to be sold and her & Value Equaly Divided between my three Eldest Daughters namely Elizabeth Austin Jaen Pool and Sarah Lauhon also one yearling bull and three sheep also the half of all the unmarked hoggs and hand Mill also two kids and three Sids of leather to gether some other Remnant also my Saddle and bridle also my Clothes hat and five bee hives

Item I give and bequeath to my Eldest daughter Elizabeth two cows and Calf and the yearling to one of sd. cows calfs I will and bequeath to Charloty Austin also I will to my Daughter Elizabeth Six two year old hoggs Useing about the hors pen lic also one small hide of leather

Item I give and bequeath to my Daughter Jean one Cow and Calf also three two year old hoggs Spaid Sows and Barrow belonging to the Laughon Gang, also two hundred and fifty acres of land on the Watery Branch to be Equally Divided between her three boys Alexander Pool and William Pool and Nathan Pool also the smallest sid of leather

Item I gave and bequeath to my Daughter Sarah one cow and Calf and one heiffer now in her possession also two Sows and their Shote and foure tow year old hoggs also two hundred Acres of land joining Leonard Musslewhites Loine including the Miry Spring also an Entry adjoining John Laughon also one side of Leather
Item I give and bequeath to my Eldest Son James Gurley one hundred Acres of land including the oak pond also one bull one Whipsaw and pile.

Item I gave and bequeath to my Sone Willis Gurley foure hundred Acres of Land if there is as much after the tree hundred already given is run out Lying out towards Muslewhite also my blacksmith and Coopers tools and one half of the unmarked hoggs also an Entry of LAnd joining his own Laine also all the jointing and plaining Stocks
Item I give and bequeath to my son William Gurley all Lands to me belonging below the Mouth of Shipmon’s Branch one Molatto man called Csar one 1 horse one three year old heaffer two sows and nine Shots one feather bed that was formerly Calld his together with the Stid and furniture thereto belonging also my Shoe making tools also one musket gun also one Iron pot one Beehive

Item I gave and bequeath to my Daughter Darcass one Negro man Called Tom one three year old heffer one two year old mair one Feather bed formerly called hers together with the stead and furneture thereto belonging one Flax Wheels one Dish one bacon two plaits three Delph plaits one Iron pot two weavers Slays also five hundred Acres of land lying together on the Bair branch and the Shipmons branch which sd Land I will to be Equally Divided between sd Daughters Darkess and Ferrebee

Item I gave and bequeath to Daughter Ferrabee one Negro man called JAck one Mare Coalt one Cow and Calf twelve geese one cotton wheel and cards one small dish and large bacon one puter plate three Delph plaits one Dutch oven two weavers Slay allso two hundred and fifty Acres of Land above mentioned one Cow hide
Item I gave and bequeath to these my Executors Willis Gurley and Leaonard Musslewhite three heffers and three sids of Leather one black some parts three year old another white and another brinded these to be sold to satisfy my just Debts.
also I do Nominate Constitute and appoint the afore sd. Willess Gurley and Leonard Muslewhite to be my hole and sole Executors of theis my last will and Testament as
Signed sealed and Delivered before us


Witness My hand and Seal

Test William (W) Gurley (Seal)
Richd Austin
William Gurley Junr
Willis gurley
Leonard (X) Musslewhite
Executors to the written will



State of North Carolina
Anson County October Sess 1804
The written will was duly aproved in open court by the oath
of Richd Austin a witness thereto and ordered to be Recorded





wilmStationed in Wilmington during the summer of 1862, Jesse Green Thomas was there in service of CSA Co. C. 10th Battalion NC. Better known as the Monroe Heavy Artillery, the unit was responsible for garrison duty along with the construction of defense works surrounding the port of Wilmington. Can you imagine the swampy lowlands and of the six mile long earthen breast works dotted with military encampments ? Imagine the excessive heat, the blood and sweat, and the never ending presence of mosquitos. It was in this environment where the young Jesse Green met his fate.

Born the son of Benjamin Thomas Jr and second wife Elizabeth Brown Traywick, Jesse Green Thomas likely received a basic education as was directed in his father’s 1836 last will and testament:

“I want three head of horses (sold) I want sold and I leave it to my wife Betsey to raise Jesse upon and if she marry again the property that I have left my wife Betsey belongs to Jesse Green Thomas …but what is in my houses and I want him to be Edicated with good learning.”

Putting his education to work, Jesse Green Thomas wrote at least 27 letters while in Wilmington. In four surviving letters to his mother, Jesse tells of life in the camp and of his insatiable hunger to hear from family back home. His letters also tell of loneliness, sickness, and they offer a glimpse of the wicked epidemic which would soon sweep through Wilmington.

I’ve prettified the following from transcribed copies graciously given to me years ago from Ms. Annie Lee Traywick. Please read and it’s important to note that they are in chronological order ie …1, 2, 3, 4:

signIt appears Jesse Green Thomas was among those who fell in what later grew to become an epidemic spread of Yellow Fever. In his letters he wrote mostly of care given in hospital as well as of his appreciation of good treatment while recovering at the home of an unnamed local resident. And written with greater urgency and a growing sense of despair, the last letter penned in early August foretells of Jesse’s ultimate demise. According to cemetery records we know that “Jesse (CSA) Thomas” is buried in a specially designated section at Oakdale Cemetery. His death date is listed as Oct 19, 1862. In this, Wilmington’s largest and most historically prestigious cemetery, there is a grassy hill scattered with but a few marked graves. Known now as the 1862 Burial Site of the Yellow Fever Victims, it is said that approximately 400 bodies to be interred were dragged from town, burned, and buried there in hopes of halting the spread of disease. At the front of this hallowed ground is a simple marker listing all of those believed to have been buried in the special plot. Among those listed is Jesse Green Thomas who lies at rest in row 4, grave 22. No longer is he away from home and pleading for the attention of family. No longer is he isolated by a lack of friendship. Jesse Green Thomas is at peace.

monumentA matter of curiosity to me, it’s noteworthy that the 1862 Yellow Fever burial site is somewhat hidden behind the trees above Oakdale cemetery’s Jewish section. With no proof to make the claim, I’d think the Yellow Fever section is primarily the site where those buried are mostly townsfolk. Across the vast cemetery, on the other side, is a large earthen mound capped with a monument portraying a Confederate Soldier standing at rest. It is said over 300 soldiers are buried at that site.

There is no grassy area accounting for the sizeable space needed to properly bury 300 men. Did the soldiers die as the result of disease, suddenly in battle, or through slow attrition spanning the war? Is the burial site a pit grave for masses of men or are there many individual graves? Why is it a mound? And if a mound and as result of Yellow Fever, why is Jesse Green Thomas not buried there among other Confederates? Is it because Jesse Green’s last days were spent in the home of a local resident.


Stanfield, NC, 1:24,000 quad, 1971, USGS

In this post I’ve begun to lay out the land grants and deeds anchored by way of the eviction plat appearing in the case of Alexander Brooks vs. Siddy Brooks. This is not to be considered a final work but is merely a starting point for understanding the neighborhood. The location of these tracts will become better understood as research expands to plat pieces of land yet further afield. It is now pretty close to correct and should provide a great starting point for those interested in the families in this area.


Map Key 1, Grant 258, Montgomery NC, ent. 10 Dec 1779, sur. —-, iss. Oct 1783. Issued to GOIN MORGAN, being 50 acres on both sides of Island Creek beginning at a pine a corner tree of Captain William Brooks and running thence north 51 west 90 poles to a stake second corner of said Brooks, then north 39 east 90 poles across said creek to a stake, then south 51 east 90 poles, then north 39 west 90 poles crossing said creek to the beginning including Benjamin Bowlings improvements. Chainbearers: Goen Morgan, Arthur Poole.

Map Key 2, Grant 88, Montgomery NC, ent. 10 Dec 1779, sur. —-, iss. 11 Oct 1783. Issued to WILLIAM BROOKS, being 50 acres on Island Creek beginning at a pine corner of Goin Morgan and his own running north 51 west 90 poles to a stake, then north 39 east 90 poles across Island Creek to a stake, then south 51 east 90 poles to a stake on Going Morgan’s line then with said Morgan’s line north 39 west 90 to the beginning. Chainbearers: John Austin, Bryant Austin.

Map Key 3, Grant 1034, Montgomery NC, ent. 31 Oct 1794, sur. —, iss. 10 Jul 1797. Issued to WILLLIAM BROOKS, being 50 acres beginning at a red oak in his own line by a red oak, post oak and pine pointer and runs south 51 east 100 poles to a white oak by a red oak then north 39 west 80 poles to a stake by three red oak pointers, then north 51 west 100 poles to a stake, then to the first station. Chainbearers: Jno Brooks, Jonathan Whitley.

Map Key 4, Grant 996, Montgomery NC, ent. 31 Oct 1794, sur, 29 Mar 1796, iss. 10 Jul 1797. Being 100 acres at the mouth of Camp Branch issued to JOHN BROOKS beginning at a hic in William Brooks’ line on the west side of Island Creek & runs north 136 poles crossing said creek three times to a post oak, then west 36 poles to a stake between two red oaks & post oak pointers at the mouth of Camp Branch, then south 18 west 4 to a stake between a hickory, Spanish oak, & white oak, then south 61 west 102 poles to a pine, two pine pointers, then south 30 east 112 to a post oak in Wm. Brooks’ line, then with his line north 39 east 47 poles to his corner, then to the first station. Chainbearers: Wm Brooks, Caden Whitley.

Map Key 5, Grant 125, Montgomery NC, ent. 20 Nov 1782, sur. —, iss. 11 Oct 1783. Issued to WILLIAM BROOKS, being 100 acres on the northeast side of Rocky River beginning at a pine upper corner of said Brooks’ and running thence north 59 west 89 poles to a stake, then south 31 west 120 poles to a stake, then south 27 east 122 poles to the river, then down the various courses of the river north 27 east 87 poles to the said Brooks’ corner on the river, then north 22 west 34 poles with the said Brooks’ line to his second corner, then north 42 east 96 poles with his own line to the beginning. Chainbearers: Goen Morgan, Arthur Pool.

Map Key 6, Grant 1848, Montgomery NC, ent. 11 Nov 1802, sur. 1 Jun 1805, iss. 20 Dec 1805. (shaded red) Being 200 acres issued to WILLIAM BROOKS SENR. situated on Rocky River beginning at an ash by a red oak his own old corner & Jonathan Morgan’s corner on the said river and runs north 32 west 100 poles, then north 7 east 136 poles to a gum, then south 80 east 40 poles to a pine, then north 21 east 110 poles to a red oak & red oak pointer, then north 70 east 40 poles to a red oak and two dogwoods, then north 42 east 10 poles to corner red oak in said Brook’s line, then south 27 east 132 poles with his own old line to the river stake and hickory & two re oak pointers, then up the various courses of the river south 132 poles to a “lyn” corner in his upper tract then west 96 poles to a pine, then south 130 poles to the first station. This grant is colored red to separate it from an earlier duplicate that apparently was never issued (see Grant 052). Chainbearers: Wm. Brooks, David Brooks.

Map Key 7, Grant 052, Montgomery, ent. 07 Oct 1800, sur. —, iss. (was not issued). Very similar to Grant 1848 which was also entered by William Brooks. Note with this grant record the file number begins with a zero. That’s very important as Secretary of State land grants that have problems or were not issued are grouped together by file numbers beginning with a zero. This tract is very similar to 1848 above and was entered a year prior to the above 1848. Though never issued, it does include a survey with chain bearers being Jonathan Morgan and Mark Morgan.

Map Key 8, Grant 1589, Montgomery NC, ent. 7 Apr 1800, sur. 28 Apr 1801, iss. 20 Aug 1802. Being 300 acres of land on the waters of Rocky River issued to JONATHAN MORGAN beginning at William Brooks’ and his own corner ash on the river bank and runs north 30 west 240 poles to a pine by a pine and post oak in Carson’s line, then with said line south 80 west 428 poles to John Brooks’ corner then with or near said line south 10 east 110 poles to a stake, then north 35 east 98 poles to a stake by some pointers, then south 25 east 60 poles to a red oak, then south 60 east 118 poles to a stake on his old line, then north five east 102 poles to his corner, then north 60 east 100 poles to his other corner, then south 85 east 100 poles to his other corner, then south 200 poles to his corner hickory on the river, then with his line of his other tract north 13 east 100 to his corner, then north his other line south 77 east to the beginning. Chainbearers: William Brooks, Mark Morgan.

Map Key 9, Grant 2827 Montgomery NC, ent. 5 Oct 1835, sur. 17 Jul 1837, iss. 30 Sep 1837. Issued to DRURY MORGAN, being 60 acres on the north side of the Rocky River. Beginning at a rock on the bank of said river and runs thence his own line of his 250 acre tract north 5 east 19 chains and 50 links crossing Rock Hole Creek to a stake then north 60 west 25 chains to a red oak, then north 20 west 15 chains to a stake by a hickory and two post oaks, then south 35 west 13 chains and 75 links to the intersection of Furror’s 100 and his 30 acre tracts, then with a line of the 100 acre tract south 54 east 27 chains to the corner, then west 6 chains to another corner, then south 25 chains to the river, then down the meanders to the beginning. Chainbearers: Jos. Ramsey, Henry Morgan.

Map Key 10, Grant 1105, Montgomery NC, ent. 10 Dec 1779, sur. 3 Oct 1796, iss.13 Dec 1798. Issued to the HEIRS OF GOWIN [Goin]MORGAN, being 250 acres beginning on a hickory on the bank of Rocky River below the fish trap and runs north 50 chains to a pine, then north 85 west 25 chains, then south 60 west 25 chains to a post oak, then south 5 west 45 chains crossing Rock hole Creek to a stake on the bank of the river, then down the river with the various courses to the first station. Chainbearers: Mark Morgan, John Cheek.


William Thornton, Desgner of the U.S. Capitol Building

Map Key 11, Grant 1912, Montgomery NC, ent. 5 Jan 1808, sur. —-, iss. 6 Jul 1812. Issued to WILLIAM BROOKS being 21 acres on Island Creek beginning at one of his own old corners and runs north 39 east 100 poles crossing said creek to a post oak William Thornton’s corner and his own, then with said Thornton’s line south ten east 88 poles to a red oak said Thornton’s corner, then south 83 west 80 poles crossing said creek to the first station. Chainbearers: John Brooks, Alexander Brooks.


George Augustus Selwyn, Richard Edgcumbe, and George James Williams

Map Key 12, Deed H1-111, Anson NC, 3 Mar 1767. GEORGE AUGUSTUS SELWYN of County Gloucester in the Kingdom of Great Britain Esq. (as son and heir of John Selwyn Esq. deceased) of one part to WILLIAM BROOKS of Anson County in the Provence of North Carolina in America planter. Being part of the tract of 100,000 acres of land commonly called or known by the name of Tract number 1 lying on the north side or Rocky River on both sides of Island Creek beginning at a white oak on the bank of the said river running thence north 12 west 55 poles to a white oak, then north 40 west 80 poles to a hickory, then north 33 east 60 poles to a black oak, then north 71 west 60 at 30 poles crossing Island Creek to a pine, then south 31 west 100 poles to a pine, then south 27 east 34 poles to a white oak on the river bank., thence down the river to the beginning.

Map Key 13, Grant 999, Montgomery NC, ent. 31 Oct 1792, sur. —, iss. 10 Jul 1797. Issued to WILLIAM BROOKS being 100 acres beginning at a red oak between sweet gum and two black gums on the waters of Island Creek and runs thence north 70 east 180 poles to a stake between a hickory and post oak sapling, then north 70 west 180 poles to a stake in his line, then with his line to the beginning. The survey shows that the eastern most line adjoins Rocky Branch. Chainbearers: Exodus Whitley, Jonathan Whitley.

Map Key 14, Grant 235, Montgomery NC, ent.10 May 178o, sur. —, iss. 11 Oct 1783. Issued to WILLIAM BROOKS, being 100 acres on the northeast side or Rocky River beginning at a water oak on the river bank and running north 24 east 89 to a stake, then south 20 east 179, then south 24 west 89 poles with John Austin’s line to the river, then north 20 west 179 poles up the various courses of the river to the beginning. Chain bearers: John Austin, Bryan Austin.

Map Key 15, Grant 4806 Anson NC, ent. 17 Mar 1784, sur. 27 May 1787, iss. 16 Nov 1790. Issued to WILLIAM BROOKS being 150 acres beginning at four hickories on the south bank of Rocky River and runs south 55 east 150 poles to a pine, then north 75 east 106 poles to an ash 2 black oak pointers on the bank of Rocky River, then north 35 west up the river to the lower end or pine Island, then to the north bank of the river, then with the river up opposite the beginning, then south 55 east 6 poles crossing to the first station including Pool’s improvement on a small island. Chainbearers: James Phillips, West Gurley.

Deed R-23, Anson NC, 26 Feb 1810, reg. Jul 1815. WILLIAM BROOKS SENR. of Montgomery County to JOHN BROOKS being 150 acres including Joshua Phillips Improvement. Wit. Jacob Austin, Bryan Austin.

Map Key 16, Grant 6058, Anson NC, ent. 12 Mar 1810, sur. —-, iss. 12 Dec 1812. Issued to JESSE BROOKS being 100 acres adjoining his old land on the bank of the Rocky River beginning at an ash on the bank of Rocky River by a patch of red oaks and runs south ten east 93 poles to a pine by a red oak, then south 76 west 93 poles to a stake by three red oaks, the south 12 west 40 poles to a stake by two red oaks, the south 93 west 58 poles to a stake by 2 pines and a red oak, then north ten west 125 poles to a pine by two pines in his old line, then to the beginning. Chainbearers: ———

Deed R-16, Anson NC, 10 Mar 1815, reg. Mar 1815. JESSE BROOKS of Anson to JOHN BROOKS of Montgomery, being 100 acres on Rocky River joining the 150 acre tract formerly belonging to the said Jesse Brooks but now belonging to John Brooks. Wit: Jac. Austin, William Brooks.

Map Key 17, Grant 5748, Anson NC, ent. 10 May 1801, sur. —-, iss. 2 Feb 1804. Issued to MICHAEL AUSTIN, being 300 acres on Rocky River beginning at a water oak by two more on the river at the mouth of Sisco’s Branch and runs north 40 west 100 poles to a Spanish oak on the river bank two more, then south 67 west 20 poles to a stake in William Brooks line with it, then south 12 east 20 poles to his other corner, then with his other line south 38 poles 75 west 96 poles to his corner sweet gum, then with his other line south 10 west 40 poles to his other corner, then south 75 west 60 poles with it north 12 west 138 poles to his corner red oak by two pines, then north 77 east 67 poles to Brook’s corner, then with his line north 55 west 150 poles to his corner hickory on the river bank by two hickories, then south 18 west 60 poles to a stake in the river, then south 15 east 102 poles to a stake Wm Brooks’ line with it east 55 poles to his corner post oak by a pine and post oak, then south 36 west 156 poles to a pine Lahorn’s line, then with it south 50 east 166 poles to Jesse Brooks’ line, then with it north 50 east 76 poles to a stake, then north 60 west 12 poles to Rich’d Austin’s corner, then with his line north 9 west 96 poles with it north 85 east 160 poles, then a direct line to the beginning. Chainbearers: —- —-

Deed N-261, Anson NC, 10 Oct 1810, reg. Oct 1810. BRYAN AUSTIN SENR. of Montgomery County to his sons JACOB and BRYAN AUSTIN for and in consideration of the love and affection which he hath and beareth to his beloved sons. Being 20 acres of the 300 granted to Michael Austin. Witnesses: J. Culpepper, W. Hammond.

Map Key 18, Grant 5726 Anson NC, ent. 13 Apr 1797, sur. 15 Dec 1799, iss 14 Dec 1803. Being 80 acres of land on Rocky River issued to WILLIAM BROOKS beginning at John Lawhorn lower corner post oak by three black oaks and two pines and runs down the river the various courses nine chains to a stake in his line, then with it east 40 chains to a post oak by two post oaks and one pine & black oak and pointers, then south 36 west 39 chains to John Lawhorn’s corner stake by two white oaks and own line, then on said line north 43 west 33 chains and 75 links to the beginning. Chainbearers: Jesse Brooks, Will H. Davidson.

Map Key 19, Grant 5376, Anson NC, ent. 10 Jan 1797, sur. —, iss. 7 Jun 1799. Issued to JOHN LAUHON, being 200 acres on Rocky River beginning at a black oak by hickory ad two pines and runs north 40 west 21 chains and 20 links to a black oak, then north 28 east 14 chains and eighty links to a pine, then north 15 west 11 chains and 25 links to a Spanish oak in the bank of the river, then down the river 20 chains to a post oak, then south 43 east 33 chains and 75 links to a pine, then south 55 east 50 chains to a stake, then to the beginning. Chainbearers: ——–

Deed L-139, Anson NC, JOHN LAUHORN to BRYAN AUSTIN being 100 acres. Witnesses Jacob Austin, Petr McIntyre.

Deed N-205, Anson NC, 28 Jan 1807, reg. Jan 1810. JOHN (x) LAUHORN to JACOB AUSTIN being 100 acres. Witnesses: Bryan Austin, William Austin.

Deed Q-24, Anson NC, 24 Aug 1816, JACOB AUSTIN to JOHUA PHILLIPS, being part of a tract of 200 acres conveyed by John Lauhorn.

Map Key 21, Grant 5779 Anson NC, ent. 8 Jul 1797, sur. —-, iss. 26 Nov 1805. Issued to RICHARD AUSTIN, being 100 acres on Syscos Branch beginning on the east side at a red oak and running south 84 west 40 chains to a stake by three pines, then south 10 east 22 chains and 50 links to a post oak, then north 84 east 50 chains to Austin’s line, then with it to the beginning including said Austin’s House and part of his improvement. Chainbearers: John Austin Senr, John Austin Junr.

Deed N-205, Anson NC, 2 Feb 1807m reg. Jan 1810. RICHARD AUSTIN to JACOB AUSTIN being 100 acres on both sides of Suscoe’s Branch. Wit: William Austin, Bryan Austin.

Map Key 22, Grant 5928, Anson NC, ent. 2 Feb 1808, sur. —, iss. 30 Nov 1810. Issued to JACOB AUSTIN, being 200 acres on Rocky River beginning at a rock between three pines said Austin’s corner and runs south 84 west 115 poles to a post oak Richard Austin’s corner, then south 65 west 14 poles to a post oak, then south 50 west 98 poles to a stake, then south 55 east 27 poles to a pine Lauhorn’s corner, then with his other line north 89 west 94 poles to a pine, then south 100 poles to a stake by two post oaks, then east 70 poles to a stake by two post oaks, then south 50 west 106 poles to a stake by two pines, then south 42 west 20 poles to a stake near a path, then north 70 east 100 poles to a stake, then south 3 east 40 poles to Jacob Austin’s corner pine, then with his line north 67 east 148 poles, then with his other line to the beginning. Chainbearers: Jonathan Austin.

Map Key 23, Deed H1-124, Anson NC, 28 Feb 1767. GEORGE AUGUSTUS SELWYN of the county of Gloucester in the Kingdon of Great Britain Esq. (as son and heir of John Selwyn Esq. deceased) to JOHN SUSCOE being part of a 100,000 acre tract commonly known as Tract 2. Being 100 acres on both sides of Rocky River beginning at a black oak on the south bank of the river below his plantation and runs thence south 38 west 40 poles to a black oak, then south 82 west 45 poles to a black oak, then south 56 west 150 poles to a black oak above his barn, then north 40 west 36 poles to a white oak, then north 15 east 110 poles to a persimmon on the river bank crossing the river in all 100 poles to a stake, then to the beginning. Wit: Thos. Frohock, William Frohock.

Deed 7-193, Anson NC, 27 Sep 1779, reg. Jan 1780. JOHN FRANCISCO of Mecklenburg to JOHN AUSTIN of Anson being the 100 acres deeded from George Augustus Selwyn to John Suscoe. Wit: Tindal Roland, Cuyerline Roland.

Deed H2-393, Anson NC, 2 Mar 1801, reg. Jul 1802. JOHN AUSTIN SENR. planter of one part to BRYAN AUSTIN of Montgomery planter of the other part being 35 acres on the south side of Rocky River below the mouth of Suscoe’s Branch being part of 100 acres lying in in the counties of Anson and Montgomery. Beginning on a large pine sd. Austin’s fore and aft tree in the low ground of the river and runs then south 58 west 63 poles to a black oak, then north 40 west 36 poles to a white oak, then north 15 east 11 poles to a persimmon on the river bank, then crossing the river, thence down the river crossing to the beginning. Wit: Jacob Austin, Michael Austin.

Map Key 24 – The following two grants have yet to be placed. However, it’s possible that one or the other is located at Map Key 24 on the north side of the river:

Grant 45, Montgomery NC, ent. 10 Dec 1780, sur. —, iss.11 Oct 1783. Note that this may not be Grant 45 but rather 48 …more on that in the future. Issued to GOING MORGAN, being 50 acres on Island Creek of Rocky River beginning at a hickory running then south 127 poles to a red oak, then east 63 poles, then north 127 poles, then west 63 poles to the beginning including Spencer Self’s cabin. Chain bearers: Lenard (Leonard) Green, James McDaniel.

Grant 48, Montgomery NC, ent. 28 Nov 1782, sur. —, iss. 11 Oct 1783. Note that this may not be Grant 48 but rather 45 …more on that in the future. Issued to WILLIAM BROOKS being 100 acres on both sides of Rocky River including Job Self’s improvements beginning at an ash on the river running north 130 poles to a pine, then east 124 poles crossing the river, then south 130 poles, then west 124 poles to the beginning. Chain bearers: James Trull, John Austin.






Wm Brooks plat

The legal case of Alexander Brooks vs. Siddy (Green) Brooks was introduced in my last post. There was also the related survey found among the loose ejectment papers in Stanly County. In this post the land grants making up the survey will be discussed in greater depth. And note that each tract of land has been colorized so that you’ll have an easier time identifying them:

3(YELLOW TRACT) Starting in 1770, Goin Morgan acquired several grants in Anson County (now Montgomery) on the Baptist Prong of Clark’s Creek. Located across the Pee Dee River between the river and the present day town of Troy, this area may have been connected to what was known as Little River Baptist Church. It’s one of the oldest Baptist churches in the southern piedmont. This intermediate stop in migration was likely taken by others who also spread south across the state.

Within ten years Goin had picked up and moved again. By 1779 he was acquiring land on the north side of Rocky River on the western side of Island Creek. Entered 10 Dec 1779 and issued Oct 1783, Goin Morgan received 50 acres [Grant 258, Montgomery NC] on both sides of Island Creek in what’s now Stanly County. The survey was made 16 June 1779 which matches the date in Allen Carpenter’s 1849 survey. It’s interesting that the original surveyor in 1779 was named Mark Allen. Note also that according to Allen Carpenter’s survey, the western boundary of this tract runs between the Brooks-Hill house and Island Creek. Goin Morgan and Arthur Poole served as chainbearers, meaning they were there and present to carry the measuring chains and equipment for the surveyor.

(4PURPLE TRACT) Entered and issued on the same dates as Morgan’s above 50 acre grant, William Brooks also received a grant for 50 acres [Grant 88, Montgomery NC]. Situated on Island Creek [including the fork of Big Branch], this land adjoined his own and that of Goin Morgan. Chainbearers from William Morgan’s survey were John Austin and Bryant Austin.

1(GRAY TRACT) Entered 31 Oct 1794 and issued 10 Jul 1797, William Brooks received another 50 acres [Grant 1034, Montgomery NC] adjoining his own land. This land crosses both the Big Branch and Fox Branch. Chainbearers were Jno Brooks and Jonathan Whitley.

2(RED TRACT) Being the tract upon which the Brooks-Hill House stands, 100 acres (Grant 125, Montgomery NC) issued to Capt. Wm. Brooks were entered 20 Nov 1782 and issued 11 Oct 1783. However, the grant’s survey is dated 16 Jun 1779 which predates the entry and somewhat matches Allen Carpenter’s mapping at the top of the page. Note that this tract adjoins Rocky River and the lands of Wm. Brooks. Chainbearers for the grant were Goin Morgan and Arthur Pool.

6(GREEN TRACT) Acquired much later, William Brooks entered 21 acres on 5 Jan 1808. The grant [Grant 1912, Montgomery NC] was issued a few years later on 6 Jul 1812. According to the 16 Sep 1808 survey, the tract adjoined the lands of William Brooks as well as that of William Thornton. This is a really cool note in that William Thornton was the designer of the United States Capitol Building. He was also the father of the US Patent Office and his wife Anna Maria journaled the burning of Washington during the War of 1812. Anna Maria Thornton was good friends with Martha Washington and Dolly Madison. She stood before Congress where she pleaded on behalf of Martha that George be interred at Mt. Vernon rather than at the new monument bearing his name.

Hearing of gold in North Carolina, William Thornton purchased approximately 67,000 acres taking up most of what’s now the interior of present day Stanly County. Thornton purchased the huge acreage from John Carson who as a land speculator had earlier bought out partners William Moore and Thomas Carson. The three had purchased a large break-up portion of one of Arthur Dobbs’ 100,000 acres Great Tracts. Unsold portions of the land reverted to the state following Dobb’s death. His heirs had fought to continue receiving payment from those residing on the land. Known as quit rent, the tax like charge had been assessed for many years in order to display power over the citizens. And prior to Dobb’s purchase of the Great Tracts, there were but a few settlers living in the back country of North Carolina. Many of those had wrongly purchased their land through the Governor of South Carolina. As you can image, that hit the fan and all was made good when the King of England weighed in between the Governors of North Carolina and South Carolina. Whew! …all that gleaned from a 21 acres grant!

5(LIGHT BLUE TRACT) The information on this tract is vague and not properly identified in terms of date or acreage. There must be good reasons for that. It appears in the survey that the tract crosses over Rocky River. And yet, the southeast side of the tract is marked showing it may merely join the river …or is that another stream? Looking through all the land grants issued to William and John Brooks as well as Goin Morgan, I only found one [Grant 999, Montgomery NC] with similar meets and bounds. However, in patent Book, 94 Page 62, the 10 Jul 1797 issuance description for Grant 999, Montgomery NC has an error and cannot be platted. The entry includes similar metes and bounds running north to south at 70 degrees as well as north to east at 20 degrees. The patent also indicates that the grant adjoins the lands of William Brooks and is situated on the waters of Island Creek.

Now, to confuse the matter, the shape of the grant survey dated 30 Mar 1796 matches the shape of that in the 1848 plat drawn by Allen Carpenter. The lengths and directions of the lines work though only two lines are described with the third and last line running back to the start for completion. You can’t make that work! The survey indicates the tract is located on the waters of Island Creek adjoining his own line. However, unlike the patent, the survey plat for Grant 999 indicates one side runs along “Rocky Branch.” Chain bearers are Exodus Whitley and Jonathan Whitley.

The tracts identified in the 1848 survey made by Allen Carpenter only account for a portion of the lands of William Brooks. There are more land grants and even local conveyances of land purchased from others. For now, I’m leaving you with my own platting of the grants as identified in the 1848 survey. However, the following is based on the metes and bounds taken from Secretary of State land grant records. They are also overlaid upon a recent topographic map providing a better idea on where the lands are located.

Stanfield, NC, 1:24,000 quad, 1971, USGS

Realize that all of the above are land grants supported by proper survey and documentation providing a greater sense of provenance or title history. Note there is one line above drawn in red …see it?  That line, as described in the grant, adjoins William Thornton’s land.  We know that Thornton’s land originates in the breakup of Arthur Dobb’s 100,000 acre Great Tract through purchases and not as much grants.  There’s little supporting documentation and with the 1830’s burning of the Montgomery County Courthouse, much of what was once available is now gone.

Would you like to see a bit of the Great Tract and what its impact on the area looked like?  Take a look at the grant survey below:


Grant (No. 772, Montgomery County NC) 17,820 – 17880 acres.
Entered 2 Nov 1794, Surveyed 16 Dec 1794, Issued 11 May 1795
Issued to Thomas Carson and William Moore
By virtue of 27 warrants of 640 acres each with one being 600 acres, land lying in the Forks of Rocky River and Long Creek and Bear Creek.
Excluding lands within the survey owned by the following: Thomas Larron 150 acres, Bozman Adare 150, John Smith 150, James Exum 200, Bryan Whitfield 150, Exodus Whitley 250, George Cagle 425, David Cagle 150, Lewis Whitfield 100, John Morrison 150, Edmond Lilly 200, Simms Metheney 100, Jesse Gilbert 150, Christopher Cagle 100, John Cress 300, Alexander Pool 106, Saunders Pool 100, William Phillips 50, William Brooks 400, John Brooks 150, Samuel Fratwell 100, Spencer Self 120, William Witherspoon 101, John Hartsell 100, John Blackwilder 100, Valentine Cagle 150, Charles Cagle100, James Bankston 200, and John Christian 4375Enter a caption



The above is but a part of one of four grants issued to Thomas Carson and William Moore. The portion in yellow are the lands of Carson and Moore and it was Carson who sold out to Thornton.  You also see Island Creek near the bottom and to the east or right hand side you see metes and lines indicating exclusion of pieces of land already owned by others.  And, as written into the grant, William Brooks owned 400 acres and John Brooks owned 150 at the time of the grant issuance. It’s also vitally important to see where others are identified in relation to where we know William Brooks once lived.

As you’ll see in the next post, the above provides a great starting point for anchoring other tracts up and down and across the river. In the next post additional tracts will be added to the map including surnames like Austin, Morgan, Lauhorn, and Green. The legal descriptions will be provided for both the new grants as well as those we learned about from the 1848 survey.






Brooks-Hill House, photographer unknown

Family histories are made from legacies in name, character, and achievement or acquisition. The strengths and weaknesses making us who we are seem to pass from one generation to the next. Call it fate if you will, but some families obtain wealth and yet may be socially ineffective. Others may be poor as church mice and still give freely of what little they own. The mix making us who we are can be exciting. While most people in this world live quiet lives of mediocrity, some natural force leads but a few people to greater achievement.


In this post I’ll begin to focus on the lands along Island Creek where its waters bend to meet the Rocky River. It’s there where the above photographed relic of our past stands in watch over time itself. Like many fine southern homes, this house has been added to and modified by the family making it the stately old home it is today. There are so many stories this old home place can tell. There was the time when the house took a direct hit by a vicious cyclone in which two girls were carried away to near death by the violent winds. The storm gave up its threat, safely dropping the girls near the river. At one point the house was the home of Ezekiel who inherited his share of the family wealth and yet was a man very simple in mind. The story of Ezekiel is where we’ll actually begin our study of land. But first, it’s important to let you know that among the Brooks family were prominent farmers, preachers and politically astute leaders. And, we mustn’t forget the trial and punishment dealt to King Pharaoh, a prized bull who ultimately went bad. Likely occurring near the Brooks lands, the poor creature was accused of trapping and killing a family member coincidentally named King David Brooks. In this epic battle of royalty, King David Brooks met his fate when he crossed paths with the bull while tempting to take a short cut across a pasture.

Such stories have been told and retold so there’s really no need for me to go there. However, very little can be found online pertaining to the family holdings and of land and how that in turn leads us to a better understanding of this critically important neighborhood. The creek serves as an anchor for extending understanding up and down the river. Some of the family properties cross the river allowing us to merge ours with stories originating from the other side. The mapping of land sounds rather boring but I promise it leads us to stories just as exciting as those of bulls and cyclones. So, let’s get started.


“In or about 1820, …Siddy Green, a woman without property or character knowing your orator [Ezekiel Brooks] was an idiot from his birth conceived the design of procuring the ceremony of marriage to be performed between your orator and her …”

In the face of Siddy Green’s sad display of character, Ezekiel Brooks’ brother took action and was awarded guardianship. In 1849 the brother, named Alexander Brooks, filed a bill of complaint in which the above quote is found. Over time the litigation made its way to the North Carolina Supreme Court. Likely a preliminary action that led to the aforementioned Supreme Court case, one of the most interesting records I’ve ever found is buried in a type of Superior Court file called loose ejectments. Being the court ordered removal from land of one person by another, this valuable source record is studied by only a few family researchers. The following document includes a comprehensive survey plat as well as a bit of descriptive wording. Surveyed by Allen Carpenter on behalf of Alexander Brooks, note that the plat locates the house of Siddy Brooks as well as key tracts making up the likely estate of William Brooks, the father of Alexander and Ezekiel.
Wm Brooks Survey

To me this is all so very awesome in that Siddy’s house marked on the 1848 survey is basically the same house photographed at the top of this post. The house really is old and you know it’s witnessed much history. Besides locating the home place, the plat also identifies several streams. There’s of course Rocky River and Island Creek, as well as the lesser prongs of Big Branch, North Prong and Fox Branch. And, of most importance is the compiled platting of William Brooks’ and Goin Morgan’s original land grant surveys. Reaching back prior to the American Revolution’s campaign through the south, some of the tracts drawn by Allen Carpenter provide us with a solid starting point for telling the story of early settlements along Rocky River. Actually, beyond what’s shown on the survey, there was a whole other and even earlier layer of history that I’ll only hint about in this three part series of posts. Let’s move to part two.



lakeI love driving home to Charlotte on the old two-lane Highways 64 and 49. It may be quicker to take I-85, but then again there’s the heavy traffic, pile-ups, and the void of anything beautiful. And, you must realize that the old way is changing fast. Lanes are being added every day and what were once small little towns are now extending their limits. So, let’s look back to the day and time when I was a college student in the late 70’s. What was it like back then to make the journey home for a weekend with family?

Leaving out from Raleigh on Friday afternoons after classes at NC State, I quickly passed through Apex which prided itself with a sign reading “Peak of Good Living.” Next, in wonderment of what will be, I crossed over the expansive construction site of what would soon become the B. Everett Jordan Lake. A broad field as far as eyes could see, the road passed through a narrow patch of pines. And then there was the steel bridge crossing the torrential Haw River a mile below what was then known as Chicken Bridge.

Pittsboro-OldE_smallPassing at 15mph around the Chatham County Courthouse in the center of Pittsboro, I often stopped at a café or the antique store where I looked for old hand tools. Today, Woodworking guru Roy Underhill operates a really cool “Woodwright School” in one of the old stores on Main Street. Beyond Pittsboro I crossed over the Rocky River upon entering Siler City. I’m not talking about the same river that crosses much further down the road in the town of Harrisburg. Along this river running through Chatham County settled some of the earliest Baptists in piedmont NC. And in the town of Siler City is located the best place to eat a good hamburger in America. Behind the counter at Johnson’s Drive-In, the cook is busy melting blocks of Velveeta upon which he twists in nearly cooked burgers for their final burn. Passing out of Siler City, the next little town is Ramseur followed by numerous large farms and small lakes. I loved shaking my hands ceremoniously towards the passing lakes as if I were jerking a fishing rod. I’d love to have been able to fish some of what I saw.

Half way home and entering the town of Asheboro, Wright’s Cabinet Shop stood on the left side of the road. This was a different kind of establishment than that found in Roy Underhill’s new version of old timey woodworking. Mr. Wright’s place was a working shop filled with a hybrid of every kind of early mechanized machinery you’d want to see. His shop consisted of two side-by-side cinder block buildings with plank flooring. In back was a wood fired lumber kiln that I know burned down at least two times. The shop was filled with the whirring andwrighthome flapping sound of overhead drive belts powered by a large 14 hp electric motor. There were swing saws and other woodworking equipment of the like I had never seen. Mr. Wright had flipped a 24” planer, transforming it into the widest jointer I’d ever seen. All I could think in seeing this was …Good God All Mighty! Mr. Wright was missing at least three fingers though his display and sales area were always filled with the finest woodworking.

About two hundred yards from Wright’s place was the Blue Mist Barbecue. I can still smell it from my memories but sadly quality trended downward over the years and it’s no longer there. However, I almost always stopped and bought a sandwich, fries and coke.

Passing through Asheboro, I often turned east on 220 if daylight allowed. Nearby were the potteries of Seagrove. There was the young Ben Owen, his historically quaint sales cabin, and his grandfather who was always in the background working him like a prized fighter. Ben’s place was filled with brightly colored and non-functional pieces glowing bright red from leaded glazes. Nearby were Vernon and Pam Owens and their Jug Town “campus.” I loved the tall candle sticks and butter churns. Everybody needs a butter churn!

But mostly on my trips home, and if I were able to get out of class early enough, I loved to stop by Seagrove Pottery where I’d sit a spell talking with Dot Auman prior to closing time. I loved the conversation and cherish my many talks with a real North Carolina treasure. On every stop at Seagrove Pottery I purchased a Rebecca pitcher, bowl, or some other kitchen piece glazed in their blue with streaks of brown and feldspar white. On one occasion I purchased a complete place setting for six. It wasn’t long after that we lost Dot and her husband Walter Auman as they were tragically killed in a traffic accident when a passing logging truck came unbuckled.

fourlanehomeWest of Asheboro, Hwy 49 splits off of Hwy 64 and heads southwest through the decaying mountain range called the Uwharries. Out in the middle of nowhere the road widens beautifully to four lanes through pastoral farmlands. The widened road is a stone’s throw from the town of Denton where is held the Annual Doyle Lawson Bluegrass Festival and Old Time Fly-In Threshers’ Reunion. On several occasions I timed my trips home to enjoy the summer festivities.

A little further down the road, in the bottom lands as the road begins to rise up in challenge of the Yadkin River, is located Jacob’s Creek Stone Company. An early quarry of Carolina blue slate, it was always worth the 15 minutes needed to drive through the piles and piles of discarded pieces of slate. And also nearby on 49 Hwy was Fine’s Broom Company. In a long clapboard building set off from the highway, artisan broom maker Samuel Lee Fine created his cleaning masterpieces. His story reminded me of my dad and how early in the great depression he made a truck load of brooms and had them hauled to the streets of Charlotte to sell. Tihome finemes were rough and my dad learned a lot about entrepreneurship as he didn’t sell enough to even pay his transportation. But, years later at NC State I had the chance to work at the University Crafts Center with student Marlow Gates whose story turned out much different.



home roadJust across the street and up a ways from Fine’s Broom Company an ancient stone wall appears out of the passing forest. Holding up an ancient roadbed from the ravages of a creek, the wall’s purpose is disguised by thicket and overgrowth as it disappears into the adjoining woods. Just as old 49 Hwy has been replaced by Interstate 85/40, there was once an even older road winding its way parallel to Hwy 49. It’s amazing what you’ll learn if only you let your eyes see things for the time they existed.

Another mile further at the crossroad, an old ranger’s station had been sold by the US government. For years, every time I passed I’d see an old man in the front yard sitting in a straight back chair. I always honked and threw up my hand to which he reciprocated. One day he was gone.

lake home

And down the road further yet is the bridge crossing the Yadkin River at Tuckertown Reservoir. I’ve stopped there numerous times to wet a hook and have even landed a few bass and crappie. There’s nothing like crossing Tuckertown at sunset or on a foggy morning! And, at the nearby boat landing was always an older heavy set black lady, sitting in a folding chair beside her car which was covered with dolls. Clothed in periodpillowhome antebellum hoop dresses, Barbie-like baby dolls were transformed into the perfect bedroom accent suited for the most tasteful southern lady. And yet, there was something odd about what I saw. Here was this lady only a generation or two out of slavery perpetuating the cast system from which her family had been freed. And yet, she appeared happy to be making her own money freely by the commands of her own hand. I often wanted to stop by and talk to the lady, to photograph her along with her wayside sales display. I can still see the sign on cardboard “Piller Dolls $10.00.” I’d love to carve a sculptural piece in memory of this old vision.

Passing through the old German lands along the Dutch Buffalo Creek, the quality and style of historic architecture was certainly evident. There was the crossroads at Richfield near Pheiffer University. Also nearby was the historic site of Mathias Barringer’s gold mine. From an early 1800’s newspaper account, I once read where he melted down gold from the mine and cast it to make a man of gold. According to the article, he floated it down the Pee Dee River for all to see.

Nearing the town of Mt. Pleasant, the smell of fresh cut pine filled the air as I passed Piedmont Hardwood’s saw mill. And, in the town of Pleasant Hill was located numerous old Victorian Houses along with what was once the mid-1800’s Mount Pleasant Lutheran Female Seminary. It’s now the location of the Eastern Cabarrus County History Museum.

Not much further, the road raised a bit in elevation with huge boulders the size of houses dotting the landscape. This geology is all a remnant gift of violent explosions during a prehistoric time when the rock covered hill was but one of many volcanic islands dotting an inland sea.

1280px-Cannon_House_at_Stonewall_Jackson_Training_School_2Atop this hill crest crosses the old Concord Road and near the intersection stands Stonewall Jackson Training School. What remains truly is creepy but still beautiful. I can only imagine the old campus filled with youth. Just down the hill from the school is an abandoned rock quarry filled with water. I fished it numerous times but learned from experience that the waters best served the local population as a swimming hole. From the backside of Jackson Training School is a view west across the rock quarry some 25 miles to downtown Charlotte. It’s a beautiful view and I can imagine the young residents watching the sun waste away over an earlier Charlotte skyline. Imagine all the farmsteads they saw? Billowing cows and majestic fields of grain? They could see the steam trains as they passed nearby and also the farm houses with chimneys and trails of smoke leading your mind’s eye to the sky.

That was all a different day and I love dreaming a bit of our state’s past. But, I’m now here in Raleigh, writing about my trips to Charlotte and feel truly blessed for the memories I’ve been given.